The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, March 29, 1990, 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: Michael J. Bakich, Chairman; C. W. "Chick" Gregg; Don Bailey; Richard Swartz; and Thomas J. Windram. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Al Thelen, County Manager; Ava Kronz, Assistant to the County Manager; Robert K. McKee, Chief Deputy Clerk; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commr. Windram.
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/CONTRACTS, LEASES & AGREEMENTS/WATER AUTHORITY
Ms. Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney, stated that this request concerned an agreement between Lake County and the Lake County Water Authority regarding the B.M.K. closing, which was scheduled for later this date, at 2:00 p.m. She stated that the County had never actually entered into an agreement with the Water Authority for their $250,000.00 share of the $500,000.00 that the County is contributing for purchase of said property. She stated that an interlocal agreement was drafted (which was distributed to the Board prior to this meeting, for their perusal), which states that the Water Authority is going to contribute $250,000.00, and that it will be used for the purpose stated above, noting that the Water Authority approved said agreement on March 28, 1990.
On a motion by Commr. Gregg, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously, the Board approved an interlocal agreement between Lake County and the Oklawaha Basin Recreation and Water Conservation and Control Authority in Lake County, regarding a financial contribution, in the amount of $250,000.00, towards the purchase of B.M.K. Ranches, Inc. and M. K. Citrus Limited Partnership Properties.
Mr. Al Thelen, County Manager, gave a brief preview of the County's proposal, and presentation, which staff would be giving to.the Board this date, regarding the possible takeover and operation of the Lake County Jail. He stated that staff assumed the fringe benefit package would remain intact, and that all employees would be offered a job, at no less than the salary which they presently receive, as part of the RFP and proposals, submitted by the two privatization firms. He stated they also assumed that the fringe benefit package would stay in effect, as well as the three year projections that have been put out by the retirement association. He stated it was also assumed that, with the Prelude Project coming on line, the Main Jail would be reduced from 210 to 180 inmates and the Leesburg inmates would be transferred to Tavares, therefore, the Leesburg Jail would be closed. He noted that the staffing pattern, which Mr. Bob Buchanan, Correctional Services Group, Inc., developed and submitted, has been approved by the State.
Commr. Gregg referred to the increase in the Florida Retirement System for public safety employees, noting that the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities had filed suit, challenging it, and questioned whether the Jail employees were to be included in said increase, to which Mr. Thelen replied that they were Ms. Eleanor Anderson, Director of Administrative Services/Budget, for the County, informed the Board that the suit alluded to by Commr. Gregg was based on 2.5%, noting that the County used exactly what is proposed (which is a worst case scenario), in their projections, until such time as they receive the outcome of said suit.
Commr. Windram questioned where the County stands, if the Board decides that they want to privatize and draw up a five year contract, and then legislative action changes what benefits the company would have, to which Mr. Thelen, County Manager, stated that there has been some suggestion that the County's contract require them to match the retirement system, however, stated it would depend on the provisions of the contract, and as to whether the County required them to match the benefits over time, or not.
Ms . Anderson, Director of Administrative Services/Budget, for the County, reappeared before the Board and thanked Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut for their cooperation during the analyses which were conducted, regarding the takeover and operation of the Lake County Jail, for the period of May 1, 1990 through September 30, 1994. She stated that she had gone through the proposals from CCA and Wackenhut and had done a comparison, based on what the County's proposal is, stating that copies of same should have been received by the Board prior to this meeting. She then reviewed a proposal comparison narrative, page by page, at which time discussion occurred regarding salaries, fringe benefits, retirement, insurance, telephone service, extradiction service, and inmates' medical services, among other things.
A brief discussion occurred regarding unoccupied bed space and the housing of other prisoners, should this occur, and what revenue, if any, would come to the County, from same, at which time Mr. Thelen, County Manager, gave input.
Ms. Anderson then reviewed and discussed Pricing Summaries, covering the period from May 1, 1990 through September 30, 1994, based on RFPs which were submitted.
At this time, Dr. George Zoley, President of Wackenhut, appeared before the Board and stated that an elaborate analysis was done by the Lake County staff, and what it comes down to is a review of the fundamentals, and the original proposals and presentations, noting which companies were the most thorough and most accurate, and which one the Board would feel most comfortable with, as either firm would do an excellent job.
Mr. Wayne Calabrese, Vice President in Business Development, of Wackenhut, Inc., appeared before the Board and reiterated what Mr. Zoley had stated about the Lake County staff and what a fine job they had done. He distributed a comparison summary, regarding keeping the operations in-house versus privatization, to the Board, at which time he reviewed same. He stated that Wackenhut was the only firm that offered a performance bond that fully backs their services, and noted that they have a team of professionals who have been handling jobs such as this for many years, in many different areas of the country. He also noted that their firm's insurance coverage is far superior to their competition's, as well as anything else in the marketplace today.
Mr. George Wackenhut, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Wackenhut Corporation (which is a parent company of Wackenhut Corrections), appeared before the Board and commented on what their firm has to offer, and what a good job they will do for the County, as well as guaranteed compliance with the contract in every way.
Mr. Doctor Crants, President and Chief Executive Officer of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), appeared before the Board and commented as to what his firm has to offer and the philosophy his firm has regarding the operation of the Jail. He briefly touched on the issue of insurance, noting that his firm provides what the customer calls for, or wants. He commended the staff on what a fine job they had done, and closed by stating that his firm is the most experienced in Jail operations, therefore, feel that they can do the best job.
Further discussion occurred regarding unoccupied bed space and the housing of prisoners, other than County prisoners, and revenue received from same, using a per diem, per day, per inmate rate.
Commr. Swartz questioned Mr. Crants regarding the guaranteeing of revenue to the County, as it pertains to unoccupied bed space in the Jail, to which Mr. Crants replied that his firm's per diem structure is based on a philosophy that the County would pay for what they use. He stated his firm would be taking the responsibility of going out and finding the contract inmates, noting that if they are available, there would not be a problem, however, if it turns out that there is not a sufficient number of inmates, at the price that is contemplated this date, then it would be his firm's risk entirely, which is one of the uncertainties his firm would be taking from the County. He stated that in other areas of the country, where a County has made a decision to take control of bed space, his firm is usually called in a few years later to handle the situation, noting that the principal problem in those Counties.is failure of the County staff to find the contract inmates to fill the empty beds. He stated it presents a serious problem, due to the fact that, unless the County is willing to downsize the utilization of it, it results in layoffs.
Mr. Calabrese, with Wackenhut Corporation, reappeared before the Board and responded to a question regarding unoccupied bed space and how his firm would handle it, stating that his firm responded to the exact number of people, as well as the exact dates and number of facilities that were available, and this is what they submitted in their proposal. He stated his firm is willing to sit down and negotiate with the Board on a continuum, as to what his firm's price will be, noting that it will require them to think in terms of reducing staff and possibly closing a pod, or use staff more effectively or efficiently, with different numbers. He stated the Board may find they have cost savings at lower figures.
At this time, Mr. Thelen, County Manager, gave input regarding said issue.
Mr. Jerry Lockett, a local attorney, appeared before the Board stating that he was representing the correctional officers, who it is felt have the most at stake, regarding a decision of whether or not to privatize, or to take the operation of the Jail away from the Sheriff. He stated that they have voted on whether or not to become a union, however, the certification as to whether or not they will be part of the Teamsters Union will not be known until Friday, March 30, 1990, therefore, he requested the Board, on behalf of the correctional officers, not to make a decision this date, as they would like the opportunity, if they are going to be unionized, to come before the Board with the appropriate union representative, and give the Board their position, noting that he is unable to do so this date. He stated that, in talking with a few of the correctional officers, who have rank, he found that they would prefer to stay with the Sheriff's Department.
Commr. Bakich stated that, based on conversations that staff has had with the Sheriff's Department, the Board was basically given an ultimatum, and put into a position where they have to decide either to stay with the Sheriff, or to go with the County or privatization. He stated that it is his opinion that the Board has to make that decision this date, respective of the Sheriff's opinion.
Mr. Thelen, County Manager, gave input regarding the matter, informing the Board of a conversation he had with the attorney for the Sheriff's Department, prior to this meeting, regarding the correctional officers possibly joining the union, and the fact that if they did, whether they would immediately start negotiations, regarding a contract. He stated that the County's attorneys had advised him that the Sheriff had the legal ability to do so. He also stated the Sheriff had indicated to him that, if a timely decision was made to go with privatization, or for the County to assume the responsibilities, before he was contacted by the Union, he would not begin negotiations, but would defer to whatever decision was made by the Board. He stated, however, that if, in fact, he was contacted by the Union to start negotiations, he felt obligated to do so.
Commr. Swartz interjected that he had spoken with the Sheriff a number of times before this meeting, and he did not get the feeling that, if the vote for unionization was affirmative, the Sheriff was going to enter into it and sign a contract on his own, under the present circumstances, realizing that he is very much limited in his ability to sign a contract, based on the funding available. He stated he felt the Sheriff very much wanted some participation, or involvement, from the Board, and also was very confident that the Sheriff was not going to enter into any contract, without a great deal of consultation with the Board, due to the ramifications of agreeing to fund something that he does not have the ability to totally control.
At this time, Commr. Gregg stated he felt the Board was ultimately responsible for the financial end of negotiations, and would like to see the Board in a position to deal with that, whether they deal with it through County staff, or whether it is dealt with through private enterprise, if the Board decides to privatize. He.stated he felt it was in the best interest of the taxpayers for the Board to make a decision, at least one - either to take the operation of the Jail away from the Sheriff, or to privatize - this date, noting that, if the Board decides to privatize, the two firms being considered are the best in the business.
Discussion occurred regarding what issue should be brought up first - whether to take the operation of the Jail away from the Sheriff, or whether to privatize - at which time Commr. Gregg stated he felt the issue of whether the County wants to take responsibility of the Jail, or whether to leave it with the Sheriff, should be made first, then, if the Board chooses to take responsibility of the Jail, to make a decision of whether or not the Board wants to privatize. If the Board makes a decision to privatize, feels that it is in the best interest of the Board to take a look at Wackenhut's operation (noting that they have already reviewed CCA's operation) before making a decision as to which firm to award the contract to.
He questioned the County Attorney, Ms. Lustgarten, and the County Manager, Mr. Thelen, as to how the Board would handle the transition, should they decide to take the operation of the Jail away from the Sheriff and take it over, until such time as a decision is made as to whether the Board wants to privatize or not, to which Mr. Thelen replied that staff would need approximately 60 days for the transition period, due to the necessity of switching health plans, insurance, etc. He stated that staff felt, if a decision could be made in March, maybe a negotiation could be made in April, with implementation to be made in June.
Ms. Lustgarten, County Attorney, gave input regarding the matter, stating that the Board has the option of designating who the Chief Correctional Officer will be, by a motion. If the Board does decide to go with privatization, they have to authorize said privatization through an ordinance, which authorizes the contract by a vote of four members of the Board. If the Board does enter into a contract with a private entity, the Board, in that contract, will have the ability to designate the representative of that private entity a s the Chief Correctional Officer.
Further discussion occurred regarding the transition period, at which time Ms. Lustgarten stated that, if the Board was talking about the County taking the Jail over, it would include a transition period, however, if the Board chooses to go to privatization, it would include negotiation of an agreement, at which point, once the agreement is approved, the transition period would start from that point, forward.
Mr. Thelen, County Manager, reiterated the fact that a decision needed to be made in a timely manner, due to the need to pass an ordinance. He also stated he understood that a commitment had been made that the Board and staff would visit one of Wackenhut's facilities, before making a decision as to which firm to award the contract to.
A motion was made by Commr. Gregg and seconded by Commr. Windram for the County to operate the Jail, rather than have the Sheriff's Department continue to operate it.
At this time, Commr. Bailey amended Commr. Gregg's motion, to vote on the issue of privatization first, and then to discuss the matter of taking the operation of the Jail away from the Sheriff.
Discussion occurred regarding Commr. Bailey's amended motion, at which time he stated he felt the matter of privatization should be voted on first, as the Board is creating an adversarial relationship between the Board and the Sheriff's Department, by their present actions.
Commr. Windram stated he felt the Board had made every effort to communicate with the Sheriff, regardi ng the matter, and did not know why the Sheriff would want to continue operating the Jail, as it is nothing but a headache.
Commr. Bakich also gave input regarding the matter, informing the Board of what the Sheriff had stated during the budget process, to the affect that he did not want to continue operating the Jail.
Commr. Bailey stated the Sheriff had informed him that he felt he should continue operating the Jail, as he is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, noting that he, personally, feels the Board has.sent some mixed signals to the Sheriff, in that the Board is trying to take the Jail away from him.
Discussion occurred regarding whether Commr. Bailey's motion would actually be an amended motion or a separate motion, at which time it was noted that Commr. Bailey's motion would be amending Commr. Gregg's motion, if he worded it in such a way as, if the County is going to assume responsibility for corrections, that the Board do so, and that they privatize that responsibility. This way, the Board would get to vote on the concept of privatization first.
Ms. Lustgarten, County Attorney, stated that if Commr. Bailey's amended motion is seconded, then it becomes the motion on the floor, and, at that time, the Board would be voting on the issue of privatization. She also stated that due to statutory requirements, a vote of four is necessary to approve the ordinance, which would enter into the contract, noting that that same vote of four would be necessary to direct that the ordinance be drafted, and the contract be entered into.
For clarification, Ms. Lustgarten, County Attorney, stated that Commr. Bailey was moving to amend the motion to add that the County go to privatization, in taking over responsibility of the Jail, at which time the motion was seconded by Commr. Swartz.
Discussion occurred regarding what type of vote this motion would require, in order for it to pass, at which time it was noted that it only required a simple majority, or a three to two vote.
The Chairman, Commr. Bakich, called for a vote on the amended motion (to add privatization to the main motion, thereby, requiring that the Board vote on the issue of whether or not to privatize, first), which failed.
Commr. Gregg, Windram, and Bakich voted "No".
Discussion continued regarding the matter of the Board taking the operation of the Jail away from the Sheriff, at which time several Commissioners gave further input.
The Chairman, Commr. Bakich, called for a vote on Commr. Gregg's original motion (for the County to take over the operation of the Jail) which was carried.
Commrs. Bailey and Swartz voted "No".
A motion was then made by Commr. Windram, and seconded by Commr. Gregg to go to privatization for the operation of the Jail, which failed.
Commrs. Bailey and Swartz voted "No".
It was noted that this particular motion needed a four to one vote, in order to pass.
The Board thanked the Wackenhut and Corrections Corporation of America representatives for their time and cooperation, as well as staff for a job well done.
Commr. Bakich brought to the attention of the Board the fact that Mr. John McLeod needed to be reappointed to the Industrial Development Authority Board, as his term expired March 10, 1990.
On a motion by Commr. Gregg, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously, the Board appointed Mr. John McLeod to the Industrial Development Authority Board, for a term of four years.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
MICHAEL J. BAKICH, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK