Serving as a volunteer board member is a demanding role with a never-ending to-do list. But, it doesn't have to be quite as demanding if you tap into an often overlooked source of support that’s available in your own backyard: your city government. Sometimes boards think that the government gets in the way of community associations, but when leveraged properly, government resources can help you educate homeowners, reduce your workload, and ultimately solve problems that coincide with local ordinances – like pet issues, smoking, hoarding, and more.
Before you begin enlisting your local government's help, take the following steps first to make sure your efforts are effective.
- Learn How Your Local Government Works. Start with basic information, like the hierarchy of your local government. Once you know how all the entities work together, learn about their individual functions and areas of authority from the mayor and city council to the different committees and offices. Building a solid understanding of your particular local government will help you work with them more efficiently.
- Find the Right Person to Help With Your Particular Problem. If you’ve spent time learning about your local government, finding the person that can help with you with a specific problem or question can make the process faster and easier, but it still might require some leg work. Specific people and agencies are assigned to handle specific city responsibilities, and the best person for your situation isn’t always in an office where you would expect to find them.
- Craft an Effective Message. Once you know who you need to speak with, it’s time to figure what to say and how to say it. While you might not always receive the answer or the assistance you want, it’s always wise to be honest and polite. The same person who can’t help today might be the one with an ideal solution for another problem tomorrow.
While these steps are a start for harnessing the power of your local government, knowing more about legalities, processes, and working with governmental agencies beyond your city will increase your success. I’m presenting more information on this topic at CAI’s National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, at 9:15 a.m. on May 4th, 2017, in the session titled Friend or Foe: How to Work with Your Local and Regional Municipalities and Governmental Entities. If you’re interested in attending, sign up today!
Even if you can’t attend, you can still learn more. If you’re a board member interested in having this presentation, or if you simply have questions about working with your local government, please contact me at 949-465-2260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Wendy has served Associa PCM for more than 23 years. She has been a member of the Community Association Institute (CAI) since 2005, serving as the Orange County chapter president in 2009. Bucknum earned the prestigious Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM®) national designation from the CAI as well as the organization’s national Governmental Affairs Award in 2011. In 2016 she received the May Russell Hall of Fame Award, Orange County CAI Chapter’s top honor.More Content by Wendy Bucknum