County Judge: Good chance HI District will get road funding help

Friday, August 28, 2009

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Carroll County Judge Sam Barr told commissioners with the Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District (HISID) at their business meeting Monday that there is a good chance the district will receive funding this year and in future years from the county to help fund road improvements.

The HISID Board of Commissioners had expressed concerns earlier that it wasn't receiving a fair share of the state's "turnback" funds that come to the county for constructing and maintaining roads and bridges. Holiday Island has a population of about 3,200, which is estimated to be about 12 percent of the total population of Carroll County.

The HISID board on Monday passed Resolution #200, asking the Carroll County Court and county judge to commit to an annual contribution of funds for HISID road improvements.

"HISID formally requests that the Carroll County Court and/or County Judge commit to turn over, on an annual basis, either 12 percent or a "just and equitable" fair share amount of all County funds received from the State of Arkansas County Aid Fund," states the resolution passed by the board.

Barr said HISID could ask the Quorum Court to return the funds as an annual line item on the budget.

"If there was a line item in the budget every year, it would be there," Barr said. "I feel like we can get this passed. I don't see why anyone would object to it. You have been very kind to not ask for more than you have."

HISID Chairman Ken Mills said their problem in planning roadwork is knowing how much money the district will have to work with. The district has to maintain about 71 miles of roads.

In other action at the board meeting Monday, commissioners heard a report from District Manager Kevin Crosson that despite the downturn in the economy and a failure to get assessment fees this year from a major property owner, National Recreational Properties Inc. (NRPI), careful planning and cutbacks in expenses means the district is in good financial shape.

NRPI owns about 700 lots at Holiday Island. It paid its 2008 fees late, but it is unknown if NRPI will pay the assessment again this year. Crosson said one Realtor has reported having a client who wants to purchase an NRPI lot and yet the Realtor has been unable to get NRPI to respond in order to complete the transaction. However, a commissioner reported that at least one lot sale has been completed recently, which Crosson said was good news.

Crosson said the district is pretty much on target with estimated collections this year, with the exception of the NRPI assessment.

The 2009 budget is $2.9 million, and actual spending for the past six months has been $1.4 million. Water and wastewater collections have been lower than expected. It has been a wetter and cooler summer than normal, so people may be using less water for irrigation of yards. And problems in the economy may have led to more conservation.

Pro Shop and golf course fees are also down, and legal fees are higher because of the Capps land boundary lawsuit and having to advertise 117 properties for foreclosure. But Crosson said everything else is reasonably in line.

Crosson said the district has had success keeping to the lower budget in order to keep expenditures in line with income.

"We are in a little better shape than last year," he said. "I'm cautiously pleased to tell you we are going to be better off than we thought."

The district is currently anticipating an operating profit of $171,962. Crosson said that is good news, but there are some unknowns out there such as fuel costs.

"We are concerned about that," Crosson said. "We will know more later this year how prices will hold up. I think overall we are in real good shape."

Mills said streamlining expenses has been a good effort.

"We have done very well considering the economic conditions," Mills said. "We haven't had to reduce services."

Crosson also reported progress on the $5.6 million wastewater treatment plant project, which is now 64 percent completed. He said they are getting to the critical stage in the construction program where in the near future they will be converting over to the new facility.

"It is going to be an extremely busy fall," Crosson said. "Because of the manpower issue, we will not be able to have the fall cleanup this year. We don't have the space down at the facility to coordinate and make that effort work. We usually spend $7,000 to $10,000 on the fall cleanup."

The district is also undergoing an energy conservation program. Energy costs accounted for about 11 percent of the HISID budget in 2008. The district is working on a program to monitor and quantify energy consumption in order to develop plans to maximize energy conservation and efficiency.

HISID also passed the second reading of Amendment #2 of Regulation 23-2002, which prohibits board candidates from campaigning on district property or placing campaign signs or literature in or on district property.

The board also heard a report from Carroll County Sheriff Grudek, who said he was aware of some complaints about traffic enforcement at Holiday Island. Grudek said people don't realize that every 12 minutes in the U.S. someone is killed in a traffic accident. Every 12 seconds someone is sent to the hospital with injuries from a traffic accident.

"The reason for us enforcing traffic laws is we want to prevent someone from becoming a traffic fatality," Grudek said.

Officers frequently have to extract people from wrecks who have serious injuries. This makes the officers even more committed to enforcing traffic laws.

"We want to prevent traffic accidents," Grudek said. "Based on the feedback over the county, our enforcement has slowed down speeders on many major roads. The feedback has been very positive to our campaign to get people to slow down and save lives. The main purpose of traffic enforcement is to save lives. Also, a lot of people stopped have outstanding warrants. So there are other benefits to enforcing traffic laws."

Grudek said there have been 275 traffic citations year-to-date in the western district of the county, which is everything in the county west of the Kings River.

Mills noted from Grudek's report that in 2008 there were more warnings than citations. Now that has turned around and there are more citations than warnings.

Commissioner Kay Janky said people have slowed down and aren't tailgating as much.

Janky also said the Pro Shop hours have changed. Starting Sept. 1, the Pro Shop will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In other news, Friends of the Barn has been organizing a variety of activities to fund maintenance of the Barn, and the district intends to keep it open on a restricted scale through the wintertime.

The next meeting of HISID will be a work session Sept. 14 at 9 a.m. at the district offices with the regular meeting in September scheduled the 28th.

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