MINUTES OF MEETING
NORTH SPRINGS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
The regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the North Springs
Improvement District was held on
Present and constituting a quorum were:
Salvatore Mendolia President
Steve Mendelson Secretary
Also present were:
John Petty Manager
Dennis Lyles Attorney
John McKune Engineer
Doug Hyche District Staff
Michael Hollander Resident
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS Roll Call
Mr. Petty called the meeting to order and called the roll
SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of the Minutes of the December 20, 2005 Meeting
Mr. Petty stated each Board member received a copy of the minutes of the
There not being any,
Consideration of Permit Request from
Mr. Petty stated the permit request was included in the agenda package along with the recommendation from staff.
Mr. McKune stated this is a standard drainage permit for the commercial
parcel next to Buffalos at the intersection of
Mr. Petty stated the existing drainage system does not belong to the District as it is internal. However, we are responsible for the infrastructure. We have to make sure this meets our master design criteria for runoff.
FOURTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Staff Reports
There being no report, the next item followed.
There being no report, the next item followed.
Mr. Petty stated I have one item for the Board, which we apologize for not having in the agenda package as this meeting was too close to our last meeting. I provided the Board with proposals from our existing contractor to perform hurricane cleanup in Parkland Isles. The community asked us to perform additional improvements, which we have done, which benefits them and they pay for. There was money in the budget to pay for plant replacement due to a hurricane last year, which we had not done before Hurricane Wilma hit us. With monies available in the budget, we will be able to pay for two already authorized cleanup orders to remove fallen plantings. This request is to protect the health of the existing landscaping. We have many cut limbs, which should be cut back properly so we do not kill the trees. The trees we uprighted and tried to save, need to be removed to stabilize the soil conditions of the berm. I provided to the Board the quote we received from our existing contractor, Valley Crest and recommend we authorize the amendment to the contract to allow them to do this work as we have money available in the existing budget. However, there are no monies in the Plant Replacement Fund and will work with the community on the funding.
Mr. Mendolia asked what is the $43,500 for?
Mr. Petty responded to stabilize the soil and existing plantings.
Mr. Mendolia asked do we have monies in the budget to cover this amount?
Mr. Petty responded yes.
Mr. Mendolia asked do we have more than $43,500 in the budget?
Mr. Petty responded no. This takes the budget down to the last thousand dollars.
Mr. Mendelson asked is this strictly for the removal and pruning?
Mr. Petty responded it is for repairing the existing plant material without having to replace any plant material. This is the last phase in the process. We have already completed two steps. After the storm, many of the plants were uprooted in order to re-establish them. We have now determined some of them cannot be saved. Broken branches from large trees which have not been trimmed back, need to be inspected to determine whether or not they are infested with termites. Other plant material such as bushes, which we hoped would come back should now be removed. There is a considerable amount of work to do and the money is in the budget. We will have to do a budget amendment at the end of the year to re-classify this item as plant cleanup versus plant removal. The recommendation from staff is to authorize staff to do an amendment with the contract subject to District Counsel’s review and signature by the Board’s president.
Mr. Lyles stated you are engaging the Board to amended the current contract by Valley Crest who was the low bidder under this bid process to increase the scope of a contract to take into account damage caused by Hurricane Wilma.
Mr. Petty stated the reason we are strongly recommending this is for accountability purposes. If we hire another landscaper to do repair work for just the plant material and should something fail in six months, the finger pointing will be very intense and we will have to arbitrate it. I would rather have accountability with the existing contractor if possible.
Mr. Mendolia stated I was told
Mr. Hollander stated only for Heron Bay Commons.
Mr. Petty stated I am referring to the berm around this single family area in Parkland Isles. The Master Association brought the issue to the District but the District works only with the residents. However, we take input from the HOA. Only the residents of Parkland Isles will pay for the hurricane cleanup.
Mr. Mendolia stated it should be reflected on the contract this is for Parkland Isles only.
Mr. Lyles stated some of the confusion is coming from the fact there are
different subdivisions and communities within NSID, which are very large. The
Mr. Petty stated we received a letter from WCI on our request to put in writing their agreement to the termination. This does not require any action from the Board but is for informational purposes only. They are working very well with us and I do not think we will have any problems.
Mr. Hollander asked is this in reference to the commons building?
Mr. Petty responded yes.
Mr. Hollander asked when will the audit be completed? I have asked for an engagement letter from the auditing companies and have not received one. Are we doing an audit?
Mr. Mendolia responded yes.
Mr. Hollander stated I did an audit on a couple of vendors. One vendor has a five year contract for $14,000 a year or $204,000 total. Is the Board going to ask this vendor for the money back? We talked about this audit seven times last year and it is still not completed.
Mr. Petty responded I have the same concerns and I am sure the Board has expressed those same concerns. Our agreement with WCI seemed to be an economical thing to do in the beginning and is now turning into a problem. You have a government owned recreational facility and there are monies being collected at the site. The proper checks and balances should be in place so the information being requested by this gentleman is readily available. However, since we contracted with a private entity and did not specify the type of software or accounting, they were left to do what they felt was good business practice, which is what brings us to our recommendation today.
I apologize for bringing this recommendation to you late but I recommend you not consider a contract with another agency because of this issue. We do not have the software, computer system, oversight and checks and balances in place to where we would ask for information and they may not be able to supply it. Whenever you have a contract where they are collecting your money, you want to have YOUR software, YOUR system, YOUR accounting person and YOUR checks and balances overseeing the entire operation. All of this is fairly typical for this type of deal.
I recommend the Board make this a District operation. Since we are funding this at 100%, including the management, the District will have great accountability so when these types of questions come up, not only are they readily available but in an understandable format for the residents. Furthermore, the rules you adopt will be adopted by the Board and not by a contractor on-site who may start a policy you may not know anything about. If we can do this with our employees, it becomes not only very open but as honest as we can possibly make it and responsive to the residents and provide the same continuity and level of service.
Mr. Hollander asked what does the sentence “so long as a new management contract does not change the current relationship of the association” mean? I have a cynical feeling for our current management as there is no accountability. It sounds like Mr. Petty is on the right track. I would like to take a look at the numbers because this building has been so poorly managed to the point where if you go there now, it is a mess and the residents are paying for it.
Mr. Petty responded I believe the Board has an active interest in making this the best facility they can and we are looking to do the best job we can and the recommendation before you does just that. The audit season for the District is upon us and at the last meeting, the Board accepted the engagement letter from the auditor. It is currently in the signature phase, which is why you have not seen it. I am waiting for my copy as we speak. If we institute something in-house, this is the greatest degree of control we can possibly have.
Mr. Mendolia stated WCI had control over the facility before. The options are to continue the management in-house or to have a new property management company take over. Mr. Petty is recommending taking the management in-house with your personnel.
Mr. Petty stated not Severn Trent personnel but District personnel to handle the money.
Mr. Mendolia asked what monies are handled?
Mr. Petty responded money collected from programs/classes being offered on-site. This is a government facility and you are licensing this facility to outside contractors to hold classes with a certain amount of funds coming back to the District. The checks and balances is to determine the correct number of participants, fees and whether the money submitted to me was correct. There are specific software programs for these types of recreational facilities used by municipal governments and other government agencies, which we are be very interested in obtaining. This was not necessary when this was a brand new subdivision with only a handful of residents. We are probably past the time where we should have received the audit in a timely fashion but we are at the stage now where we need to have it. Hiring another contractor would be redundant because we would make him purchase or use software we purchased and would then be doing double accounting. When you get into the redundancy, it is usually best to bring it in-house and make it your own.
Mr. Mendolia asked do you think any of these property management companies will accept tying their auditing with the District’s rather than their own operation?
Mr. Petty responded almost all entities bidding on this project will be agreeable. We can do this by contract with a slight overlap and checks and balances to the best of our ability. However, without having people on-site we may have areas we cannot address.
Mr. Mendolia asked will it have to be a dual operation?
Mr. Petty responded yes.
Mr. Mendolia stated it will have to be controlled.
Mr. Mendelson stated you can get the same information from the District.
Mr. Petty stated we will not have the same checks and balances because we will not be there collecting the money. With the software, there are additional checks and balances but without being on-site cash transactions will be difficult to track and there may be questions we may not be able to answer.
Mr. Mendolia stated in the RFP, we will have to add the District being involved in the management.
Mr. Petty stated we always have to be involved. In the existing RFQ, the District has oversight responsibilities.
Mr. Lyles stated obviously the manager and I speak in between meetings and I am not hearing about this for the first time. I knew we had been working on these recommendations. In fact, because you indicated this was one of your top issues, we knew we had to have this meeting today even though the agenda was light. One alternative you were talking about was instead of having a property management company run Heron Bay Commons, we hire direct employees of the District so the person in charge is a District employee to be responsible for the money, take complaints from the residents and set policy. We already notified WCI of the District’s intent to terminate their Management Agreement and they have agreed to its termination. However, instead of going through the RFP process and negotiating a contract with a property management company, Mr. Petty is proposing the District hire personnel using existing personnel and adding other personnel to run the Heron Bay Commons facility. You have direct control because they will be in-house employees.
I assume this does not result in an added expense to the District and
hopefully this will reduce expenses to the District and to the residents in
Mr. Mendolia stated I recommend bringing this in-house. There should be good checks and balances so we do not fall into the same problems we have with WCI.
Mr. Petty stated this is an option we wanted to bring to your attention and not for a decision today. This is why we have not issued the RFP.
Mr. Hollander stated every week there is a different plan. It says in the agreement, “the funds due from the previous contract must be paid”, regardless of the fact the residents pay a $60,000 a year bill. I do not want these same people in there, particularly because they are a major part of the problem. Mr. Petty has only been here for two weeks.
Mr. Petty stated I have been here since 1992.
Mr. Hollander stated this is the first time I have seen you involved. Every time I come here there is a different manager and nothing is getting done. If the Board decides to hold off, another year will go by. Let’s get a management company in who will work for the residents. The residents who live there are the only ones who pay for it. Give the residents an opportunity to get into the management because some day they are going to own it.
Mr. Mendelson stated I think the residents have input. If they are going to be living there, they should have an idea of what is taking place. The residents are the only ones who paid for this building. The biggest problem is guests and non-residents can come and go freely. You have a facility serving 1,500 now servicing 2,700 homes and allowing guests at no additional fee. What qualifications does a resident need to have in order to run their own management company?
Mr. Petty responded this is not an HOA facility. This is a District/government facility and you cannot restrict public access to it. You can restrict their use or make sure the fees are across the board to everyone and there is fair and equal treatment. This is why non-residents are allowed to come and go.
Mr. Hollander stated I was told by the management company, this was sold as a private facility. They even have the paperwork.
Mr. Petty stated there was an assignment of work to a contractor who happened to be the HOA. This does not mean some of the issues and concerns being brought up are not the same ones I have. You cannot stop the public from entering this facility.
Mr. Hollander stated but you can charge them a fee.
Mr. Petty stated correct.
Mr. Mendolia stated you can also have strict rules.
Mr. Petty stated fees should be applied equally.
Mr. Hollander stated if I pay $750 a year, a guest should pay $750.
Mr. Petty stated this is not the way it works here or any place in this county. There are people who pay more taxes than you do, who do not receive any more benefit than you do. This is why public facilities are different from private facilities. You knew this existed when you moved in. We are a government agency and are not exempt from any other requirement of any other government agency.
Mr. Hollander stated the fact is it was sold by realtors.
Mr. Petty stated being sold by realtors was not my responsibility.
Mr. Hollander stated the management company sold this building with the help of realtors.
Mr. Petty stated no one gave the building away.
Mr. Hollander stated in 1997, Ms. Archer told this Board they would have to micromanage this building. This Board said they were not going to micromanage. It sounds like you want to micromanage this building, which is a good idea, but what was done with the residents and how the property was sold and delivered to the residents, was as a private facility.
Mr. Petty stated these are statements, which cannot be validated and are not District business. This is not the time to allow position statements to be made. It should be done under audience comments. We spoke to you about certain options. If you would like to give us time to consider them, this is what staff recommends.
Mr. Mendolia stated we will give you some time. In the meantime, we should get this organized. The reason why we had a management company take over the management of the old company was to avoid having these close ties. This way it is a separate entity. We need to have these checks and balances. This group has a responsibility and the District has a responsibility. There is no in-between.
Mr. Petty stated I can have them go through the checks and balances but there are going to be some areas I will not be able to put checks and balances in because I am not on-site collecting the money.
Mr. Mendolia stated I wish we could have more discussion on this matter and get it resolved because this is January and before we know it, it will be February and March and this issue will never be resolved. It will not be perfect no matter what we come up with.
Mr. Lyles stated the letter we presented and sent to WCI terminating the contract with an effective date of March 15th has been finalized. The letter from WCI acknowledges they received the letter. We need to notify them their oversight of the Heron’s Bay commons facility is no longer going to be in effect as of March 15th as Mr. Petty wanted more time to get some hard numbers together to present to the Board at the next meeting. However, we are going to be moving forward with the RFP process so we have a company in line and ready to go.
Mr. Petty stated we asked for time to evaluate this matter and put the RFP on hold. If the Board wants us to put out the RFP at the same time and withhold the wording, we can do so as well.
Mr. Lyles stated having this go on two simultaneous tracts is what gives you the greatest level of option. If having full time District employees is better and less expensive and you go in this direction and it turns out not to be the best way to go about it, you have the RFP out there.
Mr. Mendolia stated I agree we should put the RFP out for bid and obtain bids for the February meeting.
Mr. Petty stated in order to have the results back by February, we will give them 20 days to respond and get the ad out immediately to have them in place by mid-March.
Mr. Lyles stated if there are any problems getting the publication in the newspaper and getting responses, you only have two Board members to ask to delay the meeting for a week.
Mr. Petty stated if we miss publishing this by a few days, this is what we will do.
FIFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Supervisor’s Requests and Audience Comments
Mr. Hollander asked are we getting the audit for this building in the next 30 days?
Mr. Petty responded the District has its normal audit process and obtained an on-site audit for the Commons.
Mr. Hollander stated we have been waiting a year and a half. What is the normal process?
Mr. Lyles responded Mr. Petty can meet with you after the meeting and describe the audit process.
Mr. Petty stated I would be happy to speak with Mr. Hollander regarding this matter.
Mr. Hollander stated I heard in October the audit was ordered and coming.
Mr. Lyles stated this is correct.
Mr. Petty stated I am new to this Board but know of no special audit due for this particular area, which has not been reviewed by the Board.
Mr. Hollander stated there has to be accountability somewhere. There is no accountability at the Commons.
Mr. Petty stated I will talk to you after the meeting.
A resident stated I submitted my resume to serve on the Board.
Mr. Petty stated we received a couple of applications. At the last meeting, the Board decided to continue this matter for further discussion and come back to staff when they feel they have the proper applicant.
SIXTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Adjournment
Steve Mendelson Salvatore J. Mendolia