The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, August 3, 1995, at 1:00 p.m., in the County Manager's Conference Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Rhonda H. Gerber, Chairman; William "Bill" H. Good, Vice Chairman; G. Richard Swartz, Jr.; Catherine C. Hanson; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Sue Whittle, Interim County Manager; Rolon Reed, Interim County Attorney; Ava Kronz, BCC Office Manager; Sarah LaMarche, Finance Director; Kevin McDonald, Senior Budget Analyst; Tracy Zeller, Senior Budget Analyst; Julia Wilson, Budget Assistant; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
The Chairman opened the meeting.
Ms. Sue Whittle, Interim County Manager, stated that the Board had asked her to come back to them with a scenario that would increase intergovernmental revenues by $750,000.00, based upon increasing the number of Federal prisoners that would be housed in the Jail, and to bring back the expenditure side of it, at a roll-back rate of 4.927 mills, for the General Fund, as well as a scenario of the millage at 5.00 mills. She distributed a handout that had been prepared for the Board's perusal, containing said information, stating that the first page of the handout showed the roll-back rate. She stated that one of the major differences in the figures was in the Sheriff's transfer line, noting that it allows the Sheriff approximately $1.1 million more than the current year's budget. She stated that said figure was less than what the Sheriff had requested and did not indicate how the Sheriff would allocate said funds.
It was noted that the Sheriff had requested $1.9 million.
Ms. Whittle informed the Board that, if they chose to set the millage rate at 5.00 mills, it would allow them an additional $364,050.00 above the roll-back rate, which they could allocate in any way they chose. She stated that the millage was very close to roll-back, if not at roll-back, and the Board should be congratulated.
Commr. Cadwell suggested putting said funds in Contingency.
Commr. Hanson stated that, if the Board were going to use said funds, she would want to use them in a way that would generate more tax revenue in future years, and the only way that she knew to do that would be through economic development. She stated that she felt very uncomfortable going to roll-back, without a five year plan. She stated that she felt there would be a roll-back this year and next year, because of it being an election year, and that she felt it was going to hit the County hard in two years.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the Interim County Manager, Ms. Whittle, was comfortable with the revenue projections that had been made.
Ms. Whittle stated that she was.
Commr. Swartz stated that the credit lies with the effort that Ms. Whittle, the Interim County Manager, her staff, and the Finance Department did in the first cut at the Board's budget. He stated that the Board is funding almost all the things, some at reduced levels, that they originally had stated they could not fund and were doing it within their own constraints. He stated that it was enabling the Board to go to roll-back, yet fund the Sheriff's budget with approximately $1.1 million more than what he had last year, which is going to allow him to fund, contingent upon the income from the Jail, a significant amount of what he stated he wanted to try to do. He stated that it also allows the Clerk, the Property Appraiser, the Tax Collector, and the Supervisor of Elections to have the funds they need. He stated that the Board did it and still increased reserves by $900,000.00.
Commr. Gerber stated that the five year plan, alluded to by Commr. Hanson, has merit, noting that she feels the County needs to have one. She stated that there are things that the County should be planning for, that they are not.
Commr. Swartz stated that the School Board was having to make some tough choices this year and, if the County had an opportunity to go to roll-back, he felt that it would probably help the School Board. He stated that the only reason the County was as close to where it was with the budget, was because of the very dynamic approach that Ms. Whittle, Interim County Manager, took in looking at the budget, with the Board's staff, and by using revenues that the Sheriff was willing to allow, to help fund the positions he wanted.
On a motion by Commr. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Good and carried, by a 4-1 vote, the Board set the tentative millage rate for the Board of County Commissioners' General Fund Budget at the roll-back rate of 4.927 mills.
Commr. Hanson voted "No".
On a motion by Commr. Swartz, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board set the millage rate for the Northeast Ambulance District at .222 mills.
On a motion by Commr. Good, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board set the millage rate for the Greater Hills MSTU at 4.00 mills.
Ms. Whittle thanked the Board, stating that they had been more willing than any Board that she had ever seen, to concentrate on policy issues and work through them.
Commr. Hanson commended Ms. Whittle, her staff, and the Clerk's Finance Department for a job well done, noting that this was her fifth year of going through this process and that the Board had never had this type of information available to them. She stated that the figures were more understandable than what they had been in the past.
Commr. Swartz stated that the Board would continue to have budget hearings, as they refine some of the figures, noting that all they had done, thus far, was allocate funds in some broad areas, particularly with the Sheriff, and that they would need to work through some of those areas.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt everyone had faith in, fiscally, how the Sheriff had run his office. He stated that the Board was giving him $1.1 million and he could come back to them with a plan on how to spend it.
Commr. Cadwell noted, for the record, that the Chairman had spoken at the Eustis Chamber of Commerce Meeting, this date, representing the Board, and that he felt she gave a very good presentation and thanked her for doing so.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 1:35 p.m.
RHONDA H. GERBER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK