This Is our Village

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enough Already and No Dirty Laundry Here!!!

(Ken Tonis requested that I post this letter to the blog on his behalf, as he doesn't have access to a computer at the present time. )

Interesting name, "Tonis" according to the Property Appraiser (PAPA) site, there is no such property owner in all of PBC, so perhaps this is a very new owner, relative of an owner, or perhaps a renter. If a renter, he is only responsible for his rent, which is no doubt higher than his Association coupon and the WPRF coupon combined which also "Ken" is not responsible for. Let's move along from there!

Yes, for many, Century Village is a wonderful place to live, and for some it's a relatively inexpensive place to live as well. However, the monthly costs that are now being placed on the residents of Century Village by UCO and WPRF, and the HOA's that are responsible for those monthly payments, is becoming increasingly painful to the vast majority of unit owners who are on fixed incomes and/or have other uncontrolled expenses(contrary to popular belief, there have been no Social Security increases for 2 years, and none likely in the foreseeable future our government is broke).

I can't argue with the fact that costs are escalating and are high, welcome to America, consider the WPRF coupon, about $100.00 per month; some a bit more, some a bit less. Try experiencing anything like the Rec. facility amenities anywhere off Campus for that price!! Your Association (which is not actually a HOA) Coupon is quite reasonable compared to what a similar apartment would cost off Campus.

Here at Southampton A, our monthly and quarterly UCO dues now consume nearly 50% of our annual budget, and that is after the 40% reduction we saw in our Insurance bill, an action that was initiated by our Association with Alex Hartman, an agent for the Alan James Insurance Company in Sunrise, Florida, and then taken advantage of by UCO at the last minute. Let's not get into how many millions UCO cost the Associations over the years it did business with Plastridge Insurance, and how many millions more had our Association not been in contact with Alan James Insurance.

The 50% claim is absurd, do your arithmetic, the UCO percentage of your Association coupon is about 25%, consider the services being paid for this is a grade A bargain: Transportation, Security, Cable TV, Irrigation, and Ambulance. Off Campus, Cable alone would be 67% higher for the identical product.
As for the reduction in Insurance Premium, your current UCO Administration obtained, (some Two Million Dollars), it had nothing whatsoever to do with Alex Hartman. That reduction was achieved by our Administration simply following the requirement of our Bilateral Agreement and constructing an excellent RFP (Request for Proposal bid specs) and putting the coverages out for Bids (Thank due to Toni Salometo our licensed Insurance Committee Chair). You can hardly blame the current Administration for what happened with Plastridge.

But the issue at hand is the cost of living here at Century Village and what we get in return. I'm writing this letter because the "GREEN BUS" issue pushed many CV citizens over the edge, I know it did me. Yes the bus system is a great and wonderful convenience, but at what cost? The city of West Palm Beach provides buses, which tax payers subsidize, but the riders pay the bulk of the cost. Why not here at CV? And why the great expense of purchasing new buses, and let's be honest, things like this never pay for themselves, when we can convert the existing buses to Natural Gas, saving more money than electricity, which is only going to get more expensive, and the cost of the new "GREEN" buses. Oh yes, Federal Grants from a broke government. Let's do the government a favor and CONVERT TO NATURAL GAS!!

There are a lot of issues being bundled here, but the following may be helpful.
Have you read Judge Poulton's consent decree making Transportation a common expense; are you even aware of it? I do not know what the age of the writer is, but in due course, you will not be able to drive, this will happen to all of us and we will be thankful for the busses when that time comes. Our system is one of the best of any Condo Community in Florida.
The current bus fleet is five years old with thousands of miles of wear and tear, converting them to any alternate use is an absolute non starter. The concept of new busses powered by CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is one of many considered, this technology still has a Carbon footprint (albeit reduced), and the cost reduction over gasoline is not that significant. Use of gasoline will add no less than one half million dollars to the contract over five years. Electric technology time has come, and our senior demographic can do without the belching fumes.

On another note, the beautiful green grass, that is, if UCO is making sure your association gets water, which of course, not all are. Each Association pays an equal amount, I'm sure, but does not get equal water. What has to be done, is dredge the canals, particularly the South Canal. The drought we are encountering now could well be with us for a decade to come and capturing and holding water is the first solution. If not, the Associations should only pay for the water they use and have access to.

Please do your research, the problem is simple we have experienced a deep drought, you can dredge the canals to China the fact that dredged canals can hold more water is obvious and irrelevent, it will be lost to percolation and evaporation. We need rain, we are receiving some 900Kgallons of reclaimed water per day for the past month. The remedies for this, such as lining the lakes, lagoons and canals would be expensive beyond your wildest dreams!

Security is a great concern to many of the elderly and senior citizens here at CV, yet the most vulnerable location to trespassing is the least protected. That would be the wall along the golf course, east of Southampton C, and behind the shopping center where the 'local' hangout opens around 9 PM. The wall has no wiring on top of it and is only about 5-6' tall. Even at my age, I could probably get over it.

The placement of barbed wire is prohibited by code and the wall does not belong to us, so we cannot just extend it's height. Again do your research prior to complaining. The key to this problem is to take PBSO up on the offer they make at nearly every Delegate Assembly meeting. If you see trespassers,   call PBSO!

As for the outside looking in, we have a gentleman who is always doing something around the village, and a good job he does, such as picking up trash along Haverhill, but conversely never along Okeechobee, and this is a larger reflection upon who we are in the entire Century Village. I'm sure there's a logical explanation.

Haskell does what he can, it is hot out there, would you like to volunteer to trash pick along about 1 mile of Haverhill Road?

As for the Comcast situation, I'll only say, Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. There should never have been a 67% INCREASE from one year to the next, no matter how inexpensive one may think our cable bill is. I feel safe in saying this was/is a tremendous burden on all of the Associations here at Century Village.

Please do your research, the first year Cable fee was offset by close to one million dollars from the signing bonus!

I'm told our Association was told by UCO that Phyllis Richland was our Quadrant spokesperson in place of the recovering Sal Bummolo, and our prayers go out to him, and that upon asking her to attend our monthly meeting in May she replied, "...I don't go to association meetings...". So much for caring and helping if this is true.

Phyllis has had family issues and is not feeling well for awhile, currently, we have one VP regularly present in UCO; research sir! get the facts.

Simply put WPRF imposed a $8.56 per month increase on each unit, or approximately $801,000 this year alone. I ask, "...look around, do you see it?....". On average, each unit pays over $1300 per year, which is approximately $10,200,000 per year to WPRF. Can you see it now?

Actually, the Operations Committee (have you ever attended a meeting)reduced the original WPRF draft budget by $400K.
This was done by implementation of our Bid Committee and we will continue this effort. As noted above, try to obtain such amenities off Campus for less!

In closing, please don't construe these as complaints, frustrations or dirty laundry. They are observations to help make Century Village the greatest gated community in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Ken Tonis

As noted in the Comment stream, if you have some ideas, and you are willing to research and HELP, volunteer at UCO, we can always use good people, we save many dollars by "employing" volunteers.

Green text by Dave Israel
United Civic Organization


  1. Glad to see someone with some thoughts on CV. However, that letter is so typical of people who huddle on the fringe, exchanging misinformation, and blaming the UCO volunteers BUT do not go into UCO to share their wisdom and concerns. So get in the game Ken, join some committees, get a reality check.
    I will leave it to the diligent and tireless Prez Dave to detangle this.
    Remember Ken - for every complex and difficult problem there is a quick and easy answer and it is wrong.

  2. David I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on your comments about Alex Hartman.
    Alex contributed a great deal in resolving the mess that the insurance was in at the start of your administration. You may recall, that it was Alex, who first drew our attention to the over inflated cost of our policies and spent many hours explaining why. He also made the initial discovery of the blanked out commission fees in all 309 association policies that had been obliterated by Palsteridge at the time when the insurance committee were still considering them as agents.
    Under your administration, the Insurance Committee has taken enormous strides and should be justly proud of their achievements. Alex Hartman on the other hand, wasn't allowed to submit an insurance bid to UCO. The reason given, you may recall, was that he had too much prior knowledge of our policies!

  3. Hi Sue,
    July 21, 2011 2:15 AM,

    I plead guilty to understating his contribution, but had he not existed, we still would have gone out for bids and thus broken the prior decade of monopolistic practice.

    The key, I feel, was to enthusiastically approach other markets which I feel were available at least two years earlier.

    In the end, things worked out well, and I hope will continue to do so!

    Thanks for your reminder, that redaction of the numbers trick was indeed a doozy!

    Dave Israel

  4. Ken, The person you see cleaning up litter is Haskell Morin, a super volunteer for decades. He has adopted a section of Haverhill, thru the FDOT Adopt-A-Highway Program, his name is on the appreciation sign. It is a fine gift to the community but it is his individual decision – not UCO related.
    I bet there is someone (fit enuf to climb over a 6' wall) who could adopt Okeechobee Blvd. Or would you rather raise our fees to hire someone to do that for you.

  5. Thanks again Dave for laying the facts out as they are, not the pool gossip.

  6. Realizing your post is a back-handed swipe, be assured I take no offense. And to be honest, I don't know what huddling on the fringe means. What I do know, as a board member of Southampton A, I and others on the board work hard everyday trying to keep our controllable expenses as low as poosible to help offset the every rising cost that UCO is putting upon us.
    And may I suggest Elaine that you and other volunteers take a ride over to the Southamptons, the busses are free if you need tranportation, and check out the dead tree limbs hanging on wall, untrimmed hedges, the unmowed grass as you enter our area of CV, the over-hanging and uncut branches, the burnt grass etc. And you might even see something we've missed. Then report back on how you'd like your building(s) landscape to look like ours. As a 6 year owner in CV, I don't look for quick and easy answers, but I do have eyes, and I surly know what I see, and ears to know what I've been told by UCO employees. Looking forward to your report card...KenT

  7. wife and I seldom go to the pool, so could you place inform us as to which pool is best for getting the latest gossip. Because of your posting, I suspect your an expert on this subject..KenT

  8. Suggestion:

    A class for all residents of CV-WPB, to understand what to do when they have a complaint. The residents should understand that each association is responsible for their own piece of land and their apartments, and UCO is responsible for assisting residents who need help. I think that many of the residents of CV do not understand what the procedure for fixing problems are, and who is responsible for rixing problems.


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