Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

President’s Message – Oct. 1, 2011

September is always a difficult month for the Voting Board. The Operating Budget for the next year must be adopted by the end of the third week of September so that it can printed, mailed and received by the members in time for those that take advantage of the early discount for prepaying their annual dues by the October 31st due date, and those that wish to take advantage of the payment plan to get their first payment in to the office by October 31st. The process cannot begin until mid-August at the earliest due to the timing of some of our expenses. Many of the summer expenses have not been invoiced and recorded so it is difficult to calculate the variable expenses that are pending. Committee Chairs are all busy in their activities and have little time to project their budgets for next year. Preliminary quotes for some of the year’s expenses such as insurance, Vernon’s tax rate for the next year, health insurance for full-time employees, estimated pricing for salt and grits for winter road maintenance, snow plowing estimates, and estimated increases in road repairs materials for the spring all must be carefully researched by our staff and volunteers and that slows the process down considerably.

The Administration Committee begins its work as soon as the General Manager has all his projected figures and estimates in place on a preliminary budget. The Committee then meets two or three times to work with the General Manager on reviewing the mandatory expenses and deciding where to cut variable expenses. This is never an easy process. The office staff and committees must work with the numbers that the Voting Board ultimately decides upon. But if too much is cut to save a few dollars on dues each year, we will be a community of mere necessity. There will eventually be no extras in our community because there is an annual increase in all of the constant expenses. Costs of electricity, fuel, truck parts for repair, propane, health insurance, liability insurance, real estate taxes, labor, payroll taxes, paper, postage, printing, telephone, cable, and all the items on the rest of the list continue to rise with the rest of the nation’s.

Those increases in necessary expenses must be met and there are only two choices available to us. Eliminate the services, events and activities that make us the community that we are or raise the dues. The Administration Committee chose the latter. They presented the budget to the Voting Board at the September Board Workshop and worked though it line by line at that meeting. On September 16th, at the Voting Board regular meeting, the Board adopted the budget. Member statements and dues and assessment schedules have been printed up and are planned to be mailed by the end of September, 2011.

Other motions approved at the September Board meeting included a series of appropriations for the 2012 Capital Fund Budget: $200,145 for Road Paving (this includes the money received from Vernon Township for the balance of the 2009 costs for snow plowing that was being withheld by the Township), $15,000 for the costs of implementing the Speed Hump Pilot Program so the work can be done in the fall; $75,000 for the Bridge Reconstruction and Repair Project; $75,000 for additional improvements at Canistear Park; $35,000 for the development of plans to improve the Clubhouse parking lot, and conditional approval of the request by the Illustrious Theater Company to produce another Shakespeare play in Highland Lakes during the summer of 2012. This last motion was passed as a conditional one because there were some concerns this summer over members’ enjoyment of the facilities and staff involvement during rehearsals and production time that presented problems during the 2011 run. It is the Voting Board’s desire to work with the Illustrious Theater’s Board to continue this new activity that brought so much pleasure to a lot of our residents in July, 2011.

The rains of September certainly brought us some tough challenges. I hope that most of you got through both tropical storms alright, but if not, please consider looking to FEMA for some assistance if needed with repairs. They are there to help and the center in Sussex County is located at Sussex County Technical School, 105 North Church Road, Sparta, NJ 07871. You can visit FEMA’s website on line for information on where to go for help. For those of you with a Faceook account, you can check the Vernon Police page at www.facebook.com/vernonpolice for information on centers and road closings.

I would urge all residents of Highland Lakes to be especially careful on the roadways. We have heavy traffic on County Route 638 (Highland Lakes Road) because of the closings of Route 515 due to construction, Canistear Road due to closing for construction and the closing of Breakneck Road. Remember that people live on 638 and have to get out of their driveways and join the constant flow of traffic to get to work too. Add to that the children walking to the bus stops and the dog walkers and joggers and you have a lot of unsuspecting targets to hit with your car as you step on the gas to make up a few minutes lost on the commute. So please, slow down. As a warning, I have mentioned this potential perfect storm scenario to the Mayor and the Council President and have received more police coverage in the area, so it is in your best interest all around to slow down through the area. You will get to work, I always do, albeit a little late, but a life saved is worth the time and effort.


Jeanne Jameson, President

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