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Taking the biscuit

A couple of weeks ago we asked for Flatchatters’ opinions on the idea of executive committee members being paid a little more that a chocolate biscuit and a cup of instant coffee for their time and energy.

“It depends on the size of the complex and number of villas or units,” says Pip from Port Macquarie. “It should also depend on basic training as some of the rules are very ambiguous. Having said that, some executive committee members can be very dogmatic in their views.”

Experience was the key for John from Waterloo who put the value of veteran EC members above even the professionals

“Some basic qualification would be good but I would support a grandfathering provision where EC members must have served for a number of years (before being paid).

“Unfortunately my experience of both strata and building managers suggests they can seldom manage with minimal EC intervention. This scrutiny and supervision is both time consuming and hard work,” says John who also gives grey power a plug.

“If you’re lucky enough to have a couple of committed retired professional people on the EC, the job will be done well for a ‘Tim Tam or two’.”

OK, actual bikkies aside, how much would we pay?

“Rewarding members for their time at, say, $50 per hour would help keep talent on the EC and attract talent to the EC in an environment where few people see their role as much more than debating for two hours every three months,” suggests John.

Yes, it’s all the behind-the-scenes work that good EC members do BETWEEN committee meetings that’s truly unrecognised and unrewarded.

“If only owners would realise that a “thank you” occasionally can go a long way, instead of trying to hide when anything requiring attention comes along,” says Apartment Owner from Manly.

But not everyone is enthused about the idea of paying EC members – well, not theirs at least. Common Lot in Waverton say: “We have a few members on our committee who ought to be paid NOT to be on it.”

If you have questions or thoughts about apartment living, write to flatchat@jimmythomson.com.au and include a nom de plume and your suburb (if you don’t wish to be identified).

Or use the comments thingo below.

PAYMENT OF EC MEMBERS – WON’T WORK

Dear Jimmy,

Afraid I think you are on the wrong track with payment of EC members. It just wont work. I have known professionals who command hundreds of dollars an hour giving their time to an EC in their professional capacity. A company lawyer who took time to draft contracts and by-laws. An IT professional who set up the computer for the building manager and taught him to use it. It would be insulting to offer $50 per hour to such people for such work. If they were paid the proper rate the OC would be broke.

There was a suggestion that to be paid people should have attended some course on strata management. One weekend? So people who have been to a micky-mouse course on strata management get paid while the company lawyer, doing legal work, does not?

Individual EC members bring to their position their lifetime of training and experience. In the management of a large property almost any skill or experience can be useful at some time. Someone who has been involved with the building for twenty years can have invaluable knowledge, even if totally without qualifications. How do you assess payment? There is also the problem of honesty of claims. If the Treasurer says he has spent 20 hours examining the accounts, how do you know if this is true? There would be cases where people would stand for the EC just to get payment and put in false claims. This idea is a can of worms that should be dropped.

Incidently, you keep talking of biscuits and cups of tea at EC meetings. I have been to hundreds of EC meetings and have never seen as much as a glass of water. Thanks for the great work you do. Jill C

JT: I take your point about the “insulting” $50 to highly paid professionals (not my suggestion) and obviously if a training course was Mickey Mouse, you wouldn’t recommend it.

But as for your parsimonious neighbours not offering you so much as a glass of water, a friend attended an EC meeting the other night where they got through three gourmet dips, two bowls of corn chips, three chunks of cheese, two loaves of nice bread and three bottles of wine.

Maybe that’s the answer – forget payments, cater the meetings.

JILL C: Your account of your pal’s EC meeting is amazing. Was it a meeting or a party? I wonder what the decisions were like after the third bottle of wine?

Think I would prefer my waterless gatherings. At least everyone concentrates on the business at hand. That business may be the running of a building worth several hundred millions. Better to be sober.

The issue of making it worthwhile being on an EC is a curly one. I cannot see anything except relying on the spirit of volunteering, and the need to look after one’s home or investment.

JT: Absolutely right about the spirit of volunteerism– but unfortunately that’s why the vested interests like developers’ mates, pro short-term rentals owners and multi-apartment investors make it their business to be involved … they get their reward when the building is run to suit them.

And re the EC meeting/party at least the Chair is a non-drinker.

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