WLPP attorney Doug Stallworthy recently wrote a post on transparency in association boards. His thoughts follow.
Transparency in decisions made by the board of a homeowners association fosters a sense of confidence in those decisions. By following correct procedures for meetings on all issues, whether simple or complex, both the board and members will gain a familiarity with the process, and members may understand how complex the issues faced by a board really are.
When residents contact a board member about an issue in the community, the board member should always refer them to the HOA manager, ask the resident follow complaint procedures, or raise the issue at the appropriate time in an open meeting. Board members should not give opinions or make decisions outside of a meeting. Open meetings allow the board as an entity to discuss an issue, and receive comments from interested members.
A decision is more likely to be respected if the discussion of the facts is in the open. If a decision is contentious, being able to point to strong procedures and a history of open decision-making can reduce fears of bias and nefarious intentions. If there is disagreement, facilitate an open discussion before the final decision by the board. Having clear rules for conduct of meetings will help manage contentious debates.
Transparency will not solve all your problems, but it can go a long way to keeping your community confident in decision making. Following appropriate procedures from your governing documents and Colorado law leads to inclusiveness, fairness and hopefully, well-thought out decisions.