Over the past few weeks I posted about the types of motions under Robert’s Rules of Order. I had several comments and questions about my previous posts so I thought I would take a few moments to respond today.
Q: How should decisions or motions be recorded or saved?
A: All decisions made at meetings, whether board meetings or owners’ meetings, should be written in the “minutes” of the meeting as they are an important source of information for future directors, property managers, and owners. It may as simple as:
Jane Smith (#222) moved that we approve the minutes from the last annual general meeting.
Bob Jones (#53) seconded.
Motion carried. The minutes were approved.
If the decision being made is more contentious or significant than approving the minutes, such as a substantial change vote, you may wish to include some of the discussion in the minutes to give context to someone reading the minutes later.
Q: Who should act as chair for our meetings?
A: It depends. You must review your by-laws to see if they speak to the chair for meetings. Often, but not always, it is the president of the condominium or vice-president if the president is not available. Some by-laws permit the property manager or lawyer to be the chair; sometimes the board may decide and sometimes it will require a motion at the beginning of the meeting.
For the most part, I find that meetings usually go smoother when a director chairs the meeting (I know that can be stressful for some, but it usually pays off). In my experience, many owners are immediately on edge when the lawyer (and sometimes property manager) chairs a meeting. Many owners feel we are there to protect the board, which is the attitude some lawyers take at meetings. The proper role of the chair is to run an orderly meeting without any bias; he or she should not prefer one group over another. If there are legal issues that require an explanation by the lawyer, the lawyer should not act as the chair.
Q: We have an owner that always disrupts our meetings and takes up all of the time with inappropriate questions. What can be do about it?
A: If one person is constantly arguing with people or disrupting a meeting, any other person at the meeting could raise a motion to limit the time for debate per person. This would give the person an opportunity to voice his or her concerns on each topic, but would ensure the meeting does not becomes his or her meeting. A motion to limit debate requires a seconder, does not have debate (it is decided immediately without discussion), may be amended, and requires a vote in favour of 2/3 of the people present at the meeting in person or by proxy. If the behaviour is extreme, it may be time to consider security for your meetings. If that still doesn’t help, you should speak with a lawyer to discuss your other options.
Q; Who should take the minutes for our meetings?
A: It is normally the property manager or a hired recording or secretarial company, but it could be a director (the secretary would be most appropriate). Again, you need to check your by-laws to see if there are any requirements.
Although it is important to run the meeting according to your by-laws (and whatever meeting rules they require), don’t worry about it if you don’t know all the ins and outs of Roberts Rules of Order, for instance. Run a fair meeting, give everyone an opportunity to speak, follow the Act and your documents to the best of your abilities, and you should be fine.