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Oil prices & contracts - Miriam Dec 13, 2007


to AC and all.
I am concerned that in our building we are paying heating oil with a market floating system and without any cap/pre-buying that keeps us very exposed to any spike.
Could we compare a little the oil price per gallon that you paid/are paying in your buildingS and the kind of contract you carry?
Thank you.
Miriam

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Every year without doubt this subject comes up. To be or not to be, that is the question, the bottom line is that any cap or pre buying scenario involves speculation. As in any speculative market there is risk. You are either the hero or the donkey when you sign for this agreement. I have been both donkey and hero, let me tell you first hand last years hero says nothing to this years donkey, so much for short memories.

Here is a new slant on this dilema, contact you local oil suppliers and ask for a rate keyed to the barge reseller index, your supplier will offer a percentage above this FIXED and POSTED rate (on the Journal of Commerce)number, you can use this as an effective tool to obtain price quotes on your fuel oil

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It's all a ball game. The good thing about locking prices is that you will know what your budget will be during the heating months or during the time your contract lasts. However, it's hard to lock the prices much in advance because of the market volatility.

Just read and follow the forcast provided by EIA to have a better idea of what is an uncertain world, then roll the dice and make a decision. You may be lucky or you may not be as lucky, but at least you made a decision on best available knowledge for your shareholders if it goes the wrong way:

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip.asp

Also, the new york mercantile exchange is a good page to check for current and past prices. I believe the webside is

http://www.nymex.com

Good luck with your decision!

AdC



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package scanners - Santa Clause Dec 11, 2007


Can any of you fine people recommend/know of companies that supply package/mail scanners. We have a very busy package area and rather that log every item we would prefer to scan those items as it is very time consuming.

Santa.

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Info taken from the site...

Barcoding, Inc.'s Package Track Solution combines everything you need to start automating your company's package delivery system.
The off-the-shelf software package joins a Microsoft Access database on the PC, and a Pocket PC-based handheld terminal with an integrated barcode scanner using imager technology. The software will allow you to scan in packages as they are received using the existing barcodes, assign packages to the recipient, collect a signature upon delivery, and generate daily reports.

Features:
Generate reports for internal package tracking
Record time and date stamp for receipt and delivery
Capture electronic signatures
Automatically email final receipts upon delivery

Benefits:
Reduce time from mailroom to recipient
Reduce time spent looking for lost packages
Increase efficiency in the mailroom.

http://www.barcoding.com/tracking-software/barcode_package_tracking.shtml

~AR

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here is a link to a scanner that we use. We found it great and works with all us mail, fed ex, ups etc.
Pgrech

http://www.product-catalog.com/preview_item.cfm?BAToken=printheads&item=658893

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Shareholders and Roommates - NB Dec 08, 2007


We have a small 14 unit building and the worst house rule and quality of life issues seem to be caused by boyfriends and girlfriends moving in with shareholders of records. Problems range from noise, improper garbage disposal, smoke emigrating between apts and into halls, slamming doors. Does anyone require "live-ins" to be registered with the Board/Management and if so what sort of ID info is needed--socail security, place of employment? At what point is someone considered needed to be identified and made known to the Board. I understand there is a thin line between a right to privacy for shareholders and their personal lives but at what point does it become the right of the Co-op to know who has keys to the building and who they are. Some of these live-ins are receiving public assistance (food stamps and welfare, holding onto rent controlled apartments (all found out through super)while diminishing the quality of life and possibly jeopordizing our security. Any advice out there?

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The answer depends on whose roommates they are.

If they're the roommates of shareholders, it's fairly easy because the shareholder is generally responsible for the conduct of his/her guests while on co-op property. So no matter who in Apt. 7-B is playing loud music/leaving trash out/loitering, the shareholder takes the blame. You can admonish or fine the shareholder for his/her guests' misbehavior.

If they're the roommates of the sponsor, it's much more difficult. Even assuming you have a cooperative sponsor, people in rent-regulated apartments are in a protected class. Talk to your sponsor's contact person and explain the situation. Suggest a letter from the sponsor (i.e. from the renter's landlord) that explains that there have been complaints about such & such behavior by a guest of the renter. The letter would explain that the renter is responsible for guests' behavior. Conclude by pointing out that the next time there's a verified complaint, the renter will be fined $XX. Then follow through.

You can draft this letter for the sponsor.

If the sponsor isn't cooperative, ask your lawyer. Also, talk to the lieutenant in charge of your precinct's community policing program. The police can work as a non-threatening deterrent. Ask them to send an officer over one day to explain security to all residents. That way you'll meet the the local police, and you'll be able to get them on your side. They can't solve everything, but their presence alone may cut back on some bad behavior.

Good luck.

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I guess I wasn't clear enough- we are a co-op with NO sponsors, all owners. The reaseon I mentioned rent control at all was to just example the dishonesty that one "roommate" of a shareholder engages in - holding onto a rent controlled apartment elsewhere while living with a shareholder here.What right does our co-op have to know who is living with our shareholders in this building in terms of security/identification. SOme of these live-ins seem less than desirable types who would not pass co-op Board review but are in nevertheless.

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Although there is such a thing as a Roommate law, the NYS Rent Laws as well as the PL states that after 30 days lessees or shareholders must inform the landlord or the co-oop about residents overstaying the 30 day period.

Your apartment may enact a "meet-and-greet" meeting with two board members or admissions committee members to go over the rules and meet the individual.

If the lessee or shareholder moves out the builidng, then the occupant may need to move out; otherwise, you may have a sublet that may be in violation or not with the co-op's policy.

AdC

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doors slamming? smoke? you have got to be kidding. if you dont like people and their everyday noises and smells - the move to a remote place. thses seem like very small problems. do you have anuy idea what a problem tenants is relaly like? and, yes, the roommate law fortunately superseeds any coop laws or rules (thank you god)...

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Majority Rules - Alex P. Keaton Dec 07, 2007


Although I am board president I still represent only one vote on the board.

Therefore, I am often harangued by shareholders who disagree with certain board decisions that I may not have voted in favor of.

However, I am reluctant to say how I voted as I fear it would harm the board dynamic.

Do you face similar situations?

Do you state how each member voted?

Any suggestions?

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You never want to state how you voted on anything to anyone, it will usually come back and bite you later on somehow.

Perhaps there is a lack of proper communication between management/the Board and the shareholders.

When a resolution is made (lets say... raising maitenance 12%) and you must tell this to the shareholders, it is not your job. let management send a memo to all SH stating that

[actual letter i sent]

After careful consideration and review of the many rising operating expenses; such as Fuel (35%), insurance (9%), electric 15%), real estate taxes (11+%), supplies, labor, etc… it has been determined to raise maintenance in the amount of 12½%, beginning January 1, 2008.
Kindly understand that this increase is purely to permit us to operate at par with the rising operating expenses of the building.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions concerning the aforesaid matter.

this type of memorandum takes the blame and eyes off the BP. all other communication should be the same.

hope that helps some..
~AR


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Not sure if you are Alex P Keaton from Family Ties? Quies simply, you each have a vote when it comes to decision making but the result is a board decision,(3,5,7,9) not Bob, Mary, and Jane were in favor and Pat and Sam opposed. If you are going to inform shareholders how you voted you might as well post it on a bulletin board and a target on your back.

FN.

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I agree with the others -- the decisions the board makes are the board's. As we say in our board meetings, it's fine to disagree among ourselves, but once a decision is made, everyone on board defends and upholds it.

Let me add that although the managing agent can help answer questions about unpopular moves (such as raising the maintenance fee), any board member must be prepared to answer those questions as well. If he or she can't, you, as board president, should ask them to refer the questioner to you.

Making unpopular decisions is never easy. When I'm asked, I explain why we need to raise money (so we don't have to borrow money to pay operating bills), and that we, the board, pay the maintenance fee just like everyone else. You can also ask the complainer for suggestions on how to save money so the next increase will be less -- that is, make the complainer responsible for finding a solution.

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We send a letter to the shareholders about three weeks before the fall “open board of directors meeting” describing the “planned” increases and the rationale. All board members sign the letter. This “budget approval” open board of directors meeting is typically conducted in November.

By this, I mean that twice a year, we take a room in a nearby public building and invite all shareholders to view (not participate) in the open board of directors meeting. This part of the evening takes about ten minutes. Note shareholder opinions are not solicited during the open board of directors meeting. Shareholders not permitted to ask questions or make statements during the open board of directors meeting. Then, we conduct a Q&A session for all shareholders. This Q&A session usually lasts about sixty to ninety minutes.

Because we have previously reviewed the amounts and all the details at a board of directors workshop; hence all details are finalized (no votes are taken for the record at the workshop, though all board members can voice opinions, and we come to any compromises, as necessary), at the open board of directors meeting, shareholders see all the board members vote affirmative.

= = = = = = = =

In May we have our annual open board of directors meeting wherein new board members are elected (following publication of candidates and solicitation of proxies). Any items to be voted during the open board of directors meeting are previously discussed in a workshop, without votes, and thus any motions are always unanimously voted.

Note as with the fall meeting, shareholder opinions are not solicited during the open board of directors meeting. Again shareholders not permitted to ask questions or make statements during the open board of directors meeting. Following the close of the May open board of directors meeting, which usually requires fifteen minutes, we then have a Q&A session that usually lasts about ninety to minutes.


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We recruit like minded board members. But do note, we have a history of longevity among board members. Further, we have a common purpose (kindly see my other postings herein these forums) and all board members check their personal demands at the door.

Yes, there was a discussion thread about two weeks ago regarding soliciting votes. We usually recruit friends of the board of directors and they in turn go door to door to solicit proxies for the preferred slate.

But do also take note that we are without any debt, having retired the original mortgage without refinancing. We raise maintenance EVERY year by 2.5% to 4%. We slowly year by year raised our capital assessment which initially garnered $20,000 so that now we are bringing $900,000 to our yearly capital reserve fund. Yes, there was a jump from $450,000 to $900,000 when we retired the debt and its payments, and moved the debt retirement amount of maintenance from the maintenance income stream to the capital improvement stream.

And we have a mega-million line of credit which as I noted elsewhere is used for intra year payments in anticipation of capital reserve income.

= = = = = = =

How did we do it?

Single minded focus of a board of directors recruited by the board of directors with total dedication to fiduciary responsibility.

= = = = = = =

Oh, we are self managed, and our staff is all long term thus avoiding the churn of management companies and managing agents even if the same firm is retained.

= = = = = = =


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"...Any items to be voted during the open board of directors meeting are previously discussed in a workshop, without votes, and thus any motions are always unanimously voted...."

Can you explain to everyone what a "workshop" is, as to clarify your process?

This is a great process / protocol and I think we all cab benifit by understanding it more, thanks.

~AR

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As a way of introduction, we are self managed. In our decision process, we have periodic workshops. Attendance at the workshop is composed of the board of directors, the building manager (employee, almost always attends), the superintendent (employee, usually attends), our in-house attorney (most often), our outside attorney (occasionally), guest invitees, e.g.: a resident with a particular skill, a tax specialist, a banker, etc.

The frequency of workshops is about one a month or one every six weeks. The duration is typicallyractor 60 to 90 minutes.

At recent workshop meetings, we discussed such items as:
• The underlying rationale for the 2008 maintenance increase and the 2008 assessment; and how we would explain it to the residents.
• The final agenda and format for the annual “open” board of directors meeting.
• The status of arrears in general (we hardly have any), and the status of one shareholders.
• The purchase of a billy-goat to clean our sidewalks.
• The need for some additional furniture in our lobby.
• The status of our outside security firm’s performance.
• The final steps in our acquisition of a larger credit line.
• The Christmas holiday luncheon for our staff of employees and contractors and vendors.
• Shareholders (a married couple) who purchased, who did not move into the apartment but in turn allowed their daughter to occupy the apartment, e.g.: illegal sublet.
• Discussion of capital improvements completed this year and those planned for next year.
• A suggested elevator cab improvement.
• Any pending legislation that might affect The Twin Rivers (Hightstown, NJ) case.
• The status of our pool services company and its contract.
• Letters to the board and the proper response.
• Planned meetings (one-on-one, really two on one) with shareholders.
• Results of requests for proposals and thence selection of a vendor.
• Results of engineering studies.
• Superintendents report on the status of the mechanical plant.
• Discussion of other property conditions.

Quite frankly, our property is in an excellent financial and management position, e.g.: no mortgage, a large capital reserve fund, extremely minimal arrears, board longevity, formal reporting of our financials monthly, weekly management reports from the building manager (including all letters from shareholders), mechanical plant in excellent condition, building in excellent condition, etc.

Thus, we do not have a need for very frequent multi hour board meetings with much anguish and weeping to discuss what will be paid, what will held, where we have issues, etc. As we have a building manager as an employee, most issues are resolved before they come to any board member. In some cases, the building manager will consult with a board member when making a decision, e.g.: switching vendors, responding to a shareholder who is a pest, etc. Kindly note, not all board members need to be consulted. The board member responsible for the landscape committee is somewhat autonomous. Likewise, the board member responsible for the security committee operates somewhat autonomously. The board member responsible for capital improvements operates somewhat autonomously. In point of fact once the outside engineer approves an invoice submitted by the vendor, the responsible board member approves the invoice and allows the building manager to issue a check in the next cycle. Kindly do not opine that we do not seek competitive bids, we do.

Note that we have two payment cycles each month for invoices. All that arrive by the 25th of the prior month are paid by the fifth of the current month. Special payments are issued during the last week of the month. All our vendors are aware of the policy and conform to our requirements for invoice submission.

Thus the fall (year end) open board of directors meeting to which all shareholders are invited by letter covers a narrow range of voting topics, e.g.: approval of the budget for the next year, approval of the maintenance changes (it increases every year in the range of 2.5a% to 4.5%) and assessment (we have an assessment every year), authorization for the board to enter into contracts that might be required per the budget and the capital improvement plan, and approval of the plan to accumulate capital reserves.

As a consequence entering into contacts during the next year becomes a procedural formality that does not require full board of director’s ratification as we have preapproved the authority of the board to enter into contracts. But do note, the bid, the proposals from the vendors and the selection of the vendor is discussed in the workshop.










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500 units @ $1000 avg/mo = $500,000/mo, $6 million/year.
45 units @1000 avg/mo = $45,000/mo, $540,000/year.

Which one of these co-ops can afford huge capital projects and to pay off their mortgage early?

Tired of hearing about it.

Geez

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Let me clarify when I assert that our shareholders pay about $1,000~ a month for maintenance (average); studio through three bedroom. (In reality we are closer to $1,100, and this cost includes the parking fee of $60 a month for one car.) This cost also includes all taxes, all heating and all air conditioning. We have a central heating and cooling plants. Thus, residents do not have PTAC units within their apartments that in turn are operated by the residents and funded by the residents directly.

In our building, there is a continuous loop of chilled or heated water that is routed through the under window units in the residents apartments. The residents operate the "fans only" in these units to their desired heating or cooling level.

Thus, the costs above are inclusive of heating and cooling but exclusive of the residents monthly electrical bill for lighting, appliances, PC's TV's and heating/cooling fan operation. For example, a typical three bedroom unit will see a monthly electrical bill of $55 to $80, depending upon season.

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I believe that shareholders should know how board members vote, in prior years our board unfortunately has had almost all members voting the same - this does not imply individual thinking - especially in matters of assessments and raises - which we have had since 2001 and over 50% in 3 years - the cause of this which your coop might not have is ignorance, non caring and corruption. Our supply and repair costs are massive and then we do not have the supplies and the repairs have to be done again because they were not done correctly, we have in our coop massive waste, misuse and disappearance of funds and when certain board members vote against the increases and assessments because they are aware of these problems I believe these votes should be made public so that at election time the shareholders can make an educated vote

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J,I disagree with you. If the individuals on the board cannot make a deision (vote) on their own and everyone has to agree maybe it is time for others to step forward.So what if six agree and one person disagrees when a vote is taken.

Fat Nickie

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desperate for replies - sublet - st Dec 07, 2007


3 yr illegal sublet caught but board has been told they can not charge the fee and must let the person sublet for a final year given shareholder promises to then sell. (house rules state that one year is allowed and second year subletting only w special permission and this shareholder has already had 2 approved yrs prior to illegal 3 yr sublet. seems like terrible idea. no?
techically she owes about $6500 in fees plus $1000 fine for illegal sublet.

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Sorry to bear unhappy news, but...

Unfortunately, the Board was probably advised correctly.
We would all like to see the funds advance to the Coop, but no judge would award it. After spending good money, the SH will be ordered to remedy the illegal sublet within a specified amount of time. You lost more money chasing justice. It is truly unfortunate, but this is the way it works.

Let it be a lesson the board and management to keep a closer and clearer eye on every apartment. The super plays an important role in notifying management of anyone who moves furniture, or changes in mail or faces. Management should look at things such as the postmarks on the payments when they arrive (a check postmarked from Florida for 2 consecutive months is your flag), there are many more red flags to look for, but that is the managers’ job.

~AR

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pls to check your facts..

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This is the way it is (unfortunately based on several 1st hand experiemnces); however, if I am proven to be in err anywhere, please tell me how and where.
I am open, and quick to accept correction (we'd like to hear your experiences too - that's why we're here!)

~AR

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stop hideing, no anons please anon.

Bob

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the shareholder is caught after 2 years. does she have to pay backfees? (she already had 2 yrs of subletting prior - and should the board grant yet a third year after catching her? (house rules only 1 with exception for 2 and 3 - but she already technically has done 4).

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AS I said before... I just lost a similar court case. the SH did not have to pay back fees.

It is up to the Board to approve or not.. but have a good reason to disaprove. (watch dor discrinminatory decisions that might come back at you later)
if they were paying and did not bother anyone, you probably are obligated to approve again if it is within your HR guidelines.

AR

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the HRs say that one year must be allowed with second at approval and third at special approval/ discretion. so it seems they did not have to allow this third year esp after having caught the sharholder abusing the situation and lying to them.

how come we cant get fees? what did court day? thanks again.

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In some instances Goidel says that the board may give the tenant the opportunity to "legalize" the sublet. They may elect to have the shareholder pay the back fees and let the tenant remain. However, Goidel believes this is a bad policy. It provides shareholders with no incentive to comply with the boards rules. "If you get caught (illegally subletting)," he says, "this person has to go."

from 'the cooperator.."

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Board Members and Repairs - GG Dec 07, 2007


Do board members not participate in board voting if they are among shareholders needing repairs/replacements of plumbing or heating elements that are part of the corporations' responsibilty? And, if a Board member wants a danfoss valve becuase his unit get too much heat, is that a corporation expense? Thanks.

