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 21, 2003 at 4:00 P.M. in the District Office, 10300 N. W. 11 Manor, Coral Springs, Florida.
Present and constituting a quorum were:
Robert D. Fennell President
William Eissler Secretary
Karl Miller Vice President
Also present were:
Gary L. Moyer Manager
Dennis Lyles Attorney
Donna Holiday Recording Secretary
John McKune Gee & Jenson
Roger Moore Engineer
Rich Hans District Staff
Bill Joyce District Staff
Mr. Fennell called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. and Mr. Moyer called the roll.
Mr. Moyer stated the bid tabulation is included in your agenda package and as you can see we received a very strong response. The low bid was submitted by Florida Fish Farms, Inc. in the amount of $11,224.00.
Mr. Miller stated we have dealt with them before.
Mr. Moyer responded that is correct.
Mr. Fennell asked what is going on with the proposed bill?
Mr. Miller stated I looked on the internet site and it said that the proposed bill was taken off the calendar as of March 5.
Mr. Lyles stated I believe another bill has been substituted. It has been amended, not in terms of our particular issues but I understand the current bill that has been referred to four committees has an addition to include Nassau County in the Florida Inland Navigation District. I don’t know why or where that came from. The Senate has done a staff analysis that has been posted on the internet and has different conclusions than what has been discussed in the past in that the bill as proposed would not affect this District or North Springs. It would affect four other Districts in Broward County but not these two because we are not originally 298 Water Control Districts, we are improvement districts. I don’t have the latest from our lobbyist, Mr. Book. There was some objection from other Districts and landowners in Broward County about this bill possibly affecting them and I believe in an attempt to compromise with those entities, the bill was to be revised to include a population threshold so it would only affect Districts in a county of 1.5 million population that have a population within the District of 5,000. Then it was proposed to be increased to 10,000 but to my knowledge that amendment is not in the bill yet. There were objections from people who are involved in Districts in Palm Beach County on the basis that Palm Beach County will soon reach 1.5 million in population and therefore, some Districts there might be affected in their opinion negatively by this legislation. As a compromise, the bill was supposed to be amended to include a sunset provision which will cause the bill to automatically cease to exist as of the end of 2004. The only election it would ever affect would be November 2004 in Broward County and then it would sunset and be of no effect. That apparently appeased the people in Palm Beach County but I am told the bill in its present form does not have a sunset provision in it.
Our proposal to amend 189 generally to allow boards in urbanized districts to voluntarily convert to that electoral system that we put in our correspondence to Representative Ritter, has not been taken up.
Mr. Miller asked when does the session end?
Mr. Lyles responded two weeks.
Mr. Miller asked what is the likelihood of this getting through?
Mr. Lyles responded I think the priority is low. I don’t know how hard one or more legislators will push to get this through.
Mr. Moyer asked if they sunset the bill at the end of 2004, when our election rolls around in 2008 what happens?
Mr. Lyles responded we could continue to be covered by that language that sets up how we run our District elections but we haven’t seen the language because it hasn’t been inserted into the draft bill.
Mr. Fennell stated we have an election coming up in June.
Mr. Moyer stated one of the things we talked about last month was to do a newsletter and advise about the election and further about the election conversion. When we started to talk about what was going into the newsletter, there wasn’t enough specificity to do the newsletter to say, here is what is going to happen in terms of the general election format versus a landowners format. My intent is to get the newsletter out as near as we can after May 2, when we know one way or the other if we will be a general election format in 2004 or not.
Mr. Fennell stated we need to announce the election and it is only proper that we do it in the newsletter to make it as widely known as we can.
Mr. Miller asked is it unheard of to extend the session if they are unable to get things resolved?
Mr. Lyles stated they would not extend the session for issues like this. It would be for something like a budget problem.
FOURTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Consideration of Request for Increase in Engineering Fee Schedule
Mr. Moyer stated Mr. McKune prepared a spreadsheet which he is distributing and I prepared one with a little bit different focus.
Mr. McKune stated my spreadsheet represents Gee & Jenson rates before and after the fact compared to six other engineering firms. There are two groups of numbers and the upper number is based on an actual invoice that we previously sent to the District in the amount of $4,026.00 as you can see in the first column. The second grouping of numbers on the bottom is a larger invoice with a different spread of categories; that actual invoice amounted to $12,024.50. The spreadsheet applies the hours invoiced to the various engineering firms based on their existing rates and our proposed rates. The shaded columns represent the rates we proposed last month. The entire array of numbers going across to the right is ranked from low to high. If you look at the upper invoice grouping you will see that we are close to the lowest and are the second low of all of those firms. Looking at the bottom array of numbers you will see that we are in the middle of the six. That basically is the direct comparison that you will see going forward if you were to approve our rate increase.
Mr. Eissler stated this amounts to an 18% increase. Would this be retroactive in any way?
Mr. McKune responded no.
Mr. Eissler stated in talking with engineering firms I am familiar with, based on hourly charges, you are probably not the highest but you are right up there with the leaders at the new rates. That is not bad or good, but just what I found. Is an 18% increase immediately warranted?
Mr. McKune responded I don’t want to belabor the point of percent increases but we get into this discussion sometimes with the public when we are dealing with water and sewer rate increases and the people love to look at a percentage and complain that it may be 6% to 8% per year when in fact it relates to $5.00 per month on their water and sewer bill. They don’t care to see it that way but will gladly write a check for $300.00 to FP&L and know they have to pay a fuel surcharge. There is always this dichotomy between one perspective versus another depending on the subject. You are right, it is an 18% increase but that is just the way the numbers work out. It actually covers a long period of time. It is for a six year period from one fixed rate to another.
Mr. Eissler asked was the last rate increase six years ago?
Mr. McKune responded three years from today and it is proposed for three years going forward. The rates charged to the District three years ago were lower and continue to be lower than the rates we quote to others because we give you the economies of the lack of several overhead expenses such as business development and that type of thing that we don’t have. We enjoy a very good, continuing relationship. That is reflected on the chart.
Mr. Eissler asked do you know the number of hours you bill the District each month?
Mr. McKune responded it could be up to 200 hours.
Mr. Eissler stated that puts it in a different light. We are not talking 2,080 hours per year we are talking about 200 hours per month.
Mr. Fennell stated we have two different engineering groups.
Mr. Moyer stated what Mr. Moore does on the Severn Trent side is more or less engineering overview and coordination with Gee & Jenson and working with Bill Joyce and other on-site personnel as it relates to primarily operation and maintenance problems. Gee & Jenson’s primary focus is on construction and design. Ours is on operation and maintenance. Mr. Moore does get involved because at some point design becomes operation and maintenance. He does get involved in overseeing the design process and somewhat on the construction side as well. His primary focus is on O & M.
Mr. Eissler stated this will be reflected on work authorizations in the future?
Mr. McKune responded that will reflect on labor in the future, whether it be on new capital programs or continued work they are doing now.
Mr. Miller asked do you recall the percentage of the last increase?
Mr. McKune responded no.
Mr. Moyer stated I don’t think it was 18% but more in the order of 6%.
Mr. McKune stated it would have been up to a point in time that would have taken us to a non-loss position at that time. That is the interesting part about rates. We first give you what is called a discount on the hourly rates that we normally charge and try to make it appropriate to that period of time. Those rates remain in effect one, two or as in this case three years, and it is adequate to make a fair profit initially and for the next two years we earn less and less until we are told by our comptroller that it is time to increase the rates because we are losing money.
Mr. Eissler asked are you losing money on this project?
Mr. McKune responded no. When we improve the rates from our perspective to a “make us whole” position, we then start to earn less in the future so the next time we get an increase, we catch up. We are always in a net loss position. This proposal will carry us forward three years so we don’t lose for the remainder of the time. It is designed to carry forward. Previous rates were designed to be in effect for one year but they lasted much longer than that.
Mr. Miller stated inflation is currently less than 3%. Is there any way to phase this in rather than 18% all at once?
Mr. Fennell stated I get a publication on salaries of engineers and the amazing thing is that the salary of engineering has been at the cost of living for the last thirty years. Basically an engineer is earning the same today as he was thirty years ago just adjusted for the cost of inflation. That I can see as legitimate. My feeling is cost of living increase is fine and anything above that is too much.
Mr. McKune stated I totally disagree. The cost of living does not represent all the costs to the company, such as medical insurance and workers comp. My cost of living is what goes into my paycheck. I don’t get these rates but there are increases in the engineer.
Mr. Eissler stated I have no objection of paying a fair price for work done and there is no crime in making money. I would rather phase it in over a period of time rather than get hit with that big of an increase at once.
Mr. McKune stated let me look at the cost increases per year starting the last time the rates were increased which was three years ago. Look at the ensuing three years to bring us to the current time and take that as a given, whatever it is, based on what I can pull out of our archives of actual cost increases and beyond that forecast one year into the future and let that be the basis.
Mr. Miller asked wouldn’t the increase three years ago been done to compensate for the projected additional expenses over that time?
Mr. McKune responded no.
Mr. Moyer stated I think Mr. McKune’s approach is getting closer to where I think it is reasonable and that is go ahead and look at what we did three years ago and verify that in fact it was to bring them to what the level of services was costing three years ago and if the CPI was 2 1/2% or 2% each year, look at those adjustments so that will bring you to a base rate today and then going forward we will adjust based upon an index and let him come back annually and submit a letter to the Board and say, we desire to adjust according to an index.
Mr. McKune stated I would be willing to look at an index but I submit that the index may or may not be reflective of the costs we have to pay.
Mr. Fennell asked what are the consequences of doing nothing?
Mr. McKune responded obviously we continue working under the old rate schedule.
Mr. Eissler stated I don’t think that is realistic. If these rates were put in place three years ago, I can see a justification for a rate increase. My problem is 18% at one time is a little hard to take.
Mr. Fennell stated I suggest a cost of living increase for the past three years which would be fair and then negotiate on a yearly basis going forward. It can be based on the cost of living or on the averages in the chart.
Mr. Miller stated the problem that I have in dealing with averages is that it is easy to get out of context without knowing how many hours will be billed in a particular year by each category and we only have a chart with four out of a dozen categories. It is easy to get the numbers skewed.
Mr. Moyer responded based on the information submitted by all these engineers, we could go back and do all of the categories that Gee & Jenson has in their proposal and give you a similar chart. I picked the four that I thought would be most indicative of what we would use except I didn’t go on the design side, but I can do that.
Mr. Fennell stated the other side of this is that he is guaranteeing rates three years in advance.
Mr. Eissler asked is three years a normal practice in this business?
Mr. Moyer responded no, the common practice is that the engineer reserves the right to come back every year and ask for an increase based upon some index.
Mr. Eissler stated I don’t see anything wrong with that. I think that is reasonable.
Mr. McKune stated if you will look at the 3% per year logic, you have 3% for the last three years which is 9%, give us 3% for the upcoming year and that is 12% and that will allow us 12% out of the 18% and next year we come back for the other 3%.
Mr. Fennell stated the only real basis we have are the average rates.
Mr. Eissler stated I like the proposal that we go back three years and give them a cost of living increase over the past three years and wait a year.
Mr. Miller stated after we verify the fact that that was done.
Mr. Eissler stated according to all of these numbers, they are at the low end.
Mr. McKune stated you realize if we drop back from the 18% to some lower number, we end up being much lower in the chart because the proposed rates reflect the 18%.
Mr. Fennell asked what other information do we need to make a decision or do we have it all now?
Mr. Eissler responded I think it is here. We can propose a given percentage and put it in effect for one year and review it at the end of one year. Are the numbers from other engineering firms accurate?
Mr. Moyer responded yes, these are current and are actual proposals submitted to Districts within the last year.
Mr. Eissler stated I propose a 10% increase and review it at the end of one year. In the interim you can get all the data you require. At 10% it puts them in competition with other firms.
Mr. Miller stated it is difficult. Obviously we don’t have access to their financial records. We don’t know how well they are doing. There is an arrangement between Gee & Jenson and the District that has gone on for a long time that is a factor. I think we need to look at our notes from the last time they had an increase and if in fact they were playing catch-up then, maybe something in the area of 8% of 9% to bring things up to date would work.
Mr. Eissler asked do you want to delay it?
Mr. Fennell stated I think the information is here and it is a question of opinion at this point. You have put forward a proposal of 10% and review it in one year and I will go along with that.
Mr. Miller asked are we assuming inflation at what percent?
Mr. Fennell stated I’m looking at the average rates and where it would put them and it puts them in the ballpark.
2. Update on Construction
Mr. Fennell asked that a proxy form be provided to the Supervisors.
William Eissler Robert D. Fennell