The Meter is Running
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AUTHORDavid Amster, President
PAGE #p. 75
THE BIG PICTURE
When a new board member gets elected, he or she needs to be educated in how the board works and what the responsibilities are. It is important for that board member to understand the roles of the board, his management, and the building staff.
We manage a 110-unit co-op in Westchester that had been planning a window project for a number of years. The windows were 35 years old, and we were getting a number of complaints from the residents that they weren’t working properly. Parts couldn’t be found. It was a project that should have been done years ago.
The problem was that the cost of the window project was going to be over $650,000. The board was interested in moving forward, but some shareholders were reluctant. One shareholder in particular had voiced displeasure at changing windows – he thought his windows were fine, so everybody else’s must be, too. A number of people in the building felt the same way. But we received complaints from a majority of shareholders on the windows, so we had to go ahead.
The window project would involve a large assessment, $650,000 over a three-year period, roughly, costing shareholders $170 a month per apartment. The aforementioned shareholder decided to get on the board and try to block the assessment and the window project. Once he was elected, however, the newcomer was open enough to learn what was actually going on. There were numerous complaints that the board had received over the last two to three years. He also saw that we couldn’t make repairs anymore to some windows, which, quite frankly, were in a dangerous state.
The new member eventually dropped his opposition to the windows project. The co-op worked out a plan to partially fund the project from its reserve fund and borrow the balance from a line of credit. They would then institute an assessment over 36 months to repay the line of credit and replenish the reserves. The project is now under way.
The lesson from this story is that people have to be open-minded and understand that board service is not that easy, and sometimes you have to make difficult decisions that benefit the whole community, rather than you personally. In this case, the board newcomer was open enough to change his opinion after reviewing the facts.