SERVING ON THE BOARD
Publication Date: Autumn 1999
Serving on the board isn't easy. Involved are commitments of time and effort and energy. Individual board members must set aside their own personal needs to act in the best interest of their cooperative or condominium, and to do their best to make informed decisions in concert with all of their fellow board members.
Very few of us are perfectly equipped to understand all the financial, mechanical and structural aspects of running a building. Even rarer is the board member who is also familiar with the myriad of laws, regulations, notifications, registrations and other rules to which the cooperative or condominium are subject. How to cope?
SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
Every cooperative and condominium should have a relationship with an accountant and an attorney to whom they should turn readily for advice when questions arise. Many buildings have budgets sufficient to hire professional management firms to whom boards delegate day-to-day responsibilities of operating buildings and from whom boards expect advice about the physical plant, employee relations and government requirements. But overseeing these professionals and making all the ultimate decisions remain board responsibility.
UNDERSTAND BOARD GOALS
A conscientious board must learn to work together, to master the difficult issues, to discuss points of conflict and to arrive at decisions as a group. Not every decision will prove to have been perfect, but that is not required of you. The standard that you must meet is to make informed decisions that look to the best interests of the building. Make your cooperative or condominium the best that it can be.
The best boards also understand that succession is important. They actively encourage their fellow shareholders or unit owners to serve on committees and to take their turn on the board.
To stay on top of all these responsibilities, many cooperatives and condominiums join CNYC, read its Newsletter and notices, and attend its informative evening workshops and seminars and the annual Conference.
CNYC tries hard to provide information and guidance on all these aspects of operating New York cooperatives and condominiums and to have answers available when you face a crisis. CNYC is proactive on behalf of its members, as well. On page 4 you can read about the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes and its decade long crusade for tax fairness. CNYC also spearheaded a successful campaign to persuade the I.R.S. to reverse a long-standing policy of taxing housing cooperatives under Section 277 of the Internal Revenue Code. With CNYC involvement, you quickly see that your building is not operating in a vacuum, that others throughout the city and nationwide face and resolve similar problems and deal with common issues.
What can shareholders and unit owners do? Heed building rules and directives and ensure that your family and guests do so, as well. Think twice before disturbing a board member at midnight or waylaying them in the elevator. Seek ways to become involved yourself in the running of your building, and -- oh yes -- consider occasionally thanking board members for the hard work they do for the home and the investment you share.