Have you ever wondered who runs your homeowners association? At the Ahwatukee Board of Management ("ABM"), we have a volunteer board of nine directors. Three members are elected each April to a three-year term. The structure guarantees that continuity and experience of six board members remain, and offers the chance for three new members to get elected. There is no limit on how many terms a director can serve on the board. Our longest serving member has been on the board for 17 years.
Last year about 600 homeowners, or 11 percent of homeowners, voted in the ABM elections. I believe these numbers are typical of most HOAs. Like many homeowners, there have been many years I didn't vote for HOA elections. I didn't want to vote for someone I didn't know, and as long as things ran well or issues didn't affect me I didn't really care. Now that I am older and wiser, I advise everyone to pay attention to their board of directors: the board sets policy directions and influences much of what occurs in an HOA.
First, the board can vote to raise your assessments. While the ABM is limited to a 5 percent annual increase, each HOA is different. Some HOAs also have the power to levy a special one-time assessment, though the ABM has never needed to do so. Secondly, the board hires and/or fires either the property management company or the general manager who runs the HOA. Thirdly, the directors can adopt new bylaws and are legally charged with promulgating the rules of the corporation. Fourth, it is the directors who elect the officers of the corporation. The board president serves as the "CEO" of the HOA, a private corporation.
The ABM has its board meetings the third Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Agendas are posted 48 hours in advance both at the offices and online. Every meeting includes a "homeowner forum," where any homeowner may address the board. Meetings are open to homeowners, but are closed to the public.
A fellow board member gave me good advice for homeowners. Even if you've never attended a board meeting, when you receive ballots for new board members, read what the candidates have to say. Then take the time to attend the annual meeting, meet the candidates, and vote. The ABM's annual meeting is always the first Wednesday in April. I hope to see you there.
Katrina Shawver has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 25 years and now serves on the Ahwatukee Board of Management, an HOA of nearly 5,100 homes. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.