Holiday Island: Three seek one commission seat

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Dan Kees, David Bischoff and Greg Davis are running for the HISID Board of Commissioners seat currently held by Davis. (Photo by Carroll County News/David F. Dempsey)

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Candidates Dan Kees, David Bischoff and Greg Davis (incumbent) each argued his case Monday, Nov. 9 in hopes of being elected Dec.1 to the Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District Board of Commissioners. About 100 voters attended the public forum, held in the Clubhouse. Moderator Mary Jo Rozumalski led the event using a League of Women Voters format, allowing a different candidate to answer first on each succeeding question. Candidates had two minutes to answer each question.

Opening statements were mostly limited to brief descriptions of each office seeker's background: see bulleted items at the end of this article.

When asked what each had done for the community since becoming a resident, David Bischoff mentioned doing volunteer work for the Holiday Island Theater Guild. He is also known for is leading a class-action illegal exaction suit that culminated in a 2013 ruling forcing HISID to credit property owners for more than $3 million in miscellaneous fees attached to water payments. Bischoff sees the ruling as bringing more accountability to HISID.

Greg Davis, a resident since 1981, touted his involvement in selling lots in Holiday Island since 1983 -- a time when there was very little here. He considers that experience and his past three years as commissioner, during which he was often the minority in 4-to-1 decisions, as his main contributions to the community.

Dan Kees serves as a coordinator for the Holiday Island Hikers and volunteers in Christmas lighting work. He was scheduled to meet the next day with representatives from the National Park Service to discuss ideas for developing more trails in Holiday Island.

Next was the question of what to do about HISID's subsidizing of the two golf courses, clubhouse and restaurant. That was followed later by the question "would you rather close a golf course or a swimming pool?"

Davis disagreed with the $300,000 annual cost to property owners that was put forth in the question. Davis said the actual cost would likely go up substantially in next year's budget. He is against closing golf courses, citing a possibility of lawsuits following the closure of amenities. He said he would very much like to see the golf courses here leased to a management company like Troon Golf that manages golf in Hot Springs Village. Davis admits finding such a leasing deal is difficult and would take time.

Kees disagreed with Davis by saying he had seen no numbers indicating an increase in the golf deficit. He did agree there should be no closures of golf courses and predicted that if any amenity is closed now because of revenue then it would only be a matter of time before the district would be looking at closing another. According to Kees, part of the solution needs to be having golfers pay more for the sport.

Bischoff said he would not like to close a golf course but was willing to put anything on the table for logical analysis.

"The question is not do we need golf but how much do we need," he said. He went on to cite a nationwide decline in the sport -- an idea that even golf legend Arnold Palmer has acknowledged.

Are other suburban improvement districts addressing these same problems more efficiently? That led into comparisons with SIDs that have incorporated.

Kees said Cherokee Village seems to be incorporating with some success. He said later that someday Holiday Island might have to incorporate, but that more data was needed on the benefits of incorporation. Also there is the question of a $5 million sewer plant bond that must be addressed. "You can't just dissolve a SID that owes money," Kees said.

Bischoff's take on incorporation was blunt.

"We are going to become a city," he said. "Let's get it over with."

Davis said Point Royale SID seems to be doing well but is paying much higher assessments to do so. He cautioned against pricing potential property buyers out of the market in Holiday Island. On incorporation Davis said later that SIDs get into trouble by retaining parts of SID infrastructures like property owners associations. He likened that to a community insisting upon having two governments.

All three candidates seemed to agree that Holiday Island has tremendous assets in scenic beauty and in the fact that it is the only SID in the state with water and sewer to every lot. They also agreed that there are revenue problems caused by approximately 1,700 property owners who simply stopped paying assessments after the recent economic downturn. Selling those lots to convert them back into assessment-generating properties will probably remain a goal in Holiday Island for some time to come.

Kees is a Vietnam veteran who purchased two lots here in 2007 and has lived here since 2013. He has a bachelor of science degree in industrial technology and spent 40 years in manufacturing. His largest plant had 450 employees and $75 million in annual sales.

Bischoff has lived in Holiday Island for 11 years and is a Navy veteran and a certified nuclear power engineer and operator. He has a master's degree in business administration with emphasis in marketing. He is a licensed real-estate broker and has worked in large scale agriculture, retail merchandising, marketing and sales

Davis attended Bentonville High School and studied at Arkansas Tech University from 1980-1983. He has been a licensed real-estate agent/broker in Holiday Island since 1983 and has served as owner/operator of Holiday Island Realty since 1998. He is a three-year incumbent.

More biographical information on these candidates can be found in the online Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District Newsletter at www.HolidayIsland.com.

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  • Holiday Island is in a death spiral and will continue that way until the BOC and property owners make some drastic changes to how HI is operated. Unfortunately, I don't see any of the candidates prepared to do that. That 1700 non-paying lots will just continue to grow.

    -- Posted by Larryh on Tue, Nov 17, 2015, at 7:34 PM
  • Interesting point of view Larry,but you don't seem to address the "big picture."

    How do you realistically expect ONE "new" commissioner to single handedly change the course of HI? Everyone here needs to understand that the other four that are already in power will continue to totally contol HI until they are removed (one way or another) from office.

    The ONLY time any of the citizens/owners here have ANYTHING to say about what goes on here is once a year when they elect a commissioner.

    Once the election is over, the members of the BOC only have to listen to any public opinion IF THEY FEEL LIKE IT. The public has absolutely no input (oh we can grumble and *****, but there is NOTHING that can be done to alter whatever the BOC decides or wants other than to take them to court, and nobody has had the guts to do that except Bishoff).

    PAst Chairperson Griswald was appaarently fond of saying that the the HISID BOC "can do ANYTHING it wants to, until a judge says it can't". Unfortunately that appears to be a correct statement.

    When you really look at it the board is a five member, elected, dictatorship. Then, it only takes THREE of them, a simple majority, to vote in WHATEVER those three want (makes no difference what the majority of the OWNERS want ---- or what makes any sense in a rational world).

    Welcome to the Emirate of Holiday ISland !

    That would appear to me to be an overwelling reason to come an actual, legallly recognised, AR city. At least then there would be some state oversight and a grievance process, other than a privately funded lawsuit, to provide a check and balance over the "WE WANT OUR GOLF COURSES AT ANY COST !" crowd, who has been on power for years.

    The candidates views on golf was interesting. Two want golf at whatever the cost. Only one stated the reasonable (in my opinion) stance of "... how much can we afford?"

    IF the golfers are willing to pony up and pay for it, by all means let them have it (golf courses are pretty), if they want to keep getting everything for next thing to free by putting it on the backs of the majority of owners who don't want it --- let's start finding other uses for that land.

    At least one of the candidates said that NOTHING is off the table.

    The crack-pot ideas that the current BOC keeps harping on of schemes for the BOC to sell lots are nothing but a way for them play "king" and pour more assessment money down the drain.

    I have attended the meetings everyonce and awhile for many years, and always see Davis and Bishoff there. Haven;t seen Kees at all, but hear he shows up once and awhile to pitch his main passion of hiking trails.

    In asking around, it appears that almost NONE of the first time elected commissioners over the last decade or so have bothered to regularly, if at all, attend any of the HISID meetings to actually learn WHAT the business of the distrcit actually is, let alone HOW it is to be legally conducted.

    Might be nice to elect somebody who actually has "paid his dues" and sat though a few years of these circuses HISID calls meetings, and actually has some idea of what is going on --- and has more than just a vague idea of getting something done.

    Sorry this got to be so long, and wonder if anyone (other than Larryh) willl actually bother to read the article.

    Sure do miss KAte's regualar coverage, at least then some of the ownrs in HI had some idea of what was going on ---- God knows, nobody attends the meetings any more.

    Hey LArryh ----------- how about you running for the BOC next year?

    -- Posted by Truth or Consequences on Wed, Nov 18, 2015, at 10:49 AM
  • JUST WHEN I THOUGHT THINGS COULD NOT GRT ANY WORSE...

    GUESS WHAT... At the Commissioners meeting November 16th Commissioners Makidon and Graves said that the projected revenues for fiscal year 2016 did not include a 5% increase in assessments, only to be corrected by the office staff that said it did indeed include a 5% increase...Why the secrecy ???

    When asked what the $90,000.00 increase in the wage and salary line item was for all they could say was that $22,600.00 was for a cost of living increase for employees, but choose not to share any other information when asked, I was told at this point the Commissioners acted like they did not have a clue... I was later told that it was most likely for two salaries for employees to run the Marina...

    Then when the Marina operator told those in attendance that Commissioner Makadon HARASSED and THREATENED him with ruining his career if he did not volunteer to terminate his contract, Commissioner Makadon then accused Commissioner Davis of disagreeing with him and raising his voice in an executive meeting and that he felt threatened by Commissioner Davis remarks...

    I guess it is OK for Commissioner Makadon to harass and threaten an employee, but not OK for Commissioner Davis to raise his voice and disagree with the Board Chairperson....GO figure...........

    I guess I will have to go to the Commissioners meeting on Monday the 23rd to see for myself what action will be taken...

    Maybe Commissioner Makadon and commissioner Noonan should resign because they seem to be least effective and let the three candidates running for election fill those seats..

    -- Posted by LITTLE DOZER on Thu, Nov 19, 2015, at 9:20 AM
  • my way of thinking, there needs to be some way we could have Makadon and Graves prosecuted for their antics as self ordained gods on the BOC! At some point we need to find a way for the State or Feds to come and investigate them.

    Back to the article, I continue to say anyone running for the board should be a resident of H.I. for 5 years. The person most qualified and with the most knowledge of our community sat in the middle at the Meet your Candidates, and with Davis having board experience might consider him. Anyone can vote for whom they wish, but if we don't start seeing massive changes in the infrastructure, we need to clean house. I don't know why, yes I do....but the people in this community no longer can learn of the problems that face us with the present board. How about it CCN.. about firing backup our little section of the newspaper, so we have a place to present our views, or blast those that need it!

    -- Posted by Concerned Person on Thu, Nov 19, 2015, at 4:12 PM
  • Yeah, You'd think CCN could give HI better coverage, considering it's 20% of the cty. population.

    The BOC just gave more reasons for add'l lot owners to default on the AOB or add to the Turn-back lot inventory..

    I believe it's their goal to create their own kingdom, with the back 40 Surf's paying the piper!

    Next thing ya know they'll be charging 4 the air u breathe.

    -- Posted by CommonSense22 on Fri, Nov 20, 2015, at 12:44 PM
  • I was told bad publicity doesn't sell lots! So our comments in the H.I. section of the newspaper is no more! Now the BOC has, can and will have a free pass, to do as they wish without the community knowing what goes on.

    -- Posted by Concerned Person on Tue, Nov 24, 2015, at 10:34 PM
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