The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, September 9, 1997, at 6 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; Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney; 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. Sue Whittle stated that the tentative annual budget that the Board set last month is $158,884,699, which includes rebudgets of $5.8 million, and this budget is a 2.1 percent increase over the fiscal year 1997 budget. The millage is set at 4.805 mills, which is 1.52 percent above the rollback millage of 4.733 mills. The major revenues in the General Fund include the following: Licenses and Permits - 14 percent increase; Intergovernmental Revenues - 1.9 percent; Charges for Services and Fines and Forfeitures - flat increases; and Excess Fees - 44.9 percent increase. Ms. Whittle stated that the Beginning Fund Balance in the General Fund is estimated to be $13,804,692, and this includes revised additional funding; the Clerk's Excess Fees of $100,000; the Tax Collector's Excess Fees of $150,000; and the Corrections Pay Telephones of $150,000. In regards to the Lake County Ambulance Fund, the proposed millage is .158 mills, which is 2.60 percent over the rollback rate of .154. The budget in that fund is $1,101,218 and $37,000 additional funding is to be added to Contingency. Other major funds include the Fire Control Fund which shows a 3.3 percent reduction; the Sales Tax Capital Projects which is at the same level; Solid Waste Enterprise Fund which shows a 3 percent increase in tipping fees due to the growth rate, and a 10 percent increase in disposal assessment fees. All other funds of the County are showing no significant change. On the appropriation side of the budget, the Board is requesting 14 new positions, which is a 6.1 percent increase in Personal Services. Ms. Whittle stated that Operating Expenses is showing a 3.1 percent increase; Capital Outlay - 4 percent increase; Debt Service - 11 percent decrease; Grants and Aids - 4 percent increase; and Transfers to Constitutional Officers - 7.2 percent increase. She stated that the Board's Reserves in all funds total $23,131,984, which is approximately 20 percent of the total budget. This includes the reserves for contingencies, debt service, insurance, and the excess in the estimate of the carry forward. The major program enhancements that are to be funded this year all tie to the Board's four focus areas, which Ms. Whittle reviewed with the Board. Ms. Whittle stated that this budget represents progress in many areas for which she feels the Board should be congratulated. She stated that the action that is required tonight is to publicly announce the percentage by which the proposed millage rate is more than the rolled-back rate; hear the public; and adopt a tentative millage and budget. The proposed millage that was advertised was 4.805, which was 1.52 percent in excess of the rolled-back rate of 4.733, which would be in the General Fund. The Ambulance Fund proposed millage is .158 mills, which is 2.60 percent in excess of the rolled-back rate of .154. The total County budget proposed is $158,884, 699.
Commr. Good opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment.
Miss Bethany Joy Johnson and her mother, Ms. Linda Johnson, extended their thanks to the Board for helping the Umatilla Library, and they presented the Board with a book from the Umatilla Public Library that the children had signed to thank the Board for helping the library.
Miss Mallory Manning and her mother, Ms. Martha Manning, extended their thanks to the Board for giving money to the Umatilla Library and for all of its support, because it has made a difference in the lives of many.
Ms. Stella Balandran, Umatilla, stated that the Umatilla Library was the nucleus of the town, and it was a place where people could meet, where classes were provided to both adults and children, and in keeping with the times, it was a place where computer technology was available. She stated that the funding would provide continuation and further services to the youth. She stated that, as long as the challenges of the youth could be met, the County would spend less money funding library services than by paying for the children through the juvenile system. She extended her thanks to the Board in behalf of the Umatilla Library and its patrons.
Stephanie Haimes, Director of the W. T. Bland Public Library of Mount Dora, presented to the Board a book of the children who had attended the summer reading program this year to illustrate the number of children that the library serves as part of the whole system. She extended her thanks to the Board for funding the library this year.
Mr. Felix Ramirez, President of the Citizens' Commission for Children, stated that he appreciated the support and backing that the Board has given the Citizens' Commission for Children, and due to the support and action by the Board, a lot has been done for the children of Lake County.
Ms. Susan Libbert, member of the Citizens' Commission for Children, reiterated what Mr. Ramirez had said and stated that, because of the support given by the Board, they have made a difference in the lives of children in Lake County. She explained some of the activities currently taking place that help educate families and children in Lake County.
Dr. Tully Patrowicz, representing the Comprehensive Health Care Advisory Committee, stated that, at the last public meeting, he had made a request, on his own behalf, and relative to a motion that was passed by the Comprehensive Health Care Advisory Committee, to try and obtain $12,500 from the Board to study the issue of indigent health care. He stated, for the record, that the Comprehensive Health Care Committee respectfully requests that the Board include funding in their 1997-98 budget to support the indigent health care needs and services study up to $12,500, and that the Board of County Commissioners respectfully request that the North Lake County Hospital District jointly and equally fund this study up to $12,500, and that the Board respectfully request that the South Lake County Hospital District contribute an equitable amount to the study provided there are no legal constraints that would not allow such a contribution to be made from South Lake. The total cost of the study would not exceed $25,000. This was modified at the last meeting by Mr. Shannon Elswick, the CEO of the South Lake Hospital who suggested that, because of legal constraints, the request should go to the South Lake Hospital rather than the South Lake County Hospital District, and the motion was passed as well. Dr. Patrowicz requested that, as a member of the North Lake County Hospital District Board of Trustees, one or all or perhaps the Board's designees, could attend the meeting of the District Board of Trustees on Thursday, 6 p.m., at the Water Authority Building, and express the reform that the Board feels is necessary in the North Lake County Hospital District. He noted that Commr. Swartz had indicated that, as one reform, a seventh member of the District Board of Trustees be elected at-large from the North Lake District. He explained that the study that was performed earlier had pointed to the establishment of the Comprehensive Health Care Committee and the We Care Program. The indigent dollars being requested for the study being proposed today would provide a credible objective basis for them to proceed with a better system of indigent health care for the citizens of Lake County. He stated that studies have been done previously by Ms. Carol Gormley of the North Central Florida Health Planning Council (NCFHPC), and the $25,000 figure was arrived at by her. Dr. Patrowicz noted that Mr. Tom Wetherington, Chairman of the Comprehensive Health Care Committee and a member of the North Lake County Hospital District Board of Trustees, was present in the audience. He stated that, at the last meeting of the North Lake County Hospital District Board, prior to the Legislative Delegation meeting in the spring, it had voted 4 to 2 to support the addition of a seventh member. This was presented to the Delegation, and it was opposed by the hospitals.
Commr. Swartz stated that this was the first public hearing, and there would be a second hearing, and therefore, he suggested that the Board send a representative to the North Lake County Hospital District Board meeting on Thursday to get a better idea of what may happen if the Board helps fund the study, and between the first and second hearing, the Board can act on the response that it gets.
Commr. Hanson stated that she would be out of town at the time of the meeting and requested that Commr. Swartz attend the meeting, which he agreed to do.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that, if the members of the Board are planning on participating at a meeting, staff likes to make sure that it is advertised as a Commission meeting, so that the public will know that there are going to be more than just Hospital District Board members present.
Dr. Patrowicz explained that the purpose of the study was not only to better define the problem , if there was one, but to establish models to solve the indigent health care problem in Lake County.
Ms. Barbara Mittermaier, addressed the Board and stated that she had been asked by Haven's Executive Director, Ms. Ruth Harvey, to speak with the Board and express their gratefulness for the monies that the Board has provided to the organization in the past. She presented the Board with statistics, in order for the Board to get a better understanding of why Haven was asking the Board to reconsider the amount of money they would be receiving this year.
Commr. Cadwell stated that no one doubted the valuable service provided by Haven, but this year, a Citizens Review Committee was established to review all grants and all funding sources for the groups, in order to get the maximum use out of the dollars throughout the County. He stated that the issue of Haven getting less dollars was discussed at the workshop, but he felt the Board would be undermining the Review Committee, if it did anything different than what the Committee brought forward to the Board.
Commr. Hanson stated that she was concerned about the funding for Haven, because the dollars dropped from $15,000 last year to $5,000 this year.
Commr. Cadwell clarified that the Board has not dropped any funding from the Social Services budget.
Commr. Hanson stated that she did not think the Board would be undermining the Review Committee, if it chose to add funding to the recommendations. She would support continuing the same level of funding as the previous year of $15,000, therefore, adding $10,000 to the Social Services budget.
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director, Community Services, noted that the total amount that had been requested by the agencies was $150,000, and the County went into the process this year at the same funding level as in 1996-97, at $97,650.
Commr. Hanson stated that, with a growing County and growing dollars in the County, she was not sure that it was reasonable to expect those dollars to stay the same and to deal with the same dollars year after year, and she strongly recommended that the Board increase Haven's funding to $15,000.
Ms. Mittermaier stated that she was equally concerned for all of the agencies that had been allocated money and stated that she could not ask the Board to cut any money that had been allocated to them, because they were doing a fantastic job for the County, but she did believe that the additional dollars for Haven would be used wisely.
Mr. Smith explained the procedure that had been established for the review of applications and stated that the County was working with a limited amount of money and trying to be as equitable as possible. He noted that the amount of agencies receiving money this year had increased.
Commr. Good called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the Board needed to tentatively adopt the millage rates, and then it could make budget amendments, if so desired.
Commr. Swartz stated that the majority of the Board chose to advertise the 4.805 millage rate. He stated that additional excess fees have come forward, which would, in his opinion, allow the Board to go to the rolled-back rate, which would be 4.733, and everything that the Board has voted to fund, when it sets the tentative millage, would be funded.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, while he supports the Sheriff's budget, because it would put additional people on the road, the approval of his budget this year will cause a substantial increase next year, and the Sheriff will be helping by spreading the number of people out over time and not bringing them all on board the first day.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the Florida Statute requires that the millage rate be voted on first, so that the budget is voted on in balance. He noted that the Statute is very specific stating that the first item of Board action should be the adoption of the millage rate.
On a motion by Commr. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved that the General Fund rolled-back millage rate of 4.733 be established for the 1997-98 budget.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the tentative millage rate for the Ambulance District of .158.
Commr. Hanson made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Gerber, to fund Haven at the rate of $15,000, as last year, and for those funds to come out of either Contingency, or the After-School Program, with the County Manager making that determination.
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the program presented to the Board helps more agencies, and the Board should stand by the Social Services budget that has been presented.
Commr. Hanson stated that she did not feel that anyone on the Review Committee would disagree that there were much greater needs than the Board could possibly fund, and she realized that the Committee prioritized the programs, but the decrease was quite large for Haven.
Commr. Swartz stated that, if between now and the second budget hearing, Commr. Hanson wanted to ask the Committee to look once again and determine whether or not they would like to reprioritize, he would certainly support this action, but the Board had asked the Committee to do a difficult job, to avoid having a situation that happens almost every year when there are requests, and it was much better, in the confines of this caring group, to look at the various needs and try and apportion them in the best way possible. If the majority of the Board wanted to send it back to the group, he felt that this would be an appropriate action.
Commr. Hanson called for the question.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, with the motion failing by a 3-2 vote. Commrs. Cadwell, Swartz and Good voted "no".
Commr. Swartz commented that the funds that were going to the Library Services was significantly higher this year than they have ever been, the County was increasing the amount of funds it was investing in those social services, and the Board was not cutting back on those at all.
Commr. Good noted that it very clearly illustrates the need for the private sector in a growing County to support social service programs, and the Board tries to recognize that it cannot meet all of the needs, and that government cannot meet all of the needs of a growing community. He stated that the private sector must step forward, in times when government funding changes, to support these social service programs.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to adopt a tentative budget of $158,884,699.
Commr. Good announced that this meeting would be continued to the public hearing for final adoption on September 23, 1997, 6 p.m., or as soon thereafter as possible.
The meeting recessed at 6:50 p.m.
WILLIAM "BILL" H. GOOD, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK