The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, January 30, 2001, at 9:00 a.m., at Trout Lake Nature Center, Eustis, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Robert A. Pool, Vice Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Jennifer Hill; and Debbie Stivender Others present were: Sue Whittle, County Manager; Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Hanson informed the Board that there was no formalized agenda for today's meeting. At this time, she turned the meeting over to Dr. E. Michael Lillibridge.
Dr. Lillibridge stated that he would be sharing with the Board a model that he had developed a few years ago on goal setting, in order to help them develop their personal goals as individuals, and as a group to work as a team. He presented a framework for this exercise and noted that only 7% of the population actually set and consistently achieve the goals that they set for themselves. To begin with, those present listed their individual attributes for achieving goals, and then their liabilities (areas of growth), as their first exercise for discussion. He noted that they needed to take constructive action to rid themselves of these liabilities, to some degree, to function effectively, by simply coming up with a course of action and implementing it.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 10 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would take a five minutes recess.
GOAL SETTING (CONTINUED)
At this time, the Board members began to develop their Ideal Self, which was made up of their achievable goals. The Board members discussed these items at great length.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the Board is considering extending the one cent sales tax beyond its expiration date of 2002, and there is a group of citizens who want to attend the Fiscal Retreat in February to discuss this issue, because they have made it their primary goal to educate the public on this issue. It was noted that this issue could possibly be on a June referendum.
Discussion continued regarding the Board members' achievable goals.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would take a five minute recess.
GOAL SETTING (CONTINUED)
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, presented a 15 minute video on "Smart Growth", which addressed alternatives that would help save money, protect the environment and make communities more livable. The alternatives included mixing uses of land, the creation of walkable communities and neighborhoods, use of compact design, use of resource efficiency, preserving open space, invert in existing development, providing transportation choices, and encouraging community participation.
Ms. Whittle handed out the Focus Areas, which were previously developed by the Board members, and Dr. Lillibridge explained that they would now be taking each of their noted goals and placing them into one of the four Focus Areas. The Board developed the following:
a. Growth management (Smart Growth)
b. Storm water
c. Land acquisition
d. Universal collection
f. Water conservation measures
a. Expand job creation
b. Small business assistance program
c. Economic Development Summit
d. One cent sales tax
e. Funding plan for transportation
f. Capital facilities (long range)
g. Lake Region property development
h. Utility (i.e. water and sewer)
a. Quality of life
b. Parks and Recreation Program
c. Elder Care - children
d. Elder Care
e. Indigent health care
f. Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement
g. Comprehensive Plan
a. Change attitude - Growth Management
b. Personnel - morale
c. Improve government service
d. Inter-government - coop - JPA
e. Long range financial plan
g. Honesty and integrity
Mr. Rich Dunkle stated that the County's transportation planning needs to be done under the umbrella of the State, in terms of where State roads and interchanges are being planned. Mr. Dunkle suggested that the Board add under Focus Area IV., to have transparent County government and make everything open and available to the public, perhaps by way of the Internet. He also suggested that the Board place water conservation measures under Focus Area I.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11:55 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for lunch and return at 1 p.m.
GOAL SETTING (CONTINUED)
Dr. Lillibridge stated that the goal now is to make some decisions, as a group, and to initiate their action plan.
Commr. Hanson stated that she would like to see the Board investigate and find out more about the Smart Growth Program, and she felt that the public would support it. She also felt that the Board should investigate the area of land acquisition.
Commr. Pool felt that the Board needed to collectively figure out how they are going to be able to convey their thoughts on the one cent sales tax issue to the citizens of the County.
Commr. Cadwell reminded the Board that the community based group would be coming to the Fiscal Retreat, and they want to sell the idea of extending the one cent sales tax, as opposed to the government selling it. He noted that the group certainly wants the government to endorse it, but they want to take it to the community. Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board has a plan for the dollars, and they have talked about transportation and inventoried everything that the money has been spent on, and the cities have done the same thing. He stated that the Board is in the process of talking to some School Board members, in regards to their expectations and their involvement, and the community group has compiled all of the available information, and they will be presenting it to the Board.
Commr. Pool understood that the one cent sales tax will generate $19 million per year total, of which the County gets approximately two-thirds, and the cities get one-third. He stated that, in talking to the different clubs, such as the Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club, and Homeowners' Associations, he is finding out that they feel that they can support the increase, but he is stressing to them that it is not his decision, as a government leader, but it is their decision as taxpayers.
Commr. Stivender stated that the groups that Commr. Pool is talking about are far more educated on the issues than the general public, and the general public believes that the money has been wasted. She noted that she has not seen a list of where the money has been used.
Commr. Hanson stated that the information on the County expenditures needs to be provided at the Fiscal Retreat.
Ms. Whittle noted that this year the money is being used for Sheriff's cars for the first time.
Commr. Hill explained that the money that the School Board wants will come out of the County's two-thirds, and the Board needs to know financially where they stand and what they can afford to do. She questioned whether the Constitutional Officers have been included in the discussion of the one cent sales tax.
Ms. Whittle explained that projections can be done, and staff receives an estimate from the Property Appraiser in June, and on July 1st, he provides the actual property tax roll.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the County has not been getting all of the sales tax, because a significant portion of it was pledged for debt service to build the jail and judicial center, so actually the County has been receiving some sales tax, but only the amount over and above the debt service.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, in regards to discussion with the Constitutional Officers, staff meets with them on a yearly basis to talk about their capital needs, and staff is just now getting through with a round of meetings with them.
Commr. Hanson explained that, in 1990, when the County built the Judicial Building, they looked at what the needs would be ten years out, and the County is now at the end of those ten years.
Ms. Whittle explained that discussion of capital needs takes place on an annual basis, and in the last month, Mr. Mike Anderson, Senior Director of Facilities and Capital Improvements, and Ms. Sarah LaMarche, Senior Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services, have visited each of the Constitutional Officers to update their space needs, and their capital improvement needs, but those needs can change over time.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he met with Mr. Anderson last week, and he has several graphs and charts that show square footage per employee, and the needs that are anticipated in the future.
Ms. Whittle explained that typically staff does a five year capital improvement program, and it is brought to the Board every year. She has also asked staff to do a ten year and 20 year projection, which the Board will see at the Fiscal Retreat.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board needs a lot more discussion on the one cent sales tax, and they will know more when the citizens group comes before them at the Fiscal Retreat. She noted that there is an effort being made by the School Board to eliminate the County all together, and that would have a significant impact on the County budget.
Commr. Pool stated that the School Board is having a problem with construction funds for new schools, and part of their problem involves school impact fees. He feels that the County should very soon increase the impact fees for construction, for the schools, and in terms of inter-governmental cooperation, the Board needs to let them know that he is prepared, as an elected official, to help raise impact fees for schools.
Commr. Cadwell explained that last year the School Board supported legislation to do away with impact fees, and fortunately, the Governor vetoed the request.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the County has the study underway for roads, and the initial reaction so far by the Impact Fee Review Committee is that the road impact fees will triple. The County is in the process of selecting the consultant to do the study for school, recreation, libraries, and law enforcement, so the Board will see the results of those studies this summer.
Commr. Cadwell explained that, on several occasions, the Board has requested that the School Board submit an official request to them, to raise the impact fees, and then the Board would do what would be required of them to present it to the public.
Commr. Pool was of the understanding that one penny generates $800,000 and a nickel would give the County $4 million a year, and this would be gas tax alone.
Commr. Hanson stated that she attended a Smart Growth conference in Atlanta, and the County can contract with this group to do a consensus building process with the community. She stated that she was not necessarily talking about changing the County's Land Use Plan, but maybe more of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) that go with it, and to get a recognition that the County needs to purchase some lands, if they are not going to be developed.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board members have listed issues that are important to each one of them, but growth management dictates what happens in the other areas of concern.
Commr. Hanson noted that the Board had approved to have the Urban Land Institute make a presentation to the Board on smart growth, and the concepts of it, and how it could be applied to the County. She did not believe that they would charge the County for the presentation, and she also felt that Trust for Public Lands would come to talk to the Board without a charge.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board may want to make Focus Area I., as the Board's number one goal, with land acquisition, storm water and water conservation being goals within that focus area.
Commr. Hanson felt that, if the County was going to regulate the land, then it needs to pay for it to a certain extent, and if the County is going to provide for open space for the public, then the public needs to share in the cost, and that is where the land acquisition comes in.
Commr. Hill stated that philosophically she has a problem with land acquisition, and the connotation of it.
Mr. Minkoff explained that it was not just regulation, because you cannot have urban development without the infrastructure, so the County is going to have to get in the business of providing infrastructure, not only transportation, but water and sewer, because the County is beginning to get developments that are adjacent to the city, but the city does not have utilities, and they want to do urban development without urban services, which is becoming a problem. He felt that the County needs to either build, or coordinate those services.
Discussion occurred regarding a city's annexation process, with it being noted that the County would have to take a city to court, if they wanted to protest an annexation. Further discussion took place about the projects that were approved around the cities in the early 1990s, when the County was recovering from citrus freezes, which are on well and septic, but were put into place without street lights, or storm water.
Mr. Minkoff stated that one of the problems that the County has today that needs to be dealt with is that the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) and the Zoning Map do not reflect the Comprehensive Plan. He stated that legally the Comprehensive Plan, the LDRs, and the Zoning Map should all line up, and really the County is remiss in not going back and dealing with the Zoning Map, because the Comprehensive Plan was amended in 1993.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, if it is within the City of Clermont's joint planning area, for example, for an area to be urban, then the County needs to make certain that the development that goes there has the urban services, but one of the big problems that the City has proposed is that it wants it to be the urban area, but they did not want to commit to providing the services. There has to be some way to work with the cities, whether the County helps the cities financially, or they come up with a financing scheme, because if it is going to be an urban area, then the County needs to provide the urban services, so it develops that way. He stated that the County may be able to come up with a financing scheme to help the developer get the utilities in that area and get the money back as he builds the houses, but there are a lot of creative ways the County could help the City participate in a way to get the urban services there.
Mr. Craig Willis stated that he knows that the City of Mount Dora is dealing with the same issues being discussed today, and he is very encouraged by what the Board has been doing recently with development.
Mr. Dunkle stated that the Board has made some brave and bold votes. He stated that he has lived in Orange County and Seminole County, and Lake County has a reputation of being the "wild west" and "anything goes", but that is not so, because the Board is definitely improving on their reputation, and the Board has some serious challenges. He stated that right now, at the state level, they are talking about the growth management legislation, and there is a committee that is studying it, but the Board has to understand that the drafts that come from there may not be what the legislation is at all. Mr. Dunkle stated that someone in Lake County should be monitoring that legislation on a regular basis, to make sure that it is good for Lake County. In terms of the education issues, it is likely that what is going to come out of the legislation is educational concurrency, which is going to be mandated by the State, and the transportation information sounds pretty impressive. Mr. Dunkle stated that there is a lot going on in Tallahassee that is going to affect the County, but it can still be beneficial to the County.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the State mandated transportation concurrency several years ago, and that did not benefit the County.
It was noted that there was a consensus of the Board to address the growth management issue, and to have someone come and make a presentation on smart growth. It was further noted that the cities and all other affected parties would be invited to attend.
Commr. Hanson stated that, in looking at the four focus areas, and those items that the Board members have listed under each, she did not feel there were any items that the Board should not be working on. She asked Ms. Whittle to pull them together, type them for the Board members, and let the Board members think about them, and then they can come back together and vote on them.
It was clarified that growth management, by consensus of the Board, would be the number one focus area, and all of the components that go with it. It was noted that some of the components would come from the other focus areas, as discussed.
Ms. Whittle noted other issues that would be challenging the Board, including the bill that the County has received from the State for the prisoners, and the health care costs that are coming down from the State level.
Commr. Pool stated that, as in the past, he still feels that an opportunity exists to bond some dollars that can actually begin to correct storm water immediately. He stated that, within a three year period, the County can design, develop and build 20 basins, and if the County combines its dollars with the Water Authority's dollars, for the bond, that will be a lot of money, and it still gives money for future growth, because as the area grows, there will be more dollars coming in. He further stated that a piecemeal approach to this issue will never allow the Board to see it get done. He noted that today the County is at two-tenths of a mill, and it is going to a half mill, and the Water Authority has a half mill. Commr. Pool noted that he has not voted for the tax increase yet, because he feels that the Water Authority should be doing it, and the County should not be doing it, and he still will not vote for it, because the County does not have a plan for it. He noted that one ad valorem mill creates $7.3 million.
Mr. Minkoff clarified that, if the Board decides to bond ad valorem dollars, it will take an election referendum.
Commr. Stivender stated that during her campaigning, and up until this day, she does not receive anything but complaints about how people are treated at the counters, in the Growth Management area, and about how the permitting process works. She further stated that there have been questions about the Lightning Team, which deals with economic development, in relation to the amount of time it takes for the average citizen to get a permit through the process.
Commr. Hanson stated that she agrees there are a lot of problems, but there is no excuse for things to be mishandled in this area of business. She thinks that the Board should look at what the County can out-source versus what it can keep in-house, particularly if the County is having difficulty hiring people that have the qualifications.
Commr. Stivender explained that the County can actually hire an engineering firm that can process permits a lot cheaper, and there would be a faster turnaround.
Commr. Pool explained that, when the people do complain to him, they will receive a letter indicating that the problem is being worked on and resolved, and then they are happy, but the problem still continues. He stated that Lake County is in competition with the surrounding counties, and he agrees that there are areas that can be prioritized and out-sourced and be really good for the County, and this is something that the County should look into.
Ms. Whittle stated that next Monday, for the first time in three years, the Building Department will be at full staff. She noted that the Board added a lot of staff over the past two years, to deal with the increase in activity in this area, but staff has had complaints, and staff continues to have complaints. She stated that staff met with the Homebuilders' Association last week, and they are having a seminar today, and 80 builders, or their representatives, have registered for that seminar. They were bringing people in from Orange County and they were going to look at the requirements, and the checklist, and see how they can streamline the process, because it is taking too long to get permits out, and this problem has been recognized.
Discussion occurred regarding a problem that the County is having with designs of buildings, in terms of bedrooms and their proximity to bathrooms, and the fees that are being charged. It was noted that the design plans were being reviewed and interpreted differently by County departments, and therefore, different fees were being charged.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the rule is a very comprehensive rule, which tells the Building Department that they have 12 factors to look at, but prior to writing the rule, every homebuilder came in with a single three bedroom house, and one of bedrooms was erased and made into a den. He further explained that the rule became necessary, because of abuse by people who were pulling permits, and the rule is not a hard and fast rule, but it is very clear. He stated that the complicated rule came into effect, because of people who were clearly and illegally abusing the system.
Commr. Hill stated that, in terms of the permitting department, the problem is they are not service friendly; they do not do things in a timely manner, it makes the County look inefficient, and they have no accountability, and this can be changed.
Commr. Hanson stated that the concern she has is that, if the County is at full staff now, how do they get to the out-source.
Commr. Cadwell explained that most customers go to the building and permitting offices of the County, and Ms. Whittle is very aware that there are problems, and she can resolve them.
The Commissioners presented comments to Mr. Minkoff, in terms of what they expect from him, which included providing the new Commissioners with more information, such as the history of litigation issues and past developments.
The Commissioners presented comments to Ms. Whittle, in terms of what they expect from her, which included being more of a public speaker, addressing the rapport in the Growth Management area, correcting miscommunication between offices, so that Commissioners and Advisory Boards receive information in a timely manner, and educating the public more on important issues. They stressed the need for her to change attitude and philosophy, and communication and perception in this area.
Ms. Whittle noted that next month staff will have the Communications Plan, which will be presented to the Board. The Plan will answer a number of these concerns.
Dr. Lillibridge shared with the Board the variables that he felt were going to make their team work well, and those included a sense of humor; honesty; and dialogue, which involves respect.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 2 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK