R.M. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Do all of the unit owners have to vote on the using of money in the Reserve Fund? Money was used from the Reserve Fund for cosmetic purposes when there are many projects have to be addressed like roofs and new paving. The Board used Reserve money to put shutters only on some of the windows. What is the most a board can raise common charges and what is the Connecticut law about reserve funds?
Mister Condo replies:
R.M., the short answer is it depends and what it depends upon is your condo docs and the rules outlining the expenditure of funds from the Reserve Fund or other. Some associations have restrictions on the dollar amount. Some have restrictions on the use of the Reserve Fund. The bottom line is that the community does have a say in how the money is spent through their choice of elected officials who oversee the community and manage its finances. I am not aware of any Connecticut laws about Reserve Fund usage nor am I aware of any laws about how much a Board can raise common fees (Special Assessments for that matter, too). Every association has expenses. The only method of offsetting those expenses is revenue raised from unit owners which comes from common fees or assessments. If the Board is out of money to perform maintenance projects on the common elements then it is very likely because the common fees have been too low for too long a period of time. Does your association have a Reserve Study in place? Does the Board use the study to direct the fiscal stewardship of the community? These are the underlying issues in your question. My guess is that you are just scratching at the real problem here. It is quite possible that your community needs to raise its fees and maybe even secure a loan to handle the required maintenance. That will cost all unit owners over the months and years ahead. Good luck!