It is Condo Association budget season! That wonderful time of year where Condo Associations need to figure out what expenses can be cut and if reserves are sufficient while looking at special projects to enhance amenities. All of this is good stuff, but it is meaningless if your informed Owners don’t know what you are doing. Most Condo Associations will spam out a complicated spreadsheet and call it a day, but the great ones will follow these tips for communicating Condo Association budgets.
Always Include a Plain Language Summary Letter
Your budget notification to your Owners should always include a detailed cover letter that captures the most important details about your budget. There are several items you’ll want to highlight in this letter:
- How much are Condo fees going up – this is, of course, what people care most about.
- What’s the status of reserves overall – this is what people should care most about.
- Any major budget changes Owners should be aware of – such as dramatic increases in utility bills or cost changes due to local legislation like increasing minimum wages.
- Any positive enhancements you want to draw Owner attention to – such as budgeting for social events or amenity enhancements.
Ensure that you use plain, simple language in this document, and try to keep it at a single page to ensure that Owners read it.
Provide A Clean Summary Spreadsheet With Notes
When you provide a spreadsheet that details all of the line item changes, ensure you have explanatory notes next to each category. Try to keep these in “plain language” as much as possible. Remember that your Owners don’t have the context a Board does. Your job is to be as transparent and explanatory as possible when communicating Condo Association budgets.
Spread the Word Effectively
Quietly posting the budget in a single place is not the way to effectively communicate Condo Association budgets. You need to leverage all of your communication tools. Post the budget notice in a public place and communicate via appropriate electronic means. Owners should not have to go on a scavenger hunt to find the budget. It should be readily available.
Transparency is Key in Financial Matters
There are plenty of stories of embezzlement and other horrors in Condo Associations. These issues start because of a lack of transparency and Boards breaking bad. Be open and communicative as possible around the budget. Your Owners deserve as much.