The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, June 25, 1991, at 1:30 p.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Courthouse, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Don Bailey, Chairman; Michael J. Bakich; Richard Swartz; and Catherine Hanson. Commr. Gregg was not present for the meeting. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Al Thelen, County Manager; Ava Kronz, Assistant to the County Manager; and Toni M. Austin, Deputy Clerk.
CONTRACTS, LEASES & AGREEMENTS/ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
On a motion by Commr. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, the Board approved the request for the 1991/92 Recycling and Education Grant Application Part One, and of all city and town-executed 1991/92 Recycling Interlocal Agreements, and approved the Chairman to sign the 1991/92 Recycling Interlocal Agreements submitted to the County after execution by the cities and the towns.
Mr. James C. Watkins, Clerk, introduced to the Board his staff, which included Mr. Bob McKee, Chief Deputy Clerk; Ms. Beth Lange, Director of Courts Management; Mr. Neil Kelly, Director of Administrative Services; and Mr. Jim Schuster, Finance Director. Mr. Watkins also recognized Mr. Kevin McDonald and Ms. Marilyn Alspach, who also assisted on the development of the budget.
Mr. Watkins informed the Board that, in the summary of the budget, he made a recommendation for a cost of living raise for his employees. He stated that, if it were not for the computer software and hardware, which he is committed to, one additional employee for the Courts Management Division - Probation Department, and the request for the cost of living increase, his budget would be a negative impact budget.
Mr. Jim Schuster discussed the overview of the departments, and referred to an Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2, Clerk of the Courts Budgeted Summary of Operations 1992 Tentative vs. 1991 Amended, which was presented to the Board. At this time, he discussed each line item.
Mr. Watkins stated that, with each function that is added, such as the special revenue department, and the addition of the new jail and staffing, there is an impact upon the Office of the Clerk, in terms of the Finance Department, with the keeping of the financial records. He further stated that, at this point in time, he feels that, until all of these new functions are in operation, the Clerk can make it through this budget year with the same staffing. He did caution the Board that a conservative approach to the budget will not always be the case in the future. As the County continues to grow, adjustments to the budget will become necessary, in relation to the additional work load that will be placed on governmental services.
At this time, Mr. Neil Kelly reviewed the areas of Administrative Services, and stated that the Debt Service line item has increased $48,606.00 for the computer lease payments and is essentially the only increase in Administrative Services, for 1991-92.
Ms. Beth Lange, Director of Courts Management, discussed Victim/Witness Office, which reflected a decrease; County Court, which reflected a decrease; and County Probation Office, which reflected an increase, in the amount of $21,078.00, due to a request for one position in this area. At this time, Ms. Lange discussed the requested position in the Probation Office, and stated that there has been no increase in staffing since March, 1986. She further stated that there has been an increase in revenues, with the revenue anticipated this year to be approximately $41,559.00. Ms. Lange stated that this should pay for the new position, and still project revenues over expenditures.
Mr. Watkins summarized the requests that had been presented by his staff, and commented on the time when employees were transferred from the Clerk to the Board, and the budget adjustments that were necessary.
Mr. Watkins stated that he has a continued obligation to the computer system, and after discussion with staff and the County Attorney's Office, there may be a possibility of some of the funds coming from the sales tax money, rather than the ad valorem taxes. Mr. Watkins discussed the request being made for the Probation Officer, and stated that this is an agency that hopefully will keep people out of jail. He further stated that these people pay for their service of probation. Mr. Watkins stated that a comparison was made of the existing counties, in relation to the existing number of cases, and that the fees collected will exceed the cost of this position.
Mr. Watkins then discussed a $96,000.00 figure, which would give his employees a cost of living adjustment. He stated that this figure is not in the proposed budget, by request of the Board. Mr. Watkins explained the impact of the additional number of officers added to staff the jail, in relation to the increase that will be made to the work load and recordkeeping in the Clerk's Office. Therefore, he is requesting a 4% increase and petitioned the Board to take action to place the $96,000.00 into his budget.
Commr. Bakich stated that, in essence he agrees with the Clerk regarding the increase for his employees, but that, due to the economic times, he has difficulty approving the request, and that we all need to share in these economic times. Commr. Bakich stated that he will have difficulty supporting the increase.
Commr. Bailey suggested that the Board defer action on the Clerk's request until Commr. Gregg is present.
Commr. Swartz stated that he concurs with Commr. Bakich, and cannot perceive how the Board can support the request by the Clerk during these economic times. He stated that there would be no way to approach the goal by the Board, which is to avoid a property tax increase, by approving the Clerk's request.
Mr. Watkins discussed the difference with him asking for the increase for his employees versus any other County department, stating that, because of the decisions that have been made to add additional functions to County government, his staff is directly impacted. As he explained earlier, there will be an increase in the recordkeeping and accounting services of the Clerk's Office.
Commr. Swartz stated that he will take exception to this and disagreed, and explained that there will be an increase in all areas of governmental work. He stated that the compensation provided to employees needs to be considered, which increases every year. He further stated that the benefit package is now approximately 30-40% of the salary that is paid to the employee. Commr. Bakich suggested that the employees be asked to take into consideration their benefit plans.
Commr. Bailey commended the Clerk for his presentation in behalf of his employees. He stated that the benefits offered presently to the employees cannot be matched in the private sector. He further stated his position would be to allow no increases, but that he did appreciate the Clerk's comments and points that he made in behalf of his employees.
Mr. Bob McKee discussed the majority of the Clerk's employees, and their position as Deputy Clerks, and stated that he has tremendous understanding and sympathy for the private sector; however, it is extremely common for the Clerk to lose his employees to the private sector, because the base salary is significantly higher. Mr. McKee stated that the discussion is not on the same category of salaries.
Mr. Watkins stated that he and his staff understand the difficulty the Board faces, but the Clerk also has the obligation to present to the Board what fairly represents the office, and the people of the office.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt the Clerk had made a real effort to be conservative, and commended him on this accomplishment.
Mr. Watkins stated that he has a negative budget, except for the computer and the one additional employee for County Probation.
Mr. Watkins stated that he will be going on vacation, but if the Board does decide to take significant negative action on his budget, he would request that he be informed of the time, in order that he be present.
Discussion occurred regarding the cost of the computer software and hardware, with the total budget impact being $285,800.00, with a three year contract. Mr. Watkins encouraged the Board to explore what amount can come from the sales tax.
Ms. Lustgarten stated that, at the request of the Clerk, she has begun to review this issue, and it is relatively clear that the infrastructure surtax for equipping the courts facility would be a permitted use for the purchase of the hardware.
At this time, Mr. Watkins introduced to the Board Mr. Bruce Carroll, Budget Analyst, who will be attending the budget meetings in his behalf.
Sheriff George E. Knupp appeared before the Board to discuss his proposed 1991-92 budget. Sheriff Knupp stated that there are three areas of his budget to be increased. Those areas are Personal Services (retirement mandated by the State); his personal salary (mandated by the State); and Operating Expenses; with a total increase of the budget being $207,287.00. He discussed the $10,000.00 placed into the Overtime Salaries, and at this time, he took the opportunity to discuss each line item in his budget.
Sheriff Knupp stated that he honored the request of the Board, with no request for pay raises, or new employees. He stated that the budget is approximately 2.6% over last years.
Sheriff Knupp stated that an issue was brought to his attention by his employees regarding the disparity between the salaries of the jail people, the correction people, and the law enforcement people. He stated that he realizes most of the difference is caused by the hours of work, but that the deputies feel that, in the area of the bailiffs, who are sworn as deputy sheriffs, he is paying them a different salary, as opposed to those deputies on the roads. He stated that his office performed an analysis to determine why they are making a higher wage than the deputies on the street. He stated that Ms. Linda Marusca, Finance Director, prepared an hourly rate, which they are paid subject to the Garcia Rule. He directed the Board's attention to the figures outlined, and stated that he feels he needs to sit with the County Manager to discuss and resolve this problem. Sheriff Knupp discussed what had occurred in May, 1990, with the jail and the road people, and the differences in their present salaries.
Mr. Al Thelen, County Manager, addressed the issue and handed out three memorandums to the Board. The first memorandum dated June 12, 1991, from Ms. Lois Martin, Director of Personnel, which indicated that the bailiffs starting salary had been raised higher than the sheriff's salaries. Mr. Thelen stated that, at the discretion of the presiding judge, he indicated that he wanted to give to his employees a 6% increase in October, 1990, rather than follow the direction of the Board, and assumed that the Sheriff also gave his employees 6%, which he did, but he did not change the beginning salary. It was noted that the Sheriff verified on June 12, 1991, that the salary increases for his employees were only 3%. By then, two bailiffs had been hired at 3% higher than the starting sheriff's deputy position. At this time, Mr. Thelen directed that the starting salary be changed for the bailiffs.
Mr. Thelen stated that the third handout discusses the requirements in the Parity Provision in the Florida Statutes, which was passed in the Special Act in 1971, and how it has been applied. The handout also reviewed the salaries that existed over the years for the bailiffs, as compared to the salaries for the sheriff's employees. Mr. Thelen stated that the Special Act in 1971 did not
address hours, but that their annual salaries will be the same. He stated that, in the summary of the bailiffs' situation, a mistake was made in October, 1990, but was corrected when the error was identified, and that the County's position is that this is not a situation that ought to be parity based on hourly rates. He stated that, for the most part, the bailiffs are participating in the County's total package, and there are differences between the two areas. He stated that options were reviewed, in regards to the error made in 1986, which involved the hiring of two bailiffs, and that, after legal counsel, the error was corrected, and the County is now in compliance with the law.
Sheriff Knupp discussed the difference in the salary for
a lieutenant on road patrol and a lieutenant in the bailiff's office, and that the deputies are questioning why he, as Sheriff, is paying the bailiffs, who are sworn deputy sheriffs, but who are under the direction of the judge, $3,000.00 more than the deputies.
Mr. Thelen stated that there are two completely different personnel systems, and that he feels having a salary range, rather than having everybody at an individual salary is a better personnel system. The reason is that the law requires there be equity in starting salaries.
Commr. Bakich questioned the terms of the salary of the bailiff, which will not exceed the deputy sheriff, with Ms. Lustgarten stating that it is entirely up to the Circuit Court Judge, who has the power to set the tenure and conditions of employment.
Discussion occurred regarding the starting salary of the bailiff and the deputy sheriff having to be the same, and differences being in the hourly rate, and the discretionary position of the presiding judge.
Mr. Thelen stated that, when the presiding judge wanted the bailiffs included in the County's salary range, the range was developed through the County's personnel division. The Sheriff can also develop ranges for his personnel, and at this time, Sheriff Knupp discussed how his salaries are set up with a step plan for his employees. Sheriff Knupp stated that he disagrees with Mr. Thelen, and that there should be a step plan for the employees.
Sheriff Knupp stated that he will sit with the Chief Judge to resolve the problem with the bailiffs.
Mr. Thelen discussed the area of correction officers and the County defining what the correction officers had in terms of a personnel program. He stated that they were being paid for 86 hours, the same as the Sheriff, but were only working 84 hours. He further stated that when their pay was reverted back to 84, with their hourly rate going up, there was no way for the County to justify this under the Fair Labor Standards. He discussed the nurses and the cooks, which had no pay range, and stated that Cody and Associates reviewed these areas and made recommendations. The recommendation increased their pay, which was more than the sheriff's department, which was a mistake, but adjustments were made to the starting salaries.
Ms. Marusca discussed the pay scale used by the Sheriff's Office, which is based on job performance, not just longevity. She stated that basically the salaries are the same.
Commr. Bakich encouraged, through the Personnel Committee, that the Sheriff, along with other constitutional officers, develop some parity for a system for the bailiffs, deputy sheriffs, and correctional officers.
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS
Mr. Thelen stated that Ms. Emogene Stegall, Supervisor of Elections, had another commitment, and would be unable to appear today. He further stated that no other constitutional officer wished to appear before the Board.
Commr. Bailey stated that he would be on vacation July 3-6, 1991, and requested that the scheduled budget meetings be rescheduled, in order that he be able to attend.
Mr. Thelen stated that he will bring to the Board alternative dates for the budget meetings.
Mr. Thelen discussed the Summary page of the budget, with the Board discussing the $150,000.00 for the computer hardware.
Commr. Swartz questioned whether or not any other capital expenditures are being reviewed, with Mr. Thelen stating that they are being reviewed, along with a request for a legal opinion on whether or not the County can go back and reimburse the General Fund for the $250,000.00 that was advanced in 1989, for the contribution towards the Wekiva purchase. At this time, Mr. Thelen discussed the infrastructure fund in more detail.
Commr. Bailey requested an organizational chart from every department, with Mr. Thelen stating that this will be presented in the overall budget package.
Ms. Eleanor Anderson, Director of Administrative Services/Budget, stated that she had received a call from the State Attorney's Office requesting what the direction of the Board has been today, with Mr. Thelen stating that he did not feel that the Board should offer a decision, until it has been presented with the overall total budget, with the total impact on the General Fund.
Commr. Hanson discussed a County Officials' meeting where a presentation workshop called the Strategic Budget Process to the Challenge of Downsizing: The Palm Beach County Approach, was made. She stated that the County saved 79 million dollars. Commr. Hanson stated the reduction categories established were as follows:
A. level of service reductions
B. efficiency measures and cost deferrals
E. cost reassignments
F. deferral of capital projects
Commr. Hanson stated that the most important thing that she recognized was that they went through their programs and prioritized them and eliminated a lot of them. She stated that she
would like to see the Board look into forming a team to streamline the County's budget.
Mr. Thelen stated that he has not had the opportunity to review the information completely, but that the uniqueness that he saw was the buying in of the constitutional officers. He stated that the County presently performs some of the methods offered, but that it does not have the experts to proceed with the development of such a program.
Commr. Bailey discussed his areas of interest in the Palm Beach County Approach, with Commr. Swartz suggesting that the constitutional officers be invited to attend a meeting with several of the individuals from the seminar to hear their presentation on the concept of their approach. Commr. Bakich strongly encouraged the County to move forward with this approach.
Mr. Thelen stated that he will schedule this issue on the agenda for discussion, after consulting with the staff. He stated that, if the County considers a 4.6% increase for the cost of living, the County would be considering one million dollars. He stated that the County can expect the employees to share some of the burden, but as Mr. Watkins indicated, over time the County will have the tendency to lose valuable employees with the economic conditions. Mr. Thelen further stated that he has discussed with Jan Winter, County Administrator, Palm Beach County, the information service and computer program offered by the Clerk, which will be helpful when prioritizing the programs.
Ms. Lustgarten informed the Board that she has been asked to speak tomorrow night at the Mobile Home Park Association, whose main issue is opposing the special assessment on real property.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 3:35 p.m.
DONALD B. BAILEY, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a special Townhall Meeting on Tuesday, June 25, 1991, at 7:00 p.m., at the Franklin Pearce Auditorium, in Montverde, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Donald B. Bailey, Chairman; Richard Swartz; Catherine Hanson; and Michael J. Bakich. Commr. Gregg was not present, due to the fact that he was out of town. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Alan A. Thelen, County Manager; Ava Kronz, Assistant to the County Manager; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Reverend B. B. Osgood gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commr. Swartz, chairing this meeting, opened the meeting by introducing the Mayor of Montverde, Mr. Franklin Pearce, and several other city members present in the audience, as well as fellow Commissioners and staff members. There were approximately 70 individuals in attendance.
UPDATE ON THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Mr. John Swanson, Executive Director of Planning and Development, appeared before those present to give an update on the Lake County Comprehensive Plan. He informed those present that a workshop meeting had been scheduled for Friday, June 28, 1991, at 9:30 a.m., for the purpose of discussing the Objections, Recommendations, and Comments (ORC) Report from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), regarding the Comprehensive Plan; a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, July 2, 1991, at 5:05 p.m., at the Ag Center, with the Board sitting as the Local Planning Agency, to receive public input regarding the Comprehensive Plan; and a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, July 9, 1991, at 5:05 p.m., in the Board Meeting Room, for the purpose of adopting the Comprehensive Plan. He stated staff would then be submitting the plan to the State on July 16, 1991, to the State and, hopefully, will receive acceptance of the plan back from the State approximately 45 days later.
Mr. Swanson stated the comments that most concern staff are the ones pertaining to the presentation of the Comprehensive Plan to the State, and its allocation of land use and protection of the environment and natural resources. He stated that staff is addressing those comments to the best of their ability, noting that they have been making some technical changes, as it relates to the Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map, and have been addressing them as best they can. He stated they hope that, through the public hearing process, they will be making some strong recommendations to the comments and policies, back to the State, regarding the allocation of those particular resources.
Mr. Swanson then informed those present what activity is taking place at the site located at Hwys. 19/27 and the turnpike, at which time he reviewed a map showing the site in question. He stated that there are approximately 222 acres allocated to the Tourist Development Council, and approximately 224 acres allocated for the industrial park. He stated that the County is presently dealing with five out-of-town firms that are interested in locating in Lake County, noting that there is a lot of interest in increasing the employment base in Lake County, and on this particular site. He stated the County's clay pit, which is located at the site, comprises approximately 39 acres of the property.
Mr. Swanson stated that the site also contains some wetlands, which he noted will be protected, as well as a habitat which has been set aside for gopher tortoises. He stated environmental studies have also been done on the site. He stated the County is making a lot of headway on the site, and is almost ready to have the property platted, at which time the plat will be reviewed by the Technical Review Committee, as well as the Board of County Commissioners and the Planning and Zoning Commission, for its final recordation, which he noted staff hopes to have take place in the very near future. He stated staff is also looking at the provision of water and sanitary sewer service to the area, and is underway with a private acquisition study of Southern States Utilities. He stated staff is now trying to determine whether this would be a viable project for the County. He stated that, one way or another, water and sanitary sewer service will be provided to the site, to support industry which will be located there. He also stated that 50 acres of the property has been allocated for the Lake County Vocational Technical School, for a training center, which is to be located there.
A brief discussion occurred regarding a proposed development in Lake County known as Pineneedle, at which time Mr. Swanson answered questions pertaining to it. He stated that there is a possibility of it being brought before the County's Technical Review Committee in July; before the Planning and Zoning Commission sometime in August; and before the Board of County Commissioners at the third meeting in September.
A gentleman in the audience questioned what the latest was on the Federal prison which had, at one time, considered the possibility of locating in Lake County.
Mr. Al Thelen, County Manager, stated that he had the opportunity to go over to Sumter County (where the Federal prison is now considering locating) last week, and obtain an update on the matter, noting that representatives of the Federal prison, as well as the community at large, were there. He stated a decision would be made in 90 days regarding the matter.
The gentleman stated that with all the vacant land Lake County has, and with unemployment changing so drastically in the last few years, he felt it may have been something worthwhile to go after, at which time Commr. Swartz stated the issue was one that had been very hotly debated for a period of six to nine months, and it was felt that a Federal prison was not appropriate for the site that had been chosen. He noted that the site that has been chosen in Sumter County is probably closer to cities in Lake County than in Sumter County, noting that it is only three miles from the Lake County line, therefore, any economic benefit that will come from that prison will probably be felt by Lake County, to some extent.
A gentleman questioned what the County's policy was going to be regarding large urban developments, when it comes to infrastructure, since there is talk about water and sewer systems that are going to have to be put in place. He stated that, if the County does not make these systems meet certain criteria now, and possibly have them turned over for County operation, then 15 to 20 years from now, Lake County is going to be buying non-operational systems, and bringing them up to stats.
Mr. Don Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, responded to the gentleman's concern, stating that the County has developed a water and wastewater master plan that, basically, sets certain criteria for the stats for water and wastewater systems throughout the County, as it pertains to infrastructure for development. He stated that, in approving the water and wastewater master plan, one of the things that the master plan recommended for implementation, was the formation of development and construction standard specifications for private water treatment and private wastewater treatment plants. He stated staff is presently in the process of developing those standards, and expect them to be completed sometime in the next two months, at which time they will be brought before the Board of County Commissioners. He stated staff is looking at the acquisition of Southern States Utilities, as well as the possibility of entering into what is called "public/private partnerships", for the development of that infrastructure.
A gentleman in the audience stated that he, as well as other residents in Montverde, were under the impression that the Comprehensive Plan was meant to control growth; however, they see a lot of land being given to developers. He stated they moved to Montverde because it was a small town, and they would like for it to remain so; but, with all the growth going on around them, feel that within five years, everything around them is going to be urban.
A brief discussion occurred, at which time Commr. Swartz stated that the issue of the Comprehensive Plan has been hotly debated for well over a year. He reiterated the fact that there will be two public hearings held pertaining to this issue, one on July 2, 1991, and the other on July 9, 1991, at which time the Board will be trying to work out some of the differences that exist between the Department of Community Affairs and the County, and some differences that exist among the Commissioners themselves.
UPDATE ON ROAD PROJECTS IN THE AREA OF MONTVERDE
Mr. Don Griffey, Engineering Director of Public Works, appeared before those present and reviewed a handout listing some road projects which the County and the State will be working on in the near future, in the Montverde area. He noted which projects will be funded by gas tax funds. He also noted some projects which are presently ongoing, in the Montverde area, as well as some projects which are scheduled for FY 1993-94. He stated the County tries to systematically pave the clay roads that the County is obligated to maintain, because a paved road is much more cost effective to maintain than clay roads. He also noted that the County is starting to widen some of its roads to 30 feet, to allow for bicycle paths, as well as ensure the safety of motorized vehicles. He stated the County is looking at adding CR 455 and CR 50 to its Impact Fee Program, noting that both of those intersections will be improved, with some turn lanes being added. He then briefly discussed a plan which the County is proposing for an intersection in Montverde, involving CR 455, going toward Tavares, which he noted is scheduled to begin in two to three months. It was noted that said project is a county highway impact fee project.
A brief discussion occurred regarding several other roads in the Montverde area which some of the residents that were present in the audience felt needed some work done on them, as well as what effect the turnpike project is going to have on the town when it opens.
PRESENTATION ON THE NON-AD VALOREM ASSESSMENTS FOR SOLID WASTE
Mr. Don Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, appeared before those present and reviewed a handout which stated the reasons for implementing mandatory solid waste collection and solid waste special assessments, as well as questions and answers pertaining to same.
A gentleman in the audience questioned what effect it will have on the incorporated municipalities of the County, at which time Mr. Findell stated that it will have no effect on them. He stated they have the responsibility of managing their own solid waste collection and disposal, noting that they will pay tipping fees for the disposal.
Commr. Swartz interjected that the only impact of what the County is doing with the cities is the increase in the tipping fee. He stated that some that are lower than what the County is proposing to go to, will probably be increasing five dollars per month. He noted that the County's recycling program is available to the residents of Montverde, should they choose to use it, at a cost of $1.89 per household, per month.
Mr. Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, upon being questioned by Mayor Pearce as to whether the County was going to franchise with more than just one company, noted that the County will be franchising with four companies, being: IWS, South Lake, Berry's Refuse, and Town & Country. It was noted that the companies will be exclusive in their areas; however, the Board of County Commissioners is very much aware of trying to maintain competition, and also to have the availability of additional carriers, if one went out.
A lady in the audience questioned whether it was mandatory that residents place their garbage out for pickup, noting that some residents take their garbage to work with them, for disposal, to which Commr. Swartz responded that, by and large, the mandatory collection will require that all single families receive collection through one of the County's contracted carriers. He stated there may be some exemptions for those individuals that deal with their recyclables, or compost, or carry their garbage to a suitable disposal site. He stated there is a second issue, being the cost of disposing of solid waste in the County, whether it is a landfill item or something that goes to the incinerator, noting that the position the Board has taken is one that will most fairly and equitably share the burden of that solid waste cost, which he noted is, in part, the reason for the mandatory system.
A gentleman in the audience questioned how the County will handle those individuals that rent, and what assurance homeowners have that they will pay the same amount of money that a homeowner pays, at which time Mr. Findell stated that the bill for special assessment will go to the homeowner, and the homeowner is the one that will be responsible for paying that special assessment, in whatever arrangement they make with the renter.
A gentleman questioned what the County is going to do about those individuals that come down from up north, to which Mr. Findell responded that they will pay the same rates as everyone else.
A lady in the audience questioned why those residents that recycle are going to have to pay the County to pick it up, to which Commr. Swartz responded that there are a lot of proposals and ideas that are being considered. One of them being that, for those individuals that recycle and/or compost and take the residual to the landfill and pay to dispose of it, there is an alternative that the County is considering, which he noted will be on their tax bill. He stated that, if the resident applies for an exemption for that collection amount, then they will be given a book, or coupon, that they will have validated when they take the residual to a suitable disposal site, or take the recyclables to an approved recycling center. Then, at the end of the year, that individual will get a rebate for the collection portion of the bill. He
stated the individual will, however, still pay for the disposal portion of the bill. He stated another exemption which is being considered is for property that is unaccessible.
A lady in the audience questioned whether the County will be paying for the incinerator from now on, to which Commr. Bailey stated that he would like to see the Board wait until July 2, 1991, to debate this issue, rather than try and address it at this time. Commr. Swartz stated that the first step is to develop a consensus that the Board wants to look at the issue with, perhaps, an impartial observer, to determine whether or not it would actually be more fiscally sound to not continue, as opposed to continuing with it. He stated he did not think anyone would advocate putting the County in a worse financial situation, because of the incinerator.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt once the County had the facts, provided there is a consensus, that the Board would probably look at the facts, objectively, whether or not to shut it down. She stated that, whatever the Board does, they need to handle the issue with fact and not emotion.
A gentleman in the audience questioned whether the whole county would become mandatory, to which Commr. Swartz responded that the County does not control solid waste within the incorporated cities. He stated, however, that the cities are going to come under some of the same requirements for recycling goals and, eventually, will have to provide for some mandatory collection. He stated that, within the unincorporated areas, the County, in an effort to do several things, such as ensure as adequate a waste stream as it can, for the incinerator; to provide a revenue stream to pay for the incinerator, and all of the solid waste system; and to prevent the type of roadside littering that is presently going on, will be going to mandatory collection.
A gentleman questioned whether there would be a proration for the snowbirds, to which Commr. Swartz responded that there has been some discussion regarding the matter, and there will probably be more discussion regarding it.
A gentleman in the audience questioned why the fees at the transfer stations could not be adjusted, to which Commr. Swartz replied that the problem is that people are not taking their garbage to the proper facilities - they are illegally dumping it.
A gentleman in the audience questioned whether grass cuttings would be picked up, to which Commr. Swartz stated that they would. The gentleman then questioned who benefits from the recyclable products, to which Mr. Findell, Executive Director of Environmental Services, responded that, in the unincorporated areas of the County, the proceeds from those recyclable materials come back to the County to offset the costs of recycling and solid waste management. He stated that, regarding the cities, each one has a separate contract with a separate hauler, and a mechanism by which money is refunded to them. He stated that some cities split the money with the hauler, some give money to the hauler, and some keep all the money.
A lady in the audience questioned whether only homeowners were being assessed, or whether businesses, agricultural, and others were being assessed, as well, to which Mr. Findell replied that residential property owners were the only ones being assessed.
PRESENTATION ON THE NON-AD VALOREM ASSESSMENTS FOR FIRE
Mr. Lonnie Strickland, Director of Health and General Services, appeared before those present to discuss non-ad valorem assessments for fire.
A gentleman in the audience stated that the County was going to have a serious problem, due to lack of cooperation between the County and the City of Montverde, regarding the 911 program. Mr. Strickland and Commr. Swartz responded to a concern which the gentleman noted, regarding the matter.
Mr. T. J. Townsend, a Lake County resident, questioned how the County could protect a $100,000 home from fire, for only two cents a year, stating as an example that, if an individual has a one acre
lot, or smaller, he has to pay $34.66, per year, for fire protection; however, if he builds a $100,000 home on the lot, he only has to pay two cents more.
Mr. Al Thelen, County Manager, responded to Mr. Townsend's question, by stating that the approach which is used under State law is to, first of all, use the classification properly, at which time he noted how this is done. He stated the basis is on benefits received, not the value of the property.
Commr. Swartz stated that a fairer question is the issue of how the County assesses vacant parcels, which he noted the County has a problem with. He stated it is an issue that the County is looking at again, in trying to see if there is a way of resolving it. He stated the Board is also looking at the question of the recreation classification, noting that the consultants are reviewing it and trying to see if there is a more equitable way of looking at it.
A gentleman in the audience questioned whether the Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) assessed for fire would be more appropriate and equitable than just a set fee, to which Commr. Swartz replied that it is an MSTU, but, it is based on benefit, rather than an ad valorem base.
The gentleman then stated that he felt an ad valorem base would generate more income, in the long run, and would also be more equitable to the vacant property owners than those that have improved property, to which Commr. Swartz responded that, in 1985, the people of Lake County voted to go to a structure tax (a benefit tax) and away from the ad valorem base. He stated an option that the Board has, is to consider higher property taxes, to fund the fire assessment, rather than some type of benefit district.
Mr. Thelen stated that, regarding the vacant land issue, in 1985, when the people of Lake County voted to tax everything, including vacant land, due to the fact that the County was unable to do it at the time, vacant property, regardless of value, unless it was agricultural, got a "free ride" for five years. He stated that it is not easy to deal with vacant land on a fire MSTU tax. He stated one way the County can do it, is to go back and say let it have a free ride, the way the County did for five years. He stated he was not sure there is a pure equity, to the extent that the County use a unit tax, rather than value.
Regarding the matter of the Pineneedle Sand Mine issue, Mayor Franklin Pearce appeared before those present and requested the Board to hold a referendum, and find out how the majority of the people in Lake County feel about the matter.
In response to Mayor Pearce's request, Commr. Bakich stated that the Board has to give due process to the developer involved. A lady in the audience brought to the attention of the Board the fact that the St. Johns River Water Management District had given permission for muck farms to dump into Lake Apopka, and wanted to know what the Board was going to do about it.
Commr. Swartz stated the way he understood it, was that the dumping that is being allowed is recycled water that meets the water quality standards. He stated that the consent order, which he understood St. Johns signed, would allow not only the farmers in the area of Lake Apopka, but farmers all over the Zellwood District, to dump. He stated they could only discharge if the water quality is suitable, noting that they are having to put in retention areas, and areas where they can treat that water, to improve its quality. He stated he felt the ultimate solution to dealing with the muck farms around Lake Apopka, and the water quality of Lake Apopka, is going to be the continuation of what St. Johns is doing, which is acquiring that land and, absolutely, not only stopping any water discharges, but, actually returning those muck farms to the marshes that previously existed, that did the natural cleaning of it. He stated he felt this was something the County needed to continue to work toward.
Regarding the matter of property taxes, a lady in the audience stated that she had moved to Lake County four and a half years ago,
and that her taxes had increased 90% over what they were the first year that she arrived. She stated that nothing has been added or deleted in that length of time, and questioned whether the Board could justify such an increase for her.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the matter, at which time Commr. Swartz stated that he was not sure that he could justify it; however, when he and two other Commissioners came on Board, they found that many of the reserve funds had been used to avoid tax increases. He stated that, last year, this County did not increase its millage, and the Board is trying to do everything it can to not increase that millage. He stated, however, that the County is burdened by a new jail which is coming on line, that is creating an additional cost of approximately $2 million, as well as a new courthouse, that is going to bring perhaps a half million dollars in new costs. He stated that, even with those new costs, the Board is trying to avoid increasing its millage, noting that they have made significant initial cuts in a number of department budgets, and are working with the constitutional officers, as well. He stated the number one priority that this Board set was to hold the line on property taxes, and they are doing everything they can to do that. There being no further business to be discussed, the meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.
DONALD B. BAILEY, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK