The simple email ballot is the most effective way to reduce meeting frequency and duration, without a drop in governance or oversight.
It is important to remember that owners corporation committee members are all volunteers, and everyone's time is precious. A committee that meets for 3 hours at a time every few weeks will likely end up achieving very little, and also drive away members who simply do not have the resources for such a commitment.
The email ballot not only allows for owners corporation decisions to be made between meetings, but also enables meetings to be run more effectively.
Committee meetings should focus on policy and direction. Passing specific motions can easily done between meetings. In order for this to work effectively, speaking to suppliers and obtaining quotes should be the responsibility of the owners corporation manager.
How to arrange an email ballot
The chairperson or the secretary can arrange the email ballot to send to all committee members. There are legislative requirements to ensure that a ballot is valid and binding, so ask your OC manager to put together the template of the ballot for you.
Note: Email ballots can be setup so that committee members simply 'reply all' - there is no need to attach ballot papers that are printed out, signed, scanned, and returned.
Case study: A security review
A precinct of 40 apartments were having security issues - mail was being stolen from letterboxes, a garage remote was stolen from a car, and there was graffiti on the outside of the building.
A committee meeting was held where the matter was raised. Melb OC informed the committee that rather than try and solve the issue all by themselves, they could engage a security expert to compile a risk assessment report with recommendations that the committee could then consider. Melb OC knew from her experience that the cost would be around $2500, and informed the committee of such. The committee agreed that this was a good idea, then passed a resolution to instruct Melb OC to obtain 3 quotes from 3 reputable security firms.
Melb OC obtained 3 quotes over the next week, and presented them to the chairperson. The chairperson then sent around an email ballot to the whole committee, presenting a vote to approve the expenditure of one of the quotes. This passed by majority vote in the next 48 hours. Rather than waiting until the next meeting, they had obtained a quote and approved it within 9 days of the previous meeting.
With the expenditure and choice of security firm formally approved by the owners corporation, Melb OC then arranged for the risk review to be undertaken immediately.
Three weeks later, the security firm submitted their findings and recommendations. Melb OC presented it to the chairperson, who then conducted a second email ballot, asking the committee to vote to directMelb OC to obtain a quote that corresponded to each of the recommended items in the report (the cost of adding additional CCTV cameras, the cost of upgrading the card entry system, the cost of patrols etc.). Within 24 hours this had been approved, and Melb OC set out to obtain a quote for each recommendation. One week later, these was sent to the whole committee to review.
Four days after receiving these quotes, the chairperson called an extraordinary meeting to discuss security issues only. With everyone in the committee familiar with the report and the potential costs of the solutions, the committee was able to discuss the merits of each recommendation and the possible costs, and they chose four items that they wanted to proceed with. They passed a resolution, instructing Melb OC to get a second quote (as a comparison) for each of the four items they had identified.
Within a week, Melb OC had received the four comparative quotes. These were then circulated as another email ballot, and the committee resolved to choose the four quotes that they were comfortable with, for the services that they had already decided on in their meeting, again done within 48 hours.
These email ballots had meant that within the space of 6 weeks, the committee had a solution. They had first identified a problem, then taken Melb OC's professional advice, received multiple quotes for expert reports, commissioned a report, received prices for recommendations, chosen solutions, obtained multiple quotes for each solution and then engaged a series of contractors to undertake these solutions.
Without the email ballots, this would have taken months.
Can your owners corporation need to be managed more efficiently? Talk to Melb OC about solutions.