MINUTES OF called MEETING OF BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
friday – july 14, 1961
The Board of County Commissioners met in called session in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the Courthouse at Tavares on Friday, July 14, at 8:30 a.m. for the purpose of considering the tentative budgets as presented by Clerk Owens and such other matters as may be brought before the Board, with the following present: Vice Chairman Cowart; Commissioners Dykes and Simpson; Attorney Duncan; and Clerk Owens.
The Board was called to order by Vice Chairman Cowart.
After considering the budgets as prepared by Clerk Owens, a motion was made by Commr. Simpson, seconded by Commr. Dykes and carried that the Board of County Commissioners tentatively adopt the budgets and that Clerk Owens be instructed to advertise the tentative budgets as adopted in the Daily Commercial, Leesburg, Florida, stating the Board of County Commissioners will meet on Thursday, July 27, at ten o’clock a.m. for the purpose of hearing requests and complaints from the public.
discussion of the millage
After discussion, Commr. Dykes moved that the Board of County Commissioners reduce its millage to 5.36 mills this year plus .25 mill for South Lake Memorial Hospital and that the Board go on record as agreeing to hold said millage at the same amount for the 1962 assessment. The motion was seconded by Commr. Simpson and carried.
On a motion by Commr. Simpson, seconded by Commr. Dykes and carried, the meeting adjourned to meet in the Courtroom in the Courthouse with the Board of Public Instruction for the purpose of discussing the millage to be levied for the years 1961 and 1962.
report on the meeting of bcc with the board of public instruction in courtroom at courthouse
Notice having been published that a joint meeting of the Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Public Instruction would be held this date in the Courtroom for the purpose of discussing the millages to be levied for the years 1961 and 1962, the meeting convened, and Mr. C. E. Duncan, attorney for the Board of County Commissioners, introduced the members of the Board to the delegation which filled the Courtroom. Those present were Vice Chairman Cowart, Commissioners Dykes and Simson, Clerk Owens, and Secretary Mrs. Robertson. Mr. Duncan asked Mr. Paul Bryan, Chairman of the Board of Public Instruction, to introduce the members of his Board, those present being Mr. L. J. Jenkins, Superintendent; Mr. Walter Manly, Mr. Fred Atkinson, Mr. C. E. Matteson, Mr. Buster Williams, members; and Mr. Roy Christopher, attorney; also, Mr. Tom Talmadge, Secretary.
At this time, Mr. Duncan explained the reassessment Act of 1959.
Mr. Duncan was the moderator of the meeting and welcomed the crowd. He asked if anyone wishes to talk, to please come to the mike in order that they may be heard. Time will be limited to 3 minutes each. Mr. Duncan stated the millage set by the Board of County Commissioners last year was 21.40 mills, plus one mill for the South Lake Memorial Hospital District. This year the millage is 5.36 plus .25 mill for the South Lake Memorial Hospital District.
Mr. Jenkins then came to the mike and stated the School Board has not yet established the millage for the school year 1961-1962 but thinks the overall increase will be a half million dollars and would require approximately 7.09 mills.
Mr. Visko of Sorrento was the first speaker, and he stated we have no assurance you are going to keep the millage down. Mr. Duncan stated the Commissioners have passed a resolution that the millage will carry through for two years. Then in 1963 the Commissioners anticipate another Act will be passed in the Legislature which would control future tax millage assessments.
Mr. Leroy Allen, Leesburg, stated he is in favor of the Hunnicutt reappraisal.
At this time, Hon. Fuller Warren was introduced and addressed the audience, stating he represents Mr. C. V. Griffin in contesting the assessment on his properties. He has had an exorbitant increase in the assessments of his property. Increases 3, 4, and 5 times. He called Mr. Griffin to the stand to be cross-examined as to property values. After the discussion as to property values, Mr. Warren stated the proposed tax program is unfair, unsound, unjust, and unreasonable and urged the Boards to reject the Hunnicutt & Associates assessments and turn the program over to the Tax Assessor, Mr. R. G. Cassady, for completion. He asked what assurance will the public have that the millage will be low in the years 1962, 1963, and subsequent years.
Mr. Duncan explained that these Boards are not sitting today as an Equalization Board but will have this meeting on August 21st.
Mr. Charles Gore, Howey, stated the assessment on his house has tripled but has no gripe on this. He is in favor of the Hunnicutt assessment.
Mr. Bill Gray, Bonnie Breeze, Eustis, stated his property facing the lake assessment jumped from $5,500 to $16,000.
Mr. Beverly Grizzard, Leesburg, stated the Hunnicutt assessment is off basis. Average increase about 7 times. My taxes will double and triple. Will fight this assessment. Not an expert job.
Dr. C. A. Vaughn, Howey, asked what in addition will the 15 mills cover. Mr. Duncan stated that Mr. Owens would explain this. The Commissioners have reduced the millage in proportion to the increase of the taxation of the property. We have no old bond indebtedness. The millage is 5.36 plus .25 for the South Lake Memorial Hospital District. Mr. Jenkins stated the School Board has an old bond indebtedness against which millage will have to be assessed.
Mr. Clark Bevan, Tavares, asked about the Florida Power Corp, Telephone Corp., Public Utilities, and Railroad taxes. Mr. Duncan replied so far as the railroads are concerned, these assessments are made in Tallahassee.
Mrs. Vernon Conner, Lake Jem, stated their assessments have increased 5, 6, and 7 times.
Mr. Van Varn, north end of Lake Griffin, stated his property increased in value from $4,500 to $38,900. They have his property assessed as grove property.
Mr. Zera Giles, Umatilla, stated he owns 300 acres of land that he will sell to anyone who will pay him the value that the Hunnicutt outfit claims it is worth. He also owns 1,100 acres in the northeast part of the county joining the Ocala Forest. They have assessed the citrus land not planted to citrus at $400, which is the same as assessed four-year old citrus groves. This is unfair. I object to the assessment.
Mr. Charles J. Turner, Umatilla, stated Hunicutt tripled the value of his property. Good and bad groves assessed just alike. He objects to this.
Mr. Earl Baumgardner of Eustis spoke.
Mr. Budge Mead of Eustis stated the assessment is unfair, and he objects to the assessments placed on his property.
Mr. Duncan read the names of the counties that Hunicutt & Associates has reappraised:
IN FLORIDA: Lake, Collier, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Osceola, Polk, Martin, St. Lucie, Broward, and Orange. In Process: St. Johns and Sumter.
IN GEORGIA: Fulton County NORTH CAROLINA: 1 county
SOUTH CAROLINA: Buford County
Dr. Tyre of Eustis stated Lake County is a citrus county. The County Commissioners will be faced with litigation if this thing stands as is. As a citrus grower, I am going to join with the growers and fight this thing just as long as I can.
Mr. Lane Blanton, Tavares, stated that in 1951 he paid $5,500 for 160 acres more or less. Last year the assessment was $4,300. Hunicutt has it assessed at $94,800. My land is not for sale.
Mr. Phil Toby of Grand Island Citrus Coop spoke on behalf of lower assessments.
Mrs. Marie King, Tavares, stated her son has 150 acres of which 4 acres is suitable for citrus. Last year the assessment was $1,400. This year’s assessment is $41,700, and I think this is unfair.
Mr. Stiver came to the mike, but did not get what he said.
Mr. Shore lives between Eustis and Mount Dora and objects to the high millage.
Mr. Charles Pettis lives on the Deland road, and taxes increased 8 times on his home.
Mr. Bill Austin, Umatilla, stated he agrees with Mr. Giles that they should throw this assessment out and start over. My home increased from $10,000 to $80,000. The subdivision increased 9 ½ times.
Mr. Pete Hooten came to the mike, but did not get what he said.
Mr. Bill Gregg, Leesburg, stated his home was increased four times in value. Hunicutt reappraised the City of Leesburg and did an expert job.
Mrs. Bowers from Deland said her 18 acres increased 5 times.
Mr. Scraaf, Tavares, came to the mike but did not get what he said.
Mr. Larabee, Haines Creek, stated the assessment on his home increased 3 times.
Mr. Bill Bracken, Eustis, stated the new assessment should be thrown out and started over.
Mr. G. B. Hurlburt, Mount Dora, stated there are a lot of unhappy growers and think they should allow Mr. Cassady additional help and make a reassessment.
Mr. Charles Squibb, Tavares, came to the mike but did not get what he said.
Mr. Kearnelly, Mt. Dora, stated his grove assessment was increased 7 times.
Mr. Bill Wingler, Mount Dora, came to the mike but did not get what he said.
Mr. J. E. Hayes, Eustis, also came to the mike but did not get what he said.
Mr. H. Lightfoot, Altoona, agreed with Mr. Hurlburt that they should allow Mr. Cassady additional help and reappraise.
Mr. Stin Hazelton, Eustis, stated he would like to see property assessed at its real value rather than potential value.
Mr. Doug Igou, Eustis, stated he thinks Hunnicutt & Associates were hired in good faith, but thinks they made a mistake in hiring them. Hunnicutt misrepresented to the board what they could do. I have compared certified appraisers report with Hunnicutt’s appraisal.
Mr. William Boyd, Clermont, stated there are 250,000 parcels of property to be assessed in Lake County and four thousand owners with a small percentage of objections. Schools are investments in the future. Increase per pupil $5.00.
Hon. Fuller Warren, former Governor of the State of Florida, was again introduced and stated it is evident that I am here today as an attorney for my friend Mr. C. V. Griffin, but as a citizen I urge that the Board of County Commissioners reject the Hunnicutt appraisal. I respectfully recommend to the Board of County Commissioners that they reject the Hunnicutt evaluations and refer this back to Mr. Cassady and furnish him with sufficient helpers to make a realistic evaluation of Lake County property.
Mr. Duncan stated, “I have before expressed to this group what the County Commissioners wish to do about the millage. If the School Board wishes to express at this time its position, I would be glad to hear from them.” Mr. Bryan stated whatever is done will affect the School Board just as much as it will each of you. We will see if there is any way we can pull some of the expenses out.
Mr. Jenkins stated the law gives the School Board authority to levy up to 10 mills, and 10 mills by vote of the people.
Mr. Duncan stated he believes the County Commissioners and School Board will evaluate the requests presented and will set the millage as low as they can. The Tax Roll will be opened for inspection on the 21st day of August. This meeting was called today originally for the purpose of discussing millages, and we assure you that both of these boards will keep these taxes at the very lowest level.
Mr. Cassady, Tax Assessor, stated the overall increase is 3.224 percent. It takes a year to prepare the tax roll. Would not have time to go out and reappraise these properties. This took Hunnicutt one and a half years. I shall just do the best I can after the results of this meeting.
FOR A MORE COMPLETE REPORT ON THE MEETING WITH THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE BOARD OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, PLAY THE RECORD.
/s/ Frank E. Owens___ /s/ J. C. Cowart_
CLERK VICE CHAIRMAN