From time to time the board or the managing agent will post important announcements here.

Sometimes notices that are distributed to shareholders or tenants  or notices that are posted in the lobby will also be posted here, though, for various policy reasons, not every notice will be posted here.

Electricity Metering During The Emergency

posted Mar 26, 2020, 6:58 AM by Marc Donner

As some of you may recall, when Lincoln Towers was built in 1961 there was a combination of low electricity costs and an oversupply of rental apartments.  As a result, the owner decided not to charge for electricty.


On conversion in 1986 the new Cooperatives continued this policy.


One consequence of this practice was widespread waste of electricity within the complex.


Submetering


In 2003 this Cooperative, 205 West End, voted overwhelmingly to install electricity meters in the spaces originally constructed for them and start billing shareholders for their actual usage along with the monthly maintenance.  One of the consequences of making consumption visible was a dramatic drop in usage. After submetering went into effect in 2003 electricity usage in the residence dropped 25%. This drop in usage has persisted.


The meters are in hallway cabinets on every third floor.  These meters are read each month by a company, Bay City, that has contracted with us to do this meter reading.


Meter Reading in the COVID-19 Emergency


As you know, the Cooperative has established stringent restrictions on traffic to the building during the emergency.  Delivery people must leave items at the front desk, and residents must come down to pick them up.


The Cooperative has informed Bay City that we will not let their meter readers into the building during the emergency.  As a result, Bay City will be estimating electricity consumption for each unit during the emergency, and charges will be posted accordingly.  These estimates will be based on the historical usage by each unit.


Once the emergency is over and meters can be read directly again, AKAM will reconcile the differences between the estimated and actual usage, crediting or debiting the monthly bill as appropriate.


Thank you for your understanding of actions we are taking to ensure your health and safety during this emergency.

Social Distancing

posted Mar 20, 2020, 6:13 AM by Marc Donner

The Board and Management of the Cooperative have agreed on a set of recommendations for residents and guidelines for staff to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 during this emergency.


Front Desk


Please stay six feet from the front desk staff at all times.  This means that a number of customary front desk services will be suspended for the foreseeable future:


      Helping residents and visitors into and out of taxis

      Only using the electric lobby doors

      Helping with packages and luggage


In addition, the front desk will no longer stock dog treats and staff will be asked not to welcome residents and their pets behind the desk.


We will be marking the floor at the sides of the front desk with a line that we ask residents not to cross.


Maintenance Visits to Apartments


To protect both staff and residents, maintenance visits will be limited to urgent matters only.  A leak or a safety condition counts as urgent, but changing a light bulb does not.


Hygiene in Elevators

 

We have been instructed that the elevator control panels present a substantial risk for transmitting the virus.  We are examining things that we can do to allow residents and staff to minimize this risk. In the interim, please use your keys, elbow, etc., to press your floor.


It is also okay to wait for an empty elevator to implement social distancing. This may increase your travel time but is safer.


Visitors


The Cooperative does encourage you to minimize the number of visitors into your apartment during the COVID-19 emergency.

Quarantine Guidance (If You Should Have Symptoms ...)

posted Mar 20, 2020, 5:17 AM by Marc Donner   [ updated Mar 20, 2020, 5:18 AM ]

If You Should Have Symptoms ...

(Originally posted 2020-03-18)

Here is the latest update from the Board and Management of the Cooperative concerning quarantine in case of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.  This guidance is adapted from CDC and Department of Health guidance.


Please follow this guidance closely for both your own benefit as well as for our entire community.  The guidelines are designed to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.


If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or not feeling well, please contact your health care provider or call 311.


If it is necessary to travel out of the building for testing, please follow proper hygiene and common sense by covering your mouth with a mask or piece of clothing, wearing gloves, traveling in the elevator alone and practice social distancing.


Contact the front desk if you need the elevator dedicated to you and staff will arrange to take one out of general service for your trip and clean it afterwards.


Please immediately inform the building’s Resident Manager (residentmanager@205westend.com) and Management Executive (managingagent@205westend.com) if anyone in your household tests positive or has been exposed to the virus and must be quarantined per the CDC and DOH guidelines.


If you chose to voluntarily self-quarantine, please also notify by email same two people.  CDC guidance recommends such self-quarantine last 14 days.


In the case of a positive COVID-19 test result, the Cooperative and its staff will follow CDC and DOH instructions.


There are particular steps that must be taken by building staff if an apartment has occupants who are under quarantine.  These include placing deliveries at your door and  conducting a thorough cleaning of common areas that have been visited by the infected resident.


Thank you for paying close attention to these guidelines.  They are imposed for the safety of all residents and staff of the Cooperative.


Please send any questions or concerns by email to the Resident Manager, Management Executive, and directors.


We wish everyone comfort during these challenging times.

Building Operations

posted Mar 20, 2020, 5:15 AM by Marc Donner

(published 2020-03-16)


The board and management spoke today to discuss building operations considering the rapidly spreading COVID-19.  Our update dated March 9 remains in effect and, given the progress of events, we are instituting further changes for the foreseeable future.


Gym and Community Room

Effective immediately and for the foreseeable future, both the Community Room and the Gym are closed.


We are making this move for two reasons: firstly, to reduce risk to residents and to staff by establishment of social distance, and secondly to reduce the workload on and potential for contamination to the staff.


With the closing of the Gym and the Community Room we ask that residents not congregate in any other common areas of the building, including the lobby and the laundry rooms.


Major deliveries and move-ins and move-outs

We have discussed these activities at length and will be establishing appropriate hygiene protocols in line with CDC recommendations.  We are not suspending either major deliveries or move-ins and move-outs currently.


Construction and service calls

Renovations that are under way may proceed.  We are suspending for the near term the initiation of new renovation projects.


Please postpone non-urgent service calls until things settle down a bit.


Open Houses

Until further notice we are suspending real estate open houses in the building.


Laundry Rooms

The laundry rooms are a crucial shared facility.  While building staff clean them aggressively and frequently, you can help by being mindful of virus transmission when you use the room.  And, given the current circumstances, please be mindful of your use of laundry equipment.  Perhaps when you start a load in a machine or a dryer you can set a timer on your phone as a reminder to come back to retrieve it in a timely fashion and release the machine to the next user.


Volunteer corps

We will shortly be instituting a corps of volunteers who will help residents with a variety of needs with things like shopping at Jubilee or CVS.  You may volunteer by sending an email to managingagent@205westend.com.


Visitors

So long as you are not quarantined, you may continue to have visitors to your apartment.  Of course, you and your guests should follow CDC hygiene guidelines.


Thank you for your understanding as we make these policies for the safety and health of our residents, staff, and visitors.

COVID-19 Readiness

posted Mar 10, 2020, 10:50 AM by Marc Donner   [ updated Mar 10, 2020, 10:52 AM ]

As we all know, there is a worldwide outbreak of a new viral disease, called COVID-19 by public health experts.


While the primary responsibility for action rests with the New York City Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health, and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are things that the Cooperative is doing and things that you can and should be doing.


What the Cooperative is doing


1.     Beginning several weeks ago our staff secured extra supplies of disinfecting wipes and cleaning solutions, hand sanitizer and latex gloves.

2.     Staff has instituted a more frequent and rigorous cleaning process of common areas:

a.     Elevators - wiping down three times per day with disinfecting wipes the entire control panel, handrails, and marble paneling.  The call buttons on each floor are also being wiped down with disinfecting wipes.

b.    Gym, Laundry, Mail and Community Rooms – being cleaned twice per day with disinfectants. As appropriate, it is recommended you also wipe down equipment and toys prior to using them.

c.     Lobby – cleaning desk and table tops with disinfectants on frequent basis during each shift.

d.    Lobby & Basement Entry and Exit Doors – wiping down both sides of each door and knobs three times per day.

3.     Hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed at the front desk, in the Gym, the Community Room and each Laundry Room.

4.     Staff have begun to wear gloves and have been instructed to stay home if they do not feel well.  We have secured several temporary staff to fill in if we need to cover for ill staff.


Effective Immediately

      NO OUTSIDE GUESTS WILL BE PERMITTED IN THE COMMUNITY ROOM.

      UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE NO LARGE PARTIES WILL BE ACCOMMODATED.


What you can and should be doing


Some common-sense things that are recommended by health agencies:


      If you are exhibiting signs of the flu (coughing, shortness of breath, body aches, fever, sore throat) or have recently travelled to an infected region and are not feeling well, please stay at home and call your health care provider or 311.  Do NOT go into the elevator unless travelling to the doctor, have staff come to your apartment or go to the AKAM office.

      Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, not your hands.

      Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or, if not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

      Do not touch your face, especially your nose, eyes and mouth.

      Stay away from people who are sick.

      Do not shake hands.

      Clean your cell phone regularly.


Follow the guidance that can be found on public health websites:


      CDC: www.cdc.gov

      NY State Department of Health: www.health.ny.gov

      NYC Department of Health: www.nyc.gov/health


Stop The Spread (poster)


Board of Directors

Eleanor Applewhaite

Abigail Burns

Larry Chaifetz

Marc Donner

Ernie Sander

Robert Stein

Stuart Sugarman

 

 

 

2020 Maintenance Letter (December 2019)

posted Dec 14, 2019, 9:08 AM by 205 West End Avenue Owners Corporation

Dear Fellow Shareholders:

The Board, supported by the building’s accountant and management staff, has reviewed the financial projections for the 2019 year-end and has approved an operating budget for 2020.

2019 Coop Deficit Summary:

205 West End Owners Corporation (Coop) will finish 2019 with an anticipated operating deficit of $112,200.  While this operating deficit was not as much as the forecasted deficit of $295,900 in 2018, the Coop still unfortunately had higher actual expenditures than our budget projections primarily in utilities/energy costs (colder than expected winter and variability of consumption use and costs) and an increase in professional fees (tax certiorari fees for successful reduction in prior year real estate tax expense).

2020 Coop Budget Impact:

Due to the 2019 operating budget deficit of $112,200 for the Coop (noted above) and projected increases in 2020 expenses for real estate taxes, utilities/energy and insurance, shareholders can expect a 5.35% maintenance increase (for a total of $4.4802 per share per month) in 2020.

Detail of 2019 Actual with 2020 Budget Projections:

Real Estate Taxes - budgeted at cost of $6,122,400 for 2019 is projected to end 2019 at $6,117,800.  Although it came in under budget this year, in 2020 we expect to pay real estate taxes of $6,613,900, an increase of $491,500 or approximately 4.5% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600.

This continues to be the major driver of our annual maintenance increase and has significantly impacted our budgets for the last few years (real estate taxes have increased $1,237,541 or 23.0% since 2017). The Board continues to aggressively work with our accountants and tax attorneys to ensure the building’s assessed value is correct. While we were unsuccessful in appealing the 2019/2020 assessed value of the property, our tax certiorari will file another appeal with the City Tax Commission in the summer of 2020 to have our assessed value retroactively adjusted. They are cautiously optimistic that our appeal will be approved but there is no guarantee. The Board will explore other options if our appeal is not granted.

Utilities/Energy (steam heat, electricity, co-gen gas and water/sewer) - budgeted at a combined cost of $1,689,100 for 2019. While final bills are still to be presented, the projected energy expenditures in these categories are forecast in 2019 to be approximately $1,723,300. In 2020 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,744,800, an increase of $55,700 or approximately 0.5% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600.

The Board and AKAM’s Energy Department continue to review and monitor our energy costs very closely in order to project future costs as accurately as possible based upon negotiated rates and estimated consumption.  Based on the recent installation of LED fixtures in all common areas of the building and garage, the Board expects to save on our electricity expense in 2020.

Insurance – budgeted at a cost of $270,500 for 2019 is projected to end 2019 at $273,800. In 2020 we expect to pay $302,700, an increase of $32,200 or approximately 0.3% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600. The building’s insurance carrier has indicated our premium is increasing due to more restrictive terms set by the insurance companies. The Board will continue to work with our broker to ensure we have the proper coverage relative to our expense.

Staff Payroll/Benefits (wages, union benefits, payroll taxes, workers compensation, and disability insurance) – budgeted at a combined cost of $1,681,000 for 2019 is projected to end 2019 at $1,575,100. In 2020 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,663,100, a decrease of $17,900 or approximately (0.2)% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600.

As always, many of our expenses are not under the board and management’s direct control.  Labor costs are set by union contracts; insurance rates are dictated by carriers; energy prices by the market; and taxes, water, and sewer charges by the City. The Board consistently tries to be both prudent in our expenditures and to make full use of opportunities to contribute to our building’s overall financial health. This includes reviewing and reducing costs whenever and wherever possible.

Final numbers for 2019 are still to be confirmed. They will be audited by our accountant and reviewed with you at our annual Shareholders’ Meeting in the Spring. As in previous years, we will be recouping some of the increased operating costs by retaining the NYC real estate tax rebate due most shareholders in the first quarter of 2020. You will see a credit/debit journal entry on a future statement. From an accounting standpoint this is treated as an operating assessment.

While the maintenance increase in 2020 is relatively high, 205 West End Avenue is one of the most conservatively managed buildings in the Lincoln Towers complex. This is measured by maintenance increase percentages over the years, maintenance per share, overall balance sheet strength, capital improvement measures and reserve balance.

We appreciate your ongoing confidence and support in the Board and management’s handling of the building.  The entire Board wishes you and your families a joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy 2020.

Sincerely,

Stuart Sugarman - President
Robert Stein - Treasurer
Eleanor Applewhaite
Abigail Burns
Larry Chaifetz
Marc Donner
Ernie Sander

Blackout - Postmortem Report and Next Steps

posted Jul 26, 2019, 2:34 PM by Marc Donner

West Side Blackout


In our previous update, dated July 18, we reported on several system failures experienced by 205 West End Avenue in consequence of the July 13 blackout.


In this report we will summarize what we have learned in investigating these failures and what plans management has agreed with the board to address the failures.


The Cogen System


While we have been testing the cogen system quarterly, it failed on July 13th.


The root of the problem was a failed cooling pump and a failed battery.  Because of the blackout the network connection used by the maintenance company was down, making it impossible for them to diagnose the problems.  And the blackout conditions made travel time for their technician much longer than anticipated, so he arrived at 205 after power was restored by the utility.


We will be taking two primary actions to remedy this weakness:

  1. We will test the blackout capability of the cogen system monthly instead of quarterly until such time as we are confident that the system is as reliable as we want it to be.  In fact, we conducted a test, which was successful, on July 19th.
  2. We will train most or all of the staff in how to transition the cogen system to blackout emergency generator status.  Five members of our staff had been trained.


The Emergency Lighting System


We learned several important things:

      The emergency lighting system is only rated to provide 90 minutes of lighting.

      Many of our lights failed in significantly less time than the rating.

      Most other buildings affected by the blackout experienced similar failures of these emergency lighting systems.


The board and management have agreed to pursue the following plan of action:

      We are evaluating passive luminescent tape that we can apply in the stairways.  These absorb ambient light and reemit it for about 90 minutes.

      We will test samples of our backup lighting systems to see how reliable their batteries are.

      We will explore the marketplace in cooperation with AKAM to see if there are more reliable products available to replace our current emergency lighting system.


The Elevators


The elevator system is designed to lower the car to the nearest floor and open the doors.


The elevator controller opens the doors of occupied cars once they are safely at a floor.  The controller relies on weight sensors built into the cars to tell which cars are occupied.


The motors that move the elevators, along with their power supplies and their computerized controllers are all located in a structure on the roof of the building called a head house.  Because the system produces a lot of heat, each head house is equipped with an air conditioner to keep the equipment at an appropriate operating temperature.


One of the A/C units had failed, so the temperature in that head house was too high, resulting in the emergency control system failing.  As it happened, the one elevator that was occupied at the time of the blackout happened to be under that head house.  The elevator did lower itself to within a few inches of the floor below, but failed to open its door.


Building staff have taken these actions in response:

  1. Replaced the failed A/C unit in the head house.
  2. Added the two head houses to the regular inspection schedule.
  3. And we will develop and implement a test for safe recovery behavior and add it to our monthly test program.


Front Desk Telephones


The power outage rendered our FIOS installation inoperable.  The telephone system complexity is too great for us to be able to adopt a simple solution, so we will work to enhance the reliability of our front desk phones.


We intend to work with our telephone service provider to establish the ability for our main number (1-212-496-5218) to ring through to several instruments at the desk, including one or more cell phones, regardless of the availability of power at the front desk.


Trust But Verify


Our system is well designed and should be capable of weathering a blackout like the one we experienced on July 13th with far fewer failures.


Obviously, good design alone is not enough.  While we had implemented a testing regime that checked what we thought were the critical systems on a quarterly basis, this schedule was clearly inadequate.


In addition, it is clear that our testing regime must include more components and more potential failure modes than we had previously though necessary.  Lesson learned.


We will be implementing a monthly blackout test schedule going forward.  The board will review these monthly results with management at each board meeting.


As time passes we will develop a way to report on our test results to the community.

Blackout - System Failures and Action Plan

posted Jul 18, 2019, 7:08 AM by Marc Donner

West Side Blackout

As you all know by now, there was a blackout on the evening of July 13.  The blackout began at 6:47 p.m., according to news reports of a Con Ed press release, and ended sometime about 10 p.m.


Geographically, the blackout extended from 72nd Street down to somewhere in the 40s and from Fifth Avenue west to the Hudson River.  The New York Times quotes Con Ed as attributing the failure to a problem at a substation on West 49th Street.


The Cogen System

Our electricity cogeneration system is designed to provide emergency power to the building in cases when the power grid goes down.  It is configured to ensure that one elevator on each side of the building is operational during a blackout, as well as lights in the main lobby, the stairways, and in the elevator lobbies on each floor from two up.


Building staff conduct regular tests of this capability three times each year.


To our dismay, the cogen system was out of service during the blackout.  We are investigating the reasons for this outage with our maintenance vendor.


The Emergency Lighting System

Both sets of stairs in the building are equipped with emergency lighting systems powered by batteries that are kept charged while grid power is available.


These batteries are rated to keep the lights on for two hours during a power outage.


We have heard reports that these lights were out from shortly after the power outage began.


These lights are supposed to be tested by LTCA Security staff on their regular vertical inspections of our stairways.


We intend to find out whether these batteries are discharging faster than their two-hour rating, resulting in a system that passes the standard test but fails under real conditions, or if there is some other failure at play.


The Elevators

When we renovated the elevators several years ago we upgraded the traction motors that raise and lower the cars.


In the process we implemented a safety system, required in new elevator installations, designed to lower each car to a nearby floor and open the doors in the event of a power outage or other failure.


In Saturday’s outage the elevators did correctly lower themselves to the nearest lower floor, but they did not open their doors as expected, thus trapping people in various cars and requiring intervention by building staff.


We are working with our elevator maintenance company to understand why the doors failed to open automatically.


Front Desk Telephones

Residents attempting to call the front desk during the blackout were unable to get through.


We do not know precisely what failure happened to cause this.  We have had reports that the blackout affected cellphone service, so providing the front desk with a cellphone might not have helped things.


We have also had reports that, unlike in past eras, the blackout interrupted land line service as well.


In some cases this may be because the FIOS and other services that have replaced the old copper landline service in our building have been installed without battery backup or because the batteries have failed.  Each resident is responsible for their own unit’s battery backup, so you should consult your phone service vendor.


The building needs a reliable way for residents to reach the front desk under all circumstances and we intend to investigate the reported failures and work with our telephone service providers to identify and implement a solution that enables us to ensure the ability to reach the front desk at all times.


Thank you to Jose and our staff!

The board would like to express particular gratitude on behalf of all of our residents to Jose and his building staff for their excellent response to this blackout.  They mobilized rapidly, they checked in with many elderly residents to ensure their comfort and safety, they walked residents up the stairs with flashlights, and they were just generally wonderful!

Summary of the 33nd Annual Meeting of 205 West End Avenue Owner’s Corporation

posted May 25, 2019, 6:05 AM by Marc Donner

Keith Bleiweiss, our Certified Public Accountant from Newman, Newman & Kaufman, LLP, led us through a comprehensive review of our financials, for both the Coop and the Condo. All this information can be found in the 2018 Financial Reports mailed to you in the package containing the formal Meeting Announcement. Net, net, we are very healthy financially, however our Reserves coverage ideally needs to increase from its current ratio of just under 1.5 to 3 months.  This was expected due to the numerous capital improvements we completed over the past several years.

This should not be a concern as we don’t see any major capital expenses on the horizon and our maintenance arrears are insignificant, but the Board is working on a plan to bring it to industry standard at approximately 3 month’s expense coverage.

Next, Stu Sugarman gave the report for the Board:


President's Comments - 2019 Annual Shareholders' Meeting

Good evening.  As the president of our Board of Directors it has been my pleasure to serve you this past year.  My colleagues on the board, Ellie Applewhaite, Abigail Burns, Larry Chaifetz, Marc Donner, Ernie Sander and Rob Stein, have committed their personal time and energy in service to our community. In recognition of their contributions, I’d like to personally thank them for their hard work and dedication.

As usual, this past year has been a very busy one. I’ll highlight some of these activities. If you can hold your questions until I finish, I would appreciate it.

  • We completed the work on the balconies: replacing the railings, the partitions and the concrete on the fascia, along with installing new steel rebar in the new curb for additional structural stability and applying a multi-layer waterproof coating to all balcony surfaces, including flooring, roof and fascia.

Due to multiple factors, including bad weather, DOB mandated delays, and the need for additional unanticipated and very time-consuming work, this project took longer to complete than planned.


Two such unanticipated elements were: significant core drilling and patching of weak spots in both the balcony floor and roof, and the repair of over 20 broken drainpipes.


This project will give us many years of maintenance-free enjoyment of our balconies, enable us to comply with regulatory mandates, and has made the building much more attractive.

Budgeted at $3.8 million, this project was funded half from reserves and half from increasing our current mortgage at an Extremely favorable rate. ($2 million @4.45% for 26 years)

It should be noted than none of these delays increased the overall project cost as this was a fixed-price contract. Additionally, we received performance penalties that helped reduce the overall cost of the project. Even with the additional work elements, the project came in on budget.

  • In addition to the balcony work, the contractor also completed Local Law 11 leak repairs to our building’s façade.

  • With the completion of our construction, the Landscaping Committee, headed by board member Rob Stein, is in the midst of a complete restoration of the landscaping in front of the building. This

is a big job as we are basically starting from scratch. We hope you will find it pleasing when completed in several weeks, and the new landscaping has time to grow and mature.


  • As an outgrowth of last year’s Annual Meeting, we created a Bicycle Room Committee, headed by board member Ernie Sander. This committee has engineered a complete redesign of the bike room, with new lighting, brightly colored paint, better ventilation and with the installation of a new state-of-the-art bike racking system. The new racking system will comfortably hold 200 bikes.  Although the older system was designed to hold 200 bikes, the upper racks were unwieldy and thus bikes were strewn all over the room.

Additionally, the Committee found car tires, strollers, etc. – none of which belonged in the bicycle room. By cleaning out the room and removing unregistered bikes, over 40 slots opened and were assigned to those on the waiting list.

With the room now complete, and once all bikes are returned to their assigned slots, we anticipate finding some available slots to accommodate additional shareholders on the waiting list.

  • The Community Room Committee, created last year and headed by board member Abigail Burns, will ensure that the Community Room is best serving the entire 205 population. A survey was sent out to all shareholders late last year to get a feel for the kind of activities they should be considering.  The Community Room is now being refurbished to make it more pleasing and functional; an aerobics class has already been added, and other classes for shareholders are in the works.

  • As always, the Board focuses on expense management.  Led by our Treasurer, Rob Stein, we delivered a 2019 budget calling for a maintenance increase of 6.5%, much higher than in any of our past 10 years. Most of this was due to the increase in real estate taxes levied by NYC.  Although we have always retained a tax certiorari attorney to help reduce the impact of real estate taxes, this year we interviewed and hired a new certiorari who we feel will do a better job for us.

  • The Gym Committee, led by board member Larry Chaifetz, responded to member requests and added a pull-up bar.

  • We had our building’s insurance carrier, HUB, perform a risk assessment. The results were quite encouraging, and the few minor items identified were quickly resolved by Mark and Jose.

  • We acquired two new Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), one for the gym and one for the front desk.  Three training sessions on CPR/AED have already been held by the Red Cross. We’ve had great shareholder attendance.

  • We are launching a trial compost program next month, which was a shareholder suggestion from our February informational meeting.  We will monitor its usage to determine if we want to make it permanent.

  • As a normal Board function, we review for approval all purchase and refinance applications. These applications are quite large and very detailed. In 2018, the Board reviewed 14 purchase applications, four refinance applications and two transfer applications. These entail a lot of work for the Board, but is a critical function to ensure the financial stability of the Coop.  Additionally, all new prospective shareholders are interviewed by the Interview Committee, headed up by board member Ellie Applewhaite, who would be pleased to add new members to the committee.

 

  • And last, but not least, windows and hallways.

With the completion of our Local Law 11 project, the Board is now beginning to look at potential capital projects.


There are two major capital projects on our radar:

  1. Window Replacement

  2. Hallway Renovation

Window Replacement


As you can imagine, this would be an expensive and very disruptive project.  Very preliminary estimates for this project are in excess of $6 Million.


Additionally, residents will need to remove any built-in window treatments and the contractor will need to erect bridgework for the length of the project.

The Board has just begun to scratch the surface on this potential project, so please do not expect any decision or action on this soon.

Since this is not a near-term project, we encourage you to continue to report any window issues to the management office.  Our staff have expertise supported by ample supplies and can quickly rectify many window complaints.

Hallway Renovation:

Although the building staff does a great job maintaining our hallways, our hallway design is over twelve years old and a few shareholders have suggested that the Cooperative would benefit by updating the look. Although we do not have a definitive estimate, based on our prior renovation, we feel that it will be about $1.5 million.

Since this is also not a near-term project, building staff will continue to work to keep the hallways looking as fresh as possible.  Jose just completed an examination of each hallway and compiled a “repair” list.


They have already begun to give a fresh coat of paint to those hallway, elevator, compactor and apartment doors that need it.   We have an ample supply of hallway materials. We will replace stained and damaged carpeting and damaged wallpaper, and we will re-caulk and paint crown moldings where required.  We intend to keep the hallways in good repair until such time as we renovate them.

If you see something in your hallway that needs repair, please contact AKAM.

Mark and Jose continue to spend considerable effort to ensure we keep the building running at peak efficiency.  This includes the ongoing maintenance of our water, steam, and control systems, upgrades of our window components, the effective running of our cogeneration plant, the repair of water leaks from our facade, and regular training for our building staff.

And, as we know, Mark and Jose go out of their way to service you, the shareholders. A small handful of examples of their service orientation are:

  • Reworking our hot water systems such that they operate at peak performance. I hope you are enjoying your hot shower.

  • Setting up a rotating maintenance schedule to ensure all kitchen drain lines are clear in order to prevent clogs which can cause backflows with resultant apartment damage.

  • With the conclusion of the LL11 project, helping shareholders restore their balcony belongings, cleaning windows, repairing screens and cleaning air conditioners.

  • Handling numerous NYC-mandated local laws around elevator door locks, staff training on sexual harassment, energy efficiency audits and many more.

  • Contracting for 3rd party purchase of electricity and gas at the lowest rates.

  • Obtaining and installing new smoke detectors with a ten-year battery life.

  • Helping shareholders insulate around their ACs and cover them during the winter months.

  • Painting all outside railings and curbs that surround this building now that the construction is done.

Looking forward:

Going forward, we plan to be as tough on spending as possible, consistent with prudent operation of the building and provision of services to shareholders.  205 is known as one of the most economical of the co-ops in Lincoln Towers, with an average growth in maintenance costs over the past decade that is the lowest of the eight buildings.  Including this year, the 10-year average increase is 3.32% per year.

For 2019, we delivered a budget with a 6.5% maintenance increase; however, 205 still has the lowest cost per share within Lincoln Towers. ($4.25/share) The 2019 increase was distressing to the board.  This increase was almost entirely due to increases in real estate taxes.  In order to prevent a recurrence and in hope of getting some of the increase rolled back, the board has engaged a new tax certiorari attorney.  As I indicated before, this board is very proactive when it comes to ensuring we keep our expenses as low as possible, while still providing a high level of shareholder services and building operations.

We continue to work with our managing agent on updating our multi-year capital plan. Based on the numerous capital projects already completed over the past 5 years, we don’t expect any new major capital projects in our near future. We have some minor ones to complete, mostly pertaining to DOB code changes.

It should be emphasized that all our recent capital improvements have been funded from reserves and from the building’s low-interest mortgage.  For these capital improvements, such as the lobby, the roof, the gym, the elevators, the driveway, the landscaping, Community Room and Bike Room, etc., there has been no impact on shareholder maintenance.  For the balcony/façade work, the impact was minimal.

So, I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and I’ll open the floor for questions on these topics.  Be assured, there will be ample time for general Q&A, on any topic you like, after the formal meeting is adjourned.

At this point the floor was opened for questions.  

Numerous questions and comments were raised, and a lively discussion ensued.

Nomination of Director Candidates

We then proceeded to vote on the item referred to in the notice of annual meeting and proxy statement.  Seven incumbent directors and one additional shareholder were standing for election.

The candidates are, in alphabetical order:

  • Eleanor Applewhaite

  • Abigail Burns

  • Larry Chaifetz

  • Marc Donner

  • Reshma Rughwani

  • Robert Stein

  • Ernie Sander

  • Stuart Sugarman

In accordance with the offering plan, the sponsor is exercising its right to designate one member in addition to our seven.


Reshma Rughwani was recognized by the President and asked to introduce herself as she was a new candidate and not well known to many of the attendees.

These 8 candidates were nominated, and nominations were then closed.

Since we had 8 candidates for 7 Director positions, ballots and proxies will be counted in the management office tomorrow morning at 9AM, in the presence of two inspectors of elections.  As such, we needed two inspectors. Two shareholders volunteered to perform this function.

With elections complete and having no other formal business on the agenda, a motion to adjourn this meeting was passed and we then proceeded to the general Q&A.

Again, a lively discussion was held, several follow items were noted, and the meeting was adjourned at about 8:45PM.

ELECTION RESULTS


After counting all of the ballots on the morning of 5/21, the following were the results:


The following shareholders were elected to the Board of Directors for the year 2019-2020:

  • Eleanor Applewhaite

  • Abigail Burns

  • Larry Chaifetz

  • Marc Donner

  • Ernest Sander

  • Robert Stein

  • Stu Sugarman

We would also like to thank Reshma Rughwani for her interest and participation in the Annual Meeting.

2019 Maintenance Letter

posted Dec 27, 2018, 6:09 PM by Marc Donner   [ updated Dec 27, 2018, 6:12 PM ]

Dear Fellow Shareholders:

The Board, supported by the building’s accountant and management staff, has reviewed the financial projections for year-end 2018 and has approved an operating budget for 2019.

2018 Summary

205 West End Owners Corporation (Coop) will finish 2018 with an anticipated operating deficit of $295,900. Unfortunately in 2018, our actual expenditures were more than our budget forecast primarily in utilities/energy costs (colder than expected winter and variability of costs), payroll/benefits and repairs & maintenance (overall upkeep of the building during the construction project and unexpected plumbing repairs).

We thank all residents for their patience as the Local Law 11 balcony project was completed over the summer. The actual total cost of the project was $4.0 million compared to the budgeted cost of $3.8 million. As noted previously, the project was funded equally from a combination of non-operating reserves ($2 million) and additional borrowing ($2 million) on our existing mortgage. A detailed review of these non-operating costs will be discussed at upcoming Shareholders’ Meetings.

2019 Budget

Due to the 2018 operating budget deficit of $295,900 for the Coop (noted above) and projected increases in 2019 expenses for real estate taxes, utilities/energy and payroll/benefits; shareholders can expect a 6.50% maintenance increase (for a total of $4.2525 per share per month) in 2019.

Here is how 2018 looks thus far, along with our budget projections for 2019:

● Real Estate Taxes - budgeted at $5,712,700 for 2018 is projected to end 2018 at $5,706,300. In 2019 we expect to pay real estate taxes of $6,122,400, an increase of $409,700 or approximately 4.0% over 2018 budgeted maintenance of $10,352,700.

This is the major driver of this year’s maintenance increase and has significantly impacted our budgets for the last few years (taxes have increased over $950,000 or 9.2% since 2016). The Board continues to aggressively work with our accountants and tax attorneys to ensure the assessed value and tax rates are accurate in order for this us to pay the proper amount.

● Utilities/Energy (steam heat, electricity, co-gen gas and water/sewer) - budgeted at a combined cost of $1,609,100 for 2018. While final bills are still to be presented, the projected energy expenditures in these categories are forecast in 2018 to be approximately $1,747,900. In 2019 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,689,100, an increase of $80,000 or approximately 1% over 2018 budgeted maintenance of $10,352,700.

The Board and AKAM’s Energy Department continue to review and monitor our energy costs very closely in order to project future costs as accurately as possible based upon negotiated rates and estimated consumption.

● Staff Payroll/Benefits (wages, union benefits, payroll taxes, workers compensation, and disability insurance) – budgeted at a combined cost $1,539,000 for 2018 is projected to end 2018 at $1,598,500. In 2019 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,681,000 an increase of $142,000 or approximately 1.4% over 2018 budgeted maintenance of $10,352,700.

As always, many of our expenses are not under the board and management’s direct control. Labor costs are set by union contracts; insurance rates are dictated by carriers; energy prices by the market; and taxes, water, and sewer charges by the City. The Board consistently tries to be both prudent in our expenditures and to make full use of opportunities to contribute to our building’s overall financial health. This includes reviewing and reducing costs whenever and wherever possible. Final numbers for 2018 are still to be confirmed. They will be audited by our accountant and reviewed with you at our annual Shareholders’ Meeting in the Spring. As in previous years, we will be recouping some of the increased operating costs by retaining the NYC real estate tax rebate due most shareholders in the first quarter of 2019. You will see a credit/debit journal entry on your June statement. From an accounting standpoint this is treated as an operating assessment, and thus has no impact on maintenance.

While the maintenance increase in 2019 is higher than past years, 205 West End Avenue continues to be one of the most conservatively managed buildings in the Lincoln Towers complex. This is measured by maintenance increase percentages over the years, maintenance per share, overall balance sheet strength, and capital improvement measures.

We appreciate your ongoing confidence and support in the Board and management’s handling of the building. The entire Board wishes you and your families a joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy 2019.

Sincerely,

Stuart Sugarman- President

Robert Stein - Treasurer

Board of Directors

● Eleanor Applewhaite

● Abigail Burns

● Larry Chaifetz

● Marc Donner

● Ernie Sander

● Robert Stein

● Stuart Sugarman

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