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Not quite sure we understand your question with regard to voting?? Repairs and repair status has nothing to do with voting.. Please explain.

With regard to a valve and whose expense... this is probably (in my opinion) covering up for a larger problem of improper heat distribution. That issue should be addressed before spending money on Band-Aids and excess fuel.

~AR

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Let me try to clarify: It happens that several Board members currently have heating deficiencies in their apartments. The one Board member who does not--he had too much heat and the prior board, of which his wife was a member, bought him a danfoss valve to reduce the heat in his unit, and two of the other Board members at that time bought themselves new radiators to replcae original baseboard. By the way, their lack of legal heat was never verified.

Now the Valve guy who is on the current Board wants the Board members still without legal temps when the weather goes below freezing, is hemming and hawing about it not being ethical for the needy to vote for their own upgrade to their heating units. He wants them to rescuse themselves from the vote, get multiiple bids, be verified by a third pary as to temperature (who is a non-partial 3rd party anyway?) all the thinks the prior Board, of which his wife was a member, did not do. It appears very hypocritcal especially coming from someone who possibly benefitted in a way that he shouldn't have in the first place.

Just trying to see if any of his points are valid or usual practice.

Thanks.

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Are you on the Board?

There are mechanical engineers who can look at this system for you and document deficienceis and problem areas.
This will not only assist in making neccessary adjustments to the system, but in showing that most of your concerns are valid and that some of these individual changes in the system may have effected the system as a whole, in a negative way.

~AR

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I too am a little confused regarding your post but here goes. As regards repairs etc it should make no difference as to whether you are the "Coop President" or whether you moved in last month. Either the Coop is responsible for the repair or it is not check in your properiority lease.

FN.

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Nickie, I believe the tenant is requesting a "special valve" because they are getting too much heat? Any way I agree with you it makes no difference who you are. But on the other hand, if the valve is a different valve that the building uses, then the tenant should pay.

Mike Mac

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Shareholder rights: Re - Bike Storage - jbm Dec 05, 2007


Can a board arbitrarily limit bike storage in a common area to only a portion of the total number of bike-owning shareholders? i.e. There is space for approximately 20 bikes and the board wants to only store 10 and use a lottery system to see who gets space. This seems to fly in the face of at least NY Business Corp Law granting equal rights to all shareholders
Also is it good/fair policy to only allow shareholders to store bikes and not family members as well

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When you say common space... is it?
coop or condo?

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co-op

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Sounds like what Ted is saying holds true for you also...
The cooperative "common" space, unlike a condo, belongs to the corporation, not the shareholder or unit owner. Therefore the space allotted for bikes, cars, storage, etc... does not have to be divided in any equitable fashion (as long as it is not biased).
so if the building space only allows for 58% of the SH to have bike space and they are saving the other space for some other future use, unfortunately for the other 42%, they have to wait for a space.

~AR

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While I cannot answer your query directly, I can provide some anecdotal thoughts.

In our co-op there are but 250 storage bins with 500 units, so we allocate storage bins/cages to the next unit on the waiting list (one per unit) upon departure of a shareholder.

We have 500 units and there are 700 parking spaces. But with two and three car families, we restrict parking to only residents of the building. Thus a family member who is not a resident cannot park in an assigned space, and all are assigned. We do permit overnight parking by a visitor to a resident in the resident’s assigned space as a temporary expedient.

We have a bicycle room. As we restrict residents from transporting their bicycles via the elevators, we ensure that all can be accommodated. Non residents (visitors or family members) may not employ the bicycle room.

So the bicycle room rules depend on the building’s rules as well.



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Assessment, Reserves, Operating? - LL Dec 04, 2007


We need to make some cosmetic capital improvements as well as fix plumbing and other less sexy things in our building. Some of the Board Members always want to pay for things on the credit line and pay back a menial amount each month, or charge an assessment. Is there a prevailing rule of thumb when to use what? We will never pay back the credit line at this rate, and we have built up a small reserve in the past couple of years. The mortgage and the credit line will come due in 5 years and the people leaning toward using the credit line and assessments will not be here then-they are planning on selling in the next year. It seems like they would prefer to only attend to the cosmetic fixes and leave the reserve fund and operating account looking bulked up to make the financials and the building more attractive. What is the rationale for when to use what? Is there an advantage to looking like we have more cash on hand? We;re $10000 into our credit line and making only a couple of hundred over our expenses every month. I need to have an answer as to why it is not good to use our credit line if that is the case. Thanks for advice.

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Every building is unique in its goals, resources and its conduits to reach those goals. These should always be predetermined by management and the Board.
The answers will vary depending on the aforesaid state of your building.
If there are no goals, that’s worse!

