From The Blog
A Letter from KICA Board Chair Dave Morley
As we enter this new year, I hope you are feeling a renewed sense of hope as vaccines are rolling out nationwide. Unlike much of the country, Kiawah has been fortunate through this pandemic. We’ve had record-breaking real estate sales, and a transfer fee on these transactions has bolstered KICA’s reserve fund, which is used for infrastructure repairs and replacements. Early on, staff made immediate and substantial cuts to our operating budget in anticipation of lower income from commercial access fees, investments, and Sandcastle guest fees and private events. These actions stabilized KICA’s finances while allowing most operations to continue, including significant progress towards the board’s strategic initiatives.
In March of 2020, the board proposed a package of improvements to infrastructure to optimize Kiawah’s drainage system, which would mitigate detrimental hazardous flooding susceptibilities in many areas of the island. 82% voted in favor of the proposal and the associated special assessment, and by the end of the year, two of the most impactful projects were completed. In 2021, we’ll see a continuation of water resilience efforts as the recommendations from the former Flood Mitigation Task Force and Adaptive Management Task Force continue to be executed. We will complete two more projects in 2021 and are well on our way to completing all six projects by the end of 2022.
Last year, the IT Task Force oversaw an overhaul to KICA’s technology landscape with the implementation of Salesforce. This platform connects KICA’s technology solutions and powers the member account portal. Additional functionalities will be rolled out over time to enhance KICA’s ability to provide exceptional services to its members.
At the start of this year, the HR Task Force transitioned from a temporary project-based task force to an ongoing committee. Their original scope included several projects, such as a compensation study of KICA’s staff leaders and the refinement of a consistent and rigorous performance management process, but the need for HR expertise in this challenging employment environment proved worthy of an ongoing engagement, so the board converted the task force to a standing committee.
Another priority of the board, which hopefully has become apparent to members, is community involvement. Last fall, the Board Outreach and Education Committee (formerly the Nominating Committee) hosted two informational sessions about board service, which resulted in a record number of candidates volunteering for board service in this year’s election – 13! Great progress was also made when the Community Outreach Task Force opened a new channel of communication with the board by hosting five community conversations in October. In February, the task force will host three more of these virtual sessions (see dates) to hear directly from members. In addition to these community conversations, the board has implemented a new open format meeting starting on Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. (register here), which will happen every-other month, in between traditional board meetings. The structure of these meetings will be informal and will encourage an open dialogue between board members and community members as island projects and initiatives are discussed. We truly want to hear your feedback and concerns with KICA and community life, so that we can work to improve your experience.
Along with direct member feedback, the board relies on data and policies to make informed, unbiased decisions, and we continuously work to build those resources. Right now, we are carefully examining and precisely defining KICA’s quality standards, starting with infrastructure, to ensure that roads, leisure trails, boardwalks and drainage are maintained at a consistent standard. These definitions, along with the existing Reserve Study that outlines a schedule of infrastructure replacement according to its useful life, will help delineate priorities for infrastructure projects.
Although we are proud of the accomplishments of 2020 and the groundwork this has set for continued progress in 2021, not everything in recent months has gone as planned. In October, KICA opened a reservation session at the heated Oceanview pool to families, for just the fall season. In the summer season, this pool is reserved for adults-only, and a group of members expressed great frustration with not only the decision itself, but also at how the decision was made, criticizing the lack of community input. I regret that input was not sought and admit that the board’s communication of the decision structure was unclear. Although, there are disagreements on the board as to what constitutes a staff-level decision versus a board-level decision, there are several points that have been raised, which should be clarified. It is important that everyone understands the basic timeline:
- On Oct. 2, Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Bailey emailed a weekly update to the board, notifying them of the intent to open a swim session in the heated pool to families, in addition to sessions for adults-only. In the summer season, this Oceanview pool is reserved for adults-only, but after heating equipment was installed in July, staff felt that the association’s only heated pool should be accessible to all members in the off-season. This notification generated no comments from the board.
- On Friday, Oct. 9, KICA announced a family session at the heated Oceanview pool. Several members expressed their frustration with this change, spurring the board to meet to discuss the family session, and formally vote on a decision. The board voted 5-2 on Oct. 14 to allow family usage through the fall 2020 season, but modified the family session time based on community feedback. The board also communicated the plan to survey the membership to gather data to inform a decision before the spring 2021 swim season.
- On Nov. 9, the board opened a heated Oceanview pool survey, which remained open until Nov. 20. The results were announced at the Dec. 7 board meeting and published online. Notably, the staff’s decision to share the pool received the greatest support (46%) from respondents. The board is committed to analyzing the results, discussing member feedback and making a decision for the spring 2021 swim season by mid-March.
Although the year has just begun, we have a full slate of initiatives underway, as well as an election (please vote!) and the annual assessment billing. After voting closes on Feb. 5, the newly-elected directors will join the board members for a planning session to begin outlining our joint goals for the 2021-2022 service year. This way, when the directors-elect are officially seated at the Annual Meeting on March 12, we will begin with a united vision for the community.
I look forward to keeping you updated on our efforts to preserve our special island, and I wish you and your family well in this new year.
KICA Board Chair