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GATE COMES BETWEEN RESIDENTS AND BOARD

Q: Most of our community has signed a petition to install a new gate for added security. The board refuses to discuss the matter. What can we do to force the board to act on a new gate?

A: If your board isn't doing what you want, you can recall them or wait until election time and vote in directors who will do what the members want.

Adding a new gate is a capital improvement, which must be approved by the members. However, the action has to start with the board. You can write to the board asking that the new gate be placed on the agenda for the next meeting. You and other supporters can speak to board members about it in advance of that meeting and speak in support of it at the meeting.

Bylaws can be changed

Q: Our documents say that only full-time residents can serve as directors. Do the statutes override them? With e-mail and speakerphones, it would be easy for a director to know what's going on and act while away during the summer.

A: Have your attorney review your documents and recommend a course of action. My thinking (and I'm not a lawyer) is that your documents should overrule the statutes. You can change your bylaws to allow any member to serve on the board. Ask your lawyer to draft it, then have members approve it and have your lawyer enter it into the public records.

Request itemized bill

Q: Every month our board pays an unitemized invoice from a vendor for about $50. When we asked what this invoice is for and how this amount was computed, the response was that it's for toll charges and faxes and that we've always done it this way. I'm puzzled that the amount is virtually identical, month after month. Can we as owners insist upon seeing the backup material on this expense?

A: Sure. Send a certified letter to the board asking for an itemized breakdown of the charges. "We've always done it this way" isn't a good answer. It may be that the vendor's contract specifies the monthly charge. Or it may be that there's a flat billing rate and the exact tolls and fax charges can't be broken out. In any case, if the vendor can come up with the charges, he or she ought to be able to explain them.

Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him 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 CAMquestions@cfl.rr.com. Please include your name and city. Visit him online at talkwithcam.com.

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