This is a Paid Political Advertisement. Paid for and approved by Linda McKinney 6025 Keystone Ave. Port St. John, FL 32927. Independent of any group, organization or committee.
PSJ4T has had the oppotunity time and time again to tell the truth regarding sewers. This is something that has been a big scare tactic for them; their latest sign is "Stop Titusville Sewers..." How long have they known that Titusville has no intention to put sewers in PSJ? After all, Titusville's own ordinace prevents that. And, if you consider political truths, no politician, or group of politicians (except PSJ4T apparently) wants 22,000 people angry at them all the time. It makes sense to not infuriate 22,000 people by forcing them into your city. Think of the damage they can do to your political career.
But, let's just take a look at this issue. According to this letter from Titusville Mayor Ron Swank, PSJ4T has known about Titusville's disinterest in putting sewers in PSJ since at least March, 2002 (look at the date). Also, if you read the paragraphs about the LEGAL agreements between Cypress Woods and Titusville, it says that Titusville has no intention to sewer south of Kings Highway/Ranch Road. That LEGAL agreement is dated 1991 and 1994. Look at what Mayor Swank's March, 2002, letter says about the 1991 and 1994 agreements between Cypress Woods and Titusville (my underline): "Please note that the agreements indicated we would not provide services south of Kings Highway/Ranch Road." These are LEGALLY BINDING DOCUMENTS, folks. They are not open to debate. They are binding in a court of law. Also notice that Mayor Swank read his letter into the public record so that it would be on record for the public to hear and read that Titusville does not wish to force PSJ onto sewers. People don't do that then go back on what they read and wrote so that they can be proven liars. People only do things like that when they mean what they are saying and intend to stick by it.
So, since 1991 and again in 1994, Titusville has stated in LEGAL documents that they don't want to put sewers in PSJ. Did you know that PSJ4T has these documents? Look at the "cc" on the letter; it says "Maureen Rupe with enclosures" (the agreements). Did you know that they have had access to them since 1994? Can you see the scare tactic? Can you see the truth? PSJ4T has LIED AGAIN.
Now, back to our regular page:
The sewer issue in PSJ has stirred up more controversy, instilled more fear and engendered more discussion than almost anything else since the Challenger explosion. Let's put those fears to bed, shall we, by looking at the laws? Look them up on the internet if you don't believe me.
In the block quote below you can take a look at Titusville's City Ordinance 21-1:
"Sec. 21-1. Lots served by governmentally owned water/sewer/reclaimed water lines.
"(a) No out-of-city service. The city declares that its policy is not to provide water, sanitary sewer or reclaimed water service to out-of-city users and to provide water, sanitary sewer or reclaimed water service to inside-city-limits users. The city in its discretion pursuant to this policy may elect to provide water, sanitary sewer service, or reclaimed water service to out-of-city users. In the event the city does provide service to an out-of-city user, the city in no way intends to assume the duty or obligation to provide service to other out-of-city users since the city has a limited water supply and limited sewer capacity and limited reclaimed water supply and the needs of its citizens are paramount. In the event a request for service is granted, water and sanitary sewer service shall both be provided if service is available.
"Every out-of-city property owner who desires to be considered for water, sanitary sewer service or reclaimed water service shall apply for annexation as a condition precedent to being considered for the service. If by reason of annexation laws, the property can be annexed and the city in its discretion desires to annex the property, the property owner shall submit an application for annexation and pay the required annexation fee and the annexation will be processed in accordance with applicable regulations.
"For those properties currently located outside the city limits lying south of Parrish Road, north of Kings Highway/Ranch Road, west of the Indian River, and east of the St. Johns River, the collection of an annexation fee and other related fees shall be waived until September 30, 2003 as set forth in section 47-298 of the Land Development Regulations.
"If by reason of annexation laws the property cannot be currently annexed, however, the property is contiguous to a parcel or parcels that is contiguous with the city limits and has a signed service agreement which contains an agreement to annex, the city in its discretion may elect to enter into an agreement to provide the service conditioned upon the owner annexing the property at the time the property becomes contiguous and paying the required fees and complying with the conditions of a service agreement. In the event the property owner requests service under this provision, the owner shall pay a fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) for processing and approving the request plus the applicable annexation fee.
"All applications for annexation and service agreements provided for above, will be processed by the city manager or his designee and the city manager shall have the authority to review and approve the above applications to the extent authorized by applicable regulations. In the event the city manager elects to deny an application, the property owner may within thirty (30) days after said denial appeal the city manager's decision to the city council for its review. The review of the city council will be limited to determining whether the city manager properly exercised his discretion as authorized above.
"(b) Other noncontiguous properties. If by reason of annexation laws, the property cannot be currently annexed and the parcel is not contiguous with a parcel or parcels that has a signed agreement to annex which is contiguous to the city limits, then in that event, the city council may, in its discretion, authorize a request for out-of-city service provided the following conditions are met:
"(1) The property is located on the east side of the Florida East Coast Railroad right-of-way south of the city limits and north of Orlando Utilities (between the railroad and the Indian River). In recognition of the provisions of Chapter 96-262, Laws of Florida, Special Acts of 1990 (Indian River Lagoon Legislation), the city recognizes that improper septic tank use poses a threat to the water quality of the Indian River Lagoon system, and therefore, provides for the above provision for availability of service; or
"(2) That there are economic development reasons that service should be extended to the property and that the residents of the city will receive significant benefit from the development of the property by way of jobs, increase retail sales and the provision of services to the new business or industry or increase in residents; or
"(3) The property owner has demonstrated to the city that the natural groundwater on the property is not treatable to drinking water standards. The property owner will provide to the city a copy of an analysis of the natural groundwater on the property from a certified independent HRS approved lab. The lab certificate shall include the following analysis: pH, suspend solids, TDS, total hardness, calcium hardness, chlorides, iron, copper, lead, nitrites, nitrates, bacteria (coliforms) i.e. E-coli. The cost of testing will be borne by the property owner.
"In addition, the property owner must demonstrate that the current water supply (i.e. well) cannot be treated to acceptable standards (SWDA) via a conventional, readily available treatment system designed specifically for household use. In the event that the owner's demand requirements exceed one (1) ERU, the owner is deemed to have met this requirement. If said natural groundwater is deemed untreatable, then in that event, the city may, in its discretion, permit connection to the water system and the property owner shall comply with all other applicable provisions; and,
"(4) The request for sewer and/or water service shall not overload or impair the existing system or interfere with the ability of the city to meet the needs of city residents.
"For purposes of this section, economic development reasons shall mean nonresidential land uses. In order to qualify as a nonresidential land use that has a significant benefit to the city, the development must meet the definition of development which would qualify for an ad valorem tax exemption under Section 196.1995, Florida Statutes (1995), and have or obtain an occupational license with the city.
"In the event the city grants the request for water or sewer service, the applicant shall pay an application fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) and sign an agreement to annex when the property becomes contiguous and comply with applicable codes and pay applicable annexation fees.
"All applications for water or sewer service shall include both services, if available to the property. Availability shall be determined in accordance with section 39-131 of the Code.
"The city may impose additional requirements as a condition of granting the service.
"(c) Temporary suspension of provisions for noncontiguous properties. From the effective date of Ordinance No. 24-2001 through September 30, 2003, sections 21-1(b)(1), (2), and (3) relating to eligibility of noncontiguous properties for water/sewer/reclaimed water service, payment of two hundred fifty dollar ($250.00) application fee, and payment of annexation fee shall not apply provided that the properties are located south of Parrish Road, north of Kings Highway/Ranch Road, west of the Indian River, and east of the St. Johns River. As a condition precedent to receiving service, the city shall continue to require execution of a service agreement which contains an agreement to annex the subject property at such time that the property becomes contiguous with city limits. The provisions of this paragraph shall automatically sunset on October 1, 2003.
"All applications for water and/or sewer service for noncontiguous properties will be processed by the city manager or his designee and the city manager shall have the authority to review and approve the above applications to the extent authorized by applicable regulations provided the properties are located south of Parrish Road, north of Kings Highway/Ranch Road, west of the Indian River, and east of the St. Johns River.
"(d) Permit. No consumer, user or property owner shall be permitted to connect into or extend the existing water, sanitary sewer or reclaimed water service system without first obtaining a permit.
"(e) Cost of extension. The cost of extending a water, sanitary sewer or reclaimed water line shall be as established in the Land Development Regulations, Volume II.
"(Ord. No. 36-1997, § 1, 10-28-97; Ord. No. 45-1998, § 1, 11-24-98; Ord. No. 24-2001, § 1, 7-24-01)
"Secs. 21-2--21-25. Reserved."
In plain English, the bottom line is: they won't give you sewer without you agreeing to be annexed. That's you AGREEING to be annexed. It's that simple. Print this out, give it to your neighbor.
Oh, yeah. There's still that five mile outside their municipal boundary thing PSJ4T is still pushing, isn't there? Guess what, folks: it's not a done deal according to the law. Florida State Statute 180 says in part (my underlining):
"180.03 Resolution or ordinance proposing construction or extension of utility; objections to same.--
"(1) When it is proposed to exercise the powers granted by this chapter, a resolution or ordinance shall be passed by the city council, or the legislative body of the municipality, by whatever name known, reciting the utility to be constructed or extended and its purpose, the proposed territory to be included, what mortgage revenue certificates or debentures if any are to be issued to finance the project, the cost thereof, and such other provisions as may be deemed necessary.
"(2) Any objections to any of the provisions of said resolution or ordinance shall be in writing and filed with the governing body of the municipality, and hearing thereupon shall be held within 30 days after the passage of the resolution by the legislative body of said municipality.
"180.19 Use by other municipalities and by individuals outside corporate limits.--
"(1) A municipality which constructs any works as are authorized by this chapter, may permit any other municipality and the owners or association of owners of lots or lands outside of its corporate limits or within the limits of any other municipality, to connect with or use the utilities mentioned in this chapter upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed between such municipalities, and the owners or association of owners of such outside lots or lands.
"(2) Any private company or corporation organized to accomplish the purposes set forth in this chapter, which has been granted a privilege or franchise by a municipality, may permit the owners or association of owners of lots or lands outside of the boundaries of said municipality granting said privilege or franchise, or other municipality, to connect with and use the utility operated by the said private company or corporation upon such terms as may be agreed between the said private company or corporation and the owners or association of owners of said lots or lands or the said municipality."
See what that says, "as may be agreed upon." That means you and I have to agree to the terms. We are the "owners or association of owners of said lots or lands". That's us. We have to agree.
Don't let PSJ4T use scare tactics on you. Look at what is there. Look at what's before your face. Then realize: PSJ4T has been quoting PART of this law for a very long time. Why didn't they tell you the WHOLE TRUTH?
The cost of sewer is going to be a whole lot more than PSJ4T is telling you. I spoke to someone in the County, also. Problem is, I'm going to tell you the WHOLE TRUTH of what he told me. And, the number is a whole lot bigger than PSJ4T wants you to realize. Get your seatbelts on, because here goes:
Before the debate, I called the County Water Resources people to ask if the PSJ sewage treatment plant behind the fire station could be expanded to enable all of PSJ to use that sewage plant. His answer to me was, "It's not impossible, but it would be very difficult to expand." And, that it could not be done, "at that location." He said that they had looked at locations for a bigger treatment plant for PSJ and found a spot they liked, but the, "original location [was] where they put the school west of 95."
He went on to say that just the traditional boundaries of PSJ have 9,300 homes in them and does not include anything in the expanded area that the City of PSJ would be. He said, "If a new plant was going to be built, it would not be built in a developed area." Which means we would have to purchase land for this sewage treatment plant. He said the math is as follows:
It costs $3 to $4 per gallon per day to build a treatment plant. That means that to build a treatment plant you have to charge the customers using the plant $3 to $4 per gallon per day for them to use the plant after it is finished, not per construction day. The average household uses about 200 gallons per day. In the traditional boundaries of PSJ there are 9,300 lots. That's $7,440,000 (seven million, four-hundred forty-thousand dollars). Okay, but that's still without the Delespine, Frontenac, Williams Point and Hardeeville areas. He said it would probably cost about $6.5 million for the plant alone without the cost of land purchase and without pipes and without the Four Communities figured in. Okay, we are right on track for what PSJ4T says, if you don't consider the Four Communities.
But... To tell you the whole TRUTH, we have to go further. We have to look at the issue of pipes because having a sewage treatment plant without pipes is like having a house without a door. You can't get in. So you MUST consider the cost of pipes in order to get the full impact on the community. The County employee I spoke to said that they, "first thought it would be $5,000 to $6,000 per lot [to hook up to the sewer], now they think it's going to be more like $6,000 to $9,000" per lot. This would be done in the form of a lien on your house. Okay. More math. 9,300 lots in the traditional boundaries of PSJ multiplied by an average figure of $7,500 per lot. That's a whopping $69,750,000 ($69.75 million!). He said it would probably cost about, "$58 million with pipes, but without effluent disposal" and without reclaimed water pipes (that would be an extra "$1,000 per house" but not every house will get reclaimed water) and without the Delespine, Frontenac, Hardeeville and Williams Point areas. So the "final totals":
The County person I spoke to said that, "low interest loans [should be] available through the State," and that, "larger lots mean higher costs to the homeowner." And that, "ten year financing [is] usual, [but it] can be twenty year according to State Law."
He also said that if PSJ was required to go on sewer as part of the County, "there would be a committee early on that would be helping make the decision on how to do the assessment." He also stated that the Department of Health said "no septics in PSJ," but now there is a three way agreement that allows us to develop up to 33% with septic tanks and wells. We now have city water from Cocoa, so the agreement states that we can develop up to 66% with city water and septic. But we can grow no further after we reach 66% build-up without going onto sewer. How long before your block is at 75% or more? And if it's happening on your block, what does the rest of PSJ look like?
Remember as you look at the costs associated with sewer in PSJ, you are not seeing the whole picture because as a City, PSJ would have to also consider Frontenac, Hardeeville, Delespine and Williams Point. They would have to use the sewage treatment plant as well, which means more capacity and more pipes. It also means that there is room for more growth in those areas; industrial, business and residential. Which means an even greater capacity, so your sewage treatment plant is growing; which adds to the construction costs to allow for future growth. So you won't be able to calculate the true costs of a sewage treatment plant for this area as a city until the city is actually finished with the project (what if costs are more than thought during the bidding process?). You will never know until then what the cost will be if PSJ incorporates. But the costs will be in the area of the numbers above, that's almost guaranteed. As time goes by, services get more expensive and labor costs go up, as do the costs of materials. PSJ4T is touting the fact that they have at least three years to worry about that as a city.
My biggest question is: Where will we put the thing? There is no room in the traditional boundaries of PSJ to put a sewage treatment plant. So where would the City of Port St. John put its sewage treatment plant? Frontenac? Hardeeville? Williams Point? Those places would now be in the City of PSJ, and they have spaces that are not developed. Would we put our sewage treatment plant down there? If so we are going to forcibly incorporate four communities that want nothing to do with being part of PSJ, tax them for the privilege of being forced into our city and losing their heritage, and then force them to become our dumping grounds? Nice. That's a legacy to be proud of. Is this what people want to vote for?
© 2002 Linda McKinney