There is a principle that no HOA Board should lose sight of: Members have a right to be kept informed of Board actions. To that end, Board actions should be formalized at meetings open to the members where issues are cussed and discussed. Afterwards, a vote is taken, majority rules and the issue is dealt with. However, some Boards don’t seem comfortable with the principle of open meetings. Objections range from "No one shows up anyway" to "They interrupt the process" to "It’s none of their business!". Regardless of the objection, the fact remains that the Board was elected by the members in a democratic process. The Board wasn’t given a Emperor’s Scepter to wield as it sees fit. So, Board Meetings being open to members is not optional. There are, however, a few meetings which may be closed to members under very special circumstances. These meetings are called "work sessions" and "executive sessions".
Work sessions are intended for information gathering and general discussion but not decision making. Formal decisions concerning information gathered at work sessions should only be made at open Board Meetings and documented in the minutes for all members to see. This is especially true about rules and budget issues. While the outcome may be a foregone conclusion based on work session discussions, the Board should never move forward on the basis of work session discussions alone. Work sessions should address a specific topic, not a broad spectrum of issues and be few in number. They are never a substitute for Board Meetings.
Executive sessions are meetings reserved for highly sensitive issues that should not be aired in public. These include discussions of lawsuits, collections on members, employee disciplinary matters and contract negotiation. Like the work session, an executive session should have a focused agenda and be infrequent. Decisions can be made in executive sessions but should be referenced in the minutes of a formal Board Meeting, at least in general terms.
These two exceptions notwithstanding, remaining meetings of the Board should all be wide open. Another good reason to keep them open is so potential board members can be coaxed to sit in on meetings to see what it’s all about. Taking the mystery out of the job will encourage more volunteers.
If your Board has been operating in the dark, raise the blinds, open the door and let the sun shine in. It’s a healthy move to help keep the directors accountable to the folks that elected them. Shine on!
For more on Meetings, see www.Regenesis.net