The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a joint session on Tuesday, February 27, 1992, at 9:00 a.m., at Vic's Embers, Leesburg, 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: Gerry Clark, Assistant County Attorney; Mike Anderson, Interim County Manager; Ava Kronz, Administrative Assistant to the County Manager; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Bakich, Chairman, opened the meeting by stating that this is a meeting continuing the discussion on the solid waste issue. At this time, he asked that staff present a synopsis of the previous joint meeting, and then the floor would be opened for questions and answers.
Mr. Don Findell, Director of Environmental Services, stated that staff did meet with representatives from the League of Cities on January 28, 1992, and discussed various issues related to solid waste management, and, at the closing of the meeting, felt that there was a consensus on a number of issues, with him elaborating on those issues, as follows:
1. Solid waste management is a countywide problem.
2. In order to eliminate funding inequities, it is important to
establish appropriate mechanisms to implement both mandatory
disposal and mandatory recycling.
3. In order to insure equity in funding system disposal costs for
all County residents, the County and cities would have to
establish special assessments for solid waste disposal, or
in the alternative, the County might have to establish
special assessments and bill the cities a base disposal charge, which would be based upon the total number of households in the city.
4. The Board of County Commissioners placed on the ballot for
March 10, 1992, three (3) questions dealing with solid waste
management (which Mr. Findell read to those present). He
stated that the Property Appraiser had indicated that he will
not bill for special assessments, if the assessments were not
approved by the voters. He further stated that, if the County
was placed in the position to bill for the assessments, the
cost would be approximately $400,000.00.
5. The County is moving as rapidly as possible towards the
implementation of the special assessments.
6. In order to keep the tipping fee at $40.00 per ton the last
two years, the County has been heavily subsidizing the solid
waste management system (tipping fees) with cash reserves. In
the last fiscal year, approximately 1.8 million dollars was
spent to subsidize the $40.00 per ton tipping fee. At the
end of this month, the County will have spent approximately
1.1 million dollars more than what has been received in revenues, which does not include any withholding tipping fees
that might occur. Mr. Findell stated that, at the end of this
fiscal year, in order to keep the tipping fee at $40.00 per
ton, there will be budget revenue shortfall of approximately
2.5 million dollars.
7. The County is unable to take advantage of the current low interest rates because of the ongoing controversy regarding the system, with the cities threatening to take waste out of
the County, and the cities withholding tipping fees.
Commr. Bakich stated that Mr. Bob Varner, Winston & Straughn, who is representing the County in the re-negotiations with Ogden Martin, presented an update, which he made available to those present at the meeting, and requested Mr. Findell to review those topics in the update, as follows:
1. Maximize Facility throughout.
2. Adjustment of the County's tonnage commitment to reflect the
a) recycling, and
b) mandatory collection.
3. Terms governing Ogden's use of additional capacity.
4. Cost benefits resulting from Ogden's assumption of various
5. Pricing impact of Ogden performing additional tasks associated
with future system implementation, such as recycling programs
or facilities, landfill mining, leachate control or disposal
and residue disposal.
6. Economic factors under the contract and financing documents,
including equity, pass through costs, damage calculations,
revenue sharing, etc.
7. Additional types of waste that can be accepted at the Facility.
8. Assess potential impact of anticipated changes in environmental
criteria for air emissions limits for mercury, cadmium and lead.
9. Coordination with County financing plan.
At this time, Commr. Bakich turned the meeting over to Mr. Charlie Strickland, President of the League of Cities.
Mr. Strickland stated that it appeared that the County and cities are making progress, and are communicating. He discussed the history of the incinerator problem, in relation to the new Board. He then discussed the issue of the 1988 bonds, and stated that there was a 70 million dollar bond issue, and a 9 million dollar issue that is not tax free, with both being five year bonds, which were secured by a Letter of Credit. If the Letter of Credit is not drawn down, there will be an eight (8) year pay out period, which makes the cities very uncomfortable. Mr. Strickland stated that, in 1989, the County and the cities should have been aggressively pursuing a program to correct the issues they are faced with today. He further stated that the Letter of Credit has to be met, with the existing bonds being refinanced from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate. Mr. Strickland stated that the cities are also concerned with the idea that there should be another 30 million dollars in place for the closure of the Lady Lake landfill, the Astatula landfill, and the buying of the land for the new landfill.
Mr. Strickland discussed information received from Oakland County, Michigan, concerning contributions that were made by Winston & Straughn, (solid waste management attorneys) handling the Westinghouse bond issue, which was approved, and questioned the position that Mr. Varner is taking with Lake County on the incinerator issue.
Mr. Strickland stated that the County needs to come up with 163,000 tons of waste for the incinerator, and the land (Site K) for the new landfill. He further stated that Ogden Martin is indicating that the County has not met all of its obligations in the original agreement, which include the waste flow ordinance, the special assessment ordinance, and the interlocal agreements. Only three of the cites have an interlocal agreement.
Commr. Bakich informed the Board that Mr. Bob Varner is no longer with Winston & Straughn. Mr. Findell stated that the group (Winston & Straughn) was a solid waste management group of lawyers, and that Mr. Varner has left this group, because he felt there was a conflict of interest.
Discussion occurred regarding the tonnage requirement of 163,000, with Mr. Findell stating that this number will not be met with County waste, but may be met with out of County waste. He further stated that the financing problem cannot be resolved until there an entire solid waste management program is developed that the financing agencies will have complete confidence. Mr. Findell stated that he has met with two of the investment banks who have indicated that they do not see an immediate problem.
Commr. Swartz discussed the issue of landfill mining versus the construction and development of a new landfill, and the savings of a significant amount of money should the procedure of landfill mining be accepted, which would eliminate the need for the new landfill.
Commr. Gregg stated that the County selected a financial team to handle the financial issues, and that the County still has an option to purchase Site K should the studies in landfill mining show that landfill mining will not be feasible.
Mr. Findell stated that the Letter of Credit extension requires that the County have a permanent ash monofill. If Astatula II is permitted as an expansion of Astatula I and is incorporated with the landfill mining, there will be a permanent site, with this being known within the next few months.
Discussion occurred regarding the flexibility of the Letter of Credit, which specifies a time frame of November, 1992 through November, 1993 that the County will be operating at 163,000 tons. Commr. Swartz stated that the essence of the problem is the contract with Ogden Martin, and if the County can get significant relief, in terms of the tonnages, and corresponding relief in terms of the costs, then he will firmly support some form of mandatory collection/special assessment, which he committed to doing. He then discussed the meeting that was held at the Agricultural Center where the Board did not adopt a mandatory special assessment procedure. He further stated that the Board did not adopt an $80.00 per ton fee either, and one could not be adopted without the other. At this time, Commr. Swartz enumerated various methods of calculating the fees that individuals would be paying in the cities for garbage service. Commr. Swartz emphasized that the Board is proceeding with resolving this problem as quickly as possible, and if the County can get a reasonable result from the re-negotiations with Ogden Martin, he will move to remove the inequity that exists in the cities.
Discussion occurred regarding the issues that were before the Board at the Agricultural Center which involved collection, disposal and recycling costs, with Mr. Strickland stressing that the cities did not present these issues, and costs ($247.93), to the Board for approval.
Commr. Gregg discussed the re-negotiations with Ogden Martin, and stated that Mr. Bob Proctor, Fruitland Park, conveyed that all of the County and cities share in the cost of operating a total solid waste disposal system, no matter what happens, or what the costs will be. Commr. Gregg stated that the discussions with the attorney involved with the re-negotiations indicate that he is optimistic that these issues will be resolved and there will be some relief, but whatever the outcome, the expense will be shared among all involved. Commr. Gregg stated that all should share in the cost for disposal, on a per household basis, less the in-flow of revenue from commercial tipping fees, which cannot be done on a special assessment basis, because it is more related to tonnage than it is to units. He feels that the issue of disposal definitely needs to be addressed, and feels that there is unanimous support from the Board to move in this direction. At this time, he discussed the areas that will have problems with curbside collection.
Commr. Gregg stated that the County will most likely, in order to make it workable, have a charge per occupied residential household, and to continue with a tipping fee for commercial both inside and outside of the city. He further indicated that part-time residents most likely will also be charged.
Commr. Bailey discussed the rural areas of the County, and stated that he feels that people will support disposal, if they are convinced that the County has the best price it can get, and if it applies to everyone.
Discussion occurred regarding the cooperation that is needed between the cities and the County, in order to resolve the issues of solid waste disposal.
Mr. Bob Maguire, Groveland, stated that one of the issues that the cities are concerned about involves the referendum that is being proposed, and the confusion that has emerged from the composition of the questions.
Commr. Bakich discussed the issue of the County having to develop a revenue office to incorporate the special assessment, or having Mr. Ed Havill, Property Appraiser, involved with the billing.
Commr. Gregg stated that, no matter what means is used for billing, the lien feature will have to be used. The main reason that this issue was placed on the referendum was to get Mr. Havill to do the billing, and Mr. Havill indicated that he would not be willing to do the billing, without an approved referendum. It was noted that the cost for the County to set up a billing office would be approximately $400,000.00, which would increase the annual charge per household.
Discussion occurred regarding the reaction from the public on the lien feature of the billing process, and to the questions being placed on the referendum, with Mr. Mike Stearman, Eustis, expressing the position that the cities are placed in when trying to explain the questions to the public, without a complete understanding themselves.
Mr. Jim Myers, Eustis, questioned the fees that Mr. Havill will be charging the County for the billing, with Commr. Swartz explaining the possible costs, and stating that the County presently has an interlocal agreement with Mr. Havill for the fire assessment. He further stated that fees would have to be paid to the Property Appraiser, as well as the Tax Collector, should the referendum be passed.
Discussion occurred regarding the cities already having a billing mechanism and an office in place, with Mr. Stearman discussing the foreseen problems with the billing for stormwater.
Discussion occurred regarding the agreement with Ogden Martin and terms for a flow control ordinance, a special assessment, and interlocal agreements, to be put into place by the County. It was noted that the flow control ordinance is in place, and that the requirement for the interlocal agreement was stricken from the contract, once it was signed.
Mr. Strickland stated that the City of Eustis has already put the County on notice regarding litigation involving the tipping fee issue, with two others cities contemplating doing the same.
Commr. Gregg discussed the resolution which was passed by the Board, that gave the Board the ability to impose a special assessment and to create the Municipal Service Benefit Units (MSBUs) for the special assessment, if the Board chose to do so, and stated that the Board unanimously indicated that it supports the disposal cost being charged to every household in Lake County. He indicated that he felt the suit was not in good faith, because the County has done everything that it has agreed to do. He stated that, at the last meeting, it was agreed that Mr. Welton Cadwell, or the League of Cites, would poll the cities to find out whether the cities would be in favor of a special assessment for a per household charge, within a 30 day period, but no answer has been presented to the Board.
Discussion occurred regarding the issue of the County possibly reimbursing the cities for the overcharge of tipping fees.
Discussion continued regarding concerns expressed by the cities, in relation to not receiving complete information over the past, including the Public Financial Management (PFM) reports, and other pertinent information, with the Board and staff indicating that many opportunities were given to the cities to become educated on the solid waste issue.
Commr. Swartz discussed the concern being expressed involving the public and the press not being allowed to sit in on the re-negotiations with Ogden Martin. He stated that, once Mr. Varner comes back to the Board with changes in the contract, which address the issues of concern, the information will be made available to the cites for review. He continued to stress the need for advertised public hearings on the solid waste issue, and suggested that, as Mr. Varner is available in Lake County, a time can be scheduled for members of the League of Cities to meet with him for clarification of the changes made during negotiations of the contract with Ogden Martin.
Discussion occurred regarding the waste flow control ordinance, and in addition, for the County to enact an ordinance requiring the payment by all residents within the County of a service fee, which will be sufficient to pay the County's obligations.
Commr. Bakich suggested that the County and the cities recommit themselves to meeting on a regular basis, with complete information being provided by the County at those meetings.
Mr. Joe Morrin, Montverde, questioned the County presenting a referendum to the public, which has been put forth as a straw vote and unbinding, and the County having to make the final decision, regardless of the outcome on the straw vote.
Commr. Gregg stated again that one of the reasons for the referendum is to avoid the County having to establish a billing office, and to have Mr. Havill's Office do the billing. At this time, Commr. Gregg reviewed the questions on the referendum with those present.
Mr. Bob Proctor, Fruitland Park, discussed the issue of the referendum and stated that, if he had been asked by any member of the Board "Will you support putting this referendum before the public", the cities and commissions would have said that it would not pass, no matter what the wording was on the ballot. He went on to discuss the direction that the Board and cities will be taking, once the results of the negotiations are completed, and the idea that, if everyone will be sharing in the costs for the solid waste disposal system, the cost per person should be lower.
Commr. Swartz discussed the resolution passed by the Board that gave the Board the ability to impose a special assessment and the MSBUs for the special assessment, and stated that there are other means that the County may use, and that the County is moving forward with this issue.
Commr. Swartz reviewed the reasons for the referendum again, and stated that, if the referendum is defeated, and the County completes its negotiations with Ogden Martin, with the Board feeling that the negotiated costs are reasonable, a proposal and package will have to be put together for the Board and staff to present to the public, and to the cities.
Mr. Proctor stated that those cities that had enacted a mandatory collection have proven that they are trying to work with the County. He further stated that a mandatory requirement needs to be established requiring everyone in the County to contribute to the disposal costs.
Commr. Swartz stated that an ordinance could be adopted for mandatory disposal that might meet the requirements of the interlocal agreement, but there is no way to enforce the ordinance.
Mr. Proctor stated that there were mechanisms that the County could have used to develop the mandatory collection, such as opening an office for the collections, with the Code Enforcement Department enforcing the collections. He further indicated that he felt more aggressive action could have been taken by the Board to resolve this issue earlier, but that the County waited until it received pressure from the cities. Mr. Proctor then discussed the billing procedures presently being used in Fruitland Park, and the system that may be used in the future.
Mr. Wayne Westfall, Fruitland Park, discussed the direction that the city will take, once the County's system is in place.
Mr. Tony Otte, Tavares, discussed the issue of a recycling credit, and stated that the city is very aggressive in recycling, that it would not be fair for the city to pay the same per household as someone who does not recycle.
Mr. Otte stated that the position taken by the City of Tavares four years ago was to pass an ordinance not to accept the special assessment within the City of Tavares.
Commr. Swartz discussed composting and recycling, which would assist in decreasing the amount of tonnage required in the contract.
It was noted that Mr. Varner would be back before the Board in March or April to present an idea whether or not the course he is pursuing will yield the types of benefits the Board is trying to achieve.
Mr. Findell discussed the time frame for the study on the Astatula landfill sites and the details of work to be performed in each of the two phases.
Commr. Swartz stated that the County is currently under negotiation with the Department of Environmental Regulation (DER) with the concept of landfill mining, and that the County permitted Astatula II for the ash monofill while the County was under the Consent Decree. He further stated that the old portion of Astatula I, the unlined landfill that has the groundwater contamination, is the source of the Consent Order.
Commr. Bakich suggested that this group meet on a monthly basis during this negotiation process, with a letter being sent to Mr. Strickland, who will in turn copy all of the cities.
Commr. Swartz suggested that a representative from the League of Cities meet with Mascotte, Minneola, Astatula, and Howey-in-the-Hills, to update them on todays meeting. He further suggested that any issues that the cities which to discuss be presented to the Board to be placed on the agenda.
There being no further issue to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.
MICHAEL J. BAKICH, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK