A.D. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our board has monthly meetings. They open with an Executive Session for 30 minutes. After that the open meeting starts. Sometimes they have another Executive meeting at the end. Recently, I attended one of these meetings. Residents were dismissed as the board went back into executive session. A month later, in reading the minutes, I found that they had an open meeting after the executive session. Presumably to vote on the topic of executive session and then went on to discuss a new landscape plan. I think this “second open meeting” was inappropriate. It appears to be effectively a closed meeting being called open. As a resident during the first open meeting we were dismissed and not told that the meeting would be reopened an hour later. The topic discussed was not on the agenda so there was no way for residents to know or guess that there was to be a “second” open meeting. This seems wrong, what do you think?
Mister Condo replies:
A.D., you are correct that the order of business is incorrect. Any vote that doesn’t fall under Executive Session should be made in an open meeting with unit owners welcome to attend if they wish. As you know, they don’t get a vote or a say in the proceedings but they are welcome to observe. Since the unit owners were dismissed, the portion of the meeting where voting would be held was effectively ended. A larger concern is the lack of the item being included on the published agenda. As you know, the Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) requires that items to be voted on need to be included on the published agenda. This avoids “surprise” measures that the Board may vote on that haven’t been made known to the unit owners. All that being said, there is a measure of practicality that also needs to be considered and that is: Were the unit owners adversely affected by this vote or procedure? If so, there is a case to be made for challenging the Board’s actions. This is most commonly done by suing the Board. If, for instance, a special assessment were levied against unit owners in this fashion, a lawsuit might be worthwhile. On the other hand, if all the Board did was select a new landscaper and award a contract that was similar to the previous contract, no action may be necessary but the Board should be reminded that they need to conduct open meetings and not hold votes on items not on the published agenda. If the Board is unwilling or unable to comply then it is time for a new Board, provided there are other suitable and interested volunteers from within the community who are willing to serve. Perhaps it is time for you to run for the Board, A.D.? All the best!