HISID considers assessment, amenity increases to ease budget woes

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District (HISID) will not have a "balanced" budget in 2005, but at least it will be able to stay close to its hoped-for projected loss, if the Board of Commissioners implements changes discussed at Friday's budget work session.

District Manager Kevin Crosson returned to the table with "Pass #2," which initially increased expenses by $132,311 and income by $15,000. These changes increased the net loss from $125,380 to $227,691.

Crosson said in the budget's first pass, the new depreciation figure had not been figured in, including depreciation in the golf maintenance area. Other increases shown are in administrative. He said there are eight underfunded positions, two or three of them in golf maintenance, with $8,000 to bring them up to minimum salary level plus 6-percent merit increases. Also added in was fuel expenditure of $10,000.

Before the discussion got under way, a number of property owners spoke against closing the Barn for the winter.

It costs $4,721.73 in electricity and propane to run the Barn year round, with $3,379.94 of that expense just in winter.

But the Barn is used for a number of classes and events during the winter.

B.J. Fowler read a letter on behalf of the art class, which meets weekly. She said the class always cleans up after itself and does not create a large heating bill.

"If you close the Barn, we will have noplace for classes and probably lose our art teacher," Fowler read. She said the artists donate to fund-raisers, and without the class, there will probably also be no annual art show.

"No one ever said we're closing the Barn down," said Chairman Boyce Williams. "We were thinking about it."

Marilyn Aldridge spoke on behalf of the aerobics, exercise, cooking and gift-making classes that also meet in the Barn.

Commissioners did not indicate whether they would keep the Barn open in the winter, but in the past they have acknowledged it is in active use year-round and finding a replacement would be difficult at best.

On another topic, Don King expressed concern about raising golf cart storage fees again.

"We were all told the increase would take care of things for three or four years, and then the fees would only go to maintenance," he said. He also complained about marina fees.

"I don't like that you hit a few of us lucky enough to own boats or play golf," he said. He said he would agree with an overall assessment increase.

Crosson has noted in the past that only about 200-250 residents regularly use the golf course, and another small percentage of the population have slips at the marina, but assessment revenue subsidizes these amenities, and most of the revenue comes from non-resident property owners.

Following are the changes the commissioners have tentatively agreed to. They will not be set in stone until the board votes to accept the budget, most likely at the November business meeting.

  • A $10 increase on assessments, bringing the total to $395.38.

  • A $10 increase in the security fee, bringing it to $60.

  • Activity card increases of $30 on the family all-inclusive card, bringing it $380; $20 on the single all-inclusive card, bringing it $220; and $25 on the recreation only card, bringing it to $125.

  • Daily use fees for property owners for golf increase by $2, and for the campground and the Rec Center by $1.

  • A $10 increase in golf cart storage.

  • Greens fees may increase by $2 on the 18-hole, $1 on the 9-hole and $5 on the family card. The Golf Pro's input will be sought on this, as well as on whether to raise fees for guests.

  • Cart rental fees may increase to $22 for 18 holes and $14 for 9 holes on the 18-hole course and $18 for 18 holes and $12 for 9 holes on the 9-hole course. The Golf Pro's input will be sought.

  • A 5-percent increase on marina slip fees.

    What is not recommended to change:

  • No water/wastewater increases.

  • Trail fees for golf.

    Crosson said the new net loss after putting through all the changes discussed would be $131,466. Commissioners said they could "live with that."

    "We haven't raised these things in years, and times have caught up with us," Williams said.

    HISID has scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Nov.15, at 8:30 a.m. to consider a bid for Rec Center ADA improvements and renewal of the contract with the developer.

    Following will be its regular work session at 9:30 a.m. The regular business meeting has also been moved up to Monday, Nov. 22, at 9 a.m. at the district office.

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