The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, August 25, 1988, at 9:45 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Courthouse, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Glenn C. Burhans, Chairman: Thomas J. Windram; Claude E. Smoak, Jr.: James R. Carson, Jr.: and Don Bailey. Others present were: Christopher C. Ford, County Attorney; James C. Watkins, Clerk; Robert K. McKee, Chief Deputy Clerk; Michael C. Willett, County Administrator: Katherine A. McDonald, Assistant County Administrator: and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Mr. Ed Havill, Property Appraiser for Lake County, appeared before the Board and stated that a few years ago, Chapter 196.131, Subsection 3, was added to the Florida Statutes, authorizing any county that chose to do so, at the request of the Property Appraiser, by majority vote of its governing body, waive the requirement that an annual application be made for exemption of property within the County, after an initial application is made and exemption granted, except that the reapplication shall be required for any property granted an exemption, as sold or otherwise disposed of. What this amounts to, is automatic renewal of homestead exemptions.
Mr. Havill stated that he had looked into the issue a few years ago, when the law was passed, however, wanted to wait and see if other counties, which had implemented the new system, had any problems with homestead fraud, before he implemented the system into Lake County. In April, of this year, his department started contacting other counties which were involved with the system, being: Seminole, Lee, Dade, Indian River, Collier, and Volusia, as well as the Florida Department of Revenue, in Tallahassee, to find out if there had been any problems with the mechanics of the system. After finding out that there had not been any cases of fraud, he decided to implement, with approval by the Board, the system into Lake County. He stated that Brevard, Osceola, Orange, Putnam and Marion counties will also be implementing the new System in January, 1989. This will make a total of twelve (12) counties, in the State of Florida, participating in the new system.
Basically, the system works as follows: A receipt, rather than a renewal card (which would have to be signed and returned to the Property Appraiser's Office), will be mailed out to residents who are eligible for homestead, this year. The receipt will state "Do Not Forward", therefore, if the individual still resides in the same residence, they will receive the receipt - if they do not, the receipt is returned to the Property Appraiser's Office. A letter will then be mailed to the individuals whose receipts were returned, questioning the change of address, which will have to be signed and returned. If the Property Appraiser's Office does not receive the letter back, then a field employee is sent to the residence to investigate. Other methods are also being looked into, such as checking against motor vehicle registrations, with the Tax Collector's Office, etc., to cross check the homesteads. He stated that the new system should save the County, and the taxpayers, a considerable amount of money in postage, due to not having to mail out the initial renewal card, as well as the second notice, reminding residents that the Property Appraiser's Office has not received the individual's renewal card. It will also speed up the homestead renewal process. He requested the Board to pass a resolution authorizing his office to implement the new system.
Commr. Carson questioned Mr. Havill as to whether, if for some reason the new system does not work as smoothly as planned, the County can reverse the decision, at a later date.
Mr. Havill informed the commissioners that the Board could do so, should the need arise, at which time the County would go back to the old system.
Chairman Burhans questioned Mr. Havill as to whether the appeals process would remain the same, to which Mr. Havill replied that it would, however, there will be less people coming before the Property Appraisal Adjustment Board.
On a motion by Commr. Carson, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously, the Board approved that the recommendation of the Property Appraiser, Ed Havill, regarding automatic renewal of homestead exemptions, be implemented, in the form of a resolution, and that the necessary steps be taken by the Property Appraiser and the County Attorney to do so.
JAILS/CONTRACTS LEASES & AGREEMENTS
Mr. Pete Karamitsanis, Senior Vice President, Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc., appeared before the Board to discuss the conceptual stage of the new Criminal Justice/Jail Facility and to talk, in general, about the design. He stated that the Board had previously indicated, in the initial development of the project, their desire for a one building structure, rather than a two building structure, as well as the desire to maximize parking, and minimize the impact, both to the community and to the wetlands.
One criteria, which H.O.K. added to the project, was to design a building which had a very clear circulation between prison population, staff, and the general public. He stated that the facility will extend between Main Street and Alfred Street (Old Hwy. 441), as well as between Sinclair Avenue and Pulsiver Avenue, and will be surrounded by parking (totaling 697 spaces, with 402 spaces south of Main Street and 295 spaces north of Main Street). The facility will be accessible from Old Hwy. 441, as well as from Main Street.
Mr. Karamitsanis reviewed charts describing, floor by floor, the layout of the facility. He described prisoner housing, stating that it is a two-story housing pod, with light coming into the cells by way of the visitor area, as well as the recreational area. He stated that each pod will house 48 cells, totaling 528 general population cells, 48 classification cells, and 28 medical and health care cells, for a total of 604 cells overall. Each cell is 90 square feet, and is capable of double bunking.
At this time, Mr. Karamitsanis answered questions presented to him by those present, such as whether there will be security stairwells, in case of power outages, making the elevators to the housing pods unoperatable; whether the staff, needed for the new design, will be larger than originally planned; and whether the new design had been presented to officials and personnel, who will actually be operating the jail, to see if they approve of it. He was also questioned about whether provisions had been made for a helicopter transport, for purposes of transporting prisoners, should the need arise, as well as whether the structure of the facility will be sound enough to house another floor, for prisoners, in the future, if it is needed.
Mr. Karamitsanis responded to the above mentioned questions by stating that there will be security stairwells in the new facility; that the staffing requirements will be basically the same; that he had met with the appropriate personnel, prior to this meeting, and has implemented their suggestions into the new design; and that there is adequate room for a helicopter transport, should the need arise. However, he stated that, should the County need to expand the jail portion of the facility, in the future, he would not suggest expanding it vertically.
Mr. Karamitsanis stated that he is not asking for approval of the concept, as shown today, but, for a comparison of the concept and to indicate whether his firm is on the right track. If the Board sees fit to do so, then what H.O.K. is proposing to do, in working together with Barton Malow, is to spend the next four weeks developing a cost estimate for the facility. He stated that the facility, as described this date, is over $34.5 million, however, he is not able to estimate how much over, at this time. He requested the Board to give his staff four more weeks to come up with a cost estimate.
Further discussion occurred regarding certain details of the facility, at which time Mr. Karamitsanis answered questions presented to him regarding same.
Commr. Smoak questioned the Board as to whether they still wanted a generic jail, rather than a specimen jail, and stated that the facility described this date is, basically, the best, on a cost basis, particularly, regarding the detention area. He also stated that he did not want the County to be the new guideline for the rest of the country on how pretty, how big, and how nice looking the new facility will be, but, rather the most economical.
On a motion by Commr. Smoak, seconded by Commr. Carson and carried unanimously, the Board approved to adopt and recognize the concept, as presented this date, without major objection, and authorized that a cost study analysis be undertaken, prepared, and presented to the Board, at the earliest date possible (allowing for the four weeks requested earlier by H.O.K.).
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 10:50 a.m. the Chairman announced that the Board would recess until 2:00 p.m., for a discussion regarding the waste-to-energy facility.
CONTRACTS LEASES & AGREEMENTS/LANDFILLS
The Chairman opened this portion of the meeting by reviewing the present status of the Board regarding the waste-to-energy facility. He stated that the County signed a contract with NRG, then expressed concern over the garbage requirements and ceased going forward. NRG/Ogden Martin then offered to accept part of the risk, of the garbage shortfall, which the County's experts recommended favorably. The commissioners, however, postponed action to study and consider the offer.
At this time, Commr. Smoak stated that, in following proper procedures, when an action has been taken, as stated above, in order to reconsider the action, a member of the prevailing side needs to make a motion to do so.
On a motion by Commr. Smoak, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried, the Board approved to reconsider the previous action taken, regarding NRG, and reopen negotiations.
Commr. Windram declared a conflict of interest and abstained from the vote.
Mr. Milo Jackson, a resident of Lake County for the past fifty-four (54) years, appeared before the Board and stated that, in his opinion, the County is not prepared to get into the electric business. He feels such a business is definitely a losing proposition, for years to come, and is something that the County needs to avoid. There are other alternatives to getting rid of garbage, besides turning it into electricity, for mere pennies, compared to what is being considered. He stated that he and Mr. Browne Gregg have been friends for over thirty (30) years, and he has the highest respect for him, however, feels that the County should dispose of its garbage in an entirely different way, than what is being proposed.
The Chairman asked whether there would be any further comments from those present in the audience.
At this time, Commr. Carson stated that he would like to note, for the record, that Mr. Rex Taylor, City Manager for the City of Leesburg (who was not present in the audience at this time), had stated that the cities were quite pleased and satisfied with the proposition being offered to the County, as it was submitted at the Board Meeting of August 16, 1988, and would like to have input into decisions having to do with said facility, provided it was built, as time went on.
Commr. Burhans submitted, for the record, a letter to the Board, from Mr. Robert J. Bugni, a semi-retired management consultant and executive, with experience in various fields of manufacturing, hospital operations, educational facilities, and civic affairs, stating his concern for senior citizens involved in the costs of increased taxes, in areas of expansion, leading to increased poverty levels, without concern by developers for greater impact fees, in all areas of increasing costs.
Commr. Bailey questioned the County Attorney as to whether, at some point, NRG will be combined with Ogden Martin on the contract, as the contract presently only has NRG.
The County Attorney stated that Ogden Martin is willing to sign the contract, however, it could cause some problems for NRG, from a tax standpoint. Ogden Martin would also be willing to give the appropriate guarantees, to back up everything that is in the contract, by separate document, which would protect the County, by having Ogden's corporate assets behind it. This, however, would be up to Mr. Sokol and Mr. Gregg.
Mr. Sokol, President of Ogden Martin, appeared before the Board and stated that he is prepared to sign the contract.
Mr. Browne Gregg, NRG, appeared before the Board and stated that he is not able to let Mr. Sokol sign the NRG contract, at this time, due to tax benefits, which he verified earlier with his attorney.
Mr. Sokol stated that he would, however, guarantee the obligation, so that should NRG default, Ogden Martin would step in and complete the project.
A brief discussion occurred regarding a question as to whether, in some point in time, the County would have a chance to renegotiate and offer a proposition to the public, for the facility to be publicly owned.
The County Attorney stated that this decision would be made, within probably 30 to 40 days, if the Hoard happens to go forward with the project. The above stated question would be possible, if, for tax purposes, the equity contribution was not good for Mr. Gregg. Ogden Martin would then stand ready to make the $10 million equity contribution to the project, or offer the County an alternative, and allow the facility to be publicly owned.
Commr. Smoak stated that he had four (4) questions, regarding the project, being: (1) the quantity of garbage, (2) electricity rates (as quoted in the printout which was distributed to the Board for their review), (3) capital costs, per ton, of processable waste, and (4) tax benefits passed on, if the time frame was not met. He questioned Mr. Sokol as to the difference in the boilers, the electricity output, and the cost of electricity quoted in the above stated printout, versus what today's rates are. He requested that these issues be addressed by Mr. Sokol.
Mr. Sokol addressed the questions presented by Commr. Smoak and discussion occurred regarding same.
At this time, Commr. Smoak stated that he would like the issue of processable waste (amount of) in Lake County, to be addressed, for the record.
Mr. Jeff Clunie, R. W. Beck & Associates, Inc., appeared before the Board and stated that, since the last Board Meeting (August 16, 1988), his firm has undertaken additional review into waste quantities of the County. His firm contacted fifteen other counties, in the State of Florida, to obtain information. The information, which was provided at the last meeting, with regard to the volume of waste received at the landfill, during the last three months, was reviewed. An analysis of the density was done, converting it into tons. His firm looked at seasonal fluctuations, and has also done an analysis of the information provided at the last meeting, in terms of what was anticipated as processable and non-processable waste. Taking into account all said information, his firm prepared a series of sensitivity analyses, under different density ratios. Alternate projections of population for the County were also looked at. The State was contacted to obtain additional population figures, of which happened to be lower. After all the above information was compiled, and analyzed, his firm estimated that in 1991, there will be at least 130,000 tons of processable waste in Lake County, which is what the County is guaranteeing in this contract.
At this time, Commr. Smoak questioned Mr. Clunie as to whether he would recommend the contract, under discussion this date, to which Mr. Clunie answered that he would.
Mr. Clunie stated that he believed, if the County started all over again, they would not end up with a better price for a waste-to-energy facility, than what is before the Board this date.
Mr. Ed Sledge, Piper & Marbury, appeared before the Board and stated that he would recommend the Board go forward with said contract, provided that the County can get the promises of the proposal into the contract. He also stated that he feels the County should be checking with the Public Service Commission and getting clarification, from them, that the County will be entitled to the expert capacity credits, that are due for these types of projects, before they change their minds.
The County Administrator, Mike Willett, questioned Mr. Sledge regarding the definition of construction waste, as well as questioned the electrical portion of the contract, to which Mr. Sledge responded.
Mr. Charles Bush, representing NRG, appeared before the Board and stated that the rates for power, in the projection, are based on projections which NRG has received from Florida Power Corporation, in terms of the price which they expect to be paying for power to such projects as this. From 1991 to 1995, the rates are purely projection - from 1995 on, a portion of the rate is the capacity payment that will be written into the contract and guaranteed by Florida Power Corporation.
Commr. Carson made a motion for the Board to accept the NRG/Ogden Martin proposal, as a basis for proceeding with the development of the project, subject to the nuances which Mr. Sledge alluded to, which would be filling in, basically, the final numbers and words of the contract, which was seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried.
Commr. Windram declared a conflict of interest and abstained from the vote.
On a motion by Commr. Carson, seconded by Commr. Windram and carried unanimously, the Board approved the plat of Pennbrooke Phase lB, as submitted to the Board.
CONTRACTS, LEASES & AGREEMENTS/COURTS-JUDGES
On a motion by Commr. Carson, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously, the Board approved and authorized the proper signatures on the Conflict Contract with the Public Defender, which was approved in July of this year, for conflict cases involving the Public Defender's Office.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at
GLENN C. BURHANS, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK