There will be times when a board is not able to carry out a building-related project for several reasons, such as time constraints, more urgent matters, or just a lack of enthusiasm. But whatever the reason is, there's still hope that a project can go forward. That's when forming a committee, comprised of a small group of shareholders or unit owners, could be a viable solution.
According to Robert Rinaldo, vice president of D&J Property Management in the Queens neighborhood of Forest Hills, the process is simple. “First you listen to what people say and bring up,” he explains, “and if you deem it’s a worthy enough a cause to go forward on (if you have the money). If they’re willing to take care of it, then you’ve got a committee. It’s when you need to force yourself on someone where you have a problem, but most of the time someone will step up and help.”
In a nutshell, here are three tips to help start a committee.
1) Let the Proponent of the Idea Spearhead the Project
Rinaldo says that the seeds of a committee usually happen either at a board-only or shareholder-unit owner’s meeting. “Things will come up for discussion. Whether it’s at a shareholder’s or a regular board meeting, they’ll basically just flip it back on the person bringing it up and say, ‘If you want to see this stuff get done and either form a committee and get it done, or help someone on the board get it done.'”
He adds, “When it’s just among the board, the president has the power to delegate and get some board members to form a committee to get something done.”
2) Make Sure Someone Monitors the Committee
There will be some type of board or management supervision of a committee, according to Rinaldo. “If we’re going to have a shareholder that isn’t on the board take the lead,” he says, “we’ll tell them to report to someone on the board for what they’re doing. So even if they don’t have to be intricately involved, they at least know what they’re doing and how they’re going about doing it. Obviously if management can be involved in any way to help oversee things, we will.”
3) Keep the Project Simple
The project shouldn't be overwhelming or complex for a committee to tackle. “You’re not expecting people to handle the tough jobs, like getting bids for major repair work,” says Rinaldo. That's the manager's job, he adds. “These things are mostly for if you want to see the building beautified in some way, like doing the garden outside the building. These are things that don’t have to be done but it’d be nice if they were.”
Remember that forming a committee isn’t like getting someone to join the board. It’s generally a group of residents formed to take on a single manageable project that people can support. As Rinaldo notes, “It’s really just as simple as whoever brings it up and seems passionate about getting something done, and will just be asked to pick up the mantle to do it.”
John Zurz is a staff writer for The Cooperator.