Anyway... I have come up with a general rule of thumb for most of my buildings. It costs about $500 per unit, per year for capital expenditures. What that means is that if I have a 100 unit building, every 5 years I will have to undertake a $250K capital project.. be-it roofing, pointing, interior work, etc... This is not to be confused with the regular maintenance and operating repairs.

Now, knowing this, I have several choices... finance, budget and pay from capital reserves, take from existing reserves, assess... and so on. The answer for me is always simple. Why pay interest if you do not have to? it is a waste of SH money. What I do is take my per unit figure and put it into the budget and place that mostly into a special capital account, only to be used for these purposes. If it is a building where i did not have the opportunity to do this, then the amount currently in reserves must be analyzed in conjunction with the making of a well designed 5 year capital plan.

You also want to look at when your existing mortgage terminates, interest, the cost of the funds, time value of the money, etc... If you are financing, you want to have the P&I to be paid from your newly established capital account until you can roll it into your mortgage, or pay it off. But do not do this unless you are making provision for the annual capital average expense going forward; because, you will only be adding debt and never paying down.

Either way you are increasing maintenance for this. A separate 5 year capital assessment may be the best way since it separates the funds for accounting and in the minds of residents... it makes operating increases easier.
As long as you do not run your reserve dangerously low (and you will have a good gauge of this because you will have done a 5 year plan), you are OK. A separate line of credit (not being used) may be prudent just to have and hold in case of emergency and until the increase/assessment pays it back. If you are well planned, there is no harm, or less attractiveness to banks with the temporary lower reserve. Some uneducated buyers may frown on a low reserve until the plan is explained to them.

So, in short, only use the credit if there is a plan in place to pay back and simultaneously get financially ahead.

Hope that helps?

~AR

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This is great, thanks so much. What is unique about our building situation is there is a perception that using our credit line and paying minimum amount of interest due monthly --couple of hundred bucks-- is in lieu of ever paying back at all. Becuase these are short term owners-3 years is the average. We hava a 20 year old elevator and roof and there is no projected budget that includes these things. It's a small building and the transients just want to pass the debt on to the next owners. The minority of us are looking to own for a 10 year time frame. So how does the fiduciary duty of the Corporation impact this failure to plan responsibly for major capital repairs? The answer we get from flippers is to use the credit line and don't worry because the mortgage is small--$150,000 $ and the value of the building a few million?

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That is just what it is.. perception and illusion. in the end, you are paying more than you should.

Unfortunately, the transient mentality is all too common. everyone is looking for short term satisfaction (this is why we have the highest personal debt rate also). It is not prudent. However, if the corporation believes they are acting within the best interest of the shareholders, there is no illegitimacy in their duty.

You need to run for the board, or show where they are wrong via an accountant or professional letter, as to make them accountable to their fiduciary duty.

With a mtge of 150K, I would suggest to make a plan for debt elimination and capital all in one. Have your managing agent assist, or do this for you.
One of my buildings are in a similar situation (only 14 units) and we owe 148K and have some repairs, but the plan will allow us to be free of debt in 6 years, while performing capital improvements at the same time.

~AR

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AR, I am on the Board, sadly, I don't have a lot to work with. What you are suggesting is what I believe in too. Are you a managing agent in the NYC area?

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Yes, I am...

Feel free to email me directly if you would like off line assistance.

~AR

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Thanks for all this information. How may someone contact you?

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One must separate maintenance income from capital income (assessments), else the IRS will treat all as maintenance.

But, if there is a clear delineation of capital income (assessments, e.g.: accrued over ten months and kept in a separate account), then the shareholder upon the sale of a unit, can take the original price of the coop and add to that number the sum of all capital assessments as well as any self initiated capital improvements to generate an updated cost basis for tax purposes, e.g.: sale price (less expenses) – cost basis = tax burden (if any).

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Great point..


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We have a yearly assessment (collected over ten months) to ensure that for IRS purposes the income is truly segmented from ordinary (maintenance income). Our assessment (forty-five year old building that needs more capital improvements each year) garners about $900,000 each year.

Our expenses, given a building of our size, are always substantial, e.g.; $500,000 for roof replacement next year, $1,000,000 for our elevator overhaul and upgrade a few years ago, $400,000 a year for window replacement as we are changing 15% to 20% or our windows per year.

We have a multi-million dollar line of credit.

We use the line of credit only in anticipation of the assessment income and then pay down the line of credit each year. Thus, by definition, the line of credit is not for long term borrowing.

Elsewhere herein these forum postings, I and other have discussed capital improvements, capital reserves, assessments, etc. Suggest a search as there may be ideas that your facility can adopt.

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And, we have eliminated our original mortgage of $7,000,000 incurred at the time of conversion without ever refinancing the principal or taking on a second mortgage. In the same period of time we have expended $15,000,000 for capital improvements.

The current $900,000 in assessments is because we did not lower charges when we retired the mortgage. We moved the mortgage amount (about $450,000) from maintenance income to assessment (for IRS tracking purposes) and maintained our original assessment amount of $450,000. The combination of the two streams (now one assessment) produces $900,000 a year.

Net net. the shareholders are paying the same amount as they did when the mortgage existed, save the yearly maintenance increases that we all face.

Our long term capital improvement plan, as required by the AICPA, shows that over the next fifteen or so years we have another $15,000,000 to expend.


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fuel spill, advice needed - GK Dec 04, 2007


In October, there was a fuel spill (#6 fuel) in our building following a routine delivery. Even though the fumes seemed unusually bad, I didn't think too much of it at first because it's always obvious when a delivery has been made (and then the fumes quickly dissipate). But this time it was clear that something was amiss.

The fuel was delivered on a Thursday. The super was scheduled to leave on vacation later that day, but I saw him going into the boiler room late Friday evening, as I was leaving the laundry room; I assumed that if something was going on with the fuel tank he would know about it/be on top of it. In fact, I assumed that that was why he was going into the boiler room. Never assume.

The next day I started to feel sick: headache, nausea, etc. Talked to some other folks in the building who were also feeling sick. At least one person slept elsewhere for a few days. At that point I wasn't aware that a fuel spill had actually occurred; I'm no longer on the board, and the one board member I'm in regular contact with, the VP, was out of town. Which is unfortunate, because if he had been around after the fuel was delivered, he would have known that there was a problem and would have acted on it. It wasn't until he got back to the city the following Tuesday that the situation started being addressed/redressed.

A week after the spill, the BP put a notice in the elevator stating that there had been a fuel spill, but that no one had been able to do anything about it because the super was on vacation, and he is the only one with a key to the boiler room. So basically a full week passed before anyone got into the boiler room and started doing anything about anything.

When I was on the board, the boiler room key was discussed at virtually every board meeting. The VP and I both insisted that all board members should have a copy of, or at least access to, a key to the boiler room. As I've written previously, the BP, somehow, has created a situation where he is the only person who ever talks to anyone. He is the central hub through which all information passes (and gets distorted). So when the VP and I would suggest that the super should not be the only person to have a key to the boiler room, for practical and safety reasons, the BP would say: "Okay, I'll talk to the super." And then he would come back to us and say: "The super feels that by asking for a key to the boiler room, we are indicating that we don't trust him. He's very sensitive about stuff like that. I don't want the relationship with him to be difficult, so I'm not going to insist on the key issue." To which I responded: "Look, the boiler room is not the super's private property. This is a basic safety issue." Long story short, nothing was ever done and the super was the only person who ever had a key to the boiler room. And, we had a fuel spill and nothing was done about it for a full week. Go figure.

Eventually a crew came in to clean up the spill; during the cleanup the fumes got even worse. The BP slipped a notice under shareholders' doors stating: "Last week our fuel oil storage system failed. Apparently this system has operated for 40-some years past its useful life." Which sort of begs the question: why were we still using a system that was "40-some years past its useful life"?

This pains me especially because one thing I really hoped to accomplish while on the board was getting an energy audit for the building through NYSERDA. I was finding the process a bit daunting, frankly (and I admit I know almost nothing about boilers/fuel/fuel tanks, although I've been trying to educate myself), so last January I asked the managing agent if she could help with the application and get the ball rolling. She assured me that she was very familiar with NYSERDA and had helped other buildings get audits done. She seemed confident and I trusted her. Well, I kept asking for status reports and got evasive answers. She assured me that our application had been submitted. Finally I asked her point blank for a copy of the completed application for the board's records. She kept hemming and hawing despite repeated requests and I never did see a completed application. And then I stepped down from the board; I simply couldn't run again or stomach the thought of remaining on with the current BP. One of the biggest problems for me was that the BP and MA seem to have some sort of weird commitment to making sure that each stays in his and her respective position. It's impossible to get much done. The only things that seem to get done are what the BP and MA want done, and those things are fairly superficial.

So I have some questions (and gratitude for anyone who has had the patience to read this far):

1. Is it in the management company's purview to advise the buildings they manage on things like fuel tanks? The fuel tank has been removed from the boiler room and is now behind our building; it is completely rusted out! I imagine that even I, I who know nothing about fuel or fuel tanks, would have been startled if I had ever gotten into the boiler room and taken a look at that thing.

2. In his note to the shareholders, the BP states that "we are obtaining bids from companies for a new oil tank." Is it reasonable for me to expect that at last three sealed bids would be obtained and would be opened by the entire board, or at last a board majority? (In the past, the BP is the only one who has ever seen any bids from anyone; I have made some noise about this.)

3. I'm a bit concerned about the effects of the fuel spill on residents' health. I've been trying to do some research on it and it appears that a residential fuel spill over a certain amount, particularly if it goes unreported or unaddressed, can indeed have repercussions. One of the places I looked for information was the AG's site; it appears that in the event of a spill, a report needs to be filed and the spill needs to be assessed. I would like to find out how much fuel actually spilled. I don't expect an honest answer, or any answer frankly, to that question from the board. Is it on record anywhere and, if so, can I get access to that information?

4. A special shareholders' meeting has been announced by the board and is taking place tomorrow. I'm aware that at annual shareholders' meetings, minutes must be taken. Must minutes be taken at a special shareholders' meeting? I see nothing about that in the pl or bylaws. Is it reasonable for me to insist that minutes be taken? Is it legal for me to record the meeting?

Any feedback is appreciated, as always.

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answers:
1. Above Ground Storage Fuel Tanks are by code need to be:
a) vissually inspected daily (super)
b) a recorded of inspection and Fuel consumption and delieveries made need to be kept.
c) For number six oil, Storae Fuel Tanks are to be cleaned at least once every 5 years.

Now some one Super or Managing agent should know this. Again SHOULD KNOW but in reality most don't.

2. Who opens the bids are as a mater of customary up to the board to decide. In our building MA opens the bids. For large projects and an engineer is hired, then the engineer receives and opens the bids.
Its up to the board to decide who gets and opens the bids.

3. DEP regulations require that any fuel oil spill is reported to the spill desk at DEP. That's the law.

4. This question is beyond my relavent experience.
Pgrech

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Pgrech wrote:
". . . beyond my relevant experience."

Thanks a lot, though, Pgrech; already very helpful.

GK

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Pgrech wrote:
"1. Above Ground Storage Fuel Tanks by code need to be:
a) visually inspected daily (super)
b) a record of inspection and Fuel consumption and deliveries made needs to be kept.
c) For number six oil, Storage Fuel Tanks are to be cleaned at least once every 5 years."

One more question, Pgrech: you say "by code"--what code? Sorry if that's a stupid question. I'm just trying to find the exact wording so that I can bring it to the meeting.

Thanks.

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DEP codes/ regulations.

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Ah, thank you. I guess you sort of said that in your first response, huh? Duh. Sorry, I'm just not used to dealing with these things.

Thanks again.

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If the problem was at time of delivery, your super should have contacted immediately the managing agent, the board and the fuel company for immediate action.

Spills less than 5 gals may not have to be reported, but needs immediate action for removal.

AdC

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Thanks, AdC.

Somewhat vague accounting of the situation at this evening's meeting. Apparently the super did contact the managing agent immediately to report "a little spill"; the managing agent subsequently told the board VP that the boiler room was "ankle deep" in fuel oil. The VP asked the MA when the spill was reported to the state and got only the vaguest of responses. However, I spoke with someone at the DEC this afternoon and it seems like finding out when (indeed, if) the spill was reported will be straightforward. The DEC gave me the number of another office to call; I'll do so tomorrow.

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BP? illegal sublet dielma HELP - paddy Dec 03, 2007


a shareholder had an approved shareholder for 2 years and then snuck in an unnapproved person she claimed was her niece. this was overlooked for 2.5 years (we think she paid off the super) and then a shareholder started to complain. the tenant was removed with much foot-dragging by the board president. now: considering the shareholder not only lied that her tenant was a niece , and did not seek approval and did not pay the 25% fee she was supposed to - the question is: can the board retroactively charge her the fee - it is almost 3 years of fees totalling about $6500.??

to make it more outrageous there is a new tenant coming in and the board has been advised they cannot back-charge a fee and must say OK since the 3 years of illeglal renting "doesnt count" since they took no action for so long. this seems like VERY poor advice - anyone?? (I might add it only says that a sherholder is allowed to sublet for one year with special consideration for the second year and super special for the third...) I find this advice given the board/coop alarming.

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you mean had an approved tenant for two years - right? the dilema is: should the board ban this shareholder from any more subletting now that they are caught and also charge them backfees for the period of illegal sublet?

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WE NEED IT ALL.

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We just went through something similar... First: Read your house rules. Do you allow sublets?

We are now enforcing our house rules. Which, basically does not allow sublets -- except on a one year basis, for owners with serious needs (temp work transfers)

We are allowing legal sublets to run out and giving notice that they will not be allowed to renew the sublet. Some, that have sublet for years -- are going to be allowed six more months -- BUT ONLY -- if they pay past fees. So far, the prospect of having an empty apartment, trying to sell, as oppose to continueing the sublet -- everyone is paying up, and the ones who are not returning, are putting the apartments on the market.

A healthy coOp is owner occupied.





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