A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS,
THE LAKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AND LAKE COUNTY MUNICIPALITIES
NOVEMBER 18, 2005
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session with the Lake County School Board and representatives of Lake County’s municipalities on Friday, November 18, 2005, at 10:00 a.m., at Lake Receptions, Mount Dora, Florida, to discuss school concurrency. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Jennifer Hill, Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson, Vice Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell; Debbie Stivender; and Robert A. Pool. Others present for Lake County were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager; Carol Stricklin, Growth Management Director; Amye King, Assistant Growth Management Director; Valerie Golden, Administrative Associate II, Department of Growth Management; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioners’ Office; and Judy Whaley, Deputy Clerk.
The Lake County Schools were represented by School Board members Jimmy Conner, Vice Chairman, and Becky Elswick; and by Attorney Steve Johnson.
The municipalities were represented by Tim Green, Town of Astatula/City of Minneola/Town of Montverde; Elaine Renick, City of Clermont; Frank Royce, City of Eustis; Al Goldberg, City of Fruitland Park; Bonnie Nebel, Town of Howey-in-the-Hills; Max Pullen and Bill Vance, Town of Lady Lake; John Christian and Sanna Henderson, City of Leesburg; Janet Shira, City of Mascotte; Mark Reggentin, City of Mount Dora; and Nancy Clutts, City of Tavares. No one was present representing the City of Groveland or the City of Umatilla.
Commissioner Hill called the meeting to order and introduced the joint meeting facilitator, Mr. Robert Nabors, of Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson PA.
Mr. Nabors gave a brief description of his forty years of practicing law, noting that he has almost exclusively represented local governments. He stated that he will not be giving legal opinions in his role as facilitator. He recognized that the cities and Lake County are concerned about how school concurrency will affect their ability to govern, their growth management policies, their economic development and about interference by an outside body in making decisions. On the other hand, the School Board’s business is providing schools and educating children and they are concerned about the fact that they would be unfairly impeded in terms of their discretion. Because of the growth management act, the data will have to be agreed upon and we have to agree on the basic principles that have to be done. Mr. Nabors asked the County and cities to realize that school districts are somewhat different in the sense of their revenue capacity. We will be dealing primarily with capital facilities and school districts are very limited because they do not have the discretion to use general operating funds for capital.
Mr. Nabors explained that today’s objective is to take the aggregate issues (the matrix) and narrow them and begin a basic decision making process. The interlocal agreement will resolve a lot of the basic issues and will largely drive the school element and the capital improvement element in the Comprehensive Plan. The level of service, which will be included in the interlocal agreement, is imbedded in a lot of issues, such as the existing deficiency, the projected capacity, available revenue, population increases, concurrency areas and other technical issues. Policy issues, such as school siting and joint use of facilities, may be dealt with on a faster track than some of the technical issues. He stated that the capital improvement element of the Comprehensive Plan, for the first time for schools, will have teeth in it in terms of concurrency. School facilities will have to be available on a concurrent basis with development or development orders will not be issued.
Mr. Nabors called on the participants to discuss the aggregation of eighteen issues that are presented in the matrix and how those issues affect the School Board, the County and the cities.
Ms. Elswick commented that, as a School Board member, her first priority is to make sure they are doing the very best they can for the students in Lake County. Their focus is on academic achievement. Facilities make a difference in academic achievement and research has been developed to show that. She recognized that the community leaders have a perspective of having to manage services, they have to be sensitive to economic development issues and the schools affect that in the quality of students and the level of service that attracts high wage employers to the community. She stated that, while coming from a very different basis, we have the same common goal in trying to do the best to maintain and, possibly, improve quality of life in Lake County.
Mr. Nabors pointed out that, to a large degree, the growth management legislation and concurrency deal with capital. Those are intertwined with operational issues like colocation and joint use but it is a capital-type focus. He explained that the eighteen categories/issues on the matrix, taken from issue papers which were submitted by the School Board, Lake County and the cities, are not ranked in terms of importance and that some relate to each other.
Referring to the most efficient use of and maximum utilization of capital, Commissioner Hanson commented that she does not see that issue as being part of joint-use/colocation of facilities or space limitations. She asked, in looking at it as if it were a business, if it is possible to use school buildings more of the year or more of the day or more of the week.
Mr. Nabors suggested that issue relates to capacity in the sense of whether or not the current schools have a capacity that is not being used by some kind of a change in operations.
Discussion occurred regarding combining issues/categories on the matrix.
Ms. Renick explained that Clermont came up with five main issues during their recent workshop. She opined that smaller concurrency service areas should be considered rather than a county wide area and asked if everyone agrees.
Commissioner Cadwell expressed agreement, if the School Board is comfortable that it does not affect the level of service throughout the County, and so long as some zones are not better off than others.
Mr. Johnson stated that the School Board prefers individual service areas, not county wide, but that needs to be put on a map to see if that is the best method.
Mr. Nabors explained that the only experience we have to look to is Palm Beach County who implemented an optional concurrency. They did not have the severe limitations of the current law. They did concurrency areas based upon driving distances from schools. He pointed out that Palm Beach County is fundamentally different than Lake County. He stated that the law is clear that concurrency management areas are allowed and the statute drives it that way after three years, with district wide being allowed during the first three years.
Commissioner Pool stated that vested rights, such as Sugarloaf Mountain, might enter into the mix and we should plan for those.
Mr. Nabors agreed that vested rights are an issue. A feeling of the timing of development will be needed. Student generation rates will affect concurrency management areas.
Discussion occurred regarding service areas, appropriateness of high school attendance zones, the redistricting committee, how often redistricting can be done, the cities’ desire for stability, a work product possibly generated by a separate committee, consideration of contiguous zones and how those look on a map.
Mr. Minkoff asked to come back to the work plan and pointed out that today’s task is not to make a decision on any issue, just to identify the issues. Each governmental entity needs to do the study necessary to understand the impacts of an issue. He stressed that it is premature to talk about issues today.
The matrix consists of the following eighteen issues:
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Nabors gave opinions of which issues should be individual topics for discussion and which issues should be combined. Further discussion occurred regarding the issues, how they would be defined and how they would be resolved. State statutes deal with some of the issues.
Mr. Johnson opined that he thought the group would try to decide how to handle dealing with a particular issue. The School Board intends to present information and data relating to the policies and their preferences on how to move forward. His understanding is that the interlocal agreement is supposed to include a policy and procedure for integrating the municipalities, the County and the School Board in making these decisions.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the process that was set up is to identify the issues today and determine which issues would be discussed, and hopefully resolved, at the next meeting. Prior to the next meeting, everybody that wants to would submit their position in writing for distribution.
In discussing some of the issues, the participants generally agreed that issues 4, 5, 6, 7 and 18 are separate issues.
Mr. Nabors explained his view that proportionate share methodology is a concept that was put into the bill that allows a developer to trump concurrency. He suggested that the consultants or planners, in looking at the statutes, could give a white paper on what they think some options are for debate and consideration. He stated that some options are required in the interlocal agreement.
Mr. Minkoff further explained that proportionate share is required. If it is on the School Board’s five year capital plan and the developer fails capacity, he pays proportionate share and gets to develop. He stated that, if there is no concurrency problem, proportionate share would not be used but that is not going to be the issue in Lake County. The statute provides the formula in Chapter 163. The issues, for example, could be whether land can be a contribution versus cash, or whether building a school can be a contribution as opposed to cash.
Further discussion occurred regarding proportionate share and credits against impact fees, temporary capacity, district wide concurrency and how these issues are inter related; and oversight/advisory committees.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 11: 05 a.m., Mr. Nabors announced a ten-minute break.
Mr. Welstead referred to a handout, “Model Proportionate Fair-Share Ordinance” (a copy is included in the backup material) and explained that, while this model is for transportation, it gives a lot of ideas about how proportionate share is determined.
After conferring with Mr. Nabors, Mr. Minkoff and Mr. Lewis Stone during the break, Mr. Johnson explained that the original eighteen issues will be combined into the following nine issues:
Mr. Nabors announced that discussion at the next joint meeting will be held on newly numbered issues 4 (school siting and infrastructure requirements) and 6 (joint-use/colocation of facilities). The idea will be that everyone will submit their written positions or views of those issues in advance of the meeting to Ms. Valerie Golden. He stressed the importance of School Board and County staffs working together to resolve the data issues.
There was consensus that the proposed school concurrency meeting schedule for December, January and February is acceptable. Meeting notices will be sent to participants and meeting dates will be published in the newspaper.
Discussion occurred regarding canceling the tentatively scheduled joint meeting on November 29, 2005. It was noted that most city councils/commissions meet once a month.
Mr. Nabors summarized that the next joint meeting will be held December 5, 2005, at the Tavares Civic Center, and discussion will deal with new issue numbers 4 and 6. Ms. Golden will send an e-mail giving a deadline for position papers on issues 4 and 6 and she will distribute those position papers to all the participants before the next joint meeting.
Discussion was held regarding consultants and staff participation. Mr. Minkoff pointed out that the County’s consultant will consult the County and the School Board’s consultant will consult the School Board. Each municipality, the County and the School Board has to make an independent decision. He stated that there will be, and has been, a lot of sharing at the staff level.
Ms. Clutts, Ms. Renick and Commissioner Stivender continued the discussion regarding sharing of information by the consultants.
Mr. Minkoff reiterated that the Board of County Commissioners will share staff and the consultant as much as they can but the cities need to understand that everyone is coming at this from a different direction and this is not a non-biased, cooperative effort. This is a negotiation.
Mr. Nabors stated that there will be a sharing of data but the interpretation of that data and how it is applied will be policy decisions.
Mr. Conner, in speaking for the School Board, stated that their staff and consultants are eager to meet with the cities and the County. He stated that they will accept any invitation to participate in staff meetings.
Regarding the contents of the draft interlocal agreement, Mr. Nabors opined that DCA (Department of Community Affairs) wants to be sure there is a process moving along to get to the ultimate solution.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the contract (with DCA) only applies to getting the money to the School Board and the County. The contract has some slide dates. The due date for the interlocal agreement is January 1, 2006, or as soon as it is done.
Mr. Welstead explained that County staff is sharing information with all the planning staffs as much as possible. At the conclusion of today’s joint meeting, the staffs/planning directors will establish an informal process to share information. He stated that all the information will be shared and the conclusions will be up to each entity.
Commissioner Cadwell stated that the toughest decisions have to be made by the elected officials.
It was agreed, once again, that the next joint meeting will be December 5, 2005.
Commissioner Cadwell informed the group that the statewide impact fee task force met recently in Jacksonville. On a 6 to 5 vote, they voted to move forward with some legislative controls over impact fees. He stated that the task force will meet again on December 12, 2005, at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Ms. Elswick stated that Lake County is in the minority with school growth. Approximately 15 Florida counties are growing in student population, 33 may be status quo and approximately 19 counties are declining in student population. In school impact fee discussions, Lake County is in the minority in the State of Florida and this is a fight.
Regarding position papers on issues 4 and 6, Mr. Welstead stated that those will be due by November 30, 2005.
Ms. Leslie Campione, Attorney, asked if a date can be set for a meeting with the consultants and any municipalities who choose to participate.
Commissioner Cadwell advised that the County does not have a consultant under contract at this time.
Mr. Johnson stated that issues 4 and 6 will be discussed at the December 5, 2005, joint meeting. He suggested that, tentatively, issues 1 and 2 could be discussed at the second meeting (December 14, 2005); issues 2 and 3 could be discussed at the third meeting (January 9, 2006); issues 5 and 8 could be discussed at the fourth meeting (January 23, 2006); and issues 7 and 9 could be discussed at the fifth meeting (February 6, 2006).
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
JENNIFER HILL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK