Steiner votes to hire company to manage community


By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Steiner Ranch leaders approved a measure on Sunday that moves the community — of more than 4,500 homes with a budget of roughly $4.5 million — from its current self-managed structure to an on-site management company.

With about 15 residents in attendance, the Steiner Ranch Master Association board of directors held a special meeting on July 15 at 4:30 p.m. and voted to hire GrandManors, a full-service on-site HOA management brand of RealManage.

Negotiations are underway for a one-year, fixed-fee contract with GrandManors RealManage to work with a hybrid model that uses some existing onsite staff in conjunction with professional onsite management services.

“The service levels have to improve. This will give a modern program for our community. We need more a more professional, a more executive management structure,” said Lawrence Spinetta, who replaced Robby Roberts, who resigned the board in May.

“I came in with a skeptical eye… (but) I think the board has done the due diligence on this,” said Chris Langevin, new board member who replaced Erika Fletcher, who resigned in May.

The plan with GrandManor RealManage includes operational automation through an integrated community management system. The change is expected to provide real-time transparency of accounting and operations to the board, staff and homeowners. It will automate manual back office operations including accounting, HR, assessments, insurance, contracts, architectural, reports, work orders and task management, according to the hand-out given at Sunday’s meeting.

As a response to homeowner concerns from town hall meetings and board meetings over the past year, the board vows to be transparent with the decisions it is making. It will also remain in control of the new company and will closely evaluate the new management structure and company.

GrandManor RealManage will be evaluated by the board quarterly and the community annually. The management fee will be tied to the evaluations the management company receives.

A homeowner survey will be shared after nine months to a year so homeowners can evaluate the company’s performance.

Specifics will be worked out once a contract is executed. After one year, another contract would have to be negotiated for additional years.  

“Seeing we are in the negotiations phase of the contracting phase now, I would prefer we state percentages from 3 to 10 percent for lack of performance on three key criteria set by the board and 3 to 20 percent for not receiving an 8 rating or higher on annual review from the homeowners. For an annual review higher than 8, a bonus would be paid,” said Brad Stanton, SRMA vice president.

Some current community staff will be affected under the new hybrid model.

“Accounting and all back office operations will be managed by POMS (professional onsite management services),” said Naren Chilukuri, SRMA president. “Board believes that current onsite staff and organization structure is necessary and will remain along with current accounting team until transition is complete.”

There was a controller, Andrew Smullen, who was with the Steiner staff to work through the transition from developer-owned to homeowner-owned community until he resigned in March. That position will not be filled and the two accounting staff jobs will not be needed under the new management model.

Scott Selman is the interim director at Steiner Ranch, he had been the director for years and then he was hired in the interim capacity after Randy Schmaltz, who resigned in January. It is unclear at this point if the community will have a director in the future under the new management structure.

“Steiner will have a director, which is a senior leadership role, but organization structure will continually be evaluated and revisited as we make progress on the transition, which is expected to take at least 60 to 90 days or more,” Chilukuri said.

The community manager, Melinda Schoch, and the community  enhancements project manager, Shannon Shapiro, will both stay in place.

“Focus of the board next 60 to 90 days is seamless transition,” Chilukuri said.

GrandManors RealManage is to bring in the latest technology and tools to make running the community more efficient for staff, homeowners and the board.

The existing software and management structure has been in place since the community was developer-owned and through the transfer process to homeowner-owned, which was finalized some 18 months ago.

The board reported that since that turn-over, the computer data systems have not been synced and have been outdated. This has made data hard to retrieve.

The previous board was divided on the timing of considering and/or shifting the management structure until financials and other details were caught up and signed off on from the community ownership transition. The developer-owned community kept books much differently, less organized and less detailed as the homeowner-owned community.  

The new management structure is estimated to save the community up to $1 million over three years, Chilukuri said. This would be based on the company’s contract being renewed.

“I want to go on record and say that I’m not solely convinced we’ll see those cost savings,” Stanton said. It will be hard for the company to achieve cost savings in one year, and it is too soon to tell now about future cost savings.