The Hot Springs Village POA Finance and Planning Committee met on July 25, 2022. At the meeting, two new members were introduced, Operations and Maintenace Table progress was reported on, and the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the ambulance service was discussed. Additionally, the committee touched on the plan to change the water treatment plant chemical and how to best fulfill the Board’s promise to provide a regular monthly accounting of how the additional assessment dollars are being spent on infrastructure.

F & P Committee Welcomes New Members

The Finance and Planning Committee (F & P) met on July 25, 2022, with a full complement of members. The two new members are David Moore and Donald Schuettenberg. Schuettenberg agreed to take on the F & P Secretarial role. Schuettenberg said, “I’ll give it a try. I’ll try anything.”

Operations and Maintenance Tables (O & M)

Chair, Larry Siener, said he and Committee Member, Jeff Lofgren, went over the legacy version of the O and M Tables with staff to try to provide information and clarification about the purpose and the format and how to make the best use of the information. The committee is ready to do a second pass of the O and M Tables with management. The goal is to have the second round finished by August 12.

The second pass of the O and M Tables will give the General Manager, Kelly Hale, and the Controller, Frank Hubbard, an understanding of what our likely revenues and demand forecast will be for 2023.

Lofgren said there are a lot of new staff and he and Siener were able to answer many questions about the 7-year outlook (O and M Tables). High-budget expenditures need to be planned for and this is accomplished by using the O & M Tables. “This gives us an outlook on where we are going and a mechanism to track when we defer something so we don’t lose track of it. We notice it is deferred and put it to the next year and keep track of it,” said Lofgren. Items in the O and M Tables are listed by priority – high, medium, and low. A number of large projects will take multiple years to complete.

Last year the board set aside two fixed asset funds so we can pay for items as we go along. Carefully managing our funds by looking at what projects or expenditures are coming next, helps us focus on where the priorities are.

Lofgren said they stressed to the staff that there are metrics on how we are tracking progress. Metrics are really powerful because they help us understand what we are getting for the dollar. Tracking data is helpful in the long term.

Important Water Treatment Plant Change

Board Director, Gary Belair, asked about the conversion of water treatment plant chemicals. In a March 18, 2022 article on the Hot Springs Village People website, Public Service Committee Chair, Rolland White, said, “We have switched from chlorine gas to UV in the sewage plants. The next step at our water plant, later this year, is to begin the conversion from chlorine gas to sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), which is a liquid bleach. The chlorine gas, if released, is a significant hazard.”

Hale said this conversion in the water treatment plant is moved to the top of the priorities. A Federal EPA watch was assigned for the Village because we are still using chlorine gas in our water treatment plant. Moving to sodium hypochlorite will lower the risk profile for the Village and hopefully reduce our insurance costs.

Ambulance Contract

Siener said that this is a high profile and sensitive topic and a lot of people have a vested interest in this contract. Many of us will use the service over the next six years.

The current Lifenet contract expires on December 31, 2022. Siener said, “Chief Miller and the contract folks in POA got together and put out Requests for Proposal to several vendors” and three of those vendors responded back.

The POA assembled a response review team, which includes the F & P Committee. Fire Chief, Jason Miller and Charlie Brown, Director of Compliance & Contract Management, will be leading the team. Also on the team, is Jeff Lofgren’s brother, who is a fire chief for another community. In addition, Joe Bennett (Police Chief Kristi’s husband), who was an emergency response coordinator in the Texarkana area, will lend his expertise. Siener said having these diverse team members brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the review process.

This process will be completed in the latter part of August. At that time, the response review team will brief the General Manager and Board on findings and recommendations. After a final decision is made, an announcement will be made to the community. The contract will be for six years – three base years and three one-year renewal options.

GM Kelly Hale said we need to make sure we get it right. “People like what we have. Change is difficult.”

Siener stated that there are always opportunities to make things better.

Better Communication to the Community on Infrastructure Spending

When the recent assessment increase vote passed, the HSVPOA Board of Directors promised the community that they would be kept up to date on how the new assessment dollars are being spent.

Siener said that the committee has the ability to shape the data and messaging so it is easier for the community to understand what is going on. The people tracking the data are POA staff.

The Accounting Department and F & P are working on developing a better dashboard/pie chart. Committee Member, C. Ford Williams said he likes what we have been doing but it needs a little more explanation around it. Siener agreed with Ford. Controller, Frank Hubbard, said he feels confident they can satisfy the request.

Report by Cheryl Dowden