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6 Reasons To Attend Your Annual Meeting

The usual excuses don’t cut it.  You have to work late.  You got tickets to the Mets.  You have a headache.  Nothing ever changes.  I’m a cynic, but if we all took that attitude Obama wouldn’t be President, and what happens in your building will have a more immediate impact on your pocketbook than anything he does. Here’s why you should go:

  1. To Get a Once a Year Reality Check: You go to the doctor for an annual physical (at least most of us do) to see if all systems are in working order.  The principle’s the same.  It’s your one opportunity to ask questions about anything that’s been plaguing you, and finally observe the decisionmakers in the flesh. Better yet, you don’t have to give a urine sample – just show up with an inquiring mind.
  2. To Hear the State of the Union: – not The Union, but Your Union.  It doesn’t have to be a hyper-intellectual exegesis, but it should be a coherent account of all that transpired over the year.  Yes, I know your president, unlike the real one, doesn’t get paid a cent, but that doesn’t absolve her of the responsibility that comes with the office.  And if all she does is preach peace and harmony, then turn over the substantive task to someone from the management company, re-elect her at your building’s risk. Because if she doesn’t know enough to tell you what happened, odds are she’s not engaged in what’s going on.
  3. To Get a Market Barometer: Normally what happens outside, stays outside, but in the current economic climate it can impinge on the inside. That’s why you should find out if there’s any significant increase in arrears and/or foreclosures. In condos this could have a direct financial impact because you’ll probably be picking up the shortfall. So ask the board to quantify how much the collective you is at risk for. In co-ops, if shareholders are having difficulty selling, now might be the time to consider amending restrictive sublet provisions till the market recovers.
  4. To Find Out How Much Money Your Building Has Socked Away: Yes, you should have received a financial statement, but that only tells how much cash was in reserves as of prior year’s end. And that number could have been inflated with parked assessment money that wasn’t yet spent, or funds transferred temporarily from the building’s credit line to make the financials pop. (See, Five Things Those Statements Don’t Tell You.)  That’s why both the amount and the manner  in which its invested could be a lot different as you sit there in your seat.  It’s OK if the building’s auditor, who should be there to answer questions, can’t provide the current number on the spot, but if someone on the board doesn’t get back to you in short order, I’d start worrying because either they don’t know or won’t take the time to find out, or don’t want you to know, none of which bodes well. And while you have access to the one person who really understands your building’s finances, you should ask any other money-related question – about the mortgage or any refinance or how that pile you were assessed was spent.
  5. To Weigh in On Hot Button Topics:  Whether it’s the color of the impatiens or refinancing the building’s $10 million mortgage, now’s the time to put up or shut up on the issue
  6. And To Vote for Representatives of Your Choice:  In order to make an informed decision, you first have to figure out why they’re runnng. Check back tomorrow for the top 10 reasons.
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