Co-Op New Year’s Resolutions
Creighton Gallup Esq.
Happy New Year! We hope the holiday season was enjoyable for all and that you are as excited as we are for 2014! As we all begin our efforts to work off those holidays pounds and create our own personal resolution lists for the coming year, we thought it was appropriate to come up with a list of a few helpful “resolutions” to start making your Cooperative more efficient in 2014!
Governing Document Review. Use this coming year to review your governing documents to make sure your language is current. Consult your Cooperative attorney to assure you have adequate language to support enforcement of the governing documents and principles, such as assessing costs back against defaulting members. Remember: a few minor revisions to your governing documents could save thousands of dollars in the future. Also, make sure you have current copies of all of your governing documents in a binder, readily available for staff, management and Board Members. These are essential for your operations.
Be diligent in keeping members current on their carrying charges. The cooperative budget is dependent on these funds for proper financial viability. Don’t let slow paying members stay delinquent for months without full payment. We have seen recent cases where cooperatives have waited up to 6 months to issue non-payment notices! Of course we want to work with our members and are sympathetic to economic struggles that can befall them. But, they need to understand that their financial obligations to the cooperative are essential to assure the cooperative runs smoothly, and prevents an undue burden being put on the rest of the membership. Lax enforcement of this resolution will only encourage more delinquencies.
DO NOT ACCEPT CARRYING CHARGES AFTER TERMINATION NOTICES ARE SENT OUT!!! Please make sure all office staff is trained so that once notice has been issued, you DO NOT take carrying charges from the member you are terminating. If there is even a question, call your attorney. Ignoring this can result in dismissals and the unnecessary protracting of cases which will inevitably cost you more money in the litigation process.
Start including your Cooperative attorney in meetings and emails to preserve confidentiality. All too frequently, the exclusion of the attorney has resulted in something adverse or embarrassing to the Board. Including your cooperative attorney will usually provide a privilege that should prevent having to produce or disclose private discussions and information at Board meetings that was not intended to be heard by anyone else other than the Board, management and the Cooperative attorney. When litigation occurs (and it will), nothing can ruin a solid plan of action more than having strategies revealed in the discovery process.
Attend training seminars. Although not every cooperative budget can afford to send all staff and every board member to every conference, try and find a way to get at least one representative to at least one conference every year. The information is invaluable and will keep the rest of the Board up to speed on the latest changes in the law, and provide helpful tips to run the cooperative effectively. Occasionally, smaller regional training sessions are available which are also beneficial. These tend to be less expensive than annual conferences; however, MAHC and NAHC conferences allow unique opportunities to get extensive in-depth training which is difficult to replicate.
While this list could easily be 100, incorporating these few resolutions will be a positive addition to your cooperative