A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS,
THE LAKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AND LAKE COUNTY MUNICIPALITIES
APRIL 29, 2004
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session with the Lake County School Board and Lake County Municipalities on Thursday, April 29, 2004, at 4:00 p.m., at the Tavares Civic Center, Tavares, Florida, for the semiannual report of the Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Debbie Stivender, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; and Welton G. Cadwell. Commissioners not present were: Catherine C. Hanson and Robert A. Pool. Present from Lake County Schools were: Bill Humbaugh, representing School Superintendent Pam Saylor, and Todd Thornton. Present from Lake County Municipalities were: Jim Myers, City of Eustis; Elizabeth Palmer, City of Fruitland Park; Dolly Miller, City of Groveland; Bob Brekelbaum, City of Mount Dora; Tavares Mayor Leo Vaughn; Dottie Keedy and Lori Houghton, City of Tavares; and Tim Scobie, City of Umatilla. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Grace Watson, Administrative Office Associate II; Yvonne Heitzner, Lake County Facilities Financial Coordinator; and Judy Whaley, Deputy Clerk.
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
Commr. Stivender called the meeting to order at 4:06 p.m. She welcomed everyone and recognized elected officials and representatives of the municipalities and the School Board.
SALES SURTAX OVERSIGHT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Mr. Robert Speaks, Chairman of the Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee (Committee), referred to the handout (a copy is included in the backup material) and noted that Tab 1 is the Committee’s report; Tab 2 is the Minutes of the Committee’s March 25, 2004, meeting; Tab 3 is the Summary Report of revenues and expenditures of local governments; Tab 4 contains individual reports of local governments including the School Board and Lake County; and Tab 5 is a list of the Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee members.
He introduced other Committee members present: Major Chris Daniels, Lake County Sheriff’s Office; Mr. Dan Robuck, Member of the Public at Large as designated by the School Board; Mr. Robbie Ross, Office of the Lake County Property Appraiser; Mr. Keith Mullins, Member of the Public at Large as designated by the Lake County League of Cities; Mr. Shawn Hill, Member of the Public at Large as designated by the Board of County Commissioners; and Ms. Barbara Lehman, Office of the Lake County Clerk of Courts.
Report of the Expenditures and Revenues of the Sales Surtax
For the record, Mr. Robert Speaks read the Report as follows:
On November 6, 2001, Lake County citizens voted to extend the one-cent sales surtax for a second 15 (year) term. Florida Statutes 212.55 authorizes the levy of this tax and specifies its use. The following points are components of the statute:
• The levy of the surtax must be pursuant to an ordinance passed by the Board of County Commissioners.
• The tax must be approved by referendum by a majority of the voters.
• The proceeds of the tax must be distributed among the county and municipalities according to a set formula or by an interlocal agreement.
• The proceeds of the tax may be used to finance, plan and construct infrastructure; to acquire public recreation or conservation or to protect natural resources; and to purchase fixed capital expenditures or fixed capital outlay associated with the construction or improvement of public facilities including land acquisition, land improvement, engineering costs and design. Equipment must have a useful life in excess of 5 years. Vehicles and equipment necessary to outfit certain vehicles are also authorized. Proceeds may also be used for debt service for new bonds.
Ordinance 2001-130 established a Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee with the duty of reviewing the expenditures of the sales tax and providing a semi-annual report to the Board of County Commissioners, the School Board, and the municipalities at a joint public meeting.
The Oversight Committee includes 2 members each, appointed by the Board of County Commissioners, the School Board, and the League of Cities, as well as representation of three Constitutional Officers.
The Oversight Committee met on March 25, 2004 to review the reports that had been submitted by the sales tax recipients for fiscal year 2003. Minutes of that meeting and the reports from the various entities are attached.
A summary report of all entities’ submitted expenditures is included in this document. All reports reflect year-end expenditure and revenue data for the fiscal year October 1, 2002, through September 30, 2003.
After review of the reports and clarification of specific items listed as expenditures on the reports, the Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee accepted all reports as meeting the guidelines of the sales surtax requirements. However, the committee requested that Lake County reconsider their practice of charging administrative costs and overhead to the sales surtax fund.
Based on public comment, issues that were clarified included:
• Interest earned from the sales tax revenue may be used for the same projects for which the sales tax is used. An “interest earned” revenue line will be added to subsequent report formats.
• Projects funded by debt secured by the sales tax are paid directly from bond proceeds. However, the debt service payments for new debt may be paid from the sales tax proceeds, and therefore must be recorded on the sales tax expenditure sheets as debt payment. The committee requests that identification of those projects supported by sales tax debt be included in the bi-annual reports submitted by the local governments.
• It was clarified that any infrastructure improvement having a life expectancy of five years or more is a permissible expense of the sales tax.
The next meeting of the Sales Tax Advisory Oversight committee (Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee) is scheduled to be Thursday, September 16, 2004, at 2:00 p.m. at the County’s Administration Building in Room 233.”
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Commr. Stivender remarked that the practice of charging administrative costs back to the system seems like swapping money when it is taken out of one department for an administrative cost only to be given back later on for a project. She asked if the Committee discussed a different system.
Mr. Dan Robuck, Committee member, stated that there is no problem from a legal standpoint. He stated that he is a proponent of this tax and would like to see it renewed. Some citizens have suggested that the County did not use the tax the way it was intended last time. He opined that it would be better to not put that in there so that it could not be criticized when the time for renewal of the tax comes. He explained that, if the County were to be making all of its capital expenditures out of this fund, obviously, it would need to be in there. He reiterated that this is perfectly legal and is just perception.
Mr. Speaks invited the public to attend the next public meeting of the Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee on September 16, 2004.
Commr. Stivender asked if the Committee is beneficial to the public.
Mr. Speaks stated that the Committee’s process is viable and that Committee members are truly interested in seeing that the tax is spent properly. The Committee provides good checks and balances and allows a public forum for questions and answers. He stated that the process also allows the Committee to ask questions of the municipalities, the County and the School Board.
Commr. Stivender thanked Ms. Barbara Lehman for her work on the report, and thanked Ms. Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager, Ms. Grace Watson, Administrative Office Associate II, and other staff members for coordinating the meeting.
Mr. Bill Humbaugh stated that the School Superintendent wanted to attend the meeting but was unable to do so because of being out of town. For the record, he expressed the School Board’s great appreciation for this extra revenue on which it depends to marginally meet its growth issues.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board of County Commissioners, Commr. Stivender adjourned the meeting at 4:18 p.m.
DEBBIE STIVENDER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK