The Amy H Remley Foundation  

Submission to the Citrus County Director of Water Resources for discussion on Wednesday 12 October, 2011.

October 9, 2011.

I learned at the meeting held on 26 July, 2011, that there were two principal sources of stress, anxiety and anger manifest there by the County's constituent freeholders affected by the Interlocal Agreement between the County and the City dated August 11,2009.

  • The most egregious concerned the City of Crystal River being enriched by at least $1,452,200.00 at the freeholders' expense without just cause.

  • The next most egregious was their feeling of having been thrown to the City "wolves" by their Board of County Commissioners. (A profound distrust of the Interlocal Agreement engendered by its process).

  • It would follow, based upon the facts recited at A. and B. below, that the said Interlocal Agreement evidences infringement upon the property rights of the affected freeholders causing unjust gain to accrue to the parties acting as a cabal. (See items B.1,3, and 4).

The facts are:

A. Concerning the first. (Project financing)

  1. Ever since 9 September, 2004, when the City of Crystal River was informed, and which the FDEP fully executed on 8 November, 2004, (in Article IX - Execution of Agreement), that by amendment to Subsection 1.01(8) of the Disadvantaged Small Community Grant Agreement SG583140, that both by intent and execution Project was to be funded 100% by public money from that grant together with the Associated Loan WW58316S. A fact reflected in the City's accounting records, but omitted from the said Interlocal Agreement as the fact was presumably not properly tabled by the City during the closed door negotiations.

  2. Today, for example, the sewer expansion to the segments described as Areas 112 & 113 and Harbor Isle Court are funded 100% with public money by principal forgiveness loans of $4,104.434 (being, $3,145,656 plus an additional one of $958,778).

  3. The City has also been awarded a principal forgiveness loan for $3,902,030 to cover 100% of the authorized project costs for the Area 114 segment.

  4. The 15% repayable elements of these three segments, (a total of $491,834.37), reflects the 20 years term loan at special low rate interest, provided by FDEP to ease any burden on the affected freeholders by allowing its recovery over the long term instead of charging as a single lump sum as dictated by the Interlocal Agreement.

  5. The City's charges of "Expansion Fees" of $3,425.00 upon freeholders of "improved lots" (3425x424) amount to $1,452,200.00, notwithstanding that all such expansion costs attributable to Areas 112, 113 and 114, are funded by public money (A.1-3, above).

  6. In fact, as advised in a City e-mail on 6/29/2011, "The $3425.00 is the City’s Sewer Expansion Fee... This does not go into the City general fund; it is an enterprise fund... Right now we are working towards sending all treated wastewater to Progress Energy for reuse... Those are the types of things this fee is used for, other than expansion." Similar angst has been voiced that the County holds views to sell reclaimed water from their WWTF to Black Diamond and have solicited bids for connecting pipeworks.

  7. There is therefore no justification whatsoever for (nor does any creative accounting justify) charging any expansion fees to the County's constituent freeholders when the fees only serve to enrich the City of Crystal River by many hundreds of thousands of dollars after the City's attributable expansion costs have been met in full with public money.

B. Concerning the second (Process) - distrust is engendered by:

  1. Negotiating the Interlocal Agreement behind closed doors giving effect to the aforementioned enrichment of the City of Crystal River at the expense of the affected freeholders when payment had been assured for such expansion costs to be reimbursed to the City with public money, and,

  2. failing to give adequate intelligible notice of the intent to enact resolutions to enforce the Interlocal Agreement upon affected property owners, restricting how they may use their property. In particular, no location map was supplied (only a legal description in surveyor's jargon), no information was available from the Property Appraiser's office to identify the Areas 112 and 113 mentioned, the time set for the public hearing was 3.15 pm and not after 5pm, the notice dates straddled the Thanksgiving Holiday period, no mention was made of the Interlocal Agreement which was not then in the public domain, no mention was made of any enforcing ordinance to be enacted that same day (the only purpose given was to consider "adopting the uniform method of collecting non-ad valorem assessments as provided for in Section 197.3632 Florida Statutes", and,

  3. using extremely severe language in the Ordinance 2010-04 to enforce the provisions of the Interlocal Agreement in the context of a so-called Municipal Service Benefit Unit when no such purported service need nor any benefit existed , (If such a benefit why was it necessary to employ such Draconian language to enforce it?), and

  4. declaring it to be fact that "Based upon environmental testing performed in 1999, it was determined that installation of a wastewater collection and disposal system was necessary for the public health, safety and general welfare the County and its citizens in the Fort Island Trail corridor and other unincorporated areas of the County bordering and/or in close proximity of the Crystal River and Kings Bay." When no such environmental testing was ever done, and,

  5. asserting it to be fact that the relatively small number of 424 septic systems could have significantly degraded water quality of Crystal River/Kings Bay when the science literature declared otherwise. The actual annual nitrate loading discharged from the Kings Bay springs would require loading from 17,000 septic systems not 424. (Hantzche and Finnemore (1992), Jones and Upchurch (1994)), and,

  6. failing to make public a Citrus County GIS map dated November 23, 2010, misrepresenting an Area purporting to be that for Area 113 which had been extended beyond the delineated Year 3 - 44W/ Fort Island Trail segment, bound into the record of the 22 July, 1999, application for the DSC grant, and duly approved by FDEP to constitute the Plan to which the public funding was to be applied under terms of the original Agreement between FDEP and the City, and,

  7. various incongruities seed the distrust as to the "real reasons" for enriching the City, such speculation as to, (a) the levy of assessments upon vacant lots when physical sewer connection cannot be made before a building is erected on the lot, or, (b) when reasons given for sewers such as health hazard and recovery of water quality cease to be credible and no others emerge to replace them, and, save (c) for those suggested in item A.6. above.

A simple recourse in remedy would be for the Board of County Commissioners to waive mandatory connection as they are empowered to do by F.S. 381.00655 (2)(b). But that would eliminate the enrichment conveyed upon the City by the terms of the August, 2009, Interlocal Agreement to which the County is a committed party.

The only legitimate charge to freeholders for mandatory connection to a beneficial service would appear to be monthly recovery on a simple term mortgage basis of the loan elements plus interest. Benefit could possibly accrue upon the County securing a Community Block grant to cover all hook-up expenses as suggested by FDEP, (and by the petition made to the Board of County Commissioners on 27 July, 2011).

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