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Subject: Reimbursement for printing costs
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GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:25


11/09/2020 6:38 PM  
I find myself printing a lot of documents in support of HOA business. These include property manager reports, soil expert reports, and the like. I also find that I coil bind a lot of documents because it makes it easier to keep track of everything. yes, I'm a bit nerdy.

Can I get reimbursed for the cost of printing these documents? If so, what would I turn in for "proof"? I am only wanting to be reimbursed for actual cost in printing documents (paper, toner, coils, etc) and not anything above and beyond.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:403


11/09/2020 6:45 PM  
Posted By GregM14 on 11/09/2020 6:38 PM
I find myself printing a lot of documents in support of HOA business. These include property manager reports, soil expert reports, and the like. I also find that I coil bind a lot of documents because it makes it easier to keep track of everything. yes, I'm a bit nerdy.

Can I get reimbursed for the cost of printing these documents? If so, what would I turn in for "proof"? I am only wanting to be reimbursed for actual cost in printing documents (paper, toner, coils, etc) and not anything above and beyond.




Why aren't you storing these electronically? If you are doing this for your own benefit simply because you prefer paper then I personally would not ask for reimbursement. If you are doing it for the benefits of others then I can see justification for thsi.
GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:25


11/09/2020 6:49 PM  
I have electronic copies but it's easier to deal with things like property manager reports during meetings if I have a paper copy in front of me. I print out a copy of the property manager report, add individual numbers to each unique property address that is of interest in the report, and then print out a community map and label each address with a number. That way when we are discussing a particular address, I know immediately which home we are referring to in the community. Other board members have been impressed with this system and have asked that I bring it to our pre-COVID board meetings for all members to use.

While I am printing them for my own convenience, it's for the purpose of running the HOA meetings more effectively. I am not that skilled at electronic systems to effective use Adobe Acrobat during board meetings without being clutzy.
GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:25


11/09/2020 6:50 PM  
I'm not looking to be reimbursed for my time, just for the out of pocket expense in printing the documents.

Our property manager doesn't provide the service that I listed in the previous post, but I do it for more effective and efficient board meetings.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3411


11/09/2020 7:13 PM  
Nah.

Little stuff.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9714


11/09/2020 7:40 PM  
We always reimbursed for stuff like this IF it is part of your normal duties like being Secretary. It's always best to make sure it's approved before taking on the responsibility. Otherwise, I'd use a service like Kinko's or Staples to print out copies for them to pay the expense.

Former HOA President
SueW6
(Michigan)

Posts:781


11/09/2020 8:02 PM  
A line item in the HOA’s annual budget should be for office supplies. You might want to submit your receipts for printer cartridges and paper and have it posted in that category.

You don’t say why you need to run all of these papers out. Are you the secretary or the president and must keep a binder for the records?
AugustinD


Posts:4421


11/09/2020 8:07 PM  
Posted By GregM14 on 11/09/2020 6:50 PM
I'm not looking to be reimbursed for my time, just for the out of pocket expense in printing the documents.
Check your HOA/COA's governing documents for a short section about reimbursing directors for out-of-pocket expenses like the ones you describe. If this section exists, and you have receipts, submit them and ask for reimbursement. I think it's pretty common to do so. I do not care how small it is, with the caveat that maybe wait until $50 or more of receipts has accumulated.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3411


11/09/2020 8:24 PM  
PS - I was assuming, based on the OP’s explanation, this was not related to being the Secretary (who would have official orienting duties, perhaps), but rather as a board member wanting to seek reimbursement in a manner not common or requested by fellow board members.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:17026


11/09/2020 9:40 PM  
I expect that you are on the board.

With this expectation, I offer the following:

Request from the board to be reimbursed for a printing cartridge and ream of paper citing what you provided.
If approved, purchase those items and provide a receipt.

If not approved, you will have to eat the cost or learn to be paperless.


I wouldn't request such a reimbursement more then once a year.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3577


11/10/2020 6:22 AM  
Our management report and financial reports were very hefty and I never printed out that stuff in its entirety (and I was the treasurer for a while). To keep our printing costs down, our property manager emailed the documents to us and would have a few copies available during the meeting in case people wanted to take another look. Since there weren't that many, people would be expected to share.

I would make notes on what I wanted to bring up during the meeting. I also used the financial report to prepare a treasurer's report and email that to the board before the meeting for their review. During the meeting, we'd discuss it and vote to approve it, then a copy would be attached to our minutes.

I'm not that tech-savvy, but many smartphones have apps where you can save documents for review (my phone has one but I've never used it). I realize you prefer paper, but you and your colleagues should get with the times and learn to use those apps so you can save printing costs and refer to the documents through your apps in real-time.

If you insist on paper, it would be best for your property manager to print all this stuff and add that cost to the management fee you pay every month.
ND
(PA)

Posts:511


11/10/2020 6:27 AM  
Kudos to you GregM14 for wanting to stay organized and come prepared to board meetings, ready for discussion and decision-making.

I'm with Tim on this one . . . discuss this with your Board and if agreeable, you can/should be reimbursed for a reasonable amount of ink/toner and paper. You're doing a voluntary thing on behalf of the rest of your HOA members. You don't also need to shell out your own money (regardless of how much/little it actually is) to do what needs to be done. Some will argue that it's not necessary, which may be true for them. But everyone works differently and hard-copies of documents are often simpler and more efficient to work with for certain people.

Tim's approach is better than figuring a per page cost and then spending time calculating how much is owed to you each month.

The spiral binding, while nice, is a bit excessive IMO. If that's something you want to continue, it'll have to be on your dime. Or perhaps you can add a couple boxes of binder clips into your reimbursed costs and that'll do about the same job for quite a bit less expense.

If others desire the same as you, then it should be approved for them as well. However, if people approved for this do not end up printing documents and do not come prepared to meetings, then they should pay that money back to the HOA. This could be a stipulation of ink/toner and paper reimbursement as well.

GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:25


11/10/2020 10:09 AM  

The spiral binding, while nice, is a bit excessive IMO. If that's something you want to continue, it'll have to be on your dime. Or perhaps you can add a couple boxes of binder clips into your reimbursed costs and that'll do about the same job for quite a bit less expense.





When we met in person, we met around the nice formal dining room table of the board president. The binder clips would run the risk of scratching his nice dining table, while the coil binding is plastic and won't scratch. I have the coil binding machine so the only cost is the coil, which is a couple bucks. I am sure that a couple bucks of board money is far more important to the owner of the dining table than some scratches.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1575


11/10/2020 11:50 AM  
Posted By GregM14 on 11/09/2020 6:38 PM
I find myself printing a lot of documents in support of HOA business. These include property manager reports, soil expert reports, and the like. I also find that I coil bind a lot of documents because it makes it easier to keep track of everything. yes, I'm a bit nerdy.

Can I get reimbursed for the cost of printing these documents? If so, what would I turn in for "proof"? I am only wanting to be reimbursed for actual cost in printing documents (paper, toner, coils, etc) and not anything above and beyond.




Greg,

If you are printing these documents as an official board member - and not a property owner - then such supplies costs should be reimbursable by your HOA unless the HOA dictates that you should compile them electronically.

Ultimately, it's a courtesy to reimburse you for your personal choice of printing paper copies but it's not unheard of to help you out.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:4158


11/10/2020 1:22 PM  
Posted By GregM14 on 11/09/2020 6:49 PM
While I am printing them for my own convenience, it's for the purpose of running the HOA meetings more effectively. I am not that skilled at electronic systems to effective use Adobe Acrobat during board meetings without being clutzy.

Find some young person to school you a bit with PDFs. There is Adobe (the king but very expensive) but there are also other programs much less expensive that will allow you to do a lot with PDF files.

3 years ago we got a new secretary who refused to deal with PDF files. We went from a year's worth of PDFs (collected by the previous secretary) all on a small flash drive to a couple of years of bulky paper in heavy boxes as the new secretary dutifully printed out every PDF report/file she received (receipts, financial supports, invoices, committee reports, etc.) and stored the paper copy while discarding the PDFs themselves. Ass backwards as far as efficiency goes.

Learn how to use, create, and process PDF files, please. Your life will be so much easier once you climb the learning curve (and it's not too steep).
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10130


11/10/2020 2:13 PM  
I recently converted our Covenants, Bylaws, and R&R's from PDF to MS word via a PDF converter. I broke them down into 3 separate docs. I did have to manually clean them up a bit as PDF to Word was not 100%. I eliminated the Plat Plans and signature pages attached to them. It is now real easy to search them when a topic comes up.

I added a disclaimer on each that they were converted docs for reference only and the original PDF is the proper legal doc.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3411


11/10/2020 3:04 PM  
IMO this is waagaaay down in the weeds - and sets a bad precedent.

HOA money to prevent scratches on someone's table?

What about mats at a home's doorway for board meetings? Glasses used to serve water to board members? Power for the lights needed to see effectively?

++++++++++++++++++

"When we met in person, we met around the nice formal dining room table of the board president. The binder clips would run the risk of scratching his nice dining table, while the coil binding is plastic and won't scratch. I have the coil binding machine so the only cost is the coil, which is a couple bucks. I am sure that a couple bucks of board money is far more important to the owner of the dining table than some scratches."
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:403


11/11/2020 4:22 AM  
Our meetings are held in our clubhouse which has WIFI. I always bring my laptop and avoid paper whenever I can. I realize this is a personal preference. We also bought a inexpensive projector and pull down screen so that when needed we can display it for everyone. When we are having a discussion, I like the ability to be able to search for related information such as emails or documents on my laptop.
GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:25


11/12/2020 9:28 AM  
I am just going to say that the members of this board are a harsh crowd. You guys are the biggest critics of homeowners association and other board members. It is not your issue if I choose to print or use electronic documents. That is not a concern of other board members of my own association either. What matter is whether we as a board run the organization effectively or not. Just because I print documents and might seem antiquated to you really isn't an issue in the grand scheme of things as long as I make the proper contributions to the association, which I do.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3577


11/13/2020 6:37 AM  
You're asking about being reimbursed for printing the documents for your board colleagues, which would come out of HOA money, so if it takes less time and money to do something, that option SHOULD be considered. Do what you like with your money, but when it comes to HOA money, it's EVERYONE's money.

No one's questioning your contribution, but YOU'RE the one who chose to print out this stuff and give it to your colleagues. How many times did you do that before it dawned on you this was getting pricey and perhaps you should ask them if they even wanted copies in the first place? Maybe they were ok with electronic copies, so you could have stopped or printed them for some and skip the others. Perhaps be more selective about what you copied and only bring the stuff that you know you're going to ask about.

GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:25


11/13/2020 7:16 AM  
Posted By SheliaH on 11/13/2020 6:37 AM
You're asking about being reimbursed for printing the documents for your board colleagues, which would come out of HOA money, so if it takes less time and money to do something, that option SHOULD be considered. Do what you like with your money, but when it comes to HOA money, it's EVERYONE's money.

No one's questioning your contribution, but YOU'RE the one who chose to print out this stuff and give it to your colleagues. How many times did you do that before it dawned on you this was getting pricey and perhaps you should ask them if they even wanted copies in the first place? Maybe they were ok with electronic copies, so you could have stopped or printed them for some and skip the others. Perhaps be more selective about what you copied and only bring the stuff that you know you're going to ask about.





My cost is about $25 for a year of printing, at most. Our HOA has a $5,000 annual budget for office expenses, which includes printing, etc. I only print what is necessary to efficiently run the organization. I am not some old person who prints every e-mail and every document just because I can.

Our board meetings are highly interactive and using phones or other electronic devices is not considered appropriate, hence, I need to have a bound printed copy of any notes or reference information in order to reference anything during the meeting. It would be impolite and inefficient to bring a laptop and try to pull up documents while discussing things.

I was more wondering about the mechanics of getting reimbursed than anything else.

(By the way, the version of Adobe Acrobat that lets you edit documents costs $180/year or a huge amount for a perpetual license. I'd love for the HOA to pay for that cost but I don't think that is a fair reimbursement request, so haven't asked about it.)
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3577


11/13/2020 8:51 AM  
You're entitled to your opinion, but I've attended all sorts of business meetings where everyone has a laptop and uses it to review documents. No one's complained it was inefficient or rude - usually, the discussion starts with "we're going to review X", people pull it up on their laptops or tablets and away we go. There have been a few meetings where something was pulled up on the screen by the moderator where everyone could see it for discussion, and people made their own notes.

Once again, go talk to your COLLEAGUES and see how they want to address this. Personally, I'd talk to the property manager about printing out everything, come up with one cost per page (factoring in toner, paper and the amount of time needed to print all this stuff), add it to your budget (perhaps the office supply line item or the management fee), and move on.

That would be more practical than you coming up with a cost because I suspect no one wants to argue with you about things like

"Why are you going to X for toner, when it's cheaper at Y?"
"Why do you need such much paper - can't you print all this two-sided?"
"No, we don't want this printed in color - that toner costs more"
"I don't see why we're paying you for toner when you only print X number of sheets a month - seems to me the rest of that toner would be for your personal use - why should the HOA pay that?"
"You say your cost is $25 a year - where are your receipts to document that?"

If the board doesn't want to reimburse you for whatever reason, you have a choice, as others have said - either learn to do this part of the job electronically or eat your costs. As a practical matter, if you learn to do this electronically, that could carry over to other things you might want to do that don't involve association business (maybe this would be a great skill for whatever you do on your job?) But go ahead and do you.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10130


11/13/2020 8:57 AM  
If less than $100 out of one's pocket is keeping someone from being on a BOD, they do not deserve to be on the BOD.
AugustinD


Posts:4421


11/13/2020 9:17 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 11/13/2020 8:57 AM
If less than $100 out of one's pocket is keeping someone from being on a BOD, they do not deserve to be on the BOD.
When I was on the Board, given all the time I put into being on the Board, and given the covenants provided for reimbursement for reasonable expenses, no way no how was I going to spend $50 or even $25 on office supplies for the HOA from my own pocket, especially if I was doing a lot of printing regularly. My fellow directors felt the same way.

$50 is a nice lunch with a drink where I am. No way am I donating this to the HOA.
GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:25


11/13/2020 10:14 AM  
Thanks all.

Bottom line is that now and then I will turn in a receipt for a cartridge replacement for my printer, that in my best estimate covers the total expenses for printing. Maybe once a year or once every two years. Cost is about $28 which is about my cost. This is way cheaper than paying $0.10 a page to have the property manager print them for us.

I donate my time to the homeowners association, but not personal money. We collect enough in dues to pay the reasonable operating expenses of the association.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3411


11/13/2020 11:41 AM  
Was the Secretary on a rental property HOA of 189 properties.

I weaned the Board off paper by refusing to print copies of minutes to be approved. One copy off the agenda for each meeting, only.

They whines a bit, but understood printing costs are high, the labor to print is a pain, and since they had the agenda via email printing was wasteful.

Two years it went well - then I resigned from Sec and then from board - the president immediately started wasting about 75 pages per meeting - utterly unnecessary.

My opinion - go paperless - for lots of reasons.
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