A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
JULY 17, 1997
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, July 17, 1997, at 1:30 p.m., in the Board of County Commissioners Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: William "Bill" H. Good, Chairman; G. Richard Swartz, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Welton G. Cadwell; and Rhonda H. Gerber. Others present were: Sue B. Whittle, County Manager; Ava Kronz, Director of Continuous Quality Improvement; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; Tracy L. Zeller, Senior Budget Analyst; Kevin M. McDonald, Senior Budget Analyst; Julia A. Wilson, Budget Analyst; Sarah LaMarche, Director of Budget; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Ms. Emogene Stegall, Supervisor of Elections, addressed the Board to explain her proposed budget. She stated that, in the Registration Budget, there was an increase of 4.16% in Personal Services. This was an increase in salary and $4,000 extra for Accrued Liability for vacations. In Elections, there was a decrease of 15.49% in Personal Services, because there was one election in this budget. A new line item was established in the amount of $15,000 for Other Salaries for temporary help at election time. Ms. Stegall stated that the new figure was $637,105 for an overall decrease of three percent (3%).
COURTS - GUARDIAN AD LITEM
Ms. Joleen Cazzola, Program Director, addressed the Board to discuss the proposed budget for Guardian Ad Litem. Ms. Cazzola presented a handout of information, which included a mid-year report for Lake County and showed how this program was working. The information also included graphs noting the number of cases and how Lake County has grown in comparison to the rest of the circuit. In the projected expenses for the 1998-1999 year, she has deleted any expense for office space, with the anticipation of being moved into one of County buildings. If this does not happen, then the numbers would need to be added back in the budget.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, noted that she had no further information regarding the program being moved to another location. She stated that Ms. Cazzola has talked with Mr. Mike Anderson, Senior Director of Facilities and Capital Improvements, about the possibility of going into the Historical Courthouse, but that was also the space being considered for GIS.
Ms. Cazzola reported that she has not heard from Mr. Anderson and was not certain of the outcome from the discussion. She was requesting adequate office space and room to be able to establish a kids’ corner, which she explained to the Board. Ms. Cazzola stated that the project was very successful in Hernando County, and all of the funding was raised through community donations.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether a proper location for the program would be near Children and Family Services on Highway 19, which was also being considered as the location of a future assessment center for juveniles.
Discussion occurred regarding Ms. Cazzola investigating the location suggested by Commr. Hanson, and there was discussion about the recommendations being made by Mr. Chris Greco, Computer Services, for computer upgrade and equipment in an approximate amount of $13,000 over a three year period.
Commr. Swartz stated that emphasis should be placed on trying to find ways to get the Legislature to properly fund the Guardian Ad Litem operations, because the program should properly be funded by the State. He suggested that a letter be put together outlining this being one program that was being funded by the County and indicating that this was funding that should rightfully be paid for by the State and was not being paid for by the State, and it be sent to all of the members of the Legislative Delegation, which would include the Speaker of the House, and also to the Senate President.
It was noted that the County has billed the State twice for all of the Article V court costs that it has paid. It was further noted that a letter would be sent listing the programs individually, but a letter would be sent regarding just the Guardian Ad Litem program.
Discussion occurred regarding why the program was not housed in the Judicial Center, with Commr. Hanson indicating that, in the interest of the taxpayers and County, it should be logically located there. Commr. Hanson stated that the Board should take a stronger stand on this issue and re-open the discussion on locating the program in the Judicial Center.
Commr. Swartz stated that, in the interim, consideration should be given to locating the program at the Children and Family Services building where there is vacant space.
Commr. Hanson requested that this issue be placed on the budget agenda for further discussion.
Mr. Bruce Duncan, Assistant Public Defender, addressed the Board to discuss the proposed budget for the Public Defender. He stated that there was a decrease in the budget request this year reflected by the fact that there was a large amount of murder cases last year, and the number was anticipated to be larger at the end of this year. He stated that the Public Defender did not want to ask for the money until it becomes absolutely necessary. The budget request was $113,000, which reflects a little over a 14% decrease over the money that was actually received last year.
Discussion occurred regarding whether there was any extra space in the Public Defender’s Office to house Guardian Ad Litem.
Mr. Duncan stated that the State Attorney’s Office has just put the Juvenile Alternative Sentencing Program (JASP) inside of its office, so they were probably at their capacity. Mr. Duncan stated that there was room in the Public Defender’s Office, because of the way the office was originally designed, and this could be an option. Mr. Duncan discussed the following with the Board: the new judgeship that will be placed in the Judicial Center; the judges’ suites; the use of the courtrooms; and the court mediation services.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board should be looking at the space study again.
Mr. Kevin McDonald, Senior Budget Analyst, reviewed the rest of the courts area with the Board. He stated that the $500,000 estimated court costs was conservative, because of the all of the court activity that the County has had this year. Therefore, he budgeted $525,000 for next year, because of the anticipated schedule of trials.
Mr. McDonald stated that the increase in the budget was due to the Wendorf case that will be going to trial next year. Three conflict attorneys have been set aside for three of the defendants, and they will be charging $60 per hour. Their billings will be substantial next year.
Mr. McDonald stated that the funding for the Court Reporter was kept at the same level as the last couple of years. There may be some additional costs associated with the court reporter for the case load of trials next year, but after discussing the budget with Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, the budget will remain at the same level. Should there be additional costs, the monies will be pulled from Contingency.
Mr. McDonald stated that there would be a slight increase in the Circuit Judges’ budget relating to the new judge that will be coming to Lake County next year.
Discussion occurred regarding the information presented about the fees collected.
Commr. Good requested that the judiciary, or Clerk’s Office, track the fines to determine whether they are being assessed at the maximum possible dollar amount and whether they are being collected.
Ms. Whittle stated that some of that information has already been compiled. She and the County Attorney have met with the Administrative Judge twice to talk about some of those issues, and they are looking at the way they access fees.
Ms. Faye Osebold addressed the Board to discuss the proposed Law Library budget. Ms. Osebold stated that the budget was prepared to be consistent with the five year approach that was developed when an increase in filing fees was being requested, and nothing has really changed since that time. The filing fee increase ordinance was adopted, and in May, the fees were up by $2,700, and in June, they were up $3,900.
Mr. Brad King, State Attorney, addressed the Board to discuss the budget for his office. Mr. King stated that the only change to his budget was in the communications costs, which includes postage, and it will grow as the case filing grows. The office supplies increased, because that, in part, is part of the upgrade for the computer system. In machinery capital, he included $4,000 for a new file server.
Discussion occurred regarding whether there was any extra space in the State Attorney’s Office to house Guardian Ad Litem.
Mr. King stated that he would have no problem with the program being located in his office space, but he only has one vacant office. He will be putting two people in his office this year, and he will be at capacity, therefore, he will not have space for the program. Mr. King stated that JASP will be located in his office, and he has received a grant for domestic violence, which will allow an investigator to be added to his office.
Commr. Hanson stated that, with Mr. King’s help, she felt that consideration needed to be given to a space analysis, in order to extend the buildings into the future. She explained that the Board would like to see if it can find space for Guardian Ad Litem.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 2:30 p.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for ten minutes.
Mr. Don Post, Senior Director, Solid Waste Management Services, addressed the Board to discuss the proposed Solid Waste budget. Mr. Post noted that the numbers were larger, but part of the increase was due to enhanced requests. Mr. Post reviewed the budget highlights, program highlights, benchmarking and enhancement requests, as presented.
Commr. Hanson stated that, from reading the information provided by staff, it appeared that the County was going to move forward with the stormwater assessment. She stated that there was no way she was going to approve a stormwater assessment.
Commr. Swartz stated that it was very likely that it was not going to happen this year, with regard to stormwater, so unless there was some change, he did not see any enhancement costs related to stormwater appearing in this year’s budget. He did not see how the County could even meet the time considerations for imposing it in this budget year.
Ms. Whittle stated that she had instructed staff to develop the costs in this fashion, because the Board, back in March, was talking about stormwater issues. The numbers were attached specifically to programs this year, and if the Board had no interest in doing the programs, the enhancement would be deleted. Commr. Swartz addressed the information provided in the Assessment handout, Page 2, Enhance CIS System for MSBU Programs, and stated that the enhancement request for fire assessment should probably be budgeted, but the enhancement request for stormwater basin should be taken out of the budget.
Mr. Post noted that there was a loss of $176,922 in recycling education grants, and by the County doing its own recycling and marketing, it was able to generate revenue that will actually replace the loss of the recycling education grant.
Commr. Swartz questioned whether staff could get together a press release that would cover the entire area relating to recycling.
Mr. Post discussed the material pertaining to C & D disposal and stated that, on Page 2, there was a list of items that staff would like to bring to the Board in September in a workshop on construction and demolition debris disposal in Lake County. He stated that, come April 1, 1998, the County needed to extend its contract, or look at other alternatives.
Mr. Post continued to review his proposed budget in detail, which included newly established accounts.
Discussion occurred regarding Account 422 for future landfill closures, and Account 423 for future capital projects, with Commr. Swartz stating that, from this time forward, projections needed to be made that would get the County to where it has not only monies for closures and long term care, but the ability to begin setting aside monies for future landfill expenses. He stated that staff needed to make sure that between those two funds, the County was setting aside enough money for closures and long term care and payment for additional landfill cells, as needed.
Ms. Whittle stated that this entire issue was part of the study that was taking place in Solid Waste, and the financial advisors were looking at it, as well as the reports that have come back from the auditors. There was not enough money in there at this point to take care of everything and how the County can structure, in order to be able to meet all of the obligations, is the report that will be coming back to the Board in a few months time frame.
Commr. Swartz stated that he did not like having the second highest tipping fee in the State of Florida, because the County has an incinerator that has forced it into the highest solid waste cost. He stated that it would not be prudent for the Board to leave a future Board with the same obligations that totaled about $13 million that forced the County into borrowing $18-19 million. As much as he disliked paying for a facility that was a very unwise choice for Lake County, the County has to pay for it, and the closure costs and the future. He wanted to know the current tipping fee; what the budget proposes for a proposed tipping fee; and any changes in the collection or disposal assessment fees that are related to costs. He understood that staff was proposing a disposal assessment fee at a 7 1/2 percent increase, which would be less than the maximum that was allowed by the Board’s action last year.
Mr. Post clarified that it would be a five or ten percent increase, which would be approximately $7.42. He explained that staff was looking at the commercial assessment program, because the County was losing commercial solid waste out of the County. He stated that all budget figures were based on residential solid waste improvement, and he did not include any commercial tonnage increase in the budget. He stated that, if this can be corrected in the next fiscal year, then the additional tonnage could be shown.
Commr. Swartz stated that, aside from his concern with the landfill closure issue and the future landfill opening costs, he knows that, not only was the County experiencing increases from Ogden Martin’s contract, but as soon as the County starts paying back the principal instead of the interest, the County was going to have another dramatic hit, and the Board did not want to have it hit the users of the solid waste system all in one year.
Mr. Post explained that these were the reasons that staff was only asking for a ten percent increase in residential. If the commercial tipping fee was raised, any increase in revenue would be off set in the loss of solid waste, and the County may actually lose total dollars. He would like to wait one more year until the County could implement the commercial assessment, so there would be a base rate and a different tipping fee. He stated that the County could implement a base structure and a lower tipping fee, but this might not be the fairest to the businesses. After working with the Solid Waste Study Committee, the Committee felt the County should involve the participation of the business communities in Lake County. Mr. Post stated that his recommendation would be not to raise it at this time.
Commr. Swartz stated that he would like to have a page that shows each of the various fees and assessments.
Mr. Post continued discussing the proposed budget beginning with the total operating revenue and proceeding to discuss the numbers in detail, noting that the contingency reserve was approximately 16.7% of the budget.
CLERK OF COURTS
Mr. James C. Watkins, Clerk of the Courts, addressed the Board to discuss his proposed budget. Mr. Watkins stated that the increases were due to the approval of a new circuit judge for Lake County, with the increases corresponding to take care of the work load of the court, and additional things being done in the Recording Department, with respect to optical imaging. With regard to salaries, Mr. Watkins stated that he was basically doing the same as the Board. He stated that, on the transfer side of the budget, there was no new capital expenditures, no new employee expenditures. With respect to the opening of the museum, if there were any questions, rather than to get into the specifics, Mr. Watkins felt it would be better served if the liaison Commissioner and Ms. Whittle and Mr. Kelly and Mr. Horan meet and discuss it and come back to the Board with whatever the Board wanted. Mr. Watkins recommended the proposed budget, because he believed it was a realistic projection, and staff has tried to budget conservatively and to spend even more conservatively. Mr. Watkins stated that, if there was going to be significant changes when going into the final hearings, he would like to know ahead of time.
Commr. Good stated that tomorrow morning the Board will have the Community Services presentation. There will also be some follow-up issues that will need to be discussed.
Ms. Whittle stated that the Board had scheduled the wrap up issues and instruction from the Board for the afternoon. She discussed rescheduling the afternoon session until Monday morning.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 4:07 p.m., the Chairman noted that the Board would recess for three minutes.
After some discussion, it was noted that the Board would meet again on July 24, 1997 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the budget for Community Services, as well as the wrap up issues. It was noted that the Board would meet again on July 30, 1997 at 9 a.m. to set the tentative budget.
Commr. Gerber noted a letter received from Phi Delta Kappa, Mid Florida Chapter, requesting that each Commissioner speak for five minutes on public education at Hickory Point.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.
WILLIAM "BILL" H. GOOD, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK