Volume 1, Issue 2
Home Owners Associations
Volume I Issue 2
By Robert McConnell Productions
This section is for everyone who is currently living in a homeowner’sassociation or thinking of buying a home which might be located in a homeowner’sassociation or in a development that has covenants but no association. We invite you toe-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 postthose ideas to our page under this section. If you have a problem, e-mail us with yourproblem 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 thebudget, 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 aworkshop at my house on Saturday April, 29th to inform members of their rightsand 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 morningand one in the afternoon. I made a flyer and took it to everyone in the neighborhoodincluding 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 WorldRobert’s "Robert’s Rules of Order Simplified and Applied" Third Edition. On the front of the book I had pagereferences for him to review so he would be completely prepared for the meeting. I trulybelieve in "doing unto others what you would have them do unto you." I knew if Iwas in his situation and he in mine, I would have appreciated the information. He did callto thank me for dropping it by.
As things turn out in these situations only a few people came to the afternoonworkshop including the president.
I had gone through all the documents and state laws showing the responsibilityof the board members, and rights and responsibilities of the owners. Nothing was leftunturned. Then I had several pages about the meeting, how we could amend the budget, voteon 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 itlead him and his attorney (I found out later by reading the letter that the attorney sentto them) to believe that we could not propose any amendments. According to state law wehad to reject the budget by more than a majority vote. (Legislatures should really begiven a course in writing legislation that makes sense.) The rest of us debated with himthat that was contrary to democratic principles. So I said that I would call the CodesOffice on Monday morning and see if they could direct me to anything more specific in thecodes.
It also became apparent that part of the problem we were having was that I wasa 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 studygroup 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?" Goodpoint. 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 themeeting. He emphatically said "no", you got in the mail in January with yourassessment 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 themeeting and who wanted to be nominated for board positions.
I also talked with several people before the meeting on Monday afternoon andencourage different people to come and think about serving on the board.
I also called the State Codes Office and after much discussion with a veryco-operative staff member, she spotted in the codes what I was looking for – theassociation could amend the budget. It was there all along. I was surprised that Ididn’t see it.
I must admit that my husband and I spent the day going over all the possiblescenarios 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 willask him to write it on the black board."
What a surprise when we came. The president was sitting at the front and behindhim was written on the black board the budget and assessments. There was a bigger group atthe 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 statecodes where we could proposed amendments to the budget. He replied, "We’re notgoing 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 andthere would be no discussion. It had to be adopted by a two thirds vote. Period. But awoman sitting in the front starting asking questions. Yes! Great! Do it! Before he knew itthe meeting was taken out of his hands. Everyone wanted to ask questions. The discussionbegan.
What was interesting was, every time the president did something wrong and wasbeing very dictatorial my husband said "Point of order". It was not heard. Ifinally 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 Iam the one that is finding fault.)
The assessment was defeated. It returned to $30.00 a year. He was reallysurprised. He took the blackboard eraser and with one swipe erased the big expense, thateveryone was questioning, out of the budget because the money wasn’t there to supportit. The budget was ratified as amended.
Then we were to vote for board members. According to our bylaws we couldestablish by vote how many to have on the board. The bylaws said the board should bebetween three and eleven members. Someone made a motion that we increase the board toseven. It was adopted. Then I thought, "I wonder how he is going to handle this sincehe didn’t follow the bylaws by appointing a nominating committee." He decided toask everyone to stand who wanted to be considered for the board. Good idea. Eight membersrose. There was a question if everyone had paid their assessment. It was pointed out thatsince 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. Bythis time the chair knew he couldn’t object. So we each had an opportunity to saysomething to the membership. He took the vote by ballot. Then the president, thesecretary, and the vice president counted and tallied the votes on the black board. Therewas a tie vote and we had to revote. One of the candidates had left so the other one waselected. 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 whichwe could not make because a prior commitment had us in another place. We decided not totake an office on the board which really surprise the previous board. Many thought wewanted to have a palace coup so that we could run things. Very wrong. We just wanted tohave a democratic association where all the members can have input.
What is great about the new members of the board is that they allwant to be democratic and do things right! We also want to build a sense of communitywhere people know each other and work together for good. The first thing that board hasdone 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-mailaddress and find out which homes have renters in them. We also are giving them a letterwith the names of all the board members, who are the officers, and the name of theircontact 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 othercommitments. We’ll let you know how things progress.
Robert and Janet