Unfunded requests major topic of HI Board's budget talks

Thursday, November 2, 2006

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- How to fund $65,000' worth of requests put back in the 2007 budget from previously unfunded items was a major topic of discussion at the Holiday Island Board of Commissioners budget work session Friday.

District Manager Kevin Crosson made a presentation of Pass #2 of the proposed budget, which stood at a net loss of $81,000 initially. By the end of the session, that loss had grown to $146,000 as commissioners agreed to consider adding back in several departmental requests.

A restroom discussion led the meeting, as Clubhouse, campground and Barn restrooms all need renovations costing at least $10,000 per facility.

Old and leaking plumbing and overflows in bathroom stalls have created problems in all three locations.

Commissioners agreed on funding $10,000 each at the Clubhouse and campground and $5,000 at the Barn.

Funding for the recycling center at The Park was added back in at the minimum cost of $5,000. The district has funded this amount each year to the Carroll County Solid Waste Authority, who indicated this may not be enough due to rising costs. Commissioners said they would wait to see the size of the request.

Commissioners committed $5,000 for a golf course marshal, as the volunteer marshal program was not working. The cost will provide for 25 hours per week from May through September.

"Just the fact we're actually doing something will have an impact," said Chairman Ken Mills, speaking of the flagrant abuses of the rules by a few property owners and guests.

"If we have a program where they know it will be enforced, we'll see more complaints coming in to the Pro Shop," added Commissioner Fred Pierson.

The fire department requested an additional paid firefighter/EMT at a total cost of $36,749.95 salary and benefits, contingent on getting a 90-10 matching grant from state and federal monies. The district's share would be $3,675 the first year and increase by 15 percent per year until it fully funds the position in the sixth year.

"My average firefighter is 65 to 70 years old," said Fire Chief Jack Deaton. "The younger people are working during the day, and we're getting some calls now where only three or four people show up."

He said the fire station is staffed seven days a week, 12 hours a day, mostly with volunteers. He currently has two employees who work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. two days a week.

He said the extra employee could help with building and fire inspection duties, freeing him up to do more administrative work.

The board agreed to fund the position, contingent on receiving grant monies.

Property insurance coverage was a big ticket item added back in, at a cost of between $18,000 and $20,000

Crosson said currently the district is covered for only $3.7 million of its assets, which does not include the water tanks, wells and wastewater treatment plant. He has been working with a group in Little Rock who can get the district coverage of up to $14.1 million that would cover all the district's assets. It would mean a higher deductible and a higher premium.

Commissioners agreed this should be funded.

The only item to remain unfunded is animal control, at a ballpark cost of $20,000. While the commissioners see the need for the position, problems coordinating with the county and sheriff's office have made it difficult to proceed. Commissioners want to see the results of the fall elections to determine whether a new administration would be more amenable to the district's proposal.

"Okay, we've put $65,000 back in, now how are we going to fund it?" asked Mills.

Crosson suggested a number of possibilities, making it clear he is not advocating any of them. They include the following:

* reducing proposed employees' wage increases by 1 percent, for a net gain of $9,100

* deferring the employee compensation plan update, to gain $2,600

* closing the Barn during the winter to save on utilities, to gain $4,000 (Crosson acknowledged this would be neither popular nor likely, as finding adequate spaces for the activities occurring there in winter is problematic)

* increasing assessments by $10, to gain $47,000

* increasing marina slip fees by 3 percent, to gain $4,558

* increasing annual activity cards for both golf and Rec Center by $20, to gain $9,200

* charging an additional $1 per round for golf card activity holders, to gain $30,000 (commissioners acknowledged administering this may be extremely difficult for the Pro Shop)

* selling golf memberships to non-property owners at $1,500 each

* opening both golf courses to non-property owners during slow times

* implementing a vacation property activity card, purchased by the property management businesses for each rental unit, for the Rec Center to give renters cash-free use of facilities.

Crosson will bring back recommendations at the regular work session on Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. at the district office.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: