The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, November 16, 1989, at 7:00 p.m., at the Umatilla Community Center, Umatilla, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: C. W. "Chick" Gregg, Chairman; Richard Swartz; and Michael J. Bakich. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Alan A. Thelen, County Manager; Ava Kronz, County Manager's Assistant; John Swanson, Director of Planning and Development; Lonnie Strickland, Director of Health and General Services; Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works; and Linda Springston, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Gregg turned the Chairmanship over to Commr. Bakich, the local commissioner for the Umatilla district (District 5).
Mr. Alan A. Thelen, County Manager, gave the Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commr. Gregg.
Commr. Bakich introduced the members of the Board and the County staff who were present to the audience.
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Mr. John Swanson, Director of Planning and Development, discussed the state mandated comprehensive planning process. He stated that his office has coordinated said plan with nine other cities in the County. He then reviewed a chart of the required elements necessary in the preparation of the plan. He stated that 61 review projects originated in District 5, which include development plan reviews, rezoning, and land use changes. He mentioned that the City of Umatilla has been undertaking a Community Development Block Grant program, in which case the County applied for the grant for the City and received $586,512.00 in funds for Umatilla. He then explained how those funds were distributed for various projects within Umatilla.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works, discussed the proposed 1989/90 Road Program as it relates to District 5, including some intersection improvements which utilize Impact Fees which come from new construction, and can only be used in those benefit districts. He mentioned that intersection improvements will be performed east of Umatilla at the intersection of 439 and 44A. Also, intersection improvements will be made, which include signalization, at the Lake County Fairgrounds in front of Fort Mason Tractor.
HEALTH AND GENERAL SERVICES
Mr. Lonnie Strickland, Director of Health and General Services, discussed the E911 system which was put into operation in September, and presently it has achieved 77 percent enhancement. He stated that, since the return of the northern visitors, the system has been overloaded because of the reconnecting of telephone services. He noted that, if anyone is having a problem with the system to call into the E911 Office, and to also notify the Emergency Management Office, if they or someone they know is handicapped.
Mr. Strickland noted that, on this date, the new Public Health Department was dedicated in Umatilla, which he feels is a professional looking office.
Mr. Strickland stated that, recently, the Board held a workshop meeting concerning the countywide fire service, which will again be addressed, as soon as the necessary legal clarification's are obtained. He further stated that, this consolidation will better organize the County's fire service.
Mr. Strickland noted that, regarding the Veteran's Service Office, a program called Outreach has been established, in which offices have been set up in different areas of the County. At present, an area is needed in the Astor area, and he requested that, if anyone knows of space available in that area, for a Veteran's Service Officer to let him know.
Mr. Alan A. Thelen, County Manager, spoke to the audience regarding the Environmental Services Department, due to Mr. Don Findell, Director of Environmental Services, being on vacation. He discussed the Recycling Program which the County is implementing at this time, which includes the recycling of glass, paper, plastic and aluminum cans, and will be picked up by a contractor to take to the recycling area. There will be five neighborhoods involved to start, initially, of approximately 2,500 households, and after four months another five neighborhoods will be added. The County has been working directly with eight of the cities and they will all be eligible to participate in the State grant which is received by the County for recycling.
Mr. Thelen discussed the proposed landfill noting that the Board has spent a considerable amount of time on the location of a new landfill site, and they are currently pursuing Site K, in Okahumpka. Presently, appraisals must be made of that property and a complete review of the engineering concerns before the final decision approving the site is made.
Mr. Thelen discussed the incinerator stating that the project is approximately 50 percent complete, which is ahead of schedule, and the current plans project that it will be complete in June, 1990. Trial runs will be done in July and August, and it should be on-line during the latter part of September or early October.
Mr. Thelen mentioned that, the Board has approved the detention facilities in Tavares, which is designed to house approximately 980 prisoners, and a notice to proceed has been issued. The first phase of the project is scheduled to commence construction on December 11, 1989, and it should be completed 18 months later.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS & DISCUSSION
Mr. Carl Wailer, a member of the audience, appeared before the Board to discuss the fire tax in Lake County. He felt that when the citizens voted on the referendum, in 1984, for the fire tax, it was divided into five categories, which were: residential, industrial, agricultural, vacant lots, and structures. He noted that the fees for vacant lots and structures have not been collected, and wondered why those charges were not implemented.
Commr. Bakich explained that this past workshop on fire districts related to that subject, and there is a problem with vacant lots and structures, being that there is no way of taxing those properties through the Property Appraiser's Office, because there is no system in place in order to do that. To compile that information would involve a considerable expense to the citizens of Lake County.
Commr. Swartz noted that the portion dealing with the vacant lots and structures was not computerized, are the County is now attempting to find out the actual cost involved in obtaining those missing fees.
Mr. Waller stated that they have recently had problems in their area, in which they needed to call 911, and he felt that the system worked very well.
Mr. Lonnie Strickland, Director of Health and General Services, stated that, in reference to the question about the computers and the fire tax, those computers are owned by the Property Appraiser's Office, and he establishes his own billing system. In order for the County to go into the vacant parcel system, it would require their own type of billing procedure, then, there would be a need to re-tally all of the lots and acreage in those vacant parcels, which would need to be accessed through the ad valorem tax. It cannot be done on the vacant parcels alone, it would need to be done for all property.
Commr. Bakich noted that the Board has considered increasing the fire tax for commercial property, increasing the fire tax for structures, decreasing the the fire tax for structures, or adding an ad valorem tax, to arrive at a program whereby the fire services are not in a deficit situation.
Mrs. Marilyn Bainter, a member of the audience, appeared before the Board, and questioned the percentage of fires the County has in relation to the amount of tax dollars received. She assumed that Mr. Strickland had indicated that the fires on vacant and agricultural land are 60 percent of the fires. To which Mr. Strickland responded that Mrs. Bainter's assumptions were incorrect.
Commr. Bakich noted that there are many districts within the County whose equipment is not operational, or of poor quality, and that is why the County is attempting to organize a Countywide fire program.
Commr . Bakich stated that in a mostly rural County, such as Lake County, there cannot be a firehouse on every corner. He noted that the County has a cooperative agreement with the Forestry Service for fire service in the Ocala National Forest.
Ms. Julie Pashilia, a member of the audience, appeared before the Board and stated that she is the wife of a Lake County firefighter, and that most of the stations are manned by only one person, she wondered whether the Board will be increasing the funds, in the future, for more than one person at the stations. To which Commr . Bakich stated that, at this time, the County is trying to adequately fund fire service for the County, and the more dense an area is, the more justification for allowing more than one person to man the station.
Mr. Ed Butters, of Lakenridge Subdivision, appeared before the Board and stated that he appreciates the Commissioner's coming to the different areas for these town meetings. He noted that he would like to meet with the County Manager, Director of Planning and Development, Director of Public Works, and the County Attorney, in order to arrive at a uniform interpretation of the Zoning Regulations, because of an ongoing problem he has had. To which Commr. Bakich responded that Mr. Swanson, Director of Planning and Development, and some members of the Board, were not employed by Lake County when his problem arose and that Mr. Swanson would, at Mr. Butter's convenience, meet with him.
Commr. Bakich noted that the County is now in the process of reviewing the comprehensive plan, which will be more definitive than the old plan.
Mr. Robert Willetts, from Umatilla, appeared before the Board to discuss the incinerator project and quote certain statements made by key persons involved in the project.
Mr. Willetts stated that recycling is a viable way of disposing of garbage, and discussed percentages involved in such. He further stated that the mass burn incinerator is not what is needed in a rural community.
Mr. Willetts stated that the three newest commissioners were elected because of their being against the incinerator, and therefore, challenged them to vote to cancel the incinerator contract.
Commr. Gregg stated that he never opposed the incinerator, only the way by which it was handled. He farther stated that the taxpayers need to know who will pick up the tab, of 90 percent of the committed cost, for cancelling the contract. The current commission has to honor the agreement which was made before some of them were on board, and the incinerator is a good means of the disposal of garbage.
Mr. Willetts noted that he would like to have the manner in which the contract was done, settled in a court of law, where people will have a chance t o ask questions. He suggested the possibility of Ogden Martin renegotiating the contract, and that the County needs a Recycling Plant instead of an incinerator, because what will be burned, could be recycled.
Commr. Bakich stated that, the plant has been built to the expectations of the future, and that by 1994 the County hopes to be recycling as much as 85 percent of the County's newspapers, and 85 percent of the bottles and cans. If the County is to achieve that total percentage reduction, the County will be recycling an amount of 15 percent of the total waste stream. The County has the ability to include other forms of recycling, such as, the shredding of tires, and the repair of white goods.
Commr. Bakich noted that there is a problem in Lake County with land, because of the tremendous amount of wetlands, and the water table is very close to the surface. The State has closed the landfill in Astatula, therefore, the County is faced with the task of locating a new landfill.
Mr. Willetts asked the Board to explain to the citizens the process of closing the landfill, so that it will be safe for the future. To which Commr. Bakich noted that, the County has monitoring wells at the Astatula landfill, which monitor the flow of water and it is possible that the contamination process to clean it up could be very extensive and costly, but the degree of contamination has not been determined.
Mr. Willetts suggested rebuilding the Astatula landfill to modern standards, instead of purchasing another site. To which Commr. Bakich responded that the County has asked the Department of Environmental Regulations if that is possible and they have informed the County that, at this time, it cannot be done.
Commr. Swartz noted that, he was on the Tavares City Council at the time the incinerator project was under debate by the County Commission, and he had voted against the interlocal agreement, because he did not feel that the contract proposal was in the best interest of Lake County. He also stated that he believes that the other commissioners, which were elected at the same time as he, did not feel that the contract, and some of the provisions in it, were what they would have agreed to. He also felt that, at that time, he did not feel that the incinerator was right for Lake County, but he is not sure that incineration should not be a portion of the way to dispose of solid waste, but not until all of the other options to dispose of solid waste are performed. Incinerate what remains, then, the County could generate enough solid waste to efficiently utilize incineration. The current contract does not allow the County to recycle and compost to the greatest extent, to landfill some portions, and then incinerate the remaining portion. He felt that, if the contract could be cancelled, economically, that he would be willing to consider doing so, but it is not a viable alternative at this time. He is willing to renegotiate the contract with Ogden Martin to find a better situation.
Ms. Katherine O'Calvey, a member of the audience, appeared before the Board stating that she would like to know what the incinerator will cost the people of Lake County. To which Commr. Bakich responded that each resident will be charged approximately $40.00 for the landfill tipping fees, and approximately $40.00 for the incineration.
Ms. O'Calvey also questioned when the mandatory countywide garbage collection will begin.
Commr. Swartz stated that solid waste fees are referred to as "cost per ton". The resident who was paying approximately $36.00 a quarter, will pay an increase of approximately $4-5 per month, for the extra cost at the landfill, or approximately $48-50 per quarter, in the rural areas. The next step, about a year from now, will be a cost associated with the incinerator, plus the landfill, and all of the other costs, which may come t o approximately $65.00 per quarter.
Ms. O'Calvey stated that she is concerned with the persons on fixed incomes, and others, who are unable to afford the additional costs. Commr. Swartz responded that, those concerns are part of the reason why the Board should renegotiate the contract with Ogden Martin, to try to, environmentally and economically find a way to reduce some of the costs involved, because the incinerator will be very costly. He further stated that, at the time the incinerator was being negotiated, citizens did not come before the Board, because they did not know what the economic impact was t o be. He further stated that, one way to reduce the costs is to recycle because for each ton that is recycled, the $65.00 per ton fee will be saved.
Ms. O'Calvey questioned why the County cannot utilize the land that the County already owns, instead of buying the land at Site K. To which Commr. Swartz responded that the County has a consent order with the Department of Environmental Regulations to close the existing landfill, which states that the County must be out of the landfill in four years, also, that landfill has no more space. He further noted that the roads within the landfill will be paid with County Transportation Trust funds.
Ms. O'Calvey stated that, she is also concerned with roads, because her and the other residents who live o n Loop Road, have tried to get their road paved, and the County repeatedly informs them that the residents have to pave the road. To which Mr. Jim Stivender responded that, the problems these residents have, is that there is no right-of-way dedicated to the County.
Commr. Bakich stated that there is a liability problem in that case, because the owners of the property are not willing to give the right-of-way to the County. To which Ms. O'Calvey stated that, the residents are willing to give the County the right-of-way.
Commr. Swartz noted that if the right-of-way can be obtained, then the Board will take the road through the special assessment process and pave the road.
Mr. Stivender noted that all of the right-of-ways have not been obtained in this case. Commr. Swartz instructed Mr. Stivender to research the right-of-ways which are missing and try to obtain such. Commr. Bakich informed Ms. O'Calvey that, to do a special assessment, which is a cost shared by the residents and the County, they need 55 percent of the property owners to agree to it, then it comes before the Board for approval.
Mr. Joe Stephany, a member of the audience, requested the Board to appoint a group to review all of the special acts by the legislature that relate to Lake County, to determine which ones are needed and which ones could be done better. He then discussed his tax bill, and the services with the Board. He also noted his concerns regarding drug abuse in Lake County, and requested the Board to appoint a Drug Abuse Policy Board to coordinate the activities for federal and state appropriated funds, which will soon be made available, to increase anti-drug abuse efforts.
Commr. Gregg noted that, since his involvement with the Indigent Care Task Force, there has been a problem in working out an agreement with the three special districts (Northeast Ambulance, Northwest Ambulance, and Northwest Hospital), and the legislature has to make any changes, therefore, a strong consensus must be had with those three districts. The consensus for those changes have not come about in time for this current special session of the legislature, and since they are established by the legislature they must be dissolved by the legislature. He explained how those districts dispurse their tax monies. He further stated that there needs to be a compromise arrived at between the three districts to bring them all under one main Board, appointed by the County, which would oversee all health and handle all expenditures and taxes collected for health, to be approved by the Board, then a letter of recommendation or resolution t o be sent to the legislative delegation asking them to work with the County t o help solve the problem.
Mr. Stephany noted that, the County has no control over these special taxing districts, which are set up by the legislature, and they are coherent t o political activities because they receive tax assistance to make them work. He has tried t o find out how these monies are being spent, to no avail, and he noted that he cannot participate in voting for the people who make up the budget unless he pays a $25.00 fee to join the hospital association.
Mr. Stephany briefly touched on the composition of an Anti-Drug Abuse Policy Board, which would consist of the Sheriff, the Clerk of Courts, the Chief Judge, the Superintendent of Schools, a representative of the Police Department, and the Jail Administrator. He feels that this Board should be appointed by the Board of County Commissioners in an objective manner.
Mr. Ed Schmidt, of the Lakenridge area, appeared before the Board and questioned whether all roads in Lake County have identification, because there are three to four roads in his area which are not identified to which Commr. Bakich responded that those types of roads usually are not County maintained roads, and that the County will make a sign, naming the road, for approximately $28.50. Commr. Gregg mentioned that the residents may also go
through a special assessment process if the adjoining property owners will release the right-of-way to the County.
Mr. Schmidt stated that, in 1955, this particular road was turned over to the County as a public road. Commr. Bakich responded that, when a road is accepted into the County maintenance system, it may be removed at any time.
Commr. Bakich suggested that Mr. Schmidt contact the Director of Public Works, who will research the road with him and arrive at a workable solution.
Mr. Schmidt also mentioned that there was a missing dead end sign on one of the roads in his neighborhood. To which Mr. Stivender responded that the sign was on a portion of road which is not County maintained.
Mr. Schmidt then questioned why a portion of Babb Road was paved and why some of it was not. To which Mr. Stivender responded that the County had been requested for that portion of Babb Road to be resurfaced, therefore, when it was paved there was a need to put more asphalt on that portion than normal because of its condition, therefore, the allowable cost would have been exceeded if the whole road had been paved at that time.
Mr. Dan Eastwood, a member of the audience, appeared before the Board and stated that he would like to express his gratitude to the Board for allowing the citizens of Lake County to air their views at these town meetings. He discussed the incinerator project, stating that the elimination of the interlocal agreements as suggested by Mr. David Sokol, President of Ogden Martin, removed the opportunity for the new Board members to consider any other alternatives for solid waste disposal.
Mr. Eastwood noted that Ogden Martin is an extremely lucrative, well financed, strong, profitable company, and the reason that Ogden Martin owns the incinerator, is to enable them to obtain a tax shelter. He discussed the costs of operating the incinerator and recycling, and that the Board should consider not "firing up" the incinerator, and discuss negotiating with Ogden Martin.
Mr. Eastwood questioned whether the fees begin if the incinerator is in operation six to nine months early, or do they begin on March 31, which the contract calls for. To which Mr. Alan A. Thelen, County Manager, responded that the incinerator must be in operation in March, and the fees would begin when the Board is willing to accept that it is operating properly, which could happen ahead of schedule.
Commr. Bakich commented, for the benefit of the audience, that there are five members on the Board, and that two of those members are not present this evening, those being, Commr. Bailey who is in Tallahassee and Commr. Windram who is absent.
Mr. Ron Evie, a member of the audience, appeared before the Board and questioned the one percent sales tax voted on at the past election which he thought was to be used for road improvements. To which Commr. Bakich responded that, the one penny sales tax voted on by the citizens, and passed, was not at the past election, and it was to go towards the construction of a criminal justice facility.
Commr. Gregg informed Mr. Evie that, the one penny sales tax was to be used to fund the construction of the Jail/Criminal Justice Facility and other infrastructure needs, and stated that the money collected from the $40 million bond issue is going to fund the debt service on the bond issue and accumulating interest. A small portion of it has been spent to pay Architect's fees and Construction Manager fees. Presently, the project is going through the permitting process and that process should be completed by the end of November. The bid packages have been sent out, and it is due to break ground around the first or second week of December.
Mr. Evie discussed the intersection at Highway 441 and 473 where the buttons in the road have not been removed, thereby, being a dangerous spot in Lake County. To which Mr. Stivender, Director of Public Works, responded that first they opened up the intersection and changed the stop lights, the road is now being paved, and when the striping is completed the buttons will be removed later, probably in December.
Mr. Evie discussed County Road 46A where it dead ends, and stated that there is no sign informing motorists that it is a dead end road. He understood that there was an agreement between two counties to complete that road. To which Mr. Stivender responded that, the plans for that road dates back t o the mid-60's, when there was a cooperative agreement between Lake County and Orange County. A bridge was built and the section of the road was constructed on the Lake County side, but Orange County did not complete their part of the agreement.
Ms. Charlotte Randall, of the Umatilla City Council, appeared before the Board and questioned whether Orange Avenue was in the road priority list. To which Mr. Stivender responded that it was. She then discussed an incident when she called the County's Public Works Department and asked for some maintenance on a clay road (County Line Road). She was told that there was nothing that could be done on the road because of the weeds growing along the side of it, and the sides of clay roads are not mowed by the County. Three days later there was a very bad accident on that road. The engineering on that road is unsafe, and she would like to see something done about this dangerous road.
Ms. Randall thanked the Board for having this town meeting in Umatilla this evening, and that she is looking forward to greater progress with the County in this area.
Ms. Randall corrected Mr. Swanson, Director of Planning and Development, regarding his earlier statement concerning the Umatilla Community Development Block Grant, and emphasized that it was not for the City of Umatilla, it was for the south side of Umatilla.
Commr. Bakich stated that the problems that the County is facing today, they cannot face alone, nor can the cities. He feels that, this Board is taking some positive and progressive looks at all of the problems within the County and the cities. He further stated that, the Board will be meeting in each of the districts approximately once a year, moving them around in the individual districts.
Ms. Bainter reappeared before the Board and questioned when the meeting for District 4 will be. To which Commr. Bakich responded that it was up to Commr. Windram to decide who was not present this evening.
Ms. Bainter stated that there are still a considerable amount of questions that need to be answered regarding the incinerator issue. She stated that the original plans, for the incinerator, and all of the projections, were based on all municipalities participating fully, but at the last minute the County was rushed to meet all of the deadlines. The cities were allowed to recycle to keep their waste costs down, which will cut down on the amount of processible materials, if they are successful. She wondered whether that would open the door to more outside waste being brought in and lower costs per ton, filling in the landfill faster with someone.else's garbage, thereby, defeating the purpose ofof cutting the space used for landfilling.
Commr. Swartz stated that, at some point, between now and when the incinerator is in operation, the Board will need to make some decisions and analyze the costs of some of the different methods.
Ms. Bainter questioned that, if the cost o f the city's garbage is lower, because they recycle, does that mean that the resident's living in the County costs for disposal of garbage will continue to rise; and will the cost at the end of the year, for paying Ogden Martin for the incinerator be divided amongst all of the residents, including those who recycled. To which Commr. Swartz responded that if the minimum tonnage is achieved, and the decision was made to allow Ogden Martin to import garbage, then those that recycled would save on the tonnage they actually took to the incinerator, and those who were not as involved in recycling would pay a higher fee because of the additional tonnage actually taken to the incinerator. The only way the residents who recycled would pay more, is if the minimum tonnage is not met.
Mr. Alan A. Thelen, County Manager, noted that it appears that the 130,000 ton minimum rate will be an attainable rate for the County.
Commr. Bakich informed Ms. Bainter that, if she had a group of people that have a number questions for the Board that they would be willing to schedule a time to meet with them.
Ms. Bainter questioned whether the County has a contract with F. Browne Gregg, for the disposal of the ash from the incinerator, for $20.00 per ton, and if so, will it be put in the landfill. To which Mr. Thelen responded that there is a provision in the contract where Mr. F. Browne Gregg can take the ash and the County will pay him $20.00 per ton, but it must be taken to an approved site, other than Lake County's.
Commr . Gregg stated that, that item was in the contract from the beginning. He further stated that he had spoken with a company who has a pilot program to, make building material, which is primarily road surface material, by making a pelletized aggregate, who has expressed an interest in acquiring the ash. He requested the County Attorney to review whether it would be allowable for the County to give the ash away, or if Mr. F. Browne Gregg has to have his option met.
Ms. Bainter stated that, if Mr. F. Browne Gregg is going to put ash in road beds, she wondered whether it is harmful, because of the ash being toxic.
Commr. Gregg explained the process of the ash used in road surface and building materials, noting that the ash is pelletized, then mixed with the asphalt or in place of screenings in a concrete block for building material. In the tests (which the results are due within the next few months), with the Environmental Protection Agency, they studying if rain falling on the asphalt leaches into the groundwater, before it will be allowed.
Commr. Gregg noted that the material going into the incinerator is the same material that has been being buried at the landfill, and when it is in the form of solid waste there are considerably more acids prevalent in the material, which can break down, making it more soluble than in the ash form. He further noted that, in talking with Ogden Martin, he questioned them whether any of the incinerator's ash in the United States was toxic, to which they replied that it is not.
Ms. Jeanie Olsen, with the Umatilla City Council, appeared before the Board and questioned what can concerned citizens do to be a part of the negotiations with Ogden Martin.
Commr. Swartz stated that, when the Commission feels that they have the necessary data they will be ready to negotiate with them. Ms. Olsen thanked the Board for coming to Umatilla tonight.
Ms. Grace Parker, a resident of Paisley, appeared before the Board and stated that she has been in Lake County for 71 years, and requested the name of a person whom she could contact for a personal interview in Paisley, regarding roads. To which Commr. Bakich responded that, he would be willing to meet with her, along with the County's Public Works Director, Jim Stivender.
Commr. Bakich thanked the members of the audience and the County employees for their attendance at this meeting.
There being no further business to be brought before the Board the meeting adjourned at 9:lO p.m.
C. W. "CHICK" GREGG, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK