The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, January 28, 1992, 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 Catherine Hanson. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Mike Anderson, Interim County Manager; Ava Kronz, Assistant to the County Manager; James C. Watkins, Clerk; Robert K. McKee, Chief Deputy Clerk; Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk; and various city managers and elected officials.
The Chairman, Commr. Bakich, opened the meeting.
On a motion by Commr. Bailey, seconded by Commr. Gregg and carried unanimously, the Board approved Resolution No. 1992-20, approving the form of a preliminary official statement, in connection with the County's Sales Tax Refunding Revenue Bonds, Series 1992.
Lake County's new County Manager, Mr. Pete Wahl (due to come on board Monday, March 2, 1992) was present in the audience and was introduced by the Chairman to those present.
Mr. Don Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, appeared before the Board and distributed a handout which staff had put together, stating that it was a compilation of three (3) memos which had been prepared by the County and the cities, relating to the degree of solid waste tipping fee inequity.
Commr. Bakich stated that, for some time, one of the major discussions has been the degree of inequity involved in the calculation of tipping fees between the cities and the County, as well as a lot of discussion to the extent of that degree, whether
it be a low of 6% or a high of 30% suggested by others; however, the Board has not had a chance to be involved in the Recycling Subcommittee Meetings and hear everything that was being said.
Mr. Rex Taylor, City Manager, City of Leesburg (who chaired the Recycling Subcommittee) appeared before the Board stating that the Recycling Subcommittee did not deal with the inequity issue, as they felt it was not an issue under their jurisdiction. He stated that, at the last meeting which the subcommittee held, they reviewed bid documents for the recycling part of the program and alternatives that were being requested by the haulers for various types of recycling programs. He stated that the first meeting the subcommittee held during the month of December, they agreed on a formula to be utilized, in terms of the number of households in the County versus the number of households actually being collected, as best as that number can be determined. He stated that county staff resurveyed the haulers, then computed a number, and came up with approximately 15,400 households (out of approximately 75,000) in the County that are not receiving collection, in both the incorporated and unincorporated area. He stated that formula worked out to approximately 20.3% of households in the County that generate garbage, against the $40.00 per ton, which comes out to $6.80 per household (this differs from the $8.00 that they originally came up with), which he noted is significantly greater than the $2.00 credit that the County came up with, at 6%. He stated that no matter how it is computed, the bottom line is that there are approximately 15,000 households in the County that are not paying anything for disposal of solid waste, which is the crux of the inequity problem.
Commr. Gregg interjected that the subcommittee pulled census data and found that all of the 15,000 households alluded to are not inhabited.
Mr. Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, stated that what the subcommittee did after they prepared the initial information (based on total households) was to pull census
information that had the number of occupied households in the County. He stated that part of the subcommittee's discussion was that if they were going to use (for lack of better information) housing units as a base for determining the inequity, should they use the total number of households that are available in the County, or should they use the total number of occupied households. He stated they recognized that the total number of households are not going to be occupied either part of the year or all of the year; however, the total number of occupied households is going to change from time to time during the year, so, some place between the number of households and the number of occupied households is probably what a fair number is, based on this particular methodology. It was noted that the data used was taken from the April 1, 1988 census.
Mr. Findell referred to a memo (dated January 9, 1992) pertaining to the methodology used to determine how many households are in the County and how many of those households are collected by existing haulers. He stated that there are some flaws in said calculations, but, there is no perfect method to determine the inequities, based on the system as it exists today, and, until the County puts some mechanism in place that will segregate the collection in the cities from the collection in the unincorporated area, the County is not going to arrive at a perfect methodology. It was noted that the best methodology the County presently has is the household calculations.
Commr. Hanson stated that she is in favor of using the occupied households figure, since it is taken in April, which would be in between the peak and the low occupation. She stated that there should be very little bias from the cities regarding the use of this month as an average.
Commr. Gregg stated that he felt taking the number of households occupied in April and the total number of residences in the unincorporated area of the County and coming up with an average between the two is probably as realistic a figure as one can get,
due to the fact that all of the houses are not going to be occupied, due to some being uninhabited or condemned.
Mr. Jim Myers, Finance Director and City Clerk, City of Eustis, stated that, during the first meeting that was held in determining a figure, the point that was made (which basically everyone agreed on) as far as the formula that would be used and an understanding that there would be a potential for inaccuracy, as far as the data from the haulers is concerned, was the fact that a special assessment is not in place, and in order to try and mirror the situation that would be created with mandatory assessment, one would have to look at total housing units. He stated that the County is not going to levy a special assessment against occupied houses only.
Commr. Gregg stated that during the last joint meeting that was held between the Board of County Commissioners and the League of Cities, the Board said they would go through the procedure of setting up the public hearing, as usual (which he noted the Board has done), but, that there was going to be a polling of all the cities as to their willingness to participate in a special assessment, for disposal in particular. He stated that unincorporated residents are being charged just for having a house, whereas city residents are still going to be billed, if they are generating garbage. If they are not generating garbage, their bill is going to stop. He stated there is going to be some inequities on the side of the municipalities, if special assessments are done in the County and not in the Cities. He stated that they need to at least address the disposal charge, as he feels this is the fairest way to deal with the matter.
Commr. Hanson stated she felt, from conversations that she has had with various individuals, that going with mandatory collection might be more costly to the whole system than going with a special assessment for disposal only. She stated that she cannot see forcing mandatory collection on the people in the unincorporated areas of the County, just because the cities have it, when that
might not be the most cost effective route to go. She stated that going with disposal only gives the people in the unincorporated area of the County some options, and their lowest costs to the disposal issue.
Commr. Gregg stated that he felt a special assessment for all residents, for at least the disposal portion, is the only way to solve the equity problem, noting that if the County establishes a method that they are going to charge for 90% of the households, to allow for some that are unoccupied, then they need to do it countywide - in the cities and in the County.
Ms. Paulette Alexander, Mayor, City of Mt. Dora, stated that the Mt. Dora City Commission just unanimously approved the resolution for both mandatory collection and special assessment, however, noted that there was not a lot of discussion on the alternatives. She stated that she felt the Mt. Dora City Commission would be in favor of the countywide assessment, as it would be fair to everyone, and that they should include the cities and the unincorporated areas of the County. She stated that she feels if the County has a special assessment, the majority of people are going to take their garbage to a transfer station or find some way to dispose of it, which she feels may help solve the entire problem.
Commr. Hanson stated that everyone needs to understand that if there is a special assessment, that amount, whatever it is determined to be, would not be in addition to what they are paying at this time for garbage collection, as it presently includes disposal.
Discussion occurred regarding the differentiating between what is truly a commercial customer and what is a multi-family, and how best to address the matter.
Mr. Charles Strickland, City Commissioner, City of Leesburg, stated that what has most of the cities in turmoil is the fact that there are 15,000 households that are not doing anything, noting that he feels they need to address this issue first and then go to
a formula. He stated that he felt a lot of that is going to depend on what the negotiations with Ogden Martin bring up. He stated he feels that everyone should have to pay, and it is up to the Board to see that they do.
Discussion occurred regarding the resolutions that are to be placed on the March 10, 1992 presidential ballot regarding the solid waste issue, at which time Commr. Gregg stated that what the people of the County will be voting on, countywide, is whether they are willing to have the County take care of disposal of their garbage, and, if so, are they willing to pay a special assessment or other charge to do so, noting that the main reason this question will be on the ballot is that the Property Appraiser has indicated he will not bill for a special assessment unless it is approved by referendum, which he noted keeps the County out of the billing department business (which was going to cost the County $400,000.00) and puts it back to where the Property Appraiser can take care of the billing on the tax notices.
Mr. Strickland, City Commissioner, City of Leesburg, questioned what the Board is going to do if the voters vote down the resolution (Question 1) pertaining to mandatory collection of solid waste, countywide, to which Commr. Gregg responded that the County would have to charge them on a billing basis (if the Board chooses in a public hearing to do so).
Mr. Strickland then questioned what the Board is going to do if the third resolution (Question 3) pertaining to the imposition of special assessments for the collection of solid waste in unincorporated Lake County is voted down, to which Commr. Gregg responded that the County either does not do mandatory collection, or they do it and do it on a billing basis (at which time a billing department will have to be set up).
Commr. Gregg stated that, since the joint meeting which was held between the Board and the League of Cities, the Board has taken the necessary steps to do either mandatory collection or a special assessment (which is what was agreed upon in the interlocal
agreements that the County has with the municipalities); however, the cities have not polled their members to address the question of whether or not they support the levying of a special assessment for disposal and feels this question still needs to be addressed.
Commr. Bakich stated that the issues which the cities are bringing up are valid ones that should have been resolved before that public hearing that was held in July of 1991, at the Ag Center, however, they were not. Therefore, the Board is now trying to resolve them, which he feels is going to make for a better situation. He stated that he feels the County is moving in the right direction, but the County and the cities have to work together.
Ms. Alexander, Mayor, City of Mt. Dora, stated that she felt one of the most important things that all concerned can do is to educate the public that all are going to pay, regardless of how it comes out. She stated that once the Board establishes a reasonable fee, the public needs to know that if everybody pays that fee, then the haulers will only be charging for pickup and delivery, not a tipping fee, because the County will have already collected it.
Mr. Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, interjected that last year the County's tipping fee was $40.00 per ton; however, the full cost of disposal ended up being approximately $46.00 per ton, so the County had to subsidize the $6.00 last year, and this year they are continuing to subsidize it, at $40.00 per ton, on the basis that during the coarse of the year, unless garbage rates increase substantially, or the cost of doing business with Ogden Martin goes down substantially, it will probably get close to the $65.00 per ton figure.
Mr. Findell stated that the County is generating more garbage than what was estimated, which is good, however, the County's cost of doing business with Ogden Martin, through the contract, is more than what was estimated for this time of year.
Commr. Swartz stated that the $65.00 does not include any of the landfill types of costs, noting that they will be in next
year's budget. He stated that there is no way the County will be at $65.00 unless there are substantial changes to the contract with Ogden Martin, because the County is going to foot some kind of landfill costs.
The matter of the tipping fee was again brought up for discussion, at which time Ms. Alexander and Mr. Strickland stated that they felt it was going to be much higher than anticipated.
Mr. Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, interjected that the fee will go up as the debt service is fixed, because the County will be moving from a variable rate to a fixed rate; however, what it will allow the County to do, over time, is to lock in a reasonably low interest rate and be able to plan for expenditures on the basis of a locked-in rate.
Mr. Taylor, City Manager, City of Leesburg, questioned why the Board did not put into place a mandatory disposal ordinance now, to follow the waste control ordinance, and use the Code Enforcement Office for some limited enforcement of it, noting that this is something that can be put on the table now.
Commr. Gregg stated that the County could do that and probably solve the letter and intent of the law in the agreement, but enforcing it is next to impossible. He stated that, if the County does not back it up with some means of billing for it, he does not feel that it is going to solve the problem.
Mr. Taylor then questioned how the County is planning on handling transfer stations, as far as special assessments are concerned, to which Commr. Swartz responded that there are several ways of doing it, noting that if the County ends up with certain areas that are considering the use of a transfer station, part of that disposal is going to be the cost of that transfer station. He stated that what the County may end up having is different MSBUs to designate geographical areas where they will have to pay an incrementally higher cost.
Mr. Myers, Finance Director and City Clerk, City of Eustis, stated that, if there is not some direction in the area of
recycling, countywide, there are inequities created, as far as an estimated contribution to the system. He stated that this is going to have to be part of whatever fee is assessed, but, there is not an incentive if there are pockets of people that are aggressively doing it and others are not.
Commr. Bakich stated that a timetable has been set up, and the Board is working towards that timetable to have more aggressive recycling, but, until such time as it can, the County has a priority to get waste to the waste-to-energy facility. He stated that the Board understands the importance of recycling, but there is a greater importance to get waste to the waste-to-energy facility.
Mr. Findell stated that one thing the County is doing, as far as recycling is concerned, is that the Recycling Subcommittee is going to come before the Board on February 4, 1992, with a request to go out to bid for recycling services. He stated that subcommittee asked staff to look at various methodologies for the provision of those services, anywhere from curbside collection, to drop-off center recycling, to a combination of the two, to some other method that the hauler might devise and tell staff that he will be willing to implement further, for a fixed fee. He stated that this information is going to be very useful for both the cities and the County, in terms of the dollar cost for providing the service. He stated that one of the alternatives is that the recycling firms are requested to bid on a curbside collection program, that mirrors what the County anticipated doing two years ago when the County started the recycling program, which is a program that will be expandable from zero number of homes to the total number of homes in the County, noting that the theory behind this is that, if the cost of recycling for all the homes in the County is substantially less than recycling for a portion of the homes, then the cities may wish to become involved in part of the total county program and make it beneficial to their residents to have a lower recycling fee. He stated that most of those that are
paying, at present, are paying $1.89 per household and, if the County can devise a system that gets the cost down (based on the number of units) to $1.69 or $1.59, then a decision is going to have to be made by each of the cities as to whether it is more beneficial to them, financially, to be part of a total county program.
Mr. Wayne Saunders, City Manager, City of Clermont, stated that the only real way to solve the inequity of recycling is to go to countywide recycling, so that people in every city are recycling, as well as everyone in the County.
Ms. Alexander, Mayor, City of Mt. Dora, stated that if the cities agree to a special assessment, then the County needs to agree to recycling, and make it mandatory recycling. She stated that how the County gets there is going to vary on whether or not there will be curbside pickup, but that there has got to be some kind of fixed fee involved, to which Mr. Saunders concurred.
Mr. Strickland, City Commissioner, City of Leesburg, noted that it is State mandated that counties have a 30% recycling program in effect by 1994; therefore, everyone involved needs to work together to form an equitable solution, due to the fact that it costs five times more to recycle than it does to burn.
Mr. Taylor, City Manager, City of Leesburg, questioned whether the County could legally levy a non-ad valorem assessment in the cities, to which Mr. Lustgarten, County Attorney, responded that the County does not have jurisdiction in the cities. She stated that it is being levied in the County's municipal service taxing unit, but it only includes the unincorporated area.
It was noted that, from a technical standpoint, none of the cities can come into it this year, but they can do their own special assessments and collect it.
Ms. Lustgarten, County Attorney, stated that the cities can come in next year because the County can adopt a resolution, before the end of this year, that would incorporate any cities that wish to come in.
Commr. Gregg stated he feels that if the County gets a majority of the cities to agree to come into a special assessment, at least the County can bill those cities at a cost per household (by weight), instead of a tipping fee, and, hopefully, that will resolve the problem, as everybody will be paying on the same basis.
Mr. Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, stated that if the County went to a special assessment or special billing, to deal with the disposal issue and the inequities of the disposal issue, and then went to full scale mandatory recycling in all the cities and in all the unincorporated area, then they will have dealt with the inequity issue as it relates to one city recycling more than another city or the unincorporated area.
Ms. Alexander, Mayor, City of Mt. Dora, brought up for discussion the matter of an addition to the incinerator to burn sludge, at which time Mr. Findell stated that Ogden Martin was currently revisiting that issue, noting that the problem they had, early on, was the degree of solids in the sludge delivered to the facility. He stated that the facility could not handle conventional sludge - that it had to be dried, or they would have to put in a press; however, they would not be able to handle the water after they pressed out the materials, so they would have to have a tanker truck to haul the water out of the facility. He stated that it did not appear to be a very feasible thing to do a couple of years ago, when it was originally being discussed, but is being revisited now as part of these negotiations on the service agreement.
Ms. Alexander stated that, due to the fact that the County has to deal with new regulations that the Department of Environmental Regulations (DER) has passed regarding disposal of sludge, and the fact that cities are now responsible for their sludge, felt that it would be wise to look into this matter, since the County has the incinerator and should get the maximum benefit from it. She stated that they could put in some kind of water retraction unit or some
other mechanism to where the incinerator would accept sludge, which would give it more burnables.
Mr. Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, stated that the cities have to have conditional use permits, or a public facilities district zoning, in order to apply the sludge in the unincorporated area, as it is getting harder and harder to permit that type of activity. He stated the reason for revisiting this issue is to see if the County can buy some mechanism by which it could lower the cost for installation of that type of unit, or establish some other mechanism by which the cities could deliver the sludge in a "cake" rather than in liquid form.
Ms. Alexander, Mayor, City of Mt. Dora, stated that this is something that the County and the cities need to address.
Commr. Swartz suggested that staff provide the cities with a list of some of the facilities in the County that have been permitted for that purpose already.
Mr. Taylor, City Manager, City of Leesburg, questioned how the Board was going to handle the issue of inequity, to which Commr. Bakich responded that he felt a fair solution to the matter would be the compromise that was suggested earlier.
Commr. Swartz stated that if it is really the intent of the cities to look at some kind of long-term solution, it would be for the County to have either a special assessment or a method for collecting for disposal from all the residents in the unincorporated area. He requested the cities that have already taken a position to revisit the issue.
For clarification purposes, Ms. Alexander, Mayor, City of Mt. Dora, questioned whether it was the consensus of the Board that they would be willing to look at a countywide system and recognize the need for mandatory assessment and also mandatory recycling, if all involved are going to participate in one system, to which the Board concurred.
Mr. Joe Woodnick, a local resident, appeared before the Board and questioned whether the ordinance pertaining to non-ad valorem
assessments was still valid, at which time he read into the Minutes what said ordinance states. He distributed to the Board a list of eight questions which he felt they should answer and questioned how they expected the citizens of the County to vote on something that they do not understand. He stated what the incinerator is going to generate (at $80.00 per ton), as well as the billing of the households in the County, and questioned whether either one of them was going to be sufficient to satisfy the entire cost of the operation of the incinerator, including the debt service. He did not feel that it would.
Mr. Woodnick then questioned what the Board has done about evaluating the total cost of an operation similar to Collier County, for landfill mining, to which Commr. Bakich responded that staff is presently looking into the matter and that it is scheduled to come before the Board on February 4, 1992.
Mr. Hubert Hartman, a local resident, representing the unincorporated area of the County, appeared before the Board to discuss the cost of garbage collection in the unincorporated area. He stated that he felt those residents that have their garbage collected are paying 26% more, annually, for each residence, than the average cost per residence of all the six cities. He suggested how he felt the Board should handle the situation, otherwise, feels the residents are going to receive a fee that they will not be able to afford. He then stated a concern he had that the residents of the unincorporated area are going to be left to the vulnerability of the cities, due to the fact that any shortfall in revenue is going to fall only on unincorporated residents, and questioned how the Board was going to make up a shortfall, to which Commr. Swartz responded that the tipping fee, the special assessment, or whatever funding mechanism that is in place the following year will be increased to make up that shortfall.
Commr. Gregg interjected that the County will never be able to predict the service charge exactly - it will either be short or
over every year and will have to be made up the following year, through an adjustment.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:05 a.m.
MICHAEL J. BAKICH, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK