WRITTEN BY RICHARD THOMPSON
Committees come in all shapes, sizes and functions and may be temporary or long term, as the need dictates. They are only limited by the board’s imagination. A committee can assume a variety of roles, such as:
Research & Development. Complex tasks can be assigned to a special committee which can research the task and advise various courses of action to the board. This includes large renovation projects, proposed amendments to the governing documents and local zoning or crime issues.
Task Execution. Committees like Rules Enforcement and Architectural Restriction can hand out citations and review appeals.
Maintenance Oversight. Committees like Landscape/Grounds and Pool oversee the contractor’s performance and improve the quality of service.
Cost Control. A Maintenance Committee can prescreen requests from owners to ensure they are indeed the HOA’s responsibility and, if so, prioritize them and group them for better cost efficiency. The Budget Committee refines costs based on study of the past and anticipated future expenses.
Socialization. An oft overlooked function is planning social events to help neighbors meet neighbors. The events don’t necessarily need to be party oriented. The Annual Meeting can become the Social Event of the Year with food and entertainment. Spring Planting Parties don’t have to be all work. Reward the volunteers with catered food, beverages and T-shirts. The Social Committee can help build real community and lasting friendships.
Security. Turn that nosey neighbor into the Neighborhood Watch Chair who can monitor suspicious activity or recommend better security techniques.
To facilitate committees, the board should provide the proper resources. Some need funding but most just need clear marching orders and limits of authority. The board should never abrogate its final authority over HOA matters to a committee. That means committee power should always be limited and if a committee is making judgment calls, like Rules Enforcement, there should always be the right of appeal to the board.
All committees need a plan of action and goals. Part of the plan should include reporting to the board at regularly scheduled meetings. That report should include recommendations for board approval. These reports provide a good way for the board to assess the ongoing need or effectiveness of a committee. If little is being done, it might be time to retire a committee or find a new chair.
Some committees need to meet regularly, some sporadically and others rarely, if at all. It all has to do with the goals laid out by the board. The board should select each committee chair carefully as someone who has the time for the job and inclination for leadership.
Here’s a novel idea: Allow renters to join committees. Many want to be good neighbors and to serve. At least ask. You might be surprised at the response and it might encourage owners to step up as well.
One of the best ways to promote committees is by praise and recognition. It is the currency of care in HOAs which brings a huge return. Recognizing effort and superior performance is #1 on every Job Satisfaction Survey. It works the same way in an HOA. Thank you notes, accolades in the newsletter, plaques and Certificates of Merit go a long way.
Mining your committee options will produce a wealth of treasure for the HOA. Committees lead to better information, greater harmony, new friendships, enhanced trust, involved neighbors and less work for the board…all good and no bad. There be gold in them thar hills. Grab your picks and shovels and start digging!