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Meeting Minutes! Where? When? Who?

Also entitled "Unveiling the Hidden Chronicles: The Captivating History and Crucial Significance of Meeting Minutes in Board Meetings" PLUS what we, the FSHOA Board plan on doing.

Meeting minutes are a crucial aspect of documenting board meetings and have a long history tied to the principles of parliamentary procedure. They serve as an official record of the proceedings, decisions, and actions taken during a meeting. Before we let you know of upcoming changes, let's look briefly at the history.

Origins: Meeting minutes have ancient roots in formal assemblies and councils held by civilizations to discuss and decide on important matters. Ancient Greek city-states, for example, relied on accurate record-keeping to ensure transparency and accountability. In the 17th century, parliamentary procedure, including George Petyt's "Lex Parliamentaria" in 1690 and Thomas Jefferson's "A Manual of Parliamentary Practice" in 1801, established rules for meetings and the recording of minutes.

Definition and Format: Meeting minutes are the official written record of a board meeting, summarizing key points, topics discussed, decisions made, and actions taken. They include details like meeting date, time, location, attendees, agenda items, motions proposed, votes taken, and relevant information. They are not verbatim transcripts but focus on what was done rather than what was said.

Responsibility for Writing Minutes: The task of writing meeting minutes usually falls on a designated individual, such as the secretary or a dedicated minute-taker. They listen actively, take accurate notes, and capture the essence of discussions and outcomes. Strong listening skills, the ability to distill key points, and knowledge of the organization's bylaws and rules of procedure are essential for the secretary or minute-taker.

Purpose and Importance: Meeting minutes serve several purposes:

  1. Historical Record: They provide an official record of actions, decisions, and discussions, ensuring a documented history of the organization's governance.

  2. Legal Compliance: Minutes demonstrate due process and adherence to bylaws, rules, and policies, acting as evidence in legal proceedings.

  3. Transparency and Accountability: They promote transparency by documenting discussions and decisions, allowing stakeholders to understand the board's actions and decision-making process.

  4. Communication and Documentation: Minutes disseminate important information to absent board members, stakeholders, and future board members, ensuring continuity and facilitating effective communication.

  5. Acceptance by Vote: Drafted minutes are presented to the board for acceptance through a formal vote or motion, ensuring accuracy and completeness. It signifies the board's agreement with the documented discussions and decisions.

  6. Rules and Governance: Meeting minute rules vary based on organizational bylaws. Parliamentary procedures, like Robert's Rules of Order, have provided guidelines for meeting conduct and minute-taking for over a century. Organizations adopt these rules or variations to ensure fair and consistent practices.

Enough with the history lesson - What about Fairway Springs?

I semi-apologize for the lengthy introduction but wanted to set the stage for what the Fairway Springs Homeowners Association Board does today, and what we plan to do in future. I'll try to be brief:

  1. We meet about 8 times a year, on average. In those meetings we bring motions, secure seconds, discuss the motions (threats, risks, opportunities, outcomes and alternatives) and vote. With a majority in favor of the motion we are free to take an action. Without, the motion dies.

  2. Notes of our meetings are taken, by our Secretary, in real time. Notes are also taken, when in attendance, by our property management partner representative, who shares them via email with the Secretary. Our Secretary subsequently combines those notes into draft minutes and they get shared with the Board for the first time. Typically within 72 to 96 hours following a meeting.

  3. Board members are encouraged to offer edits or corrections, which will be made and shared in subsequent drafts until a final draft is ready. If none are offered then the draft minutes remain draft until the next meeting of the Board. The goal of this exercise is to ensure that for all Board members, the minutes that will get voted on, are an accurate refection of what occurred in the meeting.

  4. At the subsequent Board meeting we follow the agenda laid out in our 1983 filed ByLaws; Article III, Section 11, subsection (c) is an agenda item that states "Reading of the minutes of proceeding meeting." What's missing from this agenda item is the word "approved", as in approved minutes. That is, the Board, following the reading of the minutes must vote to accept them. (There's also the option of bringing a motion to not read them and accept them and this assumes all voting parties present have read them.)

  5. Once approved, by vote, these now approved minutes get posted on Sentry's website, (then subsequently to ours) for our stakeholders, that is you, our neighbor homeowners, to consume.

Now, today the world works faster and we crave information sooner, but if the Board doesn't meet except for every other month then the minutes taken at a prior meeting won't appear for two months. By then, decisions taken at that meeting, might never have been known, except to witnesses until that two months has passed. It's what happens today and that's too long to be kept in the dark if you were unavailable, as many are, to attend a Board meeting online or in person.

It is this Board's intention, in partnership with our current property management partner Sentry, that within a few (we haven't agreed how many yet, but fewest possible) days, following a Board meeting, even while the minutes are still in draft form, to publish the key motions brought forward and whether they passed or failed and the actions that will now follow.

We believe that doing this will keep the pace of information flowing, does not affect the historical process of approving minutes and informs the neighborhood far sooner than they will ever have been informed previously.

Further, we intend to implement this practice at our next Board meeting and pair it with a process that closes agendas for the introduction of new items, much earlier into a month, such that we can also publish Board meeting agendas weeks in advance. This will let homeowners know, with plenty of notice, exactly what issues the Board will be meeting to discuss at the next, scheduled meeting. We continue to strive towards improving our processes and our communication. Please let us know how we are doing and what more we can do for you as a member of Fairway Springs Homeowners Association. After all, we hope that, as your neighbor, we want at least some of the same things as you, but would hate to be so far off. Our email addresses can be found on the Board page. And you can always take to the comments below or to any of the discussion forums on our website. We welcome and want your feedback. Even the criticisms, yes, but please keep it civil and don't call anybody out by name.


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