Maine Alliance for Road Associations
Our Fiscal Year ends June 30th and we have had only one member volunteer to be nominated to serve as President for the next Fiscal Year and that member has recently withdrawn her nomination. There are 5 other Board Members - Secretary, Treasurer, Road Commissioner and 2 Assistant Road Commissioners. The position as President was separated from the Road Commissioner because of the administrative requirements of the statute and bylaws not being met. The past 2 FYs I have served as President and Treasurer - even though that is not recommended - as we did not have any members willing to serve as Treasurer and the membership voted down hiring someone. We have a member who volunteered to serve as Treasurer and was nominated for this coming FY. The other positions have volunteers for nomination including members who have served for several years but are not interest in serving as President. We have tried many times to encourage participation by members but most just want to pay their yearly assessment and not be involved in the operations of the Association. We are a small association with 17 members and only 8 voted on ballots for the June 20 Annual Meeting. Since the Association was formed in 2012 just a few of the same individuals have participated in the operations of the Association and maintenance of the road. Our assessments have been relatively small as we have had members volunteer their equipment and services to maintain the road. Several of those key members and their equipment are no longer available and maintaining the road is becoming difficult. We have discussed and solicited a vote on dissolving the Association but the majority of members voted against dissolving even though they won't offer to participate. Any thoughts or advice?
That's a tough situation to be in, and unfortunately, it's not all that uncommon these days. People are so overcommitted (especially if they have school aged children) and stressed out over other things (COVID, fuel prices, etc.) that it's hard to get them to take on yet another responsibility. Still, it's encouraging that your members do want the association to continue.
Our daughter's road association went through a similar crisis years ago. They had about 35 members in a non-profit road association. Then the Secretary burned out and handed the job to our daughter, who had only recently moved in. Shortly after that, the President showed up on our daughter's porch and handed her a box of files and said, "You'll make a great president. I'm headed for California." It got to where they couldn't do anything at annual meeting because their bylaws required a quorum, and not enough people showed up. Without a functioning association, the road started to deteriorate, and no one wanted to pay dues that produced no visible improvement in the road. It got to where only nine people out of the 35 paid their dues, and it wasn't enough to even cover the plow bill. They ended up scrapping the non-profit and starting over as a statutory association, with new bylaws that do not require a quorum at annual meeting. That allowed those who did show up to hire contractors to plow and maintain the road, and as things started improving, people began to participate again. They now have nearly everyone paid in full, but getting people to serve on the Board is still a challenge.
Looking at the statutes, I see that it says a road association "may choose a commissioner or board." I see nothing in the statute that says you have to have a board, or that specifies how many members the board must consist of, or what offices they must hold. Where you have such a small association, and where members want the association to continue but are unwilling to serve, you might consider changing your bylaws so you have a smaller board, or even just a commissioner. Or you could change the bylaws to quote the statute, allowing you to have a commissioner OR board, which would allow you flexibility in case the situation changes from year to year.
You might also want to look at MARA's Resources page, paragraph 7c, for notes on Encouraging Member Participation. Maybe it will give you some ideas. And if you find something that works, let us know! Other people may look at this thread when they have a similar problem.
The Maine Alliance for Road Associations