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Subject: As a board member, how much do you spend out of your pocket?
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JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 8:03 AM  
On this forum, I've been frequently told that I can't ask for reimbursement for expenses that I incur when doing my job as a board member. Things like printing out documents for meetings, business cards for working with vendors, and the like. People here say those are personal expenses that cannot be reimbursed by the HOA.

I'm frankly shocked by this - we collect revenue to operate our association, and a portion of our revenue is dedicated to office supplies and office expenses like $5000 per year or so. So it would seem appropriate to me to submit receipts to get reimbursed for these expenses.

So my question is - how much do YOU spent that you do not get reimbursed for? What kinds of expenses do you incur that are important to running the HOA but you choose to pay out of pocket for them? Why don't you ask for reimbursement?
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/14/2021 8:12 AM  
Are you self managed?
JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 8:40 AM  
We have a property manager but limit the PM company's role to the minimum activities like homeowner communication and the like. We take on a high amount of tasks ourselves.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:783


06/14/2021 8:43 AM  
The short and simple answer is, if we do, we are reimbursed. But, there are controls--

As a property manager, it is our intention board members, and others, will be reimbursed by the Association for approved out of pocket expenses. We do not expect a board member, committee chair, or anyone else should not be reimbursed for approved out of pocket expenditures made on behalf of the Association.

As a PM, we have one-three reimbursement submissions each month in which we have expended funds on behalf of a client. Examples include light bulbs for illuminated address boards, insulated hose bib covers for use in cold weather months, replacement exterior faucet handles, securing a downspout which has come loose from the strap which holds it to the building, etc. All those things one would purchase at a local big-box home improvement store for a few dollars and which would cost $150 or more if a plumber, electrician, or handyperson were called. We charge for the hardware and a minimum hourly labor charge, billed in 15 minute increments. Our contracts stipulate twice monthly client property reviews, we address such matters on a review day so as not to charge round trip mileage.

Over the last three years, we have reimbursed board members or others in our client associations for out of pocket expenditures perhaps five times, most of which were not necessary and could have been paid through the normal invoice process.

My wife and I have both served on the Board of the association in which we reside (not at the same time). As board members, we recall approving one or two reimbursements annually over the last ten years, all of which were related to an Association meeting or sponsored social activity held on association common area, such as National Night Out.

Generally, the governing documents of the properties we manage state out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed. We insist on the following simple rules:

1. Expenditure must be approved in advance, even if only through a telephone call to the Board president or our office. We realize there may be an emergency situation in which we as the PM must make an expenditure without advanced authorization. We have an agreement with our clients we can do so should circumstances warrant. We recently had a board member contract for a plumber for an emergency repair to a common area water supply pipe during the record Texas cold in February. She did so without advance authorization but no one is quibbling as obtaining the services of a plumber that Thursday had worse odds than winning the lottery.

2. Receipts must be submitted--NO exceptions

3. Absolutely no petty cash funds or Association credit/debit cards. We will not manage an association which has either.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1466


06/14/2021 8:53 AM  
What do your by-laws say? You should be able to submit your receipt to the treasurer for reimbursement.

have You tried to set up a corporate account with an office supply store so they can bill the HOA direct?
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/14/2021 9:14 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 8:40 AM
We have a property manager but limit the PM company's role to the minimum activities like homeowner communication and the like. We take on a high amount of tasks ourselves.



Then I assume you do all the accounting and the financials and pay the bills, right.
JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 9:17 AM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:14 AM
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 8:40 AM
We have a property manager but limit the PM company's role to the minimum activities like homeowner communication and the like. We take on a high amount of tasks ourselves.



Then I assume you do all the accounting and the financials and pay the bills, right.




No, the PM does the accounting, accepts checks, and pays vendors. That's part of the minimum that they need to do.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2600


06/14/2021 9:18 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 8:03 AM
On this forum, I've been frequently told that I can't ask for reimbursement for expenses that I incur when doing my job as a board member. Things like printing out documents for meetings, business cards for working with vendors, and the like. People here say those are personal expenses that cannot be reimbursed by the HOA.

... snip ...



I can't remember anyone saying that you can't be reimbursed for legitimate HOA expenses.

The issue is that many HOAs and COAs are chronically underfunded, so in practice what happens is that while some expense may be justified, it is lower priority than other things and gets bumped. We also spent money as if we had to justify each expense to the homeowners. So we got creative and hard nosed about non-essentials.

I personally drew the reimbursement line at around $50, give or take. I actually ended up out of pocket many hundreds of dollars during my five years on my current community's board because I simply forgot to turn in the receipts or the amount wasn't worth my time because I had more urgent things on my plate.

Printing out documents for meetings is usually an essential expense. You can probably use electronic versions, but many people read and comprehend better using paper, and you want the board to understand what they're looking at. It's not just a convenience thing, it's helping to get better decision-making. I'd say if you can make a business case for the expense, you're OK.

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2600


06/14/2021 9:28 AM  
I also did not ask for reimbursement for things that involved my home computer, printer, and other personal equipment because there was no good way to separate COA expenses from my personal ones. An auditor would probably have an issue with such reimbursements (for good reason).

Some months back someone posted about a board president wanting to be reimbursed for the cost of his Zoom subscription because he was using it to host board meetings (it was his personal subscription and he had incurred no additional cost for the board meetings). The consensus here was "nope".
ND
(PA)

Posts:637


06/14/2021 9:30 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 8:03 AM
On this forum, I've been frequently told that I can't ask for reimbursement for expenses that I incur when doing my job as a board member. Things like printing out documents for meetings, business cards for working with vendors, and the like. People here say those are personal expenses that cannot be reimbursed by the HOA.

I'm frankly shocked by this - we collect revenue to operate our association, and a portion of our revenue is dedicated to office supplies and office expenses like $5000 per year or so. So it would seem appropriate to me to submit receipts to get reimbursed for these expenses.

So my question is - how much do YOU spent that you do not get reimbursed for? What kinds of expenses do you incur that are important to running the HOA but you choose to pay out of pocket for them? Why don't you ask for reimbursement?



The first paragraph may be your takeaway from the responses to the couple of topics you posted on this; however, it's not the only advice you've been given.

There is likely verbiage in your docs that authorizes the board to spend money on things that it deems necessary for running the association. As such, your Board is certainly within its rights/power to authorize reimbursement to you for the sorts of expenses you are claiming as necessary.

The important part though is that you have to get your Board to agree that things you plan to do and money you plan to spend are necessary for running the association so that when you spend the money, the Board will subsequently authorize reimbursement to you because the expenses were approved and all were aware ahead of time what the expenses would be.

You don't get to be the one who individually decides that things are necessary to purchase, then go out and purchase them, and then expect the HOA to reimburse you for whatever you spend . . . even if there is a budget for the types of items you are purchasing.


So you have a few options:
1) Do what's needed to convince the rest of your Board that what you are doing is necessary for running the association. Seek their prior approval on your purchases and then seek their approval on having the HOA reimburse you for those purchases. (It works in your favor that you already have a budget for these things, and in the grand scheme, your expenses are trivial compared to what the HOA spends on other stuff. Use that in your argument. Also, it's clear that you want to do a good job for the HOA. In my opinion, I would be completely in agreement with spending a little bit on these things if it would make you happy, more efficient, and more likely to commit your time and effort to successfully running the HOA.)
2) Learn to work with what you already have and do not print things or make business cards. We all have our own way of doing things. Some folks like printed materials and stuff to hold. Personally I detest paperwork and will do everything electronically.
3) Pay for things yourself.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/14/2021 9:30 AM  
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4291


06/14/2021 9:49 AM  
What Bill said. During my 10 years on my HOA board, I was also newsletter editor and had to spend money to get them printed (this was before we started a website), but never had trouble getting reimbursed. That's because I told the board how many copies were being printed (and it was listed on the receipt).

There were four presidents during my tenure and all of them worked with vendors every now and again - without using business cards. It may have been different for us because we also had a property manager, so vendors could always contact the manager who'd pass the information along to the president, and both would update everyone else during board meetings.

If you're choosing to use your own money on HOA business and don't ask for reimbursement, don't complain when it happens. If you can't or refuse to get expenses authorized and present receipts, why complain that you don't get reimbursed? All you really need are some ground rules - start with the protocols Bill suggested, and that should work. And if you have a property manager, let him or her do the job and that can save everyone time (that's what you have a property manager for in the first place)
JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 9:55 AM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.
JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 9:57 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 9:55 AM
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.




By "this group" I am referring to the members of HOAtalk, not my own board.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/14/2021 10:02 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 9:55 AM
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.




This is part of what a MC does. My suggestion is be a president and properly delegate tasks.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


06/14/2021 11:57 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 9:55 AM
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.




Do the other board members want a printed and bound manager report with bubbles or is that just what you prefer? Because most of my board members just look at a PDF on their ipads or laptops.

If it's simply what you prefer for yourself, I agree that it's a personal expense.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1466


06/14/2021 12:07 PM  
I'm old school when it comes to things like this, Printed paper don't give you the beach ball from #3LL, nor does printed paper give you an error loading message. A lot has rapidly changed in the age of post CV.
Our PM emails us the board pack that is sometimes 60 pages. more important pages I myself will print out. This will be the new normal going forward with zoom meetings and such. It may be time to get a second computer screen for my iMac so I am not flipping back between pages and browsers and emails.
some of those smaller cost you may just have to eat.
JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 12:26 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/14/2021 11:57 AM
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 9:55 AM
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.




Do the other board members want a printed and bound manager report with bubbles or is that just what you prefer? Because most of my board members just look at a PDF on their ipads or laptops.

If it's simply what you prefer for yourself, I agree that it's a personal expense.




It's what I do to run an efficient meeting. I have sat through the other Presidents who didn't have anything organized and everyone kept digging out their cell phones and trying to look up address on cell phone screens. It was painful and not how I run organized, efficient meetings that make good use of people's time.

I suppose I can run this by the board and if they don't want to pay $7.50 of assocation money for the paper copy of the PM report, they can find a new president who can tell everyone to bring their devices to the meeting and expect people to glue themselves to their devices instead of paying attention to each other.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


06/14/2021 12:38 PM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 12:26 PM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/14/2021 11:57 AM
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 9:55 AM
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.




Do the other board members want a printed and bound manager report with bubbles or is that just what you prefer? Because most of my board members just look at a PDF on their ipads or laptops.

If it's simply what you prefer for yourself, I agree that it's a personal expense.




It's what I do to run an efficient meeting. I have sat through the other Presidents who didn't have anything organized and everyone kept digging out their cell phones and trying to look up address on cell phone screens. It was painful and not how I run organized, efficient meetings that make good use of people's time.

I suppose I can run this by the board and if they don't want to pay $7.50 of assocation money for the paper copy of the PM report, they can find a new president who can tell everyone to bring their devices to the meeting and expect people to glue themselves to their devices instead of paying attention to each other.




Just out of curiosity, how big is your community?


JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 12:46 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/14/2021 12:38 PM
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 12:26 PM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/14/2021 11:57 AM
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 9:55 AM
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.




Do the other board members want a printed and bound manager report with bubbles or is that just what you prefer? Because most of my board members just look at a PDF on their ipads or laptops.

If it's simply what you prefer for yourself, I agree that it's a personal expense.




It's what I do to run an efficient meeting. I have sat through the other Presidents who didn't have anything organized and everyone kept digging out their cell phones and trying to look up address on cell phone screens. It was painful and not how I run organized, efficient meetings that make good use of people's time.

I suppose I can run this by the board and if they don't want to pay $7.50 of assocation money for the paper copy of the PM report, they can find a new president who can tell everyone to bring their devices to the meeting and expect people to glue themselves to their devices instead of paying attention to each other.




Just out of curiosity, how big is your community?






Around 250-300 homes. We own a lot of community property (5 separate parks!), so we have a lot to deal with above and beyond normal compliance issues. As stated earlier, we rely on our property manager for the few minimum things that we can't handle ourselves, so we as a board have been handling all vendor issues. It requires printing documents, occasional binding of thick documents, and other office expenses to effectively handle the work that we do. Unfortuantely, this group (hoa talk) thinks that I am supposed to pay all of that out of my own pocket instead of getting reimbursed, because there are "better ways of doing things" and I need "get with the times". Sounds a lot like the naysayers in the community who never volunteer but have opinions as to how the board should handle things.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/14/2021 12:55 PM  
I am just wondering, if you're the president, why are you seeking validation from this group. I would have asked my PM or the company for advice first.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


06/14/2021 1:02 PM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 12:46 PM

Around 250-300 homes. We own a lot of community property (5 separate parks!), so we have a lot to deal with above and beyond normal compliance issues. As stated earlier, we rely on our property manager for the few minimum things that we can't handle ourselves, so we as a board have been handling all vendor issues. It requires printing documents, occasional binding of thick documents, and other office expenses to effectively handle the work that we do. Unfortuantely, this group (hoa talk) thinks that I am supposed to pay all of that out of my own pocket instead of getting reimbursed, because there are "better ways of doing things" and I need "get with the times". Sounds a lot like the naysayers in the community who never volunteer but have opinions as to how the board should handle things.
I think you are reading too much into the responses. HOA/COA Bylaws and Declarations do typically have a reimbursement clause for reasonable expenses incurred to satisfy needs of the HOA. I would bet most everyone here would agree you should absolutely be reimbursed for paper and ink, especially if it's adding up to a lot. Never mind wear and tear on one's printer.

The reason I do not like the idea of handing out business cards is because to me, it tends to give a false impression that you alone are calling the shots. But per the law, you are only one director. Maybe the board has delegated certain responsibilities to you, but if so, you are not carrying out those responsibilities because you are "President." You are carrying them out because the Board authorized you to do so.

On the other hand, I think this stuff with the business cards is not worth discussing. If you really feel you need business cards, and if I were on your board, then I would vote for up to $15 for you to purchase said business cards. On the net it appears that this will get you 500 business cards.

I believe every long-time hoatalk member here knows you and the other directors work hard, and for no pay. Five separate parks is a lot to maintain, along with enforcing covenants et cetera. Good luck.
JackJ9


Posts:0


06/14/2021 1:09 PM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 12:55 PM
I am just wondering, if you're the president, why are you seeking validation from this group. I would have asked my PM or the company for advice first.




Thoughtful, well written comments can help elighten me to other points of view that I may not have considered, so I don't make a faux pas at a board meeting to propose something that I shouldn't be proposing.

For example, the comments directly above about it making it look the association is all about me is definitely not the image that I want to convey to others. I happen to volunteer to work with the vendors but it doesn't have to be just me. I think honestly, business cards are out of date and not needed in today's digital age, so I am going to let that one drop.

I do appreciate the support that I got saying that reimbursements for printing is a reasonable expense to get reimbursed for. And yes, reimbursement for expenses incurred in doing our roles as board members is provided in our association bylaws.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/14/2021 1:12 PM  
No, actually, he is more than a Director, he is actually the president of the association, which according to many Bylaws state:

The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Association and shall, subject to the control of the Board, have supervision, direction and control of the business and officers of the Association. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Members and at all meetings of the Board. The President shall be, ex-officio, a member of all standing committees, including the executive committee, if any, and shall have the general powers and duties of management usually vested in the office of the President of a California non-profit corporation, and shall have such powers and duties as may be prescribed by the Board or by these Bylaws.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


06/14/2021 2:15 PM  




Around 250-300 homes. We own a lot of community property (5 separate parks!), so we have a lot to deal with above and beyond normal compliance issues. As stated earlier, we rely on our property manager for the few minimum things that we can't handle ourselves, so we as a board have been handling all vendor issues. It requires printing documents, occasional binding of thick documents, and other office expenses to effectively handle the work that we do. Unfortuantely, this group (hoa talk) thinks that I am supposed to pay all of that out of my own pocket instead of getting reimbursed, because there are "better ways of doing things" and I need "get with the times". Sounds a lot like the naysayers in the community who never volunteer but have opinions as to how the board should handle things.


I have to ask then - what on earth is in these meeting packets that takes 60 pages? How can your board members need a reminder at every meeting where these streets are?

Our full financial package for a community of 1250 might run to 45 pages, but the board doesn't go over the ledger and look at every canceled check at every meeting. We include the balance sheet, income statement and delinquency report in meeting packets. The expectation is that board members read the entire report themselves before they come to the meeting. They are also supposed to read the entire packet prior to the meeting, and come prepared to discuss and decide, not look at it for the first time, in the meeting.

I'm a cheapskate when it comes to admin costs, and I don't like wasting paper, so personally I'd enlarge a map, laminate it, and bring it to every meeting as a reference rather than print one each time. Or honestly just expect board members to be more familiar with where they live.

The people who post here volunteer their services. I am routinely astonished at the level of participation from the board members who post here as it does not remotely reflect my experiences as a manager.





MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/14/2021 2:26 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/14/2021 2:15 PM
I am routinely astonished at the level of participation from the board members who post here as it does not remotely reflect my experiences as a manager.



I'll second that.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:783


06/14/2021 3:13 PM  
Barbara and Max, as am I.

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10590


06/14/2021 3:48 PM  
I do not think anyone here is saying that a President or board member can not be reimbursed. It is that IF you want to be reimbursed it has to be agreed upon by the board that is appropriate. Like the HOA doesn't buy the Secretary a Printer exclusive for HOA work. They can agree to reimburse the Secretary for paper and ink.

Business cards is more of a "helpful" tool to do your job as President. However, it's not a HOA expense that the entire membership should pay for. The job is Volunteer. Volunteering comes with it's own expenses that you just have to suck up.

Former HOA President
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2600


06/15/2021 4:19 AM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/14/2021 2:15 PM
.... snip ....

The people who post here volunteer their services. I am routinely astonished at the level of participation from the board members who post here as it does not remotely reflect my experiences as a manager.



I'm curious ... can you be more specific about things that surprise you?

I haven't been surprised by much of anything, although I expect clueless behavior on the part of a lot of new board members - they probably wouldn't be posting questions here if there weren't unsure about something.

It may be nothing more than the difference between paid professionals (the PMs) and unpaid amateurs (the board members, many of whom have had no business experience and a lot of whom don't really want the job). But I wondered if you were seeing something else since I agree that the system doesn't work all that well.


BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


06/15/2021 8:42 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 06/15/2021 4:19 AM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/14/2021 2:15 PM
.... snip ....

The people who post here volunteer their services. I am routinely astonished at the level of participation from the board members who post here as it does not remotely reflect my experiences as a manager.



I'm curious ... can you be more specific about things that surprise you?

I haven't been surprised by much of anything, although I expect clueless behavior on the part of a lot of new board members - they probably wouldn't be posting questions here if there weren't unsure about something.

It may be nothing more than the difference between paid professionals (the PMs) and unpaid amateurs (the board members, many of whom have had no business experience and a lot of whom don't really want the job). But I wondered if you were seeing something else since I agree that the system doesn't work all that well.






Taking minutes, preparing agendas, running meetings, preparing budgets, signing checks, contacting vendors, walking the property, communicating with homeowners, responding to complaints, creating newsletters, reviewing the financials... in my market anyway, management companies are doing most or all of that.

Which is really a bad idea, because this industry has high turnover and burnout. That professional manager in whom boards are placing so much trust may have just started two weeks ago, and prior to that had been managing apartments or commercial buildings.

But I suppose if you're the management company, keeping a board entirely dependent on you is a great way to prevent them from firing you.

When the community is under development all tasks are delegated to the management company (with rare exceptions). Developers do not care about the day to day. When the association transitions to homeowner control, board members may or may not take on some of the work. It depends. Do they know the are supposed to? Do they think they even can? Does the manager know what they are and are not supposed to be doing? Are they assertive enough to insist that board officers do their jobs? Do they have a director pressuring them to do whatever it takes to keep the account? Sometimes you have no one willing to serve on the board at all unless you assure them they won't have to do anything.

I remember meeting a new board once and having one of the members say "who makes sure you're doing your job and not stealing from us." When I said "You do." he was stunned. (Same guy also called me up in a rage because I hadn't informed the community that a car wash was being built in a commercial lot adjacent to the community and he also thought it was my job to keep track of new construction in the city.)


AugustinD


Posts:1920


06/15/2021 8:54 AM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/15/2021 8:42 AM
Taking minutes, preparing agendas, running meetings, preparing budgets, signing checks, contacting vendors, walking the property, communicating with homeowners, responding to complaints, creating newsletters, reviewing the financials... in my market anyway, management companies are doing most or all of that.
Here's my experience at three of three COAs/HOAs:

Board and Officers:
Taking minutes, preparing agendas, running meetings, preparing budgets, signing checks.

Board and Officers and Manager:
contacting vendors, walking the property, creating newsletters, reviewing the financials


Usually just the Manager:
communicating with homeowners, responding to complaints


I expect there is a lot of variation.

The higher end the condo/hoa, the more the owners have the manager do, and the more the manager is paid?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2600


06/15/2021 9:26 AM  
In my area, the bigger PM companies offer a menu of services that boards can pick and choose from. My community's by-laws enumerate all of the tasks that the board must perform, and state that some or all of these tasks may be delegated to others.

I think that part of the problem is that the way things are now, PMs are relied on to provide skills that board members lack or to handle things that board members don't have time for. I don't know how we get around it until we change the job requirements of board members which, frankly, will eliminate many homeowners from eligibility.

I'm not surprised PMs burn out - it's a tough and demanding job. Board members burn out too (the good ones, anyway). Not only do they perform many of the same tasks as the PM -- they do them in their spare time, often after working full time at their real jobs, for no pay, with little to no training, and they have to live in the same community as the occasional abusive homeowner who is often limited to nasty phone calls or emails when they contact the PM. And the board gets crucified when they get it wrong (which is too often, unfortunately).

The current setup needs to change, but as long as The People In Control benefit from forcing every possible square foot of residential real estate into community associations, I have no expectation that it will.

...end-of-rant...
JackJ9


Posts:0


06/15/2021 9:56 AM  
To talk about board versus manager duties, this is my experience in the 18 months as an HOA.

Our property manager is supposed to do things like work with vendors, but the vendors much prefer meeting someone on site. I'm always happy to meet a vendor as long as it is after hours. As soon as they met me, then I became the person that they wanted to work with. Or they needed something done on site (marking a light pole that was burned out, or marking an electrical box that needed replacement, or staking out where to dig for a water line repair, etc) which our offsite property manager can't do.

Quickly, I discovered that a little bit of my hands-on volunteering made things work much better (i.e., cheaper as less time was billed to the project and higher quality of work) with the vendors. I also found that the vendors don't care to work with the property manager as they were offsite and not terribly knowledgeable about the project.

Over the first year of my board membership, I gradually started taking over vendor relationships, and now I am the sole point of contact for 80% - 90% of the vendor-related tasks. It has made everything work better in our community.

While I would like a property manager to handle the vendor relationships, I think the only effective way would be to have an on-site property manager, who could meet with vendors on site. That would be handy, but expensive.

Also, our property manager juggles 8 different associations, so we get maybe 3-4 hours per week of her time. I easily spend 7 hours per week on my HOA tasks, so there is no way our PM could do the work that I do with the time she is given to work our association.

Since we take care of the vendor work, I really would like our property manager to create a newsletter for our community a couple times a year. That is something that would benefit our community and she can easily do as an offsite person, especially if we help send her the subjects.
TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17852


06/16/2021 1:35 AM  
Jack,

When I was on my board, we would approve paying for one black ink cartridge per year for those who needed it (typically, the secretary and treasurer).

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2600


06/16/2021 4:09 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/15/2021 9:56 AM


...snip...

Since we take care of the vendor work, I really would like our property manager to create a newsletter for our community a couple times a year. That is something that would benefit our community and she can easily do as an offsite person, especially if we help send her the subjects.



Here's my experience after doing our community newsletter and website:

* It's time consuming to do well. You also have to include printing and distribution time if you're going to do a paper newsletter. It's also pricey if you do color printing, and black and white printing is less likely to be read.

* The person responsible needs to be a good writer and to have technical skills. Templates are only as good as the person using them.

* Newsletter writing is an art of its own that evolves over time. Realistically, nowadays you should assume you'll have about 5 minutes of people's attention, so any "news" needs to be in the headlines - readers probably won't read any other content unless it's particularly eye-catching.

* Being off-site is not an advantage: you can't write a newsletter if you don't know any news.

* A good website that's kept up to date can do a lot of the work that used to fall on newsletters.


JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11665


06/16/2021 8:28 AM  
I probably spend $50 per year on BOD business and I have never asked for reimbursement.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


06/16/2021 5:52 PM  
With 250-300 homes and lots of common area amenities (parks), I'm thinking a portfolio manager who's responsible for several other HOAs isn't enough for your HOA's needs, Jack.

Sure, it's costs most to have a PM onsite--at least part time. Is there space for an office? Have the PM make a board packet for each director a few days before your meetings. Most of your financials can be online. Our PM does spend a lot of time on our newsletter so if not in your current PM's contract, I'd say that's out. Given that you meet with all the vendors, what DOES your PM do? What IS in the contract, Jack?

I, too, can't imagine why you need such huge board packets for your HOA. Our PM prints the board packet for us directors and they're in a 3-ring binder. And what are all of these "addresses" that directors need to have "bubbled" for every board meeting?? Is this all about alleged violations? Or?

I probably spend $500/year on printing different items, some are my research into past projects and how certain policies emerged.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1806


06/19/2021 7:20 AM  
I will pick up light bulbs when the signage lighting burns out (and forget to seek reimbursement).

I've never really added up ink costs because I keep things as digital as possible.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/19/2021 9:50 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 06/16/2021 5:52 PM


I probably spend $500/year on printing different items, some are my research into past projects and how certain policies emerged.


Hell, I don't even spend that much.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:295


06/19/2021 2:57 PM  
Over the years, I have volunteered for many different organizations. None of which I have had to provide $ to except for maybe gas (animal transport)and time. All of them have recognized my efforts by providing recognition or trinkets.

HOA's are different. They do not thank you. Volunteering for an HOA zaps you 24/7/365 of your energy. While volunteering in an HOA may help to preserve your own property values, it is a thankless job. HOA's don't even provide a T-shirt unless it's approved.

Our MC just can't get info out to the owner's on a personal basis like the Board can. A request to purchase a hose to water community flowers is unknown to them. One year the Board sent out the notices for the annual meeting just to make it happen or cancel the meeting. We shortly fired them and moved on.

If it costs 1% of our yearly budget to provide volunteers with printer ink, paper, stamps, extra grass seed, hoses to water community property, plants to enhance the community property, we make it happen. The the Board has a debit petty cash account to cover those expenses. The debit card is limited and expenses are reviewed by the Board.

As the Board President for over 6 years, I have had many expenses,that I don't turn in. A notary here, a purchase there. I once put $3,000 worth of outside step railings on my credit card to reduce the HOA's liability after a retaining wall job just to get it done. Going through the MC could have taken weeks!

Every HOA needs to look their own circumstances. As President, I have project managed the replacement of 20 roofs at a cost of over $190,000 without MC involvement. MC would have charged 10% to manage. We have spent over $200,000 on new building railings without MC involvement, again saving 10% in MC fees.

Guess what I'm trying to say is that if you get the right people on the Board, either through election or appointment, they will get the job done and can even save the HOA thousands of dollars in the process.














Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1108


06/19/2021 4:21 PM  
If you don't have a written policy then I don't think you should ask for reimbursement unless it is something that was preauthorized or unavoidable.

I never ask for reimbursement for minor things like printing but, if I wanted to, I could go to the office and use the associations paper and ink. If I was printing out 100 pages every month, I might but I would clear it with the board first.

It's not fair to ask the association to reimburse you after the fact if it was not absolutely necessary to use your own funds.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1108


06/19/2021 4:35 PM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 1:12 PM
No, actually, he is more than a Director, he is actually the president of the association, which according to many Bylaws state:

The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Association and shall, subject to the control of the Board, have supervision, direction and control of the business and officers of the Association. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Members and at all meetings of the Board. The President shall be, ex-officio, a member of all standing committees, including the executive committee, if any, and shall have the general powers and duties of management usually vested in the office of the President of a California non-profit corporation, and shall have such powers and duties as may be prescribed by the Board or by these Bylaws.



Many bylaws may state this but is it is the norm? Most of what I've read for best practices of an HOA state that the president presides over meetings and acts as the spokesperson. Otherwise, she or he is just another director with no more authority than any other director.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1108


06/19/2021 4:43 PM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 06/14/2021 9:55 AM
Posted By MaxB4 on 06/14/2021 9:30 AM
I'm still trying to wrap my head on what the Board does versus what the MC does. You have an office expense, but is that for you and the board or is that for the MC managing the association. Board packages are usually done by the MC, or are you printing your own and want to be reimbursed?




Management company prepares a 30-50 page PDF file for the board meetings. To make the meeting go more efficient, I print out and coil bind the property manager report, and then bubble in every address of interest in the report, and also print out a community map and place matching bubbles on the map. Thus, we have a map with all of the homes / properties of interest and don't have to whip out our cells phones constantly during the meetings to look up properties. Cost of the printed and bound property manager report is about $7.50. This group has stated that this should be a personal expense, but that makes no sense to me as it is used to conduct the meetings and more efficient than trying to use cell phones and laptops.



I don't think it is a personal expense but I think it should only be reimbursed if the board approves it beforehand.

You see from responses here that some think it is a waste of money, I agree. What matters is what your board thinks. Let them decide if all that printing is necessary and if they want to pay for it. It is inappropriate for you to make the decision on your own and expect reimbursement.
GeorgeR8
(Arizona)

Posts:176


06/20/2021 7:29 AM  
I get reimbursed for everything but gas and printers.

We are self managed. I am president and property manager. Do you realize how much printing goes into a new buyers package? It weighs over a pound and they must receive it before closing so the sellers, if thy still have it, can't be used.

Everyone gets monthly statements. Every dollar spent that month is listed.

Budget time is lots of paper. Annual meeting is lots of paper. Meeting notices and agenda is lots of paper.

Postage is a major expense. Some things must be sent certified by law. The postage for annual meeting is expensive. The stamped return envelopes add up. Electronic voting has only been legal here for a few years and has only been used about 4 times and never twice by the same owner.

Many emails must be copied. All estimates must be copied for board members. The newsletter takes a fair amount of paper.

So how much ink do you think I use?

I don't have business cards but have been asked for them by vendors and contractors.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10590


06/20/2021 7:54 AM  
George I think you may be taking on more than you need to. Plus you may want to put most of this on a Disk. You can also create a website and/or an email account to handle some of this information distribution. Not sure how many people you have in your HOA but this may be helpful in this digital age.

Plus the Seller's or the Buyer's are responsible for having a copy of the CC&R's and Articles of Incorporation. The By-laws are most likely the ONLY HOA document it has. The other 2 are PUBLIC information and available at the courthouse or online. Many states make it the Seller's responsibility to provide otherwise the buyer is to go find it themselves. So the HOA providing this is "courtesy" but NOT a requirement. Some may argue this but when push comes to shove, having the HOA have the appearance they are responsible can cause trouble down the road when it comes to enforcement. An owner will want to "sue" and say the HOA did not give them the "rules". Well the HOA if in practice of doing this, make it appear they are responsible.

Plus is there a reason why can't make a email account with gmail, msn, or google with the HOA's name? That way can send out some of the notifications? Plus websites are not that expensive now a days. Can make one with exclusive password to access certain information like financial. That isn't public.

Overall think can streamline your process a bit better to work for more people. I know how easily it is to fall into "it will just be easier if I do this"... Just don't if you do not have to.

Former HOA President
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


06/20/2021 9:27 AM  
I do an average of 15 escrow packages per month and the total paper and ink has been zero over the past 6 years.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:783


06/20/2021 9:46 AM  
I'm with Max on this. The Resale Certificate package in Texas must contain financial information, insurance information, Bylaws, CC&Rs, amendments, rules, invoices, etc.

We have been managing properties for 11 years and have never once printed any of the documents associated with a property sale, they all go electronically to the title company for transmission to the prospective owner.

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