Notes & Articles from the Dec. 3, 2018 meeting
By Kathryn Dentato
Invocation and Opening
The Brooksville City Council held their first regular meeting after the election. To begin the meeting, outgoing Mayor Betty Erhard invited Associate Pastor Trent Icenogle from Brooksville Church of the Nazarene to give the invocation before the Pledge of Allegiance.
City Manager Mark Kutney recommended that the council members offer their changes to the agenda order. Erhard requested Citizen Input to be moved before the selection of officers. Council Member Joe Bernardini made the motion to approve the change, and Vice-Mayor Robert Battista made the second. This change was approved 5-0.
Oath of Office Administered
The Honorable Judge Kurt E. Hitzemann administered the oath of office to newly elected council member Pat Brayton and returning members Robert Battista and Betty Erhard. Each will serve on the city council for four years, and their term will end 12/05/2022.
Donna Morran appreciated seeing Erhard at local events and compared this to the lack of attendance by council members in previous years. Morran gave Erhard credit also for being the only woman on the council and being receptive to citizen concerns. Erhard should be selected as mayor again, she said, and Bernardini should be the vice-mayor.
Ryan Malloy, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street Program, gave the council a personal invitation to the Christmas events and tree lighting ceremony held on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. The 24-foot tree at City Hall is “a step up” from the tree just one block away at the courthouse. Decorations were ordered and will arrive before Christmas, just not in time for the tree lighting. Malloy thanked the council members who attended Small Business Saturday. He singled out Kutney, stating the business owners were very interested in meeting him.
Jeff Mayhood said he agreed with Morran’s statements and he complimented Erhard for her helpfulness and the way she shows she cares about the citizens. He liked her availability, even via social media. Mayhood encouraged the council to keep Erhard as mayor.
Ivy Cordell thanked Erhard for being attentive of her concerns and for “being present” while she listens. She discussed the issue of the Quarry gate and asked for clarity to close out the issue. Cordell stated she understood the issue with liability and that there is a 50/50 arrangement between the City and the Enrichment Center to pay for costs involved with vandalism. She is willing to compromise but needs answers. Bernardini stated the agenda lists discussion about the Quarry.
Selection of Officers
Battista nominated council member William Kemerer as mayor. No other nominations for mayor were offered. Battista moved to close the nominations. Bernardini asked Kemerer whether he could accept. Last year, Kemerer declined. This year, he said he is free to accept. Bernardini seconded the motion to close nominations. Kemerer was appointed mayor by unanimous vote.
Erhard and Kemerer switched seats and Kemerer thanked the council members for their confidence in him. Kemerer opened the floor for nominations for vice mayor. Brayton nominated Bernardini, and this was seconded by Erhard. There were no other nominations. Brayton made the motion to close the nominations, seconded by Battista. Bernardini was appointed vice mayor by unanimous vote.
Bernardini explained the council’s informal rotation system, where members are selected first as vice mayor and then the following year become mayor. Since Kemerer had an obligation that prevented him from his turn as vice mayor, the council felt it was fair for Kemerer to be mayor this year.
Bernardini praised Erhard’s job as mayor and stated he hoped Kemerer could fill her shoes and attend local events as well as she did. Kemerer said it was something he was looking forward to.
There was no discussion about any items in the consent agenda. Battista moved to approve the list of items, with Bernardini giving the second. The motion passed 5-0.
Resolution 2018-22 – Recognizing Council Member Brent Young
Kemerer read the resolution detailing how Young became a council member: In July 2018 Natalie Kahler vacated her seat to run for a seat on the BOCC and Young submitted a letter of interest to serve the city’s needs. Young was appointed to the council and served until the election in November. The resolution praised Young for his attention to the needs of the city’s citizens by his participation in decisions and policies that positively affected the city. The resolution expressed thanks to Young for his willingness to be of service to the City of Brooksville.
The resolution was adopted by a unanimous roll call vote.
Young thanked the council for voting to approve him. Serving on the council gave him a better understanding of what the council really does for the city, he said. “There’s a lot of responsibility with the way you vote.” He stated that he may sit there again in the future.
First Reading of the Proposed 5G Ordinance
Nancy Stuparich, attorney with the Vose Law Firm, explained Ordinance No. 898. The ordinance will remove the language pertaining to traffic light safety and create a new section for the new communication/wireless facilities that the FCC and Florida Statutes require the city to allow. Local governments are restricted in what they can do, she said. The draft presented to the council included new language that the FCC clarified.
There was no discussion at this reading. Bernardini moved to approve the first reading of the ordinance and to schedule the second (final) reading. Erhard seconded the motion. Kemerer asked for public comment but no one approached the podium. By roll call vote, the motion passed 5-0. The second (final) reading is scheduled for 12/17/18.
Mowery Elevator Contract Renewal
Mike Walker, Director of Parks and Recreation, recommended renewing the monthly maintenance contract with the Mowery Elevator Company at the Enrichment Center. The maintenance fee will be $125 monthly ($1500 annually) for five years with automatic renewal for an additional five years. The document in the agenda packet shows $150, but Walker stated this exceeds Mowery’s annual 3% increase, and they agreed to reduce the fee to $125. The city’s budget Fund 139, which is Repair and Maintenance Services, showed the annual fee as $1440, so this will have a $60 impact on this year’s budget.
Stuparich added that a sample of the city’s standard contract addendum was included in the agenda packet. The contract ensures that Florida Statutes are followed and that any conflicts are resolved in the Circuit Court of Hernando County.
Bernardini asked if the 3% increase will occur every year. Walker stated that it is at Mowery’s discretion, and that this was the first increase in 3-4 years.
Kemerer called attention to item #2 in Mowery’s contract addendum regarding Florida Statute and annual inspections. Because the elevator services only two floors and a maintenance contract is in effect, the Statute does not require the inspection. But the addendum states Mowery would also perform the annual inspection, for an additional $25 monthly.
Kemerer asked Stuparich if the service could be bid out. Walker stated that anything under $2000 did not require a bid. Walker recommended that the council “uncheck” the box agreeing to the additional $25 and to check the box in item #3 declining the annual inspection service.
Erhard made the motion to accept the agreement once the city attorney reviewed Florida Statutes and determined there would be no negative impact to the city, and with the changes discussed by the council. Battista seconded the motion. It passed 5-0.
State Agreement for Improvements to Fire Station
Walker stated the Legislative Funding the City was granted totals $353,150. This is to complete four public safety projects at the Brooksville Fire Department. The State provided an Intent to Fund agreement which requires the mayor’s signature.
Battista suggested that since another funding request is being sent to Tallahassee, Kemerer write a letter to the legislature thanking them for these funds. Kutney said he would help Kemerer draft the letter.
In response to Bernardini’s question about which projects were “shovel-ready,” Walker stated the bunker room and roof projects have already been “engineered” and are ready. New bay doors will only need to be ordered. The kitchen and bathroom upgrades will have to be bid.
Brayton asked Walker about the completion date, which the letter states should be done before the end of fiscal year 2019. Walker acknowledged this and stated that historically there is an understanding that the contract/project can take up to three years to complete. But, he said, the guidelines state that the project continues to completion, until funding is removed or until the money runs out. A catastrophic event could qualify as a reason the funding might be removed.
Brayton asked if any of the projects could be completed by June 2019, the end of the fiscal year. Walker felt at least two would likely be finished then, with the roof replacement as the first to start.
Brayton then moved to have the mayor sign the agreement. Bernardini made the second. The motion was passed 5-0.
Staff Discussion Item: Quarry Parking Issue
Staff Discussion Item: Temporary Staffing Contract
Items by City Attorney
Stuparich stated there was nothing to present.
Items by City Manager
Kutney asked Danny Brooks, Public Works Supervisor, to approach the podium. Kutney complimented Mr. Brooks and his staff for the work his department did in repairing and stabilizing six line breaks, especially given the cold weather conditions. He stated that the work is important in a city of any size.
Radacky provided food to the workers in the field. Kutney wanted to thank them publicly for their good work.
Kutney updated the council on the Fire Assessment. Kutney and fire department staff participated in a conference call on Nov. 20, 2018 with Chris Rowe. Kutney also spoke via phone to Erik van Malsen with Stantec Consulting. Van Malsen will complete a financial analysis based on comprehensive data request provided to Kutney on Nov. 26, 2018.
Flooding projects discussed
Following the direction of the council at the last meeting, Kutney held discussion about the necessary improvements on the east side of Howell Avenue with Radacky and other staff at the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW). They met with Dale Ravencraft, ProCivil 360 LLC, on Nov. 26. Staff recommendation to council is to rebid the project, but in phases. The sidewalks could be one phase, and another portion could be listed with capital improvement projects.
Radacky and Ravencraft believe completing the project in phases is the best way as there are three important pieces to consider:
- Replace 1523 square feet of sidewalk
- Improve/restore embankments
- Construct two bridges
Ravencraft shared a PowerPoint presentation with more details about the project. The sidewalk replacement would run from Croom Road to Oakwood Drive. The sidewalk will cost $10.50 per square foot (total cost: $80,000, approximately). Slides showed the broken sidewalk, with sections missing and filled in with vegetation or with tree root and branch encroachment.
Replacing the bridges over drainage ditches will be a second project. Cleaning the dirt, leaves, and other items from the channel will help reduce flooding to nearby homes. The northside bridge is sagging and uneven. Abutments under both bridges require stabilization, but the southside bridge presents the more immediate safety concern to Ravencraft. There is a slab under the bridge that has broken off due to erosion. He recommends an “erosion pour” which is used in building seawalls and will be longer lasting than the previous method.
“Part of the problem with this whole approach is we’ve been trying to tailor the project to the budget instead of tailoring the budget to the project,” Ravencraft said. This second project will be an estimated $20,000 - $30,000.
Replacing the sidewalk and clearing/stabilizing the channels will comprise the first phase, which needs to be rebid. The current drawings can be modified. The estimated cost for this phase is $100,000 to $110,000.
The cost for the bridge replacements will depend on the materials the council chooses (aluminum, steel, or wood). Ravencraft’s figures show wood as the least expensive ($40,000-$80,000) and aluminum as the most expensive ($73,000-$100,000), but a more detailed comparative cost analysis is needed.
For the bridges, Ravencraft recommended using a design-build approach to reduce the engineering cost since it will be included in the bid. That could be added to the budget for the next fiscal year.
Ravencraft’s 2016 contract with the city was for $20,000 to provide documents suitable for bid. The last payment was received on April 20, 2017. As the project scope has changed from replacing the sidewalks to include the bridges, he has continued to modify documents and to work with DPW. The city still owes $5,000 from the original contract, as well as $3,000 for work he has done since.
The rebid is necessary, Ravencraft said, because the contract the city rejected did not include several critical components that would have been left for DPW, including tree removal, sod replacement, and stabilizing the channels. For the next set of modifications for the rebid and oversight of the construction, Ravencraft is asking for an additional $5,000.
Bernardini stated that the channels were cut to move water toward US 41. Because the northern culvert gets blocked during heavy rains, the water is redirected up Howell Avenue to Croom Road, causing flooding there. The southern culvert has inflow from Brockway Lane and North Avenue, but this also becomes clogged, forcing the water to find the easier path.
Kemerer asked for clarification about water flow, and whether the planned projects will speed the transfer of water to US 41. There may be other sections of the channel to review to see if there are blockages downstream, Ravencraft said, but the immediate goal of reducing flooding will be accomplished.
Kemerer also asked about the permanence of the stabilization plan and whether it would match the lifespan of the bridge. Ravencraft estimated the erosion pour would cost one-third less than the original idea of completely rebuilding the embankment and could last up to 30 years.
The outstanding payment to ProCivil 360 for previous work and for the work to modify the documents can be paid from the money already designated for the project.
Bernardini made the motion to accept the phased approach and to include an additional $8,000 to pay for ProCivil 360’s continued work. Brayton seconded the motion. It passed 5-0.
Southern Hills Booster Station
Radacky gave an update on Southern Hills and the 150-day agreement, which has a Dec. 6, 2018 deadline. He has a copy of the FDEP permit Coastal Engineering needed to provide. Still outstanding are the construction contract (which is written but not signed), a Notice to Proceed, and a complete order for equipment. Radacky stated he is aware that some equipment has been ordered, but not all.
Council Member Betty Erhard
Erhard thanked the public who attended and who recommended that she continue as mayor. She thanked Young for his service to the city. She offered congratulations to Brayton for winning the council seat and to Kemerer for his selection as mayor.
Earlier in the day, Erhard, Kutney, and Radacky met with the Hernando County Legislative Delegates to discuss the five projects that the city would like to have considered for funding. The only question they had, she said, was whether the city was repeating any project submissions.
Regarding boil water notices, Erhard asked how citizens are noticed. It is on the DPW website, but Radacky stated they provide information by going door to door. Once the water has been tested and is safe for use, DPW will rescind (cancel) the notice in the same way.
Erhard thanked Judge Hitzemann for administering the Oath of Office, and Pastor Icenogle for the invocation.
Vice-Mayor Joe Bernardini
Bernardini congratulated Kemerer for the appointment to mayor and Brayton for winning the council seat. He thanked the public for attending and Young for the work he did on the council.
He apologized that though he met with staff, the event policy was not ready in time to be presented at this meeting. Bernardini wanted Brayton to have the opportunity to review the policy before voting to accept or reject it.
Overtime removed from council report
Bernardini said under FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) overtime is mandated for some departments, such as the fire department. He would like to have that removed from the report the council receives. Jim Delach, Finance Director for the city, agreed the report filters can be adjusted. Erhard stated she liked seeing the overtime. Kutney directed Delach to leave FLSA overtime off the report.
Quarry Parking Again
Bernardini referred to Brent Young’s comment during citizen input about the amount of time the council spent on the Enrichment Center parking lot and Quarry use issue. Young said that as a taxpayer, the council could have used the time to discuss issues that affect the majority of the city.
Bernardini agreed that it should have been handled before it was ever brought to council. He complimented Frank Miller for his ability to maintain order during the Parks and Recreation Board meeting where this was discussed.
Because of Sunshine Laws, council members cannot have private discussions with one another about any matter that can be brought before council. All business must be conducted in the open, in public meetings. Bernardini ran through a timeline of the issue, from his perspective, beginning on Nov. 11 with two emails.
Bernardini laid the issue at Kutney’s feet, stating that that he should have dealt with it three weeks ago. He stated he heard someone comment, “We’re too busy stepping on ants while the elephants sneak by.” Bringing a matter to the city council should be the last option, used only if there is no resolution from staff, Bernardini said.
Council Member Robert Battista
Battista mentioned the passing of Gail Samples, who most recently served on the Great Brooksvillian and Parks and Recreation boards. She was involved with the Beautification Board and was instrumental in bringing the golf course to the Quarry.
Annually, the Beautification board coordinates with a local school to decorate a Christmas tree at City Hall. With the new electronic tree in the front, Battista suggested having them decorate the tree in the downstairs walkway. Walker advised that was planned.
Battista returned to the cell phone issue, and that work emails cannot be responded to outside of working hours. He stated it was an unreasonable request to require department heads to answer emails off the clock, in the evenings, when with family, etc.
He thanked everyone who attended the meeting, congratulated Brayton and the other members.
The recycling schedule has resumed.
Council Member Pat Brayton
Brayton stated he spoke more at the meeting than he intended but likes to be involved. He said it was an honor to serve on the council again and looks forward to helping Brooksville’s citizens.
Mayor William Kemerer
Kemerer thanked the council for appointing him to the mayor’s seat. He thanked Erhard for serving as an excellent mayor and hopes he can do as well. Kemerer thanked Battista for serving the city as vice-mayor.
Battista referred to earlier comments about Kemerer’s obligations last year which prevented him from serving as vice-mayor. He stated that appointing Kemerer to mayor brings the rotation back to order. Passing over someone “builds a little scar tissue” even though it seems a small thing, but maintaining the seniority structure avoids causing bad feelings among council members.
Kemerer congratulated Bernardini for his selection as vice-mayor and looked forward to having Bernardini keep him on track.
Kemerer offered his thanks to Young, who was selected during the summer. Young quickly learned the issues at hand and was able to contribute to the council’s decisions.
Referring to the legislative meeting Erhard attended, Kemerer stated he was able to watch it on the government channel. Senator Wilton Simpson, in discussion with school board representatives, said getting money for the school might be a challenge because of the teachers’ salary structure, which includes FRS. Kemerer stated it is not a contribution, but a benefit. The legislature may make some changes in this area.
Kemerer wants to discuss the fire pension fund soon, as they are negotiating a new fire department contract. In the discussions the city could state that new employees would have a revised retirement plan that is similar to the FRS.
Further discussion on roads needed
Another discussion on the road issue is needed, and Kemerer suggested a workshop rather than a regular meeting. Rather than pay for new engineering, he thought that the current engineering could be updated so they can put projects for bid. Kemerer recommended a delay in telling residents when their roads would be fixed, since they will have to see the impact fixing other roads may have.
Bernardini said that giving the residents any answer was better than not responding at all. He said other options might be possible that would be a short-term extension of the road’s life.
More on road discussion covered in this article:
Requiring new developments use reclaimed water
Returning to his comment from the previous meeting, Kemerer asked about changing the development code so that new developments must use reclaimed water in new developments. Battista agreed, but there is no mechanism in place at this time to deliver the water. There are a few options for the water, including at Hernando Oaks golf course, to Cemex (which the city pays them to take) and a possible arrangement at Cascades.
“But the problem is,” Battista said, “we’re creating a product and we’ve got no place to send it.” For now, they may have to use a spray field.
Kemerer agrees the discussion will take longer than the council had time to discuss but wondered if they could require subdivisions that have been approved to accept the reclaimed water. Council gave consensus to have a broader discussion on the topic at another time.
Erhard made the motion to adjourn the council meeting and Battista seconded. The motion passed 5-0.