A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
JANUARY 30, 2007
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special worksession on Tuesday, January 30, 2007, at 9:00 a.m., in Room 233, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Debbie Stivender; Jennifer Hill; Elaine Renick; and Linda Stewart. Others present were: Sanford A. (Sandy) Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell informed those present that, because of the Sunshine Law, the Board cannot meet and discuss business except in a public meeting, so they set aside worksessions to allow the Board to gather information from staff and to give staff direction, which is the purpose of this meeting, and that no public comment would be accepted for any of the issues discussed this date, noting that there will be time for that at a Regular Board Meeting.
DISCUSSION OF TOURIST TAX
Mr. Greg Mihalic, Tourism and Business Relations Director, addressed the Board stating that he was before them to discuss the tourist tax and a possible additional one percent levy of that tax from four percent to five percent. He stated that his staff had prepared some bags containing advertising information about some of the things that his office is currently involved with, since the Board never gets to see what his office does. He discussed the Events Guide, which is prepared and sent out quarterly, at a cost of $500,000 per year, for the production, printing, and distribution of them, noting that it helps bring people to the County (approximately 1.8 million per year), since there are no giant attractions in the County to attract them, and the fact that they reach out to a lot of different specialized magazines and electronic areas, spending approximately $10,000 per month on website optimization, with approximately 6.5 million people visiting the website per month, who stay on for about 11 to 12 minutes at a time, which is a very positive thing for the County. He stated that their packets contained a history of the County’s tourist tax revenues, noting that they are up 165% over the last five years, but have been down in the last two months, so they are going to have to double their efforts and put more information out on the street, put more Events Guides out, and put information in specialized areas, to get more people to come to the County.
Mr. Mihalic stated that, with regard to the proposed fifth penny levy, the Tourist Development Council met on September 20, 2006, and recommended a 1% increase in the Tourist Development Tax and an allocation of $300,000 per year, for 10 years, to PALS (Performing Arts of Lake & Sumter), if the $3 million allocation was matched by an additional $3 million from other funds allocated by the Board of County Commissioners. He stated that eleven municipalities and organizations in the County have requested funding from the approximately $550,000 per year in additional revenues that the additional 1% levy will produce. He noted that the fifth penny is the final penny that the County is allowed to levy, under the Statues.
Mr. Mihalic reviewed a chart that he had provided to the Board indicating the uses of the tourist tax, noting that the first three pennies can be used for a lot of different things, but the fourth and fifth pennies can only be used for specific things. He stated that the fourth penny has been designated to promote and advertise tourism in the State, nationally and internationally, and, if the Board chooses to levy a fifth penny, the allowable uses under the Statutes are only to pay the debt service on bonds for a professional sports franchise and to pay for the design costs for such bonds to be issued, or to promote and advertise tourism in the State. He stated that, if the Board wants to use the fifth penny for other things, they will have to shift some of the expenses from the first three pennies into that fifth penny levy, and that, to levy the fifth penny, it would require a super majority vote of the Board – four out of five Commissioners would have to approve the Ordinance and it would take at least 60 days before it could be implemented, once the Ordinance is approved. He then answered questions from the Board regarding the matter.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, with regard to moving forward with the fifth penny tax today, the number of people that want some of the money that will be generated by it concerns him and that, for him to get to a comfort level to move forward with a commitment to anybody, he feels the County has got to have a policy and procedures in place for how it is going to spend the money, how people are going to qualify for it, etc.
Commr. Stivender interjected that the Tourist Development Council wanted to wait and see if the Board was in favor of levying the tax, before having staff spend time putting together a policy and procedures regarding it.
Commr. Renick stated that she did not have a problem with approving the fifth penny tax, but did want to discuss exactly how the money will be used.
Commr. Stewart stated that she, too, would support approving the fifth penny tax, but feels the County needs to be very concerned about how the funds will be distributed.
Commr. Hill stated that the Board needs to understand that this revenue is a little fragile, noting that it goes up and down, and that she wants to make sure the County can cover itself, when it makes financial commitments, without having to constantly go into the General Fund, which is a concern she has about the request from PALS, before she approves it.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the recommendation from the Tourist Development Council is a separate issue from whether or not the Board takes money out of the General Fund to commit to any particular project, so it does not even need to be considered, when they are talking about this particular tax. He stated that, as each case comes forward, the Board will decide a level of commitment, whether it is General Fund or not, above and beyond what the fifth penny tax is going to generate. He stated that it appeared four out of the five commissioners are interested in approving the fifth penny tax, so he would assume that the direction to staff would be to prepare a policy and procedures on how the County will distribute the money that is generated from it and bring it back to the Board at a later date, as an agenda item.
Mr. Mihalic interjected that he would need to take the matter back before the Tourist Development Council and get their input on it.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like for staff to also prepare a draft Ordinance containing language directing how the funds will be spent.
Mr. Mihalic stated that, because of the limitations under the Statutes, the County would have to tailor the funds for the fifth penny to advertising and marketing, or, if the direction goes that way, a professional sports facility franchise, so that is the way that the Ordinance would have to be worded.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, interjected that the language in the Ordinance could be modified to incorporate things other than those alluded to by Mr. Mihalic.
PRESENTATION ON CURRENT AND PROPOSED FIRE STATIONS
Mr. Gary Kaiser, Public Safety Director and Fire Chief, and Mr. John Jolliff, Deputy Fire Chief, presented the following Fire Station Improvement Plan Update, regarding property acquisition and fire station construction:
In November, 2004, an analysis of service areas, call load, and emergency vehicle response times was conducted to determine fire station spacing.
Staff compared the current Level of Service (LOS) standard to the delivery of fire-rescue services in the urban and rural areas of Lake County.
Results of the analysis at that time determined the following:
· Construction of the two currently budgeted fire stations should be completed as soon as possible. They are Station No. 78, in the LakeJem area, and Station No. 90, east of Minneola.
· A new facility budgeted in FY 05/06 in the vicinity of SR 27 and CR 19.
· A new facility budgeted in FY 05/06 for Fire Station No. 13, immediately west of Lake Kathryn, on CR 42 (Paisley).
· A new facility budgeted in FY 06/07 for Fire Station No. 77, further south in Astatula, on CR 561.
The analysis and recommendation contained in that report are still valid today. However, several factors have prevented staff from achieving
these goals within the time frames identified.
1. Difficulty in locating and securing suitable property in the Lake Jem area postponed that project for approximately one year. The
same problem was encountered in searching for property in the area northeast of Minneola, as well as along the County Road 42
corridor, between Paisley and Lake Kathryn.
2. Construction costs, according to the architect and the County’s construction manager, have doubled in the past twenty-five
months since their report was presented to the Board. The fiscal impact on the fire station budget is obvious and the rate of new
growth impact fee collection has not been adequate to compensate for such a dramatic change.
Although two pre-existing fire stations have been remodeled and fully staffed during the past two year period (one serving as additional back-up
to the Paisley and Lake Kathryn areas), additional facilities are in need of repair and remodeling. A significant amount of work has been
completed on a number of other stations, to improve living and operational conditions, but serious deficiencies remain with many of the metal
buildings constructed in the early 1980s.
An updated Five Year Plan (2007-2011) has been submitted along with this report, which outlines a schedule of new and replacement facilities;
however, it is a draft and is intended to delineate projected needs to meet the Level of Service, as previously adopted. It also takes into
consideration that future First Response agreements will continue to be developed with additional neighboring jurisdictions.
Mr. Kaiser informed the Board that, in the last two years, eight First Response Automatic Aide Agreements have been entered into with surrounding jurisdictions and with Orange County, which is significant, because it will impact where they plan future fire stations, which is a cost issue. He stated that their fire station design prototype has been delayed, due to several issues with the architect, in correcting plans, however, noted that he wanted to emphasize the fact that the architect was asked to redesign the station and reduce it by 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, in an effort to try to bring the cost down. He stated that the prototype was designed to accommodate three agencies, not just the County Fire Rescue Division, but the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Lake-Sumter Emergency Medical Services, as well – it is a tri-use type of building. He stated that they stayed true to the goal of building longevity into the building, which he elaborated on, noting that staff has tried to level the load that they are looking at, in terms of future fire station replacements and additions, which is a sizable amount, however, reminded the Board that they are looking at buildings that are 25 to 30 years old and, in some cases, 40 years old.
Mr. Jim Bannon, Facilities Development and Management Director, addressed the Board stating that escalation costs have resulted in the proposed project being over the Public Safety Department’s budget, so his office is looking at redesigning it, to bring it into budget, with the intention being to still maintain a sound building and not go to shingles, as opposed to a metal roof, and not go to some sort of siding, as opposed to a masonry envelope.
Commr. Cadwell questioned where the County stands, with regard to the Paisley Fire Station and some additional property that the County was going to negotiate with the Paisley Community Association.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, responded that the Board directed staff to acquire said property and that Ms. Quinnette Durkin, Property Manager, has obtained approval from the Paisley Community Association to give the County the property and that the Survey Department is currently surveying it, to obtain a legal description, so he feels that, within one to two weeks from getting the deed ready, the County should have the property.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, over the next couple of months, he would like for staff to see if there are any options for moving the Paisley Fire Station (No. 13) and the Ferndale Fire Station (No. 90) forward, understanding that the money is currently not available for said projects - that they have been budgeted for FY 2008, but whether there is an internal fund that the money could be borrowed from, to be paid back at a later date. He noted that he does not want to take half of the money from one station and give it to the other station, in order to get one of them built, but wants to try to get both of them built as soon as possible, and would like for staff to see if there is a way to do it.
It was noted that the money is available for the Lake Jem Fire Station, it is just a matter of getting it designed and built – it is the Paisley and Ferndale Fire Stations that are split over a two year cycle.
Mr. Kaiser stated that staff wanted to get one station constructed, noting that, when multiple stations are built at one time and there is a change order, there are multiple problems to correct.
Commr. Cadwell asked that the Board be given a chart with some timelines as soon as possible, with regard to the construction of the Lake Jem Fire Station, to which Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, responded that staff would do so.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 9:40 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for 10 minutes.
PROPOSAL ON LITTER PROGRAM
Mr. Daryl Smith, Environmental Services Director, informed the Board that he was asked to prepare a recommendation on a potential Anti-Litter Program for the County, at which time he presented a brief overview of potential alternatives and a recommendation for such an initiative in a power point presentation. He stated that, for the Board to better understand the information and recommendations presented in his report, it was critical that they understand the difference between littering and illegal dumping, which he described, at which time he confirmed that there is a littering problem in the County. He stated that the objectives, hours, and costs contained in the report are rough estimates, to give the Board an order of magnitude and to give them an idea of what staff may come back to the Board with in the future for a definitive program. He stated that some of the Anti-Litter Program alternatives that he would address this date would be: Keep Lake County Beautiful (an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful; Adopt-A-Road Program; Public Education Program; Annual Local, State, and National Clean-up Events; Sheriff’s Right-of-Way Clean-up; Right-of-Way Clean-up by Community Service Workers; Litter Removal Program; and Community Clean-up Program. He reviewed each of the programs, discussing their goals, their primary functions, and estimated personnel and financial commitments that the programs would need to be successful.
Commr. Hill stated that a program that has been successful in the County in the past is the Ibini Tera program, at which time Mr. Smith stated that an Ibini Tera event has been scheduled for March 3, 2007, and that he would be coming before the Board on February 20, 2007, with a request for approval of a Proclamation regarding it. He stated that there is also an annual Lake Clean-up, Great American Clean-up, and Coastal Clean-up, where he feels the County can emphasize the need to clean up the community and promote anti-litter activities.
Mr. Smith stated that staff’s recommendation would be that Lake County implement what might be called an “entry-level” Anti-Litter Program. The primary component of this entry level program would be a Keep Lake County Beautiful (KLCB) Program. With the KLCB Program as a foundation, a number of the other components could be implemented and/or expanded through the KLCB Program. The Program would also include the following components:
A minimal Public Education Program designed to change the behaviors of citizens and visitors to Lake County;
An enhanced Adopt-a-Road Program that includes increased promotion;
Lake County’s participation in the local, state, and national clean-up events;
The enhanced use of community service workers for right-of-way clean-up; and
The opportunity to solicit funding contributions from the private sector.
This level of effort would:
Establish a defined Anti-Litter Program for Lake County;
Consolidate all of the anti-litter efforts; and
Establish a base for expanded anti-litter efforts.
To accomplish this objective, the Department of Environmental Services recommends that a limited duration position be established to implement
the Anti-Litter Program. The individual hired for this position would have the opportunity for long term employment, either as the Lake County
coordinator of the Anti-Litter Program, or the administrator of the KLCB Program.
After one year of start-up and a full year of implementation of the Anti-Litter Program, the County would be able to evaluate it, to determine
what components, if any, should be retained or extended, or if any additional components should be added to the Program.
Mr. Smith stated that he would like to say that the County has an Anti-Litter Program, as opposed to saying that the County is doing some things that are in the anti-litter vein, but that it does not have what would be defined as an Anti-Litter Program, and he would like to consolidate all the anti-litter efforts. He stated that, if the Board chose to move forward with the program, staff would return with a solid recommendation and a budget amendment to actually define the program and provide funding for it. He then answered questions from the Board regarding a proposed Anti-Litter Program.
DISCUSSION OF EX-PARTE COMMUNICATIONS
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that, at the request of the Board, he had provided them with some pretty detailed background information, in addition to the original memorandum that he had sent to Commr. Renick, with regard to the matter of Ex-Parte Communications. He stated that, for the most part, after the Florida Supreme Court decision in Brevard County v. Snyder, which determined that rezoning cases were more like special exceptions and variances and subject to quasi-judicial, statewide, they had an issue as to whether or not decision makers could have ex-parte contact. He stated that one is not exactly held to the same standards as a judge would be, but one of the key things that courts have pointed out is that ex-parte contact taints a proceeding, because facts are given to the decision maker that are out of the public view, or out of the opponent’s view. He stated that the Legislature responded to the Snyder and Jennings v. Dade County cases, with a change in Section 286.0115 of the Florida Statutes, which has been implemented in Lake County, for the Board of County Commissioners. He stated that it authorizes Commissioners to speak with the public, or anyone, about any particular zoning case, but it does require who they spoke to and what they generally discussed at, or prior to, the meeting where a decision is made regarding it.
Commr. Renick stated that, in looking at the information that was provided to the Board by the County Attorney’s Office, she realized that what she was talking about was the Code of Conduct that was in place with this Board, before the change regarding it was made, and that the backup information shows that Commr. Richard Swartz was Chairman of the Board at the time that it was changed. She stated that, as far as conducting business is concerned, there is an in-between area that allows the Commissioners to receive letters and email from the public - they just cannot discuss cases with them. She stated that the inequity she sees going on concerns her, no matter how the Board tries to deal with it, noting that, in theory, they are supposed to have equal access, but, in practice, she does not feel they do, which she elaborated on. She stated that it seems to her that it would be fairer to have concerns voiced at a public hearing and that is all she was trying to accomplish. She stated that there might not be a solution to the problem, but there is a misconception about it and she does not know how to clear it up.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he has operated under both systems and understands the logic of both sides and that he actually voted against changing it to what the Board is doing today. He stated that he feels the problem is that they tend to categorize it to where, if they are talking to a developer, it is a bad thing, but, if they are talking to a group that they agree with, it is a good thing.
Commr. Renick referred to Page 21 of the backup information that was provided to them by the County Attorney’s Office, with regard to lobbyists, and questioned whether there was a difference between a landowner wanting to talk to a Commissioner, versus someone that is being paid talking to them.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, in the context of a quasi-judicial discussion, it would not make any difference, but, in the context of lobbying regulations, which he noted many governments have, it would make a big difference.
Comm. Cadwell stated that he wants the Board to be comfortable with how it does business, so the Commissioners were going to have to look at the Board as a whole and see how it wants to do business - that he does not want to put people in a situation where the policy is going to fail.
Commr. Hill reviewed the process that is in place at the present time, with regard to how the various Commissioners handle individuals that approach them regarding rezoning cases, noting that anyone that might be interested in seeing who they have spoken to, prior to a particular meeting, can do so.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that all that is required by the Code is for the Commissioners to announce at the Board Meetings who they talked to and the substance of their discussions.
Commr. Stewart stated that she was torn on this issue, noting that she was concerned about not being able to talk to the people that elected her, however, noted that most of the things she is approached about she can discuss with them. She stated that her problem with the process is that citizens do not always find out right away about proposed developments – they find out down the road and do not have the money to hire someone to represent them – they are working as hard as they can to make a living and put food on the table for their families, while certain others have the money to buy some really slick people to represent them, who are very sophisticated and adept at what they do and have had a lot of practice at what they do. She stated that it is unequal and the Board needs to make it more equal.
Commr. Cadwell informed the Board that he would like to discuss some ideas he had about this issue with the County Attorney, therefore, suggested that the Board recess briefly, to allow him to do so.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:40 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for five minutes.
DISCUSSION OF EX-PARTE COMMUNICATIONS (CONT’D.)
Mr. Minkoff informed the Board that Commr. Cadwell was looking at a method where the Commissioners would be able to communicate with individuals regarding particular cases, but that some kind of record of the communication be made, such as a tape recording of the conversation, however, noted that he did not think it would be feasible for the County to record conversations, because (1) you never know when they are going to occur, so the Commissioners would almost have to carry a tape recorder around with them all the time; and (2) many people do not like to be recorded, when they are having conversations with the Commissioners. He stated that it is a difficult way to communicate, when they have to have their discussions taped, or have a Court Reporter present. He stated that he suggested to Commr. Cadwell that he be allowed to provide the Board with a couple of lobbying ordinances from some counties that have them, noting that said counties require a registration, so that a Commissioner always knows, when someone talks to them, if they are being paid by someone else - they know the relationship. He stated that a second component they all have is that, when a lobbyist makes contact with an elected official, a record of that contact is made, so that the public can see who the lobbyists were representing and how often they saw the elected officials.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the County currently has a policy in place regarding the matter and suggested that Mr. Minkoff draw up the other policy that he alluded to earlier, as well as provide the Board with the policy that was in place before, which restricted the Commissioners from talking to anybody, so that they could compare them and come up with a decision regarding the matter.
It was noted that a copy of the policy that was in place in 1992 was contained within the information that the County Attorney’s Office had provided to them in their backup material.
Commr. Cadwell stated that something the Board might want to think about over the next several months and consider having a workshop on is the General Ethics Rule, at which time he alluded to some problems that Orange County is having with regard to it.
PROPOSAL ON COMMUNITY MEETING
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that the Growth Management Department put together some ideas and proposals to bring to the Board, to keep citizens more informed and to include them more in the Growth Management process. She stated that the Growth Management staff would like to share those ideas with the Board and, after the discussion, bring back some specific types of programs and proposals, for the Board’s review.
Ms. Carol Stricklin, Growth Management Director, informed the Board that it is pretty clear that citizens’ expectations have changed about their role in the land development review process, not just in Lake County, but all over the State of Florida, with the growth that the State has experienced. She stated that there has been a change in the way that many cities and counties in Florida have done business, relative to citizen involvement in the development review process, and that she and Mr. Wayne Bennett, Planning Director, Planning and Development Services, wanted to share with the Board some thoughts about ways to make that process more accessible to the citizens of Lake County. She stated that the types of techniques that have come into play around the State include things like community meetings - informal meetings to answer questions and receive input, and pushing more information out, such as earlier publication of applications, putting things on the Internet, etc. She reviewed the process that the County currently utilizes, which is a specifically defined legal framework of due process, public notice, and government under the Sunshine Law, however, noted that she feels there is more that the County can do. She stated that staff was looking for direction from the Board, as to whether they would like for them to develop some specific proposals to bring back to them, for further consideration.
Mr. Bennett addressed the Board stating that there are three areas that involve the citizens of the County, being: (1) citizen notice; (2) citizen participation; and (3) citizen information. He stated that, with regard to citizen notice, some alternatives the County could consider would be to notice only those cases that are considered to be quasi-judicial and not notice those cases considered to be ministerial, which involve things that are really staff approvable, if the necessary regulations are met, and the County could expand who they give notice to, in terms of either individuals or groups, noting that the County currently notifies the owners of any properties located within 300 feet of the property in question, but, depending on the scale of the proposed project, that may not be enough. He stated that, in the past, notice was given to any property owners located within 500 feet of the property in question; however, the County got away from that, because of the work load involved and the fact that the County did not have the aid of computers that it has today. He discussed expanding the notice, noting that the first tier would be those property owners that directly abut the property in question and the second tier would be those property owners adjoining the first tier of property owners. He stated that another way of expanding the County’s notice provisions is to give notice to groups, such as a neighborhood association. With regard to citizen participation, he discussed when the County gives notice; the timing of the notices; and how the citizens can participate in the process and express how they feel about a project, noting that it can be very frustrating to them and the County clearly does not want to encourage frustration on the part of the community - it needs to be very careful about that. He stated that one of the ways the County can make the process a little more effective for the community is for there to be a required, or voluntary, meeting between the developer and the property owners, either prior to their submittal of an application, or immediately following their submittal of an application. He stated that the earlier in the process the surrounding property owners get involved and the more effective participation they have, the more they are able to influence the design and compatibility issues of the project, which is very effective in getting more compatible developments and more neighborhood sensitive developments.
Discussion continued regarding the matter, at which time Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that the goal of this meeting was for staff to introduce to the Board some ideas and concepts and, if the Board is amenable to them, then staff would put down on paper some specific proposals and thresholds and come back to the Board at a later date with some recommendations for moving forward with it.
Commr. Renick questioned why a developer is not required to provide the Board with a preliminary site plan, when they are bringing a project before them for approval.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, responded that any time a PUD is scheduled to come before the Board for approval, the Board has the ability to require a site plan; however, if the request involves a straight rezoning, the County’s Code does not require a site plan to be submitted. He stated that, to mandate it as an ordinance, the Board would have to change the Land Development Regulations (LDRs). He stated that the Board might not want to require it in every case for commercial, because some of the planned commercial cases involve small one-quarter to one-half acre sites and the planned commercial is in place to restrict the uses, as opposed to site plans. He stated that they might want to have those cases on a sliding scale, which is something that staff would have to explore, however, noted that PUDs are typically larger type developments, where the Board would want to have a drawing submitted with the request.
It was determined by the Board that language regarding the matter needs to be put into some type of a policy.
Regarding the issue of citizen information and what the citizens have access to, Mr. Bennett discussed the following methods to increase the amount of information available to the public about all types of permit applications, including having one or more positions devoted to handling the duties of a neighborhood liaison to facilitate meetings, answer questions, and maintain the directory of neighborhood associations and groups that want notice of pending applications:
· Pre or Post Application Submittal – Project Summary
· Availability of Staff Reports on Website
· Neighborhood Liaison (Citizen Inquiries, Facilitate Meetings with Neighborhood
Associations, Administer Neighborhood Association Directory)
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the Board was ready to look at policies to move in the general direction that staff was talking about and was informed that they were.
DISCUSSION ON CULTURAL AFFAIRS ADVISORY BOARD
Mr. Greg Mihalic, Tourism and Business Relations Director, informed the Board that the Lake County Cultural Affairs Council was created in 1995, when Dr. Tully Patrowicz, a long-time Lake County resident and member of the Florida Arts Commission, who was very interested in the Arts, came before the Board and requested approval to form a commission (Cultural Affairs Council), to focus on the Arts in the County, with funding to come from license plates that were purchased for the Arts. He stated that the Board approved a Resolution forming the Lake County Cultural Affairs Council, whose mission was to educate the public about the significance of the Arts and culture in the community. He stated that the Council has had a rocky history, since its inception in 1995, and that he feels the biggest problem is that it was difficult for them to be an umbrella organization, supporting all the Arts and culture in the community, rather than individual projects that the members liked to do – ones that they were individually involved in and wanted to see happen. He stated that approximately two years ago staff discussed with the Board some of the issues that were going on with said Council and it was determined that tourism needed to go on a separate path, which it did. He stated that the Cultural Affairs Council has had a problem with getting a quorum for their meetings, as well as getting people to be members of the Council, so staff has brought the Board a proposal to redirect it into more of an MPO model, where the cities would have direct representation on the Council, rather than it being an ad hoc committee, and to reduce it from a 15 member council, which is what it was under the Florida Statutes, to a 7 member council. He stated that staff hopes this will help get the cities involved and help them to understand the Arts and enhance those cultural identities within each city. He stated that he had prepared a Resolution regarding the matter, however, noted that the County Attorney informed him that it would probably be better to be done as an Ordinance, should the Board choose to approve it, which staff will bring back to them at a regular meeting for approval.
Commr. Stivender stated that the Cultural Affairs Council has been floundering, so she would like to see the County move forward with the proposed Lake County Arts and Cultural Alliance. She noted that it gives everybody equal representation, the Mission Statement will remain the same as it was for the Cultural Affairs Council, and they will still be able to get the dollars from the license plates alluded to earlier, as well as apply for state grants that are available. She stated that there may be an opportunity to look for cultural plans within some of the municipalities, as well.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like for the Board to direct the County Manager, along with staff and the Liaison Commissioners for each board, to re-evaluate all the boards and advisory committees that have been created in the County and report back to the Board as to whether or not they are still functional. He stated that he would also like for the County Manager to meet with the Chairman of each committee, as well as any new members that are added, to help them understand what staff can provide for them and what the Board’s job is versus their job.
It was the consensus of the Board that it be done.
UPDATE ON FINANCIAL PLANS FOR ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE
LANDS AND GOVERNMENT FACILITIES
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that the County is going to be financing a couple of major projects, with debt, and she wanted to point out the timetable involved, how it will happen, how staff envisions the bond issues to be structured, etc., and that Mr. Mitch Owens and Ms. Molly Clark, with RBC Capital Markets, the County’s financial advisors, were present to explain the process and to answer any questions the Board might have regarding it. She stated that they are both on the very same timetable, so staff will be working with the bond rating agencies for both of them at the same time. She reviewed what the two bond issues are, noting that one of them is for the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands (Limited General Obligation Bond), which was approved by the voters of Lake County, with the millage not to exceed one-third. She stated that the County has approval to issue $36 million, to be paid back over a 20 year timeframe from the date of issuance, so the County could issue them piecemeal - $15 million now and $15 million later, with the amortization schedule being 20 years from whenever that date of issuance was, or the County could issue them all at the same time. She referred to Tab 7, Pages 1 through 5, in the backup information that was provided to the Board, noting that she had included a timetable and some early amortization schedules for the Board’s perusal. She stated that almost everything that will take place will be done with staff and the bond counsel and with the County’s financial advisors, with the Board getting the end product. She stated that staff and the County’s financial advisors are planning to take a trip to New York on March 19, 2007, and do a bond rating presentation. She noted that they undertook such a trip a couple of years ago and all three of the major bond rating agencies were invited to come to the County, at which time they were given a very nice presentation at the Mission Inn and then taken on a tour of the County, which was very effective. She stated that the County is in a very strong position for a bond rating – the County is very financially sound, so it is a good opportunity for the County to present itself as a face to the bond rating agencies, noting that face to face presentations and discussions are much more effective than just sending paperwork to the bonding agencies, asking them to evaluate the County.
Ms. Hall stated that the set of documents that will be coming to the Board will occur on April 3, 2007, which will be the Bond Resolution, giving staff the authorization to move forward with the bond issue and the Preliminary Official Statement, which is a document that goes out to the investors, giving them all the information about the project, about the County, about the financial stability of the County, and about the revenue pledge that will be paying off the bonds. She stated that, with the timing, staff hopes to be closing on the issue of the environmentally sensitive lands by the end of April, 2007. She stated that the other bond issue, being the one-half cent sales tax revenue bond, has the very same timetable, which the County will undertake in a series that will be used to support all the government buildings that the County is now designing and will be constructing. She stated that the County has capacity under this pledge of over $175 million and staff is pretty comfortable that it can get a lot of the projects done with said funds – at least all the downtown projects, which they will be bringing to the Board in the near future. She stated that this pledge is a state shared revenue, which goes into the County’s General Fund, and the debt payments would reduce the sales tax that is left in the General Fund by that amount of money. Staff has structured the County’s pay-back schedule in such a way that its impact on the General Fund is incremental over time, which allows the County the ability to accumulate a little more sales tax, as the debt service grows. She stated that it is likely that the bond issues will happen in two or three series, at which time she noted that staff has not figured out what the exact amount will be - they are thinking in the neighborhood of $75 million. She stated that what will determine it will be the draw schedules that they get from the construction managers. She stated that they will tell the County how much money they are going to be spending in three years and that is the amount of money that will be built into this bond issue. She stated that the County will not be able to build all the projects that it is looking at within three years; therefore, as it starts running out of money, it will do a second series of bonds.
Mr. Owens informed the Board that, by the County waiting and not moving forward, interest rates have improved from where they were in 2005, so the County has not lost anything by waiting, in fact, it has gained the ability to do more projects, based on where interest rates are. He stated that this schedule is based on the County moving into the market, prior to any major changes, allowing the County to take advantage of the lowest interest rates there have been in 20 years.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt having just one senior manager for all the proposed projects may not be the best business decision for the County and that the Board should allow staff to bring back for each particular bond a team, who will make a recommendation to the Board as to who the senior managers will be and who the co-managers will be. He stated that they could put together what they feel will be the best team and bring it back to the Board, for approval, at a later date. He noted that the three firms are Southwest, CitiFinancial, and Steve Nichols.
It was the consensus of the Board that staff do so.
Commr. Hill informed the Board that she had received a call from a gentleman regarding a concern he has about the water alliance, asking the status of it and the County’s alternative water supply, however, noted that she was not sure whether the County was at a point where it wanted to make a presentation about it and questioned who she needed to refer the gentleman to.
Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, stated that there is currently an attempt to set up a meeting for all the elected officials in the County to attend, for the purpose of going over the status of the water alliance, as well as an alternative water supply for the future. He stated that the meeting was originally supposed to be held March 14, 2007, but it had to be postponed. He stated that it should occur in the March/April timeframe, noting that the Water Alliance Board has a meeting scheduled for February 14, 2007, in Leesburg, and a consultant is scheduled to talk about an alternative water supply in a more in-depth manner. He noted that he would be happy to talk to the gentleman, to see what his interest in the water alliance is, and direct him appropriately.
QUESTIONNAIRE ON PORTABILITY OF SAVE OUR HOMES BENEFITS
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that she had given each of the Commissioners a copy of a Questionnaire on Portability of Save Our Homes Benefits that the County received from the Florida Association of Counties, containing her initial response to said questionnaire. She stated that staff returned the survey some time ago with her comments, because it was due, but that she would prefer to have some Board input on the matter. She stated that she was opposed to most of the questionnaire, with the exception of being receptive to the items where the individuals are aged 62 or older and totally or permanently disabled, and those items that were referred to within the same county and limited in the amount of money that would be portable, one-time only type issues, and that, if the Board was comfortable with her response to the questionnaire, she would like to have a consensus that this would be the position that Lake County was taking.
It was the consensus of the Board that Ms. Hall’s response to the questionnaire would be the position of the Board.
JOINT MEETING WITH CITIES OF CLERMONT, MONTVERDE, AND MINNEOLA
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, informed the Board that, at their direction, there would be a joint meeting with the Board and the Cities of Clermont, Montverde, and Minneola on March 14, 2007, and that, in preparation for said meeting, staff needed to know what the Board would like to put on the Agenda for that meeting and whether they would like to ask some specifics, to ensure that staff will be available to discuss the issues and answer any questions there might be.
Commr. Stivender stated that the City of Montverde would like to discuss the issue of the roads and growth in that area of the County.
Commr. Renick stated that, since the last transportation meeting that was held in the City of Minneola, the Hills of Minneola and some of the other developments in the area had some concerns and that she feels the Board needs to update them on what is occurring at the present time. She stated that people are going to want to know what has been decided, with regard to the issue involving the Hills of Minneola. She stated that they also want to know how roads in the Sugarloaf Mountain area is going to affect all the other roads and how the County is going to pay for them. She stated that she felt it would be helpful for staff to ask the Cities what answers they would like to have from the County.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the City of Minneola should give a presentation, letting the Board know what has happened so far in the City.
Ms. Carol Stricklin, Growth Management Director, stated that, with regard to the Minneola area, staff needs direction, as an outcome of the joint meeting, on the process that will be used, by which decisions will be made - whether it will be an interlocal agreement between the County and the City of Minneola for a joint study and whether it will be a public study, or a developer driven study – exactly how the refinement of that transportation system will occur and is it something that staff will need direction on, noting that staff is getting the same questions that Commr. Renick is getting and they do not have direction from the Board on how they want to go about resolving the matter.
JOINT PLANNING AREAS
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board had received two letters from the Local Planning Agency, one asking the Board to reinitiate discussions with the City of Leesburg regarding their Joint Planning Areas (JPAs), and the other one asking the Board to reconsider the JPA with the City of Montverde and that he felt there may be an opportunity for the Board to have some discussion with the City of Montverde, during the joint meeting scheduled to be held on March 14, 2007. He questioned how the Board wanted him to respond to said requests, at which time it was determined that they should discuss the issues at the scheduled joint meeting. He stated that, with regard to the City of Leesburg, no JPA was ever adopted - the Board just stopped the process, because there were a group of county residents that lived outside the Leesburg area that perceived that JPA as not being protective of them, so the Board backed off, because they represent those people, too. He stated that they thought any JPA that the City of Leesburg would be interested in and approving they would not want to be a part of, so the Board just let it lie.
Commr. Renick stated that she thought the JPAs were going to be the answer to the problem, but they were not.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the Board would be comfortable with him writing the LPA back, on behalf of the Board, informing them that they appreciated their concern, but would like for them to move forward with their job, with regard to the section of the Future Land Use Map that they are working on at the present time, because the County needs to get the Comprehensive Plan finished.
It was the consensus of the Board that he do so.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK