The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Friday, February 1, 2002, at 9:00 a.m., at the Highlander Hut, Clermont, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Robert A. Pool, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Jennifer Hill; and Debbie Stivender. Others present were: William A. Neron, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager; Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioners' Office; and Kathryn A. Schwartz, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Pool noted that Mr. E. Michael Lillibridge, Ph.D., founder and president of the Peoplemap Company, was present and would be assisting the Board in its discussions this morning. For the benefit of Dr. Lillibridge, those present introduced themselves.
PEOPLEMAP/AREAS OF CRITICAL CONCERN
Mr. William A. Neron, County Manager, thought it would be helpful to review the results of the Peoplemap exercise, conducted by Dr. Lillibridge at the Board Retreat of December 1, 2000, and to then move forward with the results of the Peoplemap study that was recently conducted on himself and Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager. He set forth a framework by which the Board could conduct itself through the retreat, suggesting that it might be advantageous for the Board to discuss the direction it would like to see itself moving in over the next five years and to then address the areas of critical concern, which would assist the Board in its long-range planning.
Those who participated in the December 2000 Peoplemap Questionnaire reviewed their personality types, as determined by the study, ranging from Task, Leader, People, or Free Spirit.
GOAL SETTING AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Dr. Lillibridge discussed the creative process of individuals and teams and how goals are set. He suggested that the Board members get started by discussing goals that they would like to reach or, at the very least, articulating some possible goals and arriving at a general consensus on what to focus on over the next five to ten years.
Dr. Lillibridge set forth a model for the Board to use as its starting point. He discussed the four arenas that individuals or teams will usually put themselves, and he summarized by stating that teams should strive to articulate two sets of goals: those that seem to be practical, realistic and within grasp, and those that are beyond the immediate grasp but are exciting and meaningful and that, if they could be realized, would accomplish something that would really be powerful. After some discussion regarding the length of today's meeting, it was thought that by lunchtime they would be able to wind up their discussions.
Commr. Hill gave a brief overview of the four focus areas, and related goals, that were developed at the January 30, 2001, Board retreat. There was some discussion on whether or not these goals had been accomplished.
Commr. Pool stated, for the record, that at several of the prior workshops and retreats where the Board had spoken about the importance of passing and extending the one-cent sales tax, former Commr. G. Richard Swartz, Jr., had stated that it would not pass and that the one-cent tax had not been used wisely. Commr. Pool pointed out that the tax did pass, however, with a two-to-one ratio, at the November 6, 2001, referendum and that it has and will continue to be of great benefit to the cities, schools, and the County.
The Board members began to outline what they thought to be their achievable goals, with the intention of setting forth some of the more broad areas and then working into some specifics within those broad areas, and then progressing into the future, five to eight years from now, with the dream-type goals. Ms. Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioners' Office, kept track of these goals and dreams by displaying them on the easel. They are as follows:
a. Incinerator contract (Covanta)
b. Universal collection
c. Pay down of the $13 million line of credit
d. Research an available county-wide revenue source
a. Addressing funding issues for the various committees
b. Realignment of committees
a. Parks and Recreation (community buildings)
b. County-based library system and creation of a central library
c. Dedicated funding source
d. Form partnerships with the municipalities for facilities and programs
a. Conducting an economic development summit
b. Revising the Industrial Development Authority into more of an economic development council
c. Achieving economic, tourist, and cultural development
d. Incorporating myregion.org (a regional development program)
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 10:17 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would take a 15-minute recess.
ACHIEVABLE GOALS (CONTINUED)
5. To make long-range plans for facilities and capital improvements.
a. South Lake annex/satellite government centers
b. Lake Region Packing Association
c. Sugarloaf Project
d. Regional Parks
e. Rails to Trails
f. Inventory already-acquired land
g. Geographic Information Systems update of base maps
h. Greenprinting and Trust for Public Land
i. Judicial Center (additional parking and courtroom space)
The Board members and staff discussed, at length, the Sugarloaf Project. They particularly spoke about ways in which the County could assist in the purchase of Sugarloaf. Under consideration was the use of pari-mutuel dollars versus tax-payer dollars; the collection of $1 million each from north, central, and south Lake County; and the setting aside of $25,000.00, which would be funded half by the County ($12,500.00) and half by the developers ($12,500.00), to do a conceptual master plan for the property. The Board also discussed, at length, the validity of such a purchase and other options.
ACHIEVABLE GOALS (CONTINUED)
a. Dedicated source of funding
b. Park systems
c. Conservation/growth management tool
a. Joint Participation Agreements (JPAs)
b. Mr. Lance deHaven-Smith of deHaven-Smith & Associates
Mr. Rich Dunkel, Mount Dora, Florida, and a member of Trail Friends, addressed those present and stated that he had the privilege of sitting in on the regional development program of myregion.org, an organization that the Regional Planning Council and the Board put together. He stated that one of the group's associates, Mr. Michael Gallis, gave a very good presentation at their first meeting. Mr. Dunkel commented that there were more people from Lake County, at all different levels, who were in attendance than he had ever seen before in one place. He stated that members of the organization recently went to Atlanta, and they spoke to the city founders, who said that one mistake they made was not talking to each other 30 years ago. Mr. Dunkel thought that, through the process of the JPAs, there was an opportunity to maybe bring Mr. Gallis in to talk to the folks from the cities; that the issues that are being brought up at myregion.org are some of the same ones that are being brought up at today's meeting.
ACHIEVABLE GOALS (CONTINUED)
b. South Lake Connector
a. Indigent healthcare
b. County-wide programs
a. Electronic (online) newsletter
b. More press releases
c. Informed and up-to-date senior staff
d. Progressive Web page, tracking the number of people who visit the site
In response to Commr. Pool's request, Mr. Neron discussed areas in which the Board could work to improve its performance. He thought that planning for growth, over the next five to ten years, was paramount, especially in the provision of more county facilities. He also thought it important that the County be integrated with the cities in their plans for the construction of facilities, the associated funding, etc. He suggested that the Board determine where it is currently, decide where it wants to go in the future, and then devise a plan on how to get there.
Mr. Welstead commented that he was impressed with the Board's ability to think well into the future. He stated that he was interested in seeing what the Board's dreams will be, for the long run, and he felt that the Board's goals were attainable, over the next ten years. He stated that it was important that the Board have a clear direction and that it lay the groundwork for the future.
ACHIEVABLE GOALS (CONTINUED)
a. Particularly water and energy
b. Utility alliance with municipalities
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11:52 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would break for a few minutes, long enough to gather their lunches, and then proceed with the meeting.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
Mr. Roy Hunter, Paisley, Florida, representing the Northeast Lake Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), stated that he was glad to get a chance to see the Board members and staff in a different light. He stated that he felt he was a messenger between the Chamber and the Board. He noted that the Chamber has plans to bring the Board members out as guest speakers, for educational purposes. He discussed the importance of inviting the general public to attend these types of meetings and other meetings where Board members are scheduled to be present. Mr. Hunter stated that Commr. Stivender; Ms. Kyleen Fischer, a member of the Lake County School Board; Mr. Tim Scobie, City Administrator for the City of Umatilla; and Mr. Ed Havill, Lake County Property Appraiser, were their guests, in Paisley, to discuss the one-cent sales tax, which resulted in a vote for the tax.
Mr. Hunter thanked the Board for the Paisley library, and he noted that the Chamber has already arranged for Rep. Joyce Cusack, from the Lake County Legislative Delegation, or one of her aides, to visit every three months, to answer individual's questions, whether at the library or at the proposed community center; that, in April, they were hoping to get the results of the January 2002 Legislative Session; and that there were plans to have a counselor, from the Veterans' Administration, visit every two weeks, either at the Paisley library or the proposed community center. He commented that he has been to one Board workshop and that this was his first Board retreat; that he has learned a lot from these meetings; and that he has enjoyed the process. He thanked the Board for their time.
Ms. Brenda Bregg, Paisley, Florida, addressed the Board thanking them for lunch. She stated that she too has learned a lot from this experience and that it was good to see how the Board worked one-on-one, in a more relaxed atmosphere. She agreed with Commr. Hanson; that what you read in the newspapers is not always an accurate accounting of what actually occurred at a Board meeting; and that it is upsetting to read statements in the newspapers that she knows to be incorrect, having personally attended the meetings.
Dr. Lillibridge stated that dreams are only meant to be articulated enough so that staff can get a sense of what they are; that you cannot mix an editorial process with a vision process; and that, later, issues, such as practicality and what it would take to achieve them, can be addressed. He saw the Board as being highly courageous as a group; that they were mapping out the future of the County in the sense that where the Board pictures things to go is ultimately, more than likely, where they will go, influenced only by other variables, such as money. He stated that, for this part of the exercise, they needed to focus on getting some things on the table, not for the purpose of a total consensus, at this point, but just to set forth some real ideas that appeal to them.
At 12:10 p.m., Commr. Cadwell left the meeting.
ARTICULATED DREAMS (CONTINUED)
The Board expressed their dreams as follows:
At 12:20 p.m., Commr. Cadwell returned to the meeting.
ARTICULATED DREAMS (CONTINUED)
Dr. Lillibridge thought it was interesting to point out that discussions regarding the more practical, achievable goals took approximately three hours and that the dreams segment has been completed in about seven or eight minutes.
Commr. Pool stated that he thought there was a comradery among the Board members, who were more focused on what they believed to be realistic and achievable, rather than dreams. He recognized that some of the items that have been mentioned today are items that will need to be dealt with by future commissioners. It was noted, however, that dreams can be achieved.
Dr. Lillibridge suggested that the Board combine the two lists, Achievable Goals and Articulated Dreams, to come up with a strategic plan on where to head in the future. He recognized that this takes time and effort but that it should be well worth it; that dreams can seem to be way out of reach right now but, in the system, through future boards, can be dealt with on a very practical level. He pointed out that, while they do not have to achieve everything that they have developed today, they will probably want to put this in some sort of a model where there is a sense of where they are headed; that there will be a need to prioritize, due to costs; and that, ultimately, they will want to turn the goal/project over to the group that will be implementing it.
Mr. Neron stated that, after receiving all this information, he would like to summarize it, meet with senior directors and key staff, get some feedback, and, over a series of meetings, approach the issues in a logical format and then incorporate them into the day-to-day and budgetary operations. He felt that this was timely, as they are getting ready to start the budget process. He noted that funding would be essential, long-range planning was needed, and organization; that it was important for staff to adopt and embrace the overall plan.
Dr. Lillibridge stated that continuous and open communication needs to occur. He felt that the Board would be successful in achieving its goals, and he thought that they set forth some reasonable goals; that they had a sound plan in mind, which was a good start.
Mr. Neron felt that some of the goals were achievable very quickly; that some goals were medium range; and that some were going to be long range. He reiterated that he would need to work closely with senior staff to find out where their resources are and what additional resources they may need to move some of these items forward more quickly.
Mr. Steven J. Richey, Esquire, commented that the Board was doing a wonderful job and he looked forward to working with them in the future.
Mr. Hunter stated that he thought the Board members were wonderful and that he really appreciated what they were doing. He recognized that there will always be disagreements. He stated that he was glad that he could attend the retreat and that he saw that the commissioners really care about what they are doing and believe in what they are doing.
Mr. Hunter discussed the free-lunch programs that were available to the children in the various communities. He noted that, in many cases, these children are being raised by a grandmother, who deserves hot meals, which is why they are trying to push hard for a community center in the Paisley area. He felt that the accessibility of meal sites was very important, throughout the whole county, and that many of the meal sites were too far away. He pointed out that the closest site to northeast Lake County was in Eustis, which, for many, would be cost prohibitive to drive all the way in to Eustis. He emphasized the need for meal sites, community centers, and libraries to be spread out throughout the County so that they are accessible to everybody.
Commr. Pool thought that they got a lot out in the open fairly quickly and that now they needed to look to staff to accomplish some of their goals. He felt that the Board members were in concert with each other and that they were willing to work together, but he recognized there would always be some disagreement. He stated that the Board certainly does care about Lake County, and he hoped, as they go forward, that they will be energetic, progressive, and proactive enough that they can make a difference.
Mr. Dunkel addressed the Board stating that he thought they were doing a fine job; that he would like more people to know about what they are doing and how they are doing it; and that word needs to get out that the Board members are really putting in a great deal of time and effort. It was noted that staff has been directed to ensure that the facts are communicated to the public.
Commr. Cadwell noted that, for the next three weeks, off and on, he will be in Tallahassee. He asked that if there are issues that need to be addressed to let Mr. Neron know about them and that he will try to address them while in Tallahassee.
Dr. Lillibridge shared with the Board his final thoughts and conclusions. He explained that, in rating a board, he always tries to look at the following four criteria: 1) compassion, 2) courage, 3) open and honest communication, and 4) successful management of conflict. He felt that this was a very positive day and that, based on the four criteria, he would rate the Board as an A+; that they did well, and he was very pleased. He explained that his firm has worked with approximately 12 city or county governments, both in Florida and California, as well as engineering firms and other kinds of businesses, and they have observed that some groups have a great amount of conflict, and they just cannot move forward. He thought that this Board, however, was in the top 5 percent and that they are and will continue to be successful. He stated that, after working with the different Lake County boards, through the years, this Board is the best jelled group he has worked with; that it seemed to have the most freedom of communication and dialogue, and the members seemed to work well together; that there did not seem to be any real animosities amongst them; and that they dealt successfully with conflict. He felt very positive about the group.
Commr. Pool thanked all those present for their interest and input.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 12:35 p.m.
________________________________________ ROBERT A. POOL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK