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 I Met w/ Rob & Clayton to ask some Golf questions

We met at the golf maintenance barn and this saved me some lunch money. Thanks Rob and I am sorry Clayton! In my last column I asked several questions that only Clayton could answer, so I asked Rob if I could meet with his Head Of Golf Maintenance, Clayton Wood. Rob said ok and volunteered to sit in with us and I said ok. Also, I want to make this point concerning salary numbers from the 2 previous columns: the salary numbers include all employee benefits such as health insurance, 401K matching, payroll taxes, in other words, our total costs for those employees.

In my analysis at the end of my last column (What do the numbers say?) I raised the question of whether the 7 employees in the salary grouping for Golf Maintenance were working a 40 hour week or going home after "morning mowing and grooming". The reason was that with benefits, the average hourly rate for the 7 was $21.80 to $22.05 per hour with 40 hours, but higher with fewer hours being worked. When asked, both Rob and Clayton said all 7 were putting in at least 40 hours with some overtime on weekends. Clayton and his #1 man are salaried and the other 5 are hourly with benefits. Clayton said that he lets the guys go home sometimes on rain days but the time was made up later.

Since we are not currently overseeding which requires more winter labor, the crew has been used some for landscaping and other projects at the Fore Seasons, not golf related, and currently has been active on the big water drainage project on Ox Bow Cove, which is golf related, according to Rob. Are we overstaffed or understaffed?

We have all heard the number 75,000 rounds per year being bandied about by certain groups on the Ranch and since I had trouble coming up with 75,000 when I analyzed the potential "play days" in a year, I asked these two guys about the question of overplay. Rob said that Carl (head golf pro) had said that the play in 2006 was more in the 55,000 range and was not 75,000. They both agreed that the pressure on the course was there, but being dealt with. Rob said he had a report from a renowned "Golf Course Expert" that says that our course is in fine shape. I will get back to you on this report. I asked Clayton about his opinion on the possible 9 hole extension project, and he smiled and said "no comment". When asked, Clayton said 2 new full time maintenance people would be required for a new 9 holes. Rob volunteered the comment that if the 9 holes were to be approved, July would be the latest time of year to break ground, for best results. Thanks Rob and Clayton for the time given to the Gazette!

Overplay has been used as a reason for the possible new 9 hole addition but, in my opinion, the primary driving force is the new Presidential timeshares that could be built on the course. Silverleaf doesn't need our permission to build and maintain a new 9 holes. It would, however, need our permission to hook up with our 18, with our maintenance department and golf pro's to schedule play on the 27 hole total. W.C.

Golf concerns:
I am very concerned and disturbed about information gained after attending the March pre-board meeting and reading the published minutes of that meeting.

The major concern is obviously the golf course proposal. After the proposed 9 hole expansion was SOUNDLY defeated last fall by property owners, now it seems that construction will begin in July. Information has been circulated that Silverleaf will now pay for the total costs of the construction, but maintenance costs will have to be a shared responsibility of the property owners.

According to the minutes from the March pre-board meeting: "Now, largely due to the "golf vote" that was taken, Silverleaf realizes that they are going to have to take up MOST of the burden of the total costs involved with such a project."

Does anyone have any idea of how much MOST of the burden Silverleaf will pay? Of course not, but it will be as little as possible.

The minutes stated how the golf course expansion is important to Silverleaf because of the construction of so-called "Presidential timeshare units." Silverleaf will make MILLIONS from these units. For the sake of simplicity, I will just approximate the maintenance income from owners of the current approximately 130 Silverleaf units at Holly Lake. Each unit will have 50 owners (owners in timeshares usually purchase one week of use of the unit) which means the total owners (if all 130 units are sold) for the 130 units will be 6500.

According to several current Holly Lake Silverleaf timeshare owners, the yearly maintenance fee is $720. WHEN THIS AMOUNT IS MULTIPLIED BY THE POSSIBLE 6500 OWNERS, SILVERLEAF COULD POSSIBLY MAKE $4,680,000 DOLLARS IN YEARLY MAINTENANCE FEES ALONE JUST FROM HOLLY LAKE RANCH!!

Yes, over FOUR and a HALF MILLION DOLLARS in annual maintenance fees.

These 130 units will not match the proposed quality or price of the "Presidential units".

Imagine the millions of dollars (and infrastructure problems) that sale and maintenance fees of these units will bring.

And, according to the information in the Gazette, Silverleaf only provides $7882.00 per quarter, which means out of approximately $4,602,000 of yearly maintenance fees, Silverleaf is only paying Holly Lake Association $31,528.00. This is far less than the amount Silverleaf would pay if the 1990 Settlement Judgment was followed.

Our People's Board has already made progress by taking the mandate for change as reflected in the last election to Silverleaf. The fact that Silverleaf is even talking to our B Board, and making concessions, is evidence that Silverleaf knows that property owners are not satisfied with continuing to do "business as usual."

Among the concessions are three (3) specific points:

(1) First concession: Silverleaf will move the brush burn from proximity to Section 7 to proximity to the airpark section. Mr. Vawter, according to the minutes, says that the smoke will be approximately 600 feet from his home and that smoke may affect the landing of aircraft at the airstrip. When "prevailing winds" determine whether or not brush can be burned safely, then definitely an alternative plan must be used. The fact that the brush burn conducted Monday, April 2 spread beyond the burn site and at least 4 trucks had to be used to spray surrounding brush and trees to contain possible spread of the fire should verify Mr. Vawter's claims.

I have sat through at least two pre-board meetings where plans for using a wood chipper have been discussed. And still we are being told that "a chipper is not out of the question." but the chipper idea seems to be out of the plans since two burns have already been conducted.

According to the Subdivision Restriction # 8, which can ONLY be changed by a ballot vote of EACH Subdivision: Garbage and Trash Disposal: EACH LOT OWNER SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR DISPOSING OF HIS TRASH AND THE BURNING OF THE SAME WITHIN THE SUBDIVISION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED."

I can find no record in the Wood County Courthouse (after many hours of research) where this provision has been changed.

(2) Second concession: The maintenance barn will also be moved away from Section 7, which will make that area more attractive to owners of the adjacent lots.

If the Association is given "easement rights" to the maintenance barn and brush burn property, then will the Association have to assume the taxes for these properties? And will the Association continue to pay taxes on the old maintenance and brush burn sites?

(3) Third concession: Silverleaf will begin paying $125,000 annually the day construction begins. These monies will be placed in a fund to defray maintenance and other expenditures.

Do these "other expenditures" cover road wear, water usage, sewerage and security problems? If so, why not be up-front and list these expenditures (liabilities to the Association) specifically?

We have been told that Silverleaf has consulted with the water company about the impact of the new construction to our water supply and sewerage, but what IS the impact? Why has it not been included in any documentation for the property owners to see?

Silverleaf is not negotiating fairly with our People's Board. The suggestions and concessions they have offered are a DROP IN THE BUCKET compared to the monies to be made from the sale of the Presidential units. And yet Silverleaf fully expects our People's Board to sign documents which will once again place an unwanted and unfair financial burden on the property owners once the additional holes are completed.

We were told that both golf and Association dues would rise once the course was finished. According to the minutes, initially golfers would have to pay an additional $150 - $200 dollars. Now, according to the minutes golf dues will hopefully only rise $50 per year, but no cap was put on how many years this increase will continue.

Our dues will go up, because cost of living will go up. These type of increases are expected. But, we hope that our People's Board will remind Silverleaf that we are not interested in negotiations that will raise our dues for projects we do not want.

If Silverleaf is sincere in wanting to appease the property owners, why have they not begun to pay the monies decreed by the 1990 Settlement Judgment? These long-overdue funds would go a long way to alleviate the financial burden on the Association and possibly provide a small "reserve" fund.

Silverleaf owns the land where the proposed new golf expansion will be located. Silverleaf has already indicated a plan to pay for the construction of the course. Even though an earlier proposal was SOUNDLY rejected, the course will be built. So let Silverleaf build.

But, if the earlier expansion was turned down, then let Silverleaf take this vote as our intent to let Silverleaf cover not only costs for construction, but TOTAL cost for maintenance, and a fair share of increased expenditures for road maintenance, security, and sewerage. Considering the terrain where the proposed expansion will be built, can we assume that there will be construction delays that MIGHT drag completion past the 18 months? If so, according to earlier information, then Silverleaf will recoup ALL of its investment and leave us again holding a very big financial bag.
Silverleaf is going to make a bundle out of this golf course-Presidential Unit package. They want it, let them pay for it entirely.

According to the minutes, the property owners have not "given up" anything in the cooperative efforts with the Silverleaf board. "There are still plenty of issues to discuss and improvements to be made." We are glad to know that, sixteen years after the 1990 Settlement Judgment, that the People's Board have finally begun to bring those items from the Settlement to the forefront beginning with the opening of the books for audit.

Our People's Board should remind Silverleaf that in addition to the provisions of the 1990 Settlement Judgment, the recreational easement question on the 1600 plus acres is still very much alive.

Once our People's Board reinforces the property owners' stand on this matter and tells Silverleaf that any negotiations will have to include the 5 previously rejected suggested Bylaws Amendments, and Silverleaf's TOTAL COMMITMENT to ALL expenses relating to the golf course, then maybe Silveleraf will come to the table bringing something IN WRITING other than one-sided proposals that only benefit them.

We are not privy to the content of the negotiations, nor should we be. But, if Silverleaf is interested in starting to gain our trust, then they should be the first ones to put their intent and financial commitment on paper for us to see and judge how well they are doing to gain our trust. A big step forward will be for the Silverleaf Board to make the motion to accept the Settlement Judgment Amendments as part of our Bylaws.

I would respectfully ask our People's Board to refrain from signing any documents committing the property owners to more unwanted expenditures until and unless Silverleaf honors the 1990 Settlement Judgment in its entirety and provides proof of compliance.

Respectfully submitted,
Kaye Held


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 April 2009 16:53  

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