Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Friday vetoed House Bill 5511 that would have given more power to unit owners at the Heritage Village complex over their annual budget because he said the legislation would have taken away power from condo owners to block association boards from borrowing money.
Malloy said “this bill diminishes the control of unit owners in certain circumstances when an executive board…seeks to enter into a loan agreement on behalf of the association and assigns the community’s right to future income as security for such loan.
“Under the bill, if the majority of all unit owners, or an even larger number set by an association’s declaration, do not vote to reject the board’s proposal, the loan agreement will be deemed approved.”
Heritage Village is the largest condo complex in the state and many of its residents were furious that their vote to reject the last annual budget was adopted even though most voting were against it.
The budget passed under a two year old law that in effect said that in condo complexes all unit owners who don’t vote are automatically counted as voting in favor of the budget.
The Connecticut Condo Owners Coalition fought repeal of this portion of the legislation, but under heavy lobbying by representatives of the condo management representatives and lawyers for condo owners, the bill that was adopted was watered down and changed.
State Representative Arthur J. O’Neill (R-69) and State Senator Rob Kane (R-32) – who represent the Southbury complex and fought for the reform legislation, said they were disappointment by the veto. The bill – sponsored by the Southbury legislators – passed unanimously in both the House and Senate this session. The two did not address the point that the governor made about loans.
“The current system essentially renders non-voters automatically counted as ‘yes’ votes – a practice that is undemocratic and problematic for large condo communities,” Sen. Kane said. “We are disappointed the governor does not see it this way.”
“In addition to requiring a simple majority in order to defeat a budget, the bill provided that the number voting in opposition exceed 1/3 of the total unit owners. This qualification would have prevented small and unrepresentative populations from blocking what would otherwise be a satisfactory budget.”
“Current law allows large-scale condominium budgets to be decided by people who do not vote – a fundamentally illogical and counterintuitive way to determine a budget,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Heritage Village has an annual budget of around $16 million and many members are on fixed incomes. With so much money at stake, voters deserve complete control over the outcome of their elections, and this bill would have achieved that goal by replacing an undemocratic system with a fair and balanced approach.”
The lawmakers vowed to attempt to override the veto, and if that is not successful, they will introduce this legislation again next year.
Mallow, in his veto message, said he agreed with those who wanted to eliminate the automatic yes provision because “this approval process imprudently removes financial control from unit owners and places it in the hands of the executive board.”
The full text of the governor’s veto message can be found here.
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