Law requires that a HOA board set aside open comment time for each member to speak with the board. While this a great feature to have in your Charlotte-area homeowners association because it gives each member a voice and opinion about the community they live in, you’ll also want to have an understanding of guidelines during this time.
Stick to the Agenda
It’s important to explain to your members that nothing can be discussed outside of the meeting agenda. You are allowed to ask members in the meeting if there’s anything else they’d like you to consider, but the most you can say is that it will be collected and added to the next meeting agenda.
This isn’t simply a suggestion: the law requires that an issue not be discussed unless it’s mentioned on the agenda. Make sure these expectations are clearly explained to members. It’s easy for board members to want to help and feel pressure to provide a solution or answer at that time, but you’ll have to stand firm.
If the expectations are clearly explained beforehand, it can reduce the amount of members who arrive frustrated because you won’t address their problems right there.
Choosing the Open Comment Time
Law allows your board to schedule open comment time at any time during the meeting, so it’s a good idea to determine if it works better for your HOA at the beginning or end of your meeting.
If you wait until the end of the meeting, you run the risk of members leaving the meeting too early and then getting upset later if their issue doesn’t get mentioned. However, this schedule may work well for some associations. Having open comments at the beginning of the meeting allows members to share their concerns first and then leave.
Speaking Time Limit
Your board will need a strong leader or HOA manager who can enforce the amount of time allowed from each open comment. One idea is to have members fill out a comment slip describing their issue in a summary.
Then, you can set a speaking time limit for each member. This will help in managing time, especially if there are many people present who’d like to give their input, while still allowing everyone the chance to speak. Since it’s not an item on the agenda, you’ll want to prevent people from getting into a debate.
These tips will help your board in managing open comment time while encouraging member feedback and satisfaction. Cedar Management Group can assist your association in board meeting tips and management. Contact us for more information.