Letter: The $93,000 Question

A resident commented at the last Loxahatchee Groves Village Council session, “If Tom Goltzené wants to take the money away from the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District, it is fine with me, just give us enough notice. Give us a year. The LGWCD will be forced to raise assessments for everybody about $10 an acre, and we can give you credit for that. I’m fine with that if you guys want to do it, but the town is going to have a hard time justifying collecting gas tax revenue for that many miles, so the town gas tax revenue probably will drop at some point by an equivalent amount. Everybody will be out $93,000 and pay higher land owner assessments. You guys want to do it, then go for it.”

There is absolutely zero doubt that the resident’s syntax and the words used confirms that the resident was speaking on behalf of the LGWCD as a non-registered lobbyist.

The response from Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel: “Let’s leave the water control district at the water control district. I’ve just about made up my mind; they’ve got their job to do and we’ve got our job, so that’s from the council’s viewpoint. Please let’s concentrate on how we want to progress on this town.”

Dependency is a positive solution to consider. The residents are suffering with two independent policy-making bodies when only one is needed. The political wars, election vendettas and the divisiveness would stop.

Changing the LGWCD to dependent status would streamline the management directives, as such an entity would be directed by the town. The conversion of the LGWCD to dependency effectively resolves any conflict to the town’s position.

The town attorney, as of July 2015, can enable the Groves to seize control of all LGWCD roads with State Statute 95.361. The town then can release an RFP and use the $93,000 to find the best value for services rendered.

LGWCD Supervisor Laura Danowski has commented in district meetings: We are in the drainage business. We are not in the road business, we are not in the sign business, we are not in the hedging and mowing business. We are to maintain the canal network and resolve drainage issues, period.

Removal of certain roadway functionality of the LGWCD would redirect such services solely to the town, resulting in a sole-source response to residents.
A dependent LGWCD to the town provides no loss to the residents and all the capabilities to consider innovative service delivery.

The LGWCD already operates as the township road repair contractor, competing against private industry for the privilege. Recently, the LGWCD has been taking a “if we have time” approach to town work requests. Mowing and hedging are left idle. Council meetings experience excessive political infighting with LGWCD supervisors, who are always speaking up on town business, often speaking for LGWCD interests and against town interests. Such is the case concerning town management.

For the past few months, LGWCD supervisors have been relentlessly criticizing town management from the dais to an empty room during LGWCD meetings, advocating a change in town management in the local media, and have been the only voice supporting a management change in council sessions.

The gas tax revenue is 25 percent of the town’s annual income. Legal counsel has stated: “The Town of Loxahatchee Groves entitlement to gas tax revenue requires the town to resend existing interlocal agreements with the LGWCD in order to ensure future receipt of it.”

If the LGWCD has to raise taxes, it is because their expenditures exceed their revenue. Yet, the LGWCD 2014 budget contained a surplus of $150K. In 2014, the town gave the LGWCD $150K of gas tax revenue. Paying overtime every weekend may be one of the reasons requiring LGWCD tax hikes. The town does not control the LGWCD spending, so the $93,000 question to the resident is, why is hiding the town’s cookie jar responsible for the LGWCD having to raise taxes?

Keith Harris, Loxahatchee Groves