Re: Searching for a cohousing community that is
From: Carol Singleton (
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2013 12:28:47 -0800 (PST)
On Thu, 24 Jan 2013 10:23:54 -0500, Sharon Villines
<sharon [at]> wrote

>What I find takes the most time are things like writing policy proposals,
recording and filing minutes for meetings, decision-making or proposal
writing >meetings, etc. Governance related discussions and decisions that
take so much time -- what do you do about this?

These are handled on a voluntary basis.  People step up to work on issues
and come up with a proposal - usually a team of people do this.  All
committees take minutes and publish to community - usually these are done on
a rotating basis.  A group of about 5 people take minutes at business
meetings on a rotating basis.  

> Meals and meal clean up are not part of the Work Share program, but 
> maintaining the kitchen is part of critical tasks.

>This is a nice idea. 
Just to clarify our meal program - folks opt in or out for our meal program.
Each person who opts in must cook once a month and clean once a month so the
kitchen is clean after each meal.  We have dinner 2 times a week .     We
have a kitchen team who buys supplies and keeps on top of equipment, etc.
They schedule deep cleans which qualify as critical tasks when needed.

>I think assigned time values are very important. We did a sample few months
of actual time tracking and it was so laborious and boring for me, and for
>many others. Having assigned values eliminates this tracking.
>How do you allot a committee's annual hours? 
When setting up our current work share program each committee determined
what were "critical tasks" and how many hours would be needed using best
estimates.  However, we found that the total number of annual hours
requested were way more than we could generate assuming every household
worked the required number of hours each month.  The Work Implementation
Group (WIG) who set up the program arbitrarily decreased allotted hours for
each committee and that is why we asked folks to record actual hours worked
- so that we could see if what was set as "time value" was way over or
under.  This caused some grumbling, but we were flexible in practice when it
was discovered more or less time was needed.  Not everyone participates in
work hours and they money they contribute instead of work hours allowed some
work to be hired out but not nearly as much as we thought.  In fact, at the
end of the first year we had a really large surplus of unspent money.  The
second year in operation we didn't really set hour limits to the committees.
They just post and people step up to work the hours and there is not much
fear the work won't get done since we have money to hire out.  At the end of
the second year, there was again a large surplus and we voted to use some of
that money so that we did not need to raise homeowner's dues.  

The Ecovillage of Loudoun County in VA does an annual labor budget when they
do their financial budget. People pledge additional hours before new
projects are started. A project can be taken on above and beyond the hours
pledged but doing it this way ensures that everyone understands that this is
Harry and Joe's extra work, not a community commitment.

> 4.       Community members complete monthly signed statements certifying
> completed Critical Tasks in order to get work credit, in accordance 
> with Work Program Guidelines.

>Do you bill if you don't get these statements or bill and then give credit
when the slips come in?

>How are these billed-- with regular monthly fees or a separate system?

No one has to complete an individual statement.  It is pretty simple.  Each
committee posts a monthly work request sheet on a bulletin board.  It
includes the tasks, time value, a place for person who wants to do the task
to write their name, a place to record that the task has been completed and
actual hours worked.  A reminder to record work hours on the committee sheet
is automatically sent out about 5 days before the work period is over on the
12th of each month.  One person has the job of taking these sheets and
compiling a cumulative spreadsheet showing hours credited and hours used
which is then given to the bookkeeper to give work credit for the following
month's HOA dues.  If you forget to enter your hours adjustments can be
made, I think, but not until the next month - e.g. for work done in January
that you didn't record, you would pay full HOA dues in January and receive
credit in February.   This process is very much discouraged as it adds to
everyone's work and few forget to sign the worksheet.  

Carol Singleton
Oak Creek Commons

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