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Volume 1, Issue 2 The Continuing Saga

By Robert McConnell Productions

Home Owners Associations

Volume I   Issue 2

By Robert McConnell Productions



Introduction

Dear Homeowner,

This section is for everyone who is currently living in a homeowner's association or thinking of buying a home which might be located in a homeowner's association or in a development that has covenants but no association. We invite you to e-mail us with ideas that you have found helpful to improve meetings, interpret covenants, or places to go to get help with solving homeowner association problems. We will post those ideas to our page under this section. If you have a problem, e-mail us with your problem and we’ll try to help.  

Robert McConnell Productions

 



THE CONTINUING SAGA

In the previous issue, I left you all hanging with our Homeowner’s Association meeting scheduled on May 1. At this meeting, the members were to approve the budget, adopt the assessment, and vote on new board members.

WORKSHOP PRIOR TO THE MEETING

I am a firm believer in everyone knowing the rules. I decided to have a workshop at my house on Saturday, April, 29th to inform members of their rights and educate them about our covenants, bylaws and state laws that applied to this meeting, plus some basic parliamentary procedure. I had two workshops scheduled one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I made a flyer and took it to everyone in the neighborhood including the president. I also gave the president a copy of our first video, Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple: the Basics and our book, Webster’s New World Robert’s "Robert’s Rules of Order Simplified and Applied" Third Edition. On the front of the book, I had page references for him to review so he would be completely prepared for the meeting. I truly believe in "doing unto others what you would have them do unto you." I knew if I was in his situation, I would have appreciated the information. He did call to thank me for dropping it by.

As things turn out in these situations only a few people came to the afternoon workshop including the president.

I had gone through all the documents and state laws showing the responsibility of the board members, and rights and responsibilities of the owners. Nothing was left unturned. Then I had several pages about the meeting, how we could amend the budget, vote on assessments and then handled the election of officers.

The president was very belligerent and challenged everything that I said, especially about ratifying the budget. State code was very confusing how it read and it led him and his attorney (I found out later by reading the letter that the attorney sent to them) to believe that we could not propose any amendments. According to state law, we had to reject the budget by more than a majority vote. (Legislatures should really be given a course in writing legislation that makes sense.) The rest of us debated with him that that was contrary to democratic principles. So I said that I would call the Codes Office on Monday morning and see if they could direct me to anything more specific in the codes.

It also became apparent that part of the problem we were having was that I was a woman and he didn’t want to take direction or correction from a woman.

During the meeting, I brought up how I had asked at my parliamentary study group what we should vote on first--the budget, or the assessment. One wise woman asked,"How can you adopt a budget without first knowing how much money you have?" Good point. Well, he did pick up on that and put the assessment on his agenda first.

We also questioned whether he would have a printed budget for us at the meeting. He emphatically said "no", you got in the mail in January with your assessment and that’s it." Needless to say, there wasn’t much of a dialogue, and after a while, he got up and left.

The meeting continued and we discussed how we would handle things at the meeting and who wanted to be nominated for board positions.

I also talked with several people before the meeting on Monday afternoon and encourage different people to come and think about serving on the board.

I also called the State Codes Office and after much discussion with a very co-operative staff member, she spotted in the codes what I was looking for – the association could amend the budget. It was there all along. I was surprised that I didn’t see it.

THE MEETING

I must admit that my husband and I spent the day going over all the possible scenarios that could happen at the meeting and what we would do if such and such happened.We were well prepared. I thought, " if he doesn’t have the budget for us I will ask him to write it on the black board."

What a surprise when we came. The president was sitting at the front and behind him was written on the black board the budget and assessments. There was a bigger group at the meeting this time than at the first meeting. I was rejoicing.

I immediately went up to the president and told him that I found in the state codes where we could proposed amendments to the budget. He replied, "We’re not going by state codes, only the bylaws." Sigh. It was going to be a tough night.

When the meeting began he said we would immediately vote on the assessments and there would be no discussion. It had to be adopted by a two thirds vote. Period. But a woman sitting in the front starting asking questions. Yes! Great! Do it! Before he knew it the meeting was taken out of his hands. Everyone wanted to ask questions. The discussion began.

What was interesting was, every time the president did something wrong and was being very dictatorial my husband said "Point of order". It was not heard. I finally said nicely to him, "Be quiet. The room is with us, let them handle it." And they did.

(As a parliamentarian I like to let others do it, so I don’t look like I am the one that is finding fault.)

The assessment was defeated. It returned to $30.00 a year. He was really surprised. He took the blackboard eraser and with one swipe erased the big expense, that everyone was questioning, out of the budget because the money wasn’t there to support it. The budget was ratified as amended.

Then we were to vote for board members. According to our bylaws we could establish by vote how many to have on the board. The bylaws said the board should be between three and eleven members. Someone made a motion that we increase the board to seven. It was adopted. Then I thought, "I wonder how he is going to handle this since he didn’t follow the bylaws by appointing a nominating committee." He decided to ask everyone to stand who wanted to be considered for the board. Good idea. Eight members rose. There was a question if everyone had paid their assessment. It was pointed out that since the assessments were just adopted the person had thirty days to pay the assessment.Then a member rose and made a motion to that effect.

My husband then rose and asked if he could give a short campaign speech. By this time the chair knew he couldn’t object. So we each had an opportunity to say something to the membership. He took the vote by ballot. Then the president, the secretary, and the vice president counted and tallied the votes on the black board. There was a tie vote and we had to revote. One of the candidates had left so the other one was elected. Both my husband and I were elected to the board.

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL?

We’ll see… So far we’ve had one board meeting which we could not make because a prior commitment had us in another place. We decided not to take an office on the board which really surprise the previous board. Many thought we wanted to have a palace coup so that we could run things. Very wrong. We just wanted to have a democratic association where all the members can have input.
 


Goals

What is great about the new members of the board is that they all want to be democratic and do things right! We also want to build a sense of community where people know each other and work together for good. The first thing that board has done is divide the association into seven areas. Each board member has been given an area.Our first contact with each member has been to get their name, phone number, e-mail address and find out which homes have renters in them. We also are giving them a letter with the names of all the board members, who are the officers, and the name of their contact on the board. We also told them when and where the next board meeting is.

The main problem right now, and I’m sure every associationhas this, is getting the board members to do their assigned work and attend the meetings.It looks like our board meeting on June 22 may not have a quorum. Several of us have other commitments. We’ll let you know how things progress.

 

Robert and Janet