A regular MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
January 9, 2018
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Timothy I. Sullivan, Chairman; Leslie Campione, Vice Chairman; Sean Parks; Wendy Breeden; and Josh Blake. Others present were: Jeff Cole, County Manager; Melanie Marsh, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Neil Kelly, Clerk of Court; JoAnne Drury, Accounting Director, County Finance; and Kathleen Bregel, Senior Secretary, Board Support.
INVOCATION and pledge
Mr. David Williamson from Central Florida Freethought Community gave the Invocation and Commissioner Sullivan led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Jeff Cole, County Manager, noted that Tab 25 was being removed. Commissioner Parks clarified that Tab 25 was one of his items and was not intended to be a resolution but simply a letter of recognition that he wanted to write. Commissioner Breeden added that she wanted to comment on Tab 10 of the Consent Agenda after the consent agenda vote.
Ms. Jeannine Nelson, Human Resources Interim Manager, announced that they would be recognizing employees who had reached significant milestones in their careers with Lake County, as follows:
Steven Bowers, Equipment Operator II
Public Works/Road Operations Division/Maintenance Area III (Umatilla)
Wesley Jones, Facilities Maintenance Division Manager
Office of Facilities Management
David Kelly, Equipment Operator III
Public Works/Road Operations Division/Maintenance Area III (Minneola)
Brooke Moffis, Extension Agent II
Office of Extension Services
Sandra Rogers, Senior Contraction Officer
Office of Procurement Services
Johnny Taylor, Hazardous Waste & E-Cycling Supervisor
Public Works/Solid Waste Division
Daniel Chimento, Firefighter/EMT
Office of Fire Rescue
Daniel Miller, Battalion Fire Chief
Office of Fire Rescue
Rene Bass, Financial Coordinator
Office of Management & Budget
Commr. Sullivan commented that Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office, was retiring and starting a new chapter of her life. He mentioned she started with Lake County twenty years ago and was quickly promoted within two years to Executive Office Manager. He noted that in this role she has worked with numerous County Managers and Commissioners. He remarked that she has always been committed to doing whatever it takes to get the job done correctly, while still making time for her family, including her husband, two daughters and granddaughter. He reported that she had made many significant accomplishments during her tenure with Lake County and had recently led a sales tax team which improved how sales taxes were reported. He added that this new process had a great, positive impact by saving time and money for the County, the School Board, municipalities and taxpayers. He thanked her for her great service to the citizens of Lake County and congratulated her on a well-deserved retirement.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Blake, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Minutes of October 24, 2017 (Regular Meeting) and November 7, 2017 (Regular Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Steven Imhof, a resident of Eustis, expressed concerns regarding the Lake County Spay/Neuter Rebate Program. He stated that he had collected stray cats in his neighborhood and paid to have them spayed and neutered at his own expense; however, when he applied for the rebate, he was denied because his driver’s license had a post office box as the address. He added that the denial letter he received did not show who sent the letter and therefore he did not know who to contact regarding the denial decision. He commented that when he brought his rebate application directly to the County and was asked for identification, he gave them his driver license but no one told him at that time that the post office box was not an adequate address, otherwise he would have presented another form of identification. He concluded that the overall process for getting rebates was not adequate, especially with the large overpopulation of cats in the county, that there should be names on letters sent by the County to show accountability and that a driver’s license should not be discredited just because it has a post office box as the address.
Mr. Cole asked Mr. John Molenda, Assistant County Manager, to meet with Mr. Imhof and discuss the situation.
Commr. Campione commented that if Mr. Imhof was trying to help with the cat population and was willing to bring the cats in to have them spayed and neutered, then the County would work with him and Mr. Molenda would assist him with sorting through the details.
Commr. Blake added that he would respond to Mr. Imhof’s email from the previous afternoon.
presentation of human trafficking awareness proclamation
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Proclamation 2018-1 declaring January 2018 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Lake County.
Commr. Sullivan read and presented Proclamation 2018-1 to staff on the Human Trafficking Taskforce.
Lieutenant Dan Conlee, with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Department, recognized the various staff members who serve on the Human Trafficking Taskforce, especially the detectives who work on the front line with survivors and suspects on a regular basis.
CLERK OF COURTs’ CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of Courts’ Consent Agenda, Items 1-3, as follows:
List of Warrants
Request to acknowledge receipt of the list of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136.06 (1) of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes as attached Exhibit A and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk's Office.
St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board’s 2018 meeting schedule
Request to acknowledge receipt of the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board’s 2018 meeting schedule.
Florida Development Finance Corporation Annual Reporting
Request to acknowledge receipt of Florida Development Finance Corporation Annual Reporting Requirements. In accordance with Section 288.9610, Florida Statutes, the Florida Development Finance Corporation has enclosed the following information:
· Audit results conducted pursuant to Section 11.45, Florida Statutes;
· A summary of the activities, operations and accomplishments of the Florida Development Finance Corporation which were conducted during Fiscal Year ended June 30, 2017, including the number of businesses assisted by the Corporation; and
· The assets, liabilities, income and operating expenses of the Corporation during Fiscal Year ended June 30, 2017, including a description of all outstanding revenue bonds.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT agenda
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Consent Agenda, Tabs 4 through Tab 20, with Commissioner Breeden commenting on Tab 10 after the vote, as follows:
Request for approval of a waiver of conflict for Gray Robinson’s representation of Crittenden Howey, LLC in connection with the sale of real property and related easements to Lake County for the Citrus Grove Road Phase I Project, and authorization for the Chairman to execute the Acknowledgement and Agreement. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval of outside counsel firms and their use on an as-needed basis for County purposes. The fiscal impact (expenditure) is undetermined at this time.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND COMPLIANCE
Request for approval of an interlocal agreement with the City of Mount Dora relating to the Lake County Animal Shelter. The fiscal impact (expenditure) is undetermined at this time. Commission District 4.
Request for approval to award contract 18-0612 for annual fire hose and ground ladder testing and repair services to Waterway of Central Florida, LLC (Winter Garden, Fl), and authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation. The annual fiscal impact is estimated to be $25,000.00 (expenditure).
INFRASTRUCTURE AND INTERNAL SUPPORT SERVICES
Request for approval and execution of the contract between Summit Broadband, Inc. and Lake County. The annual fiscal impact is being determined.
Request for approval and execution of a revision to County Policy LCC-80 in response to Federal Transportation Administration comments received during a recent triennial review, and County organizational changes that became effective on October 1, 2017. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval to execute a Local Agency Program Agreement between Lake County and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the funding of Design Services of the CR 473 Safe Routes to School (SRTS) sidewalk from Fountain Lake Boulevard to Haines Creek Road, and approval to execute Resolution 2018-2 authorizing the Chairman to deliver the SRTS agreement to FDOT. The fiscal impact is $148,625.00 (expenditure, 100 % grand funded). Commission District 3.
Request for approval to release a performance bond of $16,174.62 that was provided for the construction of sidewalks in the Barrington Estates Phase II subdivision, south of Groveland. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 1.
Request for approval to execute a Subordination of Easements Agreement between Lake County and Duke Energy Florida, LLC relating to the Lake Minneola Landings subdivision. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 1.
Request for approval to execute a Purchase Agreement with Crittenden Howey, LLC for right of way for the Citrus Grove Road-Phase I project in the Minneola area, and authorizing the Chairman to execute all documents necessary for closing. The fiscal impact is $425,000.00 (expenditure), plus related closing costs. Commission District 2.
Request for approval to execute an Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and the City of Fruitland Park for CR 466A Phase IIIA Infrastructure Project. The estimate fiscal impact is $273,716.65 (expenditure), with the actual amount to be funded by the City of Fruitland Park. Commission District 5.
COMMUNITY AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT SERVICE
Request for approval of the Community Development Block Grant Urban County Agreement between Lake County and the City of Minneola for years 2018, 2019, and 2020. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 2.
Request for approval of the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Agreement with the City of Leesburg for the Commercial Teaching Kitchen component of the Leesburg Neighborhood Resource Center, and authorize the Chairman to execute the agreement. The fiscal impact is up to $200,000.00 (expenditure-grand funded). Commission District 1.
Request for approval of the Agreement between Lake County and We Care of Lake County, Inc. for operation of the Lake County We Care program through September 30, 2018, and authorize the Chairman to execute the agreement. The fiscal impact is $132,009.99 (expenditure).
Request for approval to award contract 18-0423 Telephone System Upgrade to Advanced Communication Solutions (Lake Mary, Fl). The estimate fiscal impact is $203,382.17 (expenditure).
Request for approval to award contract 18-0405, PC Management, Print Management, and Wireless Printing Solutions for Lake County Libraries to Today’s Business Solutions, Inc. (Willowbrook, IL), and related support contract 18-0405A to Nayax, LLC (Hunt Valley, MD). The first year fiscal impact of the entire award structure is $76,480.00 (expenditure).
Parks and Trails
Request for approval of purchase under Request for Quotation Q2018-00019 of three 4x4 off-road utility vehicles to Fields Equipment Co., Inc. (Minneola), and authorize the Office of Procurement Services to execute all supporting documentation. The total fiscal impact is $36,789.00 (expenditure).
Commr. Breeden commented that Tab 10 was regarding the Safe Route to School (SRTS) Grant Project, which was a sidewalk near Treadway Elementary School in Leesburg on County Road (C.R.) 473. She mentioned that fourth and fifth graders from the school had written essays on how the sidewalk would improve safety. She reported that the two essay winners would be coming to the February 15, 2018 Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Meeting to present their essays.
Commr. Sullivan added that sidewalks near Pine Ridge Elementary School in Clermont, which were Lake County Public Works SRTS projects, were being dedicated the following morning and he invited all to attend. He added that students from that school also made presentations on the safety issues and the need for the project.
Commr. Parks remarked that it had been a good opportunity for Mr. Fred Schneider, County Engineer, and staff to interact with students and teach them about the engineering aspects of public works projects.
lake emergency medical services’ pooled cash limit
Mr. Cole stated that the County provides the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and Lake Emergency Medical Services (EMS) with pooled cash, which is access to a set amount of County funding, that the Board established, in order for Lake-Sumter MPO and Lake EMS to pay bills while they await revenue. He specified that County policy LCC-97 requires that if the Lake-Sumter MPO or Lake EMS exceed their pooled cash limits, then the County Manager is required to notify and bring the item before the Board for consideration. He reminded the Board that after he had received notice from the Lake County Clerk’s Office in October 2017 that the Lake EMS had exceeded its one million dollar cash limit by more than $174,000, he brought that item to the November 7, 2017 BCC Meeting. At that time, the Board voted to increase the Lake EMS pooled cash limit to $1.5 million until February 1, 2018, in order to allow Assistant County Manager John Molenda and himself to work with Lake EMS Executive Director Mr. Jerry Smith to identify other potential options to ensure the availability of operational funding. He reported that they had met during the last two months and analyzed potential efficiencies and funding opportunities to offset the reliance on the County’s pooled cash, with part of the analysis being to look at the work of Fitch and Associates, which the Lake EMS Board had contracted with in 2016 to do some efficiency and organizational analysis. He elaborated that Fitch and Associates worked with Lake EMS and Lake County Fire Rescue (LCFR) for two years and one of the potential efficiencies they identified was to bring Lake EMS into Lake County Government. He concluded that based on the analysis done by himself, Mr. Molenda and Mr. Smith and the analysis of the Fitch and Associates reports, they indicated that there could be significant benefit from consolidating Lake EMS into the Lake County Public Safety Operations. He added that they agreed that consolidation of LCFR operations and Lake EMS operations would result in more efficient fire and EMS operations, enhanced service to the public, enhanced coordination efficiencies for the first responders, and overall cost savings. He asked the Board for authorization for Mr. Molenda, Mr. Smith and himself to engage in discussions with the municipalities and hospitals about consolidating Lake EMS into Lake County Operations to ensure that their input was obtained. He indicated that following those discussions, he would return to the BCC with a recommendation within 30 to 60 days. He also requested that the Board temporarily increase the Lake EMS’s pooled cash limit to $2 million to ensure that bills were paid in a timely manner as he was concerned that the $1.5 million would be inadequate to cover their needs while they went through the evaluation period.
Commr. Campione agreed it was important to be fully engaged with the cities, getting their feedback and looking at it from all perspectives. She remarked that if the ultimate goal was to save the taxpayers money and to provide the best service possible, then an integrated system was the best system. She added that it was important to make sure that everyone was in agreement moving forward and that all needs were addressed and she reiterated the need to be as efficient as possible, while providing great service. She opined that this issue showed that the County had some improvements that needed to be made and that this had the potential to move them in a positive direction.
Commr. Parks said that he was supportive of this and that the role of public safety was ever changing and it was healthy to look at options. He agreed it was important to make sure cities were involved as it was everybody’s system and he looked forward to hearing the recommendations.
Commr. Breeden stated she appreciated Mr. Cole, Mr. Molenda and Mr. Smith working together to identify what could be a good fit and that she liked this approach since she valued the partnership with the municipalities.
Commr. Sullivan remarked that this was a continuation of what they had done in every department in the five years he had been on the Board. He said it had been a long process and it was time to take action, and he agreed that the municipalities needed to be included and in agreement with the recommendations.
Commr. Campione stressed the importance of getting all the details and knowing how to address the technical issues of accomplishing this.
Mr. Cole indicated that his intent, when he brings this back to the Board, was to do a thorough presentation to include all aspects and details before asking the Board for a vote or decision.
Commr. Sullivan suggested the action item be divided into two motions, one to approve the $2 million in pooled cash for Lake EMS and the second motion to have the County Manager and staff proceed at looking at the analysis with regards to consolidation, and discussion with the cities.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried by a vote of 5-0, the Board unanimously approved to temporarily increase the Lake EMS pooled cash limit to $2 million.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried by a vote of 5-0, the Board unanimously approved to direct staff to engage in discussions with the municipalities and the hospitals about potential consolidation of Lake EMS into Lake County Operations and report back to the Board with a recommendation.
appointment to the Sales Surtax Oversight committee
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried by a vote of 5-0, the Board unanimously approved the appointment of Mr. Jim Ley to the Sales Surtax Oversight Committee to complete the unexpired term of Mr. Keith Mullins.
appointments to the lake emergencey medical services board
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried by a vote of 5-0, the Board unanimously approved the appointments of Vice Mayor Dina Sweatt, City of Groveland, Commissioner Ray Lewis, City of Fruitland Park, and Mr. Abel Biri, CEO of Florida Hospital Waterman, to the Lake Emergency Medical Services Board of Directors.
appointments to the water safety advisory board
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried by a vote of 5-0, the Board unanimously approved the appointments of Mr. Joseph Goloversic, as a Coast Guard Auxiliary Representative, and Vice Mayor Marie Aliberti, as a Municipal Representative from the City of Eustis, to the Water Safety Advisory Board.
lake county animal shelter
Mr. Cole commented that January 15, 2018 was the first anniversary of the Lake County Animal Shelter’s commitment to achieve a no kill designation and he reported that during this first year, the shelter had produced positive outcomes for more than 90 percent of the animals in the shelter. He gave credit for this to Whitney Boylston with the Office of Animal Services who has had a positive impact on the shelter’s operation, Assistant County Manager John Molenda who provided strong and engaged leadership, the Lake County Animal Shelter staff who have animal welfare at the forefront of everything they do, the Lake County Communications Staff who have produced amazing informational materials and were directly responsible for animals being adopted, the dedicated group of volunteers who helped the shelter get to this point, the public who has favorably responded to the animals’ needs and the Board of County Commissioners which passionately supported the evolution of the shelter over the past year. He reported that the Lake County Animal Shelter, located at 28123 C.R. 561, Tavares, Florida, was holding a disco themed adoption event on Saturday, January 20, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to celebrate their one year anniversary. He added that L.E.A.S.H., Inc. would be sponsoring free adoptions that day at the event. He invited the public to come to the event so they could continue to place animals in Lake County homes.
Commr. Campione added that the disco theme went with the song “Stayin’ Alive” which the shelter was using as part of its promotion for the event.
martin luther king, jr. holiday
Mr. Cole reported that all County Offices would be closed on Monday, January 15, 2018, in recognition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
commissioner parks – district 2
FDOT approval for expressway projects
Commr. Parks asked for an update on the law that required only Lake County to get Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) approval for expressway projects and he expressed his desire to get that changed.
Commr. Campione commented that the issue was that Lake County was being treated differently than all the other members of the Central Florida Expressway Authority.
Commr. Parks added that this could affect the Project, Development and Environmental (PD&E) study that they had for the Orange-Lake Parkway when it is constructed.
Mr. Cole said that staff had been tracking it and would follow up with an update. He added that since it was a priority of the Board, they had been working with their lobbyists who had been representing those issues in Tallahassee.
Commr. Parks complimented Ms. Andrea Kennard, Commissioners’ Aide, on her effort to organize and collect clothes and jackets for Lake County students in need during the recent cold weather. He thanked all the staff who contributed items.
New year wishes
Commr. Parks wished everyone a Happy New Year.
commissioner breeden – district 3
new year wishes
Commr. Breeden wished everyone a Happy New Year.
parks and trails 2018 guide
Commr. Breeden passed out the new Parks and Trails Event Guide for 2018 and invited the Board to try out some of the events, which included hikes, paddle trips and educational programs at the County’s and neighboring organizations’ passive parks.
martin luther king jr parade
Commr. Breeden commented that she was looking forward to participating in the Leesburg parade, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., on Saturday, January 13, 2018.
commissioner campione – district 4
LAke County homeless programs
Commr. Campione expressed concern that Lake County did not have shelters for the homeless population during the recent extreme cold weather. She shared that many had reached out to her regarding ways to help people find shelters and that even local churches did not have shelters. She reiterated her previous desire to organize a group to discuss this issue and to look at what existing programs were in place to assist the homeless and ways that Lake County could be a leader in addressing this need, noting that the actual logistics might come from a not-for-profit group. She added that many surrounding counties had programs in place and that when homeless individuals do not want to abide by the county and city regulations, they move to counties that do not have homeless programs because law enforcement cannot remove them from park bench areas if there are no homeless shelters for them to go to. She stated that this often results in homeless groups gathering around local park benches and can affect businesses in those areas. She remarked that this issue was both a humanitarian one and one that affected the community and that it can be complicated because some homeless individuals want the help but some do not. She added that the Homeless Coalition has a certain niche and has government funding for what they do; however, providing temporary shelter is not under their processes so it falls on the responsibility of the counties.
Commr. Parks commented that in conversations he had participated in with the South Lake County Chamber of Commerce, there was interest in doing something like this but it seemed to be driven by a particular city. He agreed that this should be a county wide effort with the BCC taking a leadership role and asked that the Board formulate what they planned to do so that he could represent it at the south Lake meetings.
Commr. Campione responded that the Board would be looking to see what the cities and the County could do together and because of the large geographic nature of the county, the shelters would need to be located in the right places so that individuals could easily access them. She added that the County could get ideas from other counties that were providing temporary housing.
Commr. Sullivan shared that the City of Leesburg had also done studies on the needs of the homeless and they were interested in developing something. He agreed that sometimes the rules and laws that govern this arena make it difficult to assist a homeless person and that it would be good for the County to take the lead, include others in the discussions, and to research assets that might be available to assist in this area.
Mr. Cole appreciated the priority the Board had placed on this topic and indicated that staff would research and present a proposal to the Board at their January 23, 2018 meeting.
central florida expressway meeting
Commr. Campione reported that she went to the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) meeting to talk about making the temporary interchange at C.R. 435 and the Wekiva Parkway permanent. She said that she got the impression that those at the meeting thought this was about having an interchange for convenience and missed the point that the Mt. Plymouth community would be changed due to all the extra traffic. She commented that it did not seem like they were receptive to building a permanent interchange; however, she felt that continuing to ask for assistance from FDOT or CFX to put in traffic calming measures in that area was important. She elaborated that there was the possible option to utilize the County Engineer’s conceptual plan which included round-a-bouts and would help the citizens in Mt. Plymouth to get out of their neighborhoods. She added that the cost of these calming measures should be a part of the Wekiva Parkway expense since it was a part of the overall system.
Commr. Parks reported that he was also at the meeting and thought Commissioner Campione spoke well regarding the issue but agreed that there seemed to be no support for the permanent interchange. He commented that he thought there was support from the CFX Board for the traffic calming measures and that as the Lake County Representative on the CFX Board, he would continue to present this need and ask for funding from FDOT and CFX for these measures.
Commr. Breeden thanked Commissioner Campione for her effort to represent Lake County’s position on this topic.
Mr. Cole suggested that staff could draft a letter from the BCC, requiring the Chairman’s signature, to make a formal request since the only formal request in the past was Resolution 2017-140, which requested the temporary interchange to become a permanent interchange.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Parks, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved for staff to draft a letter to CFX and FDOT making a formal request from the Lake County Board of County Commissioners, with the Chairman’s signature, for resources to be allocated for traffic calming measures in the Mt. Plymouth area.
commissioner blake – district 5
new year wishes
Commr. Blake wished everyone a Happy New Year.
state representative don hahnfeldt
Commr. Blake recognized the passing of State Representative Don Hahnfeldt, who served as a member of the Lake County Legislative Delegation. He remarked that Captain Hahnfeldt had been the captain of two submarines in the US Navy and before he retired he had been the Commander of the Pacific Fleet’s Strategic Submarine Squadron. He mentioned that after retirement, he was a City Manager out West and then retired to this area where he served on the Sumter County Commission and then as a State Representative, representing Lake and Sumter Counties in Tallahassee. He mentioned that he had attended his funeral services and offered prayers and support for his family.
Commr. Sullivan added that Captain Hahnfeldt was a strong representative of local government at the state level and a supporter of local self-government.
commissioner sullivan – chairman and district 1
request from trout lake environmental services
Commr. Sullivan mentioned that he had a request from the Trout Lake Environmental Program to make a presentation to the BCC regarding their capital improvement program and that he would place this presentation on the Board agenda.
leesburg high school construction school
Commr. Sullivan remarked that today was the first day of the legislative session and that the Lake County School Board wanted an appropriation of $1.5 million for the construction school at Leesburg High School. He said it was a need of the homebuilding industry to provide young people trained in that field and he requested that the Board support them in their efforts to obtain this appropriation from the state.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Parks, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved for the County Attorney’s Office to write a letter to the State Legislative Delegation on behalf of the Lake County School Board for $1.5 million in state appropriations for the construction school at Leesburg High School.
Tourism development council request
Commr. Sullivan stated he chaired the Tourism Development Council (TDC) meeting the previous day and that they had concerns regarding Florida State House Bill 585 and Senate Bill 658 which expands the use of tourism tax dollars to build non tourism facilities like sewer plants, roads and schools. He commented that the TDC asked the BCC to write a letter to the state legislature opposing these two bills.
Commr. Campione responded that she would like more details prior to sending a letter.
Commr. Sullivan elaborated that there is already state legislation designating what the tourism dollars can be used for; however, these bills expand that use into non-tourism facilities. He specified that he would get copies of the bills to the Board for consideration.
Commr. Breeden cautioned that there was a danger of losing the ability for economic development to move forward because the money could be used in other places. She felt that Lake County did not raise that much tourism money anyway so they are limited in what they have available to apply to their needs.
Commr. Parks agreed with that but reiterated that some believe that money should be used for tourism promotion only but in some cases there might be an infrastructure project with a direct correlation to tourism, like trailheads.
Commr. Campione said that these bills might make it easier to use the funds for items like trailheads, a road related to a project or utilities that might be needed for a tourism related capital project. She indicated that she understood the concern and could see the downside but that having a little flexibility could actually serve the overall mission of promoting tourism activities in the county.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, reported that House Bill 585 was fairly short in that it only added one paragraph which talks about being able to acquire, construct, extend, etc. public facilities within the boundaries of the county if the public facilities are needed to increase tourist related business activities in the county and are recommended by the Tourism Development Council. She continued by stating the bill said that tax revenues may be used for any related land acquisition, improvement, design, etc. and that it then added a new definition of public facilities, saying that public facilities were major capital improvements that have a life expectancy of five or more years, including but not limited to transportation, sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water and pedestrian facilities. She added that this was very similar to what they did last year with the sales tax. She added that there was another paragraph that was not being incorporated into the statute itself that said it may be implemented through service contracts and leases with lessees that have sufficient expertise or financial capability to operate the facilities.
Commr. Breeden asked if some money was already used for capital projects.
Commr. Parks replied that sometimes it was but that questions had arisen in the past regarding how it could be used, for example, could it be used to help fund a park facility that tourists might use.
Commr. Campione asked Ms. Marsh if she thought these bills would make it easier to use funds for a regional park.
Ms. Marsh responded that it might; however, the same analysis used now would still be in effect in which it would have to be connected to tourism. She stated that the staff analysis report said that the bill is to expand the permissible uses of Tourism Development Tax (TDT) by authorizing counties to use the revenues in connection with improving or bringing into service public facilities within the boundary of the county, if the expenditure is deemed necessary to increase tourist related business activities. She mentioned she would pull all the information, both bills and the analysis report and send to the Commissioners.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:20 a.m.
timothy i. sullivan, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK