The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, August 26, 1993, at 5:30 p.m., at the Tavares Middle School Auditorium, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: G. Richard Swartz, Jr., Chairman; Catherine Hanson, Vice Chairman; Rhonda H. Gerber; Don Bailey; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Peter F. Wahl, County Manager; Ava Kronz, BCC Office Manager; Mr. Ron Roche, Director of the Solid Waste Management Division; Mr. Steve Hiney, Recycling Coordinator; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Bailey gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
It was noted that there were approximately 200 individuals present at the public hearing.
Commr. Hanson, acting in the capacity of Chairman, called the meeting to order. It was noted that Commr. Swartz, Chairman, was attending a previously scheduled meeting, but would be arriving momentarily.
Mr. Pete Wahl, County Manager, stated that staff has prepared handout material, which has been distributed to the audience. At this time, he requested that Mr. Ron Roche, Director of Solid Waste Management Division, review this information with those present.
Mr. Roche discussed the Service/Payment Options Analysis, which indicated that 34,881 notices were sent out, and 18,455 were received back. It was noted that, of the ones that were processed, 24% selected to be billed on their tax bill for collection and disposal; 33% selected to be billed by the hauler; and 43% selected individual haul permits. Mr. Roche reviewed the Solid Waste Management Assessment Computations, which included the Budget Breakdown, and reflected a budget for next year in the amount of $11,345,207.00; Tonnage - 134,820; and Total Dollars/Total Tons - $84.15 Tipping Fee. The information also included Unit Cost Methodology, and an example of the notice that was sent out to the public requesting their choice for billing.
At 5:40 p.m., Commr. Hanson returned the chairmanship to Commr. Swartz.
ASSESSMENTS/SOLID WASTE (CONT.)
Commr. Swartz presented a few comments before opening the public hearing portion of the meeting. He stated that Lake County established a Solid Waste Study Committee to deal with issues in the unincorporated areas of the County. One of the members on the Committee was Mr. Joe Woodnick, who Commr. Swartz introduced at this time. Commr. Swartz stated that the Committee formulated a number of recommendations, which were passed onto the Board of County Commissioners, and which formed the basis for the proposal before the Board tonight. He publicly thanked the citizen committee that met to deal with the difficult issues, and came to tough decisions, and made recommendations to the Board.
Commr. Swartz stated that, in regards to collection services within the unincorporated area, it is not a mandatory system for collection, but it does change significantly the system whereby the County has provided, through its franchise agreements, collection for people who choose to have a collector, or hauler, come to their home. The County designated three exclusive franchise areas rather than having three to five haulers traveling in the same area. The Board negotiated and set rates, in order to keep the haulers from charging whatever they wanted. It was noted that the costs to individuals have decreased, because of the negotiations with the haulers, despite the fact that the tipping fee has increased.
Mr. Roche informed the public that, if anyone has a problem regarding the costs being imposed, or understanding the notice, the County staff members are present to assist with any problem brought to their attention.
Mr. Joseph Hattan, Lake Nellie Road, appeared before the Board to discuss drop off collection. He stated that many people who live in the rural areas do not produce much garbage. He discussed the modest usage that he has gotten from his self-haul card when dropping off garbage, and the problems that he has encountered in terms of what will be accepted and what will be turned away. Mr. Hattan stressed the point that he was being overcharged.
Commr. Swartz explained that the County's solid waste system's operational costs this year is approximately 12-13 million dollars just for current operation, with approximately nine (9) million dollars being associated with the incinerator. Commr. Swartz explained why every individual is having to pay for the solid waste service, and stated that it is the Board's intention that the people will be able to drop off all of the items that an individual at curbside can have collected.
Mr. Roche explained that the applications for the self-haul permits have been changed, and will be coming to the Board for review.
Mr. Steve Park, Grand Island, Sun Lake Estates, appeared before the Board and questioned the procedures that will be used for billing those individuals in the park. He stated that the costs are currently being paid in the maintenance fee, or rental agreements. Mr. Park was directed to see Mr. Steve Hiney, Recycling Coordinator, for the requested information.
Mr. Edwin McMillan, Leesburg, appeared before the Board and stated that he had three basic concerns, as follows: 1) he feels that the independent haulers in the County, who have conspired together for fixed rates, are in violation of Federal laws and that this is price fixing; 2) he is concerned about those individuals who contribute very little garbage, most of which is recyclable; and 3) he is concerned about individuals no longer having the right to negotiate a contract with his choice of a hauler.
Ms. Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney, explained that the rates were negotiated with each individual hauler separately by the County, with no violation of a Federal law. The County does have the ability to grant exclusive franchises and select those franchises, in the interest of efficiency of service for Lake County.
Mr. McMillan stated that he lives at Plantation and is billed through the homeowner's association.
Commr. Swartz stated that there are individual communities within the unincorporated areas of the County that have banded together into what is called collectively negotiated contracts, where the homeowner association, or some entity, has negotiated, or bid, collection services with the haulers. The County provided a method for those accounts to continue to do this. At this time, he explained, in further detail, the process these types of communities can follow, in order to negotiate their own fees with the haulers. Once the community has negotiated a fee, it must give the exclusive hauler, which has been designated by the County for that area, the opportunity to match the prices and services.
Mr. Arthur Huisken, Plantation, Leesburg, appeared before the Board and expressed a problem with the negotiating process, and stated that, once the Plantation has negotiated with the hauler of its choice, and the designated hauler meets the costs, the designated hauler will get the job, and the other haulers feel there is no need to try and negotiate. He stated that the Board has eliminated competitive bidding.
After Commr. Swartz presented an explanation of the process the County took in negotiating contracts with the three haulers. He informed Mr. Huisken that any community can request bids from the three haulers designated by the County.
Mr. Huisken submitted a letter to the Board for the record.
Ms. Patricia Cerone, Plantation, Leesburg, appeared before the Board and questioned why the individuals at Plantation could not go back to once a week pickup.
Commr. Swartz stated that the proposals, which had been presented to the Board to assist in lowering disposal costs, included the once a week pickup, but this option was not well received for many reasons. He suggested that the system being proposed for a twice a week pickup be used for one year, and be reconsidered by the Board after that period of time. It was noted that, through negotiations with the haulers, it was determined that the difference between the once a week pickup and recycling, and twice a week pickup and recycling, amounted to fifty cents ($.50) per month per household.
Mr. R. L. Langford, Paisley, appeared before the Board and stated that he is not objecting to the County being in the trash collection business, or receiving the fees for the collection. He discussed the closing of the landfill east of Paisley in the 1970s, and stated that the Commissioners, at that time, stressed that the answer to the trash problem would be for the individual to start recycling his own waste. Mr. Langford stated that he has two residences in the Deer Haven Community, and he was told that, if he did not pay the garbage costs imposed by the County, he would face losing his property. He discussed his concern with the County placing a levy on his property, if he did not pay his taxes, when he receives no benefit from the disposal program whatsoever. It was noted that he recycles all of his waste. Mr. Langford stated that he paid the $148 for the transfer fee, and that he never used the transfer service, and he was told that he could not use it, because he did not have a self-haul card, and he did not apply for a card, because he did not need one. Mr. Langford discussed the County's budget, and stated that whoever uses the garbage system should pay for it, but that he should not have to pay for it, if he does not use it.
Commr. Swartz explained that there is an exemption that Mr. Langford could apply for, if the power is off in his parents house, and it is not being rented. The assessment is only for inhabitable dwelling units that have a potential of creating the solid waste system. Mr. Langford was directed to meet with staff members who were present to assist with his problems.
Mr. Greg Homan, Clermont, appeared before the Board and discussed issues that the Board has implemented even though taxpayers voted against them. Mr. Homan stated that he understands that everyone has to share the disposal costs and he accepts this, but he feels the taxpayer should have the choice of one, or two, collections a week. He then discussed the use of equipment, and stated that he could not understand that it would cost only fifty cents ($.50) less for once a week pickup, and that he feels the cost for once a week pickup should be one-half of the total costs being charged. Mr. Homan stated that, by having once a week pickup, this would help reduce the truck pollution and help save the environment.
Commr. Swartz discussed the waste that used to be brought from out of the county, and stated that the Board did try to avoid a special assessment. He addressed concerns brought forward by Mr. Homan.
Mr. Ren DeNike, Mount Dora, appeared before the Board and stated that he has had the same hauler for 18 years, and that he does not feel he will get as high a level of service from another hauler.
Commr. Swartz informed Mr. DeNike that he will be getting a higher level of service than he is getting today, with twice a week collection, once a week recycling, and free and unlimited collection of bulky items, with a 72 hour notice, for a much lower cost. If good service is not provided, there are significant penalties in the franchise contract that will be enforced.
Mr. Pete Zimmerman, Tavares, appeared before the Board and questioned whether he would be able to negotiate with a hauler on a long term basis and be assured that anything that he would have in the future would be binding and not be negated by any action undertaken by the Commissioners. He also questioned that, if he accepts the hauler assigned to his area, would there be any guarantees that there would not be price increases in the future. He questioned how the Board intends on controlling the prices.
