MINUTES OF MEETING
NORTH SPRINGS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
The regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the North Springs
Improvement District was held
Present and constituting a quorum were:
Matt Lauritzen President
Salvatore J. Mendolia Secretary
Thomas L. Grossjung Vice President
Also present were:
Rhonda K. Archer Finance Director
Dennis Lyles Attorney
Donna Holiday Recording Secretary
Jane Early Gee & Jenson
John McKune Gee & Jenson
Roger Moore Engineer
Bill Joyce District Staff
Don Hall Attorney
Paul Gold Accurate Tennis
Brian DeGirolmo DeGirolmo & Associates
Valerie Verge Heron Bay Commons
Dorothea Lantz Legislative Aide
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS Roll Call
Mr. Lauritzen called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. and Ms. Archer called the roll.
SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of the Minutes of the January 9, 2003 Meeting
Mr. Lauritzen stated that each Board member had received a copy of the minutes of the January 9, 2003 meeting and requested any additions, corrections or deletions.
There not being any,
THIRD ORDER OF BUSINESS Consideration of Hoechoka Hammock Replat
Ms. Early stated we reviewed the replat and we have provided a letter indicating that the plans meet all of our criteria.
FOURTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Consideration of Change Orders
A. Change Order No. 4 with Florida Sewer & Water for Heron Bay East Pod 4 for a Reduction in Retainage from 10% to 2%
Ms. Early stated this change order is to reduce the retainage we are holding. The subdivision is paved and everything is installed and they are doing punch list items.
Mr. Grossjung asked is that 2% of $2.7 million sufficient to complete the job?
Ms. Early responded yes.
B. Change Order No. 2 with Florida Sewer & Water for Heron Bay Boulevard Phase VI a Net Increase of $54,194.25
Ms. Early stated this change order is in addition to the original scope. WCI increased the size of the traffic circle therefore, it increases the amount of paver bricks and asphalt required for this job. This is a cost of WCI only. The reason you have to approve it is because it is a three party contract.
FIFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Consideration of Permit Requests
A. WCI for Parkland Golf and Country Club Pod 1, Drainage Outfall into S2-4 Canal
B. WCI for Parkland Golf and Country Club Pod 5, Drainage Outfall into S2-4 Canal
C. WCI for Parkland Golf and Country Club Pod 7, Drainage Outfall into S2-4 Canal
D. WCI for Parkland Golf and Country Club Pod 8 Drainage Outfall into S2-4 Canal
E. WCI for 80’ at Heron Bay Central Drainage Outfall into C-4N Canal
F. WCI for Heron Cove at Heron Bay Central Drainage Outfall into C4-N Canal
G. WCI for the Greens at Heron Bay Central Drainage Outfall into C-4N Canal
H. Heron Bay commercial - Residential Portion
Ms. Early stated I would like to add one permit request and that is for Heron Bay Commercial which is by Publix on Coral Ridge Drive. It is the same type of permit review. We are missing one letter on the Heron Bay Commercial piece regarding 11.4% surface water area that we need and we will get that from WCI within a week if you want to approve that subject to receipt of that letter. Ms. Early pointed out on the map the location of each permit request and indicated that they had all been reviewed by the engineer and were in order.
SIXTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Staff Reports
There not being any, the next item followed.
Ms. Early stated we went out for bid for additional tennis courts for Heron Bay Commons. The low bid was submitted by Accurate Tennis for $255,800. The bidders are supposed to submit a bid bond in the amount of 5% and they did not do that but they did bring in a cashiers check the next day. I spoke to Mr. Lyles regarding this and the contract also states that the District can waive any informalities and minor discrepancies. We felt that was covered. In the meantime I received a phone call from the second low bidder stating that he had some concern that they didn't submit their bid bond but I told him that they brought in a cashiers check and that I talked to the District's attorney. I received a letter that I faxed to Mr. Lyles from Welch Tennis Courts. The original architect that did Heron Bay Commons, did the spec for the tennis courts and he spec'd a hydro-grid tennis court surface on which Welch Tennis holds the patent. They wrote a letter that said none of the bidders were qualified or authorized to put in the hydro-grid surface. I spoke to Accurate about that and he has a letter indicating that he has contracted with Welch and they will be the sub who will install this surface.
Mr. Gold stated we have a close working relationship with Welch and have done jobs with them in the past.
Ms. Early stated the second low bidder called again and said he had concerns that Accurate Tennis didn't have a license to work in Broward County and Mr. Gold faxed that to me and he does have a license. One of his references was Delray Tennis Center and they gave him a good reference.
Mr. Gold stated we just finished a job for Plantation and I'm sure they will give us a good reference.
Mr. Lauritzen asked how can your bid be so much lower than the next lowest bid?
Mr. Gold responded we do a large volume. We don't need to make all of our money on a single project. We have a very good project manager who knows how to sub things out very well and we can keep our costs low and pass the savings onto our customers and still do the job profitably.
Ms. Archer stated I will ask for a motion to waive the minor technicality of the lateness of the bid bond as a non-material deviation from the bid specifications.
Mr. Lyles stated the lateness of the bid bond did not give any competitive advantage to other bidders, because it didn't allow anyone to change their price. You have the ability as the authority granting this request, to declare it to be non material and if you pass that motion, you can award it to the apparent low bidder.
Mr. Grossjung asked can you explain the difference between the cashiers check versus the bid bond?
Ms. Archer responded it is the same thing but came in a day late.
Mr. Grossjung stated it is not a performance bond, what does it cover?
Mr. Lyles responded it is a bid bond that covers in essence them submitting a bid, having staff go through time, effort, and expense and then walking away from it and not signing the contract.
Ms. Early stated he would have brought it in that day and I told him to wait until I spoke with Mr. Lyles.
Ms. Archer stated that is also something that we typically don't cash. As soon as they execute the contract, we give them back the bid bond.
Mr. Early stated I checked every avenue possible. I wanted you to know what has transpired but I don't have anyone telling me of a concrete reason not to award it to them. I spoke to him about the low price and he is comfortable with it. Sometimes you get someone who might back off when they realize they may have missed something but that is not the case in this situation.
Mr. Grossjung asked will there be a payment and performance bond?
Ms. Early responded I believe there is one in the contract. I will check.
Mr. Mendolia asked who inspects the job? Does the City of Parkland inspect?
Ms. Early responded yes and the architect who designed it and wrote the specs will also inspect.
Mr. Grossjung asked how will this be paid?
Ms. Archer responded it will come from the bond that we previously issued. There is money left for this expansion.
Mr. McKune stated Felix Equities started to slow down about a year ago. About the first week of July they filed for bankruptcy so we had about a six month hiatus. We finally have the job out of the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court has turned the job over to the bonding company. The bonding company has elected to continue the job with Felix. Over the past month Felix has managed to acquire some working capital, not much but they do have an account and they can get people paid. The bonding company has been paying the outstanding accounts receivable that Felix had run up. They have 95% of their subs coming back to finish the job. There are a couple who won't come back because Felix has the same problem on other jobs.
Mr. Grossjung asked are we getting releases as part of the payments?
Mr. McKune responded we get releases for what we pay. The bonding company has been paying everything else. If we make additional payments, the payment goes directly to the bonding company, not to Felix. During this hiatus, the past six or seven months, we have had some things come up that required the work to be done to keep the plant operating; to address pressure problems in the District. We had Felix do this work through their subs and most of that work was electrical. They have a good electrical subcontractor who even though he was owed almost $300,000 by Felix, continued to the do the work we needed to have done. It is a good thing that we had him on the job. He has since been paid by the bonding company. We hope to get them out of here in about four months. That is their latest estimated time to complete.
About a year ago this Board agreed to execute a change order for all the additional work they had been authorized to do up to that time and they would then ask for a date certain, a new time to substantial completion to coincide with the completion of the work we had agreed that they could do. That is when it all fell apart. They gave us a preliminary version of that change order but it was never approved. We can't use it but they will prepare another one. In the meantime, to account for the additional work that was done they now want to get paid for it. Obviously, they need to get paid because this is work in additional to the original scope of the job and that is what this proposed change order no. 3 represents.
Mr. McKune detailed the items contained in the change order. The total amount of this change order is $64,658.85 and I recommend approval.
Mr. Grossjung asked is the work under this change order, completed?
Mr. McKune responded it is in the process of being done.
Mr. Grossjung stated at the next meeting you will have a final balancing change order for Felix to pay him out to leave the job. Is there any reason this shouldn't be included in that final change order and hold the funds until we get the agreement to complete the work?
Mr. McKune responded that can be done but I would rather not do it because the majority of these dollars go to the electrical subcontractor I spoke of earlier.
Mr. Grossjung asked how do we know the money will get to him?
Mr. McKune responded we will pay the bonding company and the bonding company will disburse all the funds.
C. Superintendent - Status Report on Permit Renewal Policy
Ms. Archer stated I finished drafting a permit renewal policy and I will provide it to you before you leave today so you can read it and we will put it on the agenda next month.
Let's talk about our joint meeting and where we are with our lobbyist. The Board at the joint meeting asked for a memorandum of law on the process of converting this District to a 190 District which was something that was an option that we saw for handling not only Representative Ritter's desire that we convert our District from a landowners election to a one person one vote process but it would also replace an antiquated act, our special act that we operate under that is now more than 30 years old that has a lot of limitations that makes it difficult for us to operate. Limitations such as anything that costs over $4,000 must be put out for competitive bid. When you operate a water plant there isn't anything out there that breaks down that costs less than $50,000. Under Chapter 190, the new community development law that was created in 1980 and became the general law under which all new special districts are being created, would solve a lot of those problems and we would get rid of our old act and all of the problems contained in it. We thought that would be logical and it was the board's desire that we look into that and think about doing that and follow through on the pluses and minuses of converting to a 190 District.
Mr. Lyles stated we prepared in draft form that memorandum discussed at the joint meeting. We haven't finalized it and sent it out yet because the draft was only put into relatively final form yesterday. Essentially, there is a petition process that is called for that would be initiated by this Board authorizing its representatives to file the necessary petition. After that, the matter becomes the subject of up to three public hearings. The local government agencies that have jurisdiction over parts of this District, the City of Coral Springs and the City of Parkland have the option of conducting a public hearing as to their cities and their part of the District. It is not mandatory and they may or may not do that. Once that has been done and whatever comment they have is made to Tallahassee, then the State has a hearing officer come to somewhere in Broward County, not necessarily within the district and a hearing is conducted with a state hearing officer who creates a record, makes findings of fact and law, accumulates the petition and different pieces of evidence that go into the record and it all gets sent back up to Tallahassee and ultimately a decision is made whether to grant or deny the petition to convert an existing special district such as N.S.I.D. to a Chapter 190 community development district by the Governor and Cabinet. Ms. Archer has spoken with an attorney who has specialized in doing this kind of work in other Districts and she has a proposal from him. This is something that is very specialized and highly detailed work that is not normally done by everybody who happens to work with special districts. Both of us are going to recommend to you if you want to go forward with this process, that we use an expert in this petition and hearing process, who will carry the ball and carry through in Tallahassee, and represent the District and the Board in all phases of this process. It is not required to be filed or heard at any particular time during the year. It will be a matter of the State scheduling us more than anything else. There are formal requisites that are part of the petition process but it is what you would expect; a formal legal description of the boundaries of the District; documents relating to what impact the proposal would have on land development within the district. We would have to give the future land use element of the two cities involved in the district and make that part of the record as well. Essentially go through this process in Tallahassee where the decision will be made after the local hearings are held here. There is not a lot of detailed technical information other than that that gets put into the process and it is a matter of whether it makes sense and is a good idea and do they want to approve it. They are confined to the record that is made. It should be on the basis of whether or not the District services are properly being proposed for the residents and property owners within the district that can be delivered by a District such as this one. It is more technical than legislative or discretionary. It should be a technical type of analysis that results in a decision being made yes or no. Since the district is already doing exactly what it is that Chapter 190 community development districts do; water, sewer, streets, drainage, all the things the District does under its current special act, it would be difficult for me to see a state agency reviewing this and making a recommendation other than to approve the conversion to a Chapter 190 district. It updates and modernizes the methods by which the District is operated and run. It brings the bidding in line directly with state agencies and other districts around the state and as those laws get amended which they do from time to time, they automatically apply to the district. Not only would you become a Chapter 190 district currently but as things are changed and rules are updated and refined at the state level, we would automatically be controlled by that. I think it would make for a more uniform method of operating this district. It would be in line with well over 100 such districts around the State of Florida.
Mr. Lauritzen stated with all due respect to Representative Ritter and her sudden interest in our district, would this be something that the District would do on its own? Is this the best thing for the District in the natural evolution of the way things go?
Mr. Lyles responded I think you can make that argument. In the interest of modernizing the requirements that the state imposes; the reporting, filing, auditing requirements, oversight by the Department of Community Affairs, to have all those things consistent with other districts in the State of Florida would not be a negative development. It would give the public confidence that the most modern and sophisticated method of oversight over districts will be employed in the case of this district like it is for others. You do have to go through a hearing process. You are potentially going to have negative comments. Staff people from the cities are going to look at things and they will comment pro or con. We can't control that once it goes into that process. I think the operations are sufficiently sophisticated and in compliance with every legal requirement. I don't think there is any reason the District should fear the process of analysis by an objective review.
Mr. Grossjung asked why would we not have addressed that at our January meeting, before the joint meeting with C.S.I.D.? That was the first I heard about it. C.S.I.D. seemed to be very well informed of the provisions of Chapter 190 and seemed to be in favor yet, at our January 9, meeting we voted to retain a lobbyist to represent us to protect our current status. Why would we not have addressed the 190 issue at our January meeting?
Mr. Lyles responded you are probably going to need a lobbyist's assistance in shepherding this through the process in any event and I believe that is something that Mr. Book is capable and qualified to do. The timing was such that you had your meeting early in the month and by the time that C.S.I.D. had their meeting, all of this was going on and we started looking at options including Chapter 190 and when they had their meeting, we discussed that with them shortly before the joint meeting that you had together. It hadn't come to the fore when we had your meeting in early January.
Mr. Grossjung stated 190 has been in effect since 1980, could this have been proposed last year when the bill was presented by Representative Ritter? Why now is this surfacing as a solution to the differences of opinion between the special act districts and the 190 districts? Why hasn't this surfaced as a viable alternative, if in fact it is?
Mr. Lyles responded I don't know that I have a good answer for that question. Obviously, we have had three years of debate back and forth and in prior years when this issue has arisen primarily as a result of filing codification bills, it just didn't really come up. We have legal authority to operate, we continue to have that. With or without codification bills being approved, we are still going to be an agency created and authorized by the Florida Legislature, whether we have one act or nine which is the difference for N.S.I.D. This year when the discussions started to evolve and issues were raised as to how to resolve a number of issues, not the least of which is the voting issue that the method of elections seems to be the very narrow focus of the bill that Representative Ritter described to you in your joint meeting, if you will remember in the past had been broader. We had different issues of who would be on the Board, whether we would have elected officials serving on the Board in a non-voting capacity, things like that. It was various and sundry things that we were looking at before. Now, it apparently is down to the only issue she has that she brought to you in your joint meeting which is the first time where you had a direct dialogue with Representative Ritter, is this issue of voting. What do we do about that and how do we accomplish that. There is the petition procedure that you are familiar with in Chapter 189 that requires 10% of the registered electors to sign a petition. In the absence of that the Governor vetoed a previous bill that made it through the legislature and landed on his desk because he felt that an existing statutory procedure needed to be followed. Now, in looking at the whole problem again we looked at another statutory procedure that can be followed, Chapter 190, and fortunately it looks like it not only will work, but it seems to satisfy Representative Ritter's concerns and is a logical way to convert this District which has been functioning fine to another kind of district. It doesn't impair the functioning of the district. It increases the membership of your Board from three to five members which his fine with you and is apparently fine with the C.S.I.D. Board. I guess we worked our way to this possible solution this year. We have a different set of issues in front of us a different challenge and we have a different response. Maybe we finally found the best response.
Mr. Grossjung stated you will provide us with a memorandum explaining the 190 process.
Mr. Lyles responded yes.
Mr. Grossjung stated then there is no action required of us at this point.
Ms. Archer stated I have one item I will ask you to take action on and before I get to that, I did talk to Ken van Assenderp who is the special counsel I recommend the board consider taking us through this process once we get to the point where we decide that is what we want to do. He is one of the original authors of Chapter 190. The state often confers with him and his office on different procedures under 190 and processes and things like that. He is by far, the expert in the state on 190 and that is why I thought it would be prudent to talk to him about doing the conversion for us. He gave me a letter to give to you in draft form and doesn't have any numbers in it. He indicated to me on the phone before the meeting that we would talk and negotiate the numbers. He is really interested in doing this work for us. He has created a lot of 190 Districts from the ground up for developers. He has been involved in converting special act districts to 190 districts. He and I talked briefly about the fees and he indicated if we have both districts going forward at the same time the fee would be a lower fee per district than if one of them did it this year and one decided not to, then that district would bear the entire fee. We are in touch with his office and he has given us good advice and we are working with him on this process. I'm not asking you to approve a contract with him today. I'm still working out the numbers and maybe by the time you get your memorandum of law and talk about this on your next agenda we will have all of those blanks filled in so you can decide what you want to do.
The one item I need you to take action on is that at the January meeting I talked to you about rehiring Ron Book to represent us in Tallahassee. He was at the joint meeting. He indicated that anything else we decided to do this year would be covered under his fee. Anything he does for this District that he does in Tallahassee if it is trying to convert to a 190, or representing us on home front security or whatever is going on. Last month I asked you to approve a fee of $20,000 based on last year's fee, thinking that was half the fee. After that meeting we received his fee schedule which is at total of $60,000 to be split between the two Districts. We took it to the C.S.I.D. Board and they went back and forth on the increase in the fee but because of what he might be doing for them with 190 and other things, they agreed to pay $30,000. I am asking you to consider if you are willing to pay an additional $10,000 that you have not authorized.
Mr. Grossjung asked have we authorized the full $20,000 irrespective of C.S.I.D. going along with us on the fee?
Ms. Archer responded you authorized not to exceed $20,000 in January, regardless of what C.S.I.D. did, you were not going to pay more than $20,000.
Mr. Grossjung asked did they share in the last 30 days expenses of Mr. Book?
Ms. Archer stated there have been no last 30 days expenses.
Mr. Grossjung stated it was my understanding that the $20,000 would be for fees for the thirty day period from last month until now but you were going to check to see if C.S.I.D. did agree to split those fees as a joint effort which we did the prior year. Since C.S.I.D. had not met at that time, we said in the event they don't it would be our expenditure not to exceed $20,000. Did they or did they not agree to pay half?
Ms. Archer responded they agreed to pay $30,000.
Mr. Grossjung stated are the last month's expenditures under the $20,000 that we originally approved, part of the $60,000 that is being proposed or does the $60,000 clock start now?
Ms. Archer stated there is one fee for this whole session of $60,000.
Mr. Lauritzen asked do these fees seem to be in line?
Mr. Lyles responded I am not a lobbyist and Mr. Book is a lobbyist. He represented the two districts before for a combined fee of $40,000 and when we had our meeting a month ago it was our estimate that it would probably be the same which is why we presented that proposal to you of $20,000 for this Board and $20,000 for the C.S.I.D. Board. He went to work on this without a commitment that he would get anything other than just our good faith relationship that we have with him. He did incur a good bit of time and expense already, prior to this letter reaching you. The other Board hearing about the whole process and what was likely to be involved authorized $30,000 on the assumption that this Board when it took it up at this meeting would probably split the fee. Mr. Grossjung wanted to do it a month at a time in essence and when he referenced the change in the motion that was so that we would not find ourselves without a quorum not being able to meet and being able to extend the activities of that next month. You authorized what we then thought was the whole $20,000 for the session with the idea that if anything changed we could stop it sooner rather than later. At this point that doesn't look like that is happening. He has increased his fee to us. He has also increased the scope of what he is going to do and he will carry it through if necessary to the end of the year, not just the legislative session. If you initiate the 190 conversion process it will take much longer than the period of time the legislature will be in session.
Ms. Archer stated Ken van Assenderp predicted nine months from beginning to end.
Mr. Grossjung asked can we estimate the cost of converting to a 190 District and thereby the benefits associated with that cost? Short of a voting issue that is on the table, if 190 represents no more than what we currently have other than the membership and the means by which the members are elected to office, then is it a prudent decision to approach 190 at certain costs in terms of using taxpayers money for the purpose of converting solely to satisfy an election issue.
Ms. Archer responded I think it solves more problems for this District than just the election issue. There are benefits that we will outline over the next month, one of which is purchasing powers of the District. That solves a big problem we have in operating the plants.
Mr. Grossjung stated I'm not sure that I understand the codification process. We started it last year and it never made it on the agenda of the legislature.
Mr. Lyles stated we started that two years ago. The Florida Legislature passed an amendment to Chapter 189 which covers all Districts including Chapter 190 Districts and special act districts such as this one. Chapter 189 has a lot of rules that are applicable to special districts around the state irrespective of how they were formed in the first place. This amendment required that special districts that had been formed by special act of the legislature, that have had amendments to their special act over the years, prepare an updated and codified or combined into one bill that takes it start to finish in one act for ease of reference and to incorporate any changes so that instead of having to look (in our case) at nine separate acts, to make sure that you look everywhere to make sure that our powers and authorities and restrictions are contained, you only have to pick up one bill that theoretically would be passed by the legislature. It updates everything and modernizes it and gets rid of some of the antiquated things that are in the old act but the main purpose is to take all the different amendments and put it in one act so that everybody can pick up one bill and know all the features of this District.
Mr. Grossjung stated I still question if the costs associated with conversion to a 190 represents a legitimate cost that we should entertain until we know more about it.
Ms. Archer stated we will include that in the memo. There is no filing fee for this petition. Most likely you will incur the fees of Ken van Assenderp and he indicated as a point of reference that it would be about $45,000 per District if they were both done at the same time and if not it would be about $70,000 for a single District. I imagine he will work closely with our counsel on this so there will be additional time incurred by Mr. Lyles on this special project at his hourly rate. That gives you a ballpark feel of the costs we have identified that we think the Board will incur going through this process. If you don't convert you have to decide if you are still going to have the lobbyist in Tallahassee every year and how that is going to benefit you or not. That might go away and you won't incur those costs again.
Mr. Lauritzen stated the Board relies on your judgment and expertise. We want to do the best thing for the District.
Mr. Grossjung stated the question is if we want to authorize the proposed cost of Mr. Book. Until we decide if we are going to pursue the same course of action as C.S.I.D., it wouldn't be equitable to share 50/50 the cost if Mr. Book is representing us in different matters than he would be representing C.S.I.D.
Ms. Archer stated keep in mind that he gave this proposal to us before there was any talk of a conversion to a 190. This proposal was to represent us in Tallahassee this year, keep us in the loop for any general bills being filed that are going to affect us and there is no increase in his fee to add the 190 conversion process. I think you should look at this as, do you want him to represent you in Tallahassee or not because if you don't tell us today and he will stop representing us. I will have to tell him to send a proposal to the C.S.I.D. Board that doesn't exceed $30,000 because North Springs is opting out.
Mr. Grossjung asked how do these fees compare to last year?
Ms. Archer responded last year we pad $40,000 total for both Districts. We paid $20,000 and C.S.I.D. paid $20,000. This year it is $30,000 for each District.
Mr. Grossjung asked is it because of additional work that the fee has increased?
Ms. Archer responded I believe he based his fee this year on how much time he put in last year going into it without knowing how much of his time was going to be spent on our behalf.
Mr. Grossjung asked was last year the first time we retained him?
Ms. Archer responded we had him the year before but last year he was a lot more involved.
Mr. Grossjung asked what services did we receive last year relative to the fee?
Ms. Archer responded I believe he is the one who went to the Governor's Office on our behalf and made sure the bill, passed by the legislature that negatively effected this District, was vetoed.
Mr. Grossjung stated then we in fact had a purpose. Until we have resolved whether we have a purpose this year, would we need a lobbyist if we don't have the same purpose? If we chose not to pursue 190 and continue to let the current act stay in place subject to anyone's passage of a bill, would Mr. Book represent us for any other purpose?
Ms. Archer stated she is filing a general bill again this year. If you don't hire Mr. Book, he is not going to represent you to try to get that general bill vetoed again.
Mr. Grossjung stated the solution to the general bill is proposed to be the 190 conversion. If we can get educated on 190 then we will feel comfortable that we have a solution to that proposed legislation.
Ms. Archer stated he will be representing you in the Governor's Office to fight the general bill that is being presented this year or he will be representing you in the Governor's Office to approve the 190 conversion or both at the same time.
Mr. Mendolia stated I am hearing that we have no choice. We either do it with Mr. Book or we do nothing.
Mr. Grossjung stated there are other lobbyists or is this the one we feel the most comfortable with?
Mr. Mendolia stated maybe someone else could do the same job for less.
Ms. Lantz stated as a point of reference it was the year before last that Representative Ritter filed the bill that changed the make-up of the Board. Last year she was the Chair of the Delegation but she didn't file any special district bill.
Mr. Grossjung asked what was Mr. Book's representation for us last year?
Mr. Lyles responded the first time we hired him was two years ago when we had that veto process. Last year we were gearing up for the same sort of exercise and that was when Representative Ritter was the Chair of the Delegation and would not even put the District's codification bill on the agenda so that it could be the subject of a public hearing locally so that it could make it into Tallahassee. Going in we don't know what is going to happen. A codification bill is one thing. Bills to change the make-up of this District are another thing. We were concerned in getting a codification bill approved because state law says we have to submit one and we did that. On a secondary level and maybe even more importantly we were concerned about legislation being filed from a number of different sources that would effect the District, its powers, the way the Board is elected, all the things you were concerned about two years ago. It wasn't just in connection with the codification that didn't get heard locally, it was also to ensure that no legislation came forward that adversely affected the District and its interests as determined by this Board and in fact none did last year. We had our presence in Tallahassee and here locally at the delegation proceedings and I think it was everybody's hope that maybe now this is all resolved and it is going to go away and people can get back to what they have been doing. As we know this year, it didn't work out that way. With a lobbyist you hire them at least partly as an insurance policy. If the bad thing that you are concerned about doesn't come about, they don't have as much work to do and if it does come about they have a lot of work to do and the fee doesn't really go up. They don't get hired on an hourly basis typically like lawyers do, they get hired on a session basis. His task for that session was to monitor all the legislation, confront it if it was something that we had a problem with, keep the board through the staff informed constantly of developments in Tallahassee so that we could take necessary action if we need to so that you can be aware of what is going on and he did that.
Mr. Grossjung asked do you think the fact of this letter with his current pricing comes three days after his attendance at our joint meeting that his pricing is impacted by his perception or at least his thoughts that there will be significantly more work for this district than there were in prior years?
Mr. Lyles responded given what has happened in the last thirty days and his involvement in it, and he has been in the middle of it, I have been on the phone with him many times this past month, I think he sees that there is more that will have to be done and not just more time spent but the degree of difficulty may have something to do with his pricing this year. It is an art. It is not scientific. He sits down and decides what is a fair bill that is going to be a good fee as a lobbyist but at the same time not so exorbitant that people won't want to use his services and feel like they got their moneys worth. They will feel like it cost a lot of money but it was worth it. I think that is probably where they try to hit the price point. I'm speaking for him and I shouldn't but I imagine those types of intangible things go into that.
Mr. Grossjung stated you said earlier that the attorney that we would look to as possibly representing us in a 190 conversion is the guru in this business and then made a comment that even with his representation, and what sounded like a very positive affinity on the part of the legislature to put us out of the special act and into a 190 district, we would still need Mr. Book's assistance to get a 190 proposal passed.
Mr. Lyles stated what I think I was trying to say was there is a very heavy technical content and legal content to the petition, the paperwork that you prepare to create the record and the process you go through to convert an existing special act district to a 190 district. Over and above that, it is still a political process. It is still going to get decided ultimately by some elected officials in Tallahassee. If we want to maximize our chances of having the process go smoothly and culminating in achieving the goal that the district is setting out for the staff and your consultants, then every local government here in Broward County has realized they need lobbying assistance when you are in Tallahassee and I don't think this is any different. I think the only bright spot you might want to identify is if this happens and everything works out the way it is projected to work out, you won’t have any of these sorts of expenses in coming years, not just next year but five years from now. It will be resolved once and for all.
Mr. Mendolia asked do we have enough funds to cover an additional $10,000?
Ms. Archer responded we have enough funds that we can appropriate towards that.
Mr. Lauritzen asked what action are we being asked to take today/
Ms. Archer responded I would like you to authorize the Ron Book increase in fee so that we know his contract is covered to represent both Districts. We will bring an update to you next month on what we uncover regarding conversion to a 190 district and give you more details than we have today.
Mr. Grossjung asked can we ask Mr. Book to give us a fee independent and see if that is different than the $60,000 he proposes for a joint fee.
Ms. Archer stated I can ask him. I think the answer may be similar the Ken van Assenderp fee. If he is representing one District, he wants $70,000 from that District but if he does them jointly he will take $45,000 from each. I'm sure they both look at the fact that it is the same work effort to talk to the Governor about C.S.I.D. as it is for North Springs at the same time at the same meeting but they still have to cover their costs to represent one District.
Mr. Grossjung stated that may be the case.
Ms. Archer stated I will proceed however you instruct me.
Mr. Mendolia asked is there anyone else we can talk to in regards to being a lobbyist? Maybe they can do it for $20,000.
Ms. Archer responded there is a list of lobbyists registered in the State of Florida. I don't personally know any of them. I didn't know Mr. Book until we had a need for services two years ago.
Mr. Lauritzen stated if we don't approve this today, will it cripple them going forward until our next meeting? Do you want authorization to work up until the time he can provide a breakdown that Mr. Grossjung is looking for?
Mr. Grossjung stated we approved $20,000. I would like to know what work has been done and how far we are into the $20,000.
Ms. Archer responded this is a flat fee.
Mr. Grossjung stated we approved a fee up to $20,000. If we deny this addition and get an invoice, when does that invoice come? Two days from now or is there more representation to be had under the $20,000 that has already been approved? How do you determine that? He gave us a fee last month of $20,000 and there doesn't seem to be a clock on that fee.
Ms. Archer stated he didn't give us a fee to represent us.
Mr. Lyles stated he gives you a fee and that is his flat fee regardless of how much time and effort it takes for a particular legislative session. That is how he works with his other clients as well. He represents a number of governmental agencies other than this one and he represents private clients as well. My fear is that if we say we just can't come to terms then he could say we have no contract because he is not working on a time and cost basis, he works on a flat fee basis, whatever it takes for the year. We really would have no agreement with him. The $20,000 was an estimate on the part of the manager and myself based on what he charged in the past that we thought would get things going and hopefully, cover this year. We hadn't at that point received a firm letter proposing a fee or an engagement letter from him. That was our estimate and that is what we came to you with because time was of the essence. By the time it got to the C.S.I.D. board meeting, we had an actual proposal from him and that is what they authorized. I need to point out they authorized $30,000 on a match basis with this Board. If you don't agree to go above $20,000, they don't either. He doesn't have the arrangement that he proposed to us with either Board at that point.
Mr. Grossjung stated in your opinion if we deferred action on this for another month, would that become problematic in terms of the time line of this representation between now and next month?
Mr. Lyles responded I can't tell you that. I can't speak for him.
Mr. Lauritzen stated it is clear to me that we need representation during this legislative session. It is clear to me that Mr. Lyles and Ms. Archer have confidence in Mr. Book and he has worked for us in the past. There is always the intangible of trust. I can only speak for myself and I don't know if those fees are fair but we have to trust to the judgment of Mr. Lyles and Ms. Archer. Let's move forward.
Mr. Grossjung stated it is not as clear to me. If we decide with some knowledge which we don't currently have, that 190 is the proper course of action, I was trying to ascertain with the proper representation of counsel to file the 190 as quickly as possible, the reality is that we might not need representation going forward in future years. If 190 is right for us and we move with alacrity into that filing mode, I would think we could contact Representative Ritter and find out that she is satisfied with that activity and perhaps the bill that has not yet been produced but has been threatened, won't even happen. Therefore, representation becomes not as critical.
Mr. Lauritzen stated on the other hand we assume Representative Ritter is on the same page with the 190 conversion and the session gets going and she changes her mind and something else happens and we don't have representation. Is that a scenario that is possible?
Mr. Lyles responded yes.
Mr. Grossjung stated it has been possible for every year this District has been in existence and we never had a lobbyist before the last few years. It has existed and will exist for every year hereafter. You don't know what the legislature is going to do in any legislative action. Up until two years ago we didn't have a representative in terms of a lobbyist now we have and I have to believe there is a cause and effect and that is we retain a lobbyist solely for the protection to keep our charter in tact not to monitor legislation that we had no idea was pending or coming forth. I don't necessarily agree that a lobbyist is necessary for that on a year by year basis. If it is necessary to get us from step A to step B which is what we did last year, in an effort to retain our special act district but if we have found a solution to that I'm not so sure that this isn't good money going after bad. I don't know if we have a solution but that is my position.
Mr. Mendolia asked do we have a one year contract with Mr. Book or going to have one?
Ms. Archer responded it would be a fee for the legislative session which is a less than one year period.
Mr. Mendolia stated next year another contract possibly more money as everything goes up.
Mr. Lyles stated the goal is not to have a need for a lobbyist next year.
Mr. Grossjung asked is it reasonable for us to notice and have another meeting before next month given sufficient time to read the information you are going to provide us so we can educate ourselves as best as possible on a 190 conversion and try to take action on that in a more timely fashion? Is there a need to move that quickly on this matter?
Mr. Lyles stated as a general proposition I think there is a need to move with some speed because the session starts next month. The whole thing goes into play and that is when we are not sure what is in store for us and other districts in Broward County. The fact of the matter is it is N.S.I.D. that is the residents of Representative Ritter. It is N.S.I.D. that she has focused on with the problems that she perceives especially in terms of the elections and governance and responsiveness of these districts. This started three years ago and that is why we ended up needing a lobbyist. There is a cause and effect going back in that period of time and we had bills threatened and bills filed and an attempt to change things that we thought were not for the better but for the worse. That is how this got started. We hadn't had those bills before and hadn't had a need for a lobbyist before. We have had it for the last couple of years and it has been effective on behalf of the district.
Mr. Grossjung stated the scope of those bills was dramatically different as you pointed out earlier, much more in contradiction to what we believe was the proper focus of this board. It seems like we are on much more common ground than we have ever been and now that we potentially have found a common solution, the need for the additional expense if the solution is imminent by virtue of simply educating ourselves, it seems that that time should be spent in that process rather than just saying we need representation for the sake of representation.
Mr. Lauritzen stated we also have the issue of the Coral Springs Board who made an assumption that we would go along with this proposal.
Mr. Grossjung stated we did the reverse last month. We approved $20,000 on the hope and assumption that Coral Springs would agree.
Mr. Lauritzen stated if we decide to not become a part of this then C.S.I.D. has a problem because it falls apart for them.
Ms. Archer stated yes, but that should not be your concern.
Mr. Lauritzen stated it is another variable to the situation.
Mr. Grossjung asked was it subject to our agreement to go along?
Mr. Lyles responded their action was to match on a dollar for dollar basis what this Board authorized, not to exceed $30,000. In essence if you stay at $20,000, their payment that they authorized, unless they meet again and change their mind is $20,000 and not $30,000. Right now they have a $30,000 figure out there.
Mr. Grossjung stated in that event there is no representation because his fee is $60,000.
Mr. Lyles stated one outcome is there is no deal. He gave us his proposal. We analyzed it and chose not to go along with it. We just don't know.
Mr. Lauritzen stated we need a solution. Do you want to table this?
Mr. Grossjung stated that is what I proposed. I don't know if it is appropriate to have another meeting of this Board. We have to give public notice and have a period of time in which to review the information and try to move with more speed toward the 190 conversion to determine if that is an appropriate cause for action. Clearly, if we said there is a provision in 190 that didn't settle with this Board and we choose not to join in that activity, then the need for representation from a lobbying standpoint seem significantly greater if we are going to try to retain our current charter basis than it is to move to a charter that is not only acceptable and apparently amenable to Representative Ritter but sounds like is the current law of the land. We are one of the few not in the current activities. I don't know if this board can have a quorum in ten days.
Mr. Mendolia asked can we afford to wait? If we can't afford to wait, then we have to make a decision.
Mr. McKune stated from a technical perspective, in the consulting business we face these kinds of issues all the time. To me it is a matter of vulnerability because until you accomplish the conversion to a 190 which seems beneficial, you are vulnerable.
Mr. Lauritzen stated I agree with you.
Mr. McKune stated it is one year during the conversion process and in my opinion I would want my bet to be covered. I think it would be a good idea to have both going forward at the same time.
Mr. Lauritzen stated I have been blind sided before and I feel we need to hedge our bet.
Mr. Grossjung stated Mr. Mendolia's question was can we wait and going to Mr. McKune's point he feels that we shouldn't or can't, that there is risk. I'm not sure when the session starts.
Ms. Lantz stated the session starts on March 4. We have a bill drafting deadline of tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. The bill has been drafted. It is ready to be filed. Representative Ritter is holding off on it right now. Technically it doesn't have to be filed until noon on the first day of session which is March 4.
Ms. Archer stated his retainer is due in advance of the session so if he is not paid prior to going into the session then I perceive he is not representing us when he walks into the session. That is the timing.
Mr. Grossjung stated I feel like we are behind the curve in terms of receiving the information that we need to receive relative to this legislation versus with our ability to act with some knowledge. I was chagrined to learn that C.S.I.D. at our joint meeting seemed to have more information than any of us. I have reviewed the minutes for the entire year and there was nothing in the minutes that has to do with most of this. There is information about homeland security and websites that I was never informed about. I feel that we need to be better informed than we have been on these things prior to taking votes and prior to spending money.
Mr. Lauritzen stated I appreciate the work that staff has done. This is a whole new mix for this Board. There are a lot of variables coming at us that we are not used to and we don't understand. We do rely on your judgment and I feel this is the best thing for the District. There are a lot of things we have to look at. This District has run well for a long time. We need a lot of information.
Mr. Mendolia stated I feel pressured by Mr. Book.
Mr. Hans stated if Representative Ritter would give you a letter saying she wasn't going to file the bill, you could easily save your expenditure. It is not just Mr. Book but also Representative Ritter.
Ms. Lantz stated this was discussed at the workshop and it was Representative Ritter's decision at that time that until there was some sort of surety that they were going forward with a 190 conversion, she was going to file her bill.
Mr. Grossjung stated it is not the fear or intimidation of Representative Ritter's bill that would make me move toward a 190. If 190 is good for this board and good for our community this board needs to act and I don't care what Representative Ritter's bill says. We defended ourselves two years ago against Representative Ritter's bill and I spoke to the Governor's Office directly because I didn't believe her bill in that state was the right representation of this community and I still feel that way. There has been a major change as I understand at the joint meeting. I still don't feel that the bill as she suggested would necessarily be the right representation and if 190 represents a means by which we can solve that issue, and in fact provides this community with the right type of ability to do our work effectively, then I am for updating our special act district to more current legislation. I'm concerned that we act as if this is a rubber stamp when we as a Board owe ourselves the obligation to get current on what 190 represents. All I have asked for is the time to get current on something I head about less then two weeks ago. I have served on this district for 15 years and for those 15 years I did feel like we were getting the type of information and we were informed in a timely fashion to make informed decisions.
SEVENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Supervisor's Requests and Audience Comments
There not being any, the next item followed.
EIGHTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of Requisitions and Invoices
Salvatore J. Mendolia Matt Lauritzen