Wednesday, May 18

I Am The Treasurer - Part 2 Of 3.


I am not an accountant. I do not have a degree in law. The only transferable skills would be my degree in Music Business, but unless someone on my street wanted to make sure they were getting their fair residuals on the album they recorded, I was of no assistance. I began to regret my decision almost immediately after being unanimously elected Secretary/Treasurer of my condo association (I ran unopposed, which should have been a red flag). However, my wife dangled the reward of no condo fees over my head like a carrot to a mule, and I kept quiet until the meeting was long over.

When I got home, I began psyching myself up for the task at hand. “How hard can it be?” I asked myself. “Just collect the dues checks, deposit them at the bank, and pay for bills and repairs as needed. I mean, who can’t do that?”

“Then again, what if someone is late with their payment? Do I warn them? Fine them? Do I have the authority to do that? What if they tell me to go to hell? What if there’s a revolt? What if a tornado hits and the association goes broke with repairs? What if I get ripped off? Hoodwinked? Will I go to jail? Why didn’t these people care about their money?” Taking care of my own checkbook was stressful enough; handling the collective payments of 24 homesteads was more terrifying than I ever could have imagined, and I hadn’t even done anything yet.

This past weekend, I arranged for the outgoing Secretary/Treasurer to come to my house, drop off his documents and spreadsheets, and give me a crash course in Condo Accounting 101. Dude was young and militant, kept good records and seemed blissfully unaware of how much of a thankless responsibility he perfectly maintained for the last 18 months. Or how quickly it could have all come crashing down.

When he showed me the bank statements, specifically that our association was currently $57,000 in the green, I shit my pants and told him to leave immediately. “See? It’s fine,” he assured me. “We have plenty of money. We get a lawn care bill every month, but the rest of the money is saved in case we need to do any sort of association-wide maintenance. This is seriously a three-hour-a-month job; you’ll be fine.”

The ‘three-hours-a-month’ stuff was fine with me; it was the intangibles I was concerned about. For example, one of our homeowners (not me) was fined $20 for violating a noise ordinance. Technically, the President can assess this fine per our bylaw manual, and technically, the delinquent in question has to write me a check within a certain time frame before I lawyer up and drop the hammer.

This was the sort of thing that freaked me out the most. If this guy decided to not do as he was told (and why would he?), would I really want to pursue legal action over $20? I didn’t even know how to do such a thing. Furthermore, how often did stuff like this happen? Was I somehow unaware that I was living on a street full of malcontents, screwups and non-dues-payers? Was it going to be like pulling teeth each month to make sure everyone was following the rules? 20 bucks had suddenly become a very big deal.

“Remember, we’re self-governing,” he reminded me. “You don’t really answer to anyone. You can’t really screw up. You can’t really go to jail as long as you follow the bylaws, and even those can be rewritten. If the people don’t like the job you’re doing, they’ll just vote you out and do it themselves. But we know that’s not seriously going to happen. Just take it easy; as long as you keep your head down, you’re nearly untouchable.”

He then shook my hand, handed me the key to the deposit box and exited my office.

In that moment, I understood Politics perfectly.

"Carlito's nephew got shot. He was just chilling on his porch when two dudes rolled up on bikes and opened fire. They thought he was someone else. Caught him in the leg, right below his nuts. If he would have gotten hit in the femoral artery, he would have bled out in nine seconds. I don't know what's worse: getting shot in the femoral artery and dying in nine seconds, or getting your testicles blown off and surviving. Anyway, he's okay. He's at the hospital with his mom, so I'm not going anywhere."

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