Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quick(en) question

I bought my condo about seven years ago. For the entire time, I've been the treasurer. It's a thankless job for the most part. I've tried to resign, but it's impossible. At this point, I've automated most of the tasks and another condo owner is doing the physical depositing of the checks, so it's fairly easy duty.

Until the beginning of last year, I used the copy of Quicken® that came with my computer to keep track of our accounts and produce the occasional balance sheet (only required when there's been a sale). However, when I got my new computer, it didn't have Quicken® and I couldn't access my old files. I didn't do anything about it. I found some online (inferior) substitute and I occasionally log on to the bank site and it's worked ok. We recently had a unit turn over and I used the online data and an excel spreadsheet to produce a year's worth of cash flow information. Sort of a pain but not terrible. It would have been much easier to do in Quicken.

All of this is to ask, if I were to buy another copy of the program and install it on my computer, would it be fair to charge the condo for it? I would only pay a quarter of the cost since there are only four units in our building. I'd also go ahead and use it for my personal accounts too, though I haven't missed that aspect of it over the last year (I recommend mint.com--its budgeting function is a little buggy, but it's great for the big picture).

I am not very happy with my condo neighbors, which is nothing new. The last indignity was the abrupt cancellation of a meeting that took weeks to plan and was scheduled six weeks in advance. Unit 1 couldn't make it so Unit 3 decided the meeting was canceled. She made that decision unilaterally, while I and the owner of Unit 4 sat and waited for her. She showed up 15 minutes late and seemed surprised that we were waiting for her. She said her daughter was sleeping and that we shouldn't go ahead with the meeting anyway because of the person who couldn't make it. I was not happy. We can meet with 75% of the owners (the bylaws say so!). And if you knew we had this meeting planned for weeks, why did you agree to have it at a time when your kid is sleeping? That's not our fault.

Anyway, I said to her, "Fine, then can you please schedule the next meeting?" I had a tone but I tried to keep it friendly. She said she would but past experience tells me she won't. I am officially resigning from trying to even vaguely make things work. I'll do what I think needs to be done and assume that I don't need to consult with them. I'll inform them. For example, we got some planting done this Fall but didn't finish it. I will do the planting (or hire someone to do it) in the Spring. I won't ask for help or permission, I'll just get it done, as though I owned a single family home.

I'm also not going to provide documentation the next time a unit turns over. When there's a buyer, there's always a form that has to be filled out. I've always filled it out. I'm not filling it out next time. Our titular president or secretary can do that. I'll give them the budget info, which is my responsibility as treasurer, and then I'll be done. I've done this four times and I think that's sufficient.

Oy, didn't mean this to be a condo rant. I used express my condo-frustration a lot more in the old days. Mostly, I'm reconciled to never getting anyone to agree to work together, but I didn't think that trying to have one meeting after the new person moved in was unreasonable. Silly me.

The week of no socilizing is going well! I was actually relieved that I didn't have to decide about knitting tonight or the happy hour on Wednesday. Having already decided is rather relaxing.

Grateful for: a plan.


  1. Yes, I would charge the building for whatever expenses you incur as treasurer. I don't understand how people in a small building expect to be free riders. I live in a 60-unit building (in which I'm coincidentally also treasurer, but we have a management company that does just about all of the work), and we have many people who are not interested in building management, but you can more easily get away with it there. I would experiment with doing less and seeing whether other people step up or whether they deteriorate to the point where you feel you need to intervene.

  2. jcd: I am consistently astonished at how little my neighbors are willing to do. Our (tiny) common hallway is filthy because no one cleans it. It would take less than 10 minutes to sweep and maybe double that to mop. If each of of us did it once a month, it would be sufficient. Yet, no one will agree to commit that much time to keeping it clean. Same goes with our back parking lot. Covered with dead leaves, clumps of dirt and random trash that's blown in. It wouldn't take half an hour to sweep it up. Yet, I don't want to be the only one doing this stuff. If am, I need to be compensated. So, I've gotten slack on it like everyone else. We hire someone to mow the lawn and I do a little weeding (in the front and back) and that keeps the property presentable. I've tried this whole time to get everyone on the same page re: cleaning/chores, but it's been a total failure. Only during the first year I lived here was it better--one other unit really did the presidential responsibilities and another took on a lot of chores. I still did a lot but it was more equitable.

  3. In the same way you would feel free to make personal calls on a company issued cell phone as it is a logical consequence and benefit of modern employment, you should feel free to charge them for the software and then use it yourself.

  4. rr: I've never had a job with a company phone, but it's a good point. I basically donate my time and computer for the good of the condo. We can all chip in for software that makes the job easier.

  5. I'd suggest sending an email saying you are going to purchase the software and equally distribute the charge unless you hear otherwise from a majority of the other units by COB 2 days later. And do the same with hiring someone to sweep/mop the hallway and the parking lot. Shouldn't be expensive and you could undoubtedly find someone nearby (or a cleaning person for a residence in your complex) to do it. I think you could run into trouble if you try to bill for your time to do it yourself, but hiring someone shouldn't be a problem. In our complex, you never get a response, let alone a majority to say no.

  6. anon: see, I don't want to be in charge of hiring and monitoring the cleaning crew. If someone else wants to do that, and figure out how we can manage it on our current budget, that would be great. I'm not taking on any more management responsibility. I already do more than anyone else and I rarely even get thanks, let alone compensation. :(

  7. Group efforts like this are always tough. If you do buy the software they should all share the cost with you, or perhaps they should split it among themselves since you do all the work in using it.


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