The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, July 20, 1989, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Courthouse, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: C. W. "Chick" Gregg, Chairman; Richard Swartz; Michael J. Bakich; and Don Bailey. Others present were: James C. Watkins, Clerk and Acting County Manager; Ava Kronz, Assistant to the County Manager; Robert K. McKee, Chief Deputy Clerk; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Mr. Lonnie Strickland, Director of Health and General Services, appeared before the Board to update them regarding E911. He stated that the equipment is ready to go, however, there is a problem concerning the municipalities, and E911 now needs to go back and reassess, therefore, are requesting a postponement until September 11, 1989, for the system to be operational.
Mr. Watkins injected that the city staffs are not prepared to man the system, and being that they are dealing with life and death situations, feels that the request for postponement is justifiable.
Discussion occurred regarding the E911 system, and how the cities that are not prepared will be handled. Mr. Watkins stated that, if a particular city changed their mind and did not want to be a part of the system, that their equipment could be utilized effectively within the County's own system or that the equipment could be marketed to another vendor.
It was noted that there would be a postponement of the turn-on date for the system until September 11, 1989.
Commr. Gregg, Chairman, stated that the purpose of the Board meeting this date, was to interview prospective candidates for County Manager. He then turned the floor over to those commissioners wishing to question the candidates, the first being Mr. Joseph Braun, from New York.
Mr. - Joseph Braun - Orange County, New York
Mr. Braun appeared before the Board with his wife, Lori, to answer questions presented by the Board.
Commr. Bailey opened the interview by questioning how Lake County's government, where there are five (5) elected commissioners, as well as single member districts, relates to the form of government in Orange County, New York.
Mr. Braun responded that Orange County's form of government is more on the level of the Federal system, where they have an elected County executive, as well as an elected single member district legislature, consisting of twenty-one (21) members. The legislative executive powers are split, similar to that on the Federal level.
Commr. Swartz questioned Mr. Braun for clarification of his position, questioning whether his position was an appointed one, under an elected administrator, to which Mr. Braun stated that it was. At this time, Mr. Bob Slavin, Mercer, Slavin & Nevins, Inc., stated that Mr. Braun's present duties are to serve as a professional administrator under an elected County executive and that he has the responsibility of running Orange County on a day-to-day basis.
Commr. Bakich questioned Mr. Braun as to how he prepared for today's interview, to which Mr. Braun responded that he prepared by reviewing material which was given to him, being a budget summary, as well as literature which is given to all new employees. He also talked to some individuals he knows, who are familiar with the County, to find out what the atmosphere was like, etc.
Commr. Bakich then questioned, based on the information Mr. Braun received, what factors would influence his decision, to which Mr. Braun stated that he saw an opportunity for professionalism and a place where he could raise his daughter. He stated that these were, essentially, the primary ingredients, however, it is too early to tell, as they had just arrived in town last night and had not had a chance to tour the County. He stated that he and his wife were not used to moving a lot, therefore, if they chose to move to Lake County would plan on making it their home for many years to come.
Commr. Gregg questioned what experience Mr. Braun has had in Orange County, regarding growth management, and whether there was a growth management act, to which Mr. Braun responded that Orange County does not have a growth management act, per se, however, they are the fastest growing county in the State. He stated that they have been involved in a balancing act, as they were one of the first counties to have a county plan, back in the 1970's, due to having a resurgence of growth. He stated that the County was not suburban until the early 1970's, noting that the County is still largely agricultural.
Commr. Gregg questioned whether Mr. Braun had familiarized himself with all of Florida's growth management acts, to which Mr. Braun stated that he had.
Commr. Gregg then stated that he noted, with interest, that Mr. Braun had worked with the local Chamber of Commerce, in Orange County, concerning economic development. He stated that Lake County has been striving to attract industry over the years and is a member of the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, out of Orlando, which covers a three (3) county area. He questioned Mr. Braun as to whether he could offer some suggestions, as County Manager of Lake County, on how the County can improve and attract industry - perhaps some ideas that were used in Orange County, to which Mr. Braun responded that, indeed, he could.
Mr. Braun stated that, under normal situations, most economic development comes from within, so one has to nurture what they have. He stated that Orange County had attempted to do something on the County level, however, it did not work out, therefore, they got together with some bankers and local Chambers of Commerce in their county and created what is called a "partnership", approximately five years ago, between the private sector and the County, and found that it worked extremely well. He stated that, in his opinion, this is one of the reasons that the County has had the resurgence in economic activity - not only are they growing quickly, because of the influx of people from New York City, but they focused their efforts on making certain that they had a viable local economy and created thousands of private sector jobs and small industries.
Commr. Bailey clarified the fact that Mr. Braun had stated that most of Orange County is agricultural, to which Mr. Braun stated that the southern portion of the County is suburban New York City, with 7 to 8 trains running, per day, back and forth to the City, as well as hundreds of buses. He stated that the northern portion is agricultural with cattle farms, dairy farms, apple farms, etc.
Commr. Swartz questioned Mr. Braun as to how he would deal with the present staff and handle the office, to which Mr. Braun responded that he would work closely with the employees and staff, preferably on a one-to-one basis. He stated that, in his opinion, he was a tough manager who expects results. He is the type to stay on top of how the County is spending their money, as he feels the taxpayers need to know if their money is being well spent. He stated that he believes in the old adage of "If it's not broken, don't fix it", however, if there is a problem that needs fixing, then do so.
Commr. Gregg stated that the County Manager's job is going to take a lot of time, at first, and questioned Mr. Braun as to whether the long hours would affect his home life - whether his wife had any objections to him putting in long days, to which Mr. Braun stated that this would not be a problem, due to the fact that it would be approximately six (6) months before he could get his family moved into the area, as there were some things that he needed to take care of at home first.
When questioned by Commr. Gregg as to how he would perceive handling taking sides on certain issues, Mr. Braun stated that he would have to go with the majority. If there appeared to be a problem with this, he would bring it to the attention of the Board, in order that it may be solved.
Commr. Bailey questioned Mr. Braun as to how he would handle the day-to-day constituent requests, etc. that the Board members receive each day, as far as implementing the necessary personnel, etc., to which Mr. Braun responded that, in looking over the organizational chart, he noticed several assistant positions and stated that being he is not aware of exactly what the functions of said positions are, would have to focus on making certain that said requests were handled, then following up to make sure that what needs to be done is done, and report back to the district Commissioner that originally made the request, thereby, handling the request in a clearing house sort of way.
The Board then reversed the table and asked Mr. Braun if he wished to question the Board on any aspects of the job, to which Mr. Braun stated that the major question he had was how the Board really felt about having a County Manager and what traps he should look out for.
Commr. Swartz stated that he felt there was a unique opportunity for Lake County to move to a strong County Manager form of government, being that, in the last election, in November, three new Commissioners were elected and one Commissioner was filling out the unexpired term of a Commissioner who had passed away, which, in essence, gives the County four Board members that have been with the County for a very short time.
Mr. Braun then questioned the Board as to whether any of them were familiar with business planning, and as to how they felt regarding government being handled as a business, to which Commr. Gregg responded that he would support this concept wholeheartedly, as he feels government is big business, and if it is operated like big business, can operate more efficiently.
Commr. Bakich stated that he comes from the private sector and believes in business and in turning a profit, when possible, therefore, would like to explore these avenues very thoroughly, and try to make money for the people of Lake County, as well as save them money in the long run.
At this time, Mr. Watkins was asked whether he had any comments regarding his acting as County Manager, during the interim period, to which he responded that when the Board asked him to serve in this capacity, one of the provisions was the fact that they would allow him to manage the day-to-day affairs in the County, and other than some minor incidents, felt that they did so. He stated that he feels the Board will be very supportive of a strong County Manager and hold him responsible for the day-to-day implementation of Board policy. He stated that he hoped this would be helpful to Mr. Braun in making a decision concerning this Board.
Mr. Braun questioned what type of relationship existed between the Board and the constitutional officers concerning their budgets.
Commr. Gregg informed Mr. Braun that this was the first time that most of the members of this Board would be going through the budgetary process, therefore, were sort of feeling their way, however, due to the fact that they are constitutional officers, felt that some professional courtesies were due. He stated he would be sitting down with each one, going over their particular budgets, and then would discuss said budgets with the other Board members during the Budget Workshops, scheduled for the fourth week in July, at which time the Board may choose to cut some of them or may choose to approve them, as they are presented. He stated that each budget will be reviewed by the Finance Department and handled in the same manner that any other department's budget is handled.
Commr. Bakich questioned Mr. Braun as to whether he would have any problem informing the constitutional officers that they need to trim their budgets, to which Mr. Braun responded that he did not foresee any problems in doing so.
Commr. Bailey questioned Mr. Braun as to how soon he could come on board, if given the position, to which Mr. Braun replied that he felt he could come on board within 60 days after being informed that he had the job, however, this could be flexible.
The Board then thanked Mr. and Mrs. Braun for coming and proceeded to the next interview.
Mr. Robert Koncar - Escambia County, Florida
It was noted that Mr. Koncar was presently the Assistant County Administrator of Escambia County.
The interview started by Commr. Swartz stating that he noticed, with interest, that Mr. Koncar had indicated on his resume' that while employed with the City of Valparaiso, in Florida, he developed a financial model for assessing the impact of new development upon the City and its resources and requested Mr. Koncar to elaborate on this.
Mr. Koncar stated that, by working through the City's audits, utility bills, etc., he was able to compile some figures as to what the impact of a particular development would be to the City, after completion, such as the cost of utilities, police and fire protection, roads, sanitation, etc. In doing said study, he discovered that, basically, the new developments did not pay for themselves. He stated that, as far as the County (where he is presently employed) is concerned, they do not have any impact fees, at this time. He stated that they do have two (2) fees, which might be considered impact fees by some, being a municipal service benefit unit, where residents are assessed for their cost of fire protection (which is an all volunteer system), as well as a minimal fee that is charged for drainage. He stated that the County is working with the cities to develop a countywide stormwater utility fee, which will provide money to allow the County to complete a comprehensive master drainage study.
Commr. Bailey questioned Mr. Koncar as to how involved he has been in the growth of Escambia County, to which Mr. Koncar stated that he has been the Acting Planning Director for the past two years, during which the major activity for the Planning Department has taken place. He informed the Board as to what part he played during said two years, such as the development and adoption of a countywide zoning ordinance, the development of a public information system, the development of maps and supporting documentation, and the conducting of public hearings regarding said ordinance.
Commr. Gregg questioned Mr. Koncar as to what his greatest frustration has been, to date, as Assistant County Administrator, in dealing with Escambia County's five (5) member Board, to which Mr. Koncar responded that, in the past, there were a few conflicts, however, feels that there is presently a good working relationship. He noted that the County presently has a new County Administrator, as well as two (2) new Board members, and feels that this possibly had some bearing on changes in the working relationship between staff and the Board.
Commr. Gregg questioned Mr. Koncar as to how he would handle a Board member, having a minority opinion, trying to persuade him to go his way, to which Mr. Koncar stated that he has been in that type of situation several times, and found that the best policy is to remain objective and not get involved in the politics aspect of a particular situation.
Commr. Swartz questioned Mr. Koncar as to how familiar he was with Lake County and why he would be interested in coming to this County, to which Mr. Koncar responded that he liked the idea that Lake County was looking for someone with a strong planning background, and, also, the fact that the County was looking for someone with a financial management background, as well, which is another area where he has had some hands-on analysis of city and county budgets, development of plans, and various types of impacts. He stated that he also feels the Lake County area is a very nice area in which to live, in some respects very similar to Escambia County, in that there is a mix of rural and urban.
Commr. Bailey questioned Mr. Koncar as to whether, as County Manager, he would advocate an Assistant County Manager, and, if so, how would he utilize said position, to which Mr. Koncar stated that, the need for an Assistant County Manager would depend on the size of the organization and that, as far as he is concerned, the Assistant County Manager's role would involve carrying out the assignments of the Board and the County Manager. He would also use the Assistant County Manager to coordinate with department heads, to handle many of the day-to-day issues that he feels the County Manager should not be involved with. He feels that the Assistant County Manager should keep the County Manager informed as to what is happening in the various departments, so that potential problems can be solved ahead of time, rather than being surprised by them.
Commr. Bailey questioned how Mr. Koncar would handle the day-to-day problems that the five Commissioners receive from their constituents, to which Mr. Koncar replied that a good majority of the complaints received by the Commissioners could be referred to the County Manager's Office, which can, in turn, report back to the Commissioners what is being done to solve a given problem.
Commr. Bakich questioned Mr. Koncar as to what his experience has been in organizing County Government, in his capacity as Assistant County Administrator, to which Mr. Koncar replied that several years ago, one of the County's departments had a major crisis, and it was left up to him to solve the problem, by relieving the director and his assistant, and then to take over the operations of the department, assess what the problems were, why they happened and then take the appropriate action, in report form, to the County Administrator and the Board. This required him not only to assess the situation, but to develop ways of avoiding this same type of problem in the future.
Commr. Bakich then questioned Mr. Koncar as to what his involvement has been in dealing with environmental issues, to which Mr. Koncar stated that Escambia County is presently under DER orders to bring their landfill in compliance with new DER regulations. He stated that they hired a director, to help solve this issue, and in working with him, worked out a complete new technology for the landfill, which is currently in the process of being constructed, and is scheduled to be in full operation September 1, 1989. He stated that he has been involved in the development and financing of said landfill. A second environmental issue which he has been involved with is the development of wetlands protection, in the zoning ordinance. He stated that he had to write an entire new section dealing with this issue.
Commr. Bailey stated that in Lake County, the land use issue is probably the most important issue, and questioned whether this was true in Escambia County, as well, to which he was informed that it was.
Commr. Bailey then questioned whether there was presently a good working relationship with Community Affairs, to which Mr. Koncar replied that there was.
At this time, the Board gave Mr. Koncar the opportunity to question them regarding any concerns he had about the job.
Mr. Koncar stated that most of his questions had been answered during his interview, however, wanted to make sure that the Board was looking for someone to be a manager - someone who could handle the day-to-day occurrences and let the Board set policies for the manager to carry out.
Commr. Gregg informed Mr. Koncar that this Board was looking to be a policy setting Board, much like a Board of Directors in a corporation - one that would not have to manage the day-to-day operations. He stated that they were looking for one person they could go to with a particular problem, who would, in turn, go to his perspective department head or staff member to solve the problem or get back to the Board with an answer.
At this time, Commr. Swartz questioned whether Escambia County has an in-house attorney or whether they contract with a private law firm, to which Mr. Koncar replied that, at present, they have an in-house attorney staff (consisting of 4 attorneys) and has had for the past 15 years.
Mr. Watkins, Clerk and Acting County Manager, questioned whether Mr. Koncar felt that the County Attorney should answer directly to the County Manager or to the Board, to which Mr. Koncar replied that he felt the County Attorney should answer directly to the Board. When questioned as to how soon he could come on board, if chosen, Mr. Koncar replied 3 to 4 weeks.
Commr. Bakich questioned Mr. Koncar as to what experience he has in budgets and financing, to which Mr. Koncar replied that he has been involved in the development of the County budget since he has been Assistant County Manager of Escambia County, as well as involved with budgets while he was with the City of Valparaiso. In addition to this, he was involved in the development of a five-year comprehensive plan for Escambia County.
Commr. Bakich questioned whether Mr. Koncar, in viewing this County's organizational chart, had any problems with it or whether he would make any changes to it, to which Mr. Koncar replied that he did not have any problem with it at this point, however, felt that it is important, as a new manager, to get involved and find out how things are working - that there is no need to make a change just to make a change. He stated that he would not try to make any changes right away.
Commr. Bakich then questioned Mr. Koncar as to what he would like to accomplish in the first 90 to 120 days, should he be offered the position, to which Mr. Koncar replied that in the first 90 days he would want to develop a good working knowledge of how the departments are functioning, individually, as well as how they are interrelating as an entire organization. He would also like to try to win the confidence of the staff, as he feels that it is very important that there be a good working relationship between the County Manager and staff, therefore, he would like to go in the field and meet employees, listen to what they have to say about how things are working, and let them know that he is interested in what they have to say, and that what they have to say is important to him as a manager.
The Board then thanked Mr. Koncar for coming and proceeded to the next interview.
Mr. Anthony Barrett - Ocean City, Maryland
Commr. Swartz stated that he had seen in Mr. Barrett's resume the fact that he established and implemented a new citizen-oriented budget format and requested Mr. Barrett to elaborate on it. Mr. Barrett stated that he feels very strongly that the citizenry needs to understand where their tax dollars are being spent, therefore, established this method of making sure that citizens, at any given time, know where their money is going.
Commr. Swartz questioned Mr. Barrett as to what he would do during his first 90 days in office, should he be chosen, to which Mr. Barrett replied that the first priority would be the fiscal priority and he prided himself on being able to move forward quickly in this area. He stated that the second thing would be to find out what plans the Board has and what they would like to see accomplished.
Commr. Bakich questioned, with the advent of Lake County updating their Comprehensive Plan and growth management, how much knowledge Mr. Barrett had in this field, to which Mr. Barrett noted that he has been dealing with a high growth community for the past 15 years, and is quite comfortable regarding this aspect. He stated that if the County has a good planning staff, it, of course, makes things a lot easier.
Commr. Bakich questioned how Mr. Barrett would describe his management style, to which Mr. Barrett responded that he is very open and is one that prefers a pat on the back, however, is not above giving a swift kick in the pants in order to get things done. He stated that he gives staff an opportunity to do what they need to do, in order to do their job.
Commr. Gregg questioned whether Mr. Barrett felt County Government could and should operate like private enterprise, to which Mr. Barrett responded that he most definitely felt that it should.
Commr. Bailey questioned how Mr. Barrett would handle the role of County Manager, in dealing with controversial issues that come before the Board, to which Mr. Barrett replied that, in his opinion, the role of the County Manager is to provide alternatives to the elected officials, utilizing the best information available, and make recommendations. Once a decision is made, then it is his job to carry out the decision.
Commr. Bakich questioned Mr. Barrett as to why he would like to come to Lake County, to which Mr. Barrett responded that, for the past 13 or so years, he has been involved in a high growth environment, which he likes, as he likes to stay busy and see things accomplished, and being that Lake County has a lot of problems that need to be solved, feels that it will be a challenge. He also feels that Lake County has a lot to offer.
Commr. Bakich questioned Mr. Barrett concerning what short and long-term goals he would have, should he be hired, to which Mr. Barrett replied that, if the County did not have an established plan with certain objectives and goals, then he would like to establish one. Secondly, he stated that, in looking at documentation which he received, he sees that the County has some infrastructure problems which he would like to address.
Commr. Gregg questioned Mr. Barrett as to how he felt about handling flak from the public, on behalf of the Board, regarding decisions which the Board has made, or will make, to which Mr. Barrett replied that, in his opinion, the County Manager and the Board should work as a team, therefore, does not mind taking the flak in carrying out decisions made by the Board. He stated that, in a position such as the County Manager, one has to have a sense of humor, as well as a thick skin, and feels that he has both.
The Board then gave Mr. Barrett the opportunity to ask them any questions he might have, at which time he questioned whether the Board could reach a consensus quickly or easily and then stick to it, which he felt was very important, to which Commr. Gregg stated that he felt they could and did.
Mr. Barrett stated that, if the Board is interested in him, he would like to have an employment agreement drawn up, between him and the County, with severance.
The Board then thanked Mr. Barrett for coming.
RESOLUTIONS/STATE AGENCIES/ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
Commr. Gregg brought to the attention of the Board a resolution regarding the Seminole Springs property, which was approved at the July 18, 1989, Board Meeting. Being that he was not present for said meeting, questioned whether everyone was in agreement, as to the wording of the resolution, and whether it expressed what the Board wanted it to - to which it was agreed that it did. He stated that he would sign it this date and forward it to the appropriate individuals.
CONTRACTS, LEASES & AGREEMENTS/FIRE PROTECTION/MUNICIPALITIES
Commr. Gregg brought to the attention of the Board an interlocal agreement, with the City of Minneola, concerning the City joining the County fire program.
Commr. Swartz explained to the Board the reason for said agreement and then made a motion that it be approved, which was seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously.
Commr. Gregg stated that, at this time, he would like to discuss the candidates which were just interviewed for County Manager and make a decision - at least rate them, in the interest of time, as they each stated that it would be several weeks before they could come on board. He stated that, in looking at the resumes, he did not think there were any of the three that were not qualified or capable of doing the job.
Mr. Robert Slavin, Mercer, Slavin & Nevins, Inc., apologized and explained to the Board the reason why Mr. Alan Thelen, from Strasburg, Colorado was not present this date. He stated that Mr. Thelen had been given wrong information by his office, and thought that he was no longer on the list of candidates. He then gave a brief background summary of Mr. Thelan for the Board's benefit.
Commr. Gregg stated that, once the candidate is chosen, he would like Commr. Bakich, as Chairman of the Personnel Selection Committee, to go to said candidate's community and see how he is thought of, as well as find out how he presently operates. If all information received is positive, then to act on behalf of the Board and try, along with Mr. Slavin, to negotiate a salary with said candidate.
Discussion occurred regarding the three (3) candidates interviewed this date, at which time each Commissioner stated who their first, second and third choices were. It was the consensus of the Board that Mr. Braun be their first choice, Mr. Koncar their second, and Mr. Barrett their third.
At this time, Commr. Gregg questioned whether the Board wished Commr. Bakich to negotiate a salary with the candidate, which it was the consensus of the Board that he do so.
At this time, Commr. Gregg informed the Board that the NACO (National Association of Counties) meeting which he had just attended was a positive one and that he would be giving the Commissioners information regarding it.
Commr. Gregg questioned Mr. Slavin as to where his firm presently is regarding candidates for County Attorney, to which Mr. Slavin stated that he had the list down to less than 10 candidates, and feels that they are ready to present four (4) to five (5) candidates to the Board.
The Board then set Tuesday, August 1, 1989, at 2:00 p.m., for interviewing said candidates for County Attorney.
Mr. Slavin stated that he would submit a list of the prospective candidates to the Board on Monday, July 24, 1989, for their perusal.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.
C. W. " CHICK" GREGG, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK