The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, February 12, 2002, 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: 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; Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner's Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Cadwell gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commr. Pool introduced the following new employees to the Board and welcomed them to the County: Mr. Steve Nash, Director of Public Safety, and Mr. Greg Mihalic, Director of Economic Development.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, noted that there is an Addendum to today's agenda.
SCOPE OF PROJECT TO BE BASED AT THE FORMER LAKE COUNTY BOY'S RANCH BY THE WINDSOR GROUP, CONSULTANTS REPRESENTING HUMAN SERVICES ASSOCIATES, INC.
Mr. Frank Francisco, Lake County resident and President of Human Services Associates, Inc., addressed the Board and stated that The Windsor Group was not present today, but Human Services Associates, Inc. works with them in Tallahassee and has helped with the project he will be discussing with the Board today.
Mr. Francisco stated that Human Services Associates, Inc. recently purchased the former Lake County Boys Ranch, and they are in the process of trying to reopen the facility and serve similar clients that they served within this district. They are currently working on negotiating a contract with the Department of Children and Families. Mr. Francisco presented a brief history of their company noting that they are a private, non-profit organization, and they predominantly work in the State of Florida. He also stated that he has been in the business for 25 years and has significant experience working with kids and adults. They have approximately 340 employees and their annual budget is about $17.5 million. Mr. Francisco stated that they currently provide services in this district through Children and Families and through the Department of Juvenile Justice. He stated that he is here to today to ask the Board for their support for a State budget request that is being sponsored by Senator Anna Cowin and Representative Carey Baker at the Florida legislative level, to assist them in getting this facility back on line. Mr. Francisco stated that they have presented this proposal to the legislature and are asking for one time nonrecurring dollars in an approximate amount of $450,000 to be matched by Human Services Associates of $125,000 in-kind money for the start up of two programs. He stated that they were not here to ask the Board for any money, but simply to ask for their support via a letter or some sort of support to the Senator and Representative. He explained the two programs that they were asking the legislature to support on a one time nonrecurring basis, as follows: Youth Build and Super Lube. Mr. Francisco stated that they have been working with the local vendors, and they hope to start up with 12 to 24 beds as early as April 1. The funds being requested would be available in July. He stated that other tangible results of this will be employment of folks who lost their jobs. He further stated that they will start again to provide critical services to a population of foster care type kids who really do not fit into the traditional foster care environment. Mr. Francisco stated that Senator Cowin and Representative Baker have supported this initiative through their sponsorship, and they anxiously await the Board's support. He noted that the Health and Human Services Committee is meeting tomorrow morning and, if they can have something by 5 p.m., Senator Cowin can take it into her meeting.
Mr. Francisco extended his appreciation to the Board for their support and noted that he has letters of support from the Sheriff and community members and neighbors that will be presented to the Senator and Representative.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he met with Human Services Associates, Inc. yesterday and talked about his concerns and, if the Board does choose to do a letter of endorsement, he is going to Tallahassee tonight for a meeting with Senator Cowin tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., and the letter can be faxed to her today relaying the Board's support or concerns.
Commr. Hanson stated that they have all met with Mr. Francisco, and they welcome him into the community and look forward to the facility being up and running. She questioned whether a letter would suffice or would a resolution be stronger.
After some discussion, it was noted that a letter would be sent on behalf of the entire Board from the Chairman.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to write a letter of support for this program and the reestablishment of the Boys Ranch.
It was noted that the letter would be faxed to Senator Cowin today.
SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN BY FRIENDS OF SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that, at the meeting on January 29, 2002, the Board asked Commr. Stivender and him to meet with property owners on Sugarloaf Mountain to try and work out a process to determine each side's interest in the County potentially purchasing all or a portion of the site. Mr. Neron stated that unfortunately they have not been able to get all of the parties with an interest in the property to the table prior to today's date. The meeting has now been scheduled and, as soon as staff meets with them and are able to come to some type of resolution, they will be make a presentation to the Board hopefully within the next two weeks. Mr. Neron stated that he is pulling the item from the agenda today.
Commr. Pool stated that there are some individuals present today who are concerned about Sugarloaf, and he questioned whether there were any public comments to be heard at this time. It was noted that there were none.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether staff has done any investigation of the grant from the Florida Communities Trust (FCT).
Mr. Neron explained that staff has done some preliminary work with Trust for Public Lands (TPL), but that he felt it was a bit premature until they can determine a firm interest on behalf of the property owners. He noted that the grant application deadline is July or August, so the County has ampul opportunity, once they can determine interest.
Commr. Hanson stated that she would have to disagree with Mr. Neron's comments, because staff may be right that they cannot move forward with the grant, but it is very important to have the grant and all of its parameters from the FCT, because there are very specific requirements that she feels would be very helpful in going into their discussion.
Mr. Neron stated that, if they have interest from all parties in proceeding forward, he would probably be recommending to this Board that they ask TPL to be their agent in putting these grant applications together, because they do have the contacts and the expertise. He noted that they would not be meeting with them today but, as soon as staff has a firm commitment from the owners that they are interested in pursuing this, they are ready to come back to the Board with a recommendation and things that need to be done but, up to this point, staff has not had a firm commitment from the parties involved.
Commr. Hanson stated that she knows, after attending the seminar that was put on by the FCT, there is very specific information. She stated that, without this information, she would ask that staff see if they can get Mr. Doug Hattaway from TPL to be at the meeting.
Mr. Neron stated that staff cannot really begin to negotiate to purchase until they are sure that the parties involved are willing to negotiate, so as soon as they have the meeting, they are ready to come back to the Board with a plan of action on how to proceed. Mr. Neron noted that the meeting is scheduled for this afternoon. He would prefer that the Board allow staff the flexibility, as far as a date, to come back to the Board, and he assured them that, as soon as they have something ready to bring back to the Board, it will be as soon as possible and all interested parties will be notified.
GREENWAYS AND TRAILS BY JIM THOMAS, PRESIDENT, FRIENDS OF LAKE APOPKA
Commr. Pool stated that Mr. Jim Thomas, President, Friends of Lake Apopka, could not be here today. Ms. Mona Phipps will make a short presentation today on behalf of the Friends of Lake Apopka.
Ms. Mona Phipps addressed the Board and stated that today she would like to introduce to the Board a project around the Lake Apopka Basin. Ms. Phipps stated that what began as a conceptual plan from the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) as part of a Steering Committee that they put together for planning initiative in the Lake Apopka Basin is moving towards becoming a reality with regional significance. She stated that they are working with eight jurisdictions, as well as St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and local groups and organizations, to identify possibilities for greenways, trails, recreation and eco-tourism all around the Basin. Ms. Phipps referred to a map that had been presented to the Board and stated that it portrays the proposed trail heads. She noted that today their interest is with numbers 5 (downtown Montverde), 6 (Clay Island) and 7 (wetland park in Lake County). Ms. Phipps stated that, when the Board is considering possibilities for development in Sugarloaf, they wanted the Board aware of what they have been working on so they could make it part of a big plan. They believe that, through the support that they have found throughout these jurisdictions and from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), they can make this happen. They are concluding Phase 1 of this project and getting ready for Phase 2. She stated that Lake County has been very supportive and also gave funding for Phase 1 and, before going on with Phase 2, they would like to make sure they are continuing with their support Ms. Phipps stated that they would like to come before the Board in a few weeks with a full presentation and report that concludes Phase 1.
Commr. Pool stated that the ECFRPC, along with the Friends of Lake Apopka ,originally had a vision, and it is very close to reality. There are many opportunities here, and they are trying to find partners and regional partners. He noted that there are two counties and six cities involved and there will be a meeting some time in March, which will be publicly advertised.
Ms. Phipps stated that they were able to hire a design firm from Winter Park that has put together this first report, and they have been meeting as a Task Force with representatives from each of the jurisdictions, Lake County, Mr. Bob Stevens, Parks and Recreation, and Mr. Mike Woods, Transportation. She noted that, when the trail is done, it could be a 57 mile trail that loops continuously around the lake.
Commr. Pool stated that there are some 55,000 people a month who currently enjoy the West Orange Trail, and it has made a tremendous difference in downtown Winter Garden. He felt that the trail can enhance and create the eco-tourism they are trying to generate in Lake County.
Ms. Phipps stated that the SJRWMD has been very active in opening up the muck farms, and the Audubon is looking at Number 8 as a nature center for birding, and there are opportunities for Lake County at Clay Island.
Commr. Cadwell referred to the map and noted that the black line between Numbers 1 and 4 on the trail head markings is the existing West Orange Trail, and they are trying to make the connection to the Minneola Trail right now, but everything north of there, Numbers 5, 6, 7 and 8, are conceptual type things, because they do not have any rights-of-way.
Commr. Hanson stated that much of it is in public ownership and, when Pine Island is developed, it will be a reality to have the trail around it.
Ms. Phipps stated that Montverde has already started grant applications for the trail that would be Number 5. She stated that Orange County is excited because a lot of that is already in public lands, and the SJRWMD owns a lot of land in this area, and they are willing to work with them.
Commr. Hanson stated that, in terms of eco-tourism, the true benefit is not only Winter Garden and that type of activity and renovation, but you really become an economic entity when you create at least a three day stay, and then you get your tourism dollars and overnight stays in the hotels and motels.
Commr. Pool extended his appreciation to Ms. Phipps, as well as to Mr. Thomas, and stated that they do look forward to working with them. He stated that there may be dollars by utilizing Trust for Public Lands (TPL) and Florida Commodities Trust (FCT) and/or for opportunities. He noted that there will be another meeting, and it will be publicly advertised.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
COUNTY MANAGER'S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS
Ms. Ava Kronz, Special Programs Director, addressed the Board and stated that the agenda item is seeking a Board decision on a funding source for the shortfall that staff has projected on funding the three community centers in Paisley, Umatilla, and Astatula. Ms. Kronz stated that Mr. Mike Anderson, Senior Director of Facilities and Capital Improvements, has prepared cost estimate sheets for all three centers. Staff has met with the City of Umatilla and Astatula, and they are willing to help with the projects. They can assist the County by helping in the management of the buildings, and staff is working on other types of partnerships with those cities. Ms. Kronz directed the Board's attention to the last page of the agenda item and discussed the four funding options noting that there is a $165,681 shortfall in the grant funds that would cover the building of the community centers. She stated that staff is recommending Option 1. She spoke to Mr. Jim Stivender, Senior Director of Public Works, and his staff and they have their road projects completed. The City of Tavares dollars have been assigned there, and they will probably have some change orders coming in but the balance of those dollars could be used for this funding.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he had talked to Mr. Mike Anderson, Senior Director of Facilities and Capital Improvements, and other staff about the construction of the buildings and the Board needs to have a community meeting in south side, possibly in March, to get everyone's input on the location of the building in Umatilla and the partnerships that are available with the City or with the community themselves, and to discuss what the Board is going to do.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, explained that the original recommendation was going to be maybe cut one of the centers but, with Ms. Kronz and the budget staff and Mr. Stivender, he feels very comfortable with the Option 1 recommendation, which would really not impact any of the road projects and, since staff has gone out and raised some expectations, they would be doing all three centers. He feels very comfortable with the costs, and they do not anticipate any major change orders.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Stivender, to approve
to continue with the three community centers using Funding Option 1, as follows:
Budgeted from Infrastructure Sales Tax for Roads $ 2,000,000
Less: Total road projects (1,600,000)
Less: City of Tavares Street Project voted by BCC (52,000)
Potential Funding Source for Community Centers $ 348,000
Under discussion, Commr. Stivender stated that she has the same type of comment as Commr. Cadwell, because the Town of Astatula is here today, and they would like to be involved in this process.
Ms. Kronz noted that staff did meet with the Town of Astatula last Friday afternoon.
Mr. Neron stated that staff is working with the various communities where they have the city entities, or the community groups, to look at some innovative ways to operate these centers and programs at the centers without direct County dollars. The expensive portion of community centers is not building and structure, but the ongoing costs. Mr. Neron stated that the role he would like to try to forge is that the County can build the facilities and pay the maintenance and utility costs but then encourage either city partners, or other community groups, to step up and help the programing of these things where ever possible.
Commr. Cadwell stated that one of the ways is to offer some type of short term assistance to groups, or agencies, that may want to do that through the process.
Mr. Neron stated that he has Mr. Fletcher Smith, Senior Director of Community Services, working on drafting some contracts that they may enter into with either the cities, or the groups, to specify the responsibilities, in order to address such issues up front, and they will try to go in a common direction.
Commr. Pool called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to change the designation of Mr. Harry Petersen from at-large member to alternate member on the Lake County Library Advisory Board.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 9:45 a.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board would recess for 15 minutes and reconvene at 10 a.m.
WORKSESSION - UNIVERSAL COLLECTION
Commr. Pool noted that the following elected officials were present: Mr. Frank Royce, City of Eustis, City Council; Ms. Dottie Keedy, City Administrator, City of Tavares, and Mr. Jason Yarborough, City Manager and Clerk, City of Groveland.
Mr. Bill Gilley, Senior Director of Solid Waste, addressed the Board and stated that, per the Board's request, staff is here to revisit universal collection, and to request some Board direction on some alternatives to garbage collection. Mr. Gilley explained that 14 months ago (December 12, 2000) at a worksession with the Board, staff reviewed the process used to take care of solid waste management in Lake County. On February 16, 2001, at a Fiscal Retreat, they learned that the price being paid for garbage management in Lake County is much in line with other counties around the state that have incinerators, and it is a more expensive way to handle garbage. On April 10, 2001, staff recommended that the adoption of universal collection would greatly reduce illegal dumping, and it is an integral part of managing waste in Lake County. At the May 15, 2001 public hearing, the Board approved the changes to Chapter 21, to allow for the assessment of collection and disposal at one rate on the tax bill. At the September 4, 2001 meeting, the Board approved a rate of $107.50 for uniform disposal on the tax bill, for all residential customers in the unincorporated area. On September 18, 2001, the Board approved a rate of $95.00 a ton for garbage and extended the interlocals with the five cities for 90 days, to allow them time to explore alternative disposal options.
Mr. Gilley stated that today staff is proposing a single billing on the tax bill where everyone pays and everyone receives the same service. He explained that universal collection will allow the County to manage its waste; it reduces littering and illegal dumping; and it increases recycling potential in Lake County. It also increases the efficiency in billing and collection of the revenues needed to run the solid waste system. It equitably spreads the cost among all of the customers, and it allows them to stabilize the budget revenue stream to meet their needs.
Mr. Gilley stated that, when staff and the Board originally talked about universal collection last year, they had a total of 65,000 customers in residential units. He stated that 19,000 did not have collection service and, of that 19,000, staff pointed out that cards were issued to only 4,800, which led them to ask the question, what are the other 15,000 customers doing with their waste. In order to try and simplify the County's garbage system, whereby single owners of trailer parks are now considered commercial, they dropped the customer base to 54,000 potential customers in the unincorporated area, and the Board may want to address this when they look at funding options. Of the 54,000, only 10,000 have chosen not to have collection service; 3,600 have actually purchased a card. If adopted, they are looking at 56,000 customers being under universal collection.
Mr. Gilley explained that the County has fiscal years, calendar years, and the contract year with Covanta, which ends on March 31. A year ago the County trued up with Covanta at 137,000 tons, and the number that they were shooting for under universal collection was 130,000 where they would pay the least amount of money. For this projected contract year, they are looking at 158,000 tons. The other part of the service agreement says that, if they increase their tonnage commitment from 130,000 to 163,000 the true up goes away and the payments go down about $1 million, so there is a significant impact; however, the County has to exercise that right by the end of the month, but they are ready to do that at this time, based on some things that the cities have done. Mr. Gilley stated that they are also exploring options and are currently involved in a lawsuit with Covanta, so they may address this next year. For this contract year (2002-2003), staff is looking at 147,000 tons going to the incinerator, which includes Leesburg and Tavares, as well as the unincorporated areas of the County, and this reflects the cities exercising alternative disposal options and taking their waste elsewhere. The missing tonnage from the cities will be about 18,000 tons, which equates to about $1.7 million that the County will not have in revenues to make up the solid waste disposal needs. He stated that staff is proposing a disposal and collection fee on the tax bill for all of the unincorporated area.
Mr. Gilley reviewed the residential disposal and collection costs noting that, if you live in the unincorporated area, the least amount that you will pay is $107.50. If you purchase a self haul card, you will pay $132.50; if you have once a week service, you will pay a little over $18.36 a month or $220.30 on an annual basis and, if you have twice a week service, you will pay $236.02. Mr. Gilley explained how Lake County rates with other counties around the state who have incinerators and noted that a number of them do not have universal collection; nobody is currently charging an ad valorem assessment to fund a solid waste incinerator; a number of them do have a non ad valorem assessment on single family homes; and Lee, Palm Beach and Pasco counties also have a commercial assessment, which is charged on the tax bill for their commercial customers. He stated that, as of January 1, 2002, Lake County is number one in the state for having the highest tipping fee. He further noted that Bay County takes a half cent local option sales tax and funds their solid waste needs, which is reflected in their tipping fee being charged at $25 a ton.
Mr. Gilley noted the following issues that are wrong with the current system:
Mr. Gilley explained that, in regards to the current system, the County is not recovering its cost and therefore, it is using contingency to meet its expenditure needs for this year. He reviewed the Solid Waste System Analysis chart with the Board and stated that, on September 18, 2001, staff had told the Board that it would be dipping into contingency somewhat to meet their needs this year, however, with the cities electing alternative disposal options, they need $2.4 million from contingency to fund this year's program, and this is with Covanta's tonnage of 158,000 tons. If they continue for next year with the current system, which is charging $95 a ton, the residential fee will go up about four percent for the haulers for collection, and the County will be looking at a deficit of $3.8 million, at a projected tonnage 147,000 tons. If they
continue with the current system and only put disposal on the tax bill and allow the hauler to bill direct for people wanting the service, then the County is looking at $120.60 for commercial customers, and the fee will be around $291 for disposal, as well as collection, but leaving them the option of self hauling. He stated that they are looking at $120.60 for commercial tipping fee and somewhere a little over $260 on an annual basis for collection and disposal on the tax bill. This way they will be generating a surplus to again start building up the contingency. Mr. Gilley continued to discuss the chart, which projected Unincorporated Commercial Tipping & Residential Fees and Budget Effects of Options.
Mr. Gilley reviewed the following Funding Sources, as well as Long-term Issues and Strategies:
Current FY 2001-2002 Potential Sources
Non Ad Valorem Assessment Countywide Ad Valorem Assessment
Tipping Fees Infrastructure Sales Tax
Sales of Recyclables Peaking Unit
Long-term Issues and Strategies
Master Plan Update
Transport Waste Out
What to do After Covanta
Trends in Region
Mr. Gilley stated that, in regards to the trends in the region, the County has been approached by a private company out of Osceola County that is interested in selling the County capacity for its long-term disposal needs, and they have quoted a number somewhere around $45 a ton range for hauling and disposing of the garbage, but there are questions. Staff has asked that the cities keep their options open as far as coming back to the County, with the consensus being that there needs to be a reasonable tipping fee. Mr. Gilley stated that they are talking to not only Marion County, but the City of Ocala about a possibility of doing a solid waste authority to meet all three of their needs, as far as long-term disposal.
Mr. Gilley stated that staff is asking that the Board authorize staff to propose necessary changes to Chapter 21 of Lake County Code to implement Universal Assessment and Collection in Lake County, with one billing option, and a more effective level of service.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the theories have not changed since the last time that the Board addressed this issue, but the numbers have gotten worse, and they will continue to get worse, unless the Board moves forward. He wanted to caution the Board that, even though they are involved in this lawsuit and they hope it does not go many more years out until they have some type of solution, the Board needs to do this no matter what and they need to make the right step in moving forward with the universal collection.
Commr. Pool stated that, in terms of the pending lawsuit, the County has so far withheld $2.8 million and, if they should prevail, those dollars will come back to the County. He hoped that, when they all embarked on the litigation idea and concept, they felt strongly and the County's attorneys felt strongly that they had a very good case. So there is the opportunity to take those dollars that are being withheld back into the system. He asked that Mr. Minkoff update the Board on the County's litigation with Covanta.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that staff is waiting at this point for Covanta to get back with them and, until they do, there is really not anything to update the Board on.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that he had a conversation with a Covanta official yesterday afternoon and hopefully they may get back to the table with them in the next two weeks or so. He noted that they are having on a national level some severe financial problems and that has most likely taken the focus of their corporate people trying to resolve some of those issues. Mr. Neron strongly encouraged the Board to support the universal collection as a step in the right direction to help resolve these issues.
Mr. Gilley felt that the County would be better served if they could take the plant capacity out of the equation and start focusing on meeting the disposal needs for the entire County, as well as to provide for growth. The plant can only take 170,000 tons, and it is incumbent upon them to be pro-active and say to the cities that, if they bring the garbage to the County, once they get past that tonnage, they have a cheaper alternative, but then again, they have met their statutory requirements of providing for the disposal needs for the entire county to include the incorporated areas.
Commr. Pool stated that the County has not only met its requirements, but it has exceeded them, which penalizes them as they go forward.
Mr. Gilley explained that the County is not asking the cities to opt out but, if they can get them all to come back and take the guaranteed annual tonnage, the County actually reduces its overall costs, and this year the County is very close at 158,000 tons.
Commr. Stivender questioned what the cities would have paid if the County had done the universal collection last year.
Mr. Gilley explained that the cities would have paid $90, which was a decreased amount. He stated that there was every indication that, if they were all coming to the County at $91.37, they were moving the bar back to $90 to show that they were being pro-active and trying to get their costs under control. Mr. Gilley stated that Leesburg, through an interlocal agreement that was approved in 1993, pays $65 a ton.
Commr. Stivender stated that she feels that the current system is unacceptable, and the options are unacceptable, and she still does not feel that the costs are being spread evenly.
Commr. Hanson questioned, if one of the goals is to get to 130,000 tons, and to continue to keep the cities that it has today, and to save $1 million dollars, is it possible for them to not violate their contract, or put it in default, by bringing in tonnage and then shipping it out and contracting the extra to the lower priced tons, to get down to 130,000.
Mr. Gilley explained that, as the service agreement is currently written, they have to take everything to Covanta.
Commr. Pool stated that the costs need to be shared as fair and equitably as possible, and this is where he was last year, but he felt that there were some issues that needed to be answered. He supports what they are trying to accomplish and universal collection, because it is the right way to go and obviously they want to keep it an enterprise fund and not go into debt, and maybe through negotiations they can accommodate this, because 130,000 tons is not doable without exporting garbage. There could certainly be a cost savings as they go forward and if they can export some of it.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the problem is that Covanta (Ogden) makes the most money when the plant operates at 163,000 tons, so every ton you take away causes them to lose revenue, so they are not likely agree to let the County export garbage; the goal is to get it operating at full capacity. He explained that the contract says that the County is required to bring everything it has to the incinerator, but it guarantees it will bring them at least 130,000 tons.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board needs to look at the contract that they are operating under in a business way, because it is an enterprise fund, it should be run like a business; they should not deplete the funds that are there that they need for contingencies to try and cover it; they should not look at ad valorem to replace it; it is a business that they are required to run and one way is to go to the universal collection, with the understanding that it is not ideal and it is not perfect, but it is the best way to share the costs by everyone and run it like a business.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Hanson, to instruct staff to move forward with the changes to Chapter 21 and the necessary things they need to do to bring that forward to a public hearing.
Under discussion, Commr. Hanson stated that she feels there is always the question in the minds of the citizens of why the Board does not break the contract because, if there is nothing fair about it, and it gets more and more less fair as the years go on, there is never going to be true equity to make it cost effective, but obviously the reasons are many as to why they cannot walk away from the contract, such as the bonds and their legal liability, as well as the financial ratings that they would severely affect. She stated that, if it did not put the County in worse financial shape, that would be exactly what her vote would be but obviously they cannot do that today.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board needs to separate, to some extent, the contract and universal collection, with the understanding that, as an urbanized county, it would be the best thing to do.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, when the Board has a closed session, whether they hear something from Covanta or not, staff can prepare for them information showing the impact of just breaking the contract, so they can have that to consider as an alternative.
Mr. Neron stated that hopefully by the end of the month, Mr. Gilley's staff is working up some information to give him, to have a better understanding of the issues. He stated that, as Mr. Minkoff had stated, it would be their intent probably some time in March to ask the Board for a closed door discussion, so that they can explore some of these other alternatives.
Commr. Pool called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
Mr. Gilley extended his thanks to his staff and particularly to Mr. Jeff Cooper for trying to simplify the issue, so everyone could understand it.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 10:40 a.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board would take a five minute recess.
WORKSESSION - OPTIONS FOR ACQUIRING RIGHT OF WAY FOR ROAD/HIGHWAY PROJECTS
Mr. Jim Stivender, Senior Director of Public Works, addressed the Board to discuss options for acquiring right-of-way for road and highway projects. Mr. Stivender stated that Mr. Fred Schneider, Engineering Director, has prepared the handout material, along with his staff. Staff also had the County Attorney involved to help with the legal aspects. Mr. Stivender explained that, for many years, the County has asked for donations and, during the construction process, staff agreed to do certain things associated with the projects. He stated that staff is still doing these projects in rural Lake County, however, there are other larger projects that require a different thought process. Mr. Stivender stated that property has been purchased and each one has been brought to the Board as a departmental item. Staff has also worked on impact fee credits and contracts and agreements. At this time, Mr. Stivender turned the meeting over to Mr. Schneider.
Mr. Fred Schneider, Engineering Director, addressed the Board and stated that, historically in Lake County, they have acquired right-of-way by donation, which benefits the County as well as the property owner who is donating the right-of-way. Mr. Schneider stated that, in some other cases, in some rural undeveloped areas where they had a need for a roadway project, they have worked with property owners and developers to acquire right-of-way, and then rebuilt the roadway project and shared the cost of the cost of it with the developer, as far as turn lanes into their proposed development. The County has been successful in saving the County millions of dollars in right-of-way costs, because their policy has been donation only, but the County is becoming more urbanized suburban, so they have a need to look at some alternatives in right-of-way acquisition. Mr. Schneider stated that there are three questions, how does it work, how long does it take, and how much does it cost.
Mr. Schneider first addressed the question of how the process works. He stated that first they identify the need for the project, which is done through the County's long range transportation plan, or the Comprehensive Plan, and some of the projects are in the five year transportation construction program. Then they scope out the route/corridor and look for fatal flaws such as environmental hazzards, bulldozing of homes, and whether there is a corridor where they can put a roadway without having major problems. They determine the process by having public meetings with property owners and determining whether there is a critical need for the route/corridor. Staff will then come back to the Board to discuss the process, either by donation, purchase (impact fee credit or cash), or eminent domain (condemnation). Mr. Schneider reviewed the chart showing the issues of how long it takes to how much it costs, and the right-of-way process. The information provided the following:
FDOT Published 2000 Transportation Costs:
Right of Way = 46% of Construction
Lake County Draft Transportation Impact Fee:
Right of Way = 24% of Construction
Construction Cost per Lane Mile = $629,700
Total Cost per Lane Mile (county) = $832,400
Estimating the cost of R/W based on Construction costs can be dangerous! Actual values can vary between 0% and 100% of Construction cost depending on location.
Mr. Schneider noted that the following page in the backup material provides the Board with a Right-of-Way Acquisition Flow Chart, which was developed by staff, with the help of the County Attorney's Office. The next page provided the Board with the Lake County Roadway Project Design Schedule.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, noted that, in regard to the condemnation process, the County did it once, and once they authorized the City of Lady Lake to do it on their behalf. The one the County did was Ranch Road in Astatula, and it was the Rolling Acres Road in Lady Lake.
Commr. Pool stated that there are roads in the County that should be ready for permitting and, as they go forward, it should help them understand the needs for the County and that condemnation may have to occur, if necessary, and he feels the County has done a very good job in getting people to donate rights-of-way. He noted that they are also trying to address Rails to Trails.
Mr. Neron stated that the Board needs to be very careful and to know that they have very limited road dollars, and the needs far exceed the dollars available. It is to everyone's advantage, County and surrounding property owners, if they can get donated right-of-way, because it is the best approach for them to take. Mr. Neron explained the problems when you get into a practice of buying rights-of-way for projects and stated that, as they approach this in the long term, they will need to try and figure out the areas where they will strictly require donation, and other areas where they will purchase all, or a portion, or give an impact fee credit. Mr. Neron stated that they need to be very careful, from the Board's perspective, as they approach this over time, that they review these decisions very carefully. If they do not, then they can set some very bad precedents that can be very costly in the long run.
Commr. Cadwell stated that Mr. Stivender's staff has been very good at being able to approach people and making them understand the benefits to them when they participate in the process. He does not feel that the Board wants to change this method of doing business, but he does feels that, as the County grows, there are going to be the other alternatives that they are going to have to use, and staff needs direction from the Board that, if everything else has failed, this is the direction that they want to go. He feels that the plan explains that to the Board, and he appreciates staff bringing this forward.
Commr. Stivender noted that staff has been operating all along in this manner, but now it is on paper.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, when the first two alternatives (donation and purchase) have not worked, the Board has been stopping and not taking another step in most cases. He feels that they are at a point where staff needs to know that the condemnation alternative is there, and it is approved by the Board, and it can be used as a last resort.
Mr. Stivender stated that, as staff goes through their road program this year, they are going to approach the right-of-way on a certain project and bring it back to the Board on an individual basis and/or as a group, so that the Board can see how staff is going to approach a particular project in a district, or a particular regional project.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the system that staff proposed will also be more equitable, because, by coming to the Board at the beginning and saying that they want to do this road, and they want to purchase the right-of-way, all of the property owners on the road will get the same opportunity to sell.
Commr. Pool stated that some of the roads that were on the priority list were not funded and did not get built, because other roads were available with right-of-way. He feels it is a fair and equitable solution to pave roads where they can get donated rights-of-way.
Mr. Stivender stated that staff has two or three projects in south Lake County, and they will be bringing them to the Board to get approval to move forward with some type of acquisition, and they will be scheduled accordingly.
Mr. Stivender explained that, in regard to special assessments, they identify the need for right-of-way and say to the property owners that they need them to donate 100% of the right-of-way before they can move forward with the project.
Mr. Minkoff explained that, when the County did Robbins Road, staff included the right-of-way cost in the amount they assessed all of the other property owners, so, in a way, it was not equitable because 50 property owners gave right-of-way, and three got paid, but the 50 wanted to go forward even with that scenario, and they understood those terms.
Commr. Pool stated that the Board certainly wants to keep their options open and he feels that this is what the Board is saying to staff today, and the best option is land donations and/or purchase, but the worst is condemnation, but they would take a look at that as an option.
Mr. Stivender extended his appreciation to Mr. Schneider, Ms. Patty Harker, Mr. Phil Maggio, and Ms. Treeva Wall for helping to put this presentation together.
Commr. Pool noted that no motion was needed on this issue.
REPORTS - COMMR. POOL - DISTRICT 2
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Commr. Pool informed the Board that there will be a dedication of the Brown's Ford historical marker on Saturday, February 16, 2002, at the Arnold Brothers boat ramp.
REPORTS - COMMR. CADWELL - DISTRICT 5
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Commr. Cadwell informed the Board that Monday, February 18, 2002, at 10 a.m., the Liberty Tree dedication will be held in front of the Historic Courthouse and all Commissioners are invited.
REPORTS - COMMR. HANSON - DISTRICT 4
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Commr. Hanson informed the Board that the dedication of the Emeralda Marsh for the birding trail will be held Thursday, February 14, 2002, at 9 a.m. She noted that this is part of their eco-tourism.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:15 p.m.
ROBERT A. POOL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK