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Relieving Board-Members' Burdens through Volunteer Committees

Curtis G. Kimble in Board Operations on April 6, 2012

New York State, New York City

April 6, 2012

Committees have many purposes and benefits. Aside from helping reduce board-member burnout, they can prepare members to serve on the board; let prior board members remain active as association volunteers; allow members to be active and involved in co-op / condo issues and operations; and allow the board to take advantage of the wide range of talents and expertise available via co-op shareholders or condo unit-owners. 

For purposes of this discussion, I'll break committees into two types: committees of the board and regular committees.

Committees of the Board. A committee of the condo / co-op board is a subset composed solely of board members. It has the full power of the board to make decisions and take actions to the extent specified by the board or the governing documents. In this way, a committee of the board is like an officer of the association, except instead of just one person, it's made up of two or more people, all of whom must be board members.

While a committee of the board has the power and authority of the full board as to issues within its purview, it is also subject to the same requirements as the board regarding meetings, notices, quorum, voting and other requirements.

Regular Committees. Regular committees provide advice, service and assistance to the association and carry out duties and responsibilities for the association specified in the governing documents or by the board, and do not have to be composed of board members.

They are established by the governing documents and/or board, and composed of the members established by those governing documents and/or board.  They can be temporary, ad hoc committees or they can be more permanent, standing committees.

Little Power, Lots of Freedom

Regular committees do not have the power of the board to make decisions or take actions.  At the same time, regular committees aren't bound by the same requirements as the board regarding meetings, quorums, etc. The board or the governing documents establish any rules of procedure for the committee, if desired.

With any committee, it is important that, through a board resolution, the board clearly specifies the committee's name, purpose, responsibilities, term, number of members, and designation of the members of the committee, unless those items are spelled out governing documents (which is common for an architectural-control committee, for example).  When appropriate, usually with ad hoc committees, there should be a specific termination point by which the committee should have met its objectives.

Examples of committees include

  • maintenance committee
  • nominating (or elections) committee
  • budget/finance committee
  • communications committee
  • newsletter committee
  • social committee

Committees can help the board by gathering information and making recommendations.  And they can broaden the board's knowledge and awareness of the pulse of the community — residents' opinions, attitudes and desires.

If used effectively, committees can greatly enhance the operation and governance of any co-op or condo associations.

 

Curtis G. Kimble is a partner at the law firm Richards, Kimble & Winn who writes frequently on condominium topics and teaches courses for board members and property managers. This is adapted from his article at his firm's website.

 

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