A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AUGUST 26, 1975
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners convened in Special Session on Tuesday August 26, 1975, at 5:15 P.M. in the Commissioners’ Room, Courthouse, Tavares, Florida, to hold an advertised public hearing on the proposed millage increase for the 1975-1976 Fiscal Year. Present were: Jim. Hoskinson, Chairman; C.A. Deems; Thomas Windram; Glenn Burhans; and James R. Carson, Jr. Others present were: James C. Watkins, Clerk; Christopher C. Ford, County Attorney; and Andrea Gambrell, Deputy Clerk.
The Clerk read the proof of publication which had been received notifying the public of this hearing.
At this time the Chairman read to the Board a letter from the officers and directors of the Lake County Republican Men’s Club opposing the millage increase.
The Invocation was given by James C. Watkins, Clerk, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by James R. Carson, Jr.
A brief explanation was given to the public informing them on how the total amount of this year’s budget was attained and then placed the subject on the floor for discussion and comments by those present.
Mr. Clarence Holmes appeared before the Board and voiced his objection to “the increase of almost 50% in the County’s millage for 1975-1976.” Commr. Carson explained that this is only one-quarter of the total millage placed on the assessed value of the property and that if a person paid $400 in taxes last year this would create approximately a $30 increase in their bill.
Mr. Arthur Taber discussed the generation of funds through new construction with the possibility of using these funds to offset the ad valorem taxes. Commr. Windram stated that the County needed a cash balance forward to operate the County for two months until the tax monies were collected.
Mr. G. Broadcheck stated that he respected the work that the Board members were doing; however, he brought to the attention of the Board the fact that the residents in the rural areas of Lake County pay their taxes, yet do no received the services as do those residents that live in or around a nearby city. He suggested that possibly some of the responsibilities which the County is assuming could be given to the State for handling.
Mr. Ted White and Mr. James Bartlet appeared before the Board and stated that they were opposed to any millage increase this year and suggested that the County cut is employment force by 10 percent and use these funds to reduce ad valorem taxes.
Mrs. Claudette Canter appeared before the Board and stated that even though the County cut its millage last year in reality the majority of people in Lake County paid higher taxes and; therefore, voiced her view that due to the reassessment made last year and with the economic situation being what it is today, the County should consider holding its millage for this fiscal year.
Mrs. Gordon Savage appeared before the Board and stated that in her opinion construction of the new Courthouse was untimely and that the revenue sharing funds being used to pay for this building could be used to help the people in Lake County with the reduction of the ad valorem taxes. Commr. Windram explained that the concept of a new Courthouse was conceived about five years ago after much deliberation and study. He stated that due to Article V, which the people of Florida voted for, the entire Court system was being changed and a new building was needed to accommodate these changes that come with the growth of the county.
Mr. Dick Toole stated to the Board that he felt this year was not an appropriate time to raise the millage. The Chairman explained to Mr. Toole that the County does not want to increase the millage but that the County has had to assume expenses for this coming year which it hasn’t had to worry about in the past. For example, the County is no longer covered by Sovereign Immunity and must carry insurance in case of a suit. There have been regulations made by the State Department of Pollution Control which the County must conform to this year or be in violation which would carry a $10,000 a day fine. He also stated that the County must pick up the employees’ share of payment into their retirement fund, which comes to 4% plus an additional 1% to the retirement fund for County Employees.
Mr. Gordon Savage appeared before the Board and stated that this was not the time to ask people to pay more taxes while revenue sharing funds were being used for the construction of a new Administrative Building rather than helping with the reduction of ad valorem taxes. Commr. Hoskinson stated that before the final vote was taken on the construction of the new building there were mixed feelings but that the majority of the Board voted in favor of the new building and that it would be impossible to turn back at this time.
Mr. Savage stated that he did not agree with the action of the Board to pay for this building in cash through revenue sharing funds and voiced his opinion that serious thought should be given regarding a Tax Reform Bill.
Mr. Fred Kurras stated that the Board should have thought of presenting a bond issue to the people for the financing of the new building being constructed which, in his opinion, would have spread the cost for this building over period of time which would have made available some of the revenue sharing funds to be used for the purpose of lowering the ad valorem taxes.
Mr. Thomas Cottom appeared before the Board and requested that the County balance its budget by not increasing the millage for this coming year. Discussion was held regarding salaries of County Employees and the Commissioners. Commr. Windram stated that the County had decided to hold all salaries at the 1974-1975 level and that the salary increases being received by the Board members were set by law several years ago.
Mr. Malcome Cox appeared before the Board and stated that he would like to see the Commissioners hold the line on the millage this fiscal year. Commr. Deems explained to Mr. Cox the various demands being made on the County by the State regarding the County Landfills and the costly changes that must be made within a limited amount of time.
Representative Vince Fechtel appeared before the Board and stated that he understood the feelings of the people and the position of the Commissioners. He further stated that he too believes there is a need for tax reform and would offer his assistance in any way possible.
Forrest Peterson appeared before the Board and stated that there may be some departments that could be eliminated within the County in order to cut down expenses.
Albert L. Brown protested against the proposed millage increase. He suggested, however, that traffic violation fines be increased and that bonds placed on persons committing crimes be raised and let these violators pay a substantial portion of money to support the departments that are needed to protect the general welfare. Mr. Ford stated that the traffic violation fines have been set by law and cannot exceed the stated amount and that there is a bond schedule which has to be observed also.
Ed Havill, President of the Young Republicans Club of Florida, appeared before the Board and voiced his opinion on the mood of the people with regards to taxation. He further stated that the Young Republicans Club would not support any Republican who votes for a tax increase.
Discussion was held regarding what action could be taken against the Commissioners by the State of Florida should the Board of County Commissioners refuse to follow the rules and regulations which have been imposed on the County and its residents. Commr. Hoskinson and James C. Watkins, Clerk, informed the people that the Commissioners could be removed from office by the Governor for not performing their duties as directed by the State.
Coleen Hutchenson appeared before the Board representing the Lake County Young Republicans Club and stated that she was present to inform the Board of County Commissioners that this organization will not support any republican candidate who votes in favor of a millage increase.
Mr. Tom Weatherington appeared before the Board and discussed the item in this budget involving the Lake County Chamber of Commerce. Commr. Carson stated that this was for the management and maintenance of the Lake County Fairgrounds and that approximately $6,000 was returned to the County from this budgeted item.
The Board discussed in further detail the various responsibilities which were being placed on the County this year such as the new regulations regarding the Landfills, the turning over the Secondary Road System for maintenance by the County by the Department of Transportation, the returning of money to the various municipalities and the responsibility of the County to pick up the employees’ 4% share in the retirement fund.
Mr. Ford stated that the Board had to announce when and where the next public hearing will be held regarding the proposed millage increase. On a motion by Commr. Carson seconded by Commr. Burhans and carried unanimously, the Board announced that the next public hearing to discuss the proposed millage increase for the 1975-1976 Fiscal Year would be held on September 9, 1975, at 3:30 P.M. and authorized that this notice to the public is to be advertised in the Leesburg Daily Commercial.
On a motion by Commr. Windram seconded by Commr. Carson and carried unanimously, the Board approved for the County Engineer to make the necessary corrections on the drainage problem which exists on Donnelly Street, provided that the County receive hold harmless statements from the residents affected by this problem.
There being no further business to be brought before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
J.M. Hoskinson, chairman
James C. Watkins, Clerk