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April 18, 2011



Board Members Present:  Ellena, Guyer, Jane, Moles, Smith


Management Present:  Miller, Lyon


Members:  Sign-in sheet available


Meeting called to order at 6:34 p.m.




Ellena moved, Smith seconded to accept the Open Minutes of March 21, 2011 as written.

Approved 5-0


Smith Tree & Landscape


Management provided the Board with the bid (including annual totals for grounds management and plant health care maintenance for the next 5 years) from Smith Tree & Landscape Service:








Higher yearly totals reflect the alternating years when the ash tree treatments will need to be applied.  These treatments have proved beneficial.  Highlands has saved 83 ash trees and lost only 7 ash trees since the treatment program began. 


Smith Tree & Landscape is also prepared to give Highlands a discount of 5% each year if the total bid is pre-paid.  The Board is requesting that this discount be in writing, as it is not in the current contract presented.


Management reminded the Board that full pre-payment funding would require borrowing from the Replacement/Reserve (R&R) account, and then making payment back to ourselves.  Not doing so would reduce the R&R account to an unacceptable balance.   


Guyer moved, Smith seconded to approve the five-year contract with Smith Tree & Landscape Service, pending receipt of the 5% pre-paid agreement in writing, for the stated amounts.  Funds will be allotted from the Replacement/Reserve account while ash tree treatment costs will be allotted from the Surcharge account.  Approved 5-0


Siding Replacement Program


Bids for the Siding Replacement Program from Gekle Builders and Evert were reviewed and discussed by the Board and Management.  Due to the choices involving the quality of material to be used, a range of prices relative to the building size are presented in the bids.  Siding color is also affected by the quality of materials chosen.  


Several aspects including quality of material, type of material (vinyl), interlocking installation method, and warranties were discussed.  Bids do not include shutter replacement on the buildings.  Gekle Builders has agreed to purchase shutters at their cost for the Cooperative.   Management is recommending that shutters only be replaced in areas where they will come in contact with the siding, and that our Maintenance staff installs them. 


A phone poll of Board members regarding this project will be completed after questions regarding product warranty are provided.  This should be completed by the end of the week.


Property Goals


Projects currently in progress included Siding Replacement, Porch/concrete replacement and Parking lot maintenance/replacement programs.  The Highlands Cooperative Association Facebook page has been completed by Smith.  Ms. Miller has been able to get an initial Highlands webpage constructed too. 


Ms. Miller is asking that the webpage remain on the Property Goals list so that she can further develop it during the upcoming year.  No other projects were identified at this time.


Property Tax Appeal


Mr. Lyon has forwarded the necessary information to tax attorney Patrick VanTiffin.  Mr. VanTiffin’s initial opinion is that Highlands should not appeal but, after he has reviewed everything he will give us a written response. 


Management provided the Board with additional information about the State of Michigan Tax Tribunal procedures.  The deadline to appeal is May 31, 2011.


Mr. Lyon will be looking into this process further once Mr. VanTiffin submits his written response.


 July 2011 HUD Requirements Removal


Beginning in July 2011, Highlands will no longer be mandated to follow any HUD

guidelines and/or requirements.  This means that existing procedures, handbook policies, and the Occupancy Agreement need to be revised to reflect this change. 


Management explained that some HUD guidelines will remain. For example, family composition vs. the purchase of various sized units, and continuing the surcharge guidelines.   Additionally, initial ideas regarding the recertification process including using the Member’s income tax return for verification of income, quarterly reviews, and when letters proving income from Social Security or Child Support might be needed were explained. 


Guyer asked that a more streamlined method for signing the final paperwork in the recertification process be looked at during the writing of these procedures. 


Member Marjorie Drake, 6258 Haag, also suggested that a Member’s death and leaving the unit to relatives be addressed.


Management will draft new recertification procedures and changes to existing policies/procedures for the Board’s review.


MSU Game Program


The Board reviewed a proposal for advertising in the MSU Game Programs for the 2011-2012 Football, Basketball and Hockey season as Highlands did in 2010-2011.    


Management stated that Highlands did not receive any potential sales from last year’s advertising program.  Nearly all our sales are by word-of-mouth or drive-by inquiries. Highlands has 11 units up for sale at this time; which very good considering the current economy.


Given the results of the past year, there was Board Consensus not to advertise in the program at this time.


Mr. Moles suggested that Highlands investigate advertising in the Cooley Law School newspaper (The Pillar).  Cooley students are much closer to Highlands, and probably do not have as many housing opportunities close to their school as MSU students do.  Management will follow-up with this suggestion.


New Business


Gas Transportation Cost


Mr. Lyon informed the Board that he was able to procure a gas transportation price of $5.75 per MCF.  This is compared to a cost last year of $6.50 per MCF. 


Board of Water and Light


Mr. Lyon also informed the Board that the Board of Water & Light is expected to raise the cost of water by 9% later this year; and by another 20% in 2012.  If these predictions are accurate, the cost to the Cooperative could be increased significantly. 


Trash Contract


Management reported that our current contract with our trash collection service does not actually run out until November 2011; and the newly negotiated contract will become effective at that time.  


During the recent year the contractor has acquired more work with the State of Michigan and is requesting he be allowed to start an initial pick-up of trash prior to 9:00 am.  A second team would then come through after 9:00 am to assure that all trash has been removed.  There will be no change in Cooperative policy or Member procedure due to this minor change.




Management will be looking into the Highlands recycling costs vs. usage in the near future.  Initial monitoring by Management has shown that only about 42 people or 10% of the Membership are using it each week.  Alternatives for decreasing costs such reducing pick-up from weekly to monthly or offering a central dumpster for usage will be reviewed. 


Old Business


Mr. Moles reminded everyone that at the March Board meeting he had advocated for a larger pre-payment discount from Smith Trees and Landscape Service than the final 5% that was given to the Cooperative.


Charge List


Management provided the Board with a current charge list of services that could potentially cost the Member money if it is determined the cost is due to their neglect.


Management is asking that the minimum one hour, plus parts Maintenance fee charge of $20.00 per hour be raised to $25.00 per hour.


Smith moved, Ellena seconded to raise the hourly maintenance fee charged to Members due to their negligence be raised to $25.00 per hour, plus cost of parts.  Approved 5-0  






Marjorie Drake,


Ms. Drake recalled that the soil in each garden plot was to be tested or mineral content before the garden was tilled.  This was to help Members know what minerals their plot needed for greatest growing potential and asked if this has been done.


Employee  Mark Robert stated that this task has not yet been completed.  Management assured Ms. Drake that it would be completed before the garden plots are tilled.


At the end of the meeting, Ms. Drake added that in her 27 years on the property she has not had any problems with the noise levels caused by trash pick-up trucks, lawn mowers, or snow removal equipment.


Jane Drolett


Ms. Drolett identified several concerns including the time change for trash pick-up, the quality of our trash bags, and that she believed that the existing Board of Water and Light hook-up to the buildings are not permanent. 


Management reported that the quality of this year’s trash bags is actually higher than those distributed two years ago:

2009 bags:  gross weight limit—80 lbs

2011 bags:  gross weight limit—95 lbs     

Subsequent Member complaints regarding this issue, if any, will be monitored. Employee Mark Robert assured Ms. Drolett that the Board of Water and Lights hook-ups to the buildings are permanent as he has been working with them for some time regarding this matter. 


Georgia Vroman,


Ms. Vroman inquired if Management is evaluating areas of the Cooperative for installation of extra lighting.  She also stated that the same neighbors in her lot, with 2 vehicles, are constantly parking in the nearest visitors parking spaces, and as a result, other people are unable to use them. 


Management assured Ms. Vroman that lighting is being monitored but it is impossible to ensure that every area of the Cooperative has outdoor lighting without substantial cost to the Cooperative.


Smith reminded Ms. Vroman that use of visitor parking spaces is on a first-come first-serve basis.  If a vehicle is parked long-term without moving, however, it should be reported to the Office as this violation can be dealt with per the Parking policy. 


Management informed the Board that they are looking into Member vehicle registration procedures to help eliminate parking problems also.



Meeting Adjourned at 8:10 p.m.




I certify that this is a true and accurate statement of the Board Meeting of April 18, 2011.




Respectfully submitted,




Jackie Guyer, Secretary, Board of Directors

Highlands Cooperative Association