The Amy H Remley Foundation  

Response to the Governor's Office 23 September, 2011.

September 23, 2011.

Dear Mr Grayson,

I accepted an invitation on June 13, 2011 to help a group of Citrus County freeholders affected by the expansion of sewer systems into areas of Citrus County. One of those freeholders has sent to me a copy of your letter dated September 1, 2011, addressed to a Ms. Edna Mattos (whom I have never met nor spoken with). (The Foundation of which I am a director assists the teaching of high school and College students in Environmental Science and educates the general public. It conducts research into a wide range of issues, although not usually as acutely focused as such a specific sewer project.) I am writing to you as the research we have done may be helpful to you.

The fifth paragraph of your letter reads as follows:

"Circumstances surrounding the Crystal River connection requirement were initiated locally in 1999. Based on environmental testing performed at that time, it was determined that installation of a wastewater collection and disposal system was necessary for the public health, safety and general welfare of the County and its citizens in the Fort Island Trail corridor and other unincorporated areas of Citrus County and those in close proximity of the Crystal River and King's Bay area. Under an interlocal agreement, the City was required to construct a wastewater collection and disposal system for the area and the County was required to create a Municipal Service Benefit Unit and special assessment districts for funding purposes. Public hearings on the issue were held on December 7, 2010, May 24, 2011, and again on June 28, 2011, to further vet the issue. Public testimony was permitted at those meetings."

At a meeting at the Citrus County offices in Lecanto on August 4, 2011, I had explained how the highlighted text above was completely in error when viewed alongside the actual application submitted by the City of Crystal River to FDEP on July 22, 1999. No such environmental testing was cited in the application. Moreover, not only has that statement been erroneously averred as fact in the interlocal agreement and in the associated Municipal Service Benefit Unit Ordinance 2010-04 but also features as the major premise of the COUNTY Document, "CRYSTAL RIVER SEWER ASSESSMENT" that was given to me at a July meeting in the Lecanto government complex.

Clearly the Governor's Office have been given cause to rely upon that same false statement.

Your above quoted paragraph is also in error in concluding that the MSBU and assessment districts were for funding purposes whereas the Project was completely funded with public money as described in The Financially Disadvantaged Small Community Grant Agreement SG583140, Subsection 1.01(8) - per, its Amendment 2, date stamped, Nov 08 2004.

Allow me, please, to explain as statements at public meetings have been less than clear. The DSC grant SG583140 provides for 85% of the total cost of each project segment as reimbursement to the City. Its Associated Loan SG58316S (a 20 year loan at 2.55% maximum) provides for the remaining 15% of total cost. FDEP advise that the term and rate are to allow recovery from homeowners over that term. However, the interlocal agreement and the assessment demands recovery in one lump sum. In cases of hardship the City and County may allow repayment over lesser terms at between 6 and 11% p.a. Also the SHIP assistance could be applied for. City correspondence suggests the lump sum due on demand c. $3,000. In addition, the City and the County cite the "expansion" or "hook up" fee at $3,425. This latter amount, charged to those homeowners embraced by the interlocal agreement would add a minimum $1,452,400 to the City purse notwithstanding the full reimbursement to the City of those expansion costs from the DSC Grant and Loan public funding. Various miscellaneous charges upon the affected freeholders (homeowners) are stated to exceed between $950 and $1,650 (administrative costs yet to be calculated are said to increase the burden still further). If assessments are made upon vacant lots as is apparently planned, the burden upon freeholders and reward to the City would increase commensurately.

I am aware of F.S.381.00655, but have also heeded the state DofH General Counsel who softened the starkness of the statute considerably. F.S.381.00655 is a health department concern which may be waived but the DofH retains the right to over-ride waiver when in the public health interest to do so. The 365 day imperative is set in a context absent of any waiver of the mandated connection.

I was not aware of the detail concerning Senate Bill 550. I am not aware of a Phase III Nitrogen Reduction Study although I am aware of the science literature and the importance of the Nitrogen balance with respect to water quality especially as volumes of spring discharges into the Florida Outstanding Water of Kings Bay have reduced by a third over the past two decades while Nitrogen concentrations have not. Increasing nitrogen trends are being recorded on some groundwater flow paths most notably those serving Hunter Spring Run.

I have drawn attention to the words of the Florida Attorney General, Robert A. Butterworth, in an Advisory Legal Opinion, AGO 90-75 Dated: September 11, 1990,(obtained from the current Attorney General's website) and questioned whether the circumstances addressed by Ordinance 2010-04 fall within that interpretation. The Foundation does not have standing to request a referral.

I enclose below an article for publication in the local Newspaper as a way to illustrate the broader perspective (the Newspaper would supply the headline).

Enough is whom may we turn?

"Settle in Citrus" – sounds great. Its where our friends live. Its where we go to Church – where we shop for food – where we get our drinking water from – our Police service – our Fire service – our medical treatment – teeth fixed – eyes fixed – garbage collected – do re–cycling – walk/golf – swim – fish – boat – relax – enjoy nature in all its richness of plant, wildlife and waters.

County is community. We love it and love to live in it. We vote and pay our taxes here.

Can a dream crash? (Our life's savings in our home). Its unbelievable, incomprehensible and inconceivable but it can happen when the County appears to opt out. The City was authorized $12million eleven years ago to extend its sewer system internally and into County areas where we live.

So, on August 11, 2009, the County agreed with the City, apparently behind closed doors, that in addition to the City receiving from the public purse every penny needed to design, administer and construct systems to accord with the state–approved plan, we, the affected County home owners must pay the City many hundreds of thousands of our dollars on top, for a service we do not need nor benefit from.

Not only that, but the County actually threatens lien if we do not connect and pay up. ("Lien" means that we could forfeit our homes to them). The sewer service is not needed because we have paid for and own onsite wastewater treatment systems on our properties which the County had specified,and permitted and we have paid to have inspected by the health authority to certify compliance with code. Why infringe upon our property rights?

It is pointless for us to try to turn to the City so long as they continue to lust for the hundreds of thousands of dollars our County requires us to pay to the City. E–mails to the County remain unanswered. When confronted, the City says they are only a sub–contractor to the County; the County say they cannot intervene because the City is in charge.

No–one knows why this has been brought upon us. Figures and reasons change. Folks ask – is there a hidden quid pro quo somewhere?

Does the City need the money to upgrade its treatment plant to tertiary level? If so, we should not be their source of capital. Is the money needed to extend sewer all the way along Fort Island Trail, as was publicly expressed to be the case on May 24, 2011? If so, we should not bear that burden either. Could it be that some development is expected in order for the County's flagship resort to be kept in business? If so, there are commercial institutions to assist with that. Is there some scheme to sell reclaimed waste water? If so, we should not provide the capital needed for that. Can it be that, as the City says in its letter to a freeholder on September 1, 2011, sewer service is required to recover water quality in Kings Bay? If so, then that is not justified by established science, as explained to the City Council on June 13, 2011.

Why doesn't the County reduce the burden on their constituents by applying for the grant as the state agency has suggested to fund the payment of connection charges? Why doesn't the County step up to the plate and repay the County's portion of the Associated Loan element (SG58316S) to the City over its twenty year term and recover costs from constituent freeholders over the long term to reduce the freeholders' lump sum burden as recommended by the state agency? Why doesn't the County waive mandatory connections as is within their power to do?

The laid sewers could be used for any other purpose "they" may determine to be appropriate.

We have extensive documentation both as research narrative and copies of original project documentation should you wish further clarification.

Sincerely, Norman Hopkins

News and Views
News Items

November 30, 2013
On environment, shortsightedness costs Florida big.
Scott Maxwell, Taking Names.
read more

October 9, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013.
read more

September 25, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Potential for Fuel Cell Prime Power in Japan.
read more

August 1, 2013
Duke Energy to cancel proposed Levy County nuclear plant.
read more

May 22, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
Electrolysers for Renewable Energy Efficiency.
read more

March 13, 2013
Beyond Electricity: Using Renewables Effectively.
read more

September 24, 2012
Sewer Systems Legal Filing.
read more

February 1, 2012
Fuel Cell Today update.
read more

January 13, 2012
Sewer Agenda.
read more

December 23, 2011
Scientist: Water account overdrawn.
read more

Novemver 14, 2011
Submission to the Citrus County Commissioner, 14 November, 2011.
read more