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Candidates for Club board respond to criticism

Three candidates for the Country Club board submitted the following letter and asked that it be posted:

Upon reading the editorial in the RVT from last week, we feel a response and explanation are in order.  As for Vince’s tenure as President of the board, he served as President from 2007 through 2011.  He was not a member of the Board in 2012 and he was appointed to the Board by the President Bob Wright in 2013.  Bob served as President for those two years.  The following year Vince was nominated and elected by a majority of the Board to serve as President.   

There is no truth to the charge that Vince twisted the bylaws to remain on the board.  To claim that he manipulated the board is profoundly disrespectful to the members with whom we served.   You know them, they are your neighbors - Dick Stenstrom, Clint Souza, Buzz Breedlove, Vern Wallace, Dennis Martel, Ray Bray and Chris Pasek.  They are all honest and straight shooters.  All seven of them have several years of tenure of their own.

As for the decision to have two elections, that was the nominating committee’s position and not one board member who was not on that committee had any role in working with the committee including us. Vince had nothing to do with that decision or input.

We are concerned that there are several members of the Club, some that are running for the Board, that have questioned the Club’s financials or lack of.   On the contrary, the club is very focused on our financial oversight.   They are reviewed in detail by the full Finance Committee and the Board each month and once the Board approves the financials they are posted in detail on the Club’s website.  In the past 3 years or so never has the Board or Finance committee been approached to discuss or refute any findings by any member.

The Controller of the Country Club (an independent contractor) has her own accounting business and she is another member of the community.  The club’s accounting firm has provided audited financial statements over the years and while we did not do one for 2016 financials due to the cost (costs exceed $24,000 per year), we did pay for a complete review of the financials by the same accounting firm Clifton/Larson/Allen formally Gallina.  Plus, on several occasions this year we have asked a partner of CLA to review our financials and answer questions as needed for the potential buyer of the Club.

We are often asked why do we want to remain on the RMCC Board.  It’s simple.  The Board, including us, made a commitment to sell the Club to a worthy buyer, who understood private golf clubs and would work with the community and the developer.  It was critical for us that, most importantly, the buyer must show respect for the membership.  While the agreement with Bob Husband has fallen though, we believe we are close to completing that commitment because we have a solid plan.  However, it will take a lot of work to see it through over the next year and we believe continuity will be important in this effort.

While we firmly believe that each community member should have some type of membership in the Club, we also believe it should be a personal choice of each resident and should not be forced or mandated.  The Board believes that by selling the Club we can provide services and amenities of which the 57% of the community who current do not have any type of membership will want to join.  This is why Bill Armstrong, Jeff Frost and Vince Lepera are running for board seats. 

The Club’s charter is simple, we are a private facility and should maintain that.  However, we do believe there is room to structure a club that that can, for a very limited cost, provide important amenities.  This was the goal of Mr. Husband and will also be the objective of a new buyer or Bob Husband as well.  It is why during the last several months Mr. Husband, with the Boards support and backing, met with community leaders to discuss these possibilities.

When the sale of the club commenced several months ago, the Board allowed the prior assessment to lapse in March of 2017.  As a result, our financials are below our March 2017 levels.  To address this reduction, the Board has cut costs, reduced staff, while at the same time keeping the courses in good condition.   Even with these limited cash resources we have kept the Club on a breakeven or profitable basis.  This has been the case during our entire time on the Board.  When the Board has felt compelled to ask for additional funding from members, we were able to inform everyone exactly where and how your funds were being spent.  With this said, we do feel that it is critical for our members to support the assessment that is on this ballot.

When we read the concern expressed that this Board is set on a bankruptcy option and we have made our minds up, we think everyone needs to take our actions with the understanding that every vote is taken only after serious deliberation.  For instance, we believe there were at least 4 extensions on the purchase of the Club because the Board attempted to find an option that made sense for both parties.

If any member of the Club or a member of the community thinks that this Board or the advisory committees that work with our grounds, infrastructure, or financials is taking anything lightly, then that’s a mistake.  Again, as we stated earlier all RMCC board members clearly understands the gravity of our current situation because they not only represent the Club, the members, but also try to represent the homeowners inside the gates. The majority of the Board are homeowners inside the gates of the community.

As for our levels of communication, just over 20 months ago, the Board held membership “town hall” meetings and it was clearly outlined reasons why this club needed to be sold.   During the months when the sale was moving forward, we sent out regular email updates from both the general manager and from the president.  While not all of those updates provided as much information as every member might have liked it was because there were often limits on what could be said in public during those months.  However, the effort was made to maintain those lines of communication.

While the club is a “gem” it needs to be polished and to do that it needs close to 3 million dollars immediately to put in a couple of amenities and we as a Board believe within a 3 to 5-year period another 4 million dollars will be needed as well.  The question is if the Club is not sold to a well-funded professional management company, can it survive on its own?  Is the membership willing to be assessed over 7 million dollars especially given there are only 11 years remaining on the lease?  Additionally, will the community step up and purchase the land the Club sits on?  There is a real value in the land as well.  Does the Club continue to pay a large portion of benefits to our employees that far exceed industry standards? 

Frankly, the Club is at a critical juncture.  Our circumstance is uniquely complicated.  Private golf clubs like RMCC are part of a declining industry in a highly competitive market.   We are going to need all the wisdom and experience we can bring to bear.  As accomplished as the Slate of Eight candidates are, the fact is that only one has ever served on the Club’s Board of Directors and only one has served on a club advisory committee. They have attended few if any Board meetings except for those of the Town Hall type.  It’s with a great deal of thought when we say this but we believe that this is not the time to turn the club over to talented novices.  

Whatever happens in this election, we are sure that all of us running want what is best for the Club, and please remember, we are volunteers.

Vince Lepera, Jeff Frost and Bill Armstrong

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