MINUTES OF MEETING
CORAL SPRINGS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
The regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Coral Springs Improvement District was held Monday, April 23, 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:
Gary L. Moyer Manager
Rhonda K. Archer Finance Director
Dennis Lyles Attorney
Donna Holiday Recording Secretary
John McKune Gee & Jenson
Roger Moore Engineer
Jim Aversa District Staff
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS Roll Call
Mr. Fennell called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m.
SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of the Minutes of the March 19, 2001 Meeting
Mr. Fennell stated that each Board member 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 of Award of Contract for Sanitary Collection System In-Pipe Lining Repair
Mr. Moyer stated you may recall we talked at the last few meetings about the necessity of addressing the District's infiltration problem which is most severe in the first subdivisions that were constructed in the District, that being Ramblewood and Ramblewood South and Shadowood. Based upon some testing and camera observation they have identified the lines that need to be corrected.
Mr. Moore stated we received two bids for the project which consisted of lining two of our estimated 8 - 12 projects which we will look at in the next couple of years. We started tv'ing the next three lines and we have one completed and have put a temporary hold on that job because the flows into the plant have gone down which correlates with the ground water being down about 3 feet. We would like to award this contact to the lowest bidder which is Azurix. They also have a contract with Broward County and the City of Coral Springs. Their contract price for the lineal feet we bid was $662,500. The next lowest bid was $901,000. The original estimate was $625,000. This contract will be to line the first two lift station sections.
Mr. Miller asked have we had any prior experience with Azurix?
Mr. Moore responded not with this company but the lining we did about 8 years ago was one of the companies they bought.
Mr. Churchill asked does the 30% difference in the bids make you uncomfortable?
Mr. Moore responded it is a different process. One of the things that Azurix offers is what is called U-lining and their standard prices is $34 per lineal foot and that is what they bid. Lanzo which has a different method of lining the pipes is about $43 per lineal foot. It is a different process and is a little more expensive. At this time I see no extras on this contract unless when we are in the process of doing the job we find other sections beyond the sections that we plan on lining that need to be done.
Mr. Fennell asked when should this job be completed?
Mr. Moore responded we are hoping to get at least the first one completed before the rainy season.
Mr. Fennell asked can you do this type of work during the rainy season?
Mr. Moore responded yes. They will have more infiltration to handle while they are doing the lining but I believe their price is adjusted for that. It is easier to do it when it is dry.
FOURTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Consideration of Increase in Hourly Rate Schedule
Mr. Moyer stated there is a letter in your agenda package from Jane Early indicating that they have not asked the District for a rate adjustment since 1997. They laid out the proposed rate, their standard rate and the current District rates.
Mr. Fennell asked what is the standard rates?
Mr. Moyer responded that is what they normally charge a client who walks in the door and wants engineering work done. The proposed rates shown for the categories we are using are pretty much in line with what I see on new projects using engineering services in 2001 dollars. I can represent to you that what they are proposing is not out of line with other large engineering firms. I think the request is reasonable based on the experience I have with similar engineering firms and since it has not been adjusted since 1997, it is in order.
FIFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Staff Reports
Mr. Lyles stated regarding the litigation that is possibly going to be filed against the District by Centex, we have heard in writing from our second insurance carrier and they have also denied coverage on the claims as not being covered losses and not being within the policy period. We are going to be on our own in this matter if Centex goes forward. At this point, it has been a number of months since I heard anything from Centex or its in-house attorneys and they are not at this point pushing this claim. When they next exert a push, they will be told that we have no insurance to cover this and we will see if that encourages or discourages them from proceeding forward. At this point we have had more than six months since the claim was presented in writing therefore, it has been officially denied by the District pursuant to State law. We will monitor this and give you updates when and if they occur.
Mr. Moyer asked what is your opinion on the statute of limitations, two years or four years?
Mr. Lyles responded I think it would be four years. We haven't received a lawsuit yet stating in the complaint what the basis for the claim is and how they are going to pursue it and if other defenses present themselves including a shorter statute, that would be something we will explore at that time. How long has it been since the last Notice of Violation? My recollection is that was primarily 1996 and maybe into 1997. I think we are entering into that period of time in the summer where it would be four years since we had any notices or issues with that regulatory agency that caused the problem in the first place. We are not in a hurry to respond to any of this.
The proposed bill regarding the District has been revised again. This follows the conference that Mr. Fennell had in Tallahassee with Representative Ritter and others about this subject. I have been hearing directly from the two agencies reviewing this, Local Government and Veteran Affairs primarily, and also from the Governor's Office asking for information and background comments on all of this. Some or all of you may have received direct telephone calls from the Governor's Office as well. You are aware that process is going on. The bill that is presently in the hopper in Tallahassee does require that members of the Board be residents of the District, that there be five members, that they all be elected by District voters, that they not consist of members of any City Commission and that the first election to be held to seat two new members take place in 2002. The session is not over yet and I should tell you that the City of Coral Springs not only has retained a lobbyist to resist that version of the bill from going forward and passing, they have passed a resolution in opposition to those most recent amendments and transmitted that to Tallahassee as well. They are not going to accept this turn of events and do nothing to try to change the ultimate, but we are keeping an eye on all of that as well.
Mr. Miller asked what was the amount we authorized for Mr. Book?
Mr. Moyer responded $20,000.
Mr. Fennell stated he is extremely effective and is well known in Tallahassee. To give a brief overview of my trip to Tallahassee, I originally went to Tallahassee to attend the Florida Association of Special Districts meeting of which we are now a member. There are about 1,600 special districts in Florida of every conceivable type that you can think of. In our case we own a utility which has good income and good cash flow and is a valuable asset. This group holds various conferences and they have their own lobbyist. I called Representative Ritter the morning I arrived and was able to get right in. We discussed the issues, what we were looking for and what she was looking for and I said it was pretty much what we wanted and she said she didn't see any problem especially with the voting issue. It turns out that probably most of the reason for having a City Commissioner on our Board did not come from her but from the City of Coral Springs. On the other hand she has issues that she felt were important to her. She is already on a committee for better government and by nature of her committee assignment is looking for ways of streamlining or doing something for government. She lives in the North Springs Improvement District and apparently received a number of complaints from area residents as to the amount of taxes and what is going on. She has taken an interest in that District, the Sunshine District, our District and the Old Plantation Water Control District. She still has issues along those lines and feels there are things that we are not doing very well. One is, people don't know we are here. They keep confusing us with the City of Coral Springs. Even though we have sent out one newsletter and are trying to send out another, we probably need to let people know more about who we are, who to call and how to get answers other than calling the City. I think we need to call ourselves CSID as opposed to the Coral Springs Improvement District so that people can contact us and it looks more representative. The other issue was that she was not in favor of the land based voting. I believe those were her biggest issues. I also think there is an issue of what do Districts do when they get into trouble if they are not well run or who steps in because cities don't normally do that. It is usually the State that does that because we are really authorized by the State as opposed to the city or county. Our "to do's" are to make sure that we respond to people and that people know we are here. She was receptive to that and I thought her comments were good and I think we should go ahead and do that.
Most of the time we have been able to sit back and tend to business but we have to think beyond that. We live in an environment where this Board is a political agency, we have to respond to people and we have to respond to other agencies around us. We, as a group, need to think more in terms of how we are going to interact with other groups and to the people within our District.
Mr. Miller asked do we have an e-mail address for the public to contact us? That could be something that can be put on the water bill every month that if they have questions or comments, they can e-mail us here. I don't think we would get a huge volume.
Mr. Fennell stated I think a web site is a good idea.
Ms. Archer responded we have been talking about that anyway. We were going to set it up on the new computer system so that people can review their utility bills, the history and balances.
Mr. Miller asked how much will that cost?
Ms. Archer responded I can look into it. I don't think it is a lot of money.
Mr. Miller stated I think it will be great. Have something where they can e-mail their questions or comments to us. You can give us a copy every month of the questions and comments received.