Commr. Swartz stated that the contracts with the haulers are initially for a three year period, but you are not required to contract over one year, if you so choose. It was further noted that, if an individual is negotiating a price with a hauler, the County will not control that pricing from year to year, however, the County's franchise agreements set a maximum charge.
Ms. Dixie Crupi, Plantation, appeared before the Board and questioned the management at the Plantation having the right to request bids from the three haulers for service and levels of service, and then request their current hauler to meet their proposals.
Clarification was made as to the process that management would use in negotiating the lower price and best level of service for the Plantation community.
Mr. Tony Crupi, Plantation, Leesburg, appeared before the Board and discussed the bidding process being explained for the management to use for communities, and knowing that it is impossible to negotiate lower prices with other haulers when they know the County has already designated haulers to perform the services for the County.
Mr. Roche explained that a hauler will be submitting a bid without having any conception of what the three haulers have negotiated with the County, in terms of costs.
Mr. Terry Carney, Leesburg, appeared before the Board to discuss prices for once a week pickup, and questioned why the County does not go to an outside hauler, such as Orange County, or Marion County, and let them bid on the Plantation, or other parks, just as the County does to purchase vehicles.
Commr. Swartz explained the process the Board used to compare prices received by the three haulers, and the level of service to be provided, and stated that what the Board received from the three haulers was superior to the recent pricing received from other counties.
Mr. Carney discussed the costs being charged for the dumpsters on his property, and questioned how the County can reduce its costs with Ogden Martin, and can the County bring in out of county waste.
Commr. Swartz explained the monies coming into the County by bringing in out of county waste, which is being budgeted, and the steps that the Board is taking to close the landfills and the costs involved in doing so, and stated that staff is reviewing and negotiating, with the Department of Environmental Protection in Orlando, a modification to the County's Consent Order to close the Astatula landfill, so that the County can explore and determine whether it is cost effective and environmentally effective to mine the landfill and dispose of the waste through another method.
Mr. Murphy Cameron, Lake Jem, appeared before the Board and stated that this public hearing was being held, because it is required by law, and that the disposal fees had already been established by the Board. He discussed the condition of the roadsides, the landfills, the County's budget and its expenses. He questioned why everyone is being treated equal when there are those who prefer recycling and composting, and there are those who live on limited incomes, and questioned when equality will come into affect.
Commr. Swartz presented a clarification of the fees for 1994, which were indicated on the notice sent out to the public. He further explained the State law requiring public hearings on issues that have to be devised by the County before they are presented to the public.
Ms. Lynne Knorr, Orlando, appeared before the Board and stated that she is an owner of property in Lake County. Her residence is in Orange County and has been for many years, but the property she owns in Lake County has been in her family for over 45 years. Ms. Knorr stated that she is particularly concerned, because she would be one to select the individual haul situation, and then dump any garbage that she had herself. Ms. Knorr stated that her property in Lake County does not generate garbage, but because there are two buildings on the property, she is being charged for two residential units for $172.00 per year, and for her to carry a card, which she will never use. She explained the amount of time spent at the property in Lake County, and how she processes her small amount of waste.
Commr. Swartz suggested that Ms. Knorr check with staff regarding the criteria for residential dwelling units, due to the description she gave of the two buildings on the property.
Mr. Robert Willets, Umatilla, appeared before the Board and discussed the documents that were handed out to the public for review, and stated that Ogden Martin now takes $8 million, which is five times what the budget was for solid waste disposal for Lake County in 1988. Mr. Willets discussed the problem with mercury and what is being burned at the incinerator; the amount of garbage being generated to the transfer stations from the unincorporated areas; and the burning of recyclable items.
Mr. Kenneth Roach, Eustis, appeared before the Board and stated that he is against imposing taxes on property owners when they oppose the issue. Mr. Roach stated that people no longer have the freedom of choice. He discussed the people in the County on fixed incomes, and stated that, since 1992, his taxes have risen over 1,000%, and this includes the $25,000 homestead exemption. Mr. Roach discussed the two places in which people can take their garbage to be dumped, one being in Paisley and the other being the Astatula Landfill, and the costs involved to travel to either facility. He suggested that someone review the accessibility to the fire departments, as an option to a facility for depositing garbage.
Commr. Hanson stated that the County is currently working on making the Pine Lakes Fire Station a drop off center.
Mr. Andy Werner, Leesburg, appeared before the Board and stated that he is contemplating the purchase of a compactor, in order to be a franchise hauler, but questions whether he will be able to use it in Lake County.
Commr. Swartz directed Mr. Werner to meet with County staff, in order to complete an application to become a franchise hauler.
Mr. Robert Carpenter, Eustis, appeared before the Board and stated that he has been in Lake County for 50 years. He discussed his retirement income and stated that one-half of his money goes to pay insurance for him and his wife. Mr. Carpenter questioned the amount he will be required to pay for garbage disposal.
Commr. Swartz explained the costs to Mr. Carpenter, and the choices that he has in paying the costs. He was then directed to see a staff member, in order to assist him with his choice for billing.
Mr. Jim Douglas, Forest Hills, appeared before the Board and stated that he comes from out of state once every three months for a week or two, and does not generate any garbage. He explained that he did not mind paying the $85.00 for the card, but he has not used the card.
Commr. Swart directed him to see one of the staff members to determine the costs that will be involved, should Mr. Douglas ever have to use his self-haul permit.
Ms. Joan Gathings, Clermont, appeared before the Board to discuss the self-haul card, which she has not used, and stated that she recycles everything. Ms. Gathings suggested that the County buy Ogden Martin and quit making the taxpayers subsidize a profitable business. She stated that those who use the incinerator should share the costs.
At 7:25 p.m., Commr. Swartz turned the Chairmanship over to Commr. Hanson, Vice Chairman.
ASSESSMENTS/SOLID WASTE (CONT.)
Mr. L. G. Simpson, Jr., Riley's Park, Mount Dora, appeared before the Board and stated that his rates will not increase an astronomical amount. He stated that he is a commercial account, and that staff has been more than cooperative in working with him. Mr. Simpson stated that he understands the rates will increase by 38% in Riley's Park, and he finds this acceptable. He stated that he has not heard from the designated hauler for this area, but he has been informed by his current hauler that he will not try to beat the price. He further stated that he hopes the rates will stay in line with high quality service. Mr. Simpson extended his appreciation to the Commissioners for their patience with him.
At 7:29 p.m., Commr. Hanson, acting in the capacity of Chairman, returned the chairmanship to Commr. Swartz.
ASSESSMENTS/SOLID WASTE (CONT.)
Commr. Swartz explained that Mr. Simpson will be able to use the dumpsters that he has, just as he has in the past. He stated that, on the commercial dumpster accounts, the large majority of them were negotiated at excellent rates, and that he does not feel, in most instances, the haulers will be able to offer significantly lower rates.
Mr. Robert Hyde, Mount Dora, appeared before the Board and stated that he has had AAA Refuse for quite some time, and at the first of the year, he began his collection with South Lake. Mr. Hyde stated that his mother has AAA service. Her gate is 1,000 feet from the road easement, and AAA will not come down the driveway to pick up her garbage, but South Lake will. He contacted AAA and was told they would not come down the driveway, and they would have someone contact him. Mr. Hyde stated that he still has not heard from AAA.
Commr. Swartz stated that there are provisions for back door pickup for those who have specific medical problems.
Mr. Hyde stated that South Lake will come down the driveway, but now they cannot come into this particular area, because this is AAA's area.
Commr. Swartz directed Mr. Hyde to see staff to discuss the latitude in the agreement with the hauler whereby this issue can be dealt with.
Mrs. Martha Johnson, Riley's Park, Mount Dora, appeared before the Board and stated for the record that the Board and staff are doing the best it can do regarding this issue. She stated that the costs being implemented is causing a tremendous increase, but the taxpayers have no choice. She further stated that, if there is a problem with the service, she will be contacting the Board, but she does feel the Board is handling this issue the best way possible considering the problems they had to start with.
Mr. Dan Eastwood, Tavares, appeared before the Board and stated that the ERC is active today, and the County could conceivably be seeing another one million dollar in record pay costs. Mr. Eastwood stressed that the Board needs to enact the changes to Chapter 21, Lake County, as stated in the proposed resolution, which authorizes the non-ad valorem assessment. Mr. Eastwood went on record by stating that he is a resident of Tavares and does not live in the unincorporated area, and therefore, he is not directly affected by this transaction, but it is important for the Board to know that we are not in this together. Mr. Eastwood stated that he was told five years ago that this is a regional incinerator. He further stated that, when the Board goes to New York to negotiate the bonds, that the only party that the Board is asking to go on the back of the Note are the unincorporated citizens. Mr. Eastwood discussed last month's tonnage reports at the incinerator, and stated that the City of Tavares, Clermont, and Mascotte, along with Astor, Paisley, Lady Lake, and the Log House brought in less tons to the incinerator than the County of Sumter. Sumter County was bringing in garbage at $35.00 per ton, and the cities were paying $62.00 per ton, which will be going up to $84.00.
Commr. Swartz stated that Mr. Eastwood served on the Ad Hoc Financing Advisory Committee.
Mr. Bill Good, Yalaha, appeared before the Board and extended his appreciation to the County staff, and the citizens committee on solid waste, for all of their efforts. Mr. Good showed the Board his individual haul permit, which cost him $75.00, and stated that he has only thrown away six (6) bags of trash. He then discussed the notice he received in the mail regarding his choice for billing. Mr. Good stated his five (5) suggestions, as follows: 1) measure garbage by its weight, or volume, not by bag or bundle; 2) charge people for the dump space that they actually use; 3) stop deluding the taxpayers, and the sales that are permitting the taxpayers to haul their garbage; 4) if the County persists in charging County residents for the services, which many do not want, or need, at least place some transfer facilities in such a manner as they actually provide a convenience service, which is what people are being charged for, that is consistent with the fees that are being charged for the needs of those unincorporated rural residents; 5) if the Board is really not trying to meet the needs of the rural resident, be honest and tell the people this.
Mr. Travis Whigham, Eustis, appeared before the Board to discuss a friend who was trying to start a garbage service, but he found out that he cannot get a franchise in Lake County, because the County has already designated three haulers for the County. He stated that his friend assures him that he can handle the disposal for a lower cost, and could help the County. Mr. Whigham stated that the Board needs to let the people handle their garbage in the manner that they choose, and to select their own haulers.
Mrs. Mildred M. Wolfe, Lady Lake, appeared before the Board and stated that she is the owner of a mobile home park, which has 158 units. Mrs. Wolfe questioned the times that the Board schedules the public hearings, and stated that 50-60% of the people in her park are here in the winter time. She stated that those people have no representation for the taxation that is being placed on them. Mrs. Wolfe stated that they never paid for garbage when they were not here, but now they have to pay twelve months out of the year.
Commr. Swartz explained that, if there is not a mandatory collection requirement for residential, and that the proposal before the Board has a required disposal fee per unit. A person that is not here and not using the collection service is not required to pay for it. He clarified that there is no requirement in the Lake County Code that requires you to pay a hauler for each of the 150 units twelve months out of the year, but it does require disposal.
Mrs. Wolfe questioned why the disposal fee could not be placed on each individuals tax bill instead of her having to perform a lot of extra bookkeeping. Commr. Swartz explained that there is no statutory authority to place the costs on their tax bills, and there is only a requirement, in regards to special assessments, that the Board send the bill to the owner of the real property. He requested that she continue to work with staff on these types of issues.
Commr. Swartz explained that the Board has tried to schedule hearings the best they could, but the budgetary year is October 1 to September 30, and there are statutory requirements in regards to special assessments that these hearings be held, and to provide the timing that allows it to be placed on the tax bills and the trim notices.
Mrs. Pat Kuehn, Mount Dora, appeared before the Board and discussed the small amount of garbage that she generates. Ms. Kuehn discussed composting and stated that one-fourth of her backyard is composting. She stated that there is not enough education about toxic waste that is coming out of households. Ms. Kuehn stated that she is also concerned about those who live alone and cannot get to drop off centers, and those people being charged the same fee. She discussed being able to contact the hauler to inform them of when she would be vacationing. It was noted that these individuals should not choose to be billed on their tax bills, but by the hauler, in order to receive credit for the collection costs. Ms. Kuehn discussed the recycling program and stated that it is currently inadequate.
Mr. Joe Woodnick, Yalaha, appeared before the Board and stated that he does not feel the budget this year will cover the disposal system. He stated that he feels the County needs to sell more bonds for capital improvements. Mr. Woodnick stated that, instead of the County putting money into a law firm to renegotiate a contract, the County needs to look at the contract.
At 8:19 p.m., Commr. Swartz called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
Ms. Lustgarten addressed the proposed resolution and stated that the Board will be adopting the Solid Waste Non-Ad Valorem Roll, along with the Solid Waste Non-Ad Valorem Rate Schedule, which is attached to the resolution as Exhibit "A". She directed the Board's attention to Exhibit "A", and stated the following correction:
Units Not on Hauler Service:
Drop-off Charge Change: $10.50 to $11.50
Total Change: $93.55 to $94.55
Commr. Gerber stated that she would like to see that staff addresses the level of service issue being presented by the public.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, the Board approved and adopted Resolution No. 1993-130, along with the corrected Assessment Schedule (Exhibit "A").
There being no further issue to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 8:24 p.m.
G. RICHARD SWARTZ, JR., CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK