by Samson Schmuter, 1101N, Aquariuscondo.net Webmaster June 24, 2015
At the bottom of this post links to diverging and concurrent opinions on the issue of the on going projects of restoration of Aquarius. Also an open letter from Boris Goldberg.
In Aquarius Condo there are two frequently dropped accusations in the form of questions:
1. Where did “Trump” money go?
2. Millions spent on condo, but where did it go?
They are used by a small group of “professional dissidents” and somewhat larger group of their supporters. These rhetoric have even been used by amazingly one-sided Local Channel 10 broadcast.
I am writing here my brief high level answers to these Questions, not to argue with the professional dissidents (useless attempt) who fight for the sake of fight, equally against any Board starting the day it is elected, but in attempt to help the group of supporters instead of holding their hands to start using their brains.
Q1: Where did “Trump” money go?
By 2009 Aquarius Association received from the next to us “Trump” building $3.55M pay-off to be used for the capital improvements. A few years later they were forced to add another $0.35M, so all together we received $3.925M.
Four (4) years later, in the beginning of 2014, right before starting the Concrete Restoration complex of projects, the previous Board reportedly had $1.6M left. Thus, the question rather would be:
Where did $3.925M-$1.6M=$2.325M go?
It was and is the common knowledge that our maintenance is very low given our location, apartment sizes and buildings configuration. When I was buying in 2010, I saw it for myself and frequently heard the number at least 30% lower than similar others. It has been a significant attraction, unfortunately though artificial as no longer sufficient to maintain. Besides, more and more projects, even tough less ambitious than Concrete Restoration, yet still necessary and costly, were attended and completed (pipes replacement, roof repair, compressors, etc). [Click for a comparative table of HOA maintenance costs of neighboring building – it opens in a new Tab]
We know only too well how much assessment we have to pay for raising 2 million dollars. A simple calculation shows that the above “Trump” money of $2.325M is equivalent of 28% increase of maintenance for each of the four consecutive years 2010 – 2013.
You can do this exercise with your numbers, and get exactly same result.
So, my answer is: By using $2.3M from Trump money, the previous Boards spared the owners from increasing their maintenance / assessment fees by about 28% for four (4) consecutive years. The moneys were used for maintenance and capital improvements without assessing it from the owners.
Nobody have stolen or mismanaged this money. We can consider it as a no-interest loan we received for 4 years.
But now it is time to give it back. [Compare HOA Costs clicking here]
Q2: Millions spent on condo, but where did it go?
Concrete Restoration projects started in 2014. The first one was the West Pool Deck. This one will cost our Association $1.65M paid in 2014 plus $0.57M to be paid upon completion of this project in 2015, that is $2.22M. All these numbers have been published by the Board in Projects Update document of 3/23/2015. [Click here to read the Update – actual date is May 26 with Cash flow of 3/23/2015 at the end]
So, not “many millions,” just a little over two million!
We know now that in today’s prices a project of such a scope costs
around that number. For comparison, the three bids for the Valet Deck
restoration project of 2015 were all around $2.2 to $2.6M, and we ended up with the contract around $2.1M. And the square feet area involved in the West Pool Deck is significantly higher than at Valet Deck. So, again the $2.22M for the West Pool Deck is not that bad! [On the post “Facts and Myths on Proposed Assessment 2015 of May 7th, 2015,” by Orlando Herrera the four bids are available – A fifth vendor did not respond to the invitation to bid. Answer #2]
Retrospectively, we could now argue that perhaps 10-15% of the cost could have been saved, had the previous Board hired one General Contractor instead of trying to manage the open scope of work and the numerous related contractors themselves. Besides, that would have shortened the otherwise so frustrated completion dates.
A General Contractor takes upfront more money but it becomes responsible for the signed scope of work and deadlines, and keeps in check all subcontractors. But, as the old saying goes “if I were as smart yesterday as my wife tomorrow…” (no offence to women!)
The current Board extracted good lessons from before, and hired Landscape Architect plus signed a General Contractor for the second Concrete Restoration project – the Valet Deck. The work will be completed by the year end, unless destructors will obstruct it.
Samson Schmuter, Apartment 1101 North → TRANSLATE THIS
7/6/2015 11:54:22 AM
From: Boris Goldberg, PH5S, firstname.lastname@example.org Apt. PH5S tel. 754 263 6003
To: Sam Schmuter
Re: Your “Open Letter” in Your Closed Website
You are the minister of information—or, to be exact, disinformation of the Ruling Triumvirate.
Under what authority have you usurped the Aquarius website? Why are you publishing your own opinions, those of your wife, and those of the chorus of people in power, while suppressing the speech of those whose opinions differ from your own?
I spent over 20 years as a broadcaster at the Voice of America. It’s a radio station operated by the US Government, which at the time of my employment broadcast in 42 languages. The Bylaws of the Voice of America state that the radio station is to represent all of America, as opposed to a select part of American society.
So, that’s the Voice of America. The Voice of Aquarius mimics the methodology of mass disinformation of all dictatorial regimes. You contend that we are a small group.
Had this been indeed the case, then more than half of the condominium owners would not have signed the petition to recall John Youssef and Joel Cohen.
Why have you—and those you serve—developed the habit of blaming all your troubles on us?
We have nothing to do with the fact that you are unable to obtain permits for moving the toilet and installation of panels on the West Pool deck.
Though you had no right to make those changes without obtaining approval of 75 percent of condo owners, we want to complete this job. We want you to complete any job—just one completed project would be a nice start!
For now, all we see is destruction.
Just like the previous board had failed to install waterproofing on the West Pool deck, thereby causing two floods in the lobby, the current board is refusing to install a temporary waterproofing on the ramp and the valet parking area.
In other words, our building will again be left without a roof—this time for over six months. Even now, after a few brief rainfalls, we are seeing puddles in the garage. A gift of prophecy isn’t needed to foresee that after the first serious rainstorm the garage will turn into a lake. After the builders-wreckers have
successfully blocked the main entrance to Aquarius, the only remaining entrance into the building—the garage—will be blocked by water.
And in the case of a hurricane, will the insurance company cover the damage, or will it say this is not an Act of God but an Act of the Board.
Every year, we pay $500,000 for insurance policies. We have seven policies. One of them—Liberty Mutual—covers mistakes made by the board. The limit of that coverage is $27.5 million.
Now, Mr. Schmuter, would you care to ask your friends from the current and former board why they have not submitted a claim? Why are they ignoring the petition—signed by more than 20 percent of condo owners—with the demand that a claim be submitted? Why are they so mindful of the resources of insurance companies while saddling us with paying for their million-dollar mistakes?
And that’s not all. Joel Cohen—without having either legal or moral right to do so—gave CSI a generous gift. He agreed to hold the company harmless for the damage done to the lobby. And that is no small sum: $350,000.
If you are prepared for dialog, Mr. Schmuter, we would be able to discuss this and other problems. But please keep in mind that the Aquarius website should represent all of Aquarius and not a distinct part of our condominium owners.
Boris Goldberg June 2015
Links to Posts revelant to the theme: