A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
MAY 13, 2003
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, May 13, 2003, 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: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Debbie Stivender, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Jennifer Hill; and Robert A. Pool. Others present were: William A. “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Mr. Sanford (Sandy) A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, noted that the Board had before them an addendum to today’s agenda, with one consent item and three discussion items. Mr. Neron requested that Tab 2 regarding bids for Transportation Management & Support Services be pulled from the regular consent agenda and noted that it would be rescheduled at a later date. He also requested that the Worksession on the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) be pulled and noted that it would be rescheduled later in June.
Commr. Stivender requested that Tab 11 regarding amendments to the Florida Retirement System (FRS) Senior Management Service Class, and Tab 12 regarding the 2002 FEMA Supplemental Grant for Development of a Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) and Terrorism Annex Revision, be pulled for discussion.
Commr. Hill referred to Addendum No. 1 and stated that she would like the Board to consider moving up the discussion of California Street One-Time Maintenance, as listed under her reports, after the Consent Agenda, because there are people present who need to go back to work. She also requested that Tab 6 regarding the Summer Library Reading Partnership pilot Grant be pulled in order to recognize Ms. Wendy Breeden, Library Services Director.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that he had two items that he would like to add to the agenda, with the Board’s approval. As secretary of the Florida Association of County Attorneys, he is in charge of putting on the seminar this year, and he would like to request the use of the reprographics personnel in helping with this duty, with actual costs being reimbursed by Florida Association of County Attorneys.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the second item he would like to add to the agenda involves a transfer in relation to a development on SR 44 called Sorrento Hills. The owners are selling that property, and they have requested that the County approve a transfer of the agreement, to provide infrastructure.
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to place on the agenda the two items, as requested above by Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, under his business, he wanted to readdress the action the Board took last week in regards to Lake-Sumter EMS, and he would hope that it would take a vote, but he will wait until they get to his business to make that determination.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the County Manager’s Consent Agenda, Items 1 through 15, pulling Tab 2, with the worksession being rescheduled; pulling Tabs 6, 11, and 12 for discussion, and approving Addendum No. 1, Item I. A. 1., as follows:
Request from Procurement Services for approval to declare the items on the attached lists surplus to County needs; authorize disposal of the items via the best method; and authorize the Procurement Services Director to sign the vehicle title(s) for the unit(s) that will be auctioned.
Agreements/Self-Insured Group Health Plan
Request from Risk Management for approval to accept and sign Business Associate Agreements with the County Self-Insured Group Health Plan’s Third Party Administrator, Physician’s Network, Mental Health/Substance Abuse Network, Flexible Benefits Administrator, and Actuarial Consultant in order to comply with the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules regarding privacy for our Self-insured Group Health Plan.
Agreement/CDBG/City of Tavares
Request from Community Services for approval of the First Amendment to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Partnership Agreement between Lake County and the City of Tavares and authorize the Chairman to sign the Amendment.
Denial of Request/Deferred Payment/Housing Assistance Plan
Request from Community Services for approval to deny the request to forgive the deferred payment loan for home purchase assistance to Mr. Mark Sprado per the guidelines of the Housing Assistance Plan and the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee’s recommendation.
Satisfaction and Release of Fine/Resolution/Special Assessment
Request from Growth Management for approval and execution of a Satisfaction and Release of Fine and Release of Resolution 2003-72 imposing a special assessment for nuisance abatement costs for property owned by George E. Steinwender.
Satisfaction and Release of Fine
Request from Growth Management for approval and execution of a Satisfaction and Release of Fine for property owned by Russell Erickson.
Satisfaction and Release of Fine
Request from Growth Management for approval and execution of a Satisfaction and Release of Fine for property owned by Carl D. and Donna L. Stephenson.
Developer’s Agreement/Banyan Construction & Development/Windscape
Request from Growth Management for approval to accept and execute a Developer’s Agreement with Banyan Construction & Development, Inc. for Windscape Phase III to pull six building permits prior to the acceptance of the final plat.
Addendum to Agreement/Middleton - Shirley Shores
Request from Public Safety for approval of Third Addendum to Agreement requesting to extend the closing date for property purchase from the Middleton’s - Shirley Shores property, until August 30, 2003 to allow for obtaining signatures of surrounding property owners to permit commercial building on the property being purchased.
Bids/Lake Emma Road/Road Projects
Request from Public Works for approval to award #2119 Lake Emma Road Widening & Resurfacing Phase II Project No. 2003-05, Bid No. 03-074, to DAB Constructors, Inc., and to encumber and expend funds in the amount of $349,236.66 from the Impact Fee Fund - Commissioner District 3, Benefit District 6. Also included in this project is the overlaying of #2219 Orange Avenue for $17,430.00 from the Gas Tax Fund (total expenditure $366,666.66).
Purchase Agreement/Dewitt Enterprises, Inc./Citrus Tower Blvd. & Book Street
Request from Public Works for approval and execution of a Purchase Agreement with Dewitt Enterprises, Inc. for right of way in conjunction with the Citrus Tower Boulevard and Hook Street, Phase II projects in the Clermont area.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
CONTRACT/FLORIDA HOSPITAL WATERMAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
Request from Risk Management to accept the direct contract with Florida Hospital Waterman Healthcare System (FHWHS) for inpatient services, inpatient stop-loss, obstetrical care, and outpatient services provided by Florida Hospital Waterman Healthcare System, Inc. When charges are incurred for Lake County employees in the FHHS/Waterman CPO effective May 1, 2003 through September 30, 2003 with adjustments. Certain hospital-related charges have been adjusted for inflation.
Commr. Hill addressed Tab 6, which she had requested to be pulled from the consent agenda, because she wanted to recognize Ms. Wendy Breeden and her staff for stepping forward and working on this item. She stated that the County is participating with the School Board in the Summer Library Reading Partnership Pilot Grant project. The item has been in the news media, as well as paper and print, and it addresses how to deal with the third grade FCAT problem. She asked that Ms. Breeden and her staff stand and be recognized at this time.
On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from Community Services for approval to participate in the Summer Library Reading Partnership Pilot Grant project and signature of grant agreements.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER HILL - DISTRICT #1
Commr. Hill stated that a citizen’s group came forward a few weeks ago, under the Citizens Question and Comment Period, to address a one time maintenance on California Street,, and this item is being brought to the Board for consideration. She explained that a field test was done and staff has brought forward to the Board the numbers noting that the costs will come out of the Gas Tax Maintenance Fund. She clarified that it will be a one time maintenance of two roads, California Street and Palm Avenue.
Commr. Hill made a motion to approve the request for one time maintenance, for two streets, California Street and Palm Avenue, to come out of the Gas Tax Maintenance Fund.
Commr. Pool seconded by motion for discussion and questioned whether there was a dollar figure involved with the request.
Commr. Hill noted that the cost would be as follows: California Street ($10,879) and Palm Avenue ($2,676).
Commr. Hanson questioned whether requests for one time maintenance for roads normally came before the Board.
Commr. Hill stated that, because the citizens came before the Board and made the request, this item is being brought to the Board, so that the Board has an opportunity to act on it, because the funds are coming from the gas tax.
Commr. Stivender declared a conflict of interest on the issue, because her father lives on California Street.
Commr. Cadwell called for a vote on the motion, which was carried by a 4-0 vote.
Commr. Stivender abstained from voting and declared a conflict of interest, as noted.
ORDINANCES/SCHOOL IMPACT FEES
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, placed the following proposed Ordinance on the floor, by title only, and noted that it would be Ordinance 2003-47, if approved by the Board:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA, AMENDING CHAPTER 22, LAKE COUNTY CODE ENTITLED IMPACT FEES; REPEALING CHAPTER 22, ARTICLE II, SECTIONS 22-21 THROUGH 22-35 OF THE LAKE COUNTY CODE ENTITLED SCHOOL IMPACT FEES IN ITS ENTIRETY; AMENDING SECTION 22-4 OF CHAPTER 22, LAKE COUNTY CODE PROVIDING DEFINITIONS, INCLUDING A DEFINITION OF RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION; AMENDING SECTION 22-8; AMENDING SECTION 22-13 OF CHAPTER 22, LAKE COUNTY CODE PROVIDING EXEMPTIONS, INCLUDING AN EXEMPTION FOR HOUSING FOR OLDER PERSONS; CREATING A NEW CHAPTER 22, ARTICLE II OF THE LAKE COUNTY CODE ENTITLED EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IMPACT FEES; PROVIDING LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; PROVIDING FOR THE IMPOSITION OF EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IMPACT FEES ON ALL RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION OCCURRING IN THE COUNTY, BOTH WITHIN THE UNINCORPORATED AREA AND ALL MUNICIPAL AREAS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA; PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT AND USE OF EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IMPACT FEES COLLECTED; PROVIDING FOR CHANGES IN SIZE AND USE; PROVIDING FOR DONATIONS AND CREDITS FOR DEVELOPER CONTRIBUTIONS; ADOPTING A CERTAIN IMPACT FEE STUDY; REQUIRING REVIEW OF THE IMPACT FEE STUDY AND THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IMPACT FEE ORDINANCE; DECLARATION OF EXCLUSION FROM ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES ACT; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Ms. Wendy Wickwire, Impact Fee Coordinator, addressed the Board and stated that, about three years ago, the Board directed staff to update the County impact fees. Last summer they did the transportation impact fee, and this year they are looking at the school impact fee. On April 3, 2003, the Impact Fee Evaluation Review Committee made two recommendations to the Board. First, they approved the study done by Henderson, Young & Company, and second, they recommended that the Board adopt the fee at less than 100%, or phase it in over time. The Planning and Zoning (P & Z) Commission met May 7, 2003 and reviewed the Ordinance, and they have a list of five recommendations, as shown in the backup material, and they will be addressed later in the presentation. Ms. Wickwire noted that the following individuals were present today to answer questions of the Board: Mr. Randy Young, Henderson, Young & Company; Ms. Heather Encinosa, Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson; Ms. Pam Saylor, Superintendent of Schools; and Mr. Jim Drake, Finance Director, Lake County School District.
Mr. Randy Young, Henderson, Young & Company, addressed the Board and stated that he will be making a brief presentation that highlights the key features of his study, and he will be covering some material that the Board has seen before in earlier workshops. He felt is was important to cover this again partly for the public record, because it is a public hearing, and partly because there are those in the audience that have not seen the information before today. Mr. Young noted that the Board had been presented with the material pertaining to the School Impact Fees for Lake County.
Mr. Young defined an impact fee for schools and education by stating that it is a one time payment, it is never repeated after it is paid by a particular property; it is paid only by a particular kind of property specifically new development and specifically new residential development. So new commercial development does not pay it and no existing homes, or businesses would pay this fee. It is to be paid only for the capital costs of new schools; it does not pay for teachers’ salaries, or food in the cafeteria, or fuel for the busses. It is paid for those capital facilities that are needed by new development. He explained that you are not allowed to charge a fee if you do not have a need for one. They took a look at the three levels of schools, elementary, middle, and high, and they started by looking at the enrollment growth that is projected over the next five years according to School District forecasts, which was compared to the State forecasts, with the District’s forecast being slightly more reliable. For the record, Mr. Young stated this is consistent with what they do all around the State. They compared these forecasts to the capacity of new schools. As shown in their study, most of the capacity will be in new schools, but not every student station will be at a new school. Mr. Young explained that occasionally there will be a new wing built at an existing site, which are allowable expenses for impact fees, and the costs are based on the new facilities, because that is basically where most of the expansion is going to occur, but the cost of expanding an existing facility is quite similar, so they feel it is a very defensible cost figure.
Mr. Young explained, in detail, the Lake Schools Impact Fee Calculation, as follows
Elementary Middle High
Cost/Student $14,272 $16,437 $21,540
Students/DU 0.167 0.086 0.111
Cost/DU $2,382 $1,412 $2,382 = $6,176
Impact Fee $4,142
Mr. Young further explained that the cost per student reflects not only the cost of the school house, but also the land that it sits on; a pro rata share of the busses that the students ride; and a pro rata share of ancillary facilities. The ancillary number is based on the average cost of all of the facilities that serve all of the student body. The cost portion that relates to the construction of the school is based on the State’s forecast of what the future cost of these schools will be and some school districts occasionally are able to bring in a bid for a new school for less than the State maximum figures, but they are not guaranteed to be able to do so, therefore, they rely on the State maximum number. He explained that usually the difference between the State maximum number and the actual construction cost is not dramatic and would be more than offset by other factors that they did not take into consideration. Therefore, they do not believe it needs to be adjusted.
Mr. Young stated that, in calculating an impact fee, they have to know how many students come from a typical house, because it is the house that is being charged, not the student. He explained that this is a reliable method to determine the average number, to determine the 16.7% figure and, based on Florida Supreme Court decisions, it is a defensible method for calculating the average impact.
Mr. Young stated that questions have been raised about the fact that their rate study quite clearly discloses that the basis for these numbers is the 1990 census. If they had the 2000 census data for these numbers, he would have used them, but they are not available, and they check weekly with the State of Florida, specifically the Department of Education, to get the latest data, and it is still not out and will not be out until the fall. He explained that these numbers are probably a little low for the average house in Lake County meaning that the impact feel could probably be a little higher if they had the data to base it on because these numbers include the houses that are deed restricted and from which no students come to the school system, so taking the conservative view of understating the fee, they have gone with the average for all houses rather than the average for houses that have school age children. They are now able to calculate the cost per dwelling unit by multiplying the cost per student by the 16.7% to get the cost to serve an average single family dwelling unit in the County. A total investment of $6,176 is needed every time a new single family house is built, but the School Board has some other money, therefore, the credit calculation. Mr. Young referred to Tables 14 and 15 on Pages 18 and 19 of their report, which was attached to the proposed Ordinance. He stated that about one-third of the needed new schools is available from existing resources, hence the figure of 32.9%, which is available in the five year plan that will pay for a portion of new schools and, therefore, cannot be charged to impact fees. The five year plan includes $151 million of future borrowing and, if the district did not do that borrowing, the amount available would be less and could even go away. It is making a defensible impact fee, and they have been careful to understate the cost rather than overstate the cost. Mr. Young stated that there are reasons why the numbers they have before them are somewhere from modestly to dramatically understated, the first being that the district has listed in its five year plan a borrowing program of $151 million. The fee could even be higher, because the five year plan is $16 million short of being fully balanced. Another reason is that the impact fee probably understates the true cost in that the impact fee calculation contains no interest expense, no cost of borrowing money to build new schools and, if they had included the cost of interest expense, it would increase the impact fee by nearly 50%. Mr. Young noted that they think the numbers are already 50% to 60% lower than the real cost of the school district for these reasons. He noted that the following figures have been determined:
Single Family Home $4,142
Multi Family (apt., condo) 2,518
Mobile Home 1,637
Mr. Young reviewed the Estimated 5-Year Revenue (Page 6) and stated that they looked at the building permits issued by Lake County, in the last year ,to dwelling units that pay the fees leaving out the deed restricted housing and, based on the development for last year, at the rates they are recommending for five years, it would generate $76.8 million, which is a $700,000 difference, which is less than a one percent difference in the two methodologies. He stated that this is a validation of the accuracy of their numbers.
Mr. Young stated that school impact fee before them today is undoubtedly controversial, it is the highest of the numbers they are being asked to act on, and it would be the highest in the State of Florida, at this moment, however, it is not the only fee. He reported the following different kinds of fees that are charged in Lake County that they have or are considering having:
Type “Old” “New” Increase Percent
Roads $1,343 $2,189 $ 846 63%
Schools 1,232 4,142 2,910 236%
Fire 130 476 346 266%
Parks 0 351 351
Library 0 194 194
Total $2,705 $7,352 $4,647 172%
Ms. Heather Encinosa, Attorney with Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson, stated that they were hired to do the legal work and assist the County Attorney in drafting the Ordinance. Ms. Encinosa stated that she was here to answer any questions that they may have about the Ordinance, as it is currently written, or about any of the recommendations that they may consider from either the Impact Fee Committee, such as phasing in of the fees, or adopting less than 100%, which is always an option, or from the P & Z Commission, which the Board has the recommendations before them. Ms. Encinosa stated that she did have one recommendation, as follows:
Add to Section 12, Effective Date:
A certified copy of this Ordinance shall be filed in the Department of State by the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners within ten (10) days after enactment by the Board and shall take effect on October 1, 2003. All school impact fees due and owing prior to October 1, 2003 shall be collected, distributed and used in the manner set forth in the current code provisions, even after such current code provisions are repealed, until such fees are exhausted.
Ms. Wickwire reviewed the five proposed recommendations received from the P & Z Commission, which had been presented to the Board.
Commr. Cadwell addressed the fifth recommendation, for the Board to consider creating an additional exemption from school impact fees for temporary housing of the infirm, so long as the infirm person is elderly and a bond for removal of the temporary housing is posted and stated that it seems to him that they would not be able to exempt it, but they could handle it just like the others where they end up having to pay the impact fee.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the P & Z Commission felt that this would only be a short term housing situation where they would have someone who was terminally ill, so that the home would be removed, and it would only be there for a few months. The fifth recommendation really would not go in this code, but it would go in the other portions of the LDRs, and staff would have to bring it back to the Board but, if it were limited to just a very few months housing type situation, it would probably be okay to exempt.
Commr. Cadwell explained that the County has certain zoning categories, and someone can get an additional residence, a mobile home, on a piece of property, something over five acres, for an infirmed relative. He explained that the mobile home could only be there while the person was ill and, if they pass away, it has to be removed.
Mr. Minkoff explained that it would not apply to the new housing amendment, which allows permanent mother-in-law type suites where they would have to pay, but it would apply to the ones that would be a very short term basis, and staff believes they can draft an exemption.
To address the issue of having impact fees on existing homes when they are bought, Mr. Minkoff explained that impact fees have been created by the courts and currently there is no way to charge an impact fee on the current transfer of a home; it is only on new construction. He explained that a Bill was introduced by Senator Wasserman Shultz this year to allow that charge, but the Bill did not get through the legislature. At the current time, they would be prohibited from charging transfers.
In regards to Commr. Hanson’s question about the 32.9% credit and the School Board’s share of the penny sales tax, Mr. Young explained that the points are related to each other but not identical. They actually looked at the entire financing of the five year plan, which includes the $150 million of borrowed money, but it also includes substantial amounts of other State funds. They took all of these into account and all of the district’s costs and took the total of all of the revenues compared to all of the costs, and what is available for new construction for new schools is about $37 million, which is the 32.9% of the costs.
Commr. Hanson stated that another concern is the amount that would actually be placed on mobile homes, as opposed to conventional homes. She questioned whether they foresee this driving more citizens into mobile homes, as opposed to conventionally built homes, as an opportunity for more affordable housing.
Mr. Young stated that there is no question that the cost is an extremely large contributing factor and that an increase in cost undoubtedly will affect some purchasers. He stated that it is not possible to say with any accuracy whether that will cause a substantial trend, or major change in behavior. There has been a substantial body of research nationally for years tracking impact fees and, from the earliest study to the most recent, the answer tends to be that there is a lot more on the table than just the cost equation, location, access to work, access to roads, affordability of the house overall, but he is not in the position to quantify or to even indicate that there would be a substantial change in that behavior.
In response to Commr. Hanson’s question about whether they excluded those that were adults only housing or included everyone, Mr. Young explained that the exclusion of adult only housing, or deed restricted housing, would apply to all types of housing, and they simply do not pay the fee. Their census data probably understates the average number of kids from a mobile home, or from an apartment, or a house, because it is based on the average of houses including the deed restricted housing. A more accurate way to do it would be to subtract the deed restricted housing, but that data is not available to them and, even though there is some information available, he would not urge them to use it if they were going to be challenged in court. He noted that they are eliminating the bedroom count, and the square footage count.
Commr. Stivender stated that she was concerned that, if she buys a $100,000 house that is 1,200 square feet, she is going to pay the same impact fee as someone who builds a million dollar house, and she questioned the equity of this process.
Mr. Young explained that the courts have been very clear that the difference in the value of the house cannot enter into this at all because, to base the impact fees on value would be a tax, and they have had to be very careful not to create a tax. He stated that they need reliable data to base it on and the census does not give them that data. The data that they have been operating on, and just a few of the districts in the State have been operating on, is not what they feel is the best data.
Commr. Stivender felt that there were going to be some ramifications for individuals at different salary levels when they go to financial institutions and apply for loans, and the additional amount needed for impact fees may determine whether an individual gets the loan.
Mr. Young explained that, when using a flat rate, there is not a way to make it a sliding scale that deals with the income of the applicant. A few jurisdictions have an exemption from their impact fees for low income housing, which helps folks at the general entry level, but really there is not anything they can do to distinguish between middle class versus high income.
Commr. Pool wanted to know if there was anywhere in the country where transaction fees are being utilized as a way to generate dollars for the schools.
Mr. Young stated that the State of Washington has something they call a real estate excise tax. It is a transaction based fee but, rather than doc stamps, or lump amounts, it is actually a percentage of the sale price of the house and of businesses. It affects transactions of all property and like Florida, they do not have a State income tax, so they have had to look for creative ways to fund their infrastructure. They not only have a real estate excise tax that goes to the State of Washington, they have empowered counties and cities to charge up to one half of a percent of a real estate excise tax, and to use it for specific purposes including streets, libraries, and schools but, in the State of Florida, it would take legislation and conceivably even a constitutional amendment, but certainly the involvement of the legislature, to get them in the same position.
Commr. Cadwell explained that every year the legislature brings forward a Bill that will do that but, in the Bill, counties have to give up their ability to charge impact fees, and the counties feel like they do not want to give up that home rule power.
Commr. Pool stated that he feels that the transaction fee would be a benefit to all of Florida, and he wonders why a transaction fee would not be more equitable and keep that fee low and still allow the County to implement some small impact fees along with that for new growth. Then you would have a transaction fee on the older homes, but an actual impact fee, which would be much lower, on new construction. He stated that he was not trying to redefine or start something new, but he feels it is something that their legislators should explore, as well as the League of Counties, as other options that are available statewide.
Commr. Cadwell stated that one of the recommendations from the P & Z Commission was to have the School Siting Ordinance referenced in this Ordinance.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, if you look at that section of the code, the language says that, in order to be eligible for impact fees, it has to meet state requirements for schools. The P & Z Commission member that made that recommendation also indicated that the location of that new school would have to meet the County requirements.
Commr. Cadwell opened the public hearing portion of the meeting and called for public comment. He stated that he would allow the School Board members and representatives to address the Board first.
Ms. Pam Saylor, Superintendent of Lake County Schools, addressed the Board and stated that, last week, she forwarded to the Board a copy of the Resolution passed by the School Board at its regular scheduled meeting of April 28, 2003 expressing their desire that the County adopt the proposed increased impact fee ordinance requiring that new residential growth contribute a fair share of the cost of capital improvements. They simply do not have the money to adequately keep pace with the rapid growth occurring here in Lake County. This causes overcrowding in the schools and, as an example, Lost Lake Elementary. Ms. Saylor explained that this school was designed to house over 800 students; it currently has 1,200 students; and this year they located the fifth grade from that school, to the Windy Hill Middle School. A second example would be East Ridge High School, which opened this year; and a third example would be a new school that will be opening in South Lake County next year, Pine Ridge Elementary, which they expect will open at capacity. The school system has been growing at an extremely rapid rate over the past several years, clearly a reflection of the growth in Lake County. This year they grew by approximately 1,150 students. Ms. Saylor stated that everyone in the community should be working together for quality schools. She pointed out that this is what draws quality economic development to this area. The Lake County school system was awarded an A- rating on its upcoming issue of sales tax bonds, as Ms. Saylor explained, and she noted that this is verifiable information which stands on its own and speaks for itself, in terms of fiscal soundness and management of the district. She explained that one third of the penny sales tax, which the district receives from the extension of the sales tax vote in 2001, was committed publicly, prior to that vote, to renovating and remodeling high schools in Lake County. These dollars are not available for increased capacity. Ms Saylor stated that she implores the Board to join with the education community to set the impact fees at the full level recommended by the consultant.
Mr. Jimmy Conner, Chairman of the Lake County School Board, stated that he has a little more respect for Mr. Young’s report in the way that it was presented today. Mr. Conner stated that Mr. Young has explained that these numbers modestly to dramatically are understated, and he could not agree more because the average student station cost is $15,000. He explained that the last three schools built under this superintendent’s administration have been millions of dollars below the state average, and they have received SIT Fund Reward money for building frugal schools. Mr. Conner stated that Ms. Saylor deserves to be commended for all of her efforts. He stated that, even with the increase of the impact fee, there is still a gap, and there is still work to do, because in some areas of the County, they are better prepared to handle growth than others. The Martinez plan has been discussed and school concurrency is an issue, and they need to convey to the Board that there are still issues out there beyond today. Mr. Conner appreciated the comments made by Commr. Stivender concerning the people trying to buy homes, and he understands that the impact fees will affect those individuals, but it would enhance the quality of life in Lake County, and it is a quality of life issue. He would like to think that they are the kind of community that the County Commission, the School Board, the city officials, and the development community are going to sit together around the table and continue to address this issue, so that they can enhance the quality of life for everyone in Lake County.
Commr. Cadwell asked that the homebuilders come forward at this time to present their comments.
Ms. Jean Kaminski, Executive Director of the Homebuilders Association of Lake County, addressed the Board and stated that she is going to ask the Board to wait 30 days to make their decision. Ms. Kaminski clarified that the builders do not pay this impact fee, but the buyers of those homes pay those fees and, if you can afford an upscale home, this is not going to affect you but, if you are a resident of Lake County, and if you are not in that high end, it is going to affect your ability to own a home. She stated that there are those who do not believe that impact fees are the way to go because they feel they are a regressive tax, and there are those that believe the impact fee should be at every level, and at the highest level. She stated that this is not a philosophical discussion of impact fees, but a question of doing it right. At this time, Ms. Kaminski presented a chronology beginning with April, 2001, when the contract for the study was signed, up until April 3, 2003, when they received the final draft of the tables, which were dated March 28th but was not the full study and, after that, the Homebuilders contacted Purvis Gray & Company and asked them to review all of the material for them, because the numbers were extremely high. Ms. Kaminski stated that, on April 22, 2003, they received the complete study, after the Impact Fee Evaluation Committee had already acted on it. She has given the Board a letter from Purvis Gray & Company, and they have asked for 30 days to review the material. She stated that it would in no way impede the collection of the fees at whatever level is determined. The effective date of the Ordinance is October 1 and, if they wait 30 days to vote on this, the effective date will still be October 1. She stated that, when they are looking at tripling the fees and having the highest fees in the State, the request for 30 days is a reasonable request, because this has been going on since April, 2001.
Mr. Frank Wood, Eustis, addressed the Board and stated that he is here representing the Mount Dora High School’s Advisory Council, on which he serves as Chairman, and he is here as a father of two and a homeowner, a taxpayer, and a citizen that is concerned with the long term best interest of Lake County. Mr. Wood stated that he would urge the Board to approve the proposed impact fees for school construction. He stated that they all know the long term economic benefits of better schools and how they attract and retain clean industry and businesses to the local economy and how better schools sustain and improve their property values. They also understand that school construction like all construction also contributes to the short term economy providing jobs and contributing to the local businesses. They understand that better schools contribute to their local quality of life, creating facilities where they can better educate their future citizens, which translates to lower crime rates, more opportunities, stronger families, and the effective transmission of America’s cultural values and citizenship skills. Mr. Wood stated that the Board needs to seize this opportunity that has been given to them.
Mr. David Lazarus, Round Lake Road, addressed the Board and stated that he is a senior citizen, and he has not had kids in school for 30 years and, yet over 50% of his property tax is school tax. Mr. Lazarus stated that, if the Board does not approve a higher impact fee, then those who are paying property taxes will pick up that cost, and he does not think that is fair. There are many others like him who have not had kids in school for a long time, but they have grandchildren, and there has to be schools. He feels that a higher impact fee is an important consideration and has been overlooked in Florida. Mr. Lazarus stated that he did not feel the builders were going to suffer because they will just raise the price of their homes, and he does not feel they should allow them another 30 days. He asked that the Board take into consideration the feelings of the senior citizens.
Ms. Ann Kinsey, Mount Dora, addressed the Board and stated that her children attend the Eustis Heights Elementary School, and she volunteers there one day a week. So she sees first hand the quality of education that they are receiving at the school compared to other counties in Florida where she has lived previously. Ms. Kinsey stated that she makes her living drawing construction documents for builders across the State of Florida, and she will be building a home in Lake County next year. She stated that she is absolutely in favor of impact fees. The two key issues heard today are quality of life and community, and she does not believe they can have these if they do not plan for the growth. She stated that everybody knows that Lake County is on the fast track for growth, and they can avoid the mistakes that their neighboring counties have made by planning ahead for this growth and making sure that they have the facilities in place to ensure a quality of life. She asked that the Board pass the impact fee immediately with no more waiting to serve the children now, and for future generations to come. She also asked them to be the leaders in the State of Florida and show the true meaning of quality of life and commitment to community.
Ms. Cindy Kinat, Clermont, Principal of Lost Lake Elementary of Clermont, addressed the Board and stated that she will be principal of the new elementary school, Pine Ridge, which will be opening in South Clermont this fall. She has been an educator in Lake County for 31 years and, of those, ten years as an administrator. Ms. Kinat stated that Lost Lake right now is the largest elementary school in Lake County serving almost 1,300 students, kindergarten through fourth grade. The fifth grade is located at Windy Hill Middle School, because they did not have room for them on their campus this year. The building was designed for about 875 students, and there are eight portables on their campus. Ms. Kinat explained that, not only do they have to look at it from statistics, they have to look at it from a people point of view. She stated that they are anticipating that, when Pine Ridge opens, it is going to be at or near capacity, and it will lower the other existing elementary schools in the area to capacity. They have done a good job accommodating this growth. She explained some of the conditions that the children have to experience in terms of lunch schedules, thunderstorms, use of media centers, and traffic congestion not only on the street, but on campus. Ms. Kinat stated that they have tried in the past to go year round, but it was a temporary stopgap for their problems, and it disrupted family schedules and created a lot of wear and tear on their buildings, and there was burnout among staff members. She stated that year round schools are not a good solution. In speaking to families, she has found that they are moving to Lake County for the quality of life, and one of the reasons is that Lake County schools provide a good education for the students. She was sure that, because they support the schools, she was sure that they would support an impact fee on a new house. Ms. Kinat stated that raising the impact fee will help them deal with the growth they are facing in the community, and she urged the Board to support the impact fee.
Mr. Richard Breson addressed the Board and stated that he is a parent of three students at Seminole Springs Elementary School. Mr. Breson stated that he has seen that school go from about 650 students to over 920 students in about three years, and then drop back to about 650 with the development of Round Lake School. He strongly urged the Board to approve the impact fees at the rate being recommended. Mr. Breson addressed the rights of the existing citizens of Lake County to a quality of life and stated that there is no way to slow down the growth, but they might try to control it. He stated that citizens who have been here for the past ten to 40 years have watched the quality of life degrade simply because fees have not kept up with the growth. He stated that there are certain moral quality requirements to a society, and they are parks, schools, roads, and infrastructure and this is an opportunity for the County to bring it back up to quality. He stated that the issue is not going away, and the 30 days will not allow anything to change. Mr. Breson stated that they were elected as leaders, and they have to make tough decisions and do what is best for the County, not things that will get them re-elected. Mr. Breson stressed that there is a need for parks, so families can share time together. He stated that he and others cannot keep coming back for meetings while the Board keeps delaying decisions, so he was asking the Board to make a decision for those who have made an effort to be here.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 10:25 a.m., Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board will take a short recess and reconvene at 10:45 a.m.
ORDINANCES/SCHOOL IMPACT FEES (CONTINUED)
Commr. Cadwell stated that, assuming this meeting is going to go longer than they anticipated, they will be breaking for lunch, because a couple of the Commissioners had already committed to speak at different functions. At this time, he called for further public comment.
Ms. Arelia Cole stated that she is the Principal of Clermont Middle School, and she is here to talk about the impact fees. Ms. Cole stated that 25 years ago, she worked at the facility where she is now, and 25 years ago it was known as Clermont High School. They had an enrollment of approximately 350 students, no portables, and very few busses. Now they have 870 students even though they were projected to have 743; they have six portables and are in dire need for three to four more next year; and they have 16 busses. She has found that parents then and parents now all want the best education possible for their students, and to get it in the best facility possible. She remembers the citrus business when it was at its peak, and when the community got together to build the hospital that serviced all of South Lake County, and she can remember when the first traffic light was put on Highway 50 and, then change occurred and it was inevitable. Also cold weather came in and the citrus industry went down. She stated that, with the increase in growth, the County had to build a new, larger hospital for their area, and there are probably ten to 12 traffic lights now on Highway 50. Ms. Cole stated that, at all of the schools in South Lake County, they need something more than just portables. She stated that if anyone here thinks paying for the cost of education is expensive, then she would ask them what they think it would cost to pay for ignorance. Ms. Cole stated that she supports the impact fees.
Mr. Roy Hunter, representing Northeast Lake Chamber, stated that he has appeared before the Board many times not wanting tax increases, but the majority of the people in this organization are senior citizens and, even though most of them do not have children in school, he has never heard anyone complain about the school tax, because they want the kids to have a good education. Mr. Hunter stated that he was sorry that there was a law on putting impact fees on used houses, because he thought that was a good idea, but maybe someone who lobbies for the County could change the legislature. He felt that the School Board was proposing a good idea today.
Ms. Debbie Burns stated that she lives in East Lake County, and she wanted to point out that individuals, such as the Commissioners, have received public education and have been empowered by their education, and their children should have that same opportunity. Ms. Burns stated that where she lives and, within a five mile radius, there have been 1,200 new homes approved yet they have not been built, and she questioned where they are going to put all of these children from these homes, if they do not have this impact fee. She also wanted to know if they are going to allocate the impact fee to the area where it comes from because Seminole Springs and Round Lake will not be able to accommodate all of those children. She stated that her son is getting a fabulous education from a public school, and he will be attending Eustis Middle School, which is already overcrowded. She stated that the Board members have gotten a good education, and they need to allow the children to have that same opportunity.
Mr. Keith Shamrock stated that he is a builder in Lake County, and he is in favor of impact fees. Mr. Shamrock stated that he appreciates the job that Ms. Saylor has done since she has been in office. He as been in Lake County for the last 32 years, and he feels that what Ms. Kaminski has asked for is a legitimate request. He stated that the 30 days has no impact on the effective date for impact fees. They are just asking that they be given 30 days to allow their accountants to verify the numbers. Mr. Shamrock stated that he will be more than happy to add whatever number is determined as the impact fee, to the price of the home. He agrees that they need quality education and good schools, and it brings people to the area, but he wants them to be given a chance to verify the numbers.
Ms. Kyleen Fisher stated that she has served on the School Board for four terms and, during that time frame, she has seen the County Commission step forward and support the Lake County school system. She has seen Commr. Hanson and Commr. Cadwell come forward with initiatives that supported the Lake County school system. She stated that today they have a wonderful opportunity to once again support the Lake County school system. She believes their figures are accurate and their staff is dedicated. She has seen a movement in the school system from poor financial practices to good financial practices, and from a scattered curriculum to an intensified curriculum. She has seen them step forward to meet the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA), and its best financial management practices, and they have met the challenge of scrutiny, and they work every day to support the best professional staff of teachers and administrators in the State of Florida.
Ms. Molly Cunningham stated that she is currently the principal at Eustis Heights Elementary. Ms. Cunningham stated that, although there is a multitude of growth in South Lake, other areas of Lake County are suffering as a result of overcrowding. She worked in South Lake and she worked when there was year round school, so she knows the tremendous burdens that it placed on the entire community. Ms. Cunningham explained that Eustis Heights Elementary was very excited earlier this year when they were able to open a brand new wing. She is known as the “Portable Queen”, because she has as many, or more portables on her campus than any other school in the County. They thought that, once they got this $1.3 million wing, everyone was going to be able to go into a regular classroom but, when they moved into that wing, they were able to donate back to the district three portables, which left them with over 15 classes of children that are still in portables. She stated that the cafeteria was built for 230 students, and they house 879 students at this time. She explained that these are wonderful children with wonderful parents who support Lake County, and they like being here. She urged the Board to consider very seriously supporting this new impact fee.
Mr. Dennis Reid stated that he is a member of the Lake County School Board. Mr. Reid stated that Ms. Saylor and Mr. Jim Drake have done a wonderful job of giving masses of information to the Homebuilders Association. He stated that this is the first time that he has heard about a private accounting firm verifying numbers. Mr. Reid stated that the schools are in scrutiny all of the time, and the books have been audited by the State. He stated that they are so well known in the County for having good education, and he is always amazed when he hears from people out of State that are seeking jobs in the County. He stated that they are bringing quality people to Lake County, and he appreciates what the School Board has done through this process.
Mr. Mike Stone stated that he is a retiree, and there is a passage about giving a little more time and a little less money. Mr. Stone stated that he volunteers five to six days a week at various childrens activities, and he see benefits from doing this every day, but one of the drawbacks has been the school system, so he would present the question why they have not done this impact fee before now.
Ms. Eva Ball stated that she represents The Villages Elementary of Lady Lake, and the future of her two boys. Ms. Ball stated that she implores the Board to approve the proposed impact fee, so that her children will not have to attend class all year round, nor be placed in portables. She stated that it costs money to move and purchase portables and that money could be used to build wings on existing schools, or build new schools. She stated that year round schools and portables are not options, but would only be “band-aids” for temporary fixes. She stated that it would not take 30 days to realize that placing a “band-aid” on the education problem will not fix the problem. Ms. Ball stated that the future of the children hangs on the decision today, and their constituents support the fee. She did not believe that validating the numbers from the study would make a difference and she was asking the Board to approve the impact fee today.
Mr. Randall Moye stated that he is a Minneola resident and Council Member. Mr. Moye stated that he wanted to implore the Board to pass the impact fee at 100%, no less. He stated that education has suffered greatly, and they realize that South Lake County is growing at a tremendous rate. He would like to see the possibility of attaching a cost of living index on impact fees because, as they have heard today, it is a reduced rate, and it is understated. If they choose to pass the fee, he asked that they not reduce it but pass it at the rate being proposed and, if they can attach a cost of living index, then they will not have to revisit this issue every year.
Ms. Saylor stated that she would like to express her appreciation for all of those who turned out today from the school system, the parents, administrators, and teachers, to give the Board the opportunity to hear first hand about overcrowding and growth in the schools. She wanted to reiterate the point that the consultant had shared with them, that the dollar figure that has been placed for increasing the impact fee does not come close to the true cost to the school system. As growth continues in Lake County, they implore the Board to pass this impact fee at its current rate, and to do it today.
Mr. Conner wanted to thank the Board for their leadership, and for the moratorium a few months ago. He has felt all along that the position taken by the School Board and the Superintendent is one that represents the vast majority of people in the County. He has felt today that their position has been validated and that they support these impact fees, and he feels this validates the public support. He encouraged the Board to not only support the position of the consultant, the School Board, and the P & Z Commission, but the vast majority of the citizens of the County who support this increase.
Commr. Cadwell called for further public comment. There being none, the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed
Commr Cadwell extended his appreciation to Mr. Young and stated that he felt his presentation today was clear and precise, and everyone should have an understanding of the issue.
Commr. Cadwell addressed the P & Z Commission’s recommendations and stated that he certainly believes that the yearly report to the Board is a good idea. He would like a yearly presentation by the School Board, but he does believe this should be a part of the Ordinance. He did not have a problem adding the language being recommended but, in regards to the last item (#5), temporary housing for the infirm, the County needs to change its LDRs and this should not be in the Ordinance.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, if the Board leaves here today with the highest impact fee in Florida, it is also going to raise expectations of them, as well as others, and they need to continue to work together. He explained that the Joint Committee for School Impact Solutions is meeting at the end of this month, and they will continue to look at solutions. Commr. Cadwell stated that this is not a “fix all” today, but it is a step in the right direction.
Commr. Cadwell addressed the request for 30 days and stated that he is convinced that, with every 30 days, there would be a different set of numbers from both sides. They have an elected Superintendent and School Board here today telling them that they are comfortable with those numbers, and he would hope that the Board would approve the impact fees today at the full amount.
Commr. Hanson asked Mr. Young what burden there would be, if any, on the process to update their figures, once the 2000 census becomes available and how easy it would be to implement the process, based on those figures.
Mr. Young stated that every elected body, County Commissioners and School Boards, have to make decisions based on the best available information in a particular moment in time. In having made that decision, they are allowed to go forward and continue to act on that best available information, even as it increasingly becomes dated but the Ordinance recognizes that this is going to happen and indicates every three years. If they have the census data before the three years, they would have an opportunity but, in his opinion, not an obligation, to do a revision. In terms of how difficult it would be, it would not take them long to put those numbers into their cost model and provide that information, but Mr. Young did not feel there was an obligation to immediately rush and make an amendment but, as soon as the information is available, they would be happy to process it, and then the Board can see the difference. Mr. Young did not feel it would be smart to fix specific pieces of information, as he explained, and they are not recommending that they come back every year, or every six months, or every 30 days, to make those changes. Mr. Young stated that the courts have been very tolerant of having used best available information, and he feels that the three year update cycle is sufficient. In his past experience, they have found that the number that changes the slowest is the census data.
Commr. Hill stated that the School Board’s Educational Plant Survey has been discussed repeatedly by not only the Board, but by the three committees, and the P & Z Commission is asking that this document be attached to the Ordinance. She questioned whether this document was presented to Mr. Young and whether he gave it a great amount of weight when he established his numbers.
Mr. Young stated that he would like to be very correct on the public record about the names that they gave to some of the documents, because there is more than one document. He addressed the original document, the Educational Plant Survey, and explained that every district in the State goes through this process every five years, and that document was a beginning point for their research, but it is not a document that is kept current. He explained that most well managed school districts, such as this one, produce annually a five year plan that is updated much more currently, and they have seen both documents. As the Educational Plant Survey became dated, they migrated to the adopted five year plan, which is being referenced by the P & Z Commission, and he does not have a problem making it part of the record, or creating it as an appendix to this report. It is directly relevant to the credit calculation, the 32.9%; it is not directly related to the cost data, which they base on the State standards, not the specific cost of these schools. Mr. Young stated that he had subsequently done a comparison, and they are within three to four percent of each other.
Commr. Hill stated that, because the document has been brought up on several occasions, she felt it should be attached to the Ordinance, so that the public can see it and know that they are trying to work together. She stated that the perception is that, if the Board makes the decision to approve the fees at full capacity, this will make them whole and it will be the solution to the School Board’s problem and, so that there is no misunderstanding, she felt it should be stated that this may not be the solution to their problem.
Mr. Young stated that it would be his opinion, based on the five year plan that he has seen and that has been adopted by the School Board, that this will not make them whole. Their five year plan calls for them to borrow $151 million. This today will generate $76 million. They have at least $75 million to $76 million that they are going to have to continue to borrow, if everything else works and if that plan makes them whole.
Mr. Conner stated that they have tried throughout their presentations, and even today, to say that this is not the end of the journey and that this is not a cure-all. He stated that this does not solve all of their problems and that has not been their representation from the beginning. The Resolution that was passed by the School Board and sent to the Board does address other issues, and this is an ongoing process. He feels that the questions asked by Commr. Hill is a timely question, because it allows them to reiterate that this does not completely solve the problem. It is a big step in the right direction, and it is going to help them immensely but there are still other issues. He stated that this is why they encourage the consideration of something similar to the Martinez plan, or other ideas, to where they understand that, after today, there are still challenges in front of them. He stated that they look forward to working through more issues in the future.
Ms. Saylor noted that, as Mr. Conner, Chairman of the School Board, has stated, it is not the answer to the whole problem and that is why they have the opportunity, on an ongoing basis with the Solutions Committee, to continue to address these issues with the Board. She certainly pledges to the community, and the citizens in Lake County, that they will continue to handle their finances in a responsible manner and work hard to build frugal schools, so that they are keeping below the numbers and actually bringing in additional dollars that can be used for additional growth. It is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is not the total answer.
Commr. Hill stated that, if the Board increased the fees to the level being proposed, she wanted to know whether the School Board would be able to do their part, the other 30% of construction, the staffing of it, and all of the ongoing costs.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the School Board will be able to do this if the County will pace growth at a certain rate where they can keep up with it.
Commr. Pool stated that there is a spirit of cooperation today that they have with the School Board members, County Commission, and cities, as they go forward to try and maintain this quality of life. He explained that, even though there are two high schools in South Lake County, just like there was about 40 or 50 years ago, the numbers have changed and he knows that people understand that it is their responsibility, as well as the School Board, to ensure that their children have a quality education. Even though he understands the request being made by Ms. Kaminski, for a 30 day postponement, if those numbers are incorrect, or if there are some inaccuracies as they go forward, he feels there is enough buffer there that would allow them to understand that maybe it should even be a higher fee, so he did not feel that they wanted to increase those fees beyond those that are the highest in the State, at this point. He felt that the three year window was far better than letting it go eight to ten years out, and it was something that should have happened a long time ago. He stated that they will continue to review and work hand in hand with the School Board to ensure that the children of Lake County have an education and, therefore, he would support the impact fees today, just as he has in the past, and hopefully they can have growth pay for growth.
Commr. Hanson stated that this Board has always supported quality of life issues, and she appreciates the hard work of the Superintendent and School Board, and the progress they have made. She stated that they have always been at the table supporting the schools in Lake County, and the after school programs, and they have supported impact fees in 1991, when there were no School Board members present to support them, but they appreciate their support today. She stated that the Board supported the penny sales tax and worked together to try and bring more dollars to the school system. As a former school teacher in Seminole County and, as a grandmother of two grandchildren in Lake County, Commr. Hanson stated that she supports the highest legally defensible impact fees for the County. She stated that they may actually be higher than what has been proposed and she agrees that they should not be phased in. She does not have a problem with the 30 day delay, with those commitments, and she believes that the Board feels the same way. She also believes that the Board has the commitment to implement the impact fees, as recommended, within that 30 day period, and they certainly have those commitments, whether it is today, or 30 days from now.
Commr. Stivender stated that there is no question that the impact fees should be raised and her concern all along has been how much and how it was done. She stated that the Board implemented the impact fees in 1991 and, for four or five years, the School Board stayed focused and, at one time, it was a 119% increase on the school impact fee. She wanted the public to understand that, over the last seven years, there has been no involvement by the school system and, if they had been doing incremental raises all along, they would not have this giant increase now. She stated that she is not against the impact fee, and they have the mechanism in place to raise the impact fee every year, but they need their input.
Commr. Hanson stated that, by going with the highest legally defensible dollar amount on the impact fees, they would be sending a statement throughout the State on how important education is in Lake County. As they look at economic development, as mentioned earlier, it is critical that they have the educational system that moves forward as they attempt to attract more light industry into the County and higher paying jobs.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he understands Commr. Hanson’s concerns and, as mentioned in his earlier comments, they have an elected Superintendent, and an elected School Board, telling them that they are comfortable with these numbers and, even if they go through the studies, the numbers are still going to be close, and today they will send a message to the parents of the kids, and to the people in business in this County, that schools are important, and they plan to move forward today. He would encourage the Board not to delay action and to move forward.
Commr. Hill stated that she understands Commr. Hanson’s concern with the delay for 30 days, which would give them time to step back and look and makes sure all of the numbers are correct, but she believes they are not going to get anything but these numbers.
Commr. Hill made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Hanson, to approve Ordinance 2003-47 regarding School Impact Fees, as read by title only.
Under discussion, Mr. Minkoff clarified that the motion would include items 1 through 4 from the P & Z Commission including the annual presentation by the School Board to the Board of County Commissioners, as listed below; the one change to Section 12 regarding the effective date, as listed below; and staff generating some language in the LDRs that would cover the fifth recommendation of the P & Z Commission:
1. Proposed Code Section 22-21, Subsection G: (Page 11, lines 9-14) P&Z recommends that an appendix to the impact fee study be added to list the projected capital improvements considered at the time the study was completed and the final report rendered. This does not add any language to the proposed ordinance.
2. Proposed Code Section 22-25, Section B: (Page 13, lines 43-47) P&Z recommends that the Lake County School Siting Ordinance additionally be referenced.
3. Section 8 of the ordinance: (Page 16, lines 22-33) P&Z recommends that language be added to this section requiring the School Board to submit on an annual basis an accounting report to the Impact Fee Committee for review, and then for review to the BCC.
4. Section 7 of the ordinance: (Page 16, lines 15-20) P&Z recommends that the actual date of the report be added - April 22, 2003.
Add to Section 12, Effective Date:
A certified copy of this Ordinance shall be filed in the Department of State by the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners within ten (10) days after enactment by the Board and shall take effect on October 1, 2003. All school impact fees due and owing prior to October 1, 2003 shall be collected, distributed and used in the manner set forth in the current code provisions, even after such current code provisions are repealed, until such fees are exhausted.
Commr. Cadwell called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11:35 a.m., Commr. Cadwell announced that the Board would take a ten minute recess.
JOINT PRESENTATION WITH THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND AND
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY CONCERNING AN ENVIRONMENTAL
LAND ACQUISITION PROGRAM
Commr. Cadwell reconvened the meeting and noted that Mr. Will Abberger, Associate Director, Conservation Finance Program, The Trust for Public Land (TTPL), was present for the joint presentation.
Mr. Will Abberger, Associate Director, Conservation Finance Program, The Trust for Public Land (TTPL), addressed the Board and introduced Ms. Sue Mullins with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Mr. Doug Hattaway with The Trust for Public Land, and stated that the topic that they have been asked to address is how to go about implementing the request the Board received from the Environmental Lands Management and Acquisition Study Committee (Environmental Lands Acquisition Committee). Mr. Abberger stated that he would like to cover about five topics and quickly give them a little context on what is going on around the nation, and in Florida, in terms of other communities that are trying to go take a measure to the voters to provide a new source of funding for land conservation.
Mr. Abberger stated that across the nation they are seeing phenomenal support at the local and State level where elected officials have taken a proposition before the voters asking them to approve new funding for parks, recreation, open space, green ways, trails, and environmentally sensitive land acquisition. In 1999, there were 92 measures at the State and local level on the ballot across the country, and 90% of those measures were approved by the voters creating about $1.8 billion in new funding. In 2000, there was a general election and 174 measures were on the ballot and 83% of them passed creating about $7.5 billion. In 2001, there were 137 measures with a 70% passage rate and, in 2002, there were 93 out of 108 local and state measures on the ballot that were approved, which is an 86% passage rate. In the primary election (2002), 141 measures passed with a 75% passage rate for $5.7 billion in new funding created across the country for land conservation.
Mr. Abberger explained that the 2,008 measures on the ballot in the State of Florida generated $844 million in new funding. He stated that every measure put before the voters in Florida in the year 2000 was approved by the voters. In 2001, including the sales tax measure which provided some funding for land conservation, all of the measures that were on the ballot were approved as well as all measures put before the voter this year.
Mr. Abberger stated that TTPL has had the privilege of helping a number of communities and, at the State level, they have been able to win voter approval for these measures and help them design the right measure to be put on the ballot. He stated that their Conservation Finance Program started about six years ago, and they feel they have a pretty good track record in working with elected officials and community groups in how to bring these measures forward to the voters. He noted some of the measures that they have worked on in Florida, from small communities to some of the State’s largest municipal metropolitan areas.
Ms. Sue Mullins, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), stated that not unlike TTPL, TNC also gets involved in these local measures and statewide measures. Ms. Mullins explained that TNC likes to find ways where they can match money. In Florida, they worked on 17 ballot measures, a little over a billion dollars. She noted the counties where they worked on measures and stated that some of the typical funding measures that they see are usually tied to the ad valorem tax, although some of the local governments go with the sales tax. Ms. Mullins noted that the Environmental Lands Acquisition Committee has recommended going on the lines of the ad valorem tax, which they feel is a very appropriate revenue source for the County to acquire environmentally sensitive lands and other open space.
Mr. Abberger explained that a ballot measure is a proposition that is put before the voters usually asking them to approve funding for a specific purpose and, in the case they are talking about today, environmentally sensitive lands, parks, and open space. There are two kinds, a referendum, as in Lake County, or an initiative where voters can collect petitions and present them to the legislative body to have the measure put on the ballot, not the case in Lake County. It is a two step process, first, getting the measure on the ballot; second, getting the voters to say yes. The most important thing, in their experience, is getting the measure on the ballot and getting the right measure on the ballot. The key variables that make the right measure include determining the right funding source. The Environmental Lands Acquisition Committee has recommended a millage increase for ad valorem taxes to be used to finance bonds, which will most likely be the recommendation that they will bring back to Lake County. He stated that equally important is the right amount, as he explained, and the purposes and uses of funds are also very important, as well as timing and accountability. Mr. Abberger stated that the steps that they are bringing to the Board today are as follows: 1) feasability research; 2) public opinion survey - poll registered voters; 3) ballot language; and 4) the campaign itself.
Mr. Abberger stated that the other recommendation in the report asked them to address the creation of a local land trust in Lake County. He stated that, on this particular topic, they think that focusing on a referendum is really the most important thing right now and that is where they are going to put their emphasis. A land trust could be important for Lake County particularly if the voters see fit to approve a referendum here and, at that point, they would recommend that they turn to one of their sister organizations, Land Trust Alliance, which is a national umbrella group for land trust. Mr. Abberger stated that the County staff has already been in touch with them, and they are focusing on the referendum issue.
Mr. Abberger stated that TTPL’s mission is conserving land for people, and they have been around for about 30 years. They do that primarily by facilitating real estate transactions between project land owners and public agencies for all kinds of parks and open space. They provide a range of services, and they have a planning function they call green printing, or conservation visioning, and conservation finance is what he has been talking about today. Their core function is protecting that land that is important in the community and throughout their work they try to instill the importance and value of land and that connection between land and people. Their Florida office is in Tallahassee, and they have been here since 1974. Over that time they have completed about 250 projects and protected 195,000 acres with a fair market value of a little more than $300 million. They have never completed a project in Lake County, but they hope to soon. Mr. Abberger stated that Mr. Hattaway was here awhile ago to speak to the Board about a piece of property that hopefully will be a Florida Community Trust application that the County will take forth this year. At this time, Mr. Abberger presented examples of other projects that they have worked on in the Central Florida area.
Ms. Mullins explained that TNC has a different mission from TTPL in that they basically focus on the biological diversity that they think must be maintained in order to keep them alive noting that the critters depend on the native eco-systems. They also focus on whole natural communities, something that contains ecological services and functions to keep everything running. They broke Florida up into eight large scale conservation areas (LCAs). She explained that Lake County fits into what they call the Central Florida Ridge and River System LCA. They have focused a lot of their work on the Wekiva River and little bit in the Green Swamp, which they consider as a vast eco-system that desperately needs protection of some sort. There are other areas in Lake County that they feel are equally important ecologically whether it be for their water supply, or to protect the black bear, or other species. She stated that TNC buys land and often holds it as their own preserves, and they have several around the State. They also buy in partnership with state and local government, the Water Management District, and the federal government. They are probably most known for their research and, of the 160 employees they have in Florida, about half of them are scientists. Once they buy the land for either a government entity, or themselves, they do a lot of research and implementation on land management, for example, Disney Wilderness Preserve. The other part of their work is with the government relations where they try to create not only public funds, but public policies that are protective of ecological resources. Ms. Mullins stated that, if Lake County had its own funding measure, it would greatly increase their ability to draw down match funds from Florida Forever projects. She noted that right now Lake County has the Lake Wales Ridge, Green Swamp, and the Wekiva, which are the Florida Forever projects in the County, and they would hope that their local funding would be matched and they would leverage those funds to be able to protect more areas. She noted that they have many offices throughout the State. Ms. Mullins stated that they typically do not go after lands that are for active recreation, or parks, and certainly like to give public access, but in a more limited, or resource based way. They also work quite aggressively with landowners on what they call working landscapes of roads, farms, timberlands and ranch lands, because there is a lot of good stewardship by these large landowners and, in some conservation lands, they have a real interest in keeping those folks in agriculture, and they feel it is a good possibility in Lake County. They would be interested in helping Lake County identify some areas where they would buy interest in the land, such as development rights, timber rights, or hunting rights, but they would retain title and stay on the tax rolls and still contribute to a conservation area. In Florida, they protect a little over a million acres, and they have been in Florida since 1961.
Mr. Abberger stated that the first step they are recommending is the feasibility research, which they would like to begin right away. He noted that TTPL and TNC will be working together on that and the public opinion survey would be the next step. They would then come back to the Board with recommendations in terms of how a measure should be designed and the most successful way to move forward with taking a conservation measure to the voters. He would like to request a letter from the Board formally requesting their technical assistance, and he would be happy to provide Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, with a draft of that letter.
Commr. Hanson noted that there are several members of the Environmental Land Acquisition Committee present today, and she appreciates them being here. She stated that it does take time to build support through the community, and the Committee helped to build that support. She stated that, if they move forward with this, it will create that win-win situation, and that is what she sees for Lake County. She feels it is a wonderful opportunity, but of course there will be a fund raising to pay for the feasibility study, and the campaign itself.
Ms. Mullins stated that she does not actually foresee the County itself paying for anything except if they want to do some type of informational piece to voters, or generally to the Populus, and that can come in any form. She did have some samples that other counties have used.
Commr. Hill questioned the cost involved with the request being made today.
Mr. Abberger explained that both of the organizations will be contributing funds and will be looking at raising private funds in Lake County. Of course the political part of it has to be privately funded, and they will also be looking to folks in the community just as they do in their campaigns.
Commr. Hill stated that the Board is now in the process of creating a master park plan, and it will be included in the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR), which goes to the State for adoption. She questioned whether TTPL would like them to have this done before they begin their process, or whether it is even anything they would like to look at.
Mr. Abberger felt that, after consulting with others, the two can move forward concurrently and they will be looking at whether or not active recreation, or parks and recreation, should be a component of their measure, and the information that comes out of the master plan should fit nicely into the work that they are doing. He felt that the timing was actually good.
Commr. Pool stated that the key is to find out what the majority of the people feel is important and the study or survey is a good idea.
Commr. Hanson also wanted to mention the potential for growth management and the way that this process, if it moves forward, can enhance those efforts.
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to send a letter to The Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy together asking for their expertise in the feasibility study.
Ms. Mullins stated that the report that was put together by the Environmental Land Acquisition Committee was probably one of the best they have ever seen.
CITIZEN QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
It was noted that no one present wished to present any questions, comments, or concerns to the Board at this time.
FLORIDA RETIREMENT SYSTEM
In regards to Tab 11 regarding the Florida Retirement System, Commr. Stivender requested an explanation of the request from the County Manager.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, explained that the position of Special Programs Director was held by Ms. Ava Kronz, and she was an incumbent with that right and, even though they transferred her, they did not remove that benefit from that position.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from Human Resources for approval of amendments to the Florida Retirement System (FRS) Senior Management Service Class for Lake County.
CONTRACT MODIFICATION - 2002 FEMA SUPPLEMENTAL GRANT
CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS PLANS (COOP) AND TERRORISM ANNEX
In regards to Tab 12, the contract modification for the Operations Plans (COOP) and Terrorism Annex, Commr. Stivender requested an explanation of the request from the County Manager.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that several weeks ago the Board approved a grant to do a continuity of government study, as required by the State. The request before the Board is extending the contract time to complete that study.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from Public Safety for approval and execution of Modification #1 to the 2002 FEMA Supplemental Grant for Development of a Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) and Terrorism Annex Revision, to extend the contract date for the revision of the County Terrorism Response Annex and development of COOP, from October 17, 2003 to April 16, 2004.
RESOLUTION - TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
On a motion by Comr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0- vote, the Board approved the request for approval and execution of Resolution 2003-73 appointing a municipal elected official, Mr. Bob Lovell, to the Tourist Development Council, to serve a term ending December 1, 2006.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that the Comprehensive Health Care Committee, a few weeks ago at their meeting, approved a support of the medical malpractice caps and asked that the County Commission take a position on that issue with the legislature. Due to the sensitivity of that issue, he put the item on the agenda for discussion, to see if the Board wanted to take any further action on that matter. He noted that there are two very strong positions on the issue, and it will probably be the subject of a special session in Tallahassee.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, at this point, the Board has many other issues they need to try and prioritize and he was concerned about them diluting their voice on some of the issues that affect them more quickly and more directly. He also felt that the Board would want to possibly wait on this particular issue.
No action was taken by the Board.
COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS AND AGRICULTURE CENTER
Mr. Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works, stated that, in January, staff brought the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Board, and one of the issues involved the future of the Fairgrounds and Agriculture Center. Mr. Stivender stated that there are approximately $1.9 million budgeted for renovations for the two facilities combined. They have an architect who is working towards putting this together and this is a transfer of funds for him to proceed with those studies.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request from Public Works for approval to encumber an amount not to exceed $25,000.00 for professional services, to assist the County in determining the highest and best utilization/recommendation of all facilities at the County Fairgrounds and the Agriculture Center.
APPOINTMENTS - ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ADVISORY BOARD
Commr. Hanson noted that staff is checking on the vacant positions for the Environmental Protection Advisory Board. It was noted that this item would be brought up later during the meeting.
REPORTS - COUNTY ATTORNEY
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that the first item he added to the agenda this morning involves the Kittredge property located at SR 44 and CR 437 and is known as Sorrento Hills, or Country Greens. The Board approved the plat and it was recorded and they have a Letter of Credit guaranteeing the improvements. They have sold the property and are requesting that the County approve the transfer of the contract, which requires the new buyer to do the improvements. Staff has confirmed the Letter of Credit and is recommending that the Chairman sign those documents to transfer the contract.
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 to approve a transfer of contract, in regards the sale of the Kittredge property ( known as Sorrento Hills or Country Greens), which requires the new buyer to do the improvements and to authorize the Chairman to sign those documents.
Mr. Minkoff noted that the proposed purchaser of the property is Mr. John Gray who is Mr. Charlie Gray’s son, and the County does have a relationship with that firm, but it does not relate to this request.
FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY ATTORNEYS
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that, as secretary of the Florida Association of County Attorneys, he will be coordinating the seminar for the Assistant County Attorneys throughout the State, in June. Because a notebook will be prepared for the event, his office has worked with Ms. Diana Magrum, Reprographics, who has agreed to make the copies and put them together for him, and the Florida Association of County Attorneys will reimburse the actual cost of the copies, but not her time. He would like to get approval from the Board to do that.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved for Ms. Diana Magrum, Reprographics, to make the copies needed for the Florida Association of County Attorneys’ seminar, with the Florida Association of County Attorneys reimbursing the actual cost of the copies.
REPORTS - COUNTY MANAGER
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, introduced Ms. Cindy Hall, the new Assistant County Manager, who started yesterday with the County.
APPOINTMENTS - ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ADVISORY BOARD
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the appointment of individuals to vacant positions on the Environmental Protection Advisory Board, as follows:
Dr. Robert Taylor (Environmental)
R. J. (Bob) Fegers (Development)
Bill Benham (Agricultural)
Buddy Martin (Lake County Schools)
Gene Caputo (SJRWMD)
William Coleman (FL Fish & Wildlife Cons. Commission)
VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION CELEBRATION
Commr. Hanson stated that she wanted to thank staff for putting together the Volunteer Appreciation Celebration last week that was held at the Tavares High School. Over 200 people attended the event, and Ms. Helena Osborne-Ponsi, Volunteer Coordinator, did an outstanding job putting together this event.
In response to Commr. Hanson’s question about the status of the Citizens Academy, Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that he was looking for a volunteer staff person to take this project and noted that this item will not be neglected.
Commr. Hanson stated that Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) put on a Green Building seminar several years ago in Tampa, which she attended, and she would like to see if they could bring them here to do the same type of thing in an open forum for the community. She stated that she will work with Mr. Neron on this item. They are also talking about a Smart Growth seminar later in the year, and HOK could be a part of that Smart Growth seminar.
It was noted that staff will look at combining the two seminars and determine a time.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER HANSON - DISTRICT #4
On a motion by Commr. Hanson, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the request for approval and execution of Proclamation2003-74 proclaiming the month of may 2003 as Osteoporosis Month in Lake County, Florida.
REPORTS - COMMISSIONER CADWELL - CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT #5
PROCLAMATIONS/EMERGENCY SERVICES WEEK
Commr. Stivender made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Pool, to approve the request for approval and execution of Proclamation 2003-75 proclaiming May 18-24, 2003 Emergency Services Week in Lake County.
Under discussion, Commr. Cadwell noted that he will not be at the Board meeting next week (May 20), but he will have the Vice Chairman present the Proclamation.
Commr. Cadwell called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES
Commr. Cadwell addressed the action that the Board took last week in regards to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and fire. He wanted to talk to the Board about two things, one, the process and how they got to that point, and two, why he feels that the Board’s direction to the County Manager was going to be a severe waste of time.
Commr. Cadwell first addressed the process and stated that he was sorely disappointed that this item was brought up while he was not here, and he would never even consider the idea of taking up an issue that was important to another Commissioner when he or she was not here. He stated that it does not make good policy, and it also does not make good policy to fill up a room with people when the Board is trying to discuss an issue that would involve such an important business decision. At this time, he hoped that the Board would consider bringing the issue back up for discussion. Commr. Cadwell explained that the County was so close to not having an ambulance service, and they went out and sought partners. He stated that their partners were highly insulted by the Board’s action, and he feels the Board sent the wrong message to them, not to mention the employees of the ambulance service that are subject to abuse, on a daily basis, by the fire union. After reviewing the tape, as well as the video tape, he would like clarification of the Board’s intent. He stated that, if the Board strictly wanted to look at the idea of co-habitating the two agencies, they have already done that because EMS has offered to do that numerous times, in several different areas, and they have been turned down by the fire department. He stated that the County is approving Advanced Life Support (ALS) stations and, in certain cases, it does not make sense to have an ALS fire truck, and an ambulance, sitting there together. Commr. Cadwell stated that Mr. Jim Judge, Executive Director of EMS, is here today to address any issue relating to the technical end of it, but the Board has done severe damage to their partners, and he thinks that sending a message today to those folks would help out. Again, if the Board wants to look at co-habitating, it does not need to do anything other than ask the EMS Board to continue to do what they have always been doing and, if they want to talk consolidation and merger, then they need to talk about those issues.
Commr. Hanson agreed that the Board should not have heard the issue without Commr. Cadwell being here, and she did not realize the impact of that and his comments were well taken. She stated that her purpose is to seek any means that they can that are feasible to find any opportunities for cost savings without losing the level of service that they have today. It certainly needs to be constructive for the community, and for the providers of the service, and they were given that instruction, by the Blue Ribbon Committee, to seek any opportunities for leveraging the dollars. She stated that there may still be some opportunities that all of them can work towards and find some means to save some dollars and not lose that level of service.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he wanted to remind the Board again that this is that community based group. He stated that the Board has something to be very proud of, a regional community based operation and, to lump it with an organization (the fire department) that has had a different leader three times in the ten years that he has been here is a bad idea, and he does not want such an idea even floating around that the Board was even considering doing that.
Commr. Pool stated that their entire intent and their goal has been to try and enhance, not diminish, the level of service, and what they have today on the ground is as professional and reliable and cost effective as anywhere else countywide. He does not want their partners to think that it was not their intent to continue to provide that same level of service with Sumter, because that was not their goal but, as an elected official, he did feel it was important to have that information to determine whether they can enhance that level of service, and be cost effective at the same time, and to have a study. He stated that Mr. Judge has provided some good information that shows a very coordinated effort to work hand in hand. Commr. Pool stated that the key is that there may be some opportunities to put two units together under one roof, and a study would only enhance their ability to make the right decision, and he supports that decision for a study.
Commr. Cadwell stressed that, even though Commr. Pool has made it clear as to the Board’s intent, that was not the direction of the Board and, when he mentions under one roof, it means co-habitating. He stated that they do not need to do a study, because they (EMS) already takes these measures. The Board needs to direct fire to start working better with EMS on doing these things.
Commr. Stivender interjected and stated that the Board needs to tell staff to work with fire because, when Mr. Judge got here, they talked about co-locating. It was not her committee, but she wanted it done, because she thinks it does save money, and staff has stopped it every time they have made a suggestion. She made a suggestion that they not put a station at Lake Jem, because the city had just built one on Lane Park, but staff disagreed and that is why she brought the issue to the forefront, so that a study could be done. Commr. Stivender emphatically denied that she asked the firefighters to come to the meeting because Commr. Cadwell would be out of town and clarified that it was the firefighters who contacted her about the meeting. She went on to stress her point that the County can save money by putting both entities in the same buildings.
Commr. Pool stated that, as a Commissioner, he is asking them to review these options and that is what he is saying with an independent study, so they can look at those opportunities.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like a motion by the Board to put this item back on the agenda, since there was action taken on it. To note, the action taken at the May 6, 2003 meeting directed the County Manager to look at the feasibility and financial implications of consolidating fire and EMS, as well as any other opportunities.
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to place this item back on the agenda for clarification, as noted.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would hope that the Board would direct the County staff to continue to work with Lake-Sumter EMS anywhere there is an opportunity to co-habitate, again taking into consideration the advantages and disadvantages of that because they are also subjecting the ambulance personnel to the constant bombardment of the union, when they are in the same building. He hopes that the Board will direct County staff to continue to work with Lake-Sumter EMS and opportunities to co-locate, but there be no discussion in regards to consolidation of fire and Lake-Sumter EMS.
Commr. Hill made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Hanson, to direct County staff to work with Lake-Sumter EMS on opportunities to co-locate, again taking into consideration the advantages and disadvantages of that but there be no discussion in regards to consolidation of fire and Lake-Sumter EMS.
Under discussion, Mr. Judge addressed the Board and stated that they do everything they know to do to save dollars, to be cost effective, from driving used vehicles that they purchase for the staff, to co-location at facilities. They are working with the City of Tavares and the City of Leesburg, and they hope to co-locate not only at the airport, but at the Okahumpka station. They want to begin to reduce those subsidies, but it is difficult with the growth that is going on in the community, when trying to increase services to keep the response times down. They will eventually reduce those subsidies, and they are looking for every opportunity to reduce costs and, when they did talk about the South Lake facility, that was $235,000 to Lake-Sumter EMS. Mr. Judge stressed that they have done a phenomenal job in holding the line and making the necessary improvements by doing everything they know to do to save those dollars to co-locate where they can and where they are wanted, and they will continue to do that.
Commr. Stivender questioned whether EMS co-locates with the cities that are unionized, and Mr. Judge responded that the firefighters are unionized in those cities, and they do work fine with them.
Commr. Stivender stressed that this was her point, that it can be done.
Commr. Pool stated that the citizens of Lake County are paramount, which is the key that the County provide the highest and most respected level of service for the dollars they can spend and, if it means studying the concept of a co-location and/or even consolidation, then so be it but, as a Commissioner, he is saying that it is important to at least know that what they now provide is the best. He has no questions or qualms about their ability or those employees and their dedication and, as demonstrated time and time again, they are more than willing to raise that bar. It is important that, as Commissioners, they know the advantages and disadvantages of either.
Commr. Hanson stated that there was never any intent to question the quality of the services that Lake-Sumter EMS provides.
Commr. Hill clarified that her motion does not include a study, with Commr. Pool stating that he understands and supports her motion, but he still supports his position for a study.
Commr. Hanson called for the question.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he understands exactly what Commr. Hanson has stated today, and he appreciates her coming forward and saying that this was not what they had intended to do.
Commr. Cadwell called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
Commr. Cadwell noted that he will not be present for the May 20, 2003 meeting, because he will be in New York attending his son’s appointment ceremony.
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, stated that, based on that announcement, there were a couple of issues that had to do with fire assessments and solid waste assessments that he will move to the May 27, 2003 meeting, when there will be a full Board present.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting adjourned at 12:43 p.m.
WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN ATTEST:
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK