POA shifting gears to confront pandemic financial issues; new director and treasurer seated
An urgency to beware of financial pitfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic was voiced at today’s two-hour POA board of directors’ meeting. The board also tried to back away from policies imposed over the last four years by prior boards.
JoAnne Corry was sworn in as the seventh member of the board. She fills a slot created when Chuck Alvord resigned last month.
Wayne Foltz was sworn in as the POA’s new treasurer, replacing Dan Aylward who resigned from the volunteer position. Per the charter of the Finance and Planning Committee, Foltz will also serve as chair. Aylward will continue as a regular member of the Finance and Planning Committee.
On Monday, the board announced it had hired Charles King as the POA’s new general manager. To read about King’s hire, click here.
Corry, who goes by the name Joanie, has lived in Hot Springs Village for seven years. She moved here from Memphis where she had been involved in foreign sales and training. She has been married for 47 years.
Since moving to the Village, she has been president of the HSV Breakfast Lions Club, and active in vision aid.
* * *
Interim general manager John Paul said the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact Village operations, especially in finding enough employees to work at restaurants and curbing amenity revenue. He expects the hiring problem to ease later this month when federal unemployment payments end and those receiving them have to go back to work.
Paul said bids are being requested for repaving and striping parking lots at several golf courses and Balboa Beach. Board chair Diana Podawiltz agreed “we’re playing catch up” with striping.
Not addressed was the need for striping and repaving Village roads, which haven’t been worked on for four years.
Director Dick Garrison complained about the restaurant at Granada closing at 4 p.m. on a Friday. He was going to take the new general manager, Charles King, to dinner there and was frustrated to find it closed on what for most restaurants is one of the busiest nights of the week.
Paul acknowledged that was a mistake and said it won’t happen again.
He also said he hopes the POA can get out of the food-service business and turn the restaurants over to private vendors. That’s a “priority number-one issue,” he said.
* * *
Chief Operating Officer Jason Temple said a generator would be installed Monday at the police department’s headquarters. The department has never had one before.
Temple said the Village is studying ways to curb bad odors at the waste-treatment plants. He said 207 street signs have been replaced.
Podawiltz asked about automated reading of Village water meters. A test program began last year. Most meters are read by POA employees who go door-to-door gathering data. Temple said a decision will have to be made in the next year whether to expand the program.
Director Tucker Omohundro suggested letting homeowners buy an automated meter because they’d be able to go online and monitor their water use. Spotting and fixing one leak would pay for the meter, he said.
* * *
Outgoing treasurer Dan Aylward discussed improving the budget process for 2021. He noted revenue this year is close to last year, but $1.4 million below budget, a reference to the board’s continuing frustration with poor budgeting in the past.
Aylward remains concerned about revenue from golf and food services. “We really need to re-think the food-service operations” because they’re not coming back, he said, echoing what Paul said earlier.
On capital spending, Aylward urged the board to delay any spending until the over-all revenue picture becomes clearer. “The virus could continue for two or three years,” he warned.
He urged the board to work toward building cash reserves equal to six months of spending. Today the POA has reserves to cover about six weeks, he said.
Aylward urged the board to review every capital expenditure before it moves forward, including those approved last year when the 2020 budget was approved. “Things are much different today than they were then,” he said.
Board vice-chair Lloyd Sherman said the Village’s cash position would have been down $1,088,000 if it hadn’t been for the $3.1-million federal support grant.
“Watching cash flow is critical,” Sherman said.
Director Pam Avila said changing times mean the board and staff should be working harder to find new ways to generate revenue.
“It’s not going to fix itself,” Omohundro agreed.
Aylward urged marketing closer to the Village to try to lure people who live within 60 miles of the Village to use our amenities. “We’re not talking to those people,” he said.
On another subject, Aylward said the police department’s tasers are out of warranty and need to be replaced.
At the conclusion of his report, Aylward said he’d been honored to serve the Village as POA treasurer. He was given a certificate of appreciation.
(Tomorrow I’ll send you a new What’s Happening in Hot Springs Village package of charts and tables bringing you up to date on finances and amenity use through the first half of the year.)
* * *
Under a lease-with-option-to-buy plan, the board approved buying three backhoes that have been leased for the last four years.
Podawiltz suggested the move was the first step toward reversing a policy of leasing equipment instead of owning it. For most of the Village’s history, the POA bought things such as vehicles and golf carts. About four years ago, the practice of leasing was implemented.
“If you take care of this stuff, it will last forever and ever,” she said.
* * *
In her report to the board, chief member experience officer (CMEO) Jamie Caperton said her staff had finished layouts for seating in the Woodlands auditorium during the pandemic. With the social-distancing guidelines, the 654-seat auditorium will be able to hold 55 couples (110 patrons) or 56 individuals.
Caperton said ideal-LIVING magazine has named Hot Springs Village as the nation’s top lakes community among planned communities. The award will be outlined in the edition scheduled for delivery tomorrow.
The magazine is said to be the best marketing tool to reach those who are potential buyers in the Village. The median age of its readers is 56 years old. The three states with the most readers are Illinois, Texas and California. Its readers are most interested in mountains, lakes, and golf. The three communities readers visited the most are Hot Springs Village, Fairfield Glade in Tennessee and Fairfield Bay in Arkansas.
Caperton said the Village attracted 45 new members in June, an unusually high number.
* * *
She said the redesigned Explorethevillage.com website for visitors was launched on June 29. Early indications are viewers are spending more time using it.
There was no mention of when the POA’s clunky and hard-to-use website for members will be upgraded.
Finally, do you ever wonder where leads to future home buyers come from? Caperton gave the board this breakdown of where 1,661 leads came from in the first six months this year:
- ideal-LIVING magazine – 1,255
- Village website – 261
- Private calls – 95
- Discovery Package – 26
- Walk-ins/call-ins – 24
* * *
An ad hoc Elections Committee was created today to insure the 2021 board elections are handled in the best way possible, including the possibility of electronic voting.
Jerry Yeric, a political scientist and chair of prior POA election committees, was named chair. Serving with him will be former two-term POA board president Keith Keck and former Saline County Justice of the Peace Jim Zahnd. Corry will be the board liaison to the committee.
If needed, the board approved Drew Kahle and Gwendolyn Davis as alternate members. Kahle chaired the most recent board election committee and Davis is a retired city clerk with experience in running elections.
The interest in voting electronically is important because of the pandemic and because a board election costs about $35,000, most of which is for postage.
* * *
The POA board is emerging from what some saw as an anti-property owner era under prior administrations. This board is once again embracing the abundant talent we have in the Village.
Two Villagers – Karen Bump and Steve Bylow – volunteered hundreds of hours to help find the POA’s new general manager, Charles King, and saved the POA upwards of $64,300, Garrison told the board today. For details on how the search for a new GM took place, click here.
Paul stepped up to work for minimum wage as interim general manager while the search for a new executive was underway. Also working for minimum wage at the request of Podawiltz is Villager Jama Lopez, a contract controller who was called in to help organize the accounting department in this time of transition. Lopez is performing research, analysis, and review, and working closely with Paul.
Aylward, who has a full-time job outside the Village, volunteered to work with the board when the CEO was fired and the chief financial officer resigned. He spent up to 30 hours a week helping the Village and is still a member of the new Finance and Planning Committee.
Please consider sharing your talents.
Standing committees are the lifeblood of property-owner involvement in local government. There are openings on the Architectural Control, Common Property, Forest & Wildlife; Finance & Planning, Governmental Affairs, Recreation, and Trails committees.
Avila said, “we have thousands of armchair quarterbacks here in the Village.” It’s more rewarding to step up and help.
Click here to get an application form. When you fill it out, send it to Ella Scotty at [email protected], or drop it off at the POA Building. Serving on a committee can be a great experience and it will truly enhance your understanding of how the POA operates and the challenges it faces.
* * *
You’ve heard me grump before about how hard it is to find decent things to watch on television. If you share my frustration, consider this:
Many of us are members of Amazon Prime. Which means we have free access to Amazon Prime television. For $5 a month, you can sign up for Hallmark movies and shows (there’s a seven-day free trial so you can see if you like it).
I’ve always loved Hallmark’s Hall of Fame programming. It’s included in the service.
To see what’s available, go to www.hmnow.com and check out the offerings. The quality (for me) sure beats most of what else is out there.
* * *
Good news: Our new refrigerator is supposed to be delivered tomorrow. We give praise to the old spare in the garage. It held up well over the last seven weeks.
* * *
Coronavirus cases in Arkansas will top 30,000 today after 794 new cases were reported yesterday.
By Former Board Director, Frank Leeming, 7-15-20
* * *
Thank you for reading. Click here to visit Hot Springs Village Community Forums.
* * *
Click here to visit the Hot Springs Village People Facebook Group.