Due to the proxy fraud the Villages of Rio Pinar experienced prior to the last election, the HOA board was forced to address the potential for such fraud and seek outside legal guidance. The feedback from this guidance indicated our existing proxy submission process was greatly lacking. There was no mechanism in place to ensure the integrity of the collection process. The management company and HOA board are ultimately responsible for ensuring that presented proxies have been legitimately signed over to the presenter. The recommendation from legal counsel is to require proxies to be original and if given to another, the signature has to be notarized. Identification also needs to be checked at the door at the annual meeting to make sure homeowners submitting votes are recorded on the deed. This policy should have been in place from the beginning, and the HOA was lucky to avoid an issue such as we experienced last year for this long. These changes are considered a best practice and bring us more in line with other proactive communities in Florida.
The board is responsible for nearly $1,000,000 in reserves and operating accounts in addition to approximately $500,000 in annual cash flows. With so much at stake, the proxy process needs to be improved to protect our community assets, and ultimately our residents. This may not be a “feel good” solution but the correct business decisions seldom are. Running a tight ship will not make everyone happy all of the time.
The HOA board understands that this may result in an additional hassle or confusion for some. We ask that before judgment is rendered, please consider the risk to you and your community if individuals perpetrating a fraud are elected and given access to the community assets.