The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, July 23, 1999, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners' Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson, Vice Chairman; Robert A. Pool; Rhonda H. Gerber; and G. Richard Swartz, Jr. Others present were: Sue Whittle, County Manager; Sanford (Sandy) A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Administrative Supervisor, Board of County Commissioners' Office; Sarah R. LaMarche, C.P.A., Senior Director; Tracy L. Zeller, C.G.F.O., Budget Manager; Julia A. Wilson, Budget Coordinator; Kristy Mullane, Accountant, County Finance; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell informed the Board that he has been working with Ms. Sue Whittle, County Manager, to try and find a way to stay at the current millage rate, which will leave the Board with a shortfall in the amount of $1,046,370. He presented the following for discussion:
Changes: From General Fund Potential Funding Source
McTureous 30 acres (156,000) Race Track Bonds
Rails Trails seed money (416,000) Race Track Bonds
Copier, Tax Collector (166,000) Infrastructure Tax
Security Guard (35,000)
Bank Service Charges (36,000) Old Method is fine
Revised ½ cent revenue 300,000
Commr. Cadwell stated that the issues to be addressed would be the Leesburg streets and the Resource Officers for the schools. He stated that staff has gotten some figures from the Accounting Department at the School Board that shows that the School Board will be getting over $600,000 for the Safe Schools program, but the funds would be spent at the discretion of the local authority. The estimated amount for the Resource Officers was $450,000. He was hoping that the School Board would be paying for half of the officers, or at least a large portion of them, and the County could pick up the difference.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, if there was some interest from the Board to help the City of Leesburg with its streets, he would suggest that the monies be taken out of the General Fund, Special Reserve, as opposed to transportation or infrastructure monies.
Commr. Gerber stated that she really did not want to use gas tax dollars, because she feels there are other things that the County needs to take care of out of those monies. She feels that the streets are simply economic development, and she feels that the money should come out of the Special Reserve Fund. She also would like to see the Board pay $100,000 for four years rather then giving them the whole lump sum, because it would not be feasible for the Board at this time. Commr. Gerber stated that, during some of the discussions, the Board had determined that the price of some of the sidewalks was estimated rather high.
Commr. Hanson thought that the City of Leesburg or someone was coming back with some figures, or further analysis, on what would actually be County expenses and what would be City expenses.
Commr. Swartz felt that the County needs to transfer Main Street back to the City of Leesburg, either through an interlocal agreement, or whatever it may take, with the County spending the noted amount of money to help them with this project. He suggested spending $400,000 over four years, or $200,000 over two years.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, in the long run, the County will be saving money, because the County does have a responsibility for a portion of that street, and it was his understanding, when the City of Leesburg made its presentation, they would be willing, once the street was brought up to specific standards, to take it into the City.
Commr. Swartz stated that the City needs to take all of Main Street that no longer really contributes to a major collector, which would probably be from Highway 27 to the bypass (Dixie Avenue).
Commr. Cadwell directed Ms. Whittle to get with the City of Leesburg and relay that information to them, and since this would be coming out of Special Reserve, it would not affect the monies up top, and the Board could still make a policy decision on this year's budget knowing that it will have some options with them.
Commr. Swartz stated that, with regard to some of the other items on Commr. Cadwell's handout, he would have no doubt that, through whatever variety of cuts and other alternatives that the Board wants to look at, the Board can come up with $1,046,370 and not have to increase the General Fund countywide millage, but he would rather the Board find another alternative than to use that Race Track Bond money for the McTureous 30 acres and Rails Trails seed money, and he would rather see the Board, over the course of the next couple of weeks, look at other alternatives. Commr. Swartz discussed the copier for the Tax Collector and stated that he did not feel this was bricks and mortar where infrastructure should be used. He did feel that the Board could find the $1,046,370, and to make the decision to stay at the current millage for the countywide General Fund millage. He stated that this may take going back to some of the Board's colleagues and other offices and asking them to also look at their budget again. He stated that he was confident that the Board was going to have to come up with some money for the Resource Officers, but he could not see the Board paying more than the School Board.
It was noted that the Tax Collector has already purchased the copier and paid for it, but it means that there will be less revenue coming back to the Board.
Ms. Sarah LaMarche, Senior Director, Fiscal and Administrative Services, noted that the Board would be receiving about $600,000 less than what it had anticipated receiving from the Tax Collector, and the $166,000, as noted for the copier, would be included in this amount. Ms. LaMarche noted that she had budgeted $400,000 for the Sheriff, and that is what the Board will be getting this year, even though last year it received $1 million.
Commr. Hanson suggested that the Chairman go back to the Constitutional Officers. She felt that there were some numbers in the Sheriff's budget that made the 7% increase not an actual number.
After some discussion about the copier, it was the feeling of the Board that the money should not come out of infrastructure.
Ms. Whittle explained that the copier is being considered in the same category as the voting machines, which have been paid for out of the infrastructure sales tax, and she feels this was the proper means.
Commr. Swartz noted that the infrastructure sales tax will sunset in December, 2002, and the Board needs to stop using it for these types of things, when the bricks and mortar are going to become that much more important. He stated that, in the last two years, the Board has taken the difference between rollback and put it into a special reserve, but this year it will spend everything right up to the existing millage.
Commr. Pool stated that, in regards to rollback, he does not support it, because he believes that, if things had been left alone at some point, the Board would not be at this point where it needs to increase the taxes.
Commr. Hanson explained that the Board was not talking about rollback, but last year it took the difference between rollback and the millage rate and put it into reserve for capital.
Commr. Pool felt that the Rails to Trails is an investment in the County's future, and it will enhance the eco-tourism and generate revenues in the long run.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that the County was dealing with the Race Track issue and trying to get insurance for this revenue source, which has been difficult, but staff anticipates that it will available at the beginning of the budget year.
Commr. Hanson stated that she supports using the Race Track Bond for the two projects, McTureous and Rails to Trails.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the County was anticipating $2 million to $3 million from the Race Track Bond. He stated that the Race Track Team is looking at this issue, and it has looked at the McTureous site as one of the projects that it may bring forward to recommend to the Board.
It was noted that the majority of the Board agreed to taking the McTureous 30 acres and the Rails Trails seed money out of the General Fund. The Board chose not to make a decision on the high speed processor (copier) for the Tax Collector.
Commr. Hanson suggested that, when the Board looks at the Security Guard issue in the future, perhaps it will consider the idea of doing what the banks are doing now, which is using revolving doors that detect metal and looking at this as a long term solution.
Commr. Pool felt that the idea presented by Commr. Hanson was a good idea, and it would be something for the Board to consider.
It was noted that the Board felt that the security guard and the bank service charges were two items that could be taken out from the figures.
In regards to the revised half cent revenue, Ms. LaMarche reported that she talks to the State on a weekly basis, and as they update and revise their estimate of the revenue sharing and half cent, she brings it back to the County Manager and to the Board, and staff was comfortable adding $300,000. Ms. LaMarche noted that staff estimates five to six percent going into the budget year, until it gets the final figures.
Commr. Cadwell stated that staff will contact the City of Leesburg, in regards to the offer to take over Main Street, from Highway 27 to the bypass (Dixie Avenue), and it will find out the School Board's committed amount for the Resource Officers.
Ms. Whittle stated that, in regards to Leesburg streets, staff is working with $100,000 a year for four years, and it will come primarily from the Special Reserve.
It was noted that, if the City had no problem with taking the streets, the Board would not have a problem with paying $200,000 each year for two years, with the City taking the streets as part of the agreement.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, assuming that the Board does not want to pay any more than what the School Board is going to pay for the Resource Officers, this will give him a number to take back to the Constitutional Officers, to see if they can assist the Board in any way.
Ms. Whittle informed the Board that, in regards to the ambulance fund, there was an increase last year, and there is a proposal for an additional increase to the ambulance fund this year, and that was in anticipation of the changes in billing, such as Medicare, that are expected to happen in the year 2000. So there will be another increase in the ambulance fund for this year, and the Board will have to set this millage on Tuesday.
Ms. Whittle stated that, on the sheet that was provided yesterday at the Budget Workshop meeting, Analysis of Contributing Causes of Decrease in Beginning Fund Balance, the Board needs to look at it and understand the contributing factors listed on the bottom of the sheet. She stated that the hits to the General Fund basically are the reasons that staff was trying real hard to stay away from anything that had recurring expenses attached to it for the General Fund, because staff does not think that it will have as much leeway as it has had this year with additional revenues.
Discussion occurred regarding the raises, as determined by the Board, with Ms. Whittle explaining that this year staff is talking strictly about a pay for performance system, and it is not across the Board, and staff has budgeted 4.5% of payroll, which is the same amount it has budgeted for several years, that will allow the employees a zero to nine percent increase.
Commr. Pool stated that he does not really believe he has seen an increase for a cost of living raise, in terms of general costs, and he was wondering if there were dollars that could be found that would help the budget
Ms. Whittle explained that this is the first year that staff is not recommending an across the Board cost of living increase on October 1, 1999. The employees are evaluated on their anniversary date, and based upon their evaluation, they receive their increase. It was noted that the Clerk, this year, will also be going to the anniversary date.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the next Board meeting will be Tuesday, which is a zoning meeting, and the Board will be setting the tentative millage.
It was noted that this will not be a time certain item, because it will not be a public hearing, but August 3, 1999, will be the last date that the Board can set the tentative millage.
Commr. Cadwell noted that this was a Board Budget Workshop, and it does not take public comment, but Commr. Hanson had noted that there was an individual present in the audience that would like to make some comments on fire.
Mr. Albert Hanson addressed the Board and stated that he lives in the City of Eustis, and he lives 15 blocks from the firehouse. He has to call the County Fire Department on CR 44 to come and put his fire out when he is 15 blocks from the City's firehouse.
Commr. Cadwell explained that the County has been working with the City of Eustis in regards to having more than a mutual aid agreement where it would actually have some service agreements where they would cover certain areas for the County, and the County would help them.
Ms. Whittle explained that staff has been working with the City of Eustis, and the City of Mount Dora, on some type of first response agreements, but the County does not have any at this time.
Commr. Hanson directed Mr. Hanson to meet with Mr. Tad Stone, Senior Director, Emergency Services, to discuss his situation.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 9:58 a.m.
WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK