A smaller audience met this month at the Terre Du Lac Property Owners Association meeting, but the board of directors attempted to address the confusion and concern that stirred the sizable portion that were there.
Some of the anger stemmed from the lack of transparency surrounding the bookkeeping of the expense reports detailing how the association had spent their money, which had been done monthly with prior boards.
In the audience was a former board member, Helen Scott, who was once the treasurer of the association.
“What happened to the expense reports for December, January and February?” she asked. “I don’t understand why you can give a March report, without February or January or the end of the year report.”
Board President David Ruble said that the cash was being balanced but that they still weren’t done with the reports. Ruble also said that the books were closed and balanced, but that there was “a lot more to statements than closing and balancing.”
Board member Gary Keithly said that they had the balance for the bank accounts for February and January, but Scott asked if they could have the end of the year report. Keithly said that they never gave copies to people, only to board members.
“I can tell you how much money we spent in February, and we did not spend a lot,” Keithly insisted. “Routinely, we spent about $100,000 a month.”
Scott said they were missing the point as she wanted to be able to see the reports.
“The financials are not done yet,” Ruble said. “I’m sorry. I’m working as hard as I can.”
He said later that there were a myriad of reasons why it wasn’t done.
A report was produced for a member of the audience, but it wasn’t the report Scott wanted.
Scott explained that the the association paid to train an employee on (the software) and to balance the budget.
“As the president, I would assume you would know that,” she said.
She alleged that they did not have the report because they did not know how to do it.
When Ruble couldn’t say how the board’s money was spent, she compared it to her own time there where it was expected and assumed to be reported on monthly.
“What happened to December, January and February report?” she asked.
Later on, after the utilities report, Scott asked Ruble some more questions about why some of the four committees were staffed by members of the board, and why some weren’t. He said that the reason they weren’t was between him and the rest of the board. Keithly said that board members didn’t have to be on committees.
Board member Mike Tilley asked a question about the report again, and said he noticed an inconsistency in the financial statement. Ruble asserted that the inconsistency was only due to an incomplete financial report, and that’s why he hadn’t approved them for board members to view yet.
Scott reasserted that the journal entries should be done every month, which had been the standard previously.
Ruble said that it would be balanced, but that they had yet to finish the balance sheet, and promised that they were getting done by volunteers. When the use of volunteers to manage the finance account was questioned, Ruble countered by saying, “Volunteers put out fires.”
Tilley continued his questions to Ruble. He wondered why there was a check made out to an individual for computer services authorized by Ruble. He said according to the rules, it could only be done in an emergency for up to $1,000 without board approval.
“These are my opinions,” Tilley said, “and I see this as an overreach of Mr. Ruble, and it does not qualify as an emergency.”
When the audience asked him what “computer services” were, Ruble said that it needed to be done so was done.
The meeting was adjourned, and public comments began.
An audience member asked if he would decrease the police department from seven to five, and Ruble simply said “no” but that it was true that he had met with St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock. He didn’t elaborate on what they met about.
As the public meeting continued, the crowd brought up the lack of the report again about how money had been spent. Keithly said that the numbers were balanced at the end of the month, and that there were some checks that had not been cleared at the moment. He didn’t have a definite answer for when the balance would be available, but promised that it would be at some point.
Another member suggested that the problems with the balance were due to a job that was cut, that of general manager, who was tasked to balance the budgets.
“There is a problem, and it needs to be solved,” she said, “and you need to man up and get it done.”
When asked after the meeting why the position of general manager was cut to be replaced by a volunteer, Ruble said that he wouldn’t go into details and that he felt that he should.
The other main question brought up during the meeting was why there wasn’t a recount of the recall ballot in March.
Scott said that Ruble had chosen the six volunteers to count the ballots in the recall election in which Ruble was one of the board members who was on the list to be ousted. She said since they weren’t chosen by an independent individual, and five of the six members allegedly wanted to keep Ruble in position, this represented a conflict of interest.
“That’s a re-election,” Ruble said. “The president picks the counters.”
Scott alleged that the president wasn’t supposed to in this case, and that Ruble had agreed to the recount, but that board member Cary Combs had changed their mind.
“If there is nothing to hide,” Scott said, “then a recount is not going to be difficult.”
Eventually Ruble had agreed that even though the lawyer didn’t recommend or say that there shouldn’t be a recount, he did said that he would need a court order to execute a recount.
When asked later, the association's attorney, David L. Mayhugh, confirmed this. He said that the people would have to petition the court, and answer how the count was unfair.
"Nobody has presented me with lawful authority for it," he said. "If somebody petitions a court, and gets a court order, I assume it would come to me."