3-19-15: The Hillsborough County Public Utilities department met with the residents of Kingsforest to discuss the changes in our water services. Here's a brief description:
Finally - Pluris is Leaving.
The county has bought the franchise and we will be receiving our new water bills from Hillsborough County beginning in January.
A message from Hal Hart - East Lake Park:
Yesterday the BOCC unanimously approved the resolution to purchase Pluris Eastlake and Pluris Pebble Creek. The actual deal should close in December. During the hearing it was mentioned that we should be switched over to county billing services some time in January or February, at which time we should see a dramatic reduction in our water bills. They also stated that we may get a refund of a couple of months of higher water payments to Pluris.
This is great news! It is amazing what happens when we come together as a neighborhood and community.
Surprise - Another neighborhood is having issues with Pluris - See the Eight on your side video here
News Channel Eight's Shannon Behnken has continuing coverage of our Pluris issues. Here's her latest report:
The BOCC has denied the Pluris request to renew for ten years. This now means the County will go into proceedings with Pluris to purchase this franchise. This is great news for us and relief is on the way, although it could take a few more years.
Previous Pluris News reports:BayNews9 Story
A post from our neighbors in East Lake Park
Pluris received $8 million in stimulus money from the Fed in 2009, the same year they bought our utility! Did our tax dollars open the door for Pluris to buy our utility, only to later leverage the utility and raise our rates? Is it a coincidence that soon thereafter, all of the principals of Pluris relocated from California to posh office space in Dallas? Did you know that Pluris principals drive opulent company vehicles and live in large homes in Texas?
Did you know that East Lake Park residents have paid in millions of dollars in property taxes over the past 55 years, only to see all county residents but us benefit from tax payer funded multi-million utility infrastructure improvements?
Have you had enough?
We have paid our dues and then some: years of outrageously high water bills, sub-standard service, dirty brown, sometimes acidic water, waste water bills almost 3 times higher than county residents, collapsing sewer pipes = collapsing streets & sidewalks, hundreds of gallons of raw sewage backing up into our homes, and thousands of gallons of raw sewage into our lake.
Will our Commissioners give Pluris another 10 year franchise agreement? Show up on December 4 at 2 PM and tell the Commissioners NO!
Contact info for the new Franchise Coordinator |
Gerard Watson | Contracts Manager / Franchise Coordinator | Contract Administration & Assistance Group Public Utilities Department | p: 813.612.7744 | f: 813.635-7387 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org
The BOCC meeting for the Pluris Franchise renewal has been postponed. Our neighbor from East Lake Park, Hal Hart, contacted the County Lawyer regarding the amount of notice we received. Apparently, they must provide 20 days notice before scheduling this meeting.
This is a temporary win for us but it will not last long I'm sure. This will give us a little more time to petition the County to buy out Pluris or at the very least, deny this renewal. The County has a little more money now due to the trash contract they just signed.
Notice of proposed Franchise Renewal:
The final public hearing will be conducted by the BOCC on 2/20/13 at 2PM. Please make ever effort to be there and have your voice heard.
11/16/12 - Pluris rate increase:
By now, all of you received the message that our water rates are going up. This was the rate increase that the BOCC denied but Pluris sued to get the rate increase. I know I'm not the only upset with the lack of notification or even a chance hear the BOCC deliberations. Looks like it's time to start questioning the County's franchise coordinator's job. I've linked an email from Hal Hart, a resident of East Lake Park, regarding this issue and Sharon's job performance.
8/1/12 - Here are the transcripts from the Pluris renewal hearing and the County's assessment on taking over.
7/28/12 - Pluris sued the BOCC regarding the denial of the rate increase last October. The court agreed with Pluris and quashed the order. Expect even higher water bills now. Here's the case: 11-CA-014298
7/28/12 - From East Lake Park
A resident has asked how our rates compare to county and city residents’ rates, as well as other information that might be helpful in writing a letter to the Public Service Commission and the BBB.
Facts you should know:
1.Our waste water rates are at least 263% higher than the rate County residents pay, and 109% higher than City residents pay. Our Sewer Base charge is 40% higher than the County.
2.The City of Tampa, who treats/processes our waste water charges Pluris 25% more than they charge their residential customers in the City. This does not make any sense as the City of Tampa does not maintain our waste water lines or even bill the individual residents. But there is no incentive for Pluris to re-negotiate this rate because they can just pass this on to us. Jim Roberts, with the County, commented to me that this higher rate may have made sense 40 years ago but not today.
3.For every 1 gallon of fresh water used by a residence, the typical output of waste water (sewage) is .8 gallons. For every 1 gallon of fresh water used, we produce 1.25 gallons of waste water. What this means is we are producing 45% more sewage than the norm. Bottom line: our 50+ year old vitreous clay pipes are failing, allowing ground water to enter the pipes.
This has resulted in the following:
-When our waste water is lifted to the City of Tampa for processing/treatment, Pluris is charged for this extra volume of waste water and that increased rate is passed on to us. This is one of the reasons our sewer rates are so high. According to a study done last year by Lorne Hunsberger (a professional who reviewed the rate increase petition last year) the cost to process our waste water for the year 2008 was $92,687. For the year 2010, after Pluris took over sometime in 2009, the cost increased to $471,571. Part of this results from increased rates from the City, but that does not justify such a dramatic increase.
-Because water is leaking into our waste water pipes, sewage is also leaking out. This may have resulted in pollution of our ground water, the aquifer and our lake. In other words human feces/sewer water may be contributing to the pollution in our lake. In 1997 our fecal coliform count was 700 bacterial colonies per 100 ml of water. By 2009 the fecal coliform levels had spiked to 13,000/100ml. The acceptable safe level is between 800/100ml and 1200/100ml. Wildlife, pet and livestock feces are contributing factors, but those populations have remained pretty much the same or have been reduced during that time period. In addition, the number of septic tanks in our Watershed has also been reduced. I therefore think that a major contributor to our high fecal coliform levels are our failing 50+ year old vitreous clay waste water/sewer lines.
-The quality of water in East Lake impacts the entire County. Because East Lake flows into the Bypass Canal and Hillsborough River, this water must be treated because it becomes part of our surface drinking water resources. The more polluted, the more it costs to treat the water.
4.Pluris has a history of poor customer service, and poor water quality. Everything from brown smelly water to overcharging or wrongfully charging late fees.
The above issues may not include your particular issue. But the bottom line is we do not want Pluris around for another 10 years! REMEMBER, NUMBERS MATTERS. Please encourage your neighbors to get involved and write that letter.
If you have additional information that may be helpful to your neighbors, please let me know and I will pass it on.
7/28/12 A letter from East Lake Park:
Not so long ago our community made a difference. We stood against a politically influential adversary, raised our voices and were heard. Our County Commission has come to understand that we, as a community, are a force to be reckoned with. That time has come again.
Lisa Jimenez, an ELP resident, as well as another ELP resident, has recently suggested that we write letters regarding our dissatisfaction with Pluris to the Public Service Commission. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates the electric, natural gas, water and wastewater, and telecommunications industries in the state. I AGREE. You may visit their website at: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/
Please send your letters regarding service complaints, water quality, etc to
Florida Public Service
You should also send a letter of complaint to the Better Business Bureau of West Florida. This can be done online at: http://westflorida.bbb.org/
Remember, numbers matter. So please encourage all of your neighbors to join our letter writing campaign.
7/24/12 - Just returned from the Pluris Franchise renewal hearing. As expected, we had many citizens attend to tell of the billing atrocities and high rates charged by Pluris. The hearing officer heard our concerns and asked several questions. The County staff, County lawyer, and Pluris' own lawyer made every effort to assure him that ten more years of Pluris running our water system is the best thing for us. I'm hopeful, that he will present a fair and balanced assessment to the BOCC based on ALL of the information presented. It feels like the consumer is somehow left out of this process.
By the way, Sharon Rohrer (email@example.com) reported in this meeting that all of the complaints from us to Pluris have been satisfactorily resolved. She is the County's franchise coordinator; obviously, she hasn't heard from you. You may want to send her an email with your Pluris complaints so that she may have a better understanding of our plight.
A new committee has been created to focus on Pluris and to search for consumer relief regarding their billing practices and prices.
The committee members are Chris Ingle, Myrna (Pat) Shinpaugh, Paul Anctil, Tiffany Kindt.
Pluris came to the BOCC meeting with hat in hand wanting it's ~950 customers to pay even more than the increased amount already charged. Thankfully, the BOCC fought for the people and denied their request. http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/2011/october/333146/Heated-public-hearing-over-water-rate-hike-in-eastern-Hillsborough-County
Pluris may not stop here. The unfortunate customers of Pluris will need to stay vigilant and active with their county commissioners.
By the way, if you need to escalate Pluris issues you can contact:
Maurice Gallarda - manager
2100 McKinney Ave
Dallas, TX 75201
Changes are coming to Kings Forest park. Barbara Merritt has been tracking the county regarding the replacement of the play equipment.
Here's a sign from a County Park in Apollo Beach. I wish this applied to KingsForest park as well.
CC: WilliamsLA@hillsboroughcounty.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, JenkinsAD@hillsboroughcounty.org, MillerLJ@hillsboroughcounty.org
Sent: 3/27/2014 2:40:47 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: RE: Kings Forest Park
It was a pleasure to see you again recently at the King's Forest Park community meeting. I went home that night recalling how many years it has been since we worked together at the Hillsborough County Citizen's Action Center.
I received your email through Commissioner Miller's office, requesting an explanation about the removal of the playground equipment at King's Forest Park as well as your observation that the playground equipment's status was not mentioned at the community meeting regarding the State Fair's interest in acquiring the park site.
The playground equipment at Kings Forest Park was recently inspected. We determined it had eroded to the point of being unsafe. The anticipated life of that manufacturer's equipment is 10 years. The equipment was erected on the park 18 years ago, so we have more than gotten a reasonable use of the equipment based on our experience with that manufacturer. Our ongoing inspections recently determined that the main structural members as well as other elements of the equipment had finally eroded past the point of repair. We are actively reviewing options to replace the equipment as soon as practicable.
The action to remove the equipment is totally unrelated to consideration about the potential acquisition by the State Fair Authority of the land, in part or in whole, that comprises King's Forest Park. No decisions have been made yet about that issue. At the time of the community meeting, I was unaware of the condition of the playground equipment.
I will keep you updated on plans regarding both issues as they evolve.
Please feel free to call me if you need further information.
Jack Carlisle, Director
Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department
813 272 6573
Don't forget, we have our neighborhood meetings on the first Monday of every month. Come and get involved in your community.
Special Guest Speaker
Ms. K From Springhill Missionary Baptist Church
Invited us to a Ready-Set-Work Program on 2/19/15 @ 6:30PM
Springhill Missionary Baptist Church
8119 East Dr. M. L. King Jr. Blvd 33619
Minutes were read
Cleanup: Laura scheduled three more community clean ups
Neighborhood watch: No updates
Fair: We discussed fair traffic
Park: Discussed the new park equipment
Collected $25 from community members to add phonevite funds
I purchased the $50 plan as shown below:
Crime map discussed
George Creekmere updated us regarding the substation at the park. The resource officer has not returned several calls.
Linda discussed frustrations regarding code enforcement activities and issues with Wells Fargo.
Neighborhood Meeting Minutes from 8/4/14
Minutes were read
Richard presented a report regarding the park. He stated the ‘park isn’t going anywhere’. Richard suggested that we hold our monthly meetings down at the park.
August 16, 2014 - 8:30AM to noon
Keep Tampa Beautiful - adopt a neighborhood
October 18, 2014 - 8AM to 1PM
Dumpster’s at the park
Discussed the community craft fair
Suggestion made to make the park a Sheriff’s substation at the park. There was much chatter regarding neighborhood robberies.
It was emphasised that we need more diligent about calling 813-247-8200 for suspicious activity and also for code enforcement activities.
Neighborhood Meeting Minutes for 6/2/14
Minutes were read
Lori discussed the cleanup activities on 5/17
She discussed the lingering garbage bags during the cleanup and lack of support from that organization.
She mentioned only 4 people showed up for the cleanup.
She also mentioned a new packet for the neighborhood trash pick up - county grant
She opened two code enforcement cases for the house at the end of downing and the house next door to Linda. She also called on another house on downing.
Pluris Update: The word is: Pluris is willing to sell, the county appraised the utility and Pluris did not accept the appraisal. We’ll dig further
Neighborhood support on the Fair board.
Linda gave a recap of the fair board meeting. Especially the fair not having enough money to purchase the park even if it was approved.
We discussed lack of response from HCSO regarding neighborhood issues.
We discussed Neighborhood watch program a little - just general discussion.
Community clean up / dumpsters at the park passed for 10/18/14
Keep Tampa Bay beautiful - cleanups scheduled for 8/16 and 11/15
Motion to reduce the neighborhood meetings to a quarterly schedule, was seconded but failed passage.
KF Meeting 10/4/13
Minutes were read
We discussed a new potential date for the BOCC pluris meeting being 12/4
Lori - Discussed section 8 housing - discussing code enforcement issues.
We discussed Pluris activities
We discussed Neighborhood watch with George
Richard discussed the Noise from Luke Bryan concert. He called the Ampitheater and complained. They discussed the issue at the fair meeting on 11/3/2013 @ 9AM.
Richard discussed the fair buying out the park. Richard opposes the sale but does propose that the fair can use the park rent free for the fair as long a they maintain it throughout the year for security.
June 3, 2013
Zan and Ellen Ingle
We discussed the neighborhood cleanup and created maps for the flyer distribution.
Chris to print 130 copies and Lori to print 130 copies. Ellen Ingle to fold and staple rubber bands. Pass out maps were distributed and the flyer hand out will be Saturday 6/8. Cleanup will be 6/15 at Kingsforest Park.
We also discussed a Pluris customer service issue
I received your request for credit on the wastewater usage from filling your new pool. Based on your six month average the credit would be ($16.21). We do require a letter of appreciation from the customer when processing adjustment requests. I look forward to receiving your thank you letter to proceed with the request.
Director, Customer Care
The above text is from the Pluris’ director of customer care. As you can see, she attempted to force a letter of appreciation from her customer. Based on this letter, all of Pluris’ letters of appreciation are suspect.
The meeting was adjourned with the next meeting on 7/1.
Meeting Minutes for 4/1/13
Hal Hart and Ellen Dooley - Guest from East Lake Park joined as guest
Hal Hart opened up the discussion discussing the upcoming zoning hearing for the propriety
6909 E. Hillsborough Ave - he is encouraging us to attend a board hearing at April 22 at 6:00PM at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 2nd Floor Boardroom to prevent the rezoning of a property that could impact all of us. Below is Hal’s email regarding this meeting.
He also discussed Pluris and pending litigation from Mary Help Christian. Hal is working with that lawyer for possible action regarding our neighborhoods. He discussed jurisdiction for Pluris falls to the BOCC and their responsibility is to serve us. They lack the will to help us in our plight. He emphasized the need for warm bodies at the BOCC meeting and requested our help to fill the seats.
Finally, He promoted the East Lake Park Free Workshops.
Neighborhood cleanup tentatively scheduled for 5/4
Chris Ingle read the minutes from the March meeting
Linda discussed old business then opened the floor for new business.
Lori proposed a new date for the neighborhood cleanup of 5/4Discussed joining forces with ELP in our Pluris fight
Annual Meeting - 3/4/2012
Meeting was called to order my Chris Ingle (Linda had a family emergency).
Minutes were read and approved as written
Ellen stated that the pothole at Empire and Downing has been repaired.
New Biz - Lori Sells called to discuss the many grant for the neighborhood cleanup. We need to discuss a date (Sat), names, and number of hours each person is willing to volunteer.
We voted for April 20 or May 4
Mrs. Hinds 8 hours
Mr. Steakley 4 hours
Zan & Ellen Ingle 4 hours
Virginia Skipper 4 hours
Chris & Dena 8 hours
Chris talked about the street lights and mentioned that we have three new lights and need to work on a new one.
Chris told Mrs. Hinds that the sign in her yard has brought more hits to the website. She stated that people have been asking about the association. Chris said that we are going to try to get a bigger sign to put up.
From the Pluris committee - a new franchise renewal meeting with the BOCC is tentatively slated for August 2013.
Annual Meeting Officer Election - After confirming the the bylaws, we passed a unanimous re election of the current officers.
George Creekmur inquired about an update to the neighborhood watch program. An email will be sent to the Deputy for further information.
Meeting was adjourned
February 4, 2013
Linda opened the meeting. Minutes were read.
Elect new officers in March for the association.
Discussed how we find out about sexual predators or criminal activities in the area.
Discussed having a Christmas light contest next year.
Discussed the pothole on Empire and Downing.
January 7, 2013
Linda opened the meeting. Minutes were read.
Lori Sells gave the update from the keep Tampa Bay beautiful. She went over the information they gave her and we are going to scan it and put it on the website so you can read over it yourself.
Lori also mentioned that she had a person from the health department for the state of Florida come out and test her water. The testing came back within range and that Pluris is compliant.
Paul called BBB to complain and they were told that the BBB was not able to get ahold of anyone at Pluris.
Garbage renewal - Linda went to the meeting and voiced her opinion and asked questions
regarding the new trash cans. There are a few options that will be presented. You can view them at http://hillsboroughcounty.org/talktrash The BOCC must make a decision before September 2013. If this is passed it will not go into effect until 2014.
Lori mentioned a helpful website called http://floridahardesthit.org. They may be able to help you if you are unemployed or lost hours at your job. They will assist in paying your mortgage if you qualify. CHECK IT OUT!
March meeting we need to re elect officers for the association.
We discussed how we find out about sexual predators or criminal activities.
Chris brought up possibly having a Christmas Light contest next year.
Pothole on downing circle needs to be discussed. It is located at Empire and Downing Circle.
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful was here and presented an adopt a neighborhood.
Richard is still contacting Les Miller’s office regarding the park ditch
Lori discussed Pluris contact’s made in the past month regarding cloudy water and a long Pluris discussion continued.
Neighborhood crime wave - Be on the lookout for small white two door car (like a Toyota Celica). We think it’s been involved in some malicious activity.
Re-election coming in March 2013.
Meeting Minutes 10/1/12
Linda opened the meeting.
Linda asked Richard if he had any updates on the ditch. He said that they do not know when it will be cleaned. he was told by someone that the ditch was contaminated. He stated that if the ditch was contaminated then the lake must be also. Someone else looked into that and told Richard that the other people had lied to him.
Lori Sells gave her committee report regarding the cleanup. She said that she has been talking to keep hillsborough beautiful. We could have 4 cleanups a year. Also she has been calling code enforcement and there have been citations issued to a few homes. We also talked about the accumulation of trash and mattresses along Chelsea.
Pat DePlacio will be coming to our next meeting. She is with Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful. Her phone number is 813.221.8733
Lori also passed out a number for mosquito control.
There are 259 homes in Kings Forest.
If the meeting falls on a holiday for the month should we make the meeting for the following week.
Meeting Minutes 7/2/12
We had a visit from Hillsborough county Sheriff from Deputy Jorden regarding the neighborhood watch program. He discussed the phone chain. He went over vigilante confrontations. We are only to observe and report the problem to the sheriff. He noted that we are to call the sheriff first then call the phone chain. He stated that they have a monthly newsletter that goes out as well. He said that they provide training in drug safety, crime prevention and etcetera. We are supplied one free sign and then we can purchase more signs online. Poles we can get from the county for free. (Google neighborhood signs and they range from $40)
Tammy Cuscaden is our community resource officer.
We received a letter in the mail from Pluris regarding a meeting that they are having on July 24, 2012 at 6pm downtown. This is a Tuesday night meeting.
We created a new Pluris committee
Clean up committee confirmed that they had a successful cleanup. Chris said that they installed 3 new street lights on Chelsea. A few addresses were given to Lori to call code enforcement. Ellen Ingle called a realtor regarding one of the homes they own to clean up mattresses and other furniture items in the yard.
Chris brought up the keep county beautiful and possibly getting together with the neighborhood to do that.
We have two volunteers that will walk the neighborhood to distribute a letter to inform them about the meeting downtown on July 24, 2012.
Meeting Minutes 5/7/12
1. By Laws were passed.
a. We voted By Laws - Amended Number 2 Version.
b. 21 days notification for by law amendment meeting.
2. Committees were mentioned being created.
a. Linda Brought up different committees that we would like to create
b. we voted in the following committees:
1. Park Committee Chairman - Richard Dakin
2. Clean Up Committee Chairman - Lori Sells
3. Pluris Committee was tabled
4. Boy’s Home Committee Chairman - George Creekmur
Meeting Minutes for 4/2/2012
1. Linda mentioned that she would like to have committees for certain subject that were raised such as the Pluris issues, the boys home issues, the park issues. the certain committees will take care of.
2. Only 10 members were present at this month’s meeting. We did not pass the bylaws this time because members present would like to have more members here during that vote. We discussed the by laws line by line for those who have not read them yet.
3. Chris made a motion to place signs on the main streets in the neighborhood regarding the meeting date and times. this was seconded on carried. Several members will put signs near their house.
4. Linda made mentioned that Chris should send out an email reminder about the bylaws and meeting times.
5. Willie suggested a Neighborhood get together at the park. Will form a committee.
Our meeting on 3/5/12 has held and we had good attendance. We elected four officers and decided to hold our meetings on the first Monday of each month. I've attached the meeting minutes for this meeting here.
We had our first Kings Forest Neighborhood Association meeting on 2/6/12. I'd like to thank East Chelsea Baptist Church for allowing us to use their facilities and for all of the citizens that came out a voiced their concerns.
We listed several issues that we'd like to resolve and we voted to have another meeting on 3/5/12 @ 7PM. It was also decided to hold elections at our next meeting to vote for President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasury. Please come prepared to nominate or stump for your cause.
Based on some help from the Office of Neighborhood Relations I've created the proposal for our bylaws. Please read and let me know if you'd like to add or delete anything. I'm hoping we can vote this in on 3/5.