The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, September 21, 1993, at 5:05 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: Tim Hoban, Assistant County Attorney; Peter F. Wahl, County Manager; and Marlene S. Foran, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Swartz opened the second and final public hearing for the purpose of amending the adopted tentative budget, adopting a final budget for Fiscal Year 1993-94, and adopting a resolution stating the millage rate to be levied.
Mr. Pete Wahl, County Manager, stated that, at the direction of Board during the first public hearing on September 7, 1993, staff has worked in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office, and they have also reviewed other issues that have been presented by the Board and members of the public. The largest area of concern relates to the Corrections Department budget, and Sheriff George E. Knupp, Jr. is present this evening to address said budget.
George E. Knupp, Jr., Sheriff, appeared before the Board and expressed his gratitude to Ms. Mary Scott, Budget Analysis, Office of Budget, and to members of the County staff for their dedication and cooperation with the Sheriff's Office in working out the details for a viable budget for the Corrections facility. He stated that the Corrections Department has a revised budget, in the amount of $8,464,811.00, for Fiscal Year 1993-94. He noted that there are costs that are not included in said budget, which include the utility bill, and medical inmate costs. At this time, Sheriff Knupp addressed questions presented by the Board.
Commr. Cadwell expressed his appreciation to Sheriff Knupp and his staff for working with County staff toward a smooth transition of the transfer of control of the Corrections facility to the Sheriff's Department.
Commr. Swartz noted that action will be taken by the Board on September 28, 1993 in regard to an Ordinance appointing the Sheriff of Lake County as the Chief Correctional Officer of the Lake County Corrections facility.
Mr. Wahl stated that, in addition to the $8,464,811.00 that will be transferred to the Sheriff's Office for operational functions of the Corrections facility, there are a number of items that have been rebudgeted within the overall County General Revenue Budget. At this time, Mr. Wahl read, for the record, the following rebudgeted items:
1) $50,000.00 - Attorney's Fees (Budgeted within the jail operation in regard to labor relations issues. Will be rebudgeted in the Personnel Department and withdrawn as necessary);
2) $525,000.00 - Transfer of utilities costs of the facility to the Facilities and Capital Improvements Section;
3) $175,305.00 - Facilities and Building Maintenance Fund;
4) $348,430.00 - Workmens' Compensation coverage for Corrections Officers (Budgeted within the jail operation but retained within County Personnel);
5) $729,756.00 - Costs for inmate medical services;
6) $41,438.00 - Property Insurance.
Mr. Wahl stated that total Board paid support for the operation of the Corrections facility is in the amount of $1,877,843.00.
Mr. Wahl explained that, within the deliberation of the separation and transition of the jail through the Sheriff's budget, $221,986.00 has been identified, which can be reduced from the millage level that was proposed at the first budget hearing on September 7, 1993, and amounts to a reduction of .0488 mills or approximately 4.9 cents per thousand. A further reduction has been identified in the Sheriff's budget insurance dollars, in the amount of $64,857.00, which amounts to .0143 mills; and a special reserve amount, in regard to salary reserves, can be reduced $26,383.00, or .0058 mills, resulting in a total of .0689 mills for a reduced millage from 5.2040 to 5.1351 mills.
At this time, the Chairman announced that the Board would receive comment from the general public on the proposed budget and millage rate before the Board this date.
Mr. Sal Pignato, a resident of Eustis, appeared before the Board and suggested that the Board mandate each County department head to reduce a specific amount of dollars from their budget, noting that the department heads are familiar with the day to day operation and can better identify where there may be waste.
Mr. James Elmore, a resident of Clermont, appeared before the Board to address economic growth in Lake County and suggested a way in which to raise tax dollars would be to allow the development of the Florida Raceplex in Lake County, and to have allowed the construction of the Federal Prison.
Mr. Carl Lindstrand, a local resident, appeared before the Board and questioned the need for a Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) for Deer Island. Commr. Swartz explained that the MSBU for Deer Island appears in the budget as revenue. The County, as part of the approval process, required that the entity that owns Deer Island pay additional monies to provide for fire protection so that there would be no impact on the taxpayers of Lake County. Mr. Lindstrand expressed his concern with a two-hundred and forty (240%) percent increase in the Landfill Enterprise, to which Commr. Swartz explained that the budget increase over last year's budget is the result of the Board recognizing the costs associated with closing the old landfills. He explained that additional money is allocated in the budget for building new landfill lining cells necessary for the Solid Waste System. The Solid Waste Enterprise Fund is money from the Solid Waste System, either in the form of tipping fees or special assessments, and not derived from property taxes.
Mr. Phil Brewer, a resident of Eustis, appeared before the Board and commented that, with the slow economy and low property values, there should not be an increase in property taxes at this time. He addressed the issue of health costs for inmates at the Corrections facility and questioned the need for outside legal counsel when the County has a County Attorney to handle legal matters. He further addressed the issue of high utility rates for the County and how the Public Service Commission and the utility companies have over charged the public exorbitant utility rates over the past years.
Commr. Swartz responded to concerns expressed by Mr. Brewer and explained that the main issue driving the Lake County tax burden for Fiscal Year 1993-1994 is the Corrections facility. There are only three (3) additional employees over last year, which are temporary employees to be used for the renovation project. He explained that the renovation project will result in more energy efficient equipment reducing the energy bill by approximately $500,000.00 per year at time of completion.
Ms. Mary Mang, a resident of Leesburg, appeared before the Board and noted that she is on a limited income, as many Lake County residents are, and requested that the Board think very carefully before continuing with the proposed increase in property taxes.
Mr. Clarence Grundy, a resident of Mount Dora, appeared before the Board and addressed the expenses involved with closure of the landfills. Commr. Swartz responded that County employees operate the landfills, and the closure of the old landfills and the construction of the new landfills are contracted to construction companies through the bid process. Mr. Grundy requested clarification on the number of deputies that have been appropriated in the proposed budget. At this time, Mr. Wahl clarified that five (5) deputies will be hired October 1, 1993; five (5) deputies at mid-year; and consideration will be given to hiring five (5) deputies effective October 1, 1994.
Mr. Ronald Allee, a resident of Mount Dora, appeared before the Board to address energy saving techniques in the Corrections facility and suggested that temperatures be maintained at the highest possible temperature in the summer and the lowest in the winter. Commr. Swartz explained that an advanced computer operated program controls the temperature in the Corrections facilities. It was noted that there are four hundred and ninety-seven (497) inmates in the facility at this time.
Mr. Richard Dout, a resident of Tavares, appeared before the Board and expressed his concern with the high cost of services for the Lake County Central Park, ambulance service, and solid waste costs, and noted that there has been no effort by the Board to cut back on expenses. Commr. Bailey explained that money being appropriated to the development of the Lake County Central Park is paid out of proceeds from the sale of property at the Park. Commr. Swartz explained that Lake County has a contract with Florida Regional to provide an operating subsidy to Florida Regional, in the amount of approximately $560,000.00, and Florida Regional then charges those using their service.
Ms. Vera Higuera, a resident of Montverde, appeared before the Board and expressed concern that there are two (2) residents, in the Montverde area, that are living on $125.00 per month or less. She stated that it is imperative that the Board acknowledge the fact that there are residents in Lake County in very difficult financial situations.
Ms. Jean Glynn, a resident of Tavares, appeared before the Board and requested clarification on the County's efforts to collect delinquent taxes; at which time Mr. Wahl explained the County's process of collecting delinquent taxes through tax certificate sales. He noted that the County has actively pursued delinquent taxes from every entity.
Mr. Frances Rutter, a resident of Eustis, appeared before the Board and referred to a newspaper article in regard to large raises that were being given to County employees. He expressed his concern with the property tax increase, and stated that many of the retired citizens of Lake County have had their incomes greatly reduced due to the low interest rates. Commr. Swartz explained that a number of the issues that were addressed in the newspaper article referred to by Mr. Rutter have been addressed and overturned by the Board. At this time, Mr. Rutter presented a newspaper article titled "Cut Government Fat" for the Board's review.
Mr. Wayne Scott, a resident of Howey-in-the-Hills, appeared before the Board to express his concern with the incidental expenses in the budget and suggested that the Board do whatever is necessary to lower taxes.
Mr. Pearl McCreary, a resident of Astor, appeared before the Board and expressed his concern with the use of taxpayers money to restore old buildings. He suggested that the County put the inmates in the Corrections facility to work, and questioned the necessity of furnishing the inmates with conveniences such as television sets and recreation rooms. Commissioner Swartz explained that the County is required by Florida Statutes to provide exercise areas and cells of a specific size and noted that television sets and exercise equipment are purchased with inmate commissary funds.
At this time, Commr. Swartz stated that the proposed millage rate for Fiscal Year 1993-94 has been reduced from 5.2040 to 5.1351; the percent of increase over the Rolled-Back Rate is 8.2 percent; and the percent of increase over the current millage is 5.57 percent.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the percent of increase over the current millage of 5.57 percent can be contributed directly to the Corrections facility, and other items that have been discussed this evening. He stated that positions have been deleted, cut backs have been made at the jail, steps have been taken to review all departments to determine changes that could be made to provide for better management, and it is now time to move forward.
Commr. Hanson commented that economic growth is extremely important for Lake County and growth should pay for itself. It is important that the Board determine what services the public is willing to pay for, what services are really needed, and provide said service more effectively and efficiently. She commended the Chairman for his proposal on the "kitchen cabinet" program, which will be an aid to keeping taxes down next year; however, stated that she cannot support the increase before the Board this date.
Commr. Gerber stated that the Board, through the new budget initiative, will be working hard to assure that this budget year is not repeated, and staff have done their best to trim the budget.
Commr. Bailey stated that he would like for the Board to further reduce the millage, and he supports using money from the Reserve Fund to further reduce the budget. He stated that he does not support the increased budget, and would encourage the Board to streamline County government through the budget initiative program.
Commr. Swartz stated that more has been accomplished in the area of trimming costs for Fiscal Year 1993-94 than has been accomplished in the past five years, and explained that the Board has cut over $3,000,000 from the budget. He noted that the only areas left to cut are services that are not mandated to be provided.
At this time, Commr. Swartz stated that the percent of increase in the millage over the Rolled Back Rate is in the amount of 8.2 percent in the General Fund. The purpose for the increase is primarily contributed to the additional cost of providing for the operation of the Corrections facility in Lake County. The millage rate and percentage increases over the Rolled-Back Rate are as follows:
% INCREASED CERTIFIED TENTATIVE (DECREASED) OVER
ROLLED-BACK MILLAGE RATE ROLLED-BACK
General 4.7469 5.1351 8.2%
TAXING UNIT (MSTU)
Greater Hills 4.5712 4.000 (-) 12.5%
LAKE COUNTY AMBULANCE
Lake County .2172 .2220 2%
Commr. Swartz stated that this represents an aggregate increase over the Rolled-Back Rate of 8% percent. Pursuant to Section 200.065(3)(j), Florida Statutes, the amounts to be published as percentage of increase over Rolled-Back Rate shall be based on aggregate millage rates and shall exclude voted millage levies.
Commr. Swartz requested that staff publicly read in full the Millage Levy Resolutions.
At this time, Ms. Loretta Hale, Budget Analysis, Office of Budget, publicly read Resolution No. 1993-153: A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA, ADOPTING A FINAL MILLAGE RATE FOR LAKE COUNTY FOR FISCAL YEAR 1993-1994, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 200, FLORIDA STATUTES; PROVIDING FOR ADOPTION OF A FINAL MILLAGE RATE FOR THE "GREATER HILLS MUNICIPAL SERVICE TAXING UNIT"; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried, the Board approved Resolution 1992-153 adopting the final millage rate for Lake County for Fiscal Year 1993-1994, and adopting the final millage rate for the "Greater Hills Municipal Service Taxing Unit".
Commr. Hanson and Commr. Bailey voted "No".
At this time, Ms. Debbie Tinis, Budget Analysis, Office of Budget, publicly read Resolution No. 1993-154: A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA, ADOPTING A FINAL MILLAGE RATE FOR THE LAKE COUNTY AMBULANCE DISTRICT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1993-1994, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 200, FLORIDA STATUTES; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously, the Board approved Resolution No. 1993-154 adopting a final millage rate of 0.222 mills for the Lake County Ambulance District for Fiscal Year 1993-1994.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried, the Board approved Resolution No. 1993-155 adopting a final budget for Lake County for Fiscal Year 1993-1994 in the amount of $132,796,444.00.
Commr. Hanson and Commr. Bailey voted "No".
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
G. RICHARD SWARTZ, JR., CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK