Books Heading to Their Buddies

books

C&S team members continue their support of the Literacy Buddy Project of the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County.  Below is a picture of some of the C&S team getting the books ready to be sent off to their Literacy Buddies.  

The purpose of the Literacy Buddy Project is to teach children about correspondence, communication, and promote early literacy while providing children with quality books that they take home. The project also supports parents as partners in their children’s learning. For many of the children, a Literacy Buddy provides the only opportunity for them to have books of their own at home.
 
Anyone, any age, anywhere can become a Literacy Buddy and it doesn’t take much time, but makes a large impact in the life of a child.  Exchanges occur three times per year.  For more information about the Literacy Buddy Project and the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, please check out their website:  http://www.earlylearningcoalitionsarasota.org

book club

Condo Board Member Workshop

Workshop for Condominium Board Members is this September 25th. Here are the details:

Workshop1

Happy Labor Day!

image of workingpeople

DBPR Offers Hurricane Warnings

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The Bottom Line

August 23, 2013

Dear Friends,

This week, FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate, warned that Floridians are in denial about the devastating impact that hurricanes can have on their way of life. I also feel that it is important to remind you to be as prepared as you can be as we venture through this Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Although we haven’t experienced a serious storm so far this year, it is crucial to have a plan for both before and after a storm. For more information on developing a disaster plan for your business or home, please visit www.floridadisaster.org. Here, you can find helpful tips that will allow you to develop a well-thought-out plan not in the heat of an emergency.

Additionally, after a storm or natural disaster strikes, unlicensed construction activity may increase as clean-up begins. Consumers should always ask to see the State of Florida professional license, which can be verified online at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling 850-487-1395. Consumers should also avoid paying cash or writing checks to an individual, especially when the work is being done through a company.

If unlicensed activity is suspected, consumers within Florida should call 1-866-532-1440 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to report it. Any person who acts as an unlicensed contractor during a state of emergency as declared by executive order of the Governor is committing a third-degree felony.

As Floridians, we are vulnerable to these serious storms and it is vital that we take them seriously and do all that we can to protect our homes and our businesses. Please take advantage of the many resources that are available to you and stay safe!
 
Sincerely,
 
Ken Lawson

Secretary
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
1940 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Customer Contact Center:
850.487.1395

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Good Time to Send Clutter Packing

clutter cartoonDo you have piles of clothes, papers and “stuff” collecting in your home or condo?  You’re not alone.  It’s time to clean up that clutter and make your abode a more enjoyable and relaxing place to live.

Create a schedule.  Depending on how high those piles are, you may not be able to accomplish the task in a single weekend. So, try tackling one room at a time. It may seem like a daunting project, but it will be less scary if you break it down into segments.

Practice a one item in, one item out rule.  When you buy an item of clothing, for example, throw out one item of clothing. Not only will it keep down the clutter, but it will also make you rethink whether you really want to buy a new item.

Create a stress-free environment in the bedroom.  That means no piles of toys and no mounds of clothes. It should be a place where you can rest without worry.

Make cleaning up fun for kids by turning it into a game.  Kids are often the clutter culprits; involve them in the process to make things neater and more organized.

Know your vision for the room.  What do you want from a room? Is it a place where you work, a space where you unwind, a playroom for the little ones or something else? If you can answer that question, you’ll be able to decide what items stay and what items go.

Try to make decluttering a part of your everyday life.  If you do it at the same time every day—like before you go to bed—the piles won’t accumulate and you won’t have to set aside a block of time to do a major cleaning.

Citizens Ins. Hearing Coming to Tampa

citizen logoCitizens Property Inaltsurance Corp.

WHO:Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens)
 
WHAT: The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) will conduct a public hearing to discuss Citizens’ proposed rate increases for its business in the Coastal Account, formerly known as the High Risk Account (HRA), and the Personal Lines Account (PLA). These accounts include, but are not limited to, homeowners’, mobile home, and dwelling/fire lines of business. Additional filings on behalf of Citizens will be forthcoming. Evidence regarding such filings may be received at the hearing.
 
Listed in the chart below are the proposed rate changes (by file log number) that have already been filed by Citizens with the Office. These filings can be accessed via the “I-File Forms & Rate Search” system using the following search criteria: file log numbers (provided below) or by entering Citizens as the “company name”. Scroll down to the bottom of the results page for the most recent filing information.


Any comments or concerns not addressed at the public hearing may be submitted by consumers and other interested parties by sending an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please include “Citizens” in the subject line of your email. Under Florida law, written communications to the Office are public record; this would include email addresses. They are subject to public disclosure, including being available to the public and media if requested.
 
Comments will be accepted until August 30, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. for all rate filings except for the Commercial Lines Accounts File Log #’s: 13-12319, 13-12323, and 13-12470. Commercial Lines Accounts rate filing comments need to be received no later than August 20, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. for consideration as the Office is required, per statute, to render a decision on these filings within a few days of the hearing.  
 
For more information about this hearing, visit the “Citizens’ Property Insurance Rate Filing” page on the Office website.
 
WHEN: August 20, 2013
           4:00p.m. – 8:00p.m.
           A copy of the agenda is available for review.
                            
WHERE: Tampa Convention Center
              Ballroom D
              333 South Franklin Street
              Tampa, FL  33602
 
The Florida Channel will stream the hearing live online. A videotaped recording of the hearing will be available on the Office’s website at a later date.
                
CONTACT:   Amy Bogner
                          850-413-2515                           
                         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Happy Birthday United States of America

american flag background-1-1024x768 copy-1

By 

New Law Guides: Condos, Coops, HOAs

guidesThe Community Association Leadership Lobby (CALL) has made available their 2013 Legislative Guides for Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Homeowners' Associations.  Review the new laws of which most became effective today.  Click the links below to view and download each guide.

Condominiums

Cooperatives

Homeowners' Associations

By Chris Brown

New HOA Law Begins Today

capitol-building

House Bill 7119 which was commonly referred to as the HOA Bill became law today.  The new legal requirements for Homeowner Associations are significant.  The Community Advocacy Network (CAN) last month presented a great outline of the law prior to Governor Scott signing the legislation.    

  • Subjects community association managers to disciplinary action for violating provisions of Chapters 718, 719 or 720 during the course of performing their services.
  • Requires that HOA official records be maintained within the state for at least 7 years and be made available within 10 business days after receipt of a written request to any parcel owner for inspection or copying within 45 miles of the community or within the county where the community is located. HOAs can also comply with this requirement by making the records available to an owner electronically via the Internet or by allowing the records to be viewed in an electronic format on a computer screen  and then printed out.
  • Allows HOA members to use a smartphone, tablet, or other portable devices to take photos or images of association documents at no charge to the member.
  • Allows an HOA to charge for the personnel costs incurred to retrieve and copy records if the time spent doing so exceeds 1/2 hour and if the personnel costs do not exceed $20 per hour. Personnel costs may not be charged for records requests that result in the copying of 25 or fewer pages.
  • Requires an HOA budget to designate the components for which a reserve account may be used if such reserve account was established by the developer.
  • Creates new annual reporting requirements for the association manager or the board if the community is self-managed. Each year a report containing the following information must be sent to the Division by November 22, 2013: Legal name of the association; federal employer ID number of the association; association’s mailing and physical addresses; total number of parcels; and total amount of revenues and expenses from the association’s budget. For HOAs that are still under developer control, the report must also contain the following information: developer’s legal name; developer’s mailing address; the total number of parcels owned by the developer on the date of reporting.
  • Requires the DBPR to establish and implement an online registration system for the foregoing reporting requirements no later than October 1, 2013.
  • Requires the DBPR to present the data collected on Florida’s HOAs to the Governor, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House by December 1, 2013 each year.
  • Provides an expiration date for these reporting requirements of July 1, 2016 unless further re-enacted by the Legislature.
  • Requires certification of HOA directors in the same manner as currently required of condominium directors.
  • Requires contracts in which a director has a financial interest to be disclosed and approved by the affirmative vote of 2/3 of the directors present.
  • Allows HOA members to cancel any contract in which a director is financially interested at the next regular or special membership meeting following execution of that contract. Clarifies that if the membership cancels such a contract, the association is only liable for the reasonable value of goods and services provided up to the time of cancellation and is not liable for any termination fee, liquidated damages or other penalty for cancellation.
  • Requires the board to immediately remove any director or officer who is found to have accepted any good or service of value without paying for same for himself or herself or his or her family. The exception to this rule is that a director or officer may accept food to be consumed at a business meeting with a value of less than $25 per individual or a service or good received in connection with trade fairs or education programs.
  • Requires the immediate removal from office of any director or officer who is charged with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving the association’s funds or property.
  • Requires an insurance policy or fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the HOA. Such policy or bond must cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or management agent at any one time. Persons who control or disburse funds includes persons authorized to sign checks on behalf of the association and the president, secretary and treasurer of the association. A majority of the association’s voting interests can vote to waive the requirement of this insurance policy or fidelity bond annually at a duly called association meeting.
  • Requires the HOA to provide copies of amendments to the members within 30 days after recording such amendments in the Public Records.
  • Clarifies that an HOA does not have to allow nominations from the floor the night of an election if there is a process in place for candidates to be nominated prior to the election meeting. Further clarifies that an election is not required unless more candidates are nominated than vacancies exist.
  • Adds abandonment or desertion by a developer as a triggering event for turnover of association control. Creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment and desertion if the developer has unpaid assessments of guaranteed amounts for more than 2 years.
  • Adds a developer’s filing a petition for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code as a triggering event for turnover of association control.
  • Adds a developer losing title to the property via foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure as a triggering event for turnover of association control unless the successor owner has accepted an assignment of developer rights and responsibilities.
  • Adds the appointment of a Receiver for more than 30 days as a triggering event for turnover of association control unless the court determines that such turnover would be detrimental to the association or its members.
  • Allows members other than the developer to elect at least one member of the board if 50% of the parcels in all phases of the community have been conveyed to members.
  • Prohibits a developer from unilaterally amending the governing documents in a manner which is arbitrary, capricious or in bad faith. Further prohibits the developer from making such amendments as would destroy the general plan of development, prejudice the rights of non-developer members to use and enjoy the common property or materially shift economic burdens from the developer to the existing non-developer members. Developer amendments will now be subject to a reasonableness test which is a welcome change!
  • Clarifies that an HOA which forecloses on a delinquent property is still entitled to collect unpaid assessments which accrued prior to the time the association took title from third party purchasers at the bank’s  subsequent foreclosure sale.  


For the history and full text of the new HOA law (HB 7119), click here.

For more information about the Community Advocacy Network (CAN), click here.

UPDATE: CAN and the KGB Law Firm have now released their 2013 Legislative Guidebook for Community Associations.


Chris Brown

Power Outages and Food Safety

1power-outage-blackoutPower failures can be one of the most annoying—and disabling—occurrences in a community. Whether caused by summer storms, power lines crippled by high winds, equipment failure, an overloaded regional grid or an animal disrupting a power line, electrical outages can be costly, uncomfortable—and without forethought—sometimes even dangerous.
 
Residents can face many hazards when a power failure occurs,usually without any warning, including losing refrigerated and frozen foods. Some food items can be salvaged, however, if you’re prepared.
 
In anticipation of a power failure:

  • Have at least one or two coolers on hand, and at least one spare 5-pound bag of ice in the freezer.
  • Know where to get bag, block or dry ice quickly when you need it, particularly if you anticipate a long-term outage. (Caution: Dry ice is made from carbon dioxide, so it requires safe handling. Never breathe in its vapors or touch it with your bare hands.) According to the Food Safety Branch of Kentucky’s Department of Health, a 50-pound block of dry ice will keep a tightly packed, 18-cubic-foot freezer cool for up to two days.
  • Have an instant food thermometer or appliance thermometer available to ensure your freezers, refrigerators and coolers are staying cool enough to store food safely.
  • Arrange the refrigerator and freezer efficiently. Frozen food will last longer in a full freezer—up to 48 hours if tightly packed—and refrigerated food will last longer—up to four hours—if there is room for air to circulate around items.


When the electricity goes off:

  • Avoid opening and closing the refrigerator unless absolutely necessary.
  • Cook and use perishable food before using canned food.
  • Check the temperature of refrigerated foods if the power is out for more than a few hours. Discard any food item than has been at 40° F or warmer for two or more hours. Exceptions include butter and margarine; hard cheeses like parmesan and Romano; some condiments like mustard, peanut butter, soy sauce, olives and vinegar-based salad dressing; and fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables.
  • Check the temperature of frozen foods as well. While tightly packed freezer foods will stay frozen for many hours, some items that may have thawed can be refrozen if they still retain ice crystals or have remained at a temperature lower than 40°. Fruit and vegetable juices; breads, rolls and pie crusts; flour, cornmeal and nuts; meat and chicken; and prepared foods and casseroles can be refrozen safely if they have not been at 40° F or warmer for more than two hours.
  • After the power comes back on, you may need to deodorize the refrigerator and freezer by washing surfaces with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. Place an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to absorb any lingering odors.

Since the appearance and odor of a food item isn’t an accurate indication of its safety after a power outage, use the 40° rule-of-thumb. And when in doubt, discard the food.

While the power can go out any time, most power failures occur between mid-July and late September. But no matter when your community experiences an outage—and it inevitably will—knowing how to handle frozen and refrigerated foods can help you keep your food supplies safe until the lights come back on.

C&S Management Receives Award

braadenton award

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

C & S Condominium Management Services, Inc. Receives 2013 Best of Bradenton Award

Bradenton Award Program Honors Achievement

BRADENTON June 15, 2013 -- C & S Condominium Management Services, Inc., has been selected for the 2013 Best of Bradenton Award in the Property Management category by the Bradenton Award Program.

Each year, the Bradenton Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Bradenton area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 Bradenton Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Bradenton Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Bradenton Award Program

The Bradenton Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Bradenton area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Bradenton Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Bradenton Award Program

CONTACT:
Bradenton Award Program
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
URL: http://www.awardprogram.org

Study: Health Insurance Costs To Rise

insuranceScanning through different articles in a news publication today, I saw that Center Forward, a nonpartisan organization, had prepared a comprehensive study of changing health insurance costs for 2014.  Florida was one of six states studied which grabbed my attention so I wanted to see what they had reported.   Since, in addition to our own company employees, many of our client community associations have on site employees whom we manage, insurance costs are an important issue for us to follow.   

Unfortunately rates in Florida, for individual coverage for those not receiving a government subsidy, are predicted to increase the most of the six states.  The increase is expected to be 40% to 60%.  Twenty-seven year old males as an example will see an increase of 60% to 135%.    To see the Center Forward study results, click here.   To see the full Florida Report, click here.

On May 30, 2013, Center Forward hosted a discussion at the National Press Club about the study.  The panelists were:  Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum, James O’Connor, Principal and Consulting Actuary, Milliman Consulting, and the Hon.Earl Pomeroy, former U.S. Representative, North Dakota.  To listen to their panel discussion on the study, click here

2013 Miracle League Season Ending

miracle league sponsor pic blog

Baseball season is well underway and Jessica Christianson, C&S VP, has just finished her second season volunteering with the Miracle League of Manasota.  Through the ten week season Jessica assisted the Yankees team.   The season ending Miracle League Yankees Team Party was sponsored by C&S.  The Baltimore Orioles Mascot attended the day’s festivities and the Yankees players were happy to spend the time with him.  The Miracle League is a wonderful organization and C&S is very proud to be involved and a sponsor.  

The Miracle League of Manasota is dedicated to providing an opportunity for all children and adults to play baseball, regardless of their ability. For the 14,000 school-aged children with disabilities and also for adults with disabilities in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the Miracle League of Manasota will build a synthetically surfaced baseball field and all the requisite amenities at a site that would serve the children and adults from both Counties.

For the first time, children and adults challenged by any form of disability will be empowered to enjoy the joys and thrills of baseball regardless of their ability to play. 
Click here for more information on the Miracle League of Manasota.

Ducks Unlimited Sponsorship

DU Sponsor MC 2013C&S is proud to again sponsor an event by Ducks Unlimited, the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Ducks Unlimited started in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows.

Determined not to sit idly by as the continent’s waterfowl dwindled beyond recovery, a small group of sportsmen joined together to form the organization that became known as Ducks Unlimited.  Thanks to decades of abiding by that single mission of habitat conservation, Ducks Unlimited is now the world’s largest and most effective private waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization.

Important Update on House Bill 87

foreclosure-sign-against-house1We talked about House Bill 87 back in early March (click here) and that many good bills do not make it through the legislative process to become law.  Well, this bill has seen many ups and downs in the past several months but has made it to the Governor’s desk for signature.     The bill gives associations in a streamlined process, the right to ask a judge to force the bank or mortgage company to speed up their foreclosure process. Within certain limits, the association will be able to be awarded attorney fees.     

There is some opposition to House Bill 87 so contacting Governor Scott requesting his support of the bill will be helpful.  You can contact Governor Scott requesting his support by clicking here or calling him at (850) 488-7146.   
 
You may find the history of this bill proceeding through the legislature interesting so I have listed it below.


EventDate/Time
Ordered enrolled    
In Messages    
05/03/13 S CS passed; YEAS 26 NAYS 13    
05/03/13 S Read 3rd time    
05/02/13 S Placed on 3rd reading    
05/02/13 S Read 2nd time -SJ 1017    
05/02/13 S Substituted for CS/CS/SB 1666 -SJ 1017    
05/02/13 S Placed on Calendar, on 2nd reading -SJ 1017    
05/02/13 S Withdrawn from Banking and Insurance; Judiciary; Appropriations -SJ 1017    
04/29/13 S Received -SJ 784   
04/29/13 S Referred to Banking and Insurance; Judiciary; Appropriations -SJ 784    
04/29/13 S In Messages    
Message sent to senate    
CS passed; YEAS 87, NAYS 26    
Passage on third reading    
Read 3rd time    
Added to Third Reading Calendar    
Placed on 3rd reading    
Amendment 102561 Failed    
Read 2nd time    
Amendment 102561 filed    
Bill added to Special Order Calendar (4/26/2013)    
Added to Second Reading Calendar    
Bill referred to House Calendar  
1st Reading     Thursday, April 18, 2013 8:17 PM
CS Filed     Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:52 PM
Laid on Table under Rule 7.19(a)    
Reported out of Appropriations Committee   
Favorable with CS by Appropriations Committee    
Added to Appropriations Committee agenda    
Now in Appropriations Committee    
Referred to Appropriations Committee    
1st Reading    
CS Filed   
Laid on Table under Rule 7.19(a)   
Reported out of Judiciary Committee    
Favorable with CS by Judiciary Committee   
Added to Judiciary Committee agenda    
Removed from Meeting Agenda of Judiciary Committee    
Added to Judiciary Committee agenda    
Now in Judiciary Committee    
Reported out of Justice Appropriations Subcommittee 
Favorable by Justice Appropriations Subcommittee    
1st Reading    
Added to Justice Appropriations Subcommittee agenda   
Now in Justice Appropriations Subcommittee    
Reported out of Civil Justice Subcommittee   
Favorable by Civil Justice Subcommittee    
Added to Civil Justice Subcommittee agenda  
Now in Civil Justice Subcommittee   
Referred to Judiciary Committee   
Referred to Justice Appropriations Subcommittee   
Referred to Civil Justice Subcommittee   
Filed   
Friday, May 03, 2013 11:23 AM
Friday, May 03, 2013 11:23 AM
Friday, May 03, 2013 10:29 AM
Friday, May 03, 2013 10:24 AM
Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:24 PM
Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:18 PM
Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:09 PM
Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:09 PM

Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:09 PM

Monday, April 29, 2013 8:55 PM

Monday, April 29, 2013 7:19 PM
Monday, April 29, 2013 12:04 PM
Monday, April 29, 2013 12:02 PM
Monday, April 29, 2013 10:42 AM
Monday, April 29, 2013 10:42 AM
Monday, April 29, 2013 10:23 AM
Friday, April 26, 2013 6:19 PM
Friday, April 26, 2013 2:43 PM
Friday, April 26, 2013 2:43 PM
Friday, April 26, 2013 2:03 PM
Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:29 PM
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:39 PM
Monday, April 22, 2013 2:58 PM
Monday, April 22, 2013 2:58 PM
Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:52 PM
Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:45 PM
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:30 AM
Monday, April 15, 2013 4:13 PM
Wednesday, April 03, 2013 1:32 PM
Wednesday, April 03, 2013 1:32 PM
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:22 PM
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:39 AM
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:39 AM
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:20 AM
Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:30 PM
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:20 PM
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 6:06 PM
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 4:14 PM
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 5:44 PM
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 5:44 PM
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 3:30 PM
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 11:59 PM
Monday, March 04, 2013 4:09 PM
Thursday, February 07, 2013 6:42 PM
Thursday, February 07, 2013 6:42 PM
Thursday, February 07, 2013 12:00 PM
Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:14 PM
Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Thursday, January 03, 2013 10:05 AM

The Board Did What?!?

Since you are reading the C&S News Blog, you likely reside in a community association such as an HOA or Condominium.   Your community has a Board of Directors to help the HOA or Condominium run smoothly.  The board consists of volunteers who execute a wide variety of tasks you may not be aware of; however, their work affects every single resident.
 
One of the most important things the board does is create and enforce the association rules. While some residents may not like being told what they can and can’t do, ultimately the board is looking out for the greater good of the community and all the residents.  By enforcing the rules, the board is doing its best to keep property value up and conflicts down.  Of course, the board wants to make sure the rules are beneficial for the majority—and hopefully all—residents.  Any member of the community is welcome to discuss a rule or raise concerns about a rule with the board but the board through their evaluation and review may continue to believe that the rule is necessary in the best interest of the community as a whole.   

board-meeting 1Another major responsibility of the board is to collect assessments from unit owners and home owners.  Collecting this money is important for the stability of the association, because the assessments pay for the common elements and services enjoyed by all residents. Assessments also help to replenish the reserve funds, which pay for any major repairs the association will need in the future. The board adopts and presents the budget and then is responsible for the association’s finances.  Collecting assessments is how the board ensures that the association remains solvent.  The board will take strong action against owners who do not pay their fees which includes recording liens and even ultimately, foreclosing the home or condominium unit.  While this may seem harsh, the board must make every effort to protect those owners paying for the services.  It is not fair that they should pay extra due to those not paying.

The board also reviews requests by owners to make changes to their home or condominium unit.  The board evaluates the change along with the esthetic and uniformity effect it will have on the community and is it within the allowance for change permitted by the association governing documents.  It can be very difficult for board members to refuse a neighbor from making a change that the neighbor believes will be beautiful for the community.  Again the board has to make its decision based on what is best for the whole community.
 
The board acts on behalf of the association by hiring a management company such as C&S, attorneys, contractors and other professionals who help better the association.  Board members also help conceive and lead many of the projects that will improve the HOA or Condominium.
 
While it’s a big job, board members are generally very happy to serve the residents and make the community a great place to call home.  In addition to thanking your board, you may want to consider becoming involved and volunteer for a committee by talking to your board members, or simply start attending board meetings and sometime in the future even running for a seat on the board. The more people that are involved and looking out for their community association, the stronger and better it will be.

Zogby Community Association Survey

zogby

The Zogby polling organization recently completed a national survey commissioned by the Foundation for Community Association Research.   Their report states:  “Difficult economic times typically create more negative public views toward most institutions—whether Wall Street, the U.S. Congress or industry.  But that hasn’t happened in the case of the more than 315,000 U.S. community associations.  Despite serious economic and housing issues, community associations continue to get high approval ratings from their residents—the people who know best.”   Only 8 percent of those polled expressed negative feelings about their community.  To read the full report and see the actual questions and results, click here.  

Although the positive national results are very high, we want to do even better!  Please tell us what you think we can do to make your community a better place to live. We encourage everyone to get involved so please volunteer with the Board or Committees of your community.   There is no substitute for active and constructive involvement and no better way to build a true sense of community.

Click to watch John Zogby discuss the latest results or for more information about the Foundation for Community Association Research.

 

Lost Wallet? Lost Purse? FTC Advice

ftcTake action the minute you notice your wallet or purse is missing. Thieves often want more than cash when snatching your belongings; they want to assume your identity. The immediate steps you take can make the difference between some missing money and months (or years) of headaches and frustration.
 
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following suggestions:
 
File a report with police immediately. This provides needed proof of the crime for your bank, credit card company and insurance company.
 
Cancel each credit card. Ask for new cards and new account numbers. Then, call the major credit reporting agencies to report missing cards and place a fraud alert on your accounts. Equifax: (800) 525-6285. Experian: (888) 397-3742. TransUnion: (800) 680-7289. Ask for credit reports, too, to search for any discrepancies.
 
Call your utility companies. Inform them someone may try to receive new service with your identification.
 
Contact the Social Security Administration. Call (800) 772-1213.
 
Report the loss to your bank. Cancel checking and savings accounts. Open new ones, and stop payments on outstanding checks. Ask for a new ATM card, account number and PIN or password.
 
Call the state department of motor vehicles. Report your missing driver’s license. Get a new number that’s not your social security number.
 
Change the locks. If keys to your car or home were taken, you don’t want to give an identity thief access to more personal property and information.
 
Contact your insurance companies. Prevent an identity thief from adding himself or herself to your policies.
 
Once you take these steps, pay close attention to your accounts. Be your own fraud investigator by taking notes of everyone you speak to, the date and time of the call and what you talked about.
 
It’s always important to be wary of thieves. Try not to stuff your purse or wallet with all your things—from your checkbook, pay stubs and credit cards to ATM cards, driver’s license and health insurance cards. It can take years to recover from identity theft because thieves can hold onto your information and trade it with others. Order your free credit report annually to watch for suspicious charges or accounts.

Secure Association Approval First

carpenterAre you getting ready to fence the yard, make an addition to your house or move a wall inside your condo unit? Before you break out the miter saw, make sure to get your plans approved by your community association.  Many associations will have an Architectural Control Committee (ACC) or the task may be left to the Board of Directors.   
 
While it may seem arbitrary from an individual homeowner’s standpoint, the architectural control committee or Board of Directors, looks out for the entire community. Aside from stopping residents from painting pink polka dots on their houses, or putting in different windows in a condominium unit, the board or committee’s job is to make sure that the size and style of the project, the type of building materials being used and the overall look of the new structure adhere to the association’s design requirements.

Not only does this keep the community looking cohesive, it also helps to keep property values up by preventing individual structures or changes from standing out. Of course, it’s also important to note that unapproved structures or changes might legally have to be removed at the owner’s expense, so save yourself money and headaches by getting approval before building or making changes that require an approval.
 
So when you’re ready to start your new project, or if the design of your project changes midway through building it, send your plans to the architectural control committee or board first so that they can make sure everything is in compliance with the association’s design standards. If they do find any issues, they will let you know what they are and try to help you come up with other options.  Your association always appreciates all the hard work residents have done to make their homes and the community beautiful—help keep the association looking great by keeping the Board or ACC in the loop regarding your building projects that require an approval.

Go a Little Green and Save Money

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Looking to cut back to tighten the budget or ready to go little green? Here are 10 quick and easy tips to save a little energy and save a little money:

  • Unplug appliances and electronics. TVs, computers and kitchen appliances, as well as cell phone and laptop chargers, all use energy when they are plugged in—even if they are turned off.
  • Use power strips. “Smart” power strips automatically turn off when electronics are off or when one main unit (like your personal computer) is powered down.
  • Turn off lights. When you’re not in the room or not in the house, there’s no need for all the lights to be on.
  • Clean and replace furnace or air conditioner filters. Dirty filters block air flow, increase energy bills and shorten equipment life.
  • In the warmer months, keep the shades and blinds down on south-, east- and west-facing windows. In the colder months, open them up and let the sun in.
  • Activate “sleep” features on your computer and office equipment. When they go unused for a long period of time, they power down.
  • Lower the thermostat. Wear a sweater around the house and put an extra blanket on the bed at night.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning when possible or combine their use to turn down the air temperature a bit.
  • Close vents and doors to unused rooms.
  • Wash your laundry with cold water. It’s just as effective.

Click here to check with the Alliance to Save Energy for more energy-and money-saving tips or to subscribe to their free online newsletter.

Bradenton

4301 32nd Street West
Suite A-20
Bradenton, Florida 34205
Phone: (941) 758-9454
Fax: (941) 753-3062

Sarasota

4672 Fruitville Road
Sarasota, Florida 34232
Phone: (941) 377-3419
Fax: (941) 377-6218

Saint Petersburg

111 2nd Avenue North-East
Suite 900
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701
Phone: (727) 456-0027
Fax: (866) 890-0548

Venice

871 Venetia Bay Boulevard
Suite 230
Venice, Florida 34285
Phone: (941) 786-3552
Fax: (866) 890-0548
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