Compensation To Board Members A Touchy Issue At West Hartford’s Hampshire House Condo Complex

Board of directors at West Hartford’s Hampshire House Condo Association have been quietly grappling with the sensitive topic of whether they should get free labor from the association’s maintenance staff in return for being board members.

The issue is so sensitive that there has been only two meetings where it was discussed on the record – and noted at the bottom of lengthy minutes. Apparently to make sure that unit owners did not get a first-hand view of the debate, the discussions took place after the board’s executive sessions where there were only board members present.

What makes this unusual is that such discussions even took place, we found out about them, and that they actually were included in the minutes.

In condo complexes where board members get special treatment, there is usually nothing official, only rumors. At other complexes there have been reports of relatives and friends of board members getting preferential treatment and contracts.

The first meeting was in June when Director Ron Pape made a motion, which was seconded by Janis Tanner,  that the Board of Directors “receive no compensation for their services in the form of labor performed by employees.”

“It was discussed that there has been a long standing policy where the Board does not pay labor charges for services such as cleaning of the A/C units but they do pay for the materials,” say the minutes. “This policy was instituted because some board members donate many hours of their time and some use their personal computer, etc. to prepare letters, forms and reports.”

Jason Leiser, the board secretary, along with Pape and Tanner voted to end the compensation while Board President Arnold Haspel, Angelo Faenza, Judy Williams and Charlotte Cardone voted against it, defeating the measure.

The issue came up again in July after the executive session. This time Williams made a motion, seconded by Cardone, that “the Board continue to receive compensation in the form of occasional maintenance labor.” The motion – which did not stipulate what kind of labor or how it would be tracked – was approved by an identical four to three vote.

Contacted Friday, board president Haspel insisted that it was not a serious issue since the only labor charge waived for board members was for the annual cleaning of air conditioner units which costs about $50.

“I have been on the board for seven years and the only thing done was the cleaning of my” air conditioner unit, he said.

And he insisted that it was true for all other board members.

I asked him if board members were required to tell other board members what work the association’s maintenance staff performed. He said no. He also said board members don’t discuss or disclose at meetings what free services they received.

I then reminded him that the minutes strongly indicated that more than free air conditioning cleaning was provided.  I read him the section about the “long standing policy where the Board does not pay labor charges for services such as cleaning of the A/C units.”

At that point, the discussion went downhill.

Arnold accused me of claiming that he was lying about what services he receives. He then read off a list of his accomplishments and said my question is just one more reason why he will not seek reelection.

“How dare you accuse me,” he shouted. “Prove it. I will give you $350 if you come here and you can prove it.”

He hung up the phone before I could once again repeat that I wasn’t accusing him of anything.

Leiser, an attorney,  is running for reelection to the board. In his letter to unit owners he notes under INTEGRITY: “I refuse to accept compensation (free labor) for Board service and have repeatedly urged the board to discontinue the practice.”

Contacted Friday, Leiser says he is not against compensation “as long as it is above board and transparent.”

The Association’s bylaws Article 2, section 2.13, permits compensation.

“A director may receive a fee from the Association for acting as such, as may be set by resolution of the Unit Owners, and reimbursement for necessary expenses actually incurred in connection with his or her duties. Directors acting as officers or employees may also be compensated for such duties.”

In full transparency, I own a unit in the Hampshire House which I rent out. I am not aware of any resolution unit owners were requested to approve to permit compensation. Haspel said it has simply been the custom since the complex was built in the mid-1980s.




5 Responses to Compensation To Board Members A Touchy Issue At West Hartford’s Hampshire House Condo Complex

  1. Doreen Stern, Ph.D. says:

    I’m shocked that board members of West Hartford’s Hampshire House receive free maintenance services in exchange for serving on the board!

  2. Doreen Stern, Ph.D. says:

    I’m interested that this issue came out into the open, even though it was discussed in executive session.

    Question: Are board minutes distributed to all unit owners?

  3. It was discussed AFTER the executive session.

  4. Linda Palermo says:

    I absolutely do not support Board members getting compensated for being on a Board. At Stonybrook Garden Cooperative Inc., in Stratford, they fail to stay ing step the the Amendments of 20120. There is no transparendy, the members do not know what the Board is doing, the Office manager, (yes I said office manager not property manager), evidently has backing of a and or some of the Board of Directors and they have raised the issue if he has to comply with the legislation just past regarding his having to be certified.!! They are against the ombudsman becasue if would cost us addition expences. So I ask why should they get compensated for being on a Board, wouln’t that cause our monthly fees to go up? Our Board has it’s own “agenda”. Our present president appears to be violating our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression. She want’s to make the decision as to what we can speak on and ask us questions about what we are speaking about. We are a private cooperation, not a public entity. She is treating us as through we are citizans apeaking in the public section of a Town Council meeting. It was my impression when I joined CCOC, that it was for the betterment of the cooperative/ condo owners. I truly am giving this a second throught.

  5. Linda Palermo says:

    Correction: Amendment of 2010. Sorry

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