SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF
MARCH 11, 2008
The Lake County Board of
PRESENTATION REGARDING FGUA
Mr. Randy Morris from Government Services Group (GSG) recapped recent events and stated that initial discussions regarding the Florida Governmental Utility Authority (FGUA) began late 2006 and early 2007 with staff, and the BCC reaffirmed their utility policy at that time. He mentioned that a minor issue began to arise with the South Umatilla water utility, which brought them back in the picture with the FGUA to be looked at by the Board and the staff, and they made a presentation to the BCC in November 2007 and had met with staff and Commissioners.
Mr. Kevin Grace from GSG explained that the FGUA was a governmental entity created by inter-local agreement by several local governments whose purpose it was to acquire, manage, and operate utilities on behalf of those member governments. He noted that the member governments served on the FGUA Board of Directors and provided governance oversights to approve budgets, set rates, and those types of things. He also related that the FGUA had no employees and contracted out the management to their firm, Government Services Group, and Severn Trent. He gave their assessment of the impacts of the County’s current utility policies, including the fact that developers had to go to the cities for most utility service, resulting in a fairly aggressive annexation by the cities as a requirement to get utility service, and the fact that many areas were not served by utility systems and utilized well and septic. They were suggesting that the FGUA be the County’s authority partner to provide those services in the unincorporated area. He commented that due to the private wells and septic systems that were proliferating in the County, there would be a long-term detrimental effect on the environment with potential contamination of ground water supplies and drawdown of the aquifer levels. He emphasized that the FGUA would not come in and serve areas in which the County did not want to have central services provided. He also mentioned that the FGUA could assume operational responsibility of the South Umatilla system, although some initial capital funding would probably have to come from the County to stabilize that system.
Mr. Grace gave some reasons why the County should join the FGUA, including that there was no financial commitment or pledge on the part of the County, to establish an unincorporated utility agency to work closely with the County, to reduce the proliferation of wells and septic tanks, to lessen the pressure to annex into cities, and to assist the County in water supply planning efforts. He named the next steps the Board should take if they were interested in going forward with this, including entering into the standard FGUA inter-local agreement and appointing a staff member to the Board of Directors. He concluded by stating that this would be a good tool to serve a number of communities well and would be a good fit for where the County was today.
Commr. Cadwell inquired that in this interlocal agreement, if there was a plant that they decided a city should run, would that affect them at any point in the process.
Mr. Morris answered that it would not affect them, and they would have the same options available to them as before. He also mentioned that each one of the cities would have a unique set of factors that they would be looking at, since some of the cities have more capacity than others and some of the cities may or may not want to deal with certain parts of the County based on the economics of that system or serving that group.
Commr. Cadwell commented that there was currently a large amount of water coming out of wells in the County that was unmonitored, and there would be discussion about some conservation initiatives later.
Commr. Renick opined that it would be a monumental move on the County’s part to get into the utility business.
Commr. Stewart asked what the first steps would be if they decided to do this.
Mr. Grace answered that they would talk to the private utilities and that they already had initial discussions with a couple of them, and he assured the Board that there was some interest on some of the private utilities’ part. He related that they would see if they could negotiate some acquisitions and essentially begin putting a utility together.
Mr. Morris pointed out that the unincorporated County residents who were being supplied utility services from a municipality may be charged 25 to 50 percent higher rates than residents in the city paid. He explained that the Umatilla system currently had a flat rate for unlimited use, and clearly there needed to be some type of rate structure instituted that was affordable to the users.
Mr. Grace noted that each system in the FGUA operated as an enterprise fund, and the FGUA had no revenue other than what was generated by the system, with no intermingling of funds. He hoped to work with them on a plan to deal with the responsibility of improving the Umatilla plant, and he assumed that Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and those kinds of monies could be used for some initial improvements before being phased into a larger FGUA utility system.
Commr. Renick was concerned that the densities of the area would have to be higher in order to be profitable for their company.
Mr. Grace assured the Board that their company would work with the County on where they wanted service provided and that they would have no control over densities or land use. He also noted that the FGUA was a not-for-profit entity.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the way the law was currently set up, if they did not do something, the annexations would continue to grow. He saw it more as a tool that they could use to finally control that, because utilities have always been the one thing they had no control over.
Mr. Morris pointed out that the County currently did not have a seat at the table with the St. Johns River Water Management District or an ability to influence policies with the cities when it came to having groundwater being taken out of the aquifer on an ever-growing basis. He also commented that this would not pit them against the cities, but would allow them to work with and negotiate with the cities.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the next step, if they did anything, would only be to tell them to bring back a proposal for them to look at. He commented that was what they might need to see before they made a decision about this.
Mr. Grace thought that the next step should be to join the FGUA, and then they could put together a plan that they would not go forward with unless the Board agreed with what that strategic plan was, which would hopefully include moving forward fairly shortly on some private acquisitions. He reminded the Board that if the Board changed its mind and did not want to move forward, they could withdraw.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board wanted to be sure that any action they took would not result in an increase in the amount of homes.
Mr. Grace responded that there would be more assurance of that by working with the FGUA as their partner, and he suggested that the Board compare their concept with where the County was today.
Commr. Renick stated that at first, she was concerned that this would somehow fuel growth instead of control it, but she could now see the positive sides of this. She thought it could be part of the whole service boundary agreement process, and she would like more detail.
Ms. Hall stated that if there was a motion to join the FGUA, she would work with them to bring back an interlocal agreement, and subsequent to that, they would be working on a plan.
On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a vote of 4-0, the Board moved to bring back the interlocal agreement for them to look at in regard to joining the FGUA.
DISCUSSION OF COUNTY-WIDE WATER CONSERVATION INITIATIVES
Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, stated that he had provided the Board with a memo that outlined some of his thoughts on water conservation. He related that he and Ms. Hall had been talking with the individual city managers at their monthly luncheons about this subject and had gone over this proposal with them. He thought all of the cities basically supported the idea of conservation, since it was essential for them as well as the County, but they might need to work through some of the details. He reported that yesterday he attended a St. Johns Water Management District Board workshop on water conservation, in which they talked about their water conservation programs, and there were also presentations by other agencies and government entities about topics such as water distribution efficiency, technology enhancements for water efficiency, re-use and supplemental use of stormwater, conservation ordinances, and Audubon concerns and proposals. He commented that a county-wide landscape ordinance would be one of the things that would be crucial to making sure water conservation actually occurred and in a way that was nonpunitive and gave residents an aesthetically-pleasing landscape. He explained that there were proposals in it that limited the number of square footage or percentage of lots that were high water, medium water, and low water usage, such as one that the City of Oviedo adopted, which was a growing trend, and commented that it really made sense. He opined that it would not be appropriate in some places to require low water use plants, but the right plant in the right place was the key to that. He reported that their landscape ordinance did incorporate a lot of those ideas, and they would be in the process of fixing that ordinance. He also reported that lately they have been requiring irrigation systems to be located where they made sense, and they were encouraging drip irrigation and bubblers in irrigation systems. One of his proposals was to do away with high water use turf grasses as much as possible, but he thought that a requirement to replace that type of existing grass by 2020 was unreasonable, especially if it was being maintained properly with fewer than three-quarters of an inch of water per week. He stated that he has heard suggestions that they require temporary irrigation systems to get new landscaping established which could then be removed entirely and that small plants or trees could be established much quicker than larger ones. He also noted that they needed to get people educated as to what constituted good irrigation and how to adjust their systems.
Commr. Stewart commented that since the County was facing critical shortages of water, which was a natural resource we could not live without, everyone would have to make sacrifices.
Welstead reported that
Stewart pointed out that the summer was also the rainy season in
Commr. Renick opined that what people would end up paying for water from alternative water sources would be enough disincentive to overcome the concern over some dead sod.
Commr. Cadwell expressed some concerns over the proposal to fine residents who still had high water turf grass by 2020.
Commr. Hill commented that a lot of the proposals had common sense, but some of it looked like it could be a bureaucratic mess and was concerned about the enforcement of it. She also thought that if water was more expensive, people would waste less of it.
Mr. Welstead responded that there was a break-even point with what was called conservation rate structure and that people would pay whatever it took to a certain point that they were financially comfortable with, but after that they would conserve.
Commr. Renick stated that she did not think the County would have the money to do the incentives that were mentioned in the proposal. She also opined that they would have to commit to some type of enforcement, which she did not think would be a problem if they changed some Code Enforcement schedules around to cover some evening hours, and she thought that fines would get people’s attention.
Welstead reported that a number of the municipalities and counties that had
fines issued a warning for the first instance, and then instituted fines of
$50, then $100, and increased it by $50 or $100, depending on the area for each
instance where there was a violation of the policy. He mentioned that the City of
Commr. Cadwell commented that he liked the suggestion of requiring a water budget for all new commercial development.
Welstead explained that when a commercial or residential development was built,
someone would design the irrigation system and figure out how much water they
should be using based on the plants that were there, which is how much they
would be allocated. He stated that if
they exceeded that water budget a lot, someone would come out to work with them
to figure out what the issue was, and this was a method for tracking what they
were using as compared to what was appropriate for their usage. He also explained dual water systems, where
irrigation would be a separate water source that would only be turned on at
certain times. He talked about
inter-local agreements with municipalities to monitor outside their boundaries,
giving them the ability to go into areas where they provided utilities to
monitor irrigation. He related that one
of the concerns that a couple of the cities had was with the use of reclaimed
water, and that currently there was no restriction on reclaimed water and its
usage. He stated that one of the other
ideas that was brought up previously and at the
Mr. Welstead pointed out on a map the structures that were served by the municipal utilities, private utilities, and private wells, which he estimated at between 50,000 to 65,000, and he commented that one of the biggest issues they were facing was that the well usage was completely unregulated and unmonitored and was taking water away from the available water to the County and the region. He pointed out that they could not currently do anything about that, because Statute allowed anyone to put in a private drinking well. He mentioned that wells were handled differently in each municipality, including requiring the well to be capped or allowing the well to be used for irrigation so that the use would not be added to their Consumptive Use Permit (CUP). One of his ideas was for the County and the cities to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Department of Health or Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to require the Department of Health to adhere to the County’s standards when issuing permits for wells or septic tanks.
Commr. Renick clarified that they were talking about structures in developments that were on smaller parcels and not five-acre properties.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that Mr. Welstead go to the Water Alliance to show them some issues that were brought up and that would be put in ordinance form.
Mr. Welstead commented that his idea was to have an ordinance that everyone could live with and that everyone would have the same baseline ordinance.
Commr. Renick was concerned that if they did that, the ordinance would not be strong enough.
Welstead assured the Board that the ordinance would be strict. He also talked about education of citizens by
working with the School Board to institute water conservation education
programs such as the St. Johns River Water Management District’s “The Great
Water Odyssey,” for grades 3 through 5, which was already
Commr. Cadwell commented that this looked like the direction the Board sent the staff in, and they needed to start getting the ordinance in program form and move in that direction.
Ms. Hall commented that presenting this to the Water Alliance would be a good idea and that they had been working with the cities. She stated that they would continue to work with the city managers, who have all been very receptive.
Mr. Welstead stated that he would refine this, present this to the Water Alliance, and start fleshing out some sort of a program for the Board.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:30, the Chairman announced that there would be a ten-minute recess.
PRESENTATION OF FIRE ASSESSMENT FEE STUDY
Mr. Doug Krueger, Budget Director, stated that the study of fire assessment fees was performed by the Government Services Group (GSG) out of Tallahassee to assist them with developing assessment fees for the Fiscal Year 2008-2009 and in response to some litigation which occurred in the City of North Lauderdale, which determined that emergency medical services costs could not be included as an assessable cost in the fees. He explained that GSG went through the process of developing the rate structure excluding those costs.
Ms. Camille Tharpe, Senior Vice
President of GSG, stated that one of the four data components of the
apportionate methodology was the service delivery and how they provided
service, since they were now providing fire rescue services and more than the
first responder services that they were providing the last time they did the
study. She also explained that they
would be looking at the Fire Department budget and had taken the liberty of
performing a Proforma budget for their review.
She suggested that the Commissioners concentrate more on the orders of
magnitude of the budget rather than on the individual line items. She also pointed out that they looked at the
call incident data, which needed to be updated because of the new services that
the County provided since the last time they were here, as well as the ad
valorem tax roll. They also worked on
the assessment roll that the County staff had been responsible for
maintaining. She pointed out that the
County was no longer a fire first responder, since they were providing more
than that level of service, and because of that change, they were required to
artificially isolate the costs of the
Ms. Tharpe related that they carried it forward for four more years and did a five-year average budget, because in future years the County may be restricted in their ability to increase rates, fees, and assessments if certain things happened with the legislature. She gave one option of budgeting an overfunding in the first year or two and carrying that forward to use for subsequent years at the end of that five-year period and another option of a scaled assessment with $17 yearly increases. She stated that the next thing they looked at was the call incidents, which was the first step in apportioning the costs to the properties, by looking at the 2006 non-EMS call data. She reported that in her allocation, they found that over 79 percent of the calls were from residential properties and over 10 percent were from commercial properties, with the remaining calls divided into categories of hotel/motel, industrial/warehouse, and institutional. She specified that if residential was generating almost 80 percent of the calls or the demand for services, then residential property as a category would generate 80 percent of the revenue, making it fair and reasonable, which was one of the criteria for a legally sufficient methodology. She stated that the next step would be to determine what each parcel of property within those categories was going to pay and she showed the proposed rates that would fund the 2008-09 Performa Budget for the different scenarios.
Ms. Tharpe mentioned that currently the County provided an exemption for institutional tax exempt properties that were non-government such as churches and not-for-profits, which was paid for out of the general fund, because there was a valid public purpose to allow those exemptions since they provided public services such as polling places, social services, and after school programs. She commented that they could maintain that same exemption policy or could choose to start providing a partial exemption to them, which would be a percentage of the rate. She stated that the exemption of governmental property was a separate issue, because it would be difficult to collect money from other government property.
Commr. Hill asked that if they had an MSTU, would it be restricted or would it eliminate another revenue source or fire assessment.
Ms. Tharpe answered that if they
wanted it to be 100 percent MSTU, the cities would have to consent to taxation,
and it would fall under Amendment 1. She
Commr. Cadwell commented that funding public safety has been a priority for citizens. He also thought that the best thing they did the last time they went through this was to lay out a plan over an extended period of time so residents knew ahead of time what the County’s long range plan was and what the dollars were tied to.
Commr. Renick was concerned that the fire services might shrink in the future due to city annexations.
Ms. Tharpe stated that they were assuming that those things would not happen, because they wanted to project the revenue at the maximum if nothing changed, and they had a CIP that had a series of stations that were going to be built or renovated that they took into account. She related that if an area was annexed, that could provide them with an opportunity to reduce the budget, because they would lose those billing units. However, she pointed out that those properties that were in that area were no longer going to be paying the assessment, so their rate may not change much.
Commr. Cadwell stated that with the legislative budget cuts, there may be cities that would want the County to take over that for them. He commented that consolidation of services was the only way to provide anything cheaper.
Commr. Hill commented that she would go with the five-year plan if they showed what they would provide to the citizens for that increase.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they had to have a plan and had to give staff some revenue to look at to fund that service.
Commr. Stewart commented that it was a necessity.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that Ms. Hall go back to staff with looking at Scenario 3 as the direction, but also to keep trying to trim that back further if they could.
Ms. Hall responded that they could certainly do that, and asked that the Board approve the study and then to direct staff that Scenario 3 would be the preferred one, but with the caveat that they make certain to take every opportunity to make reductions that were possible.
On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a vote of 4-0, the Board approved the GSG study.
On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Cadwell, and carried by a vote of 3-1, the Board directed staff to move forward with Scenario 3, understanding that they would keep working to reduce the amount of the increase before it came back for a vote.
Commr. Renick voted “no.”
PRESENTATION OF GUARANTEED MAXIMUM PRICE AND BUDGET FOR
PHASE 1 OF DOWNTOWN TAVARES PROJECT
Mr. Jim Bannon, Facilities Development and Management Director, stated that this presentation was regarding Phase I of the downtown campus project budget, inclusive of the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). He reported that the Board previously approved the CM (Construction Management) contract with PPI for initial services to bring the project to GMP pricing and that Phase I GMP was now complete and included the parking garage, Constitutional Officers building, and central energy plant. He mentioned that additional items were also presented which made up the overall Phase I project budget on the handout he distributed. He specified that the Phase I project budget would be in the amount of $43,156,164.00, inclusive of the Phase I GMP allowances and contingency, and the Phase I GMP amount would be $39,343,966.00, which included an allowance of $250,000 to achieve LEED certification for the Constitutional Officers building, and he noted that basic good design practices has allowed that building to get very close to LEED. He stated that further backup documentation would be presented to the Board in next couple of days that would refer to Appendix M in the original contract with PPI referencing drawings and specs, the construction schedule, the schedule of values for each building, unit costs for the work that subcontractors were planning, and other qualifications and assumptions. He emphasized that this presentation was for informational purposes, and there would be additional clarifications to complete with PPI before final presentation to the Board for approval of the Phase I budget and addendum to PPI’s contract.
Ms. Hall informed the Board that they initially wanted direction today to move forward with Phase I, but since the document was not quite complete, they were planning on getting that out to the Board in the next day or two and that her intention was to get the document on the Agenda as an Addendum for next Tuesday, March 18. She reported that schedules and backup information that was in Addendum M included those prices, and she wanted to make sure that they were comfortable with the pricing. She commented that it did fit in with what their initial estimates had been and she thought that they were on track with the pricing and that the bond issue and the entire plan for the program was in line with that. She was looking for the Board to approve this as well as the documentation that they would be getting to them.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff,
Commr. Renick wanted to clarify that
they were going to locate the Sheriff in downtown Tavares, because the
Commr. Cadwell thought that they
definitely needed Phase I and that the
Ms. Hall explained that Phase II was
Commr. Cadwell directed Ms. Hall to get them the information on Phase I as quickly as she could.
DISCUSSION OF PROPOSED NOISE ORDINANCE
Mr. Welstead stated that he had provided a handout with some concepts that might be used in an ordinance and that it was based on what a number of local municipalities and counties in the vicinity have done in regard to noise. He related that he had included in the memo some ideas of what noises were, since it sometimes was difficult to determine the definition of noise, and a list of how loud things were. He explained that as part of this process, Code Enforcement went out and did some noise level sampling at various locations, which was included on page 3 of the memo, and he pointed out that the biggest issue was traffic, which they did not have an ability to control. He stated that they have had numerous issues over the years, whether they were related to industrial plants, commercial developments, or beeping from forklifts that were backing up and have addressed these on numerous occasions. He also mentioned that a study that was done between 1:45 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. when the cement plant was closed showed that the dB readings were 51.9 to 52.2, which was fairly loud.
Ms. Leslie Campione, Attorney, introduced Ms. Lisa Schott, Owner of Quietly Making Noise, noting that she was an expert on noise and handed out Ms. Schott’s resume, which showed that she had primarily worked with industry with regard to noise issues. She clarified that her client, Arlington Ridge Homeowners’ Association, hired Ms. Schott to assist them in coming up with some baselines as to the existing noise and to assure that the Prestige concrete plant would not cause a noise disturbance. She also noted that they had been very involved in watching and monitoring what was happening with the proposed LDR (Land Development Regulation) changes for heavy industrial uses, because those changes significantly impacted the residents of Arlington Ridge, who were surrounded by an existing industrial park or land that was zoned industrial. She explained that they were trying to come up with fair, concrete ways of mitigating noise that could be used during the site plan review process to avoid ending up with a nuisance situation. She pointed out that the current ordinance made it necessary that a situation had to get to the point of being a nuisance before there was any relief from a noise disturbance. She related that they were going to give a quick demonstration of some different sounds and commented that what Mr. Welstead put together was very consistent with the noise readings they took. She proposed that the County’s new ordinance use measurements taken at the boundary of the receiving property and that the levels deemed acceptable be consistent with what they found to already be the case out there, which they thought would be fair throughout Lake County. She emphasized that she felt that having set levels was pro-business, because it gave a level of predictability, but she felt that the decibel readings of 70 to 75 allowed in the ordinance were too high and recommended 50-55 instead. She also mentioned that some very good instruments to measure decibel levels could be obtained in the range of $150 up to $300.
Ms. Lisa Schott re-emphasized that
having an actual decibel limit was pro-business, and it was much easier for
businesses to deal with communities that had a noise ordinance with specific
decibel limits, because they could proactively incorporate things they needed
to into their designs without having to worry about being in violation because
someone subjectively perceived it to be a nuisance. She demonstrated the noise level of 75 dBA to
show that it was shockingly loud and absolutely the wrong direction to go for a
noise ordinance, and she also commented that taking noise readings was very
straight-forward and simple to do and showed how to do that. Next, she demonstrated the noise level of 55,
which they were suggesting for a daytime level and then 50, which they
recommended for a nighttime level. She
also reported that the average
Mr. Minkoff asked about the decibel level of lawn mowers.
Ms. Schott answered that the decibel level for a lawn mower was about 90.
Ms. Campione commented that the way the ordinance was currently drafted, lawn equipment was exempted and that there was a list of other things such as air conditioners that also would be exempted.
Ms. Schott commented that exemptions were commonly done.
Ms. Campione stated that they had some additional suggestions they would like to make regarding the ordinance and wording they would like the opportunity to propose.
Commr. Cadwell recommended that they provide their comments and information to staff and reschedule this again to come back before the Board.
Mr. Bob Merriam, a resident of Arlington Ridge, Leesburg, stated that they have found that the industrial plant has been able to work with them to comply with the 55 or less decibel level, and he commented that so far the concrete plant has been a good neighbor.
Both Commr. Renick and Commr. Stewart commented that they thought that 75 decibels would be too high a level for the ordinance.
Ms. Schott reported that as a rule of thumb, an increase of ten decibels would sound twice as loud, and she felt that going as high as 60 decibels in a noise ordinance was a bit too much.
Ms. Campione stated that she brought information showing what several other counties were doing, including Lee, Collier, Marion, Seminole, and Orange Counties, that she thought would be helpful.
Mr. Merriam added that one of the reasons for the lower dBA level at the concrete plant was that they required berms, trees, and barrier walls, which also protected them against dust, odor, and pollution.
Ms. Campione pointed out that if the companies knew the level they had to meet, then they would design their site in accordance with that.
Commr. Hill brought up a concern she had regarding impact fees on renovated historic buildings that were turned into restaurants and businesses that did not fit into an impact fee category and stated that she thought this would come up more and more as the cities wanted to conserve those historic sites. She brought up one example mentioned in an e-mail that was sent to the Commissioners of a restaurant in Leesburg that was limited in their hours and days, making it hard for the business to make enough money to cover the high impact fee normally charged for a high-end restaurant, as well as to restore the historic building, which was a lot more costly than building a new restaurant. She thought they needed to look at that as a category within the economic development ordinance.
Commr. Cadwell commented that she paid the same impact fee as a large business, and she was only open a few hours a day with a mixed use where there were people living upstairs running the little café.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that she would have the ability to come in and propose a traffic study to find three similar type facilities to use or the Board could direct them to get their consultant, Tindale-Oliver, to look at that and try to find three sites to study what the impacts actually were.
Commr. Cadwell stated that there was some commercial there, but it was not in the historic downtown. He commented that this would prohibit a small proprietor from going into business.
Commr. Hill added that it would also inhibit people from restoring those historic buildings. She mentioned that Tavares was looking at restoring the whole downtown area and hopefully having restaurants coming in also there, and she thought Clermont was in that situation too. She pointed out that this was a category that was not really addressed in those restaurant categories.
Mr. Minkoff mentioned that the owners could enter an agreement with the County to do the study after the fact subsequent to opening if they needed to do that.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.
WELTON CADWELL, CHAIRMAN
NEIL KELLY, CLERK