As a board member or the management company for an association, do you have all your ducks in a row for the new year? With the holidays fast approaching, it's easy to get distracted. However, it's important to take the time this month to look beyond December 31, and determine if your programs are ready. One of the best ways to prepare your association for the new year is to create an Association Calendar and include, at a minimum, the items listed below.
- Annual meeting: Read through the bylaws to determine the annual meeting date; schedule the notification mailing.
- Board meetings: Does the Board meet on a regular schedule? For instance, the first Monday of each month at 7pm. Some associations will skip a board meeting during the summer months. Plan for such seasonal adjustments on the monthly schedule.
- Committee meetings: When do the committees meet? Generally, it’s best to schedule those meetings in advance of the board meeting so reports and recommendations from the committee can be presented to the board.
- Tax filings: Unlike personal tax filings, associations must follow the "corporate" tax filing dates. For instance, federal income tax returns for associations are due on March 15 - not April 15.
- Maintenance and Reserve Study: Is there a maintenance schedule and/or calendar in place? If so, it's time to review those dates. For those associations located in the northern states where the winter conditions can last for months, it's important to be prepared for "opening up" the facilities and/or "closing down" facilities. If, in the upcoming year, a major reserve project is scheduled (i.e., road repaving), you should start planning well in advance of the project.
- Community events: Community events focused on bringing residents together are important to your association. Perhaps there’s an Easter Egg Hunt in the works. What about a community-wide garage sale? Hayrides can be a fun event during the fall holidays. Whatever you’re considering, include it on the calendar.
- Staff Holidays: If your association has onsite staff or if your management company office is involved, make a note on the calendar of holidays that the office will be closed. Members can then count on this schedule when they are making plans to use the facility and/or contact their management company.
- Newsletter schedule: Many associations have a newsletter that is distributed on a regular schedule (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually). Work with the individuals who are preparing the newsletter and set calendar deadlines.
- Budget schedule: One important item that always sneaks up on associations is the budget cycle. Working backwards from December, make certain that there are enough planning days on the calendar for developing the budget, seeking homeowner input, discussing the budget at a board meeting, approving the budget, and finally notifying the members about the budget. Some associations begin the process in July or August because this process can take 4-5 months.
- Audit plan: Is your association considering an audit or review of the financial reports this year? Generally, most audits cover an ending date of 12/31/XX. As such, most auditors like to be involved in January and February, prior to completing the tax filings. If an audit is one of the goals for the association, plan on work beginning as soon as possible after the year-end financials are completed.
In conjunction with your Association Calendar, it's imperative that the Board members and the Community Manager develop a management plan. The plan includes the tasks to be performed by the management team and sets the goals for the new year. A typical management plan would include:
- Rules Enforcement
- Property Maintenance
- Association Services
- Asset Protection
- Policy Development
At regular intervals, usually at board meetings or board study sessions, the management team should monitor, adjust, and review the Association calendar and management plan to help your association run efficiently all year long.
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