As one year wraps up and a new one begins, association boards and property managers finalize budgets and conduct board elections, among other duties. Along with the holidays and other end-of-year activities, it is a busy time for everyone. Sometimes critical steps are overlooked in the transition process from one board to the next, or one property manager to the next.
This top 5 list helps ensure your outgoing board or manager transitions key information to the incoming board or manager. To help prevent potentially costly oversights, the new board or manager should receive the following from the outgoing board or manager.
5. VGB Drain Grate Status
Beginning the winter of 2008-2009, all commercial pools in the US had to comply with the federal Pool & Spa Safety Act, named after former Secretary of State James Baker’s granddaughter, Virginia Graeme Baker. Virginia died tragically in a suction entrapment incident in a spa. The law requires commercial pool owners to follow the code to avoid suction entrapment and a possible fine from the CPSC, the federal agency assigned to enforce the act.
One of the steps required for compliance is installing compliant drain covers, which expire at different times based on manufacturer make and model. Most grates expire 5 or 7 years after they’ve been installed in the pool. Unfortunately, the law does not establish a clear method of tracking expiration. By law, responsibility for tracking lies with the pool owner, not the pool company or product manufacturer.
Operating with expired grates will likely not be caught by a health inspector, as they don’t know when your grates were installed. If a suction entrapment incident were to occur and the grates were expired, the association would have considerable liability. This is why this critical information must be passed to the incoming board/manager.
4. Update Your County Mailing Contact for Operating Permits
Most counties in the metro Atlanta area conduct operating inspections either before opening for the season or shortly thereafter. This paperwork is mailed by the county health departments to whomever they have on file from the previous year. That may be a board member, property manager, or pool company. If this contact has changed, you’ll want to contact the county and ask them to update their records.
If the annual permitting paperwork does not get filed on time, the association can be assessed late fees. In addition, it may delay your pool opening or cause a shutdown during the season.
3. Check Account Status for Credits
The last couple of years has been tumultuous for everyone, including the pool industry. In some cases, this might mean your pool vendor was unable to provide a service to you and instead issued you a credit. For example, if your pool company was unable to staff a lifeguard or attendant due to the recent severe staffing shortage, you may be issued a credit for missed staff hours.
If the community has a net credit that you wish to carry over to the following year, be sure to pass these records to the new board/manager.
2. Capital Improvement Project Records and Reserve Study
Good record keeping is important to any transition, especially when it comes to capital improvement projects and any related warranties. Boards should keep track of all major renovation projects within the last 10-15 years, and the life expectancy of that work or equipment, so a replacement can be budgeted and planned. Records should also include contact info for the vendors who performed the work.
If you invested in a reserve study, take the time to update it annually, before turning it over to the new board/manager. This helps ensure the community stays on track with the recommended replacement schedule and monetary reserves. Without these records, the incoming board/manager doesn’t know what they don’t know. The new board could vote to spend reserves on wish list items, not realizing they need that money for necessary facility upkeep in the near future.
- Your Pool Contract
While this may seem obvious, it is not uncommon for a new board and/or new property manager to not receive the pool contract from the previous board or manager. Sometimes this results in awkward situations where the new board solicits bids and selects a vendor before realizing they are already under contract. To avoid this unfortunate circumstance, the outgoing board should provide this info to the incoming board, along with a reminder of the term dates and auto-renewal date in the contract.
Using this checklist of the top 5 concerns that new boards need to be aware of can help both outgoing and incoming boards feel more comfortable they have covered the bases for a smooth transition.
By Craig Sears
President, Sears Pool Management Consultants, Inc.