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Subject: Board Meeting Agenda members involvement tips
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AsafY
(Florida)

Posts:9


06/13/2020 1:06 PM  
Hi,
I am the president of new board which got elected (All new directors with no experience), complex is small having
40 townhomes.
The complex is located at Florida so we have to keep an open forum where members are joining and participating.
Out of the 40 members, 6 members are tough, know it all, not thankful and demanding. (unfortunately they are the only members who join the board meetings)

Today we held a meeting which resulted on scraping the meeting after 30 min of arguments due to these (6) members complaining that we didn't provide enough info regarding the agenda items and not enough info about all the bids thus we cannot vote!
Also they claimed that before the meeting they saw us walking around the complex examining the units which is unlawful (So how can we talk and arrive ready to meetings? If we dont vote we are allowed to meet and discuss agenda items right?)

We wanted to get your feedback so it will not happen again and next meeting will go easier.

What we did was setting a board/special meeting (10 days in advance as they claim we should), in the invite we described the meeting agenda as the following.

Items on the agenda
• Improvement of the Complex lighting (Entrance and pool) and review costs.
• Front yard garden improvements next steps and costs
• Gulf walk Private Fence standardization.
• Dogs leftovers discussion.

No feedback received by any member during the 10 days.

When the meeting started we allowed 15 min open forum for members to share there items/complaints.
During the open forum two members wanted to focus on the first item ( Complex lighting ) complaining that they were not involved nor shared with any info of the bids nor the design and asked for more info before we can vote on the subject.

I replied to members that the board got 4 bids, evaluated them and felt we can make the right decision to benefit the complex and after the vote we will be happy to share any info they like to get, however they insisted that the board should not discuss anything before the meeting and they should be aware of the bids and lights layout before we vote.
One of the director felt we may be doing something wrong and and asked to cancel the meeting so we can better prep and give the members more info about all items.
When I asked other members why they are not joining they said they are happy with the board decisions.

We are trying to understand what is the right way to do it to avoid such issues in the future.

which level of information do we need to give to members when publishing the agenda items (How can we improve?)
Do we need to share all the quotes before the meeting agenda with all members ? (I think it will be creating much work to the board as they will always require more clarifications) where do we draw the line.

During open forum should we discuss the agenda items? and till which degree.

Thanks in advance!










GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2794


06/13/2020 2:35 PM  
AsafY,

Any association business discussed by any assemblage of a quorum of the Board is a Board meeting. A quorum walking about the neighborhood discussing properties would be a board meeting. Anything like a quorum meeting in person or phone to discuss business would likely constitute a board meeting.

Minimum notice is 48 hours, if posted in a conspicuous place. A sign at the entry is sufficient.

For HOAs, by my read of FS 720, no agenda is required to be posted with the notice. There is a process to petition the board to include an agenda item, if the board chooses (stupidly) to refuse to reasonably address something brought to their attention.

The board may review whatever at a board meeting (there are a few restrictions), vote on those things and move on - without providing anything other than three minutes per topic per owner. The Board is under no obligation to request input from owners other than this three minutes on each topic. The board could obtain input on certain topics - and, is wise to do so.

Now, given your small HOA, I would provide lots of detail on almost everything (almost) - in writing - except for bids, which should be treated with some proprietary consideration. IF I had a couple of pita owners who tried to derail the meetings and hence the business of the corporation, I would absolutely limit their interaction to the beginning of the meeting - for three minutes per topic.

My sense is that you do not know your governing docs and FS720 sufficiently well to be the expert - and to shut them up -become thee expert, be fair and consistent - run the meetings. FOLLOW THE RULES!
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3304


06/13/2020 2:56 PM  
Congrats on the new position and buckle up - you're in for a long strange trip that I don't think even the Grateful dead envisioned.

There are lots of old conversations on this website about organizing board meetings- in fact someone recently asked about resident forum. You can read some of them to get some ideas, but here what I said in the most recent conversation.

The first thing everyone needs to understand is that board meetings are BUSINESS meetings. The board needs to work from an agenda and be organized enough to get through everything so you're not there all night.

Second the board makes decisions on behalf of the association and that requires due diligence and careful thought. it's ok for people to listen to the proceedings, but they don't have a right to jump up and interrupt with questions or comments - speak your piece after the meeting or perhaps during a short resident forum before adjournment.

Residents don't have a right to overrule board decisions just because they attend a meeting. if they shut up and listen to the proceedings, they should see how the board came to a decision - they may not agree, but should appreciate the transparency. If they're really upset, rally together The neighbors and persuade The board that way of vote them out in the next election.

The board sets the agenda and it's good that you sent it out in advance so people know what to expect. Board members should come prepared to participate and vote on various motions. If they were tasked to do some research on an issue, they should be prepared to discuss it and provide copies of whatever they looked at it tell who they spoke to.

In my community, we have a resident forum before the business portion of the meeting begins. You can set a time limit per speaker - once they speak, they sit down and be quiet so everyone gets a chance.

You don't have to make a decision immediately on things that Some up in resident forum. Some things may require research- say so and be sure to follow up by the next meeting. The item may already be in the agenda - say so and encourage the person to stay and hear those discussions.

After the forum (10 minutes is plenty), thank everyone for participating, but now the business portion of the meeting begins, and no questions or comments are permitted so the board can address all agenda items. This is also where you should remind people of basic manners (the first time this comes up is when the meetings begins). Basic code of conduct:

Turn off your cell phone or set it on vibrate. If it rings, leave the room to answer it.

No yelling, cursing, threats, interrupting when someone's talking, fistfights, gunfire, and other rowdy behavior.

Raise you hand if you want to talk and wait to be called on.

Be mindful of the time limit.

Anyone acting a fool will be asked to stop it. If he or she refuses, he/she will be asked to leave. Refuse again and you'll be escorted out.

Finally since all of you are new, I suggest checking out the community association institute website. It has a lot of educational materials on all sorts of HOA issues, like holding effective meeting, budgeting, etc. You can always look through old conversations on this website to get ideas on what to do and avoid. Good luck!

GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3866


06/14/2020 1:07 PM  
AsafY, good job stepping up to the plate. As others have said, buckle up. Without going into everything let me just say if you're legally an HOA in Florida subject to Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, you don't even have to post an agenda ahead of time. Condo association boards do, but HOAs do not. The FS 720 statute does say members may speak on any agenda item at a board meeting but even before that point, there's nothing requiring an agenda to be posted in the first place. It's a flaw in the statute, to be sure, but one you may be able to use against the malcontents. I wouldn't recommend not publishing an agenda, but I might recommend you threaten to not publish one in the future. Give them something to get mad about.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7318


06/14/2020 2:04 PM  
So, in FL under FS 720, owners may speak during each agenda item being presented by/to the Board? I had no idea! Doesn't that make for very long meetings in some HOAs?

I think posting the agenda items ahead of the meeting makes sense and provides some transparency rather than surprising Owners AT the meeting. Is an agenda handed out to owners AT the meeting? I think, Asa, that your agenda looks fine

I think George is right that a quorum of the board may NOT discuss board business excpet at open meetings of the board. Each director should receive a "board book" or jacket a few days before the meeting o know what bids are, etc.

I don't know in FL about this one, but in CA we do not have to reveal who's bidding and their bids at an open meeting. To do so could ruin the competitive aspects of the bids if some owner runs off to tell her cousin to bid on the project and to bid less. Even after a contract is selected and signed, the others are not, in CA, available for Owner review.

Since when are owners supposed to have complete info on every agenda item before the Board can vote on each?

If you're meeting via Zoom or some other method, you cn mute querns who exceed their time limit, etc. We only allow 2 minute, btw. 3 seems really long.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7318


06/14/2020 2:05 PM  
So, in FL under FS 720, owners may speak during each agenda item being presented by/to the Board? I had no idea! Doesn't that make for very long meetings in some HOAs?

I think posting the agenda items ahead of the meeting makes sense and provides some transparency rather than surprising Owners AT the meeting. Is an agenda handed out to owners AT the meeting? I think, Asa, that your agenda looks fine

I think George is right that a quorum of the board may NOT discuss board business excpet at open meetings of the board. Each director should receive a "board book" or jacket a few days before the meeting o know what bids are, etc.

I don't know in FL about this one, but in CA we do not have to reveal who's bidding and their bids at an open meeting. To do so could ruin the competitive aspects of the bids if some owner runs off to tell her cousin to bid on the project and to bid less. Even after a contract is selected and signed, the others are not, in CA, available for Owner review.

Since when are owners supposed to have complete info on every agenda item before the Board can vote on each?

If you're meeting via Zoom or some other method, you can mute owners who exceed their time limit, etc. We only allow 2 minute, btw. 3 seems really long.

Onward!
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3866


06/14/2020 2:19 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 06/14/2020 2:05 PM
So, in FL under FS 720, owners may speak during each agenda item being presented by/to the Board? I had no idea! Doesn't that make for very long meetings in some HOAs?

You could say that
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3866


06/14/2020 2:25 PM  
FS 720.303(2)(b) : "Members have the right to attend all meetings of the board. The right to attend such meetings includes the right to speak at such meetings with reference to all designated items."

Also, "The association may adopt written reasonable rules expanding the right of members to speak and governing the frequency, duration, and other manner of member statements, which rules must be consistent with this paragraph and may include a sign-up sheet for members wishing to speak."

That's one way to manage the potential chaos. When we tried that here in 2015 there were many complaints by homeowners who fail to realize that a board meeting is a business meeting of the board, and not the members. Rather than explain what's what to the owners, the boards since have run haphazard meetings where anyone who wants to interject from the peanut gallery is allowed to do so. Monthly board meetings usually run between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
AsafY
(Florida)

Posts:9


06/15/2020 1:55 PM  
Thanks !
So from what I understand basically we don't have to post an agenda ahead of the meeting but need to talk about it during open forum , yes its a bit confusing. But of course we will post it as we like to work with the members reasonably.

Taking for example the first item we had in our agenda - The complex lights.(adding decorative lights to palm trees)
We got 3 bids, the board reviewed it prior to the meeting via an email/whats app and agreed bid #3 was the best and wanted to vote for it during the meeting.

During the open forum 3 members complained that these bids, lights layout, prices were not shared with them in advance thus they cannot comment on it during the open forum so they dont see the point of an open forum.


KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7318


06/15/2020 2:25 PM  
Asa wrote: "We got 3 bids, the board reviewed it prior to the meeting via an email/whats app and agreed bid #3 was the best and wanted to vote for it during the meeting."

My understanding of FL is that quorum of the Board may not discuss, deliberate or make decisions outside of duly notice open board meetings. So perhaps that why some Owners are angry. It sounds like your board announced a decision made in advance and did not discuss it or deliberate about it AT the open meeting.

Our FL posters will know what's correct.


SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3304


06/15/2020 2:37 PM  
Well, you always get what you want, so if they don't like the resident forum because it's not fun the way they want, tough cookies. It's the board job tonobtain , discuss and vote on the bids, so if they want t o do it their way, they can run for a spot and then the forum into a free for all (good luck on getting anything done)

You don't have to discuss the agenda during resident forum - people should know what's on it because you sent it in advance. If someone wants so.staying to be discussed that's not on the official agenda, they can bring it up during open forum, but it's best to discuss it at the next meeting as new business if that's what the board decides to do.

It may be the homeowners need some education on what the board is and how it manages the community accord to your documents. How about an article in the next newsletter or website (both if you have them) where you explain the board role. Quote the appropriate citations from your documents so people know you aren't making things up.

You could also consider designating a Board member as sergeant at arms to ensure the board is following parliamentary procedure, and help remind homeowners when the business portion begins and ends.

But most of all, YOU need to do your job as president and keep things decent and in order. No need to set your hair on fire - keep the meeting moving and shut people down quickly and in a professional. When folks see that temper tantrum don't belong in board meetings (or the annual or any type of homeowners meeting) they'll calm down.
MichelleG7
(Connecticut)

Posts:12


06/19/2020 10:43 PM  
our meetings what is on the agenda for the executive board to discuss does not get discussed with the open forum for the unit owners. There is always this one unit owner who tries to get me to discuss with the unit owners the executive area. I respond not discussed with the board members yet. it is in the executive area. come back at end of meeting and be present for the BOD voting to see what we are voting on. In Ct that is all we have to allow the owners to hear about the Executive session. And we have to give them a time slot to discuss any complaints they have. Which shouldnt be what is in the executive area because they dont know what we are discussing. hope this helps.
AsafY
(Florida)

Posts:9


06/20/2020 8:24 AM  
I read your feedback but I am still a bit confused

Per your comments We ,the board, are not allowed to discuss agenda items before the meeting (although in the bylaws its mentioned that the directors can communicate via emails but NOT take decisions or vote), however at the same time the members like to discuss these topics before we voted. bit conflicting I would say.

One of the directors suggested to allow an open forum before we start voting on each topic.
the board will discuss first, then we will open open forum then we will vote.

I think this option will just cause to much noise, confusion to directors that came with an opinion and a long meeting.

Another option we are thinking about is to send all the bids to the members and allow open forum at the start of the meeting.

what will be better option? other options.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2794


06/20/2020 8:52 AM  
Directors may not meet in quorum or it is a Board meeting and must be open to all. This does not mean they cannot exchange emails or phone calls - but they cannot "meet" - i.e. a real time telecom would likely be considered a meeting, whereas providing information on projects via email, and then an open meeting to discuss and vote, would likely be permissible.

Open Forum before each topic is a bad idea for a lot of reasons.

Bids should definitely NOT go to members - it is the Board's job to get bids, assess bids and make financial decisions. Many bids are proprietary - board members are bound by fiduciary standards and are usually covered by insurance.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9569


06/20/2020 10:56 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 06/20/2020 8:52 AM
Directors may not meet in quorum or it is a Board meeting and must be open to all. This does not mean they cannot exchange emails or phone calls - but they cannot "meet" - i.e. a real time telecom would likely be considered a meeting, whereas providing information on projects via email, and then an open meeting to discuss and vote, would likely be permissible.

Open Forum before each topic is a bad idea for a lot of reasons.

Bids should definitely NOT go to members - it is the Board's job to get bids, assess bids and make financial decisions. Many bids are proprietary - board members are bound by fiduciary standards and are usually covered by insurance.




Sound advice.
AsafY
(Florida)

Posts:9


06/22/2020 8:06 AM  
Thanks! goos advice indeed , we will see how next meeting goes..
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