HISID board chooses Rogers law firm
HOLIDAY ISLAND -- In a surprise vote Monday, the Holiday Island Board of Commissioners approved 4-1, Chairman Linda Graves dissenting, to pursue a contract with the Slinkard Law Firm of Rogers for legal services for the suburban improvement district. Slinkard was chosen as one of three finalists submitting Requests for Qualifications. Attorneys from two other firms, Matt Bishop of Eureka Springs and Kutak Rock of Little Rock, also responded to RFQs.
Howard L. Slinkard, the firm's principal, was chosen over attorneys Thomas Kieklak of Harrington Miller and Tom Morris and Associates, the district's current attorney.
The Ad Hoc Committee - Legal Services looked at several considerations in the RFQ process, among them whether the firm was qualified to represent the district at the Supreme Court level, how quickly the attorney would respond to calls and how much experience the attorney had with suburban improvement districts.
Morris, who was the third finalist interviewed by the commissioners shortly before they made their decision, began working with Holiday Island in 1988 and became the district's full time attorney in 1995.
Kieklak had experience with the district in the recent Table Rock Landing and Bischoff lawsuits.
District Manager Dennis Kelly said it was a "subjective decision," but he felt Slinkard could be eliminated and said he felt comfortable with either of "the two Toms."
The board did not agree on eliminating Slinkard's firm.
"I liked Slinkard, with all his experience representing cities," said Greg Davis.
Slinkard had also represented one improvement district.
Graves said she was concerned about the other lawyers in Slinkard's firm being "out of law school in the last couple years and not having a lot of experience. I wonder how much backup he'd have."
Kelly cautioned the board that even though they are looking at law firms, they would be hiring the individual.
"Whoever we hire will be the go-to attorney," he said.
The next step will be to negotiate a contract. If the district cannot reach an agreement with Slinkard on fees and other stipulations, the board has the option of choosing one of the other firms with which to negotiate.
The board opened up for discussion the marina contract, which ends Dec. 31. Under the most recent terms of the current contract with Allan and Brenda Krier of Marina Concessions, which they have held for 15 years, they lease the marina property for $1 per year but currently pay the district 45 percent, capped at $75,000, of the gross revenues from their operation of 172 of the 192 boat slips, and pay for utilities and other overhead costs. They keep all revenue from eight covered and 12 uncovered nightly rental boat slips and any income from activities such as boat rentals, retail sales and services. The district handles maintenance and repairs to the property, including the docks.
Commissioners have been wondering whether it would be better for the district to operate the entire marina and keep all the income, or lease just the operation of the concession.
Graves handed out an analysis comparing these two options, some of which she took from an analysis done in 2009 by a former district manager, some of whose figures she questioned.
Some of the problems with the district hiring an employee to operate the marina were raised, such as supervision, the costs of setting up a concession and whether anyone would bid just to run the concession.
"I can't see why someone wouldn't come in for concessions only," said Commissioner David Makidon. "We're not collecting anything now [on concessions], and we're paying $65,000 just to keep [the Kriers] there."
Others pointed out there is more to running the marina than they realize.
"You have to have decals on the boats and insurance available at all times for the Corps to look at," said property owner Vernon Anderson. "You have to keep track of the docks and slips coming available."
Kelly will come up with Requests for Proposals for full operation of the marina and also for an alternative of operating just the concession.
"I think Allan and Brenda have done a real good job, and the only reason we're looking at it is as an opportunity to get more income for the district," Graves said.
In other business, the board:
* Approved Regulation 23-2002, Amendment 3 on second reading, which is the final approval. The amendment deals with election procedures.
* Heard the district manager's and department head reports, including information on sludge processing, leak detection and repair and the tree cutting program.
* Reviewed the district's six-month Statement of Revenue and Expenditures, including a year-end estimate. As of the end of June, the district shows $2.8 million in revenue and $1.5 million in expenses, for a net revenue of $1.3 million, not including capital expenditures. The board called for a revised document for the next meeting.