Sen. Kane, Rep.O’Neill Praise Passage of Heritage Village Condo Voting Bill

May 14, 2012
Sen. Rob Kane (left) and Rep. Arthur O'Neill (right) speak with Heritage Village residents during a public question and answer session last year.

Sen. Rob Kane (left) and Rep. Arthur O’Neill (right) speak with Heritage Village residents during a public question and answer session last year.

State Representative Arthur J. O’Neill (R-69) and State Senator Rob Kane (R-32) applauded the May 9 passage of legislation which reforms the voting regulations for the Heritage Village condo community and helps to make the state’s condominium voting process more democratic.

The bill – sponsored by the Southbury legislators – requires the budget of a condominium community with over 2,400 units to be approved by a majority of the unit owners voting, instead of a majority of total unit owners, as current law stipulates. This system essentially renders non-voters automatically counted as yes votes – a practice that is undemocratic and problematic for large condo communities.

In addition to requiring a simple majority in order to defeat a budget, the bill provides that the number voting in opposition exceed 1/3 of the total unit owners. This qualification prevents small and unrepresentative populations from blocking what would otherwise be a satisfactory budget.

“Previous law allowed large-scale condominium budgets to be decided by people who did not vote – a fundamentally illogical and counterintuitive way to determine a budget. 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 achieves that goal by replacing an undemocratic system with a fair and balanced approach.” Rep. O’Neill said.

“We applaud the many condominium owners from Heritage Village and from across the state for coming to the State Capitol and speaking out in favor of this legislation,” Sen. Kane said. “Your voices were heard and you made a difference. This issue boils down to fairness. Those who vote should have their votes counted. Those who do not vote have no say in the outcome. This legislation enables condominium owners to regain control over their management. The right to vote down the budget by majority of votes cast will keep costs in check and improve efficiency.”

Rep. O’Neill added, “I want to thank my legislative colleagues for their unanimous support for this bill. I am pleased that the people of Heritage Village will now have a just and meaningful process for deciding the outcome of referendums that affect both their homes and their finances.”

Rep. O’Neill and Senator Kane introduced and co-sponsored HB 5511 – AAC the Budget, Special Assessment and Assignment of Future Income Approval Process in Common Interest Ownership Communities. The legislators generated support for the bill from various stakeholders, including the Connecticut Chapter of the Community Association Institute, and bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans in the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

The only common ownership community that will be affected by the legislation is Southbury’s Heritage Village community, the largest 55+ adult condominium complex in the state with almost 4,000 people residing in over 2,500 units.

The issue with current law was brought to the lawmakers’ attention by their constituents living in Heritage Village. In an effort to understand how to best address this problem in the legislature, they have hosted forums at Heritage Village and listened firsthand to the concerns of residents.

The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Rep. O’Neill represents Bridgewater, Southbury, Roxbury and Washington. Sen. Kane represents Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Seymour, Southbury, Thomaston, Roxbury, Watertown and Woodbury.