Tonight I attended the very first annual general meeting for my apartment building. We were going to elect the first strata council members, vote on a ban on smoking in and around the building, and also vote the operating hours of the fitness facility. These were all standard and straightforward items on the agenda but I knew the hot-button issue would be the 30% increase in monthly maintenance fees.
When I got to the meeting I learned several things. First, it appeared to me that I was most likely the youngest owner that wholly owned a strata lot in the building. Second, the building is currently only about 50% occupied. I kinda like that because with less people, there’s less wear and tear on the building, less waiting for elevators, and in general less hassle. Third, of all the current occupants of the building about 60% are renters. This was not a figure that I was pleased to hear about. In general, you want a high percentage of owner-occupied units in any building. Owners of course are way more invested in their property than say a renter who can move at a moment’s notice. I’m not saying every renter doesn’t give a damn about the building but I’d prefer to see that number go down quite a bit.
The meeting was chaired by the property manager who apparently has done this line of work for about two decades. He explained the reasons behind the 30% increase in fees. In short, he’s afraid of a budget shortfall come the end of the first year. There was a lot of discussion about why some costs had gone up so much from the interim projected first-year budget. A lot of people were very unhappy about the increase. Since it was percentage-based the ones who were paying a lot already got to pay even more. I suppose I got away relatively lucky. In the end, we had to pass a budget this evening. Though there were a lot of opposition votes, the budget passed easily.
Then we had to decide on strata council members. I was hoping this was going to go quickly. There was room for seven members. During the call for nominations, I thought we were going to be under seven but people kept putting up their hands. It turned out eight people wanted to be on the council which meant we immediately had to go to campaign speeches and voting. Bah!
Half an hour later, we got our seven strata council members, including a woman on my floor which I believe is a good thing. If anything goes awry on my floor, I’m hoping that woman will be able to see it from my point of view quite easily.
The whole meeting took nearly two and a half hours, which makes me glad we only do this thing once a year.