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Reserve funds can't be shifted around

Question: My condominium has specific reserves. Once a reserve has met its goal, we stop funding it.

Now a situation has arisen in which a reserve category is completely funded, but it is not enough for replacement. Can we use another reserve fund to cover the shortfall?

Answer: Your reserve accounts should be recalculated each year to avoid the unpleasant surprise of underfunding. The board has no power to transfer money from one reserve line item to pay for another. To do that, you must obtain approval from members at a members' meeting. Refer to FS 718.122(2)(f)3.

E-mail restrictions

Question: Most of the board members have computers, and we e-mail each other on association business. We send an e-mail to one and copy the others. Since e-mail is a fairly new technology, are there any rules pertaining to a violation of the Sunshine Law?

Answer: The Sunshine Law does not pertain to condominiums, but they must comply with FS 718.112 quorum requirements. E-mail is a great way for board members to contact each other and provide information on management and operations of the association.

I find no problem as long as you do not vote on motions by joinder vote. In a joinder situation, a written motion is dated, signed and approved by a majority of the directors and filed by the secretary with the official minutes. This is a way for the business of the association to be conducted between meetings in an emergency, or it may be used if board members are out of town and no quorum is available to conduct a regular meeting to discuss the emergency.

Any joinder motion should be discussed at the next board meeting and ratified. Joinder should be reserved for emergencies; it is not a way of conducting routine daily business.

Disability accommodation

Question: A resident has threatened to file a complaint under the Americans With Disabilities Act because the association will not rebuild the dock to facilitate her disabled son. The son is not a resident but visits her once a week.

To rebuild the dock will cost us $60,000. Must we take this action to accommodate a non-owner?

Answer: Check with your attorney. I believe that she or he will tell you that the Americans With Disabilities Act applies to public property. Associations are not considered public communities.

However, the community is bound to allow a disabled owner to make changes at his or her expense. There are exceptions when such a change could cause a hazard for other residents, and then the change could be denied.

For example, if a wheelchair ramp is needed for entry into an apartment but would create a hazard for others using the hall, permission to install the ramp could be denied, but, if the ramp could be installed with no problem, then the owner, at her own expense, could do so.

In your case, the owner is not disabled, and there is no need to make the changes for that owner's guest.

Write to Richard White, c/o Community Living, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Sorry, he can't take phone calls or provide personal replies by mail, but you can e-mail him at CAMquestionsbigfoot.com. Please include your name and city. Questions should concern association operations; legal opinions cannot be offered. For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney.

To discuss provisions of the state condo/co-op acts, call the state Bureau of Condominiums office in Tallahassee at (800) 226-9101 or (850) 488-0725 or call the Tampa bureau at (800) 226-6028, (800) 226-4472, or (813) 744-6149. Or write to the Bureau of Condominiums, Education Section, Suite 200, 4524 Oak Fair Blvd., Tampa, FL 33610. Please note that this office provides no information about homeowners' associations. The state has no bureau or department covering those associations.

You can access the Bureau of Condominiums Web site at http://www.state.fl.us/dbpr/html/ lsc/copage.html.

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