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In their own words

The lease no longer looks like the agreement the 
County Commissioners suggested be offered to the City.  
WHY and HOW can this happen??


Our first hope came when...

The majority of the County Commissioners instructed the County Administrator offer to offer the City of Seminole a fair and equitable way to Save the Seminole Water Tower.  

On May 9th, 2017 six members of the Seminole area community spoke to the Pinellas County Commission regarding the overwhelming desire of the community to save and preserve the Seminole Water Tower.  During Board discussions the Commissioners asked questions of County your staff and stated that the people people and City of Seminole should be listened to and provided an opportunity to preserve an obviously important community landmark.  Some of those statements from the video below included: 

Those Commissioners stated:

Commissioner Gerard stated:

Have we offered them a lease that includes the cost of doing that deferred maintenance and on-going maintenance?...  Can we check into that and make certain that is what we have offered them, because these people say no…  If we’ve made that offer and they’ve turned it down then you all need to go talk to your own council.

Commissioner Seel stated:

Offer one more time before we get the bids back that we are willing to lease it to them if they cover the O&M and liability.

Commissioner Eggers stated:

We offer them a rental option is something that we certainly should explore….  If the City says that is something we don’t want then they speak for the community.   I’d like to make certain that option has been laid out there for them to consider.

Commissioner Welch stated:

I would support us bending over backwards  and giving that last effort.  It is a home rule, local government decision so it is up to the City of Seminole City Council.  I support one last effort. 


Mr. Mark Woodard told the Commissioner's:

"I'll ensure that my previous discussions did in fact 
include this option and will report back to the commission."

In that May 9th Commission meeting the County agreed to offer 
the City of Seminole a lease and said that it should.  

'Take the lump sum off the table and 
offer the city a way to keep their water tower.'

  May 23rd - This is the general terms of a lease agreement that the County Administrator sent to the City of Seminole.

NOTE - No suggested lease amount or length of time were included in the email.....
The proposed terms were to perform deferred maintenance required to fix the tower and take care of ongoing maintenance as suggested by a majority of the County Commissioners.

From: Woodard, Mark S [mailto:mwoodard@co.pinellas.fl.us] 
Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 11:46 AM
To: Toney-Deal, Ann <atoneydeal@myseminole.com>
Cc: Klug, Della <dklug@co.pinellas.fl.us>
Subject: Water Tower

 

Ann,

 

During the Council’s planned discussion of this item, please reiterate that a lease agreement would obligate the City to immediately fund and complete deferred maintenance upon taking possession of the property. Additionally, the ongoing annual maintenance, insurance coverage and associated liability for the entire property would be the responsibility of the City.

 

The County estimates the deferred maintenance to be approximately $125,000.  However, it is important to note that this estimate is two years old. Costs have likely escalated significantly due to the continued deterioration of the structure and inflation.  Major maintenance is required every 7 to 10 years and is overdue as the County plans to begin demolition of the structure in July 2017.  The County is concerned about the structural integrity and safety of the water tower and repairs are needed immediately.  Additionally, the estimate to repaint the exterior of the tower and replace the mural is approximately$65,000. Further, we estimate ongoing annual maintenance to be approximately $13,500 per year, which includes only electricity and grounds maintenance.

 

Considering the above, a lease would require at least $138,500 of City funds in the first year of the lease, not including any recurring annual land lease.  As noted above, the cost could be significantly higher based upon the condition of the tower and should the city opt to repaint the tower and mural. Of course, there could be additional costs associated with upkeep should the City decide to re-purpose the structure for something other than a water tower.

 

I hope you find this helpful.

 

Thanks,

Mark

 

Mark S. Woodard
County Administrator

Pinellas County
(727) 464-3093
315 Court St, Clearwater, FL 33756

mwoodard@pinellascounty.org

 

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As per the above memo, the County Commission / County Administrator required that the City of Seminole be willing to accept

 “a lease agreement would obligate the City to immediately
      • fund and complete deferred maintenance upon taking possession of the property.
      • additionally, the ongoing annual maintenance,
      • insurance coverage
      • and associated liability for the entire property 
would be the responsibility of the City."

And the City of Seminole, after holding Council Workshop and a special meeting of the City Council, agreed to accept the County's lease offer proposal.  The City of Seminole has transmitted notice of that acceptance - in writing - to the County Board of Commissioners.

 


June 8th
The City accepts the terms that the County offered.

City Unanimous Vote to Lease Water Tower


June 13th City Council Meeting

City Discusson to accept lease




After the city accepted the terms the county pulls back their offer.


In her response and rebuttal to the question asked Commissioner Janet Long make a number of statements that need to be be responded to.

  • 47:00 -  Commissioner Long stated:  
The City wants this tower for $1 per year on a 99 year lease. That is absolutely and unequivocally not acceptable to County government.  I’m not a kid and I’ve leased a lot of properties and things in my life and I have never been in the driver’s seat negotiating a lease with a landlord ….. But to ask for this property for $1 per year for 99 years is totally unacceptable.

The Facts Are:  The City's response and proposed lease incorporated the exact terms and conditions suggested by the Commissioners in their comments made during their May 9th public Commission meeting statements (see above).

  • 48:20 - Commissioner Long stated:
The steel itself is worth approximately half a million dollars….. It would be irresponsible to spend this money on an emotional plea.

The Facts are:  According to a written statement made by the County's Director of Purchasing, the scrap steel from the demolition of the Water Tower becomes the property of the Contractor demolishing the Water tower - not the County:

The project to demolish the Seminole Water Tower and other site buildings was competitively solicited in a "net" bid format.  In other words, the firms responding to this solicitation knew the scrap material generated through the demolition of the water tower and other buildings on this site became their property and was their responsibility to dispose of.  Any receipts obtained from the potential sale of the scrap material would probably become part of their overall bidding strategy.  Hence, the apparent low bidder's submission was approximately $85K below the engineering estimate to demolish the water tower and other buildings on the property taking into account the potential receipts received for sale of the scrap material and the price to dump material that has no value.

Additionally, the County's internally generated engineering report (Project No. 003116A - Estimate of Tank Steel Scrap Value), the value of the steel from the Seminole Water Tower is $37,076, not $500,000, and those funds are property of the Contractor demolishing the water tower - not the County.


  • 50:10 - Commissioner Long stated:
Let me end this by saying so to take this money today and say that we’re going to give this for $1 per year is the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever heard of and I will not vote for it.

The Facts are:  The lease agreement terms proposed by the City of Seminole in their response to the County reflect the recommendations made by Commissioners Gerard, Seels, Eggers and Welch as evidenced in the Commission's May 9th meeting video above.  And, the lease reflects the terms and conditions detailed in County Administrator Woodard's email of May23rd to City Manager Ann Toney-Deal.  Specifically, Administrator Woorard's email (see above).  This low cost lease option ($1 per year) has been used (and is still in use) for assets before for the good of the residents.


Then, when the County provided a proposed lease agreement

THE COUNTY THEN ADDED NEW TERMS TO THE AGREEMENT

It no longer looks like the agreement the
County Commissioners suggested be offered to the City. 
WHY and HOW can this happen??


I was very surprised when this week I read the County's proposed lease terms for the Seminole Water Tower that were very far from what we believed the Commissioners had instructed.  Specifically, the terms of the Lease extended by the County included:

The terms of the County's proposed lease were:
  • A ninety-nine (99) year term with an option to purchase at any time at the appraised fair market value of the property.
  • An initial monthly rental rate of $4,391.66 ($52,700.00 annually) with a 3% annual increase.
  • Use of the property limited to that of a public park unless otherwise consented to by County.
  • City not able to apply for or obtain any type of property designation (National Register of Historic Places, Guinness Book of World Records) without County consent.
  • Upon execution of lease, City to pay County to conduct or perform required deferred maintenance deemed necessary solely by County, cost last estimated at $135,000.00. City also to pay County an administrative fee not to exceed 15% of the deferred maintenance cost to “manage and oversee the project.” In its sole discretion, County may perform maintenance and repair it deems necessary at the premises and charge the City for same.
  • If City breaches the lease, it would pay to County the difference between the present $149,400.00 estimate to demolish the Tower and any updated estimate for same.
  • City can make no alterations to the property without County’s consent.
  • If Tower is destroyed, it cannot be rebuilt.
  • County may terminate lease on thirty days’ notice with or without cause if it determines termination is necessary for the general health, safety, and welfare of the public.
Is this what the County Commissioners had in mind when they offered to give Seminole a chance to keep their water tower??