The Rancho Murieta Association board voted Tuesday night to go into budgeting for 2010 with an alternative budget for cable -- one that moves cable maintenance and operations funding into a separate document. The board also addressed the idea of holding real estate open houses on Saturdays and the question of Security's powers and a Security memo from earlier in the year that apparently orders the department's officers to not respond to requests from the sheriff's department.
The alternative cable budget comes from the RMA's Ad Hoc Cable Committee, which is studying how to handle the system and legal obligations in light of an association vote to let members opt out. Critics feel the committee's efforts to change the system's budget are an attempt to scuttle the operation.
"I'm not saying we're going to adopt (the alternative) in the upcoming budget," said Director Andy Keyes, chair of the Finance Committee, "it's simply to consider it."
Keyes said he believes all members are obliged to support cable maintenance and reserves. There has to be a system that's available, he said.
"We do have obligations to maintain this system. We will not turn our back on this system," he said, adding that the budget must guarantee the system's survival.
Director Dick Cox challenged the idea of having a separate budget, saying that would be in violation of the California Corporations Code, the Davis-Stirling Act and the RMA's CC&Rs and bylaws.
He said he had received a letter earlier in the day from an RMA member who offered legal criticism of the ad hoc committee's approach to cable.
The letter was written by Scott Adams, an attorney who resigned from the cable committee earlier this year after serving briefly.
The letter -- see the full text here -- is a three-page analysis of the RMA's legal obligations to the cable system.
"I am in the process of preparing a lengthy analysis of how the cable facility fits into the Governing Documents and the revenue stream upon which the cable facility must be properly maintained, operated and managed," Adams wrote. He wrote that he expects it will take another month to complete the analysis, which will be shared with the board.
"You will see that my interpretation of Association Governing Documents and California law including Davis-Stirling fit perfectly like a puzzle," he wrote. "No one part is inconsistent with another. My interpretation is also consistent with the advice repeatedly provided you by your own Association counsel, and consistent with prior performance of the Association."
Board members did not discuss Adams' letter. At least one director said he hadn't received it.
Moore said the board is trying to reflect the members' wishes.
"I think it is the duty of the board of directors to our very best at following the wishes of the people," he said. "We have struggled with this for a long time, but we are making progress. Looking at the budget this way is just one more step in the torturous process we have been going through."
He said the board will have to choose a budget approach by September, when the board will hold its budget workshop for 2010.
The board voted 5-2 to have an alternative budget, with Cox and Director Candice Koropp voting no. Director Mike Martel, who usually votes with the other two on these issues, said he voted yes not because he supports the idea but simply to consider the possibility.
Ted Ryon, chair of the Ad Hoc Cable Committee, said the group will complete its work by Sept. 1 and give the board a full report and recommendations, complete with supporting documents.
Ryon disputed a claim in an RM.com story published Monday. He said the story was wrong when it said he told the committee that a consultant, Peregrine Communications, told him the RMA was using unskilled people to perform tasks for the study Peregrine was hired to produce.
The board held a 20-minute discussion about the possibility of Saturday homes-for-sale open houses. In the end, the idea was sent to the Compliance Committee as the first step in a process, including public comment, that could turn it into reality.
The item was put on the agenda by Cox, who said the depressed economy requires some special measures.
"I believe we have to give our members an assist where we can in helping sell homes out here," he said.
Director Mel Standart said he's not aware of any data that says open houses help sell homes. "We're just inviting the looky-lous to spend more time in Rancho Murieta," he said.
The directors raised questions about the level of security provided by CSD and the amount members pay -- questions that have been asked repeatedly by RMA boards in recent years.
Martel said there was a domestic violence arrest in the community July 4 that has gone unreported. The other directors weren't aware of it.
Cox said it's possible CSD wasn't involved in the domestic violence situation because that's outside their responsibilities and it could have been handled directly by the sheriff's department.
Martel said he believes the first call was to Security. "So if I'm wrong -- I don't believe I am -- I think there was other violence that occured in Rancho Murieta that's not being reported," Martel said.
Cox then read a March 5, 2009, memo from Security Chief Greg Remson to his officers. See the full text of the memo here.
The memo says Remson had been instructed by CSD General Manager Ed Crouse not to perform law enforcement functions. "This includes providing assistance to and responding with or for (the sheriff's department)," the memo says.
The memo lists a dozen situations where Security officers should not help, including calls for service by deputies or sheriff's dispatch. "Politely refuse these requests due to policy," the memo directs.
When asked how he had received the document, Cox said it had been provided by an RMA member who is unhappy about the situation.
RanchoMurieta.com will follow up with Remson about this story on Wednesday.
There will be a special community meeting 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 to examine the North Gate redesign possibilities. The meeting will be chaired by Paul Gumbinger, former RMA president.
Director Andy Keyes asked in recent months why the RMA hasn't gone ahead with reconstruction of the North Gate when there is more than a million dollars in developer money committed to the project. Gumbinger, who was involved with the Mutual Benefit Agreement and its provisions for a new North Gate, will offer answers at the session, held at the RMA Building.
Below is live-blog coverage of the meeting and the time in the live blog when coverage of a topic begins:
6:53 p.m. -- Discussion of the cable budget
7:06 p.m. -- Ted Ryon on the Ad Hoc Cable Committee's work
7:53 p.m. -- Saturday open houses
8:17 p.m. -- Unreported crime and Security memo