The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, September 20, 1994, at 6:30 p.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: Frank T. Gaylord, County Attorney; Peter F. Wahl, County Manager; Ava Kronz, BCC Office Manager; James C. Watkins, Clerk; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy, Finance and Audit Department; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Chairman opened the meeting.
FINAL BUDGET ADOPTION
BUDGETS/OFFICE OF BUDGET
The Chairman informed those present that, pursuant to Section 200.065 of the Florida Statutes, Lake County had advertised, prior to final adoption, its intent to adopt the final millage rate and budget in the Daily Commercial and The Lake Sentinel. She stated that the millage rate and the percentage increase over rolled-back, were as follows:
CERTIFIED TENTATIVE (DECREASE) OVER
ROLLED-BACK MILLAGE RATE ROLLED-BACK
General 4.892 5.135 5%
Greater Hills 3.49 4.000 15%
LAKE COUNTY AMBULANCE TAXING DISTRICTS
Lake County .212 .222 5%
The Chairman stated that the figures given represented an aggregate increase over Rolled-Back of 5.03%
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Marion Tolson, a resident of Lady Lake, appeared before the Board stating that he felt the Board should cut taxes by 50%, rather than raise them 5%.
Mr. Roy Taylor, a local resident, appeared before the Board stating that, if the Board approved to raise taxes, they would be feeding the fires of inflation. He stated that government needs to live within its means.
Mr. Jerry Gellinger, a local resident, appeared before the Board stating that the County was putting a bite on retirees who live on fixed incomes, by raising taxes, and requested that they take it all under advisement.
There being no further individuals who wished to address the Board, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the millage rate proposed this year was the same as it was last year, so, unless one's assessment went up, their taxes would remain the same. He stated that what the County did last year and what they proposed to do this year would stabilize the millage rate and that was something the County needed. He stated that the County would have a reasonable budget that would still keep the level of service where it should be, for the residents of the County, and that he intended to vote for this budget.
Commr. Gerber stated that she was not going to support this budget, for reasons she gave at the preliminary budget hearings and because of a general discomfort that she had with the method of government that the County is presenting operating under, which is the County Manager form of government.
Commr. Swartz stated that last year was a difficult budget year, one in which the County fully funded the cost of the Jail, as well as ten deputies for the Sheriff's Department - five mid-year and five at the beginning of the year. He stated that was a difficult vote, but he voted for it, because he felt it was in the best interest of the citizens of the County.
Commr. Swartz discussed the new positions being requested in this year's budget and stated that the number of county employees has risen from 385 in FY 1990-91 to 440 in FY 1994-95, which is over a 10% increase in authorized positions over that period of time. He stated that he re-read the recommendations of the Kitchen Cabinet (a citizens review group that the Board had asked to look at several departments in county government and review them and make recommendations) and they recommended no new positions. He stated, however, that they did recommend ways in which to become more efficient and they recommended computerization and changing employees' locations, which the County is in the process of doing, through renovations and equipment that the County is proposing to purchase, in this year's budget.
Commr. Swartz stated that the Board should be doing what the Kitchen Cabinet recommended, which was to find more ways in which to be more efficient and effective, rather than increasing the number of authorized positions significantly. He stated that, during the preliminary budget hearings, he indicated he would support some of the new positions, the ones that seemed to be the most urgent, but, he would not support all 16 of the new positions that were proposed. He stated he had indicated that, if those positions were still in the budget and it demanded a tax increase, he would vote against it.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the number of positions originally requested and the number of positions actually approved, at which time Commr. Cadwell pointed out the fact that staff requested a lot more positions, in the budgets that they submitted to the County Manager, than what the Board approved.
Commr. Bailey stated that he had voted against the tax increase last year, however, he felt the County Manager had done what he was asked to do, therefore, he was going to support this budget.
Commr. Hanson stated that the County cannot continue to increase regulations, which it has done, without having the manpower to implement those regulations. She stated that she felt it was time the Board stopped playing politics with taxpayers' money. She stated that she felt there were Commissioners on the Board that were trying to force her to make a political decision, however, she was going to make a responsible decision, which was to hold the line on the millage rate.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt the Board needed to give the County Manager and staff a consistent revenue source, to provide the level of service that is required by the people in the County. She stated that, if the Board reduced its revenue, it would only mean a decrease in the level of service. She stated that she was prepared to approve the budget, as presented, and noted that she felt the Board and staff had done an excellent job, during the last four years, in holding the line on the millage rate.
Commr. Gerber brought up for discussion the issue of the Vegetation Abatement Ordinance, stating that, if it was not working, then the Board needed to amend it, or repeal it.
Commr. Swartz requested staff to provide the Board, by September 20, 1994, with a recap of the number of Code violations that have come into the County, with regard to the Vegetation Abatement Ordinance, so that they can evaluate the manhours involved.
Further discussion occurred regarding this budget and past budgets.
At this time, Mr. Joe Grawet, Personnel Manager, Human Resources, read each of the following Resolutions into the record.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried, the Board approved Resolution No. 1994-185, adopting a final millage rate of 4.000 mills, for Lake County, for the Greater Hills Municipal Service Taxing Unit, for FY 1994-95.
Mr. Frank T. Gaylord, County Attorney, pointed out the fact that the Resolution contained a scriveners's error on Page 4, Line 15, in that the year 1993 should be changed to 1994.
Commrs. Swartz and Gerber voted "No".
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried, the Board approved Resolution No. 1994-186, adopting a final millage rate of .222 mills, for the Lake County Ambulance District, for FY 1994-95.
Commrs. Swartz and Gerber voted "No".
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Bailey and carried, the Board approved Resolution No. 1994-187, adopting a final budget of $150,076,737.00, for Lake County, for FY 1994-95, a copy of which was attached and incorporated as Exhibit "A".
Commrs. Swartz and Gerber voted "No".
The millage rate for the General Fund was set at 5.135 mills.
Commr. Swartz recognized and thanked Ms. Eleanor Anderson, Director, Office of Budget; Ms. Liz Blackburn; Ms. Debbie Tinis; Ms. Loretta Hale; and Ms. Roben Cunningham for putting together the FY 1994-95 budget, as well as past budgets, and encouraged the Board to support a motion to instruct staff to ensure that, if there were any positions within county government, under the control of the Board, for which any of said individuals were qualified, that they be given preference for those positions, due to the fact that there would no longer be a Budget Office under the County Manager.
On a motion by Commr. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously, the Board directed staff to ensure that, if there were any positions within county government, under the control of the Board, for which any of the Budget Office employees were qualified, that they be given preference for those positions.
Mr. Pete Wahl, County Manager, stated that he had been attempting to place the above stated employees in positions where they met the qualifications, as requested.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK