LGWCD Board Preparing For Possible Merger With The Town

On Monday, May 14, the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Board of Supervisors will review more than 300 pages of documents relating to an anticipated successful voter referendum for the district to become dependent to the Town of Loxahatchee Groves.

The referendum will be held on Monday, June 25 at the LGWCD office. The proxy-vote election by acreage will be held in the same manner by which four of the district’s five supervisors are elected.

Issues to be discussed at the Monday meeting will include a resubmitted Grau & Associates’ financial report submitted at the last meeting where supervisors asked for a clarification of restricted and unrestricted funds. The supervisors wanted the report to show that a $434,780 restricted fund held for debt service was shown in the district’s fund balance. A $138,702 balance is available for discretionary spending.

The discussion will include a detailed report on the overall status of the district for the fiscal year ending in September 2017, as well as the retirement system pension liability and contribution schedules.

Additionally, the supervisors will review the 2018-19 fiscal year proposed budget schedule.

The board will also discuss the effects of the district becoming dependent to the town, including a response to Loxahatchee Groves Landowners’ Association President Marge Herzog from Loxahatchee Groves Town Manager Bill Underwood.

The e-mailed letter dated April 26 stated that if the referendum is successful, all active contracts with the LGWCD would remain contracts of the dependent district. All users water-use permits would remain in place and in force, and all easements of the LGWCD would become easements of the dependent district.

Further, all current functions of the district would become functions of the dependent district, and employees of the district would become employees in the town. All LGWCD assets, equipment, land and funds would become assets of the dependent district, and all liabilities of the district, outstanding debt, outstanding loans and compensated absences would become liabilities of the dependent district.

The terms of office of the supervisors would continue until the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council assumes the offices of the board.

All special acts of the LGWCD, unless repealed, would become ordinances of the town, and all resolutions and policies would continue until amended or repealed.

Currently both entities have separate law firms and both charge when the two separate entitles work together to ensure both elected bodies are protected. Under one elected body, this duplicity would not be needed.

Currently both entities have separate engineering companies that charge when the two separate entities work together on projects. Under one elected body, this duplicity would not be needed either.

Currently both entities have separate web sites and contract out with two separate companies. This would be combined into one.

Underwood’s e-mail also pointed out that there would be one elected body as opposed to two separate elected bodies, all public meetings would be held at one location, and all public records and information would be available at one location.

He added that currently, the independent district is not required to follow the county ethics codes, and as a dependent district, following the county ethics code would be required.

The dependent district would also be subject to the Officer of Inspector General requirements as a part of the town.

“These are a few of the items,” he wrote. “There will likely be more as we continue to work through the merger of the district into the town.”

Also Monday, the board will discuss storage and scanning of district records and the possible use of a contractor for that purpose. The board will also review the status of canal maintenance equipment and the equipment maintenance plan.

The district’s current fleet includes a 2007 John Deere tractor side mower, a 2013 John Deere tractor boom mower, a 2014 John Deere tractor/box blade/bush hog, a 2004 John Deere combination backhoe/loader, a 2013 John Deere long-reach excavator, a 1996 Ford F250 pickup truck, a 2006 Ford F250 pickup truck and a 2000 Ford pickup truck.

The board will discuss the status of district permits with the South Florida Water Management District. The LGWCD draws water from the C-51 Canal through a 50,000 gallon per minute pump. LGWCD is also allowed to discharge water to the C-51 Canal during wet periods with permission of the SFWMD.

Also on the agenda is a list of bidders to retrofit an automatic back-up electric motor start-up and shut-down mechanism for the pump at F Road, replacement of obsolete staff time-clocks and payroll consultant services. The board will also analyze the condition of the equipment barn at F Road and the acquisition of underlying fee title to district rights-of-way.