A Community run by committees – Oakmont’s volunteers
Ted Throndson, upon his retirement as manager of Oakmont, paid tribute to the legion of volunteers who enable our village to function smoothly and effectively: “I have to thank the multitude of residents for pursuing the essential investigative work. All the functions they do, whether it is researching chairs, or landscaping, or conceptualizing entire buildings, or websites, they take a tremendous load off management and staff. The help that committees give is just absolutely imperative and the best way to get things done around here.”
Throndson afforded the committees considerable autonomy. Groups would form around specific ideas and plans, or even personal agendas, and the Board of Directors (BoD) would sanction their actions. There were no recording secretaries and the taking of minutes was not required. Once a project was accomplished, the committees would send their report to the Board, which either adopted the work or sent it back for more information and/or clarification.
This laissez-faire attitude changed significantly in 2010 when the then-Directors decided to tighten all committee procedures. The Board wanted more control over the appointment of volunteers and their respective tasks. During numerous open meetings, the BoD developed the “Oakmont Village Association Committee Procedure – C-001.”
To begin with, according to the new regulations, the BoD determined the charge for a committee and established what type of assistance would be needed. Furthermore, greater transparency into the appointment of volunteers was demanded. Criticism had been voiced that the same cadre of inhabitants staffed committees year after year.
C-001 changed that familial environment and committee chairpersons now advertise in the Oakmont News for “qualified” residents. Namely, anyone interested in joining a committee has to demonstrate proven abilities and skills. For instance, appointment to the Communications Committee calls for a background in writing, editing, publishing, or public relations, and the Finance Committee expects proficiency in fiscal matters and accounting experience. Once appointed, the new member has to be approved by the Directors, while the chairperson is chosen by the assembled group and ratified by the BoD.
A contentious issue at hand was the writing of a charter for each standing committee. Initially, the Board was to author the language, which in answer to critique was amended to developing a “Statement of Purpose,” with the actual charter being written by the individual committee chair.
While in the past certain committee members stayed on for years without material contribution to the ongoing activities, this tradition found an end through appointments for two years only, with a maximum of three consecutive terms. The chairmanship is slated for the duration of one year, with the possibility of reappointment. Members can be removed any time at the discretion of the BoD with the exception of Directors (in the case of the Finance and Personnel Committees that are headed by members of the Board.) Further, residents cannot serve on more than two standing committees.
Each committee is assigned a Board member as liaison to assist, monitor and, if necessary, report back to the Directors on the ongoing processes. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, committee meetings are not open to the public, although in Oakmont this rule is being superseded and anyone can attend standing committee meetings (exception: Personnel Committee), which have to be announced in the Oakmont News and on bulletin boards.
The Architectural Committee has its own duties and powers, determined by the OVA’s CC&Rs. The appointments are for three years, and the chairperson is assisted by a secretary who deals with the committee’s workload, which consists mostly of complaints by residents and request for yard changes.
Each December, a member of the community is designated by the Board to form a nominating committee to search for prospective candidates for the following term. A director can serve no more than one two-year period, unless filling in for a vacancy.
Oakmont has a steady need for enthusiastic and competent volunteers, without whose generous efforts Oakmont could not exist. And anybody enlisting to serve can be assured of welcome recognition and assistance by management and the gratitude of his or her community.