Board meeting transparency – not just the right thing to do, it may be required by law
Economic burdens of rising foreclosure and unemployment rates not only affect HOA revenue streams, they increase the contentious, divisive and time consuming nature of board meetings. As pressures on boards from homeowners increase, the importance of board accountability and transparency of their meetings also increase.
Peter Kristian, who is a general manager of a large-scale community in South Carolina, offers some tips on how to ensure board meeting transparency:
• Make sure you publish a meeting schedule in advance and publish it on the community’s website. The agenda could also be emailed to interested residents who have signed up for such a service. Make sure residents who do not use the internet are privy to board meeting through written notice.
• Establish a resident’s time policy that is adopted by the board and published to the community. Says Kristian, “the policy should cover key points such as the prescribed time for resident comment at meetings, the length of time each resident can speak and whether one resident in attendance can cede their time to another resident.
• Board member comments on a resident’s testimony should express the appreciation of the board for the resident’s input and verbal jousting between board members during a resident’s comments should always be avoided.
When discussing transparency of board meetings, sunshine laws have to be included. HOA boards can be subject to sunshine laws depending on state statutes.
Kristian said it is imperative managers understand and abide by their state’s statutes governing HOAs.
“The best way to adhere to such provisions in the law is to consult with a local attorney who practices community association law and ask them for guidance. Read the law, educate your board and apply the provisions to you situation.”
Have any of your communities been accused of lacking in board meeting transparency and if so, how did the respective boards respond?