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Subject: Annual Meeting - What I Did and Lessons Learned
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GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2693


05/19/2020 6:57 AM  
Quick update on the neighborhood I just moved from - have been there three years, one year attended board meetings, Director one year, President one year. Just moved to another nearby community and converting house to rental. I have always been on the Board in the communities where I lived, and even where I had rental properties - someone has to do it - why not me.

The purpose of this summary is to provide some hope for improving one’s community, while recognizing the issue with apathy. I was lucky in one significant regard - the community has pretty solid CCRs, Bylaws, Architectural Guidelines, and Rules and Regulations - no one has read them, of course, and no one KNEW them, but they were there to be used as tools or compliance and organization.

314 single family houses, $220K annual budget, 20% of roads are private, fully funded reserves, parks with gazebo, playground, ball field, 1.5 mile landscaped greenbelt with paved walking path, property manager with good online tools.

Annual Meeting via online/call-in was last night - administrative assistance from the PM’s staff. I opened meeting and determined quorum met (10%), Property Manager read the summary notification, purpose etc - standard spiel they use, including the core purpose of the meeting to elect directors. Gave opportunity to property owners for comment not to exceed three minutes.

Had all board members online, and TWO additional owners - out of 314 residential properties. About 60 proxies - out of 314 residential properties.

One owner wanted to complain about a neighbor’s yard, and the other said nothing. Sigh.

PM wanted to get to election, but I interrupted the flow to thank the Board members, committee members, and the PM’s staff, BY NAME, for their service during the year.

Four directors continuing with three year terms, two directors for re-election for three year terms (their choice), and one open position never filed from last year. Total of seven directors. By acclimation.

Adjourned at 16 minutes.

The year we:
- increased number of Board meetings - monthly from quarterly
- filed Florida MRTA extension
- rewrote Bylaws, integrating four previous amendments dating to 1999
- developed and formally added five committees to the Bylaws (Finance, Welcome, Social, Capital Equipment and Landcaping, Fines)
- the usual rebuilding of infrastructure including reroofing and painting large gazebo, picnic benches, pressure washing common sidewalks, cleaning and repainting fences, bench refurbishment, lots of painting, etc.
- met with large landscaping company owner; made it clear what expectations were - and, then I followed up - in real time - with photos of issues - several times a day, until he got the point - absolute insistence that grass be cut lower, that brush be picked up, that I be notified of anything out of the ordinary, that it was his responsibility to tell me, not me to tell him
- kickstarted covenant violations process, monthly inspections, and exercised fines process
- instituted policy to lien and legally process through foreclosure, any owner behind at least one year’s assessment, allowing only attorney managed payment plans (took one manipulative owner to the cusp of foreclosure before they paid up)
- started the long process of choosing contractors for road repair and replacement
- ground 200 common area sidewalk lips
- increased communication - waaaay increased communication - even when some on the Board griped about there being too much. Total transparency.
- didn’t meet privately with ANYONE. At least three manipulative owners attempted to make this happen - it was apparent they wanted less covenant oversight and/or flexible payment plans
- didn’t engage on any social media platform (although I have seen this done successfully, albeit with a significant application of time)
- met with county planners, roads leads, and sheriff representatives
- met with state roads planners, and their contractors
- reported 50 different road issues (potholes, broken curbs, etc)
- found a 500’ road that everyone believed was county, but was actually private (the 2018 Reserve Study was well done, but after speaking with the author, it was clear the president had told them it was county owned)
- found at least 20 properties with inaccurate ownership in the PM database, another 10 with inaccurate addresses (I personally checked all property ownership - and went address by address in the PM database)
- began process to replace entrance signage (had to wait until county feeder road work completed)
- removed numerous dead and dying trees
- pushed hard on noise mitigation, planting and replanting several areas on the periphery with fast growing, dense bushes
- offered options to convert ball field to a park with different sports, exercise areas and benches
- offered options to eliminate parking spaces on one side of the gazebo park, converting to green space and trees for noise mitigation and to block views of surrounding businesses (and eliminate one area of non-community parkers eating lunch, goofing off, smoking and using the community property)