Mr. Fennell asked if we decide to do this, can we host other web sites for other Districts?
Ms. Archer responded some of our Districts already have their own web site.
Mr. Fennell stated there could be information on the web site other than billing information, such as how to fix your toilet, and the watering schedule.
Ms. Archer responded we have a hand out that we pulled off the internet that is available here in our office for the people who pay their bills in person.
Mr. Moyer stated the reality is that you are still going to have people who pick up the phone and call the City of Coral Springs no matter what happens. If they have a water break in their front yard, the first place they will call is the City of Coral Springs, because everyone assumes that if you live in the City, the City is totally responsible for everything. We will never get away from that.
Mr. Miller stated it is a step in the right direction to address Representative Ritter's concerns.
Ms. Archer stated when the person from the Governor's Office called, one of the questions he asked was what her main complaint seemed to be and I told him that I thought she had a problem early on about not knowing who to call when she had a problem with her water bill, she had to make several phone calls to get to our office. He asked isn't your phone number on your water bill and I said yes. For the most part when people have a problem with their water bill, it is when they are looking at the water bill and the phone number is right there. If you have a water break in front of your house, you are not looking at your water bill at the time, you are looking at the water break and you automatically call the City to get help.
Mr. Fennell stated I believe it is important that we form a strong identity.
Ms. Archer stated two years ago we started attending the Town Meetings that the City sponsors and we have sent people to the Town Meetings every month and we show up with our big map that shows the location of the different Districts and if people have questions about their area, we are able to show them the area they fall in and most of the time people who attend have a lot of complaints about different things in the City but it is very rare that they have complaints about the Districts. On occasion I will get one question about a canal or one question about their water and sewer service.
Mr. Churchill stated it was related to me by the person from the Governor's Office that the City of Coral Springs said they could never get in touch with anyone at the District office.
Mr. Fennell stated for every major contract that we let, we should have a publicity release. We are about to spend $600,000 for improvements in the Ramblewood area and the people ought to know that there is an active group and that their tax dollars are at work. We can certainly go to the Forum or another local paper with this type of information.
Mr. Miller stated I have seen in the local section of the paper where they have the small items, notices of local towns spending a lot less than $600,000.
Mr. Fennell stated I don't know if we have a good mechanism for doing that but we are going to have to get used to writing public relations releases for this type of situation. We will also cover that in our newsletter. We should continuously look for things like this to do in order to better publicize what we are doing. Obviously, the City of Coral Springs wants to take over this District and we haven't seen any good reasons for the people who live in the District to do that. Other than fighting it, there may be other ways to go about this.
Mr. Churchill stated the point made by the representative of the Governor's Office who called me was that if built into this is the ability to change by referendum, why go outside the referendum process. They can change any time they want to, they just have to submit it to referendum. Why are we by-passing that process.
Ms. Archer stated that is what we reported to you early on, that there is already a provision in Chapter 189 to convert the Board from three to five members and go from a landowners vote to an elector vote. You don't need an amendment to our Special Act to do that.
Mr. Churchill stated you don't have to short circuit the voters by not going to them about it.
1. Monthly Water & Sewer Charts
2. Update on Construction
Mr. McKune stated in the overall process of improving the wastewater plants, one of the smaller items is to remove an, old, buried, diesel fuel tank that has been in the ground for about 25 years. Staff originally was going to ask someone to come in under the operating budget to do this and the amount of the quote exceeded the bid limit and we put this out to bid. We received 6 bids on April 19, for the removal of the tank. The lowest responsive bid was received from Custom Tank & Industrial, Inc. with a total base bid of $5,925.00. The engineer's estimate for this work was $10,800,00. We reviewed the bids and recommend that the Board award the project to Custom Tank & Industrial, Inc. in the amount of their bid. We did call the low bidder to make sure that he understood the bid documents because there is quite a spread in the bids received. He acknowledged that he did understand the scope of work and that he would do the job as bid.
Mr. Miller asked who has the liability if something should happen in the course of the removal and there was a spill?
Mr. McKune responded they pump out the tank before they remove it but the contractor will have insurance.
Mr. Fennell asked do we have other tanks?
Mr. McKune responded yes, we have an 8,000 gallon buried tank not far from this building which is used for the large generator at the north end of the plant. That was recently pressure tested and it was found to be in good shape. There are monitoring wells around the tank to monitor the ground water.
Mr. Fennell asked what is the latest from South Florida Water Management District?
Mr. Moore responded we had an emergency meeting today with utility and drainage districts and there are no plans for the S.F.W.M.D. Board to meet, there are no plans for Phase 3 restrictions and what they presented today was a mathematical equation to try to extend the different water preserves by moving water around the best they can with what they have. Lake Okeechobee has reached the lowest level it has ever reached since 1981 which was the record low. The have the ability to pump down to 7' and that is the water they are going to try to deliver to the lower east coast area and try to preserve some of the wells to the east. Everyone seems to think that the eastern wells are in jeopardy but no one will know until something happens. They are monitoring weekly.
Mr. Fennell asked where is the water going that they are pumping out of Lake Okeechobee? When I flew in over the Everglades, I was surprised to see so much water.
Mr. McKune stated when you fly over the Everglades, you will see a lot of water but the depth has been decreased. The majority of the water is going south of us, down the New River Canal in Fort Lauderdale and the Miami Canal in Miami and it is unfortunate that the water that is released in normal times from Lake Okeechobee through the major canals, down to the southeast coast, over 60% disappears before it gets to Miami because the rock formations the canals go through are so permeable, it seeps into the Everglades. You can't really get it to where you are trying to pipe it such as the well fields. It is tough to manage the water.
Ms. Archer stated we have not yet sent out the newsletter and the session will end soon. Do you want to wait and see what happens with the bill and then try to get something out as soon as we get the final word on what the bill ends up saying?
Mr. Fennell stated I would work on it and wait for the results. I want to see a copy before it goes out in the mail.
Ms. Archer stated I will write to the City to find out what complaints they have received and not passed on to us.
Mr. Lyles stated the representative of the Governor's Office who called me and made the same comment as to the City of Coral Springs complained because they didn't know who to get in touch with and not getting a response and I pressed a little to find out exactly where it came from and it turns out to be the Assistant Director of Purchasing as the source of that information. I question whether that is a valid response. Someone in purchasing in the City is the source of the comment Mr. Churchill mentioned. We ought to do a little checking around before we send a blanket letter asking, why are you saying all these things?
Ms. Archer responded they put in their Resolution that they received numerous complaints about the District. I want to see the copies of those complaints. We cannot solve the problem if we are not aware there is one.
Mr. Fennell stated I suggest that we get a logo that just has C.S.I.D. and not Coral Springs Improvement District. That will become our name and how we will want people to refer to us. We need to use that and prominently display that. We want to have a name that is distinct from someone else. I believe we need an information person or a public relations firm because it is important for us to professionally put forward our viewpoint and identity.
SIXTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Supervisor's Requests and Audience Comments
Mr. Churchill stated I was looking at our minutes from the last meeting about the conservation levels and after watching the Broward County Board struggle with the same issue and they are doing the same as we are where they have established a usage for residential which I believe was 7,000 gallons and the trigger is exactly at 7,000 gallons. Those who use less than that get rewarded and those who go over that get penalized. They have a separate structure for commercial property where they look at an average over the last year or two and reward or penalize on your own usage. My concern is that a home with two people living in it will automatically be rewarded and a home with eight people living in it is automatically going to be penalized because they will go over whatever rate we set. Every apartment building and most condos will be penalized. The condo I live in has 17 buildings and 10 of those buildings have individual meters and there are four apartments in each of the 10 buildings. The other 36 residents in the condo are on one meter and they are the biggest apartments. Do we have the ability to endeavor to be more equitable? If we are going to reward or penalize based on usage I think it should have some tie to reality.
Mr. Moyer stated when we set up the pricing structure we tried to recognize that. Our average consumption for a normal family of four, we assumed was going to be 9,800 gallons and we increased that by 25%. Our penalties don't start until you get to 12,600 gallons exactly for that reason. We did have discussions along that line a long time ago when we set the conservation rates. I am not sure we have the ability to determine how many people live within each unit and fine tune our rate structure in that fashion.
Mr. Churchill asked do we have the ability to reward or penalize based on an individual's history of usage? Are they conserving?
Mr. Moyer responded we can look into that. The computer can tell us what the average is and whether we can come up with a program to charge based on that average, whether it is up or down over that average. It is an interesting approach.
Ms. Archer stated situations change. We get 60 accounts that turn over every month and that could mean a four member household moved out and you have their history on the computer for the last two years and a six member household moves in and they will be held to the average use of the family who no longer lives there.
Mr. Churchill stated if you come back to me and say we don't have the ability to do that, fine, but as long as we are looking at it, we need to make a good faith effort to try to address the equity, especially if we are attaching penalties. In my situation there is a building with 36 families on one meter. It will be over the minimum.
Ms. Archer responded you will get 36 times 12,600 gallons. We have the ability to put in the number of units for that meter. We have a category in the rate structure that allows us to multiply the number of units.
Mr. Churchill asked is that the same for rental properties?
Ms. Archer responded yes.
Mr. Churchill stated that resolves a big concern that I had. You are already addressing the majority of my concerns.
Ms. Archer stated every density has its category and within that category they have how many units and we put in the multiplier.
Mr. Moyer stated we were liberal not to penalize. We didn't want to collect moneys from our residents to penalize them when they tripped over the threshold. That is why we came up with the buffer.
Ms. Archer stated we do catch the gross misuse.
Mr. Churchill stated you are already doing something that Broward County says they can't do.
Mr. Miller asked did you find out about putting the conservation rates on the bills?
Ms. Archer responded the way the bill is set up, we have a base charge of $20.00 per month that includes the first 3,000 gallons of water. If you don't use more than 3,000 gallons per month, you will always get a $20.00 water bill. From 3,000 gallons and up you will get charged in addition to the base charge, the $1.90 per thousand until you get to the 12,600 gallons. There is a flat charge and the usage charge. Then the conservation rates kick in after the 12,600 at the $2.00 level then at the $3.00 level. I am not sure how many steps we want to show on the water bill but we did implement that in one of our other Districts because they wanted a more detailed water bill and it was a new small District and we literally got phone calls from each and every homeowner as soon as the new bill went out questioning it because they found it more confusing rather than more informative.
Mr. Miller stated you have a fairly elaborate structure set up and nobody knows about it.
Mr. Moyer stated at the very least, we can put it in the newsletter.
Ms. Archer stated I can prepare a rate sheet that explains how it works and we can mail that once a year or something like that. I can make it available at the Town Meetings.
Mr. Miller stated we can put it on our web page.
Ms. Archer stated maybe we can have one line that prints on the bill that says, you exceeded the average consumption by X number of gallons this month. Let me see what we can do.
Mr. Fennell stated I think the first step is to have an article in our newsletter on how you can save money on your water bill.
Mr. Miller stated you can put on the bill that they exceeded the average by X gallons and for our conservation rates, see our web site.
Ms. Archer stated the letter we sent out asking people to conserve had a big impact. The press called me when South Florida talked about putting into effect the Phase 3 watering restrictions and they said according to the records they got from South Florida, you have cut down water consumption in your District by 1 million gallons per day. How were you able to do that. All we did was send out the letters asking people to conserve. It had a big impact.
Mr. Miller asked how long will it take to get the web site up and running?
Ms. Archer stated I have never done one before but I have talked to people who have done them. If it doesn't cost more than $5,000, do you want me to get them started on it?
Mr. Miller responded that is fine by me.
Mr. Fennell asked do we have a procedure where we go to someone's house and audit their use of water?
Ms. Archer stated our staff is not authorized to go inside someone's house for liability reasons.
Mr. Churchill stated we paid a plumber to inspect all of our units and make repairs.
SEVENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of Invoices
Clint Churchill Robert D. Fennell