Minutes of Buffalo Point Cottage Owners Association Annual General Meeting
June 10, 2017 Middlebro Community Centre
The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. by Leilani Kagan. She introduced to Board members in attendance; Brad Vollrath, Veronica Johnson, Susan Hart-Kulbaba, Mike Millner and Len Gaudet. She introduced committee members.
It was moved and seconded to adopt the agenda as circulated. This motion passed.
It was moved and seconded to adopt the minutes of the 2016 Annual General Meeting as posted on the website. This motion passed.
Leilani Kagan reported on the status of the litigation. There was a consent award from Arbitrator Peltz and Minutes of Settlement (MOS) in 2015. In the MOS a mediation process was entered into by both the BP First Nation (BPFN) and Development Corporation (BPDC) and the Cottage Owners Association (BPCOA) to determine the amounts owed, if any, to the BPCOA on account of overcharged taxes and legal costs. That mediation resulted in an award to the BPCOA on August 5, 2015 and a variation Award in October 2015. All payments owing from the BPFN/BPDC have now been paid.
The MOS also outlined agreed upon amounts of increases to the mill rates for 3 years (2015, 2016 and 2017). The cottage owners will have received and paid their 2017 tax assessments by the time of this meeting. The mill rates related to those tax increases were in accordance with the terms of the MOS. After 2017 there is no agreed upon increase in the tax rates. The process going forward is that the BPFN will present their proposed tax rate increase and the budgetary information to justify any increase and the BPCOA has a very short period of time (Schedule A of the MOS allows only 14 days after the information was to be provided to us) to determine whether we agree with this amount. If we do not agree, either because the information has not been provided, or the information was provided but we believe the level of increase is clearly excessive or unnecessary for the provision of local services and the other methods of resolving our concerns have failed, we may refer the matter to binding mediation. We may jointly select a mediator from the roster of mediators which we are to review no later than October 31 of each taxation year. We have been unable to agree to a roster of names so we will be going to Arbitrator Peltz to appoint a roster of mediators as per the MOS. This is where we find ourselves today. The First Nation Tax Commission (FNTC) has not approved this method of resolving any dispute despite the fact that the parties involved have agreed to it. After receiving legal advice the Board recommends that we press this matter with the FNTC over the next year so it is fully effective for the 2018 tax year. If the BPFN refuses to follow our agreement we may need to go back in court to get it enforced, which has the potential to be time consuming and expensive. We are in a better spot than we were at the start of the process since we now have a process to address our concerns. But we are unaware at this time if it will work. Arbitrator Peltz has offered to involve himself if necessary to try to get the FNTC onside again.
The FNTC also has a process with timelines for approving the tax rate and it may conflict with what we have outlined. This may provide us with a separate check and balance for the tax rates going forward related to our process.
Veronica Johnson spoke about the financial situation. It was moved and seconded to adopt the financial report. This motion passed.
The financial statements in fiscal year ending March 31/17 show assets of $133,779, revenues of $240,650 and expenditures of $216,063 for a surplus of $24,587. Brad Vollrath explained the summary of litigation finances which show lawyers’ fees of $478,379, recovery from the BPDC of $365,013 for a net loss of $113,366. $221,697 was collected from cottagers for a surplus of 108,331 for the future. The Board wanted people to understand the magnitude of the expenses it takes to carry on this process and what was left to continue with it since we have not completed the process related to the taxation laws that we were contesting. We don’t know whether we will need to go back to court or what it would cost for a mediated decision about taxes.
It was asked if the costs include the existing funds collected from the membership for arbitration when they first join as members. The first time membership includes money that is to go towards an arbitration fund. Veronica told the group that that arbitration money is part of the $24,587 that is the surplus amount and was not included in the figures outlined specific to this round of litigation.
Veronica explained that it is our intent that we would leave the money where it is and go through at least one tax year to ensure the process was used and worked and needed no further challenge and then there can be a decision about what to do with any surplus, if any, at that time.
We are continuing to collect from new cottage owners for the arbitration fund.
There was a concern raised about the costs of a legal action against the FNTC which could be seen as a second law suit and then we would need a second mandate and a second round of fundraising.
There were only a few cottage owners who did not contribute anything to the litigation. It was decided it was premature to deal with a refund of the surplus right now and that maybe after the whole process we would be in a better position for distribution of the surplus, if any, at that time. There was a discussion about mediation costs. Leilani explained the steps the Board is taking to reduce the dependence on and the fees from the law firm going forward.
