The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, May 5, 1998 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: G. Richard Swartz, Jr., Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; William "Bill" H. Good, and Rhonda H. Gerber. Others present were: Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Sue Whittle, County Manager; Ava K. Kronz, Director, Continuous Quality Improvement; James C. Watkins, Clerk of Courts; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, Finance Department; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, noted that there were three published addendums to the agenda.
Commr. Cadwell requested that the item on Addendum No.2 be heard early in the meeting.
Mr. James C. Watkins, Clerk, informed the Board that there were representatives from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and he would like to have them come forward early in the meeting to make their presentation.
Commr. Swartz noted that the minute approval would be moved to the end of the meeting.
Ms. Whittle requested that an item to be added under the County Manager's business regarding the discussion of the July Board meeting dates.
CLERK OF COURTS' CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Tabs 1-15, as follows:
Request to acknowledge receipt of list of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136 of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes as attached Exhibit A and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk's Office.
Bonds - Contractor
Contractor Bonds, as follows:
5610-98 Ocala Contracting & Excavating Co. Inc. (General Contractor)
5611-98 Kline Construction Inc. (Building Contractor)
5612-98 Jeff Kuper d/b/a Kuper Custom Homes (Residential Class "C")
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Annual Financial Audit & Annual Financial Report (AFR) for the Oklawaha Basin Recreation and Water Conservation and Control Authority.
Request to acknowledge receipt of a copy of Ordinance 343-M, City of Clermont, Miscellaneous Ordinance, providing for the annexation of a certain parcel of land contiguous to the present city boundaries, Tract 63 of Lake Highlands Company Subdivision, and as further described.
Request for approval and signature authorization on the Satisfaction and Release of Fine, in the amount of $300.00, Thomas & Terrie Jones.
Request to acknowledge receipt, from Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, a copy of two legal notices that they placed in The Orlando Sentinel and The Lake Sentinel, as follows: Notice of the Schedule of Regular Meetings of the Board of Commissioners of Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, and Notice of a Special Meeting of the Board of Commissioners of Lake Apopka Natural Gas District (April 20, 1998, at 10 a.m.).
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Resolution from the Lakeside Village Mariners Club located at Lakeside Village on Lake Griffin demonstrating support for current and planned future projects to save Lake Griffin and expressing concern with the poor quality of water in Lake Griffin due to the very high turbidity, increasing silt deposits, and high algae content.
Request to acknowledge receipt of the following:
Ordinance No. 705, An Ordinance Annexing Property to the City of Mount Dora; Providing for the Annexation of Property Generally Located at the Northwest Corner of New U.S. Highway 441 and Limit Avenue, Mount Dora, Florida; Providing for C-3 Zoning of the property; Providing for a Commercial Comprehensive Plan Land Use Designation; Providing for an Effective Date. Passed and Ordained the 4th day of November, 1997, by the City Council of the City of Mount Dora, Florida.
Ordinance No. 708, An Ordinance Annexing Property to the City of Mount Dora; Providing for the Annexation and Rezoning of Property Generally Located at 18440 West Highway 441, Mount Dora, Florida; Providing for PLI Zoning of the Property; Providing for an Institutional Comprehensive Plan Land Use Designation; Providing for an Effective Date. Passed and Ordained the 6th day of January, 1998, by the City Council of the City of Mount Dora, Florida.
Ordinance No. 712, An Ordinance Annexing Property to the City of Mount Dora; Providing for the Annexation of Property Generally Located on the South Side of First Avenue, West of Southernaire Mobile Home Park and East of Groveland Road, Mount Dora, Florida; Providing for R-2 Zoning of the Property; Providing for a Medium Density Residential Comprehensive Plan Land Use Designation; Providing for an Effective Date. Passed and Ordained the 17th day of February, 1998, by the City Council of the City of Mount Dora, Florida.
Ordinance No. 98-715, An Ordinance Annexing Property to the City of Mount Dora; Providing for the Annexation of Property Generally Located in the Vicinity of Old Eustis Road and Suzanne Drive, Mount Dora, Florida; Providing for R-1A Zoning of the Property; Providing for a Low Density Residential Comprehensive Plan Land Use Designation; Providing for an Effective Date. Passed and Ordained the 17th day of March, 1998, by the City Council of the City of Mount Dora, Florida.
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Monthly Distribution of Revenue Traffic/Criminal Cases, Month Ending March 31, 1998.
Disbursements made to Board: $157,973.99
Same period last year: $149,375.44
Request for approval and signature authorization on the following:
Satisfaction of Judgment, State of Florida vs. William Anthony Leroy, Case No. 8300037CFA, in the amount of $400.00.
Satisfaction of Judgment, State of Florida vs. Jeffery C. Douglas, Case No. 92-00099-CFA-01, in the amount of $250.00.
Request for approval of the list of items to be deleted from Fixed Assets for the month of May, 1998, in the amount of $18,088.52.
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Florida Hospital/Waterman, Inc., North Lake County Ambulance Operations Schedule or Revenue and Expenses for the Year Ended December 31, 1996.
Request to acknowledge receipt of Ordinance No. 97-25, An Ordinance of the City Commission of the City of Eustis, Florida; Initiated by the Property Owners, Annexing Into the Corporate Limits of the City of Eustis, Florida, 4 Acres of Vacant Land, at the Northwest Corner of State Road 19 and County Road 44, Subject to the Lake County Land Use Map Designation of "Urban Expansion:, Pursuant to Florida Statute 171.062; with a Proposed City Land Use Designation to be Assigned Following Completion of Small Scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process; Providing for Limitations and Certain Conditions; Amending the Future Land Use Map Pursuant to Florida Statute 163.3187; Providing for Redefinition of the Land Boundaries of the City of Eustis; Providing for Filing of this Ordinance; Providing for Severability; Providing for an Effective Date; and Providing for Publication by Posting According to the Law.
Accounts Allowed/Budget Transfers
Budget Adjustments for FY 97/98.
1. Fund: General
Department: Judicial/Public Defender
From: Contingency $20,000
To: Several Accounts $20,000
Transfer #: 98-183
Justification: Due to the expenses incurred with the high profile cases in FY 1997/98, additional funds are needed for the remainder of the year.
2. Fund: Landfill Enterprise Fund
Department: Solid Waste Management
From: Utility Services $23,900
To: Machinery & Equipment $ 6,200
Transfer #: 98-185
Justification: Transfer to purchase a tire derimmer specifically for trucks. Funds are available from Utilities from savings due to the newly purchased automotive tire derimmer and waste tire transportation cost savings.
Contracts, Leases & Agreements/Resolutions
Request for approval of Resolution and execution of the Joinder to the Agreement and Declaration of Trust creating and establishing the Florida Local Government Investment Trust. This will allow the County to invest excess funds in this trust established by the Florida Association of Counties and Florida Association of Court Clerks.
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/CHECKS RECEIVED/COURTS-JUDGES
Mr. James C. Watkins, Clerk, introduced the following representatives from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE): Ms. Joyce Sankey Dawley, Regional Director, J. R. Miller, Violent Crime Supervisor for FDLE, and Jim McNamara, Chief of Forensic. Mr. Watkins stated that, after the Ferrell case began, Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, had suggested that the Clerk keep track of the expenditures, and under Chapter 136, there is a reimbursement to the County. While working in conjunction with the Sheriff, the State Attorney, and the judiciary, and anyone else that could get involved who had expenses, Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, and Mr. Louis Hatcher, Assistant Chief Deputy, Courts Management, prepared an application to receive these monies.
Ms. Joyce Dawley stated that, in behalf of the Violet Crime Council and Mr. Lawson Lamar who is the Chair of the Council this year, she was presenting a check in the amount of $37,300, to Mr. Watkins. She complimented Ms. Lehman, Mr. Watkins, and Mr. Hatcher for their fine presentation to the Violent Crime Council, which enabled them to reimburse the expenses.
COUNTY MANAGER'S CONSENT AGENDA
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, requested that Tab 4 be pulled from the agenda. The item regarding the Lake County Housing Assistance Plan was being revised and would be placed on the May 19, 1998 agenda.
Ms. Whittle noted that Lady Lake should be included in Tab 15 regarding the agreements with the cities to develop a unified local mitigation strategy.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Tabs 1 - 15, with the exception of Tab 4, for the following requests:
Contracts, Leases & Agreements/Medical Examiner
Request for approval and execution of Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and William H. Shutze, M.D., Medical Examiner for District 5, relating to the provision of operating costs, facility use fees, and capital expenditures for the Medical Examiner.
Contracts, Leases & Agreements/Economic Development/Committees
Request for approval and execution of the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, Inc., FY 97/98 Agreement to Service an Industrial Development Authority for Lake County.
Accounts Allowed/Contracts, Leases & Agreements/Municipalities
Request for approval and execution of Agreement between Lake County and the City of Eustis relating to contribution of boating improvement funds for boating-related facilities in the amount of $7,500.
Bonds - Mobile Home
Request for approval of renewal of Benjamin Blasingim's Mobile Home Bond, to maintain travel trailer on his property while finishing the construction of his conventional home at Lady lake area: from the intersection of US 25 and Griffin Ave., E. On Griffin Ave. To Oak Woods Way, N. On Oak Woods Way to property.
Bonds - Mobile Home
Request for approval of Cancellation of Mobile Home Bond for Grovy Schmidt requested by Finwall & Associates Insurance Inc.
Execution of Certificates for employee with one and three years of service.
Execution of Satisfaction of Assessment liens for seven (7) road assessments, as follows:
Assessment # Name Amount
669041 Jerry R. & Ellen Gilland $3,974.28
669042 Jerry R. & Ellen Gilland $1,591.95
682008 Walter D. & Priscilla A. Elmore $3,231.79
682013 Larue D. Shoemaker $3,018.43
683028 Joseph & Linda Burton $ 754.38
685095 James A. & Kimberly Shaffer $1,562.26
688019 Kathleen Schintgen $1,875.13
Signs/Resolutions/Roads-County & State
Request for approval of execution of Resolution1998-71 authorizing the posting of speed limit signs on the following roads in the Okahumpka area: Palm Way (2-2916), Plumosa Dr. (2-2916A), Palmetto Dr. (2-2916B), University Ave. (2-3014), Walnut Ave. (2-3108B), Palmetto Ave. (2-3108C), Lemon Ave. (2-3108D), Main Ave. (2-3109A), Banana Point Dr. (2-3215A), Magnolia Ave. (1-3312), S. Corley Island Rd. (1-3411), Corley Island Rd. (1-3412), Connell Rd. (1-3510), Howard Rd. (1-3611), Hollondel Rd. (2-3215), Haywood Worm Farm Rd. (2-3110), and Rogers Industrial Park Rd. (2-3110A).
Signs/Resolutions/Roads-County & State
Request for approval of execution of Resolution 1998-72 authorizing the posting of speed limit signs on the following roads in the Lady Lake area: Taylor Mill Rd. (1-6505), Urico Golf Rd. (5-6804), Via San Polo (5-7302), Lemon St. (5-7405), Micro-Racetrack Rd. (1-6202), Lake Ella Rd. (1/5-6604), and Cherry Lake Rd. (5-7000).
Request for approval of acceptance of final plat for Pennbrooke Fairways Phase 1L Subdivision, consists of 5 lots in Commission District 1.
Request for approval of acceptance of one Non-Exclusive Easement Deed and two Statutory Warranty Deeds.
Contracts, Leases & Agreements/State Agencies/Municipalities
Request for approval of execution of Contractual Services Agreement between Lake County and the State of Florida, Department of Community Affairs, and authorization to enter into agreements with the 14 cities to develop a unified local mitigation strategy, and including Lady Lake.
On a motion by Commr. Good, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Tabs 16-19, for the following requests:
Public Works/Committees/County Policy/Purchasing
Request for approval to advertise for consulting engineering services for several road projects; approval of the selection and negotiation committee; approval of the recommended procedure; and approval to waive portions of Sections II.K., III.D.3.c., and III.e.1 of Section 4 of the Lake County Purchasing Manual.
Resolutions/Signs/Roads-County & State
Request for approval and execution of Resolution 1998-73 extending the "No Parking" zone on Woodlea Road (3-3840) enacted in 1995 eastward toward SR 19 for 1480 feet, beginning at the Lake County Health Department's Clinic (at 2401 Woodlea Road) and ending at the Lake County Agricultural Center's Driveway.
Resolutions/Signs/Roads-County & State
Request for approval and execution of Resolution 1998-74 to post "Stop" sign on Integrity Way (4-4886) in the Mount Plymouth area
Contracts, Leases & Agreements/Municipalities
Request for approval and execution of Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and the Town of Astatula regarding the payment and application of Solid Waste System Fees.
ADDENDUM NO. 2
COUNTY MANAGER'S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS
STATE AGENCIES - Office of Agricultural Education Service
Mr. Terry McGovern, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal, Plant Health Inspection Service, addressed the Board and stated that he was the Project Director for the medfly project last year in Tampa. Mr. McGovern stated that he was here today to present the options for completion of the medfly project, and to express the need for the Board's support of the project. He stated that there are two basic scenarios on how to complete the project, one, with the use of aerial pesticide applications, which have already been started, and the other would be a combined program using both the aerial pesticide applications and sterile insect technique. He stated that there were pros and cons to each project, mainly time and money and human health and environmental concerns. Mr. McGovern explained, in detail, the process that would be taken to accomplish each application. He stated that, if the Board goes with the first scenario, it would cover the period of June through September, which was the best case scenario. If they went with the sterile flies, it would be much less effective against the population, which would involve the months of May through possibly December. Mr. McGovern stated that it was their preference to perform the full application, because they could get in and out of there as quickly as possible, and it would minimize the disruption to the citrus industry and related businesses.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the meeting in Umatilla was very informative, and he extended his appreciation to Mr. McGovern for his efforts made to gain a level of comfort with the public before he started the spraying. He stated that, if the County goes with anything other than the spraying, it will be deep into the juice and the fruit season next year, and it will have a great economic impact on that community. Commr. Cadwell stated that this needs to be done as soon as possible, so that they can get it over with as quick as possible.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Good, to approve the letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and all State and Federal officials to support the Aerial Application of Malathion Bait Spray for the eradication of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly in Lake County. This letter will support the joint US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Florida Department of Agriculture effort to eliminate this pest using guidelines established to protect humans and the environment.
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell complimented Mr. McGovern on the great job he has done on letting the public know about the situation, and as the process keeps going, he requested that Mr. McGovern continue to make the public aware of the situation.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/COMMITTEES/COMMUNITY SERVICES
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director of Community Services, informed the Board that, on March 13, 1998, the Lake County Indigent Health Care Study RFP was submitted to 22 agencies and individuals to seek bids. On the submission date, March 30, 1998, only one agency responded to the RFP. The responder was the North Central Florida Health Planning Council (NCFHPC). It was the Comprehensive Health Care Committee's recommendation that the contract be awarded to the NCFHPC, and according to the time lines that were returned from the NCFHPC, it would take approximately six months for the final report to be returned to the County.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Comprehensive Health Care Committee's recommendation to accept the proposal from the North Central Florida Health Planning Council for the preparation of the Lake County Indigent Health Care Study in the amount of $25,000.00.
Mr. Smith noted that Dr. Tully Patrowicz and Ms. Pat Price, members of the Comprehensive Health Care Committee, were present to answer any questions of the Board.
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director of Community Services, was present to discuss the Lake County Resource Guide, which deals with Home Health Care. He noted that the hospitals are all going to share in the cost of preparing approximately 250 of these.
The Board acknowledged the Lake County Resource Guide created by the Lake County Comprehensive Health Care subcommittee for Home Health.
Presentation of Plaques to Employees with Five Years of Service
Diane Rousseau, Legal Secretary, County Attorney (not present)
Katherine Logan, Environmental Specialist I, Growth Management, Water Quality Services Division, Storage Tank Contract
Presentation of Plaques to Employees with Ten Years of Service
Delores G. Collins, Secretary III, Public Works, Special Services Division, Director's Office, Support Services
Cynthia D. Heffler, Assessment Management Director, Solid Waste, Assessment Management Services Division
Ruthann I. Padgett, Right-of-Way Agent, Public Works, Engineering Division
Presentation of Plaque to Retiring County Employee
Earl G. Hall, Equipment Operator III, Public Works, Roads Division, Maintenance Area III (Umatilla) (not present)
Presentation of Plaque and Bond to "Employee of the Quarter"
William D. Nicodem, Maintenance Shop Supervisor, Public Works, Special Services Division, Fleet Maintenance Services
Commr. Hanson presented Proclamation 1998-66 recognizing May 7, 1998 as a National Day of Prayer in Lake County to Ms. Linda Rozar, Lake County National Day of Prayer Task Force Coordinator.
Ms. Linda Meiter addressed the Board to present the Center for the Blind Activities Report. Ms. Meiter stated that she wanted to thank the Board, not only with a written thank you note, but with verbal thanks. She stated that, for the last few months, she has been employed by the Cite Center, which is a center for independence, technology and education, and it serves the people who are visually impaired in Lake County (more than 6,000). Ms. Meiter explained that there are five groups, and she noted the location of each. She stated that, with the funding received from the County, they have been able to add a Junior VIP Support Group for people who are under the age of 60 that have vision problems.
Mr. Bill Housum, Lady Lake, The Villages, Ms. Catherine Newman, Leesburg, and Ms. Pat Bauman took the opportunity to address the Board and express their appreciation for the grant that was received by the Center from the County.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Senior Director of Public Works, addressed the Board to discuss SA-89 Blue Wing Road, Green Wing Road, Red Head Road, Pin Tail Road and Black Duck Road, Ocala Forest Campsites #3. He stated that there were some questions regarding the corner lots that are not paying as part of this special assessment, because they paid as part of the previous special assessment. Mr. Stivender stated that the County estimate was $209,750.00, and the bid came in at $170,246.65, and staff would like to proceed with the project and award the contract to Art Walker Construction.
Commr. Swartz opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment.
Mr. Daniel McKirgan, Black Duck Road, addressed the Board and stated that he and his neighbors are disabled and live on fixed incomes, and they cannot afford the project, however, if the Board approves the request, they would like to have a special waiver for handicapped and disabled persons.
Ms. Juanita White, resident of Black Duck, Shockley Hills, stated that the roads are in very bad shape. She stated that it makes it very difficult when an emergency squad needs to get to a residence, and people get stuck in the sugar sand all of the time. She stated that the pavement of the roads will help the neighborhood, because most of the people are retirees and elderly people.
Commr. Swartz called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
Mr. Stivender explained that the interest rate charged by the County has been changed from 12% to 6 1/2%, and the payments can be made over a seven year period. He stated that percentages on Black Duck Road were very close, 56% of the owners and 57% of the property. He stated that it did qualify and there was support for it.
Mr. Leroy Dixon, representing Gene and Elmer Lehrke, stated that most of the people that live in the area go north for the summer time. Mr. Dixon stated that the petitions that were circulated among the property owners misrepresented what was actually taking place. He stated that the petition indicated that the County was going to get a price of nine dollars to ten dollars a foot for the paving, and now it is almost 16 dollars a foot. A lot of the people are on a fixed income, and the people living on the corner lots do not have to pay any money, and Mr. Dixon felt that this was unfair. Mr. Dixon stated that he lives in the Meadows, and this subdivision is thinking about doing the same thing. He feels that this needs to be looked into a little bit more before it is passed and the roads are paved.
Ms. Stivender stated that $13.71 was on the petition, and the actual number was $15.14.
Commr. Swartz stated that the special assessments start with desire from people that live in the area, and the County does what it can to help the process.
Commr. Hanson stated that a lot of the people who own lots in this area live outside the State, and she questioned whether these individuals were in favor of the project.
Ms. Barbara Schamel, Assessment Specialist in Public Works, explained that the residents contact the County, the County does the cost estimate and sends the petitions to the contact person, and it is this person who is responsible for getting the petitions signed. She stated that staff has no way of knowing who is a part time resident.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request to award and authorize project number SA-89, Blue Wing Road, Green Wing Road, Red Head Road, Pin Tail Road and Black Duck Road, in the Ocala Forest Campsites #3 Subdivision, Special Assessment Lump Sum Construction to Art Walker Construction, and to encumber and expend funds in the amount of $170,246.65 (Commissioner District 4, CTT Funds), and to execute the assessment roll Resolution 1998-75, which includes construction costs and cost of permitting fees, surveying and engineering and design.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Senior Director of Public Works, addressed the Board to discuss SA-90 Freeman Drive and Louise Road, Lee Acres Subdivision. Mr. Stivender stated that staff incorporated this as one petition instead of individual roads. There was 67% from property owners and 66% of front footage, and the price was substantially under the County's estimate.
Commr. Swartz opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment.
Mr. Timothy Colvard, Lot 1, stated that he has a corner piece of property, and his driveway faces CR 439, and he has never used Freeman Drive or Louise Road. He explained that the roads are bad, and the people should have the road, but he would like to ask for an exemption, because the people that will be using these roads will see an increase in their property value, but he will not see one. Mr. Colvard stated that, when he was looking for a home, he decided to pay more to live on a hard road, and therefore, he has already paid his hard road money. In regards to the petition, he knew nothing about the paving project, because no one came to him with one.
Mr. Stivender explained that Mr. Weatherman and Mr. Colvard have the longest amount of road to assess in the whole project, and they are paying for an additional 40 to 60 feet. He noted that, when it is a corner lot, the shortest side is assessed.
Mr. Colvard stated that he was the only person in the project that has a drive on CR 439.
Mr. Stivender noted that Mr. Weatherman has indicated to staff that he plans to put his driveway onto CR 439, but he currently accesses Freeman Drive.
Commr. Hanson stated that she had a problem with those who do not use the road at all and having to pay part of the assessment, because Mr. Colvard has already paid more for his property, because he is on a paved road.
Mr. Colvard requested an exemption and sated that, if the Board does not grant this, he would like to ask for at least equal pay between everybody, so that he does not have to pay more than anybody else.
Mr. Ron Weatherman, Lot 21, extended his personal thanks to Ms. Barbara Schamel, Assessment Specialist, Public Works Department, for being so professional in her position with the County, and for being so polite and courteous when he came to her office for information about the project. Mr. Weatherman stated that he has a problem with the assessment formula that Mr. Stivender has been using. He stated that the individual who passed around the petition lives on Lot 6, he has the biggest lot in the project, he will drive more of the road than anyone else, and he is going to pay $2,000 less than what he is being assessed. He has no problem with the people wanting the road paved, but he does have a problem having to pay more than anyone else. He noted that they all have five acres, and he does not feel he and Mr. Colvard should pay more than anyone else. Mr. Weatherman stated that he did not think that staff got more than 50% of the signatures on Freeman Drive, or on the property frontage, and he questioned some of the signatures, in terms of joint ownership of the property. He stated that he has not seen the actual petition with the original signatures, but he has a problem with the way the assessments have been done. Mr. Weatherman stated that, if special consideration is given to Mr. Colvard, he would like the same consideration.
Ms. Lorraine Slocomb, Lot 5, stated that neither of the roads are County maintained roads and maintenance is done by the neighbors. Ms. Slocomb stated that she was in favor of the assessment, because her husband is disabled, and her cars are old and cannot handle the abuse.
Ms. Debra Ragan, Lot 7, stated that the residents were looking for a permanent solution to the terrible road problem.
Commr. Swartz stated that the Board has the ability to assess by footage, or the Board has the ability to assess by another method, if it would be fairer and would relate to the benefit received. He questioned whether Ms. Ragan would have a problem, if the Board considered to assess as an even share rather than as front footage, which would lower Mr. Colvard's and Mr. Weatherman's assessment, but would raise the other property owners' assessments.
Ms. Ragan stated that she was in favor of whatever it would take to have the road paved, because it would benefit everyone in the neighborhood. It was noted that the assessment would be approximately $4,200.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that, if the Board chooses to increase any of the assessments, the hearing would have to be re-noticed.
Commr. Swartz called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
Mr. Stivender explained that there had been another time and situation where the Board took another number of a lower value front footage, and the County absorbed the extra cost.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, in order to give the two property owners some relief, he would suggest that the numbers be lowered and the County absorb the additional cost.
Commr. Hanson suggested that the assessment for the two noted property owners be lowered to $4,200, which would be the average, and the County pick up the difference.
Commr. Swartz stated that he would support Commr. Cadwell in whatever direction he wanted to take on the issue, but he was concerned that, when you have closed circuit roads like this, it was hard to not think that the Rotella (Lot 13) property is receiving as much benefit as all of the others, even though they do not have the footage.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved SA-90 Freeman Drive and Louise Road, Lee Acres Subdivision, and to lower the Mr. Colvard's assessment and Mr. Weatherman's assessment to the minimum assessment in the project ($2,563.51), and for the County pay the difference, and to award Special Assessment Lump Sum Construction to Art Walker Construction, and to encumber and expend funds in the amount of $131,585.05 (Commissioner District 5, CTT Funds), and to execute the assessment roll Resolution 1998-76, which includes construction costs and cost of permitting fees, surveying and engineering and design.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 10:25 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for ten minutes.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
Commr. Swartz called for public questions, comments and concerns from the citizens present in the audience. It was noted that no one present wished to address the Board.
COUNTY MANAGER'S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/CONTRACTS, LEASES & AGREEMENTS
Mr. Chuck Pula, Parks & Recreation Manager, addressed the Board to discuss the request for approval and execution of the Agreement between Lake County and the City of Clermont relating to contribution of boating improvement funds for boating-related facilities, in the amount of $62,500. Mr. Pula stated that, on January 6, 1998, the Board approved the recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board to award the City of Clermont $62,500. He stated that there were six applications, and there were three chosen, as follows: Eustis, Umatilla, and Clermont. The City of Clermont project requested the full $75,000, but the Advisory Board recommended $62,500. Mr. Pula stated that the Agreement that was executed by the City of Clermont was approved by a 3-2 vote. He noted the change made by the City of Clermont on Page 8, Exhibit A, and stated that the City of Clermont had originally requested 80 spaces, 70 unpaved and 10 paved, where the County did not state the number of spaces to allow them the flexibility to reduce that number of spaces due to citizen concern and permitting concerns. Mr. Pula stated that the City of Clermont had wished to be at this particular meeting, and they expressed their apologies for not being present. He stated that there is a concern regarding this particular project, and the City would like to see it rescheduled where they would have an opportunity to speak on this project.
Commr. Good stated that he had tried to get this issue sent back to the Advisory Committee on January 6, 1998, because he had concerns about the application, and there have been discussions in Board workshops about having advisory committees serve as grant selection committees. He stated that this is a very controversial project, but the process by which it has been selected is even more controversial and of great concern to him. Commr. Good stated that he does not have any level of comfort on approving the contract to date for several reasons, which have been discussed in the past. He noted that the backup says that presentations were made to three different groups, Save Our Lakes, Clermont/Minneola Lions Club, and the South Lake Kiwanis Club, and he was not sure that it meant these groups supported it, or that presentations were made to them. Commr. Good noted that the information in the backup also states that representatives of the Fish and Game Commission and Lake County Water Authority have also expressed their support for the project, and he feels it means that the people it was presented to also supported it, so the language that was chosen may be unfortunate, but he finds the application to be extremely misleading. In January, Commr. Good tried to make a motion to send this back for further review, because of the process it went through, and the misleading statements on the application. Commr. Good had also expressed concern that $62,500 was given to one project when there was only $75,000 available in the grant program, because $75,000 of the $150,000 had gone to the Lake Apopka project. He still has great reservations about the project and the process, and he was ready to move not to approve this and to look to find a way to go in another direction with this money.
Commr. Swartz recalled that, in discussions, the Board had indicated that these contracts would come back before the Board and that would be the opportunity to bring some of the concerns forward that were not as clearly enunciated initially.
Mr. Pula stated that the staff of these particular organizations have supported this project, because it has been around for about four years. He stated that the Water Authority has not voted on the project, and the representatives for the Fish and Game Commission are the local employees of the Commission.
Commr. Swartz clarified that the governing body of the Water Authority and the Fish and Game Commission have not indicated support.
Mr. Pula stated that the City of Clermont would prefer to have an opportunity to address the Board about its concerns with the project.
Commr. Gerber stated that she was concerned about the project, because there was a 3-2 vote, and one of the votes is in question, and it is being sent to the Ethics Commission for determination on a conflict of interest on that vote. She stated that there are many of these projects where the entire city commissions and city councils are wanting this money.
Discussion occurred regarding the time frame on the money, with it being noted that it would be cash carried forward, if it was not allocated to a project.
Commr. Good stated that there is a $42,000 project, for the Town of Howey-in-the-Hills, and it involves the restoration on a historical pier. He noted that the $62,500 could have paid for all of the Howey project, with money left over.
Mr. Pula explained that one of the reasons that the Advisory Board selected this project was the match involved, because this is a $300,000 project. The City of Clermont has set aside $90,000 and said it would find other grants to complete a large project.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like to give the City of Clermont the opportunity to be here.
Mr. Pula stated that the City of Clermont had requested this particular date but had requested this morning that the issue be brought back on another agenda.
Commr. Good made a motion to deny the request for execution of the Agreement between Lake County and the City of Clermont relating to contribution of boating improvement funds for boating-related facilities in the amount of $62,500.
The motion died for the lack of a second to the motion.
Commr. Gerber made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Hanson, for the Board to at least wait until the outcome of the Ethics Commission decision on a voting issue by the City Council of Clermont, and to readdress the issue at that time.
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell stated that he would prefer that the Board delay this issue and have the City of Clermont come forward with the vote they have now.
Commr. Swartz stated that he was going to vote against the motion, because this was an issue that will get resolved through the process. He stated that the Board tries to find proposals that the communities are supportive of and this is one that does not seem to be fitting that mold, and he does not feel comfortable going forward with the proposal, so he does not feel that the Board should be doing this pending a review of the Ethics Commission.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which failed by a 1-4 vote, with Commrs. Swartz, Hanson, Good and Cadwell voting "no".
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Hanson, to postpone the issue before the Board until the next regular meeting, to give the City of Clermont the opportunity to be present.
Under discussion, Commr. Good stated that the City has had every opportunity to be here.
Commr. Gerber stated that she could not support the motion, because postponing the issue does not clear up the issue of the Ethics Commission.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which failed by a 2-3 vote, with Commrs. Gerber, Swartz, and Good voting "no".
Commr. Swartz stated that he was not comfortable going forward with a proposal that clearly has created such an uproar in the community for which it was intended to be in support of and he did not feel that the issue needed to be postponed.
Commr. Good made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Gerber, for the Board to deny the request for the Chairman to execute the Agreement between Lake County and the City of Clermont relating to contribution of boating improvement funds for boating related facilities in the amount of $62,500.
Under discussion, Commr. Hanson questioned whether the funds would go back to Parks and Recreation for the same process.
It was noted that the question asked by Commr. Hanson would be addressed in another motion.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried by a 4-1 vote, with Commr. Cadwell voting "no".
Discussion occurred regarding $62,500 being available to fund the Howey project, as well as the balance being available for the City of Mount Dora project.
Commr. Hanson stated that she was not willing to distribute the $62,500 as stated by Commr. Swartz, because she felt the issue needed to be sent back to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Gerber, to send the balance of the projects back to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and have them make another recommendation excluding the ones that have already been approved.
Under discussion, Commr. Good discussed whether the money could be rolled over to next year
Commr. Swartz clarified the motion by stating that the Advisory Board will look at the projects that have already been submitted and not request new ones, and they may look at it in terms of how much time is left in this fiscal year and how much money, and maybe look at trying to roll it into next year.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/CONTRACTS, LEASES & AGREEMENTS/COMMITTEES
Ms. Sharon Farrell, Senior Director of Growth Management, was present to discuss the request for approval and authorization for the Chairman to execute the Development of Regional Impact review contract with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council for the Christopher C. Ford Lake County Central Park, at an additional cost of $20,000. She explained that this was the second installment for the DRI application fee, with the first installment being paid when staff submitted the predevelopment agreement (PDA). She stated that the PDA specifies that the County will submit the DRI application by June 9, 1998. Ms. Farrell stated that she needed the Board to approve the DRI application today prior to the submittal, which is scheduled for June 2, 1998. The costs associated with this review are charged against the total of $35,000, and any monies left over are refunded to the County. The most significant portion of the DRI that remains to be completed is the transportation impact. She stated that both staff from Growth Management and Public Works are at the Orlando Regional Planning Council in Orlando today working out the methodology. While the significant portion of the data has been completed and assembled, because the County has lost a significant employee in this department, staff may have to call in some professional help, if it gets close to the deadline.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Good and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote the Board approved the request for approval and authorization for the Chairman to execute the Development of Regional Impact review contract with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council for the Christopher C. Ford Lake County Central Park at an additional cost of $20,000.
ADDENDUM NO. 3
CONTRACTS, LEASES & AGREEMENTS/GROWTH MANAGEMENT
Ms. Sharon Farrell, Senior Director of Growth Management, discussed the request for approval and execution of a Developer's Agreement between Lake County and Caesar Evangelista/Good Samaritan Holding Corporation, for temporary waiver of connection to central water and waste water. She noted that, in the backup material, there is a letter from a professional engineer to Mr. Jeff Richardson, Planner II, on the project, and there is also an agreement between Caesar Evangelista/Good Samaritan Holding Corp. and Lake County, and a copy of the ordinance. Ms. Farrell stated that, in 1997, the County rezoned the property for an ACLF, and at that time, staff was under the impression that the Sullivan PUD was moving ahead quickly, and the water and sewer would be Robie for this particular project, but it is not, and the letter indicates that it will cost this particular development over $350,000 to get the water and sewer, as required by the County ordinance. Ms. Farrell stated that she would like to give them a temporary waiver for the connection of the water and sewer and allow them to put the well and septic, until the facilities are on Robie from the City of Mount Dora. She noted that there is a two year time limit for an agreement, not for a hook up, and they will have to meet all State requirements. They are currently trying to move forward on the 5,000 square foot office.
Commr. Hanson disclosed that she had conversations with the applicant about trying to resolve this issue.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that the applicants would not be able to obtain septic tanks for the entire development in any case, but they do have approval from the State for their first phase for septic tanks and wells.
Commr. Gerber stated that she does not approve of these types of cases, unless they have the facilities, and the applicants, in this case, do not have them.
It was noted that the facility was several miles from the school property, and the case was a rezoning from LM to CFD.
Ms. Farrell explained that the parcels on three sides were vacant, and there may be some residential uses towards the highway.
Discussion occurred regarding the language on Page 4 of the Agreement, 4. Central Water and Waste Water Not Provided, with Mr. Minkoff noting that it would be clearer if there was a time frame that they would be required to hook up as opposed to an agreement. He stated that this project, under County Code, or the Comprehensive Plan, would not require hook up to Mount Dora at its current location.
Commr. Swartz stated that, with the rezoning that took place, had the Board not understood the connection would occur within some reasonable period of time, he did not know if the Board would have supported it given that location and the intensity of the use. He would support the request, if the Board could change the language in Item #4 where they will have to connect to an approved sub-regional provider of water and sewer.
Mr. Minkoff stated that Mount Dora's letter to the developer stated that the developer needed to get with the County, so it could do an eminent domain to get the right-of-way to bring the utilities there. It is likely that, within two years, it will not be possible to hook up, and he did not feel that Code Enforcement will find them in violation. He explained that, under the current circumstances, it is impossible to connect. After some discussion, Mr. Minkoff stated that the best thing for the applicant to do would be to come back in and file for an amendment of the zoning, and there will be a quasi-judicial hearing, at which point the applicant can try and take the language out.
Commr. Swartz stated that the item would be referred back to staff for discussion with the applicant.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request for approval and a execution of Resolution 1998-68 supporting the NCAA Men's Division II Golf Championships, to be held May 19 through 22, 1998, at Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the appointment of Ms. Trella Mott (District 4) to the Lake County Citizens' Commission for Children.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the reappointment of Mr. Ronald D. McQuinn (District 3) to the Lake County Citizens' Commission for Children, and the appointment of Judge T. Michael Johnson (at-large) to the Lake County Citizens' Commission for Children
On a motion by Commr. Gerber, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the following appointments to the Lake County Citizens' Commission for Children: Ms. Vicky D. Pyle (District 1) and Ms. Julie E. Yandell (District 1).
On a motion by Commr. Gerber, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the following reappointments to the Lake County Citizens' Commission for Children: Ms. Mary Fletcher (Lake County School Board) and Mr. Robert Froeman (Department of Children and Families).
Commr. Hanson made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Gerber, for approval of appointment of Women's Hall of Fame Selection Committee and approval to change the procedure to allow two inductees per year, based on the recommendation of committee.
Under discussion, Commr. Swartz questioned whether the language should read "will be inducted", or "can be inducted", on Page 2.
Commr. Hanson amended her motion to include the language "may be inducted", with Commr. Gerber amending her second to the motion.
It was noted that the County Attorney would compose the appropriate language.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
REPORTS- COUNTY ATTORNEY
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the following requests:
Request for approval and execution of Statement of Claim by Lake county in the amount of $827.71 for attorney fees in Circuit Court Case No. 97-593-CP.
Request for approval and execution of Statement of Claim by Lake County in the amount of $747.28 for attorney fees in Circuit Court Case No. 97-688-CP.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER SWARTZ - CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT #3
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the appointment of Commissioner Good as liaison to Southwest Florida Water Management District to assist with the increasing complexity of water resource issues and the interrelated nature of local and regional concerns.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved Proclamation 1998-69 proclaiming May 6 through 12, 1998 as National Nurses Week.
On a motion by Commr. Gerber, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Minutes of April 16, 1998, Special Meeting - Pennbrooke, as presented.
On a motion by Commr. Good, seconded by Commr. Gerber and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Minutes of April 14, 1998, Special Meeting - Plantation at Leesburg, as presented.
REPORTS - COUNTY MANAGER
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, stated that the regular meetings in July fall on the 7th and 21st, and the 21st comes during the time of the National Association of Counties, which many are scheduled to attend. She requested that the meeting of the 21st be canceled, since the Board has a scheduled workshop meeting on the 14th. She stated that any other business can be brought forward to the meeting on the 14th.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to cancel the Board meeting on July 21, 1998, and schedule items, as necessary, on July 14, 1998.
Ms. Whittle reminded the Board that there are budget hearings scheduled for July.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, advised the Board that this Saturday, May 9, 1998, beginning at 8 a.m., there will be a community cooperative cleanup for the residents of Stuckey Loop/Taylor Road in Mascotte, and it will begin at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER GOOD - DISTRICT #2
Commr. Good informed the Board that the Lake Lowry situation looks much better, and the Board's position has not changed. He stated that the County is continuing to try and alleviate the emergency problems and have a close look on the future and a long term solution.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER HANSON - DISTRICT #4
Commr. Hanson reminded the Board that she would be having a meeting in Astor on May 7, 1998, at 7 p.m.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER CADWELL - DISTRICT #5
Commr. Cadwell reminded those present of the hot line numbers for the medfly situation.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11:40 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would move to the Training Room, Room 233, for the Annual update of activities of the Economic Development Commission of Mid Florida.
Commr. Swartz reconvened the meeting and turned it over to Commr. Cadwell.
Commr. Cadwell had asked the Board members whether they had any questions or great concerns with the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, Inc., and stated that it was his understanding that the Board was very positive about the direction the EDC was taking with its business development.
Mr. Dan Lynch, President and CEO, presented introductory remarks about the purpose of the workshop and noted that the Board had been presented with the 1998-1999 Business Plan.
The following individuals presented detailed information in their areas of expertise, as outlined in the packet entitled "Lake County Update":
Mr. Mike Bobroff, Executive Vice President - Business Development
Ms. Kathy Ramsberger, Sr. Vice President - Film & Television
Ms. Pat Werner, Vice President - Business Retention & Expansion
Mr. Mike Cooney, Vice President - International Affairs & Trade Development
Ms. Maureen Brockman, Vice President - Marketing
Mr. Bruce Redus, Director - Overview of EDC's Lake County Office
Mr. Dan Lynch, President & CEO - Overview of County's Return on Investment
The meeting was opened to questions of the Board.
Commr. Gerber stated that, in regards to the marketing research, it indicated that the EDC would be researching the top ten percent of SAT scores for each County in the region.
Ms. Brockman explained that she works through the Department of Education in Tallahassee, and they have always taken all of the SAT scores in the community. They found that, as competitive marketers, most communities are only looking at the top ten percent of SAT scores and only the top percent grade point averages and that is what they are publishing. In order to compete, the EDC wants to make sure that they at least have this information available, and then they will decide how to use it. She noted that there was information in the "Opportunity Orlando" that she would share with those who were interested.
Commr. Hanson stated that, by setting the sights higher and bringing in more hi-tech, and by bringing this type of people into the community, they will be participants in helping to make the education system much better. She appreciated the EDC working with the Tourist Development Council (TDC).
Mr. Lynch stated that he would like to see them move more towards finding out what it will take for Lake County to attract some of the hi-tech, or higher paying jobs, and from research, he has found that a nice business park is needed close to the population base, close to a four-lane divided highway, and as close to the airport as possible, and it takes working with the Board to try to put together incentives that will attract this type of industry.
Commr. Cadwell stated that incentives need to be put together, and there may be projects that come forward that may be done jointly, perhaps with two counties, or a city and two counties, because there may be projects that will attract much involvement and will benefit all. Commr. Cadwell stated that there was discussion about a business park six or eight months ago, and as a group, they had hoped that a private industry would come forward and do this with the County being their assistant. He stated that, as far as the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is concerned, they have not closed the door to anyone wanting to come forward with some type of presentation. He stated that they would prefer not to be in the business, but if an opportunity arises, a policy decision would have to be made by this Board.
Mr. Redus stated that staff has looked at a project, in terms of doing a business park south of SR50 on US27 at the County line, and there are some issues, in regard to constraints in terms of ordinances, and they were being reviewed. He stated that they have also taken a look at an office component in mixed uses. He stated that there has been some other discussions about an office component at the Industrial Park, which would make sense from a utility service area and from a transportation standpoint.
