One Thousand Words on Running the Asylum

Back when I started this project, I considered writing the whole blog about my home owner’s association board. Even my very first one thousand words mentioned it.

But for various reasons, I decided against a full year of HOA blogs.

It was a wise decision. Who wants to read three hundred and sixty five posts about installing gable end vents and photocell parking area lights?

But dramatic things have happened since I last posted on the subject, so I wanted to give an update.

I live in a community with seventy homes, in four styles: townhouse, cottages, estate homes and another one but I can’t think what they are called. They are between the cottages and the estate homes in size.

In this small community there are three, yes three, homeowners associations.

The townhouses (where I live) have one, the “detached” homes have one and then there is the “master” board, which has one representative from each of the size houses.

It’s ridiculous that one community has three associations. I’m convinced that the developer / builder who constructed the place loved meetings and committees. There’s no other reason for such insanity.

Now you’d think that the three organizations would get along quite well. After all, we live in less than a half square mile. It’s in everyone’s best interest to be congenial, right?

But that’s not the case.

The folks who live in the detached homes, and especially their board members, act a bit superior towards us townhouse dwellers.

It doesn’t help that the road the townhouses are isn’t paved, unlike the rest of the roads.

I don’t know the history behind that particular decision, but the dirt road lends itself to the “poor country cousin” image the people who live in the big houses have.

True story: I was talking to a man who lives in one the estate homes. They are the largest in the community and are located at the top of the hill.

He told me that a couple who lives in one of the other houses had purchased a cottage so the husband’s in-home care providers had a place to live.

He went on to say that he thought it would be great if everyone who lived in an estate home bought one of the townhouses for their “help” to live in.

The sad part is he was perfectly serious.

Besides the fact that we live in servant’s quarters, the other HOA board keeps pointing out that the townhouses pay significantly less to the master association, which is responsible for the common areas like the pool and dumpster.

I probably won’t get the numbers and logic right, but there’s something about the fact that the detached HOA pays ninety percent of the grounds contract, and the master association pays ten percent, based on land mass.

But based on the number of homes, the detached HOA dues pay over eighty percent of the master association budget compared to the townhouse dues, so in essence the detached HOA pays for ninety nine percent of the grounds contract.

Hey, does that mean I’m in the one percent?

It’s most absurd that someone (the detached homes board president) actually did that math and uses those numbers on a regular basis.

Up until recently, the townhouse board and the master board have been chaired by, well… ancient people.

They’re hard working people who care about the community, but really, really old.

One of the presidents didn’t have a computer and got very angry when anyone else used email to discuss something. She said we were discriminating against non-computer users.

I don’t know why but she had a bee in her bonnet that computers were evil and she wasn’t going to go near one.

And the other president had served for years and knows the community inside and out. But he would get confused or distracted during meetings. He’d forget to call for a vote, or he’d repeat agenda items.

Then in January, the townhouse president announced at the board meeting that she was quitting, right then and there. No finishing out her term, no explanation. She just said it was her last meeting.

And the master board president broke his hip and decided it was a good time to retire his gavel.

Suddenly, before I knew exactly what was happening, I found myself the new president of not just one, but both boards.

Last night was my first meeting as the townhouse HOA board president.

I wouldn’t call myself a mover or a shaker, but I have little patience for lots of talk and wasted time.

I had already decided that meetings were going to be shorter and less often.

None of this chat about an issue for a year but never make a decision bull crap. Discuss it and decide.

So with plans for big changes, I walk in to find the past president firmly ensconced on the couch, beside the former treasurer, a very pleasant but long-winded elderly gentleman.

The whispering started when I said I didn’t want to have a board spring “walk around” this year.

Traditionally the board would meet in the spring to walk all around the community and make a list of every problem they saw. Trees that need trimming, loose shingles, etc.

That list would then be discussed at the next meeting, and the next, and the next, until suddenly it was winter again and nothing had been accomplished.

I simply told the board that we had the list from last year and that we all walk around the community on our own, so we should skip the group field trip and focus on what needs to be done.

Apparently the peanut gallery on the couch didn’t agree.

I don’t know what they were saying behind their hands, but I imagine a lot of “whippersnapper” and “harrumph” and the like.

I wanted to tell them that I foresee lots more changes down the road. That’s what happens when you put the “help” in charge.

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