Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What are the Traits of a Highly Functioning Board? Part III: The Award Winning Board!

In Part III of our series on the traits of a highly functioning board we at last come to our ideal board; the vision of what a community association board can and should be doing.

For those of you who have actually never met one of these boards or had the fortune to serve on one, here is what they look like:

-This board operates at the highest level of transparency possible without compromising privileged information. The membership and board meetings for this kind of community are held on a timely basis, are properly noticed and tend to run smoothly. Unfortunately, the meetings run by the highly functioning board are usually not well attended since most owners feel the board "knows what they're doing";

-This board has a working knowledge of its governing documents as well as the pertinent statutes but on issues that could subject the association to potential liability they reinforce that knowledge with a legal opinion;

-This board takes a proactive approach before a potential issue becomes a real problem. For example, the highly functioning board will have rules in place outlining owner inspection of books and records and owner participation at meetings well BEFORE such requests are made. This board will also have a hurricane shutter rule in place and, if it is a condominium association, will have an updated Question and Answer Sheet on hand;

-This board routinely reviews its governing documents to ensure that they have kept pace with the changes in the Statute and are amended/updated to both comply with statutory changes as well as to address the changing needs of the community;

-This board has clearly defined expectations of its manager/management company and has a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that neither the manager nor any one board member becomes comfortable with making unilateral decisions on behalf of the association;

-This board utilizes technology and various forms of communication to reach out to the community members and conveys not only what has been done and is being done on their behalf but also to take the community's pulse in terms of long-range planning and goals. This can be done via an association website, newsletters, a community-wide cable channel and regular "townhall" style meetings;

-This board realizes that it must follow all statutory and documentary guidelines when dealing with the association's finances including seeking proper membership approval as needed, when waiving or partially funding reserve funds, using reserve funds for non-specified purposes, and when reducing the financial reporting requirement level;

-The highly functioning board of directors realizes that part of its role is to enforce the terms and provisions of the governing documents. At times, this will require that enforcement action or collection efforts be commenced against a neighbor. This board is fair but tough;

-This board knows its limitations and does not pretend to be an expert in every area that impacts the community whether it be filing an insurance claim or overseeing a capital improvement project. The highly functioning board employs the proper experts needed to lend a guiding a hand; and/or

-This board avails itself of all available educational resource materials to ensure that it knows about the changes in the law which impact the manner in which it operates and administers the community.

If every community was tended to by a highly functioning board, we would undoubtedly see an increase in real property values and a huge decrease in the number of complaints filed with the Division of Florida Land Sales each year. Whether you find yourself serving on a board or living in a community operated by a poorly functioning board or even a functioning board, there is always the ability to encourage your board members to take their level of participation up a notch in order to become a highly functioning board. Highly functioning board members endorse a "best practices" policy and always seek to fulfill their responsibilities to the membership who put elected them for the job.

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