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Here’s The Scoop … Let’s Try This Again …

May 19, 2010 by Barbara

ONE MORE TIME ……

Dear Readers … Let’s start this again…on a few items…

The MPSC and the 1-lane/2-lane discussion and the previous post on it…Quite a few have responded on the topic and this writer has given some afterthought to my commentary …. While I still believe it is the duty on those who step up to volunteer their time to do some homework ..I also believe that the Town should aid in supplying previous minutes from prior boards and committees along with the plans and studies that are somewhere up on the shelves (prev. posts in 2008)…to assist in the process moving forward rather than to have more repeats of discussion from new people either unfamiliar with the history, area and town ….I also believe it would be beneficial for the previous members of these committees and boards to avail themselves either to individual new members and/or be present at the meetings to offer public comment …It does not matter if you are on the board/committee to participate and be heard to add to the discussion and be of help…

Now I do want to take a step back on my comments about the 2-lanes and any change becoming a political hot potato for anyone who dares to go there… After hearing from Readers… and realizing I was deep in “Kool-aid” at that juncture of my life  (2007)…..perhaps 3 years later it might make sense to get a new “read” ….pun intended …on the majority in LBTS and their desire for the look of El Mar Drive now that Oriana is done and the 1-lane is there to stay (Cristie Furth…the leading CIC opponent to 2-lanes did a major about face herself when the project was done in suddenly not wanting to use the “Oriana million” to turn it back to 2-lanes as the CIC stated would be the 1st use for the monies  …  and later upon getting the money wanting the McIntee Median Walkways …prev. posts)… Perhaps Vice Mayor Dodd’s long touted ideas will be the compromise necessary in 2010 by allowing for both 2-lanes in the areas it is needed for deliveries and 1-lane in other spots for traffic calming and aesthetics? ….

Right now the MPSC seems rudderless ..per a comment from one Reader…and after 3 meetings it’s time to get some strict direction coming from Chair Paul Novak and especially longtime committee member (former Chair/Vice Chair) Sandra Booth who has gobs of old info and can whip this committee into shape with all of it!… They should include some additional meetings per the comments made last night and previously by Ms. Booth as well …. “Invitations” should go out to former members as well as Commissioners …Break out all the materials and have at it…(Then- Comm. Dodd and this writer have asked for this since 2008)….

It is this writer’s opinion the updating of the Master Plan…the El Mar Drive Project and the Stormwater Master Plan are all intertwined and need to be worked on as such… Forget about going through the $900,000 to maybe get the Clottey “induced” shovel-ready grant that again, in this writer’s opinion is a “sham” in that it does not meet the criteria … (for workers staying afterward with jobs in town)…Keep that “Oriana” money in the bank and get the full plan with  updated responses from the Town residents and businesses on the lanes…sidewalks…etc…and the full commitment of the committee…Commission and taxpayers…

……………………….

Not quite what I was told …

This writer was told point blank by a former department head that former Town Engineer Walter Keller had done a $130,000 Stormwater Master Plan in the mid-nineties …as previously posted…After an inquiry by VM Dodd that seems to not be the case… The Int. Asst. TM Bentley asked Mr. Keller about the study on May 11th.. after seeing him at the May 10th CIP/Stormwater Master Plan Workshop… The Int. TM stated that Mr. Keller looked through his files and stated he provided services for individual capital improvement projects and / or special studies but did not work on the Storm Utility or a Townwide Drainage Study… (Rather curious as I did have another Reader with inside knowledge concur that he too knew of such a study but was unable to obtain at the time he was employed from the Town)… Mr Keller stated  in his e-mail to Bentley he had “previously prepared cost estimates for the Town during the annual budget process that included Capital Improvement Projects such as those listed on your handout last night at the CIP Workshop”…(Prev. post)… He went on to state ” I also prepared cost estimates for projects included in the 1999 Revitalization Plan ..

Mr. Keller is currently updating that for LBTS once again and there are many questions I have about this consulting job  after seeing it online by chance with a Google months ago and knowing that neither the previous or the current Commission have had a copy or any knowledge it is in the works for next fall….. Add to that the big surprise that Mr. Keller added at the end of his e-mail “I have worked as a consultant to the Town since 1978 on a wide variety of planning, traffic and engineering projects. A copy of our current agreement is attached along with a synopsis of the firm.”…Hmmm…In 2008 the former Commission asked that Mr. Keller no longer be Town Engineer and the majority at the time spearheaded by the Broom-Boys-Furth “Gang” wanted no more of Keller or consultants…Did they know the former TM was still employing him?.. It was certainly never revealed on the dais or in any backup…til it popped up on the internet…and even then it was kept under wraps!…

Mr. Bentley wrote to the Commissioners that there was a Storm Water Utility study done in August 2004 by Hartman & Assoc. and “it was prepared to justified the creation of the stormwater utility and was not a storm water master plan”

In another e-mail after that one on the same day Mr. Bentley added that he “read the March 17, 2003 Task Authorization for the preparation of the Stormwater Utility Plan. The cost to the Town was $60,372.50 in 2003/2004.  That was not receive yet by the Commission but is available upon request. Mr. Bentley stated the difference between the two studies Utility/Stormwater Master Plan with of course the first being how to charge a monthly fee to be used for drainage improvements. Then once that was established the Stormwater master Plan allows the Town to decide where to apply the funds …He went on to describe that the Master Plan does more than “ID” the project …”perhaps the most important thing it does is set forth a strategy and the policies of the Town Commission regarding drainage and the level of service the Town seeks to provide. It documents that ID’s the projects to be included in out 5-year Capital Improvement Plan, which in turn gives us the blueprint for when we should budget for design, property acquisition (if necessary) and construction of a project.”

BC- The problem still is what did the 2008 drainage study cover before the 2010 Chen study using the GIS and how much of the town has Tele-Vac done as well over the last few years?…

The 14 page Aug. 2004 Stormwater Utility Plan  (no price tag was included on it)  by Hartman & Assoc. begins with a letter from Marco H. Rocca to former TM Bob Baldwin…it states it’s a report that” includes an executive summary plus seven sections containing the background and detail data relative to the findings, conclusions and recommendations.” ..It stated the data used is “believed to be sufficiently accurate for the purpose of developing, identifying, selecting, and implementing a cost recovery system for stormwater management services.”…It went on to add “The operating budget and resulting fees within this Report should be considered as a guide and adjusted accordingly pursuant to comments by the Town’s staff, level of services to be addressed, and community standards. Unlike other utilities (i.e. water, sewer, power, etc.) revenues associated with Stormwater Fees are relatively flat and not affected by factors other than the fee amount.”… The content of the Executive Summary includes the responsibilities of the Town for drainage and quality per the EPA /FDEP and SFWMD …it then proceeds to explain that “many communities in Florida and other states are funding stormwater services through enterprise utilities to generate revenues through either user fees or assessments.”… It states “this report provides a basis for: identifying a just and equitable revenue generation mechanism through user fees or assessments; selection of a billing and collection process; development of an operating budget; and a policy to address cost avoidance credits. Importantly, the study is focused on a system that would be just and equitable to all properties, legally structured, and generate adequate revenues to address the proposed budget.” …It states “The operating expenses and costs for capital Improvements for the Town’s Stormwater Utility will be subjected to future budget activities of the Town. However, for the purpose of this study and structured user fee development, a comprehensive operating budget was prepared as summarized and shown below. It should be noted that no provision for capital, either directly from user fees or indirectly through debt, have been included in this conceptual budget.

Conceptual Budget (2004)

Personnel Expenses  $118,800

Operating Expenses $100,700

Total O & M $219, 500

Other Revenues $10,500

Net Fiscal Requirement $209,000

“Information  provided by the Broward County Property Appraiser was utilized for the purpose of identifying property attributes and characteristics that are directly related to stormwater management activities on both an engineering and legal basis. These attributes and characteristics consisted of each property’s zoning category, size, and amount of impervious surface area. The impervious surface area  (property areas with minimum to no percolation characteristics), which is used by a significant number of Stormwater Utilities and determined by the courts to be reasonable criteria pursuant to recovery, was selected as a basis for measurement of certain stormwater benefits.”…The it states the analysis for a sample of single family properties ..undeveloped properties…that certain properties are required to install and maintain on-site stormwater facilities for the purpose of managing stormwater runoff and pollutants…and how they should reduce the Town’s operating budget…it has this additional point “In addressing these circumstances and to provide fora just stormwater recovery process, a provision for Coat Avoidance Credit allowances was developed for this study. Actual eligibility for Cost Avoidance Credits will be the responsibility of the property owner or tenant, as applicable.”… After that is the billing and collecting of the fees through utility bills issued by the City of Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach …. They added this ..”Based on our understanding the User Fee method rather than a Special benefit Assessment method would best fit the needs of the Town, especially with respect to cash flows and  correlating of benefits to properties.”… They went on to recommend “Although slightly more involved, preference should be given to the Cost of Service approach basis on added flexibility, revenue generation and more equitable cost attributes.”…Included was a table showing amounts charged by other Broward County communities with a “caution” not to use these amounts for direct comparison purposes…No analysis was done on them and therefore they could be “materially different” from those that were developed for LBTS… (it was not contained within the 14 pg Executive Summary)… On the last page was the following…

“Pursuant to the analysis, finding, and conclusion presented in this Report, it is respectfully recommended that the Town proceed to:

1. Direct that an implementation program identifying items, dates, and responsible parties be formulated.

2. Direct that a Cost of Service approach and User Fee structure be used as a basis of recovery.

3. Direct that the appropriate stormwater operating and capital needs be identified,  even if in excess of initial stormwater utility user fee revenue resources.

4. Adopt an initial amount of Monthly User Fee if not less than $7.00 per ESU.

5. Adopt a balanced stormwater budget reflecting Stormwater Utility User Fee revenues and other sources of revenue, as available.

6. Provide an automatic Stormwater Utility User Fee indexing for inflation based on an appropriate index.

7. Provide for a Cost Avoidance Credit for properties that demonstrate a reasonable justification to reduce individual User Fees.”

BC- When the Stormwater fees were eradicated we were left with approx. $600,000+ which was transferred somewhere…but it is not known where…. Back then opponents of the fee who believed and one who wrote lengthy articles on its legality due to no benefit coming to some of those being charged the fee in condos on A1A stated that even while collecting these fees …they were not being used for the intended purpose …That along with a look (prev. post) of the 2009-10 budget which shows budgeted in just 2008/2009 were a total of approximately $210,000 should give taxpayers pause ..for it appears we had close to $900,000 available to deal with maintenance and repairs and it was not done… It could not have been after reading the Chen report … to find out that the outfalls are a mess along with many other areas  from one end of town to another….. Before we leap back into a Stormwater fee for all…legal or not…there needs to be further study into what happened after this Report…What was and was not implemented…and where those monies were or were not used…as they should have been…

I do believe along with others that the Stormwater Master Plan and Stormwater Utility Fees will jump to  the top of the LBTS taxpayer’s list this budget season….

more to come….

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