A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
JULY 22, 2004
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special session on Thursday, July 22, 2004, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner’s Meeting Room, on the second floor of the Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Debbie Stivender, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Robert A. Pool; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Stivender opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to the Budget Workshop. At this time, she turned the meeting over to Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would like to make one quick announcement. The Florida Legislature finally enacted the Article V legislation this year and, in that legislation, it set up an Article V Technology Board, which will oversee the Article V implementation. He was proud to announce that Ms. Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager, was appointed as one of the people to represent Florida’s counties on that Board.
I. COUNTY MANAGER, WILLIAM A. NERON
PRESENTATION OF PROPOSED FY 2005 BUDGET
Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, began the workshop session by reading his Memorandum dated July 15, 2004, which outlined the County Budget Organization and Highlights of the Proposed FY 2005 Budget. He noted that, in May, during the mid-year budget reconciliation process, they were able to add 12 positions in critical service areas, as well as four positions dedicated to the development of a new Comprehensive Plan. The FY 2005 budget has been modified to include those changes approved by the Board. Mr. Neron was pleased to say that all of the millages and assessments remain unchanged from the current year, as follows: General Fund - 5.9; Stormwater - .50; and Ambulance Fund - .52. The proposed FY 2005 County Budget is $308.6 million, a decrease of 4.7% from the current fiscal year; however, as the Board comes to the final adoption of the budget process, that will be adjusted upward to reflect multi-year projects that are carried forward into the new budget.
Mr. Neron explained that the County’s General Fund budget of $113.7 million accounts for the revenues and expenses for the Constitutional Offices, and many of the departments and programs under the direct supervision of the County Commission. He noted that the proposed budget provides funding for 14 new positions, with six of those positions being firefighters in the Public Safety area. There were a total of 34 positions recommended to staff for funding in next fiscal year, but staff is only recommending 14 of those positions.
Mr. Neron reported that property valuation has been appraised at a 12.7% increase over the past year. As shown in the backup on one of the charts, about half of that increase is due to new growth, and the other half is due to increased assessed valuations on existing property. Staff believes that a good deal of the new valuation is probably existing homes that have been resold and removed from the 3% cap under the Save Our Homes legislation.
Mr. Neron briefly presented the program highlights, as shown in the proposed budget book that had been distributed earlier to the Board.
Article V Implementation
In regards to the Article V legislation, Mr. Neron explained that the Board has already taken action, as allowed by the State, to increase certain fees and help offset the court costs. The Board will continue to fund at current levels Teen Court, Legal Aid, Law Library, and innovative court programs. He noted that Community Legal Services is funded at $115,070 as requested.
Parks and Recreation
Mr. Neron reported that some good projects have been designed over the past fiscal year in the Parks and Recreation area and, in next year’s budget, there are several large land acquisition projects in the Northeast County area, as well as in the Mount Plymouth/Sorrento area, and South Lake area. The budget also includes $200,000 in State grant funding for the Boundless Playground, and other improvements to Lake Idamere Park.
The proposed FY 2005 budget includes over $2 million for design and construction of two new fire stations, to be located in the Lake Jem and Minneola/Montverde areas. Mr. Neron noted that one will be an additional station to replace the Minneola station in central South Lake County. The proposed budget includes six new positions for firefighters, to be used as “floaters” to reduce overtime. While these are new positions, they will be funded out of the “overtime” accounts, so there are no net new costs for these positions. Mr. Neron noted that Mr. Gary Kaiser, Public Safety Director, felt that it would be better for the County to hire additional positions to cover the sick and vacation times at regular time, rather than paying time and a half to existing firefighters.
Mr. Neron pointed out that the Environmental Services area of the budget includes an expense line item of $50,000 to conduct additional environmental studies. The Director had requested a new environmental engineer but, rather than hiring a new position, staff is going to look at contracting services to accomplish some of these goals. The budget also includes funding for an additional Sr. Landfill Attendant, and this position will replace an existing position that was left unfunded in the current year.
As shown in the budget book, the proposed budget provides $594,000 to LifeStream Behavioral Center in local match funds for treatment services, an increase of $44,000 from the previous year, and it includes the funding for Human Services Agency grants, in the same amount of $60,000. Mr. Neron stated that, as directed by the Board at the April Financial Retreat, staff is researching grant allocation practices of other counties, as well as contributed dollars per capita, and those results will be presented to the Board in early August.
Mr. Neron noted that the proposed FY 2005 budget includes funding for an additional Probation Officer. The cost of the Probation Division is largely offset by projected revenue of $475,000 from probation fees.
Mr. Neron stated that Lake County provided approximately 234,680 trips to the transportation disadvantaged population of the County in 2004 using approximately $3.6 million in funds from various state, federal, and local sources. The County has taken over the maintenance and the budget of the vehicles, and the budget reflects County costs. The proposed budget includes matching funds from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to purchase 13 new vehicles, and the County’s local required match for the equipment will be 10% of the total cost. Staff will be going out for proposals for the provision of that service later this summer, and this budget may increase when those proposals come back. They will know later this year, or early next fiscal year.