Veronica made reference to those people who paid their $1,200 contribution to the legal fund and are now moving away prior to distribution of any funds. She stated that as long as they leave us their forwarding address we will be sure to include them in any distribution we may have in the future.
The last AGM instructed the Board to look at the number of Board Members in the by-laws. After discussion it was moved article 6.01 be amended to read as follows:
6.01 The affairs of the Association shall be managed by a Board of not less than four (4) directors and up to eight (8) directors of whom a majority shall constitute a quorum. Directors must meet the criteria for membership set out in sections 5.01 and 5.02 of this bylaw.
Notwithstanding vacancies, the remaining directors may exercise all powers of the Board so long as a quorum of the Board remains in office. The numbers of Directors of the Board shall only be changed by a resolution passed by the Directors and confirmed by two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast at a meeting of the members of the Association.
The motion was seconded. 2/3 of the members in attendance voted to pass the amended motion.
Nominations were held for Board positions held by Veronica Johnson and Mike Millner, whose terms are up. The terms are for a two year period ending at the AGM in 2019.
Veronica Johnson and Mike Milner were nominated for the Board.
Both nominations were seconded. Both nominees accepted to stand for the positions and were declared acclaimed as Board members. Congratulations were extended.
It was asked whether we need approval to proceed to mediation in the spring when no one was out at Buffalo Point. Susan stated that in the bylaws and the Board has the mandate to make any financial decisions. We already have approval to take on this fight and we see it as part of the same fight/litigation process.
It is moved and seconded that the Board returns to the 2018 BPCOA Annual General Meeting with a recommendation that outlines voting rights on how litigation fund surpluses should be distributed. The motion was carried.
Karen Stang made a report from the Volunteer Appreciation Committee. Increasing costs may mean that we need to find other ways and kinds of events to celebrate our community activists. We may need to do these awards events every second year, depending on the nomination process. Karen is looking for fresh volunteers for this committee. Karen also spoke about the new Volunteer Committee. The mandate of the committee is to liaise with the Board to identify BPCOA community events and volunteer recognition opportunities. The committee members would identify and approach volunteers to organize such events and recruit BPCOA members to volunteer at those events. Karen encouraged members to nominate folks when the nomination forms come out in the email.
Susan spoke about committees the Board has approved. The Membership Committee has Joan Demetrioff on the East Shore and Karen Patterson on the South Shore acting as co-coordinators. Many thanks go to Karen, who has resigned her position, for her many years of filling this role and welcome to Danielle Charette who will be replacing her. Veronica Johnson also serves on this committee. The role of that committee is to ensure that BPCOA membership data is current, new members are greeted and understand the goals of our Association, and to collect membership fees. The Communication Committee will determine, with the Board, a communication strategy. They will liaise with the website host to produce more regular newsletters or other methods of membership contacts, and ensure that events and news is posted on the website. They will also coordinate volunteers to identify the news or photos of interest to the membership, write profiles or news stories and manage the distribution of paper copies to those members not linked to technology. We are currently looking for volunteers to serve as coordinators for our committees and volunteers to be committee members. Anyone interested please approach any Board Members.
Additionally we have a Budget Committee coordinated by Steve Stang. The purpose is to review information provided by the tax administrator and BPFN to ensure the MOS is adhered to and make recommendations to the Board about whether we should challenge the proposed level of taxes being put forward by the BPFN. Steve will work with others to do this work in a timely way to meet the deadlines outlined in the MOS.
Dolores Beaumont spoke about the Cancer Care golf tournament which will take place August 11. 2017. The committee needs money for prizes and hole sponsors. Pledge sheets are available and each pledge is tax receipt-able. Last year this tournament raised $28,000.00 for cancer care. Contact 204-437-2680 to speak to Dolores and make your commitment.
Brad Vollrath made some announcements. Many people have raised the issue of having a BPCOA picnic as we have in the past. As we are trying to re-establish a positive relationship with BPFN we do not want an event that competes with Buffalo Days and we have had trouble getting volunteers for a picnic as many cottagers volunteer at Buffalo Days. We are donating $1000 to offset some food costs and sponsor Buffalo Days picnic. The Ice Fishing Derby has been successful for years and returned a small profit. The organizers have made a request that money be donated for playground equipment at Fawnway Park. This year we are pledging $3000 towards that end. Mark your calendars for the 2nd Annual Family Fun Golf Tournament on July 29th
It was moved and seconded to adjourn the meeting at 12:10 pm.