A SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, THE LAKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, AND LAKE COUNTY MUNICIPALITIES
JANUARY 9, 2006
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session with the Lake County School Board and Lake County Municipalities on Monday, January 9, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., in the Magnolia Room, Lake-Sumter Community College, Leesburg, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Debbie Stivender; Jennifer Hill; and Robert A. Pool. Others present 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; Bob Nabors, Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson, P.A.; Deanna Newman, Public Pathways; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk. Representing the Lake County School Board were: Jimmy Conner, Chairman; Larry Metz, Vice Chairman; Kyleen Fischer; and Scott Strong. Superintendent Anna Cowin; School Board Attorney Steve Johnson; and Harry Fix, Director of Growth Planning, Lake County Schools, were present, as well. Representing the municipalities were: Tim Scobie, City of Umatilla; Leslie Campione, Attorney for the City of Umatilla; Bonnie Nebel, Town of Howey in the Hills; Teresa Greenham, City of Groveland; Janet Shira, B & H Consultants, representing the Towns of Mascotte and Howey in the Hills; Greg Beliveau, Land Planning Group (LPG), representing the City of Fruitland Park; Tim Green, representing the Cities of Minneola, Montverde, and Astatula; Frank Royce, City of Eustis; Nancy Clutts, City of Tavares; Derek Schroth, Attorney for the Town of Lady Lake; Elaine Renick, City of Clermont; and Laura McElhanon, representing the City of Leesburg. The City of Mt. Dora was not represented.
Commr. Hanson, Chairman, Lake County Board of County Commissioners, opened the meeting and called the roll, at which time she noted that the first item of business was a discussion about the draft interlocal agreement that was before them, regarding school concurrency.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that Ms. Susy Gibson, past President of the Clermont Chamber of Commerce, was present, doing an internship with Leadership Lake County.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, informed the group that, under the work plan that was adopted, the contract between the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the Lake County School Board, and Lake County requires that a draft agreement be sent to DCA by January 2, 2006, in order to receive the next payment of funds. He stated that the agreement before them was compiled by putting together a draft that Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, and Mr. Harry Fix, Director of Growth Planning, Lake County Schools, had each prepared. He stated that the goal this date was not to talk about the agreement, but to have it introduced to them, for their perusal, noting that he would like for them to discuss it in detail at the next meeting, to see if they can finalize some of the language, particularly the language contained in Section 3. - School Site Selection and Section 7. - Collocation and Shared Use of Facilities. He pointed out the fact that the language contained in the small boxes next to said sections was language in the current interlocal agreement that the County, the Municipalities, and the School Board had agreed to delete and that the new language was that language which was underlined. He stated that the goal this date was for the School Board and the County to jointly send the agreement to DCA, with a clear understanding that it had not been approved – that it was strictly a staff generated draft agreement. He questioned whether everyone was comfortable with sending the draft to DCA, without having looked at it first.
Mr. Steve Johnson, School Board Attorney, stated that he had notified the School Board members, prior to this meeting, that the document was a first effort draft of two sections of the interlocal agreement and that he was not recommending the language contained in the agreement for the final document, but that he felt it was a good start. He recommended approving it, for the purpose of sending it to Tallahassee, as the County’s first draft of the agreement.
Mr. Jimmy Connor, Chairman, Lake County School Board, took a vote of the School Board members, authorizing him to sign the document, which was unanimous.
Commr. Hanson did the same with members of the Board of County Commissioners, which was unanimous, as well.
It was noted that a letter or email would accompany the draft agreement, indicating that it was not the final document.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he had received comments from the municipalities, indicating that they also were not totally acceptable of the language.
Superintendent Anna Cowin stated that she noticed there was not any information contained in the agreement about current sites that have been accepted by the School Board for school placement and that she felt this would be a great forum to come to some kind of a consensus on the matter. She stated that it would certainly give direction to the School Board, if the group could work together, with regard to current sites that have been selected, as a transition into the future planning for schools, noting that they need to make sure that infrastructure is in place for future sites and that the sites are acceptable by everybody. She stated that they need a transition paragraph, as to how to move forward on those properties that have already been purchased and committed, noting that, excluding it would put the Board in a bind, as to what to do with said sites.
Mr. Bob Nabors, Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson, P.A., the facilitator for the joint meeting, discussed where the County is at the present time, where it needs to go, and how the interlocal agreement fits into that overall scheme. He stated that the interlocal agreement was not intended to be a document that the group had voted on, but what they had tried to put in black and white of what they perceive to be a consensus from the group. He stated that he hoped, by the end of the day, to have some feeling as to how long it is going to take for the individual governing boards to react to the interlocal agreement, so that they can put that into the process for a full discussion, as well as the time period for dealing with the oversight committee and conflict resolution. He stated that they have had two staff meetings, trying to bring people together, to get an understanding of the School Board’s five year school facilities plan and how the County does population projections. He stated that he would like to try to get a consensus on the basic data, which will drive a decision on some of the issues. He stated that he feels the group has made good progress, noting that, at the end of the meeting that was held recently, which was on the back of a meeting that the cities had the day before, they started jelling on some of the things that they needed to know, such as the core capacity of the various schools, the current capacity, what buildings are under construction that will create additional capacity, and where they are located, in relation to each other. He stated that, during the next few weeks, he would like to see the group try to define in a greater way the data issues and, once they agree on what those issues are and what the areas of dispute are, hold a forum and try to resolve them.
Mr. Harry Fix, Director of Growth Planning, Lake County Schools, addressed the group and discussed what they have been able to accomplish so far and what he sees in the process, as far as data issues are concerned. He stated that the local governments were presented with a planning document that, in many instances, shows what the capacities of the schools will be at the end of the five year planning horizon. He stated that DCA has indicated that they would like to have a recent snapshot of what the enrollments are at the present time, the number of portables at each of those campuses, and the core capacities of each of those schools, which he elaborated on, noting that he does not expect it to be a very large number of schools at all.
Mr. Nabors stated that what they have been debating and trying to get to the bottom of is which schools have core capacity and can they agree on what that capacity is and how it will be influenced by programs that are scheduled to be done within the planning period. He stated that they will then have to agree on what growth is to be expected in a five or ten year period and come up with what additional capacity the County needs and how it fits in with what the County currently has. He stated that all of that is going to be based upon the level of service to be adopted, however, noted that, if they develop a level of service that is too severe, there is going to be a problem, in terms of concurrency management, so they need to get that data, so that they can make an intelligent decision on where the concurrency management areas will be. He stated that he hoped the group could resolve any disagreements regarding the interlocal agreement, so that they can make some decisions.
Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, stated that staff went through a rather extensive brief on what the County’s population projections were, noting that they have been in the process, over the last 18 months, of updating the County’s Comprehensive Plan, and, as part of that effort, they had to look at the demographics that are in place and what they project will change over the next 20 years. He stated that the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Florida produces low, medium, and high population projections that the State uses as official numbers and, over the course of the last few months, staff has taken an average of the medium and high numbers and come up with a population projection of approximately 460,000 people over the next 20 years, which they presented to the State, for approval. He noted that the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) used that figure last month for their transportation plan, because they believe it is reasonably accurate. He stated that, looking at the five year plan for the School Board, the population projection is approximately 422,000, which would equate somewhat to the BEBR low number, although it is a little bit higher than that. He stated that one of the things the group really needs to iron out is what they feel the population is going to be in 20 years, noting that nobody knows for certain, so their projection would just be a guess. He stated that, while discussing the issue at the last meeting and presenting the methodology, a number of the cities questioned whether there might be some double counting. He stated that, in breaking it down into municipalities, they projected a total of 520,000 people in 20 years, so it appears there is some double counting, which he elaborated on, noting that it stimulated a good discussion on core capacity and the actual capacity of student stations. He stated that the number that is published is not always what the actual capacity is, which is one of the reasons why staff wants to know on a given date enrollment figures and the actual capacity of both student stations and core capacity, noting that it is an issue of concern to everyone. He stated that there are significant discrepancies that have to be resolved, so that staff can come up with a base line and project into the future. He stated that staff has significant concerns about capacity projections and enrollment, with regard to the five year master facilities plan, noting that there are inconsistencies in the document, so staff does not know what is counted and what is not counted. He stated that there are some schools that are not counted that staff knows exist and some schools that are double counted in other tables, so they are going through them one by one and identifying what the discrepancies are, which will allow them to take a serious look at what the needs actually are.
Mr. Johnson stated that the numbers constantly change for different reasons, such as the fact that a school had capacity, because it was under construction at the time, or a school had capacity, because it was before a class size amendment, etc. He stated that the School Board agreed they would recreate a recent point in time and get everybody the FISH capacity in the classrooms, the core capacity of the schools, the number of portables that were at a school, the number of portables that were being used for classrooms, and the population of the schools at that particular time, which they hope will eliminate the issue about the numbers being inconsistent.
Mr. Nabors stated that one of the things the group is going to have to do is come up with a process to determine student generation figures within a geographic area and whether there are areas in which the students generated are less than other areas, which will influence how big the concurrency management areas will be. He stated that staff has talked about the fact that, once the group develops a plan and agrees on what they think the population and student generation is going to be and where they think the concurrency management areas will be, they need to have in place a process review, to see if their thinking is correct, as population occurs, noting that one can only predict so far into the future.
Commr. Hanson stated that information contained in MyRegion.org indicates that the County’s population will be doubled in 15 years, but staff has determined that it will be doubled in 20 years, which could make a significant difference.
Mr. Welstead stated that DCA has put together a consortium of consultants who are in the process of developing a number of models that will identify what student enrollment projections might be, depending on the type of house that is built, noting that there is discussion about whether an apartment generates more children, or a single family dwelling.
Mr. Minkoff stated that they should try to keep the projections high, noting that, if they project too few students, the entire plan will become worthless. He stated that, if they use a worse case scenario, there will at least be a plan in place to deal with it.
Mr. Nabors stated that one of the difficult issues around the State is the data issue - getting a feel for what a realistic population figure is, what the existing capacity is, and what ability there is to pay for participating roads. He stated that they need to come to an understanding about what they think a realistic population is going to be and then have in place a system where it can be tested, noting that it can be revised over time and the County’s Capital Improvement Plan can be adjusted. He stated that what they need to do is get the best figures they can, in terms of what they think the population will be, and develop a process for measuring it, to see if it turns out to be more or less, based upon the real world and what is happening.
Superintendent Cowin stated that, in listening to the discussion this date, she saw three major issues that the group should consider, being: (1) The student population that is generated by the actual growth; (2) the cost of that student population; and (3) a quality of life issue, as to whether or not they want to have the amount of people in the County that is being projected, which she elaborated on. She stated that it needs to be decided how much overall growth the County wants and the people who are best able to answer that are the County Commissioners, who evaluate the County’s economic benefit to the number of people that are physically within the County. She stated that the group has to look at the three issues she alluded to earlier and decide what kind of future they want for Lake County – is it okay to meet the cost of development and still have the growth? She stated that that is the emotional issue that has to be addressed. She stated that she wants people to recognize those facts, because there has been so much written in the newspapers and so much out there that growth pays for itself, or growth is not paying for itself, or the population is growing so badly that the County cannot keep up, so it needs to stop growth. She stated that the bottom line is how much the County wants to do – does it want to contain the cities, much like those in England, where each town has a boundary, or do they want to have the boundaries merge one into another. She stated that those are key issues that are part of this plan and she hoped the group would address them.
Mr. Nabors stated that he would recommend the group deal with deficits in the interlocal agreement – what problems they have and what they need to focus more time on at their next meeting. He stated that they should break out into groups, identify the issues, and try to develop a consensus. He stated that, currently, there are meetings scheduled for January 23 and February 6, 2006, and, unless he hears anything different, he will assume that they will be dealing with three issues, being: (1) the interlocal agreement and problems they have with it; (2) the conflict resolution; and (3) the oversight committee.
Mr. Strong questioned whether Mr. Nabors felt the end result would be the adoption of an interlocal agreement and whether it would happen ahead of the State mandated time line, to which he responded that he did not know, but that his objective was to try to meet that goal. He stated that he feels the group will come to some type of an agreement on the non-data issues, however, pointed out the fact that he feels they may have to have several meetings to resolve some of the issues in the interlocal agreement. He stated that the other question is how accurate the data is and how quickly the County can develop the Capital Improvement Element.
Mr. Minkoff stated that there is a clear intent by the Board of County Commissioners to have the Comprehensive Plan adopted, in accordance with the contract schedule, which is this year. He stated that this was not just an exercise to get money from the State, but a real commitment to complete the process as quickly as possible.
Mr. Nabors stated that his goal was to try to facilitate the data, so that the County can make decisions within that time frame. He stated that they could probably have a report from staff on where they are on the issues, in terms of data, but he does not feel they will have everything resolved by that time.
Mr. Wayne Saunders, City Manager, City of Clermont, addressed the group and discussed population projections, noting that comments were made that the current Comprehensive Plan reflects population projections, however, pointed out the fact that those projections were based on what happened in the past. He stated that there is probably some double counting going on, noting that the City of Clermont has done population projections for the JPA and they have not gotten up to the number that is indicated for Clermont. He stated that, if the County is using those JPAs, because they are incorporated, there is definitely some double counting going on. He stated that the statement that population projections are reflective of the current Comprehensive Plan is not really accurate, noting that he feels it overstates the population projections, and he feels it is extremely important to have the right numbers, when discussing what the County is going to do.
Mr. Nabors stated that there are three things that the group has got to have and the more accurate the better, being: (1) where the population is occurring; (2) what the current capacity is; and (3) what the County can afford to provide. He stated that everybody needs to give their input, so that, if they are making mistakes, they can see what they are.
Commr. Hanson stated that many of the developments that have occurred in the unincorporated area were approved prior to the existing Comprehensive Plan, which was approved in 1992, and that the percentage of homes increasing in the unincorporated area is probably decreasing. She stated that it was a twist that needed to be included in the evaluation of the numbers.
Ms. Renick stated that something the cities talked a lot about was whether they were going to look at things district-wide, or whether they were going to go to the smaller concurrency areas, and questioned whether it was something that could be discussed this date.
Mr. Nabors stated that the group could talk about the matter philosophically, but he feels it is going to be driven by where the schools are with existing capacity and where the population is going to occur. He stated that it would be hard to make that decision, until the group gets the data.
Ms. Renick stated that they could agree whether they were going to look at things district-wide, or whether they were going to look at smaller concurrency areas, and questioned whether they could at least accomplish that this date. She stated that she realized a lot goes into determining what those different concurrency areas are going to be and the group did not have the data to do that this date, but wondered whether there was any feeling for going countywide.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he supports doing it by districts and hopes the group will be able to come back with information saying that he is right and they can do it that way, however, noted that they may come back saying that it is not going to work.
Mr. Nabors stated that, according to the way that the law reads, the County only has the ability to do district-wide for three years. He stated that there is a movement toward concurrency management areas, but he feels the general philosophy around the State is whether it works.
Mr. Johnson stated that the School Board also favors concurrency areas, but they want to make sure that the nuances do not impact it negatively, based upon whatever data comes in.
Ms. Renick stated that, if they are all headed that way, it gives staff direction and they could start looking at presenting the cities with what the problems are going to be, to help them decide what data to present to the County.
Mr. Nabors stated that he was going to schedule the next meeting, to be held January 23, 2006, at Lake Receptions, at which time it was noted that the group would rather hold the meetings in the Magnolia Room at Lake-Sumter Community College, because it was more centrally located. He stated that he would try to set the meetings for the Magnolia Room, but would let the group know whether it would be possible or not. He reviewed those things that he would like for the group to try to accomplish at said meeting and noted that he would be giving them a report about what has been done so far.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.
JENNIFER HILL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK