CONDOMINIUM OMBUDSMAN QUARTERLY REPORT

JULY THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2005

 

Posted October 19, 2005

 

         The Office of the Condominium Ombudsman has been operational for nine months and continues to be successful in carrying out its legislative mandate. The Office continued to provide education and assistance to condominium owners, act as a liaison, resolve complaints and oversee elections and meetings.

The Statutory powers and duties of the Condominium Ombudsman that allow it to be effective in informally resolving issues arising out of all aspects of condominium operation was recently delineated by the Attorney General. AGO 2005-53, Date: September 22, 2005, Condominium Ombudsman's powers. The Office of the Condominium Ombudsman acts in an advisory capacity by assisting in the preparation and adoption of educational and reference material. He is to provide resources to assist members of boards of directors and officers of associations to carry out their powers and duties. The ombudsman is also authorized to prepare and issue reports and recommendations and to act as a liaison.

The Office continues to work on establishing internal memoranda, procedures and policies to function efficiently and effectively to carry out its statutorily prescribed duties. New staff members are continually undergoing training.

During the recent legislative session $440,029.00 of the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums, and Mobile Homes Trust Fund and six full time employees for the Ombudsman Office were authorized for the office effective July 1, 2005. The appropriation required that the Ombudsman provide a detailed report of the quarterly expenditures. That report is attached hereto and incorporated by reference.

            During this quarter a satellite Office was established in southeast Florida as authorized by Governor Jeb Bush. It is located in Broward County at the North Broward Regional Center housed within the Bureau of Compliance at 1400 West Commercial Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. The telephone number is (954) 202-3234, (SUNCOM 423-3234). The Office provides a presence in the community and a venue for condominium owners to meet with the Ombudsman to handle the inquiries that come from Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties.

            The Ombudsmanís Office received about 3500 complaints and requests during this quarter. Many of the requests were for information about all aspects of condominium operation. The majority of the complaints were about abuse and mismanagement by the board of directors. About thirty eight percent (38%) of the complaints related to Officer and Director Abuse and harassment. Twenty five percent (25%) were regarding fiscal and general mismanagement of the association.

The Election Monitoring section of the Ombudsmanís Office saw less activity this quarter since most of the condominium elections occur during the winter months. The requests received for election monitors were mostly because unit owners were apprehensive about their associationís ability to properly conduct their elections in a fair and impartial manner. The procedures instituted by the Ombudsman have been very effective in preventing election misconduct.

The Education Section of the Ombudsmanís Office is negotiating a contract with Broward Community College to create a statewide education program for unit owners. An E-learning course and an onsite class moderated by the Ombudsman are part of the package. This contract will be submitted to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation for approval.

The Office of the Ombudsman continues to be a successful resource for the condominium owners of the State of Florida.

CONDOMINIUM OMBUDSMANíS DETAILED REPORT OF QUARTERLY EXPENDITURES FOR THE FIRST QUARTER OF FY 2005-06

Six positions and the sum of $444,029 were appropriated to the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman for fiscal year 2005-06. The appropriation contained the proviso that the Condominium Ombudsman provide a detailed report of quarterly expenditures of the office to the Executive Office of the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on or before the 15th day following the end of the quarter. This serves as the Condominium Ombudsmanís required report for July through September covering the first quarter of fiscal year 2005-06.  Attached hereto, made a part hereof and incorporated herein by reference is a three (3) page schedule provided to the Ombudsman by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation which details the expenditures of the Ombudsmanís Office for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2005-06 entitled Schedule of Allotment Balances by Fund and Budget Entity Level 5 Summary Cash Basis September 30, 2005. 

The Office of the Condominium Ombudsman takes instructions on state purchasing guidelines from the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes according to established policies and procedures of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The Division assigns its personnel to assist in filling the Ombudsmanís needs and arranges for payment of all invoices and other financial obligations of the office.   

The Condominium Ombudsman cannot vouch for the accuracy of the Schedule since the orders for purchases with vendors and account balances were not prepared or maintained by him or his staff.  Consequently there may be additional items requested by the Ombudsmanís Office that are not reflected in the attached schedule.

OFFICE STAFFING, SALARIES AND BENEFITS

The Office of the Condominium Ombudsman is currently staffed by personnel occupying the following SES positions:

                                     Ombudsman

                                     Attorney

                                     Two (2) Paralegal Specialists

                                     Administrative Assistant I

 

           There is currently a vacant position in the office, for one (1) clerk typist SES.  A qualified candidate has been selected to fill this position and the hiring process is currently in progress. 

 

            A total of $45,908.70 was expended by the Condominium Ombudsman for staff salary and benefits during the quarter ending September 30, 2005.  A detailed breakdown of how those funds were applied is contained in the attached schedule.

EXPENDITURES FOR OFFICE FURNITURE, EQUIPMENT, SUPPLIES, RENT

             During the first quarter of fiscal year 2005-06 the Condominium Ombudsman, upon the concurrence of Governor Jeb Bush, opened a satellite office in Broward County, Florida located at 1400 West Commercial Boulevard, Suite 115, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309.   As a new enterprise, the office required computers, monitors, printers, cables, a fax machine, telephones installation of lines for the phones, fax, computers and printer, as well as all furniture and supplies necessary to operate and conduct the business of the office.  Additionally, the Tallahassee office required a printer and some office supplies.  The expenditures and payments were made for necessary business related expenses such as professional dues, books, postage, travel reimbursement, equipment service contracts and office rent as described and detailed in the attached schedule.

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