The strength of a homeowner association lies in the effective volunteer efforts of its members. While the heavy lifting often falls on the board of directors, committees can help lighten the load by focusing on specific tasks assigned by the board.
There are two types of committees, standing and ad hoc. Standing committees exist indefinitely or until the board decides their purpose is no longer needed. Examples include Landscape Committee, Social Committee and Pool Committee. Standing committees have ongoing and often repetitive tasks to accomplish. Ad hoc committees are formed for a specific purpose which, once accomplished, terminates the need for the committee. Examples include the Budget Committee and the Christmas Party Committee.
The beauty of committees is that they can draw on specific member expertise, like a CPA that serves on the Budget Committee or an architect that serves on the Architectural Design Committee. Ad hoc committees do the same thing with the added attraction that the commitment time is limited.
Committees are training ground for future board members. Since committees are called on to participate in board meetings to give reports, participation acquaints committee members with the board process. Proven and effective committee members are candidates groomed for board service.
Whether a committee is standing or ad hoc, both should have a similar framework including:
Purpose. The purpose of a committee is to assist and advise the board in a given area of responsibility.
Structure. A committee should consist of three or more members which may include a board member as a board liaison. The board president typically appoints the committee chairman. The chairman is the spokesperson for that committee.
Committee Authority. Each committee should be provided a clear job description by the board that outlines expectations. A committee must obtain specific authority from the board to deal with any matter outside its job description. A committee cannot make policies or rules. Only the board is granted that authority. A committee may recommend a policy or rule to the board. If the board agrees with the recommendation and formally enacts it, the committee may or may not be given authority by the board to enforce the policy or rule. Enforcement authority is also under the discretion of the board.
Recommendations. A committee should provide recommendations to the board at regularly scheduled board meetings so all directors can participate. Recommendations should be in writing and supported by credible research so that the board can make informed decisions.
Meetings. Committees meet monthly or as appropriate to their assignment. The meetings take place at a time, place and discretion of the committee. A designated person on the committee should take minutes so that the committee has a record of what was accomplished to date or planned for the future. Committee meetings do not need to be announced to or open to the members.
Vendor & Contractor Authority. Unless otherwise directed to by the board, committees should not give direction to or request bids from any HOA vendor or contractor. This process is handled through the board or management.
Concerning Property Management. Unless given specific authority by the board, no committee should give direction to or make requests of the management.
Expenditures. Committees are sometimes given a budget which should carefully be accounted for. All committee expenditures that fall outside the committee budget must be authorized by the board. All reimbursement requests should be accompanied by receipts.
Reporting. Committee reports should be prepared and delivered to the board at least one week prior to the board meeting. Committees should prepare their own reports unless the board has approved the management doing so. Each board meeting agenda should provide time for committee reports.
The board is elected to oversee HOA operations, not to do all the work. Committees offer the opportunity to spread the work around and to involve more members in the homeowner association operations. Cultivate committee opportunities when you can and harvest the rewards.
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