MINUTES OF MEETING
PINE TREE WATER CONTROL DISTRICT
A meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Pine Tree Water Control District was held on Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. at the Parkland City Hall, 6600 North University Drive, Parkland, Florida.
Present and constituting a quorum were:
Margaret Bertolami President
Paul Brewer Vice President
Donna Benckenstein Assistant Secretary
Neil Study Supervisor
Mark Study Supervisor
Also present were:
Kenneth Cassel Manager
D.J. Doody Attorney
Warren Craven Engineer
Randy Fredericks Drainage Supervisor
Ivan Debogovich Resident
Barbara Hastings Resident
Walt Schwartz Resident
Ken Strick Resident
Jerome Thigpen Resident
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS Roll Call
Ms. Bertolami called the meeting to order and Mr. Cassel called the roll.
SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of the Minutes of the June 5, 2008 Meeting
Ms. Bertolami stated each Board member received a copy of the minutes of the June 5, 2008 meeting and requested any corrections, additions or deletions.
There not being any,
THIRD ORDER OF BUSINESS Public Hearing to Consider Adoption of the General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2009, Resolution 2008-5, and Levy of Non Ad Valorem Assessments, Resolution 2008-6
Ms. Bertolami stated moving along to the public hearing portion of this meeting, Ms. Hastings is here. She is the Financial Director for the City of Parkland. She is also a resident. Would you like to read Resolution 2008-5?
Mr. Cassel responded yes. Resolution 2008-5 is a resolution adopting the final budget of the PTWCD for fiscal year 2009.
Ms. Bertolami asked do you have any comments or, by way of an introduction, would you like to discuss the graphs?
Mr. Cassel responded yes. At our last meeting you asked that we come before you with a graph indicating the distribution of the amount of increases for the different types of units. The budget is the same as we discussed the last time we met. As you can see, 60% of the residents will be paying a $12 a year increase over their current assessment. The percentages are not done by ¼ of an acre. It is done by exactly how much property you own by the tax assessor’s office. If you own .22 of an acre, you will pay .22 of the assessment value. It is not ¼, ½ and ¾. There were too many breakouts to do it for the graph. We put them in groups of ¼ to ½, ½ to ¾ and ¾ to 1 acre. Over 60% of the population will have an increase of $12 or less. The larger group of 1 acre to 1¼ has residents and commercial properties. The group of 2 or more acres is also commercial and large property.
Ms. Bertolami stated so you may have larger parcels, which will get more than a $6.22 increase.
Mr. Cassel stated that is correct. There are approximately 152, which did not come out on the second graph, that are in the $108 range. As I stated, a number of those are commercial properties.
The record will reflect Mr. Brewer joined the meeting.
Ms. Bertolami stated we have more members of the public who walked in. Please sign in.
Mr. Cassel stated the per unit increase is $48.11, a unit being an acre. Everybody is based on either a percentage of that acre, smaller, or a percentage of that acre, larger.
Ms. Bertolami stated for the benefit of those who just came in we would like to go over this graph one more time.
Mr. Cassel stated of the 4,712 assessable units within the District 60% of them, which is approximately 2,846, will pay an increase of $12 or less depending on the actual size of their property. The next group of 573 units will pay approximately $24.05 more per year, 28 units will pay $26 more per year, 869 units will pay $48.11 more per year and you can follow the chart. Many of the 1 to 1¼ acre units are commercial properties as well as the last group on the top of the graph of 152 units. The increase for the group of 152 will be $108.24.
Ms. Bertolami stated the way you determine your specific increase is by taking your property size and multiplying it by $48.11.
Mr. Cassel stated the easiest way is to look at last year’s tax bill and see what they have as your property size. Multiply that property size by the assessment rate. This is what you will be paying. You can look at last year’s and this year’s to determine what the difference will be.
Mr. Doody stated this requires a public hearing and I would open the public hearing to see if there are any questions.
Ms. Bertolami stated thank you. Do we have any comments from the public?
Ms. Hastings responded I have some questions. Looking at the budget, the fund balance does not seem to be correct. Your projected fund balance is $134,000. That is not correct because you have a reserve of $32,000. Do you have the reserve for a specific reason? That makes the fund balance $166,000. You have another $30,000 for reserves next year, which makes the fund balance $196,000. Your fund balance is not correct.
Mr. Cassel stated I will double check this with the accountant.
Ms. Hastings stated many people get confused with the fund balance, but by the end of fiscal year 2009 you should have a fund balance of $196,000. Looking at the administrative expenditures, why is engineering moving from $12,000 to $50,000?
Mr. Cassel responded engineering is part of a process the District needs in order to certify and verify what properties are actually in the District’s name. There was an issue, which occurred after Hurricane Wilma, where the District needed to get reimbursement for work. The District could not prove what property it owns. We are going back into historical records to validate what we own as a District to make sure what we own and maintain is in our name.
Ms. Hastings stated I see. This is additional work.
Mr. Cassel stated yes, over and above. Legal services increased for the same reason. They are tied together. There is going to be engineering work to review plans and there is going to be legal work to review deeds and titles.
Ms. Hastings asked for capital outlay equipment, are you purchasing equipment for $10,000?
Mr. Cassel responded yes. If you look at the narrative, it is for chemical spray equipment utilized by the District to spray weeds. It is ready for replacement.
Ms. Hastings asked why do we need a $196,000 fund balance on a total budget of $260,000?
Mr. Cassel responded part of it is because the fund balance covers the first three months of operation while the taxes come in.
Ms. Hastings stated I am saying your total expenditure is $432,000. In my calculation your fund balance is $196,000. This is more than 3%. I think it is an excessive fund balance, especially in a year when things are very difficult. Voters have voted for cuts on property taxes. I know the numbers look small for some people. I had calls from residents who call me on our taxes and they also call me on PTWCD asking me why they are being charged this amount. I tell them this is not the city and they need to show up at these meetings to speak. Unless there is a particular reason for accumulating the fund balance, but if it is just for three months of operating expenses.
Mr. Cassel stated in addition to the first three months of operating expenses; if you do not have reserves or a fund balance and there is a hurricane event where you need to put out money, you either need to have a letter of credit in place up front or you will not be able to have the cash flow to do what is necessary to fix the District’s infrastructure.
Ms. Hastings stated I understand. I feel it is a little expensive. My next question to you is on special assessment discounts. What is that for $17,000?
Mr. Cassel responded it is shown differently in this year’s budget. It is the way the tax assessor runs it through.
Ms. Hastings stated okay. It is the discount if you pay it off in November.
Mr. Cassel stated yes. In prior years they did not show it. We decided to show it as the full assessment minus the discount so you can actually see what your net might be. If the discounts are not taken by individuals paying earlier, your revenue is going to be higher.
Ms. Hastings asked is this linked to the miscellaneous assessment collection fee or is it linked to the late payments in your administrative expenses?
Mr. Cassel responded I believe it is linked down there.
Mr. Schwarz stated if I understood what you said, the only place for funds available to recover from a hurricane are in the fund balance.
Mr. Cassel stated yes.
Mr. Schwarz stated I do not see any other line items for this.
Mr. Cassel stated there are none.
Mr. Schwarz asked after Hurricane Wilma did PTWCD pay for the repairs done to the swales?
Mr. Cassel responded yes.
Mr. Craven stated I want you to clarify what you mean by swales.
Mr. Schwarz stated between the streets and behind the houses. Is this District responsible for that or is it a city function?
Mr. Craven responded city.
Ms. Hastings stated the city is not responsible for the swales in the back.
Ms. Bertolami stated the city did do that work and it was reimbursed by FEMA.
Ms. Hastings stated FEMA paid for the work.
Mr. Schwarz stated okay, but it is technically part of the District. We get letters all of the time telling us to mow our lawn.
Mr. Craven stated not from the District.
Mr. Strick asked what was the fund balance prior to Hurricane Wilma?
Mr. Cassel responded I do not have the history of that with me.
Mr. Strick asked why, all of a sudden, do we need an increase in our reserves?
Mr. Cassel responded if I remember correctly, it was over $400,000 and part of it was used up as a result of Hurricane Wilma. This is part of the replacement philosophy. Right now you do not have anything to go forward and do anything in the event of a storm. In most cases you have to lay out money prior to being reimbursed.
Ms. Hastings stated but FEMA did pay.
Mr. Cassel stated no. They did not pay. That was part of the problem.
Mr. Doody stated it was an extremely difficult time for the Board because there were a lot of demands forthcoming from the public to take some action and there was no money. The Board tried to respond to clear up the damage and when NRCS came forward, they wanted us to certify we owned the lands. We had no idea who owned the lands. We could not certify it. For the first time, the District was put upon to respond in a fashion it had not been prepared to do.
Mr. Strick asked do you actually have to own the land?
Mr. Craven responded you have to be able to prove you own the easement or right-of-way.
Mr. Cassel stated it was a major requirement for reimbursement. This is part of the reason why you are seeing the increase in legal fees and engineering fees. This District has never undertaken this and there are many questions. A perfect example is a big dispute over who owns swales. The District is embarking to try to establish, from a title standpoint, what it owns. The idea is FEMA did not come in. We had to go out through an engineering firm to get reimbursements in order to clean out the canals.
Ms. Hastings stated I am a little confused. Prior to the hurricane the District used to take care of the swales. Is that correct? You used to mow the swales.
Mr. Craven responded clarification. The only thing the District ever participated in with the swales was immediately after their construction, and probably three to four years after, we mowed the swales where there was vacant property. I do not know why we did it. It was the big hearted Board at the time. You have to realize it was a much smaller operation; Parkland and PTWCD. The swales were constructed by the City of Parkland and the District mowed them for a while. We do not own them and we are not responsible for maintaining them.
Ms. Hastings stated it was a cost to the District at that time, which the District no longer has. Is that correct?
Mr. Brewer asked do you mean the hurricane?
Ms. Hastings responded no, the mowing.
Ms. Bertolami stated it was random. It was not scheduled.
Mr. Craven stated we did it when we had the mower and we could get in. When the parcels were developed the policy was abandoned because we could not handle the landscaping and the developed blocks.
Ms. Bertolami stated it was a casual arrangement.
Mr. Brewer stated a lot of the mowing was done back when the lots were 80% vacant and only 20% of the lots were built on. As more houses came on line the District started backing off because houses were being built and they should maintain their own swales. Every time a house was built the District looked at less maintenance we had to do for most swales. When they were vacant, they were pretty nasty.
Mr. Fredericks stated a lot of them had water in them after the storm, as they are designed to do. You cannot mow them when they are filled with water. You had a lot of people dumping stuff in the swales making it impossible to mow.
Ms. Bertolami asked are there any other questions from the public?
Mr. Schwarz responded it sounds like there is some overlapping jurisdiction with respect to maintenance of the swales between the city, the District and the homeowners. What is the correct form for addressing damages to the swale caused by the contractor who did the work after Hurricane Wilma? Is it here? Is it the city?
Mr. Craven responded it is the city. That whole operation, regardless of where the funds came from, was a city obligation.
Ms. Bertolami stated I think we should clarify his statement about there being an overlap here.
Mr. Doody stated I do not think we did any work on any swales after Hurricane Wilma.
Mr. Fredericks stated no, we did not.
Mr. Doody stated it was simply canals.
Mr. Study stated I beg to differ; 69th was worked on afterwards and unfortunately to this day, the work is unsatisfactory.
Mr. Craven stated it was not done under the auspices of the District.
Mr. Study stated it was brought up to the city as well as engineering and this Board, before I was on the Board. As I recall, my conversation was with regard to who is responsible for those swales. At that District meeting I was told you guys are responsible for taking the water from the swales.
Mr. Craven stated that is correct.
Mr. Study stated my comment at the time was Parkland needs to figure out how to get the water to your distribution point, or whatever you call it, because we were flooding. We are still flooding. With each rain, particularly now, we are flooding.
Mr. Craven stated you are absolutely correct in your statement.
Mr. Study stated I bring this to everyone’s attention because I think that was your question.
Mr. Schwarz stated I had the public works director come out and look at the swale. His response to me was they are satisfied with the work done and the maintenance is up to me. I cannot maintain it when there is three feet of water in it.
Mr. Craven stated I agree.
Mr. Schwarz stated it is there for nine months of the year now and I have woody trees growing out of it.
Mr. Study stated I agree with that also.
Ms. Bertolami stated well going forward from this point I think we have clarified that PTWCD does not maintain those swales although in the past, erratically, the previous Board did.
Mr. Debogovich stated the statement that it was sporadic cleaning is not correct. The canals were cleaned twice a year. After Hurricane Wilma I do not see anyone come around cleaning and I heard the property owner is responsible for cleaning half of it. Water has been sitting inside for the last four months. I need an airboat to go inside and clean it. After Hurricane Wilma the contractor did pretty well cleaning, but they made a great deal of damage. One day when it is not raining anymore I will have to bring in a couple of loads of dirt in order to make it the way it was originally 20 years ago. Since we are paying in our taxes for the swales to be maintained, I think someone needs to be responsible other than myself or the property owner.
Ms. Bertolami asked would you like to speak to that as far as ownership and responsibility goes?
Mr. Craven responded the swales were acquired by the City of Parkland; 17½ feet off the back of your lot and 17½ off of the adjacent lot. The easements are deeded to the City of Parkland. They are Parkland’s responsibility and always have been. This District got involved in mowing them because it was a small town, it was convenient and it was not a lot of money to mow them. In retrospect, it was a stupid mistake on the Board’s part.
Mr. Brewer stated I think what you are saying, and I had the same problem at my house, it was worse after the Hurricane Wilma clean up.
Mr. Debogovich stated that is correct. I cleaned almost to the line, but there is a part you cannot do. Two or three years ago I got a notice to clean up my mess, which I did. After Hurricane Wilma it is problematic.
Mr. Strick stated part of the confusion is most residents think the reason we are paying $250 a year in assessments is to clean out the swales. I came to this meeting and found you guys do something other than maintain the swales. I do not know exactly what the District does.
Mr. Study stated once the water goes south and north, they are responsible for getting it removed to the C-14 or one of these other canals.
Ms. Bertolami stated it is controlling drainage structures.
Mr. Debogovich stated only to open up the gates. Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Study responded to make sure that channel was opened.
Mr. Strick stated and the water flows and things like that, but if the water does not get out of the swales, there is not much to control.
Mr. Schwarz stated so I need to approach this by continuing to try to deal with the city.
Mr. Craven stated yes.
Mr. Strick stated I know you said you have almost $70,000 in legal and engineering fees to determine who owns what. If the District does not own it, then who owns the land you are concerned about?
Mr. Doody responded the county or the city. Some of it may still be owned by developers. When they did the original work after Hurricane Wilma, we came up with four different owners.
Mr. Strick asked in a particular area?
Mr. Brewer responded there are some concerns. There are many flowage easements and a lot of stuff which goes through from the Sawgrass Expressway all the way north going through some of those areas. When we go to file with FEMA or NRCS to get help during hurricane times, they need us to prove ownership. We thought we owned them, but we were not sure. This is why we put it in the budget this year. We need to get a clarified guarantee of what we own so we can be refunded. This is what is in the budget. We do not anticipate the total amount of money will be spent this year. It is something we are going to allocate towards a budget item because it has never been done. It is something which should have been done last year or maybe the year before, but nobody ever did it.
Ms. Bertolami stated it is ongoing.
Mr. Brewer stated yes. It is an ongoing study.
Mr. Strick stated when the District was created it was defined at that time.
Mr. Brewer stated no. That is part of the issue. They did a handshake to mow the grass. We cannot find any reason why the grass was mowed. We had no agreement with the city. We just did it.
Mr. Doody stated part of the clarification process was that I had to certify. I cannot certify what I do not know. I ordered title work. I got the title work back and it showed four different property owners. It was not done with a great deal of formality. There are gaps. We are trying to fill the gaps and be preventative so this is not a problem down the road if there are additional storms.
Mr. Thigpen stated the increase seems kind of steep. When I got the letter I saw there is a 25% increase when everyone else is lowering their rates for property taxes. It caught my attention. Then I did a little research from the previous meeting and it seems like the money is not being used for what is written in the letter. It seems the letter says it is being used to build a reserve fund when in fact it is going to be used for title research and engineering surveys. It seems the letter is misleading. I am sure these things need to be done. You need to know what you own in order to get reimbursement from FEMA. Were you able to get reimbursement from FEMA after you did the quit claim deed?
Mr. Doody responded part of it.
Mr. Thigpen stated it seems like it is a pain to get reimbursement, but it is possible. Just as long as you know you own the land before you do the work, you get reimbursed. You do not do the work unless you own the land. I understand you want to get things cleaned up quickly. It just seems like a big increase to do something quick which has been an ongoing problem for a long time. It seems like a smaller increase with a schedule to have the whole thing laid out and surveyed will be a smarter approach.
Ms. Bertolami stated thank you. We appreciate it. Those are things we talked about at our last meeting.
Mr. Doody asked is there anyone else who wants to speak because you should formally close the public hearing?
Mr. Strick responded you guys do great work. You take your own time to do these things. There is no doubt that your interest and your hearts are in the right place by trying to figure this out and be proactive. I just think the timing is really bad. This economy is on the news everyday. Even though it is only $48 if you own an acre, the timing is bad. We all know once those $48 are in there, it is never going away. It is like the fire fee in Parkland. We were sold on it that it was a one time special assessment and now every year we are paying the same assessment fee. I think you can come up with a smarter way to finance it like a letter of credit or something just to give you a proactive cushion in case there is an emergency and put this off for a year. Give people a break. We are finally at a point in this state where we are getting some tax relief, but the second we do all of the counties, cities and schools are increasing their taxes. To get it from the District as well is like adding insult to injury to the people in this community. I know it is not your intent. I think you are doing the right thing trying to be proactive. It is just not the right year to get it done. There has to be another way to come up with a financing solution so we can meet emergency relief.
Ms. Hastings stated I share the sentiment of the other two speakers. I think it is bad timing. I fully understand having a reserve because I vouch for it with the city, but this is such a bad year. We have never seen bankruptcy in Parkland before and I can tell you bankruptcy notices keep coming on my desk. Foreclosures are unbelievable. There are approximately 15 foreclosures in my community. People cannot pay their bills. This is a bad year to have an increase. Even if we do not increase, we know we have $164,000 in the reserves. You can put other things in place. I just think this is a bad year.
Ms. Bertolami stated thank you. Are there any other comments from the public?
There not being any,
Ms. Bertolami stated I close the hearing to the public and open it to the Board.
Mr. Weissman stated I am going to be consistent. I pleaded with this Board before. I think the timing is wrong. We do need to replenish the reserves and we do need to get this work done. I think the residents are going to have to understand the time is going to come, whether it is this year, next year or the year after, where we are going to have to put ourselves back on a better financial footing. I have to agree with the speakers. This is not the year to do it. This Board will have to adjust the fees at some point in the not to distant future, but I will be voting not to increase the assessments.
Ms. Bertolami stated thank you, Mr. Study.
Mr. Study stated I am very perplexed. I believe the public has come forward with a problem of getting rid of their water. I believe it could be resolved if those swales worked. When we look at this particular budget we have 856 of those Pine Tree residents at an acre plus. I believe that is the turmoil. It creates a health problem with mosquitoes as well as other things. I go back to a couple of problems. The first problem is this District and this Board is responsible for the water after it hits the main channel or distribution point.
The second thing is the current budget as it is projected is so tight in this inflationary moment. We have not seen $3.75 fuel for a truck for a long time. We are awful happy with $3.84. If one is prudent, money is going to be short if the fuel projections stay at $4 a gallon. I do not think we are going to see $3.75 anymore. If we do, it will be short term.
At the last meeting I voiced an opinion concerning the increase in this particular budget in that the funds are being used other than reserve for an emergency. I realize in the interpretation we need our guns loaded in order to apply for FEMA help, which is the ownership of the right-of-ways and easements. It is a complicated problem. I do not believe we have the access in funds as prescribed.
Mr. Brewer stated I will tell you the reason I am for the budget. If we get caught in a hurricane and this District has no money, we are forced to borrow money in an emergency. The last time I borrowed money in an emergency it was not fun. You are going to pay high interest rates. You are going to pay a lot of money. You are going to pay a lot of fees. Then we will be in debt. I don’t think the District should live on a shoestring and run it under a debt process. I have to support this budget to get the reserves back up. You cannot sit here and tell me we are going to run this District with no money in it. We just went through $500,000 worth of expenditures from one storm. Some of it came back to us, but not all of it. We look at it and say we have reserves. I look at it and see if we get hit with a storm tomorrow, we do not have enough to cover it. I do not think it is responsible as a Board. This is why I am supportive of the increase.
Yes, it is a bad time. I agree with you. I run my own farm. I am losing money everyday trying to keep my people employed. Life goes on. It is part of the good times and the bad times as far as I am concerned about being in business. I had good years. I had bad years. This is a very bad time. I have never seen it like this, but I do not think we are asking for the world. Maybe we are and I am wrong. I just think if a storm hits, we need to be prepared for it. I think this budget does it.
Ms. Benckenstein stated 60% of the people are going to be paying $12. I think we really need to have some money in the District. I sat on this Board after Hurricane Wilma and we had all sorts of people coming in because they needed their property cleaned up and we could not do anything without money. We tried to get reimbursement and we did not even know if we owned the property. It was a bad year last year to raise it. It is worse this year and who knows about next year. I think at a $12 increase for 60% of the people, it should be done.
Ms. Bertolami stated thank you. Do we have a motion on the table?
Mr. Brewer asked what do you have to say?
Ms. Bertolami responded I can see both sides. It is bad timing, but this is something we talked about at the last meeting. When was the last time we had a raise in our rates?
Mr. Cassel responded it has been quite a number of years.
Ms. Bertolami stated I actually cannot recall the last time.
Mr. Brewer stated I do think you or I were on the Board.
Ms. Bertolami stated it has to be four or five years. It is something we should have put in place every other year. It is a lot to be hit with in a bad time. Well, I do not think it is a lot to be hit with. It is the perception.
Mr. Brewer stated I have one other comment and I do not know how we are going to resolve it. I have been on the Board a long time. We have to get this city and District issue, you forgot to put it on the front page of the newspaper, but either somebody has to own up and say the swales are full of water, they are torn up after FEMA, we did it, he did it, she did it. I do not care who stands up and says they did it, but we cannot sit here. I have seen the conditions they are living under. I have been to several houses on 72nd Way to look at them. They need dynamite to fix it. It is that bad. I do not know how to tell them to fix it. I am in the surveying engineering business. This gentleman discussed fixing his. I agree with him, and I wish you all the luck in the world fixing it, but he might cause more problems if he fixes his. This is an issue which happens because someone changes or fixes something.
I do not know who is going to spend all of the money to survey it, grade it and fix it. That is the problem. It is destroyed. It is no good and you have holes in it. I do not know if the District needs to get with the city, meet with them again, get the engineer, but I do not think we are getting the right answers back to these people when they ask us. We have done this for five years now. We say it is the city. They go to the city and the city tells them it is the District. They come back to see us. We need to resolve this. I do not know how to do it. Do we call the city? We have met with them. We tried to get them to own up. Is it them? Is it us? If it is us, then we have to go fix it. I do not know what to tell people.
Ms. Bertolami stated it is a complex problem.
Mr. Study asked does legal and engineering involve the swales in Pine Tree Estates? It does not. No matter what this Board does, it is not going to straighten out those swales. That is the answer I got two years ago. I went to the city and I got nothing.
Ms. Benckenstein asked what did they say?
Mr. Study responded the engineering department has no money and has no jurisdiction. They need special permission to do whatever. Some of the council members attempted to do something to no avail. I read in the literature of Parkland where code enforcement is going up and where hurricane pruning should be done. I live on a street where FPL put up additional poles after Hurricane Wilma. They are still standing there side by side to the old poles and when we get a wind, they catch on fire. Our fire department goes over on 69th Way and puts them out. If you do not believe me, look at the first pole on 69th Way and you will see it. The city is so involved in getting the little things, they are passing over something which is a health hazard. There are septic tanks in the back yards, which are now being flooded. It is a major issue, but again, this Board is responsible for the water it receives.
Mr. Schwarz stated you cannot receive the water from my house. It does not go anywhere.
Mr. Study stated mine either. I have been here 16 years and I pay my water management fees to no avail. I am the second house in and we catch water from Holmberg Road. Now with all of the new improvements, the additional asphalt and less percolation is creating more.
Ms. Hastings stated you said the legal fees and engineering fees are not to determine the ownership of the swales. What is it determining? Ownership of what?
Mr. Study responded ownership of the disbursement system going along the Sawgrass Expressway as well as whatever is going on the north bound side, I would assume, are the properties involved.
Mr. Craven stated you have several canals which come from Wiles Road all the way north to the Hillsborough Canal. There are questions about ownership title and responsibilities with some of those canals.
Ms. Bertolami stated I have to say this is highly unusual, but I think we are accepting some comments from the public. It is probably not appropriate, but I think to the benefit of the public who have come there are some issues which have not been communicated regularly. I think the proper procedure from here on out is to close to the public and carry on the Board meeting. I was asked for my comments on this. I live in Pine Tree as well. I lived here for 30 years. We live at the outfall end of the canal and our swale works great. That is because we are receiving all of the water and it is flowing rapidly, leaving our area towards the canal along the Sawgrass Expressway.
I am not saying anything other than I find it very difficult to maintain as well. Aside and apart from those Pine Tree swale issues, we are here to talk about this budget. I think unfortunately this is a bad year for this, but I believe we would be derelict in our duties not to approve this budget. It is a harsh term, but it is something this Board needs to do. Perhaps we are a little too aggressive with this plan. Maybe it is something we need to cut in half, but next year may be a worse year than this. It is hard to say. I do not think it is a good idea to do anything other than accept this or reject it. Time is of the essence. Let us start with the budget and I will take suggestions at the end of the meeting, as usual, for how we might address the Pine Tree swale issue.
Ms. Hastings asked can I ask a question of legal?
Ms. Bertolami responded go ahead.
Ms. Hastings stated she said either accept or deny the budget. You can have changes to a line item. It does not have to be accepted or rejected.
Mr. Doody stated she just made a recommendation.
Ms. Bertolami stated or anything in between. Do I have a motion on the floor for the budget or are we going to have further discussion.
Mr. Doody asked can I get a motion to adopt Resolution 2008-5? We should adopt the resolution.
Mr. Cassel responded it appropriates it so you can make the assessments.
Mr. Doody stated Resolution 2008-6, levying a maintenance assessment within the PTWCD for payment of maintenance expenses for its water management system period October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009. I will defer to the manager, but there are several blanks, which need to be addressed for the Board. What will the operation, repairs and maintenance of the District through fiscal year 2009 amount to?
Mr. Cassel responded it is the total budget, $432,583.
Mr. Doody asked how many assessable units?
Mr. Cassel responded 4,712 assessable units.
Mr. Doody asked how much is the sum of the maintenance assessment per acre to be levied?
Mr. Cassel responded the increase is $48.11. The total assessment per acre is $209.14.
Mr. Doody stated Madam Chair, you need to obtain a motion to amend the resolution to incorporate the recommendations of the manager.
Mr. Cassel stated I have a correction. The coordinated taxable units are 2,126.63
Mr. Doody asked would you be so kind as to repeat those numbers?
Mr. Cassel responded the total budget is $432,583 for the year. The taxable number of units is 2,126.63. The assessment per acre is $209.14.
Ms. Bertolami stated we need a first and second to amend the resolution.
Mr. Doody stated if you could, entertain a motion to adopt Resolution 2008-6 as amended.
Ms. Benckenstein stated I would like to have a motion to adopt this resolution as amended.
FOURTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Manager’s Report
A. TK2008-1 – Purchase of ½ Ton 4x4 Pick up Truck
Mr. Cassel stated at the last meeting I was directed to see if we could negotiate the purchase of the truck cutting the price increase in half. We were not able to get there. On June 26, 2008 we did a telephone poll of the Board. This is a ratification of the poll vote to go ahead and exceed the one half amount by approximately $150. I need a motion to ratify the action taken.
Mr. Weissman asked did this deal already take place?
Mr. Cassel responded yes it did.
Mr. Weissman asked what happened with the other vehicle.
Mr. Cassel responded I believe we are in the process of getting it turned in. Is this correct, Mr. Fredericks?
Mr. Fredericks responded it has already been turned in.
Mr. Weissman asked did you ever find out the final number on the additional charges?
Mr. Fredericks responded I do not think there were additional charges. We had a wear guard in our contract. In other words, they allow for a certain amount of damage without having to pay a penalty. I guess we were under that.
Ms. Bertolami asked is there any further discussion? Is this all for the Manager’s Report?
Mr. Cassel responded that is it for the Manager’s Report.
FIFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Attorney’s Report
There being no report, the next item followed.
SIXTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Engineer’s Report
Mr. Craven stated we received the final plans as well as the concurrence of the county and water resources department on the Butler Farms culvert. Since it just came in this past week I thought I would mention it to you. If you do not have any objections, a permit will be issued. They have met all of our stipulations.
Mr. Brewer asked have they started construction?
Mr. Craven responded no.
Ms. Bertolami stated hopefully they will get the permit before they start.
SEVENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Supervisors’ Requests
Ms. Bertolami stated here is where I would request direction from the Board regarding opening up conversations with the City of Parkland relating to the swales.
Ms. Benckenstein stated I ask for the attorney’s instruction since we do not own the property. Is this something we should get involved with just a phone call or anything so these people can get some action? It has been going on since I have been on the Board. Is this something, which is not in our realm at all?
Mr. Doody responded I can certainly make a call to the city attorney and ask for a discussion. It might be beneficial to have a discussion between him, Mr. Craven the city engineer and me. At least try to stake out our positions. Someone has to be wrong.
Ms. Benckenstein stated I know. They keep going back and forth.
Mr. Doody stated I understand the Board’s frustration. Mr. Craven and I are comfortable and confident that the District does not own it, but I cannot explain to you why the city has suggested they do not.
Ms. Benckenstein stated it should be easy to pull up the deed or the easement.
Mr. Doody stated there should be a plat.
Ms. Benckenstein asked is there no plat?
Mr. Doody responded no.
Mr. Craven stated I do not think so.
Mr. Brewer stated I know in the past ten years you had to convey the easements in order to get a building permit.
Ms. Benckenstein stated well then it would be on their individual deeds. It is their easement then.
Mr. Doody asked so on the face of the deed there is an easement to the city?
Mr. Schwarz responded there is an easement in the front of the street and there is an easement in the back for the swale.
Mr. Study stated I believe on the sides also.
Mr. Schwarz stated I think it is a zoning requirement to have a swale down the side connecting to the back. I do not believe there is an easement on the side.
Mr. Brewer stated there is in some cases. Approximately ten years ago they started saying in order to get a building permit, you have to get an easement down the sides and in the rear.
Mr. Schwarz stated I know you have to build a swale to build a new house. Mine does not show an easement on the sides.
Ms. Bertolami stated we are having input from the public. In view of the fact that we really want to get this information out to the public, I would ask for support from the Board to continue to allow the public to participate in this conversation.
Mr. Brewer stated that is fine.
Ms. Bertolami stated having worked for the building department I do not believe it was regularly and routinely called upon to every person to dedicate the rear property, the front and the two swales down the side. I do believe it is codified in the city ordinance. The purpose of the side swales is for the drainage. The way I understood it from the engineer who is the party designated by the code to enforce this is the property is supposed to drain from the house to the sides and from the front to the rear. The method of getting the water from the front of the property to the rear is down the side swales, which creates a ten foot swale between the properties. There were times when it was not necessarily enforced. Hedges grew, trees grew, all kinds of unusual situations exist. Fences are there. Fences are not an issue on the property line so you have a ten foot swale divided by a fence.
As it is now there are isolated pieces of property, which have not dedicated those swales to the city simply because they have not been required to submit a new survey for a new addition to be built in the back, or whatever, and they have not been required to have it recorded. When it comes to the city’s attention they do require it so there is a mechanism in place to dedicate those swales to the city. It could not have been enforced on every lot because some were simply there first or they did not get caught. If the city wants to pursue this, do their research and get every single property dedicated, then it is their call. If it takes some cross communication between us to sort things out, maybe it is what we need to do.
Mr. Doody stated the city attorney and I know each other and respect each other’s abilities. He will be more than happy to meet with me, but I am not in a position as District counsel to be able to impose any obligation on the city, which will result in any action.
Mr. Study stated I think that is the position of the Board also. We, as the water control district, do not have jurisdiction to approach this problem.
Mr. Doody stated we can talk, but we cannot change it. With all due respect, it is at the city’s discretion.
Mr. Schwarz stated we are all in the same boat, with the exception of you being at the end of the swale where it works, we all have the same problem. If we were united in an approach to the city, we could probably get a better response than the type of homeowner they seem to blow off relatively easily. Maybe we could request an item at a city commission meeting for discussion. I do not know if we can do this or not. As an entity, I think the District can request a discussion item. They are just going to tear us apart with just one person standing there during the public comment section. You get nowhere. You get nowhere with emails. You get nowhere with letters.
Mr. Weissman stated put in the request to the city manager. I can tell you the likelihood is the city will give the homeowners an opportunity to special assess if they want to clean it all up at one time. That is probably the likely solution. It will be a special assessment to clean it up.
Mr. Schwarz stated I always kept my swale maintained. My problem is I cannot maintain it because someone damaged it. They created a dam and they created holes.
Mr. Weissman stated the problem is water is not flowing from one end of the street to the other. Mr. Craven, you can address this problem.
Ms. Bertolami stated there are a number of different problems we have seen or heard on the Board. I have to say this Board does not have the authority, from what I hear, to take any action at all. I have to say it is between the residents and the city.
Mr. Strick stated after Hurricane Wilma, I do not know if it was this Board or the city, got FEMA or one of the government agencies to pay a contractor to fix the swales because they were allegedly damaged by the hurricane. There were some hurricane repairs to the swales. Who is the entity which contracted with the contractor? Why not have that entity go after the contractor?
Mr. Craven responded it was not us. It is my understanding it was the city.
Mr. Schwarz stated I was told by the city manager and the director of public works the city did the work under a FEMA grant, they accepted the work and they were satisfied with it.
Ms. Bertolami asked are there any other comments?
Mr. Strick responded trying to get the roads in Pine Tree paved is a big problem. It is the city’s problem, but no one wants to pay for it.
Mr. Study stated this is a little different, I believe, in the fact something occurred with federal funds from an agency which destroyed what was there in their correction of it. I think it is a little different. I approached it from that area.
Mr. Strick stated I agree with you, but you have a legal recourse against the contractor unless you as the contracting party agreed that they performed those jobs satisfactorily.
Mr. Study stated but you understand what has been stated here. In order to correct the problem which was compounded by the city a new assessment is going to be charged and for some reason the two do not mix. Again, this Board does not have jurisdiction. Do you want to pursue it at all?
Ms. Bertolami responded I am hearing that we do not. This Board does not have authority to pursue it. Thank you for your comments. I think it is a matter to take to the city.
EIGHTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of Financials and Check Registers
There being no questions or comments,
TWELFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Adjournment
There being no further business,
Donna McCann Benckenstein Margaret Bertolami
Assistant Secretary President