Letter to the Editor: In Support of Cherokee Village S.I.D.
I visited a friend and his family in September 1997. He had a house on Lake Thunderbird where I swam from his dock, enjoyed the rural [setting] of the Village, the wildlife, and most particularly the golf courses. I picked up some real estate brochures and was amazed at the very reasonable real estate prices for what I perceived was this “little piece of heaven.” I ended up moving here in January 1998 having purchased a home in Cherokee Village. This was a place I could afford to retire even on a very modest retirement. By comparison the taxes were very low here and still are even with the increase to the S.I.D. assessments, the first increase since 1996. I was aware of S.I.D. which was the only form of government in the village at that time. I understood that the commissioners that plotted the course for the village were appointed, not elected. My original thought was “Gee that’s not very American”, but decided to keep an open mind about it since this village had been existing under this form of government for over 40 years at the time and I was liking what I saw. During the course of living in this village for the past 20 years, I came to have an appreciation for the village and the S.I.D.. and the valued services SID was providing to the village for what seemed to be a very nominal fee, about $11/month; $132.50/yr on a lot with or without a house regardless of location. I also noticed that even though the commissioners are selected by the current commissioners, they have been able to attract civic minded, serious people as commissioners who don’t even receive a salary. I came to realize that the S.I.D. was giving us a great “bang for our buck”. S.I.D. is THE most frugal government entity I have ever known. When this property was developed, it had 24 parks which the S.I.D. services with three people plus three to four summertime people, two major facilities with pools, the Thunderbird and Omaha centers for which Parks and Rec provides maintenance, plus a person to oversea the pools and recreation centers including an exercise facility at the Omaha Center, also Gitchee Gumee Beach on Lake Sequoyah. S.I.D. also maintains the lakes and the dams including weed eating the face of the dams at least yearly. S.I.D. Parks and Rec also oversees and maintains the campgrounds. S.I.D. operates two excellent golf courses and clubhouses. Maintenance of the golf courses is done with 5-6 people at each course in the summertime, one to two at each course in the wintertime + one full time mechanic to keep up the equipment. The average for maintenance personnel for a single 18 hole golf course is 14 people; S.I.D. gets by with 5-6 people and they do a wonderful job. They also have one to two running the clubhouse at each course. Both courses are for property wwners and their guests, but in the actual operation no one willing to pay the play fees has a problem getting on either course. I’ve heard a few complaints that the S.I.D. manager does have a fairly substantial salary by our village’s standards, but he “wears a lot of hats”. His salary is quite reasonable for a person with all these responsibilities, managing a substantial budget and keeping the costs down and the service level high. The employees work for a small amount over the minimum wage and have been proven to be very willing and hard working. That’s what I meant by my preceding statement about the “frugality of SID” and considerable “bang for our buck”. I don’t see how anyone could do a better job of keeping up all of these facilities while maintaining strict budget controls that minimize operational costs.
We have a wonderful little rural village. Granted it does not have some of the amenities of larger villages or cities, nor does it have the corresponding costs of operation and higher taxes and assessments either. For those of you upset about the S.I.D. assessment increase, look at what we are getting. Before you consider leaving because of this assessment increase. find a place where you can get more than we enjoy here for less assessments.
There is a current lawsuit that threatens the very existence of our village as we know it. The lawsuit is a class action suit filed in your and my behalf without any consent on our part. The intent of the lawsuit, make no mistake about it, is to sell off the S.I.D. assets. The money would be paid to those enjoined in the lawsuit with the VAST majority of the funds going to attorneys and the lawsuit filers. I think you will agree with me that this village without all the amenities provided by S.I.D. is not the village we anticipated when we bought in. Don’t allow a lawsuit to wreck this village.
I will be getting a petition going about filing a counter lawsuit against those bringing this lawsuit against the S.I.D. and the extreme and lasting damage has and will cause to the community we love. I look forward to your support in speaking out against this lawsuit. Please note that not taking exception will probably be considered as in agreement with this lawsuit and the dismantling of the village. Think about it. Think our roads are poor now, try doing it without the 34 percent S.I.D. contribution. Think your insurance costs are high now, find out what they will be if we go to having only one fire department, no one looking after dams and lakes, etc.
Cherokee Village, Ark.