HISID tables amenity cards for non-property owners
HOLIDAY ISLAND -- In a long discussion Wednesday over changes to its amenity usage rules and fees, the Holiday Island Board of Commissioners voted to table selling amenity cards to non-property owners until it can obtain legal opinion.
A draft of Reg. 42, which amends the current amenity rules and fees, establishes several categories of fees for non-property owner families and individuals in 2013, including annual, monthly and weekly access cards.
The crux of the issue hangs on whether the district can legally allow regular use of amenities such as golf and swimming to non-property owners under the orders which established the suburban improvement district. The district has for years argued about whether Holiday Island amenities should be termed private, semi-private or public.
New commissioner Greg Davis led the discussion by saying, "Non-property owner golf -- that's public golf. Are we private or public?"
"We define ourselves as private, but we do welcome guests and visitors," said Commissioner Bruce Larson. He noted the argument against making Holiday Island's amenities public is that there will no longer be any incentive for people to own property here, but if they don't come here to try out the amenities in the first place, they won't buy a lot here.
He said there had been a decrease of visitors to HISID's main website, but a 30-percent increase to the HISID websites devoted to golf and recreation.
Commissioner Ken Brown pointed out the district is losing about a quarter of a million dollars every year on maintaining the golf course.
"The lost money comes out of assessments. Can we continue to do that? Do property owners want to continue to do that?" He added the 2,250 who live here are paying for the 200 who regularly play golf.
"It's a business decision."
Davis said he doesn't see how attracting people to visit Holiday Island coordinates with an annual activity card for non-property owners. That would only be an advantage for people who live in the area and want to play golf regularly but not buy a lot.
The discussion then turned to the legal question of whether the SID can make its amenities available to non-property owners. Davis maintained that by HISID's order of formation, it cannot.
"It's for the owners of real property within the district," he said.
"But it doesn't say it's for exclusive use," said Larson.
Some questioned the fees set for non-property owners, which, when added against the other fees property owners have to pay, such as assessments and property taxes, actually turn out to be a better deal for non-property owners.
"I'd take the lot and give it back," said property owner Don King. "If you charge $1,300 (for an annual golf access card for both courses), it's too low. If you put prices up to $2,000, it makes more sense."
Davis said he also thought selling monthly and weekly cards to non-property owners would lose the district money. He moved to strike non-property owner fees completely out of the regulation. His motion failed 4-1, with him voting aye.
Later the board narrowly voted to table any further discussion of non-property owner amenities until legal counsel could be sought on the question. That vote passed 3-2, with Ken Ames, Davis and Brown voting aye, and Linda Graves and Larson voting nay.
In other business, the board:
* Approved unanimously adding swimming for $75 more to the annual golf access card for property owners at the 18- and 9-hole golf courses separately and approved 4-1, Davis dissenting, to change the annual all-inclusive both courses and swimming cards to $850 for families and $525 for individuals.
* Tabled any further action on Requests for Qualifications from engineers to address water leak issues. Hartley and Water/Wastewater Superintendent Dan Schrader will draft an in-house leak detection program, using information they received from a nearby two-county regional water system, which has the same or similar leak detection equipment.
* Heard a proposal by Ames to establish a mission statement, goals and objectives and committees headed by individual commissioners to generate these for various parts of the community. He asked for feedback and ideas. Commissioner Linda Graves suggested the district manager establish goals and objectives and also said she doesn't feel now is "the time and place" for committees, having headed two committees recently. Ames also submitted a property owner survey to get data on why people might want to turn their lots back or on their feelings about assessment and amenity fees.