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Subject: Talking About Resignations
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NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/21/2021 12:50 PM  
Our annual meeting is this week.

Background: Pennsylvania is not an open meeting state. For board meetings, there is no general obligation to notify, etc. There are legal obligations to notify members re homeowner meetings and formal policy changes - which we follow.

In 30+ years, Our HOA has never published board meeting minutes. Last 2 Secretaries we had resigned. No one wants the position.

We are self-managed. No employees. All volunteer run.

In general, HOA members are happy. Haven't raised fees in 7 years. Repaved streets a few years ago without a special assessment. Reserves went from 47% to 100% funded in those 7 years. Some people are grumpy that they don't get their way, but every HOA seems to have a few like that.

Anyone, except a complete jerk, is guaranteed a seat on the board. Most board members are ready to step down.

2 board members resigned this year. Following bylaws, remaining board members replaced them with 2 non-board member officers until the upcoming election.

Issue: Board did not notify the community of the resignations and replacements.

Focus of HOA communications to community has always been what we're doing, not who's doing it. As a self-managed HOA dealing with all the day-to-day issues directly, we think it is best to speak with a single voice.

A small group of homeowners (the self appointed leaders of the opposition) are angry that they were never notified of the board member changes when they happened.

In the annual meeting notice, we identified the 3 open seats (the 2 filled by the board plus 1 more whose term finished), and solicited candidates. As expected, no one new submitted a candidate form - So the current board is a shoe-in. Not a surprise to anyone.

So I was just wondering ... If you were to put yourself in my shoes in my particular situation with my particular board in my particular state ... can you give me any advice on how to approach this issue at the upcoming meeting?

I could easily say that we should start publishing board meeting minutes. But that would add burden on the people who are already doing all the volunteering, and none of them want to do it.

Thanks.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1612


02/21/2021 1:48 PM  
You could do what I usually did - whenever someone griped about something, I said "thank you for volunteering" and handed them the job. (Didn't always get things done, but it sure cut down on the griping.)

To be serious, I do think transparency is important even if the community is apathetic.

What format are your meeting minutes and other records in: Word, Excel, something similar? How big is your community? The answers will dictate the amount of effort needed to make this stuff available.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/21/2021 2:50 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 02/21/2021 1:48 PM
You could do what I usually did - whenever someone griped about something, I said "thank you for volunteering" and handed them the job. (Didn't always get things done, but it sure cut down on the griping.)

To be serious, I do think transparency is important even if the community is apathetic.

What format are your meeting minutes and other records in: Word, Excel, something similar? How big is your community? The answers will dictate the amount of effort needed to make this stuff available.


81 townhouses.

It's not so much about the effort needed, it's that 95% of the workload falls on 2 people.

We've had secretaries. We've created standardized board meeting forms. We've had board meetings where we stopped the meeting every time there should have been an entry in the record, described it, and given sufficient time before moving on to the next agenda item.

Pres even gave her notes to one secretary. Secretary's response was that pres' notes were better than anything he could have done. So he did nothing.

Another secretary didn't submit minutes for several months. Then resigned.

So no matter how we look at things, the workload gets distributed extremely unevenly.

At present, our board consists of 1 pres (by default) doing a ton of work, 1 member who's real job is to support front line workers (and who has no time to keep up with HOA matters in today's environment), and 3 others (who are afraid of taking on any responsibility personally, largely because they don't want to open themselves up to personal attack from the gripers).

I am not a Board member.

I do think transparency is important.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10607


02/21/2021 3:03 PM  
NPS

We only make Minutes on anything voted on, which is rare. Anyone going after out Meeting Minutes will get next to nothing. That said, we have no ankle biters in my association. If you have concern, have the BOD audio record the meetings and make them available to anyone that wants them thus no one could ever say the BOD was hiding anything. Of course the recordings should not be free. There should be a "reasonable" charge.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/21/2021 3:42 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 02/21/2021 3:03 PM
NPS

We only make Minutes on anything voted on, which is rare. Anyone going after out Meeting Minutes will get next to nothing. That said, we have no ankle biters in my association. If you have concern, have the BOD audio record the meetings and make them available to anyone that wants them thus no one could ever say the BOD was hiding anything. Of course the recordings should not be free. There should be a "reasonable" charge.



Interesting idea about audio recordings John. Let them spend hour after hour listening to the boring routine of what it takes to run a business. Will run it by our folks.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1612


02/22/2021 4:54 AM  
Throwing out some ideas:

* Is there someone who would be willing to take on some of the work as an officer but not a board member? If they don't vote, the gripers should leave them alone. And it's easier to take minutes if you're not actively participating in the discussion.

* Have a generic Meeting Minutes form, with areas for date, start time, participants, approval of previous minutes, old business, new business, whatever else came up, adjournment time. If the person taking notes writes neatly, you maybe could get away with these as your minutes. (I used something like this when I took the minutes, although I typed them up afterwards.)

* You may be able to find a site such as Dropbox that would allow you to upload documents where others can find them. This has the advantage of making backup copies of paper records in the event the paper records are damaged or destroyed.

I sympathize with overworked board members, I personally did about 95% of the work and was pretty burned out after five years.
MichelleG7
(Connecticut)

Posts:48


02/22/2021 7:48 AM  
Learn from it and move on. We send out memos to unit owners if the board members change. we can fill the position til the next annual unit owners meeting. Explain to the I call them haters sorry from here forward we will. bla bla and in our declaration we can fill the positions til the annuual owners meeting. find out what you can do. look it up in the declaration.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/22/2021 8:20 AM  
Excellent ideas Cathy.

Posted By CathyA3 on 02/22/2021 4:54 AM

* Is there someone who would be willing to take on some of the work as an officer but not a board member? If they don't vote, the gripers should leave them alone. And it's easier to take minutes if you're not actively participating in the discussion.


That's how we've been running things for around 2 years. My official title is Logistics Officer, which is whatever I want to make of it and takes as much time as I want to give it. We've also had a Communications Officer (who stepped up to become a Board member after the resignations). Also, traditional roles of Treasurer and Secretary have been non-Board positions.

Yes, we have been able to attract some folks who are willing to provide service and carry some of the burden, but don't want to become targets. What we've learned is that they still become targets anyway.

Even so, the approach has been a success. People become part of the team - without any voting authority - which makes them feel safer. Then after a while, they are better able to overcome the fears they had in the first place. They also learn that the existing Board members aren't so brilliant in every decision they make. Learning on the job is critical to our future success.

This is the way we will roll in the future.

Posted By CathyA3 on 02/22/2021 4:54 AM

* Have a generic Meeting Minutes form, with areas for date, start time, participants, approval of previous minutes, old business, new business, whatever else came up, adjournment time. If the person taking notes writes neatly, you maybe could get away with these as your minutes. (I used something like this when I took the minutes, although I typed them up afterwards. )


We prepared a form similar to what you are recommending. 2 Secretaries in a row declined to use it.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why we can't fill this position. IMO, it's the best way to learn the nuts and bolts of our HOA.

I should also add that - Every word in everything we publish will be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb. The backlash for any perceived misstatement or vagueness will be brutal. I remind you that this is only 5% of the community - Yet they are 95% of the chatter. Board members are tired of being told how stupid and incompetent they are by a clueless mini-minority.

Posted By CathyA3 on 02/22/2021 4:54 AM

* You may be able to find a site such as Dropbox that would allow you to upload documents where others can find them. This has the advantage of making backup copies of paper records in the event the paper records are damaged or destroyed.


Unfortunately, we have 2 board members who are technologically challenged. One still doesn't comprehend the distinction between Reply and Forward on our email system, which got us in trouble with homeowners a number of times. He has been reminded many times, but just doesn't get it. Something new for him to learn? Don't think so.

Posted By CathyA3 on 02/22/2021 4:54 AM

I sympathize with overworked board members, I personally did about 95% of the work and was pretty burned out after five years.


Burnout should not be that prevalent. And I guess that's one of my biggest gripes.

Out in the real world, one of the most important roles of any management team in a going concern is succession planning - How best to bring new blood into the system. Yet, there is no awareness among the nasties that their venom is working against their own best interests and the best interest of the HOA.

Just wondering. What would you say to these dissatisfied few?

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/22/2021 9:28 AM  
Posted By MichelleG7 on 02/22/2021 7:48 AM
Learn from it and move on. We send out memos to unit owners if the board members change. we can fill the position til the next annual unit owners meeting. Explain to the I call them haters sorry from here forward we will. bla bla and in our declaration we can fill the positions til the annuual owners meeting. find out what you can do. look it up in the declaration.


Thanks Michelle.
I suppose we could notify the membership when someone resigns. But when exactly is that:
The day notice is given?
The day we stop trying to convince that person to stay on?
The day that person says "stop bothering me already, I'm done"?

And when should we notify the membership of the replacement? Usually, the Board keeps on rolling along with a smaller number than usual.
Some people are willing to step up, but don't want it published (see comments to Cathy). If we have to publish new members, we might not get anyone to step up.

To me, there is rarely a fixed date on which there is suddenly a change in command. The date of final acknowledgement of resignation can take weeks or months. The lag time between resignation and new volunteer can take more weeks or months. It's not that I'm against announcement, I just don't understand why what is in reality a gradual transition with a gap in the middle has such focus. The job is getting done, and that IMO is the important thing.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1612


02/22/2021 10:23 AM  
I agree about the 5% causing 95% of the griping. Our attorney referred to them as "vocational dissidents" or "professional complainers". Here's what I learned about dealing with them:

* They are not trying to make the community better, although they will swear up and down that they are. Instead, they thrive on conflict and controversy, and they are trying to generate an emotional reaction. Don't give it to them.

* It helps if you can view the griping as not personal. Remember that they'll fight with anyone in a position of authority, not just the folks currently occupying those positions.

* Your communications with them should be brief and factual, with no opportunity for back and forth or arguing. If you argue, they have achieved their goal. You want to have the most boring discussions in the history of discussions. With some of them (the liars), you may also need to put everything in writing so that you have proof of what was said.

* We came up with a set of bland, scripted responses and used them as needed. This can take a bit of getting used to, and you need to have all of the board members on the same page to make it effective. It can also feel a bit "dishonest" since you aren't being totally candid and you are treating them differently than you would treat others. But keep in mind that whatever they say, it's the subtext (ie, the emotional reaction) that is the real content of the interaction.

* Do not discuss association business one on one with homeowners! I think communications should always go through official channels, but especially with the complainers. No matter how often you say that it's just your opinion and you don't speak for the board, homeowners will hear it as "the board says....". And it can look like favoritism. It's one reason why social media can be such a mine field for HOAs. (Not everyone agrees with this, though.)

* You have to stick with it. It took us at least a year of boring them silly to convince our complainers that their tactics didn't work on us, after which they calmed down. But they don't change. The minute the long term board members stepped down and inexperienced newbies took their places, the same old gripes flared up again.

* Samples of our scripted responses:
- "Thank you for your comments."
- "I will forward this to the entire board for discussion."
- "The board needs to do further research first."
- "A complaint must be in writing. Please look on our website for the Action Form, fill it out and send it to our property manager." (This stopped a lot of nonsense since the Action Form asks complainers to include photo or video evidence, if possible, and asks if the complainer would be willing to testify in court. Our board does not act on hearsay.)
- "We have received your request." (We had one owner who kept complaining about excessive noise from overhead even though nobody else could hear anything. Our attorney said to simply acknowledge receipt of repetitive complaints with no further comment.)
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10607


02/22/2021 11:36 AM  
I am an advocate of benign neglect.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/22/2021 11:51 AM  
I thought your comments were great Cathy, at least the ones I read before I fell asleep out of boredom.

Particularly liked comments about "the real context of the interaction" and what happens with the changing of the guard.

Scripted responses helpful.

Thanks.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/22/2021 11:52 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 02/22/2021 11:36 AM
I am an advocate of benign neglect.


Always a winner if you live remotely.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10607


02/22/2021 1:25 PM  
NpS

You said:
In the annual meeting notice, we identified the 3 open seats (the 2 filled by the board plus 1 more whose term finished), and solicited candidates. As expected, no one new submitted a candidate form - So the current board is a shoe-in. Not a surprise to anyone.

You all properly did your job. No second guessing allowed.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:4041


02/22/2021 5:32 PM  
I hear you John. Thanks.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
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