Two directors resign at Steiner HOA board meeting

Recently re-elected Steiner Ranch Master Association board member Robby Roberts (far right) and another at-large board member, Erika Fletcher, (second from right) both resigned and walked out of the SRMA board meeting on May 22. Other SRMA board members R-L Rekha Garapati, Amy Colton, Brad Stanton, Naren Chilukuri

Share reasons behind the departure

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Two board members of the Steiner Ranch Master Association resigned Tuesday night during the monthly SRMA board meeting, after the “intent to pursue” management service changes passed by the board.

After a majority of the board approved “the intent to pursue a management change after the costs involved are assessed and validated”, Robby Roberts — board member who was re-elected to his second term in April — shared comments, resigned and walked out. Erika Fletcher — who has served the board for one-year of her two-year term — followed suit by sharing comments, resigning and also walking out.

Both cited they do not feel they can effectively carry on their service to the Steiner community by being on the SRMA board.

The resignations came after item No. 7 “organization and staff management” on the agenda was presented and discussed. Updates included the loss of two, Steiner staffers, one who managed the front desk and another who worked on pool maintenance and cleaning.

The other topic under the agenda item was entitled professional onsite management services. The subject was detailed with an elaborate presentation from board president, Naren Chilukuri. It included many charts and proposed savings to the community.

Members of the board discussed the idea and gave feedback. Several said they needed more information to validate numbers before moving ahead with the plan. Others questioned how many people would be eliminated. It was not clear if it was two full-time and one part-time employees or more or less.

It was indicated there would be workshops and that the subject would be brought up again over the next month or two.

Roberts described the presentation “as a sales presentation for the outsourcing of property management services for Steiner Ranch.”

He said that the board packet, distributed one day prior to the meeting, did not include anything on this topic for board member review.

“It was difficult to read,” Fletcher said. “When I asked about the accuracy (of the numbers and data), those questions were minimized or glossed over.”

She said this was nothing new, and that many times throughout the year, reactions to her healthy skepticism were met in a confrontational way.

“Homeowner concerns are being silenced again,” Roberts said. “There’s got to be respect of the process and order.”

He believes the information in the presentation stating that Steiner could save more than $1 million is “reckless” without objective and thorough analysis of its achieveability.

Fletcher agrees. She adds that comparing the staff of other communities to Steiner are two different models, and it is an apples to oranges comparison.

“To me, it is a foregone conclusion that the community will be outsourcing to a third-party management,” Roberts said. “And nothing we can do has managed to get their (the board’s) attention. This idea came out a year ago, and got paused. We had town hall meetings and heard overwhelming objection to such a proposal. We listened and we tried to represent the homeowners because homeowners can’t vote on this.”

Both Roberts and Fletcher believe the message they’ve gotten from homeowners is to evaluate and improve the existing Steiner association’s self-managed model, and charge the homeowner-elected board to govern it accordingly.

So when on Tuesday, May 22, after the board voted on the intent to pursue the professional onsite management services, Roberts spoke up.  

Roberts told the board that he as well as many homeowners he was elected to represent, have voiced concerns of the outsourcing idea since its presentation a year ago.  

“I believe… I cannot be effective and heard by the board,” he said. “It has been an honor to serve but I’m unable to continue, and resign my position at this time.”

Then he walked out.

Fletcher echoed Roberts comments to the board and said that she is also not able to be effective on the board.

“It has been my recurring message to represent the community as a whole… to hear and be heard,” Fletcher said. “We are not being heard.”

“I choose not to be a part of it and can continue to serve my community better elsewhere,” Fletcher told the board. “I can be more productive as homeowner than as a board member.”

Community perspective

The day after the resignations, Scott Selman, Steiner interim executive director, said it is best that he does not comment at this time.

But one community member did share: Brian Thompto, a Steiner resident who was one of three members of the community at the SRMA board meeting on May 22. Thompto is also chairman of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association, which works on local traffic issues and solutions.

“I was disappointed with the way things ended up,” Thompto said.

“I feel like there has been a lot of turmoil this last year with respect to the way we move forward with community management,” Thompto said.

“I was hoping to see our elected representatives hash it out, address everyone’s concerns, be able to come to a good conclusive outcome by delving into the details and getting it right,” he said.

“We cannot afford to mess this up. There have been enough casualties of this process,” Thompto added.

Going forward, it is important for those on the board to “challenge assertions by asking questions, by understanding exactly what we’re getting and the risk,” he said.

“That process is harder when you lose tension within the board. You cannot just go without asking the deep questions,” Thompto said.

“I hope that the board members who are left go slow enough on this that all questions are answered, that they give a chance for the community to ask questions, and that they get this right,” Thompto said.

SRMA board comments

“We thank Erika and Robby for their past contributions,” said Amy Colton, SRMA board member and newly elected treasurer.

Chilukuri commented that the loss of two board members “doesn’t have any effect on the board, now we’ll fill two more positions as quickly as possible.”

“Even if we don’t fill positions, we have a functioning board,” Colton said.

Over the last nine months or so, there have been three board members resign from the SRMA board in abrupt fashion. All three left before their terms were up.

“We don’t know why they (Roberts and Fletcher) resigned,” Chilukuri said, adding that it is not helpful to the community to focus on that.   

“People come, people go, we need to fill in as we go forward,” Chilukuri said. “They served, wish they stayed. We’re focusing on community investments.”

An email was sent to homeowners on May 23 seeking SRMA candidates for these two at-large board positions. Forms are to be returned to Melinda Schoch, community association manager, by 5 p.m. on June 6.

“The remaining current board will be voting on these candidates no later than the next SRMA HOA meeting which is June 26,” Colton said.

The board position to fill Roberts’ seat is nearly a two-year term since he won reelection in April. The board position to fill Fletcher’s seat would be nearly a one-year term. Both will fill out the remaining terms.