The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, April 21, 1998, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: G. Richard Swartz, Jr., Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; William "Bill" H. Good; Rhonda H. Gerber; and Catherine C. Hanson. Others present were: Sue Whittle, County Manager; Sanford (Sandy) A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Ava Kronz, Director of Continuous Quality Improvement; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy, County Finance; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Good gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, informed the Board that there was an Addendum to the Agenda, which had been properly advertised.
CLERK OF COURT'S CONSENT AGENDA
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy, County Finance, requested that Item 1.B.1., on the Clerk's Agenda, a request for approval of a Resolution adopting a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 1997/98 be pulled, to be considered at the public hearing scheduled for 9:00 a.m. this date, at which time the mid-year budget would be addressed.
On a motion by Commr. Gerber, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved to pull Item 1.B.1, on the Clerk's Agenda, to be considered at the public hearing scheduled for 9:00 a.m. this date, as requested, and approved the following requests:
Budgets/Budget Adjustments/County Finance
Request for approval of the following Budget Adjustment for FY 97/98:
1. Fund: General
Department: Constitutional Officer/Sheriff
From: Contingency - Sheriff $10,000.00
To: Transfer/Jail Capital $10,000.00
Transfer #: 98-163
Justification: Pursuant to F.S. 30.49, the Sheriff is requesting $10,000 be transferred to Jail Capital Outlay.
Request to acknowledge receipt of list of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136 of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes as attached Exhibit A and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk's Office.
Request to acknowledge receipt of Investment Report, dated December 31, 1997, in accordance with the investment policy, which requires that an investment report be submitted to the Board of County Commissioners semiannually.
Request to acknowledge receipt of City of Umatilla, Florida Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, dated September 30, 1997.
Commr. Cadwell was not present for the discussion or vote.
COUNTY MANAGER'S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Gerber, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the following requests:
Request from Community Services for approval to submit Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant application by May 1, 1998 deadline; and approval and execution of ED Form GCS-009, 6/88 "Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, Ineligibility and Voluntary Exclusion Lower Tier Covered Transactions".
Accounts Allowed/Contracts, Leases and Agreements/Economic Development
Request from Economic Development for approval and execution of contract between Lake County and Power Technology S.E., Inc., for Job Growth Investment Trust Fund monies, in an amount not to exceed $20,000.00.
Contracts, Leases and Agreements/State Agencies/Facilities and Capital Improvements
Request from Facilities and Capital Improvements for approval and execution of First Addendum to Amended and Restated Agreement between Lake County, the Oklawaha Basin Recreation and Water Conservation and Control Authority, and the Lake Soccer League, Inc.
County Property/Facilities and Capital Improvements/Municipalities
Request from Facilities and Capital Improvements for approval of request by the Town of Astatula to erect, construct, or install a well, pump, and elevated storage tank on Lake County property currently leased to the Town of Astatula.
Bonds-Mobile Home/Growth Management
Request from Growth Management for approval of Mobile Home Bond, requesting placement of a 5th Wheel Trailer on property, while constructing a conventional home, located in the east Lake County area, from the intersection of C-44A and C-439, North on C-439 approximately 2+ miles to Paradise Way, West on Paradise Way, to property at end of easement, and South of Paradise Way (Section 22, Township 18, Range 27).
Deeds/Public Works/Rights-of-Way, Roads and Easements
Request from Public Works for acceptance of the following:
Non-Exclusive Easement Deed
Aldrich, Gerald II (Beneficiary/Co-Trustee)
Aldrich Revocable Trust
Menegat, Geraldine (Beneficiary/Co-Trustee)
Aldrich, George J. (Beneficiary/Co-Trustee)
Miller, Mary F. (Beneficiary/Co-Trustee)
Anderson, Kathryn (Beneficiary/Co-Trustee)
S. Coronada Drive (4-4083A)
Statutory Warranty Deed
Lennar Homes, Inc.
Lennar Land Partners
Hartwood Marsh Road (2-0854)
Accounts Allowed/Bids/Public Works
Request from Public Works for approval to advertise for bids for the Phase II Development of Christopher C. Ford Central Park, at an estimated cost of $1,813,500.00 - Commission District 2.
Request from Public Works for approval to release a Letter of Credit, for performance, in the amount of $150,000.00, for Cypress Landing.
Accounts Allowed/Contracts, Leases and Agreements/Resolutions/Subdivisions
Request from Public Works for acceptance of the Final Plat for Hidden Hills, Phase I, Subdivision; acceptance of a Letter of Credit, in the amount of $23,435.00; approval and execution of a Developer's Agreement, for maintenance of improvements, between Lake County and Hidden Hills Land Trust; and approval and execution of Resolution No. 1998-64, accepting Autumn Wind Loop "Part" (2-0738) and Spring Moss Avenue (2-0738A) into the County Road Maintenance System.
Accounts Allowed/Risk Management
Request from Risk Management for approval and execution of Questionnaire for Railroad Protective Operations (insurance application), for renewal of the current insurance policy, which expires May 2, 1998, in the amount of $4,500.00.
Request from Personnel for approval and execution of the following:
Certificates for Employees with One Year of Service to the County
Janet De St. Croix, Right-of-Way Graphics Technician, Public Works, Engineering Division
Request from Personnel for approval and execution of the following:
Certificates for Employees with Three Years of Service to the County
Lora L. Bailey, Special Services Division Director, Public Works, Special Services Division, Director's Office, Support Services
Jenny A. Jones, Records Management Technician, Community Services, Library Services Division, Records Management
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
MID-YEAR BUDGET AMENDMENT
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, informed the Board that the mid-year budget amendment brought forward all audited fund balance information. She stated that there were no requests for personnel and no major requests for expenditures, with the exception of $188,000.00 for the Supervisor of Elections' voting machines and $1.6 million for the construction of a road at Christopher C. Ford Central Park, that will be repaid to the General Fund, as properties close.
Commr. Gerber noted that the County had received $87,000.00 this year in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) grant monies and questioned who applies for said grant.
Ms. Whittle stated that EMS applies for said grant, which is used to purchase capital equipment.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
No one was present in opposition to the request.
There being no one present who wished to address the Board, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Resolution No. 1998-65, adopting a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 1997/98.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES/PUBLIC HEARINGS
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director, Community Services, addressed the Board to report on a focus group meeting that was held March 31, 1998, between the County and representatives of the member libraries, regarding the Lake County Library System. He stated that the meeting served as a forum for representatives from the State Library Association and staff to talk about the interlocal agreement that the County currently has and some issues that they would like to see addressed and, hopefully, resolved between now and October 1, 1998.
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Library Services Manager, Community Services, addressed the Board, stating that there were three objectives for the focus group, which were (1) to provide a forum for member library representatives to discuss issues related to their library's participation in the Lake County Library System; (2) to increase the County's awareness and understanding of local member library concerns and problems arising from participation in the Lake County Library System; and (3) to identify elements critical to the development of an interlocal agreement that will maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the Lake County Library System cooperative, which she noted the County hopes to have signed by September 30, 1998. She stated that there were eight questions
designed to elicit information to meet the focus group's objectives, contained in the Board's backup material, which she reviewed, in detail, as follows:
1. What benefits have the people in your city received as a result of your city's membership in the Lake County Library System?
2. What benefits has the member library in your city received as a result of its participation in the Lake County Library System?
3. What are some of the problems that you have had to deal with as a result of participating in the Lake County Library System?
4. What do you see as the major problems with the current interlocal agreement?
5. Can you propose possible solutions that would resolve some of the problems?
6. What elements of the current interlocal agreement do you think are important to retain?
7. What is one thing that the County could do to make your participation in the Lake County Library System more acceptable? More beneficial to your city residents?
8. Do you have any other comments that are important to this discussion?
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether non-member libraries participated in the meeting, noting that the purpose of said meeting was to try to bring them into the system, because the interlocal agreement is what drove them out.
Ms. Breeden stated that they were asked to come to the meeting and observe.
Discussion occurred regarding the focus group's objectives, at which time Ms. Breeden answered questions regarding same.
Commr. Swartz stated that the County needs to move forward with a system that they believe to be a model system for the future, whatever that may be, and, if the best direction is to have a strong central library, with satellite libraries to help support and provide the service, then he felt the County needed to start moving in that direction. He stated that, if that is not the best direction, then the County should find a way to cooperatively work with the cities and try to resolve the problem, one way or another.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
No one present wished to address the Board.
COUNTY MANAGER'S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS
CONTRACTS, LEASES AND AGREEMENTS/COUNTY MANAGER/PUBLIC HEALTH
Mr. Alvin Jackson, Jr., Deputy County Manager, addressed the Board, stating that the purpose of this request was to recommend a change to the County's existing benefit levels and to create and add a Coordinated Panel Option (CPO) with Florida Hospital-Waterman. He stated that the County's Employee Benefit Committee worked for several months looking at the County's existing benefits and how it could expand them, before coming up with the plan before the Board this date.
Mr. Wayne Hamilton, Risk Manager, Risk Management, addressed the Board, stating that the recommendation before them this date was the result of an ongoing process to provide a quality and affordable health care plan for County employees and their dependents. He stated that it is a partnership with the local community to provide health care benefits with capitation funding. He stated that the capitation funding arrangement with the Coordinated Panel Option will usher in a new era in health care for Lake County, noting that it will help provide stability for the County's program and give another option to the employees, which should increase the degree of satisfaction for both employees and their dependents and it should be cost effective for many years to come. He reviewed a Group Medical Plan Benefits Comparison chart, contained in the Board's backup material, indicating the various plans available, and answered questions regarding same.
Ms. Joni Hudson-Smith, Florida Hospital-Waterman, addressed the Board, regarding the 2a. Waterman Coordinated Panel Option, contained in the chart alluded to earlier, noting that there are 125 physicians in said plan, that the employees would select from, of which over 20 are primary care physicians. She stated that, along with the Waterman option, the employees would have complete access to the Florida Hospital system in Orlando, which has approximately 1,000 physicians available. She stated that all Florida Hospital sites and ancillaries are available to the employees, as well.
Mr. Mike Phillips, Plan Manager, Florida Healthcare Purchasing Cooperative, Inc., addressed the Board, stating that over 2/3 of the County's employees are currently using the Florida Hospital-Waterman system.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved a request from the County Manager for approval of a contract between Lake County and Florida Healthcare Purchasing Cooperative, Inc., changing existing benefit levels and adding a Coordinated Panel Option (CPO) and an option to renew for a fourth year, with no more than a 15% increase; and authorization for the Chairman to sign applications, amendments, policies, contracts and documents relating to the group medical plan.
It was noted that there are no changes in the existing benefits, that this request is only an addendum to the plan.
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/FACILITIES AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
STATE AGENCIES/MUNICIPALITIES/WATER RESOURCES
Mr. John Benton, representing the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, addressed the Board, stating that this request was a request by his agency, through Parks and Recreation, for an allocation of $9,000.00, to be taken from the Fish Conservation Fund, which comes from an extra dollar that is tacked on fishing licenses that are sold in Lake County. He stated that Lake Griffin is a fish management area, as is the Clermont Chain of Lakes; therefore, anyone that fishes on said waters is required to have a license, unless they are exempt, either by being 16 years of age or under, or are over the age of 65. He stated that this request is one aspect of improving Lake Griffin's habitat, by planting plants, stocking fish, and improving access to the lake. He stated that they are cooperating with the City of Leesburg, who maintains the facility, which is a floating aluminum T-dock, mainly to give people access to Herlong Park, who currently fish along the grass banks of the lake.
Mr. Chuck Pula, Parks and Recreation Coordinator, Public Works, addressed the Board, stating that staff is requesting that the funds ($9,000.00) needed for the new fishing pier be taken out of the Fish Conservation Fund account.
On a motion by Commr. Gerber, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved a request from Facilities and Capital Improvements for approval for the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission to utilize $9,000.00 of Fish Conservation Fund monies, to fund part of the cost of a new fishing pier at Herlong Park, in Leesburg, on Lake Griffin.
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/FACILITIES AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS/FUNDS
Mr. Lloyd Singleton, Resource Conservationist, Lake Soil and Water Conservation Services, addressed the Board, stating that staff was requesting the Board's approval to submit a grant application to Florida Communities Trust, for the purchase of some land adjacent to a 263 acre site that is being transferred in ownership to Lake County, thanks to some legislation which appropriates $1.5 million to the University of Florida, to fund their needs for acquisition in Apopka, for the consolidation of their research stations. He stated that the adjacent land that staff is asking Florida Communities Trust to purchase for the County includes a 50 acre tract fronting Hwy. 27; a 300' conservation easement, along the north and west sides of the Palatlakaha River; and a one acre tract, with a mobile home, that is contiguous to the 50 acre tract on Hwy. 27. He stated that, in discussions with the owner of said property, he is very amenable to the conservation easement, which is the purchase of development rights. He stated that the grant only deals with acquisition costs, noting that the County's only costs, on an ongoing nature, will be maintenance by Parks and Recreation.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would be willing to support the request, however, noted that he feels the Board needs to talk about the long-range effect that this project will have on the County's Parks and Recreation budget.
Commr. Swartz suggested that Mr. Pula work with the PEAR group and obtain some preliminary numbers so that, if the grants are approved, the County will have said numbers, to decide whether it wants to make a commitment.
Mr. Singleton informed the Board that their backup material contained a letter that Florida Communities Trust has requested the Board mimic, to go along with the application. He requested that the Board execute said letter by Thursday, April 23, 1998, noting that the deadline for the grant is April 27, 1998. He pointed out the fact that the last sentence in the first paragraph of said letter states, "Lake County understands it will be required to fulfill the commitments made in the grant application.", and he wanted to emphasize that the commitments being made in the grant application is an attempt to coordinate funding and management of this project with other agencies. He stated that the County is not committing its budget to anything other than general maintenance by Parks and Recreation.
Mr. Alvin Jackson, Jr., Deputy County Manager, addressed the Board, stating that he wanted to make it clear that whatever commitments are stated in the application, the County has to be committed to.
Commr. Hanson stated that she wants to look at the issue very carefully, because she wants to know what dollars are expected, before the County moves forward with a commitment.
Commr. Gerber referred to Paragraph (d) - Providing Outdoor Recreation, on Page 14 of the Board's backup material, and questioned the fact that, if the Board determined that the site in question would be good for an outdoor sports facility, whether the County would be precluded from lighting the facility's fields, because of the considerations.
Mr. Pula stated that, in talking with representatives from Florida Communities Trust, he does not feel they would look well on that, because they would rather see more passive type improvements, such as those mentioned in the grant application. He stated that they did not mention high intensive active use on this particular site, particularly because of the residents in the area, noting that the site is surrounded by three large retirement developments, who have expressed opposition to it, through public meetings that have been held with the Fair Committee.
A motion was made by Commr. Good and seconded by Commr. Gerber to approve a request from Facilities and Capital Improvements for approval to submit a Florida Community Trust Grant Application, for a 263 acre parcel of land that was part of the University of Florida's School of Agriculture, near U.S. 27, on the Palatlakaha River - funding to be provided by the State of Florida, in the amount of $1.5 million.
Under discussion, Commr. Gerber stated that the County was going to have to come up with a conceptual plan for the property in question, before the County accepts said grant money.
Commr. Swartz stated that there is a plan for the property; however, the Board needs to acquire some costs that would indicate what portion the Water Authority will deal with, what portion the Water Management District and other entities will deal with, and what the County's involvement will be.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote.
OUTDOOR RECREATION/PUBLIC WORKS/STATE AGENCIES
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, addressed the Board, stating that the State begged the County to apply for grant funding, from the Office of Greenways and Trails, for the purpose of acquiring as much property throughout the County as possible for trails.
Mr. Stuart Buchanan, Alternate Transportation Specialist, Public Works, addressed the Board, stating that he traveled to Tallahassee and talked to the staff of the Office of Greenways and Trails and was informed that they had unspent funds, going back to 1993, which they will lose July 1, 1998, therefore, asked that, if the County had any applications that they had not submitted, to please do so. He stated that staff took all eight of the proposed projects that were left and sent them forward.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved a request from Public Works for approval and execution of eight (8) proposals to the Office of Greenways and Trails, for land acquisition funds, providing for eight (8) Rails to Trails projects throughout Lake County.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
COUNTY MANAGER'S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS (CONT'D.)
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/CONTRACTS, LEASES AND AGREEMENTS
COUNTY PROPERTY/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, addressed the Board and explained the terms and conditions of this request, stating that the actual contract covers the purchase of approximately 31.41 acres, which he noted is an estimate and may increase slightly at the time of the final survey. He stated that the purchase price is $35,000.00 per acre. He stated that the Board's backup material contained a real estate agreement that provides that Circuit City will have 90 days to evaluate the property in question and obtain permits. He stated that the closing occurs after that period of time. He stated that there is also a Development Agreement that requires the County to construct a road and install utilities at the site. He stated that the closing involves an Escrow Agreement that states that the cost of constructing the road, from SR 19 to the site in question, as well as the utilities will be escrowed, pending completion of said improvements. He stated that there are some time deadlines on construction, however, noted that Mr. Mike Anderson, Senior Director, Facilities and Capital Improvements, reviewed them and feels the County can meet them. He stated that, if the County does not meet the deadlines, Circuit City can take over construction of the roads themselves, or declare a breach of the contract.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the County is allowing Circuit City to grade some adjacent property, which they are not purchasing. He stated that they are going to grade the property that they are purchasing, plus the option property, plus the adjacent parcel of property. He stated that it will be within the setbacks for the adjacent property, so staff does not feel that it will impact the value of that piece of property. He stated that the option is for five years at the same purchase price of $35,000.00 per acre. He stated that Circuit City is allowed to assign the option, but only to the person that owns the main parcel of property. He stated that they are not allowed to separate the 12 acres out and sell it to another developer, for a different project. He stated that those are the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether Circuit City was providing money for the option, noting that there has to be money set aside for a true option.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the contract sets aside some portion of the purchase price, as option money, however, noted that there is no option money, other than the $35,000.00 per acre, times the 30 acres.
Commr. Hanson stated that Circuit City will have to have some money set aside, that is at risk, for the option.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the contract reads that way, however, noted that the $35,000.00 per acre includes the price that they are paying for the option money. He stated that they are paying the County approximately $1 million, however, out of that $1 million is the option amount, which is $100.00.
Commr. Hanson stated that she did not mind the option, she just feels the County should have some at risk money, if Circuit City does not go forward.
Mr. Minkoff stated that they will be doing the site grading on the option property, which will be a substantial cost to them, should they elect not to go forward.
A motion was made by Commr. Cadwell and seconded by Commr. Good to approve a request from Economic Development for approval and execution of a contract between Lake County and Circuit City, for the sale and purchase of 31.41 acres, at $35,000.00 per acre, in Christopher C. Ford Central Park, including a 5 year option to buy an additional 12.05 acres at $35,000.00 per acre; and approval of a 7% commission on the sale.
Under discussion, Commr. Hanson questioned whether the commission was for the option property, as well, and, if so, how it is being paid.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that the 7% commission would only be paid if the option property closes.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote.
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/SUITS AFFECTING THE COUNTY
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved a request from the County Attorney for approval and execution of a Satisfaction and Release of Claim, in the amount of $1,338.00, representing attorney fees paid by Lake County in a guardianship proceeding.
COMMISSIONER GERBER - DISTRICT 1
REPORTS/ELECTIONS/FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
Commr. Gerber distributed a handout that she had prepared, with regard to a study that she conducted of voter expectations, involving the County's fire service, while working on her Bachelor's Degree at Stetson University. She noted that the sample used for the study was drawn from the 61,123 voters registered by January 1, 1988, living in the unincorporated area of the County, excluding Precinct 37. She stated that she was able to draw a systematic random sample of 611 voters, stratified by precinct, with a response rate of 27%, having 164 surveys returned. She stated that at least one response was received from 50 of the 81 precincts (82 minus Hawthorne) that existed at that time - 61.7% of the precincts were represented. She reviewed the questions and answers contained in the handout, as follows:
1. All of the counties that surround Lake County fund fire services from a fire assessment, through property taxes, or by some combination of these type methods. The fire assessment is a flat fee, while the amount of property taxes assessed for fire would be dependent upon the value of your property as determined by the Property Appraiser. Which of these methods is more desirable to you?
2. If you are currently paying the assessment on property you own, would you be willing to pay more annually to upgrade fire protection service in Lake County?
3. If you currently pay the assessment and would pay an increased amount, how much of a yearly increase would you pay?
4. What do you regard to be the single most important thing to improve fire service in your neighborhood or vicinity?
5. What do you expect the average response time to be for fire emergencies in your neighborhood or vicinity?
6. In general, how responsive do you feel the Lake County Commission is to the needs of the citizens of Lake County?
Discussion occurred regarding the survey, at which time Commr. Gerber answered questions from the Board regarding same.
No action was needed or taken.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
COMMISSIONER HANSON - DISTRICT 4
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Proclamation No. 1998-66, recognizing May 7, 1998, as National Day of Prayer in Lake County.
COMMISSIONER HANSON - DISTRICT 4
Commr. Hanson informed the Board, for informational purposes, that March of Dimes was very successful this year, raising a total of $114,000.00 in the County, $10,000.00 more than last year, thanks to the hard work of the County's employees and Constitutional Officers.
COMMISSIONER SWARTZ - DISTRICT 3
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Proclamation No. 1998-63, proclaiming the week of April 19, 1998, as Victim's Rights Week and supporting the State Attorney's "Victims Voice 98" - A time of Remembrance Day, scheduled for April 24, 1998, at the Lake County Judicial Center.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 11:00 a.m. the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for lunch and would reconvene at 1:00 p.m. for the Fire Services Workshop.
FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
The Chairman opened the workshop session stating that the Board would be dealing exclusively with fire issues this date.
Mr. Richard Gander, a member of the Lake County Fire Rescue Advisory Board, addressed the Board, stating that the Fire Rescue Advisory Board received a copy of staff's presentation, regarding the issue of fire services, and that it was flawed with errors, therefore, requested that, before the presentation was made, the Fire Rescue Advisory Board be allowed to meet with staff, to correct said flaws, so that their presentation would be accurate.
Commr. Swartz informed those present that Mr. John Jolliff, Chairman of the Lake County Fire Rescue Advisory Board, would be giving a presentation regarding a report that he submitted to the County, concerning the issue of fire services; that County staff was asked to review the fire proposals of both Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services and the Fire Rescue Advisory Board and would be making a presentation regarding their findings; and that the Board would hear a presentation from Florida Hospital-Waterman, which briefly outlines the proposal that they have modified, at his request. He noted that the Board scheduled a public hearing, to address the issue of fire services, for Tuesday, May 5, 1998, at which time public comment would be taken.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, informed the Board that she had hired Mr. John Wesley White, a consultant, a couple of months ago to do a study of fire services in Lake County - where the County has been, where it is now, and what possibilities and options there are for the future of Lake County, noting their advantages and disadvantages. She stated that Mr. White had submitted his report to her and was present this date to present it to the Board.
Mr. John Wesley White, Principal, Strategic Management Resources, addressed the Board, stating that he had been asked to assist them in evaluating the long-term options available to the County, with regard to the issue of fire services. He stated that many options were identified in the process of interviews and focus groups, some of which were conceptual options that were not seriously advocated by the individuals presenting them; however, he boiled them down to five (5). He reviewed, in detail, a booklet (Strategies for Lake County, Fire and Emergency Services, April,
1998) of information that he had prepared for the Board's perusal, contained in their backup material, which covered the five options alluded to, as follows:
Growth in Lake County
Implications for Fire and Emergency Services
Municipal Fire Service
County Fire Service
Emergency Medical Services
Issues and Principals
Alternatives for Providing Fire and Emergency Services
Maintain Current Service
Contract with Other Public Agencies
Operate Under County Department
Contract with Private Entity
Private Management of County Department
Continue Contract Operation
Change to County Operation
Mr. White stated that, in the next 12 years, local governments will have to expand services to cover an additional number of people greater than those currently residing in the cities of Clermont, Eustis, Leesburg, Mt. Dora, and Tavares combined. He stated that the most cost effective approach for the County, in the long-term, is going to be with a dual response system - something that integrates fire and emergency services in some fashion, irrespective of the service delivery mechanism, whether it is private or public - something that brings those services into closer proximity with cross-trained individuals, with a much greater impact of public dollars that will be going into that. He stated that there are at least half a dozen geographic opportunities for improving service, by working with the municipalities, which he noted is not going to be a quick and easy process. He stated that it takes time, patience, and a real commitment on the part of both parties, to come up with a real solution, in order to achieve even the simplest of intergovernmental agreements. Mr. White discussed various alternatives for providing fire and emergency services for Lake County, as follows, indicating the advantages and disadvantages of each :
Discussion occurred regarding the report, at which time Mr. White answered questions from the Board regarding same.
The Board thanked Mr. White for a very informative report.
Mr. John Jolliff, Chairman of the Lake County Fire Advisory Board, addressed the Board, in response to a request by the Board, on March 10, 1998, that the Fire Rescue Advisory Board review the Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services proposal and make a recommendation to the Board regarding same. He stated that they came up with a recommendation, contained in a document that was presented to the Board, dated April 14, 1998, that they felt would be the best thing for Lake County and its citizens and still support public fire protection. He stated that his response covers the following issues, which he reviewed with the Board:
Mr. Jolliff commended Mr. White on his report, noting that it was an excellent report - one of the best reports that he had read on the issue of fire services. He then reviewed Addendum No. 1 and 2, which were submitted to the County, to be placed in the report dated April 14, 1998, comparing Fire Advisory Board Option 1 with the Florida Regional Emergency Medical Service Option (Addendum No. 1) and comparing Fire Advisory Board Option 2 with the Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services Plan B (Addendum No. 2).
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 2:05 p.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for 10 minutes.
FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES (CONT'D.)
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, informed the Board that when she put a team together to evaluate and analyze the two proposals that the Board had received, being the first plan that Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services brought forward, as well as Fire Board Option 3, she asked them to make certain that all costs were real and comparable and that they look at the what the overhead costs will be to the County. She stated that the team had not addressed the last couple of plans that were brought forward, because they had not been received by the Board and staff had not
received any direction from the Board to look at them. She stated that she felt the team had put together a good framework for reviewing any proposals and plans that the County may be considering, as time goes on. She stated that the County is moving rather quickly on this issue, however, the reason for doing so is that the Board had indicated that they would like to have changes to the system in place by October 1, 1998.
Mr. Alvin Jackson, Jr., Deputy County Manager, addressed the Board, at which time he reviewed, in detail, a handout (four pages) titled, "Fire Proposal Comparisons - April 1998", which he noted staff had developed for evaluating any type of proposal - it is a way of examining all the factors to be included and the costs involved. He noted that the current number of fire stations is 28, FREMS Plan B proposes 31, and Fire Board Option 3 proposes 28; the current number of personnel is 58, FREMS Plan B proposes 132, and Fire Board Option 3 proposes 169; and the current costs for fire services, under the County's plan is $6,422,902; under FREMS Plan B, it is $12,589,041; and under Fire Board Option 3, it is $13,201,064.
Mr. Ken Mattison, Chief Executive Officer, Florida Hospital-Waterman, addressed the Board, stating that Florida Hospital-Waterman is committed to serving Lake County and they want that commitment to continue, regardless of whatever decision is made this date. He stated that they responded to a request by Commr. Swartz for a proposal regarding fire services; however, they feel any decision regarding this issue should be studied and understood very carefully, because too much is at stake for it to be looked at lightly. He stated that they will honor their commitment, as outlined in the contract that they currently have with the County, however, are willing to explore options, if in doing so, they can be flexible and assist the County in finding a solution.
Mr. Bill Compton, President and Chief Executive Officer, Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services, addressed the Board, stating that his firm was merely a vendor that responded to a request by a client (Lake County), that he never asked the County to engage his firm in fire operations for Lake County. He discussed his firm's history with Lake County (since 1974) and changes that have been made in their contract with the County, over the years. He stated that Lake County provides only 5% of their operating budget and noted that the County owns all the equipment (rolling stock). He stated that the contract states, if, at any time, Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services defaults, either operationally, financially, or in any other manner, said equipment reverts back to the County. He stated that the contract is a very tight contract, which gives the County control over the operating entity. He stated that he felt it was important for everyone to understand that there is no financial gain for Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services in this operation. He stated that his firm will support any decision the Board makes and will continue to honor its contract and have a working relationship with Lake County Fire and Emergency Services.
Mr. David Jordan, Regional Director of Operations, Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services, addressed the Board and answered questions regarding FREMS Plan B, as well as other questions pertaining to the fire issue before the Board this date. He reviewed a chart that had been submitted to the Board titled, "Cost and Level of Service Comparison of Fire and Emergency Services Proposals", that his firm had put together, containing figures that they compiled comparing the current fire service with Fire Board Option 3, the Original FREMS proposal, the Lake County Volunteer Proposal, and the proposal from FHW/FREMS and answered questions regarding same.
Mr. Tom Siegfried, former Fire Chief of Altamonte Springs, and the gentleman who would come on board as Chief of Fire Operations, should the County enter into a contract with Florida Hospital-Waterman/Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services for the privatization of fire services, addressed the Board and discussed why he would be willing to accept the job, should the County decide to enter into said contract. He noted that the County is going to have to rely on volunteer firefighters.
Considerable discussion occurred regarding the issue of fire services, at which time Commr. Swartz stated that he did not support the current level of service, because he feels it is unacceptable.
Commr. Hanson concurred.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he did not have any doubt in his mind that, if the County privatizes its fire service that Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services will run it with the same high quality that they have run the ambulance service for the County; however, he did not feel that the privatization issue was going to work. In fact, he stated that he felt it was going to keep the Board from discussing the real issues.
A motion was made by Commr. Cadwell and seconded by Commr. Hanson that the Board not consider privatization of the County's fire service and remove from any further consideration any of the proposals from Florida Hospital-Waterman/ Florida Regional Emergency Medical Services, regarding the privatization of fire services for Lake County.
Under discussion, Commr. Hanson stated that she was concerned about the assessment issue and administrative fees, as well. She stated that she felt the issue of privatization was worth looking at, however, felt it was unfortunate that the proposal was not developed through the Fire Advisory Board. She stated that she felt, at this time, it was not the thing for Lake County and that she felt the County would lose its volunteers. She stated that it would be very disruptive to the County and that it is not supported by the citizens. She stated that she felt the Board should increase the funding and look at increased collaboration with other governmental agencies, both in and outside the County, and that the Board consider having the dispatch service be county operated.
Commr. Good requested clarification about the issue of strike protection that government agencies have that private agencies do not.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that public employees in the State of Florida do not have the ability to strike, whereas, private employees do, however, noted that, in cases of emergencies, there can be judicial intervention to require private employees to go back to work.
Commr. Swartz stated that he was troubled about the fact that the original draft of the Fire Advisory Board's proposal showed the fee for fire protection increased to $128 and a tremendous increase from 27 staff people to 153. He stated that the Board has to look, in the long-term, at what is best for Lake County. He stated that he did not feel there was a single vote on the Board for Fire Board Option 3, because its increase in costs was so significant. He questioned whether any member of the Board would support Fire Advisory Board Option 3.
It was indicated that they would not.
Commr. Swartz stated that he did not believe any member of the Board would vote for a $95 special assessment, as indicated in Option 2 (Volunteer Proposal), and questioned whether any member of the Board would move it for serious consideration.
It was indicated that they would not.
Commr. Swartz questioned whether there was any support for the current system.
It was indicated that there was not.
Commr. Swartz encouraged the Board to not eliminate from consideration what is still a serious proposal that has advantages and disadvantages.
Commr. Gerber stated that people want a fire engine at their house in eight minutes, however; they do not want to pay more than $50 per year for the service, and the only plan that does that is the FHW/FREMS plan.
Commr. Good stated that he felt the privatization plan should be kept under consideration and looked at further.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which failed, by a 3-2 vote.
Commrs. Swartz, Gerber and Good voted "No".
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board direct staff to come back to the Board, at the meeting scheduled for May 5, 1998, with a proposal that would increase the level of fire service for Lake County, with an assessment fee somewhere between $50.00 and $75.00, for the Board's consideration.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
__________________________________ G. RICHARD SWARTZ, JR.,CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK