Most co-op and condo residents understand that there is a board of fellow residents in place with the duty of protecting the interests of their building community and individual owners—they’ve probably taken part in numerous board elections, or even served on committees, or volunteered on behalf of the building in some capacity. But many residents who’ve never held elected office still don’t truly understand the roles of the board members.
They have responsibilities within the board, at board meetings, within shareholder and unit owner meetings and in dealing with professionals and building documentation. The board is also obliged to respond to changes in the economic environment, the membership base, and the physical and financial status of the building. Board members need to think beyond their personal opinion and be more concerned for the good of the building, as they represent everyone.
Boards are normally made up of an odd number of directors and usually contain four officers—the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. We have previously addressed in more depth the role of the president, who, among other duties, typically calls the meetings of the membership and of the board, prepares the agendas and leads deliberations. If the president is unavailable, the vice president steps in. The treasurer is essentially the building’s chief financial officer, tasked with performing all duties pertaining to building finances. The secretary is tasked with administrative duties – signing necessary documents, keeping meeting minutes, maintaining records, and keeping everyone informed of meeting dates and times.
Those serving on their board who don’t hold an officer position are usually referred to as directors, although some buildings come up with different titles for some members, depending on their role and responsibilities. Often new board members enter into their positions without knowing the full scope of the responsibilities they’ll be taking on. New board members usually start off as a director, learning, watching and absorbing information.
Whether you are president, an officer, or a director, every vote carries equal weight, which highlights the importance of having an odd number of board members on each board. A deadlocked vote is ineffective. It’s important to understand that no individual officer or director is making all of the decisions. Naturally, the election process varies from building to building. Not every building decides to vote for their entire board every year. Some allow two- or three-year terms, but positions are usually staggered to ensure that while new blood is infused into the building’s administrative team, there is still some continuity and understanding of the process and how things work.