Candidates for Holley-Navarre Water board face off

Holley-Navarre Water System will hold an election for two of the seven seats on its board of directors Jan. 16.

Five candidates have been declared in the race: incumbent Troy Bossier, incumbent Gaius Bruce, William Goulet (previously served on the board), Daryl Lynchard (previously served on the board) and Mark Miller.

Candidates must be an HNWS member, reside within the franchise area, not have been convicted of a felony and have at least 25 endorsements by HNWS members. Both seats come with a three year term.

This election comes at a time when tensions among current board members have been boiling over. Meetings have frequently turned to heated debate and accusations. Board members have walked out of meetings, and a Santa Rosa Sheriff’s deputy is now present at meetings.

The newly elected board members will be facing several issues including the contested refinancing of a loan for Fairpoint Utility. A decision on this issue has been postponed until at least January.

Those with a Holley Navarre Water System account in their name can cast their ballot Jan. 16, between 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the utility’s main office at 8574 Turkey Bluff Road in Navarre.

Proxy ballots mailed to the residents of utility members can be filled out to allow someone to cast a ballot on behalf of the account holder. They do not function as absentee ballots.

The results will be announced at the end of polling at the start of the board of directors’ regular meeting.

We asked each candidate the following set of questions:

  1. Why serve on the board? What is the biggest challenge the board faces?
  2. What experience would you bring to the board?
  3. What is your stance on the potential refinancing of a loan for Fairpoint Utility?
  4. Should Holley-Navarre Water System conduct its business in accordance with Sunshine Laws? Why or why not?
  5. What are your feelings on the abrupt dismissal of Brian Kelly from the board? Do you feel things were handled appropriately?

Troy Bossier*

Troy Bossier

Troy Bossier had not replied to a reporter’s inquiry by press time.

 

 

 

 

Gaius Bruce*

Gaius Bruce

Occupation: Instructor (Director of Student activities, Coordinator of Athletics & Coach) at Northwest Florida State College for 50 years

  1. I believe in community service. I have been involved most of my life. I served in many volunteer educational programs and was President of the Florida Association of Community Colleges in 1995. I also served on the City of Niceville Planning and Zoning Board for almost 25 years. I decided to run for the HNWS board of directors because Will Goulet put his brother TJ Goulet in a management position at The Club at Hidden Creek. This was a disaster. The challenges for HNWS are numerous. We have several capital projects on the planning board. The most immediate ones are getting rid of treated wastewater and inflow and infiltration.
  2. At 75 years of age, I’m afraid I have a lot of experience. However, I don’t feel that I’m incompetent as is being spread on social media. I have been a member of the board of directors for the past three years and feel that I have a good understanding of our needs. I did not plan to run this year, but I could not let Mr. Politician take over and accomplish his desire to fire two people in management positions. He would set the company back for several years.
  3. I have not made up my mind yet. I think there may be other resolutions. However, I certainly understand the need for reserve cash and not living from “paycheck to paycheck.” Some members are saying that we have $1 million in reserves. That is not accurate. Most of those funds are dedicated to projects on Hwy 87 dictated by FDOT.
  4. I believe in transparency, and we are certainly moving in the direction of more information being made available. Mr. Politician and his co-conspirators preach this in public and then they certainly do not comply with these principles in private. They need to practice what they preach!
  5. Things may not have been handled exactly at the bylaws dictate. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Brian Kelly does not live at 7616 Chablis Circle in Navarre. A family has lived at that address, and they did not have room for Mr. Kelly. He resided outside the district for most of the year.

 

William Goulet

William Goulet

Occupation: Owner of Navarre Auto Repair in Navarre, founded in 2011.

  1. If elected, I will work hard for the HNWS Membership focusing on keeping rates low, service levels high, meeting all State and Federal requirements, investing in infrastructure as needed to support the growth of our Membership and Navarre and bring a professional, honest voice back to the Board. I will also work toward greater transparency by updating our website to allow for greater information sharing and participation. I was instrumental in the purchase of Hidden Creek Golf Course, which is an essential spray field for the HNWS. During my time on the board I worked hard to make sure that Hidden Creek didn’t over burden the Membership. I will work hard to reduce costs associated with Hidden Creek while keeping the course open and supporting our local tourism economy.
  2. I served on the HNWS board of directors for six years, serving as President for 3 of those years, attending all meetings. During my time on the board we didn’t have all this fighting and drama. We simply worked hard to serve the Members of the HNWS to the best of our ability and we set aside our personal stuff to get the job done. We also attended the meetings and didn’t have Directors calling in to vote. During my previous tenure I proposed, and we passed a rule that Directors can’t profit off the Water System while serving on the Board which helps ensure that we have open fair bids and no insider self-serving deals.
  3. I am opposed at this time. Fairpoint has more than $1 million in its operating account and it is growing. Since there is no pressing need, it makes no sense to take a fixed rate loan that will be paid off in seven years and replace it with a variable rate loan that won’t be paid off for more than 20 years.
  4. Yes, because the Members deserve transparency, honesty and fairness and that won’t happen as long as Directors can have closed door meetings and back room deals.
  5. The removal of Mr. Kelly was not done in accordance with the bylaws and articles of incorporation for the HNWS, which all Directors swore an oath to adhere to and uphold. This action is probably going to result in legal action, costing all us members money to pay for lawyers and could have been easily avoided.

 

Daryl Lynchard

Daryl Lynchard

Occupation: Retired Accountant

  1. Try, as before, to bring accountability and transparency to the board and HNWS’s management. The biggest challenge HNWS currently faces is trying to find a long term solution for the effluent disposal problem it faces. It can be done in an environmentally responsible way that is financially sound if we start now instead of kicking the can further and further down the road. At this point there is nothing stopping the state from stepping in and putting HNWS under a consent order which could stop all new sewer connections. Think about the ramifications of that on our local economy.
  2. I believe I bring some knowledge of the water system from my previous experience as a board member and also from my accounting and financial background.
  3. It makes absolutely no sense. Mr. Eddy claimed at the October meeting that they needed to refinance $9.1M in fixed rate loans so FRUS could do $500K in capital improvements and add $1M to the cash reserves. For a not-for-profit business that has had positive cash flows of more than $400K in 8 months during 2017 this seems unreasonable. As for the statement that they want to lower payments to reflect the useful life of the infrastructure they seem to be leaving out a major part of the equation. When something is new repairs and maintenance costs are low when they are old repairs and maintenance costs are high. By pushing the loan repayment further out they will do the opposite of what they claim to be doing as in the future they will have high loan payments and high repairs costs. This doesn’t even address the issue of taking a low fixed interest rate loan and converting it to an adjustable rate loan as well as the costs associated with refinancing a loan of this size. It makes me wonder if the Gulf Breeze CTA and its contracted employees will be earning fees off this refinance.
  4. Absolutely. I also think that if they say they are going to it should be taken with a grain of salt. Unless the State of Florida were to mandate that HNWS must adhere to the sunshine laws there will be no penalty if the board changes their mind or says they are and simply continues the backroom deals, sorry, “special meetings” that seem to happen every week out of the public’s eye.
  5. I feel that the board failed miserably. The board is charged with upholding and acting in accordance with the bylaws & Articles of Incorporation of HNWS. That event showed a total disregard for the established policies and guidelines of HNWS. Not only did the board fail but its long time attorney whose job it is to advise the board and who was present that night did nothing to stop it. The board members who caused that to happen should be held accountable for the blatant disregard of the rules they are supposed to be governed by. Mr. Goulet, past president, even told them prior to the vote what they were trying to do was against the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, yet they showed no regard for his warning.

 

Mark Miller

Mark Miller

Occupation: Realtor with Century 21 Island View Realty here in Navarre for more than 20 years

  1. I have not served on the HNWS board before, and I am not part of any “good ole boy” networks. I have seen many different makeups of the board of directors over the years, and there has not always been a good level of trust in its leadership. The current board has had a good amount of dysfunction recently, and I hope to help bring some unity so that we can all work toward the same goals. I will make decisions based on what is best for the water system and its members and will have no ulterior motives. Maintaining water quality, providing low cost services, and working toward the most efficient and environmentally sound ways of discharging treated effluent. I also believe in taking care of the water system employees because if they are treated well by management they will provide good service to their customers. I also think it is important to preserve Hidden Creek golf course because of its importance as a spray field to HNWS.
  2. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. I have lived and worked in Navarre for 25 years. I have served on the board of directors of the Navarre Area Board of Realtors for the last six years and am the current President of that board. I am also a past President and the current Vice President of the Pirates on the Panhandle social club, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization here in Navarre. I am experienced in conducting meetings under Roberts Rules of Order.
  3. I am not in favor of the refinance under the current proposed terms. However, I recognize the importance of the Fairpoint Regional Utility System in providing a consistent supply of quality water to HNWS and its members, and my understanding is that they have some capital improvements that are needed in order to maintain that continuous supply of water. We cannot get by without clean water, and there will likely be a need to determine the best way of funding those needs while keeping our water costs down.
  4. Sunshine laws apply to governmental bodies and don’t apply to private member organizations. That said, HNWS already operates in compliance with most of the provisions of the Sunshine Law. Its meetings are open to the public and announced in advance; minutes are taken and made available to the public; and issues are deliberated in an open public meeting prior to the board meeting (other than legal and personnel issues.) I do believe in transparency and in every member’s right to know the financial operations of the organization.
  5. He was not dismissed abruptly. His eligibility to serve on the board was questioned at the September meeting. An attorney was hired to determine his eligibility as well as other board members. To receive services from HNWS you have to provide either a deed of ownership or lease of a property. Brian was unable to provide either and his membership was revoked, making him ineligible to serve on the board. Why would a member of any organization want someone who is no longer a valid member to serve on their board of directors, making decisions that they have no vested interest in?

*Seeking re-election

Read the full article in the Dec. 7 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.

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