MINUTES OF MEETING
The regular meeting of the
Board of Supervisors of the Coral Springs Improvement District was held on
Present and constituting a quorum were:
Bob Fennell President
Glen Hanks Vice President
Sharon Zich Secretary
Also present were:
John Petty Manager
Dennis Lyles Attorney
John McKune Engineer
Peter Colossy CH2M-Hill
Jane Early CH2M-Hill
Isabelo Rodriguez CH2M-Hill
Janice Moen Larned
Randy Fredericks Field Supervisor
Doug Hyche District Staff
Mr. Fennell called the meeting to order and Mr. Petty called the roll.
SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of the Minutes of the August 14, 2006 Meeting
Mr. Fennell stated each Board member
received a copy of the
Mr. Hanks stated very thorough.
Ms. Zich stated very good.
THIRD ORDER OF BUSINESS Public Hearing to Consider the Adoption of the Water and Wastewater Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2007
Mr. Fennell opened the public hearing and requested comments.
Mr. Petty stated we have a few changes to bring to the Board’s attention from the previous version of the budget. Under Administrative, a line item for Communication Expenses was added. This item is for the public relations firm discussed at the last meeting. Further down the page, Printing and Binding was increased to $45,700 to reflect the cost of utility billing. The increase in Capital Outlay reflects the cost of the new computer system.
For Plant Operations, Rentals and Leases decreased because we allocated the vehicles to their proper places. There is currently a Ranger and a newer Ford 4150 reflecting those costs accurately. The rest of the vehicle cost is in the field expenses. Operating Supplies decreased slightly to $490,000. Dues and Subscriptions decreased to actual spending levels and Capital Outlay included the cost of a lift vehicle.
Mr. Hanks asked does it make sense to purchase?
Mr. Petty responded yes. We had one onsite for two months now.
Mr. Hanks asked do we use it fairly regularly?
Mr. Petty responded yes. From time to time, there has been algae and mold growing around the facility and the lift vehicle allows you to get high enough to re-paint or spray chemicals.
Mr. Hanks asked why did Operating Supplies decrease when there was a 25 percent increase last year? Was it due to the cost of chlorine?
Mr. Petty responded we had an increase in chlorine usage at the time. I can research this further.
Mr. Hanks asked did we drastically reduce the usage of chlorine for odor control?
Mr. Petty responded we are still at sufficient levels to stop any odors although we do not have a great abundance of odors.
Mr. Hanks stated for a period there was almost a constant spray.
Mr. McKune stated it reduced somewhat.
Mr. Fennell stated we did some pre-chlorination of liquids going into the tanks.
Mr. McKune stated for the raw sewage.
Mr. Hanks asked were there any big increases such as in Electric?
Mr. Petty responded Electric was projected to be higher based on new bills. Repairs and Maintenance decreased to $125,000 based on anticipated in-house programs. Capital Outlay is budgeted at $28,100, which represents our intent to purchase trucks instead of leasing. It is easier for us to lease but more cost effective to purchase. I am changing the program with the Board’s approval. Those are the major changes in the budget to date.
Mr. Fennell stated there are a couple of areas on the revenue side such as Contract Personnel, Service Revenue and Transfer-In from reserves. In regards to Contract Personnel, one of the transformations we made is the shared employees report directly to CSID.
Mr. Petty stated CSID owns all personnel. We do not have Interlocal Agreements with our sister districts, although they have the benefit of utilizing our people and expertise so long as they are willing to pay. Mr. Lyles office will be preparing Interlocal Agreements over the next year as we enter into this program. CSID has ownership of all those people and all the costs and personnel are in your budget.
Mr. Fennell asked do we have an agreement with these districts?
Mr. Petty responded yes. The districts agreed in concept and willing to go through the process.
Mr. Fennell stated then the $453,000 is not in jeopardy.
Mr. Petty responded we do not believe so.
Mr. Fennell asked what is the amount transferred in from reserves?
Mr. Petty responded we have more than enough money to cover our bond requirements. We are carrying $200,000, which will cover some of the increases including Capital Outlay. Instead of raising rates, we are pulling excess funds out of the Renewal and Replacement Account as required by the bondholders.
Mr. Hanks stated I am concerned about the projected increase of $200,000 in Electric. Is this the correct way to pull money out of reserves for operating expenses?
Mr. Petty responded we are actually pulling $150,000 from Capital Outlay under Administration; $30,000 from Communication Expense and Printing and Binding.
Mr. Fennell stated your point is well taken. Every year we had either two to three percent appreciation in electric and end up raising rates. We are probably approaching this point but we can probably get by one more year.
Mr. Petty stated we are currently doing a rate sufficiency in-house study, which we will bring back to the Board.
Mr. Fennell stated we also have to take into account our capital expenditures.
Mr. Hanks stated I am keeping an eye on this. I always hesitate knowing we are working with an older plant. The wish list Mr. Roger Moore generated two years ago was substantial.
Mr. Petty stated we succeeded Mr. Moore’s wishes.
Ms. Larned stated when this budget was prepared, Mr. Petty asked us to take a thorough look at all the accounts. One of philosophies we always follow and recommend is to match recurring revenues with recurring expenditures and non-recurring revenues with non-recurring expenditures so you do not have an imbalance.
Mr. Hanks stated Printing and Binding is a reoccurring expense.
Mr. Petty stated if we had money in excess of renewal and replacement requirements of the bonds, it is structured to bring it back from the rates.
Mr. Hanks stated this is money we had for coverage.
Mr. Petty stated the coverage is part of the assessment all residents pay every month.
Mr. Hanks stated it was part of the requirements on the bond based on how much money was out there. We capture some of this money for useful purposes. When will the rate study be completed?
Mr. Petty responded the rate study should be completed within the next 60 to 90 days. The capital program should be coming at the next meeting for conceptual numbers. We will refine it at the wishes of the Board. There is the concept part and then you actually do the work. What is our current balance?
Ms. Larned responded the audited fund balance is $1.4 million.
Mr. Fennell asked for the Water and Sewer Fund?
Mr. Petty responded General Fund. In looking at the financials you are guessing because you do not have all your bills in before the end of the year.
Mr. Fennell stated this is an Operating Budget opposed to the financial statement. We used to have $6 to $8 million.
Mr. Petty stated according to our contracts, we spent a little over $2 million. Mr. McKune keeps them well handled.
Mr. McKune stated the money is accounted for.
Mr. Petty stated last time I looked, we had $4.5 million. Mr. McKune has programs the Board approved conceptually and we have a capital program.
Mr. Fennell stated this is a capital funding issue.
Mr. Petty stated correct. When your rate study was adopted in 1992, a certain percentage of the monthly bill to everyone had a portion to be used for capital construction. It is still funding capital construction to this day.
Mr. Hanks asked if we run short on a portion of the revenue stream, what requirement do we have to the bond amount of $1.1 million?
Mr. Petty responded the $1.1 million coverage is in addition to the renewal and replacement requirement. We have dual requirements.
Mr. Hanks asked what happens if we drop below the $1.1 million bond amount?
Mr. Petty responded this is a concern we monitor throughout the year. If we see a drop in rate sufficiency based on the monthly statements, we will bring it to the Board’s attention. It behooves the Board to consider a rate increase at that time to bring yourselves back up. However, we do not see you in jeopardy at this time.
Mr. Fennell stated I agree. A year and a half ago we reviewed the entire organization to see where we should be spending money and how we can become more efficient. I have seen some of those items decrease.
Mr. Hanks stated whether or not we are utilizing any financial benefit, it makes a huge difference in knowing we have the employees and they report to us. It makes a difference for the members of the community.
Mr. Fennell stated it does but it will be a good advantage for our sister districts. We will support them, just as they supported us in the past and we will continue to do so. However, the command of control is clearer, which is something we have been trying to clear up for a year. Mr. Petty did a great job putting this budget together. Congratulations. Interest Income increased slightly. Is Technology Sharing Revenue from renting out our computers?
Mr. Petty responded yes.
Mr. Fennell stated it ties into our system.
Mr. Hanks asked is there payback on the computers?
Mr. Petty responded there should be some benefit. Technology is moving quickly in this industry. There used to be a four to five year lifespan but now after two or three years, it is outdated. We asked the company providing the software to put us on their update schedule. They are providing at least two updates a year. The computer systems today are going through a huge change. We are currently looking at a power to the 10 increase in speed on the system we are looking at. In two or three years you will see the speed triple.
Ms. Zich asked is the Electric under the Administrative Expenses for this building?
Mr. Petty responded yes.
Ms. Zich stated it has to go up more than what is budgeted. Everyone’s bills are increasing. The budget only increased from $16,000 to $18,000.
Mr. Petty stated there is a timer on some of the lights. Mr. Dan Daly makes sure the lights go out at and the temperature gauge for the air conditioner is locked.
Mr. Fennell stated there was discussion before the meeting on our excess oil. When it is delivered, there will be a problem with it sitting and getting stale. This is an issue we need to contend with. We also had an agreement with FP&L for auxiliary power. Take another look at the agreement and options for using up the oil in other areas. There may come a time where it would be smart to turn on our own power for a week. This is an economic decision. We can also have someone treat it every once in awhile. If it becomes an issue where we are spending large amounts of money to keep it fresh, it is easier to burn it and make our own electricity.
Mr. Hanks stated you may want to look at FP&L’s rate structure relative to the current cost of fuel.
Mr. Fennell stated we can try to cut a deal with FP&L by having a Load Sharing Agreement.
Mr. Petty stated we can look into it.
Mr. Kaas stated as part of your routine maintenance of the generators, they have to be run periodically to make sure they operate. There will be a certain amount of consumption as a result. I have seen situations where energy is sold back to a utility. You do not need it to run your plant. However, this requires contractual agreements between the two entities.
Mr. Fennell stated it also requires additional equipment because you have to synchronize the generators.
Mr. Hanks asked will the citizens in the community be receptive to us increasing generator capacity at the plant?
Mr. Petty stated currently, there is no concern about diesel fuel going stale. We can power up our facilities, go off-line and not incur FP&L charges to run the generators until we drop the tanks down to a level we feel comfortable with. It is not an issue. To generate power back to FP&L requires a fairly large investment. Currently we can operate our facilities but we do not have a generator when we get back to being on the system. It is certainly something we can look at in the capital plan but the last time I looked at it, I determined it was not cost effective. Our current policy is similar to what you suggested where we go off-line, do not incur the electrical charges and utilize the diesel fuel we have on-site.
Mr. Fennell stated I assume we have a preventative maintenance plan to make sure the diesel does not go bad.
Mr. Petty stated it is checked regularly by the supplier.
Mr. Fennell closed the public hearing.
FOURTH ORDER OF
BUSINESS Status of
Negotiations with Surveyor Selected to Provide
Mr. Petty stated the negotiations were handled by District Counsel and the engineer. The intent was to qualify two or three surveyors so we have a pool to rotate from. We discussed this item at the last meeting and hopefully Mr. McKune has been in communication with Mr. Pawelczyk in Mr. Lyles office. I will defer to Mr. McKune regarding the status.
Mr. McKune stated negotiations are complete with the highest ranked firm, Paul Brewer & Associates. I spoke with Mr. Lyles before the meeting as there was some concern about the advertising. This was straightened out as we advertised two weeks prior to receipt of the RFP. I think we are in good shape.
Mr. Lyles stated no additional action by the Board is required. Mr. McKune just wanted to update the Board on the status of the negotiations. We confirmed the advertising occurred prior to the last meeting and we are in the process of negotiating Standby Agreements with the other two top ranked firms.
Mr. Hanks asked what is the surveyor’s first task?
Mr. McKune responded it depends on the capital improvement program. A great deal of work was contemplated for the stormwater management system. We were talking about perhaps interconnecting some of the canals. We still need to complete the perimeter surveys, specifically with the Sunshine East Outfall canal. In my opinion, this will be the first major project. Other work includes setting baselines at the plant.
Mr. Fennell stated let’s complete this project first to take it off the table. We need to understand whether or not this is a problem. All we know is we are missing three feet of bank. The question is whether or not it is a problem. If it is missing, there may be other sections missing. How do we know until we check?
Mr. Hanks stated in
Mr. Petty stated the Sunshine WCD is
contemplating doing something similar to our Hydraulic Study. If there is overlapping, I do not know if there
is a problem with Sunshine paying for any work CSID may have done or if there
is an issue on the CSID side of the Sunshine canal on the east outfall. There used to be a berm but now we have
filled lots. Sunshine is concerned about
Mr. Hanks stated on the east outfall
canal, this is an open connection. Their
pumps are located north of
Mr. Petty responded not one is missing a berm.
Mr. Hanks stated there is no
continuation of the outfall canal. It
runs towards Woodside and up to
Mr. Petty stated the only area they are concerned about is the berm. The residents on the eastern border are concerned about additional water going into their outfall. The canal can only take so much.
Mr. Fennell stated the problem
besides missing the berm is the canal banks are not even. The far bank in
Mr. Petty stated the overflow will go in our direction.
Mr. Hanks stated the bank for the house on the C-14 Canal is right up to the 100 year storm.
Mr. Fennell stated you cannot tell whether it is the same height as the C-14 Canal or lower.
Mr. Hanks stated we will find out.
Mr. Fennell stated maybe it needs to be higher because you expect the water in the C-14 Canal to be down.
Mr. Hanks asked do we need to take a look at it? What are our authorities with SFWMD to make these changes?
Mr. McKune responded it is low but
level. If it is on the
Mr. Hanks asked do you want to look at it?
Mr. McKune responded I would not go any further than casual conversation with their staff.
Mr. Fennell asked do you think there is a problem?
Mr. Hanks responded no. However, we need to effectively exercise a solution if there was a problem. The question is whether we need to look for a problem having no solution.
Mr. Fennell stated you are assuming SFWMD will do something.
Mr. McKune stated the original drawing was based on the C-14 Canal and their banks.
Mr. Fennell stated the C-14 Canal has the highest point.
Mr. McKune stated we are pumping uphill into the C-14 Canal.
Mr. Fennell stated the only people who know what happens in our area is us. SFWMD does not have a clue. In fact, they depend on us to tell them. If something is wrong, we need to tell them.
Mr. McKune stated within their own modeling as part of their water management plan, SFWMD may change their modeling to impact us. We do not always know what they are doing.
Mr. Fennell stated we probably need more cooperation from SFWMD. They have an $800 million year budget and can do many things if they decide there is a need. They also have immense power. All their positions are political ones. There are people we can talk to who actually make the decisions. We have a relationship with a member of their Board and there are members of staff the engineer kept relationships with over the last 30 or so years. We have a good relationship with them. One of the difficulties is their determination of policy can change drastically. As you have seen in their operation of the retention areas and discharge into the everglades, they are now looking at $9 billion and counting on corrective matters. Their politics can change with those issues.
Mr. Fennell stated you can not look at a problem because you think it might not get solved. If it is a political issue and something we have to fight, then this is what this Board will do.
Mr. Hanks stated let’s discuss this with
Sunshine first. As part of their
everglades restoration, SFWMD implemented additional water quality measures for
NSID, City of
Mr. Petty stated I believe they
looked at it from a time entry position of when we came into the system with
our permit. CSID and Sunshine were
grandfathered in because it had been so long ago. NSID received permission to pump into the
conservation area westward. Only one
other district was allowed to do so, which was Weston.
Mr. Fennell stated I attended the
Mr. Petty stated there is going to
be a push in the next year in the State of
Mr. Fennell stated I thought the Federal Government was coming up with the money.
Mr. Petty stated they will come in with some money and the state will have to come up with some. It will have to come from the residents in one form or another. The Drainage Districts are going to be hit with a surcharge.
Mr. Fennell stated there is a political question which will affect the residents in this area. It can go one way or the other.
Mr. McKune stated the pollution and stormwater is reminiscent of the early 1970’s when the Section 208 funding program was initiated. Billions of dollars were spent trying to resolve the program. They finally acknowledged no matter how much money was spent, they could not make it go away or restrict pollution coming into everyone’s front yard. NSID is looking into a management program for removal of bulrushes and weeds from stormwater management areas. There are areas in NSID where we can do this removal because they are in the western areas and not in developments. You will hear a lot about this problem. Is it practical? Probably not.
Mr. Petty stated some of the ideas are using chemicals to help the bacteria break down organic material. We will be maintaining our canals in similar fashion to our wastewater treatment facilities where you try to optimize conditions for the uptake. If you do not have room for plants, you may want to do it with bacteria.
Mr. Fennell stated we will discuss this matter at a future meeting.
FIFTH ORDER OF
of the Audit for Fiscal Year Ended
Mr. Petty stated these are your basic financial statements. I am happy to say this is a clean audit, meaning we are in compliance. If you turn to page 28 under internal controls, the auditors noted no matters involving the internal control over financial reporting and its operations they consider to be material weaknesses. They also checked for compliance in other matters and the results of their tests disclosed no instances of non-compliance or other matters required to be reported under government auditing standards. On page 30 is the Management Letter. The first item they reported on is if anything was leftover from last year’s audit needing to be addressed. There were no recommendations, meaning two years in a row we have been doing well. We are also in compliance with the Auditor General under Section 218.415. Under findings or recommendations, they noted no matters requiring disclosure in the report to District management on the audited financial statements. If you recall, we had a special audit of our accounting system earlier in the year where they gave us specific suggestions on how we can improve. Due to this reason, they did not include them in the audit report. We asked them specifically if they were any new systems they were aware of and could recommend on checks and balances.
Mr. Fennell stated we were going to set aside some money for emergencies. Do we have this in place?
Mr. Petty responded yes. We have $15,000 sitting in a bank account.
Mr. Fennell stated there were other changes for hurricane preparation. The biggest issue we have is the small accounting staff; i.e. half a person.
Mr. Hanks stated it is a full person now.
Mr. Petty stated Severn Trent provided additional personnel. We also made sure the backups to the accounting system provided a trail in case we need to re-build the accounting stream.
Mr. Fennell asked are you satisfied, Ms. Larned?
Ms. Larned responded absolutely.
Mr. Petty stated in the middle of page 31, this is the one time you do not want to be in conformance with the statute calling for a financial emergency. This is a clean audit and one we are happy to receive.
Mr. Fennell asked have we implemented the tracking of hours for personnel?
Mr. Petty stated it is not tracking so much as the timing. There will be blocks of time sold to the other districts. In other words, they will be assigned 20 hours a week and if they work 16 hours, the district still pays for 20 hours because we are making 20 hours available to them. Because we made this individual available to them, they have to pay.
Ms. Larned stated there are other measurements we can use to allocate the work. We can do this by the number of checks written and how the contracts are being managed. On the other side, it can cost you more than what is reasonable. To keep it in line with the cost, there are measurements we already had in place.
Mr. Hanks asked do they apply to the field employees?
Ms. Larned responded yes. This is why we are getting more heavily involved in the concept management effort.
Mr. Fennell stated just make sure the other districts are in agreement.
Mr. Petty stated the sister districts are fairly confident in their relationships with CSID.
Ms. Larned stated one page 15, there is a statement of cashflows depicting how well the District performs on the utility function. In the upper right hand corner, there is a column of numbers, telling you whether or not your utility is operating in the red or black. There is $3.1 million in cash produced by the operations of the facility. You have debt service, which uses up some of the cash. The District adopted a policy of, “Pay as you go” of your capital program for renewal and replacement. You can continue to do so and $2 million is being set aside for the cash operations. The District Manager and engineer will come back to you with some recommendations. It is important for me as the Financial Officer to point out you have cash operations but also obligations on your debt as well as a renewal and replacement program, which can become a full term, long term capital plan. In the plan, this has been presented as a “cash cow” but it is not. There has been overall discussion by the Board regarding the rates and what you want to do about it over time.
In regards to the fund balance, the General Fund has fund balances. Enterprise Funds do not have fund balances. They only have net assets or equity. Those are businesslike activities. We have $4.5 million in the capital plan, which has been increasing over a period of years as you have been spending methodically over a number of years. However, you are now at the point where the District Manager along with the engineer has said “If we stop this program, this is what we might be able to do on a longer term basis”. This is the information we provide in order for you to make decisions. I will work with the District Manager and the engineer.
Mr. Fennell stated page 13 shows we have net assets of $44,000,000 and total liability of $44,286,000. The difference between us and a corporation is we never appreciate our assets.
Ms. Zich stated we do not depreciate them but you have to replace.
Mr. Petty stated we are a government and do not depreciate. Replacement is part of your capital improvement program. You have a line item for Renewal and Replacement adding to the lifespan of these facilities. I am supposed to keep the equipment in as new working condition. This is why your pumps seem to last so long. GASB-34 takes depreciation based on fallout in all businesses in this country and accountability and spreads it into the government sector. Government entities started to dilute their funds. When you are fund based as governments are, you are supposed to keep the money you generated for a specific reason in this fund and not move it over to something else. For example, if we needed to spend money for parks and recreation, I should not be taking money from the utilities. Cities and counties were doing this. You need to understand after a time certain you will be replacing things. We have a capital program to handle these items and in this District, a financial model. As we build facilities, those benefiting from it, pay for it. This is how plants currently exist. Everyone who is getting water and sewer are paying for it in their rates. When parts go bad and we have to re-build, the people who benefit from the new facility will pay. You can have a financial plan or as some municipalities have done, double charge the residents for a worst case scenario. However, I may not be here in 30 years and may not ever see the fruition of those payments. This is why we have a financial plan, which I highly recommend. When you need it, build it. Do not charge the residents before you do. Otherwise, you may be charging them double.
Ms. Larned stated GASB-34 is saying, “We did not depreciate assets over time and therefore there was not a way for you to know whether or not you needed to replace them”. GASB-34 brings this to management’s attention so they can build around what should be considered by the Board in the way of long term capital replacement through cash or long term financing. Some jurisdictions chose to go over their elected official heads. I lived in one area where people felt strongly about it because the elected officials put their money into other kinds of programs instead of paying attention to bridges, roads or water system. Consequently they are facing billions of dollars of improvements. This is not true here. GASB-34 brings it to your attention. It is a testament to this District that you have people staying on top of your capital plan; however, it is in a piecemeal fashion and not necessarily for the long term.
Mr. Fennell stated this is an interesting philosophy but it does affect us. A classic case is using social security funds. Nevertheless, we still have an obligation of maintaining facilities into the future. We want the facilities we buy to last 15 to 30 years because that is the best economical value. Therefore we have to buy ahead. I do not think you want to replace everything after 30 years.
Mr. Hanks stated it depends on whether we want to look at it from the standpoint of taking on more debt and paying interest on it or being fiscally responsible. We may not be here to take advantage of the money we put away but by the same token, we are taking advantage of monies put away by other people.
Mr. Petty stated we are not taking advantage of money put away by other people. We are utilizing a rate study envisioning a capital expense every year, not for building new facilities 20 to 30 years in the future. We were building new facilities as they were planned. It was piecemeal but at the time, this was all we could do.
Mr. Fennell stated for at least seven to eight years, we have had five, ten and fifteen year capital plans. They get revised all the time. The question is whether we could forecast the demise of our own resources. The errors in our capital planning is when determining when something needs to be replaced. The depreciation gave us a clue and we had people look at how they should decrease over time.
Mr. Petty stated it does work. This is why we have renewal and replacement. If a pump station has parts wearing out, I have a fund to go to. I can rebuild them and they are going to be like new. It is better than repairs and maintenance. You get to a point where you have a perfectly good looking 1957 Chevy but it is costing me a great deal of money to maintain it. This is what we are currently looking at. It is going to be a major leap in your current treatment practices.
Mr. Lyles stated I suggest the Board make a motion to accept the audit rather than approve it since it was prepared by an outside CPA firm.
Ms. Zich stated I was impressed with the audit.
SIXTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Hurricane Debris Removal
Mr. Fennell asked are there any comments from the public? Not hearing any,
Mr. Petty stated the hurricane
debris removal and bank rebuilding is complete and we are well into the second
phase. I watched one contractor removing
some Australian Pine Trees. We asked our
contractor to remove existing trees not affected by the hurricane in our right-of-way
that were a potential threat. We hope to
remove the remaining 50 percent of the trees, which remained standing after
Hurricane Wilma. We went after the
majority of the species referred by the City of
Mr. McKune stated the contractor
removed 50 percent of the nuisance trees.
A permit we submitted was rejected by the City of
Mr. Petty stated based on discussions from the city, we called District Counsel. Our discussions with the city caused the following question to be asked:
“If in the middle of a storm event I had a concern about flooding along my canal due to blockage by four Palm Orchids, would I need a permit from the city to remove those trees?”
The answer was undeniably yes. We asked them for the proper procedure. They said you may want to request the city to change their current ordinance because their tree ordinance did not have specific exemptions for a Drainage District. They were willing to accept such an application but their ordinance model, the Broward County Ordinance requires an application. Therefore, we may wish to do an application to both entities at the same time. We asked District Counsel to research the issue of jurisdiction on the Tree Ordinance issue.
Mr. Lyles stated our opinion is the same as it has been for some time. We are subject to the city’s Tree Ordinance. There is no exemption from its overall applicability. There are some provisions we can take advantage of to put us in a different position than a typical private homeowner. With respect to actions during an emergency like a hurricane, they have a provision allowing for the City Manager to suspend the permit requirement during an emergency. I assume in one sense they are saying, “We have something that is supposed to come into play during an emergency event”, but as far as saying the Tree Ordinance does not conform to this District because it is a special improvement district as opposed to some other kind of entity within the city of Coral Springs, there is nothing like this currently.
Mr. Hanks asked is this based on city code or a court case?
Mr. Lyles responded it is based on
review of the current tree ordinances in effect and the history behind them. We are not aware of any cases saying an
entity such as this one is not subject to a local general purpose government
like a city or
Mr. Hanks stated DOT has to file for a tree permit when they do their work.
Mr. Lyles stated DOT is a state level entity and in most respects is superior to the governmental pecking order. We do not have a way out of this unless the city wants to amend its tree ordinance to somehow exempt us. I doubt very seriously this would be favorably received and I do not see it going anywhere. We need to work with them.
Mr. Fennell asked what happens if we find we have a case where the trees will affect the health and welfare of the residents? Who is responsible for making the decision?
Mr. Lyles responded if we are facing a hurricane, the city is going to do what is appropriate, which is to suspend the permit requirement. If it does not get communicated or people are dealing with an emergency in front of them, our crews are going to clear a situation likely to cause flooding and property damage and potentially even harm to individuals and will deal with the city after the emergency passes.
Mr. Fennell asked what if we do not have enough time? We only have three to four days to prepare for a hurricane, which is not sufficient time to clear out 1,000 trees.
Mr. Lyles responded I am talking about getting into a situation where trees are down in a culvert causing flooding.
Mr. Fennell stated we will not be able to do this within 48 hours. No one can. The only way this can happen is if you have sufficient time.
Mr. Hanks stated a situation where
this might come into play is a tornado.
Mr. Lyles stated you are looking to me because of the legal issues involved. I cannot tell you what is occurring at these city staff meetings but at a meeting held here, we had some homeowners interested in this matter. The Arborist’s recommendation was to remove the nuisance trees and then do a survey to find out if there are non-nuisance trees posing a problem. I am not aware we did this nor taken it to the city.
Mr. Fennell stated we did both. The Arborist recommended removing any trees within the canal banks. This was the recommendation from the engineer as well.
Mr. Hanks asked were we proposing removal of trees or replacement and mitigation?
Petty responded in our discussion we asked for a policy from the city removing
trees from the top of bank for the health, safety and welfare of the residents. This would not fall under mitigation since it
should not cost the District any money to ensure the safety of the residents of
Mr. Fennell stated the issue is we have two different government bodies, one charged with the responsibility of keeping the residents safe and doing due diligence. Yet we have another government body blocking it. Who is responsible for doing the due diligence if flooding occurs? Is it the city because they blocked it?
Mr. Hanks responded we need to negotiate with the city to mitigate on a one tree down to one replaced basis.
Mr. Fennell stated we have someone making a decision on a question of safety, health and possibly death.
Mr. Lyles stated these are fairly esoteric issues. When you talk about who is responsible, you mean who is doing the right thing but also who has liability if there is a problem and property is damaged. These are the types of activities government undertakes whether it is this government or the city, which are subject to sovereign immunity. These are legislative type decisions. If you or the city or both make a decision for reasons of aesthetics or ordinance compliance to not remove the trees, we are going to be immune from suits and so is the city on any claims. It is not like we are looking at a situation where people are beating our door down with lawsuits because their homes flooded and somehow they will make a case that we could have done more to prevent it. This city is responsible for making sure those things do not happen, just like the District is. When you say the city is blocking the District’s efforts to do what it would like to do and what has been recommended, I think the city’s position is “We are not blocking, we are regulating and we are subject to their regulations, end of discussion”.
Mr. Fennell stated I am not so sure. The fact is it is a moral responsibility from the city.
Mr. Lyles stated the first consideration is determining who is responsible for doing the right thing.
Mr. Fennell stated I am not so sure they feel responsible. They see it as someone else’s responsibility and they do not have to make it a consideration in their decision.
Mr. Hanks stated we are adding case on top of case on top of case. What we are not considering is what happens if we have the 200 year storm. We have absolutely no control over what happens.
Mr. Fennell stated this is a degree of risk they are willing to endure.
Mr. Hanks asked is the 200 year rainfall event the same risk as having a hurricane blowing down the trees and causing flooding?
Mr. Fennell responded this is why we asked the engineer for recommendations.
Mr. Hanks asked what storm are we designing to?
Mr. Fennell responded somewhere between a 10 and 50 year storm.
Petty stated there is a reasonableness factor in all of this. The one occurring in the
Mr. Hanks stated nor do you want to.
Mr. Petty stated if there is an issue where we are not supposed to remove these trees, we better come up with some other way of maintaining this structure because we are not going to be able to do it in our normal way or by the existing method we have. We may even want to look at having some barges of our own. Government oversight, right or wrong is there. Pressing the issue may take awhile to answer. We may have to look at other methods.
Mr. Fennell stated we need to write a letter to the city from the Board stating, “We believe this should be done, the Tree Ordinance should do this, there should be no trees planted in the right-of-way and the city should have an ordinance stating this”. They should also have a separate ordinance for using trees as barriers along canals. We have not said, “We propose you put this up through legislation by the city”. Maybe we should do this. I am looking for staff to recommend to the city what should be in the ordinance to protectively plan for what we consider to be their responsibility. I would also like to know if we approached the city about this.
The other problem is the Vice Mayor has been the only one who has shown from a political standpoint what the consequences are of the action. Most people do not understand the drainage in this area and what the consequences are. From a political standpoint, we need to move this forward. I was surprised when we had our town hall meeting that our engineering study was not discussed. We mostly spoke about the Arborist. Someone was there from Broward County Emergency Response who said, “No one mentioned anything about flooding”. As far as severe weather, it is the flooding that kills people more than anything else. If they have not been thinking about what happens if we have flooding and they are only thinking about sea water surge along the coast, they are not considering our actions. I am starting to understand why no one has discussed it. Frankly no one has ever done a study.
Hanks stated you are never going to see a situation of
Mr. Fennell stated there is one called the C-14 Canal.
Mr. Hanks stated even then, you are talking a matter of six inches or a foot of water. You are not talking about 10 feet of water.
Mr. Fennell asked what is the amount of water needed in order to crash a house?
Mr. Hanks responded you are probably not going to have people dying as a result of one of our floods unless they drive into a canal.
Mr. Fennell stated this is exactly what is going to happen.
Mr. Hanks stated during a 100 year storm, you are not going to get your car far enough out of your garage to get to the canals.
Mr. Fennell stated we did in the 60 year storm because I was here.
Zich stated I live off of
Hanks stated anyone can drive their vehicle in a reckless manner. We cannot protect the residents against this
from happening. However, we can take
into consideration the homeowners desires and needs to buffer the commercial
property and remove the trees within our right-of-way. We submitted a permit to the City of
Mr. Fennell stated I think we need to submit something to the city.
Mr. Petty stated we did submit something to them in compliance with the tree ordinance. They come back and tell you what the mitigation is after they measure the trees.
Mr. Hanks stated I read the city code for utilities. There is one-for-one mitigation, meaning if you have 10 trees, whether it is a 24 inch oak or a four inch ficus, it is one tree.
Mr. Petty stated then we need to go there with counsel because city staff is telling us something entirely different.
Mr. Lyles asked are they measuring inch for inch?
Mr. Petty responded no, they are adding a multiplier.
Mr. Hanks stated if we want to cut down 40 Ficus Trees, obtain a permit for 40 Ficus Ttrees. Let them reject it at that point.
Mr. Petty stated they are rejecting it because they want a complete inventory with height and measurements.
Mr. McKune stated we volunteered to do this to let them know the magnitude. We are talking about thousands of trees. You cannot put 1,000 trees on the site.
Mr. Hanks stated at the town hall meeting, there were many comments about the buffering of commercial properties. We need to cut down the trees without any offsetting mitigation, whether to be compliant with the city or to help the homeowners beautify their property. If we do not do this, we are going to have a lot of people angry at us. We are not going to get support from the citizens until the city takes care of this problem. I have a feeling after our town hall meeting; many citizens understood there was a flood control issue. Let’s talk with the owners of the Auto Mall to see what we can do along this property as far as mitigation. We should send a permit application to the city compliant with the code.
Mr. Petty stated we discussed this issue with them in regards to specific commercial areas along the buffer. However, some of these trees are so close to the property line we cannot remove them as half the tree root may be on someone else’s property. The property behind the Auto Mall is a huge issue since they are now building a four story auto garage. The residents do not want to stare at those cars. We offered them a compromise to work with the city in certain areas. They like the compromise to leave the trees at the height of the car garage. Maintenance rights would be given to the District to make sure those trees never extend out towards the water and are properly maintained. They said this would be okay for this case but they only way they will address the top of bank issue is through an ordinance change. Instead of coming up with a special project for the area behind the Auto Mall, the city had to turn us down.
Mr. Hanks asked how many Ficus Trees need to be removed?
Mr. McKune responded 175 trees behind the Auto Mall.
Mr. Fennell asked are they on our property?
Mr. McKune responded partially. A survey is currently being done.
Mr. Fennell stated we need to send a letter to the city saying, “There needs to be an ordinance against planting in the right-of-way”. Can we pass such a law?
Mr. Petty responded no.
Mr. Lyles stated we cannot pass a law prohibiting anyone from doing anything because we are not allowed to exercise police powers. This is reserved for cities and counties. However, we own the property fee simple and we are not required to let people plant anything there or leave it there. We are not going to prohibit it but we are going to take a zero tolerance approach with it. As soon as something shows up and we are doing periodic inspections to see what people are doing with our right-of-way, we will present it back to the adjoining property owner.
Mr. Fennell stated we cannot do so without a permit from the city.
Mr. Lyles stated they are talking about cutting trees down. We are talking about someone planting a new tree. That is not cutting a tree down. That is relocating it onto the property of a person who owns a tree.
Mr. Petty stated we have two issues; relocation costs more than cutting and relocation requires us to go on private property, which requires the signing of a document.
Mr. Lyles stated we are not helpless. I sense high frustration by the Board.
Mr. Fennell stated I am feeling like someone is only thinking about one particular aspect of the city and making decisions for life and property. You are thinking someone else will take care of it for you. This is a foolish way to make a decision. You are not taking into account the full aspect of what is taking place.
Mr. Petty stated once we get all the nuisance species removed during this phase, we will have addressed 70 to 75 percent of all trees in the District. Staff would very much like to go forward with a presentation to the city of the health, safety and welfare issues remaining with the 10 to 25 percent of trees. It does not take 5,000 trees to block our system. It may only take a handful of trees. The fact we have 75 percent of them down makes me feel better but it does not alleviate my concern.
Mr. Hanks asked did you run this presentation by the Arborist?
Mr. Petty responded yes, because this is what the city’s Arborist intended.
Mr. Fennell stated we have not seen the final hydraulic study. It has been a couple of months.
Mr. Hanks responded I met with Ms. Early and Mr. McKune a couple of times.
Mr. McKune stated we could use more options and water scenarios. We are waiting for the perimeter survey.
Mr. Fennell asked are there more things to do?
Mr. Hanks responded the engineer can put his conclusions down on paper.
Mr. McKune stated we need to put the model on paper and compare it to the Drainage Criteria Manual to see if changes are required.
Mr. Fennell stated you were going to come back with some recommendations on whether we need to put in another canal.
Mr. Hanks stated they were talking about the elevations of the finished floors relative to the flood elevation. You seem to be of the opinion in many, if not in all of the areas, the finished floors for those locations were above the predicted model result.
Mr. Fennell stated we need a letter from the engineer outlining the issues. I am looking for something final. I might even go along with the elevation issue. I want to make sure the canal is not a real issue.
Mr. Hanks stated I suggest spelling out the assumptions with the city using the report. We show pumping from the start of the storm and not having any blockages.
Mr. Fennell stated I am sure the city never did a study like this on their own.
Mr. Hanks stated they should have a better understanding of the flood protection issues.
Mr. McKune stated we will produce the report and provide copies to everyone.
Mr. Fennell stated you gave us a recommendation and should back it up with this report to present to the city. Vice Mayor Gold reviewed part of the report and discovered what the real issue was.
Mr. Hanks asked if the city removes trees, do they have to mitigate?
Mr. Petty responded I cannot answer to their policy.
Mr. Hanks stated we cannot force the issue with the city for mitigation. There are some parks we can approach.
Mr. Petty stated we discussed this on a staff level and met some resistance. It was preferred any trees taken from anyone’s backyard area, even though it is on our property, be planted as close to the backyard as possible. This is the first option. The second option is to replant on CDD property and the third option is to replant the tree totally within the District. I am afraid anything below top of bank, even though it is a health, safety and welfare issue, we will have to get involved in the mitigation requiring us to do a complete inventory.
Mr. Fennell stated we need a recommendation from staff on what we want in the tree policy regarding trees around the community, how they should handle trees in the canal and buffering around the banks. They need a change in policy because the policy did not take this into account.
I agree with Mr. Hanks that we need a mitigation policy above and beyond the current policy. The city has to change their policy because it is fostering this problem and is not done the correct way. We need a report in clear terms on the dangers. If you have to get the PR firm to help you, then do so. They may be able to help us prepare the report. We need to tell all the residents in the District what this report says.
Mr. Petty stated we will bring a report back to the Board for approval telling you what the PR firm recommends and what is available to us.
Mr. Hanks asked do we need to meet with the City Commissioners?
Mr. Fennell responded I think we well have to eventually. Let’s approach them with our recommendations, what we see for mitigation and what we think the consequences are for not doing so. Morally we have to do this as a Board. I do not want to sit on this Board and take responsibility for not doing anything and people’s property gets damaged. If I am going to get stopped for doing the right thing, it is not going to be for some nebulous issue I did not want to face. We will take it as far as we need to. There is an opportunity for something to be done and we need to change the ways in which we are using trees such as for decoration. Our property should look better than it currently does. We need to bring in a Landscape Architect to look at our property to tell us what needs to be done.
Mr. Hanks stated a Landscape Architect is going to cost more than $4,000 and we need to go out for an RFP.
Mr. Fennell stated I think we should. We need some new ways to beautify the city, our own property and yet have trees safe for flow.
Ms. Zich stated I think this is a good idea.
Mr. Hanks stated I have a relationship with a Landscape Architect. Would it hurt to have any discussions with them?
Mr. Petty responded we are 50 to 60 percent complete on removing the nuisance trees. They should be complete by the next meeting. We are still on track.
Mr. Fennell stated we can end up doing something different than other areas. We can have a friendly tree policy not only to the canals but actually looks good. The city needs to think seriously about a tree policy to keep trees from crashing down on our houses. If a 100 foot high tree is sitting next to a house, we have a problem.
Mr. Hanks stated it is the homeowner’s problem.
Mr. Fennell stated they city has rules and regulations about how much you can trim a tree. For some reason there is a belief trees will not fall down because they are natural.
Mr. Hanks asked Mr. Petty, are you going to issue the RFP for Landscape Architects?
Mr. Petty responded we have someone in the engineering firm we can use. We will work with CH2M-Hill.
Mr. Hanks stated the reason we are in this situation with all the trees in our right-of-way is because we have not had an active maintenance program for the canals. We need to look into where we are having difficulties, how we are going to mow the banks and investigate what type of technology is out there. We should have a bi-annual maintenance program. If someone planted a little tree, this program will keep it from growing into a problem.
Mr. Petty stated we discussed this internally and staff is trying to prepare an estimate of how to address this. Currently we have two bushhogs owned by Pine Tree WCD shared out to us. However, under this type of criteria, we have to do periodic inspections. You might as well do that while you are mowing or other type of clearing. This is something we are working with staff on and hope to bring it to the next Board meeting.
Mr. Fennell stated I agree we need to take a more proactive role in bank maintenance. There is too much at stake not to.
Mr. Hanks stated if you want me to attend any of the city meetings with the Arborist, I would be happy to do so.
Mr. Lyles stated I think the approach of going to the city and pushing our position as hard as it can be pushed, demanding permits and demanding they act responsibly is the right thing to do. I would not want the Board to think there is any lack of enthusiasm for this approach on the part of District Counsel. For now, they have the jurisdictional upper hand over us. We either need them to issue permits or get them to change their ordinance but we cannot ignore it.
Hanks stated we need to remind them there are issues with developers where
private developers removed native species such as
Mr. Petty stated in previous discussions, this has been received well by Vice Mayor Gold. We would like staff to talk more with him.
Mr. Fennell stated Vice Mayor Gold is interested in making sure the issue is addressed. As a Board, we need to push this as far as we can. We need to make sure the city understands what the issues are. We should not be negligent in explaining to the city what the consequences are.
Mr. Hanks stated if we need to, we will approach the City Commission.
SEVENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Staff Reports
A. Attorney – Update on
Mr. Lyles stated there is nothing
Threshold of $4,000 will be deleted and the District will follow the bidding
thresholds for other local governments in the State of
2. Compensation of Board members will be increased from $200 to $400 with an annual cap of $4,800.
3. Propose mechanism for electing Board members to a straight electoral vote of registered voters within the District without the necessity of having a referendum, special election and vote of the residents.
These items were previously approved by the prior Board when they were involved in codification bills and dealing with the legislative delegation. We are not going to file anything until after your next meeting. We will put this together into one bill. There is a great deal of interest in the election issue and having a method of converting to an electoral vote rather than a landowner vote. With this District being built-out and urbanized, it makes sense to do this. There was no reluctance on the part of the previous Board in converting to this type of election system. The problem was with going through the process of having a petition, verifying signatures and having a referendum to implement it.
Mr. Fennell stated we need 10 percent or more signatures of owners within our area in order to do this. I think this should have been done a long time ago. Periodically there has been criticism on this basis you do not fairly represent the people in your constituency. It is not representative of everyone in the group and not everyone votes. Most of the time, most people do not even know when the voting is occurring. The original criticism was set up because it was a landowners meeting. These districts were originally set up for landowners and to pay the rate of the builders. If someone owned a huge amount of land, they could control it and take on the responsibility. Frankly, the counties and cities never stepped forward with the money to put down seed money so they relied on private enterprise. There is a mechanism for newer districts where when they reached a certain size or build-out characteristic they go from a developer Board to a resident Board. Our District was not set up in this manner.
Mr. Lyles stated the newer districts post 1980 are generally CDD’s under Chapter 190 of the Florida Statutes. They have an automatic provision in the sixth year of operation and once they reach at least 250 registered voters. It happens automatically and in this time frame. The Board is mainly populated by residents and registered voters of the District. In this case, we propose adopting this procedure. Unless I am told differently, my understanding is this Board is comfortable with a three member Board. The election process will only be to put Board members in office.
Mr. Fennell stated there was interest to go to a five member Board.
Mr. Hanks stated I question how much interest we would have.
Mr. Fennell stated I think this Board needs to put itself in the position of making this decision but we can discuss this further. This Board is normally more like a Board for a corporation as opposed to a political Board. I feel the election method we have could be improved. It would take care of some of the criticism we received from Ms. Stacy Ritter and others and ensure the group survives.
Mr. Lyles stated I outlined the same type of bill for the NSID Board last week and they signed off on the filing. I will be doing this on behalf of both districts simultaneously.
Mr. Petty stated if the election process is not accepted by the state, I request the other two items proceed. You can either do this through separation or through the bill process.
Mr. Lyles stated this will only be an amendment so it should be fine.
i. Ratification of Agreement with Ron Sachs Communications, Inc. for Public Relations
Mr. Fennell asked has everyone had a chance to review this agreement?
Mr. Lyles responded yes. I do not have any problem with it.
Mr. Fennell stated the only issue I had was most of our contracts have a 60 day termination clause instead of a 12 month termination.
Mr. Petty stated we can amend the contract to have this specified.
Mr. Lyles stated it says, “The agreement may be terminated without cause by either party, however agency is paid in full for the month services are terminated”. This is in the last part of subsection four in the middle of the second page. This meets the substance of the concern you are raising.
Mr. Fennell stated I was wondering why we were doing this.
Ms. Zich stated I was concerned about whether we needed to spend this amount of money for PR. I feel like everyone knows us but many people do not know what is involved.
Mr. Fennell asked did NRCS make the video presentation?
Mr. Petty responded yes, but it was
disenchanting. We were shown a special
video of an assessable drainage cleanup program by NRCS. It turned out we were the seventh applicant
Mr. Fennell stated there is a need for us to communicate with several different groups. One is our customers who are also our bosses. There are other groups we work with such as the city and other Drainage Districts, not to mention the state. It is important we show who we are, what we are doing and why. There has been criticism we are not putting out our identity enough. It was insufficient for us to sit back and do our jobs. We need to report on what our job functions are and effectively communicate. This is the purpose of the PR agreement. Sometimes this comes natural to some of us and sometimes we need a professional. I think this is the case where we need a professional. They should not only prepare statements for us but be there intimes where we will have crises. There should be a plan for how they will handle it, how they will handle the PR and how they will contact people.
Mr. Lyles stated if there is consensus from the Board, there should be a motion to ratify execution of the agreement by the District Manager on your behalf.
Mr. McKune stated I am leaving CH2M-Hill at the end of this month. I would like to introduce two gentlemen who are representing the continuity of the program; Mr. Peter Colossy, Senior Planner will be handling the day to day operations of the tree process. Mr. Isabello Rodriguez is going to be Project Manager for most of the water and sewer projects.
Mr. Fennell stated welcome. I expect continued great support.
ii. Monthly Water & Sewer Charts
iii. Utility Billing Work Orders
Mr. Petty stated all items are within normal parameters. There is nothing of interest to bring to the Board’s attention at this time.
iv. Complaints Received/Resolved
Mr. Fennell asked what complaints did we receive after the town hall meeting?
Mr. Petty responded there was a huge decrease in phone calls. I have not received one phone call since the meeting for CSID. However, we made three exemptions for trees in the entire District. There are no issues with trees in CSID.
Mr. Fennell asked were there any complaints on water or odors?
Mr. Petty responded we always have complaints about water bills and our meters reading too high. Those are all within standard numbers for us. It was surprising the town hall meeting, which 100 people attended, evidently addressed many of their concerns. The three exemptions we had were real exceptions. One was a request from a resident to keep a Norfolk Island Pine he had grown from a sprig. The tree was 75 years old, at the top of the bank and within a foot of the lawn. The second exemption was for a resident who had Beshovias, which are the tall trees with the broad leaves. A third of the tree was on the land. The other three trees were within five feet of the water and were not an issue. One Australian Pine was exempted. It was on a lake and even if it fell, I do not know if anyone would even notice it. There is no issue with blockage on a lake since it is 300 feet long. This was the individual who came to our meeting with beautiful pictures of wildlife utilizing the tree.
Mr. Fennell stated Mr. Petty did an excellent job of standing up and taking all the flack. He handled questions from residents who were emotionally charged. We took a lot of heat from the city. He did a good job.
Mr. Petty stated thank you.
EIGHTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Supervisor Requests and Audience Comments
There not being any, the next item followed.
NINTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of August Financials and Check Registers
Mr. Fennell responded I did not see any financial statements.
Mr. Petty stated all we had were the check registers.
Mr. Fennell asked did we receive any money from the state?
Mr. Petty responded no. However, we received money from NRCS.
Mr. Fennell asked are they still planning to give us 10 to 15 percent?
Mr. Petty responded we are still hanging on. We are telling them they owe us money. The good news is we received money from a storm that is over three years old.
TENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Adjournment
There being no further business,