Annual member meetings take place once per year – generally at the end of the year. It’s a great time for homeowners and board members alike to review the past year and look forward to the future.
However, there are some key elements to prepare for when running an effective annual meeting. Read on for all the details you will need!
When is an Annual Member Meeting Held?
Because an annual meeting is required by law, these meetings are guided according to bylaws, or the statute for not-for-profit corporate acts, which include:
- The number of association members that are present, whether in person or by proxy
- How the meeting is noticed
- How the meeting is convened
- Casting ballots
It’s important that all technical issues related to these items are properly executed in accordance with the requirements outlined in the bylaws. Otherwise, the meeting may need to be held, may be considered invalid, or could even be considered illegal.
Who Runs the Annual Meeting?
The HOA board president acts as chairperson and runs the meeting. However, there are circumstances in which the membership will nominate and appoint a chairperson specific for the meeting.
What is Accomplished at the Meeting?
An agenda is created based upon topics or issues that need to be addressed at the meeting. Those items need to be voted on, and the board members may make a motion with all present attendees participating in the vote. If there were items predetermined to be voted upon, members may vote by proxy if they’re unable to attend the meeting. In addition, all members present are provided the opportunity to speak and express any issues they feel necessary to address before the membership. This may be something for the members of the board to take under advisement or to be acted upon during the upcoming year (but not something that members should be voting on at that time).
How Does Voting Work?
Using the vote is a way for the collective membership to take part in their own community. There are 5 basic ways that voting can take place:
- General Consent: Only to be used when there are no objections.
- Verbal Vote: To be used when there is a majority vote.
- Raise of Hands: Hands can be counted, but ballot or roll call would be more accurate for a close call.
- Roll Call: Requiring members to be called by their name to vote.
- Ballot: The most accurate vote, this method is required to be used when electing board members.
What Do I Need for a Successful Annual Meeting?
The most important thing you need to ensure a successful annual meeting is a plan. Planning in advance and clearly communicating with the members will make a big difference, not only in the overall success of your meeting but also to ensure you are in compliance with the legality and functionality of it, as well.
Some communities may require something called a Designated Voter Certificate. Others may have specific requirements, so be sure to review your HOA documents prior to the meeting. Planning an agenda and knowing ahead of time what items need to be addressed and what issues need to be voted upon will give the members a chance to feel more included and informed.
Which Items Must be Reviewed at the Annual Meeting?
There are three main categories of documents that need to be reviewed each year. They are the association documents (annual budget, insurance policies, reserve study, and rules for use of amenities), homeowner documents, and any employee/contractor documents.
Annual Budget Review:
It’s important to make sure you have enough money set aside for emergency situations. A flooded clubhouse, a damaging hailstorm, or broken fencing can be expensive repairs. Look over the last year’s expenses, taking note of any increase or decrease in reserve funds. Determine how much, if any, of your annual budget needs to be put back into the reserve fund. Also identify if there are funds being wasted, or if there are ways to use funds more effectively. You may need to raise homeowner assessments in order to replenish depleted funds.
Reviewing your community insurance policy annually is important in order to determine if there are any updates or changes. Are all risks still covered appropriately? Were there any modifications to the property that need to be added to the policy? Has the cost of your policy gone up or down? The HOA budget needs to reflect those changes.
Rules for Use of Amenities:
By taking a closer look at your rules for use of amenities on an annual basis, you can prevent problems throughout the year. For example, do you receive the same complaints from homeowners regarding pool hours or pest control issues in the clubhouse? The board can adjust these rules based on HOA and membership needs.
The annual meeting is a great time to review and update your homeowner directory to make sure it reflects changes that have taken place over the past year. It will also help to ensure that mailings and notifications are sent to the proper contact person at the most recent address.
Next, check homeowner accounts for any outstanding balances that may have accrued over the past year, as well as any violations that may be unresolved. You’ll be able to determine a plan of action for getting these items taken care of and decide whether an additional friendly reminder is necessary.
Employee and Contractor Documents:
Last, but certainly not least, are the employee and contractor documents. Make sure your current vendor’s insurance policies are compliant and cover all the necessary risks. You may also want to evaluate the performance of vendors you’re using and note any plans for future improvements. If there is a vendor that does not seem to be a good fit for your community, come up with a plan to find a replacement.
Other things that would be necessary to review at the annual meeting are the calendar of events and future meeting dates. Because meetings and events are generally planned well in advance, review the calendar, being mindful of holiday and times of the year your community likes to have events such as garage sales, pool parties, or a donation drive.
In addition, online content that is accessible to current and future homeowners should be reviewed and all information should be updated as necessary.
Another important item of business to be discussed during the annual meeting are possible repairs or updates that need to be made throughout the association. You and your fellow board members should walk the community and document overgrown trees, withering roads, broken stonework, or other items that could become more serious issues if not addressed in a timely manner. Small repairs along the way may be more financially responsible than a more costly repair in the future!
There is certainly a lot to be mindful of at the start of a new year! By taking a proactive stance and having a plan in place, things will go more smoothly. Hopefully, our guide will help you have a successful meeting, which will enable your association to have another great year!
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