Federal, state, and local responses to COVID-19 are changing quickly. Our COVID-19 related communications are based on the facts and guidance available today. Always look for the most up-to-date information when making decisions for your communities.
Social distancing restrictions and recommendations are likely to continue for some time. In light of this new reality, what happens to Association meetings? The good news is that, in general, board and member meetings may be conducted using telephonic or video conferencing services under the Colorado Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act, so long as all attendees can hear one another and be heard. There are many available options, such as Zoom, Google Meet, Gotomeeting.com, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Webex, and FreeConferenceCall.com that you can explore to determine what works best for your community’s needs and budget.
After selecting a service and setting a date and time for the Board or Member meeting, send notice to the community as required by your Bylaws. Board meetings are open to attendance by all members, so consider the best means of communicating dial-in numbers and passwords. All community associations should have a policy governing the conduct of meetings. Consider how the reality of a virtual meeting intersects with your current policy. You may want to explore more specific details and protocols for muting and selecting attendees to ensure that owners are able to speak at designated times, without turning the meeting into a chorus of “sorry, that was my dog” and microphone feedback. Many conferencing services allow the meeting host to mute individuals so that the meeting proceeds in an orderly fashion, while permitting homeowners to speak at designated times. If you amend your policy governing the conduct of meetings, or adopt a new policy for these specific types of meetings, adopt the changes in compliance with your policy governing the adoption and amendment of policies.
Member meetings are another issue altogether. Generally speaking, under Colorado’s Nonprofit Corporation Act, voting may be conducted by written ballot. Some matters, like budget ratification, can be handled almost the same as an in-person meeting. Other matters, such as a contested election for the Board, will take more consideration. Secret balloting will undoubtedly take a longer time than an in-person vote by acclamation. You may be able to take action by written ballot, but the nature of the action will dictate the process, as will your individual Bylaws. It may be that an election only becomes contested when an individual self-nominates from the floor at the meeting. Be prepared to be flexible, and have a plan for contingencies. Consider having counsel attend the meetings to help you avoid confusion and errors.
Thoughtful planning will help you lead your communities through this crisis. Life and community governance are certainly going to change as a result of the pandemic, and your leadership will help keep your community safe and functioning. As always, please contact your attorney for advice specific to your community’s needs and legal requirements.