Broad lessons learned:
- KNOW your governing documents - COLD. Be the expert. If you do, most will simply accept they are talking out their butts, and stop talking.
- Understand the PM simply wants to get through things, do more for more money. Also understand the PM does NOT know your docs well - they have many other clients and get them confused. The staff of ours was pretty good, with separate folks for accounting, inspections/violations, and ops. The owner, while really bright, didn’t engage much. Our PM’s online tools, deep and capable website, smartwebs.net, and online accounting via the website and through Mutual of Omaha’s Community Association Banc, allowed instant access to most everything - BUT, no one in the community was using the tools. Use the tools - call and email the PM until they understand you will not go away - offer them ways to help you! Oh yeah, don’t allow the PM to control, or even to appear to control, too much at meetings - the owners expect the Board, and especially, the President to control.
- Set up committees, working groups, etc - to report to the Board - try and get owners to volunteer (I was only somewhat successful) - even if it is still only Board members on the committees, at least the organizational structure is there for the future ... I don't like ad hoc groups, but ...
- Be as formal at meetings as is reasonable - follow basic guidelines (RRofO), but allow anyone to speak as they feel necessary - unless they are disruptive - or become a time sink. Have a line where you respond immediately if an owner becomes too aggressive or if they say something inaccurate - do not allow inaccuracies to stand (see note about knowing your docs), but correct the owner immediately, quoting the components of your governing docs that apply. Always ask if they would like to help - you might get a positive response, but usually just get them to stop burning time.
- Meet with your attorney, but not often. Be clear about expectations. Make sure they are an HOA attorney in good standing, with other like clients - know their staff and use their online tools. Ours had great online status tools, but again, no one had ever actually used them :-)
- Communicate your strategy, what you are doing to be successful meeting the components of the strategy - email summaries about quarterly, email special updates on anything the owners will see or hear, insist the PM get the first calls and emails - not the Board - this keeps the PM in the process and on the hook to resolve small stuff

More than enough. My small way of trying to give back to those of you who support HOAs and work to improve things.

I certainly got some things wrong, and will gladly accept criticism and ways to improve, as long as it isn't an anti-HOA rant or whine.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3229


05/19/2020 10:17 AM  
Well, you seem to be off to a great start based on this. Keep this up and you'll be a great president - congrats on what you've done so far and keep it up!

I'm glad you're bringing your property manager to heel - they need to understand they work for the Board, not the other way around. Too many people figure the property manager knows the daily ins and outs and therefore should dictate everything else. Nope - it's fine for the property manager to make suggestions, but after that, shaddup and let the board members decide how to proceed.

When I was on the board, I met with our attorney once a year - mostly to discuss delinquencies, as I was treasurer and it was a good way to develop an overall strategy for the year, which we could tweak as needed. Our former attorney hosted a dinner every year for his HOA clients and would provide information on state legislation affecting HOAs and discuss best practices and trends he'd see. You may want to see if your attorney can do something similar - if so ALL of the board members should attend.

Since you're now meeting monthly, you can post all the dates online so people will know and decide if/when they'd like to attend (sometimes listing actual dates is more effective than the 3rd Wednesday of the month) You could also post the rules on the resident forum and overall meeting behavior so everyone knows what to expect when they arrive.

I think all board members should have an area to oversee - one may be good at selecting contractors, another good at crunching numbers (and can assist the treasurer), a third is good at communications, etc. If they're organized, this won't take up everyone's spare time and by giving EVERYONE something to do, this takes the pressure off the officers.

I've always believed in board member education. It's not just something for the newbies - every year, there seems to be something new to address so everyone needs to be aware of best practices. I talk a lot about CAI, but wherever and whenever you can learn something, do it. In fact, it may be a good idea to rotate among the board members every month and everyone prepare to talk about something intriguing they may have seen or read, such as tips on having difficult conversations.

Once again, congrats on your progress and here's to years of much more!
BH5
(Virginia)

Posts:38


05/19/2020 1:17 PM  
GeorgeS21,

Thank you for sharing. I'll keep some of these ideas on my to-do list.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3814


05/19/2020 2:37 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/19/2020 6:57 AM

- didn’t engage on any social media platform

As far as I'm concerned, "social media" has replaced "the love of money" as the root of all evil.

Thanks for the update, George. You did a lot for the community and the owners should feel fortunate to have had you. No real criticism from me. I do wonder, though, how things will progress (even without the pandemic) once you're not there with your energy to keep all the balls in the air. All it takes is a couple of years of "bad" boards to undo a lot of the initiatives you started.
MarkW18


Posts:1071


05/19/2020 3:39 PM  
Posted By GenoS on 05/19/2020 2:37 PM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/19/2020 6:57 AM

- didn’t engage on any social media platform

As far as I'm concerned, "social media" has replaced "the love of money" as the root of all evil.

Thanks for the update, George. You did a lot for the community and the owners should feel fortunate to have had you. No real criticism from me. I do wonder, though, how things will progress (even without the pandemic) once you're not there with your energy to keep all the balls in the air. All it takes is a couple of years of "bad" boards to undo a lot of the initiatives you started.



Mine took but 12 months to revert back to its old ways. That was 2014 and it hasn't changed since.
NpB
(Arizona)

Posts:293


05/19/2020 4:58 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/19/2020 6:57 AM
Quick update on the neighborhood I just moved from - have been there three years, one year attended board meetings, Director one year, President one year. Just moved to another nearby community and converting house to rental. I have always been on the Board in the communities where I lived, and even where I had rental properties - someone has to do it - why not me.

The purpose of this summary is to provide some hope for improving one’s community, while recognizing the issue with apathy. I was lucky in one significant regard - the community has pretty solid CCRs, Bylaws, Architectural Guidelines, and Rules and Regulations - no one has read them, of course, and no one KNEW them, but they were there to be used as tools or compliance and organization.

314 single family houses, $220K annual budget, 20% of roads are private, fully funded reserves, parks with gazebo, playground, ball field, 1.5 mile landscaped greenbelt with paved walking path, property manager with good online tools.

Annual Meeting via online/call-in was last night - administrative assistance from the PM’s staff. I opened meeting and determined quorum met (10%), Property Manager read the summary notification, purpose etc - standard spiel they use, including the core purpose of the meeting to elect directors. Gave opportunity to property owners for comment not to exceed three minutes.

Had all board members online, and TWO additional owners - out of 314 residential properties. About 60 proxies - out of 314 residential properties.

One owner wanted to complain about a neighbor’s yard, and the other said nothing. Sigh.

PM wanted to get to election, but I interrupted the flow to thank the Board members, committee members, and the PM’s staff, BY NAME, for their service during the year.

Four directors continuing with three year terms, two directors for re-election for three year terms (their choice), and one open position never filed from last year. Total of seven directors. By acclimation.

Adjourned at 16 minutes.

The year we:
- increased number of Board meetings - monthly from quarterly
- filed Florida MRTA extension
- rewrote Bylaws, integrating four previous amendments dating to 1999
- developed and formally added five committees to the Bylaws (Finance, Welcome, Social, Capital Equipment and Landcaping, Fines)
- the usual rebuilding of infrastructure including reroofing and painting large gazebo, picnic benches, pressure washing common sidewalks, cleaning and repainting fences, bench refurbishment, lots of painting, etc.
- met with large landscaping company owner; made it clear what expectations were - and, then I followed up - in real time - with photos of issues - several times a day, until he got the point - absolute insistence that grass be cut lower, that brush be picked up, that I be notified of anything out of the ordinary, that it was his responsibility to tell me, not me to tell him
- kickstarted covenant violations process, monthly inspections, and exercised fines process
- instituted policy to lien and legally process through foreclosure, any owner behind at least one year’s assessment, allowing only attorney managed payment plans (took one manipulative owner to the cusp of foreclosure before they paid up)
- started the long process of choosing contractors for road repair and replacement
- ground 200 common area sidewalk lips
- increased communication - waaaay increased communication - even when some on the Board griped about there being too much. Total transparency.
- didn’t meet privately with ANYONE. At least three manipulative owners attempted to make this happen - it was apparent they wanted less covenant oversight and/or flexible payment plans
- didn’t engage on any social media platform (although I have seen this done successfully, albeit with a significant application of time)
- met with county planners, roads leads, and sheriff representatives
- met with state roads planners, and their contractors
- reported 50 different road issues (potholes, broken curbs, etc)
- found a 500’ road that everyone believed was county, but was actually private (the 2018 Reserve Study was well done, but after speaking with the author, it was clear the president had told them it was county owned)
- found at least 20 properties with inaccurate ownership in the PM database, another 10 with inaccurate addresses (I personally checked all property ownership - and went address by address in the PM database)
- began process to replace entrance signage (had to wait until county feeder road work completed)
- removed numerous dead and dying trees
- pushed hard on noise mitigation, planting and replanting several areas on the periphery with fast growing, dense bushes
- offered options to convert ball field to a park with different sports, exercise areas and benches
- offered options to eliminate parking spaces on one side of the gazebo park, converting to green space and trees for noise mitigation and to block views of surrounding businesses (and eliminate one area of non-community parkers eating lunch, goofing off, smoking and using the community property)

Broad lessons learned:
- KNOW your governing documents - COLD. Be the expert. If you do, most will simply accept they are talking out their butts, and stop talking.
- Understand the PM simply wants to get through things, do more for more money. Also understand the PM does NOT know your docs well - they have many other clients and get them confused. The staff of ours was pretty good, with separate folks for accounting, inspections/violations, and ops. The owner, while really bright, didn’t engage much. Our PM’s online tools, deep and capable website, smartwebs.net, and online accounting via the website and through Mutual of Omaha’s Community Association Banc, allowed instant access to most everything - BUT, no one in the community was using the tools. Use the tools - call and email the PM until they understand you will not go away - offer them ways to help you! Oh yeah, don’t allow the PM to control, or even to appear to control, too much at meetings - the owners expect the Board, and especially, the President to control.
- Set up committees, working groups, etc - to report to the Board - try and get owners to volunteer (I was only somewhat successful) - even if it is still only Board members on the committees, at least the organizational structure is there for the future ... I don't like ad hoc groups, but ...
- Be as formal at meetings as is reasonable - follow basic guidelines (RRofO), but allow anyone to speak as they feel necessary - unless they are disruptive - or become a time sink. Have a line where you respond immediately if an owner becomes too aggressive or if they say something inaccurate - do not allow inaccuracies to stand (see note about knowing your docs), but correct the owner immediately, quoting the components of your governing docs that apply. Always ask if they would like to help - you might get a positive response, but usually just get them to stop burning time.
- Meet with your attorney, but not often. Be clear about expectations. Make sure they are an HOA attorney in good standing, with other like clients - know their staff and use their online tools. Ours had great online status tools, but again, no one had ever actually used them :-)
- Communicate your strategy, what you are doing to be successful meeting the components of the strategy - email summaries about quarterly, email special updates on anything the owners will see or hear, insist the PM get the first calls and emails - not the Board - this keeps the PM in the process and on the hook to resolve small stuff

More than enough. My small way of trying to give back to those of you who support HOAs and work to improve things.

I certainly got some things wrong, and will gladly accept criticism and ways to improve, as long as it isn't an anti-HOA rant or whine.





Is this hypothetical or real?
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2693


05/19/2020 5:58 PM  
NpB,

Very real ... I rarely waste time on hypothetical things ... if I were to do so, I would definitely tell my audience it was hypothetical, so they would not think me a jerk.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7230


05/19/2020 6:37 PM  
What a lot of work, George. And what progress you made. I'm delighted when I see board members who have strong imaginations, who pay attention and notice what improvement can be made. And then who actively seek change. You should be very proud of your efforts.

George wrote: "KNOW your governing documents - COLD. Be the expert." This is so important but, many directors just aren't interested. We're rewriting our bylaws & CC&Rs and I'll (board sec'y) present the attorney's draft rewrite from 2019 to our board in a week with my rec changes due to some new legislation in CA that we must take into account. I'm not expecting much input from the board. Two are new, one was on for the previous year but learned very little due to the previous prez being uber-dominant. The 4th director knows a fair amount, but only in certain areas that interest him.

George wrote: "...don’t allow the PM to control, or even to appear to control, too much at meetings - the owners expect the Board, and especially, the President to control." Totally agree, we have fair attendance maybe 20-25 owners (of 200+ condos, 75% owner occ.) at our monthly board meetings and once upon time, the PM did most of the talking, which made the Board seen ineffective, incompetent and weak. I know some boards don't learn their documents or even physical plant and so WANTT thee PM to "lead" the meeting, but it really makes the Board look stupid.

He also Wrote "Use the tools." So agree--we have a new PM, full-time, in house and she hasn't learned her new MC's tools yet. It's becoming a problem after two months.
MarcC4
(South Carolina)

Posts:27


05/21/2020 9:32 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/19/2020 6:57 AM
Quick update on the neighborhood I just moved from - have been there three years, one year attended board meetings, Director one year, President one year. Just moved to another nearby community and converting house to rental. I have always been on the Board in the communities where I lived, and even where I had rental properties - someone has to do it - why not me.

The purpose of this summary is to provide some hope for improving one’s community, while recognizing the issue with apathy. I was lucky in one significant regard - the community has pretty solid CCRs, Bylaws, Architectural Guidelines, and Rules and Regulations - no one has read them, of course, and no one KNEW them, but they were there to be used as tools or compliance and organization.

314 single family houses, $220K annual budget, 20% of roads are private, fully funded reserves, parks with gazebo, playground, ball field, 1.5 mile landscaped greenbelt with paved walking path, property manager with good online tools.

Annual Meeting via online/call-in was last night - administrative assistance from the PM’s staff. I opened meeting and determined quorum met (10%), Property Manager read the summary notification, purpose etc - standard spiel they use, including the core purpose of the meeting to elect directors. Gave opportunity to property owners for comment not to exceed three minutes.

Had all board members online, and TWO additional owners - out of 314 residential properties. About 60 proxies - out of 314 residential properties.

One owner wanted to complain about a neighbor’s yard, and the other said nothing. Sigh.

PM wanted to get to election, but I interrupted the flow to thank the Board members, committee members, and the PM’s staff, BY NAME, for their service during the year.

Four directors continuing with three year terms, two directors for re-election for three year terms (their choice), and one open position never filed from last year. Total of seven directors. By acclimation.

Adjourned at 16 minutes.

The year we:
- increased number of Board meetings - monthly from quarterly
- filed Florida MRTA extension
- rewrote Bylaws, integrating four previous amendments dating to 1999
- developed and formally added five committees to the Bylaws (Finance, Welcome, Social, Capital Equipment and Landcaping, Fines)
- the usual rebuilding of infrastructure including reroofing and painting large gazebo, picnic benches, pressure washing common sidewalks, cleaning and repainting fences, bench refurbishment, lots of painting, etc.
- met with large landscaping company owner; made it clear what expectations were - and, then I followed up - in real time - with photos of issues - several times a day, until he got the point - absolute insistence that grass be cut lower, that brush be picked up, that I be notified of anything out of the ordinary, that it was his responsibility to tell me, not me to tell him
- kickstarted covenant violations process, monthly inspections, and exercised fines process
- instituted policy to lien and legally process through foreclosure, any owner behind at least one year’s assessment, allowing only attorney managed payment plans (took one manipulative owner to the cusp of foreclosure before they paid up)
- started the long process of choosing contractors for road repair and replacement
- ground 200 common area sidewalk lips
- increased communication - waaaay increased communication - even when some on the Board griped about there being too much. Total transparency.
- didn’t meet privately with ANYONE. At least three manipulative owners attempted to make this happen - it was apparent they wanted less covenant oversight and/or flexible payment plans
- didn’t engage on any social media platform (although I have seen this done successfully, albeit with a significant application of time)
- met with county planners, roads leads, and sheriff representatives
- met with state roads planners, and their contractors
- reported 50 different road issues (potholes, broken curbs, etc)
- found a 500’ road that everyone believed was county, but was actually private (the 2018 Reserve Study was well done, but after speaking with the author, it was clear the president had told them it was county owned)
- found at least 20 properties with inaccurate ownership in the PM database, another 10 with inaccurate addresses (I personally checked all property ownership - and went address by address in the PM database)
- began process to replace entrance signage (had to wait until county feeder road work completed)
- removed numerous dead and dying trees
- pushed hard on noise mitigation, planting and replanting several areas on the periphery with fast growing, dense bushes
- offered options to convert ball field to a park with different sports, exercise areas and benches
- offered options to eliminate parking spaces on one side of the gazebo park, converting to green space and trees for noise mitigation and to block views of surrounding businesses (and eliminate one area of non-community parkers eating lunch, goofing off, smoking and using the community property)

Broad lessons learned:
- KNOW your governing documents - COLD. Be the expert. If you do, most will simply accept they are talking out their butts, and stop talking.
- Understand the PM simply wants to get through things, do more for more money. Also understand the PM does NOT know your docs well - they have many other clients and get them confused. The staff of ours was pretty good, with separate folks for accounting, inspections/violations, and ops. The owner, while really bright, didn’t engage much. Our PM’s online tools, deep and capable website, smartwebs.net, and online accounting via the website and through Mutual of Omaha’s Community Association Banc, allowed instant access to most everything - BUT, no one in the community was using the tools. Use the tools - call and email the PM until they understand you will not go away - offer them ways to help you! Oh yeah, don’t allow the PM to control, or even to appear to control, too much at meetings - the owners expect the Board, and especially, the President to control.
- Set up committees, working groups, etc - to report to the Board - try and get owners to volunteer (I was only somewhat successful) - even if it is still only Board members on the committees, at least the organizational structure is there for the future ... I don't like ad hoc groups, but ...
- Be as formal at meetings as is reasonable - follow basic guidelines (RRofO), but allow anyone to speak as they feel necessary - unless they are disruptive - or become a time sink. Have a line where you respond immediately if an owner becomes too aggressive or if they say something inaccurate - do not allow inaccuracies to stand (see note about knowing your docs), but correct the owner immediately, quoting the components of your governing docs that apply. Always ask if they would like to help - you might get a positive response, but usually just get them to stop burning time.
- Meet with your attorney, but not often. Be clear about expectations. Make sure they are an HOA attorney in good standing, with other like clients - know their staff and use their online tools. Ours had great online status tools, but again, no one had ever actually used them :-)
- Communicate your strategy, what you are doing to be successful meeting the components of the strategy - email summaries about quarterly, email special updates on anything the owners will see or hear, insist the PM get the first calls and emails - not the Board - this keeps the PM in the process and on the hook to resolve small stuff

More than enough. My small way of trying to give back to those of you who support HOAs and work to improve things.

I certainly got some things wrong, and will gladly accept criticism and ways to improve, as long as it isn't an anti-HOA rant or whine.






This is great information. Great work. Great advice. If you shut down social media, how do you get timely information out there?
MarcC4
(South Carolina)

Posts:27


05/21/2020 9:32 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/19/2020 6:57 AM
Quick update on the neighborhood I just moved from - have been there three years, one year attended board meetings, Director one year, President one year. Just moved to another nearby community and converting house to rental. I have always been on the Board in the communities where I lived, and even where I had rental properties - someone has to do it - why not me.

The purpose of this summary is to provide some hope for improving one’s community, while recognizing the issue with apathy. I was lucky in one significant regard - the community has pretty solid CCRs, Bylaws, Architectural Guidelines, and Rules and Regulations - no one has read them, of course, and no one KNEW them, but they were there to be used as tools or compliance and organization.

314 single family houses, $220K annual budget, 20% of roads are private, fully funded reserves, parks with gazebo, playground, ball field, 1.5 mile landscaped greenbelt with paved walking path, property manager with good online tools.

Annual Meeting via online/call-in was last night - administrative assistance from the PM’s staff. I opened meeting and determined quorum met (10%), Property Manager read the summary notification, purpose etc - standard spiel they use, including the core purpose of the meeting to elect directors. Gave opportunity to property owners for comment not to exceed three minutes.

Had all board members online, and TWO additional owners - out of 314 residential properties. About 60 proxies - out of 314 residential properties.

One owner wanted to complain about a neighbor’s yard, and the other said nothing. Sigh.

PM wanted to get to election, but I interrupted the flow to thank the Board members, committee members, and the PM’s staff, BY NAME, for their service during the year.

Four directors continuing with three year terms, two directors for re-election for three year terms (their choice), and one open position never filed from last year. Total of seven directors. By acclimation.

Adjourned at 16 minutes.

The year we:
- increased number of Board meetings - monthly from quarterly
- filed Florida MRTA extension
- rewrote Bylaws, integrating four previous amendments dating to 1999
- developed and formally added five committees to the Bylaws (Finance, Welcome, Social, Capital Equipment and Landcaping, Fines)
- the usual rebuilding of infrastructure including reroofing and painting large gazebo, picnic benches, pressure washing common sidewalks, cleaning and repainting fences, bench refurbishment, lots of painting, etc.
- met with large landscaping company owner; made it clear what expectations were - and, then I followed up - in real time - with photos of issues - several times a day, until he got the point - absolute insistence that grass be cut lower, that brush be picked up, that I be notified of anything out of the ordinary, that it was his responsibility to tell me, not me to tell him
- kickstarted covenant violations process, monthly inspections, and exercised fines process
- instituted policy to lien and legally process through foreclosure, any owner behind at least one year’s assessment, allowing only attorney managed payment plans (took one manipulative owner to the cusp of foreclosure before they paid up)
- started the long process of choosing contractors for road repair and replacement
- ground 200 common area sidewalk lips
- increased communication - waaaay increased communication - even when some on the Board griped about there being too much. Total transparency.
- didn’t meet privately with ANYONE. At least three manipulative owners attempted to make this happen - it was apparent they wanted less covenant oversight and/or flexible payment plans
- didn’t engage on any social media platform (although I have seen this done successfully, albeit with a significant application of time)
- met with county planners, roads leads, and sheriff representatives
- met with state roads planners, and their contractors
- reported 50 different road issues (potholes, broken curbs, etc)
- found a 500’ road that everyone believed was county, but was actually private (the 2018 Reserve Study was well done, but after speaking with the author, it was clear the president had told them it was county owned)
- found at least 20 properties with inaccurate ownership in the PM database, another 10 with inaccurate addresses (I personally checked all property ownership - and went address by address in the PM database)
- began process to replace entrance signage (had to wait until county feeder road work completed)
- removed numerous dead and dying trees
- pushed hard on noise mitigation, planting and replanting several areas on the periphery with fast growing, dense bushes
- offered options to convert ball field to a park with different sports, exercise areas and benches
- offered options to eliminate parking spaces on one side of the gazebo park, converting to green space and trees for noise mitigation and to block views of surrounding businesses (and eliminate one area of non-community parkers eating lunch, goofing off, smoking and using the community property)

Broad lessons learned:
- KNOW your governing documents - COLD. Be the expert. If you do, most will simply accept they are talking out their butts, and stop talking.
- Understand the PM simply wants to get through things, do more for more money. Also understand the PM does NOT know your docs well - they have many other clients and get them confused. The staff of ours was pretty good, with separate folks for accounting, inspections/violations, and ops. The owner, while really bright, didn’t engage much. Our PM’s online tools, deep and capable website, smartwebs.net, and online accounting via the website and through Mutual of Omaha’s Community Association Banc, allowed instant access to most everything - BUT, no one in the community was using the tools. Use the tools - call and email the PM until they understand you will not go away - offer them ways to help you! Oh yeah, don’t allow the PM to control, or even to appear to control, too much at meetings - the owners expect the Board, and especially, the President to control.
- Set up committees, working groups, etc - to report to the Board - try and get owners to volunteer (I was only somewhat successful) - even if it is still only Board members on the committees, at least the organizational structure is there for the future ... I don't like ad hoc groups, but ...
- Be as formal at meetings as is reasonable - follow basic guidelines (RRofO), but allow anyone to speak as they feel necessary - unless they are disruptive - or become a time sink. Have a line where you respond immediately if an owner becomes too aggressive or if they say something inaccurate - do not allow inaccuracies to stand (see note about knowing your docs), but correct the owner immediately, quoting the components of your governing docs that apply. Always ask if they would like to help - you might get a positive response, but usually just get them to stop burning time.
- Meet with your attorney, but not often. Be clear about expectations. Make sure they are an HOA attorney in good standing, with other like clients - know their staff and use their online tools. Ours had great online status tools, but again, no one had ever actually used them :-)
- Communicate your strategy, what you are doing to be successful meeting the components of the strategy - email summaries about quarterly, email special updates on anything the owners will see or hear, insist the PM get the first calls and emails - not the Board - this keeps the PM in the process and on the hook to resolve small stuff

More than enough. My small way of trying to give back to those of you who support HOAs and work to improve things.

I certainly got some things wrong, and will gladly accept criticism and ways to improve, as long as it isn't an anti-HOA rant or whine.






This is great information. Great work. Great advice. If you shut down social media, how do you get timely information out there?
MarcC4
(South Carolina)

Posts:27


05/21/2020 9:32 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/19/2020 6:57 AM
Quick update on the neighborhood I just moved from - have been there three years, one year attended board meetings, Director one year, President one year. Just moved to another nearby community and converting house to rental. I have always been on the Board in the communities where I lived, and even where I had rental properties - someone has to do it - why not me.

The purpose of this summary is to provide some hope for improving one’s community, while recognizing the issue with apathy. I was lucky in one significant regard - the community has pretty solid CCRs, Bylaws, Architectural Guidelines, and Rules and Regulations - no one has read them, of course, and no one KNEW them, but they were there to be used as tools or compliance and organization.

314 single family houses, $220K annual budget, 20% of roads are private, fully funded reserves, parks with gazebo, playground, ball field, 1.5 mile landscaped greenbelt with paved walking path, property manager with good online tools.

Annual Meeting via online/call-in was last night - administrative assistance from the PM’s staff. I opened meeting and determined quorum met (10%), Property Manager read the summary notification, purpose etc - standard spiel they use, including the core purpose of the meeting to elect directors. Gave opportunity to property owners for comment not to exceed three minutes.

Had all board members online, and TWO additional owners - out of 314 residential properties. About 60 proxies - out of 314 residential properties.

One owner wanted to complain about a neighbor’s yard, and the other said nothing. Sigh.

PM wanted to get to election, but I interrupted the flow to thank the Board members, committee members, and the PM’s staff, BY NAME, for their service during the year.

Four directors continuing with three year terms, two directors for re-election for three year terms (their choice), and one open position never filed from last year. Total of seven directors. By acclimation.

Adjourned at 16 minutes.

The year we:
- increased number of Board meetings - monthly from quarterly
- filed Florida MRTA extension
- rewrote Bylaws, integrating four previous amendments dating to 1999
- developed and formally added five committees to the Bylaws (Finance, Welcome, Social, Capital Equipment and Landcaping, Fines)
- the usual rebuilding of infrastructure including reroofing and painting large gazebo, picnic benches, pressure washing common sidewalks, cleaning and repainting fences, bench refurbishment, lots of painting, etc.
- met with large landscaping company owner; made it clear what expectations were - and, then I followed up - in real time - with photos of issues - several times a day, until he got the point - absolute insistence that grass be cut lower, that brush be picked up, that I be notified of anything out of the ordinary, that it was his responsibility to tell me, not me to tell him
- kickstarted covenant violations process, monthly inspections, and exercised fines process
- instituted policy to lien and legally process through foreclosure, any owner behind at least one year’s assessment, allowing only attorney managed payment plans (took one manipulative owner to the cusp of foreclosure before they paid up)
- started the long process of choosing contractors for road repair and replacement
- ground 200 common area sidewalk lips
- increased communication - waaaay increased communication - even when some on the Board griped about there being too much. Total transparency.
- didn’t meet privately with ANYONE. At least three manipulative owners attempted to make this happen - it was apparent they wanted less covenant oversight and/or flexible payment plans
- didn’t engage on any social media platform (although I have seen this done successfully, albeit with a significant application of time)
- met with county planners, roads leads, and sheriff representatives
- met with state roads planners, and their contractors
- reported 50 different road issues (potholes, broken curbs, etc)
- found a 500’ road that everyone believed was county, but was actually private (the 2018 Reserve Study was well done, but after speaking with the author, it was clear the president had told them it was county owned)
- found at least 20 properties with inaccurate ownership in the PM database, another 10 with inaccurate addresses (I personally checked all property ownership - and went address by address in the PM database)
- began process to replace entrance signage (had to wait until county feeder road work completed)
- removed numerous dead and dying trees
- pushed hard on noise mitigation, planting and replanting several areas on the periphery with fast growing, dense bushes
- offered options to convert ball field to a park with different sports, exercise areas and benches
- offered options to eliminate parking spaces on one side of the gazebo park, converting to green space and trees for noise mitigation and to block views of surrounding businesses (and eliminate one area of non-community parkers eating lunch, goofing off, smoking and using the community property)

Broad lessons learned:
- KNOW your governing documents - COLD. Be the expert. If you do, most will simply accept they are talking out their butts, and stop talking.
- Understand the PM simply wants to get through things, do more for more money. Also understand the PM does NOT know your docs well - they have many other clients and get them confused. The staff of ours was pretty good, with separate folks for accounting, inspections/violations, and ops. The owner, while really bright, didn’t engage much. Our PM’s online tools, deep and capable website, smartwebs.net, and online accounting via the website and through Mutual of Omaha’s Community Association Banc, allowed instant access to most everything - BUT, no one in the community was using the tools. Use the tools - call and email the PM until they understand you will not go away - offer them ways to help you! Oh yeah, don’t allow the PM to control, or even to appear to control, too much at meetings - the owners expect the Board, and especially, the President to control.
- Set up committees, working groups, etc - to report to the Board - try and get owners to volunteer (I was only somewhat successful) - even if it is still only Board members on the committees, at least the organizational structure is there for the future ... I don't like ad hoc groups, but ...
- Be as formal at meetings as is reasonable - follow basic guidelines (RRofO), but allow anyone to speak as they feel necessary - unless they are disruptive - or become a time sink. Have a line where you respond immediately if an owner becomes too aggressive or if they say something inaccurate - do not allow inaccuracies to stand (see note about knowing your docs), but correct the owner immediately, quoting the components of your governing docs that apply. Always ask if they would like to help - you might get a positive response, but usually just get them to stop burning time.
- Meet with your attorney, but not often. Be clear about expectations. Make sure they are an HOA attorney in good standing, with other like clients - know their staff and use their online tools. Ours had great online status tools, but again, no one had ever actually used them :-)
- Communicate your strategy, what you are doing to be successful meeting the components of the strategy - email summaries about quarterly, email special updates on anything the owners will see or hear, insist the PM get the first calls and emails - not the Board - this keeps the PM in the process and on the hook to resolve small stuff

More than enough. My small way of trying to give back to those of you who support HOAs and work to improve things.

I certainly got some things wrong, and will gladly accept criticism and ways to improve, as long as it isn't an anti-HOA rant or whine.






This is great information. Great work. Great advice. If you shut down social media, how do you get timely information out there?
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2693


05/22/2020 5:45 AM  
Didn’t shut down anything. The community is managed, the management company coordinates the website. Owners can provide input several different ways, including via the website.

Used direct email for communications not required by law to be mailed.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Annual Meeting - What I Did and Lessons Learned



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