By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
About 100 members of the Steiner Ranch community attended the SR Master Association town hall meeting on Sept. 19 at Towne Square. More than 20 residents asked questions or gave feedback to the board about its idea to shift away from its current in-house community management.
This was the second of two town halls. The first one was Sept. 14 with 60 in attendance from the community.
The SRMA board is divided on how the idea to potentially shift the type of community management is being considered, and at the speed that it is being handled.
Many in the community spoke in favor of the HOA being more efficient with the latest technology tools. But many also voiced reservations about the apparent rush to potentially change the way the community is managed when the dust has yet to fully settle from the community shifting from being led by the developer.
The second town hall started with the SRMA president, Naren Chilukuri, going through a PowerPoint presentation which included details from the consultant from Pennsylvania who was hired to give recommendations about how the community should be managed. The consultant recommends a new onsite management model along with integrated software tools.
The consultant recommendations “leverage onsite company models that could yield up to $1.5 million in cost savings over three years,” Chilukuri said. He said the information will be posted on the HOA website.
Following the first town hall, the SRMA board decided to do several things which Chilukuri stated, including: validate the potential cost savings again by a second independent consultant/auditor, create a broader resident survey to get a comprehensive view of community needs, and take a vote in 30 to 60 days.
Chilukuri also went through a list of concerns from the community that he addressed before his allotted time was up.
Then SRMA vice president Erika Fletcher read a letter from SMRA treasurer Robby Roberts who could not be there. Fletcher added that she agrees with the points of the letter.
Roberts stated in his letter: “Like so many voices from our community, I have strongly and repeatedly pleaded to slow the process, more thoroughly evaluate the qualitative and quantitative elements of this decision and listen to our homeowners. As a board member, my frustration in this broken process and the limitations on being heard is high. It is very obvious that a great many of you share that same frustration and sense of helplessness in providing input on one of the biggest decision we can make for our community… Our transition from a ‘developer-led’ to a ‘homeowner-led’ board began only a year and a half ago. The newly elected board and association staff faced many challenges to protect community assets, maintain/improve amenities and understand the priorities of our homeowners in shaping strategy. I urge you to consult with board members serving at that time to fully explain the deficiencies in our accounting systems, staffing and financial reporting systems. Priorities had to be established by the board to properly manage our transition… Our board president has advanced this agenda since his April, 2016 election.”
After Roberts’ letter was read, the residents were given the opportunity to speak up. The following is a sampling of statements given at the meeting.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If everything’s good, people don’t say it,” said Ken Evant, a homeowner who was the first to speak.
“Can we improve service and can we save some money,” asked Kevin Madison. He said he is not impressed with Steiner’s current set up and is hoping to see more professionalism, longer office hours for the community, and quicker response times from the staff on such things as architectural changes, compliance and/or reviews.
Bill Menzies, former SRMA board member, said he is thankful for the attention this issue has brought to the community. Awareness about what the board was contemplating and considering was first posted in late August on social media.
“They (the board) tried to rush through one of the most important decisions they can make,” Menzies said. He urged the board to slow the process down and better inform the community by posting proposals and consultant information on the website where the community can look it over for a couple of months.
Danny Rubio, a 20-year resident, is in favor of a new community management system. He thinks the projected savings are worth looking into.
“This will add value… it will help provide a better service,” Rubio said.
But Russell Sahm is concerned that the community won’t get better service for less money. He adds, “If you dismantle a good team, you’ll never be able to put it back together again.”
Mary Gamble is concerned about the details from the independent consultant since the consultant never came to Steiner Ranch before giving recommendations to on how the community should be managed. She added that there is “lost confidence” from the community in this decision at this time.
Richard Clark said “it makes a lot of sense to review” and that the “Steiner HOA is not up to the standards of the rest of the community.”
Walter Reid looks at this situation as an opportunity to engage the community.
“It is important to be transparent so I can be supportive or not,” Reid said. “You’ve got the community aware… You’ve got to get the community on your side rather than be divisive.”
“Has a performance improvement plan been put to the current management team? Has the idea been put forth of the loss of legacy knowledge (that changing would create), it is huge,” said Debbie Tanner-Jacobs.
“A performance improvement plan has not been given to the staff to date,” said Fletcher, from the HOA board. She agrees that the loss of knowledge from current management team would be huge.
The town hall meeting lasted two hours.
A HOA board meeting is being held Sept. 26. More information is to come about the vacant board position and how that will affect this decision.