Giving proper notice – the secretary is responsible for giving proper notice of the board meetings and the member meetings according with the requirements of the governing documents. This means giving the required minimum number of days notice and ensuring that the notice includes all the necessary information. Not just the who, where, and when – but perhaps most importantly the “what”. A good meeting notice will clearly explain to the community what items are being discussed at a particular meeting and their relevence to the homeowner.
Agenda development – the secretary coordinates with the association president to put together the meeting agenda’s content. The secretary should conference with the president prior to finalizing the agenda to identify the agenda items and the time needed for each item. The secretary can provide an additional service to the president by also serving as the time keeper for the meeting. Agenda’s should be distributed prior to the board meeting allowing the board members ample time to review and prepare for discussion. Your governing documents will likely state how many days in advance the agenda must be distributed prior to the board meeting.
Meeting minutes – when you think “secretary” most people think “meeting minutes”. There is a definite skill involved in writing good meeting minutes. They should capture who was at the meeting and the specific decisions that were made. Far too often the association secretary includes too much detail in the minutes – this can come back to haunt you later. To learn more about taking great minutes read: HOA Minutes.
Record keeping – the association’s records must be kept somewhere and they are stored under the supervision of the secretary. Boxes of old records don’t have to be housed in the home of the secretary, in fact it is preferable to keep them in a more public location if possible – but they should be accessible. Association records must be made available for inspection by homeowners upon request. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people coming into my home to view boxes of records. For this reason, the association may wish to consider investing resources in scanning old paper files into electronic documents; making it much easier to provide records to the homeowners to request them.
Community communication – The old addage “no news is good news” simply does not hold true for homeowners associations. Whether it is a website, newsletter or some other method of communication – keeping the community apprised of happenings is very important. Determining the best communication tool will depend on your community’s demographics. If the association does not keep the community up to date on how assessments are being spent (improvements, repairs, etc.), owners will begin to assume that the association is doing nothing at all. Let them know what the association is doing on their behalf!