J.S. from New Hampshire writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
When keeping the Board Minutes, it is still unclear what needs to be included. I was told by the previous secretary that only items that motions were taken on should be included in the Minutes. The question has been raised about other discussions that were done in the meeting such as the budget or maintenance questions. Do these go in the Minutes? Presently, we have a unit owner who notes that these items are put in, too. Should they be part of the Minutes or only items that actions are taken on? Discussions about other items should go where?
Mister Condo replies:
J.S., that’s a great question. Minutes can be quite confusing and there are different opinions of what should and shouldn’t be included. I have a new friend, Marie Meyer, of http://www.2ndsecretary.com whose business specializes in such things. I asked her to chime in on the subject. Here is what Marie had to offer:
“Board meeting Minutes are a record of the actions of the Board. In fact, they are the Association’s ONLY official record of its Board’s decisions and actions. Many Boards are in the habit of treating them as a newsletter, which is a mistake. But it is an understandable mistake. The minute-taker hears things that seem important, interesting and/or useful, and so they naturally want to capture them. But, given that your Minutes are a discoverable document that will be every lawyer’s first port-of-call in any litigation, it is not a good idea to pad them out with recaps of discussions.
At 2nd Secretary we find an appropriate home for all the substance of a meeting my doing FOUR write-ups for the Boards who hire us to minute their meetings. The actions and decisions of the Board go into the Minutes. Interesting items go into a document we label “News”. We can’t write the Association’s newsletter – we don’t know all the details. But we can provide draft paragraphs as raw material for the Secretary or President to polish.
Statements of intentions to execute on something are captured in a list called “Action Items”. You can think of this as a to-do list for the Property Manager or Board President. They may keep their own notes, but since they are also active participants in the meeting, they benefit from someone else providing a list they can compare with their own in case they missed something. And, finally, we deliver a document called “Unfinished Business”. In every meeting there will be discussions that don’t result in a Board action, and therefore don’t belong in the Minutes. The matter is not resolved, so it doesn’t belong in News. And it may generate some tasks, but those to-do items are stepping-stones to the resolution, not ends in themselves. Therefore, the Action Items don’t complete it. We place a description in the Unfinished Business document to serve as an aid to the Board’s institutional memory.”