Ms. Werner stated that, when the Board gets the new business plan, it will see a separate section for the field offices with specific goals related to each County.
Commr. Good referred to Pages 26 and 27 and questioned the figures that were given for Lake County, in terms of the database.
Ms. Werner explained that the EDC responded to companies within Lake County with specific supplier information out of the database of 5,000 entries. She stated that there are at least 300 to 500 Lake County companies in the database, which indicates a 14 percent of goal for Lake County. She stated that the numbers will most likely be higher in May and June, because they will be working with more companies in a focused area of the quarter.
Mr. Cooney presented brief information about the international trade development and noted that they are producing for the Annual Summit, on May 19, 1998, an international trade and services directory, so they will be utilizing much of the database that was just discussed in the publication. There will be over 2,000 businesses that are either manufacturers, or new import-export services, so Lake County will be well represented in that publication.
Mr. Lynch stated that this was the first time that the EDC has put numbers down, and they can see what works and what does not work, and as far as the business park is concerned, it is extremely important for Lake County, and it could be a partnership. He stated that the site along SR50 is a good location, because Lake County needs to get close to Orange County and that population base.
Commr. Hanson stated that Lake County may want to look at Seminole County, in terms of its park and the industry it pursued.
At 12:20 p.m., Commr. Swartz reminded the Board that the meeting would recess for lunch and reconvene at 1:30 p.m. for the public hearing on the workshop for fire service.
WORKSHOP - FIRE SERVICE
Commr. Swartz called the meeting to order and stated that this afternoon there would be a staff presentation that was requested by the Board at the last meeting, which will take approximately 15 minutes plus the time the Board may have for questions. He clarified that Florida Hospital has requested that their participation in the proposal with Florida Regional EMS be withdrawn, so that proposal is not under consideration, unless this Board or someone else wants to bring it forward. He stated that the Board will hear the presentation by staff, and then it will go to a public hearing to allow public comment.
Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, stated that two weeks ago, the Board made a motion and directed staff to bring back a proposal for fire service that would fall somewhere between $50 and $75 based upon the current methodology for the fire assessment. She stated that the County was trying to get to the philosophy on the provision of service, and a long range vision of exactly where it wants the service to be. The staff team has developed a foundation for a long range plan, which will allow the County to continue the review, to have flexibility in what it does over the coming years, to maximize cooperative efforts with the cities in Lake County as well as surrounding counties, and to avoid duplication of services in areas. She introduced the following members of the team: Ms. Kitty Cooper, GIS Director; Mr. Frank LaFleur, Acting Chief, Fire Department; Ms. Sharon Farrell, Director of Growth Management; Ms. Ava Kronz, Director of Quality Improvement; Ms. Lourdes Ramos, Personnel Director; Mr. Don Post, Solid Waste Director; Ms. Sarah LaMarche, Director of Budget; and Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance.
Mr. Alvin Jackson, Deputy County Manager, stated that staff was charged by the Board to present a proposal that would increase the level of fire service for Lake County, with an assessment fee somewhere between $50 and $75 for the Board's consideration. Mr. Jackson stated that the information on fire responses was broken into types of calls, and staff concentrated their efforts on the maps containing fire department responses for vehicular accidents, structural fires, emergency medical, and total incidences. He explained the outcome of their efforts, in detail, and stated that several members of the team met and talked with a number of city staff members, and some expressed an interest in a cooperative effort of providing fire protection; however, time did not allow any definite decisions in this area. Further meetings with the cities would be beneficial to establish further cooperative efforts, which would be more formalized. Mr. Jackson stated that the team recognized that there was no cost effective way for enough fire stations to be located throughout the County to reduce the response time to less than the current average of ten minutes. He stated that it is essential that the volunteer stations remain an integral part of the County's service delivery. The team felt that it is important for Lake County to not only increase the number of volunteers, but to develop a plan to retain those volunteers. It was the decision of the team that hiring a Deputy Chief, who would also be the Volunteer Coordinator and dedicated to working with volunteers and the reserve personnel, would be the only way to be successful in these efforts. The team feels that the proposal before the Board increases the level of service as it has been defined, and within the next few years, the number of paid stations increases from eight to 12, and the number of paid full time firefighters increases from 31 to 66. Mr. Jackson stated that the team believes that the proposal could be the first step in developing a successful long range plan for the fire service.
Ms. Sarah LaMarche, Director of Budget, explained that the team tried to give a fiscal approach for a five year plan within the $50 to $75 range. She reviewed, in great detail, the information on Page 3, Staff Proposal - Proforma.
Commr. Hanson referred to the information regarding the Astor station and stated that there should have already been a paid person in the Astor area.
Mr. Frank LaFleur, Acting Chief, stated that the County spends approximately $10,000 a year to fund the volunteers, so there would have been additional funding to put the full time person in Astor.
Commr. Hanson stated that, in regards to the position in Astor, the money should have already been budgeted, and it should not be a new budget item.
Ms. LaMarche stated that the team was proposing a reserve staff, which would be a group of volunteers with a basic educational level of a volunteer firefighter who would be paid a certain amount, to be determined, to be located at the fire stations at a given time. This particular funding level, or this and a combination of some interlocal agreements yet to be determined, would fund up to 60 of these people. This would bring the number of stations to eight stations with two per shift, one station with a mechanic firefighter, one station with an eight hour shift, and this would be the funding level for 1999. If this was the philosophical approach taken by the Board for the $73.50 fee, then the revenue from $70 would be approximately $6,300,000, which would leave a shortfall. Staff also included in the proposal the beginning of a reserve for building stations. She noted that it would cost approximately $100,000 to process and mail notices. Ms. LaMarche stated that, if the Board would look at the difference level, by the time the year 2001 and 2002 rolled around, there would be a deficit in funding, but presumably there would be enough reserves built up the first year to offset this and the County would be breaking even by the third or fourth year.
Commr. Hanson noted the 4.75% for Administrative Costs and stated that she has a problem with this, even though it is a management concern, but the County would not be increasing the cost of personnel at all to obtain these dollars. She realized that the Board has to be fair with the other departments in the County that are also charging back an administrative fee, but she would think that the administrative fee should be cut to 2% or so and that would allow the money to make up for the deficit (about $300,000). Commr. Hanson stated that, if there was no greater number of personnel required, and it was just because the Board makes a decision to increase the rate, then she feels the dollars should stay in the fire department rather than coming into the Board's General Revenue and then being distributed however throughout the County in the Board's budget.
Ms. LaMarche directed the Board's attention to the last page in the booklet, which had a list of all of the stations that the County currently owns.
Chief LaFleur stated that staff has discussed creating some volunteer personnel out of the Pennbrooke area, and there are approximately 36 volunteer applications. They are looking for about five to six individuals who want to be volunteer firefighters, and if this happens, then the agreement he made with them, with Mr. Jackson's knowledge, is to open the building as a volunteer station. He noted that it is a station that can be opened with minimum costs.
Ms. Whittle stated that staff's proposal begins with the basis that a great deal more needs to go into the volunteer effort than what has been put into it in the past, and the proposal contains a major commitment to volunteer development beginning with the volunteer coordinator, at the level of Deputy Chief in the department, and includes some major funding levels to develop the volunteer program, as well as the reserves program. It recognizes that, with Lake County's geography and demographics, it will probably never be economically feasible to fully staff all of the stations in Lake County, so that everybody has fire service within a five mile range of their homes.
Commr. Good questioned whether, when the County is looking at adding paid firefighters, it was looking at an increase in educational training and background the way it was looking at improving medical response, or was it looking at basically fire suppression paid firefighters.
Mr. Jackson responded that the proposal would be looking at fire suppression at the Basic Live Support (BLS) level. He referred to Page 2, D. Reserve Personnel, and stated that, as a point of clarification, staff was talking about several levels of volunteers, and one is the reserve personnel, a group of fully qualified volunteer firefighters who would commit to specified hours at a specified location for a specified amount of monthly reimbursement. He further clarified E. Estimated Costs Used in Model and noted that this really presents the true costs for three firefighters, which includes benefits, personal gear, training, etc., ($45,000 each 8-HR shift x 3 shifts). Mr. Jackson stated that it would cost $425,000 to build a new station, and the utilities for one fully staffed station is $6,800.
Chief LaFleur reviewed, in detail, the Benefits of Proposed Level of Service Change, as noted on Page 4.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether staff had sought input from the volunteers, because she has not been under the impression that it is the funding that is the utmost importance to them, but there are other things that are more intangible.
Ms. Whittle explained that this was a staff proposal, and with the time constraints involved, staff was able to put together the proposal before the Board.
Ms. Kitty Cooper, GIS, presented an overview of the following maps: total incident calls; total structure fires calls; total emergency medical calls; total vehicle accidents calls; total vehicle fire calls; and total tree, brush & grass fires calls.
Mr. Jackson reviewed VI. Strategic Plan Needs, as outlined on Page 5. He stated that part of the long range plan is to establish criteria for identifying new stations and additional staffing of stations, but this has not been done in detail.
Commr. Hanson stated, for the record, that Astor was approved as a manned station several years ago, and this Board has not voted for it not to be a manned station. She stated that this really should not be under consideration today. She stated that this needs to be rectified, because if it was included in the budget, it needs to be modified, because the funds are needed in Astor for one paid person, which is what this Board approved.
Commr. Swartz explained that, when the County went through its station closing process and redistributed personnel, Astor was not selected to have a paid firefighter. He noted that, if Commr. Hanson disagreed with this explanation, perhaps she could provide the Board with additional information for review.
Discussion occurred regarding the staff proposal, with Ms. Whittle explaining that it is based on the methodology that is in place today for the assessment.
Commr. Swartz opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment.
Mr. John Gammon, Fruitland Park, President of the Lake County Mobile Manufactured Homeowners' Corporation, stated that he represents several thousand people who reside in manufactured housing in Lake County. He stated that, in the last three and one-half weeks, they had over 4,000 people sign petitions stating that they are willing to pay their fair share to support the local countywide fire and rescue department, but they are opposed to the fee system that is now imposed upon each household of $35. He questioned why the County has a flat fee and why there was no one to support the County Sheriff and the County Commissioners. Mr. Gammon stated that the people were requesting that the Commissioners remove the $35 fee and replace it with a millage rate that is sufficient to operate the local Lake County fire department and have the tax millage handled by the local elected County Tax Assessor and collected by the elected Tax Collector. He stated that the way the fee is now collected by the department that the County has set up has a lot to be desired, because they have found many places where the fee has not been collected, and it was reported to the Commissioners. As of today, no one has come to him and reported that the fee has been collected. He suggested that this part of the County's department be eliminated and the work be returned to the duly elected Lake County Assessor. Mr. Gammon stated that the County could take the money that is saved from such a move and spend it on the fire department. He suggested using the $100,000 that it would take for the mailing of notices and update Mr. Havill's Office, or whatever needs to be done.
Ms. Eleanor Andrews, Clermont, stated that the Commissioners, firefighters, and public must unite for the good of the County. Ms. Andrews stated that the County needs a new overall leader, and the volunteers should be encouraged and respected. She stated that Plantation, Minneola, and South Lake have fire houses. She further stated that there should be two men 24 hours a day so that they are protected, and all other fire houses should have two men. If Florida Waterman could make money on $59, the County should be able to bring up manpower with all of this money. Ms. Andrews stated that fire and medical staff can work together, and in two years when the ambulance contract ends, the County should be able to take over the service, since it owns all of the ambulances and equipment. She stated that every cent taken in should go to improve the fire department, and she was greatly encouraged by what has been presented today, and the progress that has been made.
Ms. Joann Drolshagen, Bonfire Mobile Home Park, Leesburg, President of FMO District 3, Sumter and Lake Counties, stated that she was speaking on behalf of the renters that live in the parks. Ms. Drolshagen suggested that the Board think twice about assessing them with this fee, because it will enter into their rent structure, and there are many people who do not have anything to back up their social security. She requested that, when the Board decides to pay for the program, which sounds good, it will find a different way besides sticking the renters with the full burden of paying for everything.
Mr. Mal La Shay, President of the Plantation Residents Organization (PRO) Board, stated that there were four other members that were present today from the PRO Board. Mr. La Shay stated that Plantation had asked for some action, and they are getting it. He stated that Commr. Swartz had the courage to offer an alternate plan and to take a leading position, and it was innovative, but not well received, and he hoped that the Board would not back away from its lead position, because the plan did not go through. Mr. La Shay stated that there were approximately 1,200 homes, with over 2,000 people, and after talking with as many people as possible, the PRO Board voted unanimously last night on the following three items: 1) the fire department should be and always be a public entity; 2) the EMS should be incorporated into the overall fire department over a period of years; and 3) the Board should support the opening of Fire Station 27. He stated that fire and EMS go together, and it is successful across the country. He feels that the majority of the people are in favor of increasing the fee, but they do not want to be unfair, and they do not want to penalize other people.
Mr. Ralph Reeder, Astor, stated that he has talked to some of the volunteer firemen, and he disagrees with Commr. Swartz about the firefighter in Astor. He stated that he was not aware of the fact that Astor lost its paid fireman, because nobody was notified. He stated that, after talking to the volunteers, they have requested a paid fireman to get things started. Mr. Reeder stated that the County is top heavy in its administration. He discussed Page 3, the number of District Chiefs and the number of employees each one would handle and suggested that some of the excess money in the administrative end be placed in areas where it would help the people.
Ms. Febe Muller, Winterwillow Lane, Eustis, stated that she has been to four meetings on this topic and each time the figures change and the players change, and she questioned whether Chief LeFleur was required to be at all of the meetings.
Ms. Whittle noted that Chief LaFleur was present at all of the meetings, and the meetings only required staff to be present, not the Commissioners.
Ms. Muller stated that the staff proposal will add a lot of administrative jobs, but not many in the fields, so there will not actually be an increase in the level of service. The volunteer plan, which has not been presented to the people present today, has a higher total cost, but the cost to the resident is lower, and it will have a total of 163 employees compared to only 137 that staff has proposed, with most of them being administrative. The volunteer plan will be immediate input of increased service to the community, and it has a long term plan, as called for by Mr. White in his report to the Board in April, and, as stated by Mr. Jackson today, the long term approach is absolutely imperative and anything less is going to be ineffective. Ms. Muller stated that the public has the right to know the pros and the cons and then vote for the type of service they are willing to pay for. She stated that it was the responsibility of the Board to make all of the information from all of the reports available to all of the people. She suggested that they be placed in the newspaper for public input. Ms. Muller asked the Board to have the Advisory Board, the staff, which has done a magnificent job, the Fire Board and the volunteers get together and come back with something for the newspapers that the public can all have a chance to vote on.
Mr. Walter Thielhart, Eustis, discussed an article that had been published by "The Lake Sentinel" regarding an audit of the County's books from last year and stated that he was of the understanding that the fire department's budget for the past year was $3.2 million. The volunteer council proposed a budget of $8.2 million. Mr. Thielhart stated that he was also of the understanding that the County under ran its budget by $5 million and this contributed to the County being in the black about $16.7 million. He could not understand why the Board was talking about raising taxes when it was under running the budget and accumulating a surplus of $16.7 million.
Commr. Swartz explained that the County has a General Fund budget, which encompasses a lot of things other than the fire budget, and there were restricted reserves, for things such as transportation issues and the solid waste system. He further stated that some of the money in the General Fund is primarily there in order to help the County at the end of the year to go from October 1 until some time in January when it starts receiving most of the property tax revenues. He stated that much of the money that comes into the County comes from people both in the cities and in the unincorporated area, and it has to be very careful that it does not take money that came out of cities, particularly the ones that are not in the fire system, and put it in the fire system and spend it on unincorporated residents.
Mr. Thielhart stated that the money is placed in reserves by the Board, and it could be changed by the Board and it could determine other uses for it within the County. He questioned why it took so long for the fire department to be asked to put forth such a plan as this and to look toward the future before there was a panic situation. He supports what is being proposed by Mr. Gammon, even though it will cost him more money, but the millage approach to the finances is the best approach, and he liked the idea of having it collected through the appropriate agencies.
Mr. Armand Champagne, Clermont, stated that any kind of increase, which would impact the park manager and what he collects, is automatically increased one more time by five percent, because that is his normal assessment, and he has the right to raise the rent five percent. He stated that this was an injustice, and he feels the millage rate is the only way to go.
Mr. Roy Sebring, Leesburg, stated that he was appalled at how the fire chief situation was handled in Lake County, because five qualified people could not solve the problem. He explained his experience with volunteer firefighters and stated that, for the last 16 years before he retired, he worked closely with active volunteer firefighters and paid firefighters with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the Fire Control Bureau of the Division of Forestry. He stated that he was the communications man that took care of the southeast corner of Florida, Palm Beach, Broward, Dade and Monroe Counties. The firefighters were all State employees, but former volunteer firefighters, and some were formally paid firefighters, but had joined the State in the Fire Control Bureau. He stated that it was an injustice to Craig Haun to be fired for such an occasion that could have been resolved. Mr. Sebring suggested that the County get the total number of assistant fire chiefs together and let them designate a Fire Chief by promoting from the ranks.
Mr. Jeff Letourneau, a firefighter, stated that, for the past year, he has been working on a program to increase firefighter coverage, and a two man shift. The Board had a copy of his plan, and Mr. Letourneau noted that it was similar to the volunteer program that Mr. Gamble will be bringing forward. He stated that it details controlled growth, additional stations, and increased manning for stations now in use in Lake County, and in its response areas. The total cost of this plan, which would double the size and open three stations, would be $1,925,000. Mr. Letourneau reviewed the detailed information regarding the three alternate stations, as noted in his backup material, and stated that the total cost of this would be less than $2 million.
Ms. Johanna Perrigo, Mayor of Lady Lake, stated that the elected officials of Lady Lake have been monitoring the Lake County fire issue from a distance, and not only are they concerned that their citizens receive the best fire service available, but as a participant in the Lake County interlocal agreement, they have an investment of approximately $500,000 in fire tax money they contribute annually. They want to ensure that both of these investments, their citizens and their money, are well protected. The Lady Lake Commission has the following consensus: Lake County has a good nucleus from which to grow and develop. She stated that obviously it is in need for solid leadership, good planning and adequate funding. As with most issues of government, funding is a primary factor and concern of debate and discussion. As elected officials, our focus needs to be on providing good quality fire protection feasibly and economically. She stated that it was unrealistic for anyone to believe that three dollars a month collected from the County can provide adequate fire service into the next century. She stated that for 13 years, the fire tax has not been increased. Ms. Perrigo stated that the citizens object to waste and mismanagement of their hard earned dollars. After reading through the fire reports, the Lady Lake Commission has come to the following suggestions for the Board's consideration: 1) Lake County should continue to provide fire protection to their residents, because this is the responsibility of government; 2) a new fire chief should be hired to formulate a written program and to provide direction for the future, and this should be shared with all people involved in the interlocal agreements and with the communities; 3) create a new fire service department to include fire services, medical services, transport and dispatching, to be phased in over a two year period; 4) fire taxes need to be increased; 5) consider implementing a plan for the County to provide ambulance service when the current contract expires; 6) consider supplementing manpower and equipment with cities having their own fire departments in exchange for coverage of County areas; 7) procure a part time volunteer coordinator and organize and recruit a strong volunteer program; 8) avoid creating upper management positions with high salaries and direct funds toward staffing and hiring of firefighters and procuring new equipment; and 9) inform the public. She stated that the County needs to keep the public apprised of where their money is being spent, where the equipment is being placed, and where the firefighters are being hired. Ms. Perrigo stated that the Commissioners in Lady Lake are willing to work with the Board in any way they can to provide the best possible quality fire protection and fire service in the County.
Mr. Jerry Smith, Leesburg, questioned the Board as to what date it will be raising his taxes.
Commr. Swartz stated that, if the Board gets to the point of deciding what level of service it is going to have and approximately what it will cost, it will then go through a public hearing process, and a first class notice will be mailed to all of the homeowners who are in the County system. There will be public hearings scheduled in August and September, and until the budget is actually implemented, the Board can not tell him the final answer.
Mr. Joseph Fink, Grand Island, stated that he has been associated with fire departments for approximately 35 years, and he is a retired Florida firefighter. Mr. Fink stated that firefighters are a family, and they need to be supported.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 3 p.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for 15 minutes.
WORKSHOP - FIRE SERVICE (CONTINUED)
Mr. Tony Ritter, Leesburg, stated that any fire service protection plan that does not address fire and EMS services beyond the year 2000 would simply be a short term crisis management of a long term public safety policy. Mr. Ritter stated that, for several years on a monthly basis, Florida Regional, at the direction of the management company, has reported inaccurate response times to emergency calls.
Commr. Swartz interrupted Mr. Ritter and stated that Florida Regional was not present today, and the Board was only interested in comments from Mr. Ritter with regard to the proposal before the Board. He asked Mr. Ritter to comment on the proposal, or those issues relative to fire, and if Mr. Ritter had views relative to the contract that the County currently has with Florida Regional and has had with Florida Regional and Florida Hospital, he make an appointment with Chief LaFleur, who is the contract manager, and express those things to him. Mr. Ritter stated that the Lake County citizens demand a County Commission with the courage to take its public safety into the year 2000 with a plan that unifies Lake County fire rescue and EMS.
Ms. Jeanie Pearson, active volunteer firefighter for Lake County, Station 21, Paisley, stated that she has attended all of the meetings, and she would like to know more about what the future holds for the volunteers. Ms. Pearson stated that she has heard about the County wanting to raise a lot of money, but not money to increase the $5.50 that the volunteers get for each call. She stressed that volunteers get no benefits unless they are killed on the scene. Ms. Pearson stated that she goes to the same type of fires as the paid firefighters and performs the same tasks.
Commr. Cadwell asked Ms. Pearson to give him a suggestion as to what would make her feel better as a volunteer.
Ms. Pearson stated that she would like to be recognized as a volunteer. She stated that, when she joined the fire department two and one-half years ago, Craig Haun worked with her and taught her the necessary skills, and he was good at boosting the morale of a firefighter. She further stated that his son did a good job for the County.
Commr. Swartz stated that, when the County instituted the $5.50, it was a source of opposition among many of the volunteers, because they did not feel they should be reimbursed even with this amount, but the Board instituted the fee based on the recommendation that came from the fire chief. He stated that the Board has always known how important the volunteers are to the system, and Lake County will never be able to have a system that the taxpayers will either be willing to fund, or can afford to fund, that can operate and provide a level of service without volunteers. He stated that they have done everything to encourage volunteers, but they have not been successful at it, and the Board is considering adding a Deputy Chief that would be involved primarily with volunteers.
Ms. Pearson stated that the County is not going to get volunteers with the way the department is going right now, because the morale is down.
Commr. Swartz encouraged Mr. Pearson to think about the question asked by Commr. Cadwell, and to voice it some time in the future. He asked Chief LaFleur to provide Ms. Pearson with a copy of the Volunteer Incentive Program, and for her to read through it and indicate to him what the Board could be doing to improve the program.
Mr. David Orozco, Clermont, discussed the response time in the corner of south Lake County and stated that, as far as increasing the personnel from 31 to 66 in two years, he felt that the Board needs to focus on providing more manpower and more services and optimizing current practices that are used to save the money, and to make things more efficient, so the County can have those people here. As far as the issue of raising the money, he felt that, at a minimum, the County should entertain raising the fee, or doubling it. In terms of inflation and duplication, he has heard some good ideas, and he asked that the Board listen to these people, because they really care about what is going on. The key to finding a solution to the problem is having a master plan.
Mr. Frank Royce, Chief Deputy, Property Appraiser's Office, stated that he was speaking as a representative of the office, and he wanted to remind the Board and staff of the cooperation the office has given them in the past and would be willing to give in the future. He also wanted to remind the Board that Mr. Ed Havill, Property Appraiser, did agree to sit down, whether with the Board or staff, and talk about the Property Appraiser's Office taking over the assessment of fire tax. It is his opinion that is could be done cheaper through his office with less mistakes and bills would go out with the correct figures. Mr. Royce wanted to caution the Board that, in talking about collecting on an ad valorem basis, the Board needs to consider properties that are exempt, homes that are totally exempt, because they are only worth $25,000, and a $25,000 homestead will wipe out any ad valorem value of properties that have agricultural classification thereby lowering the actual value of the properties. He stated that he would be willing to help staff or the Board with any questions they may have later on. Mr. Royce stated that he looked over the staff proposal and it seems that the highest amount of calls is not structure fires, and perhaps the Board needs to rethink, not only the increase in the residential fee, but to rethink in changing some of the other fees for vacant property where it seems a lot of the fires are taking place, commercial property, and some of the other fees that seem proportionately lower than if you look at the residential fees.
Commr. Swartz questioned whether Mr. Havill was willing to take over the solid waste special assessment, because he was not willing to take it last time, and that was why the County ended up with a special assessment office, because the County implemented a solid waste special assessment.
Mr. Royce stated that Mr. Havill would probably be willing to talk about it, but the fire assessment is a totally different process that requires less staff, and the Property Appraiser's Office can handle the fire, but at this point, it could not handle the solid waste.
Mr. Robin Hall, firefighter, commended staff for the excellent job it did on the proposal that was presented today and suggested that staff look at the square footage of property when assessing the fee.
Commr. Swartz stated that the consulting firm will be coming back with recommendations, and those recommendations will be principally based on court decisions, which have outlined the basis of the special assessment, and how it is implemented in Florida. There is not a lot of case law on this issue, so it will depend on what the County can do. The Board was trying to determine some level of service and the willingness to fund it, and then those questions will be answered.
Mr. Hall stated that the square footage would be a more fair and equitable way of taxing people. He stated that he has been in the fire service since the early seventies. In terms of privatization, he noted that there was a little municipality that went to privatization, and when it did not work, it cost the town $15.5 million to get back on its feet.
Mr. Todd Angel, Clermont, stated that he is a former volunteer for Lake County Fire Rescue, and he was the former President of the South Lake Volunteers Association, and he is currently a professional firefighter with Seminole County. Mr. Angel addressed the concern that had been expressed by Commr. Swartz about why volunteers are leaving Lake County and stated that it all goes back to the subject of demographics, which he explained at this time. He stated that it was not feasible for a working person using Lake County as a bedroom community to be a volunteer, and that is why there has been a decrease in volunteers. He stated that there was no hope for him to be hired by Lake County, because there were no jobs available. He further stated that Lake County paid for him to go to EMT school, which gave him the opportunity to go somewhere outside of the County where he could work for a fully paid professional department. Mr. Angel stated that there is a need for increased coverage by paid firefighters who are on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week. He did not think he could say that there will never be an opportunity for a fully manned fire department in Lake County due to the population increase that the County is experiencing. He questioned whether there has been a formal motion by the Board to remove the privatization issue from discussion.
Commr. Hanson stated that she was going to make such a motion when the public hearing was over.
Commr. Swartz stated that, from a realistic standpoint, Florida Hospital i.e. Florida Regional EMS has removed their proposal for consideration, so there is no proposal for the Board to consider. He stated that the Chief Executive Officer of Florida Hospital has sent a letter respectfully asking that they no longer be considered. Commr. Swartz stated that he was reluctant to see the Board make such a motion and adopt one, because Florida Hospital, and earlier Waterman Hospital, has served this community for years and years. He stated that they came forward, at the request of him, and submitted a proposal.
Mr. Angel addressed the issue of future funding for the fire department and stated that, in Seminole County, they successfully took over ambulance transport services for EMS in their first response agreement, which he explained. He stated that this was a source of funding that the Board needs to consider for funding the fire department.
Commr. Swartz stated that Mr. Angel was right about all of the reasons with the volunteers, and the Board is aware of these reasons, and they were in the report from the Fire Advisory Board. He stated that the County has lost the areas where the County historically had strong community based volunteers.
Mr. Arlin Kemp stated that he has been serving the community for 18 years in EMS, and for12 years with the fire department, and he was here to speak as a taxpayer today. Mr. Kemp stated that Altoona had a paid firefighter, and that position was taken away by the County. He stated that paid firefighters are needed everywhere and not just in local places, and he knows it will cost a large amount of money, but he was willing to pay it. He stated that, if the Board raises the tax from $35 to over $70 in an area where the County is not currently receiving fire protection, there will definitely be an outcry by the public when people get their tax notices. He stated that the County needs to address Advance Life Support (ALS), because it needs paramedics and paramedic firefighters.
Commr. Swartz explained that the issues brought forth by Mr. Kemp were part of the issue that will be addressed by the consultants when determining the fee. He stated that, if you are living in an area and you are not receiving the same benefit as another area, that will have some impact on what the level of those fees may be.
Mr. Jim Corbett, Dona Vista, stated that he is a property owner in the County, and in the City of Eustis, and he has been a volunteer firefighter for 12 years. He has seen stations go from 19 and 20 volunteers down to two, because of the changes. Mr. Corbett was asking for financial support from the Board for the volunteers and firefighters.
Mr. Robert Gustafson, Astor, stated that he has been in the fire department in Astor for about 15 years. He stated that it would not take much of an effort by the County to show volunteers how much they are appreciated.
Mr. Douglas Hendrix, Vice President of the Lake County Volunteer Firefighters' Council, Eustis, stated that they have fought a long hard fight against privatization, for the following reasons: 1) they felt that the fire department should be a publicly held service and should be accountable, and the citizens have entrusted that to the Commissioners and the management of the County to provide the best level of service possible; 2) they felt strongly against it, because, if the people do not buy into it, then it is not going to work; 3) the volunteers did not feel that somebody had the right to make a profit from what they do as volunteers; 4) they felt it was not a long term solution to the problem. Mr. Hendrix stated that Florida Hospital Waterman backed out of it when they decided that they could not commit to a long term solution. That would have left the County to deal with a for-profit company, or the heavy expense of restarting a new public fire department. He extended his thanks to Florida Hospital Waterman and Mr. Ken Madison for having the dedication to this community to do the right thing. Their choice forced them all to look in the direction the County needs to be looking. He stated that the public fire department should be here to stay, and everybody needs to concentrate and work together on a long term solution and plan to greatly improve the level of service while keeping that cost as low as possible to the citizens of Lake County.
Mr. Brian Gamble, Fruitland Park, President of the Lake County Volunteer Council, stated that they have recently submitted to the Board a plan that they would like to present to the Board, or possibly work with staff to present to the Board. Mr. Gamble explained portions of the plan noted that it would provide a response time of under eight minutes to the majority of the County. It adds a volunteer coordinator, as suggested by staff, and the plan also implements ALS service to strategic locations that are lacking it. It also prepares the fire department to put in a viable bid in the year 2000 to take over transport, as suggested. Mr. Gamble stated that originally their plan had offered three different options, but he was told yesterday that they should not be looking at assessment dollars, but rather at the total budget. The total budget for the plan was $8.2 million, and their recommendation in their plan was $65 a year per household with a square footage fee of 2.5 cents for each additional square foot over 1,500 square feet based on the size of the house, or a $79 flat fee, or a fee determined on 2.29 mills. These would all have to be worked out by staff. Mr. Gamble stated that the plan will assist in lowering the countywide ISO rating, which will provide a saving to the taxpayers of Lake County. He suggested that the firefighters be able to give input to the staff, and to let them work with the staff to combine the two plans and develop another plan before the Board makes its decision.
The Chairman called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed at 4:08 p.m.
Commr. Hanson extended her appreciation to staff, the volunteers and the firefighters for all of the hard work they had done on their proposals.
Commr. Hanson made a motion for the Board to take privatization off the table for fire service in Lake County.
The motion died for the lack of a second.
Commr. Hanson stated that, with the motion failing for the lack of a second, she would recommend having Jeff Letourneau, Ed Jenter, Brian Gamble, and John Joliff, join with staff, and with the County's fire chief, in the very near future, perhaps in a week, to come back after trying to integrate and critique this plan and determining how a plan can be developed that can address the issues of all concerned.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board's inability to raise the assessment, as well as some decisions the Board made in regards to closing fire stations, which, in retrospect, were probably a mistake, and he voted for them, too, are part of what got the County in its current situation. He stated that what staff has brought forward today is not an exact plan, but a proposal they were able to put together quickly, and it gives the Board a foundation and a direction. He stated that, even though it doubles the budget, from $3.4 million to $6.5 million, he believes that staff can continue to fine tune it by taking in the public comment and concerns. Commr. Cadwell stated that none of it will work unless their efforts work to bring the volunteers back in. He stated that there is not enough money to provide the type of service they are talking about without the volunteers, because whatever the County decides to do, it has got to include bringing those volunteers back in as a viable part of the fire department. Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like to have a motion that would direct staff to base the proposed assessment on the figures brought forward today, the $6.5 million. He stated that the time is now to move forward and to make a commitment to the fire department that the County has now.
Commr. Hanson stated that she agrees with Commr. Cadwell, except that the Board and staff have not had the input of the volunteers and the firefighters. She stated that the proposal has been staff driven, and if the Board is going to talk about building back the volunteers, it starts right now.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he feels the Chief works with these people every day, and he can relay these concerns to whatever group is working on the proposal.
Commr. Swartz stated that the Board needs to make sure it does not send staff or the public away from here with a misunderstanding. If you take a budget of $8.299 million and compare it the same way the staff numbers were compared, and you compare it the same way with the existing assessment today, that number is right at $90. He stated that there was no use for the Board to send staff away and the people away, if there was not support for a special assessment that is significantly higher than even what has been talked about here today
Commr. Hanson stated that she was suggesting the Board take the plan that staff developed and sit down with these folks and let them evaluate it to see if there are any improvements they might be able to make with that plan within a budget of $6.5 million.
Commr. Good stated that his thoughts on the issue were probably in the minority. He does not want to see the assessment go sky high, but doubling it scares a lot of people in the County, because if someone lives in a mobile home and he has been paying $35, and now he will have to pay $70, and he still lives in a mobile home, he questioned whether his service has been improved with the plan brought forward by staff. He stated that doubling the assessment would be something he would do very reluctantly, unless the paramedic firefighter is some type of reality, because this needs to be a component of the plan. He knows that this will be a challenge to staff to think about how the County can re-educate, or give additional education and certification to firefighters, paid firefighters and volunteer firefighters. He questioned the level of education of the personnel that arrives, if they arrive in 12 minutes instead of six minutes, because this was not addressed in the plan that was brought forward. Commr. Good stated that he did not feel that an analysis had been done to say what the level of response would be when a person arrives at the scene, and he feels that this needs to be added to the staff proposal. He commended staff for bringing forward the plan on short notice, because it was very good, and the time that the volunteers spent on putting together their plan, but he agrees with what was said earlier that some kind of consolidation, or a public-private partnership between the fire service and the contracted ambulance service, needs to increase the level of training and skill of the personnel that arrive on the scene. He stated that, for him to be comfortable with raising the level of assessment for everybody in the County, he wants to make sure there are provisions and a plan and details that make sure that the personnel that arrive on the scene have been given the additional training and certification that will increase their morale, and a higher level of service to the resident when the personnel arrive on the scene. He stated that this would have to be component of the plan, if he was going to vote for doubling the fire fee.
Commr. Gerber stated that the survey she conducted three months ago indicated that the people of the County expect an average response time of 9.03 minutes, where the County is currently averaging 10 minutes. She learned that the people of the County expect to pay no more than $34.75 more, which would bring it to $69.75 for fire service. They want to see, first of all, improvements in response times, and this answer had the least amount of variation. The second thing they wanted to see was paid firefighters, and number six on the list was the medical capabilities of the respondents, however, the medical capabilities of the respondents were the second highest on the standard deviation, which was the second most consistent answer. Commr. Gerber stated that she does not have a problem with the $6.5 million budget, and if this is the staff's best guess, she was willing to go along with it. She does not have a problem with staff meeting with the volunteers and anyone else and letting them look at this and see if there are suggestions or recommendations on the plan that they would like to make.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Gerber, to direct staff to base the proposed assessment on the figures brought forward today, and also to instruct them to continue to fine tune the proposal using the dollars brought forward within the County's own fire department, and to continue to talk with the cities that are interested in contracting in certain areas.
Commr. Good made an amendment to the motion to include that, as part of the refinement of the proposal, there be a development of an education plan with accompanying costs that would improve, at least for long term, the medical capabilities of those people who will be responding as firefighters in Lake County and as its fire service.
Commr. Hanson seconded the motion for discussion.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he did not feel the amendment needed to be added to the original motion, because this will be something that staff will be doing in their normal everyday operation of a fire department.
Commr. Good stated that, in defense of the amendment, he felt that it would very clearly give staff the direction that the Board is interested in moving and improving the medical response as well as fire response, and without the amendment, and with the plan before the Board, he felt that the policy statement being made is to go in this direction. He stated that, with the amendment, it says that, as the Board moves into the long term future in Lake County, it will be improving the medical response of the fire personnel. He stated that he is hearing this a lot from people who are hesitant about raising the fee, because they know that their structure is not going to be saved, and they are not going to be getting any more service.
Ms. Whittle stated that, in looking at the incident calls, it is very obvious that the vast majority of calls in Lake County are medical calls, and some of the things that staff talked about in some of the meetings was how response could be upgraded, and they came up with possibilities that could be considered in the future. She stated that this proposal sets a foundation and a possible direction, but it is not written in stone, and the first concrete numbers will be coming back from the assessment study and through the budget process, and there will be lots of room for critique and proposals through that process. If the County was to move to paramedic status for the firefighters, there is a frame work that has to be set up. She clarified that paramedics must operate under a doctor's direction, and this can be reviewed, and the County can work with Florida Regional, as well as look independently at some of these things.
Commr. Cadwell clarified that his motion lets staff know that the Board is planning on looking at a budget somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.5 million as opposed to $3.4 million, and it lets them know that the Board is going to do that with the County's own fire department and to continue to talk to the cities. He stated that Commr. Good's amendment clouds his motion enough that he will not support his amendment, because that is not what he wants staff to do.
Commr. Swartz stated that the amendment made by Commr. Good is not one that he thinks can be evaluated in the short term that the Board is faced with today, in terms of trying to consider anything with the special assessment. In the long term, it is clearly something that will need to be considered, but it is not an amendment that he feels the Board should adopt today, with the deadlines the Board is facing now. He stated that, if it is one that is made in order to continue to evaluate the long term, but is not impacting the short term, then it would be fine.
Commr. Good clarified that his motion is asking staff to acknowledge that the doubling of this fee is putting staff in the position of beginning to develop a long term education plan to increase the medical response capability of the firefighters. He cannot support doubling the fee just to have more firefighters based on the statistics and data that has been brought forward to him by staff and by various groups, which shows him the real need, which is medical response, and the real concern he hears from his citizenry is they want increased medical response. If the new fee schedule is approved, the amendment tells staff very clearly that the Board wants a long term education plan to improve medical response of the County's fire service.
Commr. Swartz stated that, if the Board adopts the amendment to the motion, for a budget that has been proposed in the amount of $6.5 million, that within those funds, staff would then be able to somewhere in the relatively short term, be able to provide advance life support, as opposed to basic life support.
Commr. Good stated that his amendment allows staff, in the short term, to develop a long term education plan, a system by which they can improve medical response. The amendment says that, not only is the County doubling the fee, but the person whose structure may burn down is going to get improved response, in the long term, but maybe not in the short term of next year.
Commr. Swartz stated that, if Commr. Good is expecting that, for the budget dollars that are being provided today, the County will be able to provide advance life support, this would be unrealistic, but if he wants them to continue and to move forward, but not expect advanced life support, but simply to begin developing a plan, he would agree. Once again, Commr. Swartz clarified the motion, as follows: staff will continue to evaluate and to try and prepare plans that would lead to advanced life support provisions within the County.
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell stated that it was far reaching for the amendment to be attached to the original motion, because it has nothing to do with the funding.
The Chairman called for a vote on the amendment to the motion, which was carried by a 3-2 vote. Commrs. Cadwell and Hanson vote "no".
Ms. Whittle clarified that she understood the Board as saying that the dollars that were described in the foundation proposal brought forward by staff are the dollars that the Board would like staff to go forward with in determining and working with the consultants on the assessment, and also the Board would like staff to consider a long term plan for provision of improved EMS service as part of the fire service.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, while he still wants to voice his displeasure with the amendment, he will support the motion, because the Board has got to move in a direction and let staff and the firefighters and the volunteers know that the County is moving forward.
Commr. Swartz stated that he shares some of the concerns expressed by Commr. Good, and there are many who are in support of improving the fire service, but the Board has to understand that there are people in the County who are very much impacted by more than the doubling of the fire fee, but there are going to be areas of the County that are not going to see a very appreciable improvement in their level of service by this other than in the long term. He stated that the County will send out, at some point, a first class notice to every property owner in Lake County, in the unincorporated area, and the four cities in the system, and it will get their attention, and in return, it will get the Board's attention when they receive that notice. Commr. Swartz stated that he was prepared to go forward and ask the consultant to find out what the numbers are going to be, how it is going to affect those people who are going to be receiving relatively a higher level of service as opposed to those who really are not going to be getting much improvement in their level of service. He shares some of the concerns of the firefighters, because it is a very limited basis for the future, and he will support the motion, but the Board will need to be aware of the hearings that will be held on this issue, because they will be difficult.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether this would improve the insurance ratings.
Chief LaFleur addressed the issue of ISO and explained that nothing, at this point in time, is going to improve ISO ratings, until the ISO comes in and does a new rating. This has tentatively been scheduled by the ISO for September or October of this year.
Commr. Swartz clarified that the County does not control the ISO rating, and it is based on a lot of factors, and secondly, insurance companies do not all use the ISO, and whether or not any of this translates into lower insurance for the home owner should not be the basis for approving this plan.
The Chairman called for a vote on the amended motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 4:48 p.m.
G. RICHARD SWARTZ, JR., CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK