HSVPOA Compliance Department is No More
In an attempt to present a friendlier and more community-minded front, the department’s name has been changed to “Community Support” and is overseen by Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager. Benfield, a twenty-three-year Air Force service member, served in the position of Compliance Supervisor under Charlie Brown, former Director of HSVPOA Code Enforcement.
Due to Brown’s recent resignation, the POA has undergone streamlining and reorganization of the former Compliance Department. Permitting and Inspections (in addition to other areas) have been placed under the purview of the newly appointed Associate Director of Public Services, Matthew Broom. Click here to read “HSVPOA Public Services Reorganizes Department,” which addresses the changes made to the Public Services Department.
Community Support Falls Organizationally Under the Police Department
Additionally, in a move by the HSVPOA to rebrand the Compliance Department, Tom Benfield, former Compliance supervisor, received a promotion to Community Support Manager, effective December 8, 2023. Community Support is organizationally under the Police Department. Police Officers will not enforce rules and regulations or look for issues of this type.
Benfield said when Charlie announced his resignation, it was decided that Community Support would best fit under the umbrella of the Police Department. “In other towns, animal control, code enforcement, and so forth are under the police department. It just made sense for my boss to be HSVPOA Police Chief Kristi Bennett. “Chief Bennett is a wonderful boss, easy to work with and for, and I am looking forward to Community Support’s relationship under Chief Bennett,” enthused Benfield.
Compliance Officers were Traditionally Viewed as the ‘Bad Guys’
Benfield said they are “basically squashing the word ‘compliance’ because it has become a dirty word.”
In Benefield’s role as Community Support Manager, he will perform the tasks of helping people, handling the Gates, and overseeing Community Support Officers, Animal Control, and Beach Patrol.
“The word ‘compliance’ doesn’t represent where we are going with this department,” stated Benefield.
“We want to rebrand ourselves as ‘Community Support’ because that is really what we are here to do. Recreation, golf, and streets have their specific responsibilities, but as far as a department that is here to help the people, who does that? We do!”Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager
Benfield said the Community Support Officers would not knock on doors. “We ran into a lot of contention when we did this. It can be difficult when that initial anger rises and you are face-to-face.” For the safety of the officers and to give owners a chance to think about their position and calm down, property owners will be notified of issues via phone, email, or letter.
“Traditionally, we have been viewed as the ‘bad guy’ or someone coming around to tell you something is wrong with your yard or something like that. We want to get away from that. We want to be viewed as employees who are here to help. Yet, sometimes that help can take the form of letting you know something needs fixing.”Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager
Some Rules are Being Clarified
Benfield said he has been informed of social media postings, discussing rules and regulations. He terms these postings as ‘growing pains,’ because of the new Rules and Regulations in effect in August 2023.”
He feels that social media posts can be helpful because they may bring to light something that is unfair or that needs clarification.
“The way some of the new rules were written does not portray the intention,” explained the manager.
Other issues being discussed on social media are trash can placement and the 72-hour restriction on RVs and boat trailer parking.
“We are in the process of ironing out some wording problems regarding trailer parking and are clarifying some other rules, and they should be resolved soon. We are waiting to see what the Board decides on the wording.”
Community Support Aspires to be Non-antagonistic
Benfield said the rules and regulations aim to protect property values. His organization wants to be a non-antagonistic and friendlier department. “We are steering our whole process away from antagonistic. Red tags will still be used for 72-hour issues. But we will not red-tag your house if you have clutter on your front porch.”
“Each area in the Village has its own character and timeline. We can’t expect every home to look like a brand new home,” stated Benfield. However, there are often more reports on rule violations in older neighborhoods, requiring officers to focus more on the issues in those areas.
Dealing with Issues
The first line of engagement will be a courtesy notice through a phone call, email, or letter.
“We know people don’t like to be told what to do on their own property. We recognize that. We try to be respectful of their property and just inform them of the situation.”Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager
After the initial contact, Community Support officers check back in ten days to see if the issue has been resolved. Currently, if the issue is cleared up, there is no notification, but Benfield said they are looking at a method of notifying property owners that the issue has been satisfactorily resolved. This may come in the form of a thank you note.
If the issue has not been corrected within ten days, a 30-day letter will be issued. This letter will contain the wording that you will be initially fined $150 at the end of the 30-day period and fined additionally at the rate of $25 per day until the issue is corrected. Fines will continue to mount until the issue is corrected and can be accrued up to five times the annual assessment. Currently, the cap on fines is $6,600. Benfield said they rarely go down this road.
“We use fines as a tool to gain adherence to the rules,” said Benfield.
The vehicles used by the Community Support Officers will be marked as “Hot Springs Village Property Owners Association,” The Compliance Department verbiage has been removed. It is undecided at this time whether the vehicles will be labeled as “Community Support.”
Contacting Community Support
If you have an issue or request, you may contact Community Support via their online form or by calling 501-922-5562 during regular business hours. If, for some reason, they do not answer, please leave your name, contact number, email address, street address, and description of your issue or request. Here is the link for the online Community Support form.
“I want to put people at ease. The staff working for me are nice and compassionate people. They sympathize with people’s situations.”Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager
About Tom Benfield
As an aviation specialist in the Air Force, Benfield worked on airplane electronic components such as autopilots, compasses, and other instruments. “As you move up in rank, you get promoted out of that fun stuff and become a personnel manager. I was a recruiter in Eugene, Oregon, for a few years. All in all, I had a great career. Serving in the Air Force was the best thing I ever did.”
A Redding, California native, Benfield retired in 2014 from Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas. Although hailing from north California, after retiring from the Air Force, the Benfields decided to remain in Arkansas due to the beauty of Arkansas and the societal changes in California.
A three-year Village resident, Benfield came out of an eight-year retirement almost two years ago and began a new career working for the POA.
“What better way, if you are going to work near your home, than to help your community and ensure everything looks nice.”Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager
By Cheryl Dowden
Click here to visit the Community Support page on the Explore the Village website.
Click here to read the HSVPOA Rules and Regulations.