The proposed budget includes funding for a GIS Senior CAD Technician.
Mr. Neron reported that, in the Public Works area, there are a number of construction projects either in the design or planning stages, including two new libraries, two new fire stations, renovations to several health department clinics, and the Lake County Fairgrounds. Staff is proposing funding for a Construction Superintendent to oversee and manage these projects.
Mr. Neron pointed out that there is so much demand for services from the Roads Divisions and this area remains understaffed. In order to help offset these demands, staff is proposing to use County General Fund dollars to assist the Transportation Trust Fund, because gas taxes have remained flat. The proposed budget includes $360,000 to increase the outsourcing program for maintenance including mowing and right-of-way maintenance, and other activities. They will then take several current staff members and form a much needed special projects crew, which will be tasked with special projects, and this staff will be overseen by a crew supervisor, as being proposed in the budget.
The Facilities Maintenance division is responsible for maintaining 113 facilities totaling over one million square feet. The proposed budget includes $200,000 in new funding for the first year of a proposed three year incremental process to establish a preventative maintenance program.
Tourism and Economic Development
Mr. Neron noted that there are no major changes in Tourism and Economic Development, and they have been very successful in the increase towards development tax collections, as well as the sale of properties at the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park.
Internal Service Departments
The Internal Service Departments are doing very well in the area of medical insurance for the employees. Mr. Neron was happy to report that they are able to absorb the increase in costs within the available rates being charged. There will be no additional requests for increases in the amount paid by the County employees for health insurance. Staff is recommending reducing the co-pay for prescriptions, from $15-$35-$50 to $15-$25-$40. They also have competitively bid the life insurance portion of their program, and there were some slight reductions in rates that will be passed onto the County, as well as to those employees who buy extra life insurance through the County program.
Mr. Neron stated that, while staff requested a new position for a Wellness Coordinator, to be funded out of the Risk Management Fund, he is proposing that the budget include a new line item of $20,000 to contract with perhaps one of the hospitals to help provide some wellness programs.
As approved by the Board during the Financial Retreat, Mr. Neron stated that the proposed budget includes funding for up to a five percent merit increase, based on an employee’s evaluation. The proposed budget also includes an additional $500,000 that brings the total available cash for a new integrated financial software system to $1 million, which is being coordinated by Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance, Clerk’s Office.
In summary, Mr. Neron stated that the Board and staff can be extremely proud of the accomplishments they have made in the past year, and they can be equally proud of the financial stability of the County. He further stated that all Constitutional Officers have been funded at their requested level, and the County’s unrestricted General Fund reserves remain at a healthy 11.1%.
Mr. Neron stated that staff anticipates receiving the results of their countywide Master Space Plan in the next five or six months and that will include recommendations for a 15 year capital improvement program for facilities. He feels it will have a hefty price tag for needed County facilities over 10 or 15 years, and they will probably be looking at some type of revenue bond issue to help them construct those facilities.
In closing, Mr. Neron expressed his sincere appreciation to his staff for their extra effort and dedication in preparing this proposed document. A special thanks goes to Ms. Regina Frazier, Director of the Budget Office, and her capable employees, all of the Department Directors, and particularly Ms. Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager. Mr. Neron stated that it should also be stressed that each Constitutional Officer has been most cooperative in the timely preparation of this proposed budget.
II. SHERIFF FRED A. M. COBB
PRESENTATION OF PROPOSED FY 2005 BUDGET
FOR THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE, LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA
Sheriff Fred A. M. Cobb addressed the Board and stated that he wanted to take the opportunity to publicly thank the Board, and the residents of Lake County, for the hospitality that he has received since being appointed as the Sheriff for Lake County. He also wanted to extend his appreciation to Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, and his staff, for the degree of cooperation and acceptance he has received from them since his arrival here.
In the packet of information he provided to the Board, Sheriff Cobb pointed out that 5.6% of the increase in the Corrections Budget, and 2.11% of the increase in his overall budget, is directly related to the 11 additional medical personnel that were hired as a result of the study of the jail medical facility, as the Board directed prior to his arrival. They have asked for four (4) additional Detention Deputies to enable them to open the Prelude to deal with jail overcrowding. He noted that, from past experience, they need to manage the jail population carefully to avoid a federal lawsuit for overcrowding. He and his staff, along with Mr. Neron and his staff, are looking at this very closely and are going to be working very closely with the judiciary, to see if they can take a more aggressive approach of reducing the number of pre-trial detainees that they are currently housing. He hopes to implement some programs that will help to reduce this number, before they have to start looking at building any new facilities for the jail.
Sheriff Cobb stated that he asked for ten (10) new Deputy Sheriffs, with eight (8) of those for road patrol. The Sheriff’s Office currently has about 1.0 deputy per 1,000 residents, and it should be closer to 1.5. He is proposing to bring six (6) of those Deputy Sheriffs on October 1, 2004, and four (4) on April 1, 2005, in an effort to reduce the fiscal impact during the first year, and to meet the projected budget that Mr. Neron asked him to consider. They are asking for one (1) additional Corrections Captain to help manage the jail, and one (1) Human Resources Clerk.
Sheriff Cobb stated that he felt the proposed budget meets the needs of the County, and it will also give his replacement, in January, some latitude to make changes. As noted in the handout, his request represents an 8.8% increase from last year.
Commr. Stivender pointed out that Sheriff Cobb was requesting 5.9% of salaries for pay raises, even though the County Manager had requested a range up to 5%.
Sheriff Cobb explained that the difference between the 5% and the 5.9% stems from his employees paying a higher portion of their health care costs than County employees, and it also gives him the latitude to look at some of the mid-range employees. Historically, the Sheriff’s Office has always increased the starting salary, and right now, Lake County’s starting salary is higher than Orange County. His request will allow him to give all of his employees a raise, and to clear up some of the issues at hand and recognize some of the employees that have been here. He would also like to avoid having other Sheriff’s Offices recruit officers from Lake County.
Because the public has been confused about the monies being allocated for salaries within the Sheriff’s Office, Commr. Stivender asked that Sheriff Cobb clarify this issue because, even though the Board approves his budget, the Board does not designate the amount of salary to be given to each of his employees.
Sheriff Cobb stated that, when he receives the approved amount of funding from the Board, it is his responsibility to determine how to spend that money, and to provide the residents of Lake County with a certain level of service. Then the Board, and the residents of the County, have the opportunity each year to hold him accountable and review how he has spent those monies in the past year. The decisions for salaries is his responsibility and not the responsibility of the Board.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, in hopes of saving money, the Board urged the Sheriff’s Office to do the study of the jail medical facility, because the inmate health care costs were really causing the Board some consternation but, from that study, they are now hiring 11 Corrections Medical Personnel.
Sheriff Cobb stated that the Board had encouraged the Sheriff’s Office to try and save money, and then the Board hired an independent consultant who recommended hiring 11 people, as one way to reduce health care costs, and he was not clear on this outcome.
Mr. Neron explained that the study was initiated prior to Sheriff Cobb coming on board. He pointed out that the inmate medical costs have been skyrocketing and, in order to review these costs, staff brought in Mr. Phil Hoelscher, a consultant who has worked in numerous counties around the State of Florida, to help find a way to reduce inmate medical costs. The conclusion of his report indicates that Lake County is contracting out a lot of services and not managing the population. The net, over time, will be a stabilization of the increase in costs. They are not seeing the results of that right now, because they are not fully staffed but, as they get fully staffed, and the contracts for the outside doctors and pharmacy are renegotiated, there will be a savings on that side. Mr. Neron stated that, over time, they hope to stabilize these costs, but he does believe they will ever see them totally reduced.
Sheriff Cobb referred to the shortfall in the area of Resource Officers and explained that this issue is still on the table for discussion, and his position has been that this is a decision between the Board and the Lake County School Board (School Board) and, even though he and Mr. Neron have met with the School Board staff and discussed various areas, it will be the School Board’s decision, if they choose to cut certain programs. The School Board did indicate that they would take under consideration the idea of a truant officer program. They initially wanted to eliminate the canine officers, or to contract with the Sheriff’s Office to bring in canine officers into the schools, by Statute, twice a year. Sheriff Cobb stated that he had some concerns about that because they fail to realize that those canine officers, who are also School Resource Officers, spend about 45% of their time filling in for School Resource Officers who are out sick, or on leave, even though they do limit their leave during the school year. He stated that, because of the size of this County, and with the number of schools, the ability to do these random searches and inspections he believes deters kids from bringing drugs and guns into the schools. It will be the School Board’s decision but, if they asked him to prioritize the options, he would look real hard at the truancy program. Even though the School Board talks in terms of their responsibility being to educate the children, he pointed out that they are also responsible for the safety of those children while they are in those schools. He stated that this is not necessarily the Sheriff’s responsibility, even though they contract for those services, at the Board’s direction. He stressed that society has changed and School Resource Officers will always be in the schools, and they will have a positive impact on the young people in the school system. He would respectfully ask the Board to consider whether they really want to make those cuts this year or wait until the new Sheriff and School Superintendent engage in some discussions early on next year. It was noted that $66,000 has been placed in the budget for the truancy program, which includes a Truancy Officer, one part-time employee, and one full-time employee. Sheriff Cobb noted that he can absorb the Truancy Officer into this year’s budget with one of the positions that he was going to put in the Warrants Division. He further noted that the Sheriff’s Office has 6,000 unserved warrants, and he is going to make every effort to drastically reduce that number before he leaves in January. He will provide the Board with those numbers, as well as information about the entire truancy program.
Commr. Hanson thanked Sheriff Cobb for his participation and professionalism, as he has dealt with the County staff, and the County. She has talked to him briefly but wanted to know how he felt about having a countywide system for equipment that would include the Sheriff’s Office and what the downside would be of having them included in that system.
Sheriff Cobb stated that, as a constitutional officer, he does not think that one would ever give up that responsibility, or that latitude, to manage his own capital assets. He explained the current inventory system of the Sheriff’s Office and sated that he is not sure there would be any value to having a countywide system. He noted that this may be something that the Board would want to discuss with his predecessor. Sheriff Cobb stated that he can assure the Board that, even though there has been criticism in past, this is not the case now with the current system, and he has a detailed inventory from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for all of the military surplus equipment. He is working very hard to determine what they really need and what they can maintain, and what they can disburse to other agencies, if there is a need.
Commr. Stivender explained the idea of having a centralized location, or a major facility, where the Sheriff would locate and monitor his vehicles, in an attempt to try and help consolidate everything and save taxpayer dollars.
Sheriff Cobb stated that he and Mr. Neron have already had some discussions about this idea, and he has already given some ideas to the company that the Board hired to do the space needs study that may help the County save money. He suggested that the Board think in terms of co-location rather than consolidation, so that they get the benefits of reducing some of the overhead costs.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt there may be some benefit to such a system, as far as computers. She stated that another issue of discussion would be the housing of the mentally ill in the jails, which is becoming more of an issue throughout the State and, even though this concern is being addressed, she brings it up mostly to make sure the public understands that part of the overcrowding in the jails is due to the housing of the mentally ill. She knows that the County Manager, and Major Gary Borders, Correctional Facility, have been working on this concern. She believes, at some point, an ad hoc committee would be productive to look at that issue, as well as others, as they deal with the overcrowding in jails, because the true costs come in the additional buildings. Some counties actually have a court for the mentally ill, as well as a drug court, and there are several things that they could look at that might be helpful. She stated that this Board stands ready to help in any way to make that situation better.
Mr. Neron stated that he and his staff met with Sheriff Cobb and his staff a couple of weeks ago, and that meeting led to discussion on some pre-trial intervention. On Monday, they are meeting with Lake County Administrative Judge Don Briggs to discuss this issue.
Commr. Hanson stated that, as the County Manager will recall, she brought this issue forward to him, to create that discussion, because it was an issue that was discussed by the Florida Association of Counties (FAC), and she wanted to bring it to the table.
Sheriff Cobb explained that he ran a pre-trial service program for four years and, unfortunately, most of the time law enforcement found themselves dealing with folks that were in the judicial system, because of their mental health issues. There were some discussions about different types of pre-trial diversion programs, and a mental health court was recently started in Okaloosa County. He stated that, from first hand knowledge, he used to be responsible for trying to get those folks out of the jail but, unfortunately some of these folks create criminal offenses and need to be incarcerated, but they can be stabilized in a correctional facility as easily as they can in a mental health hospital. He agrees that there are a large number of these folks, and they keep coming back through the system, because of their mental health issues and, as an interim Sheriff, they have to set some short term goals. He feels that these are some of the things that he can accomplish with his prior experience, to at least convince the judiciary that these are valid programs, and the County will benefit from them.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, if the Board is going to look at policies that are going to affect the end result, they need to know the number of those folks that are being incarcerated because of their drug problems, or their mental health. He also noted that technology has changed so much in regards to the house arrest process.
Sheriff Cobb stated that the County has recently gotten a federal grant that was used for a new system being implemented throughout the State of Florida, which he explained, and this system is available for them to use in County probation, and their pre-trial release program, at the cost of about six dollars a day. He explained that, even when people are released after posting bond, it gives the public a false sense of security, when all they did was have enough money to get out of jail. Sheriff Cobb stated that 80% to 85% of the current jail population in Lake County is pre-trial detainees. He stated that he has had the opportunity to work for a lot of different agencies and, if Gary Borders is not the best, he is one of the best Correctional Managers.
Commr. Pool stated that it is the Board’s responsibility to level the ad valorem tax. He
wanted to know whether the Sheriff should be responsible for taxing the citizens, in lieu of the County Commission, and whether he should have the ability to set the ad valorem rate and be responsible for it and, therefore, answer to the public for any tax increases.
Sheriff Cobb stated that there are variations to such an option, and he has done some public hearings on this issue noting that the people are willing to pay for public safety, but they become concerned when you increase their ad valorem tax. He noted that the increase in ad valorem tax goes for public safety and is not used for any other project, but it might be an interesting concept. He stated that, regardless of who is doing the taxing, it is already his responsibility to sell the public on what he thinks he needs to run the Sheriff’s Office, and he does that by being actively involved in the community. He explained that the Sheriff’s Office contracts with the City of Minneola for law enforcement services.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that the Board can only set up a Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) in the unincorporated area of the County, and the cities would have to agree to it inside the city limits. He explained that, in many areas, the counties will fund some portion of the road patrol through an unincorporated only MSTU and fund all of the other operations through the regular millage, although there is litigation in Alachua County where the Sheriff has challenged whether you can even use a MSTU for road patrol, but the ones that do it typically do for road patrol.
Commr. Pool stated that the Board appreciates the outstanding job that Sheriff Cobb has done and that he has heard nothing but good remarks about the Sheriff’s Office, and the overall attitude.
Sheriff Cobb publicly stated that it has to do with the quality of folks that he inherited and this County should be extremely proud of the Sheriff’s Office, their dedication to the community, and the level of service that the men and women of this agency provide on a day in and day out basis. He stated that this has been a humbling experience.
III. BCC DISCUSSION OF PROPOSED BUDGET
Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park
Commr. Hanson stated that, since the industrial park (Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park) is doing so well, she wanted to know if staff has a schedule for the pay back of those dollars, to the Tourist Development Council (TDC).
Mr. Neron stated that staff is working on this issue and will be bringing a proposal to the Board in August. He noted that they have the moneys to make those pay backs, and he has some suggestions on how the Board may want to utilize those funds for some other projects.
Inequity in Pay - Male versus Female/Evaluation/Study
Commr. Hanson had mentioned to the County Manager, as the Board was going over the budget, an issue that is very important to her and, even though they do not have a problem in this regard, it is a problem in many areas throughout the country, and in Florida, and that is an inequity in pay, male versus females, for the same jobs. She hopes that Lake County is okay in this area, but she would ask that the County Manager do an evaluation.
Mr. Neron stated that he has already asked Ms. Sharon Wall, Employee Services Director, to look into this issue.
Commr. Stivender stated that she felt the issue brought forth by Commr. Hanson is a part of an overall study that is being done by staff, because she had asked for information on all of the employees, and the categories.
Prescriptive Drugs/Health Department
Commr. Hanson stated that, even though the Board has increased the amount of dollars that are being spent on prescriptive drugs, she understands that they are now out of funds, and individuals are not getting their medications. Many of those people who need those drugs would not even be able to pay the at-cost amount being offered though the Health Department. Commr. Hanson stated that, in order to cover them through the whole year, she would like to recommend that the Board increase the prescriptive drug allowance $100,000. She understands that the Health Department has a pharmacist that has moved into the area that is interested in providing drugs throughout the year to the public, for the at-cost amount, which would help on an annual basis. She would at least like to get a recommendation from Mr. Fletcher Smith, Director of Community Services, on what the needs are in the County, and what they would need in funds, to carry them through the rest of the year.
Mr. Neron stated that the County has $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money, and $20,000 in the General Fund, and he will ask Mr. Smith to get them a report on where they stand and bring back to the Board a recommendation in that regard.
General Fund Unfunded Enhancements -
North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFHPC)
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board does not currently fund the North Central Florida Health Planning Council (NCFHPC), and they do an awful lot of work for Lake County in evaluation assessments of their needs for health care. She stated that Mr. Jeff Feller who is with the NCFHPC, is here today, and he actually wrote the grant that would deal with diabetes, and the indicators of diabetes. She stated that there are a lot of other health problems tied into diabetes and, even though they do not know if they will get that federal grant, it was very well written and gave them a type of benchmark to look at on some of their health care needs. She would like Mr. Feller to give them a brief presentation.
Mr. Jeff Feller, Development Director, NCFHPC, addressed the Board and stated that one of their greatest challenges of their regional organization, which is geographically located in Gainesville, Florida, is demonstrating their services to each of the 16 counties that they actually serve. He would like to reiterate some points that he made back in March, when he was giving his annual informational presentation to the Board. For Fiscal Year 2001-03, the NCFHPC provided 1.5 million dollars of services through their Healthy Start and Ryan White Programs, 60,000 services to almost 5,500 Lake County residents, for prenatal and infant care and HIV Aids care. Those dollars primarily come to them from federal and state grants, where they have very low percentages allowable for administration of those programs. Despite flat funding for the last five years for those programs, they have managed to expand services through a variety of quality initiatives and different strategic partnering with other folks. For many years the NCFHPC Community Services Department has been very committed to the Lake County Comprehensive Health Care Committee (Health Care Committee), and they have managed to provide technical assistance and be a regular partner to the Health Care Committee. They ask all 16 counties for a nickle per capita to help them support the administration of the grants that serve their residents, and to also provide technical and administrative support to their County Health Care Advisory Boards and their County Commissions directly. This year 11 of the 16 counties have included them in their budget thus far, and Lake County is one of the largest of the five counties that has not included them in their base line budget. Based on a nickle per capita on the July 1st population, they would be requesting, as noted in their letter sent a couple of months ago, $11,876 to help support the NCFHPC in its service to Lake County residents.
Mr. Feller stated that he is here today to stress that the NCFHPC is very much committed to the County’s needs and, regardless of what happens today, he will be working with Mr. Fletcher Smith, Director of Community Services, and the community, but he is also here asking the Board to include them in this year’s budget for the allocated amount of $11,876.
Commr. Stivender stated that, as she had indicated to Mr. Feller, it is a great program, but the County has a program through the Citizen’s Commission and Community Services where they give out the grants, and it has a review process that comes through a board and, then to this Board with a recommendation. She questioned whether the NCFHPC has ever filed or sent a proposal for consideration through this process.
Mr. Feller stated that the NCFHPC has never gone through that route but, if that is the route Lake County would prefer them to take in the future, he will gladly follow that process.
Commr. Stivender stated that, if they file in the same manner as others applying for funding, everyone would be on equal ground, because there are many organizations that need money for their worthy projects. This was her only concern with the request today.
Commr. Pool stated that he feels the request being made is a very small investment, but he wanted to know if the NCFHPC can leverage these dollars anywhere else, if the County participates.
Mr. Feller explained that these dollars are utilized when the NCFHPC is applying for other grants, and they do receive a lot of other federal grants that are utilized in different counties, as he explained, and they use those kinds of dollars to show to the federal government that there is a local commitment to health planning and health care issues. He further explained that Lake County has not allotted the nickle per capita request over the last ten years, and they still maintain their level of services in the County. In response to Commr. Stivender’s comments, Mr. Feller explained that the Regional Planning Council has an allocation that is based on per capita, and years ago, the NCFHPC was a part of the Regional Planning Council, but they have since separated from them. They now maintain that same philosophy of asking for that per capita allocation. He stated that she was correct, that he should pursue this request through the outside agency funding grant process, as she explained.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that this particular request is shown in the budget document under unfunded enhancements, and Mr. Smith explained that staff received the request from the NCFHPC in January, to be included in this year’s budget process.
During further discussion, Commr. Hanson stated that she felt this request would be similar to the Regional Planning Council’s request.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, about 12 years ago, the County was a participant, and he knows that the Board has asked this group (NCFHPC) to do several different tasks for them over the years. He feels that what the NCFHPC offers in regards to health care is separate from some of those other organizations that are providing specific tasks, whereas this is the only group that has a wide range in health care industry as a whole.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board needs to realize that Lake County is at the top of the State and ranks with those other counties that have the very high indicators for health problems and health concerns, and those affect all of the social issues within the County.
Commr. Stivender stated that it is a great program, and they need to fund it, but it is the process, and she wants to make sure that the Board is consistent in how they approve these requests.
Commr. Hill wanted to know if this request was going to enhance the Community Services’ Department and not reduce any of the services that the County is now providing.
Mr. Smith explained that Mr. Feller attended the Health Care Committee meeting yesterday, and the NCFHPC had just completed a statewide study on a county by county basis, as he explained, and he stated that they do a lot of such studies that give insights into medical behavior of people in the communities that really helps hospitals, physicians, and the medical societies in the County. Mr. Smith explained that, in the past years, staff received a letter directly from the Executive Director from the NCFHPC asking to be included in the budget process. Each year he brings this forward to the Board, as a request to the budget, and they do not go through any type of citizen review committee. The closest link to an advisory committee would be the Comprehensive Health Care Committee, and Mr. Feller and other staff members have given a lot of time and effort to support those activities, and he has already been to them and given them this report.
Commr. Hanson made a motion, which was seconded by Commr. Pool, to approve to fund the North Central Florida Health Planning Council (NCFHPC) at the $11,876 level (five cents per capita), as requested.
Under discussion, Mr. Neron noted that the change from the reserves will be made prior to the public hearings.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, noted that staff advertised today’s meeting as a regular meeting.
Commr. Stivender called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote.
General Fund Unfunded Enhancements -
Women’s Health Services
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the Women’s Health Services has been listed under the General Fund Unfunded Enhancements, and Mr. Fletcher Smith, Director of Community Services, explained that, at the last Board meeting, staff submitted a lease for approval to rent the Veterans Services Clinic. It was noted that the total Human Services Grant is $60,000 but, when you combine the other grants, it is about $522,000.
Mr. Neron stated that staff should have the information from the space study that was noted earlier and will provide it to the Board prior to the September 7, 2004 public hearing.
Commr. Pool expressed his appreciation to staff for trying to trim the number of new employees. He noted that they are adding the needed employees according to the position of the budget. Commr. Pool stated that he also appreciates how staff tries to cross train and utilize the employees for multiple tasks, which helps to streamline the process, and he applauds the talented staff and all of the people the County has working for them. In looking at the health care side of the budget, Commr. Pool wanted to know if staff brings on people, such as paramedics, who can periodically check vital signs of County employees and, at the same time, he wanted to know if they can do something similar through the Sheriff’s Office, in lieu of the Sheriff hiring an additional number of people.
Mr. Neron explained that the County is slowly trying to get into this part of a wellness program and, even though there are some entities that have a full time nurse, staff has not wanted to go that route. He explained that many of the paramedics are not located near the employees, and they would be taking them off of their station locations, which would then affect response times, but staff will look at that as part of their wellness efforts.
Commr. Hill referred to Page 2 of the Memorandum from Mr. Neron and questioned the decrease of 4.7% in the FY 2005 budget from the current fiscal year, with the primary reason being that many multi-year projects, such as road construction or building renovations have not yet been carried forward to the FY 2005 budget. She wanted to know if staff was waiting for the projects to come back on board mid-year or were they waiting until after the master space plan.
Mr. Neron explained that they will not be spending all of the money this fiscal year on some of the projects in the current budget and, prior to the final budget hearing, staff will have a better dollar amount that will be carried forward into the next budget. He explained that it is not new money, but it will raise the total amount, even though they are not increasing the spending level. It is just taking unspent money for this year and adding it to next year’s budget for multi-year projects.
In response to Commr. Hill’s question about the funding for additional staff, Mr. Neron explained that the funding would come from the overall revenue, but the reserves would still remain at a healthy 11.1% with the new positions.
Commr. Hill addressed the possibility of undisclosed costs in the future relating to Article V, and Mr. Neron explained that the County was able to establish a very positive position, at the outcome of the process. He noted that the Board will fund the Law Library, and the Clerk will continue to operate it. The position for Teen Court will show up in the Community Services budget, but the Court Administration Office will supervise the person, and the program on a day to day basis.
Parks and Recreation
Commr. Hill stated that the Board should be tailoring their spending to a plan, but it seems that they are spending before they have a plan. She knows that the Board has the master plan for parks and recreation, which was presented to them, but it still has not gone to their Land Planning Agency (LPA) for their recommendations. She wondered if the Board should be a little more careful before they commit themselves totally to some of these things and wait until they have heard their recommendations.
Mr. Neron stated that procedurally, the master plan has been presented to the LPA, but they have not taken any formal review and action on it. Everything in the proposed budget is in conformance with the plan, as proposed. Within the next 90 to 120 days, staff will have that approval before they start with the major projects.
Commr. Hill referred to the park in Mount Plymouth/Sorrento and noted that the County has a library that is being leased there. She stated that maybe they could co-locate a park and community center, and even construct a new library in that area.
Mr. Neron stated that, if they decide to buy a community center and locate it on a new community park site, then it may be cost efficient to build a library, in conjunction with the community center, and to combine the facilities and reduce future lease payments.
Commr. Hanson explained that the community center was to replace the VFW building that is falling down. She stated that it is not going to be at that location, because it is not going to be large enough for a library and parking on the same site. Until they can find property for a regional park that can be purchased for $500,000 in that area, it may be that, as they move forward, they can get one place that is big enough for all of the community needs into the future, which would be the long range vision, and locate it somewhere between Mount Plymouth and Sorrento.
Mr. Neron stated that staff is working with a realtor who is putting together properties for the Board’s consideration, and it will probably be 30 to 60 days before staff can bring something conceptually back to the Board.
Commr. Hill had concerns relating to the Board’s communication with community groups and not giving them an opportunity to look at possibilities and make suggestions.
Commr. Hanson explained that the master plan says that there will be a regional plan in the original park in the Mount Plymouth/Sorrento area, so it is on the master plan.
Commr. Stivender noted that the pari-mutual funds were already designated for something in that area.
Commr. Hill stated that she knows the County is working on a master plan for fire rescue, but it appears that the Minneola/Montverde area is not going to be in the plan.
Mr. Neron, explained that the County is going to construct a replacement station for the station that they are losing under their current contract with Minneola, which has to be vacated by October 1, 2005. Staff is searching for a site in that general vicinity outside of the town limits of Minneola. He clarified that this station is part of the County’s existing plan to replace that station, and they have been trying to find an affordable site in the Lake Jem area for two years.
Commr. Hill referred to Page 7.8 under Environmental Services and asked staff to clarify the Interfund Transfer of over $1 million for next year. She also questioned whether it would be wise to wait to do any major changes in Environmental Services, until the Covanta agreement is settled, or whether it is something that the County has to do now.
Mr. Neron explained that the additional funding in the amount of $50,000 is more for the water quality and environmental area. The Covanta funding is in a separate fund and is not related to this fund. He noted that the $1 million is the line of credit payment. Next week staff will be doing an internal staff review of the whole solid waste fund.
Public Works - Facilities Maintenance
In response to Commr. Hill’s questions regarding Facilities Maintenance, Mr. Neron explained that there is $600,000 in this fund, and they hope to double that figure over the next three years. It was noted that Commr. Hill had discussed this with staff, and she felt it was an excellent idea.
Commr. Stivender stated that, when she discussed this item with staff, she had wanted a percentage of what the County is actually using per square foot for maintenance and operations.
Mr. Neron explained that, when staff gets the initial data from the space study, he will be able to provide that information to the Board. He stated that, once they get that number, they are going to develop indicators, in order to budget a specific number per square foot for various types of space. Staff will be updating that information, once they receive that study.
Commr. Hill stated that the Board discussed the five percent merit increase plus the hourly work week change and, at that time, the Board was going to do it for the entire staff, which would have been a little less than $1 million.
Mr. Neron explained that staff is proposing to convert and fully fund at 40 hours the divisions of Employee Services, Procurement, and Growth Management. Last week, the Employee Advisory Committee suggested that they also include Facilities Maintenance and, in discussing this with Mr. Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works, he will be recommending that they include this division, at the September 7, 2004 public hearing. It will be a two year program, and the funding will be from the General Fund. At mid-year, they will look at the funding, but the first year will be the conversion of these four departments.
Commr. Hill stated that she would still like to see staff complete an in-depth report on the issue of the homestead exemption, so that the Board will know the fiscal impact of the possible increase in the homestead exemption, from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.
Mr. Neron noted that staff will finalize the report and release it to the Board in the next couple of weeks.
Conserv II Property
Mr. Neron noted that Mr. Jim Stivender, Director of Public Works, is on the agenda in August to give the Board an update on the Conserv II property.
Commr. Hill stated that, as the Board continues to involve the communities, she wanted to make sure that, procedurally, the Board is not dictating their preferences to individuals, or those who sit on different committees, because she wants them to feel free to give her their comments, recommendations, and suggestions.
Commr. Hanson agreed with Commr. Hill’s comment but noted that the Board members are going to continue to hear from their constituents, and from communities that are located in those areas where they need that input.
Commr. Stivender stated that the citizens are becoming more educated on the internet and the County web site, and they want to know everything that is going on in the County, but they seemed to be confused about the mid-year adjustment process.
At the request of Commr. Stivender, Mr. Neron presented a brief explanation of the process, for clarification.
Commr. Stivender stated that she has met with Mr. Neron and Ms. Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager, on the employee positions and reclassifications, and she feels that these still need some tweaking. She does not feel they need to have reclassifications and upgrades of positions throughout the year.
Mr. Neron explained that the concerns have been addressed and this will be done as part of the budget preparation process.
Commr. Stivender pointed out that there had been a funding request from Trout Lake, and Mr. Neron noted that, although staff had inadvertently overlooked this item, it will be one of the adjustments in the budget.
Scanning of County Documents
Commr. Stivender explained that there had been a County Administrative Professionals (CAP) Team to look at the scanning of County documents and, if staff continues with the research on this item, it will involve a lot of money, and that figure is not in this budget.
Mr. Neron noted that Commr. Hanson had presented the scanning information to staff, and they are going to look at it. He noted that currently some of this type of work is being done.
Commr. Hanson explained that they are not looking at money. She was contacted by a gentleman who does scanning for several government organizations, and she merely asked him to talk to Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Director of Growth Management, and Mr. Neron. It is expensive, however, and they would need an evaluation of what the costs would be to offset storage. She explained that the call was generated from the article seen in the paper about the building the County is buying for storage.
Mr. Neron explained that staff is doing some document imaging in the Growth Management area, to help cut down on the paper flow, as well as paper storage.
Commr. Stivender suggested that there may be some way to coordinate this type of digital process with Mr. James C. Watkins, Clerk of Circuit Court.
Commr. Stivender stated that, in the enhancements, between now and when the Board approves this budget, if the Board has concerns, they need to be brought to staff. She stated that they have been working on doing some improvements to the third floor, and she wants to make sure that the furniture is not discarded.
Mr. Neron noted that the proposed budget before the Board is the County Manager’s recommendation, and the Board, as the policy makers, has the prerogative of making changes.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that, before the Board’s next regular meeting, they set aside some time for any discussion that may come from the presentation today, as opposed to setting another workshop.
It was noted that, if any Board member has any additions, or questions, that have not been cleared up with staff, they need to bring them back at the August 3, 2004 meeting.
IV. BOARD SETS THE PROPOSED MILLAGE RATES FOR FY 2005
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, noted that the Board needs to include the time, date and place of the first public hearing in the motion.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to set the proposed millage rates in the General Fund at 5.9170; Stormwater at 0.5000; and Ambulance Fund at 0.5289; and to hold the first public hearing on the budget September 7, 2004 at 5:05 p.m., in the Board Meeting Room, Administration Building, Tavares, Florida.
Commr. Hill stated that Commr. Stivender has been meeting with representatives from the Lake County School Board, and the Board has a joint meeting scheduled with them next week, which they are all to attend, and she wanted to know if there was an agenda that the Board members could get prior to that meeting. She also wanted to know if there was anything that the Board members could bring to that meeting that would be beneficial to them.
Commr. Stivender noted that she would be meeting with Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Director of Growth Management, and the Superintendent of Schools today at 1 p.m.. She noted that they have a two hour time frame to meet with the School Board on July 27, 2004, and the School Board will be making a presentation and providing information on all of the items, as requested by the Board. It will be a power point presentation, and the Board can ask questions at that time. She noted that the Board has the impact fee revised study, which their staff is reviewing, and the meeting is going to be very formal and informative, and she does not believe that they need to bring anything to the meeting.
Mr. Neron pointed out that staff did receive the impact fee report early this week, and they are thoroughly reviewing it, but they will not have completed their review, or had all of their questions answered, by next Tuesday.
Commr. Stivender noted that the Board will meet with the School Board again on August 11, 2004, at the Public Safety Complex, to discuss and decide on issues.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:38 a.m.
DEBBIE STIVENDER, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK