Committees play an important role in condo life.
Committees are an effective way for residents to participate in the work and activities that are part of daily condo living. Those individuals with expertise, skills and time are able to contribute to the lifestyle of their building and improve the quality of life for all.
Yet committees can be highly problematic if they do not have a proper mandate and the right individuals. And this is where some condo communities struggle. An effective committee is not just composed of individuals willing to volunteer their time. The most effective committees are composed of individuals selected for their skills, ability to work well together and availability. The individuals may be hand-picked and asked to participate on a committee precisely because of what they can offer.
Here are four committees that cover necessary activities to ensure a condo building operates efficiently, with full disclosure and in the interests of the majority. While other committees may exist in a condo building the five identified here can have the most impact on lifestyle or operations.
The role of the Finance Committee is to review financial matters and make recommendations to the board. This may include but is not limited to the Annual Budget, Reserve Fund Study and Financial Statements.
Their role is to question expenses, evaluate their reasonableness and suggest measures to ensure proper disclosure. This committee may identify projects that have gone over-budget, financial surpluses or improperly documented expenditures that they choose to explore and report. Remedies may be presented for identified problems.
Members of this committee should have at least a general understanding of budgeting or accounting, be prepared to scrutinize financial documents and support long term planning over short term savings.
The role of an Events /Social Committee is to plan, organize, promote and run building wide programs for the benefit of residents. These events fall into two categories. Annual events such a holiday party or summer BBQ are typically attended by a larger number of residents. Smaller gatherings occur more frequently. These may include card games, movie nights, competitions (squash, table tennis, billiards), fitness programming (aqua fitness, yoga, Pilates), book club or speakers on topics of interest. Some events may be funded by the condo corporation while others are paid for by participating residents.
The role of this committee is typically to communicate to residents through a newsletter which may be distributed monthly or quarterly. It is through the newsletter that residents are made aware of social events, programming, changes within the building or community, and general education about condo living or condo rules.
Individuals on this committee should be effective communicators with good writing skills.
The Efficiency Committee is less common but possibly the most relevant to keeping expenses in line with expectations. This committee requires suitably capable residents prepared to dedicate a significant portion of time. The necessary individuals and time commitment does not always exist in a condo corporation.
The basic premise for this committee is simple. Over time a condo will implement initiatives – equipment, procedures and employees – intended to save money and provide varied benefits. The Efficiency Committee is designated with providing oversight to ensure that intended benefits occur, that past implementations remain valid despite a passing of the years, and that current employees are capable and delivering on behalf of condo owners.
Over a period of years both people and demands change.
Specific jobs may become redundant, job descriptions may require modification and services required by residents may change. Addressing these realities can free up funds that can be used more productively. When significant funds have been spent in order to save money, such as low flush toilets or a new boiler, it is important to determine if the anticipated savings occurred and how these funds were used. When savings have not occurred as expected, reasons should be identified.
The mandate of this committee is to plan for the future by learning from the past.
To be effective, this committee requires wide latitude to identify areas of operation where there may exist an opportunity for significant financial and/or efficiency savings. It requires authority to review any aspects of operations that promised financial savings. The committee may employ methods that include a review of employee job descriptions; time and motion studies to evaluate efficiency and productivity; external research to evaluate how the building compares with neighbours in terms of salaries, expenses and initiatives; and access to detailed financial records.