Wednesday, October 24, 2012

FVCSA Election: We've Got Questions (#4)

It's election time in Princeton Landing and some members of the Board will be running again. You may remember that one of the promises these same candidates made in previous elections was that there would be more "transparency" and better communication about Association business. Residents were going to be better informed than they had been in the past. This "transparency" has turned out to be more opaque than expected, raising questions we'd like to ask the candidates. Here's the fourth one.

Why were past Boards able to keep residents better informed by snail mail than the current Board can by email? In the digital age, it is faster, cheaper and easier for anyone to communicate. But not for FVCSA—at least, not for anything useful or important. We get lots of email reminders about pizza nights, bagel breakfasts and garage sales (we count 5 so far about the latter event). But practical news and information? As the saying goes, not so much.

Email could be used to remedy the appalling lack of communication with residents about FVCSA's budget and finances. The next time we get an email with title selections for movie night, how about including a short statement from the Board President or Treasurer about year-to-date expenditures versus budget projections with a simple spreadsheet attached? Or listing any expenditures that were approved at the most recent Board meeting?

Email could also be used to tell residents in advance about work on the property that might affect them. It isn't hard to think of examples. For instance, our landscape crew now posts signs warning that pesticides and herbicides will be applied. The signs are hard to read from a passing car, tend to fall over, and aren't very specific about what's being done. An email alert could be sent the same day the signs go up. Residents would then be more likely to know that kids and pets should be kept off the grass for a time after the treatment. Similar notice by email could be provided before the landscape crew descends on homes to prune shrubbery. They now arrive without warning. Residents could be told ahead of time when gutter cleaning is scheduled—it would be comforting to know before he shows up that the man stomping around on the roof is actually supposed to be there. Residents in a particular parcel could be told by email when painters will be arriving to work on decks, so the outdoor furniture or planters can be removed.

None of this is especially difficult, and it doesn't cost anything to send email. It does take coordination among the Board, our property managers and our contractors. But mostly it takes a commitment to act on past promises to communicate openly and effectively. Right now FVCSA is giving residents the least amount of information at a time when communication has never been easier. It is the Board's responsibility to lead on things like this and set expectations for those who work for the community. So what happened to "transparency" and better communication?