By Dean Martin
Committees can be a productive tool for condominium and homeowners associations. Committees, such as budget committees or architectural control committees, can promote increased participation by owners, benefit from unique owner expertise, and help reduce the workload imposed on volunteer board members. However, to properly benefit from the use of committees, it is essential that they are created and operated properly.
Most association governing documents address the formation and operation of committees. For example, your association’s governing documents may require that one or more board members participate on or chair the committee in order for it to be valid. Regardless, the creation of any committee should be formally approved by the board of directors in the minutes or via written resolution and should clearly state the purpose of the committee, the governing document or statutory authority to create the committee, the scope of the committee’s work, and what board authority, if any, may be delegated to and exercised by the committee.
In addition, when creating a committee, directors must be aware that your governing documents may contain restrictions on the types of committees that may be established and what authority they may be granted. Some governing documents only allow committees to make recommendations that the board of directors can then take under advisement. Others allow committees to take formal action, at least in certain limited circumstances. Of course, if your association is established as a Washington nonprofit corporation, you must also comply with RCW 24.03.115 when forming and administering committees. Of particular note is that if a committee will exercise board authority, it must contain at least two directors.
Strict compliance with the requirements of your governing documents and applicable laws is essential to ensure that any committee recommendations or actions are proper. To the extent your governing documents do not address committees, your association may want to consider amending your governing documents so that your association has clear direction on how to use committees properly and effectively.