The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Wednesday, May 31, 1995, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board Meeting Room, Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Rhonda H. Gerber, Chairman; William "Bill" H. Good, Vice Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell; and Catherine C. Hanson. Commissioners not present: G. Richard Swartz, Jr. Staff members present were: Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, Finance, Audit & Budget Department; Sue Whittle, Interim County Manager; Tim Hoban, Senior Assistant County Attorney; Mike Anderson, Director of Facilities and Capital Improvements; Alvin Jackson, Economic Development Coordinator; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk. School Board members present at the meeting were: Kyleen Fisher, Chairman; Claudia Ramsey; Randy Wiseman; and Tom Chapman. School Board members not present: Judy Pearson, Vice Chairman. Staff members present were: Betty June Cofield, Executive Secretary to the Superintendent/Clerk to School Board; Jerry Cox, Assistant Supervisor for Business and Administration; Alva Hardy, Supervisor of Facilities; Bob Furnas, Director of Finance; Sue Hamilton, Assistant Supervisor for Curriculum and Instruction; Gene Molnar, Supervisor of Growth and Development/Pupil Accounting.
Commr. Gerber asked that those present join together in a moment of silent prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Alvin Jackson, Economic Development Coordinator, appeared before the Board and presented a brief historical synopsis for the initiative and advocacy for economic development in the last two years. He explained that, in 1993, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and the Tourist Development Council (TDC) agreed to steer an economic development action gender process, in order to develop goals and objectives related to establishing an Economic Development Policy. There were three committees that were formed to development the policy, which included Community Development, Business Development and Education. The plan was completed in July, 1994, and was transmitted to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) on November 28, 1994. It came back from DCA with no objections, no recommendations, and very few comments. The Board of County Commissioners adopted the Economic Element on March 28, 1995. He stated that the basis of economic development in Lake County was to diversify the economic tax base, and to create job opportunities in the County, and an environment in which those jobs can be created. Mr. Jackson stated that the job of the IDA was to go forth in implementing the goals and objectives, which it has already begun to do. Mr. Jackson read the Mission Statement that came from the community team for education, and stated that partnerships needed to be formed that would create the level of excellence in education. He stated that a regional study was done by the Economic Development Commission in the four county area, and there were three issues that were evident, in terms of shortcomings, and one of those was education. He further stated that an internal analysis was done where residents, business and community leaders were surveyed, and one of the primary liabilities was the unsatisfactory school system. He noted that this was an internal perception, and after the numbers were reviewed by Mr. Gene Molnar and Mr. Ken Bragg, it was noted that it was not as bad as perceived. Mr. Jackson noted Page XI-9 of the Economic Element, which indicated an objective to improve educational and training opportunities. He stated that he was hopeful about getting a commitment from both bodies to start forging ahead on fulfilling the goals and objectives in the Economic Plan, as well as the Economic Element. Mr. Jackson stated that he hoped the Board and School Board would decide on individuals that could work with him and the IDA, who could go back and look at the objectives, and bring something back to these bodies for approval.
Commr. Cadwell discussed the idea of having a "salesman" for the school system, to include Vo-Tech and Lake Sumter Community
College, to be designated to talk to any company anticipating coming into the County about all of the positives of the total education picture of Lake County.
Ms. Kyleen Fisher, Chairman, School Board, invited Mr. Jackson and the County Commission and staff to tour the entire school system. She stated that there were needs being identified that the School Board was trying very hard to meet. Ms. Fisher stated that the School Board was working on its goals and objectives, and the School Board has identified that it needs to continue to pursue minority hiring; to employ the very best; to pay staff at the rate it desires; and to be comparable, if not higher than other counties. She stated that, after reviewing the goals and objectives, she noted that now there were many positives versus negatives that might have been seen in the past.
Mr. Jackson stated that one of things that the business and community leaders talked about was having some type of State of Education report, just as the County has a State of the County, where the leaders could be invited to hear what the County was doing, and to be open and get feedback from industry.
Ms. Fisher stated that she would be making a State of the Year announcement, and she would be glad to have a joint meeting with the Board.
Commr. Gerber stated that, if the County could have a team of elected officials and managers, a team of School Board, community and County planners, and community leaders, it could be the best thing for the County. She stated that the County should not lose site of the fact that there is only one total "wallet" of money, and she stressed that the Board, and the School Board, cannot get territorial over the money. She stated that Leadership Lake County chooses a project at the end of each year, and for three years it had been education, and then economic development. She felt that this year it would most likely be along this line again. Commr. Gerber noted that each member had received a handout
entitled "Interlocal Agreement Sarasota High School and Alta Vista Elementary School Traffic Study/Phase I". She stated that she would like everyone to review the document and determine how Lake County could set up such an interlocal agreement for the County Commission and the School Board. Commr. Gerber referred to several paragraphs within the Sarasota County agreement, which she felt were pertinent to the development of an agreement for Lake County.
Commr. Hanson stated that, after reviewing the agreement, it appeared that it focused on transportation, stormwater, parks and recreation, and facilities planning.
Ms. Fisher stated that the School Board would make available to the Board, in its goals and objectives, those issues focused on in the Sarasota document. She stated that the School Board would like to have the Board's input before they were finalized.
Discussion occurred regarding the School Board having access to the Board Meeting Room for its meetings, with it being noted that it was the consensus of the Board that the room would be made available to the School Board, as well as other communities and organizations.
Commr. Good stated that, until the community was willing to get behind the education system and fund it and participate in it, there would not be the success that there could be. He stated that, in bringing the leadership of the community together to address education, the community needed to be included, so that it did not become a leaders movement, but a true community movement to improve education, and therefore, economic development in the County.
Ms. Fisher stated that the School Board meetings, as well as other community meetings, have been conducted, and the meetings were well attended, and it appeared that the negative outlook that had been perceived from the public had declined.
Discussion occurred regarding someone from the School Board, as well as the Board, attending the IDA meetings. It was noted that Commr. Cadwell and Ms. Fisher would attend the meetings.
Commr. Gerber stated that the Board would place on its agenda, for discussion, the Ordinance pertaining to the IDA. She stated that between now and the next time a joint meeting was held, the legal staff for the School Board and the County Commissioners would have a chance to review the Sarasota County Interlocal Agreement and bring back suggestions and proposals for an interlocal agreement, as it would apply to issues where the Board could provide assistance to the schools.
Commr. Cadwell stated that an elected official was needed to work with Mr. Jackson, as well as a staff member from the School Board, so that he would have another contact person.
Mr. Jackson stated that there would be an IDA meeting tomorrow, and he could discuss amending the structure of the IDA, and bring back any changes for adoption by the Board. He addressed the issue of visiting the school system and stated that the IDA takes the Commissioners to visit different industry sites, and he would try and put together an opportunity where a School Board member and Board member could visit future sites.
Discussion occurred regarding how Vo-Tech, as well as Lake Sumter Community College, have assisted in bringing industry into the County by making themselves available to discuss training and customizing its training needs for the company. It was noted that Mr. Jackson would have a contact person from the College.
Mr. Wiseman discussed areas that the School Board has worked on controlling, including test scores, and stated that he would like to see something published, such as a very inviting fact sheet from the School Board that features yearly statistics from the schools and could be disseminated to all of the realtors to use for selling businesses and homes.
Ms. Fisher stated that the Invitational package that was being given to the realtors in Lake County for the school system could have added pages to incorporate what Mr. Wiseman had suggested, to feature the scholars and athletes. She instructed the School Board staff to supply the Board members with the package that was currently being distributed.
Mr. Jackson discussed his concern with Lake County not being represented in publications and documentation being circulated to industries in the State of Florida, as well as outside of the State of Florida.
Commr. Cadwell stated that starting today the Board and the School Board needed to start working on the topics of discussion. He stated that there would be areas where these two Boards would not be able to assist one another, and a concerted effort should be made to avoid those particular areas.
Commr. Good stated that the public needed to understand that the School Board and the Board of County Commissioners were two separate boards, but that they were working cooperatively with one another to improve the quality of education.
LAKE COUNTY INFRASTRUCTURE SALES TAX
Ms. Fisher stated that she would like to defer the discussion of the infrastructure sales tax to a couple of School Board members, Ms. Claudia Ramsey and Mr. Randy Wiseman, who have had some strong opinions on the issue. She noted that Ms. Judy Pearson was not present for the meeting today, and Mr. Ed Havill, Property Appraiser, was present in the audience.
Ms. Ramsey stated that, because there were a few dollars available from the one cent sales tax, she felt very strongly that it should be used for public school buildings. She believed that State law allows those dollars to be used for schools, as well as other building structures. She stated that all tax dollars come from all peoples, so it should be used to benefit all people, and certainly the education system could use some help at this time. She felt the school system should have priority over parks and recreation.
Mr. Wiseman addressed the issue of the penny sales tax and stated that he wanted to start a dialogue about it. He addressed problems that currently exist in the schools and stated that he did not want the total $3 million from the Board, but wanted to do something that could help relieve the School Board on the education end. He discussed the proposed One Stop School, to be used by all different agencies and stated that there were lots of ways to use the money, and it would be a nice perception to the community, if the Board addressed this possibility. He stated that, if the Board had known of the problems years ago, it might have budgeted something for the schools, because it was public money, and the school system, by law, was allowed to use it, with the permission of the Board. He discussed the possibility of using some of the infrastructure funds to help with construction.
Mr. Bob Furnas, Director of Finance for the School Board, addressed the Board and stated that the following were sources of revenue for facilities: Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO), which was State funding and based on a formula for all 67 districts; and Capital Outlay and Debt Service, which was approximately $200,000 per year from motor vehicle license tag fees. He stated that the School Board has the authority to levy the two mill Capital Outlay that can be used for construction. Last Year it was assessed at 1.68 mills. He explained that it had been two mills up until last year. He further explained the history of the millage rate for the School Board and stated that the Operating millage was 6.15 for the current year. Mr. Furnas stated that the State Legislature sets the required local millage for the school district. In 1994/95, the School Board levied .191 of a possible .51 Operating millage. Mr. Furnas stated that the School Board was moving funds from the Operating budget to the two mill wherever possible, in order to have funds available in
Operating, and it was impossible to use any of it for Capital Outlay. He noted that the Legislature has approved .25 mills for operating, and that the impact fees generate approximately $900,000 to a million dollars a year. Mr. Furnas stated that there was a required local effort of 6.15 mills.
Commr. Cadwell explained that two out of the five revenue sources referred to by Mr. Furnas required action of the Board. He suggested that the two Chairmen, along with the County's Capital Improvements staff and the Finance staff from the School Board, meet and come back with something in writing that talks about dollars and cents and where the money was coming from and what was being perceived as the life time for the additional sales tax.
Mr. Jerry Cox, Assistant Supervisor for Business and Administration, explained that it would cost approximately $100,000 to build a classroom and approximately $35-40,000 to build a portable. He stated that approximately 20-40 portables were being built a year.
Discussion occurred regarding action taken by the Legislature in terms of salaries, and the possibility of the schools using teachers' aids rather than additional teachers, in order to help change the adult-student ratio rather than the teacher-student ratio.
Ms. Fisher questioned whether the Board would be open to a joint effort in working for a Juvenile Justice Assessment Center. Commr. Hanson discussed the possibility of placing the One Stop School, the Juvenile Justice Assessment Center, Vo-Tech and Lake Sumter Community College all in one location. She stated that parks and recreation were definitely a part of the quality of life, and that the County was becoming an active player in all of the areas that involve children and their families. She further stated that it was equally important that, along with quality education, that the County provide job opportunities for the future of the children, which was being done with the funds that were being put
into the Industrial Park. Commr. Hanson stated that the School Board needed to exhaust all avenues for revenue for infrastructure, and that a long range plan was needed, and would be a part of the enhancement for the County. She stated that the long range plan would go beyond an interlocal agreement, because the agreement would not imply the same long range planning as an Education Element. She stated that today she was not willing to take the dollars and place them into anything other than a long range plan.
Ms. Fisher informed the Board that the Lake County School System has entered into a grant proposal with the Sheriff of Lake County to provide a resource officer to the schools. She stated that a facility that could work with the Juvenile Justice component, the County Commission, the School Board, and the Sheriff's Department would be something that everyone could look at and say that it had been done with taxpayer's dollars, and it would be a great benefit for the retired citizens who are concerned about crime in Lake County. She stated that Dr. Sanders appreciates this idea and was very receptive to it.
Commr. Cadwell stressed that the County has been taking care of the childrens' needs by working on economic development for their future, and by making parks and recreation available to them when they were not in school.
Mr. Ed Havill, Property Appraiser, addressed the Board and made the following suggestions: 1) that the County Commission vote immediately to put a freeze on spending the seventh cent and to put it into some type of escrow account until the discussions were finished; 2) that a deadline be established for the discussions; and 3) with less money coming to the State, and less money coming from the State to the local government, the local government would be putting its hands out to the folks for more money, because pressure would be placed on the local government to raise taxes. He stated that the people locally needed to be involved, so he felt that proposals could be placed on the March presidential primary for the voters to decide how they want to spend the seventh cent.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 10:25 a.m., the Chairman announced that the meeting would recess for 15 minutes.
LAKE COUNTY INFRASTRUCTURE SALES TAX (Continued)
Mr. Mike Anderson, Director of Facilities & Capital Improvement, appeared before the Board to discuss his memorandum regarding Infrastructure Sales Tax Revenue. He informed the Boards that the use of the Infrastructure Sales Tax was passed down by interpretation through the County Attorney's Office and the County Manager's Office, and it was taken from the referendum that was presented to the taxpayers, which identified specifically the use of those funds. Mr. Anderson presented a summary page of the data relative to the revenues and expenditures of the infrastructure sales tax and explained the projects that were complete, ongoing and pending.
Discussion occurred regarding the idea of a countywide sports stadium, and the possibility of utilizing the current Fairgrounds facility in Eustis for the Juvenile Justice Assessment Center and locating a component at the facility to house the Sheriff's Department to be on site 24 hours a day.
Mr. Anderson explained the poor condition of the current Fairgrounds and stated that it did not come close to meeting the current codes. He further stated that a sizable budget had been set aside to bring it up to some kind of standards, so that it could possibly be sold.
Discussion occurred regarding the large gym at the facility in the Howey area that could possibly be developed into a sports center to be used by the entire County.
Mr. Anderson continued his discussion of the capital projects and explained the costs involved with each project. He stated that every year the State contacts the County and asks if it is going to
do anything about a Juvenile Detention Center. He stated that this falls under the responsibility of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), but they continue to come to the County to ask if it would help sponsor or promote some use of the County's money for the Center. He noted that Lake County does not have a facility to house juveniles, and they are sent to Marion County or Polk County. He explained that a request comes from the State for the County to consider putting up infrastructure sales tax money to help HRS offset the need for the Center, but the County is not obligated to do so.
Discussion occurred regarding the possibility of consolidating a Juvenile Justice Assessment Center and a Detention Center.
Mr. Anderson stated that, by looking at the information he had provided, it showed a fund balance in the year 2003 of 0 dollars, and staff has accounted for all of the money that would be generated with the list of projects. Recently the County Manager has charged his office to proceed with the Capital Improvements Program, which is a five year program, that would include all capital expenditures, not just Infrastructure Sales Tax, and to work with all of the other departments and identify all of the other capital project costs that they anticipate over the next five years.
Ms. Fisher discussed the needs of the County and the School Board that coincide with one another and stated that she could see areas where the dollars could be used to benefit both entities.
Mr. Anderson explained that the project list for the County could change, due to receiving direction from the State to provide a service, or facility, or to make accommodations for a program that does not exist today, and he explained that an abominable effect could be caused from something like this happening.
Mr. Wiseman addressed the report given by Mr. Anderson and noted that it had been put together before the dialogue had begun with the County and the Lake County School System. He stated that,
as an example, with $1.5 million, a facility could be constructed to provide 250 beds with secure portables and fences, and with the amount of $5 million designated for Pod E, a new elementary school could be built almost to completion. Mr. Wiseman suggested that some of the priorities could be re-directed, and he did not want to see the County build a Detention Center for HRS when it was not obligated to do so. He questioned whether the County wanted to continue to spend $5 million for 250 beds, or spend $1.5 million for 250 beds and put the $5 million towards education.
Discussion occurred regarding past consideration that had been given for the use of Prelude as a Juvenile Center, with it being determined that, because it was a Pod and not sectioned off, it was not usable. Discussion continued regarding the fact that the County, as well as the School Board, has priorities, but perhaps not on the same scale.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the voters of Lake County passed the one cent sales tax for infrastructure needs for the County, but when the School Board presented its bond issue to the people, they voted it down.
Through discussion, a clarification was made concerning the use of funding in terms of public and private entities.
Mr. Anderson stated that the Florida Statutes were very clear on the use of the infrastructure funds, and they could only be earmarked to other County government facilities. Mr. Anderson addressed Pod E and stated that, with pending consideration from the State for allowing a three year period for the holding of inmates on a County level, it would not come close to handling the inmates that would be assigned back to the County level. He stated that this would be a major concern, and the County would need to look at money that would be needed for Pod E, because the $5 million might not be enough to handle the situation, if that decision was to come down from the State. He clarified that the $5 million would be what it would cost to duplicate a housing pod with
256 beds. He noted that the decision, if it was made by the State, would come down in a court order. Mr. Anderson stated that he was concerned with the General Building Renovation and allocation of funds in the amount of $750,000, because in the last three years, there has been such an emphasis placed on indoor air quality that there may not be any more renovation of buildings.
Ms. Fisher issued, once again, a request for the County Commission to consider granting the School Board some funds in some format and stated that she felt that the most palatable idea would be to consider a grant form, with the grant form being used to help the needs of the Lake County School System. She stated that, after seeing the priority needs of the County, she could see where some of the funds could meet the School Board's needs, too, in joint effort. It was noted that the School Board had not taken an official vote to request a specific amount of dollars from the Board.
Ms. Hope Lamb addressed the Board and stated that, when she receives her tax bill, she writes a check for the total amount, which includes all County taxes. She stated that "wants" and "needs" were expressed by both Board's, and that the "needs" should be addressed first. It had been clarified that there were millions of dollars to address for these "needs". She discussed the penny tax, which was to be used to build the jail and explained that the public needed to be better educated on where the money was being spent; where the County was being mandated to spend the money; and then the children would become better educated. She stated that, if more money was spent on education, there would not be a need for a $1.5 million Juvenile Detention Center, or the additional Pod. She further stated that the County needed to address the mandates, then the "needs" and then the "wants". Ms. Lamb stated that consideration needed to be given to the taxpayers money and where it was being spent.
Commr. Hanson stated that she would be willing to spend the money on a Juvenile Justice Assessment Center, or an alternative school, or the One Stop School, or something like this that would be an enhancement.
Ms. Fisher explained that the School Board was currently working on its five year study, as well as its goals and objectives.
It was noted that another joint meeting of the Board and School Board would be scheduled for August 15, 1995, at 2 p.m.
Discussion occurred regarding the School Board providing information on its capital outlay at the next meeting, as Mr. Anderson had provided today.
Commr. Hanson stated that it was very important to stay focused on how the County could help the society as a whole, and to get the children out into the work forces, and to become more productive members of society. If the Board could get from the School Board, at the next meeting, a proposal, or plan of how an alternative school, along with the Juvenile Justice Assessment Center, and the One Stop School concept would help the School Board's program, it would be the first area of a partnership that could be created between the County Commission and the School Board. She explained that the Board could be involved with the capital costs, but not the operational costs.
Discussion occurred regarding the Board helping, in terms of operation, by addressing the issue of school resource officers and law enforcement people to assist with the facilities being discussed.
It was noted that, by consensus, there was no need for further discussion on impact fees at this time, and that the issue would be discussed in August.
Mr. Gene Molnar addressed the Board and stated that the impact fee study indicated that the average cost per new student would be
a little over $10,000. The school system generated a need for an additional $10 million this year.
Ms. Fisher extended her appreciation to the Board for the opportunity to use the Board Meeting Room today, and in the future when the School Board has overflow capacity.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.
RHONDA H. GERBER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK