A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
SEPTEMBER 10, 2002
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, September 10, 2002, at 10:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner’s Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Robert A. Pool, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Jennifer Hill; and Debbie Stivender. Others present were: William (Bill) A. Neron, County Manager; Sanford (Sandy) A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Administrative Supervisor, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Judy Whaley, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commr. Hanson stated that she had an item she would like to have placed on the Agenda regarding a joint proclamation by the Board of County Commissioners (Board) and the Lake County Water Authority proclaiming October 18, 2002, as Clean Water Act Day in Lake County.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to place said item on the Agenda.
Commr. Pool stated that he had an item he would like to have placed on the Agenda regarding a letter, on behalf of the Board, for the Lake County Water Authority to remove vegetation and debris from certain South Lake County canals.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to place said item on the Agenda.
COUNTY MANAGER’S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT - AGREEMENT BETWEEN LAKE COUNTY
AND LAKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, addressed the Board and stated that, as part of the DEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) monitoring permit, the County has been requested to install ground water monitoring wells associated with the closed Astatula Phase I landfill. He stated that the County would like to install monitoring wells on Lake County School Board property located along the south side of Frankies Road, Tavares, and that this is a request authorizing the Chairman to execute an agreement between Lake County and the Lake County School Board that would seek permission to install the wells and have access for monitoring the wells.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request authorizing the Chairman to execute an agreement between Lake County and the Lake County School Board for the use and right of entry onto property located along the south side of Frankies Road, Tavares.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT - RECYCLING PRIVATIZATION
Mr. Bill Gilley, Solid Waste Director, addressed the Board for approval, as part of the RFP (Request For Proposal) process, to negotiate an agreement for the privatization of recyclable materials. He stated that this agreement is for the marketing and processing of curbside and drop-off recyclables, and three proposals were received and evaluated. He stated that, based on the proposals and the pricing, the recommendation is to award the contract to SP (Southeast Paper) Recycling. He added that SP Recycling would rent the processing facility at $2,000 per month, and would lease some equipment, such as a forklift, a loader, a roll-off truck, and containers. He stated that SP Recycling would pay a minimum floor price of $52.50 per ton for newsprint and will share 50% on the recycling of cardboard with a floor price of $25.00 per ton. He stated that eventually the mixed recyclables will be a co-mingled system and will result in $3.00 per ton. He stated that SP Recycling, by providing annual revenues of more than $300,000 to the County, far exceeded the estimate of $150,000.
Under discussion, Mr. Gilley explained that, as far as different, additional types of recyclables that are currently collected by different cities, talks are being held regarding revenue sharing and accepting different types of recyclables. He stated that the evaluation team was composed of David Crowe, Gary Debo and himself, and that the team also looked at the financial stability of SP Recycling. He added that SP Recycling wanted to lease some of the equipment, rather than purchase it, because of a $150 million expansion at one of their mills on the west coast. Mr. Gilley further explained that discussions are also being held with the schools regarding their recyclables, which are primarily office paper and cardboard.
A motion was made by Commr. Hanson and seconded by Commr. Cadwell to approve the authorization for the Chairman to execute a contract with SP Recycling, subject to County Attorney approval, for processing of recyclable materials.
Under further discussion, Commr. Hill stated that she has concerns about the financial stability of SP Recycling based on their rating in Dun & Bradstreet.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that the contract requires that SP Recycling post a $200,000 bond to guarantee performance, and that bond would alleviate some concerns about the company’s financial strength relating to their Dun & Bradstreet rating.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, addressed the Board and stated that, per request, he has prepared options for proposed additional reductions in the General Fund portion of the 2002-2003 Budget, in the range of $2 to $4 million. In order to respond to the Board’s direction, staff has categorized every program in the County’s budget, taking out any revenues being generated and any grants being received. He stated that the three categories are classified as mandatory, essential (primary public health, safety and welfare core services), and discretionary. He explained that, of the General Fund proposed budget programs, $9.3 million were defined as mandatory, $66.8 million were defined as essential, and $7.1 million were defined as discretionary. He mentioned that the staff did not review the Constitutional Officers’ budgets for any proposed reductions. He stated that all of their services were classified as either essential or mandatory except, in one minor instance, the Property Appraiser has offered to cut one of three new positions.
Mr. Neron stated that the three categories were then divided into five levels of optional cuts which range from $1.26 million, at Level 1, to $3.9 million, at Level 5, and that this guideline allows the Board to choose proposed program cuts from any option level.
Commr. Hanson clarified that the proposed increase in millage to 0.85 (85 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value) for solid waste collection, which was presented by the Board on September 3, 2002, is, in effect, the cost of collection that the citizens previously were paying that is now being put on the tax rolls. She added that the increase, at .85 mills, for a $125,000 valued home would be approximately $22.00 per year, and for a home valued less than $125,000, taxes would be decreasing each year. That’s not taking into consideration those who self-haul their garbage. She stated that those homeowners who have garbage collection will be paying about the same out-of-pocket costs as they were paying the year before. She explained that any cuts made are basically subsidizing that collection charge on the backs of the programs, and those programs are the ones that affect the County’s most vulnerable and needy citizens. She expressed that this program review is a healthy process that should have been done several months ago, and it should be part of next year’s budget process. She expressed concern about the impact on the community to any cuts in services.
Commr. Pool pointed out that, while citizens have expressed concerns, services cannot be increased or enhanced without increasing taxes. He stated that, based on a chart of Florida counties, even with the tax increase as proposed, Lake County ranks 19th lowest of the 67 counties in ad valorem taxes.
Commr. Hill read a statement regarding her actions in asking the County Manager to present several million dollars in further budget cuts without giving specific direction and allegations that she did this to avoid blame for the budget cuts. She stated she would like to publically respond and included the following points:
• met and worked on the budget for several months
• concern with potential bloat or waste
• previously made specific requests regarding potential budget cuts and, after requests were not met, directed the County Manager to present a proposal
• happily take credit for trimming bloat, excess and waste from budget
• ran for office on a platform of financial responsibility and intends to keep that pledge
• has asked money questions probably every Board meeting
• taxpayers deserve accountability and knowledge that every expenditure is examined
• she is not anti-library, but has questioned the number of hours of library operation
and questioned staffing levels, wants efficiency and to avoid duplication
• has asked similar questions of every County department
• before voting to raise taxes, she needs to be fully satisfied that the money is necessary
• some of the items on the option levels list are misleading and designed to be hurtful to children and employees, rather than to streamline the budget
Commr. Stivender read a statement that included the following points:
• campaigned on a platform of making government responsive and accountable for
• finding areas that are not responsible in spending
• previous Commissioners rolled back millage rates and increased services
• previous roll backs reduced reserve funds by $10,000,000
• doesn’t want to raise taxes
• supports a millage increase from 5.1 to 5.5
• doesn’t support cutting staff members
• current Board should take responsibility for actions of past Commissioners
• recommends incremental increases
• recommends reducing stormwater millage to .20
• maintain ambulance service millage as is
• recommends overall total millage of 6.2459
• recommends additional revenues during the year be put into the reserves
• further cutback of expenses such as vehicle expenses and whether or not employees should be taking vehicles home
• being fiscally and morally responsible to voters
• support for current Commissioners
Ms. Sarah LaMarche, Director of Fiscal & Administrative Services, clarified that there are approximately $11 million in the unrestricted, non-designated reserves in the General Fund for this year, and that for the proposed 2002-2003 Budget there are approximately $6.6 million in non-designated reserves.
Commr. Hanson pointed out that the Board made a commitment for library expansions of approximately $4.4 million, without providing a dedicated funding source, and those dollars would be coming from reserves. She also mentioned that there was a policy regarding vehicles several years ago and inquired if that policy is still in place.
Mr. Neron stated that a thorough review and analysis have begun regarding all take-home vehicles, including who is taking vehicles home and why vehicles are being taken home.
Under discussion, the following issues were mentioned: additional exemption for seniors, reduction in state and federal dollars, intangible tax reduction, increased mandates that may be unfunded, and the addition of downtown redevelopment districts.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - PROPOSED CUTS
Commr. Cadwell proposed the following budget cuts from the five option levels:
• 2 Solid Waste Positions . . $148,266
• Lobbyist . . $70,000
• Custodial Contract Bids . . $125,000
• TD Fixed Route . . $208,611
Commr. Cadwell stated that those cuts amount to more than one-half million dollars and, added to $107,056 in cuts offered from the Clerk of Courts, would total $658,933. He explained that in order to reduce the millage rate to .80 from the advertised millage of .85, $432,608 in cuts would be needed and that would leave a balance saved of approximately $226,325. He added that the Board would still need to seek an additional $700,000 in budget cuts from the Sheriff, and the balance, at .80 millage, would be approximately $926,325, which should go back into the reserves. Commr. Cadwell stated that he would not want to cut the personnel position being offered by the Property Appraiser because he already has a lean budget.
Commr. Hanson stated that a letter from Mr. Bob Curry, Advisor to the Friends of the East Lake County Library, advised that more than $500,000 could be cut from the library without affecting programs, and suggested cutting hours to 52 across the board. She agreed, if the goal is a .80 millage rate, that any additional monies should go into the reserves.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - SHERIFF
Sheriff George E. Knupp, Jr. addressed the Board and stated that he had requested 13 new positions which would amount to approximately $362,000. He stated that he did cut $700,000 from his budget at the beginning of the fiscal year and now the Board is asking for an additional $700,000. He stated that if the additional cuts are made, he won’t be able to give the same pay raises to his employees that the County plans to give its employees, and percentage wise, County employees are given greater pay increases than Sheriff’s Office employees. He continued by saying that he has earned about $1.6 million from the Lake County jail during this fiscal year, but there is now an expense of approximately $40,000 per month. He stated that he informed the Board they could not rely on revenue from federal and Orange County inmates to help offset the ad valorem tax, and those dollars are not coming in now because of cutbacks. He continued by stating the current annual revenue being earned on federal prisoners is approximately $600,000 and no Orange County prisoners are in the Lake County jail.
Mr. Neron stated that the County is proposing a $1,000 per employee increase on the employee’s anniversary date. He added that the average merit increase for County employees has been in the 5.5% to 6% range, and the County proposes suspending the merit increase program for one year, giving only a $1,000 increase, regardless of the employee’s salary.
Sheriff Knupp reiterated that, if such large budget cuts must be made, all pay raises and merit increases should be the first cuts.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - PROPOSED CUTS
Commr. Stivender proposed the following budget cuts from the five option levels:
• My Region . . $50,000
• Lobbyist . . $70,000
• Grants to Local Agencies . . $40,000
• Grant Writer . . $5,000
• Astor Sector Plan . . $40,000
• Non-Departmental Workshops . . $25,000
• Audio-Visual Court Reporting . . $90,000
• HR Trainer (Vacant Position) . . $84,006
• Indirect Cost Study . . $20,000
• State of the County . . $3,000
• PIO Staff (New Employee) . . $40,000
• Regional Planning Council . . $50,674
• Library Books . . $50,000
• Countywide Training . . $7,500
• JGI Fund . . $100,000
Commr. Hanson stated that she prefers dollars from those cuts, if made, be put into reserves. She stated that the burden for the incinerator should be shared throughout the County, and, while many city residents do not use the incinerator, citizens in the unincorporated areas have no choice but to use the incinerator. She stated that reductions in the ad valorem tax place the burden unfairly on citizens in unincorporated areas.
Commr. Stivender stated that she prefers dollars from those cuts, if made, be used to lower the ad valorem tax.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - REGIONAL PLANNING COUNCIL & MY REGION
Commr. Cadwell stated that, while the dues structure is not specified, counties are required by law to be members of the Regional Planning Council, the Council is the only true place to have any effect on regional development, and to not be a member would be a disservice to the region and the County. He urged the Board to keep this service in the proposed budget. He added that My Region (myregion.org), which contracts with the Regional Planning Council, sets up the frame work for our area. He emphasized that the County should remain active in My Region (myregion.org) and the Regional Planning Council. He stated that several Lake County citizens are on My Region (myregion.org) committees and it is a dynamic process.
Commr. Hanson agreed that the Regional Planning Council and My Region (myregion.org) should be kept in the proposed budget.
Commr. Pool stated that he has served on the Regional Planning Council for many years, and agreed that the Council is an important issue. He stated that getting planning information from My Region (myregion.org) is a long term process, and the County should not withdraw from its commitment at this point. He agreed with Commissioners Cadwell and Hanson that the Regional Planning Council and My Region (myregion.org) should be kept in the proposed budget.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - AUDIO-VISUAL COURT REPORTING
Mr. Neron explained that Audio-Visual Court Reporting is technology to videotape trials and enable court reporters to transcribe trials without being physically present in the courtroom. This was an idea proposed by the County staff to the judges and he understands it is an experiment that is not necessary at this time and this item could be deducted without any serious side effects.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - LIBRARIES
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Director of Library Services, addressed the Board and stated that, even with the $50,000 cut in the baseline books budget, enough would be left to provide an adequate level of service. Regarding reducing library staff hours to 52, she stated that part-time staff hours could be cut, rather than cutting any full-time staff. She explained that 60% of the libraries’ operating cost relates to staff.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - GRANTS TO LOCAL AGENCIES
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director of Community Services, addressed the Board regarding the Grants to Local Agencies. He stated that this is a $40,000 mini-grant program, consisting of eight $5,000 enhancement grants, which helps fund Sunrise ARC, The Haven, the adult day care center in Clermont, Lake Community Action Agency and others. He stated that the adult day care center depends heavily on the $5,000 grant.
Commr. Hanson stated that this $40,000 is probably the best spent money in the community and is a way to lend some support to those in need and at risk.
Commr. Cadwell stated that Lake County only gives a penance as it relates to these types of organizations.
Commr. Pool agreed that this $40,000 helps offset budget shortfalls of those agencies that provide a much needed service.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - ASTOR SECTOR PLAN
Commr. Hanson stated that, at some point, the Astor Sector Plan should be implemented, but implementation could be postponed.
Commissioners Cadwell and Pool agreed with Commr. Hanson that the Astor Sector Plan, $40,000, should be left on the list of possible budget cuts.
Mr. Neron explained that three items on Level 1 of the five option levels for proposed budget cuts, School Resource Officers ($132,500), South Lake Health Clinic ($164,344) and Leesburg & Cooper Libraries ($39,987), are enhancements. He stated that these items are over and above the existing level in the current fiscal year.
BUDGET DISCUSSIONS - PROPOSED CUTS
Commr. Hill proposed the following budget cuts from the five option levels:
• Leesburg & Cooper Libraries . . $39,987
• 2 Solid Waste Positions . . $148,266
• Mid-Florida EDC . . $100,000 (Level 2)
• Lobbyist . . $70,000
• Grant Writer . . $5,000
• Astor Sector Plan . . $40,000
• Non-Departmental Workshops . . $25,000
• Audio-Visual Court Reporting . . $90,000
• Custodial Contract Bids . . $125,000
• JGI Fund . . $100,000
Commr. Hill stated that she would like to readdress Parks and Recreation and some of the County’s properties, and the reorganization of the 5th Floor of the Administration Building.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - TRAVEL
Commr. Stivender stated that she would like to add to her list the travel and per diem item, even though it would be addressed on a case by case basis.
Mr. Neron stated that a policy now in effect requires that all out of county travel be reviewed by himself or Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, on a case by case basis. He added that any travel left in the budget is needed for training and keeping certain employees certified in their professions. He related that a conservative approach is being taken in regard to travel, as well as reviewing any vacant positions and whether to delay filling those positions to build up reserves.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - NACo AND TRAVEL EXPENSES
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that, without Washington lobbyists, the County’s only resource in Washington is NACo (National Association of Counties) and he would suggest the County remain a member.
Commissioners Hanson and Pool agreed with Commr. Cadwell that NACo ($3,011) should remain in the proposed budget.
Commr. Stivender expressed concern about the Commissioners’ travel per diem budget of $17,000 - $18,000, and stated that she would rather give that money to local agencies for grants than for Commissioners to travel on the taxpayer’s dollar, and the amount should be cut back. She stated that Commr. Cadwell, as a 2nd Vice President, will need to attend the NACo meeting, but others do not.
Commr. Hanson stated that it is important that Commissioners go to the Florida Association of Counties meetings, it is important to continue to interact with other elected officials at the county level throughout the country and the state, and most Commissioners travel at their own expense. She stated that item should be left in the proposed budget.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - PARKS
Regarding Commr. Hill’s comment about parks and 5th Floor reorganization, Commr. Cadwell stated that those are policy issues that may have budgetary repercussions and the Board might want the County Manager to pursue those issues. He suggested that perhaps a monthly report could be made by a commission liaison from each group.
Commr. Hill stated that the Board should look at items like Park Property because residents in Sylvan Shores did not want the $200,000 in enhancements, according to e-mails and letters she has received. She added that the County has a lot of property that should be inventoried to see if it should be taken off the tax rolls.
Commr. Pool added that he has gotten a number of e-mails from Sylvan Shores residents saying they do not want the enhancement.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - MID-YEAR SPENDING, SALARY INCREASES
AND FIFTH FLOOR REORGANIZATION
Commr. Hill expressed that mid-year spending, except for emergencies, should be on the list of possible budget cuts, and the reserves should be built up. If there is a need to increase property taxes to maintain the budget, she suggests a freeze on, at least, supervisor and manager salaries until after the upcoming budget year.
Mr. Neron stated that any savings would depend on what is classified as supervisor, down to the true supervisor level, division director level, or manager and department director level.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, outside of the County Manager and maybe the Division Directors, he does not know where you draw that line. He added that the Manager was not getting an increase, and the Division Directors were only getting $1,000, so the only savings would be approximately $7,000. Commr. Cadwell stated that mid-year spending would be the responsibility of the Board.
Commr. Hanson stated that the problem of no salary increases is that, when the County does future salary compensation evaluations and finds its rate of pay is much lower than the competition, the County will be losing good employees, and will wind up paying a large lump sum to catch up.
Regarding her comment about Fifth Floor reorganization, Commr. Hill stated that these are just discussions and for the two years she has been on the Board, most of the complaints to her have been about departments on the Fifth Floor of the Administration Building. She suggested that the issue should be addressed by the County Manager.
Mr. Neron confirmed that the issue is being considered.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - PARALEGAL POSITION FOR PUBLIC DEFENDER
Mr. Howard (Skip) Babb, Jr., Public Defender (PD), addressed the Board regarding a paralegal position for the PD’s office, and stated that the PD’s office looks mostly to the State for funding and has had no new positions over the last two years. He stated that the PD’s office has been under a travel audit for a year. The paralegal position was proposed as a measure to prevent motions to withdraw from cases because of work overload. He explained that the position is now secretarial and handles more than 2,000 cases each year. Although a minuscule part of the County’s budget, Mr. Babb advised that this position is very important to the PD because the crime level and the complexity of the work are not going down. He stated his office previously asked for an additional position and computer equipment to be included in the proposed budget, but was denied those requests. He added that, because of Article V (Florida Constitution), Revision 7, the State is asking every day for more surveys and explanations of monies.
Commr. Pool stated that, because this is an important position, it is not being considered in the proposed budget cuts.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - LEESBURG AND COOPER LIBRARIES
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Leesburg Library is under the understanding that, if they come on board, and if the County does not have a dedicated funding source, the following year the Library can go back to being the way it was. He added that the City of Clermont has said they might close the Cooper Library and then the County would only have one library in the Four Corners Area, the next closest library being Fruitland Park.
Commr. Pool stated that the Cooper Library is privately owned and maintained, not owned by the City of Clermont. He stated that the Cooper board estimates 80-85% of the patrons come from the County and, therefore, it should be in the County system and be funded by the County. While the City wants to help, they only want to help for the 20% of their citizens who use the library.
Commr. Hill confirmed that Cooper is not part of the County library system, and the City of Clermont wants the County to take it over entirely.
Commr. Cadwell stated that without County patrons, the City of Clermont could fund the library with fewer dollars.
Commr. Pool stated that the City of Clermont contributes approximately $200,000, as does the County, but Cooper argues that the County should pick up a larger share, in proportion to the 80-85% users, or let it be exclusively part of the County system.
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Director of Library Services, clarified that approximately 72% of the patrons who use the Cooper Library are County residents.
Commr. Hill mentioned that County citizens might use the Groveland Library and the South Lake Library, when they become available, and suggested the County work with the City of Clermont while the County finds a dedicated funding source.
Commr. Pool suggested that the City of Clermont might cut their funding because they do not feel the current situation is equitable. He stated that perhaps the City would be willing to trim their support while the County is looking for a dedicated funding source.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - MID-FLORIDA EDC
Commr. Cadwell questioned what will not happen if Mid-Florida EDC, which he considers an investment in our quality of life because of the job creation, is cut from the budget.
Mr. Neron stated that he is not sure of the impacts.
Commr. Hill stated that $100,000 is an enhancement, a promotional budget, for the “I want to be like Orlando” project.
Commr. Hanson recommended keeping Mid-Florida EDC in the budget. She stated that it does look at the region but does not try to imitate Orlando, and, worldwide, Orlando is what people recognize and Lake County gets the spin off.
Mr. Neron stated that the original request was approximately $290,000 that included about $20,000 of an increase per capita and then $50,000 for three years to do this branding. He explained that this is the baseline budget on a per capita basis at the same rate other counties are paying at this year’s rate.
Commr. Cadwell agreed with Commr. Hanson that Mid-Florida EDC should be left in the budget, as it is an investment in marketing Lake County to companies we need for the tax base and in job creation.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - SOUTH LAKE HEALTH CLINIC
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director of Community Services, addressed the Board regarding the lease for the South Lake health clinic. He met with the landlord and South Lake Hospital, who currently holds the lease for approximately 16,000 square feet. The Health Department’s clinic would be relocated to 6,100 square feet of that space, as a sub-lessee. The South Lake Hospital lease currently expires in 2004, and the landlord indicated he will want to lease the entire amount of 16,000 square feet rather than just the 6,100 portion for the health clinic. Mr. Smith commented that the County may need to continue looking for space.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that the money, or at least $150,000, be put in reserve and earmarked for the clinic so that it is not abandoned.
Commr. Pool stated that it would not be cost effective to make improvements and later lose the lease. He agreed that the County should set the funding aside.
Mr. Neron stated that, if it is the consensus of the board, he suggests leaving it off the list of cuts and put the dollars in the general fund unrestricted reserves, and bring a proposal back to the Board when another facility is found.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - MID-FLORIDA EDC (CONTINUED)
Commr. Cadwell asked that the Board readdress Mid-Florida EDC’s baseline budget which is not part of the branding.
Commr. Pool agreed that Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park provides job opportunities, a large tax base and is an investment in our future. He recommends keeping Mid-Florida EDC in the proposed budget. He added that 76% of our population is residential and the balance is a very small sector of industrial job opportunities which the County needs to provide the tax base and local job incentives.
Commr. Hanson stated that the County is growing much more rapidly residentially, rather than with light industry, and light industry helps the County provide higher paying jobs.
Commr. Hill pointed out that we do have an in-house Economic Development Director, two levels of Mid-Florida EDC, My Region (myregion.org) and the Regional Planning Council and questioned how many people we need looking at the County. She suggested putting some of this money into the County’s Economic Development Department and see what that Director can do. She stated she has not seen a cost analysis of EDC.
Commr. Pool expressed that Lake County is a small microcosm of what is taking place, but EDC and these different entities have a regional, almost worldwide, approach and bring global attention to Lake County. He ventured that Lake County itself may not be capable of global marketing. He asked the Board to think about the Circuit Cities and the Marriotts, companies that would not have come to our area based on competition from Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard and other counties. He added that Lake County is in a bad situation because it is not a hub of activity.
Under discussion, Commr. Hill stated that she doesn’t think the County has been missing any “big boxes” and doesn’t see the high end jobs coming our way. Commr. Cadwell commented that these jobs, $12-$15 per hour as opposed to $4.00 per hour, are high end jobs compared to what the County had.
Commr. Hanson mentioned that in 1990 the County was in a recession and was a purely agricultural county. She has come to realize the County will not change to light industry overnight and is going through a transition process. The next step is distribution, and the Commerce Park is a distribution center. She maintained that the County has to go through these steps.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Regional Planning Council and My Region (myregion.org) are planning tools, as opposed to EDC which is a job creation tool, and they are completely separate operations and provide separate resources.
Mr. Greg Mihalic, Director of Economic Development and Tourism, addressed the Board and stated that Mid-Florida EDC does provide the outreach perspective, and they are the agents for Enterprise Florida. They evaluate and sort out the leads that are the most advantageous for Lake County, and the County then competes with other counties in the region. He stated that Mid-Florida EDC has been very helpful in bringing jobs to Lake County, but that we have to grow our own jobs also, and that is our responsibility. Eighty-five percent of our economic development is internally helping our companies grow, and we are trying to assist our businesses to be more profitable. He pointed out that Lake County has, primarily, small and medium sized businesses and that it needs to help small manufacturers grow and that is the direction in which the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park is moving.
Commr. Hill wanted to know how many projects had been brought to Lake County directly from Mid-Florida EDC compared to the costs, and how many dollars can be attributed to them.
Mr. Mihalic explained that Mid-Florida EDC has been involved in at least a dozen projects over the years, companies that have either expanded or located in Lake County, and, while the EDC can only interest a company in looking here, the County has to have the infrastructure and proper land pricing to be competitive. He added that without the initial contact, Lake County probably would not have had the opportunity at all. He stated that quality of life is an issue and a company probably would not relocate here only for cost reasons because there are other areas of the country where operation costs are much cheaper. He explained that Lake County is near the International Airport, it is near a larger city, and it has some advantages in lifestyle, and the County must sell those amenities. He added that he knows of half a dozen leads that are actively being worked on, but it is a long-term process that may take years before a company makes a final decision. He stated that during this fiscal year, Lake County has approved two industrial revenue bonds, in the $10 million range, for U.S. Nutraceuticals and Locklando Door & Millwork, and both of those expansions are directly related to the efforts of Mid-Florida EDC.
Commr. Hill stated that, because the Sheriff’s budget is being looked at, along with everyone else, she wants to make sure she is not cutting a Constitutional Officer’s budget so that four different planning agencies can look at the County, even though each one has its merits.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that staff prepare the ad valorem value and job creation of Circuit City and Marriott before the next Board meeting.
Mr. Mihalic stated that the two million square feet of the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park generate almost $800,000 annually in ad valorem taxes, and probably 1,000 jobs have been created, with an average wage of $24,000-$25,000 annually, and continues to positively impact the economy each year.
Commr. Hill stated that she wants to justify the cost of being a member of these associations versus benefits received directly, and she wants citizens to know why the County belongs to these associations.
Mr. Mihalic commented that a cost analysis is difficult to prepare, but that business and industry use about 25 cents in services for every ad valorem tax dollar they provide, and business and industry are subsidizing the residential side of Lake County.
Commr. Pool explained that, while the County primarily has been a residential community, the County needs to try to encourage more industrial or economic opportunities, whether distribution or manufacturing, because the County is out of balance right now.
Commr. Hanson added that growth will never pay for itself if the County does not have a proper balance or a mix of all the different parts of an economy.
Mr. Mihalic reiterated that 25% of the workforce is migrating out of this County for their jobs, and we want to give them an opportunity to find good jobs in Lake County.
Commr. Pool stated that he respects that Commr. Hill wants these answers because it is important for the citizens to know what these programs provide, and today’s process is a healthy one, giving citizens better knowledge and information.
Commr. Hanson stated that there was a consensus by the Board to keep Mid-Florida EDC, My Region (myregion.com) and the Regional Planning Council in the budget. She pointed out that before today’s proposed cuts, the budget is about 6% lower than last year’s budget, and harder cuts are being made now.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 11:50 a.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board would take a 10 minute recess.
BUDGET DISCUSSION -
TRANSPORTATION DISADVANTAGED FIXED ROUTES
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director of Community Services, addressed the Board regarding funding for the TD (Transportation Disadvantaged) Fixed Routes, and stated that the State contributes $308,000, matched by $308,000 from the County. He stated that the County could eliminate the fixed route, which is the bus that runs the U.S. Highway 441 corridor. He added that last year’s ridership on that route was little more than 14,000 persons, and the fixed cost for that route is approximately $140,000 annually. He continued by saying that 5311 grant dollars (Federal Transit Administration’s Section 5311 Program) can be used to transport transportation disadvantaged clients with a deviated fixed route, trying to do multi loading with buses. He added that the County has $480,000 in the TD fund now, and with the additional $200,000 that would be utilized from the 5311 fund, there would be nearly $680,000 this coming year to spend on TD trips. He explained that the State reserves a specific amount of the 5311 dollars for Lake County and, during the course of the year, the County can go back to the State and request an increase in that funding, but it would be at the same funding match. Mr. Smith stated that between $140,000-$150,000 could be cut from the fixed route without affecting TD dollars.
Mr. Neron clarified that the proposed reduction could be $150,000, rather than $208,611 that is listed on Level 2 of the options list, continuing alternative service to the transportation disadvantaged.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - SHERIFF (CONTINUED)
Commr. Stivender wanted to know what proposed items would be cut from the Sheriff’s budget to arrive at $700,000. She pointed out that she was requested not to bring up proposed cuts for the Fifth Floor reorganization because she did not have specific recommendations. She commented that the Board needs factual numbers before proposing cuts.
Commr. Cadwell explained that $700,000 is just a number that he thought would help the Board get to a desirable budget figure.
Sheriff George Knupp readdressed the Board and stated that he can provide the Board with a line item budget. He stated that the Sheriff’s Office has given back to the Board about $850,000 and he is turning back more than he is requesting.
Ms. Sarah LaMarche, Director of Fiscal & Administrative Services, addressed the Board and stated that the amount returned by Sheriff’s Office was about $900,000 a month ago and has been reduced since that time.
Sheriff Knupp stated that the reduction was due to the County’s emergencies involving high water and several murders that have required overtime hours. He stated that approximately $850,000 has been given back during this current fiscal year. He added that his expenditures increased 4.9%, or $1.5 million, during the current fiscal year.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - CITIZEN COMMENTS
Mr. Roy Hunter, representing the Northeast Lake Chamber of Commerce, addressed the Board and stated that he does not want the Board to cut taxes and he wants the Board to leave services alone. He stated that he originally had the idea for raising ad valorem taxes to offset the costs of solid waste so that the cities would contribute to the solid waste problem, and he wants to take responsibility because one or two Commissioners had been criticized for that decision. He stated that, otherwise, rural residents would have been responsible for the entire burden. He continued by stating that average citizens use the services most and would suffer if programs are cut, and he believes cutting ad valorem taxes would benefit the rich people in Lake County. He mentioned a newspaper article from September 14, 2000, which was presented to the Board, regarding a 179% increase in voter turnout in Northeast Lake County. He encouraged the Board to consider the welfare of the common person in Lake County during the budget decisions.
Ms. Pamela Murray, a Leesburg area resident, addressed the Board regarding cutting library hours of operation, and wanted to know how much could be saved if hours are cut back to 45.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - LIBRARY SERVICES
Commr. Pool stated that, if hours are cut from 54.7 average hours to 45 hours across the board, the savings would equate to $102,980.
Commr. Hanson stated that, during the upcoming months, the Library Services staff should be adjusting library hours consistently for maximum utilization of employees and would be using volunteers. She added that she would not want to cut library hours to 45 hours at this time.
Mr. Neron clarified that, at the $102,980 savings level, cuts would include eight part-time positions and two full-time positions.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, while difficult, he would like newly opened libraries to be monitored and get a true count of usage and hours of operation, and then decide, perhaps at midyear, if there are opportunities to cut library hours.
Commr. Hanson added that, if cuts are made later, those dollars would come back into reserves.
Commr. Pool reiterated that the Board wants to continue, and even enhance, the library program, that overall reductions in hours of operation are being looked at, and the Board is not considering closing any of the libraries today, or in the future.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - RESERVE FUNDS
Commr. Cadwell stated that reducing the millage rate from the advertized increase of .85 mills (85 cents per $1000 of taxable property value) to .80 mills, with the additional proposed cuts, the Board could replenish the reserve fund by approximately $1.3 million.
Mr. Neron stated that, by putting $1.3 million back in the reserves, the reserves would be approximately 8% of the general fund. He added that Lake County has used reserve funds to balance ongoing expenses in the last few years.
Ms. LaMarche explained that some counties have 25%-30% in reserves. She commented that the City of Daytona Beach, because they have used their reserves, has had to raise taxes by about 27%. She stated that the recommended reserve for Lake County is at least 10%-12%, and she personally would recommend 16.5%.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - CLERK OF COURTS
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance, addressed the Board to clarify the proposed reduction of the Clerk of Courts budget by $107,056. She referenced a September 6, 2002, letter from Mr. James Watkins, Clerk of Courts, to the County Manager which states the Clerk’s requested budget could be cut by $43,465 and that excess revenue fees being sent to the Board are estimated to exceed $510,000. She stated that the Clerk’s proposed budget increase for 2002-2003 of $446, 409 is actually a reduction, from the $510,000 in excess revenue fees, of $63,591. Therefore, a total effect on the budget would be a reduction of $107,056 ($43,465 in cuts plus $63,591 in excess revenue fees).
Commr. Hill stated that she would not want to eliminate three programs mentioned in the Clerk’s letter, the Victim/Witness Program, the Law Library position and Teen Court.
Ms. Lehman verified that those programs would not be cut.
BUDGET DISCUSSION - MILLAGE RATES
Commr. Hanson stated that Lake County’s millage rate has only increased by 1.0 mill over the last ten to twelve years, and if the Board arrives at a new millage rate of 5.917 mills, .80 of which is because of solid waste, it’s a transfer of ad valorem and assessment dollars, not a bottom line increase in costs to the citizens.
A motion was made by Commr. Cadwell and seconded by Commr. Hanson to reduce the advertized millage increase from .85 mills to .80 mills, and replenish the reserve funds by the additional proposed cuts of $1,332,220.
Under discussion, Commr. Pool commented that certain things can be deleted and the budget can be trimmed and streamlined without cutting services to the citizens. That today’s discussions are a proposed plan and the upcoming public hearing will allow citizens and department heads the opportunity to express their opinions.
Commr. Cadwell clarified that the purpose of the vote is an endorsement for the cuts that were proposed in today’s budget worksession, from items taken from the County Manager’s list of five option levels.
Commr. Stivender stated that she agrees with the majority of the cuts, she does not agree with the cuts for the Sheriff, there are other areas that could be cut, and she does not agree with the proposed millage rate.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and to bring the discussion forward in its current form to the public hearing, which carried by a 3-2 vote.
Commissioners Hill and Stivender voted “No.”
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER HANSON - DISTRICT #4
CLEAN WATER ACT DAY
Commr. Hanson stated that the Lake County Water Authority requested preparation of a joint proclamation with the County proclaiming October 18, 2002, as Clean Water Act Day. She stated that the Board is invited to participate in a public proclamation event on Wednesday, September 18, 2002, at Hickory Point, and in conjunction with this event, urged participation in the Lake Clean Up on Saturday, September 21, 2002.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request of the Lake County Water Authority to prepare a joint proclamation proclaiming October 18, 2002, as Clean Water Act Day.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER POOL - CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT #2
Commr. Pool stated that he requests approval from the Board for a letter requesting the Lake County Water Authority (LCWA) to extract weeds from some navigable canals on the Chain of Lakes in South Lake County, specifically the Crooked River, the canal from Lake Crescent to Lake Minnehaha, and the canal from Lake Winona to Lake Minnehaha. He stated that the LCWA will do the vegetation removal, there is an application process to obtain a required permit, and the LCWA has requested a letter for the application.
A motion was made by Commr. Cadwell and seconded by Commr. Hanson for a letter from the Board to the Lake County Water Authority for an application for a permit to remove vegetation from certain canals in South Lake County.
Under discussion, Commr. Hill questioned whether County staff would be doing the work and why the Lake County Water Authority would need approval from the County Commissioners.
Commr. Pool clarified that the LCWA will do the work, this is for vegetation removal but not dredging, it is for a navigable waterway not individual canals, there is a grant application, and the LCWA asked for a letter of request from Commr. Pool. He explained that he wanted the Board to understand that no County dollars or staff would be involved.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which carried by a 3-2 vote.
Commissioners Hill and Stivender voted “No.”
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER POOL - CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT #2
FUNDING FOR HARRIS CHAIN-OF-LAKES RESTORATION COUNCIL
Mr. Skip Goerner, Chairman of the Harris Chain-of-Lakes Restoration Council (Council), addressed the Board and requested administrative funding in the amount of $5,000 for the fiscal year 2002-2003. He stated that the County has partnered with the Council in the past and the Council provided, through legislative funding, $100,000 for replanting of beneficial vegetation on Lake Dora. He added that the Council had a $500,000 restoration funding request from the legislature, plus money provided by Fish and Wildlife in matching funding. He stated that, on a request from State Senator Anna Cowin, he represented the Council in Tallahassee to save funding after the September 11, 2001, disaster. He added that only a few months ago, $702,000 for Lake Griffin canal dredging was in jeopardy and through the efforts of the legislative delegation and the Council, that funding was saved.
Mr. Goerner stated that, just from the $5,000 in administrative funding, almost $2 million has been seen as a return. He requested that the Board approve the $5,000 in administrative funding.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board directed County staff to look at the proposed budget for the water resources department and the stormwater budget, evaluate the request and bring back a report at the September 17, 2002, Board meeting.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER POOL - CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT #2
COUNTY ATTORNEY’S ANNUAL PERFORMANCE EVALUATION
Commr. Pool stated that the County Attorney’s annual performance evaluation would be postponed to a later date.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.
ROBERT A. POOL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK