POINCIANA – Jeanette Coughenour has heard the rumors – and heard them again and again.
But when someone approached some of her employees to let them know their jobs were on the line, Coughenour decided enough was enough.
“Someone went down to the Public Works Department and told them they were about to lose their jobs,” Coughenour said. “This is all just rumors, nothing more.”
But the fact that these rumors have been so persistent since the last meeting of the board of directors for the Association of Poinciana Villages prompted Coughenour, the manager of the homeowners association that governs most of Poinciana’s villages, to issue a public statement, clarifying that the APV would not be taken over by AV Homes, the largest builder and Poinciana, with the association’s 90 employees at risk of getting pink slips as a result.
In a memo and email she titled “Squelching Unfounded Rumors,” Coughenour advised Poinciana’s 84,000 residents to not only ignore the rumors if they heard them being passed around, but go out of their way to spread the word that this information is positively false.
“The latest rumor running through the Poinciana community pertains to Avatar taking over the APV and that all APV employees will lose their jobs,” Coughenour wrote. Avatar was the name of the community’s largest private developer until it was changed recently to AV Homes.
“This rumor is not just false, but is also damaging and hurtful to the almost 100 loyal and dedicated APV employees working for you,” Coughenour wrote.
So how exactly did this rumor start? Coughenour said it apparently began last month, when the APV’s board of directors considered the possibility of having a private management firm submit proposals to oversee APV’s future operations.
But that doesn’t mean a private management firm will be taking over the APV operations right away, she added.
“This is very premature — very premature,” she said.
In what is both a possible cast-savings and future efficiency measure, the board of directors wants to look at proposals from private management firms to see if they could determine ways to operate the homeowners association for the community that cuts across both Polk and Osceola counties in a more effective manner, Coughenour said.
“In case that happens, they would just be maintaining the daily operations,” she said. “It would not be a takeover situation. It would be, ‘Can we do this better and more efficiently,’ a fresh look at things. But people heard that and went, ‘Ooh, it’s Avatar taking over.’ ”
And with that came the rumors that APV’s employees would be fired en masse and replaced by newcomers, which Coughenour said is simply not true.
“They operate like a well-oiled machine,” she said of the APV employees. “We’ve been doing things for a lot of years, but maybe there is a better and more efficient approach we could take.”
If a private management firm does come on board, they would not have free reign to quickly change how APV operates, Coughenour said.
“They would work for the board of directors, absolutely, if it comes to pass,” she said.
She noted that the Solivita development in Poinciana – which has its own homeowners association, and decided last year to no longer maintain representation on the APV board of directors – took on a private management firm, and the Solivita employees simply went to work for them instead.
“This could have come up because Solivita did something similar, and then all the employees worked for the management company, but that’s not what we’re talking about here,” Coughenour added. “After 40 years of doing things a certain way, there’s nothing wrong with looking at a new approach.”
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