A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
SEPTEMBER 3, 2002
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, September 3, 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; Jennifer Hill; Catherine C. Hanson; and Debbie Stivender. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
PUBLIC HEARING PROCESS
Commr. Pool explained that there are notice of appearance forms to be completed by individuals who wished to address the Board today and, because of the many issues on the agenda, he asked that the public limit their comments to three minute increments.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that the Board has an addendum with items relating to solid waste management, and a recycling processing proposal. There is also a discussion item regarding a request from the Harris Chain of Lakes Restoration Council. Staff also wanted to add language to Tab 25 on the Consent Agenda regarding the UPS Systems, to authorize the approval of the Building Maintenance budget transfer in the amount of $55,619.00.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that he has a request from Dr. David C. Lew, who is a heart specialist in Leesburg asking for the Board’s permission to pay his impacts fees, and then do a study after the fact, because they have not had time to get that done. He would like to add this request to the agenda.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to add the request from Dr. David C. Lew to the agenda, under the County Attorney’s business.
CLERK OF COURTS’ CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of Courts’ Consent agenda, Items 1 through 10, as follows:
Bonds - Contractor
Request for approval of the following Contractor Bonds:
1431-03 Alfred W. Tinney d.b.a. Tinney Plumbing Company
4407-03 Charles E. Binder d.b.a. Binder Plumbing
5621-02 Arthur M. Matt d.b.a. Art’s Electrical Services, Inc.
5871-02 Tobias H. Wetzel, II d.b.a. Smith’s Air Conditioning and Electric, Inc.
6012-03 Frank J. Malamisura d.b.a. Prime Electrical Contracting, LLC
Request for approval of the list of items to be deleted from Fixed Assets, for the month of August, 2002, in the amount of $40,275.49.
Satisfaction and Release of Fine
Request for approval and signatures authorization on a Satisfaction and Release of Fine, fully releasing and discharging Judgment-Debtor, James R. Meyer, from any claims, demands, causes of action and judgments arising to the Reduction of Order of Fine, in the amount of $1,500.00, dated July 19, 2002, and recorded in Official Records Book 2147, Pages 81 through 82, of the Public Records of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Lake County, Florida, on July 24, 2002.
Release of Fines
Request for approval and signature authorization on a Release of Fine, fully releasing and discharging Judgment-Debtors, John and Melissa Herman, from any claims, demands, causes of action and judgments arising from the Order of Fine, in the amount of $1,700.00, dated August 8, 2001, and recorded in Official Records Book 1987, Pages 320 through 321, of the Public Records of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Lake County, Florida, on August 13, 2001; and a Second Order of Fine, in the amount of $12,900.00, dated April 24, 2002, and recorded in Official Records Book 2108, Pages 92 through 93, of the Public Records of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Lake County, Florida, on May 2, 2002.
Request for approval and signature authorization on a Release of Fine, fully releasing and discharging Judgment-Debtors, Marshall H. and Betty L. Gaard, from any claims, demands, causes of action and judgments arising from the Order of Fine, in the amount of $18,916.00, dated July 10, 2002, and recorded in Official Records Book 2143, Pages 1488 and 1489, of the Public Records of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Lake County, Florida, on July 17, 2002.
Distribution of Revenue Traffic/Criminal Cases
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Monthly Distribution of Revenue Traffic/Criminal Cases, for the month ending July 31, 2002, in the amount of $145,489.59. Same period, last year: $176,293.10.
Ordinances - City of Clermont
Request to acknowledge receipt of Miscellaneous Ordinance No. 455-M, from the City of Clermont, annexing a parcel of land contiguous to the present City boundaries. Passed and ordained by the City Council of the City of Clermont, Lake County, Florida, the 23rd day of July, 2002.
Notice of Public Hearing - City of Tavares
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Notice of Public Hearing, from the City of Tavares, indicating that they will consider enactment of proposed Ordinance No. 2002-28 - an Ordinance rezoning approximately .22 acres located at 317 and 321 N. Barrow Avenue, from the City of Tavares, at the following public meetings:
Planning and Zoning Board Meeting, on October 3, 2002, at 3:00 p.m.
Tavares City Council Meeting, on October 16, 2002, at 5:30 p.m.
Tavares City Council Meeting, on November 6, 2002, at 5:30 p.m.
List of Warrants
Request to acknowledge receipt of the 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.
Satisfaction of Judgment
Request for approval and signature authorization on State of Florida vs. Stephen Soto, Case No: 9400804CFA01, Satisfaction of Judgment in the amount of $250.00 fully releasing Final Judgment entered on the 31st day of October, 1994, and recorded in OR BK 1328, PG 1565, of the Public Records of Lake County, Florida and recorded in OR BK 1774, PG 0560, of the Public Records of Leon County, Florida.
Satisfaction of Judgment
Satisfaction and Release of Find fully releasing Miguel and Adelia de Vivas from Reduction of Order of Fine, in the amount of $5,000.00 dated April 18, 2002 and recorded in OR BK 2103, PGS 623 through 625 of the Public Records of the Clerk of Court of Lake County, Florida on April 23, 2002.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
Commr. Hanson addressed Tab 20 and stated that she is glad that the County has continued to work with Volusia County on an Interlocal Agreement for the provision of first response fire and rescue.
Commr. Stivender requested that Tab 18 regarding an incentive/appreciation program for active volunteer firefighters, be pulled for discussion.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, requested that Tab 22 regarding the final plat for Sorrento Hills be pulled from the consent items and placed on the regular agenda, because staff is still waiting for documentation that will be arriving this morning.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the following County Manager’s Consent Agenda, Tabs 2 through 25, pulling Tabs 18 and 22, as noted, and with Tab 25 being amended, as noted:
Budget and Administratiave Services - Budget Transfer
Request for a Budget transfer from County Transportation Trust Fund, Rentals & Leases in the amount of $60,000.00 and Road Materials in the amount of $9,000.00 (total $69,000.00) to Public Works, Repair & Maintenance in the amount of $68,000.00 and Reprographic Charges in the amount of $1,000.00 (total $69,000.00). County Transportation Trust Fund transfer of $69,000.00 is requested. Expenses have been higher than originally anticipated in Repair & Maintenance, and Reprographic Charges. Additional funds are required to complete the remainder of Fiscal Year 2001/2002. Sufficient funds are available for the remainder of the fiscal year in Rentals & Leases and Road Materials.
Budget and Administrative Services - Budget Transfer
Request for a Budget transfer from County Transportation Trust Fund, Machinery & Equipment in the amount of $63,200.00 to Public Works, Repair & Maintenance. County Transportation Trust Fund transfer of $63,200.00 is requested. Expenses have been higher than originally anticipated in Repair & Maintenance. Additional funds are required to complete the remainder of Fiscal Year 2001/2002. Sufficient funds are available for the remainder of the fiscal year in Machinery & Equipment.
Budget and Administrative Services - Budget Transfer
Request for a Budget transfer from General Fund, Contingency - Sheriff in the amount of $5,000.00 to Constitutional Offices/Sheriff, Corrections - Capital Outlay. Pursuant to F.S. 30.49, the Sheriff is requesting a transfer in the amount of $5,000.00 from Contingency - Sheriff to the Corrections - Capital Outlay account.
Budget and Administrative Services - Budget Transfer
Request from Budget and Administrative Services for a Budget transfer from County Library System Fund, Rentals & Leases in the amount of $3,545.00, Printing & Binding in the amount of $1,793.00 and Machinery & Equipment in the amount of $51,000.00 (total $56,338.00) to Community Services, Office Supplies in the amount of $38,000.00 and Books, Publications & Library Materials in the amount of $18,338.00 (total $56,338.00). County Library System Fund transfer of $56,338.00 is requested. Additional funds are needed in Office Supplies for purchases of software, computer peripherals, furniture and shelving which were originally budgeted in Machinery & Equipment. Additional funds are also needed in Books, Publications & Library Materials to purchase additional system-wide online databases. Sufficient funds are available for the remainder of the fiscal year in Rentals & Leases, Printing & Binding, and Machinery & Equipment.
Budget and Administrative Services - Budget Transfer
Request for a Budget transfer from General Fund, Contractual Services in the amount of $45,800.00 to Budget & Administrative Services, Professional Services. General Fund transfer of $45,800.00 is requested. County Finance has determined that Professional Services that include surveying for GIS must be paid from Professional Services. Those funds were budgeted in Contractual Services.
Budget and Administrative Services
Request for a Budget transfer from General Fund, Contingency - Sheriff in the amount of $16,000.00 to Constitutional Offices/Sheriff, Law Enforcement Operating. Pursuant to F.S. 30.49, the Sheriff is requesting a transfer in the amount of $16,000.00 from Contingency - Sheriff to the Law Enforcement Operating account. After this transfer there is a zero balance in Contingency - Sheriff.
Budget and Administrative Services - Resolution - Public Transportation
Request for approval of Resolution 2002-122 to amend the Public Transportation Fund in order to receive unanticipated revenue for Fiscal Year 2001/2002 in the amount of $17,165.00 deposited into Insurance Proceeds and provide appropriations for the disbursement of these funds to purchase a used replacement bus.
Budget and Administrative Services - Check Request - Clerk’s Office
Request for approval of Check Request (Direct Pay) from the Clerk’s Office for payment of Criminal Court costs for July 2002. The request exceeds the County Manager’s approval limit of $25,000.00. Total payment is for $36,066.00.
Budget and Administrative Services - Resolution - Greater Hills MSBU
Request for approval and authorization of Resolution 2002-123 providing for certification of the assessment roll for the Greater Hills Municipal Service Benefit Unit, Greater Groves Municipal Service Benefit Unit, Picciola Island Subdivision, and Village Green Subdivision; providing for certified copies; providing for effect of adoption of Resolution; and providing for an effective date.
Procurement Services - Judicial Center - Sheriff’s Administration Building
Request for approval of the cumulative change orders and final payout of the last invoice including the retainage to Service Painting Corporation for recaulking of the County Administration Building, Detention Center, Bridge, Judicial Center and Sheriff’s Administration Building in the amount of $46,226.60.
Procurement Services - RFP - Verizon Telephone System
Request from Procurement Services for approval and authorization to award RFP 02-039 and authorize a contract, subject to the County Attorney approval, to Verizon Select Services, Inc. to provide full service technical support of the County’s in-house, multi-switch telephone system.
Procurement Services - Bid - CEM Enterprises, Inc.
Request for approval and authorization to award Bid #02-006 Job Order Contracting for Construction and Renovation Projects $50,000.00 and Less, subject to the County Attorney approval of the base contract to CEM Enterprises, Inc.
Procurement Services - Bid - Marion/Service Roofing & Sheet Metal Co.
Lake County Administration Building
Request for approval and authorization to award Bid #02-127, encumber funds and authorize a contract, subject to the County Attorney approval, to Marion/Service Roofing & Sheet Metal Company in the amount of $132,850.00 for the re-roofing of the Lake County Administration Building.
Procurement Services - Bid - American Carpet Centre - Judicial Center
Request from Procurement Services for approval and authorization to award Bid #02-137, encumber funds and authorize a Purchase Order to American Carpet Centre in the amount of $63,362.00 for the carpet and installation at the Judicial Center (Gallery & Jury Assembly Room).
Procurement Services - RFP - Southeast Environmental, Inc.
Request for approval and authorization to award RFP 02-092, encumber funds and authorize a contract, subject to County Attorney approval, to Southeast Environmental, Inc. in the amount of $1,044,220.00 for the Phase IIC Infill Liner & IIB Slope Closure Construction.
Procurement Services - RFP - Grosvenor Building Services, Inc. - Janitorial Services
Request for approval and authorization to award RFP 02-131, encumber funds and execute a contract, subject to County Attorney approval, to Grosvenor Building Services, Inc., in the amount of approximately $350,549.00 per year to provide janitorial services for County facilities.
Risk Management - Health Insurance
Request for approval to accept the Contract Amendment for Health Insurance Third Party Administrator Services for continued Claims Administration, Utilization Review and Large Care Management services from Employers Mutual, Inc. (EMI) for medical claims.
Risk Management - Workers’ Compensation Settlement
Request for approval of Workers’ Compensation settlement for Paula Blazer and authorize the Chairman to execute the appropriate document(s), subject to the County Attorney’s review and approval.
Community Services - One Year Action Plan - CDBG
Request from Community Services for approval of a minor amendment to the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2001 One Year Action Plan concerning the Community Development Block Grant project; direct the Department of Community Services to transmit the amendment to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and to approve the accompanying budget transfer.
Community Services - Florida Department of Transportation Agreement
Request from Community Services for approval of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Joint Participation Agreement (JPA) for the 5311 Grant and the approval of Resolution 2002-130 of Support from the Lake County Board of County Commissioners.
Community Services - Joint Participation Agreement - Transportation Disadvantaged
Request for approval of the Joint Participation Agreement between the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged and the Lake County Board of County Commissioners for the Shirley Conroy Grant.
Community Services - Affordable Housing Program
Request for approval and signature on the Annual Report for Affordable Housing Program for Fiscal Years 1999/2000, 2000/2001 and 2001/2002 due to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation by September 15, 2002.
Growth Management - Special Master Settlement
Request from Growth Management for approval of Special Master Settlement Agreement between Lake County and Boening, Long, Brooks, Busch, Kemper, Campbell and Bizer (SM-2-02).
Public Safety - Lake-Sumter Emergency Medical Services
Request for approval and signature on an Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and Lake-Sumter Emergency Medical Services (LSEMS) for reimbursement of dispatch services in the amount of $319,319.78 over two years.
Public Safety - Interlocal Agreement - Volusia County
Request from Public Safety for approval and signature on an Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and Volusia County for the provision of reciprocal first response, fire and rescue.
Public Works - Deeds
Request from Public Works for approval and authorization to accept six Drainage Easement Deeds, seven Statutory Quitclaim Deeds, one Temporary Non-Exclusive Easement Deed, and three Statutory Warranty Deeds, as follows:
John & Velma Geisinger - Lakeside Drive - 3-3126A - Drainage Project - Bk 2158 Pg 0389
Usmani Family, LLC - Citrus Tower Blvd. - 2-1350 - Road Project - Bk 2154 Pg 0644
Toppino Development Co., Inc. - Citrus Tower Blvd. - 2-1350 - Road Project - Bk 2154 Pg 0641
Elske Bolitho - Drive No. One - 5-9689 - Drainage Project - Bk 2153 Pg 0255
Hessburg, LLC - Citrus Tower Blvd. - 2-1350 - Road Project - Bk 2154 Pg 0638
Belva A. Codding & Wm. H. Swartzlander - Old Hwy. 441 - 4-0500A - Drainage Project - Bk 2141 Pg 0675
Statutory Quitclaim Deed
Albert & Suann Anderson - Far West Avenue - Deerhaven Project - Bk 2153 Pg 0251
Wayne & Sonia King - Saltsdale Road - 5-7776 - Road Project - Bk 2150 Pg 2057
Henry C. Knapp, Trustee - South West Ave. - Deerhaven Project - Bk 2151 Pg 0233
MHC Grand Island, L.L.C. - Grand Island Shores Rd. - 5-6249 - Road Project - Bk 2154 Pg 1484
J. J. And Lillie Jinkins - Mountis Lane - Public R/W - Bk 0324 Pg 0281
Emmett & Dolores Jenkins - Mountis Lane - Public R/W - Bk 0324 Pg 0283
E. F. & Ruby M. Johnson - Mountis Lane - Public R/W - Bk 0323 Pg 0395
Temporary Non-Exclusive Easement Deed
Norman & Anna Ceravolo - Sunset Drive - 3-3125 - Maintenance Project - Bk 2143 Pg 1768
Statutory Warranty Deed
George F. McCabe - 44C/C468 - intersection Improvement - Bk 2157 Pg 1272
Francisco & Gloria De Sousa - Libby No. 3 Road - 3-2233 - Road Project - Bk 2157 Pg 2053
Francisco & Gloria De Sousa - S. O’Brien Road - 2-2227 - Road Project - Bk 2157 Pg 2018
Public Works - Road Project - CR-455 & SR-50
Request for approval and authorization to execute change order #1 to the CR-455 Widening & Resurfacing and SR-50 Intersection Improvement Project No. 2002-12 in the amount of $166,856.66 for relocating water lines and extra ditch paving and to encumber and expend $166,856.66 from the Benefit District 5 Road Impact Fee Fund.
Public Works - Road Project - Lake Griffin Road
Request for approval and authorization to execute change order #2 to the #8010 Marion County Road Paving Project No. 2002-01 in the amount of $58,505.87 for removal and replacement of the asphalt widening sections on Lake Griffin Road and to encumber and expend $58,505.87 from the Benefit District 3 Road Impact Fee Fund.
Public Works - Building Maintenance - Replace UPS Systems
Request for approval and authorization for Building Maintenance to replace the UPS Systems, required to keep such items as emergency lights and computers running when the electricity goes out, at the Judicial Center at a cost of $31,348.13 and the Administration Building at a cost of $24,270.00 and authorizing approval of the Building Maintenance budget transfer in the amount of $55,619.00.
PUBLIC SAFETY - INCENTIVE/APPRECIATION PROGRAM
Commr. Stivender referred to Tab 18, which she pulled for discussion, and asked staff to explain the incentive/appreciation program for active volunteer firefighters.
Mr. Steve Nash, Director of Public Safety, stated that the County normally pays their volunteer firefighters stipend to do work when they are on call. The total expense for the existing program is about $60,000. The new program, which will replace the training stipends with an Annuity Investment Program through Nationwide, will be about $32,750, for a total request of $92,750. Mr. Nash stated that this is an incentive to retain their volunteers and recruit more volunteers. Since the early 1980s, the County has gone from about 300 volunteers to about 100 volunteers, with about 35 actually performing the duties. He stated that this is something that other counties have done and seen an improvement in their recruiting and retention capabilities. The cost will be about $100 per volunteer.
Commr. Hill questioned whether, in lieu of the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, staff will maintain the Emergency Medical Technician Certificate program, or whether that will be removed from the new program.
Staff explained that they are planning on keeping the EMT certification, and they did not see the recent ruling impacting them at this point. Staff also noted that they have done an inventory of volunteers, with the numbers being reflected in the material provided to the Board, and no former, or deceased volunteers, will be receiving this stipend.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried by a 4-1 vote, the Board approved the request from Public Safety for approval of an incentive/appreciation program for active volunteer firefighters by establishing an investment program for those who provide a set level of services and training.
Commr. Hill voted “no”.
PERSONAL APPEARANCES -
Commr. Pool presented awards to the following employees as Mr. Michael Milanowski, Director of Human Resources, presented information on each:
Presentation of Award to Employees with Five Years of Service
Anthony D. Russell, Firefighter/EMT, Public Safety/Fire & Rescue
Donna M. Niederhelman, Animal Control Officer, Public Safety/Animal Control (not present)
Mary E. Seiter, Animal Control Officer, Public Safety/Animal Control (not present)
Presentation of Award to Employee with Ten Years of Service
Kathryn “Kay” Padgett, Workers Compensation Coordinator, Budget & Administrative Services/Risk Management
Frederick J. Schneider, Engineering Director/PE, Public Works, Engineering
Presentation of Award to Employees with Fifteen Years of Service
Marlin D. Stewart, Equipment Operator III, Public Works/Road Operations/Maintenance Area I (not present)
Presentation of OSHA 30-Hour Training Certificates and Cards
Stephen Lathrop, Public Works
Denis Dietz, Public Works
Grant Cox, Public Works
Lynn C. McCormick, Public Works (not present)
Nicole Wright, Pubic Works (not present)
Kenn Knight, Public Works
Peter Peebles, Property Appraiser’s Office (not present)
Joseph Waters, Public Safety (not present)
Marcie Donaldson, Community Services
Carol Griffin, Solid Waste (not present)
Tim O’Toole, Budget & Administrative Services (not present)
Kay Padgett, Budget & Administrative Services
Scott Grippin, Public Works
Frank Franklin, Public Works
PRESENTATION OF PLAQUES
Impact Fee Evaluation and Review Committee
Joe Hill for service from 1996-2002
PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATES
Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Peter Carrozza for service from 1998-2002
County-Wide Solid Waste Study Committee
Larry Benton for service from 1997-2002
Hal Turville for service from 1998-2002 (not present)
Cultural Affairs Council
Elizabeth Reed for service from 1999-2002 (not present)
Impact Fee Evaluation and Review Committee
Carol Rogers for service from 1998-2002 (not present)
Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board
Patty Spallone for service from 2001-2002 (not present)
PRESENTATIONS - PROCLAMATION
After reading Proclamation 2002-121 for National Literacy Month for September 2002 into the record, Commr. Hanson presented it to Library Representatives.
PUBLIC HEARING -
COMMUNITY SERVICES - ONE YEAR ACTION PLAN AND FIVE YEAR STRATEGY
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Director of Community Services, appeared before the Board to address the amendment to the 2001-2002 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program budget to make accessibility improvements to the list of projects. Mr. Smith stated that Ms. Liz Eginton, CDBG Director, was present to answer questions.
Commr. Pool opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request for substantial changes to the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2001 One Year Action Plan and the Five Year Strategy Section of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2000-05 Consolidated Plan that will add installation of American Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility improvements to the list of projects to be funded from FY 2001-01 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and accompanying budget transfer.
PUBLIC WORKS - SORRENTO HILLS
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, addressed Tab 22, the final plat for Sorrento Hills, Phase 1 & 2, which he had requested to be pulled for discussion, and stated that the property is part of a vesting case, which requires that the plat be recorded by September 1, 2002. Staff has now received all of the documents that are required. The City of Eustis is going to be providing water and sewer to this subdivision. With regard to the security for the improvements, the County has a commitment from a bank to issue a Letter of Credit later this month. Because of the time frames with the vesting, he would like to suggest that the Board approve the plat conditioned upon the Letter of Credit being delivered to staff by September 27, 2002. If the Letter of Credit is not delivered by that time, the plat will not be approved and vesting will expire. He noted that the plat will not be recorded and the lots cannot be sold until that date.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from Public Works for approval and authorization to accept the final plat for Sorrento Hills, Phase 1 & 2; all areas dedicated to the public as shown on the Sorrento Hills, Phase 1 & 2 plat; a Developer’s Agreement for Construction of Improvements between Lake County and Sorrento Hills, Inc.; and a Letter of Credit for Performance in the amount of $2,976,489.97 conditioned upon the Letter of Credit being delivered to the County by September 27, 2002, as conditioned above. Subdivision consists of 241 lots - Commission Districts 4 and 5.
PUBLIC HEARING -
RESOLUTION - VALENCIA TERRACE SUBDIVISION
Commr. Pool opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment on the Valencia Terrace Subdivision non-ad valorem rate schedule and the non-ad valorem assessment roll. There being no public comment, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request for approval and authorization of Resolution 2002-124 adopting the “Valencia Terrace Subdivision” Non-Ad Valorem Rate Schedule and the Non-Ad Valorem Assessment roll.
PUBLIC HEARING -
RESOLUTION - GREATER PINES SUBDIVISION
Commr. Pool opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment on the Greater Pines Subdivision non-ad valorem rate schedule and non-ad valorem assessment roll. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request for approval and authorization of Resolution 2002-125 adopting the “Greater Pines Subdivision” (to include the addition of Phase 8) Non-Ad Valorem Rate Schedule and the Non-Ad Valorem Assessment Roll.
PUBLIC HEARING -
RESOLUTION - FIRE AND RESCUE ASSESSMENTS
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that he would like to make a very brief presentation to bring the Board up to date on a number of matters relating to the fire and rescue assessment issue. Mr. Neron explained that, in 1998, the Board adopted a five year program relating to improvements in the fire rescue department. At that time, the plan called for hiring up to 75 firefighters and opening two additional stations within that five year period, which goes through next fiscal year, and there was to be a 5% increase in the assessments each fiscal year to fund those improvements. Over the past several years, due to the demand and growth in the County, the County has actually hired 105 firefighters and opened two additional stations and has two additional stations on line to be opened next fiscal year. The County has funded these improvements over the last several years primarily out of the reserves in the Fire Rescue Fund, which is funded by a Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) in the unincorporated area, and only the unincorporated area residents are charged for this service, with most of the cities doing their own There are a few cities that have combined with the County and are part of the MSBU.
Mr. Neron stated that, because of the increases in the level of service over and above which was planned, the County has run out of reserves in the Fire Rescue Fund. It is being proposed for the next fiscal year that the fire assessment fee for residential be increased from $94.50 to $118.03 per year. He stated that, about a week and a half ago, staff got a recent Supreme Court decision that related to the funding of fire protection services. The decision determined that the medical related aspect of the fire department/fire rescue department can no longer be funded from a special assessment, which primarily benefits property. There has to be a rational nexus between the amount charged to the property, and the benefit received to the property. The Supreme Court decision says that the fire/medical related aspects benefit people and not property, therefore, you have to use a funding source, other than special assessments, to pay for this service. Mr. Neron stated that staff has reviewed a range of County risks with Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, and his office, as well as their Tallahassee attorneys who have been involved in the County’s special assessment cases in the past. Mr. Neron stated that the Board could do nothing and face the potential of lawsuits, with some potentially severe impacts. He stated that staff is recommending that they make no change to the overall fire rescue budget or program, but pay for those medical related costs out of a different pocket. Mr. Nerton explained that, because of the time frame, it left staff little opportunity to find another pocket to go to without completely readvertising the budget, which staff is not recommending they do. Based on their best judgment, they have found that about $1.6 million of the fire rescue department budget is medical related. Staff has contacted Lake Sumter Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and their director has agreed to recommend to their Board that they fund $200,000 of the $1.6 million, which will cover the advanced life support (ALS) stations, which the County operates in Pine Lakes, Lady Lake, and Astor. Mr. Neron stated that staff did consider getting the fire department out of the ALS business but, when they talked to Mr. Jim Judge, Executive Director, Lake Sumter EMS, and looked at the additional costs for him to provide the same coverage in those areas, the cost to do this would be about twice as much as the $200,000. Staff is recommending that the Board continue with its current arrangement, and for Lake Sumter EMS to reimburse the County $200,000.
Mr. Neron stated that the net amount to fund from a different pocket is about $1.4 million, and this will have to be funded from a Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU), or an ad valorem tax revenue source derived from the unincorporated area. Based on current assessed values, staff believes that it would be about .27 mills. Since they cannot do that this year, because of advertising and other requirements, staff is recommending that the Board borrow $1.4 million from the General Fund and look toward doing a MSTU in the unincorporated area of the County in the future years. Based on their best estimates, staff anticipates the range to be about .35 mills next year. Staff is hoping that they can work with the Florida Association of Counties (FAOC) to get some of the State general law changed in this regard. If the Board approves the staff recommendation, to borrow $1.6 million from the General Fund, the proposed assessment for next fiscal year can be reduced from $118.03 to $100.55, which is a $6 increase over the current assessment. The borrowed amount of $1.4 million will have to be paid back over a five year period.
Commr. Pool opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment.
Mr. Terry Hughes, Altoona, stated that there is a fire house north of CR 445 that has been empty for over two years, and he understands that the County is building a new one, but right now the closest station to him is in Altoona.
Mr. Ed Benoit, Howey-in-the-Hills, addressed the Board and questioned whether the County was going to start another taxation next year to fund the medical part of fire rescue, because of the legislation passed by the Supreme Court. He also wanted to know whether the County’s fire medical EMTs, that serve in both capacities, are going to be paid for both services.
Mr. Neron explained that staff was not clear on this issue, but additional revenue will need to be raised next year. The County has not decided whether it will add that on to the EMS tax, or do a separate MSTU. The assessment will be $100.55 this year and, then next year, they will need to add a small amount of millage to backfill that $1.6 million. Mr. Neron explained that the assessment involves only those individuals in the unincorporated area of the County, because of the law relating to dual taxation, and most cities having their own fire departments. The County has mutual aid agreements with all of the cities and some surrounding counties.
Mr. Raymond Simmons, Mt. Dora, stated that he lives seven miles from the nearest fire station, and he fears losing his house to a fire, or dying, before any rescue unit reaches him. He wanted to know why the fire fee keeps increasing, and the people keep having to pay more for the service, when the Board keeps approving the growth in the County.
Mr. John Post stated that he lives in the unincorporated area of Fruitland Park, and the nearest fire station to his house is about four and a half miles away. There is a firehouse one half mile from his house that has been closed for over ten years, and there has been a lot of growth in this area, but the station remains closed. He asked the Board to put vacant firehouses back into service.
Mr. George Jaspert, Eustis, stated that he is the President of the Lake Joanna Improvement League and, on August 26, 2002, the Board of Directors unanimously asked him to appear before the Board today to express their displeasure with the assessment to fund fire rescue services for the Towns of Minneola, Astatula, Howey-in-the-Hills, and Lady Lake. The assessment, along with garbage collection fees, amount to about a 10% increase, when inflation is less than 4%. Mr. Jaspert stated that the citizens of Lake County are asked to unfairly bare the costs of unabated and unwanted growth.
Mr. Michael Miller, Orlando, stated that he is here representing his mother who lives in unincorporated Yalaha. Mr. Miller stated that, as far as having funding and having to go to another pocket next year, he was wanting to know how that was going to affect his mother as far as another increase. Mr. Miller stated that, after being in Yalaha and, even though he is not there very often, he understands that the services are deplorable, but this is based on what he has heard from others. He wanted to know what millage they would really be expecting next year, and if can they can expect better services in this area.
Mr. William Harris, Eustis, stated that the County charges a tax to help fire and rescue, and it charges the people a fee for services to help them after the fire. Mr. Harris addressed concerns he has with firefighters and EMTs parking their vehicles in public places. He feels they should be at their stations at all times, because they are using taxpayer money when they leave their vehicles running while waiting on calls, and he did not feel they were utilizing their time on the job in an appropriate manner. When collecting donations for charitable organizations, Mr. Harris suggested that the County use volunteers, not city or County employees, for these events.
Ms. Joy Randolph, Minneola, stated that her property is located in rural Minneola, and she is going to be taxed for rural fire service, even though she is surrounded by the city. She explained that the rural portion is about two blocks by six blocks, and Minneola has annexed everything else in this area. The people in Minneola do not have to pay this tax, but the people in the two block by six block area have to pay it, and she is not clear what services they will be receiving in the rural area.
Commr. Cadwell explained that, in Minneola, the citizens do pay for the service, because the County provides fire service to the citizens of Minneola. He stated that there are several cities that contract with the County for fire service, and they will be assessed as everyone else.
Mr. Travis Whigham, Deland, stated that he is a volunteer firefighter, but he has been inactive for about a year, because of other obligations, but he would like to thank the fire department, Mr. Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works, and the Sheriff’s Office for all of their efforts in helping the people in Forest Hills who have lost their homes due to flooding.
Mr. Robert Bauer, Eustis, stated that he lives in Royal Trails and, as far as the fire department, he suggested that, instead of having $118.13 per resident, the Board should charge the fee to the parcels of land like other counties do in the State of Florida. He noted that one county charges $18 per parcel for fire and rescue. Mr. Bauer stated that the citizens are paying for fire rescue and, when a fire occurs, or a rescue occurs, the service is charged back to the insurance company who again pays the fire department and fire rescue. He would like to commend the fire department for their work and, even though he lives about eight miles from a fire department, he is planning on putting in a well for his own personal use, so he does not have to depend on the County fire rescue.
Mr. William Dayton, Leesburg, stated that he was not clear on the information the Board provided earlier about the Supreme Court decision. He lives in the Bassville Park area about one mile from the fire department, and he believes that, in some way, the fire department has lowered his property value, because of the noise he has had to put up with for about five years from that station. He discussed accidents that have occurred in front of his house, and the number of fire trucks that arrive at the scene of the accident, and stated that some of the fees and expenses should be charged back to the road department for clean up and traffic control, which he really feels is the job of the Sheriff’s Department. He did not feel that a fire truck was needed at every accident scene. Mr. Dayton stated that he voted for the $50 fire and rescue taxe, but he did not understand that it was going to be higher over the years, and he believes that $100 is too much for fire taxes. He felt that some of this money should be charged back to the impact fees, because of the increase in the number of emergency calls over the years, due to the growth in the County. Mr. Dayton stated that they should use the one cent sales tax that was renewed for fire rescue. He thought that the people were the ones that were going to decide on how much money they were going to spend on taxes for specific services, and he would like to see the fee placed on the tax bill.
Mr. Adrian Shartt, Lady Lake, stated that they must support the fire departments, and the individuals who risk their lives to save their property and lives of people. Mr. Shartt stated that they deserve the best equipment, and the most effective equipment. He discussed a fuel fire that burned for hours and destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property and explained that the fire could have been extinguished by a method that he saw when he was in World War II in Europe. He asked what could be done to not only give the firefighters good equipment, but the most efficient equipment, for other types of emergencies, such as fuel fires.
Ms. Elizabeth Slater, Winter Garden, stated that she lives in the unincorporated area of Lake County, and they are currently about six and half miles from an Orange County fire station, which is not first response. If they went through a private road, they would be about three miles from the fire station in the City of Clermont, however, they live in the County. The closest fire station to their small subdivision, which has 24 homeowners, is approximately 15 miles away. For an emergency service call, the response time is about 15 plus minutes and, for a fire, it is about 25 minutes. Ms. Slater stated that their community needs a water source, but their priority is getting an emergency medical service. She understands that there is supposed to be two more stations opening in 2003, and she asked for the location of those stations.
Mr. Neron explained that one station is to be located in the Four Corners area, which should help improve service in the area discussed by Mr. Slater.
Commr. Pool stated that he has been asked by Orange County to bring an agreement between Lake County and Orange County to the Board, so that Orange County can be a first responder to Ms. Slater and others living in this area. The agreement will be similar to the one the Board passed earlier this morning with Volusia County.
Ms. Slater stated that they have the opportunity to partner with Orange County, City of Orlando, and with Water Conserv II, for a water source, and she questioned whether this water source has the required amount of pressure, and whether the County is moving forward in trying to bring a water source into this area, because this would be an opportunity to partner with Orange County and share funding. Ms. Slater discussed the private road that goes from Hartwood Marsh Road to Phil C. Peters, which would allow a quicker response for fire rescue.
Commr. Pool stated that opening a private road would be a negotiation through the land owner, and the County would certainly work out any agreements, if possible, with the owner.
Ms. Slater praised the EMS team members and firefighters, and stated that, as a homeowner, she would not have a problem paying any amount of taxes, as long as she knows her family is safe when it comes to an emergency. She wanted to know if there is a policy in place that keeps track of new development for emergency rescue purposes.
Commr. Pool stated that, through the GIS system, they are going to have a global positioning system (GPS) for locating homes throughout the County, at some point in the future.
Mr. Neron stated that the second fire station will be located in the CR 448 area, and staff is looking for a site for that station right now. He suggested that Ms. Slater contact Mr. Steve Nash, Director of Public Safety, and start the dialogue at staff level about a water source. It was noted that Ms. Slater has already discussed this with staff.
Mr. Terry Hughes, Altoona, stated that he lives about nine miles north of Altoona and District 4 Station 46, is located right across the street from them, which has been empty for four or five years. He stated that the Kiwanis Club trailer is being rebuilt in this station, and they know there is a private boat in there now. The empty fire hall is only being used for a voting precinct, and the deputies use it. Mr. Hughes felt it would only take one paid firefighter, and one volunteer, to staff the station, and he was sure that all of the neighbors would volunteer. He noted that most of the homes in this area are mobile homes.
Mr. Creighton Beddow, Clermont, stated that he is concerned about the increases that are being placed on the citizens, which are far out stripping the cost of living. Mr. Beddow stated that this will be about a 40% increase on his taxes for fire and rescue.
Mr. Tony Quellar, Fruitland Park, stated that he is employed with Lake County Fire Rescue. Mr. Quellar stated that he is also Vice President of the IAFF local 3990, and a resident of Lake County, Picciola Island. He explained that the nearest fire station is damaged and there are no volunteers at this station. In regards to the fire tax, there are two taxes that the citizens pay, one is for the ambulance, and one is for the fire. He had asked each of the Commissioners why the County did not combine the two entities, so that one entity can offset the other, and then they would not have to increase the tax to the citizens of the County. Mr. Quellar felt they could run one department more efficiently and spread it out across the County, and the cities could pursue the transportation capability, because it would be profitable and makes revenue. Mr. Quellar explained that most people do not understand that there is Lake Sumter EMS, and a Lake County Fire Rescue, and that it does not mean a fire truck will arrive at the scene before an ambulance. He feels that they need to seriously look into the aspect of combining these two entities and working with Sumter County and other cities and consider the growth of the County, because they are running two different companies out of this County.
Commr. Pool stated that staff would have to research the idea to combine the two entities, and the Board would have to hear the reports and, if it is cost effective and can provide an equal level of service for a lesser fee, he could not imagine the Board not embracing the idea.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the issue was addressed when the County set up the joint company with Sumter County and the cities about two years ago. He stated that the Board can have this discussion, but there is a misconception that the ambulance service is a revenue source, and, if you look at the changes in the Medicare law, and the changes in the other medical laws, a lot of counties are separating the two as opposed to bringing them together. The cities would not get into the transport business, because there is too much involved in overhead costs to make it profitable, but he could certainly have the Ambulance Board make a presentation. Commr. Cadwell stated that the plan is to do away with the ambulance assessment, as they grow that company, and to let it become a company that stands on its own.
Mr. Quellar stated that both of these entities do about the same thing except that one does transport, and one leases for rent under the MSBU tax.. He stated that, as a citizen and, in reviewing the EMS budget, he sees a waste of County money.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would welcome Mr. Quellar to meet with him and Mr. Judge, Executive Director of Lake Sumter EMS, to talk about his ideas and concerns.
At 10:25 a.m., Commr. Pool stated that this concludes all of the citizens that have asked to come forward to speak on the fire issue.
At this time, Mr. Neron addressed questions and comments of the public.
Mr. Nash addressed the Board to explain that Station 65 in the Fruitland Park area was a volunteer station at one time, and it became a County station, when the County took over that area. The part time volunteer employee that works at this station is the County’s communications expert. The County uses Station 62, which is in the area of Lady Lake and Fruitland Park, because it reaches more people. If they used Station 65, it would only be good for the Pennbrooke area. In regards to fee collections for fire rescue, Mr. Nash explained that they do collect a few fees, but nothing in terms of generating enough funds to pay for the fire department. Mr. Nash explained that the public will find EMS employees, with their vehicles, at various places in the County because, they need to be ready to respond to calls in a particular area and, because they do not own property, they have to be stationed at a public location to increase response time. Mr. Nash explained that fire rescue took over all of the County volunteer stations, and they were mostly located in cities. As the County grows, staff will be address priorities for building stations. The County has a hazmat truck that has a little bit of capability on foam, but a truck with foam capability would cost over $700,000. The County pays less than $200,000 for a new pumper and tanker, so it is not cost effective to have that kind of truck. In regards to private roads, the County did enter into a first response agreement with Orange County, and that agreement will be brought to the Board on September 17, 2002 as an agenda item. The private road that was addressed earlier by a resident has a gate across it and, unless the private citizen wants to volunteer to open that gate all of the time and take on the liability involved, the County will have to go out into Orange County with their own trucks to respond in that area. They have had no volunteers at Station 46 in the Altoona area, and they have tried to get volunteers, but the volunteers would prefer to work in Marion County. The trailer located in that station was donated by the Kiwanis, and it was renovated recently and used to teach children about fires. The boat is from the Astor Station for water rescue and is not a private boat. Mr. Nash explained that there will be a 5% increase to the citizen, not 40%, and cell phones are used on each of the trucks as a backup to radio communications.
Ms. Diane Post, Fruitland Park, addressed the Board to discuss Station 65 (Lewis Road) and Station 62 (Spring Lake Road). Ms. Post stated that the station on Picciola Road has been empty for ten years, and it has an empty fire truck from the Shriner’s Club in it. Ms. Post stated that she lives over four miles from the nearest firehouse, and she does not care if her house insurance is lowered, but she would like them to save her house, if it was on fire. She wanted to know if the County was receiving rent from the Shriners and why the station has not been fixed in over ten years. Ms. Post stated that her husband was a volunteer fireman for 20 years, and he and another gentleman, who spent 20 years in the Air Force, were both denied the opportunity to serve as volunteers at this particular firehouse, because the State of Florida does not recognize any other State certification. She wanted to know why she was being charge $118, and why she still has to pay for an ambulance, when it responds to her emergency call.
Mr. Nash noted that he will research all items of concern brought forth by Ms. Post.
Commr. Pool stated that, in defense of the firefighters, they do deserve to pay them a fair and equitable salary. He stated that there is a problem when Lake County becomes a training ground for other counties. The firefighters get their training in Lake County, and then they leave to serve in another county, because they can make more money. The County has to provide new equipment and improved equipment and better training to the personnel, in order to keep the personnel in Lake County.
There being no further public comment, Commr. Pool closed the public hearing portion of the meeting.
In regards to questions concerning the five year plan, and the 5% increase, and staff requesting a 6.5% increase for the fifth year, Mr. Neron explained that the department grew at a 10% rate, but they only increased revenues at a 5% rate. He noted that the impact fee varies on the size of the building, and the type of construction.
Commr. Hill stated that, being on the Impact Fee Committee, she will be bringing back to the Board the impact fee study, along with library, as well as other changes that the Board wanted to review.
Commr. Pool stated that this Board has supported impact fees, and they continue to support impact fees as they go forward because, as the new people move into Lake County, they should pay their fair share. At this point, they are evaluating opportunities to improve and increase those impact fees, which they just completed on transportation.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board knew they were growing the department at a faster rate than they had intended because it was being required by the public. As the level of service grew, the level of expectation grew in the community and, with four additional stations and 100 additional firefighters, for $8.30 a month, the people have a fire department that is going to respond to a house fire, or rescue situation.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion to approve the Resolution 2002-126 to impose Fire and Rescue Assessments against assessed property located in Lake County, Florida, for the Fiscal Year beginning October 1, 2002; to approve the rate of assessment; to approve the assessment roll; and to provide an effective date.
The motion died for the lack of a second.
Commr. Hill stated that she appreciates Commr. Cadwell’s comments, and she does believe that they have raised the level of service, but the Supreme Court decision is not a new decision. The Circuit Court made a decision in 1996-97 that Lake County was right, and it was perfectly legal to have firefighters with first response capabilities but, in 1999-2000, the Board decided to put in ALS stations, and they had firefighters and EMS, and the decision is saying they cannot do that and now they need to repay the $1.6 million. Commr. Hill stated that they have a master plan for this year, and she questioned whether the Board is reacting instead of planning and whether they are going to come back and raise the millage and perhaps even create a third funding source, because they may need two funding sources, as pointed out by Mr. Quellar. Commr. Hill stated that she feels they need to step back this year and determine whether they need this second or third funding source. She wants to make sure that the Board is planning, so that the public knows exactly what they are doing. Commr. Hill stated for the record that she appreciates the firefighters, the volunteer firefighters, and EMS.
Commr. Stivender stated that the Board has gotten different numbers and, in reviewing the information, she feels there are ways to save money, with the two different departments. She stated that, when she was elected, she said they would do more intergovernmental coordination, and they should be building stations that house both of these entities. They may be separate budget items, EMS and fire rescue, but they need to be in the same building. Commr. Stivender stated that there is no reason to be building two buildings, and there have been ongoing discussions with the County Manager and others about this matter, and they are working on it, but they have not gotten to that point yet. She is having a problem with continuing to spend money and not knowing whether they have a plan to spend that money.
In response to Commr. Hanson’s question about what will happen if the Board votes down the 6.5% increase, Mr. Neron explained that the Board did commit to a plan, but they had to vote on the 5% increase each year. He stated that, in regards to the master plan, the County is in the final year of a five year master plan approved by the Board, and staff is already starting the next five year plan. Mr. Neron stated that EMS is a separate entity, which was set up by this Board in Sumter County a couple of years ago and, so far he has received no direction from this Board on looking at the combination of the two entities and possible savings. If the Board wants to give him that direction, Mr. Neron stated that he will immediately begin this task. He stated that they have exceeded the expectations of that five year plan, and they are in the process of seeking assistance to review the whole special assessment program. He stated that they will be looking at all of these funding issues, and the way they need to move ahead in the future, but they have a situation today where they need to approve a fire assessment and continue with the operations next fiscal year, and the recommendation today will allow them to do this.
To clarify the issue before the Board, Mr. Neron explained that, if they do not approve the recommended rate today, the County will probably not open two new fire stations next year; or hire approximately 12 additional firefighters; or replenish reserves that have been depleted; and, if the Board does not address the problem this year, staff will be back next year to look at the issue, or they will begin to see a deterioration in the level of service.
Commr. Pool stated that, in defense of why the Board exceeded the plan and expanded more quickly, it was to provide a better level of service to those citizens who were demanding it. He stated that, if they want a higher level of service, with a more rapid response time, it cannot be done with the existing equipment, existing stations, and existing personnel, therefore, they tried to answer the call to provide a better level of service. In looking at the amount of increase, he did not feel that it was an incremental increase in answering that demand.
Commr. Stivender explained that the Board needs to be looking at where the entities will be all together instead of building separate structures for each one and that is the only reason she has a problem with it.
Mr. Neron clarified that the 5% increase covers more than infrastructure. It is operational expenses as well as additional firefighters. The proposed budget has additional firefighters for the next fiscal year, to staff two of the new stations that are planned.
Commr. Pool stated that, if the Board can investigate an opportunity to be cost effective in combining these two entities, then they should take a good look at that opportunity.
Commr. Hanson stated that, in 1998, she voted against the fire assessment, and the increase of 5% per year, but not because they did not need the fire service. She stated that fire rescue has come a long way in the last ten years and, philosophically she would vote against this increase, because of the court case that has just come down. She believes that it needs to be a combination funding between ad valorem and special assessment, and that is what they are seeing today, however, the fire department and the County has been operating on a five year plan. They have spent more money than what was in that plan, but she feels it is critical that they continue the fifth year, at the very least, on that 5% increase. Commr. Hanson stated that she cannot put the County in that kind of jeopardy
Commr. Hanson made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Stivender, to approve the fifth year of the plan, at the 5% increase, recognizing it is not the full $6.05 (6.4% increase) but, at least it continues on with the plan, and Resolution 2002-126 to Impose Fire and Rescue Assessments against Assessed Property located in Lake County, Florida, for the Fiscal Year beginning October 1, 2002; Approval of the Rate of Assessment; Approval of the Assessment Roll; Provide an Effective Date .
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the motion included the transfer from the other revenues into the fire rescue account.
Mr. Minkoff stated that there will be one change to the Resolution to the whereas clause indicating that the medical costs are not being a part of the special assessment.
Mr. Neron clarified that, rather than the $6.05 increase (6.4%), it will basically be a 5% increase, with the cost being spread among the other rate classifications, and the Board is authorizing the loan from the General Fund, for the $1.6. million, to cover the medical related costs.
Commr. Hanson and Commr. Stivender agreed with the clarification of the motion.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the 5% increase will result in a rate of $99.23 for a single family residence, and it will be set across the Board at the 5% rate, in accordance with the motion.
Commr. Stivender stated that she would like staff to look at how they can incorporate the two entities and make them more efficient so that they better serve the public. She stated that the Board is here trying to save money, and she sees lots of places where they waste money. She further stated that EMS is an entity of its own, but they work for everybody, and she wants their budget reviewed, as well as the County’s fire budget. She wants them put together, with separate budgets, but in the same building, at half the price, and to have better service. They need to look at doing this with the cities, and they do not need to be building a fire station three miles from the city, or in their utility area. She stated that there are some things that they have done in the past that need to be fixed, and she will voice her opinion on this issue.
Commr. Cadwell stated that Lake Sumter EMS has always asked to be included in any of the buildings, and there has been no resistance from them at all, and they will be glad to sit down and discuss it.
Commr. Pool called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11:05 a.m., Commr. Pool noted that the Board would take a 15 minute recess.
PUBLIC HEARING -
RESOLUTION - SOLID WASTE MATERIAL ASSESSMENT
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that he would like to make a short presentation on the issue of the Solid Waste Materials Assessment. Mr. Neron stated that, for the last several months, he has been working with the Board on the Solid Waste Department budget. He stated that it is a very complicated issue and involves the Covanta contract (waste-to-energy plant), the cost of the tipping fee, which has increased and driven away some of the cities, and the question of universal collection. In April, he presented to the Board five options for consideration on various approaches to fund solid waste collection and disposal services in the County. The Board chose Option 4, which consists of an assessment in the unincorporated area of the County that goes from $107 to $173.50 and involves the implementation of universal collection, which means that all residences in the unincorporated area will be assessed and will be provided solid waste collection services. The second aspect to this will allow a reduction in the tipping fee, from $95 to $45 a ton and, hopefully, this will entice the cities back to use the Covanta plant, which will allow the County to exercise the option for the guaranteed 163,000 tons per year and reduce their expenses under the contract with Covanta. The third aspect to this proposal is to levy a countywide millage rate of 1.25 mills that all businesses and properties will pay, in order to offset the costs of the Solid Waste Department. Since that time, when the original proposals were sent out and advertised on the trim notice, staff has taken further actions and, after reviewing them with the Board, they are able to recommend a reduction in the millage rate, from 1.25 mills to .85 mills. Mr. Neron reviewed a chart showing a basic comparison of the revenues and expenses in the solid waste budget, between last year and the current fiscal year, which reflected a reduction of about $1.8 million in revenue primarily attributable to the proposed reduction in the tipping fee. The expenses last year were about $18.7 million and, in the proposed budget, they are about $17.3 million. They made further staff cuts and reductions in expenditures of $460,000 primarily due to the privatizing of the materials recycling portion of the solid waste budget where they eliminated 13 positions. The contract with the private hauler is on the Board’s agenda today. They are also proposing to pay the line of credit payment. Several years ago, the Board at that time borrowed $19 million to help offset costs of closures at existing landfills and other capital improvements related to solid waste. The $19 million has been paid down to about $11 million, and the proposed interest and principle payment next year will be $1.4 million. In consulting with the County Attorney, the previous local option sales tax that expires in December had solid waste as an allowable use and, since the local option sales tax can only be used for infrastructure related costs, it has been determined that, to pay down the line of credit, which was used for infrastructure, they can use the old local option sales tax revenues, so that will reduce that budget by about $1.4 million. There is a new expense of $5.7 million, which is under universal collection, and it is the County cost to pay the haulers. Those residents in the unincorporated area that have been paying about $128 a year will no longer pay the hauler directly. The County had to dip into the reserve account last year and use about $2.8 million, and the solid waste reserves are down to about $1.4 million, and the County can no longer dip into this fund to further fund this program. In order to balance the budget, they are needing $7,354,000 which is the proposed .85 millage rate. Based on previous actions taken by the Board, Mr. Neron stated that the budget is now balanced with the $173.50 assessment fee being in place. It is also balanced based on an estimated .85 millage being assessed countywide, which will be the subject of further discussion by the Board, at the 5:05 p.m. hearing tonight, and it includes a tipping fee of $45 a ton, which will hopefully allow the County to get most of the cities back as part of its system.
Mr. Neron explained that, if the Board chooses not to do one of the things, as noted, it will affect the budget. Of the approximately $18 million budget, about $16.5 to $17 million are fixed expenses that the County is contractually obligated under the Covanta agreement to pay, so the County is going to have to come up with a revenue source to make those payments. He explained some of the options that he had presented to the Board earlier and stated that this concludes the presentation from staff.
Commr. Pool explained the process that will be used for the public hearing and stated that, at 12:40 p.m., the Board will break for lunch for one hour. At this time, Commr. Pool opened the public hearing and called for public comment.
Mr. Bud Kapp, Leesburg, stated that, about a year ago, he came to the Board about the garbage pickup rates, and it was his understanding that a committee was to be formed to help solve this problem. Mr. Kapp stated that he was concerned about the creation of a health hazzard with once a week pickup, the West Nile virus, and an unsightly County.
Mr. Floyd Reynolds, Leesburg, stated that he is the President of Brittany Estates Mobile Home Park in Leesburg, and they pay the maintenance crew in their park to pick up their garbage and take it to a dumpster at the front of the park. He questioned whether they are going to be charged an extra fee under this new system, or will they be given a break because their streets are not made for heavy truck traffic.
Mr. Neron explained that, under the proposal, if the park is receiving twice a week collection service now, they are going to continue to receive twice a week collection service. There are some areas in the northeast rural portion of the County that is receiving once a week collection, and they will continue to receive once a week collection. There is no proposed change in the level of service being recommended.
Mr. Reynolds stated that, as a representative for Brittany Estates, the people are wanting to know the bottom line of costs for the incinerator, and when the contract will be paid off. He stated that about two-thirds of the residents in the park are snowbirds, and some of them are there for four or five months, and they are paying for 12 months of service. They want to know if there are going to be any adjustments for their absence. He explained that these people bring a lot of revenue each year to the area, and last year they lost two of their residents because of the assessments and high costs for service. He felt that the Board needed to take these types of situations into consideration.
Mr. Alvin Maas stated that he lives out of state and is here four to five months a year, and he wanted to know if he has to pay for the full year for garbage pickup. He does not have a problem with the fire fee.
Ms. Patricia Jerome, Leesburg, stated that she lives in an adult community where there are mostly two people living in each home. With the additional assessment, Ms. Jerome stated that they are not going to have any more trash with two people living in a $50,000 home versus two people living in a $200,000 home, and she felt that the fee was not justified.
Mr. Dan Gorden, Tavares, stated that he is the General Manager for Hawthorne, and he is here to represent some of the interests of the Hawthorne residents. It is their opinion that Hawthorne is opposed to the universal garbage plan as it is now being proposed by Lake County. It penalizes the retired residents of Hawthorne by making them pay garbage disposal fees for more garbage than they generate and higher fees for hauling garbage than they now pay. This plan takes away the right of the residents to negotiate the best possible fee for hauling garbage and recycling. Mr. Gorden explained that Hawthorne currently pays about $75 per home per year for hauling garbage, and the universal plan, as it was initially proposed some months ago, was $115 per household per year, even though the County is working on reducing that fee. He does not see the fairness in this plan for the residents in Hawthorne. Mr. Gorden stated that Hawthorne is approximately one mile from the incinerator, yet its residents will pay the same pickup fee as someone who lives 40 miles away from it. He also stated that Hawthorne residents generate less than a ton of garbage per household per year, yet the plan is assessing based on one and half tons of garbage per year. Mr. Gorden stated that Lake County has made a shift from a fee for service type plan for garbage disposal to this proposed universal plan, and he does not feel it is financially fair to the retired people in the County. He stated that, because of the incinerator problems, the Board members need to make sure that the costs that they are raising today are going directly for the incinerator. He stated that all of the assessments on the tax bill for solid waste should be for the incinerator contract costs and nothing else, but that is not what is being proposed. The County is including in the non ad valorem assessment on the tax bill the cost for pick up of garbage and recycling, which have nothing to do with the incinerator contract costs. Mr. Gorden stated that Lake County has one of the highest, if not the highest, tipping fee for garbage in the State of Florida, at $95 per ton. The cost is so high that all of the cities in Lake County, except for one, has chosen to haul their garbage out of the County. The one city that continues to haul to the incinerator has a contract to pay lower tipping fees than the residents in the County are paying right now for garbage disposal. The County residents have no option to take their garbage anywhere other than the incinerator. Mr. Gorden stated that the residents of the County need to know that the Board is making every effort to keep the tax increases to the minimum needed. He feels that the hauling cost can be decreased by almost $100, if these fees were excluded. Mr. Gorden stated that he talked to Commr. Pool some time ago about a sales tax, which is something that the Board may want to consider as well.
Ms. Sharon Stewart, Senior Regional Manager for American Landlease, stated that she has a letter from their President and Chief Operating Officer that she will read into the record. The letter referred to Sunlake Estates in Grand Island and indicated that, because of the late notice, the Chief Operating Officer was unable to reschedule a previous engagement to attend the meeting in person. He wanted to go on record regarding their position and dissatisfaction with the proposed assessment. The letter stated that the assessment will have an extremely negative financial impact on the residents at Sunlake Estates Community, and it will represent a significant increase in their current bill and, because this is a 55+ community, it will be an undue hardship on them and will represent over a $100 increase for their residents. Right now their staff collects their trash curbside and places it within a commercial container, and waste management individuals haul off the container. Their roads are not built to County specifications and are not capable of supporting the weight and girth of the commercial trash vehicles. They have been advised that their classification, as a residential property, is a result of a small minority of residents within the community that own their lots fee simple. As a point of reference, there are 486 lots; 80 people in the community own their lots. They would be more than willing to have their service continue with no individual resident requesting curbside pickup from the County. They are asking that the issue be put to rest by declaring the Sunlake Estates Community as a commercial use rather than a residential use.
Mr. Don Dewey, Leesburg, stated that right now he has two household collections a week and one recycling collection, and last year the County was trying to change it to one household and one garden trash. He questioned whether any changes were going to be made to the service. Mr. Raymond Simmons, Mt. Dora, stated that he has lived in Lake County for 30 years and, for the majority of that time, he has personally taken his garbage to the landfill at Astatula. He explained the negative experience he has had with curbside pickup and stated that the two people in his household generate approximately one bag of garbage per week, which is about $3.33 per bag.
Mr. John Post, Fruitland Park, stated that his tax bill is going from $154 a year to $336 year, with the additional ad valorem tax. He and his wife are the only ones in the home and, down the street, someone in a $40,000 mobile home with a $25,000 homestead exemption will only pay an extra $15 and, if he has two or three children, that individual will be generating four times the garbage that he will generate, and he will be paying three times more than what he is paying now. He questioned the fairness of this fee.
Ms. Barbara Newman, Fruitland Park, stated that she wanted to compliment staff for their analysis of the information they were given by private citizens. They have looked at every proposition and still had to come back and indicate that there needs to be a raise in the taxes. Ms. Newman stated that she is the Vice Chairman of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and she is representing the Committee, and herself as an ordinary citizen. Ms. Newman noted that a very small percentage of the overall citizenry of Lake County is present today, and she is probably in the minority by saying that she supports the increase, but it is important for the Board to know that there are a lot of people who do support the increase, and they have already voiced their opinion to them by voting them into office. Ms. Newman asked the Board not to compound the problem by not doing anything today as they did last year. She wanted to congratulate Mr. Neron for getting the millage down from 1.25 to .85.
Mr. Roger Harper, Leesburg, stated that he was here a year ago, and it seems as though nothing has changed, in terms of the incinerator, but Covanta has declared bankruptcy. The County has a problem getting rid of garbage, and the taxpayers get to be a part of resolving the problem. Those who approved the incinerator are no longer around and he understands that the County is never going to own the incinerator plant. He stated that his total tax bill is going to increase by 12.4%. The value on his property has been assessed at 2.6% more than what it was last year, and the fire tax will increase by 25%. He pays $75.60 for garbage pickup in Scottish Highlands, and he has twice a week pickup. Under the County’s plan, he is going to pay $173.50, which is a 129% increase in his garbage. Mr. Harper stated that, if the people are paying for the incinerator, it needs to be shown on the tax assessment notice.
Mr. Bud McConachie, President of the Hawthorne Board of Directors, stated that he wanted to address a comment made by Mr. Neron, that everyone will pay their fair share for garbage disposal. Mr. McConachie explained that he has found that most of the manufactured home communities in the County are 55 and older, which translates into one or two people per unit who will generate a very limited amount of garbage. In mobile home communities, the trucks can do a lot more work for a lot less money. He stated that, instead of having a “one size fits all” universal collection, they are asking that the Board and staff come up with a different size for different situations. He would also like to hear more about the lawsuit with Covanta.
Ms. Ann Westphal, Leesburg, stated that the concept that is being proposed today for universal collection is unworthy of the Board. Ms. Westphal stated that, when you contract for a service, there has got to be a strict relationship between the amount of service and the amount that you pay. She stated that the Board is indulging in age discrimination, as noted in an article in “The Orlando Sentinel”, which she took the opportunity to read to the Board. Ms. Westphal stated that she is a widow, and she does not generate the same amount of garbage as those with numerous children, yet the Board wants her to subsidize those individuals and families who have a lot of trash. She stated that the Board can be pretty safe that she and others are not going to file a lawsuit about discrimination, but they will be going to the voting booth to express their anger, frustration, and resentment. Ms. Westphal stated that 40% of the people are snowbirds, and there is no pickup for them at all, yet the Board is going to have them pay on the same basis where people are getting a lot of service.
Mr. Michael Miller, Orlando, stated that he is here representing his mother who lives in the unincorporated area of Yalaha. Mr. Miller stated that he would like the Board to take into consideration that, in the area where she lives, a number of the people there are elderly and are on a fixed income, and any type of increase, as being shown here today, is rather exorbitant to them, as far as them continuing their way of life. Even though there are certain people in the County who may be able to withstand this sort of an increase, there are a lot of people who cannot afford it. As far as the service, Mr. Miller stated that, in speaking to his mother, she is definitely not satisfied with this particular service. She just received a notice showing an update of the accounts receivable system, and it shows that, from 1999, she has to pay an outstanding balance, but he feels that the burden should not necessarily be put back on her because someone else failed to accurately do their business.
Mr. Mac Elder, Clermont, stated that, when the previous Board started considering an incinerator, several citizens who had criticized government actions were invited to help establish the Taxpayers League. The County held a meeting to discuss the proposed incinerator, and he was opposed to the idea, on environmental grounds. Mr. Dan Eastwood, who was a retired business consultant, studied the proposal and found that the bond and interest rates were unworkable, and he had the opportunity to explain this to the Board and, after doing so, they thought they had made progress in deterring the issue. Mr. Elder explained that, after hearing an appeal by those who would be building the incinerator, the County hired a consultant to research the issue, even though someone had already researched the issue and told them the proposal was flawed. Mr. Elder explained that he has hauled his own trash for five years, and he served two years on the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and now he is supposed to pay $173.50 for generated garbage from two people. He stated that they recycle and have very little trash and paying this fee is unconscionable.
Mr. Alan Wichman, Eustis, stated that he and his wife answered the County ads for volunteers to the Solid Waste Study Committee. They were told that they could not serve for the following reasons: there were no openings on the committee from their district; it is a potential conflict of interest to have both husband and wife serve on the same committee; and because of the Sunshine Law. Mr. Wichman stated that he and his wife still desire to serve. Mr. Wichman discussed the rather confusing letter that each citizen received regarding the new fee, which “spreads it equally among property owners.” He discussed property valued at $25,000 or higher in relation to properties assessed at less than $25,000 where the property owners will pay no taxes, or the $173.50 fee, yet they will also be generating garbage. Mr. Wichman stated that he does not mind paying his fair share for the governmental operation of the County, but there is the need for responsible administration of the solid waste that is generated by all, and the call for everyone to pay his share. He stated that property value should not be considered. Mr. Wichman explained that the letter he received gave no clarification about the haulers who will determine the costs for their services, and he wants to know what he will be getting for his 20% increase in costs. He explained that, if the service costs keep increasing, people are not going to keep up their property value. In driving down Highway 27, he cannot help but think that all of this development should pay for itself. Mr. Wichman stated that the County has got to control development and control growth, and many of these problems pertaining to fire protection and garbage will take care of themselves.
Ms. Joy Randolph, Minneola, stated that she wants to know what happened to the penny sales tax that she voted on several years ago that was going to take care of all of this forever, because this is what she was told when she went to the polls. Ms. Randolph explained that she purchased her mother’s homestead when she passed away two years ago in rural Lake County. She lives in Mascotte where she is perfectly happy with her garbage pickup, but she was trying to refurbish her mother’s home and has been doing self hauling. Now she has been told that there will not be no more self hauling.
Mr. Travis Whigham, Deland, stated that he would like to ask why Lake County government should become a bill collector for private hauling companies. Mr. Whigham stated that garbage is going to the incinerator no matter who picks it up, or who collects the money for the bill. He explained that the County does not own the garbage service companies, so right now the County is expanding these hauler businesses for them, with no extra benefit to the County. He explained that he and many others live on dirt roads and, when he was before the Board last time about this issue, he was told that other trucks would be picking up the garbage on the streets. He discussed the tax bill that says Lake County government is going to take your property and your home, if you do not pay your garbage bill, and explained that there are about a half dozen places where the garbage company has not picked up the garbage, because the truck drivers say they cannot get to the residences. Mr. Whigham showed pictures of some of the roads where the trucks were having problems providing the pickup service and stated that there is no garbage service company that is going to be able to provide service for every home in Lake County, so every resident in Lake County should not be required to pay for a service that they are not going to be able to get with a chance of losing their home. He also wanted to know if someone who does not live in his home year round will have to pay the full amount.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 12:45 p.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board will recess for one hour, until 1:45 p.m.
PUBLIC HEARING -
RESOLUTION - SOLID WASTE MATERIAL ASSESSMENT (CONTINUED)
At 1:45 p.m., Commr. Pool reconvened the meeting and called for further public comment.
Mr. Lewis Stone stated that he is here on behalf of the City of Eustis and others, and it is their desire for the Board to generate a mechanism of paying for this expensive situation from those who are using the system, and that the ad valorem assessment approach is inappropriate, it is inequitable and, if those persons who use the system will pay for the system, this would be their preference. Mr. Stone stated that the City of Eustis has its solid waste handled outside of the City and outside of the County and, when they negotiated this with their trash hauler, at that time, the decision was made to take it outside with the advise and consent of the County. It is unfair to be looking at the citizens of the City to pay ad valorem taxes that are associated with subsidizing those who are using the system. Mr. Lewis stated that they would encourage the Board to use those mechanisms, which they believe are the legislative scheme, to have the users of the system pay for the system and not penalize those who are not involved in that system. Mr. William Turnbull, Clermont, addressed the Board and complained that there have been many developments come into the County of considerable size that generate more garbage than anyone, and he feels they should pay for it, not the citizens who are attempting to recycle and who produce as little garbage as possible. He stated that the County is expecting them to pay the same amount as those who fall into a higher level of income and those who make campaign contributions. Mr. Turnbull pointed out problems with Big Creek, which is in the flood stage, and the lakes in Clermont that are not rising, and stated that he wants the Board to see what growth has done to the County.
Mr. Robert Bauer, Eustis, stated that garbage at today’s rate is $28.23 a quarter, or $112.92 a year. The County is now going to charge $173.50 a year, or $43.37 a quarter, or $15.14 more for one pickup, or $3.33 per pickup, which is a 51%+ increase. Mr. Bauer stated that he wanted to know what was going to happen to the drop stations, since the County is not going to allow self haul anymore. He explained that there are people who live in the unincorporated area that get two pickups a week whereas he only gets one pickup, and he also lives in the unincorporated area. In regards to the ad valorem tax, Mr. Bauer stated that this will be a $1,836 increase in his property taxes, but now he understands it is going to be .85 per $1,000 of assessed value. Mr. Bauer addressed the savings that is going to be given to RV parks and hotels and motels and questioned what the County was going to do about people who are vegetarians who do not generate garbage. He stated that the County has never made any money recycling and, he is on a fixed income, as many others in the room. He questioned whether the Board is going to give back the self haul cards, so they can recycle or are they going to charge them $173.50 and have no self haul.
Ms. Lynne Knorr, Orlando, stated that she lives in Orange County, but she owns property in the Astor area, and the property in Astor is used strictly for fun, holidays and vacations, not constant residential use. Ms. Knorr stated that, after staying at her property in Astor, she carries her garbage back to Orange County in the trunk of her car and, therefore, she has no impact on Lake County’s garbage situation. She stated that for years she has been permitted to take her garbage to the various transfer stations, and she has used the Astor transfer station, since it is the most convenient. She questioned why she must pay the increase and, if she does not pay the increase, can she then fall under the paragraph with the regard to living on a remote, or impassable road.
Ms. Sandra Goodwin, Umatilla, stated that she is a parks supervisor for Palm Shores RV Resort off of 452 in Lake County. The park has 267 lots, and they are full in the winter and, in the summer, they have 30 full time residents, and they pay a condo fee, which includes garbage. Ms. Goodwin stated that she is concerned that, if the Board passes this today, then the State will come in and make them widen the roads. She explained that the residents are senior citizens and cannot afford to pay any more, and they will lose residents. She stated that Florida is a retirement state, and Lake County makes a lot of money during the peak seasons. She does not know how the County can make a decision without doing a survey on roads, the number of residents in the state during specific seasons of the year, and family stays versus senior citizens. The Board needs to look at the whole picture, or they will be here again to raise taxes for new roads, so they can do the garbage pickup. Ms. Goodwin stated that she owned a home in Lake County and sold it two years ago, and the garbage was paid for at the end of the year on her taxes. Right now she is renting a place for $450 a month, and she does not believe she will buy again with the low pay scale and the high taxes, because she is better off letting her landlord deal with all of this.
Mr. Richard De Fran, Clermont, stated that he lives within two miles of a transfer station. He showed a sample of the accumulation of garbage that he and his wife generate in a week and stated that he did not have any solutions, or constructive criticism, for the Board, but only a complaint. Mr. De Fran stated that he has a second home that is unfinished, because of financial problems, and it is an unoccupied dwelling. He will be paying for two houses ($347 per year), and when considering the amount of garbage that they actually generate, it is an unfair situation.
Mr. Ernest Oglesby stated that he and his wife are on social security, and they have a lot of costs including medical costs. He carries his garbage to the dump, but he is of the understanding that the County is closing those facilities and coming back with a charge for waste disposal. Mr. Oglesby does not agree that they should pay this high cost, because it is hard on people like them, and he believes it is wrong that the trash trucks are ruining the roads in front of his house, and the garbage cans are a hazzard to the highway. He stated that they cannot use their front driveway, because it is so dangerous, and he feels that a sign would help to slow people down in this area. Mr. Oglesby stated that the people did not approve the incinerator, and he does not believe that they should suffer and do without medicine, or food, because of a system that was approved by a previous Board. He stated that there are things that the County is doing with the taxpayers money that he does not feel is fair.
Ms. Sherie Wolkens, Clermont, stated that, even though she sympathizes with the seniors, it is not any easier on the working class of people when it comes to paying taxes. Ms. Wolkens stated that she has lived in Lake County for ten years and, in that ten years, with budget cuts, her husband is on his third job due to layoffs. She is just now back to what her income was ten years ago. She explained that, in looking at the cost of garbage, it amounts to half of what it costs to educate her child noting that the school tax only went up $28. She did not see on her tax bill the rebate that she gets when the garbage collection day falls on a holiday. She questioned whether the citizens were getting their rebates for the times that they are not coming out twice a week to pick up garbage. Ms. Wolkens stated that she took her empty cans to the recycling bin, so she has $5.32 to contribute to the garbage collection services for the County. She discussed the new billing process and questioned whether Waste Management was the only company in Lake County that picks up for the County, because she feels that the County should be looking for a more competitive company.
Mr. Neron explained that there are three companies in the County that pick up waste, and they did receive considerable savings from the three haulers, when they renegotiated the contracts, from $128 annually to $105. Mr. Neron explained that the residents in the unincorporated area will be paying under the proposal $173.50, and a proposed millage of .85 per $1,000 of taxable assessed valuation, and the payment to the hauler will go away.
Mr. D. J. Maur, Mt. Dora, stated that his property tax valuation increased by $8,000 and he has not made any improvements to his house. He discussed how California has grown over the years and how Florida seems to be following in the same pattern. Mr. Maur explained that his social security went up $18 a month last year, or approximately $216 a year and, even though he does not live fully on his social security, he is upset at what is happening and feels that the Board should be listening to the consent of the people. Mr. Maur addressed the wording in his notification, that failure to pay assessment will cause tax certificate to be issued against your property, which may result in the loss of your title, and he fears that his children and grandchildren will not live as free as he has over his lifetime, because of this so called socialism.
Mr. Allan DeLaConcha, Clermont, stated that he is the spokesperson for the Sugarwood Lane Property Owner’s Association. Mr. DeLaConcha stated that he has numerous reasons why they oppose the curbside versus hauling. He stated that, at the present, they have the convenience and flexibility to haul their own garbage. He explained that Sugarwood Lane borders SR 561, and it has become a very dangerous situation. There is now a bus stop for children and mail delivery at the site where the garbage used to get picked up. He stated that they do have a private road, and they have to go about a half mile to haul their garbage. It is a heavily traveled intersection, and the triathlon people use that road exclusively. The conditions there, based on human factors and animal wildlife, are very dangerous. He explained that cans are still being place along SR 561, and the people have dealt with a very combative employee. He stated that, as a spokesperson for the Sugarwood Lane Property Owner’s Association, he calls upon the Board, to hear the people’s voices.
Mr. Herbert Suitor, Leesburg, stated that he is very concerned about the increase in trash hauling costs particularly when this is supposed to be equitable and fair collection for everybody. He explained that people are charged for electricity, water, and gas, based on the amount they use, and it should be possible to develop a way to monitor what people get rid of in terms of garbage. The County needs to find a way to make the people who use the service to pay for it.
The daughter of Mr. Mentor Sauceda addressed the Board and stated that she will speak for her father. She stated that he owns property on Buckhill Road in Howey-in-the-Hills and in Sorrento, and they are considered to be labor camps for seasonal migrant agricultural workers. She stated that, in the past, her father has never been charged a tax for garbage. Now they have a bill for $173.50 for 20+ units, and the people are not there year round. She is not saying that they cannot pay the bill, but they are wanting to know if they have to continue to have Waste Management, because the cost is about what they pay now. If they can do away with Waste Management, and the County provides the same services to them as Waste Management, then she believes it would be fair but, if they still have to pay Waste Management, and the County, they would have to raise the rent. Since it is considered a labor camp, she feels it should be considered as commercial. She further stated that they will not benefit from curbside service, because the roads are not suitable for the trucks. She also asked whether the .85 per $1,000 of assessed value will be calculated on this type of property.
Commr. Pool requested that Mr. Sauceda and his daughter meet with staff at this time to discuss the calculation for labor camps.
Ms. Mildred Wolfe, Lady Lake, stated that she wrote a lot of letters, but she got no reply and, therefore, she decided to address the Board and ask her questions. Ms. Wolfe wanted to know why she cannot self haul, and she wanted to know what property value has to do with the amount of garbage generated by someone. Ms. Wolfe explained that she no longer cooks, and her family brings her meals on wheels, so she does not have any garbage. She does not see why she and her husband have to pay an assessment based on the value of their property.
Ms. Dorothy Reynolds, Leesburg, stated that she lives in Brittany Estates, and they contracted their own garbage hauling and paid $110 per unit. Now they will be paying $173.50 per unit, which is about a 64% increase. She stated that two-thirds of their residents are there only four to six months per year, and all are 55+ and most are on a limited income. She stated that many are single residents and, at the most, there are two residents per household. She wanted to know why Lake County got into the garbage business rather than having it as an individual enterprise, as it had been in the past. She stated that her parents are there full time, and they are 86 and 87 years old. Their income is slightly higher than what is allowed according to the criteria for relief, but their medical is $600 to $800 per month, so they are going into their savings to subsidize their medical needs, and there are many others who are doing the same.
Mr. Roy Hunter, Northeast Lake Chamber of Commerce, stated that the problem (the incinerator) is not the fault of those present, nor the Board that sits before them today. Mr. Hunter explained that the problem occurred in 1988 and, in response to the remarks made by Mr. Lewis Stone, City of Eustis, Mr. Hunter stated that it is time the cities recognize the generosity of the Board. The County voluntarily divided the projected sales tax fee between the cities, school system, and the County, and if nothing else, the cities could forget about any litigation against the County for the solid waste problem, because it is everyone’s problem. If the cities did not have to participate and carry their load, then everyone in the rural area would have to pay twice what the bills show now. Mr. Hunter took the opportunity to publicly apologize to the Board for derogatory comments he made to them a year ago last May.
At 2:45 p.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board would close the public hearing portion of the meeting.
Mr. Neron stated that he has been taking notes from the discussion with the public, and he is going to try and address the concerns that were mentioned. He stated that, as part of the program, there is a hardship provision in the County’s proposed Ordinance that those on fixed incomes that meet certain income guidelines, as established by the Board, are eligible for assistance in helping to pay these assessments and costs. Staff is available at this time to review this information with the public. In regard to the Covanta contract, the County has been aggressively pursuing a couple of various court cases with Covanta trying to establish the validity of the existing agreement and some other concerns. He explained that Covanta has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is currently going through federal bankruptcy proceedings. As a result of those bankruptcy proceedings, the lawsuits were put on hold temporarily, so the County cannot pursue those cases, until the bankruptcy judge rules on them, or allows the other cases to go forward. In regard to the one cent sales tax proceeds, or impact fees, and using them to help solve this problem, it was explained, during the public hearing on fire, that the one cent sales tax and impact fees can only be related to the use of infrastructure as it relates to their proposed spending. Most of the expenses being discussed are operational expenses and are not eligible for sales tax use. There is a small portion of the budget, about $1.4 million, that is allowable to be paid for by sales tax, which he has recommended to the Board, and this will help in reducing the millage from the 1.25, to the currently recommended .85. In regards to roads that are impassable, there is a provision in the Ordinance that, if a road is found to be an impassable road, the collection portion of the costs can be rebated to the property owner. Mr. Neron clarified that the drop off stations will remain open and, in regards to recycling revenues, there is an item on the agenda today for the Board to privatize the recycling, which eliminates 13 positions from the County Solid Waste Department budget. They anticipate a savings in costs and additional revenues generated and staff is proposing to use a portion of that to offset the costs of the program, as well as build up the reserves. In regards to rebates for holidays, Mr. Neron stated that, in the negotiated collection agreements, those are built into the overall price and, therefore, there is no rebate for holidays. Once the Board made the decision to go to universal collection, staff met with all franchise haulers and negotiated a reduction in the costs, about $23 per unit, which is also reflected in the budget. Mr. Neron explained that, of the $21 million budget, about $18 million is actual fixed costs, which they have no discretion over and, because of these fixed costs that are built into their system, they cannot meter this type of system. Mr. Neron reviewed some of the alternatives he discussed with the Boar, in work shop sessions.
Commr. Hanson stated that, if the County operates at full capacity, in excess of 163,000 tons, at the incinerator, that helps them to arrive at some significant savings. She stated that, if the Board was to get the millage to .75, that would be half a mill less than what was proposed earlier, and she has talked to the County Manager about the possibility of reducing the stormwater millage this year to .19 mills and applying that one-tenth of a mill to solid waste.
Mr. Neron stated that what Commr. Hanson had just suggested would be possible, but the Board has to realize that the stormwater millage only affects the people in the unincorporated area, and it is not a countywide millage, but the County could get by one year without that additional one-tenth of a mill. He noted that the savings would not go into the solid waste fund as such, you just would not be putting the money into the stormwater fund.
In response to the question presented by Commr. Stivender pertaining to the pari-mutuel funds and whether they can be used to pay off the debt with Covanta, Mr. Minkoff responded that the funds were for projects and, even though they are using the term that they are paying the debt, the County technically only pays for solid waste to Covanta. The County pays a per ton price that they deliver to the waste-to-energy facility, and then the trustee actually pays the debt, so the County does not pay any debt directly. Mr. Minkoff stated that the answer to her question would be no, because those loan funds were project based, for projects to be built. He further explained that the contract says that the County will pay to the trustee the amounts for the garbage that they are required to deliver based on the tonnage price, so they do not actually pay any debt, or any other expenses directly.
In response to the question presented by Commr. Hill as to whether the County is using the one cent sales tax for the principle and interest on the debt on this year alone, Mr. Minkoff explained that the line of credit, which is a separate loan, and the old original sales tax was pledged as a source of repayment for that loan, so that old sales tax is eligible. He further explained that this money was used for a landfill closing, which is one of the reasons that the original sales tax passed.
Mr. Neron stated that, in the memo that he wrote to the Board last week where he showed them some projected capital improvement projects from the old option sales tax, staff included $1.4 million for this year’s payment, and $1 million towards next year’s payment, but there is room in the other projects, if the Board has not approved all of the other projects on the list, so that they could have sufficient funds in there for the second or third year payment depending on whether the Board wants to delay some other capital projects.
Commr. Hill stated that the $1.4 million payment comes up every year, and she does not want to add it onto the millage next year. If the County commits to Covanta in the contract for the 163,000 tons, and the County cannot meet that tonnage, she wanted to know if the Board can go back and reduce that tonnage the following year or are they committed to that contract.
Mr. Minkoff explained that it would be a commitment that cannot be revoked.. He stated that, if the County elected to take the full 163,000 tons, and they did not deliver that much, it would increase the costs.
Mr. Neron stressed that he has questioned his staff incessantly that, if the County made that commitment (163,000 tons), did they feel they could meet it, and he has been assured that they can meet that by working with the cities. He has had conversations individually with several of the city managers, and there are several contracts right now around $45 a ton, and their haulers have to go out of county. If Lake County can offer them $45 a ton to deliver it to Covanta, it will be less costly and more efficient to deliver to Covanta. Mr. Neron explained that, in negotiations with the three franchise haulers who serve most of the cities in the County, from their viewpoint, they would much rather take it to Covanta, because it is more efficient in their route operations, and they have agreed and signed long term contracts with the cities to waive provisions and work with the County to deliver the solid waste to Covanta.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the Covanta company, and all of its subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. They have been trying to repackage and sell their energy business and shed themselves of all of their other assets. The bankruptcy filing provides for an automatic stay of litigation, which is what happened to Lake County’s lawsuits. To this point, Covanta has not proposed a plan or indicated how they were going to deal with the County’s facility, or with their litigation. As alternatives, the County can wait until Covanta decides or go ask the bankruptcy court for permission to continue the litigation. At this point, the County has chosen not to ask the court for that permission, because it is unlikely that it would be given until they at least propose an initial plan.
Commr. Pool stated that, at the end of the bond payment, the year 2014, the County will not own the plant, and it is their goal to take that plant, or buy that plant, and negotiate where the Board and the taxpayers of Lake County will pay for it and own it. He stressed that the Board believes that litigation is in order.
Mr. Minkoff stated that Covanta has obtained two extensions on the time for filing the plan, and now they have until February to file a plan, but he noted that they can continue to ask for extensions. He noted that there is an early termination penalty, if the bonds are called before 2003 and, even then, there are penalties for early calling of them. The interest rate on them is a pretty attractive rate and refinancing really does not save a tremendous amount of money, even at today’s interest rates.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they all know this is a terrible situation and, hopefully, through this lawsuit, they will get some type of relief, or at least have a better understanding of why the County is paying what it is paying but, with the fixed obligations of that contract, and the need from the litter side, and the financial obligations they have to the contract, the universal collection and the assessment portion are bound together. Commr. Cadwell stated that he never thought he would ever support using ad valorem for any type of enterprise fund, but he does not have another option for them, and they need to move forward now. He stated that they are charged with providing solid waste services, and he understands that the cities think that it is unfair that their residents will be charged, even though they are providing the services through the cities, but right now the city residents are not paying anything towards solid waste and, if the County was not under this contract, it would not matter where they were taking their garbage. He feels that the $45 a ton brings everybody together on the issue, and the only way to get to that amount is with this assessment. Commr. Cadwell explained that, if the Board chooses not to have an ad valorem assessment, they will have to cut about $7 million worth of things including closing libraries, not providing veteran’s services, not providing medication, and other programs that are not mandatory for them, and continue with the mandatory programs.
Mr. Neron explained that, if the Board adopts the $173.50, the Board will come in tonight at a millage rate of .85, or further cuts in the overall budget. If they want to reduce the assessment, they will need to increase the millage above the .85 within the 1.25, or they are going to have to do more cuts overall. It will help the decision this evening, if staff can get the assessment portion in place now.
Commr. Hill clarified that, if the Board makes the decision to go ahead at full capacity, 163,000 tons, universal collection, and to pay for the line of debt, $1.4 million, then it is making that decision, with the $173.50 assessment. Therefore, the only room where they will be able to make any adjustment will be in the millage rate, at the public hearing, at 5:05 p.m., realizing that they cannot go above the 1.25 mills.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried by a 4-1 vote, the Board approved the request for approval and authorization of the Final Assessment Resolution 2002-127 for Solid Waste Materials Assessment for Fiscal Year 2002-2003 and each Fiscal Year thereafter until discontinued, and the attached fee schedule reflecting $173.50 per residential unit.
Commr. Pool voted “no”.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 3:25 p.m., Commr. Pool stated that the Board will take a five minute recess.
COUNTY MANAGER’S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TOURISM -
LSCC SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE CENTER (SBA)
Mr. Greg Mihalic, Director of Economic Development/Tourism, addressed the Board to discuss a joint partnership with Lake Sumter Community College (LSCC) in forming a Small Business Assistance (SBA) Center to provided assistance to small businesses over the next four years. Mr. Mihalic explained that the County would take the proceeds from the Citrus Sun Hotel sale and use it to subsidize and fund the SBA Center to bring small business services to Lake County. He stated that about 95% of the businesses in the County are small businesses, yet the services are not provided locally for financing and counseling. The partnership with LSCC will provide these services at both the north and south campuses and hopefully they will be expanded into Sumter County, with a payment from Sumter County for the services provided there.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he appreciates Mr. Mihalic moving forward with this item, and the biggest majority of the businesses in Lake County are small businesses who do not have the resources to get some of the things that this resource will provide for them. He stated that this is a great resource for those “mom and pop” businesses, and he is really proud that they are doing it in conjunction with the college.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Stivender, to approve the request from Economic Development/Tourism for a partnership with Lake-Sumter Community College (LSCC) for the creation of a Small Business Assistance (SBA) Center, to reserve and pay $350,000.00 to LSCC over a four-year period for partial funding of the SBA Center, and to execute a business center agreement with LSCC subject to County Attorney review and approval.
Under discussion, Commr. Hill questioned who was going to be charge of the center.
Mr. Mihalic stated that LSCC will be in charge, but there will be a committee that is really a public/private partnership with a number of representatives from the chambers, the utilities, and other businesses, and they will be the overseeing the Board. He noted that the LSCC Foundation will also be involved in looking for other funding sources.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, explained that there will be a three year commitment but, hopefully, once the three years are up, they will be up and running, but right now they are providing the seed money.
Commr. Pool called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
RESOLUTIONS/TRANSPORTATION OUTREACH PROGRAM (TOP)
Mr. Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works, addressed the Board to discuss the request to endorse the Lake County Applications for Transportation Outreach Program (TOP) funding. Mr. Stivender directed the Board’s attention to the Application Summary Table in the backup, which noted the project names and descriptions.
Commr. Pool stated that he is part of the West Orange South Lake Transportation Task Force and, at their meeting the other day, they were not able to reach a consensus on the Hartwood Marsh corridor, but they were able to reach a consensus on trying to get the Hancock Road corridor on SR 50 going, with each bound to the turnpike as a joint effort, and that would be a portion of Orange, and a portion of Lake County for that six-laning. He agrees with Hartwood Marsh and it is an important east-west connection, but he feels that, at this point, there was a consensus of the Task Force that they try to push for the SR 50 from Hancock Road going east to the turnpike entrance, as their number one priority in lieu of Hartwood Marsh.
Mr. Stivender stated that staff is not being strict on the ranking and they are trying to be very flexible, because each one of them stands on their own merit depending on location and criteria. He noted that, on Hartwood Marsh, this is for construction dollars, and they are just getting into the preliminary design and engineering (PD&E). He stated that SR 50 is not designed, and they will be looking for right-of-way dollars soon. The other projects are either in the PD&E, or planning a PD&E in the near future, and asking for construction dollars.
Commr. Pool stated that the right-of-way from Hancock over to the Orange County line is the only part of the project that has all of the right-of-way and stormwater issues addressed, and he did not think this was going to be a right-of-way issue, and it includes retention ponds.
Mr. Stivender noted that these are the projects they will take to Tallahassee, and they are not in any particular order and have not been ranked, and they are all equally important.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from Public Works for approval of Resolution 2002-128 endorsing the Lake County Applications for Transportation Outreach Program (TOP) Funding and approval of application.
APPOINTMENTS - TRANSPORTATION DISADVANTAGED
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the appointment of Stephanie DeLorme as the Childhood Development Services representative on the Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board.
APPOINTMENTS - BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the appointment of individuals to vacant positions on the Lake County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, as follows: J. D. Wells and Thomas J. Kelley.
APPOINTMENTS - CITIZEN TRANSPORTATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the appointment of individuals to vacant positions on the Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee, as follows: Gordon C. Warner (Real Estate Field), Thomas R. Freeman (District 3), and David Orozco (Education Field).
REPORTS - COUNTY ATTORNEY
OUTSIDE COUNSEL - MULLER MINTZ
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, discussed the request for approval of a rate increase for outside counsel with the firm of Muller Mintz for handling of labor issues. Mr. Minkoff stated that this would involve a $5 increase, from $125 to $130 per hour, and staff is recommending approval.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from the County Attorney for a rate increase for outside counsel with the firm of Muller Mintz for handling of labor issues.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the budget has been relatively small although this year, because they have a union contract that is currently being negotiated, it will probably be higher because of the negotiations but, in terms of outside questions, there has been very minimal use of the attorney.
RESOLUTION - FEE SCHEDULES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002-2003
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, informed the Board that Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, has just pointed out that the proposed fee schedule has a drop in the tipping fee, from $95 to $45 a ton. Staff will have to come back and adjust that fee, if the Board takes a different action tonight.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried by a 3-2 vote, the Board approved Resolution 2002-129 for Fee Schedules for Fiscal Year 2002-2003.
Commr. Stivender and Commr. Hill voted “no”.
AGREEMENT - GRAVES AND SPIVEY AND PUBLIC DEFENDER
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, discussed the request for the extension of the Agreement between Lake County and Graves and Spivey and the Public Defender for legal representation for indigent criminal defendants. Mr. Minkoff stated that this law firm has been handling all of the criminal conflict cases for the County for the last four years, and the price has remained the same. When he asked them about extending their agreement, they offered to continue at the same price. The reason he is suggesting not going out for bid is that they only have hopefully another year and a half before the State picks up this service. He has talked to the Administrative Judge, and the Public Defender, and they are very happy with the way the contract is working, and staff would like to recommend the extension without bidding for it.
On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the extension of the Agreement between Lake County and Graves and Spivey and Public Defender for legal representation for indigent criminal defendants.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the firm did actually bid competitively when the contract was first awarded.
IMPACT FEES - LEW AND ROSADOA
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that this morning he added to the agenda a request from Dr. David C. Lew and his wife, June K. Lew, and Jose R. Rosado and his wife, Kristen J. Schultejans. Mr. Minkoff explained that they are building an outpatient heart facility in Leesburg. It is a very large facility, and it is a unique use that is not provided for on the County’s impact fee schedule. They have already started building the facility, and they have a foundation permit from the City of Leesburg. They would like to pay the full impact fees, as they have calculated them, for a physician’s office, and then do a study, in accordance with the procedures in the Ordinance. If the study shows that the fee should be less, they would be entitled to a refund. He stated that this is something that would be allowed after October 1 as a matter of course in the new Ordinance, but the current Ordinance does not allow it. Mr. Minkoff stated that staff would create a new category in the fee schedule from their study. The building will have 13,000 square feet on the first floor, which are principally medical offices, and 13,000 square feet on the second floor, which are principally operating rooms, and then there is a third floor with some additional space for storage.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from David C. Lew and June K. Lew, his wife, and Jose R. Rosado and Kristen J. Schultejans, his wife, to pay the present impact fee to the City of Leesburg for the construction of a medical facility in the City of Leesburg, but with the caveat that, after the study, if a lower impact fee is justified, they will be reimbursed by the County.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, addressed the item regarding the cancellation of the September 10, 2002 BCC Worksession/Regular Meeting, and stated that, after hearing the discussion today, he would recommend that the Board meet on that day.
It was noted that the Board would meet on September 10, 2002, at 10 a.m
REPORTS - COMMISSION POOL - CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT #2
COUNTY ATTORNEY’S EVALUATION
Commr. Pool informed the Board that the results of the County Attorney’s annual performance evaluation are being reviewed at this time, and there are still some results forthcoming, so it will be held up for about one week.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER HANSON - DISTRICT #4
In response to Commr. Hanson’s inquiry about the situation in Lake Mack, Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, informed the Board that he was in the Lake Mack area over the weekend, with Mr. Steve Nash, Director of Public Safety, and they are making some progress, but he is concerned about some of the projected weather reports for heavy rainfalls this weekend. They are staying on top of the issue and doing everything they can with the existing resources.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
ANNEXATIONS - MINNEOLA
Ms. Sherie Wolkens, Clermont, stated that she frequently attends Minneola City Council meetings. Ms. Wolkens stated that she lives in the unincorporated Lake County, and she is concerned about the Lennar development, and the impact it is going to have on the County. She was basically informed that her viewpoints were of little interest to the City of Minneola, because she does not live in the city limits. The representative from the City suggested that she come before the Board with the issue of concern and request the County to review and approve the issue before it gets to the City of Minneola.
Commr. Cadwell explained that, for ten years, the County has been working on joint planning areas with the cities, but they have yet to get to this point and, under the Florida Statutes, the home rule power limits what the County can do, but they can be more aggressive than they have been in the past, in regards to voicing their opinion on annexations.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that the County Manager, at the request of the Board, has been working with his staff and looking at how to react to annexations. He stated that staff is meeting on one already in Leesburg, and the Board could include the issue brought forward by Ms. Wolkins in that group for discussion.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that, to give the Board a further report, staff has their monthly meeting of the Florida Lake County City Managers Association tomorrow, and this is going to be an item that he is going to have on the agenda for discussion, because they have several proposed annexations, such as the one in Leesburg. Mr. Neron explained that the City of Leesburg asked the County to respond to this particular annexation, and he has a staff group working on that issue. He stated that the large annexations in particular will have future service impacts on the County especially in the areas of fire protection, law enforcement, and some of the other things they discussed during the fire assessment hearing today because, if the cities annex certain areas of the County, the County loses its revenue base, which can cause some real challenges. On the joint planning areas, Mr. Neron has told the Board collectively and individually that a lot of these areas are much city-city issues as they are city-county issues, which is not to say that they will not continue their efforts, because they are making some progress with Leesburg, and at least the northwest corner of the County. The challenges in the southern portion of the County between Montverde, Minneola, Clermont, Mascotte, and Groveland make it difficult for the County to get involved in them, but they are doing everything they can to do a better job, and to plan for these large developments. Mr. Neron stated that, if a land owner wants to voluntarily annex into a city and meet certain minimum requirements under the Statute, there is very little that the County can do to prohibit the annexation.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the County has an opportunity to get involved when the city annexes the property, because they have to change their comprehensive plan to include that property in the plan, and that is when adjacent property owners, as well as the County, would get involved, if they felt the change was contrary to the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Ms. Wolkins addressed the issue of enclaves, and the Board explained that Ms. Wolkins would have to address the legislation about this issue, because of the requirements in the Florida Statutes.
Commr. Pool stated that the Board can have County staff address the issue brought forth by Ms. Wolkins, along with the one from Leesburg, and research and discuss it with Minneola and adjoining property owners to see what the County can do and what can happen as they go forward.
Mr. Neron noted that he did not want to guarantee a time frame today, because each individual area is going to be different.
Mr. Rich Dunkle, Mount Dora, addressed the Board and stated that it seems that the same group that instigated the County to pull out of the SR 429 study has now gone back to the table with the Expressway Authority. He would like to suggest that the County get involved again in that issue, and to notice it and bring it up at a Board meeting and come back to the table.
Commr. Pool stated that, at one point, he thought the Expressway Authority was actually asking the County to come back to the table, and he thought that, not only the Department of Transportation (DOT), but some of the environmental community, had actually asked them to be a participant, and a partner, as they go forward. The Board needs to discuss what their options may be and what part the County will play in this as they go forward but, if something does happen along this corridor, it is important that they are involved in some capacity.
Mr. Dunkle stated that the Expressway Authority is talking about doing the beltway, which has got to go through Lake County, and he does not want them making a lot of representations that affect Lake County without the Board being able to give their input.
Commr. Hanson thought that the Governor’s Office was also looking at a task force.
Mr. Dunkle explained that the environmental community went back to the Expressway Authority and said that they were willing to negotiate on a beltway loop, because they realized that there were pressures well outside of their purview that were going to push this forward. So they saw the logic to going back to the table and studying the issues, which is exactly what they did not want done back in September. He noted that there was an article in the paper about the Governor’s task force, but no decisions have been made at this time. The Expressway Authority recently did some new modeling based on SR 429 terminating on SR 441 across from the Mount Dora area, and also some modeling showing it terminating at SR 46 or CR 44A, which he has passed on to Mr. Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that he will have Mr. Stivender research this issue, and staff will give a report to the Board.
ANNEXATIONS - THE SUMMIT DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Jeff Cooper, Cherry Lake Road, stated that he is a resident of unincorporated Lake County, and he is concerned with the City of Groveland’s proposal to annex every piece of land that is available to allow high density developments. In addition to the Summit development that they oppose, the City announced their intention on Friday to annex an additional 750 more acres. He explained that the Summit development annexation proposed 975 homes, 300,000 square feet of commercial space, and an elementary school. This was proposed after they already had a development approved by the County for 135 homes, and an 18 hole golf course. In order to subvert the County “Smart Growth” policies, they went to the City to minimize County planning. The Friday annexation announcement adds 999 more homes and 100,000 more square feet of commercial space. The City of Groveland knew all about these annexations for some time, yet they let no one know except through the minimum requirements of law. He wanted to know what the unincorporated homeowners can do to stop development that will ruin their rural life style.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that the Statute pertaining to annexations has certain requirements that property must meet to be annexed, and staff could look at each proposed annexation and determine if they meet those requirements. If they did not meet them, and the County wanted to contest it, staff would have to go to their meeting and put on evidence in a quasi-judicial type hearing, to show that they do not meet those requirements. If they do meet the requirements on the character of the area to be annexed, then there is no ground for the County to oppose the annexation.
Commr. Stivender stated that she and Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, and Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, met with Mr. Jason Yarborough, City Manager of Groveland, and their Public Works Director, and reviewed what is happening and why it is happening, and they did use smart growth principles. She wanted to know whether this was something that they really needed to be objecting to as site specific, or should they look at a policy they can use across the Board.
Commr. Hanson stated that she was glad that Commr. Stivender met with those individuals and discussed this issue. She stated that Mr. Minkoff and staff need to look at each annexation and make sure they all meet the letter of the law. She further stated that they do need a countywide policy that looks at the annexations, even though the Board has no control, but at least it would be some kind of alternative to what they should have in the joint planning areas.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, if the annexation meets the criteria for land to be annexed, then there is no ground to oppose the annexation. If it were rural lands in the County or, if the City is proposing an urban use, as the next step, the County could get involved in the comprehensive plan change through a Department of Community Affairs (DCA) type proceeding.
Mr. Neron explained that staff copies the Board and his office on legal notices on proposed annexations but, because of some of the potential impacts of these, staff has been taking more of interest in them. With regard to the Leesburg proposed annexation in the mall area, the City Manager of Leesburg asked him and his staff to review that particular annexation, because he wanted some policy decisions made by the Board on who may provide services within certain time frames. Mr. Neron stated that he has put together a staff group and will have a recommendation to the Board by the end of the month. In the past, there have been certain staff members from Growth Management, without direction from the Board, who officially have appeared at some of these public hearings. He does not feel comfortable having staff, without Board authorization on a particular case, representing the viewpoints of this Board or from a policy making standpoint. He feels it is very important that they work out a procedure where they can look at these uniformly on an across the Board basis and, before staff takes any action, they will bring the issue to the Board for direction, to make sure it is in conjunction with the way the Board wants to go with it. He noted that it will take a few weeks to pull this together.
Mr. Cooper stated that their purpose today was to make the Board aware of the issue. He stated that the Growth Management Department sent a letter to DCA in January saying that the regulations for the City of Groveland were much more permissive than those of the County, and they are very concerned about this matter. He noted that the property owners did not even fight the 135 homes, and the 18 hole golf course, and the property owners are getting no information from anyone including the developer.
Mr. Bill Good stated, at the East Central Florida Regional Water Planning Supply Initiative meeting, they asked specifically that the County have representation at the next meeting in Orange County. He feels that this particular request strikes very closely to what is being discussed here today, in terms of annexations and increasing density of use in South Lake County, because the Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) in this area, to a large extent, are being over pumped, or will be very soon. In terms of keeping people informed about these annexations, in looking particularly at water treatment, which is where the concurrency is aimed, he wondered whether the Board is also looking at the front end of that pipe, and at the water supply needs of that area.
Mr. Neron stated that the County is very interested in water supply, as well as this issue, and they have had representatives attend a variety of these meetings. He wanted to note that the County is not in the water and/or sewer utility business.
Mr. Good stated that, in terms of the annexation questions being raised, the meeting on Thursday is a very important meeting, and the Board has said it will study the issue. He has had conversations in the past with Mr. Minkoff about Leesburg and Clermont annexations, and he questioned whether the Board can take a more aggressive attitude and instruct staff to be at that meeting, as requested by the people. He feels that a designated person needs to be there, because the City has taken a very aggressive stand to say that they are not interested in what anyone has to say unless they live in the town.
Mr. Minkoff explained that, in terms of an annexation hearing, if they proposed an annexation that would create an enclave, staff could go to the hearing and say that they cannot do this annexation, because it does not meet the criteria in the code, but beyond that, at the annexation hearing, there would be little they could do, and the follow up would be when they went to amend their comprehensive plan. The County could then take a position and request a hearing, if it did not meet the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
Commr. Cadwell explained that the law is very clear that annexations are the right of a property owner, and a city, to enter into an agreement, as long as they meet all of the legal requirements and, until they get to the land use plan amendments, the law is set up to keep counties from stopping cities from annexing.
Mr. Neron clarified that staff does not mind attending the meetings, but they are not going to participate, or represent any position on behalf of this Board, until he has brought something back to the Board for the full Board’s consideration.
Mr. Good stated that the citizens would really appreciate having someone from the County at the city council meetings to get a first hand look at the process, and he would make this request on their behalf, as a County resident, for a County staff member to be there, to watch the meeting and give them a professional opinion rather than having them feel that they need to hire an attorney for representation.
Mr. Neron noted that he, and/or Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager, will attend the City of Groveland Council meeting on Thursday but, in no way will he participate, or represent the Board in any way.
REPORTS - COMMISSION POOL, CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT #2
HARRIS CHAIN OF LAKES RESTORATION COUNCIL
After a brief discussion of the Harris Chain of Lakes Restoration Council’s request for $5,000.00 funding, it was noted that the item would be placed on the September 10, 2002 agenda, to be discussed with other budget items brought forth by the Board and staff.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 4:35 p.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board would recess until 5:05 for the first public hearing on the budget.
PUBLIC HEARING - FIRST PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BUDGET
At 5:05 p.m., Commr. Pool announced that the advertised time had arrived for the first public hearing on the budget. At this time, he explained the procedure that the Board would use to hear public comment.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that, on July 2, 2002, he presented to the Board a proposed tentative budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year. Since that time, through various budget workshops, staff has made some adjustments, but staff is submitting for the Board’s consideration the tentative Annual Budget for Lake County for Fiscal Year 2003. All funds are in balance at the millage rates listed below (as shown in the budget booklet presented to the Board). He stated that these are the rates advertised through the TRIM notice for the First Public Hearing and do not reflect any millage reductions proposed from the various meetings and workshops they have had to date.
•Countywide Millage Rate: 6.367 mills per $1,000 of assessed taxable value, as advertised in the TRIM notice. This includes keeping the General Fund millage rate at 5.117 mills, the same as Fiscal Year 2002, and an additional 1.25 mills to assist in the provision of countywide solid waste collection and disposal services.
•Lake County Municipal Services Taxing Unit for Ambulance and Emergency Services: .5289 mills per $1,000 of assessed taxable value.
•Lake County Stormwater Municipal Services Taxing Unit: .400 mills per $1,000 of assessed taxable value.
•Tentative countywide budget: $285,383,172.
Mr. Neron stated that, during the past two weeks, he has informed the Board of various cuts that could be made in the Solid Waste Management budget, as well as the possibility of using $1.4 million in Infrastructure Sales Tax revenues to fund the FY 2003 Line-of-Credit debt. If the Board approves these two actions, this combination would reduce the proposed additional millage rate from the advertised millage rate of 1.25 mills to .85 mills.
Mr. Neron stated that, in his proposed message on July 2, 2002, they discussed the revenue trends, and the growth in the County, and he pointed out to the Board that they are facing serious financial challenges in three areas: (1) General Fund; (2) Fire Rescue Special Assessment Fund; and (3) Solid Waste Fund. He stated that they had a lengthy discussion this morning on the Solid Waste Fund, and the Fire Rescue Fund and, based on Board action taken this morning, the proposed increase in Fire Rescue Fund for next fiscal year was reduced from $118 to $99, which is a $6 increase over the current fiscal year. After a lengthy discussion this afternoon and, after hearing several speakers, the Board approved the special assessment for the Solid Waste Fund at $173.50. The issue to still be decided is the .85 proposed millage rate. The overall General Fund budget this year was about $7.9 million out of balance between proposed expenditures and available revenues. The Board has approved the tentative budget by using $7.9 million in the reserve for contingency funds to balance the budget. He explained that this will probably be the last year that they will be able to use this because the general fund unrestricted reserves are down to about 8.6%. Over the last several years that general fund reserve averaged 10% to 12%.
Mr. Neron explained that, of the $100 million General Fund budget, the greatest proportion of it is used to fund the constitutional offices, or legislatively mandated expenses. The departments under the Board’s direct supervision and, at the direction of the manager, only account for about $24 million in funds. For those departments under the Board in the next fiscal year, the proposed budgets are about 6%, or $1.6 million less than currently funded. For those departments under the Board, they limited salary increases for employees for the next fiscal year to a flat $1,000 per employee where, in the past years, the salary increases have ranged in the 4% to 5% area. There were over $8 million worth of program enhancements for additional positions and new programs under the Board departments, but none of those enhancements are being recommended for funding. In the solid waste area, over 13 positions were reduced and privatization for one of the material recycling program was approved and several other substantial cuts were made in the solid waste fund.
Commr. Pool recognized the following individuals who were present in the audience: Sheriff George E. Knupp, Jr.; Leo Vaughn, Council Member, City of Tavares; Frank Royce, Council Member, City of Eustis, Scott Strong, Lake County School Board Member; and Evelyn Smith, County Member, City of Eustis.
Mr. Frank Royce, City Commissioner, City of Eustis, stated that he was compelled to speak to the Board on two points against the proposed millage increase that is to be used to offset the cost of the waste-to-energy facility. Mr. Royce stated that he has a great responsibility to the residents of Eustis to protest this ad valorem tax. The City of Eustis last year was requested and encouraged by the County to look elsewhere for disposal of its solid waste, because the County was concerned about a projected overage in tonnage at its facility. Mr. Royce explained that the City of Eustis is not currently using the County facility except for yard waste, as requested by the County, and as agreed to by the City. Mr. Royce stated that his concern, as that of many of the residents of City of Eustis, is that the taxes form a double taxation for services where the City is rendering that service for all Eustis residents, and they are paying the City for those services. He referred to language on the solid waste notice, which stated that the millage increase would include city residents to help offset the cost of the waste-to-energy facility and spread it equitably among property owners and stated that he finds absolutely no form of equality in this plan. He explained that it taxes vacant land, tangible personal property, and it taxes without any consideration as to whether there is a use for the service, or to the amount of the service rendered. It taxes utility companies for items like water systems, and underground wires and equipment, as well as business equipment, and hundreds of vacant lots and thousands of acres used for farming, for solid waste. All property that is tax exempt will pay nothing for solid waste no matter how much waste is produced. Mr. Royce stated that solid waste, and the management of it, should be paid for by the user and paid for by the amount of service required. He respectfully requested that the Board repeal this millage that is earmarked for the incinerator, or for the solid waste program. Mr. Royce stated that this Board requires the applause of those present for all they do for the County, and for the tough decisions that they must make at this time.
Commr. Pool recognized Mr. Mike Stearman, City Manager, City of Eustis, and Ms. Jonnie Hale, Council Member, City of Eustis.
Mr. Roy Hunter, President of the Northeast Lake Chamber of Commerce, stated that he would like to speak on the libraries. At this time, he presented the Board with letters from children and their parents telling them how they feel about the Library in Paisley. Mr. Hunter noted that he had faxed to the Board a letter of concern, which he read into the record at this time. The letter explained that they feel there are other solutions to the problems the County is facing today. Mr. Hunter stated that it is time the cities recognize the generosity of the Board, because the County voluntarily divided the projected sales tax evenly between the cities, the school system, and the County. He stated that the library budget is affecting only the rural areas, yet the County contributes to the city libraries. He explained that Covanta is everyone’s problem. Mr. Hunter stated that the County needs to look at the amount of taxes going to water, as shown on the tax bill, and suggested that perhaps those monies should be distributed to the General Fund. He further suggested that the budget would be balanced without hurting the County employees, or services to the citizens, if all departments would consider not hiring new staff, or creating new departments.
Mr. Hunter stated that he wanted to acknowledge Ms. Dodson because she collected 60 signatures herself on the petition he presented to the Board. He stated that the people want the libraries to stay the way they are today.
Commr. Hanson stated that she has no intention of cutting the libraries, or closing any of them and, as they move forward into the next year, as with any department, the Board needs to look for opportunities to streamline and become more efficient and more effective but in no way does she believe that the rest of the Board intends to close any libraries. She stated that they have never discussed it other than what would happen if they did do that.
Commr. Pool stated that the Board is trying to streamline and provide service costs effectively, and there may be areas of opportunity, but it does not mean a library is going to shut down, and he does not think that is any part of the Board’s opportunity here, or intent.
Commr. Hill explained that, when she brought the issue forward, it was not her intent, or purpose, to close a library, and she appreciates the Commissioners’ comments, and she did know that this was misunderstood.
Commr. Pool stated that the Board is very proud of the library system, and they want to enhance it as they go forward, but they need to make sure that they provide it in a cost effective method and, at the same time, provide that service for the citizens. He stated that, at this point, unless a Commissioner has any comments, they are not closing any libraries.
Mr. Al Jones stated that his associate is Ms. Jenny Holloway, and they are all here to support Animal Control’s request for a spay/neuter clinic. Mr. Jones presented the Marion County Animal Center comparison of population to animal impounds, for the years 1990 through 1997, and explained that, for eight years, the number of impounds increased in Marion County by nearly 89%, while the population rose by only 21%. Mr. Jones stressed the need for prevention intervention. Mr. Jones stated that, in 1997, the Marion County Commission approved a spay/neuter clinic, and now they have a mobile bus providing this service. The number of animals adopted went from 650 to 3,000. He reviewed statistical information from Orange County noting the number of animals received have decreased in ten years and that euthanasias have decreased by about 35%. He noted that Orange County and Lake County euthanasias were both about 7,300 but Orange County’s human population is four times greater than Lake County. In reviewing the percentage of animals received in Lake County, as compared to Marion County and Orange County, Mr. Jones determined that the County could save about a half million dollars in costs, based on the cost to impound, adopt, or euthanize an animal.
Mr. Jones stated that Lake County needs a clinic, and it would need $54,000 for vet and vet technicians. The County gets a $27,000 credit, because the neutering charges would be eliminated. The County would need $19,000 for utilities and supplies; $50,000 for a 15 square foot modular unit; and $11,500 for a new clinic. The total would be $108,340. The County has $70,000 in Account 610, which is a trust fund, which was donated by citizens who were concerned and willing enough to give to this cause, which leaves them with a final net over budget of $38,340. It would cost 45 cents per residential household to fund the clinic now, and 86 cents every year thereafter. He stated that three dollars is returned down the line, not like any other budget program.
Ms. Sue Harrelson, Astor, stated that she is Vice President of the Friends of the Astor Area Library, and she is here to ask the Board to reconsider any proposed budget cuts to library services that will affect operating hours and staffing of the County libraries and, in particular, the new Astor library, which has been a labor of love for the community. She stressed that quality education is currently a main concern, with test scores in Florida being among the lowest in the nation. She stated that she was a school board director for ten years, and she is very much involved in education, and she very much respects the library system. In regards to last year’s financial report, the County had the foresight to increase the library budget, and she applauds the Board for doing so. She stated that they do not want to see any reductions, or cuts, in the library services. She further stated that part of the Board’s action was to increase citizen confidence in Lake County government, and she strongly applauds the Board for that. She asked that the Board look at other alternatives within the budget that would not affect staffing, or operating hours, of the libraries.
Ms. Jennifer Dotson, Paisley, stated that she brought her daughter today to put a face to all of the children that would suffer if the Board cut the hours to the library, or closed any of the libraries. Ms. Dotson stressed that, if they closed any library, or cut any hours of operation, the community will suffer in many ways. The libraries are used for many purposes, not only for people to congregate to meet other people in the community but for many different programs, and they need to do more to get children to go to the library. She addressed the school test scores, which have been lower every year, and stated that they need to do what they can to help improve education.
Ms. Carolyn Sherman, Sorrento, stated that she came here tonight, because she thought the Board would be addressing fire and solid waste, but, as she has heard, the Board has already taken action on those issues. Ms. Sherman stated that she lives at Wekiva River Acres and she is concerned about the fire department, because this area of the County is expanding rapidly, and there are more and more subdivisions being developed. There are only two individuals at the Mount Plymouth fire station and very few volunteers. Ms. Sherman explained that she moved to this area for the quiet country, and now she is ready to move away. She stated that the County closed Station 32, and she is concerned about the Mount Plymouth station. She is even more concerned about the people who have mortgaged their homes to take care of their expenses.
Mr. Bubba Hersh, Lady Lake, stated that he lives on Little Dirt Road, and he understands that the Board approved the $173.50 solid waste assessment fee. Mr. Hersh explained that his road, from fence to fence, is about 30 feet, and it is one half mile down this road to the last farm, which is his farm. He would like to know how a garbage truck is going to be able to turn around on this road. He understands that there is going to be some kind of rebate in these types of situations, and his self haul card is going to expire, and he questioned whether he was going to be able to continue as a self hauler and how much of a rebate he may receive if the road does not meet the required standards.
Mr. Max Sonntag, Sorrento, stated that he was here representing his wife who is on the Board of Directors at the East Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Sonntag explained that he and his wife came here 15 years ago and have always been involved in community work. In order to help the community, they purchased the Chamber building. The County has renovated the building and is now renting it. Mr. Sonntag stated that the library is one of the best libraries they have in the area. He has always paid school taxes and, because of immigration laws, he unable to have his grandchildren come and enjoy the community. He stated that, after September 11, 2001, a lot of people have experienced hardships and lost their jobs and, because families are struggling, the library have become a place for children to congregate and continue to learn and enjoy friendships. They need to raise money for the libraries, and they need the support from the Commissioners.
Mr. Elmer Berol, Fruitland Park, stated that he wants to talk about garbage and, at this time, he presented questions to the Board and staff about the proposed millage.
Mr. Neron addressed Mr. Berol’s questions and explained that the advertised millage rate is 6.367 mills countywide, which generates about $50 million. He explained that about $7.5 million will be devoted to the solid waste fund. If the Board goes with the universal collection, the amount paid for solid waste collection services will be $5.7 million. He also explained that the three trash haulers will have to haul the garbage through the incinerator.
Mr. Berol asked the Board how many times they have asked the audience to vote on an issue, such as the ones being proposed today, and he requested that the Board cease all further cost of living increases, merit increases, anniversary increases, and birthday increases to the employees, and that all employees of the County who make over $30,000 a year be forced to pay the shortfall in the incinerator, and the cost for garbage.
Mr. Terry Mitchell, Leesburg, stated that he wants to know why his taxes are increasing by 25% this year and where the case was ever made that the County needed to raise taxes by 25%. He encouraged the Board to consider a more user fee, which means that those who use the services pay for them. He feels that there is a source of revenue that has been overlooked and the County should be looking more carefully at it. Mr. Mitchell stated that the national parks and public hospitals operate on this principle, and he does not see why the County cannot be making more use of it. In the future, he would encourage the Board to make a better case, if they intend to raise taxes, either through the public media, or the trim notice, and tell them why their taxes are going up.
Mr. Alex Hougasian, Clermont, stated that the last time he had the opportunity to speak to the Board was May 15, 2001. The letter he sent to Commr. Pool at that time referred to the solid waste issue and universal collection, and the $7.9 million gap between the County expenses and revenues, with the biggest expense being the contract and legal fees with Covanta. Mr. Hougasian stated that he is a self hauler who wants to pay his fair share of the waste management expense, however, because he recycles and reduces his trash, he only has about a 30 gallon bag every six weeks and this has not changed since he talked to Commr. Pool last year. He makes about nine trips per year to dispose of his recyclables and trash. His garbage costs $15 a bag right now but, at the proposed cost of $173.50, and the additional 1.25 ad valorem assessment, his trash will now cost him $35.58 per bag. He feels this is not fair and equitable plus waste management generates revenues from his recyclables. The trash pickup twice a week is more costly than once a week, and twice a week pickup does not encourage residents to recycle. It appears that waste management is putting its problems on the self haulers, and waste management needs to focus on the real problem, the contract with Covanta. He stated that they need to find something more equitable for everybody and not eliminate the self haulers permit.
Mr. Jose A. Leclere, Clermont, stated the he has about 400 to 500 petitions from the people that live in the area that are concerned about what is going to happen to the libraries. Most of them are people who come from other countries and, in the United States, they found the opportunity to find a job, or a better form of living and, without the libraries, they will not be allowed to have a chance to become better people. Mr. Leclere stated that most of the people work for private companies, hotels and parks, and they want them to know English, so they need the Citrus Ridge Library, as well as all of the other libraries.
Mr. Scott Strong, Fruitland Park, stated that he is strongly opposed to the ad valorem tax increase, because vacant land and agricultural property without residences do not generate garbage and, therefore, should not be subsidizing an incinerator, which they do not use. As a commercial and residential landlord, he pays property taxes, and his tenants pay for the trash they generate. His leases are long term and will not allow him to raise rent to compensate for this tax increase. Some of his tenants generate more garbage than others, and they pay for the garbage they generate. He addressed the decrease in the tipping fee and stated that this means that local government, and a not-for-profit organization such as a hospital, will come out significantly better than the average property owner. Mr. Strong stated that this is obviously not a fair system, and it is only going to add to the burden of those that pay taxes. The best way to pay for the incinerator should be based on usage and right now the burden is falling disproportionately on business owners and developers. He asked that the Board strongly consider not approving the ad valorem portion of this tax.
Commr. Hill stated that she appreciates Mr. Strong’s presence this evening, and she realizes that he spoke as a business person, but she will entertain a partnership with the School Board to contribute to the County’s library system. She explained that the County works with the school system on all of the after school programs, and now her challenge to Mr. Strong and the school system would be to help with the library system. Commr. Hill stated that the Board has a lot of people that come in that have just as many wants as those with the libraries, and the Board needs to evaluate them, as a Board, and not shortchange the services that they must provide for the citizens of Lake County.
Ms. Joan McCall, Mount Dora, stated that she would like to commend Commr. Hanson, because, without her, there would not be a Children’s Commission. Ms. McCall stated that 21% of the children in Lake County live below the poverty level, which is about 10,000 children. She stated that 39% of the children qualify for free and reduced lunches in the public schools. They appreciate the support that the Board has given the Children’s Commission in previous years but, she would like to point out that the level of support has not increased for several years. They get a minuscule percentage of the General Fund allocation every year. She stated that taxes are going up 25%, and she wondered why they were being projected to cut 6% from an already underfunded program. She also supports spay/neuter programs and prevention/intervention and the same thing applies to children. She has been saying for years that the County spends more money on animal control than they do on children’s services, $400,000 on animal control and $197,000 on children’s services. Ms. McCall extended an invitation, as she has done in the past, to the Commissioners and staff to attend a Children’s Commission meeting.
Ms. Ann Hoehn, Yalaha, stated that she is speaking in behalf of Ms. Jane DeVor,.who has worked in the school system for approximately eight years. Ms. Hoehn stated that she heard the Board say that no libraries would be closed, and she also wanted to hear that there will be no cut to the hours, or days. She stated that Ms. DeVor is outraged that the budget would even consider cutting library services. Her letter explained that the County will be cutting the education budget even more by under staffing the library system, which is the first place in which we teach our children the love of reading. She stated that it was very important to open the outlying libraries, Paisley and Astor, and, it is important that these libraries be properly staffed, and she hopes that the Board will take a good look at the future of the children before cutting anymore of the educational dollars.
Mr. Emil Sales, Clermont, stated that he is a retired resident, and he is here to make a protest against any new taxes. Mr. Sales stated that working people and retirees already pay taxes to the federal government, as well as to the state, county, city and special taxing districts. After people take care of their necessities, they should not have to hand over what they have left to government.
Mr. Lewis Stone, Eustis, stated that he is here on behalf of the City of Eustis who met in special session to pass a resolution, which opposes the ad valorem assessment as a means of generating funds for the solid waste system. Mr. Stone explained that this was done because the City of Eustis does not participate in the County’s solid waste system. He stated that City Commissioner Royce spoke earlier about this item. Mr. Stone stated that the City of Eustis did not participate in any meaningful way in the process that brings them here tonight, and the City has voiced opposition to this as a form of collecting the revenues. He explained that the cities asked the County about the need to participate in the waste-to-energy facility and, at that time, it was staff’s position that they were concerned about going over maximum tonnage and, therefore, the County did not want their garbage. So the cities negotiated with their trash hauler to have it taken out of County. The County has changed its mind now, as far as how much solid waste needs to be included in the system, and they want additional contractual benefits by having a larger amount. He stated that this is misfortunate for the City of Eustis and its citizens and taxpayers, because they are already paying the City of Eustis who statutorily has responsibility for its solid waste. Mr. Stone stated that this Board did not create this problem, but it was a previous Board who did create it about ten years ago. For this whole period of time, the City of Eustis has required mandatory collection of its citizens. He stated that it was their position that enterprises, such as a solid waste system, should be paid for by enterprise funds, which are essentially tipping fees and non ad valorem assessments. Mr. Stone stated that no matter what the Board does today, it is not going to be equitable, but he would strongly urge the Board to meet with all of the cities and try to develop something that is acceptable to all of them, before this issue comes around again next year and, in the meantime, he wanted them to know that the City of Eustis and other clients that he represents are extremely disappointed by the notion of an ad valorem assessment, and that it is unfair. He believed that the Board had a copy of the resolution from the City of Eustis, which speaks for itself.
Ms. Phillis Cramer, Tavares, stated that she feels that the spay/neutering plan is a wonderful idea, and it is long past due in Lake County. She feels it should be illegal to have an animal that is not spayed or neutered, if you are not a breeder. She feels that the County can initiate fines, which will greatly reduce the need for animal control and save the lives of a lot of animals. There are four non-kill shelters in the County, and it is shocking to know that 7,000 animals are euthanized at the pound. Ms. Cramer stated that there should be a much greater fine to the person than the cost to spay or neuter.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 6:45 p.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board would be taking a 15 minute recess.
PUBLIC HEARING - FIRST PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BUDGET (CONTINUED)
At 7 p.m., Commr. Pool announced that the Board would reconvene the meeting and continue with public comment.
Ms. Nora Tatum, Mt. Dora, stated that she has been a resident of Mount Dora and Sorrneto for the last 12 years and, for the last five years, she has been a volunteer at the Cat Protection Society in Sorrento. Ms. Tatum explained that, because they are one of the few no kill shelters, they have become a dumping ground for hundreds of kittens this year, as well as puppies. She explained that people do not want to take their pets to Animal Control, because they do not want their pets destroyed. It is time for the County to seriously look into this issue, because the tax dollars could be much better spent spaying and neutering and fixing the problem instead of killing thousands of animals.
Mr. David Orozco, Clermont, stated that he has been doing some research on how the operation of the library system is managed. Earlier the Board said they were not going to close any of the libraries, but the question remains, what are they going to cut. He stated that cutting staff would be a short term option, but a long term commitment to the community means that they need to be more responsible in their financial management of the library system. He addressed the expansion being proposed and stated that, from a business perspective, it is not reasonable to expand the operations, when the County is suffering from a lack of money. He understands that there was a time when the County needed to invoke these memberships/partnerships, but he does not understand why the County is paying the member libraries, and he would like to see this model changed. He felt that it may be time for a financial analysis and that the Board owes this to the citizens of the County. Mr. Orozco stated that he is representing his family and some friends in his neighborhood, and he feels that the Board needs to be more creative and see if they can find cost saving efforts that are long term solutions to providing this necessary function. He felt that perhaps they could have some brainstorming with the public and bring some talent and resources together, and he wanted them to know that he would be willing to help solve the problem.
Mr. Dick Seron, Tavares, stated that he moved to Lake County 22 years ago, and this County was entirely different than it is today. Mr. Seron stated that the County has grown at one of the greatest rates in the country, and the quality of life here is somewhat questionable now. He stated that the burden on the Commissioners is much greater today and, as long as he can remember, people have been protesting tax increases. He stated that some people do not understand the cost for items today, and they do not realize that government expenses are increasing along with their own expenses as citizens. As responsible citizens, they have to take care of that need. He stated that the quality of the schools, and the quality of the libraries is a direct indicator of the stature of the community. He stated that it is marvelous that the Board is trying to expand the library system, but they are going to have to put more money into the library budget this year. If you ever want to know a community, you need to look at the library and, if the Board wants to balance the budget this year, they should not take anything from the libraries.
Mr. Bob Curry, Seminole Springs, stated that he is here to represent The Friends of the East Lake County Library (The Friends). Mr. Curry delivered, for the President of The Friends, a letter with petitions that were signed by the people in their area. Mr. Curry thanked the Board for the assurance that there will be no closing of libraries, but they are concerned with the reduction of hours that might result from budget proposals that have been made today. The reduction of hours would only affect the five branch libraries, since the city libraries handle their own staffing and payroll, and they would be reducing the availability of libraries in the rural areas of the County, as opposed to the urban/suburban areas that are serviced by the city libraries The East Lake County Library probably serves one of the larger geographic areas in the County, and a loss of hours would be a great loss of resource to the people.
Ms. Diane Post, Fruitland Park, stated that she lives in the unincorporated area of Fruitland Park, and she cannot use the Leesburg library unless she pays them $30. The penny tax was reinstated, and she questioned why she pays this tax, but she cannot use the library without paying a fee. Ms. Post reviewed the information she received on her tax bill, in relation to the assessment of her home, and stated that, in regards to the solid waste issue, she understands that the County is going to lower the hauler fee to get the cities back but she has not heard any guarantees on this issue. It was her understanding that the City of Eustis is not going to come back and put their garbage in the incinerator. She has been recycling since a bucket was placed in front of her home, and now that the County is making this fair to everyone, at a cost of $173.50, she questioned whether they were going to make everybody recycle. She understands that some people can continue to haul their own garbage and questioned the fairness, when she does not have a choice to be a self hauler.
Mr. Donald Piper, Leesburg, stated that he moved here from Michigan where a change in millage, or a tax increase, had to be approved by a formal ballot, by the electorate. He was so surprised when he received his notice of proposed property taxes, which indicated that his taxes are increasing by 30% for no extra services. He already lives in an area where the services are established, and he lives on a fixed income like many other people in the County, so the County needs to consider “tightening their belt.”
Rev. Norace Hodges stated that he lives in the City of Tavares and has the same sentiments about taxes. He was here to speak on behalf of his church, New Life Baptist Church, which is four years old, and to address the issue of the fire service assessment. He is a native Floridian and has been in this County for over 25 years and has been pastoring all of that time. In starting their church, they bought a piece of wooded property, and they have cleared and developed about one fourth of it, and there is a building on the property where they are meeting. In order to get that building, the County required them to put in a tank, which holds 11,000 gallons. They are required to keep it filled and maintained and the fire tank is at the disposal of the firefighters at any time. Rev. Hodges explained that their building is an all metal building, which has fire retardant drywall and concrete floors, but it does have a few wooden items such as the pews. He received a letter saying they are going to be assessed $632 for a 4,800 foot building, which is used about five hours a week. The church is a non profit organization, and he does not feel it is a just assessment, and he opposes the situation.
Commr. Hanson explained to Rev. Hodges that the Board made some changes earlier today, in the fire rescue area, that would have reduced that amount significantly. She stated that the Board approved four years ago a plan to increase 5% per year for fire and rescue, and they approved the 5% for this year, to complete that plan.
Mr. D. J. Moral addressed the Board and stated that he feels the amount of taxes the County is getting from him right now is an ample amount for not getting anything extra in services. Mr. Moral stated that citizens receive a library card from the County, and he suggested that each citizen pay $20 for it, which would help raise money for the County.
Mr. Bill Deckman stated that he has fought the garbage issue from day one. Mr. Deckman stated that the County held a meeting in Astatula to discuss the issue, and the Board did not have the meeting area situated so that the public could hear the discussion. He told the Board in the very beginning that the County would never own the incinerator, and to do anything they could do to get out of the contract. He could not understand why each year the citizens get an increase in their taxes for service, when they should be receiving a decrease due to the rapid increase in population and more people paying for services. He stated that the water condition in the Lake Mack area is atrocious, and he wondered if it was going to take another 20 years before anything is done to this area. In terms of firehouses, the County had good citizens serving as volunteers, and they provided better service than the County is providing today with its $180,000 vehicles, and the employees are putting a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on those vehicles. Mr. Deckman stated that the Lake Mack area is a disgrace, and they are paying for stormwater management, and the Board needs to do something for those people who are paying for this.
Commr. Pool called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed.
Commr. Pool noted that the Board needs to publicly announce the percent by which the re-computed proposed millage rate exceeds the rolled-back rate.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the Board needs to read the millage rates that were advertised and, when the millage is adopted, if it is changed, then a motion to adopt a lower millage would be in order.
At this time, Mr. Neron addressed some of the concerns and questions of the public and. briefly reviewed why the County is facing some of the challenges in the solid waste fund. He explained that they have made cuts in the proposed solid waste department budget of almost $500,000 through the privatization and renegotiated hauler contracts and other solid waste reductions in the budget. Staff has proposed, and the Board has tentatively agreed, that they can use local option sales tax to pay the line of credit payment that reduces $1.4 million from the needed budget. The hauler costs are $5.7 million, which is what the Board will now be collecting and paying the haulers for universal collection for the residents in the unincorporated area, and the residents who are in the unincorporated area, who are currently subscribing to the service, will no longer be paying the haulers. After looking at all of these costs, it still leaves a deficit of about $7.5 million, which is what the proposed millage rate was supposed to address. There is also the contract with Covanta that has over $10 million to $12 million of fixed expenses. There are three methods of helping to fund that budget, the non ad valorem assessment in the unincorporated area, the proposed millage rate levied countywide, and the tipping fee. The Board has tentatively approved $173.50 on the solid waste assessment for the residents in the unincorporated area; a tipping fee of $45 a ton; a proposed millage rate of .85.
Mr. Neron explained that, per the Ordinance that has been adopted under universal collection, if it is determined that a road is not passable and cannot be used by a garbage truck to provide the service, there is the potential to have a rebate on the collection portion, which would be about $105. There is also a hardship provision program where, if a citizen meets certain income criteria, they can make an application, and the Board will assist with that payment. With regard to libraries, there has never been a proposal at this point to either cut hours, or close libraries. In regards to the spay/neuter clinic, as he mentioned earlier, in order to get the Board at the current millage and balance the budget, there is not one enhancement being recommended by the County Manager. There are no new positions being created, no new programs being added, and the departments are about 6% less than the budget last year. There are fixed mandated expenses by the legislature for medicare/medicaid and other services.
Mr. Neron explained that, in 1985, property taxes were about 45% of the General Fund budget, with state and federal sources being almost 20% to 25% of the General Fund budget. Over the last 17 years, the property tax portion of that budget has increased to 61%, and the state and federal revenue sources are down to around 10%. There has been a cutback in state and federal revenue sharing of sources and grants to the County, but there are more and more services being mandated on the County that they have no choice in providing in the area of courts, public defender, and other aspects of the judicial system, as well as a cutback in medicare/medicaid expenses.
In regards to the spay/neuter clinic, Mr. Neron stated that, in talking to Mr. Nash, they estimate the cost of the modular building to be about $100,000 depending on the site, if the Board should want to approve this program . There is $70,000 set aside in a fund for a building, for a balance of $30,000 and approximately $25,000 in equipment and set up expenses, so there would be an initial one time expense in the amount of $55,000 and about $80,000 of annual operating costs.
Mr. Nash explained the process currently being used by the County for adoption of an animal, and the spay/neuter requirements, and noted that the proposal being presented to the Board would allow for the County to have its own spay/neuter clinic at the facility.
Commr. Cadwell explained that he would like staff to continue to look at the proposal for a spay/neuter clinic but, in this budget year, they will not be able to do that because they are turning away requests from the Sheriff, Clerk of Courts, and others and, if they did have the funds, there is $8 million worth of other things that were cut in the budget this year that this request would need to be balanced against.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the Florida Statutes are very specific, and there are some announcements to be made. The first action of the Board is to adopt a tentative millage, and the Board can adopt them by one motion, if they like or at the pleasure of the Board, it can be done by separate motions. Once the tentative millage is adopted, then the Board can consider amendments that they would like to make to the tentative budget. The announcements they will make were based on the advertised budget and millages and, if they accept the County Manager’s recommendation from today, it will be lower millage rates, when they make the motion. Mr. Minkoff announced the following:
•Proposed Lake county General Fund millage rate is 6.367, which is 29.02% over the rolled-back rate of 4.935 mills.
•Proposed Lake County Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) for Ambulance & Emergency Medical Services is .5289, which is 3.75% over the rolled-back rate of .5098.
•Proposed Lake County Stormwater Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) is .400, which is 37.93% over the rolled back rate of .290 mills.
•The County’s aggregate rolled-back rate is 5.619 mills and the proposed aggregate tentative rate is 7.133 mills, which results in an increase over the aggregate rolled-back rate of 26.94%.
Ad valorem taxes are being increased to alleviate the damage to our lakes caused by stormwater runoff, and to assist in the provision of countywide solid waste collection and disposal services.
Commr. Cadwell made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Hanson, to approve a Lake County General Fund tentative millage rate of 5.967.
Under discussion, Commr. Stivender requested clarification of the proposed millage rate, in terms of what it includes after today’s discussion.
Mr. Neron explained that the millage rate will include the .85 mills that was approved today, and this millage rate will be advertised for the final hearing on September 17, 2002. At that time, it may be lowered, but not increased.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the whole Board has been torn with the idea of using ad valorem taxes for solid waste just because historically they have never done that, and they always hoped that the lawsuit with Covanta would be resolved before budget time, but they are still obligated to it. The Board members have not come up with a better way to spread those costs fairly, but at least everyone will be participating, and he hopes that the Board will support this idea, with the understanding that all of the tax increase will go to the solid waste fund.
Under discussion, Commr. Hanson stated that they have had cooperation from the constitutional officers through this budget process, and it is still ongoing, and she appreciates that and, with the universal collection, and the lower tipping fee, she feels they will bring back enough of the cities that will get them to the maximum use of the incinerator. She stated that they must use the ad valorem to keep that assessment on the unincorporated citizens from being such an exorbitant fee. The cities are obviously subsidizing that fee for the those living in the unincorporated areas but without that, the entire burden of the incinerator falls on those who live in the unincorporated areas. The County has the obligation of providing for that facility, for both those that live in the cities and those that live in the County. Commr. Hanson stated that running the facility at full capacity will give the County a savings of $1 million, and staff needs to continue this next year and work to reduce the expenditures and streamline and find savings, and to identify a funding source for the libraries, and to continue the conversation about the spay/neuter program.
As a point of clarification, Commr. Cadwell stated that the millage rate will allow them to continue to operate the libraries at the current level.
Commr. Stivender asked for an explanation of the General Fund with the millage set at 5.967, and stated that she would recommend that the Board decrease the millage for stormwater, in order to increase the General Fund millage.
Mr. Neron explained that the stormwater millage is only levied in the unincorporated area and can only be used for stormwater so, if the Board wants to reduce the stormwater millage, as recommended by Commr. Stivender, in the unincorporated area, they can reduce it, and there will be a savings to the taxpayer in the unincorporated area of one tenth of a mill, but in no way can those funds be transferred to be used for solid waste, or go back to the General Fund.
Commr. Cadwell stressed that the stormwater millage is the only dedicated funding source that Lake County has to help clean up the lakes, other than the penny sales tax, but they will use most of those funds just for road improvements, and the Board would be sending the wrong message to do away with the stormwater management MSTU in the unincorporated area, so he would discourage the Board from doing that.
Mr. Neron stated that staff feels that a one-tenth reduction for one year in the stormwater millage would do no harm to the planned program. If the Board wants to look at reducing it beyond that point, he would like to have an opportunity to at least advertise at a .30 millage rate and, at the final public hearing, staff can bring back the impacts of that decision.
Mr. Minkoff clarified that the Ordinance passed by the Board does not call for an increase in the stormwater millage. The Board adopted a program to increase it by one-tenth of a mill for five years.
Commr. Pool called for a vote on the motion currently on the floor, to approve a Lake County General Fund tentative millage rate of 5.967.
The motion failed by a 2-3 vote.
Commrs. Stivender, Pool, and Hill voted “no”.
Commr. Stivender made a motion for the Board to set the General Fund millage at 5.517.
Under discussion, Mr. Neron explained that, if you take it out of the General Fund countywide millage, that .4 millage impact is about $4 million to $5 million that will have to be cut from the overall General Fund budget. If the Board wants that amount to be cut from the budget, he would suggest that the Board advertise near the current rate and give staff until the next public hearing, or until next Tuesday, to come back with the ramifications of doing this. He stated that $4 million over what has already been reduced is going to be impacts on services, and programs will need to be cut, and positions will need to be eliminated; and they will probably not be able to do libraries the way they are doing them now. Staff will have to go through the General Fund budget and identify those expenses that are mandated, and those that they consider essential services, and decide what is discretionary, with those being libraries, services to outside agencies, and parks and recreation. They will have to decide how much of the $4 million of the $25 million of the General Fund budget they are going to share with the constitutional officers and how much has to come out of their budgets.
Commr. Hanson stated that she would urge the Board to remain at the 5.967 millage and go forward to the next public hearing, at which time they can drop it lower, once the County Manager and staff have an opportunity to look at the ramifications. She felt that, to cut it to that amount right now, without an idea of where those cuts are going to be, would not be a wise decision, and she did not feel it would be responsible for the County to leave the millage at what it was last year.
It was noted that the motion made by Commr. Stivender, to set the General Fund millage at 5.517, died for the lack of a second.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to adopt the tentative Lake County General Fund Millage at 5.967.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to adopt the tentative Lake County MSTU for Ambulance and Emergency Services at .5289.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to adopt the tentative Lake County Stormwater Management MSTU Millage at .400.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, as the next step, the Board has to consider the tentative budget. They have to at least adopt the amendments that were proposed earlier to justify the reduction in the General Fund millage, as an amendment to the budget, and then the Board can adopt any other amendments. The Countywide Budget would be in the amount of $278,460,816. He explained that this would include the amendments made by the Board reducing the solid waste contribution to the .85 mills and using the sales tax to pay for the line of credit.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Countywide Budget of $278,460,816 with the amendments reflected this morning, in regards to the transfer of funds and paying down the line of credit.
Mr. Minkoff announced that the public hearing for final adoption will be held on September 17, 2002, at 5:05 p.m., or as soon thereafter as possible, in the Board Room at the Lake County Administration Building, 315 West Main Street, Tavares, Florida.
Mr. Neron stated that, in order to prepare further reductions for the Board’s consideration by the final public hearing, he was requesting that the Board reach some consensus on how much they are looking for him to cut from the budget, so that he can approach this in the most responsible manner. He would also like the Board’s authorization for Commr. Cadwell and himself to approach the constitutional officers, because staff has not made any reductions in some of the constitutional officers’ budgets, and they will need to help share in these reductions.
Commr. Hanson reminded the Board that the increases in the ad valorem are to pay for stormwater, and to provide for the solid waste collection and disposal services and, therefore, the programs will be the next to be cut.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, if someone needs to speak to the constitutional officers with the County Manager, it may be better served by the Board to have someone other than him, because he felt that some new ideas might help in this process.
Mr. Neron respectfully requested that the Board at least give him a range in terms of $4 million, or $6 million or, at least a target figure.
Commr. Pool stated that he feels that stormwater is an issue, and he believes that the Lake County Water Authority is a countywide taxing agency and that the stormwater issue, at this point, should be something that they take a good look at as they go forward, implementing the programs now in line and taking those dollars and spending them on those programs. He stated that the Lake County Water Authority, as he has said all along, charges countywide and can take care of a countywide system, and the County does not need two redundant departments.
In regards to the issue of determining a target figure for the reductions, Commr. Hill stated that there has never been a consensus on this Board about spending, but she was looking for close to $4 million, or $2 to $4 million.
In regards to the amount of money the .4 mills generates from stormwater for the unincorporated area, Mr. Neron explained that it would about $3.5 million, but again, he stressed that it would not help the General Fund, because it does not generate any new dollars to fund the General Fund programs.
Commr. Stivender felt that the $2 million to $4 million sounded appropriate and Commr. Pool felt that $4 million would probably not be obtainable but anything they can do to streamline and bring it would down would be helpful at this time.
Commr. Cadwell stated that $2 to $4 million would be on top of the $1.5 million that they have not committed to the Sheriff and the other million, or $750,000 to the Clerk of the Court, and they are still working through that process with them. So the $2 million to $4 million in cuts will be on top of these, and, so far, the Board has not committed to these.
Mr. Neron stated that, if the Board is looking at reducing all of this from direct expenses, none of this can be reserved to replenish and build up reserves. So the Board is asking him to cut $4.2 to $6.2 million. Mr. Neron stated that he hopes to have something for the Board next Tuesday.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they came in with a budget that was already reduced from last year’s budget, and now they are wanting staff to cut $4 to $7 million dollars more out of that budget, and they cannot do that without losing programs that are near and dear to everybody. He felt that, after months of workshops, at least a suggestion could be made by those Commissioners suggesting additional cuts to the budget, in terms of where to look to make a cut.
Mr. Neron reiterated the direction by the Board and stated that it was his understanding that, in addition to a reduction in the Sheriff’s proposed budget of $1.5 million, a reduction in the Clerk’s proposed budget of about $700,000, the Board is then looking for him to bring to them further suggested cuts beyond $2 million to $4 million.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
ROBERT A. POOL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK