Fiscally responsible strata council is an oxymoron

Just when I thought I had writer’s block for a new blog, the premier decides to address the province and I receive Minutes for the first strata council meeting since the AGM of my strata corporation. I’ve noted this before but it is amazing how the politics of the provincial government are so darn similar to the politics of my strata council.

First, I wasn’t quite certain how to react to the premier’s address on Wednesday and in a similar way I wasn’t certain how to react to the Minutes. It would appear both the government and my council like to waste money- in rather large amounts I should add- for no real reason beyond saving face.

At the AGM, our corporation was asked to authorize a super inflated budget line item for repairs and maintenance. The council had of course slipped this line item in last year ostensibly for all the right reasons. Owners didn’t say much because it was quite obvious they were still smarting from the epic lecture justifying the half-million dollar remediation project that opened the meeting. You know what happens with a boring speaker? You let your mind wander and you miss the details or you are still wondering when  the guy speaking will actually shut up so you can argue his point but the drone beats you into forty winks.

So, back to this year’s AGM. The actual dollar figure expensed from this line item was nowhere near the authorized amount and led to the inevitable question, “Why?”. On a superficial level the exercise appears to suggest the creation of a slush fund especially when neither council nor property management could advise owners how council came to the number presented for the new budget. If it feels like, ” Hey after a half million dollar dump of cash we should just keep at the trough,” then that is exactly what it is.

My council members must be strong supporters of the premier or they must work for him in some capacity or they must be part of the population who shamelessly attach themselves to government handouts because they don’t believe in working hard or smart. Actually let me scratch that last thought;you have to be pretty smart to rely on the government’s HST credit and welfare to survive in this province. More likely, my council members have successfully achieved their “peter principle” at work and as a result believe their mismanagement and lack of business ethics can be translated into qualitative effort within their strata community. Well …uh-huh!

I prefer to consider myself to be an aware and engaged strata owner. Naturally, people who have achieved their peter principle unawares would be threatened by a person like me. Their attempts to keep themselves buried in their little closet to formulate their plans appear to ensure compliance. Nothing like a strata council fait accompli – except there’s me! Subsequently, the minutes from the first strata council are now the catalyst for some pretty serious questions directed towards my council, in particular, that pesky line item for repairs and maintenance.

Sometime between the AGM and the council meeting my council has hired a handyman. Remember at the AGM the line item had no specifics attached to it and owners were told they would have those specifics at the next AGM. So Campbellesque wouldn’t you agree?

Anyway, remember this council is rife with cronyism so I have my guesses as to who the handyman is. However, there is a process for hiring a contract within a strata corporation. Most integrity based councils seek numerous proposals or quotes and thoughtfully consider them and weigh the costs against the budget authorized by owners. I know if owners knew at the AGM this council was seeking the services of a handyman there would have been much more discussion not to mention accountability and parameters for the position. Amazingly enough, this council appeared to have the decision made either unconsciously or perhaps by osmosis prior to their first meeting. (The council is on the record for saying it makes no decisions outside of council meetings which is why owners can wait months for responses to their issues). Things that make you go hmmm”.

Add to this, the council suddenly requires a petty cash fund. Again, this was not put forward to owners at the AGM but was determined at the first strata council meeting. Surely, like me you pick up on the whole,” say one thing and mean another” scenario playing out here?!

Finally and perhaps most telling of all is the council executive. As you know, to keep me off council, property management and stuttering stormtrooper thwarted democratic process to avoid an election. There are seven members sitting on council. Once again our bylaws clearly assert three positions: President, Vice-President and Treasurer. This group creates a position that if they had bothered to amend a bylaw at the AGM would not be an issue. But they didn’t so it is an issue. A bylaw is a bylaw is a bylaw.The President also is the Treasurer. Interesting. Compelling. Circumspect. And, we have a Secretary which our bylaws do not include. It makes sense that the Treasurer could also take on a secretarial role but this council only meets with property management present so the role is actually redundant. The individual at the helm is green thumb’s lackey. The individual serving as secretary is also green thumb’s lackey. One could presume with legal issues rumbling towards owners green thumb prefers to distance herself on the surface. NOT!

So, parallels with the present provincial government are obvious.Giving a “peter principled” person a dual role of President-Treasurer is highly questionable. Ensuring knowledgeable owners are kept off council is manipulation. Contravening bylaws is a strategy. Snubbing noses at owners despite being proven wrong in a public arena is misguided arrogance. Perpetuating questionable expenditures without proper disclosure or authorization is rather fraudulent in appearance.

Everytime I read the paper lately, I think of my strata council, especially when I read about the “mockery” of the consultative process and headline grabbers like “misleading” and “deceptive” in The Vancouver Sun referencing the actions of the present provincial government.

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One comment on “Fiscally responsible strata council is an oxymoron
  1. Jason Morris says:

    Your posts confirm my thoughts about the importance of studying the operations of strata councils in more detail. I look forward to following your blog. Curiously, I nevertheless live in a non-strata, detached home, but it is still a fascinating topic. Thanks!

    Like

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