The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, July 12, 1994, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Rhonda H. Gerber; Don Bailey; and G. Richard Swartz, Jr. Others present were: Bruce Duncan, Assistant County Attorney; Peter F. Wahl, County Manager; Ava Kronz, BCC Office Manager; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
The Chairman opened the meeting, at which time she was congratulated on her birthday by a group of well-wishers who gave her a handful of balloons and sang "Happy Birthday" to her.
Ms. Eleanor Anderson, Director, Office of Management and Budget, was present to answer any questions there might be from the Board, regarding the various budgets, and to give input.
CLERK OF CIRCUIT COURT
Mr. James C. Watkins, Clerk, recognized those members of his staff who had prepared his budget and commended them for a job well done. He stated that he was very proud of the fact that his office had received the "Distinguished Budget Award" for the past three years and hoped that this year would be the fourth. He stated that, to his knowledge, his office is the only Clerk's Office in the State of Florida to receive said award. He referred to the Letter of Transmittal contained in the budget book, under his section, stating that it gives the Board the facts of increases. He stated that he was pleased with the fact that his budget is not significantly impacted in upward figures, noting that there were lots of reasons for that, the major one being that the computer contract, which is a significant one, is in its winding down stage, so some of those funds are being used in the operation of his office.
Mr. Watkins stated that this budget does not address the issue of the County's Office of Management and Budget being transferred back under the Clerk's Office, as he felt that was a separate issue that should be discussed with the Board at the appropriate time. He stated that he had asked his staff to prepare their opinion of what it will take to provide said service to the Board, should they request it, however, he had not yet seen the report. He stated that his office is willing to do anything that the Board asks them to do, that they feel they can do, however, he was not taking a stand on the issue one way or the other, as he felt that was an issue the Board needed to decide. He stated that his office would be more than willing to help the Board, in any way it can, in the process.
Mr. Wahl interjected that County staff and the Clerk's staff had been working together, in addressing records management issues, and that this budget included some of the capital equipment that had been discussed, so that the County does not get into a redundant situation. He stated that there will be a single set of equipment and a single work group that will be responsible for converting paper records to either micro-film, or fiche, whatever media is being used. He stated that County staff has worked on the basis that that function will be located within the Clerk's Office, but will be supported with appropriate funding from each of the departments. He noted that, in reviewing the County budget, the Board would see references to the cost for micro-filming.
Mr. Watkins stated that the funds alluded to by Mr. Wahl is to put the Clerk's Office in a posture to provide that service to the Board, on the responsibility end, however, the management of records flowing through County departments will be their responsibility, to see that they are prepared in such a way that they are ready for the Clerk's Office to store. He stated that both functions are extremely important and that it should be a shared responsibility. At this time, he asked each of his Chief Deputies to give a brief overview of their budgets.
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy, Finance and Audit Department, stated that she had two budgets under her responsibility, BCC Accounting (the Board of County Commissioners Accounting Office) and BCC Support (the Board of County Commissioners Clerical Support Office). She stated that the proposed budget for said offices for FY 1994-95 is $748,026, a decrease of approximately $75,000 over last year's budget. She stated that said reduction is due primarily to the SCT software. She stated that the BCC Support budget is primarily a budget to maintain the current level and includes salary increases that are consistent with what the Board has done for this year in their budget.
Mr. Neil Kelly, Chief Deputy, Administrative Services Department, reviewed the divisions that are under his department, being Data Processing, Administrative Services, the Historical Museum, and Property Records. He stated that there is a significant decrease in the Data Processing Office, due to paying off the bulk of the hardware equipment that the Clerk's Office has been purchasing over the past two to three years. He noted that there are approximately three payments left on said equipment.
Mr. Kelly stated that the Clerk's Office is trying to enhance its PC network, due to the fact that most of the duties of the Administrative Services Office are administerial in nature, which lends itself to automation. He stated that the bulk of the increase in the Property Records budget is due to the purchase of two microfilm cameras, which are quite expensive, and there is one additional person included in the budget, to provide the human resources to the microfilming function. He stated that the Clerk's Office is trying not to jump into the microfilming process too quickly and too heavily and appropriate more resources than the County needs, up front. He stated that they are trying to take it one step at a time.
Ms. Beth Lange, Chief Deputy, Courts Management Department, stated that she is over the Victim/Witness Assistance Office, which is where the Clerk's Office provides two Deputy Clerks that work in the State Attorney's Office to help with victims and witnesses and that said budget has remained about the same, noting that it has only increased by 6/10ths of a percent over last year. She stated that she is also over the County Courts Office, which she noted takes in the County Civil and Criminal Divisions and the Traffic Department. She stated that said budget has increased $67,304 this year, an increase of 7.4%, noting that part of it was due to the microfilming of some traffic records and maintenance of the copier. She stated that there were no personnel increases in either of the two areas.
Mr. Kevin McDonald, Senior Budget Analyst, informed the Board that the Clerk's Office had assumed a 5% salary increase, which he noted was consistent with what the Board did last year, being they gave a 2% cost of living increase and up to a 3% merit increase, on the employee's anniversary date. He stated that Mr. Watkins has chosen to give his increases up front, therefore, they assumed a 5% salary increase across the board.
Mr. Watkins interjected that a study was conducted, at his request, by Ernst & Young, of the Clerk's employees' salaries and how they compared with the County, as well as other Clerk's Offices within the State, of comparable size.
Commr. Hanson questioned what the study costs.
Mr. Bruce Carroll, Business Office Manager, stated that there were multiple parts to the study, which included more than what Mr. Watkins alluded to, but that the entire study was done for less than $15,000.
Mr. Watkins stated that this budget continues to fund, at the same basic request of the Board, self insurance for the Clerk's employees, in accordance with the underwriter's and auditor's recommendations.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the Clerk's insurance plan, at which time Mr. Watkins answered questions from the Board regarding same. He stated that the only thing he is asking of the Board is the same thing that they are doing, with respect to their employees, and what the Board has done for the office in the past, with no increase.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether the Clerk was where he needed to be, as far as the computer networking system is concerned, to which he stated that it is becoming a very sophisticated, state-of-the-art system, in terms of what it will provide for his office. He stated that he was very pleased with what his staff has accomplished, in a very short period of time. He stated that he feels with time, the system will only become better.
Mr. Watkins noted some other things that he is hoping to accomplish, during the next few years, without significantly impacting the ad valorem budget. He stated that there would be some involvement, however, he felt that most of it could be accomplished through fees. He stated that he is projecting to return to the County excess fees, in the amount of $150-200,000, and still be able to accomplish some of the things that he hopes to accomplish.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the microfilming area and the number of cameras said area presently has, at which time
Mr. Kelly stated that there are presently two cameras and that they plan to purchase a third one in the near future.
Mr. Watkins noted that the only increase in personnel, for the Clerk's Office, was a Property Records Clerk.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether, based on the study that was conducted by Ernst & Young and the proposed 5% increase, the Clerk was where he should be, competitive wise.
Mr. Watkins stated that that was a debatable issue. He stated that the study brought the Clerk's employees' salaries up to where the County was and where the market was, before this year's increase, however, he feels his salaries are still competitive. He stated that, over the last six to eight years, the County has been working diligently to make its salaries competitive, however, he feels they are not competitive. He stated that, not only are they not competitive, in some cases, they are superior. He stated that, with insurance benefits and some other things that he has been able to do for his employees that the County has not been able to do, he feels that he is still very competitive, and that he feels comfortable with the recommendation before the Board this date.
The Board thanked Mr. Watkins for a fine presentation, noting that he always does a good job and that they hear good things about him and his employees from everybody that deals with the Clerk's Office, countywide.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 9:30 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess until 10:00 a.m.
PLANING AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Mr. Paul Bergmann, Senior Director, Planning and Development Services Department, appeared before the Board and noted some changes that have been made in his department. He explained the reason behind some personnel changes and the reason for some computer and microfilming requests. He stated that his employees have taken on a new attitude, over the last six months, to better serve the citizens of Lake County. He stated that needs have been identified, on a division by division basis, and that he had cut a few positions, before his budget was sent to the Board, therefore, he felt the request before the Board this date was a minimum request. He stated that several divisions have been reorganized, because he feels it creates greater simplicity of management, more accountability, and efficiency of service.
Mr. Bergmann stated that new and updated computers have been proposed across the department, so that information can be computerized, computations handled, information shared, and tracking developed, from the time of zoning to site development and permitting to code enforcement, which should improve accuracy, timely service, and reduce redundancy. He stated that he was requesting 11 replacements and 7 new computers, which will be linked together and shared with a program in the Building Department, for permit tracking. He stated that, as his department prepares to move into the Administration Building, he is requesting microfilming of their files, due to the fact that they will be moving into a smaller space than what they presently have and will need to have file data accessible.
Mr. Pete Wahl, County Manager, interjected that an additional modification was programmed into this budget, due to a request that staff received from the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC). He stated that they were requesting a figure which was double the amount that the County had allocated from last year to this year, however, Commr. Gerber had informed him that that was not the position that was taken by the ECFRPC. She stated that the budget had gone before them and they voted it down. He stated that the County had not yet received any revised numbers, so, for budget purposes, the County needed to continue with it, since it had not been changed or rescinded.
It was noted that the figure for 1994 was $27,000, however, the ECFRPC requested an allocation of $53,500, for FY 1994-95.
Ms. Lois Martin, Director, Human Resources, distributed a Summary of Authorized Positions by Department/Division and the County Manager's Approved Personnel Change Requests, for the Planning and Development Department, for the Board's perusal.
The Budget Narrative provided in the budget book for the Planning and Development Services Department notes that said department is comprised of the following divisions: Planning Services; Environmental Management; Building Services; Development Regulation Services; and Code Compliance Services, with a total proposed budget of $4,367,569, for FY 1994-95.
The Board then reviewed the Planning and Development Services Department's budget, division by division, questioning various aspects of it.
Under the Community Development Block Grant section, it was noted that $17,500 had been budgeted for Affordable Housing by Lake.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether staff could get other grants started, to which Mr. Mark Knight, Chief Planner, Planning and Development, stated that staff had met with the Public Services Department and was presently in the process of preparing a plan of action, to go forth with another grant, in order for the County to be better prepared at the end of this grant.
Commr. Hanson brought to staff's attention the areas around Lake Mack and Lake Kathryn, noting that it is a very bad situation and one that needs to be looked at. She requested staff to look at the collector roads in those areas, to see if something can be done, for the purpose of garbage collection and fire and emergency services. She stated that she appreciated the efforts staff had put forth, particularly Mr. Knight.
Mr. Jim Barker, Director, Environmental Management Services; Mr. Leo Vaughn, Code Compliance Manager; and Mr. Jack Bragg, Building Official, appeared before the Board and answered questions regarding their respective budgets.
Mr. Bergmann noted that a new Codes Inspector was being requested for the Code Compliance Division, due to an increase in that division's work load, as well as an additional Building Inspector, a Building Technician, and a Senior Plans Examiner. He stated that he was also planning to upgrade the south Lake County office, moving one of the employees in that office to a supervisory position.
Commr. Swartz stated that he did not support the majority of additional positions being requested for this department, however, would support trying to make the department more efficient, through computerization, networking, and removing duplication. He further stated that he felt the County should look at the costs of Motorola radios being requested, because they are extremely expensive and are not particularly effective in many parts of the County. He also addressed the use of radio/telephones, by certain employees, and the fact that he felt the matter should be looked into, at which time Mr. Wahl, County Manager, interjected that no radio/telephones are being used in the County, at this point in time. He noted that mobile based VHF radios are being used, which have no operating costs.
Commr. Bailey stated that, if the Board really wanted to stop some of the bureaucracy, they needed to start with the Board itself. He stated that the Board has created the situation that the County finds itself in today, with all the changes that they have made recently. He stated that, if the Board does not want the system to grow, or fund the system that it creates, then it needs to stop passing rules and regulations. He stated that the Board cannot create more rules and regulations and then expect the system to run smoothly, without adding more people.
Commr. Hanson concurred, stating that she felt this department needs more manpower. She stated that its employees are overworked and do not have the time to give citizens the attention they need.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt, if the Board would stay out of this department's business and let them do their job, they would be able to get things done.
Mr. Bergmann stated that his department is currently less than bare bones and that the proposed budget before the Board this date would bring them up to a good level of operation.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11:20 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for lunch and would reconvene at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Pete Wahl, County Manager, informed the Board, for informational purposes, that the County had been requested to provide an emergency crew and a four-wheel truck to north Florida, to help with flood relief, however, the group that was overseeing that project had withdrawn the request, so the emergency crew that was scheduled to go would not be going.
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Director of Community Services, appeared before the Board stating that there are six divisions that fall under the Department of Community Services, being the Director's Office; the Division of Citizen's Commission for Children; the Division of Human Services; the Division of Veteran's Services; the Division of Workforce/PIC; and the Division of Probation and Court Services. He stated that his office oversees the Volunteer Program for Lake County, as well. He then reviewed the proposed budgets, the Personnel Schedules, and Capital Outlay Schedules for each of the divisions, at which time he answered questions from the Board regarding same. He stated that the total proposed budget for the Department of Community Services, for FY 1994-95, is $4,650,277 and that no additional personnel were being requested.
Ms. Lois Martin, Director of Human Resources, distributed a Summary of Authorized Positions by Department/Division and the County Manager's Approved Personnel Change Requests, for the Community Services Department, for the Board's perusal.
Ms. Robbie Hollenbeck, Director, Workforce/Private Industry Council, appeared before the Board and answered questions regarding her budget and the prospect of Workforce/Private Industry Council working with the Citizen's Commission for Children, to see if anything can be done to help supplement some of the things that the Children's Commission is trying to do, in the Eustis area, such as summer youth programs and a Neighborhood Youth Center. She stated that her office is looking at some of those options, noting that it is currently trying to set up an in-school program for youth, in the Eustis area, that might operate out of the housing community.
Ms. Teresa Dunham, Section 8 Housing, appeared before the Board and answered questions regarding the Section 8 Housing Program and whether or not there were any type of Federal programs, or any flexibility in the Section 8 Housing Program funds, that would allow the County to help people get into home ownership, instead of renting. Ms. Dunham stated that, at this time, no such funds were available.
Ms. Dunham informed the Board that there is a program, called the Family Self Sufficiency Program, that she is checking into, to see if it can be started in Lake County, which will assist very low income families, in helping them become self sufficient. She stated, however, that the families can use the funds as they see fit, they do not have to use said funds to purchase a home.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether Ms. Dunham had been able to work with the Affordable Housing Program. She stated that she had.
Under the section of Indigent Burials, a brief discussion occurred regarding the possibility of the County cremating unclaimed indigent bodies, due to an increase in the indigent population in Lake County. It was determined that the County would continue with its current policy, regarding the matter, at this time.
A brief discussion occurred regarding requests for funding, in the amount of $20,000 each, by the Lake Community Action Agency and Senior Services. It was determined that each would be granted $10,000, rather than the $20,000 requested.
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Library Coordinator, appeared before the Board and gave a brief overview of her budget, at which time she answered questions from the Board regarding same. She stated that the proposed budget for Library Services, for FY 1994-95, is $660,972. She noted that she was requesting one additional employee, a Secretary III position, and a $1,500 salary increase for herself. She then briefly discussed the Records Management Program, which falls under Library Services, noting that the total proposed budget for same, for FY 1994-95, is $45,861, with no change in personnel.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 3:15 p.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess until 3:30 p.m.
FACILITIES AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
Mr. Mike Anderson, Director of Facilities and Capital Improvements, appeared before the Board stating that the divisions that fall under his department are the Division of Facilities Management; the Division of Capital Improvements Administration; the Division of Capital Improvements; the Division of Fairgrounds; and the Division of Industrial/Central Park. He then reviewed the proposed budgets, the Personnel Schedules, and Capital Outlay Schedules for each of the divisions, at which time he answered questions from the Board regarding same. He stated that the total proposed budget for the Department of Facilities and Capital Improvements, for FY 1994-95, is $17,415,200.
Ms. Lois Martin, Director of Human Resources, distributed a Summary of Authorized Positions by Department/Division and the County Manager's Approved Personnel Change Requests, for the Facilities and Capital Improvements Department, for the Board's perusal.
A Budget Summary Sheet was distributed by Mr. Doug Conway, Facilities and Capital Improvements Coordinator, for the Board's perusal, indicating the Total Revenue, Total Infrastructure Expenditures, and Total Facilities Management Expenditures, for Facilities and Capital Improvements, for FY 1994-95.
Mr. Anderson noted that his department has a revenue deficit of $2,137,987 that it will have to overcome, in order to meet the County's current commitment to the renovations and other programs that are slated, therefore, a short-term loan of $2.5-3 million is in the process, for the Board's consideration.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the matter.
Commr. Swartz requested a new long-range projection of cash flow from the Sales Tax Account, with three estimates, listing different interest rate returns and different growth rate returns.
It was noted that all the Board members would receive a copy of same.
Mr. Anderson briefly discussed the issue of the industrial park (Lake County Central Park), stating that the County presently has approximately $400,000, to do some work that has been slated at the park, with regard to utilities, however, the County will need an additional $200,000 to complete the project. He noted that the Total Non-Operating figure listed on the Financial Appropriation Summary for the industrial park should be changed from $1,500,000 to $1,700,000, due to said change. He stated that he estimates it is going to take approximately three to four years for the County to recover from loans secured for the park.
Mr. Anderson stated that the only change in personnel, under his department, is at the Fairgrounds, noting that the Secretary II position will be reclassified to Fairgrounds Assistant. He stated that he feels the County will be spending quite a bit of money at the Fairgrounds this fiscal year, because it is rapidly outliving its usefulness. He stated that he expects the costs in maintenance to continue to rise, until the County does a major overhaul of the facility, or seriously considers relocating it. He stated that it is in very poor condition, for the use that it gets, noting that it does not come close to meeting current codes. He stated that the County will have to spend a lot of money, before it is over, just to bring it into compliance.
Mr. Anderson stated that he has taken the matter before the Industrial Development Authority and the Tourist Development Council and the concept of relocating the Fairgrounds and constructing an Expo Center has been favorably received. He stated that he would like to look at a feasibility study, on the revenue potential for such a relocation, to help offset the expenditures, because it will be a fairly steep investment, and would like to bring the matter before the Board within the next month.
Mr. Anderson distributed an updated schedule of the Facilities Renovation, as well as a line by line summary, as requested by the County Manager, for the Board's perusal.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the schedule, at which time Mr. Anderson answered questions from the Board regarding same.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK