MSTU Discussion at June Meeting
Transcribed from tape. At the June 19, 2018 meeting, President Bill McDaniel, County Commissioner for our District (5), explained the proposal for an MSTU to repair private roads in Collier County. For a report on the rest of the meeting, click "Meetings" in the menu above.
Bill: It allows us to do it on a proactive basis with direction from one of our first responders. If a fire truck says we can't get our truck down there - Lynn Radi, Rita Greenberg couldn't get down there. What we learned, the county has only ever been able to repair our roads in a reactive state. We have to declare an emergency and in a reactionary state, go fix the road. Platt Road's expenses was right at $9,000 and the people off of Fawn and Friendship still utilize Platt, they're not participating in repaying that $9000 expense.
Bill: Rock Road, property owners rallied up enough money and paved Rock Road, two miles of it and it services four other dirt roads off of Rock Road. The county has learned that on a proactive basis the maintenance for those side roads are costing less than $2000/mile to maintain as opposed to the average of $9000 or $10000/mile in a reactive state. The County attorney is plausibly happy. There's a pep rally on Tuesday to see if we get it through with the board of county commissioners. It's set up to be a max of one mil, but I think I can cap that at a half a mil. I set it up to be reviewed annually at your board of county commissioniers, with a actual expenditures of the prior year so the board can reestablish the rate on an annual basis. So I've set it up to be as transparent as we possibly can, and be able to take care of a dire health safety and welfare issue that's been going on in our community for ever. For the first time, legally, we'll be able to proactively maintain roads. All I need is for him (pointing to the fireman present) to say "That road might fail. I might not be able to get my truck down that road." Boom. Off we go.
Bill: Basically they're OK for it. I've talked to North Collier, I've talked to Greater Naples. Kingman already called me, sent his support. The sheriff's coming and so is the director of EMS. So I've got all four of my emergency first responders coming, and I have it set at a time certain, because I knew the - I set it at a time certain. I set it up so that it's instigated, the same process. When your road starts to fail, you send me an email, I put it into the AIMES system, Agency Issue Management System, then AIMS sends it off to the appropriate first responder who will go out and have a look, and once they've designated, then it's out of our hands and boom, it's done.
Bill: Timing on this, depending on if it passes on Tuesday next week, I don't know if I'll be able to work it into this budget cycle, I'm trying to get it done and approved so we can have it included in our millage rate setting on the second Tuesday in July, at which point then it can take affect this coming October. And what I'll do, if it passes, then I'll go find 40, 50, 100 dollars and we'll start taking care of some of these majorly bad roads, and then back-fill it once the MSTU kicks in. We'll fund it up in advance of the actual effective date. Because if I don't get it done, then it won't take effect until after October, and then can't be implemented until October of next year, and we're still waiting. And that's the same thing. How many years we've had multiple times where we've ran into this circumstance right here in the Sanctuary in our own organization trying to do what we're trying to do.
Q: Would the half mil be on all properties facing the 105 miles?
Bill: Either facing or accessed by, yes.
Q: Well, that's fair.
Bill: And a half mil, at .3 mil for 100,000 assessed valuation it's $30 a year. $50 at a half mil. And that's the max. Right now the legislation says one mil, which would be $100 a year for a $100,000 assessed valuation. I'm going to try to - the staff generated that as a mechanism serve. We're never going to go there but that gives us latitude if we ever have to. We'd rather not have to but let's cap it at a half mil. Which is certainly more than enough. There is 105 miles of private dirt roads. The assessed valuation of properties that are either on or accessed by, is about $270 million, which at one mil equates to $270,000. We don't need that much money. Probably won't ever need that much money. We're not going to take anybody's property. We're not going to do any condemnation. We're not going to bring them up to county standards. They're soley going to be maintained for emergency vehicular access.
Q: What does that actually look like? When you got one level, open, hard bottom kind of thing? Still have a lot of water going over it?
Bill: Absolutely, it can still have water going over it. It's stabilization process. I use my own road as an example. I own my own motor grader. I own my own rock mine. So Red Hawk Lane is OK, except when one of my farmers in their four-wheelers get to tearing it up. But the north end of Red Hawk lane is quite nice, because I put a lot of rock up there so when I grade it it stays. The south end is very sugar sandy, and can get some - when my motor grader, it got a flat tire and it took me forever to find a replacement. I let Red Hawk go for six months and some of those ruts were wicked. So it can happen pretty quick if you don't have stabilization. Over a period of time the maintenance will go down and get less and less and less because the deteriorization won't be so severe. If you do things on a proactive basis it stands to reason that over time you're going to have a better control over what's going on. And again, remember, I set it up to be reviewed this time of the year every year by your board of county commissioners so you will have participation in the process, knowledge of what we spent, where the money got spent, how it got spent, and on what roads.
Q: A question about Rookery Lane and the failure of keeping it up.
Bill: Is Rookery a private road? (Yes) If a road is a private road, the people that own those culverts, the commissioner at the time when they fixed that road was friends with somebody on that road and pulled strings. I had (name) in my office chirping to me about this, He said, "Back in the old days the commissioner used to just call (name) and he sends a motor grader out and fix it. Now there's too many people out there, too many things going on. You heard my story about Blue Sage, so if you're on a private road you're on your own. Just as a footnote, one little provision that I also put in - I put in an opt-out clause so if folks that live on Rookery Lane are doing their own maintenance program and shows sufficient maintenance plan for a 5-year period, you can opt-out of the MSTU and not have to pay. But you have to prove it, and the minute you don't then if your road becomes disrepaired and he says he can't get his fire truck down --- you're out. You don't get to ask twice. Because, I did it. One road sticks in my mind and there's several, Oil Grade Road that goes from Oil Well Road all the way up to Immokalee, that's a private dirt road. Collier Enterprises owns both sides of that road. They don't need to be in this MSTU. They maintain their own road. It's a farm road, nobody lives up there. So they'll be able to exempt out with a satisfactory management plan.
Q: What's the definition of a private road?
Bill: It's not a public right-away. Most roads are either condemned or purchased through the process and become public property for utilities, sidewalks, roads and the like. Our roads out here are 30 foot easement. You own 15 foot and I live on the other side and I own the other 15 foot, for the 330 feet wide that our road in fact is.
Q: Is that .... 15 feet off of our property line?
Sometimes it's different. And it moves all over the place. Sometimes they follow section lines. A lot of time the neighborhood follows the highest piece of ground, no matter whose piece of property it is. I've got roads down off of Frangipani and stuff, and you go - yeah, look at them. They migrate, based upon wherever people can get through.
Q: Does anybody have a description of what a passable road is?
Bill: Don't lay awake about that. It's going to be at the discretion of our first responders to be passable.
Q: How many potholes would it take?
Elroy Ricardo, fireman: That's the issue. To show, over in Greater Naples that issue is fire trucks, and some of the private roads - we had issues that the ambulances sit lower than the fire truck. So the fire truck will take the ride in and make the medical call, pick up the patient and throw him in the fire truck and move back out and put him in the ambulance because the ambulance can't get through. And that's not only in rain, it depends. Like the commissioner says about Frangipani, the road changes as people change it. So when we think we know the area, that the road was passable, well, now it's not because somebody's truck created another path.
Bill: Yeah, they did it on Sanctuary off Red Hawk, they got tired of going up and turning in where Sanctuary tee'd into Red Hawk, and they found a hole through the palmetta and cut another path through and now there's another road right there, right on somebody else's land. And, John, stay with the word "passable" and stay with the premise of it “being available for first responders to traverse“.
Doug: Right, but the question is, is it going to be the fire truck's standard, or the ambulance standard?
Elroy: It will be for emergency response, which could be - we run squads. So when we went to be more efficient, quicker for response times, the squads are the same level as the ambulance, the middle of the ambulance. That's fine because we can go above it. So really as long as one of the units can get in there, that's the unit. All ambulances and all squads and all first response vehicles. The smaller ones will be probably the minimum level of passage. The fire truck only has to deal with it when it's flooded. And then that's when they stay behind and we have other trucks and stuff like that.
Bill: Emergency vehicle access, I was very general in the language to allow us latitude to operate within the statute that is prohibitive for us to expend public funds on private property, and so the definition of passable and emergency vehicle has latitude and flexibility.
Doug: Well, that's all fine but residents will be curious to know whether teh standards are going to be for fire trucks to get through or for an ambulance that looks more like their vehicle. So any assurance that can be given to the residents might make a difference in their level of support or opposition for the proposal. Can you give them any....
Bill: One second, there's a lady who's got her hand up, and I left it very, very general, just so, because, at the advice of my county attorney to be able to manage through the statute that's prohibitive that, that prohibits us from spending funds on private property. I took the - the county attorney wrote the language.
Doug: Well, that's fine. But I'll guess that the language isn't in controversy about the level of maintenance that I've described. In other words, I bet you could tinker with the language so as, it would say for example, ALL emergency responders would be able to get through.
Bill: If it comes up and it becomes to the point in the discussion I'll make sure, I can make adjustments to it on
the fly on Tuesday. But it's done, it's approved, they've already looked at, my county attorney is already done with it. I have only heard of one area that's in dissent on this, and that's the folks down off of Dela.
Doug: Down where?
Bill: Dela Road, down off of Brantley, down near Blue Sage. And you had your hand up, I'm so sorry.
Elroy: So in a public environment, in a commercial or other, the person, agency that does emergency vehicle access in a commercial and public road, to make sure, it's the fire department, the fire code that, if it's emergency access. So that's why sheriffs, ambulance, everybody, they both, we're the ones that determine accessability, and as soon as we say, "Yeah, this road is not accessable, it doesn't meet the criteria," we'll be able to do that. I guess, I'll be frank. If you have a fire, you want the fire truck to go down there. If you having a medical call, you want a, if you have a criminal activity you want the sheriff's, so basically I like the language that's, first responders...
Bill: Emergency vehicles, for emergency vehicular access.
(Unknown man): It's pretty inclusive.
Doug: So that must mean in a fair interpretation that the standard of repair for emergency access, must be for the emergency vehicle built lowest to the ground. That's what it must mean.
Bill: One may never know. All I want to do is get the ordinance passed, cure a systemic failure that's been going on in our community for a millennia, provide for enhanced health, safety and welfare.
Doug: We'll be watching.
Bill: Yeah, and you should. The county attorney came to me last week, and cautioned me to stay on the emergency vehicular access, don't go to the four corners. We know what the four corners of this are ultimately going to be because when the ambulance, sheriff, fire truck and the like can access, also who else can? Personal vehicles, trucks and the like. But I can't go to those four corners because that puts me outside the parameters of the statute that prohibits me from expending public funds on private property. And if I stay specifically with emergency vehicle access, I stay within my county attorney's interpretation to protect me when you get wound up and sue us over a controversy.
Doug: I have no quarrel with the language, just which emergency vehicles get access.
Bill: Oh, and if I have to add that little bit in there, thank you. Appreciate that. Mike, you had a question.
Mike: Yeah, does vegetation ever constrain on any of these roads? Too thick, or
Bill: Absolutely, he doesn't like to get his pretty fire truck scratched coming down Red Hawk, so when they were snatching brush away from the power line coming down Red Hawk, I got next to the guys and, take care of that side of the road too, so what was a nice little tunnel that my truck fit through, he can drive two fire trucks. The ladder truck can get down my lane now. So vegetation is an issue. But that's not part of the ordinance. This ordinance is strictly for, well, I suppose theoretically it could be. Emergency vehicular access could be above and below, so, I didn't give that consideration but, yeah. Because I know there are a couple of streets that are extremely heavily vegetated that could be prohibited for access as well.
Mike: ....longer into the growing season....
Bill: You're watching what we did out here, they're, for their cleaning that they did out here. John, did you have another question.
John: I was just wondering how many potholes would it be before they can't pass, because every time it rains we get a bunch of potholes.
Bill: And they get worse. And here's, let's get the ordinance passed. Allow me to be the conduit for information to our first responders. And then let's work our way through it. You understand that there's a limited pot of funds that are going to be generated by this. If we have 105 miles and the average cost is $2,000 a mile to maintain or bring up to snuff, that's $200,000. We're only going to generate at half a mil, up to half a mil, we're only going to maximally generate about $80,000 a year, so we're not going to go fix all the roads first here. This is going to be over a period of time, fixing the worse - and if we only do a half mil, or a third of a mil, it's $40,000.
John: Well, let me say this. I think this is a great idea because our property is worth, say, $260 some thousand.
John: So at one mil we'd pay $260.
John: Last year we spent over $1,000 doing our road.
Bill: And your neighbors barely helped.
John: Oh, the neighbors didn't help at all.
Bill: Imagine that.
John: And that's why, when you brought this up I said that's a better idea, but I don't know what's passable, or what we think is passable.
Bill: Time will tell.
John: Yeah, we really can't answer that.
Bill: You remember there was quite an uproar when we were trying to do an MSTU before and they didn't want it.
Doug: Well, this is an issue that you first raised immediately after this organization was formed ten years ago.
Bill: Jim Colletta formed this organization FOR this. He thought that was just, I think Rock Road was just coming into existence, about 10 years. And that was, Jim Colletta came to me to rally this up to actually take on this issue of private road maintenance.
Doug: It didn't get very far at the time.
Bill: You cannot imagine, I mean .... it's astounding to me how arduous a journey I've been on for such a simple solution to an ongoing health, safety and welfare issue. It's astounding. Watch on Tuesday. I mean, Donna .... looked at me a week ago and said, "There's going to be people who don't want to pay." I'm like, yeah. And I'm quite nice to her, I don't say what I'm actually thinking. So, I didn't tell her that there was the same amount of people that didn't like her non-ad valorem storm water assessment that they called a fee, and they didn't like her increase in ad valorem for the maintenance in our medians. This is a true health, safety and welfare issue, and I'm hoping it goes through. I'm hoping it does. So, we'll see.
Mike: Who's going to do the work, the county workers?
Bill: Yes, the county will do it. And just to give you an idea, I mean, here again, gravel roads, off our subject matter but gravel roads in Golden Gate Estates, there's 65 miles of Golden Gate Estates roads that are still gravel. So, Jim Colletta was county commissioner, they placate him, they paved about five miles a year just to keep the commissioner district 5, from going completely under with his .... (residence?) So, and it used to be, see GAC, Gulf America Corporation, that created Golden Gate Estates, gave the county all of those roads, and the right-away AND the money to pave the roads. And Collier County is like, hmm, there's nobody out there. Two houses on the street, we'll pave it. That started happening too fast and they raised it to five, then they raised it to seven, when Colletta was in there they raised it to ten. When Tim Nance gets elected in 12, all right, I don't think Tim even knew they did it, but early in his tenure Leo changed the ordinance to a cost-benefit ratio. ....cost-benefit ratio we'll pave your roads. I'm going .... two, five, seven to ten and then the cost-benefit ratio, there's no definition on a cost-benefit ratio. So on Wednesday I'm driving over to Immokalee and I call up Leo. Leo, you changed that ordinance in 2012 to a cost-benefit ratio, what is that? "uh, uh, I'm going to have to get back to you." Good, when you get back to me, I DO want the cost-benefit ratio for going ahead and paving all those roads, eliminating the maintenance expense and what the time frame is for the repayment by the reduction in the maintenance expenses associated with the gravel road. "OK" ... Friday, a beautiful spreadsheet, it had net present value and all kinds of fancy formulas in there, but at the end of the day, I took a then-15-year plan, shied it back to three, seven-year payback by eliminating the maintenance expense, 7.02 percent rate of return and saved the county a million and a half dollars. That was while I was riding to Immokalee on a Wednesday last year.
Doug: Aren't you clever!
Bill: Aren't I! But who's driving the bus? Why is not somebody in our staff thinking like that? No, what I actually wanted to do was to take a three-year-plan and shorten it into one, because what I said to 'em was, Now I want you to go back to those last five miles you paved, and pull an assessed valuation the day before you paved the road, and then pull it now. And both Nick and Leo gave me the same answer. "Well, sir, that's hard to ascertain because the county assessor's office, big block appraise all those vacant lots out there and ... blah, blah, blah." And I'm like, Oh! Got nothing to do with it. Because before you were paving it, there were 10 houses on it and now there's 20. Because it's improved. People can get to it. I said, so what I want you to do is take a portion of that new taxation generated because of the improvements that were made to the road and shorten this three-year plan down to one and pay it all off and save .... more money. They didn't want to do that. So, I'm OK with the 3-year plan instead of 15. But it's adjusting the knob. And the frustration I have is, who's driving the bus? I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but they're just all going along doing things the way they've always done it for 30 years because that's the way they've done it. Just keep the commissioner quiet in district 5 and pave 5 roads. So, there you go. Now, happy note. (Goes into bear-wise presentation)