Palm Bay: Council Meeting Tonight.

The Palm Bay City Council meets tonight in a regular session starting at 7:00 PM. Christmas music will be performed by the Heritage High School Show Choir prior to the meeting starting at 6:30 PM. The agenda and the agenda revision can be found here and here.

The item that is generating the biggest concern is New Business Item #1 described as:

Ordinance 2019-71, amending the Code of Ordinances, by creating Chapter 203, “Mandatory Connection to Potable Water and Sewer Utilities”.

The ordinance would require properties that abut a City sewer line and who are within 50 feet of a water line to connect to those lines even if the property owner has a working, certified septic system and or a well. Those connections would have to be made within a year of being notified of the City to connect.

The costs of the connection has many variables, but we discuss it a little bit in this response to another comment. Suffice it to say that is in not an small sum of money.

There are some Councilmen saying that the ordinance would only come into play if the City notified the homeowners and the City isn’t planning on doing that.

We believe that statement is belied by the simple idea never in the history of mankind and government has there been a law enacted that a government wasn’t planning on using.

We can’t think of a single time.

Not a one.

Secondly, the Councilmen’s beliefs are belied by the revised cover memo of the agenda item itself. The first paragraph reads:

The Utilities Department is seeking City Council approval to adopt a mandatory connection ordinance for the City’s centralized water and sewer system. There are approximately 1,404 parcels where City sewer is available (known as Sewer Available Not Connected or SANC) and 2,371 parcels where City water is available (known as Water Available Not Connected or WANC).The Utilities Department incurred the cost to install the existing utility infrastructure and still incurs the cost to maintain said utilities regardless the usage.

(Note: We are using the wording from the revised agenda cover memo and the corrected numbers and values.)

Right off the bat, we see that this is a money grab by the City. Nothing more. Nothing less. The City is basically saying “we don’t care if your system works, is inspected and certified, we want the money.”

The dollar amounts support the idea that the City will not delay implementation of this as well:

Approval of mandatory connection would result in one-time revenues of approximately $9.5 million in Impact Fees and $6.9 million in Main Line Extension Fees over the time of connection. Assuming 100% connection ongoing user rates would generate approximately $1.6 million annually based on an average residential customer using 3,820 gallons per month.

Third, the Florida Statute upon which this ordinance is built deals with sewage connections – not water connections. While it can be argued that there are septic systems leaking and in need of repair and replacement which caused a health issue for people in the area, why bring the water connection into the equation? If the City is concerned about the health issues of decaying septic systems, why demand a connection to City water as well?

The simple answer is that billing for sewage is based on water usage. Without metering water, there is no sewage bill.

It’s about the money.

We believe the City should say in the ordinance that it will not force connections on people until people’s septic systems or wells fail. As replacing the systems would require a permit, the City would know when the systems are being replaced. Our research indicates that connecting to the City for water and sewage is similar in costs to that of replacing existing water and sewage systems.

The ordinance allows a process to wave the mandated connections by passing a “subsequent resolution.” If the City wants to go ahead with the forced connections, it will have to be approved at a second reading and vote on January 2, 2020. The item immediately following that vote must be the resolution for obtaining a waiver.

It has been said that something like this should not be put on the agenda during the holiday season. Doing so makes it seem like the City is trying to sneak something by while residents are attending to holiday events such as shopping, parties, school events, etc. Palm Bay is not the first to pull this trick and sadly won’t be the last.

With this major of a change, couldn’t this wait to be on the agenda for another time early in 2020? Is this the City’s Christmas gift to some residents? A proposed bill somewhere between $5,000 and $12,000?

According to Data USA, the average income of households in Palm Bay is $45,811.

Doesn’t it just warm the cockles of your heart that in this holiday season of giving, the City is going to give people notices that will cost them between 11% and 25% of their income in a year, PLUS the monthly bills for “service?”

Frankly, we would have preferred lumps of coal.

One Response to “Palm Bay: Council Meeting Tonight.”

  1. lisa canada says:

    I am a homeowner in Palm Bay with septic system and have city water. I agree with connecting to city sewer and water but making it such a large amount of money I dont agree. Some families do not make but 15-20k a year and can not afford such fees. I feel that they should if at all, charge a increase on the palm bay homeowners bills of 2-5% to cover these costs and spread the fees over time. I also feel sorry for those like my parents, whom live on social security and had to get loans recently to replace complete septic systems which was almost $15k. They can not afford to pay more fees when they just went through that expense. I have lived in Palm Bay for over 40 years and I think the city has not spent enough of the money we are already paying to fix roads in our neighborhoods including paving dirt roads in some neighborhoods. I feel this is most likely going to run alot of people out of Palm Bay if not make them have financial trouble that was not expected.