January 2022 State of the City Report & 2022 Objectives
Updated: Mar 10, 2022
As could be expected in the 1st year of operation for the newly created city of Holiday Island, some things went as planned and some did not. But in the end, the city is in a healthy financial position with a clearer perspective of what can be accomplished going forward.
The primary objectives for incorporating as a city were to return revenue from taxes already being paid by the residents and property owners of Holiday Island to Holiday Island, to assist HISID in road maintenance and operation of the Fire Department thereby reducing some of the financial pressure on the District, to assume responsibility for police protection, to establish code enforcement capability and to initiate some activity relative to economic development. The following summarizes what was accomplished relative to those goals.
Financial – General Fund
The distribution of funds from the State for the General Fund were delayed by three months due to the census bureau not being able to provide a population estimate for the city. In order to prevent losing possibly an entire year of revenue, the city requested and got passed a change to the law making it possible for the Arkansas Geographical Information Service to provide that estimate. The majority of the General Revenue funds distributed by the State come from the city’s share of the Carroll County sales tax. The sales tax ran significantly ahead of forecast. Consequently, in spite of the fact that the city lost out on three months of revenue, total revenue still came in at 92% of budget.
General Fund expenditures were significantly below budget allowing the city to establish a $75,000 operating reserve.
Financial – Street Fund & Roads
The Street Fund was similarly impacted by the three month delay. Fuel tax and the ½% State sales tax for roads ran slightly ahead of budget each month when revenue was received. Consequently, also in spite of loosing three months of revenue, total Street Fund revenue still came in at 83% of budget.
Since the Suburban Improvement District suspended road paving for 2021 and since the city and the District needed to establish the basis for an interlocal agreement on road resurfacing and maintenance, Street Fund revenue will be held in the Street Fund to be used for the city’s portion of a $607,000 paving program in 2022. $300,000 of which will be funded through a State grant. The point needs to be stressed that this is $607,000 in road resurfacing that the property owners in Holiday Island will not have to pay for out of future assessments or new taxes.
Also, during 2021, the city maintained that it was due half of the 3-mill property tax that the county levies for road maintenance. In spite of our having several legal opinions as well as an Attorney General opinion, the County did not agree. Fortunately we were able to convince them in December that we were correct, so we will be receiving those funds in February along with monthly payments for taxes collected this year.
Buildings and Construction
The City Council passed an ordinance establishing a building code and Building and Construction Department for the city. Starting 1-1-22, the city will be responsible for reviewing all applications for building permits, issuing those permits, and doing the necessary follow up inspections to assure compliance to the code.
The city is currently seeking applications for a Building Inspector.
Planning and Zoning
The City Council passed an ordinance establishing a Planning and Zoning Commission for the city. At this point, as allowed by law, the City Council is the Planning Commission with the Mayor as Chair. In time, possibly in 2022, a separate slate of commissioners will be appointed as the Planning Commission.
To date the Planning Commission has adopted an area planning map, a land use plan, a master street map, and adopted the zoning requirements integral to the Declarations of Reservations as the interim city zoning requirements. In 2022, much more comprehensive zoning ordinances will be passed, and a Board of Adjustment will be established to hear appeals for variances to the zoning ordinances.
The combined Planning and Zoning Commission and Buildings and Construction Department have replaced the former Planning Commission that had worked on behalf of the Developer over the years.
Code Enforcement – Health and Sanitation
A top priority for 2022 will be to pass ordinances regulating health, safety, sanitation and the general welfare of the residents of Holiday Island. This will encompass a wide variety of areas including illegal dumping, trash pick-up, illegal burning, maintenance of structures relative to health and safety, vegetation control and others.
This will address some (but not all) of the issues historically associated with violations of the unit covenants. It is important to point out though that the city will not be the “defenders of the covenants”. The unit declarations of reservations, commonly called the unit covenants, are private contracts between the property owners and the city as such has no right nor responsibility to enforce them.
The city is currently seeking applications for a Code Enforcement Officer.
The city and the HISID have an interlocal agreement to provide fire protection and EMS services to the city. HISID continues to operate the fire department with financial support from the city.
Policing – Sheriff Contract
The city and HISID had discussions during the year relative to the city taking over the sheriff contract. The discussion centered more on the need for a second deputy since one deputy can only cover approximately 25% of the total hours in a week and more importantly has no back up in potentially dangerous situations. And although Holiday Island remains a safe place to live, unfortunately we do have dangerous situations here from time to time. We were not able to put the plan together for a 2nd deputy before the end of the year. Consequently, HISID renewed their contract with the sheriff for 2022. We are continuing to work on a long range plan to establish a police department that would be staffed with two deputies provided through an interlocal agreement between the County, the City, and HISID. We would hope to have that in place in the first half of 2022.
Once this is in place the city will enter into an interlocal agreement with Eureka Springs to prosecute our cases in the Eureka Springs District Court. This will save Holiday Island a considerable amount of money each year.
The City Council passed a resolution allowing the Mayor to establish an Economic Development Task Force. Due to time demands on other priorities, that did not happen. However, we were able to apply for two grants both impacting our potential for high speed broadband internet access for all residents of Holiday Island. Currently there are pockets involving hundreds of people where cable is not available without paying the provider many thousands of dollars to run the cable. We are monitoring the status of those grants.
This report covers the highlights of 2021 but in no way does justice to the volume of work done by a group of city officials who are volunteering their time and talent. I didn’t even touch on all the work done just to allow us to conduct business. Everything from setting up bank accounts to having phones and internet, having a website and an office to call our home. All being done with careful attention to the laws under which we must operate. I encourage everyone to visit our website at www.cityofholidayisland.com and scan the ordinances and resolutions that have been researched and adopted for the benefit of the city.
Looking forward to a great 2022.
Mayor – Holiday Island