Minutes Matter

 

In the four years I’ve been an association meeting recorder, I’ve come to realize how important minutes are for the association board, management and the community membership.  They are a communication vehicle between the board and membership.  They are a record of what the board knew, when they knew it and what actions the board took to address various issues.  Minutes are an official record of association business and can be used in a court of law.  Meeting minutes are the most important record the association produces and maintains.

But first, who should be in charge of this important task?  Ideally, it should be the board secretary or a neutral party that doesn’t represent the interests of management or the association.  Managers need to run the meeting and interact with board members and homeowners.  Board members should be active participants in the meeting.

The meeting recorder must be a good typist and should have a laptop or tablet.  Ideally, he or she will have some parliamentary knowledge and community association experience as well.

Repeat the following process, and the minutes will come together quickly every time.

Create an agenda and don’t deviate from it. The board should always follow an agenda.  Unless an emergency situation arises that must be addressed immediately, hold non-agenda items for the next meeting.  Many states require that an agenda be posted at least a few days in advance of an upcoming meeting.

Keep the agenda simple; there’s no need to get creative.  Parliamentary procedure dictates what to include.  The order of business is:  call to order, roll call, approval of minutes, committee reports, unfinished business, new business, announcements and adjournment.

By adhering to the agenda, the board keeps on task and the meeting is kept to a reasonable duration.  There is rarely justification for a board meeting to exceed two hours.  Meetings in excess of that amount of time are usually the result of a poorly prepared agenda.  Permitting boards and homeowners to wander off topic also extends meetings.  If you stick to the agenda, you can keep the membership and board in line.

Fill in the minutes’ template with the agenda items.  The agenda and minutes should mirror each other.  Take the information from the agenda, and plug it into the minutes’ template.

Record the minutes. Minutes are a record of the actions taken at a meeting, and a laptop is essential turning them around accurately and quickly.  When I leave a meeting, the minutes are nearly complete.

In parliamentary terms, an “action” means a “vote.” Minutes should include what the board directed management to do.  The minutes should not include a record of how board members voted on specific items or any verbatim discussion during the debate, simply the number of votes received to pass or decline the motion.  Any motion should reflect the vendor name and dollar amount.  If the dollar amount is significant, you may include the scope of work as an attachment to the minutes if that additional information aids homeowners in understanding the board’s decision.

Clean up the document. Read through the minutes for clarity, and correct sentence structure and spelling.

Send a draft. Drafts should be ready within five business days after a meeting.  If the association is managed, send the minutes to the manager first.  He or she can pass them on to the board.  If any board member requests a correction, the manager can send that information to the meeting recorder.  If a requested modification is anything other than a typographical error, the recorder should ask for board consensus before making the changes.

It saves time to ensure the minutes are correct prior to the next board meeting.  As we all know, shorter meetings are better meetings.

By: Victoria Cohen

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