The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Wednesday, September 20, 1995, at 6:00 p.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; Catherine C. Hanson; and G. Richard Swartz, Jr. Staff members present were: Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Sue Whittle, County Manager; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, Finance, Audit & Budget Department; Sarah LaMarche, Director of Budget; Tracy Zeller, Senior Budget Analyst; Kevin McDonald, Senior Budget Analyst; Julia Wilson, Budget Assistant; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Gerber opened the final public hearing on the Budget for Fiscal Year October 1, 1995 to September 30, 1996, which was continued from the public hearing on September 6, 1995. She turned the meeting over Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, who presented opening comments.
Ms. Whittle directed the Board's attention to Page 3 in the booklet entitled "Final Budget Adoption Fiscal Year 1995/96" and stated that there were certain requirements that the Board had to meet. This was the second and final public hearing on the 1995-96 Lake County Budget and Taxes. The budget tentatively adopted by the Board on September 6, 1995, provided for continuation of existing programs at the current service levels, and selected enhancement programs, with no increase in taxes for the citizens. The percentage increase in millage over the rolled-back rate was zero (0) for the countywide fund. The tentative adopted millage rate was 4.927 mills; the rolled-back millage rate was 4.927 mills. The tentative millage was .222 for the Lake County Ambulance Fund; the rolled-back rate was .214, which was an increase of 3.74% over the rolled-back rate. The Greater Hills Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) had a millage of zero (0). All together these provided a decrease in the aggregate millage of .254%. The tentative budget adopted by the Board on September 6, 1995 totaled $139,496,109; during the last two weeks, final adjustments had been made and were reflected in the booklet before the Board tonight. Ms. Whittle stated that staff had re-budgeted $4,307,615; that there were additional unanticipated revenues of $74,877; and the total tentative budget was $143,878,601. The proposed operating expenditures were 7.4% less than the total operating expenditures of the 1994/95 amended budget. Ms. Whittle stated that the County budget was in balance, with the total being $143,878,601. Included in the booklet was a tentative budget, a budget summary, and all re-budgets by department and fund. She noted that the expenditures would not be completed by September 30, 1995, and therefore, would need to be re-budgeted as expenditures next year, and would not affect the millage rate for next year.
At 6:10 p.m., Commr. Gerber opened the public hearing portion of the meeting.
Ms. Hope Lamb addressed the Board and stated that she was in opposition of the government funding the Horticulture Learning Center (HLC). She stated that she was not opposed to the project itself, or the group endorsing it, but felt that this was outside the range of acceptable spending. Ms. Lamb noted the total 1995-96 budget figure of $91,910, which had been allocated for the project, and discussed the breakdown in figures. She discussed the Lake County Horticulture Learning Center Proposal for Personnel and Funds, and the services and evaluations that would be made at the Center. Ms. Lamb stated that the horticulture industry had hundreds of companies, both private and non-profit, that spent millions of dollars on plant studies, and in addition, some private companies had their own research and development departments. Ms. Lamb stated that there were over 137 commercial nurseries in Lake County and questioned how many of them had been asked to give financial contributions. Ms. Lamb discussed other issues that were presented in the proposal and questioned whether the County was going to go into competition with the very industry that it was supposed to be helping. She discussed the proposed construction costs and stated that the construction of the gardens were to proceed as scheduled on the present site, regardless of the possibility that the Agriculture Center might move some time in the future. The proposal stated that what might happen in the future should not influence the decision now, but Ms. Lamb questioned who would want to be involved financially with a project that might be uprooted in five to ten years. Ms. Lamb noted that a position was being proposed that would be funded 100 percent by the taxpayers of the County. The position would run the office and raise monies for the Horticultural Learning Center. She stated that the ability for the Center to raise its share was totally dependent upon the taxpayers ability to hire someone to raise its share. Ms. Lamb stated that, with this project, the County was breaking all of the rules of business and following all of the pitfalls of government.
Mr. Jim Thomas addressed the Board and requested some support from Lake County for the ongoing studies for the Lake Apopka Upland Disposal Systems and/or alternative systems. Mr. Thomas stated that commitments had been made by Orange County, and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and he was waiting for their final budget hearings to know exactly what they would be committing.
The Chairman called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed at 6:25 p.m.
Commr. Hanson stated that she had voted for the tentative budget, and she would vote again tonight for the budget. However, she did have a disagreement on the allocations, which had been setforth in the budget. She stated that there were four areas that she was very concerned about not having the dollars. The first was the General Assistance Program (GAP), in the amount of $8,000, which Commr. Hanson felt should be a priority. Another was the Affordable Housing Program, which would be receiving approximately $900,000 next year that would be distributed to the community. She stated that the Affordable Housing Program had been allocated the same amount of operational funding as last year, when it had $250,000 to distribute, and she felt it would be unrealistic to think that it could operate on the same amount as last year. Commr. Hanson stated that she had received a late request for an additional $15,000 to get those dollars out into the community. The third area of concern was the Adopting Children for Excellence (ACE) Program, in the amount of $6,000, which she wanted to see the County fund as a priority.
Ms. Hillary Knepper, Coordinator for the Citizens Commission for Children, addressed the Board and stated that the Commission had formerly voted to approve the funding for the ACE program, if it came out of the current budget year, not the new budget year, because there had been no concept paper submitted. The Commission was trying to use the Americorp match dollars that would left over, which would be close to the amount of funds that ACE had requested.
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Director of Community Services, addressed the Board and explained that funds had been identified in the 1994-95 budget, and a request was being brought to the Board on September 26, 1995, with the monies coming from monies that had been budgeted for Contractual Services for the Citizens Commission for Children, which had not been expended.
Commr. Hanson stated that her fourth area of concern involved the Lake Apopka Study, in the amount of $45,000. She stated that the Board needed to put some dollars into the study, in order to be a partner, because she did not feel that any of the other entities would be affected as much as Lake County. She noted that, without the $6,000 for the ACE Program, the total of funding would be $68,000 for the other three areas, which would be priority items. Commr. Hanson stated that she agreed with Ms. Lamb that the Horticulture Learning Center was a great concept for Lake County, but it was not the right time, or the right place. She stated that, when looking at the other priorities, and the Board's commitment to do a roll-back, the dollars had to come from somewhere. She further stated that she would not vote for the Horticulture Learning Center, at this time, but perhaps sometime in the future she would consider it, and that she would like to see some consideration given to the other three areas that she discussed.
Commr. Good addressed the Affordable Housing by Lake request for $15,000 and stated that there was going to be an additional $300,000 available in grants. He discussed other groups that were partners with the County that provided education and dealt with the paperwork for Affordable Housing of Lake and stated that he had faith in the lending institutions of Lake County, and that he felt the County staff, and the other partners that were involved, would be able to perform the additional work that would be required.
Commr. Hanson stated that the County staff did do a great deal of work, but she felt that more of the burden would be placed on them, and the Board would have to eventually put more and more money into the County part of the program rather than into the partnership. She had discussed this issue with the bankers who were involved with the program and stated that they did not have the same commitment as they did when the program first started.
Commr. Good explained that there were Contingency funds available, if the request had to be honored in the future, but he felt that the request was somewhat premature, and at this point in time, he did not feel that he could support making the allocation.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the proposed budget came close to meeting all of the Board's goals, the Board had balanced the need for the services against fiscal responsibility, and he would support the budget.
Commr. Swartz agreed with Commr. Cadwell and stated that the Board had done more with the existing ad valorem taxes within the budget than what had been done in many years, and it had been the result of the County Manager, her staff, and the Finance Department looking very closely at expenditures, because a lot of what was being funded in the budget came from cuts in other areas. He stated that the budget came to the Board in a format that allowed it to set priorities, make some of those cuts, and enabled the Board to do more than it had ever been able to do before. Commr. Swartz addressed the General Assistance Program (GAP), which the Board had discussed, in terms of revising policies and recognizing that the County would end up with more budget cash coming forward from Medicaid nursing and Medicaid hospital, as a result of less spending this year. He noted that the Board had to add money to the program over the past years. Commr. Swartz addressed the Affordable Housing Program and stated that, if there was a need, the request should go through the Affordable Housing Committee, for it to look at the best options. He would be very surprised if the banks backed away from their commitment, and the program would not be able to go forward. Commr. Swartz stated that the Board had discussed the ACE Program, and that some action would be taken in the future. He addressed the Horticulture Learning Center and stated that, from one of the very early workshop presentations that was made to the Board, the Board had supported it, and it remained in the budget. He stated that there had been no discussion to take the funding out of the budget. Commr. Swartz addressed the Lake Apopka issue and stated that he felt that there had to be a significant commitment on behalf of the farmers, and before the Board agreed to any funding, he wanted to see what the significant commitment would be, not only to finalize the study, but to be prepared to help fund the remediation, if the study were to show that it was feasible. Commr. Swartz explained the funding for Law Enforcement and Corrections and stated that the Board had funded the D.A.R.E. Program, and the three existing officers were included in the budget. He stated that, because of additional Law Enforcement Trust Funds, the Sheriff's Department was going to be able to fund an additional two positions. He further stated that the Board had committed and included in the budget the COPS Program, which would allow the Sheriff's Department to hire three additional deputies, and it would be money that was totally coming from a portion of the budget that was not transferred directly to the Sheriff, but was funding those activities. Commr. Swartz stated that, with the additional funds that were being provided to the Sheriff's Department, even though the Board did not fund the entire budget requested by the Sheriff, it would allow the Sheriff to purchase 18 new vehicles; two additional deputies in October; two additional deputies in April, with the budget not creating a situation where there would be any layoffs in the Sheriff's Department. He stated that, even though the total amount of new dollars that were going to the Sheriff's Department, just in the funds that were transferred to him, but not the ones he previously discussed, the Board would be funding $1,063,395 more than last year, but what was more significant was an insurance savings that had been achieved of about $276,000, which was included in his overall budget. Commr. Swartz explained that he did not know where the Sheriff would be allocating those funds, but, as an example based on the $35,550 that was the cost roughly per deputy, it would fund approximately seven more positions. He wanted everyone to understand that the budget that the Board was funding for the Sheriff was not going to create a situation where the Sheriff was going to have to lay off anyone. Commr. Swartz agreed with Commr. Cadwell that the Board had staff, and a Finance Department, that had put together the best budget, and it could not have been done without the County Manager and her staff, and the Finance Department working with the Board in finding the cuts and making the priorities.
Commr. Hanson stated that she wanted to thank, not only the County Manager and the Finance Department, but the department heads, because without their initial start in looking at the budget, the Board would not have gotten this far, and it had been a total cooperative effort.
Commr. Gerber stated that she sat on the Children's Commission, and the Upland Disposal Committee for the Lake Apopka group, and that the Horticultural Learning Center had been a concern of hers. She stated that she supported the roll-back; however, she was concerned with the cuts made to the the original request by the Citizens Commission for Children. She also felt the importance of the Lake Apopka Feasibility Study and stated that, if the Board did not help in some way with the study, at this point in time, it would hamper the project from now on out. She suggested that the the Board allocate $25,000, in order for the County to continue as a player, because the County would definitely benefit from it. Commr. Gerber stated that the Horticulture Learning Center had originally requested $91,000, and the Board had granted $86,000. She suggested transferring $25,000 from the Horticulture Learning Center to the Lake Apopka Upland Disposal Study. She felt that the funding for the GAP would come from Contingency. Commr. Gerber stated that she agreed with the comments made by Commr. Good, because she felt that he knew what would be best for the Affordable Housing of Lake, after sitting as the liaison Commissioner on the Affordable Housing Committee.
Mr. Minkoff explained that, before the Board could make motions, it needed to adopt the millage, and prior to doing that, the Resolution needed to be read. Once the millage was adopted, the Board was free to consider any budget amendments, and once the Board had completed its amendments to the budget, the budget Resolution could be read, and the Board could adopt the budget.
Commr. Hanson stated that she would like to vote for the budget, but she could not vote for the budget, unless some changes were made to it.
Ms. Whittle read the following Resolution, in its entirety, for the record:
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 1995-1996, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 200, FLORIDA STATUTES; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously, the Board approved to adopt Resolution No. 1995-194 setting the final millage rate for the Lake County Ambulance District, as read in its entirety.
Mr. McDonald, Senior Budget Analyst, read the following Resolution, in its entirety, for the record:
A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA, ADOPTING A FINAL MILLAGE RATE FOR LAKE COUNTY FOR FISCAL YEAR 1995-1996, 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. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously, the Board approved to adopt Resolution No. 1995-195 setting the final millage rate for Greater Hills Municipal Service Taxing Unit, as read in its entirety.
Commr. Hanson made a motion for the County to fund the Lake Apopka study, in the amount of $45,000, contingent upon Orange County contributing $100,000, and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) contributing $100,000, and that those funds come from the Horticultural Learning Center.
The motion died for the lack of a second.
Commr. Hanson made a motion for the County to fund the Lake Apopka study, in the amount of $25,000, contingent upon Orange County contributing $100,000, and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) contributing $100,000, and that those funds come from the Horticultural Learning Center.
Commr. Gerber passed the gavel to Commr. Good and seconded the motion.
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell discussed the lack of commitment on the State's behalf, and stated that the project was working without State funding. He did not want to see the County putting in any more money, until there was a commitment from the State, and therefore he would not be in favor of the motion.
Commr. Swartz stated that he would vote against the motion for the reasons just given by Commr. Cadwell, and in addition, to reduce the fundings of the Horticultural Learning Center would mean that they would not be able to go forward with the program that they discussed with the Board. He stated that another alternative would be to fund the study from another funding source, but he would not support that, and he would vote against it for both of those reasons. Commr. Swartz explained that none of this meant that, given the vote that the farmers may take on Friday to show their commitment to work on the project, the Board did not have the ability to come back and help. He stated that the Board has already helped with some of the costs, and it would be helping during the interim period of time.
Commr. Good called for a vote on the motion, which was defeated by a 3-2 vote. Commrs. Swartz, Good and Cadwell voted "no".
Commr. Hanson stated that, because the $15,000 request from the Affordable Housing of Lake did not go through the Affordable Housing Committee, she would made a motion that the $15,000 for the Affordable Housing of Lake be funded with funds coming from the Horticulture Learning Center.
The motion died for the lack of a second.
Commr. Good stated that the $15,000 request may come through the Affordable Housing Committee, but the Committee needed to look at many of the demographic statistics that had been compiled before action was taken by the Board.
Commr. Hanson made a motion to not fund the Horticulture Learning Center at this time.
The motion died for the lack of a second.
Ms. LaMarche, Director of Budget, read the following Resolution, in its entirety, for the record:
A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA, ADOPTING A FINAL BUDGET FOR LAKE COUNTY FOR FISCAL YEAR 1995-1996, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 200, FLORIDA STATUTES; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Hanson, to approve to adopt Resolution 1995-196, which adopted a final budget for Lake County for Fiscal Year 1995-1996, as read in its entirety.
Ms. Whittle noted that the law required that the Board adopt a line item budget, which was presented in green bar form.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried by a 4-1 vote. Commr. Hanson voted "no".
Commr. Cadwell reiterated the comments made by the Board and extended his appreciation to Ms. LaMarche and her staff, and Ms. Whittle and her staff, for their work performance.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 7:20 p.m.
RHONDA H. GERBER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK