K.P. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We recently held our Annual Meeting during which there was to be a vote on a new Board member. The current President of the Board has served for 9 years. I decided to run for the Board. However, the seated president decided to run against me, so there were only our two names on the ballot. I thought that CT state law mandated that the position be vacated by the individual holding the position, which would have meant that as I ran otherwise unopposed, I should have taken the seat. Was it legal for the board member to run for another term? And as a side question, are they allowed to pay themselves a salary from our condo fees? Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
K.P., there is no state law that I am aware of that mandates a director vacate a seat on the Board. It is possible, but unlikely, that your by-laws have such a rule. I’ve never personally heard of such a rule but you can check your by-laws section on governance and election of directors to see what the rules for your community are. The fact that your current Board President has served for nine years makes me think there is no such rule in your by-laws.
I salute your courage to run for the Board and I encourage you to continue to seek volunteer opportunities to benefit your community. In case you are not aware, Officers of the Board (typically President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary) are usually elected by the other members of the Board after the Annual Meeting. That is why you run for a seat on the Board rather than run for Board President. Once seated on the Board you then express your desire to hold office before an election of Officers by the Board is held.
Your second question concerns me deeply. In a word, “no”, they are not allowed to pay themselves from condo fees. Serving on the Board is a volunteer position. That being said, I know of many associations who do have “perks” like an annual party or such for Board members and other committee volunteers as a way for the community to say “thank you” for their service throughout the year. Out of pocket expenses like postage can be reimbursed. Anything beyond that becomes questionable and is a conflict of interest. Most condo by-laws expressly prohibit Board members from paying themselves and for good reason. Since they are the folks in control of the budget, what is to stop them from taking large sums of money from the association? There are no “checks and balances” in place to protect the other unit owners within the association. Again, review your condo docs and check the section that details serving on the Board. You will very likely see the section that prohibits Board members from being paid or receiving any preferential treatments, goods or service for their service. Bring it to the Board’s attention along with a demand that the practice stop and any pay already received be returned to the coiffures of the association. I wish you all the best, K.P.!