A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
SEPTEMBER 19, 1989
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, September 19, 1989, at 6:30 p.m., at the Lake County Agricultural Center, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: C. W. "Chick" Gregg, Chairman; Thomas J. Windram; Richard Swartz; Michael J. Bakich; and Don Bailey. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney: Al Thelen, County Manager; Ava Kronz, Assistant to the County Manager; Robert K. McKee, Chief Deputy Clerk; George Knupp, Sheriff; James Schuster, Director of Finance; Don Smalt, Budget Analyst; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Michael J. Bakich gave the Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commr. Bailey.
Commr. Gregg, Chairman, opened the meeting stating that a pad would be passed around for those wishing to appear before the Board, for input, to sign, in order to give everyone wishing to, a chance to speak.
Mr. Don Smalt, Budget Analyst, informed those present that the first thing on the agenda was Revenue Sharing, of which there was presently $160,000.00, to be carried over, for Recreation, for next year. He stated that he would need a motion to approve doing so.
No one present wished to discuss the request with the Board.
On a motion by Commr. Bakich, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously, the Board approved the request to carry over $160,000.00, from Revenue Sharing, towards the FY 1989-90 budget, for Recreation.
Mr. Smalt stated that he would review the amendments that were made at the last public hearing (workshop meeting) regarding the FY 1989-90 budget, which was held September 7, 1989, and at such time the public could give input, if they so chose, after which the Board would proceed to adopt the millage and then the budget, itself. He then reviewed the amendments, noting the net changes which were made, as follows:
$503,520.00 (Net Change)
Fine & Forfeiture Fund 730,OOO.OO (Net Change)
Expenditures $291,209.00 (Total Changes)
Commr. Gregg, Chairman, then reviewed said amendments (category by category), as follows:
GENERAL FUND Increase Decrease
County Maintenance $ 14,400.00
Interfund Transfers 33,600.00
Countv Attorney 100.000.00
Building & Code Enforcement 17,311.00
Planning Operations 150,477.00
Veterans' Services 22,735.00
Mental Health 15,300.00
Animal Control 68.375.00
Pollution Control 63,322.00
Total Decreases $ 503,520.00
FINE & FORFEITURE FUND
Intra-Governmental Transfers $ 716,OOO.OO
State Attorney 14,000.00
Total Decreases $ 730,000.00
COUNTY TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND
King's Cove 5th & 6th Additions $ 260,OOO.00
EMERGENCY 911 FUND
Emergency 911 $ 39,746.00
Contingency & Cash Carried Forward $ 6,146.00
Total Decrease $ 33,600.00
RESORT/DEVELOPMENT TAX FUND
Expo Facility $ 363,260.00
Contingency & Cash Carried Forward $1,079,172.00
Total Increase $ 715,912.00
LANDFILL ENTERPRISE FUND
Contingency & Cash Carried Forward $ 1.00
Total Decrease $ 1.00
COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM FUND
Library Administration $ 24,170.00
Contingency & Cash Carried Forward $ 24,170.00
Total Change $ -0-
Grand Total - Amendments to Expend. $ 1,441,173.00 $1,838,387.00
Total Change in Expenditures $ 397,214.00
Taxes $ 197,137.00 $ 700,657.00
Total Change $ 503,520.00
FINE & FORFEITURE FUND
Taxes $ 38,421.00 $ 768,421.00
Total Change $ 730,000.00
EMERGENCY 911 FUND
Emergency 911 $ 33,600.00
Total Change $ 33,600.00
LANDFILL ENTERPRISE FUND
Landfill $ 1.00
Total Change $ 1.00
At this time, Commr. Gregg stated that the Board would hear input from those present wishing to speak, requesting that they try and keep their comments to five minutes, in order to allow all who wished to, a chance to speak.
Mr. James A. Bryant, a resident of Clermont, appeared before the Board stating that he was bothered by a couple of items in the budget, particularly the Contingency Funds. He stated that, in his assumption, Contingency Funds contain monies which the County has not made up their minds as to how said funds will be spent.
Commr. Gregg stated that, by law, the County is required to hold a certain amount of monies in Contingency, and questioned Mr. Jim Schuster, Director of Finance, as to what minimum amount is required to be reserved.
Mr. Schuster stated that, in the Debt Service Contingency Fund, there is a requirement that 10% of the principal be kept in reserve, for securing bonds, and that 5% be kept in Contingency towards the Operating Budget.
Mr. Bryant then questioned why it is necessary to increase taxes 40% this year over last year, to which Mr. Al Thelen, County Manager, stated that a majority of the money will go towards making up the Cash Carry Over that was spent last year (approximately $3 million), which was used to handle reoccurring expenditures.
Commr. Windram commented, questioning Mr. Schuster as to how much of the County's total budget is paid out of property taxes, to which Mr. Schuster replied, of the $124 million budget, approximately $16 million, or 13% of the total budget, comes out of property taxes.
At this time, Commr. Swartz gave input, stating that the total budget is $124 million, give or take, however, the budget that is impacted by ad valorem taxes (property taxes) is approximately $32 million. This is the portion which the County puts into ad valorem taxes. The total budget increase in the General Fund, and the Fine & Forfeiture Fund (which generates the County's law enforcement) is approximately 11%. He stated that the point he wanted to make was the fact that the County started this budget year approximately $3 million short of revenue, that was reserve funds from previous years, that had been put in to make up the difference between revenues and expenditures. Said $3 million amounts to almost 1 mill. He stated that this year's budget was started out at 4.8 mills, without doing anything - which is the real crux of the problem.
Mr. Bryant then requested the Board to try and keep real taxes down, in the future, so that property owners will not be run out of their homes.
Commr. Bakich stated that, hopefully, by the end of this year, the County will have user fees in place, and, by this time next year, it will be less of a burden on everyone. He stated that the County presently has a study going on, which the Board hopes to have results of by next month, and can hopefully start collecting said fees.
Mr. Bryant then questioned whether property owners will see a reduction in real taxes next year, to which Commr. Bakich replied that he could not promise that.
Commr. Gregg stated that, hopefully, the County will be able to hold the line, and asked those present to keep in mind that the present Board just got elected at the end of November, last year (1988). He stated that the present Board has contracted to write new impact fees which, in effect, makes growth pay for itself. He stated that what the general public is presently feeling is growth catching up with them.
Mr. Clarence J. Papetti, a resident of Clermont, appeared before the Board stating that his property assessment went up 82% this year over last year's and his taxes went up 67%, which he stated was unreasonable and unacceptable. He stated that it was the Hoard's duty to protect property owners and see that this does not happen.
Mr. Donald Bronson, a resident of Clermont, appeared before the Board stating that he was concerned about agriculture in Lake County. He stated that Lake County used to be a real agricultural county, noting that it was number one in citrus, however, he was now very concerned about its future in Lake County. He stated that, in his opinion, a vote for the increase in property taxes is a vote against agriculture. He stated that he feels an impact fee is good, however, feels that the County needs a user fee, as well. He stated that the public is tired of increases and wants the Board to hold things on the line and think very seriously in trimming the budget more than it already has. He stated that, if the Board does away with agriculture, the public will not need them any longer. He asked that the Board keep Lake County a nice, beautiful county to live in and one that the residents can be proud of.
Commr. Bakich responded to Mr. Bronson's comments, stating that the general public is not aware of the fact that the Federal Government is passing a lot of costs down to the State Governments, who in turn, are passing them down to the local governments, who are beginning to feel the brunt of it, as the local government is where the buck stops.
Mr . Bronson then stated that maybe the County doesn't need a lot of the programs it presently funds, and perhaps Lake County should be the first county to send some of said programs back to Tallahassee and tell the politicians to either appropriate the funding for them or do away with them totally.
Commr. Gregg then stated that the County is already challenging some of the State's requirements, such as the Wekiva Amendment, however, the State holds the clincher, in that they can cut off all State revenues to the County, therefore, there is a limit to what the counties can do.
Mr. Buddy Lamb, a resident of Eustis, appeared before the Board and questioned Sheriff Knupp as to how much of an increase is expected in his budget this year, over last year's budget.
Sheriff Knupp responded, stating that the Sheriff's budget last year was $10,566,517.00, and the tentative budget for FY 1989-90 is $12,126,965.00, an increase of 14.77%, or an overall increase of $1,560,488.00. He noted that E911 was not in place in the 1988-89 budget, so dispatchers had to be budgeted into this year's budget, which is costing the taxpayers $275,616.00. Also, in the 1989-90 budget, the Sheriff's Department had to pick up the medical costs for inmates (which the Board had picked up in the past), amounting to $150,000.00, noting that the Sheriff's Department is presently spending approximately $26,000.00 per month for inmate care. He stated that the overall increase amounts to $1,134,832.00, or an increase of 10.74%. He noted that the Sheriff's Department budget, as it stands today, does not impact ad valorem tax, at all.
Mr. Lamb then questioned Sheriff Knupp regarding a campaign promise he made, in that he would keep all monies in Lake County, noting that he has not done so, as he has been dealing with Orange County in obtaining parts for repairing his vehicles.
Sheriff Knupp responded, stating that the economical way to obtain parts was not through a parts store, but through a jobber house, where one can get a 40% discount, rather than a 10% discount, thus saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars, noting that his department was purchasing parts from a jobber house in Orange county, as there is not one in Lake County. He stated that his department does purchase some parts, from time to time, on an emergency basis, from a parts store in Lake County.
Mr. Dan Eastwood, a resident of Tavares, appeared before the Board stating that he had some tax bills for properties which he owns in various other counties, such as Hillsborough, Orange, and Polk, as well as Lake, noting that his bill for Polk County went up 10.2%; 13.8% in Hillsborough; and 13.8% in Orange, however, in Lake County, his agricultural property went up 53%, and his residential property went up 41%. He stated that he is a native Floridian and loves living in Lake County, however, is concerned as to what his taxes are going to be in 1990-91.
Commr. Bakich responded, stating that all the surrounding counties have much higher millage rates than Lake County and they (with the exception of Sumter County) have a much higher base to draw revenue from than Lake County, thus, the lower tax bill.
Mr . Charles Anderson, a resident of Tavares, appeared before the Board stating that he lives on a fixed income, of which goes up 3-4% every year, however, his property taxes (noting that his assessment went up over $20,000.00) went up over lOO%, from $267.00 last year to $642.00 this year, and feels that something should be done.
Mr. Sterling R. Clark, a resident of Umatilla, appeared before the Board stating that his taxes went up approximately 25%, however, his employer (noting that he works for the County as a mechanic) only anticipates giving him an increase of 5%. He stated that he noticed one of the first things that was cut from the County's budget was employees' pay, at which time Commr. Gregg injected that it was not a cut in pay, but a cut in positions, of which a lot of them were new positions that the Board decided not to fund, at this time.
Mr. Sterling reminded the Board of promises that were made to the public when they were elected, stating that now was the time to live up to those promises.
Commr. Bakich responded to Mr. Sterling's comments, stating that the Board recognizes the inadequacies in salaries, and are going to address said problem and adopt a higher pay program, noting that it will affect those individuals on the lower end of the scale more than those on the higher end of the scale. He stated that another point he wanted to make was the fact that the largest expense the County Government has is its employees.
Mr. Rich Ranize, a resident of Leesburg and employee of the County, appeared before the Board stating that he was upset over what he had read in the newspaper, stating that the reason he moved to Lake County was because of its low tax base (which is the second lowest tax county in the State of Florida), partly due to the agricultural standing it had prior to the freezes, which it has since lost. He stated that he does not want to pay higher taxes, but, he does not want to see education or law enforcement cut, in order to keep the taxpayers from paying higher taxes. He stated that it is the Board's duty to look out for the future of Lake County, and, if the County is to grow, taxation has got to go up.
Commr. Swartz responded to Mr. Ranize's comments, stating that what he described is the classic position the County finds itself in, which is between the rock and a hard place. He stated that the majority of individuals feel that some reasonable increase is understandable, however, the County is faced with an increase that is unreasonable. He stated that he does not know how the Board can reduce the budget much more than it already has and still provide minimal services that the County needs to provide. He stated that one of the things the Board is trying to do, is to say to the employees that the County currently has, that the Board is going to try to meet the obligations they made, which is to provide a fair working salary, noting that the Board will meet the requirements of the Cody Study, thus, all employees will be receiving an increase in their salary. He stated, however, that the budget is only increasing by ll%, therefore, the Board cannot make up for all the lost ground that, perhaps, should have been made up for, in one year.
Ms. Anne R. Deasey, a resident of Tavares, appeared before the Board questioning whether all properties in Lake County have been reassessed, to which Commr. Gregg responded that he did not know whether every piece of property had been reassessed, but did know that some parcels, particularly lakefront property, had increased in assessed value more than others, and that Mr. Ed Havill, Property Appraiser, is required, by law, to make certain adjustments annually.
Mr. S. Turner, a resident of Lake County since 1976, appeared before the Board stating that his assessment had gone up every year since 1976. He stated that he did not see how the Board could justify an increase in assessment fees, and an increase in the millage, at the same time. He stated that, in his opinion, a 32-42% increase in taxes is too much for one year.
Ms. Bertha Dunlop, a resident of Lake county since 1943, appeared before the Board stating that she had received a tremendous increase in her assessment ($49,525.00), thereby, increasing her taxes from $912.00 to $l,EOE.OO. She questioned why, with more revenue coming into the County, taxes have to go up each year.
Ms. Dunlop then questioned what the assessed value for the County presently is, compared to what it was last year, to which Mr. Jim Schuster, Director of Finance, replied that it is $3,338,122,548.00 this year, and that it was $2,961,747,444.00 last year. She also questioned what the County Commissioners presently make per year, to which Commr. Gregg replied approximately $29,000.00, of which is set by the State, according to the size of population, just as is done for the Sheriff and other constitutional officers.
Mr. Leon Stewart, a resident of Minneola, appeared before the Board stating that he was disappointed in the reaction of the citizens toward Sheriff Knupp, as he felt the Sheriff had worked very hard and made a lot of improvements in the Sheriff's Department, since taking office, and felt the citizens should start supporting him and his department.
Ms. Elsie Smith, a resident of the Trails of Montverde, appeared before the Board stating that she had been a resident of Lake County for three years, noting that her taxes had increased from $787.00 the first year to $1,402.00 this year. She stated that she would like for someone to justify such increases over such a short period of time.
Commr. Gregg suggested that she file an appeal with the Property Appraisal Adjustment Board.
Mr. Angel Mendez, a resident of the County for 8 years, appeared before the Board stating that he was disgusted with the County system, in that he could predict the Board will not cut the millage, as they have already made up their minds, and tomorrow's paper will state "Lake County Passes Increase". He then commented on the Sheriff's Department and what type of job the Sheriff is
Commr. Gregg informed those present that before the Board had their last meeting (after going through their budget workshops), they cut close to $7 million out of their own budget, and since the last meeting, an additional $1.3 million had been cut from it, thus, noting that the Board had done some serious cuts, before the public was even made aware of the figures.
Mr. Jim Weatherington, a resident of Eustis, appeared before the Board stating that he had felt lost for the past several months, regarding the County government. He questioned Commr. Windram, regarding a comment he made earlier concerning impact fees, in which he stated that they can only be used for something new - not for something that is already in place, to which Commr. Windram verified that he had stated that impact fees can only be used for something that deals with growth, for instance, the County can build a new road, but if it is an old road that was already in place, impact fees cannot be used to go back and resurface said road, unless new growth creates a problem.
Discussion continued regarding impact fees, at which time Commr. Gregg stated that the Board is getting ready to increase transportation impact fees (of which Lake County was the third or fourth in the State to have such fees), as well as four (4) new impact fees, stating that growth does cost money if it is not paid for by impact fees.
Mr. Weatherington questioned whether studies which were done, regarding said impact fees, were the main reason for the increase in taxes, to which Commr. Gregg stated that it was not, that the studies had nothing to do with the rise in taxes. He stated that the cost of the impact fee study was approximately $25,000.00, however, the revenues which will be generated from said fees will exceed that amount in the first five or six days.
Mr. Weatherington then stated that the County had paid an unreasonable amount of legal fees, as well as consulting fees, in the recent past - noting that the Commissioners were businessmen and got where they are due to being businessmen and knowing how to operate a business, stating that this is the reason they were hired, to handle the business of the County, for the general public.
Commr. Gregg responded, referring to the new County Attorney, Ms. Annette Star Lustgarten, stating that the County Attorney is now a County employee, thus, enabling the Board to shave $100,000.00 off the budget, immediately.
Mr. Weatherington then questioned whether it was necessary to hire individuals to tell the Board what they need to do, when they are businessmen and should already know what to do.
Commr. Bakich responded to Mr. Weatherington's question, giving an example, in that the County is required by the State to close the old landfill, therefore, the County has to locate a new one. In order to do so, the County has one of two choices, either to hire more individuals and pay more benefits, as well as purchase additional office furniture and equipment, in order to enable said individuals to do their job, or, hire consultants to do the job for a great deal less.
Mr. Bill Yandell, a resident of Leesburg, appeared before the Board and distributed a Tax Trend Forecast Graph (of which data was taken from the Lake County Tax Collector's Office) for the Board's review, which shows what percent taxes have increased from 1978 to 1989; a tax trend from 1978 to 2015; and a tax trend from 1978 to 2015, with millage fixed at the 1988 level, questioning whether any of the Commissioners had looked back and seen what the taxes had been over the last ten years in Lake County, and to what level they have reached.
Commr. Swartz stated that the Board looked over the last three years, in depth, which was used to guide the Board, to some extent, to the point where the Board presently is.
Mr. Yandell then discussed the rate at which taxes have continued to climb over the past ten years, stating that the taxes on his dad's home are higher than what his mortgage payments were, before the home was paid off. He stated that it is the Board's duty to protect citizens from higher taxes and he would like to see the Board become more efficient and run the County more like a business.
He stated that he would like to see the Board find ways to streamline the County government, and requested that they keep the millage rate the same as last year's.
Ms. Nancy Eubank, a resident of Orange Blossom Gardens, appeared before the Board stating that she would like to see mandatory recycling, in Lake County, instead of building more landfills.
Commr. Bakich responded, stating that the County has been mandated by the State to have 30% recycling by 1991. He stated that the County has several committees, of which one subcommittee is dealing solely with recycling. He stated that this date, the Board approved sending to the local municipalities interlocal agreements for them to sign, thereby, enabling the County to receive additional monies from the State to do further studies. He stated that pilot programs have already been started, for recycling.
Commr. Gregg injected that the Board had, this date, awarded a bid for recycling paper within the Courthouse.
At this time, Mr. Al Thelen, County Manager, reviewed amendments (which he summarized by fund) which had been made to the FY 1989-90 Tentative Budget.
On a motion by Commr. Bailey, seconded by Commr. Bakich and carried unanimously, the Board approved amendments to the FY 1989-90 Tentative Budget, as read by Mr. Thelen, County Manager.
Commr. Swartz stated that at the last budget workshop that was held, the Board asked the County Manager to go back and review some of the proposed positions in the 1989-90 budget. Mr. Thelen sent a memo back to the Board indicating that he felt nine of the eleven positions could be filled after six months, being April 1, 1990, rather than October 1, 1989, thus saving the County $107,137.00.
Commr. Swartz then made a motion to (with the exception of two of said positions) not fill said positions in this budget year, and take the $107,137.00 and use it as a reduction to the General Fund account, and the resulted millage, and, also, to take the $102,000.00, that the County would save on delaying all the other positions for six months, and transfer said funds into the General Fund Contingency account, as he feels that said account is lower than what it should be, which was seconded by Commr. Bailey.
Commr. Bakich questioned what the $102,000.00 transfer would bring the General Fund Contingency account up to, to which Mr. Jim Schuster, Director of Finance, replied $574,000.00.
Commr. Swartz then reviewed which positions would be cut and which positions would be exempted, as follows:
Certified Building Inspector $24,874.00
Executive Secretary with Health & General Services 21,945.00
Public Safety Director 58,529.00
Maintenance Specialist I (Building Maintenance) 21,137.00
Two part-time custodial workers 13,900.00
GIS position with Water Authority (due to contractual obligation) Two Animal Control positions (one officer and one
The Chairman then called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 8:30 p.m. the Chairman announced that the Board would take a ten minute recess, in order to allow staff to recompute the new millage, based on the amendments which the Board had just adopted.
At this time, Mr. Al Thelen, County Manager, and Ms. Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney, alternately read, in full, the following resolutions, to be adopted by the Lake County Board of County Commissioners:
Resolution No. 1989-150, adopting a final millage rate of 4.938 mills, to be levied on all property within Lake County, for FY 1989-90, to become effective October 1, 1989. Said new millage increases the rollback rate millage by 42.2%.
On a motion by Commr. Bakich, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-90, adopting a final millage rate of 4.938 mills for Lake County, as stated above.
Resolution No. 1989-151, adopting the Final Budget of $124,231,993.00 for FY 1989-90, to become effective upon adoption.
On a motion by Commr. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-151, adopting the Final Budget of $124,231,993.00 for Lake County, as stated above.
Resolution No. 1989-152, adopting a final millage rate of 1.000 mill, to be levied on all property within the Northeast Lake County Hospital District, for FY 1989-90. Said new millage increases the rollback rate millage by 9.2%.
On a motion by Commr. Windram, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-152, adopting a final millage rate of 1.000 mill for the Northeast Lake County Hospital District, as stated above.
Resolution No. 1989-153, adopting the Final Budget of the Northeast Lake County Hospital District of $1,436,439.00, for FY 1989-90, to become effective upon adoption.
On a motion by Commr. Windram, seconded by Commr. Bakich and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-153, adopting the Final Budget of the Northeast Lake County Hospital District, as stated above.
Resolution No. 1989-154, adopting a final millage rate of 0.223 mills, to be levied on all property within the Northeast Ambulance District, for FY 1989-90, to become effective October 1, 1989. Said new millage increases the rollback rate millage by 9.3%. On a motion by Commr. Bailey, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-154, adopting a final millage rate of 0.223 mills for the Northeast Ambulance District, as stated above.
Resolution No. 1989-155, adopting the Final Budget of the Northeast Ambulance District of $338,430.00, for FY 1989-90, to become effective upon adoption.
On a motion by Commr. Bailey, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-155, adopting the Final Budget of the Northeast Ambulance District, as stated above.
Resolution No. 1989-156, adopting a final millage rate of 0.223 mills, to be levied on all property within the Northwest Ambulance District of Lake County, for FY 1989-90, to become effective October 1, 1989. Said new millage increases the rollback rate millage by 8.8%.
On a motion by Commr. Bakich, seconded by Commr. Swartz and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-156, adopting a final millage rate of 0.223 mills for the Northwest Ambulance District, as stated above.
Resolution No. 1989-157, adopting the Final Budget of the Northwest Ambulance District of $309,213.00, for FY 1989-90, to become effective upon adoption.
On a motion by Commr. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried unanimously, the Board adopted Resolution No. 1989-157, adopting the Final Budget of the Northwest Ambulance District, as stated above.
At this time, the Board thanked those responsible for preparing the room for the meeting, and those present in the audience, for coming.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m., on a motion by Commr. Bailey, seconded by Commr. Bakich and carried unanimously.
C.W. "CHICK" GREGG, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS