Board members don't always see eye to eye. In a tragic case in Boynton Beach, Florida, an argument over the number of votes needed for a quorum led to the accidental death of a 70-year-old board member. During a discussion about the upcoming board of directors election, one board member allegedly grabbed the other, possibly causing him to fall backward to the pavement and fracture his skull. Thankfully, this one-in-a-million type of incident isn't a common occurrence; however, that doesn't mean that it's always smooth sailing at all board meetings.
The disagreements that come up can be as varied as the personalities that comprise a board. But two recurring themes that immediately come to mind are the tyrannical board president who attempts to monopolize every area of discussion and the disgruntled board president who feels he's shouldering an unfair burden of the work load. If these issues confuse the agenda at your board meetings, consider trying out the arrangement that was implemented at one Manhattan condo.
Instead of the usual president and vice-president team, the innovative six-person board of this 97-unit building has created two new rolesco-presidentswho share all the responsibilities typically held by the board president. The position of vice president has been eliminated, at least for the time being. We decided to do this about three years ago, says co-president Jim Smith. So far everyone has been very happy with the arrangement.
No two boards of directors are identical, but most boards do share some common traits. Generally speaking, the board is responsible for ensuring the building's financial well-being, operating and capital budget, insurance, security and maintenance. The board has to hire professionals, approve buyers, enforce house rules and work with the managing agent and building residents.
The roles of the board members are defined in the by-laws and their powers are set out in the Business Corporation Law (BCL). Both documents are vague about specific duties, so each board can create the management team that works best. In general, the by-laws and BCL give the president the power to preside over all meetings of the board and shareholders as well as the authority to set up committees for special projects (and appoint committee heads) and set the agenda for the board. Very little is said in the BCL or by-laws about the vice president's role. His duty is to fill in for the president as necessary.