TACO ’14 Spring Meeting Tackles Hot Issues
TACO officials reported the associations is actively fighting for members’ interests – locally and at the state level – on a wide range of legislation including higher fees and property taxes along with moves to prevent existing RV parks from expanding or new parks being built.
“Things are going well economically in Texas,” said Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive director and CEO, citing rising tourism as well as new oil and gas projects, which are bringing scores of construction workers and other temporary employees into campgrounds and RV parks. “Some cities are nervous about the emergence of ‘man camps’ in their jurisdictions and they want to pass regulations that can be very harmful to existing parks as well as developers planning to build new parks.”
But while Texas parks typically avoid the emergence of “man camps” by enforcing their existing policies and procedures, TACO is working with its legislative consultant, Ron Hinkle, to introduce legislation that would require Texas to adopt NFPA 1194, a standard for RV park and campground design that could prevent local jurisdictions from establishing rules that are harmful to private park operations.
Hinkle provided Texas park operators with an update on these and other TACO initiatives, which generated almost $31,000 in additional funding support during the association’s annual auction.
TACO’s Spring Meeting also included a keynote address by Kevin Sullivan of Austin-based Popp Hutcheson, who talked about strategies parks can use to force local jurisdictions to reduce their property taxes. “We have had many parks see their property taxes double, triple or quadruple,” Schaeffer said, adding that one park recently faced a 600% increase in its property taxes.
Texas park operators also got a chance to meet Sen. Glenn Hegar, who is seeking to be elected as comptroller for the state of Texas. “Glenn Hegar is very pro-business and very anti-taxation,” Schaeffer said.
Updates were also provided by Kerrville Sheriff W.R. “Rusty” Hierholzer, who told parks how his agency enforces RV park specific laws involving evictions and other issues that TACO helped put on the books. “He talked about how park owners can make the job for law enforcement easier to do. We had a good Q & A session on this,” Schaeffer said.
The Spring Meeting also included several seminars involving Wi-Fi and other aspects of park operations, including:
• TengoInternet and Coba Systems provided a joint seminar on Wi-Fi operations.
• Larry Brownfield of KOA conducted two seminars, one that focused on the differences between customer service and hospitality. “He underscored the fact that you shouldn’t represent yourself as an RV resort if you’re not really an RV resort,” Schaeffer said.
• Brownfield also led a session business assessment class and presented several mathematical formulas that park operators can use to assess their business performance and help identify their short- and long-term business goals.
• Gwen Craig of Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring; Doug Shearer of Parkview Riverside; and Joe Moore of The Vineyards Campground & Cabins in Grapevine also led a session in which they shared ideas on how increase revenue or save money in park operations.
There were no entries in the large park category for TACO’s annual awards competition. However, the Medium Park of the Year Award was presented to The Vineyards Campground & Cabins in Grapevine (www.thevineyards.com), while the Small Park of the Year went to Johnson Creek RV Resort & Park (www.johnsoncreekrvresortpark.com) in Ingram.