A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
december 13, 2010
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 9:00 a.m., at Trout Lake Nature Center, Eustis, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Jennifer Hill, Chairman; Leslie Campione, Vice Chairman; Jimmy Conner; Sean Parks; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, Interim County Manager; Melanie Marsh, Acting County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Hill commented that the Board members have always strived to treat each other, the staff, and the public respectfully. She also related that some Commissioners wanted to know about and take the lead regarding all issues going on in their district, but it was also fine if they wanted someone else to respond.
Commr. Cadwell added that they should be contacting Mr. Sandy Minkoff, Interim County Manager or Ms. Melanie Marsh, Acting County Attorney, for help with any problems or issues they may have.
Mr. Minkoff commented that the Board needed to thank Mr. Neil Kelly, Clerk, and Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance, for letting Ms. Julia Wilson assist the County’s Budget Department until new employees were hired and that she has been invaluable. He mentioned that last year for the first time, they started discussing the next year’s budget in December, and he opined that it worked out well. He related that his plan today was to see where they ended up in the 2010 year, look at what is happening in 2011, and then briefly look forward to 2012. He noted that he had been also sending the Commissioners a monthly financial report that typically shows income and expenses for selected funds, and he wanted to go through them starting with the September 30, 2010 report. He explained that the September 30 reports take longer to develop, because the Clerk keeps the books open longer in October to make sure that all of the expenses from 2010 were entered into the right year, but normally the Board would get those reports around the 15th of the following month. He pointed out the September 30 general fund report in the packet and noted that it was broken down into funds. He specified that the report showed what actually happened in 2009, the revised or midyear budget from 2010, the unaudited actual from 2010, and the percentages from 2010. He noted that these are unaudited, but have been looked at carefully by the Clerk and Budget Department, and he thought the auditors would probably make some minor revisions to these figures. He mentioned that the revenue was almost 102 percent of what the budget was in the general fund because of the 5 percent reduction they were required to take, and this was shown in the revised budget. He commented that they collect more revenue when times were bad, because people do not get the discount when they delay paying their taxes, and the County collects more. He reported that the revenues were up almost $2 million from what the budget was.
Mr. Minkoff pointed out that the second page of the handout showed the expenditures, listed by department, which makes it harder to do a year-to-year comparison when departments change, and he noted that expenditures were only 95 percent of what was budgeted. He stated that the $35,607,434 figure shown in reserves was what they thought they would end up the year with in fund balance. He explained that they do not budget all of their revenue, but they budget 100 percent of their expenses; and since the revenue is almost 2 percent or almost $2 million higher and the expenses 5 percent lower, there is a great savings. He pointed out that the second page showed that the actual fund balance is $43,858,401, as well as a footnote that stated that there were a couple of other general fund type funds in addition to this which would push the total reserve to $44,399,758. He explained that in 2010 the County made money or broke even, which was good news, but the budget during midyear showed an $8 million loss. He also mentioned that page C9 of the budget book shows the historical level of reserves since 2003, and they currently have significantly more in reserves than they have ever had in any year, and their expenditures are lower than they were since 2007.
Commr. Conner opined that their entire organization has done a really good job of trying not to spend money throughout the year, and this was the best budgetary news he has heard since he has been on the County Commission. He specified that they have cut 41 full-time positions and 3 part-time positions, and he wanted them to make sure that they try not to spend the reserves, which he felt was for emergencies rather than economic downturns.
Commr. Campione opined that not all reserves are for economic emergencies.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the reserve is set at 15 percent of expenditures, which are currently about $125 million, resulting in a reserve of about $18 or $19 million. He added that reserve was a budget figure that they could keep set aside that the County could use, but it was not necessarily the same as fund balance. He explained that the fund balance should always end up being higher than the reserve if the budget was done correctly, because the revenues should be higher and expenses lower, and there should always be an increase from what was projected than what really happened.
Commr. Hill commented that she thought all of the County’s departments were now very conscious of their budgets and that there has been a shift in how government employees look at spending money in their departments.
Mr. Minkoff continued to explain that overall revenues were 8 percent higher in the transportation fund than what was budgeted, which was almost $1 million; the gas taxes have held up; and expenditures are way down. He noted that all of this resulted in a fund balance in that account of over $5 million, which was necessary sometimes for problems that come up which required funding. He also mentioned that they have reduced the payment to the Lake Sumter EMS by $1 million in 2010, so the expenditures were $1 million under budget in that line item of the ambulance fund, and he specified that there was about $2.5 million inside the MSTU fund balance. He stated that the ambulance company itself has about $3 million in their fund balance, of which 75 percent would be attributable to Lake County, which they carry for their own emergencies. He pointed out that the $565,000 that they paid to the cities under the ALS was under the Aid to Government Agencies line item in that report, and there were few expenditures in that fund. He went on to explain that the Library Fund was not a major financial fund, but the County received state money that they were required to account for, and they were required to show all of the library expenditures. He stated that the principal income to the library fund is a transfer from the general fund of about $4 million, and expenditures in the library system were less. He explained that the grants and aids at the bottom of that page represented payments to cities that are made from the library fund to pay for county residents using city libraries and include some form of state aid. He related that the Stormwater MSTU fund shown on the next page contained money that has been saved, since it takes many years to design, permit, and complete projects. He noted that although the fund balance was fairly high at $6.4 million, in 2010 for the first time they spent $3 million in capital projects, and he recapped that the Board authorized the use of about $2 million at the last Board meeting for additional projects.
Commr. Cadwell commented that saving the money for major projects was done on purpose by direction of the Board, because they wanted to make sure that they had enough money to really make a difference when they started doing those projects.
Commr. Campione asked if they had many projects planned that were pending.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he thought they probably have the whole amount spent, and once a year Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, will give the Board a complete list of the programs showing what they were working on and all of the different phases throughout the County. He mentioned that they will probably be out of money in that fund within a couple of years, and he listed some projects that were completed and some that were scheduled to be started in the near future. He also stated that staff could give the Commissioners an individual briefing on those.
Commr. Parks commented that millions of dollars of needed work was planned.
Commr. Campione asked whether the funds held in an MSTU would show up in the overall reserve figure, and whether that reserve has to stay with that fund.
Mr. Minkoff responded that the MSTU funds would not be reflected in the total reserves, but even though the Board was just using those MSTU monies for just a couple of purposes, the list of uses in that ordinance is very broad as long as it was used in the unincorporated areas. He noted that there were a lot of reserves throughout the budget that could be used if they needed it. He referred to the next monthly report regarding Park Services MSTU, which is part of the same MSTU fund as Stormwater, and he explained that they were previously dividing the money between Parks, Stormwater, and a little bit of Roads, but they have since stopped using this funding source for road projects to be able to use that for parks. He commented that almost all of the monies coming in to this fund were spent, and there was not a lot of fund balance in the Parks MSTU budget. He stated that the fund balance in the Roads Services MSTU Fund of $1 million was going to be used for road resurfacing or maintenance. He pointed out a mistake in the next page of the handout regarding Emergency 911 Funding, which was that the fund balance was not added in there, so this fund has a significant fund balance to it and not a $450,000 loss. He added that this fund was derived mostly from the 50 cent fee on telephone uses, and this year they had large expenses, such as the purchase of 911 equipment and part of the radio maintenance. He mentioned that if the Board approves the EOC, they would also pay the cost of moving all of the 911 equipment to the EOC out of this budget.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the Building Service Fund was included because it was required by statute to be separate, so the revenue and expenditures can only be for building services. He noted that this fund has been barely breaking even or has been supplemented by general fund money in recent years, but in 2010 the fund made a small profit; however, the permits for the judicial center were included in that. He went on to explain that Fire Rescue was one of the County’s larger funds, and he pointed out that the current revenues were just over $21 million, with total revenues of about $24.4 million. He related that expenditures were significantly less than that, so there was a very good fund balance in there of $4.7 million. He mentioned that they were trying to save up some money for the pending lawsuit, and he has held up some capital expenditures, including new trucks. He also noted that they had done a great job managing the overtime expenses, which have been a problem in the past, and that operating expenses were only at less than 70 percent. He commented that they have not had a lot of wildfires, which has helped their budget this year.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, Acting County Attorney, related to the Board that they were hoping to have some updates for the Board regarding that lawsuit in January.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the basis for the lawsuit was that it was believed that they have used money from assessments that they should have used from the general fund, so one correction might be in a year to dramatically lower assessments and increase the ad valorem, since Fire has both an ad valorem and an assessment component, which might be one way to settle the lawsuit that would not involve any cash. However, he reported that the plaintiffs have not yet made any demands to the County. He went on to note that the Landfill Enterprise Fund was probably the most complicated to understand, and they have eliminated the long-term care fund this year and put it into the regular fund. He pointed out that the numbers were a little misleading, because some of those transfers included things that were not cash. He explained that the Landfill Fund was an enterprise fund that was run like a business and included depreciation and other items in it, so they really do not have $9.6 million in fund balance that they could use in the landfill fund. He stated that DEP and the County’s actuaries, consultants, and staff have estimated what it would cost to close their landfills over the next 25 or 30 years, which is funded currently with $6 million in cash, but since that was not legally required, they could spend that $6 million for other things; however, he believed that it was prudent to fund it with cash as they have always done. He emphasized that he and Mr. Stivender have been working to reduce costs in this department, and he pointed out that there has been a $2.1 million transfer from the general fund, which was significantly less than in 2009. He explained that this fund loses money without counting depreciation because of the unfavorable Covanta agreement. He related that the only source of revenue for the Fleet Management Fund was what it charges the other departments for their work, and the Board would see in January the proposal to move Fleet Maintenance to the Industrial Park property owned by the County in order to combine all of the fleets together. He concluded that these documents and their audit this year will demonstrate that the County is in a stronger financial position in 2010 than the County has been in the last decade.
Mr. Minkoff reported that the General Fund FY 2011 Revenue and Expenditure Summary in the next tab breaks down and shows where the $8 million difference came from between what was budgeted for 2010 and what actually happened in more detail, illustrating that the revenue was $1.9 million more than what they budgeted. He specified that Personal Services was $855,000 less, and operating expenses were $3 million less. He noted that they had laid employees off, did not fill or delayed filling positions, and were scrutinizing everything they could. He also mentioned that the savings in capital outlay included that Medicaid costs the County was required to pay was $1 million less than what was budgeted and that the cost of housing juvenile inmates was $300,000 less than budgeted.
Commr. Conner added that they reorganized when they did all of the personnel cuts and combined positions to be more efficient. He added that there was more scrutiny in filling positions at the Commission level, with a change in policy requiring the County Manager to get approval of the Board to fill certain positions.
Mr. Minkoff responded that was true for every position except fire rescue. He explained that there should always be some savings in Personal Services over what is budgeted because of an ongoing five percent vacancy factor.
Commr. Hill commented that she did not think the level of service has been reduced and that they still had a very high level of service.
Commr. Parks suggested that they put together a citizen’s review fiscal oversight committee to get people involved in this so that they could see the detail that the Board members were given today as well as to get some good ideas and expertise from people that wanted to be involved in that.
Commr. Conner commented that they could use their home page to communicate those types of things, and he opined that anyone paying attention would know that the County was diligent in cutting spending. He added that the State of the County report is also a good tool to communicate with the public.
Mr. Minkoff pointed out that he was not sure that forming a committee was a good use of the resources and staff time that it would require, and he suggested doing a citizens academy similar to what the County had done in the past for people that truly want to learn about the budget, which would take a lot less staff time.
Commr. Parks commented that he completely understood the concern about the staff time.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:00 a.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
budget discussion (cont’d)
Mr. Minkoff referred to the Revenue and Expenditure Summary for Fiscal Year 2011, specifying that although they tried to plan for any extra money in the budget that they present to the Board, the 2011 budget did not take into consideration an extra $2.4 million in fund balance that was not projected at the beginning of the year and was budgeted only as a revenue and not on the expenditure side. He related that in midyear, which would be March and April, under their existing budget policy, that $2.4 million would be budgeted under fund balance into reserves. He pointed out some good news on the second page regarding the Facilities Expansion Debt Service, stating that the debt service for the judicial center construction project was overfunded by $2 million, since they did not have to make a full year of payments in the fund, which will be taken out of the line item and moved into the fund balance. He noted that even though there was a $44 million fund balance to start, he was projecting at the end of 2011 that they will only have $34 million, which means they would end the year with $10 million less than they started with if the budget was done perfectly. However, he opined that a realistic scenario would be that they will spend about $6 million more than the current revenue, and if he projected that out with the assumption that revenues and expenditure would stay the same going forward, they would be alright until the budget year 2015 before they would exceed the 15 percent reserve requirement and need to take some action to avoid going below that figure.
Commr. Campione expressed concern about using the reserve or fund balance for recurring operating expenses while assuming that the economic picture will get better and stated that she would feel better about spending reserves down to get to a recommended level by using it for one-time needs such as capital projects.
Commr. Conner commented that he would rather take a very conservative approach and look into the long term.
Mr. Minkoff explained that there was a difference between fund balance and reserves; fund balance was the money they had at the end of the year, which he mentioned was only allowed by law to be up to 30 percent of their budget. He stated that the bad news was that they could not be sure that their ad valorem taxes were going to stay the same, since the initial indications of the Property Appraiser’s Office are that things are still declining, although the estimates that the state was using for schools shows it to be about the same.
Commr. Cadwell commented that there was a large group of citizens that did not want the County to close libraries and wanted them to build ball fields and support Parks and Recreation rather than saving a large amount in reserves, and they needed to remember them and provide services for those residents.
Commr. Campione pointed out that she felt that they should spend some of the reserves that are available for capital expenses such as ball fields, but the ongoing operating costs of a ball field are what concerned her. She also opined that she agreed with the Property Appraiser’s evaluation regarding this coming year’s revenues.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the numbers he presented included the transfer to the Solid Waste Department, which they were currently attempting to deal with. He illustrated in the next handout a snapshot of their current budget showing a $159 million budget on the revenue source and where that revenue is coming from, along with the updated fund balance number. He then pointed out the expenditures, including the mandated or critical expenditures, and commented about the feasibility of reducing any of those, stating that he did not recommend changing any of those other than the constitutional officers. He noted that taking out those expenditures only leaves $72 million, and he showed a handout illustrating other programs that the County funds, including a $4 million transfer to the library, which affects many of the city libraries as well as the County ones, as well as grants, a low-income prescription drug program, and We Care. He related that since $34 million was projected to be reserves, the entire County’s share of what it is spending in the general fund is $33 million for operating expenditures, and any reductions would most likely have to come from that area. He opined that he did not see that there was a lot of room to reduce expenditures any more in the general fund on the County side.
Commr. Campione stated that she wanted to explore making an adjustment to the fire fund to increase the ad valorem and reducing the MSTU, and she thought they might be able to find some savings in how they fund EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and Fire.
Mr. Minkoff explained that those are not in this fund, and he could not make adjustments from Fire, because it was not countywide. He stated that they could have savings in EMS by reducing their millage further, increasing the general fund millage and adding more money to this; and this year they moved the radio maintenance to the EMS Budget. He emphasized, however, that the savings from doing that would be limited, since the whole EMS budget is $8 million.
Commr. Campione opined that any amount that they saved would be worth looking into.
Commr. Cadwell commented that they needed to have a discussion regarding the $60 million Sheriff’s budget, even though they did not make the Sheriff cut his budget this year.
Commr. Campione asked whether the Sheriff had cut 33 positions or had positions that had become vacant that he did not fill.
Commr. Cadwell emphasized that the Sheriff budgeted the same amount of money this year as he did last year, and he commented that that department has grown over the last five or six years.
Mr. Minkoff reported that the Sheriff closely mirrored the County’s increases over the years, but his department’s revenues have stayed the same as the County’s have decreased during the last three years, and he did not recall any large reductions in the Sheriff’s Department. He mentioned that last year the Clerk’s transfer was cut by 5 percent and that the Supervisor of Elections and the Property Appraiser’s budgets were as low as they could get; but the Sheriff’s Department was the only one who did not cut back. He also added that the Sheriff’s budgeted number of positions is the same as it has been for the last several years, although he did not know if they were all filled or not.
Commr. Conner asked to get a written history back from 2002 of the Sheriff’s budget.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that during the last several years the area the Sheriff patrolled has dropped due to all of the annexations by the cities. He commented that was the place to look for substantial savings, but that would take a lot of political willpower, and they needed to have a concerted effort to talk with him early to let him know that they could not continue to budget this way.
Commr. Conner stated that they really would need the Sheriff’s help with the budget.
Commr. Parks asked for a review of the Sheriff’s budget process.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the Sheriff submits his budget to them on June 1, and the Board makes a final decision on his budget in September when they adopt the budget. He added that if the Sheriff disagreed with the budget the Board approves, he could appeal to the governor and the cabinet. He also informed the Board that they have kept the millage rate the same, which technically was a tax decrease, but they also have not increased solid waste fees or other fees for quite a while. Mr. Minkoff next showed graphs that illustrated that they have had a dramatic reduction in general fund employees and that the bulk of the County employees were making less than $50,000. He pointed out that the employees already have a 5 percent decrease in pay due to furloughs and that they have not had raises in three years. He commented that there were employees at the low end of the pay scale that were really struggling financially and were also working harder and doing more than before because of the reduction in staff. He also opined that the level of service has not changed because of the efforts of these employees.
Commr. Conner commented that although that is true, it was everyday life in private business today.
Commr. Cadwell asked if it was possible to do something for those employees at the end of the year.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he has thought about reducing the furloughs for them, since he believed that a lot of those people are struggling financially.
Commr. Conner suggested that rather than giving a Christmas bonus, which he believed would make the County look like they had an abundance of money, they could consider reducing the furlough days for employees in a given salary bracket.
Commr. Campione asked what the financial impact of that would be to the County.
Mr. Minkoff responded that there were about 500 non-union employees, and the impact might be about $100,000. He stated that he would present the Board with the numbers showing the impact of this configured in a few different ways so they could see the different impacts by the first January Board meeting. He concluded that he did not anticipate any answers from the Board today, but he would need some direction from the Board regarding the budget by March.
Commr. Conner inquired whether the resolve to not raise millage rates has changed.
Commr. Campione stated that she would only entertain making adjustments if they were also making a reduction so that their overall millage did not change.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they wanted to work off of the expenditure list and not add any additional ad valorem.
Commr. Campione stated that she would have a problem with anything that would result in an increase, including solid waste and other types of fees.
Commr. Conner commented that he agreed with that, although the objective of the Solid Waste Alternatives Task Force was to make the solid waste program a true enterprise program so that they do not have to subsidize that out of their general fund, which might mean that there would be a rate adjustment by 2014.
Mr. Minkoff pointed out that in 2014 the subsidy would go away automatically, and the task force was looking at the time period after 2014.
Commr. Hill commented that she wanted it to continue to be subsidized out of the general fund, because she believed that everyone should pay for Covanta and not just the unincorporated residents.
Mr. Minkoff opined that their solid waste costs are going to decrease significantly in a five to ten year timeframe because they have the landfill.
fire rescue and ems discussion
Commr. Conner commented that the Board has made a concerted effort to try to save money in Fire Rescue, and he believed they needed to move forward with that. He expressed an expectation that the meeting with the cities would result in some cost savings and an elimination of the duplication of some services.
Mr. Minkoff related that they were going to discuss Fire in depth at the workshop on January 11, and staff would be there to be able to give them exact figures.
Commr. Parks commented that he would like to look at what value it would be to combine EMS and their fire department.
Commr. Cadwell related that the first hurdle they would have with that would be the state retirement which would cost millions, and he did not know if they could make up millions in savings after the millions it would cost to put those employees in the state retirement system.
Commr. Campione stated that she heard it would cost $2 to $3 million, but she believed they needed to look at it.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they wait until they hear the presentation that Fire and EMS will be giving to the Board.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he was planning an update from Fire and Rescue which would include where their stations were, how many employees they had, what they were spending, and a hard look at their budget on January 11.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they could also have Lake-Sumter EMS make a presentation then, and he pointed out that the County owned that company and that Lake-Sumter EMS was not a separate entity.
Commr. Hill agreed that they should have both entities there, because they are two different functions in a lot of ways, although there could be some duplication.
Commr. Conner commented that they do not want to put someone’s life in jeopardy by cutting the level of service on a life or death issue, but that did not mean they could not look for efficiencies.
Commr. Campione asked if they would have to dissolve the EMS Service if they pursued the idea of combining fire and EMS service with Sumter County still part of that.
Commr. Cadwell answered that they would not want to be in business with Sumter on fire service, since there were different levels of service.
Commr. Conner asked if it was possible for the firefighters to go into whatever retirement program EMS has rather than EMS coming into the state pension program.
Commr. Cadwell noted that that would mean basically privatizing the fire department to some extent.
Mr. Minkoff related that Lake-Sumter EMS is set up as a government-owned corporation, and employees of a corporation cannot be members of FRS (Florida Retirement System.)
Commr. Campione stated that she thinks it is worth at least looking at that option, and they would still have the same control, since EMS is the County’s entity, even though they are a separate corporation. She opined that if they were just able to eliminate the duplication of administrative services they were currently doing individually for EMS and the fire department, she believed that would offset the FRS payment they were not presently paying.
Commr. Parks stated that he would like to look at the economies of scale and combining services, since conceptually there would be some value to that.
Mr. Minkoff pointed out that the MSTU for ambulance is set up so that all of the cities have joined it by ordinance, and some of the ambulances are housed in city fire stations. He commented that putting County fireman inside the city fire stations or having County fireman answer calls inside the city and ambulances may cause some issues with some cities.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the cities would then not sign the agreements, and several of the larger cities would go into the ambulance business themselves, which would result in a confusing system. He also clarified that the person on the ambulance is not just a transport person, but a very highly trained expert certified to do procedures such as new heart and stroke treatments that make a huge difference in transport, but the first responder in a fire truck is just there to stabilize and give first aid to the patient. He stated that there is more than just the money to consider, such as the very highly thought of and superior level of service provided by EMS and the favorable public perception of that service.
Commr. Campione stated that she thought they would still have different employees, some that were fire fighter trained and others strictly for ambulance service.
Mr. Minkoff explained that currently County firefighters are required to be a firefighter and EMT or a firefighter and paramedic, and they needed to be either an EMT or a paramedic to work for the EMS service. However, if they operated them together to achieve efficiency, the closest vehicle would be sent.
Commr. Hill stated that a presentation from both entities would help, and she also thought they needed to discuss the reduction of the capital from impact fee revenue during those presentations to point out that there were less fire stations being built.
Commr. Conner stated that he agreed about the large difference in the level of service between first responders and Lake-Sumter EMS, and he commented that they especially needed that service for the elderly population.
Commr. Cadwell opined that they would lose some good employees from EMS that only wanted to do ambulance service and not run into a burning building if they made their EMS employees take on firefighting duties.
Commr. Parks emphasized that he did not want the level of service to be affected at all, and he asked if the presentation would contain a discussion about combining EMS with fire services.
Commr. Cadwell responded that he hoped it would be a presentation to let the Board know where they are, what they do, and why they do it, because if they get into the discussion about combining the services now, their communication with the cities would shut down. He advised that the Board wait until they hear back from the cities so that the cities do not think that the County was moving ahead with their plan to consolidate those services.
Commr. Conner stated that he agreed with that and that he thought they needed to look at one issue at a time.
Commr. Campione expressed concern that the discussion would go on for the next several years.
Commr. Conner stated that he believed they would know something by the end of January.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he originally was thinking that he would bring them in and show the Board what they do, particularly focusing on whether it made sense to continue the interlocal service boundary agreement with Groveland and Mascotte.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the cities have a representative in the ambulance company, sign the agreements, and have a voting member on the Board. He did not think they should unilaterally have these discussions before waiting for the cities to get back to them. He emphasized that this is something that people have been trying to do for years.
Commr. Parks asked whether they could still look at this issue with Chief Jolliff and their staff.
Commr. Conner remarked that they could not do it internally by themselves.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he and Mr. Darren Gray, the Deputy County Manager, would be looking at that at their level with some staff involvement if the Board wanted them to do that.
Commr. Campione asked if they were anticipating in January that one or more cities will come back after looking at their inventory and where their problems are with an answer.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he hoped that the elected officials come back with some concrete ideas, and he believed the fire chiefs have started meeting and working on this, although he did not know whether it would be brought back through the council members and mayors or just on a staff level.
Commr. Parks clarified that he understood that the Board would hold off until after the January meeting.
Mr. Minkoff asked if he should include a presentation by Lake-Sumter EMS on January 11, and there was consensus from the Board to do that.
Mr. Minkoff stated that Commr. Conner, as the liaison to the Tourist Development Council (TDC), requested that the Board discuss two requests that the committee recently had for capital projects, one from the City of Tavares for $750,000 dollars to help them build a pavilion in the downtown area and one from the National Training Center (NTC), which is technically the South Lake Hospital District, to contribute towards the building of a field house for up to $4.5 million. He commented that they have not used resort tax a lot to fund capital projects, and he noted that he did not think the figures were correct in the backup material, since they gave $1 million, not $2 million, to the softball complex. He specified that in 2010 they spent only one-third of their operating expense, so they currently have $2.4 million in reserves in that fund. He asked if the Board wanted to do some type of competitive solicitations if they did do some capital projects so that anyone that qualified in the County could ask for it.
Commr. Cadwell stated that there have been problems in the past when they did not set up a process to decide which of those projects to fund.
Commr. Conner stated that the TDC really did not have a structure for awarding money, and he asked the Board to set up a fair evaluation process if they decide to use any of that money for capital projects.
Commr. Hill commented that she agreed that there has to be a policy with procedures intact when they go through this. She specified that they had previously given money to Sleepy Hollow complex out of resort taxes.
Commr. Cadwell opined that they needed to spend that money on the type of facilities and infrastructure that brings people to the County and creates room nights.
Commr. Campione stated that it would make sense to use some of those funds for that purpose, as long as they were still setting enough aside to take care of their marketing and advertising. She mentioned that Sumter County was doing a tourism development plan, and she asked if they have ever looked at the inventory of hotel rooms in Lake County.
Commr. Cadwell responded that the Orlando Sports Commission does that for them.
Commr. Campione asked whether the County is doing all they can to make sure that events are using Lake County’s rooms rather than going to Orlando.
Commr. Conner answered that the County was making sure of that, particularly in South Lake County, and Dr. Dot Richardson brings in events that were contractually obligating teams to stay in Lake County when there was capacity. He commented that the area of sporting events was the one economic development engine where they are seeing a lot of success and not seeing a downturn in, and the Central Florida Sports Commission has brought a lot of events to Lake County. He reported that the County at the recommendation of the TDC restored the Sports Commission’s funding to its 2008-09 level, because they had done such a good job, and they are requiring participants to stay in Lake County.
Commr. Campione suggested that the County look into possibly creating a staff position that would provide information to sports participants and spectators about what hotels and other things were available, with the cooperation of Chambers and hotel associations.
Commr. Parks stated that it was contractual that participants for NTC events had to stay in Lake County, and he opined that Dr. Richardson did a great job of tying it directly to heads and beds. He also commented that the Board should show that any capital investment or money expenditure the County makes would create a job gain or revenue benefit from that, and he believed that the field house project would show that benefit.
Commr. Hill suggested that they use the same process for TDC requests as the Board had used in the past when cities submitted requests for items that they wanted for their parks, such as ballpark lighting, and the Board evaluated those requests by committee.
Mr. Minkoff clarified that he would let the TDC know when they met on Wednesday that the Board was interested in looking at this, but they did not want them to make any recommendations now. He would also inform the TDC that the Board wanted to have an open process, and he would set that up.
Commr. Campione commented that she thought they should do that relatively quickly, since those two projects were examples of economic development.
Commr. Parks stated that he wanted submittals to include some type of business plan.
Commr. Campione commented that they should be able to tie the request to the bed tax and state what they would bring to the table that justifies the investment of capital in it.
Commr. Hill commented that everyone should get an opportunity to submit a request, and she knew there were some cities that would have some requests for that money.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced that there would be a recess for lunch at 11:50 a.m.
south lake park update
Mr. Minkoff reported that they had the County Attorney’s Office try to solicit as many properties as they could, and there were more than 50 that were submitted. He related that staff from the County Attorney’s Office along with Park staff have compiled a lot of information, have been out to look at all of the properties, and checked with Growth Management and Public Works to look at things such as Comp Plans and access. He reported that some of the sites in the Green Swamp were ruled out, since it was not an allowed use there, and they have narrowed it down to eight different sites, illustrating on a map the location of those sites. He noted that they have not been discussing price at this point, but have looked at suitability, location, and access, and he explained that once they narrow it down to the top three or four sites, then they probably would start discussing price with the sellers and factor that in to see if there was a possibility of donations. He opined that the best site seems to be one that was along the South Lake Trail not too far away from the Clermont park that the County helped purchase by the lake. He wanted to make sure that the Board was comfortable with the process they were using and if they had any questions. He also stated that they were looking for a site that was a minimum of 100 acres.
Commr. Parks noted that the connectivity to the trail system was important to him, and he clarified that they would be seeing the remaining three sites at the next day’s Board meeting.
impact fee discussion
Mr. Minkoff reported to the Board that the impact fee suspension automatically expires in March, and they would have to take action to extend them further by having the County Attorney’s staff get approval to advertise an ordinance in January. He wanted direction from the Board regarding what they wanted to do about the impact fee suspension.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he thought they needed to move forward with the suspension, and he opined that they would not need to spend money to hire a consultant or do anything else if they suspended the impact fees for another year.
Commr. Conner brought up that they have taken care of a lot of their road needs with federal stimulus money.
Mr. Minkoff clarified that the stimulus money was not used to build new capacity, but it really helped them in the maintenance of the roads. He also mentioned that they were advanced a lot of money from the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) for state road projects in the last couple of months.
Commr. Hill related that the new Impact Fee Committee asked that the consultant talk to the committee about the study’s findings and asked if they could make changes to the end result of that recommendation, since the new committee was not enamored with the methodology that the consultant used. However, she noted that the recommendation has not yet been discussed by the Board.
Mr. Minkoff commented that it would be premature to do that if the Board decides to suspend the fees for another year, because it may be another three years before the subject came up, and then they might have to restudy it to get updated cost figures.
Commr. Campione inquired whether it was just a matter of time before the Board goes back to impact fees as opposed to looking at other funding avenues.
Commr. Cadwell noted that if they were to look into gas taxes as an alternative, it would take two years to be able to implement those.
Mr. Minkoff responded that it would have to be done by June or July in order to take effect next January.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they should make the decision regarding gas taxes first before they have any more impact fee discussions, since that would be one factor that would drive down the impact fees.
Commr. Hill suggested that if they bring anything back, it should be the task force recommendations, because all of the different funding sources are in that report.
Commr. Conner related that he believed that the School Board was currently doing a study of impact fees, because the impact fee was supposed to reflect the true cost of building, which was lower in a down economy, and impact fees were supposed to have a legal basis to support it.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the law requires that they use the latest data, and the School Board’s data was several years old, so they are updating it the way the County was doing it for their fees. He noted that if the Board’s direction for them was just to suspend the impact fees for another year, then there was no discussion needed of the consultant’s report.
Commr. Parks clarified that the Board was in agreement to suspend them, and he asked whether the Board would decide in the next year what other alternatives to look at.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they could set up a workshop to have some discussions about that.
Mr. Minkoff related that they were planning a workshop regarding roads in March or April, and that would be a good opportunity to ask those kinds of questions.
Commr. Parks stated that his philosophy is making sure that the cost is still shared equitably with the people who have lived in the County.
school board/tavares/county maintenance facility
Mr. Minkoff presented a diagram showing the property immediately across from the Judicial Center and Old Highway 441 which was the location of the school maintenance facility and another parcel owned by the County. He reported that the City of Tavares has been desirous of getting the School Board to move out of that facility, and the School Board has taken the position that they could not afford to move since they needed a replacement facility. He stated that recently the School Board has signed a contract or authorized the signing of a contract to purchase a facility near the Industrial Park, and they have requested that Tavares buy the property from them. He explained that the City would like to build a new police and fire station there, but they did not have enough money to buy the whole thing, so they have invited the County to participate with them. He added that in conjunction with the new roadway, the City is making the roads one way, and they were trying to design the road so that it would be moved in order to be contiguous to the property. He related that there was one building on the property that was useable but not in great condition. He explained that they were also negotiating with the School Board to buy some property in Fruitland Park on CR 466A for right of way and a portion of the maintenance facility, which was valued at about $240,000 or $250,000.
Commr. Conner asked what they would use that property for.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he would move employees in there that were currently in rental space.
Commr. Conner commented that the County put a lot of money in the Facilities Building, and that would not be a bad building for them to use as office space.
Mr. Minkoff stated that if the new road was built, the County would vacate the road between the Judicial Center and the newly purchased property, and then the whole piece would become contiguous with the Judicial Center and would be available to them for future use. He noted that the City would pay some cash for their piece of land, as well as trading 20 acres outside of town.
Commr. Conner asked where the money would come from, whether there would be a written agreement between all three parties, and if there would be a time commitment for them to vacate the premises.
Mr. Minkoff answered that there would be an agreement and that they were asking for a year to vacate. He also explained that the $250,000 would come from the transportation fund for the purchase of the right of way, with the other $200,000 coming from sales tax. He commented that he wanted to make sure the Board was in accord with this before they did the agreement.
Commr. Conner asked how far down the City of Tavares would make the road one way.
Mr. Minkoff responded that it would be all the way to the other side of town to Disston.
Commr. Conner commented that it was a very ambitious project for the City, especially considering land acquisition and storm water costs.
Mr. Minkoff recapped that the Board was hearing about the rail issues at the MPO (Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization) meetings, and Mr. T. J. Fish, MPO Executive Director, has been calling the city and county managers together often to discuss when they would bring it to the Board for a commitment of expenditures. He presented a handout that listed the freight upgrade funding, and noted that there were two scenarios, one scenario which includes the receipt of a $2.2 million federal grant to use as match. He opined that Mr. Fish is optimistic about receiving the grant, and if the full grant was awarded, the County would have to pay $140,000 as their share to upgrade the tracks. He explained that if they do not receive the grant, then the County would be expected to pay about $640,000.
Commr. Cadwell commented that if the MPO did not receive the grant, he did not see how the County would be able to participate and that it would be difficult even with the grant.
Mr. Minkoff noted that this would have to be from general fund money, because since the railroad is not owned by the government, they would not be able to use the sales tax.
The Commissioners commented that this project has a lot of economic value.
Mr. Minkoff reported that he has suggested to the railroad that if they could secure the County the right of way for the trail or even an agreement to sell the County the right of way for fair market value at the time, it would make it more palatable for them, which he believed also reflected the mindset of some Mount Dora officials, who were interested in the trail running from Mount Dora to Sorrento, but not interested in the train. He also related that Florida Central Railroad might not be able to come up with their $1.84 million share.
Commr. Campione asked why they could not use the money from the Economic Development reserve fund for that project, since it was a good use of that money and could be tied to economic development.
Mr. Minkoff stated that there was $2,000,000 as well as another $100,000 in that fund balance reserve account that could be used.
Ms. Campione added that she would want to see some type of an analysis that shows justification of economic development based on the number of employees that might be generated as a result of having the upgraded freight rail.
Mr. Minkoff responded that staff was working on that and would have that for the Board, and he noted that it would result in a fund balance reduction.
Ms. Campione stated that she would like to see the type of businesses that they could anticipate attracting based on other areas that have freight rail, the location, and the likelihood that they could actually see activity created as a result of those upgrades.
Mr. Minkoff reported that this would likely come back to the Board in March, when they should have an idea of what the cities would do as well as the economic report. He called the Board’s attention to the next handout showing a study that DOT wanted to do at a cost of $75 million, and he related that DOT was paying 75 percent, leaving $425,000 as the share for the Lake and Orange County local match. He also noted that Lake County’s share of $212,500 could also be shared by the cities.
Commr. Hill believed that Tavares has already committed money for this project.
Mr. Minkoff responded that the City of Tavares has committed to do their share of both, and Eustis has also committed to contribute some funding for it. He noted that Mount Dora had some doubts especially about the passenger train project, because some people were opposed to the trains coming close to residential areas and into downtown Mount Dora at all.
veterans memorial – leesburg
Commr. Conner recapped that the Veterans Memorial Committee made a presentation to the Commission three or four months ago, and the City of Leesburg donated the land for the Veterans Memorial, which was a public-private partnership. He reported that they were doing a Metal of Honor podium, and historically the County has had Metals of Honor in their museum. He asked whether the County wanted to sponsor this $7500 expenditure toward this podium to show support of the project.
Commr. Cadwell asked who was building the memorial.
Commr. Conner responded that a reputable Lake County veterans group was building it and was in charge of it, and he wanted to ask for support for it before he put it on an agenda.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he had no problem with putting it on the agenda.
Commr. Parks stated that he thought it was a great idea, and he thanked Commr. Conner for bringing that to the Board.
pain clinic moratorium
Commr. Conner stated that the Sheriff informed him that the County did not really have a large problem with pain clinics right now, but he believed that the moratorium of pain clinics in Orange County might cause a problem if those clinics were relocated to Lake County and other counties that did allow it. He thought that stopping the expansion of pain clinics in Lake County would be a proactive measure.
Mr. Minkoff explained that these clinics were opened by unscrupulous doctors typically in seedy areas and bar districts where people go to them complaining of pain in order to prescription shop for drugs such as oxycodone. He related that it was a statewide problem, particularly in South Florida, and the legislature just passed a law to regulate them, but since no administrative rules have been going into effect that would have more than $1 million impact, several local county and municipal governments have been passing ordinances putting a moratorium on any new ones from opening to stem the problem.
Commr. Conner suggested that they put this on the agenda and have the Sheriff come to talk about this issue.
Commr. Campione asked how this would affect reputable pain management doctors who want to open an office.
Mr. Minkoff answered that the ordinance could exempt doctors of certain specialties and would be written in a way to focus strictly on those pain management clinics and not regular practicing doctors such as anesthesiologists, oncologists, and the specialties that would typically issue prescriptions for these types of drugs.
Commr. Hill commented that she thought the industry itself should be policing them.
Mr. Minkoff explained that it was exacerbated in Florida, which still does not have a statewide registry for prescriptions that flag when people go to several places for the same types of drugs.
regional transportation authority
Commr. Hill asked how much the Board wants to push the creation of a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) since the legislature would not give the County a seat on the Expressway Authority, and it would be coming back up again at future MPO meetings.
Commr. Cadwell opined that they could not set up a transportation authority without approval from the legislature, and he explained that because of everything that has happened with Sunrail and the monies the state was getting for other transportation projects, the state does not want anything to cloud any transportation issue this session.
Commr. Parks mentioned that in South Lake they were trying to build the connector to Orange County, and the route to do that might be to have their own transportation authority so that it could be a user fee toll road.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that the Chairman talk to Seminole, Orange, and Osceola Counties after January to see if they are interested in forming a transportation authority.
Commr. Campione commented that it was a good idea to talk to them and find out whether they have the same desire, and they could limit the scope of the types of things the authority would be initially getting involved in if they were still having problems from a legislative standpoint.
Commr. Parks stated that he would like to go forward with looking at that.
Commr. Campione asked whether they would look into a taxing authority that would give them the ability to seek funds that otherwise they could not.
Mr. Minkoff commented that he thought the theory was for a broad transportation system encompassing bus and train service with a four or five county tax to pay for all of those transportation improvements.
Commr. Hill suggested that they look at the legal aspects of this and find out what they legally can and cannot do and exactly what the funds could be used for.
Commr. Campione asked whether they could also look at the benefits of having their own authority, since they were looking at the statutory side of it.
Commr. Cadwell clarified that they would be looking into the viability of a Lake County as well as a regional transportation authority.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he would do the research and bring it back to the Board so that they could give him direction on how to proceed further.
conserve II property
Commr. Parks reported that there might be an application from the City of Clermont that would be coming forth for annexation for the Conserve II property.
Mr. Darren Gray, Deputy County Manager, reported that the City of Orlando Commission passed an approval granting permission for Clermont to annex a couple of weeks ago, and Orange County had it on the agenda for December 14 to approve the application for Clermont to annex the Conserve II property. He opined that that annexation agreement would probably go on Clermont’s agenda sometime during the timeframe of February or March.
Commr. Parks commented that he wanted the Board to be involved in this annexation with Clermont and to watch things such as any possible restrictions, land use agreements, and right of way reservations placed on the annexation agreement.
Commr. Cadwell mentioned that the County has a process to monitor annexations.
Mr. Gray related that the annexation agreement was very generic and that the agreement acknowledged that they would work in the future for a roadway right of way and mentioned economic development and job creation types of land uses in a general way.
Commr. Parks mentioned that the Board has been discussing how economic development has been of the utmost importance right now, and he asked the Board about a workshop that has been scheduled to discuss that.
Mr. Minkoff responded that the workshop to discuss the suggestions that came in regarding economic development was on Tuesday afternoon, February 1 at 1:00 p.m. in the Everett Kelly Convocation Center at the North Lake branch of Lake-Sumter Community College.
Commr. Campione added that there would be a facilitator there, and it would give them a chance to discuss ideas and work towards some solid objectives and strategies. She mentioned that she noticed that the newspaper recently reported on the grades that came out for the high schools, and she suggested regarding economic development ideas concerning the school district that instead of just reporting a B rating on their economic development site, they could post some positive things that are happening in the school system.
Commr. Conner specified that 82 percent of Lake County schools were A or B schools.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the County is struggling right now to market itself, since they have not filled that public information officer vacancy.
Commr. Conner commented that he believed that Mr. Minkoff was looking to see if he could fill that void internally without a new hire, but if there was a void in this particular area, he could request that the Board approve filling that vacancy.
Mr. Minkoff opined that although it would be great to have that position, he did not think they had the money in this cut-back mode to be filling those kinds of positions.
Commr. Conner opined that the Economic Development Department staff should be marketing the information regarding the school system and not necessarily a web master or a public resource person.
Commr. Hill pointed out that if the Board does not give them that direction, they would not know that they would want to market another entity along with the County.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the County’s new economic development person started this morning. He emphasized that the school system should have been marketing itself, but they did not do that until they got the public information officer (PIO) with the special talent and skill to do that, and the County currently does not have that kind of skill in their organization. He pointed out that the County is putting anything positive that Mr. Chris Patton, School Board PIO, sends out about the schools on their website.
Commr. Campione commented that this was the perfect discussion to have at the workshop in February.
Commr. Parks expressed concern that the County’s Tourist and Business Relations Department was separated from their Economic Development Department and whether it would work better to have those together.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he agreed that it would make more sense to have Tourism together with Economic Development and to have both departments answering to the County Manager’s Office.
Commr. Conner commented that the sporting events venue has been the most successful one for economic development, and he supported putting those two departments together.
Mr. Minkoff also mentioned that he has questioned whether they should keep the Welcome Center open, since he believed that it was a huge waste of resources, was in the wrong location, and was not receiving a lot of visitors.
Commr. Conner asked if they could report the changes of the organizational structure as well as the consideration of closing the Welcome Center to the TDC (Tourist Development Council) as a courtesy.
Mr. Minkoff responded that he would be glad to do that.
Commr. Parks mentioned that he is also interested in streamlined permitting, and although they currently have an online somewhat interactive system right now on their website that assists with permitting, in order to better encourage economic development and a business-friendly environment, he would like to improve upon that and take that significantly to another level. He believed that they could do that with their current staff and did not need to use an outside contractor. Some of his ideas include having a welcome kit for anyone that is moving to the County, enabling people to print out information, possible corporate sponsorship, and being able to answer business related questions.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he will have the IT (Information Technology) staff meet with him to see what they could do.
Commr. Hill referred to a packet containing legislative issues, which included all of the things from the previous year, except for the Wekiva issue, which was on the agenda for the next day’s regular BCC meeting. She informed the Board that if any of them have anything that they wanted to include in the package that was pertinent to Lake County, she needed to know that by the next day. She also noted that the legislative issues were Board driven.
county manager selection process
Commr. Hill stated that she wanted to get the Board’s thoughts in regard to the issue of how to go about the process to select a County Manager.
Commr. Cadwell commented that since Mr. Minkoff has taken over as Interim County Manager, it has been the easiest year and two months since he has been there, especially considering that they were going through the worst possible time economically and otherwise. He also opined that Mr. Minkoff has made it as easy a transition as he could, and he did not know where they would find anyone else with his intelligence, his common sense, and his political sense that could lead them any better than he has done in the last year or so. He also mentioned that he was the perfect person to get the County through the process of the layoffs, which were handled extremely well. He suggested that the Board have serious discussion about having the Chairman work out a contract with Mr. Minkoff to be County Manager.
Commr. Conner commented that he thought the “Interim” part of his title needed to be removed.
Commr. Hill suggested that they ask Mr. Minkoff if he was interested in the position or if it was something he would even consider before they made a decision.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he would accept the position, but he did not want it to be a political issue, and he would rather go back to being County Attorney than being offered the job as a result of a 3-2 vote of the Board.
Commr. Campione stated that another concept would be to get some community and business leaders together that are well-versed in seeking out CEO-type and high-level positions to take a look at whether there were available candidates.
Commr. Conner stated that the County has already done a nationally advertised search six months ago with the assistance of the Florida Association of Counties. He also related the details of a national search that the School Board did to fill the Superintendent position, which resulted in the choice of someone from Lake County that the School Board felt comfortable hiring for the Superintendent position. He opined that he had a lot of respect for Mr. Minkoff and that although they do not always agree on some issues, he felt that he was the epitome of integrity. He commented that the County was in a much better financial position now than what he thought they would be, because they were focused on the right financial issues which Mr. Minkoff has implemented in a very effective manner. He stated that attempts to move in another direction would be very divisive, and he did not think that would be in the best interest of the County.
Commr. Parks commented that he has great respect for Mr. Minkoff, but he believed that it was alright to try to go through the process and that it would not be divisive. He also believed that there could be some local people who could help look at the situation and see who exactly is going to be the best county manager for them, and that may end up being Mr. Minkoff. He noted that the process was done about a year and a half ago, and he thought that Lake County citizens have gotten the impression that the process of trying to find a county manager has died.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the process died because of the lack of progress that was made. He added that Mr. Minkoff took direction from the Board and knew what he had to do budget-wise to make that happen, and he opined that they could not find anyone that he would be more satisfied with.
Commr. Hill added that the results they had gotten during that process were very abysmal. She suggested that the new Commissioners work with Mr. Minkoff awhile in order to evaluate him now that they were on the Board, and then they could revisit this later if they wanted to do that.
Commr. Conner also suggested that those Board members give it a little time before assessing this issue, and he pointed out that they have a lot of challenges to concentrate on right now.
Commr. Campione stated that she has worked with Mr. Minkoff in many different capacities and has the utmost respect for him, and she has so far been completely impressed with the job he has been doing and the transition that he has been helping them make. She also noted that this was the first time she has heard the news that he wanted to even stay on as County Manager full time. She also explained that the Board had previously searched for candidates who were looking for jobs, but she believed that they should find people that have a job who meet all of the skill sets that they were looking for and leaders that are in similar situations who have done a great job with the circumstances that were similar to theirs.
Commr. Hill opined that Mr. Minkoff meets the criteria that she is looking for in a county manager.
Commr. Parks assured him that he would support him as County Manager even if it was as a result of a 3-2 vote.
Commr. Campione asked Mr. Minkoff how long he thinks he would stay on as County Manager.
Mr. Minkoff responded that he believed that government leadership should have succession, and there should be a deputy that would be able to immediately take over. He did not think he would still be working there in 15 years, but he thought he would possibly be there three to five more years, and he believed that Mr. Gray would hopefully fill that position at that time.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they set aside some time after the next Board meeting to discuss this issue again, since the new Commissioners were caught off guard by not knowing that Mr. Minkoff was interested in the position, to give them time to think it through.
outsource of fleet maintenance
Commr. Campione suggested that the Board explore the possibility of outsourcing fleet maintenance, since she has read that it could be done less expensively that way.
Commr. Parks concurred that it was worth looking at.
integration of benefit programs
Commr. Campione inquired about economies of scale as far as benefits, and she asked if this idea has ever been broached with the School Board.
Mr. Minkoff stated that they have not discussed that with the School Board, but he has talked with the Clerk, who he thinks will come into the County’s benefit program next year, and the Sheriff, who said he would consider it. He commented that since the School Board is so much larger than the County, it would be like the County being engulfed into their program.
Commr. Conner recommended that they not join with the School Board in the benefit program. He commented that the County was currently in a self-funded plan that was working well, and he was concerned that if they expanded too much, it would adversely affect their claims and negate the whole purpose of the self-insurance.
Commr. Cadwell opined that any of the constitutional officers would be fine, but he did not want to include the school system in any insurance plan.
Commr. Campione asked about the clinics that the cities were talking about.
Mr. Minkoff explained that they have spent a lot of time looking at that and have discussed that with their benefits consultant. He opined that his initial thought was that it would cost them money, because the clinics were giving away their prescriptions for free, which would be an additional cost to them, and they were using compensated time for employees to go to the clinics, which would be difficult for the County since the employees were spread out throughout the County. He noted that they were going to watch the progress of those clinics and that the County was trying to reinstitute the wellness program that was cut out two years ago.
Commr. Campione asked whether there was any chance that the Board would revisit the decision regarding the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) building.
Commr. Parks pointed out that they will have the decision in March or April of whether to fund the construction.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the State requires them to have one.
Commr. Conner noted that he did not vote for the EOC, and he related that the three options they had were to build it the way it currently is planned, modify it, or not build it at all. He mentioned that they could also build it at a smaller scale than what is currently planned, but it was a comprehensive issue that could not be discussed in a short amount of time. He opined, however, that if the Board decided to change the scope of the work, they needed to do it as soon as possible or they would be wasting money, since they would be paying more in architect fees if they waited any longer, especially until March to make that decision.
Commr. Hill opined that she thinks the Board will be pleasantly surprised, since the design has been reduced somewhat, and she believed that it will be far less costly than what they fathomed.
Commr. Parks commented that he believed that they needed one, but he still had concerns about the size and scope of it, and he wanted to see what other options were available. He felt that it was incumbent upon him to make his final decision and bring that back to the Board.
Commr. Conner suggested that they have the architect make a presentation to the Board to tell them what the options are, and he mentioned that one option would be to spend just the $4.5 million of federal money that they had gotten for that project.
Commr. Parks stated that he believed the 911 centers needed to be together.
Commr. Conner pointed out that it would be expensive to do that, and that was not an option that was part of the federal money. He suggested that Commr. Parks study that issue in the next couple of weeks.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 2:40 p.m.
jennifer hill, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK