Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Most Not Eager for MSD Post; Board Often Faces Controversial Issues

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Most Not Eager for MSD Post; Board Often Faces Controversial Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: Lisa Woods, Shorelines staff writer

Some seats on the Municipal Service District board can remain vacant for months at a time, awaiting appointments from the governor to make the seven-member team whole.

Others seats have been filled by candidates who run unopposed -- as happened in the recent elections -- making the campaign of an MSD trustee among the county's least expensive.

Of the current board, trustee Mack McCuller ran opposed in 1998 and unopposed in 2002. William Montoya ran unopposed in 2000. Doug Crane was appointed to finish a term in 2000, later ran unopposed in 2000 and recently ran again unopposed in 2002. Ashley Rea ran opposed in 2000. Frank Lemaster, who doesn't intend to seek another term, ran opposed in 1998. Rob Becker ran opposed in 2000. Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Bob Reesh in August to complete another member's unexpired term.

Seats on the volunteer MSD board have sometimes been difficult to fill. Trustees said that contentious issues such as the ongoing $7.6 million vacuum sewer project, beach access along Ponte Vedra Boulevard and the recently passed charter changes that limit taxing and spending authority make serving a challenge.

McCuller said he sees the board work as a call to public service.

"Generally, I feel a sense of public duty to give back to my community," McCuller said. "It's a fairly thankless job. There is no pay involved, and there is a lot of contentiousness in our community on a variety of topics and subjects."

The MSD, chartered by the Legislature 20 years ago, has the authority to levy taxes up to $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation without voter approval. It may also sue or be sued, create subdistricts within the district to provide extra public services and undertake capital improvement projects.

Al Hollon ran unopposed for the MSD in August and is taking Lemaster's seat. Hollon said he looks forward to working with the board on some controversial issues.

"I was concerned with the direction of the MSD on certain projects such as the sewer and charter changes and I decided to run when the opportunity arose," Hollon said. …

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