Lake Asbury Municipal Benefit District (LAMSBD)

Special Meeting Minutes

June 23, 2021

 I.         Call to order

The Trustees of the Lake Asbury Municipal Service Benefit District (LAMSBD) met in the Lake Asbury Community Center, 282 Branscomb Road, on the above-stated date.  Chairman McMillian called the meeting to order at 6:07 p.m.

II.        Roll call

The following trustees were present:  Chair McMillian, Vice Chairman Gaver, Treasurer Kocher, and Trustees Weisenburger, Pickens, Barrett, Wantage and Davis – a quorum of eight. Staff present: District Attorney Flowers, District Accountant Hallquest, District Engineer Tocoi Engineering and District Secretary Meyer.

III.       Administrative Announcement

            Special meeting to approve review and approve Assessment Increase

 IV.      Trustee Reports:

a)     Chair: - Chairman McMillian and the TOCOI Engineers met with Emergency Management officials from Florida DEP, Clay County Emergency Management Dept and Sheriffs Office Emergency Personnel on June 22 to work on an Emergency Action Plan for the dams.  Florida Dam Safety Officer, Tracy Woods is helping the board complete its Emergency Action Plan. One thing came out of the meeting was our ability to take advantage of Florida Emergency Management’s Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) to obtain grants.  This organization works with Clay County Emergency Management.  John Ward Clay County Emergency stated that he would help us get involved to help find grant opportunities.  Tracy Woods will be working with Tocoi Engineering and the board to help obtain grant monies during this process.

b)    Lewis Diving will remove the plugs from West and inspect the East Lake intake valve & risers. They will plug the intake valves on Lake Ryan so that they may be repaired for $3,000.  Their schedule is very packed.  They may be able to get to it on July 2nd or 3rd or July 9th at the latest.

c)     Trustee Davis spoke with Tim Ley about capping off the valve inlet Lake Ryan, he can force it open to draw the lake down.  If the plugs break, he can close it the same way the west valve. TOCOI Engineering asked if Mr. Ley needs the intake blocked in order to repair the valve.  Mr. Ley said that it would not do any good to block it. Trustee Davis stated that Lewis Diving’s contract include installation and removal of the caps and believes that the $3,000 should include removing the plugs.  TCOI Engineer stated the contract reads that additional costs for recurring trips will be billed separately. Chair McMillian asked the board if they want Lewis Diving & Salvage to change the contract or have them come back to remove the caps.  The West Lake Asbury valve has been repaired and the East Lake valve has not yet been repaired.  TOCOI Engineering stated that the diver told them that a balloon would not work in this situation. There is a lot of water leakage and it is preventing Tim Ley from getting down in the pipe.  A siphon pipe has not been installed at this time.  Trustee Davis requested photographs when the caps are removed.

d)    Chair McMillian feels they should remove the caps off both the lowers lakes and have Tim Ley drop Lake Ryan to see if he can repair it.

e)     Trustee Pickens asked if there is a plan to repair Lake Ryan and Lake Asbury east valves.  TOCOI Engineers response was they are trying to get the divers to lower the reservoir of the main dam and then lower Lake Ryan.  Then they will have the divers put on the coffer dam to stop the flow which will allow Tim Ley to operate the gate without having water flow so he may work on it.

f)      Trustee Wantage asked how far down would you have to drain the North Lake. TOCOI Engineering responded it is half full and enough water needs to be drawn down in the discharge pipe so it does not appear.  It would need to be dropped down at least two feet and would not be done until after July 4th because it is a holiday weekend.  Chairman McMillian suggest that we bring back the Lewis Diving & Salvage and have them remove the caps Lake Asbury.  He will work with Tim Ley to drop the Lake Ryan so he can look at the valves and see how he can fix it.

g)     Chair McMillian made a motion for TOCOI Engineering to have Lewis Diving & Salvage remove the plugs from East and West Lake Asbury drainpipes as quickly as possible and to also take photographs of the drains.  Seconded by Trustee Barrett. 8-0

h)    Treasurer Kocher asked how far down Lake Ryan will need to be dropped and TOCOI Engineering’s response was 4 inches. An email alert will need to be posted on the LAMSDB website, and on the marquee.

i)      Treasurer Kocher raised a concern about bringing up subjects that are not on the agenda.  Attorney Flowers responded that it could be done as long as the board approves.

j)      Trustee Davis asked what the results where of the meeting at TOCOI Engineers office as there were no comments made at the walk through.  Chair McMillian stated the meeting was only about Emergency Management Plan.  Laura Mahoney made a report on what was discussed for the board members.  Majority of what still has to be completed will be handled by Clay County Emergency Group, TOCOI Engineering and Tracy Woods.  If we have an issue with the dams LAMSDB has to contact them depending on the severity of the issue.  The Emergency Management Plan will not be posted online because it has personal protected information in it.

k)    Trustee Wantage question Municipal Board to establish agreement with Clay County for Payment if county resources are used in the case of an emergency response by the County to an issue with the dams.  Do we need to set aside funds for repayment to the county for the resources they use to help?  TOCOI Engineers responded they did not get into it at that time.

l)      Treasurer Kocher reminded everyone that he couldn’t predict the future budget because of inflation.  The CIP also does not reflect increased cost due to inflation.  The ten-year loan scenario also does not account additional cost due to inflation or changes in projects or additional unexpected projects.  Dredging will not occur until after dam upgrades have been completed.  Hazelwood Hole will be the first dredging project.  The Bank suggested that the board raise the assessment to $4800 for the first year then lower it to $2400 thereafter. Treasurer Kocher told them it was not possible.  Ameris Bank will only loan us the $7.5 million we need to fund our CIP if we raise the assessment to a minimum of $2400.  The board has pledged not to use the Ad Valorem tax.

m)    TOCOI Engineering stated cost will change when you do detail design, the current costs only reflect the current concepts plans.

n)    Attorney Flowers told the board that referendum to increase the assessment to $2400 must be submitted to the Elections Office no later than October. The assessment increase would not go into effect until the year 2022.  If we obtain any grant monies, we can potentially return funds to residents.

o)     Trustee Weisenburger asked whether the funds given to us by the bank will be in a lump sum or a line of credit?  District Account Hallquest responded it will be structured as a line of credit.  We will only pay interest on the amount we withdrawal. Action items listed in 2021 and 2022 are tasks we must do to maintain the dams.  The first dredging project will be the Hazelwood Hole.  Why can’t we consider dredging earlier the fingers?  Treasurer Kocher responded he had to give the banks a better idea of spread based on prior conversations and it is a board decision.  Can we consider doing more than one project at a time?  Response is yes, we can do more than one at a time.  Trustee Weisenburger stated dredging needs to be on a rotating schedule once every 5 years. We can also pick and choose what projects are required to be completed by priority.  Trustee Weisenburger If projects are not competed up stream first, we are wasting time and money.

p)    Trustee Pickens questioned what happens if nothing is done?  Chair responded the state can issue an emergency order to lower all the lakes. The comprehensive plan does not include inflation so we can do less projects.

q)    Trustee Weisenburger noted that our dams are considered high hazard with a potential for loss of life and property damage if they fail.  We have to complete what the state is requiring us to do to keep our dams safe.  Even at $2400 we are still cutting ourselves short.  She also stated that we need a maintenance plan or in 10 years we will be right back where we are now. 

r)      Chair McMillian would rather raise the assessment to $2,000, District Account Hallquest stated that if you increase it to only $2100, we will only be able to borrow $5.4 million over 10 years which will leave us unable to do all of the projects in the CIP.

s)     Trustee Wantage toured with the State and St. John’s Water Management and looked at all the dams.  She said that $2400 is a stretch but this is her dream home and she hopes grants may also help.

t)      TOCOI Engineering stated that the new upgrades may be good for the next 60 to 70 years.  Dredging should be put on a cycle every 5 years. The board needs the money to start and complete these projects.

u)    Trustee Barrett asked whether the county said they are responsible for the roads over the dams.  Chair McMillian responded he will discuss it at the meeting next week.


V.        New Business:

(i)             Resident – Lenora Goodnight of 614 Branscomb Road is county responsible for roads?  Yes, the county is responsible for the roads, Chair has a meeting next week with County Commissioner and County Manager, there is an infrastructure bill coming to the counties from COVID.  They do not know how the funds are being allocated to the different counties.  We are on their radar to repair the roads but there are no guarantees. Not fair to put the responsibility on the lake lot owners. 

(ii)            Resident Mary Beth Morris of 1036 Haynes Court can you split the assessment with the ranchette owners as we would all suffer.  Chair McMillian responded we do not have time to go to legislative to change this as it would take at least 3 years.  Trustee Weisenburger stated that it would not involve the ranchette owners for property value as they are taxed differently.

(iii)          Resident Shane Parks 236 Candler Court asked what action has the board taken to process and obtain grants.  He feels there is a resistance by the board to obtain grants? Trustee Wantage responded “I am the grant chair and have a committee to pursue grants.”   She said that her team consist of researchers, writers and proofers and once she has all the information, she will bring it back to the board for approvals.  After the application is complete, they will be mailed out. Resident asked why does the board need to approve it first? Response was we are a board and are required to vote on it, we may have to look at which grant has the best advantages for LAMSDB.

(iv)          Resident Steve Rizzo of 1033 Lake Asbury Drive he wants to volunteer his time as he is an experienced certified diver.  He is all for getting the dams fixed it has to be done, he has spoken to other residents but they are hesitant to write a blank check.  He feels there needs to be a better explanation breakdown on exactly what is going to be done.  After the project is complete go from $2400 back to the $600 assessment you will get better support. He feels we will not get the majority of the votes otherwise.  Residents are afraid that there will be more projects that are not on the CIP and the assessment will stay at $2400.  Attorney Flowers does not believe you can do a sunset or limit the assessment in the referendum.   The board has the ability to refund monies should we obtain grant monies after the debt is paid.

(v)            Resident Nancy Starke of 768 Hazelwood Court lives on the finger, says we’re going to have a hard time getting residents to vote on the increase because they don’t want to wait 5or 10 years for dredging.

(vi)          Resident Steve Brewer of 576 Branscomb Road stated the roads need to be fixed before dredging.  Boats going by washes out the finger.  Chair responded he agrees and suggest that residents get together and go to the county commissioner’s meetings with photos showing them where the water is coming from that is ruining our lakes it will be effect. The $26,000 on the CIP is for permitting and setup for dredging.

(vii)         Treasurer Kocher made a motion to put on the ballot a referendum question to approve an increase the assessment to a maximum of $2400 in the year 2022.  Seconded by Trustee Weisenburger.  Carried 8-0

(viii)       Trustee Pickens made a motion to form a committee to develop a media campaign advertise the assessment increase. Seconded by Trustee Weisenburger.  Carried 8-0.

(ix)          Chair McMillian made a to remove the LAMSDB Facebook page from the website.  Seconded by Vice Chair Gaver.  Carried 7-1 with Trustee Pickens dissenting.

(x)            Vice Chair Gaver texted Darla Mayo to have the Facebook page taken down

(xi)          Trustee Wantage made a motion to purse Infrastructure Grant, LSM to participate in federal & state grants along with Army Corp of Engineers, Publix, State Gambling Agencies and Winn Dixie.  Seconded by Chair McMillian.  Carried 8-0


X         Adjournment:

            Chairman McMillian adjourned the meeting at 8:20 P.M.


Minutes prepared by:                 ________________________________     _______________                              

District Secretary Nel Meyer        Mark McMillian Chair LAMSBD                    Date