A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
APRIL 23, 2004
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a Financial Retreat, on Friday, April 23, 2004, at 9:00 a.m., at the Tavares Civic Center, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present were: Debbie Stivender, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell; Catherine C. Hanson; and Robert A. Pool. Others present were: William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; Ms. Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager; Regina Frazier, Budget Director; Gary Kaiser, Public Safety Director; Sharon Wall, Employee Services Director; Ken Hayslette, Purchasing Director; Greg Mihalic, Economic Development & Tourism Director; Jim Stivender, Public Works Director; Blanche Hardy, Environmental Services Director; Robbie Hollenbeck, Special Projects Coordinator; Steve Earls, Information Technology Director; Julia Wilson, Senior Budget Analyst & Assessment Manager; Mary Gillis, Senior Budget Analyst; Melissa Maidhof, Senior Budget Analyst; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Stivender welcomed everyone to the Tavares Civic Center and stated that Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, will be giving the Board a brief statement and then staff will proceed with their power point presentation.
GENERAL FUND UPDATE
Mr. Neron stated that they are here today for the Board to review items and give staff direction, so that they can finalize the material for the mid-year budget adjustments and begin their preparation of the budget for next fiscal year. He noted that, even after staff receives direction from the Board, or the Board votes on items today, all items will come back to the Board for approval as mid-year adjustments in May, and as items in the proposed budget in July. Mr. Neron wanted to thank Ms. Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager, and Ms. Regina Frazier, Budget Director, who put the material together for today’s presentation.
Ms. Hall introduced Ms. Frazier, Budget Director, and recognized her staff.
Ms. Frazier explained that she will be going through the power point presentation and reviewing detailed information found in the backup. At this time, Ms. Frazier began her presentation highlighting the following issues:
Economic Update - Lake County - Population Increases -
Lake County is 21st in the state; 6th in growth
Economic Update - Lake County - Housing Starts Per Year -
Lake County is 12th in the total number of single family permits (2002 figures)
Economic Update - Lake County - Property Assessment Increases -
10 % to 12% range
Economic Update - Unemployment -
As of January, 2004 - Lake County is below the area, as well as the state and country
Lake County General Fund Financial Picture - Fiscal Year 2004 Update
Adopted Budget 2004 $109 Million
General Reserves $13.1 Million (12%)
Mid-Year Adjustments $3.7 Million
Revised Budget $112.7 Million
Reserves $16.8 Million (15%)
Major Revenue Update - Fiscal Year 2004
Main revenues aside from ad valorem are State Sales Tax and State Revenue Sharing Proceeds and Interest - on track - even with reduction that will be shown in July
Ms. Hall explained that she would be reviewing the Mid Year Requests, as follows, but noted that staff did not talk to the Board about the Health Clinics Remediation, as they moved through their briefing of budget items:
Mid Year Requests
• 12 New Positions
Information Technology (4)
Animal Control (5)
Public Works (3)
• $500K Reserve for Financial Software
• Health Clinics Remediation
Approximately $250K per location (preliminary estimates)
MID-YEAR REQUESTED ADJUSTMENTS
Health Clinics Remediation
Ms. Hall explained that staff has noted the Health Clinics Remediation as part of the mid-year adjustments, because staff takes everything into account when they calculate their numbers and make recommendations to the Board. Even though they are not doing anything right now about this issue, staff is requesting direction on this item today.
Critical Positions for Mid-year
Ms. Hall stated that, based on the financial condition of the County, and the direction of the economy, they are now in the position to bring forward 12 of the most critical positions that they feel the County needs to move on right away at mid-year. She provided the Board with detailed information relating to the summary of those positions (Page 2), as follows:
Office of Information Technology Priority
Senior LAN/WAN Specialist 1
Network Technician 2
Network Administrator 3
Network Technician (Libraries) 4
2 Animal Control Officers 1
Dispatch Officer 2
2 Animal Shelter Technician 3
Outsourcing Contracts Manager 1
2 Road Inspectors 2
` 12 Total Staff
Salaries plus benefits for one year $492,098
Affected funds: General Fund, Transportation Trust
Commr. Pool questioned whether the County tries to find volunteers to help in these areas of service, for example, Animal Control.
Mr. Neron explained that staff would welcome any volunteers, but staffing at Animal Control for the public is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., five days a week, and they have had numerous complaints from people who have to take off of work to handle personal business at the facility. With these new positions, the County will be able to keep the shelter open Monday through Friday until 6 p.m. and have expanded hours on Saturdays for the technicians. He reiterated that staff always tries to get volunteers in any area of service, to help supplement and augment the services provided by the County.
Commr. Hanson stated that, in regard to the comments about volunteers, this may be an issue where they could create more of an outreach program, specifically for Animal Control, by working through Ms. Helena Osborne-Ponsi, Volunteer Coordinator. She felt that the program would not cost anything and could be promoted very well.
Discussion occurred regarding vicious animals being placed in quarantine, and the County’s policy to destroy animals after a period of time, which are not considered to be normal types of services and may be affecting the number of people volunteering at the facility.
It was noted by Commr. Hanson that the County probably needs to look at the expansion of their spay/neutering program, at some point in time.
Ms. Hall continued her discussion of positions noting that Public Works (Page 5) needs three positions, two road inspectors that would be responding to approximately 300% increase in horizontal construction since 1990. No new positions have been added in that category since that time. They are also asking for one Outsourcing Contracts Manager who would oversee about $1 million worth of contracts, as noted. The total cost of these 12 positions, on an annual basis, is about $492,000 including benefits and, if the Board approves them as a mid-year amendment, they will not be funded for a full year.
Ms. Hall addressed the request for Financial Software and stated that currently their financial system dates back to about 1992, and it is no longer supported by the company where they purchased it.
Commr. Cadwell interrupted Ms. Hall for a moment and went back to the discussion on the positions for Public Works. He stated that there have been two major things that have kept them from getting road projects done over the last few years, not enough people and not enough money. They have now taken care of both of these items. The funds for the positions in this department will come from the Transportation Trust Fund, and staff will be utilizing reimbursements through the sales tax impact fee projects, to reimburse the Gas Tax Fund.
Ms. Hall continued with the power presentation and referred to the information regarding Employees Per Capita - Population and Employee Growth (Page 3), which showed that Lake County has not kept up with growth and population. They also wanted to reference the employee and population comparisons to surrounding counties, which shows they are low. Ms. Hall stated that, if these 12 positions are approved in 2004, they would still be low as far as employees per capita. As shown in the information from past years, the County is not keeping up with their needs and service demands they are placing on them. Sheclarified that these positions will consist of 40 hour a week people, so staff has factored the $492,000 on a 40 hour work week. Ms. Hall stated that staff would like direction on these items, to include in their mid-year package, which is coming to the Board May 11, 2004. The next items discussed will be for next year’s budget.
Commr. Hill wanted to know how many of those positions discussed can wait until next year’s budget, and Ms. Hall explained that the 12 positions were identified by staff as absolutely critical positions, to give relief to the people who are currently performing these duties.
Mr. Neron clarified that, in the current budget, staff had no new positions, and maybe one or two over the previous year. Since the beginning of the budget year, they did add some people in building inspection, and those were funded with Building Inspection Fees. Because of the budget crunch the County has been in for the last couple of years, staff has been very reluctant to request any new positions and, now that the financial conditions seem to be improving a little bit, staff feels these three critical areas need to be addressed immediately.
Commr. Cadwell stated that none of the Commissioners really want to add more government but, if the Board looks at the positions that were brought forward today, they are all public service type positions, and the citizens will see a difference in service.
Mr. Neron explained that the County has been improving productivity through technology and noted that there are about 300 computers in the libraries.
Commr. Hill stated that these positions would be mid-year adjustments, and she wanted to know how many more positions staff was planning to bring forward at the next budget session.
Mr. Neron noted that staff is not at that point in the budget process to make that determination but will be reviewing other positions that will be presented to the Board.
Ms. Hall discussed the mid-year request to fund a financial software system noting that the current system dates back to 1992. It is no longer supported by the original vendor and updates and modifications must be contracted to Cobol programmers. They are looking for a system that will integrate finance, purchasing, payroll, budget, fixed assets, and employee charge services. The cost will be between $1 million and $1.5 million for the purchase and the implementation of the system. Staff would like to put $500,000 aside now, and another $500,000 in next year’s budget, so they can begin accumulating the funds to work on a RFP, make a selection, and begin implementation. The whole process could take up to 18 months, so it is not something that will happen immediately but, in order to move forward and begin working on it, staff is recommending that they start putting money aside now.
Ms. Hall stated that staff is asking for a consensus from the Board to put all of these items on the mid-year budget amendment that will coming to the Board in May.
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, Finance Department, stated that, if the Board will recall, in 2000, they did a RFP and went through the process and received bids, so all they need to do now is update that information and get everybody back together again.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, on Tuesday, the Board received another good audit report, and they are getting pretty used to getting these good reports, but he wanted it to be known that they are in good financial shape because of the job done by Ms. Lehman’s Office, and he should have pointed this out better at the last Board meeting.
Ms. Lehman explained that the current software is being used for the Board and all of the books that the Board keeps, and the Supervisor of Elections, Lake-Sumter EMS, and the District V Medical Examiner. They also do the Clerk’s and the Lake County Water Authority’s books with this software, and the Sheriff uses it for his accounting. The Property Appraiser and Tax Collector are separate and really have different needs.
Ms. Hall explained that there is a lot of manual operation to a system that is not integrated, and there is always room for error, so this makes not only their statistics and their data much more accurate, it should make it easier to give reports, as they are requested.
After some discussion, it was the consensus of the Board that staff include the request for the software, as outlined, in the mid-year budget amendment and bring the positions back for discussion at the end of the meeting.
DISCUSSION ISSUES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2004/05
Ms. Hall stated that she will be discussing items that need Board direction, so they can be included in next year’s budget. The first one is the Montverde Library, which has requested to be a member library. There would be an additional expense to the County, approximately $34,000, which includes a fee for them to be a member plus the installation of some computers.
It was the consensus of the Board to include the Montverde Library item, as discussed, in next year’s budget.
Ms. Hall addressed the information pertaining to Animal Services and stated that staff has received a request for animal services from five cities, Astatula, Groveland, Howey-in-the-Hills, Mascotte, and Umatilla. Currently the County provides services to three cities, Tavares, Minneola, and Montverde. They are funded through the General Fund, as all animal services, and staff is asking the Board for direction on how to proceed with this request. Options would include countywide funding from General Fund of cities; the creation of a Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) process for the unincorporated area residents and cities can be included in that process, at their request. She noted that the positions discussed earlier for the mid-year budget amendment would not handle this request. Staff has not studied exactly what those needs would be, if they expand, but there would be some additional staffing needs.
Mr. Neron explained that right now the County is funding Animal Control out of the General Fund and, if a city requests the service, they are County residents, too, and the County would be obligated to provide it. If they do not want to do this, then they need to fund the County residents from a MSTU, and then those cities that want to do the service can become part of that taxing unit. He noted that this would be similar to the fire rescue services process. He explained that it is a dual taxation question, even though none of the cities have raised that issue. If they are going to continue to do it out of the General Fund, the Board needs to be aware that there may be some additional positions, to meet those requests, in the budget presented in July. Commr. Hanson stated that this is very much like the libraries, and it will be in the interest of the entire County to have a seamless system. Her feelings would be that they need to explore it and move forward and determine the costs, because there will be additional costs, as there will be for the additional libraries that come on board with the County. The Board and staff also need to keep in mind that there may very well be an extra homestead exemption, and it may force them into more of benefit districts, as opposed to ad valorem. She noted that, if they do have additional cities in the system, they need to look at how much expansion would be needed at the current facility.
Mr. Gary Kaiser, Public Safety Director, explained that they have capacity in the current structure, and the expense would go towards holding areas, cages, and kennel runs for animals.
Mr. Neron explained that some cities may still choose to have their own animal control, from an enforcement standpoint, but they will rely on the County for shelter services.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the County is offering the same level of service throughout the County and, if the cities want additional service, or anything other than what the County is able to provide with the people that they have now, then they can provide it themselves.
Ms. Hall noted that staff needs to study the different service areas and come back with the additional information, and it was only their intention to make the Board aware of this issue.
It was the consensus of the Board that staff be directed to continue to fund the service from the General Fund and that the level of service and needs be brought back during the budget process.
Funding Process for Social Service Agencies
Ms. Hall stated that currently the Citizens’ Commission for Children and the Human Services Grant Program allocates County funding on a competitive basis. She would like the Board to discuss if they would like to maintain that system, or change it. In the backup, there is a list of agencies that are currently funded by the County (Pages 12 and 13).
Commr. Hanson agreed with Commr. Stivender felt that the system was very fair, except for the fact that there is no assurance that some agencies will get funding. She explained that the County would probably try to provide certain programs that are actually needed, if some organizations were unable to provide them. As shown in the list, there are some that have been eliminated from year to year and, even though the programs need to remain competitive, she feels that there are some agencies that need the assurance that they are going to get a set amount of funding, even though they may reach a level, at some point in time, when they will no longer need it. She has a problem when agencies that have been providing services for a period of time suddenly get their dollars cut in half, in order to bring in a new program that may or may not be long term. She supports the programs, and she feels that the Selection Committee has done an outstanding job, but part of the problem is the limitation of dollars, but she still feels that there are agencies that need the assurance from year to year of a certain amount of dollars, and maybe on a per capita increase.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the County has been very fortunate to have agencies that provide these types of services, with very little assistance from the Board because, if those agencies decided to walk away, then the citizens would look to the Board to provide them, but the Board needs to make sure that those agencies providing the best and most needed services are getting the funds. He suggested that the County Attorney contact the Osceola County Attorney’s Office and find out about the system they use, because they actually contract with United Way to do an analysis/audit, to make sure they are leveraging the most money for those services.
Commr. Stivender expressed a concern about public perception should they select an organization that a Commissioner might have some personal connection to, because they all sit on different boards and have their own personal interests. She suggested that it be an impartial entity that analyses the organizations and funding, and that determines the distribution of dollars.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that the Board develop a policy that establishes the necessary criteria.
The Board members felt that the process being used by the different committees is very good, the members of the Citizens’ Commission for Children are very impartial when making their recommendations, and that Lake County probably needs to look at the program in Osceola County, as well as other programs. They also felt that they should explore the possibility of having one group look at programs, and another group look at agencies, as well as their dollars and a per capita increase every year, by realizing the difficulty they have with only $135,000 a year.
Commr. Pool stated that they want to make sure they can leverage these dollars with matching opportunities, and there may be an opportunity to make a charitable contribution, for instance, on your tax bill.
Commr. Hill noted that Ms. Emily Lee, Childrens Services Director, has been involved with the process, and she is here today. Commr. Hill felt that the committee did an excellent job, and they look at all of the RFPs and really try to be fair but, if they give this to another agency to do, she wanted to know if there are any administrative costs that would come out of the dollars, because she would prefer that all of the dollars stay with the agencies.
Staff clarified that the Board would only be looking at other systems that may be used for the Human Services Grant Program, not the Citizens’ Commission for Children Grant Program. In their discussion, the Board asked staff to see if there are other opportunities they can consider and to provide ideas being used by other counties. The Board also asked that staff provide them with a comparison of dollars and/or per capita increases.
The Board recognized Ms. Lee who, at this time, explained that all agencies go through the RFP process, to make sure that there will be some type of monitoring and accountability of services, with an emphasis being placed on those that bring back matching dollars. She believes they have a good system, but she is concerned about paying administrative fees to any agency, such as United Way, because it would be reducing the total amount of funding.
Ms. Robbie Hollenbeck, Special Projects Coordinator, stated that, as a point of information, she sits on the United Way Allocations Committee and, with only one exception, all organizations that are recommended for funding are beneficiaries of United Way funds in some way. She noted that Lake Community Action Agency is the only exception.
Ms. Hall presented an additional handout pertaining to the Fire Assessment - 50% Ad Valorem Analysis and referred to the backup (Page 14), which shows that the County currently charges $137.00 per home for fire/rescue services. She noted that there are various rates for commercial establishments. She referred to the Memorandum in the backup dated August 13, 2003 and stated that this was an example of reducing the assessments by 50% and levying a millage that would make up that exact amount of revenue. Ms. Hall stated that staff is asking for direction on this issue.
Commr. Hanson suggested that the Board leave the fire/rescue millage alone until they find out the status of the homestead exemption issue.
Mr. Minkoff stated that last year the legislature adopted a bill, which precluded counties and cities from levying taxes, or assessments, against common property in subdivisions, to avoid tax deeds being sold on things like drainage ponds and clubhouses. There are about $45,000 worth of fire assessments currently being assessed towards those common elements, mostly clubhouses, equipment sheds, and those types of things. He explained that they cannot assess those any longer and, if they tried to recapture this money, they would have to go into each subdivision and take those number of lots and divide what they had assessed to the lots and create separate codes for each of those subdivisions. Staff believes it will cost more than $45,000 to do that and staff is recommending not assessing those, and that the $45,000 come out of the assessment program, because they would spend more money collecting it. Staff is planning on presenting the rolls to the Board that way, as long as they do not have any objections to this process and, when the resolutions are presented to the Board in the fall, they will reflect this change.
Commr. Hanson stated that all along she has felt that ad valorem was the right way to go, but she does think that they are going to have a major problem with the churches again this year.
Mr. Neron explained that, at this point in time, staff does not propose to make any adjustments in the budget to the current fire fees, nor solid waste assessment fees. He noted that staff will provide information regarding the amount of millage that would be created by the vacant land, as requested by the Board.
School Resource Officers
Discussion occurred regarding the School Resource Officers, with Ms. Hall pointing out information (Page 18) that reflects that the Board’s contribution has increased from zero in the year 2002, to $566,447 in the year 2004. Staff would like direction from the Board to work with the School Board, and the Sheriff, to either decrease that amount, hold it constant, or perhaps increase it by a figure like 5%, which happens to be the figure established by staff and shown on the chart.
Mr. Neron stated that the problem over the past couple of years has been that the Board has not really taken action on this issue soon enough in the budget process, noting that the School Board adopts its budget in July. Staff would like firm direction from the Board today to include an amount in next year’s budget, so they can let both the Sheriff, and the School Board, know now, so they can adjust those staffing plans appropriately for next fiscal year. Staff noted that there are 16 positions, for a total of $977.926.
After further discussion, Commr. Hill requested that staff provide to the Board a list of all other school programs that the Board supports because, if they feel like this is their responsibility with the Sheriff, and it should come from their budget, then maybe the Board needs to hand back some of the other programs, such as the after school programs and summer programs.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he, as well as the School Board, knows that the Commissioners are not going to walk away from having officers at the schools, and he feels that it should be a part of the Sheriff’s budget, but that they need to work with the School Board through this process, because he does not want them to have to make a decision between the programs that are needed and the resource officers and, if the School Board decides not to fund them, the Board will fund them.
The Board members felt that the School Board should have some commitment in the funding. They wanted to know how much funding was available through the safety grant and noted that they have reviewed other grant funds available to the School Board and realize that some funds are designated for specific needs.
After further discussion, the Board directed staff to meet with the School Board, and the Sheriff, and explain that they are tentatively looking at $566,000 for next fiscal year. It was noted that staff will get back with the Board as soon as possible.
Lobbying Services In Tallahassee
Ms. Hall stated that the Board currently pays $65,000 a year to Alcalde and Fay to assist in lobbying efforts at the Federal level. Earlier in the year, the Board had discussed putting some funding in next year’s budget for a lobbyist in Tallahassee. Currently their lobbying efforts are handled through the Florida Association of Counties (FAOC), and various County staff, as time permits. Staff is looking for Board direction, to put some funding aside for lobbying efforts, and for staff to come back with some options.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he had always supported having somebody full time lobbying for them, particularly in Tallahassee but, after going through the Wekiva issue and using Ms. Sarah Bleakley, Nabors, Giblen & Nickerson, on issues specific, he feels that the Board should continue in this direction.
Even though the Board uses Nabors, Giblen & Nickerson as outside counsel, they wanted to know how they would proceed to get someone in an area of expertise, for example transportation, or childrens services, and how long it would take to get that person.
Mr. Minkoff explained that lobbyists typically work on fixed fee amounts, or an issue basis, so it is going to depend on the issue. It will be difficult to hire a lobbyist to address transportation, for example, without having some money set aside for that person, because that person is going to lose the ability to take on another client, by taking the issue with the County. If the Board has a specific item, it really should not take but a couple of weeks for staff to solicit quotations from people who are involved in a specific interest. He noted that staff does have a back up if they need someone for a short period of time. He explained that Nabors, Giblen & Nickerson are engaged as their outside counsel for governmental issues, and they do not use them very much for legal issues, but they do have an ongoing fee agreement with them where they bill the County by the hour. The Wekiva was not budgeted and, when the bill comes in, the Board will be seeing a budget amendment, and they will need to find the money, but he does not usually budget an amount, because he does not plan to use Nabors, Giblen & Nickerson next year for outside counsel. He stated that they could possibly put a line item in the budget to take care of these services because, currently, not only do they have to find the person, they have to find the money, so they may want to put $15,000 to $20,000 as a line item for these types of services. Mr. Minkoff noted that those people with an expertise will typically be a lot more expensive than Ms. Bleakley. Hopefully they will be able to identify the issues before the session starts.
Commr. Cadwell reported that the County is receiving a lot of help from Representative Ginny Brown-Waite on the transportation issue, and from Mr. Jim Davenport, Alcalde and Fay, and Congressman Ric Keller on other important issues involving Shockley Heights, and the Wekiva.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he has been involved with a lot of issues in Tallahassee, but he felt that the Wekiva issue was the easiest one to for him to address because of the work product that was put forth by Commr. Hanson, and the Wekiva River Basin Coordinating Committee. As he went through the process, and what changed the momentum, was when Representative Fred Brummer and Representative Carey Baker asked to speak with Commr. Hanson, and he is convinced that, because of that meeting, when they saw her resolve and she related the resolve of this Board that they were not changing anything in the staff recommendation, this made the difference, and he really appreciates the work product they put forth.
Commr. Hanson stated that Commr. Cadwell certainly needs to take credit for moving that item forward in Tallahassee.
Mr. Minkoff informed the Board that the Senate did pass the bill yesterday and, even though there was a late amendment to try and take a city in Orange County out of the process, it failed. The bill has been sent to the House, which will meet at 10 a.m. this morning, and they anticipate either today or tomorrow morning, the House will pass the bill. Representative Brummer has publicly said that he will put an amendment forward to adopt the Senate version of the bill in House. Hopefully, by tomorrow, the bill will be adopted. Mr. Minkoff stated that there have been some slight changes to the Committee’s recommendations, but the main fabric of what the committee did is there. One change that was made yesterday was to put the Expressway Authority in control of building the entire project rather than the Department of Transportation (DOT), because of the land acquisition aspects involved in this program but, for the most part, the Senate bill is true to the Committee’s recommendations.
Commr. Pool stated that this Board has steadfastly said that they are not trying to expand and grow and create more opportunities for growth. The density should stay the same and nothing should happen on the Lake County side and that should be very clear and, in his opinion, it is important that they stick by what they have said all along, that they are not trying to increase growth pressures in that area.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
Comprehensive Plan Issues
Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Director of Growth Management, stated that a couple of months ago the Board changed the format of planning and zoning to the Local Planning Agency (LPA), and Zoning Board. As part of the Comprehensive Plan revision process and, to complete that process, it is going to take some people, and a concerted effort over the next year and a half, and he is proposing the addition of four people to accomplish that task. The Board has in the backup an outline of the Scope of Work (Pages 22-26) to be done. During various points in the process, staff will get some outside consultants to review their work and, if they need specialized studies on individual items, staff has added some contractual dollars to do that as well.
Discussion occurred regarding whether it would be beneficial for the Board to have a joint meeting with the members of the LPA and Zoning Board early in the process, with Mr. Welstead noting that the LPA will be meeting on May 20, 2004, and on June 17, 2004. The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will be having a workshop on May 18 and 19, 2004, in Tallahassee, on growth and planning issues, and some of the new LPA members will be attending that workshop for educational purposes. He felt that it would be an appropriate time, after the June meeting, for the Board to meet with them. Mr. Welstead noted that he has received only positive comments on the splitting of those two boards. He explained that these will be permanent positions, and they will be working through the EAR process, to 2007-08, noting that this will be an ongoing process. He noted that one of the positions is a GIS technician and, even though it was not included in the mid-year, he would request that the Board consider the four positions for a mid-year adjustment. It was noted in the backup that two staff members will be supervising the Current Planning and Comprehensive Planning Divisions, and the one administrative staff position will be an individual who will perform similar duties as Ms. Sherie Ross who handles the Zoning Board, Impact Fee Committee, and the Board of Adjustment. It was noted by Commr. Stivender, as well as staff members, that Ms. Ross does an excellent job, and they will be using her to train the individual who will take that position.
It was the consensus of the Board to include the four positions, as noted, in the mid-year adjustment.
PERSONAL SERVICES ISSUES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2004/05
Ms. Frazier stated that staff is looking for direction on some items to start the 2005 budget process. With the first item, staff is proposing to increase the merit range from 0 to 4%, to 0 to 5%, and backup information was provided on Page 2. The total cost to the County would be $299,800.00. This would be only if every employee receives the entire 1%.
Mr. Neron explained that, prior to him coming to Lake County, the County’s merit increase range was 0 to 9%, with an average of a 6% merit increase being given to employees. The County had a very difficult budget year that first year, and they suspended the merit program for one year and gave $1,000 across the Board for all employees. In the current budget year, staff re-instituted the merit program with a range of 0 to 4% and to date, countywide for Board employees, the average merit increase has been 3% with a maximum range of 4%. They are proposing in next year’s budget to increase the potential of the range by 1%, from 4% to 5%.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, by letting the constitutional officers know of this proposal, budget wise, they will probably follow suit.
Ms. Hall explained that staff will only be budgeting about 3.5%, because not all employees get 5%.
40-Hour Work Week
Mr. Neron explained that about 30% of the employees work 37 1/2 hours a week; the remainder work 40 hours a week. Mr. Neron stated that the public is confused by this division in work hours and, from a management standpoint and, from the time he first came to Lake County, he has been wanting to establish a 40 hour work week, as the standard for all County employees. He believes it is better from a public perception standpoint, as well as a productivity standpoint, to have everyone on a 40 hour week. It also gives staff the flexibility to start doing some flex time in the departments, but it would not affect the issue of overtime. A handout was provided to the Board showing the ratings and merits in the County Wide Merit Program.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the information being provided is written for all County employees and, even though he has a small office, he is not sure he would like to be included in this group. He explained that the administrative employees in his department are not in favor of a 40 hour week, and his office is able to cover the hours by changing the times slightly without increasing the work hours, which works for his office.
Commr. Stivender questioned how this would address all employees, when there are exempt employees and non-exempt employees, salaried employees and hourly employees, and she wanted to know how they were going to determine who gets paid for those additional two and a half hours.
Mr. Neron explained that all of the exempt employees, those who are subject to overtime rules under the Florida Labor Standards Act, will be paid for the additional two and half hours. Right now staff is doing a review of exempt and salaried employees, in trying to determine who falls into that category. From his viewpoint, all division directors, and all department heads, are salaried employees, and they will not receive any additional compensation and, even though their payroll sheet reflects a 37 1/2 hour week, as a salaried employee. Staff is in the process of looking at that and making the final determination, based on the Board’s action and consensus today.
Mr. Minkoff explained that anybody that is exempt gets paid salary whether their payroll sheet shows 37 1/2 hours, or 40 hours, because they get paid for doing their job, not for working a certain amount of hours. The payroll system may assign hours to those people, but that has nothing to do with their work schedules. He explained that they cannot pick and choose and everybody that is exempt has to be treated that way and, if they start giving hourly raises to exempt people, they will lose their exempt status.
Commr. Stivender questioned why staff would not automatically pay the employees the extra two and a half hours, if they are already working the 40 hours.
Mr. Minkoff explained that, for the payroll system, they have to assign an hourly rate; if they are exempt, there is no hourly requirement. He stated that, historically and, in the past, when exempt people were moved from 37 1/2 hours to 40 hours, they were given a raise.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the Board did a salary survey to adjust salaries, in an attempt to get them all in line and, if there are salaries that are not right, then they need to look at the survey, not a fictitious circumstance.
Commr. Stivender stated that this issue needs to be made clear to the employees, because there are some concerns.
Ms. Hall stated that the impact shown to the County, in the amount of $508,000 across all funds, is probably overstated because that would be for all employees.
Mr. Neron stated that staff will coordinate the implementation of this system, with Mr. Minkoff’s Office and Human Resources, if this is the direction of the Board.
Commr. Stivender stated that, from their discussion, it appears that the constitutional officers are going to go to a merit increase of 5% and follow the direction of the Board.
It was noted that the Sheriff Office, in the past, has given a flat fee to their employees at the beginning of the fiscal year.
Commr. Stivender stated that, when the Board approved a $1,000 increase across the Board, she felt it was a fair system, because there are employees who are still making $17,000 to $18,000 in this County, and it made a bigger impact on them than to those whose salaries are much higher and, if they get a 3.5% increase, that $1,000 would actually be more than that increase.
Mr. Neron explained that he has a different philosophy, because such action would not really be a merit increase; it would be more of a cost of living adjustment. Under a true merit system, the annual increase is based on performance, which is an important factor.
Commr. Stivender stated that there are two separate issues because, as one time, they did have a cost of living and then, if someone was an exceptional employee, he got a merit increase with it, but everybody got a cost of living increase.
Mr. Neron explained that adjustments made in the Board’s share of insurance benefits has helped to offset some of the cost of living increases in years past. The employees receive updated information pertaining to such adjustments in their paychecks once a year. Staff budgets $5,100 per employee a year and, for the lower paid employees, that $5,100 a year is worth a lot more from that aspect. He noted that staff tries to balance the entire compensation package.
Commr. Stivender felt the employees were being treated great but was concerned about those people who are making less than $25,000.00 a year, because they get food stamps and free lunches at school, and the County has not brought them up above the poverty level.
Mr. Neron pointed out that, in the last set of adjustments on ranges, staff did raise the figure to $8.16. He noted that there is a small number of individuals at that rate, but it is substantial when compared to today’s job market.
Mr. Minkoff stated that there is one other issue, that it depends on who is doing the rating. It is obvious that his office uses a different system for rating and that also leads to unequal treatment of employees, because there is no systematic rating across the entire County. He did not believe that it was their philosophy, as a goal, to get the most that they could for their employees. He thought the goal was to realistically evaluate people based upon merit but, if you compare someone who wants to get the most he can for his employees versus someone who does it realistically, then it is not a fair system.
Mr. Neron pointed out the summary chart noting that staff is trying to monitor exactly what has been said by Mr. Minkoff, because that is some of the criticism they received about the merit system, some departments rate high, and some departments rate low and, by starting to track this now, at the detailed level, they are trying to see if there are any developing trends.
Commr. Stivender felt that she and Mr. Minkoff evaluate the job that the employees are doing, not how much money they are going to get them, and Mr. Minkoff should be commended.
Mr. Neron pointed out that it is not a matter of trying to get the most you can for the employee, as indicated by Mr. Minkoff but, under a true merit system, it is what that employee is doing in terms of performance and, unfortunately, it translates into dollars.
Mr. Neron stated that, based on the action that the Board has taken today on these issues, in preparing the proposed budget to be presented to them on July 15, 2004, staff is going to take these actions, to include these items in the proposed budget. In addition, he is going to prepare the proposed budget assuming that they want to keep the millage rate the same and that there will be no increases in either the non ad valorem fire assessment, or solid waste assessment.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that, when staff is working on the line items in the budget, he wanted to make sure that Mr. Neron met with the County Attorney’s Office in regards to the lobbying services.
Commr. Hill stated that staff needs to include in their legislative update the homestead exemption, as mentioned by Commr. Hanson, which should go on the ballot and, with every indication, it looks like it will pass, which will be a $10 million to $11 million hit to the County.
Mr. Minkoff pointed out that it will be too late to apply the outcome of the homestead exemption issue in 2004-05, but it can be applied in 2005-06.
Mr. Neron noted that their last estimation showed $7.9 million on the General Fund aspect, but he will put together some numbers as to the additional homesteads that might be totally off of the roll and take this as an opportunity to present some information to the Board.
Ms. Hall informed the Board that right now Article V legislation is inconclusive, and the Florida Association of Counties (FAOC) has made some headway in getting the legislation to include some fees that would pay for the technology fees, but right now it is defined to counties and perhaps the Law Library. She pointed out several things that are currently funded (Page 2) and stated that, of those items, Teen Court right now is funded through the Clerk’s budget, and it is funded all of the way through September; the others are not. Once they find out the impact of Article V, staff will be coming back to the Board for direction to include some or all of these items, Legal Aid (Community Legal Services), Law Library, and Guardian Ad Litem, starting in July.
Commr. Cadwell stated that there has been several conference calls through his office relating to Article V, and Senator Rod Smith has been trying to help Lake County. Even though Senator Smith made an offer where dedicated dollars would come to the County to budget for the IT items, Commr. Cadwell was concerned that, without language in the legislation that says that the level of service for IT will follow that funding level, Lake County will be right back where they started and right now, he understand that they are not willing to put that language in there. He stressed that the County will fund technology, if the funding source is there, and if the need and funds are exactly the same.
Juvenile Justice Cost Shifting Legislation
Ms. Hall stated that it appears that there will be a cost shift in juvenile justice, about $717,000 will be subtracted from the current plan and revenue sharing.
Commr. Cadwell spoke about the history of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) noting that, even though the State is indicating that they will continue with the program, they are saying that the County is going to pay for it. Now the County will have nothing to say about the operation of that department other than to write them a check. He pointed out that, over the last couple of years, DJJ has cut programs that would prevent kids from getting in this program.
Commr. Hanson suggested that staff ask DJJ for their calculations, to have some form of accountability.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, at the end of the legislative session, a lot of the counties have a summary of the legislative session, in terms of costs and areas where costs were shifted and what their delegation did to help with specific issues. He felt that Lake County should invite their representatives, at the end of the session, to a similar presentation on local issues and provide an update on the issues that impacted Lake County, both positive and negative. He noted that the Florida Association of Counties (FAOC) will be doing a post-session briefing of the legislative session, and Lake County will be the host for the Central Florida area.
Mr. Neron acknowledged Commr. Cadwell’s comments as Board direction.
Local Option Gas Tax Service Charge Reduction
Ms. Hall stated that there is legislation proposed for the Local Option Gas Tax Service Charge that would reduce the 7% administrative charge that goes to the General Fund of the State, about $400,000 that would be to their benefit. Unfortunately there is a bill competing for that same service charge money, to go to the trauma care centers. Staff will provide information as it is received.
Funding for State Aid For Libraries
In regards to the funding for State Aid for Libraries, Ms. Hall stated that currently Lake County is receiving about 7 cents per dollar. The Board had submitted 8.3 cents per dollar as one of their legislative priorities. Currently it is moving through in legislation at 5.9 cents per dollar, so that is a reduction of about $35,000 from their funding grant.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the annexation bill looks good in the Senate, and they are still looking for a House sponsor. More information should be received next week.
In regard to the Affordable Housing Fund, Commr. Cadwell reported that the State is not going to allow any growth in that fund, but he will provide Commr. Hanson the actual dollars.
Local Option Gas Tax Service Charge Reduction (Continued)
Commr. Stivender referred back to the discussion on the Local Option Gas Tax Service Charge noting that she had a question about administrative costs and would like more clarification from staff.
Mr. Neron explained that there is an administrative surcharge to reimburse the County’s General Fund for overhead charges for staff departments, Purchasing, Human Resources, County Attorney, County Manager, and it is a very common format that is done universally.
Commr. Stivender questioned whether the County’s 5% administrative fee would be better used to build a fire station, or a road.
Commr. Cadwell explained that this percentage is funding a small centralized group that provides all of these ancillary services for all of those non-general fund departments, and it would cost more dollars if each of those departments had their own purchasing and personnel.
Mr. Neron explained that, by using this format, it is a way to get some of the Federal grants to help support the General Fund overhead. He assured the Board that a professional firm would show an administrative overhead charge that would be a lot more than the 5%. He noted that the cities charge the County 3% for collecting their impact fees.
Mr. Minkoff explained that, if they do not charge the outside funds, they end up charging the city residents for that service, but it is not a city service. It is a way to allocate the costs to make sure that the County’s share of local programs is not being totally borne by city people. He noted that KPMG did a study several years ago to validate what the County was charging and they came back with a higher percentage, 10% or 11%, so the County is charging less than the actual cost.
Commr. Cadwell noted that this will be the first budget process that the Board goes through without Ms. Sarah LaMarche, Program Analysis and Contract Management, so it will be a new process for all of them.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.m.
DEBBIE STIVENDER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK