AN ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING OF THE VALUE ADJUSTMENT BOARD
The Lake County Value Adjustment
Board met in regular session on Tuesday, July 15, 2008, at 8:30 a.m., in the
Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake
Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were:
Jennifer Hill, Vice-Chairman; Debbie Stivender, and Linda Stewart. Mr. Larry Metz was present from the School
Board. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy”
Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office
Manager, Board of County Commissioners’ Office; Frank Royce, Chief Deputy,
Property Appraiser’s Office; Robbie Ross, Tangible Personal Property Director,
Property Appraiser’s Office; and Ellie McDonald, Deputy Clerk.
Hill called the meeting to order at 8:33 a.m. and stated that the discussion today
would be attorney representation for the VAB which changed this year by State
Statute. She then turned the time over
to Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County
Attorney, who updated the
Value Adjustment Board (VAB) on the new procedures.
PROCEDURES FOR STATE
VALUE ADJUSTMENT BOARDS
Minkoff reported that on the last day of their Session, the Legislature passed
a Bill that dramatically affected how the VABs in the State were going to
work. He reported that one item in the
Bill was the prohibition of County
Attorneys to serve as
counsel for the VAB. The initial opinion
from the Department of Revenue (DOR) was that they prohibited lawyers who
represent any government anywhere in the State from being an attorney for a VAB
anywhere else in the State. He remarked
that after September 1, 2008, the VAB cannot meet without a lawyer present, and
as a result an attorney needs to be hired prior to September 1, 2008. He requested authorization to set in motion
advertising for an attorney for the VAB.
He mentioned that there would be other changes forthcoming next year
that would require the VAB to be comprised of two (2) citizen members, and
rather than three (3) County Commissioners and two (2) School Board members,
there would be two (2) County Commissioners and one (1) School Board
member. He explained that training would
be required for VAB members and Special Masters and stated that he was not sure
Special Masters could be hired at this time as it was uncertain what the DOR
was doing in terms of their training. He
commented that they have a rule workshop later this month in Ft. Lauderdale
and perhaps when that is complete they would have a little more knowledge as to
how they think it should work. He
remarked that at the very minimum, the attorney needs to be hired and suggested
advertising for the position and then meet in August to bring back the
applicants for selection. He explained
that if necessary, the applicant interviews could be scheduled after that
Hill questioned whether Mr. Minkoff was able to facilitate that process.
Minkoff replied that he could represent the VAB until September 1, 2008, but
a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Stewart the VAB requested that
Mr. Minkoff, as County
Attorney, bring back proposals
for an attorney to represent the VAB.
discussion, Commr. Stewart asked if the RFP’s would be sent out Statewide.
Minkoff explained that when attorneys were hired they tried to notify every
lawyer in Lake County by sending it to the Bar, and
because of this issue they would probably prepare a notice in the
Sentinel. He commented that if the VAB
would like it sent Statewide, he could try to get it into the Florida Bar News,
but was not sure there was enough time to do that, nor whether the VAB would
like to sit through numerous applicants.
He remarked that normally they would try to hire someone from Lake County
and would place an ad in the Sentinel to broaden the field. He explained that this new process of hiring
an outside attorney could possibly double or triple last year’s VAB expenses of
approximately $10,000 - $20,000 according to how many petitions were filed, and
noted that the County and the School Board share the costs of the VAB with
sixty percent (60%) being budgeted by the Board of County Commissioners and
forty percent (40%) by the School Board.
He stated that they anticipate receiving petitions from people who want
to decrease their assessments and others from those wishing to increase their
assessments because of Save Our Homes.
Hill asked for a vote on the motion which carried unanimously by a 4-0 vote.
APPEAL – DR. BENEDICT MOHIT
Minkoff stated that last year’s VAB denied an exemption and a Valuation Appeal to
Dr. Benedict Mohit and the Property Appraiser recommended against it, the VAB
approved their recommendation, and Dr. Mohit has now sued the Property
Appraiser. He reported that the Property
Appraiser had asked the County
Attorney’s office to
provide a defense to this suit and he found no ethical problem with doing so
since the VAB and the Property Appraiser agreed on the decision. He stated that he could defend them at no
cost and asked for a consensus of the VAB as to whether they were comfortable
having him represent them in this lawsuit.
was the consensus of the VAB that Mr. Minkoff could represent the Property
Appraiser’s office in the lawsuit with Dr. Mohit.
Minkoff stated that Mr. Kevin McDonald, Budget Officer from the Clerk’s Office,
would be their liaison to communicate with the School Board and the
Commissioners regarding future appointees on the VAB. He explained that he would keep Mr. McDonald
abreast of the attorney search.
Hill asked if they needed to send out a notice that citizens would be appointed
to this Board or wait until the attorney was hired.
Minkoff commented that he felt Mr. McDonald could send the parameters to the
VAB since the School Board would appoint a business person and the County Commission
would appoint a homeowner with a homestead, keeping in mind that the meeting
would occur sometime in September. He
explained that the VAB would need to review the applicants for the attorney
sometime in August. He stated that Mr.
Frank Royce had mentioned that they may have some totally different Save Our
Homes petitions from other counties which would come before the VAB in
August. He stated that he thought the
VAB process would run this year until June, July or August of next year before
it would be complete.
OUR HOME PETITIONS
Stewart asked why there would be Save Our Home petitions from other counties.
Royce responded by stating that it had to do with people who lived in Lake County who wanted
portability in another county. He
explained that people who moved to Orange
County and were denied their
portability for whatever reason, or if Orange
County questioned why Lake County
reported that the property owner did not have any Save Our Homes to take with
them, and if the property owner disagreed with that, then the property owner
could petition to the Orange
County VAB. He stated that the Orange County VAB would
then have to send a form to Lake County’s VAB and if Lake County’s VAB agreed
with the Property Appraiser that the property owner did not have any Save Our
Homes to take with them, Lake County’s VAB would complete their own form and
send it back to the Orange County VAB who would rehear the petition and make
Minkoff stated that the VAB would meet again in August on a Tuesday morning for
There being no further business to
be brought to the attention of the VAB, the meeting adjourned at 8:45 a.m.
NEIL KELLY, CLERK