The annual homeowner association meeting may be required but rather than approach it in the "Do I have to?" mode, make it a celebration of accomplishments: Bills were paid, volunteers served and survived, and worthy projects were completed. There are always things to celebrate. So, while the business meeting may be mundane, dress it up for a party! All good parties takes planning:
Start Early. At least three months is needed to properly prepare.
Appoint a Nominating Committee. Identify three or more owners to serve on a committee which will locate qualified director nominees. The committee's job is to seek out candidates who have the Time, Concern and Ability to serve as directors.
- Time is a two-edged sword. Some candidates are time poor due to commitments. But even busy people can make time if they want to. How much time is required? Say, "Directors are expected to attend six two hour board meetings a year and to stay informed about association business. The job should take an average of four hours a month and the term is two years." Now, that's not so bad, is it?
- Concern. Is the candidate concerned with how the board does business? "Concern" is defined as "wanting business run in a professional manner" not "I'm going to make sure my building gets painted first".
- Ability. Does the candidate have special talents to lend like leadership ability, accounting skills, contracting experience or journalism background? While these aren't prerequisites, they certainly help.
Reserve Meeting Time & Place. Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, 6 - 8 pm time frame works best for avoiding conflicts. The meeting place should be large enough to accommodate all owners and spouses.
Add the Celebration.
A. Cater a buffet and advertise a mouth watering menu.
B. Have a drawing for cool prizes.
C. Distribute awards and recognitions.
Send Agenda & Proxies.
Depending on requirements in your governing documents, 30 days is recommended. Include:
A. Agenda including time and location.
B. Proposed Bylaw Amendments.
C. Election Information. Candidates & bios; Request for more candidates
D. Resolution-Excess Operating Funds. IRS regulations require a resolution be adopted annually by the owners which allows excess operating funds to be rolled to the following year's operating budget or added to reserves. It also allows the Association the option of filing as a Corporation (Form 1120) or as a Homeowners Association (Form 1120H).
E. Other Business. Include information about other issues to be voted on (like a special assessment).
F. Proxy. A written authorization for a representative to vote on behalf of the giver. It should be completed, signed and returned by all owners one week prior to the meeting. Include a stamped envelope marked "Proxy" to encourage return. Do not allow people to collect proxies for themselves since this allows fraud. All proxies should be returned directly to the Board Secretary or Management.
G. Ballot. While governing documents may allow vote by mail, unless many owners are nonresident, this practice is not recommended since it doesn't allow for discussion of the issues and candidates which could change the voting outcome.
H. Celebration. Menu for banquet, drawing info and other "spice".
One Week Prior.
A. Gather Proxies. One week prior to the meeting, tally the proxies and pick up those that are missing. Since the meeting cannot be held unless a proper quorum is reached, this is very important. All owners should return proxies to ensure a quorum. If they attend the meeting, the proxies are returned to them.
B. Forms. Prepare a sign-in sheet, ballots, election tally and handouts. If there are a number of handouts, print each on a different color of paper.
A. Organize Seating with current board at a head table facing the audience in gallery seating. If the room is large enough to need it, get microphones and speakers so all can hear. If there are visuals planned, set up the overhead equipment.
B. Turn On Heat or A/C if needed at least six hours prior to the event.
C. Set Up Registration Table to sign people in and return their proxy if appropriate.
The Meeting Begins.
A. Call Meeting to Order
B. Introduce Board & Manager
C. Proof of Notice & Quorum. Announce form of notice and date sent plus total owners represented at the meeting in person and by proxy. The total should meet the minimum required by the governing documents. (If not, adjourn the meeting and reconvene when a quorum can be attained).
D. Open Owner Forum: Limit to 3-5 minutes per person
E. Review & Approve Minutes of Last Annual Meeting
F. Officer Reports
Year in Review - President
Financial Report - Treasurer
G. Manager's Report (if any)
H. Committee Reports (if any)
I. Bylaw Amendments (if any)
J. Adopt Resolution - Excess Funds
K. Elections. Ask for nominations; Introduce candidates; Hold election by acclamation, if appropriate, or distribute ballots and have them tallied by Election Committee. Announce results.
L. Awards & Presentations. Recognize directors and other volunteers.
M. Meeting Adjourned: Invite everyone to stay for the banquet to celebrate.
N. Organizational Board Meeting immediately following the annual meeting to select officers
The Annual Meeting should be a celebration of the Association's accomplishments while handling necessary business. A well organized meeting shouldn't run more than 60 ro 90 minutes. Finish on a high note: Ceremoniously announce recognitions and then adjourn to a sumptuous feast. Make it a "feel good" event. Party on!
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