AUGUST 12, 2009
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, August 12, 2009 at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Jimmy Conner; 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 F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
tab 8 – public safety
Mr. Gary Kaiser, Director of Public Safety, noted that they had 29 employees in Animal Services, with two positions that had been deleted in the 2009/10 budget, and a 7.2 percent reduction in that division. He related that over the past three years, Animal Services has assumed a call load of seven additional cities for a total of 11 all together, which has been a struggle and a huge problem, especially with the added burden of unwanted animals due to the economy, and has impacted every facet of what they do. He pointed out that in the same period, shelter hours were increased over the last three years by 15 hours per week and call taker services has increased by 16.5 hours per week. One of the impacts he noted was that shelter operations will have to suspend its 12 outside adoption programs where approximately 200-300 animals are adopted annually. He related that they were working on alternative staffing for their pet-friendly emergency shelter programs so those would not have to be reduced during the critical hurricane season time, especially since they won a national award for that. He stated that other impacts would be that the free rabies vaccination program would be reduced from five to two clinics per year and that field operations response times to non-emergency calls would be lengthened. He reported that the shelter operations will still continue the in-house adoption program with veterinary, and they will also present adoptable animals on a new web pets posting on the County web site and PetFinders.com. He assured the Board that they would continue to provide care for all impounded animals, which have increased by 14.6 percent in FY 2008/09 from the year before to 19,993 animals, and that Field Operations would provide same day service for priority calls such as dog bites, which had increased 38 percent in FY 2008/09 from the previous year.
Mr. Kaiser showed a brief overview of the budget for the Communications Technologies Division which illustrated a 70 percent decrease from FY 2008/09 to FY 2009/10, and he stated that the Communications Systems Director position was eliminated, with the workload distributed to the other staff, and the Addressing Database Coordinator position was relocated to GIS. He emphasized that the budget did not include any funds for unanticipated repairs or equipment damage, such as weather related instances. He went over what would be accomplished, including grant-funded programs and projects and the opportunity for saving costs by substituting landline with microwave technology. He stated that there was a potential to generate some revenue from commercial vendors by leasing the tower space on the new radio system. Another difference he pointed out from last year was the use of some of the Emergency 911 funds from the State to offset County and city budgets for call-takers salaries, which had previously been used to pay for equipment in the Public Safety answering points throughout the County.
Mr. Kaiser stated that the Emergency Management Division consisted of four full-time and one part-time employee, and noted that they would have to adjust their disaster plan operations to accommodate a decrease in capabilities of County agencies and community partners to provide services in disaster situations. He informed the Board that they were aggressively pursuing extensions to retain the emergency Operations Center construction grants, and commented that finding a place for it has been an ongoing struggle. He mentioned that an impact of this year’s budget was that they needed to obtain a waiver from the Florida Division of Emergency Management to reduce the Division’s overall fund allocation, because they were down 7.8 percent from last year. He stated that they have continued the local funding match for the federal NOAA Weather Radios grant, commenting that that was the most cost-effective and efficient system of notifying people of tornadoes and bad weather, as well as continuing to provide public presentations. They have also maintained the partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, Lake-Sumter EMS and the Villages on Unified Command, which was a presidential directive under the National Incident Management System. He also commented that it was important that they keep up contact with the special needs people in the County, so they were continuing to maintain their registry of those individuals. Emergency Management also would be continuing their review of 78 Healthcare Facility Emergency Management Plans as well as continue the Incident Action Plan planning development for County agencies and municipalities.
Mr. Kaiser expressed pride that they were able to staff Harbor Hills Fire Station No. 54, which was built about 15 years ago by the developer and which would dramatically reduce the response times in that area, and Fire Station No. 90 in the east Clermont area, which dramatically would reduce response times in an area of about 12,000 people. He mentioned that they have reduced overtime by making dramatic changes in the way fire stations were staffed and the way people were called in to duty and have saved about $1.1 million this year in overtime. He related that they have suspended the fire apparatus replacement program, saving about $1.4 million, but expressed concern that the degree of maintenance would go up on the existing fleet, and they have also suspended fire station upgrades and refurbishment such as roofs, bathroom facilities, driveways, and drainage. He noted that senior command staff have been equipped and directed to respond as First Responders when they were the closest unit available. He reported that they submitted an application packet to FEMA for a $3.9 million grant to build three new fire stations in the Paisley, Astatula, and Altoona service areas. He stated that one of the impacts of the budget was that six stations were dropped to minimum staffing of two personnel, which might delay or limit interior fire attack. He pointed out that they were filling essential duty station paramedic positions, because it was required for them to provide ALS (advanced life support) in 12 of their stations. Other impacts are related to mentoring, training, meeting, and workshop reductions and opportunities that they were missing due to staffing. On a positive note, he reported that 80 percent of emergency calls were responded to within 6.5 minutes, and they were continuing and have had success on collaborative efforts with surrounding agencies on first response agreements. They also have provided walk-in services at fire stations for blood pressure checks and SHARPS exchange.
Commr. Cadwell asked about the suspension of the outside pet adoption programs.
Ms. Marjorie Boyd, Director of Animal Services, explained that those events were when her staff would take animals to local businesses that would invite them and partner with them to help adopt out the animals as well as donate leashes and food to the new owners who adopt the animals.
Commr Stewart suggested that they could use volunteers to help with that.
Ms. Boyd answered that it was a requirement for any one who has any hands-on contact with the animals to have their pre-exposure rabies shots at a cost of about $1500.
Commr. Renick pointed out that even with volunteers, it would still involve some staff time.
Commr. Cadwell asked if they would make significant revenues on the vendor leasing of the towers.
Mr. Greg Holcomb, Communications Technologies Manager, answered that it could be $20,000 to $30,000 a year per site.
Commr. Conner asked for the specifics of the grant for the 12 fire fighters.
Mr. John Jolliff, Deputy Fire Chief, answered that they had looked to the future, keeping in mind the Paisley Fire Station and Fire Station No. 90 in Clermont coming on line, as well as the overtime issue and had decided to submit for the grant to offset the cost for a number of years.
Commr. Conner asked if they were expecting to spend the $1.9 million that was budgeted for overtime this year.
Mr. Jolliff stated that they expected to save $900,000 to $1 million out of that by relocating eight fire fighters per day since January.
Commr. Conner asked how much overtime would be reduced by hiring those 12 firefighters.
Mr. Jolliff responded that if they used them all this year, they were anticipating about $652,000 in savings.
Commr. Conner opined that a $600,000 to $700,000 cut in overtime costs was significant.
Ms. Hall referred to a hand out that showed the five-year incremental cost to the County of the grants, which illustrated that in FY 2009/10, the cost to the County would be about $275,000, which gradually would increase as they assume more of the responsibility for paying the firefighters to a cost of $691,135 by FY 2013-14.
Commr. Conner commented that he thought there were areas where they could more effectively deliver fire services, such as in the City of Minneola.
Ms. Hall reported that she has talked to the City Manager of Minneola about ways to be more efficient with fire provision, and those were ongoing discussions.
Commr. Cadwell commented that there has always been from the cities’ perspective a pushback and a fear that the County was trying to take them over, but the County would offer any city fire protection that wanted it.
Mr. Kaiser assured the Board that they have been aggressively pursuing the idea of working with the cities, and they have had great responses from the cities. He specified that they have first response agreements with the Cities of Leesburg and Minneola stating that the closest unit goes to the call, regardless of whether it was in the City or the County, and they were doing a Vistas area agreement with Clermont. He also stated that they have had meetings with Eustis, Tavares, and Mount Dora about a possible similar agreement as they had with Leesburg, and he emphasized that they have come a long way in the last 18 months toward that goal.
Commr. Renick commented that she thought that the timing was right to have a workshop and really talk about these things, because until the economy got really bad, there was not as much interest in talking about the efficiencies of services.
Commr. Conner opined that if they could reduce their overtime by enough money, then the economics of the firefighter grant may work at least in the short term.
Mr. Kaiser stated that they had to run through the numbers one more time on a finite level to see exactly what those all were before they do that.
Commr. Renick asked when someone is hired with grant dollars, whether the job could be eliminated when the grant ends.
Mr. Kaiser responded that it could not be eliminated with the SAFER grant. He also commented that what depleted the staff and ran the overtime up was when they staffed the other stations with the existing pool of people.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they needed finite answers regarding the overtime by the next BCC Meeting on August 18.
Commr. Stewart commented that they would be lax in their responsibility if they did not have a good plan in place ahead of time to finance that when the grant ended.
Commr. Cadwell responded that the plan would be the reduction of overtime.
tab 9 – employee and citizen services
Ms. Kasie McAdams, Employee Services Manager, explained that with the modified reorganization that was approved yesterday, their department would remain Employee Services and Quality Improvement with some additional job responsibilities. She noted that their department would include all of their Employee Services internal functions as well as what was called Citizen Support Services Administration and that there was a 28 percent decrease in those functions. There was a 24 percent decrease in the Veterans Services area, which was solely due to the elimination of a position in the Veterans Services division. She reported that there was a requested 17.6 percent increase in Children and Elder Affairs due to the Children’s Services Council’s recommendation that they increase the amount of Children’s Services grants. She related that in their Social Services category, including indigent cremation programs, Medicaid programs, LifeStream annual contract, and Health Department contract, there was a requested 3.8 percent increase in those areas. She explained that Special Disbursements was when the Board only served as a conduit for the disbursement of those restricted fees, which included special license plate proceeds, alcohol and drug abuse trust fund, and traffic education trust, and there was a 1.1 percent decrease in those funds. She pointed out that there were four positions eliminated in the recommended budget in their department, including an Office Associate IV in Employee Services, a Veterans Services Specialist, Elder Affairs Manager, and Citizens Support Services Director position. She also noted that the recommended budget included the elimination of some programs, including the Employee Wellness Program, the Tax Hardship Program, and the Citizens Academy. She noted that the recommended budget did not reflect any fiscal support for the LASER program, but the Board has previously discussed how they would support the LASER organization.
Commr. Cadwell responded that he would be bringing that up later under his business.
Ms. McAdams continued to report that the Employee Recognition Program was reduced, retaining minimal funding to recognize their retiring employees, service awards, and quarterly awards. Other major reductions would include the annual contract for LifeStream Behavioral Center, which was reduced by five percent or by $48,420, and the Health Department annual contact, which was likewise reduced by five percent or $19,934.
Ms. Susan Irby, Employee Services Manager, reported that the programs sustained for the next fiscal year include Children’s Services Grants, Elder Affairs Programs, Human Services Grants, the Prescription Drug Program through the Health Department, We Care, the Community Health Worker Program, Indigent Cremation, and Veterans Services. As for employee services, they will continue to provide a full range of Human Resources and Risk Management functions, including but not limited to benefits management, employee relations, personnel administration, technology, and process improvement. She related that they would have the Munis self-service up and running soon, enabling their employees to go on-line and review and make updates to their personal emergency contact information as well as payroll information and tax elections. They will also continue with the management of employee records and the coordination of the Family Medical Leave Act, updating the County’s employment-related policies and procedures, continuing with the safety program, management of the County’s Workers’ Compensation and Property & Liability Programs, and employee training including supervisory development programs and technology training. She related that they were working on a Process Improvement project with about 50 ambassadors working with the different departments to look at processes that impact the citizens and make sure they are user friendly and focused on the citizen, and they would be recognized next week at the Board Meeting. She reported that the budgets for some statutorily required programs such as Medicaid, nursing home payments, hospital payments, and inmate medical have been adjusted according to the utilization and trend. She pointed out that the employee group benefits, which has seen surprisingly low claims during the past three years, and the Property & Liability Funds, due to a significant change to how they fund that account and the methodology for allocating insurance premiums for each department, were both in a very positive position right now. She pointed out that they have continued to have lower Workers’ Compensation claims and Property & Liability claims, which has allowed them to build their reserves, so the department has allocated insurance premiums to be subsidized by 50 percent.
Ms. Rebecca Foley-Kearney, Children’s Services Manager, related that the Children’s Services Council felt very strongly about their recommended programs and that they were needed now more than ever. They looked at their funding in the past, and other than last year, this was the least amount they have asked for. They have tried to find ways to offset that, and she pointed out that they have reduced their operating budgets by almost 30 percent.
Commr. Conner stated that he was the liaison to this committee and that he was impressed with the way Children’s Services allocated the money they get. He asked that the funding be kept at $25,000 for both the Haven of Lake & Sumter Counties SAVE (Safe Alternatives for Violence Exposed Kids) and the Lake County Health Department’s Children’s Dentistry School Sealant Expansion Programs, which would be the same funding level as last year and only $5,000 more for each program than the staff-recommended amount. He opined that these were valuable programs, and the practical applicability of them was very important. He pointed out that the funding for those groups are already 50 percent lower than two years ago.
Commr. Renick commented that last year they also decided to restore the funding for the Haven’s SAVE program.
Commr. Cadwell gave direction to grant the requested amount of $25,000 for both of those programs as requested by Commr. Conner. He went on to emphasize that LASER (Lake and Sumter Emergency Recovery) was also a group of great benefit that the County could call on to do things that government could not do and that if they could fund them one more year, he believed LASER would obtain enough grant money and funding to sustain themselves after that. He asked that the County Manager try to find funding to put back in the LASER program also, if the Board would agree.
Commr. Stewart stated that she certainly agreed and that they do wonderful things.
Commr. Renick stated that she supported that also and believed it was something they really needed.
Commr. Conner stated that he supported that 100 percent and wished they could give them more. He commented that they had a great reputation.
tab 10 – public works
Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, reported that their responsibility in Public Works was to take care of 1350 miles of County-maintained roads, as well as 250 stormwater basins, and the replacement value for all the roads in the County was $10 billion worth of infrastructure. He opined that their gas tax looked promising this year and was in better shape than it had been for the last two years, since the price was stabilized to the point where people were using their vehicles more often again. However, the road impact fee funds had dropped dramatically. He stated that they had a lot of capital dollars this year going into projects, and they were able to get great prices which were 40 to 50 percent below estimates and which would reflect in a positive outlook in next year’s budget. He noted that sales tax was not really up, but they now have a separate fund for transportation out of the sales tax which showed a more accurate number for them, and he mentioned that they were looking forward to moving forward with the stimulus fund projects as soon they get the go-ahead from DOT. He related that last year they lost six positions, half in road operations and half in administration and engineering areas, and they lost another 13 positions this year, resulting in some duties being done with a consultant rather than in-house. He stated that reduced revenue would mean less capital projects and potentially prolonged services, and the staff was sharing duties to get things done. He also mentioned that they would be cutting back on contracted work such as mowing, drain pipe cleaning, and repairs on roads. He noted that they still had a capital road program, but it was a lot smaller, and they would be presenting that to the Board on August 18. He commented that they would continue maintenance of their 1,350 miles of road as best as they could, but they might not be able to solve every resident’s problem who contacted them because of the financial challenge. He pointed out that the stormwater program was healthy and that they were saving people 15 percent on their flood insurance due to the programs that the County has implemented. He assured the Board that they would stay in compliance with the federal requirements, and were involved with all of the working groups. He also pointed out that since the acreage of parks was growing, they have an increase in responsibilities in maintenance along with that. He stated that traffic signal maintenance was a critical part of their responsibilities, since they receive revenue from the FDOT and the cities to take care of those, and they have been pleased with the efficiency and the outcome of that. He related that they have put together a priority of resurfacing roads, and they have put emphasis toward that priority in the last few years because of the challenges of other funding sources.
Mr. Stivender directed the Board’s attention to a booklet that his department put together that summarized everything that was in the budget book in different locations regarding the Public Works Budget Information, including a full organizational chart of every position in the department, which shows how much of their department is dedicated to road maintenance, and he mentioned that the book was organized by different funds that had special, limited uses. He pointed out a bar chart which showed the gas tax revenue back to 1985, illustrating a leveling off of revenue in 2005 due to an increase in the price of fuel. He went through the revenue sources of the gas tax, road impact fees, MSTU Stormwater and Roads, renewal infrastructure sales tax, and federal and state grants that were listed in that booklet. He noted that weather paid a large factor in their budget, with extremes of wet or dry weather increasing overtime and costs, and that they have been lucky that this year has been more of an average year. He specified that they were currently down to 119 employees, and they have had 18 employee losses in the County Transportation Trust from Gas Tax for FY 2010. He also mentioned that their biggest challenge was in maintenance, which would be the area that they would be the most likely to need additional employees in the future. He emphasized the steep drop in revenue shown by the Impact Fee Revenue chart starting from 2005, and stated that they still had a lot of requests for capital improvement projects, but there were not funds in that account to do any of them. He noted that as impact fees were peaking in 2005, they were already cutting their operating budget because of the drop in gas tax. He also pointed out that from 1999 to 2005, more road impact fee funds were collected and spent in Benefit District 5 in the Clermont area each year than the entire county combined. He reported that there were about 60 stormwater basins that were in unincorporated Lake County that were on their list to work on over the next few years, and they have worked on nine. He remarked that even though they still had a long way to go, they were steadily working through that list and would continue to do so for the next few years. He noted that infrastructure sales tax revenue has slowed, and they put 50 percent of that fund to resurfacing where they believed it was needed most, with the rest going for equipment, sidewalks, and roads. He commented that the stimulus money would take care of a lot of projects that they could not have possibly done, which allows them to spend more of the local dollars on the local non-collector roads. He mentioned that DOT hopes to bid out the Lois Drive Bridge in October.
tab 11 – procurement services
Mr. Barnett Schwartzman, Procurement Services, noted that Document Services and Fleet Management were internal service funds that were basically intended to support themselves, charging back for their expenditures, which makes budget execution more difficult. He emphasized that Procurement Services itself showed a 21 percent reduction for the following fiscal year, primarily based on labor changes. He related that in Procurement Services, there were eliminations of a Senior Contracting Officer position and a Fixed Asset/Surplus Coordinator position. He specified that the loss of the senior contracting officer will reduce capacity for general back-up and emergency situations, since Procurement Services was heavily involved in the EOC function when it was activated, and that there would be reduction in the capability for supplemental tasks such as department and vendor training and orientation sessions, which was one of the business friendly initiatives that the County was implementing. He explained that the loss of the fixed asset/surplus coordinator position will have some impact on the timeliness within the inventory function and reduce some capacity to maximize surplus material sales.
Mr. Schwartzman assured the Board that there would still be continued responsive support to the full range of the County’s contracting requirements and that they would remain mission-oriented. He also mentioned to the Board that rather than relying entirely on their own resources, they have very actively re-engaged in the pool concept in which they were working with other Procurement offices in the County, the School Board, and the municipalities as a way that they could provide good pricing through coordinated efforts and maximize resources through inter-county coordination. He related that they have initiated an automated RFQ system as of August 4 which would provide a greater opportunity for competition openness in the County’s process and a decrease in administrative burden. He stated that they have projected a savings of at least $200,000 a year now and more in the future by replacing a lot of vehicles in the fleet, which would reduce maintenance. He mentioned that they discussed and approved an agenda item at the previous day’s workshop on August 11 regarding the revision of the document services function in response to significantly lowered reprographics volume.
Commr. Conner related that he has gotten a lot of calls regarding the purchase of tires which expressed concern that some tires on state bid were not really a good buy, and he asked if the County was taking steps to make sure that state bid was competitive on everything that the County bought, and if they learn that there was a better deal than state bid, what they were doing about that.
Mr. Dave Vasquez, Fleet Maintenance, answered that they focus on buying it off the state contracts or the state bids because they offer the best volume price, but if there was an opportunity to buy it through another avenue at a better savings, they did that. He also mentioned that they focus on using quality first-line products and would not go to a second-rate tire just to save money, particularly on public transportation.
Mr. Barnett assured Commr. Conner that they did market research in advance of every purchase, and they checked with local vendors and did some pricing and internet searching.
tab 12 – economic growth and redevelopment
Ms. Dottie Keedy, Director of Economic Growth and Redevelopment, explained that their department included the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park, and opined that their department, which was created in 2006, has attained a lot of accomplishments in those three years due to their partnerships in the County and in the region. She assured the Board that they intend to continue those accomplishments, despite the financial impacts they were feeling. She reported that the department budget for this proposed year will reflect a 9.9 percent decrease, and the Commerce Park budget was showing a 78.5 percent decrease in the overall maintenance budget and a 13.4 percent decrease in the operating budget, which was due to the funding being taken out of that budget except for what they needed to maintain the common areas. She noted that there was additional funding in that budget for some studies relating to the DRI, some traffic studies for a sign, and some reserves that had been carried over. She thought that they were in the beginning phase of creating a property owners’ association and hoped to get that created this coming fiscal year, and then they would only pay for their portion of what they still owned in that park, reducing it for the following year. She explained that the budget reflected a staff reduction due to a Senior Planner position being transferred to the Growth Management Department and that the personnel expenses of their department account for about 41.5 percent of their budget. She also noted that they had contractual obligations to the Metro Orlando EDC (Economic Development Commission) and the University of Central Florida Business Incubator staffing. She emphasized that the funding for their contractual obligation to Lake-Sumter Community College’s Business Resources Center had previously been in the Tourism Budget last year, which results in an increase in their operating budget. She noted that the operating budget did not reflect the $159,000 re-budget carryover which were incentives that were not spent that previous year or any budget reductions that were effective in March of this year, and they had a 3.6 percent decrease in the operating budget, with the new incentive funding reduction of 37 percent. She also pointed out that the Commerce Park budget reflected a transfer of $500,000 to the Judicial Center project, and they have $405,000 left as reserves in that fund. They have also added $100,000 in new incentive funding for the high-value job creation program, and they designated $2 million of the economic stabilization reserve for incentives for specific economic development projects that would be approved by the Board.
Ms. Keedy stated that the impacts that they would feel from the reductions may be in the response time in providing assistance to businesses or for project inquiries. It would also impact their ability to market the County by going to trade shows and networking events and the printing of publications, and they would not have as much funding for sponsorship of business events in the County as they have in the past. However, she stated that they will continue working with the Economic Development Advisory Council and its four committees and subcommittees. They will also maintain their website as their main marketing tool and continue to engage the business community in their site visits and even increase those through their business retention and expansion program. She stated that they would continue to work on the Notice of Proposed Change for the Commerce Park DRI to clear up any problems they have had and be able to finish out the development of that park. They intend to increase the publication of their newsletter to once a month, to which they now currently have about 400 subscribers, and they would assist in the implementation of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy. She related that they would continue to work on the redevelopment plans and with the Leesburg Business & Technology Incubator Manager on developing new businesses, and she mentioned that a solar company was recently approved by the City as the first new business under that program.
Commr. Hill expressed concern that they were still going by a population of 300,000 for the amount that they would pay to the Metro-Orlando EDC, but the Department of Revenue website had the County at a population of 288,000. She suggested that they put the extra $12,000 into the marketing budget.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the contract would specify where they get the population numbers from.
Ms. Keedy confirmed that the contract would indicate that and explained that she had previously designated 300,000 as the population, but when she looked at the Department of Revenue figures, she realized that the funding was for 288,000, which would be the amount of the contract.
There was consensus to leave the $12,000 in the budget to help with marketing.
Commr. Conner commented that he thought they should support businesses that already existed in the County. He asked if the Leesburg Chamber’s large business expo that attracted about 300 businesses was in Ms. Keedy’s budget.
Ms. Keedy responded that it was not in her budget, because she would not be able to support it at that level, since her total budget for marketing and sponsorships was only about $24,000.
Commr. Conner asked if the $12,000 mentioned above that was being transferred to the marketing budget would enable her to sponsor that at the level that she had sponsored that in the past, and if that was what she wanted to do.
Ms. Keedy responded that she did want to sponsor that, since this would be marketing to the local business community, who was not always aware that they were there to help them. She confirmed that the $12,000 would give her enough funding to enable her to sponsor that event.
recess and reassembly
At 11:30 a.m., the Chairman announced that there would be a recess until 1:30 p.m.
tab 13 – budget and contract services
Mr. Doug Krueger, Budget Director, pointed out that the presentation was put together prior to the finalization of the reorganization and that their department would just be known as Budget rather than Budget and Contract Services. He noted that their budget was down about 16 percent or about $104,000, which was primarily related to position reductions of an Office Associate position and a Senior Budget Analyst position over the last two years. He stated that the impacts of going from nine positions to seven would result in a reduction of administrative backup and aid to their analyst for work such as special spreadsheet work, Munis input, and fact-finding. He also noted that the analysts would have to be responsible for more departments, giving them less time to actually analyze the data since more of their time would be spent on maintaining the system they had. He related that they had both beginning and end of the year adjustments, purchase order rollovers, and budget transfers that were labor-intensive. He assured the Board, however, that they would accomplish the things that by law had to be done as well as prepare the annual budget each year and the five-year capital improvement program, although it may take them a little longer to respond to some of the Board’s questions. He pointed out that it was important to do a fiscal analysis of the current year’s budget to make sure things were occurring as budgeted. However, he noted that the budget was constantly changing, and they would be analyzing that to make sure that the revenues were coming in as anticipated and that the expenditures were occurring, and making adjustments as needed. They also were responsible for managing the fire assessment process and making sure that that database was maintained and the information given to the Property Appraiser so that he could collect those fire assessments on their tax bill. He mentioned that they were still working on FEMA applications for the hurricanes from 2004, the tornado, and Tropical Storm Faye, and would coordinate that process for any new disaster declarations that occur. They would also continue to do agenda item reviews to make sure that those were referencing the proper account and that there were funds available, and would try to respond to any questions the Board had about the budget and provide special information or reports they may need on an as-needed basis.
Ms. Brenda Likely, Financial Analyst, Public Transportation Division, related that due to the reduction of their budget, they would have to continue to prioritize their paratransit trips based on need, and the Lynx Route 204 from Highway 50 to downtown Orlando would be reduced approximately 40 percent. She also noted that the staff’s ability to market the LakeXpress Service would be reduced due to increased responsibilities, and they would be unable to provide weekend or evening fixed route service. However, she assured the Board that they would be able to provide cost-effective transportation and to continue to transfer clients from the paratransit door-to-door service to the fixed-route service. They also plan to look for ways to provide shelters from the inclement Florida weather with local partners. She reported that because of the stimulus funds that were granted, they were awaiting 14 paratransit buses that would replace 14 older vehicles, which would reduce their repair and maintenance cost. She stated that they were looking into a partnership with Sunrise ARC to provide employees to help transport their clients.
Ms. Allison Thall, Citizen Support Services Director, stated that they had some significant setbacks with respect to personnel with the loss of about six employee positions this past year, five from the SHIP program and one from the Section 8 program, leaving six total remaining positions. She related that some of the budget impacts that they have sustained came strictly from the State of Florida, with the elimination of their 2009/10 SHIP funding in its entirety in regard to SHIP Strategies such as home purchase, rehab, and home replacement. However, they did have about $2.2 million from the last quarter of their current fiscal year that they were now putting into the community, and the State has allocated a much smaller amount than before of $402,000 for a new strategy entitled the Home Buyer Opportunity Program to coincide with the President’s stimulus for the tax credit program. This program provides an $8,000 tax credit advance specifically for down payment assistance to be paid back to the County once a home buyer receives their refund from the federal government. She explained that the remaining $2.2 million for their fourth quarter would be able to provide assistance to about 86 eligible families in Lake County, and currently there were about 57 individuals who were submitting applications for home purchases of existing homes, many of them foreclosed homes; 20 homeowners who were looking for assistance with rehabilitation; and 9 individuals who may need replacement homes. She mentioned that the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Funds in the amount of $400,000 assist about 50 eligible individuals who were also going into the home purchase program. She noted that they would continue rental assistance for about 435 very low income families and to ensure that the subsidized units were safe and habitable. She specified that they put about $2.8 million per year into payment for landlords and owners of homes.
TAB 14 – EMPLOYEE FURLOUGH PROGRAM
Ms. Hall explained that the furlough program was a way to help balance the budget and that she saw this as a temporary reduction in funding to carry them for about the next one to two years by recapturing about $1.4 million in salaries. She had proposed and recommended to the Board that they close the County for one day each month for a total of 12 days, and every employee would participate in that. She mentioned that in some instances it was not possible for an employee to not be working on the furlough day, so they would make adjustments in those cases, such as in Fleet Maintenance. One of the reasons they selected this option was that it would make it much easier and efficient to track the 700 individual employees than on a case-by-case basis. She opined that she did not feel that it would be an undue burden on the public, since some of their offices were closed on Fridays anyway, and she believed it would be fairly easy to inform the public of those days and that they would adapt well. She explained that another reason they chose that option was that there were some complications and risk in the legal aspects of how exempt employees can take furlough days.
Commr. Cadwell asked what the largest department was and how many employees they had.
Ms. Hall responded that it would be Public Works with 119 employees. She added that Public Safety was the largest department with 240 people, but they would not include the firefighters or any shift personnel in this program.
Commr. Cadwell commented that although he understood that they had to do the furlough days and understood the complication of trying to track that, he felt that since other constitutional officers would stay open on that day, this furlough plan would be a problem.
Commr. Conner stated that he has had uneasiness with this plan since the idea was presented, and he did not want to close their doors to the public, especially if some of the other constitutional officers and government buildings would be open. He wanted to look for other alternatives rather than closing their operation once a month.
Commr. Renick stated that she would be more in favor of this if they were totally shutting down the building and realizing an additional savings of utilities, but she did not see why they could not do different types of scheduling to get the furlough days in.
Commr. Cadwell directed the County Manager to institute the furlough program for County employees of 12 days a year, but to keep County government and the Administration Building open five days a week.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, noted that he did not think there was a legal impediment to doing it either way.
Commr. Renick suggested that they shut down during certain days around the holidays.
Ms. Hall stated that they would look at that and bring it back to the Board. She commented that it was another area that they have thought about as they were planning this program.
Commr. Conner thought that they should at least have a skeleton crew for people that needed something during that time period. He opined that the perception of shutting down County government with all the revenues they had was not one that any of them wanted to be put in the position of defending.
Commr. Hill commented that there were a lot of rules and regulations that they had to work through.
Ms. Hall stated that the use of advisory committees has come up with the Board, and she asked Ms. Keedy to look into all the advisory boards that they have and to make an assessment of some of them. She commented that some of them were more active than others. She specified that the types of expenditures that go along with them include staff time, advertising, stipends, printing, and postage for a total cost of about $250,000. She noted that six advisory boards that were mandated by Florida Statutes or by referendum were ones that they needed to keep, which were the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, Public Safety Coordinating Council, Zoning Board, Sales Surtax Oversight Advisory Committee, Tourist Development Council, and the Board of Adjustments. She related that another recommendation that was not mandated but important to retain was the Board of Building Examiners. She opined that the Library Advisory Board was a very active and successful board which coordinates all of the use of the city libraries and the County library system, and she recommended that they keep that board as well as the Parks, Recreation and Trails Advisory Committee, which was also a partnership with the County and all the cities and their parks and recreation system. She noted that three of the committees were not currently as active and might not even by currently meeting, which were the Historical Museum Advisory Committee, Elder Affairs Coordinating Council, and the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
Commr. Conner stated that he was the liaison for both historical committees, and the Historical Society was a very active group which had monthly meetings that were well attended. He noted that their funding was completely cut to zero last year, but he has been very impressed with them and would appreciate the restoration of their funding from the previous year. However, he pointed out that the Historical Museum Advisory Committee has been very disorganized and inactive. He emphasized that those were two distinct organizations. His recommendation was for the Historical Society to be funded at $20,000 to take over the task of overseeing the museum. He also suggested that the first floor of the historical courthouse could be given to the Sheriff’s Office and the artifacts that were currently in the museum put in various public buildings where more people would see them.
Commr. Cadwell asked what the budget for the museum was.
Mr. Mihalic answered that the museum budget was about $85,000.
Ms. Hall pointed out that that was paid from the Tourist Development money and not the general fund.
Commr. Cadwell commented that if the Historical Society would be willing to oversee the museum’s artifacts, he thought the idea of moving the artifacts out of the building was a great idea.
Commr. Conner commented that they would be able to give the Sheriff the first, second, and third floor of that building if they did that.
Commr. Hill noted that some of the historical pictures and documents that had to do with the judiciary could be displayed in the new expansion of the Judicial Center when that was completed.
Commr. Cadwell asked Mr. Minkoff about the legal aspects of this arrangement.
Mr. Minkoff responded that previously they had a contract with the Historical Society where they gave them some money, so they could resurrect that contract and give them some money in exchange for them to perform whatever duties the Board would like them to do. He explained that the other board was a County board, but since it has not been meeting, it could easily be dissolved.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the suggestion was good. He felt that they would not lose the historical significance of those things, more people would see them, and they would be saving the $85,000 less the $20,000 they would be funding.
Ms. Breeden recommended to the Board that they consider funding them at more than $20,000 if they were giving them additional responsibilities.
Ms. Hall clarified that the direction was to disband what is currently the Historical Museum Advisory Committee, eliminating that program and the current funding from Tourist Development, and look at ways to put the artifacts and displays that were part of the museum in other buildings so that they could be seen by more people. They would also draft an agreement with the Historical Society for them to oversee that with funding of about $20,000.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he agreed that they probably needed to dissolve the Solid Waste Advisory Committee in its current form, but he has been working with the County Attorney on language to bring back to the Board regarding a different type of solid waste board.
Commr. Stewart stated that she was a liaison to the Elder Affairs Coordinating Council, and she believed that they did a lot of good and was a very active committee.
Ms. Thall stated that one of the best public events that the Elder Affairs committee produced was the annual symposium, but because of budget reductions in funding, they have had to discontinue that this past year. She explained that aside from that, they do some networking and a lot of community–based educational components and served as a huge resource for their department. She noted that they had a pretty good turnout of committee members and have about 20-25 participants who attend regularly that represent all different facets of elder services throughout the county.
Commr. Stewart stated that it was often hard for the elderly to find where to go for help, but the Elder Affairs Council drew a lot of that together and made it easier for them to find out.
Commr. Cadwell directed that they would keep that committee.
Commr. Renick expressed concern that they have not had a quorum during the Arts and Cultural Alliance meetings.
Commr. Cadwell asked if they still would get the funding without the existence of this group.
Mr. Mihalic answered that they would still get the funding, since the department it went though was the local arts agency. However, he noted that this committee shifted to quarterly meetings and have had some new appointees by the different cities, which hopefully will result in more participation. He opined that it is a positive committee and has produced some good ideas and synergism among the cities to look at their arts and culture.
Commr. Renick asked why the Children’s Services Council used 100 staff hours.
Ms. Foley-Kearney explained that the Children’s Services Council meets every month and was the liaison to all of the agencies that they fund to make sure that they were in fact meeting their contract. They also were responsible for the production of the resource directory, which was utilized by school teachers and agencies which dealt directly with the public, and they handle about 1000 phone calls a month from citizens who call in looking for resources. She also pointed out that they did a lot of outreach and that their meetings were very well attended.
Commr. Conner commented that this group was as active as any group they would find.
Commr. Hill pointed out that this committee evaluates where the money for these programs were spent, which was a tough undertaking.
Ms. Hall related that years ago the Local Planning Agency and Zoning Board were combined and were split apart when the Comprehensive (Comp) Plan began around 2003, and she suggested possibly combining those again
Commr. Cadwell related that splitting those boards up was his idea, because at the time there were so many zoning cases that there was not a lot of time for them to look at the Comp Plan amendments as well. However, now that there were a lot fewer zoning cases, he thought they needed to discuss it. He asked if there was a timing issue regarding this.
Mr. Minkoff answered that the LPA has just about completed the Comp Plan review and their meetings have become less frequent with less on the agenda, and the Zoning Board has not had very many cases recently to review. He pointed out that even though the LPA reviews the LDR’s (Land Development Regulations) to make sure they were consistent with the Comp Plan, the County staff generally will write the LDR’s.
Commr. Stewart commented that the LPA still have not finished their function of reviewing the LDR’s and that it might be premature to combine those groups now.
Mr. Minkoff noted that they were required to have an LPA in one shape or form, but it could be a combined or a separate planning and zoning board. He added that they could not eliminate the LPA unless the Board designates itself.
Commr. Renick asked if both boards get a stipend.
Ms. Amye King, Growth Management Director, answered that each of the board members earns $30 per meeting. She added that it would take less staff time to take minutes and less time for the planning director and his staff to prepare for these meetings if it was combined.
Commr. Stewart did not see the benefit of combining them right now since both groups were already meeting infrequently. She opined that the LPA has worked long and hard, and she believed that they owed them the respect of letting them finish their task of reviewing the LDR’s.
Commr. Hill opined that she thought the two groups should be combined and that the stipend should be lowered to no more than someone who performed jury duty received, which was $15.
Commr. Renick commented that she could not imagine choosing between her appointees on the LPA and the Zoning Board if they had to combine them into just one board. She pointed out that if the Zoning Board was not meeting, there was no cost to the County anyway.
Ms. King informed the Board that the LDR process would take about a year.
Commr Cadwell commented that since there was not a consensus regarding this issue, he thought they should continue keeping these committees separate for now.
Ms. Hall mentioned that they had one more recommendation, which was to sunset the Public Land Acquisition Advisory Council once the management plans were complete, and explained that their path was to review all the property to help make decisions and to review the management plans. She also recommended that they discontinue any stipends that were paid by the County for those committees that received them.
Commr. Renick opined that there was an inequity that some committee members were paid and some were not.
There was consensus from the Board to discontinue the stipends given to committees such as the LPA and the Zoning Board.
miscellaneous questions and comments
Internal Audit Process
Ms. Hill asked about the internal audit process.
Ms. Hall explained that they discuss with the Director of Internal Audit typically in September the departments or sections of departments that they felt were in line to have a review of their operations. She believed that they also added to that in the past year some fund type audits. She also noted that the Board has probably gotten a report on the sales tax fund and that the auditor indicated that he wanted to undertake looking at that as well. She also related that the internal auditor was funded from the general fund.
Mr. Minkoff pointed out that the Clerk constitutionally did not have the authority to do post audits of them, but that this was something that the Board chose to do voluntarily. He explained that the Clerk’s function constitutionally was pre-audit on paying those bills, and they were totally different than financial audits that the private CPA firm did.
Ms. Hall added that included in the funding request from the Board for that were Board Support, County Finance, and Internal Audit.
Judicial Center Expansion Financing and Reserves
Commr. Renick mentioned that the motion regarding the Judicial Center expansion was that the budget for that project would be between $35 and $47 million, but they did not really come up with an exact number. She stated that there have been a number of projects and things that came up that she thought would make them regret tying all the money up in that project. She commented that she was uncomfortable having everything else stop because of not having any of that money left in terms of general fund dollars, and she thought they needed to keep at least a few million dollars of some money in reserves.
Ms. Hall reported that currently there were $11 million general fund dollars in reserves that have been earmarked for the courthouse. She related that when they originally put this budget together, they did include next year some funding to supplement the courthouse, and there is available sales tax money that was set aside for the courthouse in the amount of about $2.5 million that could possibly be used for other projects.
Commr. Cadwell asked Ms. Hall to work on that and bring it back for next Tuesday’s meeting.
Commr. Conner asked what the reserves were.
Mr. Krueger reported that there was a total of about $14.7 million in reserves for contingencies.
Commr. Hill stated that the last time the question of the reserves was brought up was at the budget workshop in May and that the auditors had at that time recommended a level of 25 percent, even though she doubted that could be accomplished. She commented that it seemed that the Board was comfortable keeping the reserves at 10 percent, but she had concerns about the future reserves remaining close to the ten percent mark.
Commr. Renick commented that she has come to realize since then that they needed more in reserves than what they currently had.
Commr. Conner stated that even though he did not like borrowing money, he thought they could pledge a portion of the infrastructure sales tax to pay back the debt on the Judicial Center. He specified that they could borrow $10 million and pay back $3 million per year rather than using cash out of the general fund.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he thought that was a good thing for them to look at.
Commr. Hill emphasized that that was what she had previously presented to the Board, and they could leave the $11 million in reserves and borrow just to make sure the basic building was secured.
Commr. Conner stated that based on the information that the financial advisor gave them, if they thought interest rates were going to increase, they would be better off to secure that money now and pay the interest on it. He opined that spending the sales tax money for their capital expense was more prudent than taking the money out of reserves right now.
Commr. Renick also noted that they still did not know what the budget was for the Judicial Center and that the Board has not given the architects an exact number to work with. She thought they needed to decide on what that budget was going to be.
Commr. Conner suggested that the money left over from the first bond could be their budget for Phase II.
Commr. Cadwell commented that if they borrowed the $11 million or whatever the difference would be, they would get more for their money building-wise.
Commr. Renick stated that they could work out the details of that, but thought they should keep more money in reserves than what they were looking at doing.
Commr. Cadwell remarked that the direction the Board gave that day to fund some of the things that were not originally in the budget would also come from reserves.
Commr. Renick commented that she thought that the budget they had before them and what they have come up with was a very good plan, but she thought more reserves needed to come out of the $11 million set aside for the courthouse.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they set aside about $5 million out of that for reserves.
Commr. Renick agreed that they should set aside at least that much.
Commr. Stewart opined that there was no way they would get a Judicial Center that they needed without taking on some extra debt. She thought they perhaps should think about waiting until they could build what they needed.
Commr. Conner commented that he thought they could build a large enough building with the budget they would have that would solve a lot of problems.
Parks Maintenance Position
Ms. Hall stated that two of the positions that they have requested in the budget were two additional Parks Maintenance employees which were approved by the Board earlier. She related that they were only able to hire one from the laid-off employees, and she requested approval to go ahead and hire from the outside for the other position.
The Board gave consensus for Ms. Hall to do that.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 3:15 p.m.
welton g. cadwell, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK