Article Courtesy of Key News
By Annali Hayward
Published November 7, 2019
board meetings are neither new nor rare in
Florida. But while some Key Biscayne condo
boards modernize, others are mired in
The gavel banged
repeatedly at the Key Colony Homeowners’
Association board meeting last week, where
several dozen disgruntled residents sought
clarity over a proposed hike in fees.
But elsewhere on the Key, condo board coups
have paved the way for greater transparency.
Key Colony’s original 2020 budget proposed
an overall increase of over $1 million,
including large increases in the reserves
for items that residents said were not
supported by documentation, such as $100,000
for ‘contingency’ – a new addition this
year. Residents were unhappy that
previously-budgeted projects have not
materialized, and that the HOA’s legal
budget is both large and seemingly
unregulated. (The HOA has spent $114,000 on
legal costs and settlements in 2019 so far,
against a budget of $10,000. $40,000 is
proposed for 2020).
Defending the proposed
budget, board member Joseph Abood said
reserves had been depleted over the past few
Maria Bueno (far left) addresses the Key Colony HOA
board, Oct. 30.
The Wednesday meeting came two days after the finance committee’s second
budget workshop, in which residents attempted to drill down into the
bumped-up reserve funding – but came away confused.
“I am on the finance committee,” said resident Maria Bueno Wednesday, “and I
do not know where this number came from.”
“It’s $80,” said Key Colony HOA president Tom Koch, referring to the
proposed increase per unit per quarter. “Can you all handle $80?”
“I don’t think the $80 is the point, sir,” retorted resident Hammy Garzon.
Koch’s use of Roberts’ Rules of Order in conducting the meeting left
residents feeling cut off or unheard. “I’m coming into this meeting
relatively new,” said one, Fred Burman, “and I feel there’s a very
confrontational atmosphere here.”
Board members did little to alleviate that, though Louisa Lincoln Conway,
one of the members from Emerald Bay, called at one point for the board to
“respect” the larger-than-usual number of residents asking to be heard.
Things took a turn for the worse as Abood suggested $4.5 million in revenues
were unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019. Fellow member Matt Bramson was
unsatisfied with Abood’s responses to his questioning.
“I don’t know how in good conscience you can vote for this now,” he said
before casting his vote against the budget proposal. He was the lone no
vote, as six other members voted to proceed to the next step: mailing out
the proposed budget to owners, who then have 30 days to get together 15
percent of owners (some 177 residents) to suggest changes.
At 1,179 units, Key Colony is the largest complex on Key Biscayne. But a few
blocks south, the 800-strong Ocean Club operates a mini electoral college.
Buildings within the complex elect a Voter Representative every two years,
who in turn choose the seven board members of the overall Ocean Club
Lucia Marin, who is nearing the end of her two-year board term, said she
will be running again, but that term limits should probably be considered.
The Ocean Club board offers three ways for residents to catch up on meetings
they can’t attend: minutes; voter representatives’ minutes, and video of the
meeting posted on their website.
Marin says the board got
close to a deal to livestream meetings
“That would have been ideal,” she said. The
issue of recording and sharing meetings
prompted an unpleasant fracas earlier this
year at Key Colony.
“Transparency is critical,” said Marin,
“otherwise members will question decisions
and stop participating.”
Elsewhere, the Ambassador building could be
a microcosm of Key Colony (which has four
buildings). Alexa Holloway, a board member
for just under a year, was one of those who
replaced four of five serving board members
after a “shake up” at the Crandon Boulevard
“We are trying to be transparent,” said
Holloway. “We come to meetings with data,
prepared to explain and to offer potential
Further complicating things for Key Colony
residents is their HOA’s reactions to
conceptual plans for a new Key Biscayne
library. Legalities aside, it was not lost
on residents Wednesday that HOA vice
president Antonio Camejo – both at the
meeting and during public comments at the
Oct. 29 Village Council meeting – is asking
for transparency and consultation from the
Village and Miami-Dade County. Yet the
electronic voting system the HOA signed up
for in June, which would facilitate the
gathering of resident opinion on the matter,
has not been deployed.
A group of Key Colony residents will meet
Monday night to come up with an action plan
to address both the budget and the wider
issues at stake for the island’s most
According to the latest available data from
the Community Associations Institute, around
10 million people live in Florida’s 348,000