Condo Line

Proxy matters have owners upset

Q. We are about to have our annual meeting for election of the board and it is getting very nasty. Our HOA has used the same proxy form, which adheres to FS 720 requirements, for the last several years, obviously changing the date. Our president is now mandating that all proxies must be on her "new" proxy form, and has indicated she will not accept any proxies on the old form. The information is the same — she has retyped it. Can the proxies be rejected if they are not on her form? She is also mandating that both homeowners on the deed must sign the proxy to be valid where we have always accepted one signature. Can the proxies be invalidated without both signatures? The management company, who does not agree with the proxy issues, has been told to not show up for the meeting as the homeowners will run it themselves. This has thrown the community in an uproar and we would greatly appreciate your advice.

L.E., Davie

Meeting packages to include proxies should be drafted by an attorney. If the president did not have an attorney draft the proxy, then she may be performing unauthorized practice of law (UPL). Usually community documents require a voter’s certificate that nominates one primary owner to sign association-related documents, to include proxies and ballots. This again would be advice received from an attorney.

With the information provided, I agree with the manager. Maybe the manager would be advised to quit and seek another community when the president said that the meeting will be run by the owners. All an owner needs to do is stand up just after the meeting is called to order and ask to nominate a meeting chairperson. This is a proper notice and the president would have to yield the chair to a person nominated. Once the new chair person is in control of the meeting, he or she could modify the agenda and ask the secretary to step down and have someone else take the minutes. At the time of the tally to count the votes, the chairperson could nominate counters to verify the votes. The key is to properly nominate a strong and friendly person.

Read in Roberts Rules about this motion. I also recommend you keep the manager, as it appears that he knows the law and your documents.

Q. Is there any state statute that HOA should follow when it comes to competitive bidding for services or purchasing items? My HOA has purchased several pick-up trucks for the maintenance department recently. I have not seen any evidence of trying to get bids from multiple manufacturers. My concern is that we are not getting the best deal. Same is true for any construction projects, maintenance work etc.

J.W., Orlando

The HOA, not condominiums, statute section is FS 720.3055 reads: “If a contract for the purchase, lease, or renting of materials or equipment, or for the provision of services, requires payment by the association that exceeds 10% of the total annual budget of the association, the association must obtain competitive bids.” While it is best business practice to request bids, most services fall under the 10 percent mark. You may be correct that the board is not operating in the best interest of the members but that is its responsibility. Decisions that they make could fall under best business practice. I suggest that you send a letter to the board and ask about the purchases and whether it submitted bids.

Q. We had a member of our community volunteer to help us do some bookkeeping services. She was a previous director no longer on the board. At the board meeting a resolution to pay her for the services was voted on and approved. One of our community members opposed this action of the board. Not the amount or fact of reimbursement, but the procedure under which the vote took place. His argument is: at the time of the discussion and vote she was present at the board meeting and took part in voting for this decision. He is claiming that this is illegal procedure. Were we correct in our action?

M.K., Fort. Lauderdale

The payment to any person or company must be properly conducted and recorded. Volunteers can be paid as well as vendors. The board can select any person or company to help as long as certain actions are taken.

Here are some of the issues that must be addressed: IRS tax requirements, insurance requirements and any licenses or permits that might be required. If she will do the work as an independent contractor, then you will need to have an independent agreement and she must complete an IRS W-9. I would further suggest that you notify your insurance agent of the agreement and your CPA, as she may need fidelity coverage. If you pay her as an employee, then you may need to withhold taxes and pay for workers compensation insurance.

It is not a simple action. Since the volunteer may be dealing with confidential information, the board must be careful that she understands the requirement to keep association information confidential. For that reason, I recommend using an outside firm to accomplish the bookkeeping for your association.

Write to Condo Line, Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115, or e-mail Include name and city.

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