How to get minutes of board meetings
Q: We are snowbirds and live in a HOA townhome community. During the time we are up North, we miss the meetings and would like to receive a copy of the minutes. We have asked the board and manager but they are silent on the request. They post the minutes for the members to read on the bulletin board. We really would like to know why our budgets increase and how the expenses are spent. What do you suggest?
A: HOAs have a section in the statutes that refers to the Official Records (FS 720.303). Owners are entitled to the minutes that are considered part of the Official Records. However, if you want copies, the association can charge a copy cost. In your case, you must send a letter requesting to receive a copy of the minutes each month. If you are out of town, a postal charge can be added to the cost. You can ask the board to email you a copy but that is placing an obligation for the work and you would need to send a letter each month. The best method of requesting by mail is to send the request via certified mail. Provide the board with self-addressed, stamped envelopes and ask them to mail a copy. Explain that they can add the copy cost to your monthly fee or bill you. I think this is a burden on the board or manager and I would suggest that you need to ask a neighbor to send you the minutes. In other words, the statutes say you have a right to review or receive a copy, but they have a right to charge for the service.
Board sets policy on speaking time
Q: At our monthly meeting I asked to speak but was told that I was out of order. Since I have a short fuse, I walked out. In past years I served on the board and felt that I should have some respect and be allowed to ask a question. I would like to correct our board on this policy of not letting members talk. We have the right to attend meetings and the right to talk. How would you suggest that I inform the board of our rights to talk?
A: While members have the right to talk for three minutes, there are some conditions to this right. The board has a right to establish a policy to accommodate member's rights to talk.
Most critical is that any question or discussion must be on an agenda item. No question or discussion can be conducted or answered if the item is not on the agenda. If a question is that important, the member should write a letter before the meeting and deliver or send it to the attention of the board. If the remarks are not on an agenda item, a letter asking for an answer would easily solve the problem. The board must have time to study and prepare all available information to make better decisions at meetings. That means you need to allow time for the board to study your concerns and provide you a better and more intelligent answer.
If you had sent a letter to the board with your question a few days before the meeting, I feel that they would have provided an answer. Maybe not on the meeting agenda but an answer or message returned to you.