Taxpayer group urges Bonita council to take control of all BSU rate increases

A sewer cover near the Liles Hotel at Riverside Park.

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A sewer cover near the Liles Hotel at Riverside Park.

A public hearing and final vote on Bonita Springs Utilities' petition to extend the term of the franchise is on Wednesday's Bonita Springs City Council agenda. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs.

— A Bonita Springs political action group contends it's time for the City Council to make revisions to the Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. franchise agreement so that the city has oversight on any proposed rate increase.

Concerned residents want the city to eliminate Bonita Springs Utilities' ability to raise water and sewer rates annually by the consumer price index without City Council's approval.

Bonita Springs resident Jerry Masters said the city is rushing an ordinance under consideration to extend the term of the utilities franchise. City Council should have the final say whether there should be a rate increase, Masters said.

"They are the ones that should be the custodians of the franchise," Masters said.

A public hearing and final vote on Bonita Springs Utilities' petition to extend the term of the franchise is on Wednesday's Bonita Springs City Council agenda. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs.

The nonprofit water and sewer utility is seeking an automatic five-year renewal, thus renewing its term to a total of 30 years. The franchise is approaching its fifth year anniversary since a 2007 renewal. As of now, the franchise is set to expire in 2037.

"This practice has been effective and benefited members (customers) impacted by water and wastewater expansion projects in the past," Fred Partin, executive director of Bonita Springs Utilities, wrote in an email to Bonita Springs City Manager Carl Schwing.

"A shorter franchise term means a shorter repayment period, which would increase the monthly payment amount. In addition to the impact upon special service charges for member/customers, failure to approve the extension would impact BSU's financing options."

The city currently doesn't have any say over Bonita Springs Utilities' option to use a consumer price index increase, because it is in the ordinance that if Bonita Springs Utilities wants to use the consumer index annually this can be done, without council review.

"We still have not addressed any rate increase for 2012," Partin said.

BSU's rates are $3.66 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons of use and $3.70 per 1,000 gallons for sewer service up to 16,000 gallons per month.

The utility usually knows by July or August if it is going to adjust the consumer price index, he said.

The Taxpayer Action Group, a local political action committee led by Ron Pure, urged City Council in an email to "deny (the) BSU extension until due diligence is done."

Rates increased in 2007 by 3.4 percent, in 2008 by 2.8 percent and in 2010 by 2.4 percent but rates didn't increase in 2009 or 2011, according to the Taxpayer Action Group email.

BSU's rates are $3.66 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons of use and $3.70 per 1,000 gallons for sewer service up to 16,000 gallons per month.

"Over the last 16 years, BSU has had two rate increases spread over five years. Other than that, BSU indexed rates three times to keep up with inflation, a routine practice for most utilities," Partin said in an email.

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Comments » 19

SunStar writes:

Makes total sense! City residents have no clue what's going on in that company.

Davidh239 writes:

in response to SunStar:

Makes total sense! City residents have no clue what's going on in that company.

Just ask for the information. I was a member for 11 years while I was in business in Bonita. They were always forth coming with information and rates were realistic.

Do you really want the Government involved in another portion of your life ? Besides that , there are regular elections for the board. If you don't like what's going on, run against them or back a candidate. As a co-op, they are required to operate in the "sunshine".

That mess that's the Bonita City Council is ill equipped to take on any more projects. Just my opinion , to which I'm entitled, as you are yours.

dwyerj1 writes:

Why do I have to pay such outrageous Collier County sewer taxes when most of the water I use is sprayed on my gardens? Put meters on the sewers!

b writes:

Why no mention of BSU sweetheart deal with good 'ol boyz at RCS?
The contract requires RCS to purchase BSU's reclaimed irrigation water. RCS pays approx. 55% below Lee/Collier market price.
Why no mention about TAG call to reduce number of BSU board of directors from 9 members to 5 members?
Davidh239 says he was on BSU board for 11 years is hokum served with hogwash. He also asked "Do you really want the Government involved in another portion of your life ?"
BS1 says, In situation like this, yes. City council is grantor of this Exclusive Franchise.
Council ought act and negotiate 100% on behalf of BSU customers.
I'll add, Vance/Nelson record for negotiating with another franchise, Comcast, earned them another F. They again gave away the farm and we get the bill.
As for history of BSU acting in the sunshine, don't make us laugh.

b writes:

Forgive me davidh239. Understand now you were just a lowly member to what you called a co-op.
Me, I'm an average $1000 average dues paying member of an exclusive franchise. I have no choice.

JohhnyB writes:

If Pure and Judy are for it - it is not good for Bonita Springs.

b writes:

What's the BSU rush?
Despite there being ample time to correct Bonita Springs Utilities franchise deficiencies,
Bonita Springs City Council is rushing to judgment by scheduling a first reading March 21 and a public hearing Wednesday April 4 to extend BSU’s franchise.
BSU seeks a five-year extension, thus renewing term to total 30 years.
There is sufficient cause for city council and the administration to make substantive revisions to BSU’s franchise.
Among several items in need of attention and action by city to make this franchise consistent with good business practices:

1. Amend to eliminate BSU’s annual ability to raise sewer-water rates by CPI Index without City Council approval.
As franchise grantor, city council should weigh in on all rate increases.

2. Amend for City Council approval of future BSU wastewater irrigation sales agreements and enforce current contract with RCS dated June 1, 2006.
Rate has not been adjusted per contract terms since inception.
A 55 percent increase is called for in the BSU/RCS contract.

3. Amend BSU charter to reduce present number of directors from 9 to 5 as originally chartered.

4. Amend BSU franchise to operate with Sunshine Law and FOI.

These and other recommended items with revision will NOT impede BSU’s future growth and success.

However, they will be of great benefit to water/sewer rate payers. Contact your City Council member.

Deny BSU extension until due diligence is done.

Davidh239 writes:

in response to b:

Forgive me davidh239. Understand now you were just a lowly member to what you called a co-op.
Me, I'm an average $1000 average dues paying member of an exclusive franchise. I have no choice.

No problem, possibly I wasn't as clear as I should have been. All I paid was a water bill, my sewer was a septic, believe it or not and I was on Old 41 from 1998 to 2009.

beneyw writes:

in response to SunStar:

Makes total sense! City residents have no clue what's going on in that company.

Frankly, let me ask, when was the last time you attended a BSU Board Meeting? I have spoken at that meeting at one time or another and public comment is always allowed. It seems the same suspects complain about everything from the City Council to the Mayor to BSU and it is getting to be a joke watching these malcontents do nothing but criticize this city.

b writes:

Now hear this.
Until recently, questions were not allowed during BSU public meeting. Public comment in general was as-catch-can. Questions had to be submitted in advance of public meeting to them them time to scam their answers.
Written inguiries prompted written response from Freddie Partin requiring person seeking info from BSU to first state your purpose, how it will be used etc.
Shed the blindfold LCN.

b writes:

That's odd. When Jude finished his comment, I, and everyone heard resounding applause.
Shed the earmuffs LCN.

Ed_FitzGerald writes:

The contract/agreement between BSU and RCS (Bonita Bay Group) is so unfair to the resident members of Bonita Springs (BSU) that it must be un-raveled in a court action suit against the City of Bonita Springs and BSU. Join me in that suit and every community in Bonita Springs will have access to that eleven (11) million gallons of irrigation water that is sent to Bonita Bay Group exclusively. It, in fact, is your water that irrigates their golf courses.
Don't think for one minute that BSU can justify entering into that agreement when in fact they cut out their own members when all they had to do was float a bond issue just like every true utility company would have done.
BSU and the City of Bonita will cause the franchise to be lost if they are forced to go to court with a "class action suit"

Ed FitzGerald Bonita Springs

Shaawe writes:

in response to Mr_Smee:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please, knock of the charade will ya? I think by now everyone reading your comments know exactly who you are so stop trying to insult the intelligence of the other readers. Look at yourself! So far you have posted 27 comments and 20 of them are directed at Jude Dude. It's really getting old! Yep, first it was Allaclarkbar, then Madeguy, then Bigstoop, then LCN and now it is the soon to be remeoved Mr_Smee. Don't you ever get tired of harassing and stalking folks? Do ya?

MautheDoog writes:

Mr Smee. My, my, my. Perhaps you need to just calm down before you get over excited. It is not a good way to start the day off, especially on Easter Sunday........:) Happy Easter everyone!

MautheDoog writes:

in response to Mr_Smee:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, there you have it folks. Mr Smee is using the same old dialogue IT used to harass me with inder the user name of Allaclarkbar and MadeGuy. Lol, I knew it would not take much to lure you out from under the porch where you used to hide! You are Sooooo predictable. LOL!!!!

MautheDoog writes:

in response to Mr_Smee:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

NAPLES DAILY NEWS, I'd be watching this Mr_Smee caracter very closely! It will be just a matter of time before his/her comments will be deleted by staff due to user violations. You guys do a great job but some people always seem to slip through the cracks. Thank you.

b writes:

Sooo ahhhh, what's that got to do with Nelson and 3 other council f/ups voting to extend BSU franchise without re-negotiation?

Ed_FitzGerald writes:

in response to Jude:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Residential and Golf Course Community lakes do not have to be lined.

The lakes where BSU reclaimed water is to STORED prior to distribution are required to be lined in order to retain the water from ground seepage and loss, and there is the possibliity that the concentrations of waste material in non-potable reclaimed water in STORAGE lakes coming directly from the utiility company may seep into the ground

Non-potable reclaimned water percentages in commnunity lakes is not a contaimination concdern. Those lakes are retention ponds filled mostly withgrain water.

Reclaimed non-potable water in use in residential communities and golf course communities is not stored - it is applied and the grass and natural filtration takes care of the minute contaminations noted above.

These considerations help to explain why BSU should have provided non-potable water storage lined lakes on their own property (and they have plenty of room for the lakes) rather than to get involved in a one-end user contract.

Ed FitzGerald

b writes:

No smee. Paris, and only Paris as destination was mentioned during discussion of specific agenda item related to trip in question. Sharkey attorney should have entired that dvd segement during litigation. It would've bolstered the lack of info advanced by BSFD pre-meeting printed agenda and post-meeting minutes approved by BSFD commissioners.-period.

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