If there were metaphorical rock stars in the financial management of a homeowner's association, those rock stars would be known as the treasurer, accountant and building manager. These three are the power trio of the co-op and condo finance world, taking the unabashed lead in keeping their association in the black. They might not get a lot of applause from the residents—simply because those residents might not know exactly what they do—but rest assured that they have their fans on the board. And like any good rock band, the key to longevity is a good working relationship.
Who Does What
So what's the secret to an effective working partnership between treasurers, accountants and managers? First, it helps to define each person's role, a role that may change from building to building. For the most part, an accountant will handle an association's annual audit and provide advice on questions that may arise during the year. Those incidents could include the need to structure a special assessment or recast a budget for an extended period of time to account for rapidly rising costs in an unexpected area of the budget - fuel costs, for example. "We can also help them with financing," says Gary Rosen, CPA, CFE, of Wilkin & Guttenplan in East Brunswick.
Property managers are hired by the association to handle the day-to-day operations of the community. They take care of everything from the physical property to inquiries and complaints from residents to correspondence to financial matters. The manager may be on-site or work through a larger management company. He or she will serve as the main liaison between unit owners and the board, and will work directly with the board treasurer.
The treasurer will serve a pre-determined term and is elected by the community or appointed by the board, if there is a vacancy. "They can have a lot of power or a little power, depending on the size of the community," says Gary Sherman, CPA, of Rosenberg Rich Baker Berman & Co., in Bridgewater. The treasurer will do everything from reviewing invoices to signing checks to handling the books.
Dan Weixeldorfer, treasurer of Ramapo Ridge II in Mahwah, describes a wide range of duties under his purview. He meets weekly with the management company to go over bills and sign checks. He also does the yearly budget with the help of the management company, and presents an overview each month to the homeowners at the open board meeting. He will give them an understanding of the association's financial shape and a projection of how the finances will look in the future. As a member of the board, he also gets a vote in making community-wide decisions.