In March, the Community Association Institute released a series of reports based on the future of community associations. Each of the panels produced a report. In the Community Next: 2020 & Beyond report issued by the Public Policy panel, one of the identified challenges facing the community association industry is the ability of associations to adopt technology. As we know, associations need to be responsive to changing social standards in terms of communication methods, member preferences, and business interactions. The report identified 4 areas that need to be addressed in associations to further their abilities to not only use, but to embrace technology as a tool for running better communities. How do Colorado communities stack up?
- Adapting with Technology: State law should allow community association governance to accommodate evolving communities by enabling associations to use the most effective and latest means of communication. Colorado law does not prohibit community associations from using technology to communicate. So, feel free to use social media, websites, etc. to communicate with your residents on a daily basis to improve efficiency.
- Communications, Meetings, and Voting: Procedures for meetings and decision-making by boards and members must be dynamic allowing adaptation to new and different community methods as technology develops. Colorado law allows meetings to be conducted via any medium that allows all participants to hear and be heard during the meeting. Therefore, UNLESS your governing documents provide otherwise, your community can conduct meetings via Skype, GoToMeeting, Telephone, etc. Colorado law also does not prohibit electronic voting if provided for in your bylaws. Therefore, associations should consider utilizing electronic voting in order to increase owner participation and potentially reduce meeting costs. Unfortunately CCIOA requires that notice of owner meetings be given via hand delivery or US mail. This is something we may want to push to be changed in the future in order to take full advantage of the technology now available.
- Greater Flexibility in Decision-Making: The ability to adapt with technology is impaired by rigid or unreasonable procedures for decision-making. This is primarily an issue in bylaws that are antiquated and need to be revised. So, if you haven’t had your bylaws updated in the last 10 years, now is the time. You should afford the opportunity for decisions to be made at a meeting, outside of a meeting, by mail, etc.
- Tax Incentives: Community associations are leaders in conservation of water and other natural resources, energy management and related sustainability matters. Tax incentives should be available to encourage this to continue. We are not aware of any tax incentives offered specifically to community associations for use of technology, but certainly federal tax incentives for solar energy, energy efficiency appliances, and vehicles could be available to associations. More education of our state legislators on this issue could be beneficial.
Based on the above, overall Colorado is fairly open to the use of technology in community associations. The impediments are generally a result of the governing documents, financial constraints, and lack of education. All of these may be overcome by talking to your trusted business partners – like your management companies and attorneys.
The population of the United States is projected to rise well above 355 million by 2030*, and the demand for natural resources will grow in proportion. If not already, resource management will become essential to survival.