The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, October 9, 2001, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners' Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building. 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: Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney/Interim County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioners' Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Kathryn A. Schwartz, Deputy Clerk.
The Chairman opened the meeting stating that the purpose of the meeting today is to interview individually, but as a Board, each of the three final candidates for the vacant County Manager position. The candidates are: Mr. Robert J. Bradshaw, Ft. Pierce, Florida; Mr. John J. McCue, Orange City, Florida; and Mr. William A. Neron, Pensacola, Florida. She explained the interview process as follows: that each candidate will be interviewed, which should run through approximately 10:30 a.m.; that a break will be taken; that the Board will return and, at that point, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates; that a motion will then be made for the number-one candidate; that the Chairman will then travel to the home county of the successful candidate to conduct an expanded background check, including interviewing peers. It was suggested, and agreed upon, that if the background check turns out to be positive that the Chairman should return with a contract, as opposed to the Board meeting again and then submitting a contract.
It was noted that the personal interview process, conducted the day before, had not been done in the past, but it was found to be very helpful.
It was also noted that the Board members had a list of proposed questions designed to aid them in the interview process but that they did not necessarily have to use them.
COUNTY EMPLOYEES/COUNTY MANAGER
INTERVIEW OF ROBERT J. BRADSHAW - FT. PIERCE, FLORIDA
Mr. Bradshaw explained his views of the County Manager position in relationship to the goals of the County, emphasizing the importance of leadership and teamwork and the understanding that the Board is the governing body, and the Manager is the facilitator. He felt the most critical aspects of the position were the areas of growth management, economic development, organizational development, and communication between the 14 municipalities within the County.
Mr. Bradshaw, in answer to questions from the Board, touched on subjects such as, in his opinion, the comfortable fiscal status of the County; his strengths and weaknesses; his passions, both from a professional and personal side; his career goals and willingness to put down roots; the challenges and successes of his career in government work; his management/leadership styles; his leisure activities; his availability and relocation time frames; his learning curve; his administration style for the implementation of County policy, especially in the area of growth management; the dissemination of outreach educational programs to citizens in the County; and the ability to improve relations with the local press.
In closing, Mr. Bradshaw asked the Board to remember him as being personable but effective, a facilitator and consensus builder and as having the ability to implement policy. He thanked the Board for the opportunity and their hospitality, expressing his comfort level with staff and being very appreciative of the personal interview process.
The Board members thanked Mr. Bradshaw for his interest, his input, and his perseverance, recognizing that it has been a long process.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 9:26 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would take a five-minute recess.
COUNTY EMPLOYEES/COUNTY MANAGER (CONTINUED)
INTERVIEW OF JOHN J. MCCUE - ORANGE CITY, FLORIDA
Mr. McCue responded to questions from the Board discussing his view of the County Manager position in relation to the overall goals of the County; that his primary obligation is to be instrumental in achieving the goals through the implementation of policy; that, in order for objectives to be accomplished, leadership needs to be demonstrated, invoking the confidence of not only staff but the citizens of the County as well. Mr. McCue spoke about the most critical aspect of the position being the facilitation of cohesion within Lake County's government, making sure that communications are clear, concise, and open, both internally and within the community, especially in the area of the County's policy in the growth management arena.
Mr. McCue answered questions from the Board on the following issues: the challenge in striking a balance between the rural and urban components of the area; the importance of staff's recommendations being consistent with the Board's thinking process; his opinion of the County's fiscal position, emphasizing the need for the County to be careful in depleting its reserves; his strengths and weaknesses; his management style; his ability to adjust to a change in politics; the County Manager's facilitating role in economic development and the necessary skills in guiding the process and representing the Board's objectives and goals; his references; his professional and personal passions; recreational activities; how soon he could pick up the day-to-day operations of the County; his ideas on improving outreach programs to the citizens of the community; the importance of the community's and management's perception of its county employees; his special recognition programs; and, if chosen for the position, how soon he would be available.
Mr. McCue asked that the Board remember him as a person who is a seasoned professional and who is passionate about his role in the community. He thanked the Board for their time, noting that it was a great process.
The Board expressed their appreciation for Mr. McCue's involvement in the long process.
INTERVIEW OF WILLIAM A. NERON - PENSACOLA, FLORIDA
Mr. Neron expressed his thoughts regarding how he sees the County Manager's position in relationship to the overall goals of the County. He described the position as being a place of facilitation, with the Board instructing and leading the way; that the County Manager makes sure that communication is open and clear, and he enables the policies of the Board to be successfully executed for the benefit of the community. He felt a critical aspect of the position is communication, not only with the Board but with staff, outside agencies, constitutional officers, municipalities, various interest groups; that the County Manager needs to be a communicator and facilitator among all the interests in order to bring them together into a cohesive group to accomplish common community goals.
Mr. Neron responded to questions from the Board, addressing topics such as the areas of greatest concern to the County, which are the environment, growth management, quality of life, and community outreach; his opinion that the County presented with a good fiscal picture and reserves; meeting the challenge of balancing the funding of future proposed state mandates with the needed local programs; the budget process; the importance of providing the Board with information and assistance in carrying out its policies; his management techniques; his strengths and weaknesses; the process in formulating a Comprehensive Plan and the role of the County Manager in coordinating and administering the plan; his passions, both personally and professionally; past professional accomplishments and goals; his leadership style; his availability; the time needed to become familiar with the day-to-day operations of the County; and useful strategies and effective tools in distributing information to the public.
In closing, Mr. Neron asked that the Board remember him as a very positive individual who has the capability to step in and become the new manager for the County and who can accomplish the Board's goals and objectives. He expressed his appreciation for the courtesies of not only the Board but of staff and members of the community as well; that it has been a very pleasant experience.
The Board thanked Mr. Neron for his participation and patience.
Commr. Hanson stated that all three candidates were present and ready to start the interview process on the originally scheduled date of September 11. She expressed the Board's appreciation for the candidates' willingness to return and continue the process, noting that everybody's minds would not have been on the issue at hand due to the tragic circumstances at the World Trade Center.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:30 a.m., Commr. Hanson informed those present that the Board will take a 15-minute break after which the Board will reconvene and make a decision. It was noted that Commr. Hanson will ultimately travel to the successful candidate's community and conduct a background check.
COUNTY EMPLOYEES/COUNTY MANAGER (CONTINUED)
Commr. Hanson noted that the County is very fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview the outstanding candidates and that it will be a tough decision in coming to a unanimous vote; that, regardless of who is chosen, she hoped that he would remain with the County a long time and would be someone who could continue, through the years, as a dynamic force behind the community.
At this time, the Board members discussed, in detail, their thoughts and conclusions regarding each candidate.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Pool, for the Board to authorize the Chairman, and staff, to expand the background check on Mr. Neron; that the Chairman have personal contact with some of the folks in Escambia County, where Mr. Neron is from; that, if everything checks out and the Chairman is comfortable and there are no issues that she thinks the Board needs to address, a contract for employment on Mr. Neron be brought back to the Board.
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell stated that, from his experience, not everybody in a community will feel the same about someone; that Commr. Hanson will most likely hear both sides of an issue; that there are other people in the industry who have also dealt with Mr. Neron over the years and who also would offer their opinions at this point. He hoped that Commr. Hanson would bring back a contract fairly quickly. Commr. Hanson confirmed that she would.
Commr. Cadwell also encouraged the Board, knowing that they were all comfortable with both Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Neron, to return a unanimous decision. Commr. Hanson and Commr. Pool also thought that a unanimous vote was extremely important.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
Commr. Hanson explained that the Board will work to expedite the process and to bring back a contract. She appreciated the diligence of the Board in working through the process and the hard work of the Recruitment Committee.
Mr. Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney/Interim County Manager, stated that he would like to recognize Ms. Helena Osborne, Ms. Terrie Diesbourg, Ms. Wendy Taylor, and Ms. Quinnette Durkin who were involved in setting up the interview process for the Board. He hoped that members of the Board thought it was a good process.
Commr. Hanson thought, in her opinion, that it was the best process, and she expressed her appreciation for those who were involved.
REPORTS/COMMISSIONERS/ONE-CENT SALES TAX
Commr. Stivender presented to the Board a list defining where the proceeds from the one-cent sales tax will be allocated. She asked for the Board's approval of the document, before it is disbursed in the community. It was noted that the listed projects have been on the County's capital project list and have Board approval; that the document is simply to redefine the list for the public so that they will understand the issue.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the placement of the item, as stated above, on the Board's agenda.
Commr. Stivender made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Pool, for the Board to approve the list for distribution to the public regarding the one-cent sales tax.
Discussion occurred regarding the proposed locations for community centers; wherein, Commr. Hanson noted that Sorrento was not designated as one of the proposed sites on the list but that there was a real need for a community center in the area. It was suggested that if a community already had a center that excess funds from their restoration and park development annual budget could be used in Sorrento. Commr. Hanson stated that the community centers, along with the libraries, are a positive step forward for the rural areas in the County.
Commr. Hill inquired into the purchase of green space and environmentally sensitive lands and how the $2 million figure was calculated. Discussion occurred in which it was explained that green space and environmentally sensitive lands have always been lumped into land costs for new parks but that the money has always been used for the acquisition of park space and not so much for environmentally sensitive property. It was noted, however, that the County has looked for property on lakes and similar areas. It was confirmed that the County is using the list, as identified above, and coming up with the annual $2 million figure.
Mr. Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney/Interim County Manager, explained that these green spaces and environmentally sensitive areas are not intended to be active recreation areas; that they are preservation-type lands; that some land is purchased for the active recreation parks. Staff's thoughts were that spaces like the Wekiva Basin and the Green Swamp areas would be designated as passive parks and not active-recreation type parks; that trails could probably be created as opposed to ballfields and swimming pools; that these areas could be used for dual purposes: as green space and passive recreation. Discussion occurred regarding the County being careful not to stockpile property. It was also noted that needs could change in future years with regard to these preservation areas and that the current Board cannot tie the hands of any future board.
Commr. Stivender explained that the list would be given to the press, or anyone else who would like a detailed list; that the document is strictly an informational piece for the public's use; that it will be edited for typographical errors and then put on letterhead. Discussion occurred regarding disseminating this information to the taxpayers under cover of a letter and that the whole Board should sign it.
Commr. Stivender amended her motion to include that a letter shall be composed to all the citizens and signed by the full Board.
Commr. Pool amended his second to the motion.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, as amended, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
Commr. Hanson reminded the Board of the ceremony today at the Lake County Agricultural Center for the dedication of the computer lab to Mr. Jim Simpson. She suggested arriving at noon, with the dedication beginning at 12:30.
Mr. Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney/Interim County Manager, discussed changes that will be occurring, over the next few days, to security in the Lake County Administration Building; that they would like everyone to use the front door; that they are installing some cameras to record people coming in and out, particularly after hours; that the Sheriff's Department and the bailiffs will be helping with processing new identification badges for employees in the building; that the County will be buying the stock to make the badges but will be using the bailiffs' equipment to process them; and that the new badges will be issued to all employees, and they will all be the same color.
COUNTY EMPLOYEES/COUNTY MANAGER (CONTINUED)
Discussion occurred regarding informing the candidates of the Board's decision prior to the press. Mr. Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney/Interim County Manager, explained that he did not think that staff could get to the candidates before the press but that he would try to get a hold of them as quickly as possible.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:18 a.m.
________________________________________ CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK