special meeting of the board of county commissioners
december 13, 2011
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special workshop session on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 9:00 a.m., at Camp Challenge, Mount Plymouth, Florida. Commissioners present at the workshop were: Leslie Campione, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Sean Parks; Jimmy Conner; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Darren Gray, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan.
Mr. Darren Gray, County Manager, requested to move Tab 3 up to make it the first presentation, since there were a lot of people in the audience who were waiting to hear the CFAC recommendations, followed by Tab 4 regarding the mobility fee discussion. Also, he requested to move the CRA presentation under Commr. Campione’s reports up to Tab 5.
presentation by camp challenge
Ms. Suzanne Caporina, Vice President of Programs, gave an overview of the services Camp Challenge provided for both children and adults with disabilities and special needs, including health care, early intervention services, and personal emergency response, as well as providing support and education to their families.
Mr. Archie Archwald, Director at Camp Challenge, presented a slide presentation of the camp experiences and noted that they focus on the ability of the individuals who come there and not the disabilities.
Ms. Caporina specified that Camp Challenge consisted of 63 acres, several different types of cabins, a petting farm made up of rescue animals, and rope and zipline courses. She noted that one of their campers who has been attending the camp since its inception 50 years ago recently celebrated a 60th birthday, and the camp itself celebrated a 50th birthday of its opening in 1961. She commented that because of the advanced age of the camp, there are maintenance needs and things that constantly need replacement or repair, and she specified that replacement of their swimming pool in order to meet code is their most pressing need at this time, mentioning that they have a capital campaign to cover that $250,000 expense by next summer.
county manager’s consent agenda
economic development and tourism
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the request for approval and signature on the Agreement with Lake Sumter Community College for the operation of the Business Opportunity Centers and the Lake County Board of County Commissioners. Fiscal Impact is $102,000.
capital facilities advisory committee’s recommendations
Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, gave a list of the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) members, noting that Mr. Davis Talmage III was Chairman and Mr. Bill Benham was Vice Chair. He mentioned that the committee held ten meetings since its inception on May 17, 2011, and that they presented their findings to the Board on November 1, 2011. He presented a slide which showed how the road impact fee revenue spiked in 2005 and has declined significantly since then, and he mentioned that he would discuss the cost of maintaining the road system, which he commented was determined by the size of the system rather than growth. He stated that he would explain how they came to the projection of the capital needs over a 20-year period of $700 million, and he mentioned that they also looked at 91 unfunded projects that were not on the road program for the last 5 to 10 years to see which of those should be included in the 20-year list of needed projects as well as costs for maintaining 1400 miles of roads including resurfacing and stormwater retrofits over a 20-year time frame. He pointed out that this figure did not contain any expansion projects, since there was no mathematical formula to achieve that number using local funds. He went through the possible revenue projections showing how the County could pay for those needs, such as the three cent gas tax, grants, ad valorem taxes, the six cent local option gas tax, and sales tax, presenting a chart illustrating all of those funding sources and commenting that it showed less of a reliance on impact fees and a more balanced funding source in the future.
Mr. Stivender then went over the recommendations of the committee, with the first recommendation being utilization of ad valorem funding for maintenance of the County’s road system, starting at 2 percent of the property values and increasing 2 percent each year thereafter until it was funded at 8 percent in 2016, and he pointed out that the County used 8 percent of the general fund in the early 80’s to fund transportation maintenance. He commented that a problem with implementing this recommendation at this time was that the funds are currently in decline. He related that the second recommendation from CFAC was to renew the six cents of the local option gas tax for a 30-year term using an adjusted distribution formula with the municipalities, and he related that he met with and were working on agreements with each of the city managers, which he would update the Board on in January. The third recommendation was to renew and re-allocate the one-cent infrastructure sales tax for two 15-year terms and for both the County and the cities to use half of that for transportation needs, and he opined that roads were important for attracting businesses and quality of life. He specified that the funds for the current tax in place would run out in 2017, so the referendum would occur in 2016, noting that sales tax is used for capital and capacity. He then stated that the committee wanted to have a referendum to institute a five cents local option gas tax, preferably in this year’s election in the fall of 2012 to have public involvement rather than approve this tax with a 4/5 vote of the Board, but he pointed out that it would take a year’s cycle after approval for the funds to become available if implemented through referendum. He presented a map on the screen that illustrated the gas prices for the counties in the Central Florida area and the taxes charged in those counties, pointing out that the prices were more affected by interstate traffic. He went on to discuss the committee’s recommendation number 5 regarding road impact fees, noting that they supported the 2010 Duncan report because it contained updated information, and he pointed out that the suspension of those fees ends on March 1, 2012. He added that the CFAC wanted all of the other funding sources used before implementing impact fees and wanted to utilize the county unemployment rate in figuring the impact fees that would be charged. He mentioned CFAC’s sixth recommendation, which was a combination of different revenue sources and fees, including doc stamps and tire surcharges, which are enacted by the legislature; mobility fees; and MSTU.
Commr. Cadwell commented that whenever they ask the state legislators to enact some of those types of fees, they get a response asking the County to implement all of their local options first, such as the five cent gas tax.
Mr. Stivender summarized that the CFAC came up with a number that they would need for transportation for the next 20 years as well as all of the funding sources and how those funding sources would be used. He stated that they would monitor the ad valorem if desired sometime at a later date when those revenues are available.
Mr. Gray added that they would be talking about the ad valorem funding of roads during the budget discussion later in the meeting, and they were going to only monitor it rather than using it as an option at this time until it stabilizes or increases because it was still in a decline.
Mr. Stivender reported that his goal was to have agreements with the cities back to the Board sometime in 2012 as to what projects would be improved, what roads would be transferred, and support for the change in the formula to renew the existing six cent local option gas tax. He recommended that the existing formula stay the same for the renewal and re-allocation of the sales tax, and he noted that they were looking for direction from the Board regarding whether there was any support for the referendum or the four-fifths vote on the five cent gas tax.
Mr. Gray reminded the Board that the County was now at 7 cents and had the option to increase it to 12 cents before it maximized out the gas tax allocation that they could levy.
Mr. Stivender related that 27 out of 67 counties have adopted all or most of the pennies. He continued to explain that they were also seeking Board direction regarding whether to reinstate or discount impact fees after the suspension is over.
Mr. Gray stated that the feedback he has been getting from builders in the community indicated that they were waiting to see the Board’s direction on this issue. He noted that the Board received a letter from the School Board with their impact fee study report, and they should also communicate to the School Board what their decision regarding impact fees would be.
Commr. Campione commented that the Board should have a discussion with the School Board to find out where they stood on this issue.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that the Board’s Chairman meet with their Chairman after the Board knows what they plan on doing.
Commr. Campione stated that she was glad to do that.
Mr. Minkoff informed the Board that he would need 30 days to prepare the ordinance.
Mr. Stivender commented that they were able to do cost sharing with developers when the County had impact fees using credits for building homes in a subdivision; however, they have not been able to utilize that partnership with the suspension of the impact fees, noting that they have lost that tool to work with the development community to fund projects. He stated that some of the funding sources in Recommendation No. 6 were currently available, but he requested direction about some that needed legislative action which could be requested in a legislative package or something they could do with FAC (Florida Association of Counties.)
Mr. Gray announced that a representative from Tindale-Oliver was at that day’s meeting to make a short presentation regarding mobility fees.
Commr. Campione took public comment from the audience.
Ms. Jean Etter, a resident of Mount Plymouth, stated that she would be concerned that the implementation of the additional five cent gas tax would be burdensome to the residents of Lake County and would be a significant increase for those that are having financial difficulty.
Ms. Nancy Hurlbert, who served on the CFAC committee, emphasized that the most important recommendation of the committee was the first recommendation of the ad valorem tax, which was imperative, should be implemented first and foremost, and would result in the highest source of revenue. She commented that they need to put a priority on roads, since a good roadway system encourages new business, and it is time for Lake County to rethink their priorities.
Commr. Conner asked whether the CFAC discussed the fact that the County was taking money out of reserves to balance the budget and whether they addressed a potential revenue source to accomplish that objective.
Ms. Hurlbert responded that they did not specify a source to fund that, but they did feel strongly that a review of all expenditures needs to be done to look for possible streamlining, including a possible audit of all of the departments to make sure that the funds are being used to their utmost and whether any funds could be reallocated. She added that she believed that the committee originally recommended that the two percent be implemented in this budget year, which was earlier than they were currently recommending.
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares, stated that he attended most of the CFAC meetings, and he reiterated that the CFAC was very adamant about the ad valorem taxes and felt that the Board should start allocating a consistent percentage from the property taxes for that. He opined that the $700 million figure the committee came up with for future needs was not validated by anyone, and he did not believe that the unfunded projects from previous years that Mr. Stivender referred to were ever brought to the Board.
Ms. Linda Nagle, Director of the Home Builders Association and a member of the CFAC, commented that it was important for the Board to make a timely decision regarding the impact fees, because new home construction is in competition with foreclosures and short sales, resulting in extremely small margins for the construction industry, and the impact fees could make a difference in the ability of the builder to sell a new home. She opined that construction is one of the largest economic engines in the country that historically brings the economy back out of a recession or depression and provides a lot of the middle class jobs, and there was no need for new roads or schools when there was no growth. She encouraged the Board to extend their moratorium and to consider what the right level is when they reinstated the impact fees.
Ms. Debbie Stivender, representing the School Board, informed the Board that they sent them the letter regarding impact fees, and by process they had to send the Board the report once it was done; however, they have not yet had an in-depth discussion on the impact fees, and they felt that they needed to meet with the Board in order to do that. She commented that the schools needed the money as much as the County did in order to have an educated workforce.
Mr. Jack McDonald, a resident of Cassia Station, stated that he was not in favor of increasing the ad valorem taxes but was in favor of the five percent gas tax, since he felt it was more equitable for users of the roads to pay for them.
Mr. Jim Myers, Executive Director of the League of Cities, applauded the County for the study and the work that has been done, but he noted that the League of Cities has not had an opportunity to take a position on this, since they had not been notified of this meeting until last Friday. He encouraged the Board to have more communication with the League of Cities regarding the reallocation of the existing six cents as well as the renewal of the one cent sales tax.
Mayor Jim Richards from the Town of Lady Lake stated that he believed in impact fees and user fees to put the burden on where it is necessary and where the costs come from, and he believes maintenance should come out of the gas tax. He requested that the Board seriously consider increasing the local option gas tax and reinstating the impact fee, and he added that the formulas that were used to calculate the future cost of maintaining the road system were from engineering and planning studies.
Mr. T. J. Fish, Executive Director of the MPO, pointed out that the local option gas tax was for an additional five cents per gallon, since he believed there was a misconception that the tax would cost five cents per dollar, and commented that the Board needs to have a discussion about the level of impact fees, because the development community wants predictability. He requested that the Board re-energize their program and opined that the second local option gas tax was probably the most immediately beneficial to the program. He also opined that retailers of the gas would absorb what it takes to compete.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he believed the Board should let the business community know now whether they intend to extend the suspension of the transportation impact fees and that he was in favor of doing that. He explained that although he has historically been in favor of impact fees, he believed that these times are different than any other time in the past.
Commr. Parks stated that he agreed that suspending the impact fees for another year would help some of the businesses in the county.
Commr. Conner asked to see the data from April 2010 to the present and noted that they saw 630 jobs created and a $10 million increase in the taxable value in the first 12 months after waiving those fees from March 2009 to March 2010, which is the justification for the extension.
Commr. Campione stated that she thought it was important when they were looking at all of those different funding options to consider that the reason they were in a bind now was that they relied solely on one source in the past to fund so many of their transportation needs. She recommended that the Board isolate the projects they would be looking at funding with those proceeds so that residents were aware of them. She commented that she was concerned that the Board was thinking of taking impact fees off the table, and she would be in favor of adopting a very much reduced rate so that they had a tool that staff could use when negotiating over a new project to take care of needs and to have projects funded up front.
Commr. Cadwell responded that he believed impact fees would be part of their long-range plan, but not in this current environment.
Commr. Parks related that the CFAC stressed that they would need a portfolio of options, and although he does not like putting the impact fees off for one more year, he felt that it was the best thing to do right now. He also believed they should show commitment in some way to the first recommendation of using ad valorem taxes this budget year.
Commr. Hill commented that she did not care for the idea of tying the impact fees to unemployment and believed it would lead to uncertainty. She also believed that taking funds from the ad valorem taxes might not be feasible at this point, since in the past it was done before the decline of the economy.
Commr. Conner commented that the County needed to think about being competitive with other counties who were currently waiving impact fees, and he opined that they sometimes had to adjust their policies to meet the needs of what was happening in the economy. He also recommended that when they do reinstate impact fees in the future, it was done incrementally in gradual phases.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board voted to extend the suspension of the transportation impact fees for an additional twelve months.
Commr. Campione gave direction to have staff research a potentially reduced rate for next year which would allow the County to work with developers to potentially get projects funded up front when possible.
Mr. Minkoff informed the Board that he would prepare an ordinance to bring back to the Board in January.
Commr. Campione commented that she believed they needed to work with the School Board on the six cent sales tax issue, but they would need to look at the specific types of things they would be asking to be funded through this sales tax before asking the public to renew it.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the last time it was passed the School Board had a specific list to present to the public of the uses for the funds that would be generated from that tax, and he believed they needed to do the same thing with transportation projects, which would also show the County’s commitment to transportation needs.
Commr. Parks agreed that the County needed to show their priorities for their portion.
Commr. Hill asked about the distribution of that money currently.
Mr. Stivender responded that transportation currently receives 1/6 of the total, but the CFAC recommended that it go to ¼ of the total, and he added that 50 percent of what they are receiving now is used for resurfacing, with the other 50 percent going to capital projects and vehicle maintenance. He recommended shifting the funding to capital projects and using the five cents from the gas tax for resurfacing.
Commr. Hill commented that they needed to have a discussion with the cities about the use of the sales tax money.
Commr. Conner stated that he believed that the current model regarding the distribution of the sales tax has been successful and should be continued, and he commented on the much improved condition of the schools because of that funding source.
School Board Member Debbie Stivender mentioned that they would be next making improvements to the small community schools that have not yet been addressed.
Mr. Stivender added that the County also had a list of projects when the tax was originally adopted in 2001 and noted that they have completed all of those projects.
On a motion by Commr. Conner, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board voted to accept the staff recommendation to keep the existing distribution of the sales tax formula of 1/3 each for the County, the municipalities, and the School Board.
Commr. Campione indicated that they could discuss the first recommendation of the CFAC committee regarding ad valorem taxes when they have their budget discussion later on in the meeting, and she noted that staff was requesting direction regarding recommendation #4 regarding the five cent gas tax.
Commr. Cadwell opined that the County should have instituted that a few years ago and that it would help them with the state.
Commr. Parks indicated that he did not want to make that decision that day, and he would want to hear from the Chambers and the cities about whether they support this. He stated that since this was a tax increase, he wanted to show there was no other option, and he believed that it was part of a portfolio of options which also included user fees and property taxes.
Commr. Campione commented that some of the data showed that prices would not necessarily increase as a result of the implementation of this tax.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that the Board give themselves a deadline before the end of January to place this on the agenda to make a decision about whether they approve it themselves or put it on a referendum.
Commr. Campione commented that that would give them time to talk to the cities, the other stakeholders, and their constituents regarding this issue.
Mr. Gray informed the Board that he would need the Board’s decision by July 1, 2012 in order for it to take effect January 1, 2013.
Commr. Hill stated that she believes the public should be informed about the correct information concerning this issue, such as the fact that the increase would be five cents per gallon rather than per dollar.
Commr. Conner opined that the Board has had credibility regarding sound fiscal conservatism because of the way they have governed in the last few years, including not increasing millage rates, reducing its workforce by 120 positions, and cutting general fund expenditures by $23 million since 2008, and they could talk about the process in January.
Mr. Gray stated that he would place that on the January 24 meeting agenda.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:50 a.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
presentation by tindale-oliver regarding mobility fees
Mr. Bob Wallace with Tindale-Oliver & Associates stated that he would talk about the work they did in Pasco County that was mentioned in some of the CFAC meetings, as well as a transportation study they were doing in Osceola County. He related that Pasco County wanted to study the lack of jobs and where they want development to occur in the county to enable them to come up with and adopt their strategic and business plans, which led to a mobility fee discussion. He related that they adopted a tax increment ordinance for a future set-aside of a third of the incremental increase in valuation created by growth over the next 25 years dedicated to funding transportation as well as an update of the transportation impact fee ordinance, and he commented that it was the first county-wide mobility fee in the state. He pointed out that one key concept is that the County would need less improvements when growth was slow, and Pasco County was planning on expanding their transit service and had earmarked funds for state roads by leveraging their impact fees to get projects built. He related that Pasco County also had opt-in provisions for their four cities, and he pointed out that Lake County already currently had interlocal agreements with most of the cities in dealing with their impact fee program. He pointed out some differences between the two counties such as Pasco County’s implementation of the gas tax and new tax increment of 1/3 of growth countywide worth about $450 million over the next 25 years. He listed the three rate schedules instituted by Pasco County, which were the traditional, traditional neighborhood development, and a specific schedule for promoting transit oriented development, with those schedules being varied between the rural area in the north, the suburban area in the central part of the county, and the urbanized area touching Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties; and he specified that the traditional office fee was much lower since they were land-uses that generated greater employment, with a zero fee for office in the urbanized area and a reduced fee for the right mix of uses in the right form. He added that they were also updating their land development regulations to specifically state what that form is and what the type of form is for transit-oriented development as well in order to have a specific set of guidelines that the development community has to follow to get these significantly-reduced fees for single-family and office. He also indicated that they had a transit-oriented overlay district in the southern and eastern parts of the county which was included in the Comprehensive Plan with drafted regulations to implement that in those areas. He summarized that the mobility fee was also a tool to implement the Comp Plan, an economic development tool which would create new jobs, and a way to direct development in the right form, in the right place, and at the right time.
Mr. Wallace then mentioned a transportation funding study that they were doing for Osceola County as well as a multi-modal transportation study for the City of Orlando. He noted that Osceola County was concerned about their mix of revenues, which went from 60 percent residential and 40 percent non-residential in 2004 to 72 percent residential and 28 percent non- residential presently, and part of their study was to analyze this mix of revenues to come up with an approach that would hopefully result in a more robust mix to generate a better balance of revenues that was not so dependent on residential. He illustrated on a chart the transportation development cost curve and the annual growth rate over time, showing that when growth is very high, they need to collect a lot more of the funding from the development community or need other revenue sources and that they would not need a transportation development fee at all at one percent growth to maintain the level of service. He mentioned that they were looking at tools to incentivize the redevelopment along the livable corridors with higher densities and intensities using funding sources such as MSTU’s, MSBU’s, and tax increments. He commented that Osceola County was looking at some of the same type of issues as Lake such as how they would fund the cost of development without relying on impact fees by replacing it with other options such as tax increments and sales tax, and he noted that some of the direction they had gotten from Osceola County was to target development in specific locations, minimize or eliminate transportation development cost, use the tax increment scenario, and create a more diverse revenue base to fund their transportation needs. He commented that some level of transportation development costs being born by the development community is probably appropriate at the right time, and that had to be balanced with the other sources that the County had at their disposal, such as the gas taxes and the ad valorem. He opined that the CFAC did a great job.
Commr. Campione pointed out that his recommendation would mean that someone who builds a house in a more rural area in Pasco County would pay roughly $8,000 more than someone who chose to build within one of the urban nodes.
Mr. Wallace responded that someone in a transit-oriented development area would pay zero, and the fee would be $2500 for a home in a traditional neighborhood development which was part of a mixed-plan use development instead of the $8,000 fee for a home in a rural area. He further explained that this was to incentivize and to get the right form of development in the targeted locations where they wanted it, since those from rural areas have longer trips and consume more capacity on the roadway, resulting in a higher cost to maintain over time.
Commr. Parks opined that he believed that charging higher fees for a rural location would be a problem.
Commr. Campione opened the presentation up for public comment.
Ms. Helen McCormack, a resident of Sorrento, opined that she believed that was a wonderful plan, because she believed people should pay for living far away from amenities, since that was their lifestyle choice and it was consistent with a supply and demand free market.
Ms. Susan Brooks, a resident of the Sorrento area, opined that $8,000 was an exorbitant fee to be able to choose to live on a larger parcel of land.
Commr. Campione commented that they were trying to focus growth in the urban areas.
Mr. Wallace added that those were tough decisions Osceola County had to make to generate the right growth in the right locations at the right densities and intensities.
Commr. Parks asked if Tindale-Oliver could run basic tax increment scenarios for Lake County.
Mr. Wallace responded that they would need to know the County’s desired growth locations and whether their Comp Plan was updated with where they want development to occur and if it was reflective of some of the current trends such as in the Leesburg area, so they could have a feel for what that increment would generate and how much it would buy down the targeted land uses.
Commr. Campione commented that this would require a much larger philosophical discussion by the Board to take place at another time.
Mr. Bob Thielhelm, Mayor of Mount Dora, pointed out that even if they adopted all six recommendations from CFAC, they would just accommodate the County’s maintenance requirements, irrespective of any capital additions to the transportation system or the cities’ requirements. He commented that the two cents they receive from gas taxes does not address all of their city’s maintenance requirements, and it is clear that they need to find a variety of funding sources for their transportation needs. He stated that the County was not keeping up with the maintenance of their infrastructure, and they needed to get the word out about that to the public; also, they clearly needed to find some creative funding sources for their transportation needs.
budget discussion and presentation
Mr. Gray recapped that they had discussed starting the budget process a lot earlier this year and to look at a five-year plan, and he related that he and staff members have been working on some recommendations and an outlook to put before the Board about how they are looking to fund their operations as well as those of the constitutional officers. He started by discussing the Public Lands Debt Service, mentioning that it was voted in by the voters in November 2004 and that the ad valorem tax for that could not exceed one third of a mil. He explained that the purpose of the Public Lands bond was the acquisition and improvement of the lands within the County to protect drinking water sources, preserve natural areas, protect open space from overdevelopment, improve water quality, and provide parks and trails. He reported that initially the millage was set by the County at .2 mills in 2008, which was rolled back in 2009 to .1101 due to mandatory rollbacks from the legislature and stayed at .1101 until the present. He illustrated on a graph that the revenues have decreased substantially since 2008 by almost $2 million per fiscal year, as well as a predicted decline in revenue through 2013, mainly based on decreasing property values. He then showed a graph illustrating that the revenue does not meet the expense of the bond payment as a result of the lower millage rate, resulting in the use of the fund balance obtained in prior years to pay their debt service. He pointed out, however, that if they continue to keep the millage at .1101 for public lands, they were projecting that next budget year there will not be enough fund balance left to pay the bond payment. He reported that the Tax Appraiser’s Office has estimated that there would be another 8 percent decrease in property values next year, which directly relates to the decrease that the County receives from ad valorem taxes, and they were predicting another three percent decrease in 2014. He explained that they were expecting a stabilization of those decreases to begin in 2015 and a slight increase in 2016 and 2017, as the housing market starts to rebound. He related that they were looking at targeting their reserves in this fund at 20 percent of the expenses in case of property value fluctuations in the future, and he recommended setting the county-wide rate for the public lands debt service at .1950 in FY 2013, which would enable the revenues to meet the expense of the bond payment with a small cushion.
Mr. Gray presented a chart to the Board illustrating the general fund millage rates over the last five years, specifying that the millage was 6.4759 in FY 2007, but has been consistent at 5.2263 for the last four years as a result of the rollbacks; and he showed a graph illustrating that their main revenue source coming into the general fund has decreased 38 percent over the last five years, with the projection for next year of another 8 percent loss of property values. He also noted that it is estimated that in 2013 the County will be back to the 2005 or possibly even the 2004 ad valorem levels. He went over the assumptions for their five-year model, which included the decreases he previously mentioned for FY 2013 and 2014, stabilization in 2015, slight increases in 2016 and 2017, a two-percent increase in sales tax revenue, some increases to the Medicaid budget, a decrease in the solid waste transfer in FY 2014 as a result of the end of the Covanta contract, a $1 million reserve at the year-end closeout, and maintenance of a target reserve of 15 percent of expenses. He presented graphs that showed a decrease in expenses since 2008, a steady decline in revenues since that time, and the fact that the new revenue coming in will not meet the expenses for the next five years; as well as other graphs which indicated that the County would start to fall below a 15 percent reserve in 2013, with a wipeout of that reserve in 2014. He illustrated who the users of the general fund were using a pie chart, indicating that the County departments made up only 24 percent of that expenditure, with the majority of the funding going to the constitutional offices, especially the Sheriff. He then went over the County’s mandated-critical expenditures which came out of their 24 percent share of the funding, which were approximately $874,000 for LifeStream, $360,000 for the Health Department, $2.65 million for Medicaid-related services, $2.4 million for CRA’s, $780,000 for the Medical Examiner, $750,000 for Juvenile Justice, and $48,000 for the East Central Florida Planning dues. He listed the mandated critical expenditures that made up the transfers to the constitutional offices, including almost $50 million to the Sheriff, $3.7 million to the Clerk of Courts, and $2.1 million to the Property Appraiser, as well as transfer of $5.7 million for the debt service for the Judicial Center, Transportation Disadvantaged, the landfill fund, and the fire assessments. He went over the discretionary expenditures, which he pointed out was the only part of the budget that they had the ability to work with, including the transfer for the libraries of almost $4 million, social services grants, the prescription drug program, We Care, the funding of two positions for early intervention for the State Attorney’s Office, and reimbursement to cities to help subsidize non-resident recreational fees especially in the south part of the county. He reported that they also give money to Trout Lake Nature Center, MyRegion.org, LASER, the Lake County Historical Society, St. John’s River Alliance dues, and funding for economic development initiatives. He opined that the discretionary expenditures were very small, with the largest parts for the libraries and economic development. He mentioned the reduction of 100 general fund positions over the last five to six years and noted that they were still maintaining the same level of service that the citizens receive. He went over the population increase since 2005, pointing out that although the budget is decreasing, the population of the county has actually been increasing at a steady rate.
Mr. Gray emphasized that the County needs to start making some critical decisions beginning next year, and he commented that the County departments cannot balance the general fund and that they would have to look at all users of the general fund to solve this problem. He went over several different scenarios, including reduction of expenditures by ten percent next year for all general fund users, and pointed out that they would still need to use more reserves to balance the budget even at a ten percent decrease and would still run out of reserves by 2017. He strongly pointed out that they had to look at both the expense and revenue side of the budget to make sure that the County was sustainable and able to provide the expected services to its citizens. He listed some of the challenges that he was expecting to face in the future, including the five-percent increase in employer contribution rates for the FRS starting in 2013 for special-risk employees, rising Medicaid costs, and anything that comes down to the local level from the state legislative session. He assured the Board that staff has been brainstorming all of the options, and he commented that the Board would have to deal with the revenues at some point, although he indicated that he was not making any recommendation regarding that to them at this point. One option he suggested was to set a separate millage rate under an MSTU for the library system and law enforcement and to lower the MSTU for the operations and maintenance of the parks for the unincorporated area and add that expenditure into the county-wide millage, since some of the parks were becoming within municipal limits and being used by both the city and unincorporated residents. He added that he wanted to start their budget process by February, and staff was trying to put together a comprehensive budget guideline for the County that could also be used by the constitutional officers.
Commr. Cadwell opined that it made sense to take parks out of the MSTU, since most of their parks are now county-wide.
Mr. Gray related that they would run some of those scenarios and let the Board know the outcome, and he pointed out that the Sheriff currently was not required to give the County a line item description of his budget every year as well as the fact that the Sheriff provides a lot of law enforcement service to the cities.
Commr. Campione stated that it was critical now for her to discuss this information with the constitutional officers in the near future, particularly the Sheriff since that made up a huge part of the budget, but they have to show that the County was making cuts as well.
Commr. Conner emphasized that the County was on a path that they could not sustain and were spending down their reserves way too fast. He commented that they would have some tough decisions to make in the future, such as looking at a more cost effective way to deliver library services and elimination of the duplication of services with the municipalities, before he decides to implement an increase in the ad valorem.
Mr. Gray pointed out that the County has been reducing the budget for the last five years and has cut to the point of just maintaining the core required mandated services they were required to provide without affecting the level of service. He related that he ran a couple of different scenarios based on rollback rates, which was the same amount of revenue the County would receive the year before, with the same assumptions they looked at for the next five years, which would recoup the eight percent decrease in 2013 for the services they provide that the citizens wanted. He illustrated that the revenue would meet the existing expenses with the implementation of the five percent cuts as well as providing stability in the reserves for the next five years, and he pointed out that that would also give them another funding source that the County could put into the road system. He ran a scenario showing a rollback instituted in 2014 for the three percent projected decrease, which would result in a depletion of reserves by 2017, and he commented that that scenario would not work in the long term. He commented that they need to set millage rates where they need to be, and he pointed out that the taxes the citizens pay would be the same as the year before. He also commented that it is hard to run operations when property values have decreased over the last six to seven years by almost 40 percent, which is almost half of their revenue source coming into the general fund. He recommended to the Board that they deal with the revenues sooner rather than later using a host of options that they could use to look at sustainability in the long term, and he pointed out that they needed to think about the quality of life component of their county as well.
Commr. Hill opined that they had to look at the Public Lands debt service to make sure they meet that obligation and to maintain it within that account rather than the general fund.
Mr. Gray noted that the voters did approve that, and he opined that that millage should not have been reduced so low, although the long decline of the economy was not expected at that time. He went on to explain that business tax receipts, formerly known as occupational licenses, are issued by the County for businesses who operate within the county, which are valid for one year and expire September 30 of each year. He illustrated that the revenue from the business tax receipts have declined since 2008 because businesses have been closing. He recapped that Commr. Campione suggested that they earmark the revenue from the business tax receipts for economic development activities, which come into and are expended out of the general fund. He stated that they can assure that those revenues go directly back to the businesses by dedicating those revenues to things such as promotional activities, businesses incubators, business opportunity centers, and the job growth incentive program.
Commr. Campione commented that this would be a good way to show that the businesses were getting something in return for this money related to their business. She mentioned that if this source of funding was eliminated by the legislature, it would result in a $400,000 decrease in that revenue.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 12:30 p.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
mount plymouth/sorrento cra discussion
Commr. Campione recapped that when they were in the process of getting input in January and February from businesses regarding their economic action plan and what they could do to spur on business in Lake County and address job creation, one of the goals addressed the issue of quality of life, and the use of a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) was looked at as one of the vehicles to address that goal as well as the economic development issues. She related that she had been approached by several people requesting to look into a possible CRA in the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area, and she had looked at the opportunities for redevelopment potential, looked at the old maps that had been developed, created a draft map, and scheduled a community meeting on August 29 to get input on the draft map, which was well-attended. She reported that they had put together a web page on October 20 and issued a press release which contained general information about CRA’s, the process and timeline for adoption, the CRA map, and an online survey.
Ms. Amye King, Growth Management Director, showed the draft map on the overhead monitor and explained that the difference between that map and the map that was previously proposed is that it squares out at the county line to the south and includes the residential community and Mount Dora’s employment center, reflecting the interest of Mount Dora and residents. She reported that 88 percent of people that responded to the survey live within the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area, with 59 percent that live within the proposed area, and the issues that were stated as the greatest concerns were the deterioration of structures and sites, inadequate infrastructure, and insufficient roadways. She added that the top three funding priorities that were listed in the survey were appearance of the SR 46 commercial corridor; neighborhood parks, trails and trailheads; and appearance of commercial buildings. She also reported that 42 percent of the respondents stated that the map size was just right, 40 percent thought it was too large, and 18 percent stated that it was too small.
Ms. Dottie Keedy, Community Services Director, gave some general information about CRA’s, explaining that they were a designated area targeted for revitalization to improve the aesthetics of the area and foster private investments and that they had a designated funding source which was a tax increment financing method (TIF). She defined a TIF as the incremental increases in ad valorem revenues generated after the adoption of the base year for the CRA, and she pointed out that CRA’s have to have an adopted redevelopment plan, which could be amended as needed. She related that the Board of County Commissioners could serve as the CRA agency, or the Board could appoint another group of people to serve on that agency or an advisory board of residents or business owners. She emphasized that the TIF revenues could only be spent on projects that are included in the adopted redevelopment plan, and she listed some of the allowable uses, such as streetscapes, landscaping, cleanups, signage and street lights, parks, and trails and trailheads. She showed some before and after pictures of projects of some of the cities in the county that have used TIF funding within their CRA’s, and she went over the statutory requirements to designate a CRA. She stated that some of the recommended projects for this CRA were a SR 46 corridor enhancement, a façade grant for commercial building improvements, park and trail improvements, and community gathering places.
Commr. Campione clarified that the Mount Dora employment center was not included in the proposed CRA, which was outlined in a blue line on the map.
Mr. Steve Koontz, Budget Director, gave the taxable value information that he had obtained from the Property Appraiser’s Office, which reflected the information regarding the decreases and increases expected in property values previously given during the budget presentation, using 2013 as the baseline and showing a decrease going into 2014, and he noted that incremental increases which would result in revenues to the TIF were not expected to begin until 2017.
Commr. Campione mentioned that the property north of 46 near the IGA that has commercial zoning would be included in the CRA. She listed some implementation safeguards to assure citizens that had concerns that the purpose of the CRA was not to enhance private development or serve as debt service for infrastructure, including that the Board will serve as the CRA, that amendments would have to be approved only by a public hearing process, that projects would be done on a pay-as-you-go basis without taking on any debt, and that the funds will only be used for redevelopment of infrastructure rather than new development. She explained that she was asking the Board today to direct staff to prepare the public notice so that they can have the meeting in January on the Finding of Necessity and to adopt the map as proposed, adding the previously-mentioned area north of SR 46 to the same boundary as the south side to include the existing businesses in that area. She asked that they use the next year to work on the redevelopment plan to give them sufficient time to look at the different considerations that have been raised and to come up with specific ideas that could be put in the redevelopment plan with the goal to put the TIF fund in place by FY 2013.
Commr. Hill clarified that the CRA would result in taxable dollars coming out of the general fund and going into the TIF fund, and she asked how much that was expected to be.
Commr. Campione responded that only the amount of the increase in value from the base amount would go toward the TIF fund.
Mr. Gray pointed out that it was not expected to increase until 2017.
Commr. Cadwell added that the philosophy is that once they started doing those improvements, the taxable value would rise quicker than other areas.
Commr. Campione noted that the Board would always have the ability to terminate the TIF. She then opened the presentation up for public comment.
Mr. Scott Taylor commented that he believed the concept of a CRA is excellent and has worked very well in other areas such as Mount Dora; however, he did not think the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area would quality for a CRA based on the necessary finding of blight, and he saw few properties that could benefit from such a program. He pointed out that the County was dealing with a serious situation in regard to their budget as previously discussed making sure that the debt gets paid on obligations that are already in place and trying to find places to cut, and he assumed the money that would be used for the CRA would come from general funds or from some kind of garnishment of other tax revenues. He recommended that the Board use neighborhood block grants and those sorts of funds for any redevelopment of this area.
Commr. Campione commented that she understood his position on this issue and that the County has got challenges, but she noted that he will see blighted conditions if he drives around this area, and they had to make their CRA large enough to address those conditions and have the ability to fund projects like that. She also pointed out that having a CRA in place would give the community the ability to come together to come up with ideas for that plan as well as applying for grants outside of the County’s realm, such as Community Block Grants.
Mr. Taylor responded that he believed that the community could come together and take care of problems themselves as opposed to looking for the government to solve its problems. He added that he believes the County should be as fiscally conservative as it could to make sure that the valuable and necessary services are in place consistently.
Ms. Jean Etter, a resident of Mount Plymouth, commented that a lot of residents were not in attendance that day because they did not have access to computers to get notice of this workshop, since it was not in the newspaper, and she believed that the area on the map should only encompass the Main Street district and not the residential area. She also related that the residents of the golf course community were maintaining the golf course, and she was concerned about what would replace that golf course. She stated that she did not want her neighborhood being declared a blighted area. She added that they do not know what needs they would have as a result of the parkway being built through that area, and she believes that needs to be considered to determine how broad the CRA should be.
Commr. Campione responded that the imminent construction of the parkway is one of the reasons why having a CRA advisory board and an agency would give them the ability to have those discussions and would be an asset when negotiating with FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) over what the road will ultimately look like.
Mr. Jack McDonald stated that he believed the area needed a CRA for infrastructure such as sidewalks and streetlights and that the map needed to be extended to encompass the area all the way to the river.
Ms. Susan Brooks stated that she was in support of the CRA in order to dedicate some funding to their area for things that would benefit the community as a whole. She pointed out that many of the large banks have categorized Mount Plymouth as a blighted area and will not finance anything in that area, and she believed they should include the outlying areas, including the golf course area. She commented that it was time their community was recognized and was able to move forward with the vision that has been bantered around for at least ten years.
Mr. Fish added that they were expecting that the traffic on SR 46 will be reduced by 75 percent with the projected opening of the Wekiva Parkway in 2019, and he believed this could be part of a plan for those businesses.
Ms. Catherine Hanson stated that she believed that the CRA was an entity that could work with the County to get funding and block grants and to identify the areas that need the help, since the Chamber of Commerce could not do the things that needed to be done as a community to make it a better place. She related that they have fought for sidewalks along SR 46 for a long time for pedestrian traffic and that they needed street lights. She commented that they had the time to put the plan together as they wait for funding to come in.
Ms. Linda Nagle, a resident of Sorrento, asked how it would help the residential area.
Commr. Campione responded that part of formulating a redevelopment plan would be to get input on some ideas that would help the residential area, such as signage, street lights, and sidewalks. She commented about how dark some of the intersections are in that area, which would be related to the concerns regarding crime.
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares who writes a blog on fiscal issues, asked why they would establish the CRA this early when the funds would not be available until 2017.
Commr. Campione responded that they should start now because of the TIF aspect of it and in anticipation of the projected timeframe for completion of the parkway coming through the area, so they would be able to utilize the increases in values that would likely happen because of that type of activity. She added that another reason it was critical to do it now was because it would give the County leverage during the discussions that would be occurring with DOT over issues such as whether SR 46 would include sidewalks, curbs, and streetlights. She also believed it would be a unifier for the community.
Ms. Helen McCormack, a resident of Mount Plymouth, commented that she did not believe that the CRA would unify the community, and she stated that the East Lake Chamber of Commerce, who was in favor of the CRA, was not representative of the people of Plymouth and Sorrento. She opined that there was no need for sidewalks in Mount Plymouth proper, except for SR 46, which she believes is already stated in the Comp Plan. She opined that because the purpose of the CRA is to increase property values in order to recoup more revenues to make the improvements, this would ultimately result in an increase in their property taxes, which a lot of residents were not in favor of.
Commr. Campione pointed out that 88 percent of the people that responded to the survey were from the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area and represented a broad spectrum of residents.
Commr. Cadwell commented that they had to move to have the meeting for the finding of necessity and to go through that process in order to make an educated decision regarding this issue. He related that the last time it was brought up, the map was way too large.
Commr. Conner commented that he believed this map was still much larger than anticipated from previous discussions, and he would not be inclined to support the CRA as currently proposed. He added that he hoped to target only the business district as they went through the public hearing process.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to direct staff to prepare the public notice so that they can have the meeting in January on the Finding of Necessity and to adopt the map as proposed, adding the previously-mentioned area north of SR 46 to the same boundary as the south side to include the existing businesses in that area.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER PARKS – DISTRICT 2
APOLOGY FOR BLOG COMMENTS
Commr. Parks apologized to the Board for the blogging comment incident that was reported in the newspaper, stating that he took full responsibility for the recent event and has learned some life lessons, and he assured the Board that he would never blog anonymously again.
appreciation to cities of clermont and minneola for space
Commr. Parks thanked the Cities of Minneola and Clermont for offering him space starting in January so that he could be available to meet with constituents and municipal officials so that they did not have to travel to Tavares, and he related that he would try to set up time to have some dialogue with the mayors there regularly.
reports – commissioner conner – district 3
farm bureau breakfast
Commr. Conner related that he attended the Farm Bureau breakfast on December 12, along with Commr. Campione, Congressman Daniel Webster, Senator Alan Hayes, and Representative Larry Metz.
commissioner campione – chairman and district 4
camp boggy creek ribbon cutting
Commr. Campione reported that she had attended the ribbon cutting at Camp Boggy Creek on Saturday for their new welcome facility, which she commented was beautiful and phenomenal, and they were helping a tremendous number of children and were always looking for volunteers. She urged everyone to visit the Boggy Creek website to see the facility and learn more about the types of programs that they are running. She also mentioned that a lot of Lake County residents were employed there.
joint meeting regarding wekiva parkway
Commr. Campione related that she attended an informal joint meeting on December 12 at Mount Dora City Hall with representatives from Mount Dora, Eustis, Apopka, and Orange County, where information was shared regarding the Wekiva Parkway situation, including the funding arrangement that they discussed at the MPO meeting and the concern that there may not be support for the project from Metroplan. She explained that it is currently proposed that resources for 2016-17 and 2017-18 for District 5 are going to be primarily directed towards the Parkway, which is causing concern with their counterparts in Volusia, Seminole, and Osceola Counties. She pointed out that this project is an initiative that has been in the works for 30 years; however, it would require that other projects be put on hold in order to get this one done, and she wanted to ask that DOT continue to support that. She related that she would attend the January meeting where they will be having a full discussion of this item.
There was consensus from the Board for Commr. Campione to write a letter asking DOT to continue their support of the Wekiva Parkway, stating that they understand the sacrifices that would have to be made as a result of the proposed funding arrangement, that Lake Sumter MPO has decided that they are still supportive of this arrangement, and that the Board is asking them to continue moving forward with the Parkway because of its regional implications and the implications to the County.
closure of dam at apopka-beauclair canal and burrell dam
Commr. Campione related that she would be bringing up the discussion of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s decision to close the dam at the Apopka-Beauclair canal and Burrell dam on Haines Creek. She asked the Board to research and talk to people about this issue before next week’s meeting to get more informed about it so that the Board could take a position on it, since this was having a significant impact on their county. She explained that navigation was becoming an issue on the Dora Canal, and this has created issues on Lake Griffin as well. She added that a lot of people who keep themselves informed about water quality issues and issues related to the Harris chain of lakes have approached her about this matter.
commissioner cadwell – district 5
national association of counties board of directors meeting
Commr. Cadwell stated that last week he attended the National Association of Counties Board of Directors meeting in Orlando, which went well.
commissioner hill – vice chairman and district 1
supervisor of elections meeting
Commr. Hill reported that she and the County Attorney’s Office attended the Supervisor of Elections meeting, and they were now up to date with them and the canvassing board.
Mr. Minkoff asked the Commissioners to look at a memo regarding participation in the campaign that he had sent them.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the workshop was adjourned at 1:55 p.m.
leslie campione, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK