Board Members, Thank You for Your Service

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Board Members, Thank You for Your Service

Published January 2020

Editor’s Note: These management companies and financial service providers have shared the following counsel to assist boards of directors in fulfilling their responsibilities with excellence.


Board Member Expectations
By Lisa Elkan, VP, Association Financial Partner South Florida Region

     Board members have a fiduciary duty to the other members and owners of the association, which means they must do the following:

  • act in good faith
  • act in the best interests of the association as a whole (and avoid any conflict of interests)
  • be informed prior to acting
  • not take any actions without proper authority, and
  • not take negligent or willfully harmful actions.

     Unfortunately, no association board can always please every owner. When an association fines a neglectful homeowner for not pressure cleaning the roof, for example, the owner will likely grumble and complain. Because of this occasional tension, one of the most important board member qualities is diplomacy. To be a good board member, one should act as a proactive team player who uses discussion and negotiation rather than contentious confrontation. Although serving on an association board may be difficult at times, it is also rewarding. Volunteer board members are essential to the harmonious functioning of associations.

     Lisa Elkan is Vice President, Association Financial Partner in South Florida for Alliance Association Bank. For more information, call (561) 212-2091 or email LElkan@AllianceAssociationBank.com.


Don’t Deplete Your Association’s Financial Resources
By Tavarious Butts, VP Relationship Manager

     Associations are sometimes faced with unexpected repairs that are necessary but were not planned for during the budgeting process. Loans to the association provide individual unit owners a comfortable monthly payment and allow associations to complete projects immediately, without depleting association reserves.

Reasons for a Loan

  • Concrete Restoration
  • Major Improvements
  • AC Replacement
  • Elevator Renovations/Repair
  • Window and Door Replacement
  • Insurance Premium Financing

     It is important to find a bank that specializes in the needs of community associations and has experience meeting their financial goals. Banks vary on loan terms such as interest rates, repayment terms, and closing costs. Working with an experienced bank loan officer will ease the loan process and benefit your association. 

     For more information, regarding loans to your association, please call BB&T Association Services now Truist at (888) 722-6669.

All loans subject to credit approval.
BB&T now Truist, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.


What Do Board Members Do? Understanding Your Role
By Dan Tiernan, COO

     Congratulations on being ele-cted to your community association’s board of directors! Board members are responsible for the administration of the association, including the maintenance, management, and operation of the association property. The duties of board members include, but are not limited to, the following items:

    Establish an annual budgetConduct legal electionsOversee the maintenance of the common elementsManage the community’s financesParticipate in board meetingsEnforce the community’s rules and regulations

     Make sure to take the required board member certification class within the 90-day window after you are elected. This class is a requirement, but it will also help prepare you for your time on the board. Board members do so much. Taking free educational courses offered to board members in your area whenever possible is a great idea! You can learn more about being a board member and receive notification of upcoming educational events at GetFAN.org.

     Dan Tiernan is Chief Operating Officer with Campbell Property Management. For more information, call (954) 427-8770 or visit www.CampbellPropertyManagement.com.


Get Up to Speed—Understand an Association’s Finances
By Victor Navia

     Welcome, new board members! Are you comfortable that you are as informed as you should be?

     As a new board member, understanding an association’s finances is a critical part of getting up to speed. Learning from the shortcomings and successes of previous budgets, while staying focused on their impact on the future, allows new board members to be onboarded faster and with a more complete understanding of the “why” behind where the community stands financially.

     For returning members, be sure to get new board members prepared to govern by providing the contacts and resources necessary to understand the association’s current financial standing.

     Lastly, maintaining open and clear communication with the association’s property management company will give board members access to a wealth of information and resources. From hiring the right vendors to reviewing the budget, property managers are a valuable asset to board members seeking to comprehend the ways the community has used and is currently using its funds.

     For more information on Castle Group, call (844) 815-5321 or visit www.castlegroup.com.


Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
By Jennifer Olson, VP, LCAM

     Community association board members are considered fiduciaries.  Fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care imposed under law, and it occurs when one or more persons are responsible for the money or property of another. The fiduciary is expected to be honest, free from fraud, and faithful to his/her obligations.

     Accusations of self-dealing or conflicts of interest sometimes arise during the vendor hiring process. Board members who could potentially profit financially from hiring a vendor risk putting their own interests before those of the community.

     In an effort to ensure the community comes first, board members should follow these guidelines:

  • Fully disclose a potential conflict when objectivity cannot be maintained
  • Reflect the entire disclosure in board minutes
  • Require conflicted board members to sit out the decision on the conflicting matter as well as related executive sessions that may occur
  • Seek multiple, sealed bids and review them before deciding who to use

     Jennifer Olson is Vice President and a licensed CAM with Centennial Bank. For more information, call (866) 227-0441 or visit my100bank.com.


Review Your Reserve Fund
By Sundeep Jay, Senior Reserve Analyst

     Greetings to all new and returning board members. Most of you have probably had your annual budget meeting regarding reserves. If you have not ordered a reserve study update in 2019, then I would strongly urge BODs to review at least the three main categories required by the State of Florida if you are a condominium. If you have had your roof replaced, building painted, and/or any major replacements to your roadways and parking areas, we would recommend updating the annual contribution to reflect actual costs incurred. After reviewing these three major categories, the BOD or finance committee may also want to review the overall contribution into reserves. Inflation is still going up. Regardless of the amount the association collected for 2019, the new revised annual contribution should reflect this year’s inflationary rate for the 2020 annual contribution. Good luck, and thank you for your service to your association.

     Sundeep Jay is a Senior Reserve Analyst for J.R. Frazer Inc. For more information, call (561) 488-3012, email JRFrazerEnt@aol.com, or visit www.jrfrazer.com.


Keep Disaster at Bay with Fire Safety
By Diane Braswell, VP of Information Technology

     Disaster can strike at any time, and it’s never too early to reassess the emergency preparedness and disaster relief strategies for your residents. According to WCTV, there are 209 fires in Florida homes every day, usually starting in the kitchen. As a member of the board, keeping residents educated and ensuring that your fire prevention strategy is up to date is key. Educate the residents to follow some simple tips, such as checking that smoke alarms are on every floor and in each bedroom and making sure monthly that they are in working order and free of dust. Also, the association can post reminders to change out smoke alarm batteries once a year. The community should have an escape route for residents and their pets to reduce panic in the event of a real fire. Keep hallways and stairs free from clutter, and be sure to keep all insurance policies up to date. Once an emergency plan is put in place, keep your residents up to date on the procedures twice a year. 

     Diane Braswell is Vice President of Information Technology for Leland Management. For more information, call (407) 447-9955 or visit www.lelandmanagement.com.


Remember What Your Main Purpose Is
By Sandra Vela Mora, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, Executive VP of Operations

     Welcome to the board, and thank you for your willingness to serve in this voluntary but incredibly vital role. After 20 years in this industry helping managers, boards, and developers alike, what I find myself reminding people of most often is to remember what their main purpose is.  Simply stated, your main purpose is to serve your community members, helping to enhance and maintain the community where they’ve invested. That means carrying out the following responsibilities:

  1. Run the community like a business.
  2. Make tough decisions on issues that may be unpopular.
  3. Give answers neighbors may not want to hear.
  4. Keep personal agendas and feelings far from the board table.
  5. Never lose sight that your management company/on-site manager/contractors are your partners, not your adversaries.

     It’s not an easy role we’ve all taken on in this industry, but working together for the same purpose, rather than against each other, is the key to success.

     Sandra Vela Mora, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM® is Executive Vice President of Operations—RealManage. For more information, call (866) 403-1588 or visit www.realmanage.com.


Read your Association Documents and Get Certified
By Lindsay Heysler, Business Development and Marketing Manager

     Congratulations on your new position as a board member of your community association! In the upcoming months, you will be absorbing a lot of new information. Before you dive into your new position, here are some tips to assist you with your transition into your new role:

  • It is very important that you read and understand the governing documents of your community, which includes the declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and rules and regulations. This will assist you in understanding how your association is managed.
  • Once you have familiarized yourself with your community’s documents, it is time to get certified. Attending a board member certification course within 90 days of being elected to the board will bring you up to speed on the current Florida Statutes as well as cover the essentials of board membership.

     Thank you for having a vested interest in your community!

     Lindsay Heysler is the Business Development and Marketing Manager for Seacrest Services. For more information, call (561) 656-6354 or visit SeacrestServices.com.


Drafting Rules and Regulations
By Darlene Ax, CAM, CMCA, Marketing Manager of the Eastern Region

     Now that you have been elected to the board, drafting rules and regulations is an important part of your new role.  Adhering to the following advice will make this integral part seem easy.

  • Only enact rules when they are necessary; sometimes an alternative solution can be found. Boards should be flexible and realize rules and regulations can be changed or rescinded if the community’s needs change in the future.
  • Research the statutes, association documents, and existing rules before preparing the proposed rule.
  • Always involve the membership by circulating the proposed rule and allow them an opportunity to share their thoughts. Make sure the written rule is stated in positive terms, is easy to understand, and is brief. 
  • The proposed rule(s) should be discussed in an open board meeting if the topic is controversial. The board should either adopt, modify, or reject the proposed rule.
  • If the board passes the final rule, inform members and notify them when it will be in effect.

     New rules are not always the best way to solve a problem. Be cautious that the proposed rule does not present communication and enforcement problems and create more issues. Make sure the rule is not too harsh or too broad. Your end goal is to create a rule that is easy to comply with and makes sense for the betterment of the entire community.

     Darlene Ax, CAM, CMCA, is Marketing Manager of the Eastern Region for Sentry Management. For more information, call (800) 932-6636 or visit www.sentrymgt.com.