MINUTES OF MEETING
CORAL SPRINGS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
The regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Coral Springs Improvement District was held Monday, March 19, 2001 at 4:00 P.M. in the District Office, 10300 N. W. 11 Manor, Coral Springs, Florida.
Present and constituting a quorum were:
Robert Fennell President
Clint Churchill Secretary
Karl Miller Vice President
Also present were:
Rhonda K. Archer Finance Director
Donna Holiday Recording Secretary
Dennis Lyles Attorney
John McKune Gee & Jenson
Roger Moore Engineer
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS Roll Call
Mr. Fennell called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m. and Ms. Archer called the roll.
SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of the Minutes of the February 26, 2001 Meeting
Mr. Fennell stated that each Supervisor had received a copy of the minutes of the March 19, 2001 meeting and requested any additions, corrections or deletions.
There not being any,
THIRD ORDER OF BUSINESS Consideration Membership in Florida Association of Special Districts
Ms. Archer stated I sent in the membership for the District and received some information from them on upcoming events, one of which is a meeting in Tallahassee this week where they will put on a luncheon and reception for the Legislators. You can meet your Legislators and ask them questions. There is another meeting in October on Hutchinson Island where they will have seminars on financing and things like that which will be interesting. We used to budget for a membership every year and for some reason the membership lapsed. Now that we have bills in Tallahassee and they have a lobbyist who follows those bills on behalf of all the member Districts, it is money well spent to have them keep track of what is going on and be able to attend their seminars.
Mr. Miller asked do they produce any type of publication, such as a newsletter?
Ms. Archer responded yes and whatever we receive from them, I will copy and send to each of you.
FOURTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Change Order No. 1 to the Wastewater Phase 1B Improvements Contract in the Amount of $37,950.00
Mr. McKune stated this normally would have been in your agenda package for next month, however, we have a timing concern which forces me to bring it up now. As you will recall about six months ago the District entered into a Consent Order with D.E.R. agreeing to do some chlorination system improvements to the extent of $6,000 towards an equipment purchase to settle some delinquent items on reporting with regard to the injection well. We entered into that agreement on August 28, 2000 and we have until June 28 to complete the improvements. These improvements were intended to be part of the Plant E improvements which will be bid with bids being received in about two months. My concern in talking with the suppliers of the chlorination equipment is that if we wait until the bids are received on the larger project, we will not be able to get this smaller project component complete by the deadline. Mr. Moore has been talking to D.E.R. regarding other issues and they reminded him of the deadline date of this agreement and indicated that they are watching for it and they expect us to have everything in place by the deadline date. I have taken out the chlorination system improvements and put them into a small package of its own and gotten a price from our current contractor who is doing the Phase 1B piping improvements. I would like to do this by change order to his contract so that we can with some kind of assurance, get this small part of the job done by the deadline in the consent order.
Mr. Lyles asked what is the amount of the change order?
Mr. McKune responded $37,950.
Mr. Lyles stated it is normally not permitted to split a matter into smaller increments in order to get around the bidding requirement when bidding is required. That advice is in a vacuum and assuming there is no one present on the scene, engaged in work already for the District in the same basic area of construction specialty. In this case we have a regulatory requirement that has been imposed upon us by an agency having jurisdiction over us. We have a contractor on site, capable of doing the job and in those circumstances I think it would be permissible to do it through a change order because we are not trying to circumvent the bid requirements. We are trying to comply with a regulatory measure that has been imposed.
Mr. McKune stated as far as the equipment components are concerned, we contacted the manufacturer's representative and obtained the prices and provided them to the contractor.
Mr. Miller stated by my reading of this, we had ten months to do this. Could this have been done ten months ago?
Mr. McKune responded maybe and that is about as clear as I can be. The intent was always to have it be part of the larger project and have it done during the beginning of the job but we have done other things in looking at additional alternatives with regard to the plant expansion. It is a matter of timing.
Mr. Miller asked what would be our fine if we don't complete this by the deadline?
Mr. McKune responded $6,000.
Mr. Churchill stated our fine was $6,000 but they said we could use it for improvements if used by a certain date.
Mr. Miller stated as I say all of the time I dislike the idea of going outside the bid process especially when we have known for ten months that this had to get done by a certain date.
Mr. Churchill asked is this a needed addition?
Mr. McKune responded this is an addition that will help us with the odor control for all of the plants. This system will add chemicals in the force mains prior to the headworks, before it goes to E or A or B.
Mr. Fennell stated we have run across this situation on other items and we talked about it before. Compliance issues and timing are one of our weak points. We talked about a review of not only compliance but that we have the right processes and steps for compliance. We seem to be consistently missing things. We talked earlier about having a general review of our methods of doing that.
Ms. Archer stated the good news is that we didn't miss it. We had our on-staff engineer reminding our consulting engineer that this is something that we committed to do.
A long time ago we used to have a person in charge of water and a person in charge of wastewater. When the person in charge of wastewater retired, we put the person in charge of water, in charge of both. When the Board said that we need to come up with a better way of doing things and meet these compliance schedules, I talked to the person in charge of both and asked him what the main problem is and he said he is overwhelmed with handling both. In the plant expansion we have to bring on an "A" wastewater licensed person and we don't have an "A" licensed person on staff. We advertised to hire an "A" wastewater license and I offered a job last week to a man who applied for that position. He has a lot of experience with compliance issues, permitting requirements and he will start April 1, and take over all of the responsibility of the wastewater plant. His first goal is to go through all of the permits and compliance requirements and get up to speed on all of that. He will be here and on board during completion of the plant expansion so that he can participate in that as well. I think that is a good move in the right direction for this District. We are going back to where we were a long time ago before the wastewater person retired and separating the two positions so that each will be responsible for their own.
Mr. Fennell asked is this covered in our budget?
Ms. Archer responded we knew it was coming up because we knew we had to hire an "A" wastewater licensed person. Instead of hiring someone who just received their license yesterday, we hired a man with a lot of experience and not only have the "A" license for several years but on the administration of the permits and compliance and he will be someone who can take charge of all of this and keep it in compliance.
FIFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Staff Reports
Mr. Lyles stated I have just been provided with a copy of the codification bill that I prepared for the District and staff sent me a copy of my bill which still says, a bill codifying special laws pursuant to that section of state law that was enacted saying we are supposed to do this, and everything is the same until you get to the middle of it. Apparently Representative Ritter has folded her request into the bill that you authorized me to draft and that I presented and had advertised for passage by the Legislative Delegation. Now, while it purports to be nothing more than a codification of a lot of special acts that have already passed, it is really a new bill. It is a new bill insofar as it addresses the number of members of the Board, how they are elected to the Board and things like that. It provides for a five member Board, with four year terms, four of the members being elected by a majority vote of registered electors, the fifth being a City Commissioner or City Commission designee. The elections being required to begin in November 2001 for the new member and in November of the year in which your terms expire for the current members. Curiously, it still provids for landowners to vote in person or by proxy which is totally contradictory. Now it has both procedures in it and it is not proper to combine these two bills together. They are not the same thing. This does not fit within the title that this bill is read by. I will discuss with our legislative specialist, Mr. Book, how we can best handle this.
In the case of North Springs, they did something totally different. They have changed that bill so that it is five members, all elected by registered electors and they moved the date of the election back so that the District in that case doesn't have to incur the costs of a special election this November and we have reported to you before that the cost approaches $50,000.
At this point how do you want to approach this, if at all? Do we leave this alone and point out the flaws in it when it goes through the committee process and tell them that you can't really do this and this is not proper bill drafting and you can't amend a codification bill and by the way, why are you having the elections in different years and why are you forcing this District to have a special election that otherwise we wouldn't have to have if you just did it every other year when there is a general election. North Springs is now going to have its elections when there is a general election. There is already a ballot so North Springs will be added to it.
Mr. Fennell asked whose bill is this?
Mr. Lyles responded this is our codification bill but it has been changed without our knowledge and without our consent.
Mr. Fennell asked can they do that?
Mr. Lyles responded you can amend a bill but in this particular instance a codification bill means you are just taking all of the different amendments that have been passed over the years and combining them into one updated version. No new amendments are permitted. They have left my bill that I drafted in accordance with 189.429 which calls for it to be codified which is what is in the title, and they read these by title to let people know what is going on, and they have added new text. A new election scheme, a new Board make-up and any manner of new things have just been slipped in.
Mr. Miller asked has she simultaneously withdrawn her bill?
Mr. Lyles responded that is the record that is up there. Her own bill has been withdrawn and now there is just this bill. It looks like as far as the legislature is concerned, the only bill in front of them is the one submitted by the District to codify its special acts. That is not true and it is not a legitimate way to go about it.
Ms. Archer stated it makes it look like we are sponsoring it.
Mr. Miller stated this will never fly.
Mr. Lyles stated if they pass it, it will fly. If it passed, we would end up filing a lawsuit and having it declared invalid and I don't think that is the way we want to approach it. We heard talk about this but I didn't receive this until late Friday. We need to make sure that our lobbyist is aware of this.
Mr. Fennell stated I like the way they put the elections in North Springs, five members at large by registered voters.
Ms. Archer stated Representative Ritter negotiated those changes with WCI. WCI is opposing the North Springs bill because they still own property in North Springs. They had their own lobbyist in Tallahassee fighting the bill and she negotiated with WCI and took two City Commissioners off the Board and agreed to five elected officials, rather than two appointees and three elected officials. She did it without consulting with the City of Coral Springs or the City of Parkland.
Mr. Fennell asked who modified this document?
Mr. Lyles responded apparently legislative bill drafting personnel in Tallahassee. I wrote the base document. You can't even tell what is new and what is not.
Mr. Churchill stated I understand our options are to make sure that our lobbyist understands what is going on or we let it go through and then file suit.
Mr. Lyles stated there is a third option which is to say we want this bill to be just like the North Springs bill and what is good for one is clearly appropriate for the other, especially the needless election that comes out of the taxpayers pockets. This was a surprise to the City of Coral Springs. They didn't know this had been done and they didn't prepare this. You can let it go and possibly get it pulled out again so that you have the codification bill and her bill but try to at least bring it into line with the North Springs bill.
Mr. Miller asked would we be able to get that?
Ms. Archer stated when I spoke to Mr. Book about this bill and he told me what Representative Ritter negotiated on the North Springs bill he asked what would Coral Springs and Sunshine be willing to negotiate and I told him that both Boards have no problem with elections by registered voters if we could remove the appointee from the City Commission and have all five Board members elected by registered voters and move the date of the elections to a general election year so that we don't have to expend an extra $50,000 every two years.
Mr. Lyles stated in our case, we were on our own. In the case of North Springs there were objections from Parkland and WCI and lobbyists were brought in to work with our lobbyist and they all showed up to oppose what was happening in North Springs and the theory there was that that District was a significantly undeveloped District with a lot of raw land that has to go through the development and infrastructure process. It is different from Coral Springs. They carved a little bit of an exception out for themselves because they are in a different situation than we are in but the things that are being done are sort of logical. The surprise is that the whole problem seemed to come from North Springs. The two things we need to choose between are going ahead and fighting this bill and now pointing out the drafting defect in it, the improper combination of the two into one and maybe convincing people not to let it out of committee. On the other hand if you want to let it go, try to work toward having the same sort of mechanisms that North Springs has, primarily all five members being elected and done in years where there are general elections.
Ms. Archer asked how do we proceed to do that? Do we ask our lobbyist to contact her and negotiate that or write to her directly? I think since we hired Mr. Book, we should use him.
Mr. Lyles responded Mr. Book should do all of this because this is his area of expertise. Again, the fact that WCI brought in additional artillery in North Springs and the fact that you had a City involved that was unhappy with it, that created a different political picture for her than the one she has with Coral Springs, Here, I think it is clear that the City of Coral Springs has a big role in this and I think they want to keep the appointment. They will probably fight us on that.
Mr. Miller stated if there is one appointee that does not present a problem to me. The off year election and the expense that goes with it is a problem.
Mr. Lyles stated this just came out. I knew we had a meeting today and I wanted to get input from the Board before we did anything different than our previous policy direction which was let the lobbyist continue to work toward bottling this up and maybe getting it killed this year so that next year we work on a bill and we are involved in the drafting as well and we come up with a better bill. That has been his task all along and he is still shooting for that goal.
Mr. Miller stated our ultimate goal is to protect the people who live in the District.
Ms. Archer stated we could negotiate to have the appointee be from the District as opposed to living anywhere.
Mr. Fennell stated I would like to see it like the North Springs bill.
Mr. Churchill stated if that doesn't fly, then at least have the appointee be from this area.
Ms. Archer stated if we can get Mr. Book to talk to her and offer that and then offer our own co-sponsorship of the bill, our support behind the bill if she makes those changes, I think that would go a long way with her.
Mr. Lyles stated I can get the lawyer for the Delegation on the phone and give him the changes that I think need to be made but that has to be agreed to by the sponsor.
Mr. Miller stated wait on that until we have our lobbyist contact her.
Mr. Fennell asked do we have to approve this?
Mr. Lyles responded no, this is out of your hands. You have already approved a bill. The changes she has made is in effect an amendment to your bill that she has made without asking you about it.
Mr. Fennell stated I would like to see this faxed to the lobbyist tomorrow morning.
Ms. Archer stated I gave him a verbal response a week or so ago that the Board would probably be happy with basically the same that North Springs has. If you see him, you can tell him that you approve of that as a Board.
Mr. Lyles stated I have never heard a negative comment about a member of this Board, or about any actions of the Board members from Representative Ritter or anyone else in the Legislative Delegation. I think it is a disagreement over how it exists and how it is structured.
1. Monthly Water & Sewer Charts
2. Update on Construction
Mr. Moore stated I attended a meeting today at South Florida Water Management District along with representatives of other utilities regarding the drought. On the news this weekend they talked about modified Phase 3 restrictions. Phase 3 is very restrictive and different utilities have complained about the hours when car washing and irrigation can occur and enforcement. The watering requirements are during our peak demand periods. We will probably know by this weekend what the modified restrictions are. I believe they will take the comments from the different utilities into consideration and try to coordinate with low peak flow times. The most important item to keep in mind is that Lake Okeechobee is at a record low. Even if we have major rain storms we will probably go into next year's dry season at a lower elevation than now and it could be worse next year. They are very concerned. Also the 4 1/2' sea level usually maintained in the east is down to 1 1/2' by the wellfield in Deerfield Beach. There is only about 1 1/2' of water holding back sea water. They may have to sacrifice the wellfields in some of the eastern cities in order to survive. We are fortunate that our wellfields are west and we will probably have enough water but it is not so good for our neighbors. The most important thing is enforcement and they may have to bring in the State Police or they may have to get the different Police Chief's to do better enforcement.
There not being any, the next item followed.
There not being any, the next item followed.
SIXTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Supervisor's Requests and Audience Comments
Mr. Miller stated there are two motions that I want to make. The first is very simple and is how the water bills are formatted each month. In either one of the two formats that I am distributing, I would like to show what actually is the breakdown between the base and the conservation charge so that the consumer can pick up their bill each month and see where the excess is and how much they are being charged for using an excessive amount of water.
The second motion is a bit more extensive. I would like to have the Board discuss getting an economist to take a look at our rates to see if there is a way of getting the conservation rate to kick in at a lower level while still bringing in the same level of income to the District. There are a lot of different ways that people are doing water bills. Some cities have three levels and not just one conservation level. There is "feebating" which rewards people for keeping their water usage at a lower level.
The reason for these two motions is that I don't see anyone predicting that the water supply is going to get better in the future. I think you can tell people to conserve, you can give out tickets, but we don't have the authority to give out tickets. I don't think we have much ability to compel people's behavior except by changing the rates. I believe we are in a position where we could set an example for other Districts if we step forward. I think if we have an economist look at this, if it is feasible we can go forward and if it is not, then we will know that it is not something that we can do. I would like to get input on both of these motions.
Mr. Fennell stated our fee structure has a conservation rate built into it. You have a good point in that I am not sure that anyone knows much about it. In order for it to have an effect, people have to know it is there. I think that is a good item we can put in our newsletter.
Mr. Churchill asked does the conservation rate satisfy what we are trying to do with the level 3 restrictions?
Mr. Miller asked when does the conservation rate kick in?
Ms. Archer responded the average rate is 9,000 gallons and we set the conservation rate at 12,000 gallons to give people a little breathing room between the average and the conservation rate. That can be tightened up. I would like to take a look at what Mr. Miller distributed and compare that to what we are already doing and I can show you that next month and you can decide from there if you want to make it tighter. I don't know how it compares to what is being done in other areas but I am sure there is room to tighten things up. A lot of utilities are increasing their rates to make up for the lost revenue because people are conserving. We don't have that problem because our conservation rate has always generated surplus funds above and beyond what we have budgeted. We didn't anticipate having a shortfall that we needed to make up with a rate increase. We might lower the point where the conservation rate kicks in to encourage more conservation. I think we should put in our newsletter something about how our conservation rates work.
Mr. Churchill stated we need some general media coverage on that also, once we decide what we are going to do.
Mr. Miller asked how difficult will it be to reformat the monthly bill? There are two options in the example I distributed.
Mr. Fennell stated I would like to table these motions until next month to give staff time to come back with proposals on what they can do.
Mr. Miller stated I want you to look into getting an economist to look at our rate structure and the issue of reformatting the bill.
Ms. Archer stated I will have to let you know if it is economically feasible to reformat the bill or if there is an easier way to accomplish your goal. This will take a program modification which means I have to meet with the programmer and talk to him about that. One way of doing it is if we adopt our conservation rates to kick in at 12,000 gallons, we just have them print a line on the bill that says total usage in excess of average and what that equates to. There could be some options that will keep it inexpensive.
Mr. Miller stated that is fine and I will modify the motion that we will change the water bills to reflect conservation rates subject to the proposals that we get back next month.
Mr. Fennell stated I know we don't have our newsletter out yet but we should also have a public release announcement to send to the local newspapers on our rates.
Mr. Churchill stated if we do a press release we want to say that there is one rate before the conservation level and a higher rate if you exceed it. We want to give people an incentive to save.
Mr. Fennell stated I think the new restrictions should be in the newsletter.
Ms. Archer stated we will know the new restrictions by next week and we will have a draft of the newsletter at your next meeting.
Mr. Churchill asked are you getting a lot of calls about the restrictions?
Ms. Archer responded I am not sure but I did pull off the internet, information from South Florida Water Management District and gave it to the utility billing department and they have it available to hand out to people who walk in to pay their bills.
SEVENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of Invoices
Clinton Churchill Robert Fennell