On the big day Neil and Sharon’s living room was packed, so many that Bo had to resort to the piano stool to have a seat. The week before had been a very nervous one for most of the Project Team even though the ambience at the drinks was so positive. Our new Strata Manager, Paul Culbi, was in the Chair and after dealing briefly with the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting he put the first of the two motions.
A couple of questions were raised mainly to do with the Embedded Network Management role and then the vote was taken – ‘All those in favour’ – all but one hand raised; ‘Those against’ – no hands; ‘Carried unanimously’. The second motion dealing with the financing was then put and this time all hands were raised – ‘Carried unanimously’. ’There being no further business meeting closed’.
A collective sigh of relief, a brief pause, and then a small cheer and excited chatter as we opened the bottles of Champagne. The long journey toward a break-through for Sydney Strata communities had reached its successful conclusion. Messages went out to the many people involved in assisting us to reach this wonderful conclusion, immediately followed by congratulations.
A few days later the team agreed by email that, having reviewed the tenders and the analysis by Wattblock, we would select the ENM/SolarPro tender subject to a satisfactory final proposal from them and agreement on an acceptable contract (Luci has suggested 90 days settlement). We would then need to meet with them early in the new year to develop a detailed project plan and schedule.
We also need to develop a communications plan to inform owners and tenants and schedule the Embedded Network Manager briefing and vote to affirm the selection of James Pearce’s company (ENM Solutions) for the first 12 months of the operation. We also have to arrange with Nik Midlam at the SCC to receive the draft Contact. Luci will ask Cathy at the City whether they can pay an invoice directly to SolarPro, the chosen installation contractors.
To avoid the confusion we experienced with the first grant, we decided we would designate one team member to certify invoices for payment, forward them to Strata Manager Jameson with a copy to the Strata Treasurer for payment. We will then keep a spreadsheet record of all income and expenditure (including the small scale certificate rebate) so that we can fully and transparently account for all funds. This reminded us that we need to track down the residual from the first grant.
Early in the new year we would have to saddle up again to deliver the implementation but for now we could just enjoy our sense of achievement.
The notice for the Extraordinary General Meeting has been sent by Jamesons. Please note that it will now commence at 6 pm.
As this is such a momentous initiative for Blackwattle Mews, it would be wonderful if all owners could attend at least by proxy. A proxy form is attached to the agenda so, if you can’t attend the meeting, please ask another owner if they would take your proxy and fill out the form for them to deliver at the beginning of the meeting. It’s now important to check because the new Strata Act limits owners attending the meeting to holding only one proxy.
Nine of the owners had been part of the previous night’s meeting, three were overseas, two were working, leaving only four to be ‘briefed’. In the event two of that four attended with three of the Team and two of the Committee there to do the briefing. Understandably, it was a low-key amicable conversation where all questions were answered satisfactorily. One of the two made the pleasing observation that she was really enjoying the sense of our working as a collective to share the benefits the Network would bring. There was also a small-scale sense of pride that we would become joint owners of our own electricity grid.
On the following Friday from 6 pm many owners and their families gathered in Neil and Sharon’s garden for drinks and chat. Several owners who had previously been unable to attend our various events were there helping to engender a real feeling of community and anticipation.
There being 7 SC members and 4 PT members this was quite a big meeting. In the days before concerns were expressed that we take care to follow the letter of the Strata Act in this major piece of decision-making.
Following an initial summary of the scope of the project and the financing options, questions and concerns were raised and one by one dealt with so that a sense grew that this was an opportunity that the Strata should grasp, especially in view of the $48,000 (or 40%) support that has been secured. The actual operation of the Network was less of a concern and questions about it were relatively easily addressed. The more difficult issue was the method of financing. Following extensive discussion, the Team and the Committee agreed that this should be done by drawing on the Capital Works Fund plus a one year owners’ levy (four quarters at an average $320 per quarter) which would subsequently be reimbursed from the profits generated by the Network over its first five years of operation.
Although the CWF has built up to $100K+ at this point, the Committee had agreed to use $80K of this in 2019 to repair and seal brickwork and paint all timber features. The challenge was to pursue a both/and solution rather than either/or and the levy was the way to do this. Alex had worked diligently to demonstrate how we could manage the short-term cashflow. That confidence enabled the Strata Committee to vote unanimously to recommend to the Owners that the project be supported and financed by a levy with both proposals put to an Extraordinary General Meeting at 6 pm on Tuesday 18 December in Unit 3. The meeting ended on a very positive note.
Between them Alex and Neil then created and despatched the agreed Notice of Special General Meeting with its agenda and the Notice of Motions resolving to establish a Solar Energy Embedded Network and the means of financing it by increased levy for the Capital Works Fund. The next day the Strata Manager mailed these including Proxy Forms and a detailed descriptive document to all Owners thereby fulfilling the requirements under the Strata Act.