For the past several years the "controversy" over District sewer rates continues to evolve in spite of our attempt to keep users updated and informed. While one can expect the occasional complaint, what has increased over the last six months is unacceptable. Residents who are on the sewer system are starting to use social media platforms to criticize the District about what they are paying. Comments appearing on Facebook and Next Door include "Getting Raped," "Being Robbed," "Bleeding Us."


A resident on Clubhouse Court accused us of using their sewer fees to pay for the work our staff did to help with the 12 holes. The resident I wrote to accused us of using these fees to build the restroom at the Dog Park and pay for the mural. Another came to the drive thru window just last week incensed that sewer customers were paying for the new plant, and drove off in a huff. So many users are giving Cindy a hard time that I am tempted to permanently close the drive up window and have everyone mail in their payments.


I have never reacted to social media, and it was on my wife's Facebook account that she saw the incredible and stupid comments made by a Villa resident and shared them with me. It was the straw that broke the camels back, and I decided to react accordingly. The attached letter is very self explanatory and I hope that all of you will understand my issues and points.


The average utility bill for your owners is $101.68 per month. That comes to $2.45 per day for sewer, and $3.28 a day for both. Do you want to know what it would be if the $300,000 taken from District reserves was added to that? Reserves, by the way, from people who are not even sewer customers! Do you want to know what it would be if the new $3.2 million plant was not supplemented by District funds? Do you want to know what it would be if Administrative costs to oversee the Rt. 98 project were included?


My attached letter revisits the history of this District choosing to take over the sewer plant and saving 325 owners from losing their sewer all together. It is a history that has been completely forgotten by too many people who have lived here during the entire transition, and a history that is not shared with new owners. To my knowledge there is nothing on your web sites that share the information in my letter; no explanations pointed out in any of your newsletters; and no discussion at any of your annual meetings. I went to one meeting this past winter and most of the people had no idea what I was talking about regarding the General Fund underwriting expenses. In fact, I was not even on the agenda and had to ask for time to address the rates. I asked to go to another annual meeting to discuss some unfounded accusations, and was told I did not need to come.


All of you bear responsibility for the misinformation and false perceptions that are out there, and you need to make a concerted effort to fully explain and articulate how fortunate these users should be for correcting a situation that could have caused people to vacate their properties. When you meet to welcome new owners it should be your obligation to explain not only your maintenance fees, but the utility fees as well.


Some of you come to our Board meetings and listen to the discussion on rates and fees, and the attempts we are making to expand sewer service and acquire new users. That is being done at the expense of the General Fund, NOT from sewer income. The Florida Rural Water Association is completing an updated water and sewer rate structure for us, and it will be interesting to see what the Board is going to do at the August Public Hearing.


Understand that the villa owner who received my letter is not an isolated incident. A week does not go by that we have to deal with people taking pot shots, and enough is enough! On a personal note, I am sick and tired of having my staff and Board bust their asses to ensure sewer users are not overly burdened and the result is, "No good deed goes unpunished."


In the next issue of The Breeze I intend to have a detailed article on this whole sewer system program and the issues that continue to surround it. While there are 325 beneficiaries of this system, there are 1,400 of us who are not on the system, yet are helping to underwrite the costs. They are owed an explanation over and above the ridiculous social media comments and accusations.


You folks are in the same position as I am when it comes to The Penalty Of Leadership. Those we represent can do stupid and inappropriate things, but it falls on us to correct the situation. I trust you understand we are in this together and need to take measures to solve the problem. I only had Mr. Smiths address as a Board member, but feel free to forward this on to all the other Board members in your Associations.


If anyone wants to discuss this further, I would be happy to meet face to face. I will not get into an e-mail dialogue on this and if we can't get together feel free to call me.




Joe DeCerbo, District Manager
Spring Lake Improvement District 
115 Spring Lake Blvd.
Sebring, Florida 33876

Florida enjoys a broad public records law. This e-mail and any response to this e-mail are subject to that law and may be read by anyone.

Zeno Potas,
Jun 29, 2020, 11:04 AM