A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
APRIL 12, 2005
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, April 12, 2005, at 9:00 a.m., at the Hickory Point Recreational Facility, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Jennifer Hill, Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson, Vice Chairman; Debbie Stivender; Welton G. Cadwell; and Robert A. Pool. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; Greg Mihalic, Economic Development and Tourism Director; Regina Frazier, Budget Director; Blanche Hardy, Environmental Services Director; Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director; Fletcher Smith, Community Services Director; Brenda Quattlebaum, County Manager’s Office; Deanne Schultz, Employee Services; Jon Cherry, President/CEO, LifeStream Behavioral Center; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Hill opened the meeting thanking Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, for temporarily taking over the duties of the County Manager, Mr. Bill Neron, who resigned at the Board Meeting of April 5, 2005, noting that the Board would be discussing the issue of appointing an Interim County Manager later in the meeting. She stated that it was suggested at the last workshop that was held that the Board hold regularly scheduled workshops, possibly the second Tuesday of the month, on a quarterly basis, and that they be held in a more casual setting, such as the one being held this date, to work out any problems that might come up, especially during the time that the County has an Interim County Manager, so more workshops than usual might be scheduled, especially during budget time. She stated that the purpose of this meeting was to set goals and priorities for the coming year and to give staff direction regarding same.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that he hoped staff would open up and tell the Board how they feel about certain issues, noting that one of the problems he perceived in the past was that the Board was not getting all the facts – they were getting filtered information and they cannot do their job unless they know everything that is going on. He stated that the Commissioners need to be honest with each other, as well, so that staff receives clear direction and does not leave the meeting wondering what the Board wants them to do.
APPOINTMENT TO NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES
Commr. Cadwell informed the Board that he is being considered for Chairman of the National Association of Counties (NACo), however, noted that he has to have the Board’s endorsement, in order to be considered.
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to place said item on the Agenda.
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board endorsed said appointment.
RESIGNATION OF COUNTY MANAGER
Commr. Hanson informed the Board that she had some concerns about the way that the resignation of the County Manager, Mr. Bill Neron, was handled and that she felt this was the appropriate time to air her concerns. She stated that it was a tough situation, but she was concerned about the fact that one commissioner would ask for the resignation of any employee, particularly the County Manager. She stated that she feels it usurps the power of the entire Board, noting that, although they all voted to accept the resignation, it came about at the direction of one commissioner. She stated that the Board is in a very delicate position, with regard to how much power they exert individually, versus how much power is actually that of the Board. She stated that it is of her opinion that the Board should have been the one that asked for the resignation and that did not happen, noting that they accepted it, but it had already been brokered. She stated that it may be petty, but to her it deals with the power of each one of the Board members and all of them as a whole. She stated that she is aware of the fact that it was the cleanest thing to do and that the votes were there, but that is not where she had a problem; she had a problem with what she considered to be power that went beyond what one commissioner should have done.
Millage Rates – General Fund and Solid Waste (Transfer GF Millage)
Ms. Regina Frazier, Budget Director, addressed the Board stating that she would like to get a general idea of where the County is headed, with regard to millage rates.
Commr. Stivender stated that, when the County added the millage for Solid Waste, she was concerned as to whether the County had the right numbers, at which time she questioned whether the last numbers that the Board was given were the correct numbers.
Commr. Hanson stated that she had some concerns about the matter, as well, noting that it seemed like there was some conflict in the last presentation that the Board received. She stated that she believes there is an allowance in the budget for a full blown audit of the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund and that she feels now is the time to do a more in-depth audit than what the County normally does.
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance, addressed the Board stating that when the auditors do their audit of the Financial Statements, they give their opinion by fund type. She stated that they do not look at operational detail – they do audit procedures that are broader in scope than that. She stated that, if the Board wanted a detailed operational process type of audit, it would require additional work.
Commr. Hanson stated that she feels it is something the County needs to do now, since the County has a good arrangement with Covanta and has a pretty clean plate.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that he agreed with Commr. Hanson, noting that he felt less secure with the direction that the County was going in after the Solid Waste presentation than he did before the presentation. He stated that the Board asked staff to bring back a budget with a reduced millage rate, for them to look at, prior to budget time.
Commr. Hanson stated that something that concerns her about reducing the millage rate for Solid Waste is that that is the only way for the cities to buy down the tipping fee and, if it is reduced, it might require the tipping fee to go up, affecting the opportunity for the cities to help fund the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund.
Commr. Pool stated that the County needs to be very careful that it makes enough to pay for everything and add somewhat to Reserves, but he does not want to continue to build on Reserves. He stated that the County should lower the tipping fee to what it actually cost to provide the service, noting that the point is to keep everything on a level playing field and the tipping fee the same.
Commr. Stivender stated that she would like to have a comfort level and she did not get it from the Solid Waste presentation.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would hope the General Fund millage would remain the same and allow the rollback to grow.
Health Insurance Contribution
Ms. Frazier informed the Board that she needed to get a heads up, to start some of the preliminary work on the health insurance contribution, for the Fiscal Board Retreat, which is scheduled to be held the first week in May. She stated that the preliminary analysis shows that it is going to increase, possibly $1,700 more per employee, but that staff will continue to monitor the numbers. She stated that she surveyed some of the surrounding counties, but that she wanted to get direction from the Board as to whether they want staff to look at ways to reduce that amount, with employee contributions, benefit changes, etc. She stated that the County could possibly absorb some of it by adjusting the worker’s compensation rates, because the County has been doing well with that fund.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt the County should do a combination of the above.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the County still had an insurance committee and was informed that it did, at which time it was noted that, when the committee was started, they were making the decisions and recommendations, rather than the Board. He stated that, if the Board is going to have to make those kinds of decisions, they should know how the committee feels about it and where they would rather take the cut.
Commr. Pool noted some concerns he had about those employees who are more apt to have health problems than others and whether there was something the County could do to encourage or promote healthier lifestyles.
Commr. Hanson stated that some counties have helped employees who are trying to stop smoking, by giving incentives, which has helped, and she feels that Lake County needs to look at doing something like that, as well.
Mr. Minkoff stated that Ms. Frazier discussed the possibility of increasing the size of the County’s insurance group, by asking other governmental units to participate, and questioned whether it was something the Board would be interested in, noting that the benefits and negatives of it would have to be examined.
It was noted that the Supervisor of Elections, the Property Appraiser, and the Water Authority currently participate in the County’s insurance plan.
Commr. Hill questioned who would negotiate the deal and was informed that the insurance committee would do so.
Ms. Frazier stated that, in doing the survey of surrounding counties, it was discovered that those counties that use insurance plans pay much higher rates than Lake County, being self-insured, noting that they are averaging $8,500 for the current year, versus the $6,100 that Lake County pays, which is the Board’s contribution.
It was felt that the County could at least explore the idea.
Parks Funding for Grant Matches and Upfront Costs
Ms. Frazier stated that, in the past, the County has taken money out of the General Fund and put it into the Parks and Recreation Fund, as a match for the grant, and, when the County received the money back from the grant, they would roll it into a match for the next grant, however, noted that two issues have arisen, being (1) the County spent that match for development, and (2) the County is currently applying for four grants, which will be the equivalent of $1 million. She stated that, if that is the direction the Board wants to go, staff could budget that money as a transfer, but not actually transfer it, because the County still does not know whether or not it will be awarded the grants. She stated that staff needs some direction regarding the matter, at which time she questioned whether there was a cap that the Board wanted them to put in for parks development, for the matches, or whether they wanted to wait until the grants are awarded. She stated that the current grants pertain to PEAR Park, Twin Lakes, Pine Forest, and Lake Idamere.
Commr. Stivender noted some concerns she has about the matter, being that, if the Board approves a request, such as $500,000 for a particular project, and it ends up being $1 million, where the authority came from for that figure to change to $1 million. She stated that, if the Board approves $500,000, that is what the amount should be, unless staff brings the request back to the Board for additional funding. She stated that a major problem she has had in the past is that money would be taken from another fund and the Board would not find out about it until later down the road and then they would have to fund the additional amount from somewhere else.
Ms. Hall, Assistant County Manager, interjected that she and Ms. Frazier have been discussing a project accounting tracking system for the County, which will enable staff to do a better job of identifying costs that are approved for particular projects – project by project. She stated that staff would like to hold a financial retreat in the middle of May and bring the Board some of the budget issues being discussed this date. She stated that the mid-year budget will be coming to the Board next week and staff is setting up meetings to discuss it with the Board, as well.
Commr. Cadwell questioned when there would be some discussion regarding the proposed buildings that the Board asked staff to move forward on, noting that the Board had given staff direction regarding the matter a month ago and they now just need a time line for getting the job done.
It was noted that Ms. Frazier is currently heading up the Procurement Department and that Ms. Hall and Ms. Frazier will make sure that the RFPs (Request for Proposals) get sent out.
COMMUNITY SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Community Services Director, addressed the Board stating that the County is still in contract negotiations with MV Public Transportation, Inc. (MV), as the new operator for the County’s transportation system. He stated that, if the County stays with its current provider, Lake County Transit, and continues using the same per trip fee, the cost will be $3,063,351, or $16.00 per trip; however, if the County goes with MV’s proposal and enters into a contract with them, the cost for the same number of trips in 2006 will be $3.5 million - a $500,000 increase over what the County is currently paying for the same number of trips. He noted various things that MV has to offer the County, along with the fact that they have a lot of experience in the transportation industry.
Commr. Pool questioned whether staff had looked at MV’s complaint records, noting that, while some complaints have been registered against Lake County Transit, he did not feel they had received an abundance of complaints and questioned where MV stacked up, in comparison, to which Mr. Smith responded that he did not have an exact number of the complaints received.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that the County’s Transportation Development Committee reviewed this request and recommended MV as the preferred provider.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether staff had looked at the history of MV, with regard to what they charged in their initial contract and their rate of increase, and was informed that staff had looked at their history and felt comfortable with them.
Commr. Hill stated that, in the past, 90% of the cost was picked up by the State and questioned whether the State would still do so and was informed that the grant match requirements would still be the same.
Mr. Minkoff stated that what makes the problem worse is that, not only are the costs going up, but the State and Federal reimbursements are going down. He stated that, in some of the programs, the per trip reimbursements have been decreased, so the County gets hit on both the revenue side and the expense side.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the County could legally, through the RFP process, inform LifeStream that they would like for them to continue to provide the County’s transportation services, but ask whether they would be able to do some of the other things that MV is proposing.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, if they did that and went out for bid again, it would be very likely that the County would not have any bidders.
It was noted that the County is looking at paying out another $500,000 for the same number of trips over last year.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, when the Board previously discussed this matter with management and indicated that this was an area that needed to be changed from the way that they were operating, it was his understanding that the County was going to get a lot more for their money. He stated that, while the things that Mr. Smith informed the Board MV has to offer the County is nice, he is not convinced that they are worth $500,000. He stated that he was also concerned about dealing with someone from outside the County, as opposed to someone from within the County.
Commr. Stivender stated that, perhaps MV needs to give the Board a presentation, noting that there is more to it than what Mr. Smith indicated earlier in the meeting.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that MV is clearly a large national company that is very experienced in providing service to government, so the County will get a very experienced operator, should they choose to go with them.
Commr. Hanson stated that she agreed with Commr. Cadwell, in that, everything else being equal, she would rather have a provider that is local, with those dollars going into a non-profit company, as opposed to a profit company.
Commr. Stivender stated that part of the reason the County sent out RFPs is because LifeStream said they did not want to provide the service and the Board had indicated they did not want to be in the transportation business.
Commr. Cadwell stated that part of the problem is that the County helped LifeStream get into that position, because they scrimped as much as they could. He stated that, if the County had funded them from day one the way they are talking about doing now, they would have been in a different situation at the end of the contract.
Commr. Pool questioned where the County is with MV.
Mr. Minkoff stated that he felt one more meeting and staff would have an agreement to bring to the Board, which they plan to do at the May 3rd meeting. He stated that the County is not debating the major terms of the contract, but some language issues that deal with gasoline price increases.
Commr. Pool stated that he struggled with switching companies and paying more to get the same, at which time he questioned whether it was still staff’s recommendation to go with MV.
Mr. Minkoff stated that staff has no choice, because the Board put the County into an RFP process and LifeStream did not submit an RFP.
Commr. Pool questioned whether there were ways that the County could generate dollars for the Transportation Disadvantaged Fund, such as soliciting advertising for the bus and increasing the cost per patron.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the contract gives the County the right to put advertising on the buses and receive the revenue from it, but there is not a lot of money in that type of advertising. He stated that, with regard to increasing the cost per patron, the contract allows the County to set the rates. He stated that MV has committed itself to eliminating people from riding who are not supposed to be riding, noting that there are some people who do not qualify to ride, but are being allowed to do so. He noted that that issue will come back to the Board, as to whether they want to continue to provide those people with trips.
Mr. Smith interjected that, in order to stop people from riding the bus that have other means of transportation, the County would have to do a very rigorous screening process of the people that are currently on the passenger list, as well as those people that will be added to the list in the future.
Mr. Minkoff stated that staff feels there will be roughly 162,000 trips this year and, if the service greatly improves, there is going to be more demand. He stated that he feels the County is going to be called upon to either put more money in the pot, or to restrict the number of trips. He stated that, as the County grows, people are going to be making more demands on the service.
Commr. Pool suggested that staff look at other counties, to see what they charge their patrons per trip and how much it actually generates.
It was noted that a consultant from MV would be giving the Board a presentation at the Board Meeting scheduled for May 3, 2005.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that, at the same time, staff will be bringing the Board an amendment to the LifeStream contract, extending it an additional two months, noting that the new service with MV Public Transportation, Inc. will begin July 1, 2005, should the Board approve the contract.
Mr. Smith informed the Board that Mr. Minkoff; Ms. Wendy Breeden, Library Services Manager; and Dr. Charles Mojock, President of Lake-Sumter Community College (LSCC), met recently at the college and discussed the possibility of a partnership between LSCC and the County, for a joint library in south Lake County. He stated that Dr. Mojock was extremely excited about the idea and is looking forward to submitting a budget request and beginning the process this fiscal year, which means that he will need to have some type of a commitment from the County by February of 2006, when he will submit his request for funding to the State.
Commr. Pool questioned whether, if LSCC does it on their own, it would be strictly their library, or whether it would be open to the general public, and was informed that it would be primarily for their students.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that the County has a cooperative agreement with LSCC that, if an individual has a Lake County public library card, they can use the LSCC library, but there will not be a children’s section and it will not have general population materials, in that all the materials will be aimed towards the college students.
Considerable discussion occurred regarding the proposed library and whether or not a smaller library should be built in downtown Clermont, as well, and who should share in the costs of constructing said library/libraries.
Commr. Hanson stated that she feels the County should move forward with the joint library for LSCC and let Clermont come back to the table.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that LSCC is proposing a 35,000 sq. ft. library, however, noted that, if they join together in a partnership, they could probably build an 80,000 sq. ft. library, which would rival anything in Central Florida, including anything in Orange County.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether the college would run the library and was informed by Mr. Smith that those details would have to be worked out.
Mr. Minkoff stated that LSCC is going to ask the University of Central Florida (UCF) to partner with them, however, noted that they are willing to go forward, even if UCF does not provide funding.
Commr. Pool questioned how quickly the library could be on line and was informed by Mr. Minkoff that LSCC’s normal process is planning money the first year, construction money the second year, and opening the third year. He stated that Dr. Mojock feels, with the County’s help and getting the legislative delegation involved, that time frame may be cut down to two years, but a lot of it is going to depend on legislative funding.
Mr. Smith informed the Board that the County’s share in the project would be approximately $7 million, however, noted that the County would be submitting an application for a State Construction Aid Grant, which is $500,000.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the Board could try to persuade the Legislature to provide more funding for the library. He stated that the County will have to give the college its share of the costs by February of 2006; therefore, if the Board wishes to go forward with the matter, they will have to budget that money. He stated that, if the deal falls apart, the County will get said money back, but the Legislature will not give the college funding, without knowing for sure that they have a match.
Commr. Hanson questioned the status of the mobile clinic and was informed by Mr. Fletcher Smith, Community Services Director that he sent the agreement to Orlando and was waiting to hear back from them, however, noted that he thinks the new vehicle has been delivered. She then reminded the Board that the County is losing Dr. Rodger Amon, the current Director of the Lake County Health Department.
Mr. Smith informed the Board that an interview team is being put together and that they will probably start interviewing for a new director some time in May.
It was noted that the Board wants a manager in that position, as opposed to a physician, because having a manager in the position has worked out very well.
Discussion occurred regarding who would comprise the interview team, at which time Commr. Hanson stated that she was concerned about having enough people from the County on the interview team, but that the important thing is that the State is funding that position again.
Commr. Hill noted that the State will do the advertising and that it will be a public interview process.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:10 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would take a brief recess.
EMPLOYEE SERVICES DEPARTMENT
How the County Pays its Employees
Ms. Deann Schultz, Employee Services, addressed the Board stating that Employee Services was requesting approval to have $75,000 budgeted, for the purpose of conducting a classification and compensation study. She stated that, at the time that the study will be conducted, it will have been six years since the last study that was conducted by Hendricks & Associates and that, since that time, the County has only adjusted the pay ranges one time and they only adjusted the maximum pay ranges - the minimum pay ranges were not adjusted at all. She stated that two years ago the County did an internal study and brought the minimum pay wage up for regular full-time employees to $8.12 per hour, which addressed some issues, however, noted that the study was not comprehensive enough to address all the things that challenge Lake County today. She stated that Employee Services would also like to request that, while the Board is looking at the new minimum and maximum ranges, they also look at the County’s current employees and where they fall in the pay range, in relationship to market value. She stated that it is something that was recommended by Hendricks & Associates to do, but, at the time, the County did not have money in the budget to implement it.
Mr. Minkoff stated that staff was not asking for any decisions to be made this date, however, noted that the Employee Services Department would like to budget said money for next year. He stated that they would also like to have some discussion with the Board about how the County pays its employees, the minimum rates, what their philosophy is about the “living wage”, etc. He stated that, when the County did the Hendricks & Associates survey, they recommended that everybody get moved to the mid-point range, but the County never did it, because it was going to cost too much money to do so. He stated that staff was more interested in how the Board feels Lake County employees should be paid, versus the community - whether they should benchmark to other governments, or whether they should be benchmarking to the private sector.
Commr. Stivender stated that she feels the County needs to look at what an employee’s actual job is, versus another’s, and pay them accordingly.
Commr. Pool questioned how many county employees make below $10.00 per hour and was informed by Ms. Schultz that 55 regular full-time employees, out of 700, make below $9.21 per hour and 27 regular part-time employees, out of 37, make below that wage.
Commr. Pool stated that he did not feel it would bust the budget to raise the hourly wage of those 55 regular full-time employees who make below $9.21 per hour.
Mr. Minkoff stated that something he discovered, during the time that he was previously the Interim County Manager, was that Employee Services cannot look at employees one job at a time. He stated that they have to look at all 700 employees, or it has a boomerang effect.
Ms. Schultz interjected that, when the County raised the hourly wage to $8.12 per hour, staff ran into some compression issues, which she elaborated on.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he feels the study needs to be done for the Lake County market, noting that this is where the employees live and where the County wants them to be able to afford to live. He questioned what the average wage was for companies in the County to qualify for funding from the Jobs Growth Investment Trust Fund and was informed by Mr. Greg Mihalic, Economic Development and Tourism Director, that it was $14.94 per hour. He noted, however, that they are always lagging a year or two behind with their data.
Commr. Pool stated that he feels the study would at least give the Board a feel for where the County is regarding the matter, however, noted that he feels the $75,000 fee is rather high.
Ms. Schultz stated that she was told by Osceola County that they budgeted $80,000 for their study and were not sure whether it was going to be enough.
Commr. Hanson stated that she certainly felt it was time for the County to do the study.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the County would be competitive and go with the best price they could get. He questioned whether the Board wanted staff to shoot for $9.21 per hour, as the starting pay, as part of the parameters for the study, and was informed that the Board would like to see how it comes out.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board had also talked about conducting an employee study and was informed by Ms. Hall that the Board had asked to look at said study, before it goes out, and that staff should have a copy of it ready for the Board’s perusal soon.
ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Water Supply and Conservation Issues
Ms. Blanche Hardy, Environmental Services Director, addressed the Board and gave them a brief update on the most recent information from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD). She stated that, through identifying 335 million gallons of a potential alternative water supply in the east Central Florida area, they have been able to extend the projected need to go to desalinization to the year 2040 - an additional 20 years. She stated that, with regard to agricultural usage, rather than the SJRWMD stating that they are going to increase agricultural usage, they are now down to 11%, at which time she noted that Lake County is one of the counties responsible for getting them to take a better look at the projected increases in agricultural usage. She stated, however, that 250 million gallons of that is now dedicated into standing alternative water supply projects. She stated that there were six projects that the County could have looked at, with two of them having costs and transmissions that were very high – the most favorable one being Taylor Creek, a $50 million project, which is now closed. She stated that, if the County had wanted to participate, it would have cost $800,000 per year, for three years, plus another $200,000 to $300,000 per year, for two years, to complete transmission lines between the Taylor Creek area and Orlando. She stated that the next project is $80 million and all of the other projects are $100 million - in other words, the price of participation doubled, for the same quantity of water. She stated that one of those projects, a 50 million gallon project, is an Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) project, however, noted that it has not been posted yet as to whether it is potable water, or water for electrical generation. She stated that they have announced that they intend to build another plant and that they will need in excess of their current permitted amount to supply that plant, which will not be potable. She noted that, if the Board were interested, staff could pursue exactly what that project entails.
Ms. Hardy informed the Board that there is a tentative proposal by the SJRWMD that may soon go before the Legislature that will disallow the treatment of deep groundwater, if it requires treatment for chlorides. She stated that she had mentioned to the Board before that one of the County’s best assets is the fact that the chloride concentrations in the groundwater drop dramatically when the groundwater reaches the central part of the County, so the County can go much deeper than the eastern utilities and still get sweet water; however, she noted that, if it requires treatment and the proposal she alluded to earlier should go before the Legislature and be approved, the County will have lost one of its biggest advantages for proposing alternative supply from deep groundwater withdrawal. She stated that the City of Eustis approached the County stating that they know the County does not want to be a utility, but questioned whether the County might be able to help them financially, through the alliance, and then they could pay the County back. She questioned whether the Board wanted staff to continue to circle the wagons, or jump in with both feet, and what their thoughts were regarding where the County needs to go with it, because it is a very critical issue and the County is swiftly running out of options that are inexpensive. She stated that the wealthy utilities that do get it, intend to sell it, and they make no bones about it, because they are in the business of selling water. She stated that the issue is becoming very critical to the residents of south Lake County, because they look at them as one of those unnamed communities that they intend to supply water to and there is nothing wrong with that.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the County has agreed to the water lines with the cities, but the big question is whether the Board wants to let the cities continue, let the alliance take the lead and have the County just participate in it, or whether they want to devote some resources, to get involved in the debate, noting that the whole issue on water is very unsettled legislatively and, water management district wise, it is going to dramatically change over the next few years. He questioned whether the Board wants the County to be passive, or really get involved.
Commr. Pool stated that it does not cost a lot of money to attend meetings and the fact that the County is not in the utility business is because commissioners in the past have chosen not to be in the utility business. He stated that, while the Board cares about water and water resources, he was not sure they would want the County to participate, to the tune of millions of dollars, when the County is not in that business; however, he did not think there would be a problem with sending people to the meetings, to monitor the situation. He questioned whether Ms. Hardy was telling the Board that, if there is an expansion in population in the cities, the SJRWMD is going to deny them the opportunity to go into ground water, period, or take them to court for it, and was informed by Ms. Hardy that, eventually, if the SJRWMD intends to maintain minimum flows and levels, they are going to have to say no more. He stated that he went back to 1971 and found the flows to be consistent, at which time he noted that he knows Orlando is having a problem, but, overall, feels that Lake County is in pretty good shape. He stated that he would like to have a report from the SJRWMD again about the overall conditions of the aquifer below Lake County.
Commr. Hanson stated that she felt Commr. Pool was right, noting that it is so much dependent on rain water.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the County is not in the water business, because they asked the cities to do it, so he feels they have a commitment to the cities, but he does not know at what level.
Mr. Minkoff stated that staff was recommending that the County join the alliance. He questioned whether the Board would prefer that they work in support of the alliance, or whether they would prefer that they work independently outside of the alliance.
Commr. Pool stated that he feels the County needs to monitor the situation and stay involved, but he does not want to see the County spend millions of dollars participating in something that they are not in the business of.
Commr. Hanson stated that perhaps the SJRWMD should give the Board a presentation regarding the matter.
Commr. Hill questioned whether the Water Authority is involved in the process at all and was informed that they are not, because they are not involved with water supply issues, they are involved with water conservation issues.
Commr. Cadwell stated that a concern he has about the County not being active in this matter is that he feels four or five companies in the State of Florida are going to bank all the water capacity and that, while the County may be able to acquire water, it will not have any say in how it is designed or collected. He stated that he does not want the County to be too passive about the matter.
Commr. Pool stated that he wants the County to be active, but does not know what dollar figure it can afford, without a revenue generator from water, noting that the County is not selling water, so it does not have an opportunity to generate capital, or return its investment.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that staff is not asking about infrastructure, at this point in time, but whether the Board wants the County to get involved in the process, so that it is sitting at the table while the issue is being discussed.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether other counties were in the same situation that Lake County is in and was informed by Ms. Hardy that, in the ECFRPC water supply area, Lake County is probably in the hardest position. She stated that, when one looks at Volusia, Seminole, Brevard, and Orange counties, they are very populated, approaching build-out, but, when one looks at Marion and Sumter counties, they are not, although they are about to be faced with the same situation as Lake County, in the next couple of years. She stated that they also happen to be the same as Lake County, in the fact that they are source areas for the water. She stated that she would not discourage dialogue with other counties, at which time Commr. Pool interjected that he did not want to discourage it, but he did not want to see the County try to match dollar for dollar what the other counties are doing. He stated that he wanted to make sure the County was not heading in a direction that it would not have a way to recoup, noting that Orange County sells water and has a way to recoup those dollars, but Lake County does not.
Mr. Minkoff stated that the Board might want to think about having one or two employees attend the meetings, to bring information back to them and to assert the Board’s viewpoints, whether it is to the SJRWMD, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), etc. He stated that that was the level of discussion that staff was talking about - not the major projects, at this time.
Commr. Pool interjected that he would agree that having an employee or two participate in the process is what the County should do.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether staff was moving forward with reactivating the Solid Waste Study Committee and the Environmental Protection Advisory Committee and was informed by Ms. Hardy that they had been on hold, but that, if staff received direction from the Board this date to move forward with reactivating them, they would do so.
It was noted that staff needed to get both of those committees reactivated.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Sustainability Seminar is scheduled to be held April 22, 2005 and that she would like for the County to fund, on an annual basis, starting next year, communitywide education workshops that deal with “green building” planning, as in smart growth, sustainability, water issues, etc. She stated that there is a lot of controversy in the County on growth and the public wanting it to stop, but everyone knows that is not going to happen. She stated that she feels there should be communitywide education for all aspects of it - for the Board, the planners, and for sharing what other counties are doing, working with the University of Florida, who has some great programs on sustainability. She stated that she feels it will lessen some of the controversy and divisiveness in the County.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that the Board needs to understand that, as the County goes through the Comprehensive Plan process, there are going to be additional dollars needed in that department anyway.
Commr. Pool suggested that residents and businesses in the County, at least during new construction, install one gallon per minute lavatory faucet aerators, which can be done very easily, and it would help conserve water. He stated that, if everyone in the County did that, the County would be a leader in reducing the amount of water that is wasted everyday and water and electric bills would be reduced, as well.
Commr. Hanson stated that the County is a member of the “green building” coalition, which deals with water and energy conservation – all those things that the County needs to be promoting. She stated that, at the very least, county buildings should set the standard for the “green building” requirements. She stated that, when she attended a Smart Growth Seminar recently in Miami, the Departmental of Environmental Protection (DEP) gave an outstanding presentation on smart growth and water quality, which looks at how subdivisions and projects are designed and how to conserve water. She stated that they indicated they would sponsor a seminar in Lake County and she feels the County should move forward on it. She then questioned where the County was on the Conservation Ordinance, noting that she feels it needs to be brought forward as a specific item.
Commr. Stivender stated that the Board discussed a few months ago re-implementing the County’s recycling program, at which time Ms. Hardy stated that staff would very much like to pursue that.
It was noted that the educational aspect of the recycling program got cut; however, the Board would like to see it put back in.
Commr. Hanson stated that she feels the County needs to look at the business community too, noting that there are a lot of businesses in the unincorporated areas that do not recycle and she feels that it is another opportunity for the County to reduce its waste stream.
Commr. Stivender questioned the status of the new cell at the landfill and was informed by Ms. Hardy that Phase I has been completed. She stated that staff asked the contractor to reduce some of the costs associated with Phase II, which they did, so they were asked to proceed with the engineering drawings and staff hopes the permit, with the design, will be submitted by October of this year. She stated that, if the Board should choose at some point to build, to meet the end of capacity in the County’s existing facility, it will have to go to DEP and staff will need it back by the first of next year.
Commr. Cadwell clarified the fact that the County is permitting the whole project, but the development of it is going to be done in phases.
Commr. Pool interjected that he feels the County should explore options and opportunities, as they go forward, with the providers of these services and at least listen to what they have to say.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he does not feel this Board, or any other Board, will site another landfill in the County; therefore, he feels it is important that the County keep its capacity. He stated that, if the County sells its capacity, it will have to rely on Covanta, or go somewhere else, and they do not know where that market will be.
Commr. Pool stated that he would like for the County to explore the idea of using the County’s landfill as a staging area for a transfer station and how it would benefit the citizens of Lake County and whether the County could lower its tipping fees, or its fees overall, if partners were involved.
Mr. Minkoff interjected that the County has nine years left in its agreement with Covanta, which he noted in the solid waste business is like the blink of an eye, so the County needs to be looking at the whole process and what it will do in the year 2014, when the agreement expires.
Commr. Hanson stated that other counties have done countywide native plant inventories and she feels it is something the County should look at doing, as well.
It was suggested that the Lake County Agricultural Center might be able to do such a study.
Comprehensive Plan – How to Handle Major Issues
Educational Program in Growth Management, Environmental Programs and Other Topics
Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Growth Management Director, informed the Board that they had just covered Item (c.) on the Agenda, under his department, being the Educational Program in Growth Management, Environmental Programs and Other Topics, however, noted that there are a lot of significant issues coming up, with regard to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, such as commercial locational criteria, septic tanks, etc. He stated that one of staff’s concerns is how the Board wants to deal with providing them input, whether they want staff to present to them, to the Land Planning Agency (LPA), or to a joint meeting in a workshop, and whether they want detailed scientific information, a gut feel, or a range of alternatives.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he felt the Board should continue to use the LPA and let them shake some of the issues out, before they come to the Board. He stated that there may be a time when everybody will need to get together, but feels that, with regard to these issues, he envisions it as being a big part of the LPA’s job, noting that a lot of the issues intertwine with each other. He stated that he feels having a well thought out process with the LPA and then bringing the issues to the Board makes the most sense.
Mr. Welstead stated that the plan needs to be financially feasible and something he feels the Board needs to think about is the fact that, as staff produces options for the Board to consider, there will be a price tag attached to those options that tags into the building program, at which time he questioned what type of program the Board would like to have.
Commr. Stivender stated that it depends on the level of service that is attached to those options, at which time it was noted that staff will give the Board a range of options to consider.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether, as the County moves forward, it was looking at the idea of no takings and land use.
Mr. Welstead stated that that is the intent, noting that staff is trying to do a countywide timeliness analysis for suburban and transitional properties, so that those properties that do not meet timeliness will not be assigned a category, but, if they do meet timeliness, staff will assign them a density, whatever it might be.
It was noted that staff will bring the issues back to the Board, one by one, and will start off with the most controversial ones, so that staff will have time to work through them.
Commr. Pool stated that an individual currently has to request approval for 4 units per acre, in order to get 2.5 units per acre, and that he feels the County needs to have a classification that will get that individual the 2.5 units per acre that they really want.
Commr. Hanson stated that another thing she would like to see the County incorporate is to allow conservation designed developments. She stated that, if it is straight zoning, it would still require a public hearing, but, if it is conservation designed, it would not. She stated that it is not a matter of requiring a clustered development, but a matter of providing the incentives for one.
Commr. Pool stated that the County can provide incentives, but it is market driven, noting that either people want that environment and will live there, or the County is going to create something that they do not want and it will not sell.
Commr. Hill questioned whether staff was going to get technical with the County’s design standards and was informed that the design standards would be part of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) that would follow.
Commr. Stivender questioned how staff is addressing the issue of septic tanks, noting that the LDRs say one thing, but the Comprehensive Plan states another.
Mr. Welstead stated that staff does not know how they will handle that issue yet, however, noted that one of the things they have discussed is whether to require utility hookups within Joint Planning Areas (JPAs).
Commr. Cadwell stated that a developer can wait until the utilities are present to develop a project, which is not an option that the County generally looks at.
Commr. Stivender questioned how the County will handle the matter – what procedure they will use and was informed by Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, that, if the Comprehensive Plan states that utilities have to be in place, then they have to be in place, so what is written in the Comprehensive Plan will drive what occurs.
Commr. Hanson stated that another issue she felt needed to be addressed is the fact that the Wekiva Study Committee strongly encouraged utilities in Mt. Plymouth and Sorrento - anywhere in the Wekiva area. She stated that developments are still going to occur there and she feels the County needs to look at whether they want to allow one of the other municipalities to provide the utilities, or whether they want the County to provide them and receive income from it.
Commr. Hanson stated that, when the County did it before, it went before the Planning and Zoning Commission first and then came before the Board.
Mr. Welstead interjected that his only concern with that is that it could delay the process. He stated that he feels the LPA is doing a great job and that the County will get good answers from them.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that Mr. Welstead relay back to the LPA that the Board wants them to be independent and do their job, but that they have to do it in a timely manner.
Mr. Minkoff stated that, as key items come up, staff will bring them to the Board, so it should not delay anything.
Public Lands Acquisition – Development of New Division
Mr. Welstead informed the Board that a request would be coming before them at the upcoming Board Meeting for approval of a Public Lands Acquisition Manager position. He stated that there are funds available to fund that position through the end of the fiscal year.
It was noted that said position is different than the Parks and Recreation Director position and will be needed even if the Board decides it wants to expand the Parks and Recreation Program – that it is a job within itself and does not take the place of the Parks and Recreation position.
Mr. Minkoff stated that there needs to be a team effort involving someone from both the Growth Management Department and his office, when dealing with Florida Communities Trust, and, at the present time, the County does not have anybody taking care of that program.
Commr. Pool questioned where the County is regarding Conserve II and was informed by Mr. Minkoff that the County is currently going through the appraisal process.
Animal Services – Requests from Cities for Service
Mr. Gary Kaiser, Public Safety Director, informed the Board that mid-year last year the County made some improvements to bring the Animal Services Department up to speed, adding additional employees, etc., and that, at that time, five municipalities were requesting the County to provide said service, which he noted is funded from the General Fund. He stated that the County recently received a letter from W. Scott Wynn, Attorney for the Town of Astatula, asking that the County provide service to them, as well. He stated that the purpose of bringing the issue before the Board this date was to see if they would like for the County to move forward with the requests and, if so, whether they wanted the costs to continue to be funded from the General Fund. He noted that they estimate needing three additional animal control officers and their associated equipment and one additional euthanasia technician.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the County provides said service by statute or by policy and was informed by Mr. Minkoff that it was established by policy.
It was noted that an itemized request for the funding will be brought back to the Board at a later date and that the funds will be put in next year’s budget, for the County to start taking care of the matter.
Road Maintenance Program – Need for Additional Funding
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director, addressed the County’s Road Maintenance Program, noting that he usually has to cut two-thirds of the budget for said program every year. He stated that last year the Board provided $360,000 in General Fund money to help compliment the gas tax, which worked very well, however, noted that the County is going to be faced with the same situation this year, involving programs to get more of the paved roads in better condition, the paving of clay roads, and taking care of stormwater cleanout situations that do not tie to a stormwater project. He stated that said projects are not being done at the level that they need to be, because funds are not available to do them. He stated that they are non-capital projects, which are maintenance type projects, so the County cannot use sales tax or road impact fees for them, which is a dilemma that the County has been faced with in the past, with the existing gas tax fund not having enough funds in it to cover the projects, even with the price of gasoline going up.
Commr. Stivender questioned what the Public Works Department was doing to take care of potholes and was informed by Mr. Stivender that having sales tax identified for resurfacing has made a huge difference on those roads having potholes, at which time he noted that the County spent $2 million last year repairing potholes. He stated that staff is ready to put a program together for this year and will have a figure to bring back to the Board at a later date, for approval.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, outside the General Fund, there are not a lot of places that staff can look for funding for potholes, therefore, suggested that, as the Public Works Department comes through the budget process, to request funding from the General Fund.
It was noted that the County probably should have used funding from the General Fund for road projects several years ago.
Road Design Program – Need for Additional Staff
Mr. Stivender informed the Board that the CR 437 project has been completed, the CR 439 project is under construction, the Lake Shore Drive project is under construction, there is a bridge and design project in the works, contracts have gone out for the CR 46A project, and the County is ready to bid out the South Lake Trail project, all of which are done with sales tax money. He noted that, over the last year, his department’s expenditure and impact fee projects have declined. He discussed problems that his office is having with consultants and the fact that it takes up a lot of his staff’s time to correct said problems, however, noted that his office has two positions that they are moving forward with, which should help. He stated that his office is still short a couple of rights of way people, which is one of the office’s biggest challenges, but they are working through it, at which time he noted that the County Attorney has put a lot of effort into getting appraisal and acquisition people for rights of way.
Mr. Stivender stated that he and the County Attorney discussed the County’s recreation program and were requesting direction from the Board regarding the matter. He stated that some of the cities have come to the County asking for additional funding for their recreation programs and questioned how the Board wants staff to handle it, noting that the County has adopted a countywide program that they are using as a guide, but they have not met with the cities, to see who is going to do what and how it is all going to work.
Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, questioned whether the Board would like to have a comprehensive study conducted on the recreation program, for both the cities and the County, and have recommendations made to them, as to what the County should be doing in that area, just as the County did a few years ago with the Library System.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, if it is a staff driven product that will come back through the Parks and Recreation Board, on the city and county level, he felt it should be done.
Commr. Stivender questioned the fact that, if the County is building the facilities, whether the County would continue to own, maintain, and operate them, or whether the County would be turning them over to the cities and other organizations to operate and maintain.
Commr. Cadwell stated that, with regard to the City of Umatilla, he does not feel that the City will ever be large enough to maintain such a facility, therefore, would think that it would stay as a county facility. He noted, however, that he felt the one involving the City of Clermont would be just the opposite. He stated that it may be an opportunity for the County to build a large county park there, with the understanding that it will be a partnership, with the County owning the facility and the City of Clermont operating it.
Commr. Stivender stated that the County will need to hire additional people for the Parks and Recreation Program, to take care of the facilities, which means that more funds will need to be budgeted, and staff needs to know that the full Board is committed to it. She stated that the Board needs to make sure that whatever is done in one area of the County is done everywhere else in the County.
It was noted that staff will look at other counties, as well as each of the cities, to see what they are budgeting for their Recreation Programs, just as the County did with the Library System, and bring a report back to the Board at a later date.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER HANSON – DISTRICT 4
COUNTY’S OUTREACH PROGRAM
Commr. Hanson informed the Board that she feels staff has done an outstanding job with the County’s Outreach Program, however, noted that she feels the County should put together a newsletter, to be mailed to the citizens, at least annually, if not more often, informing them and keeping them updated about county matters.
Staff was directed to find out what the cost would be to do so and bring said information back to the Board at a later date.
APPOINTMENT OF INTERIM COUNTY MANAGER AND DISCUSSION OF
PROCESS TO BE USED FOR FILLING COUNTY MANAGER POSITION
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, informed the Board that he and Commr. Hill, Chairman, met with Ms. Cindy Hall on Monday, April 11, 2005, as the Board had directed and that Commr. Hill would like to recommend that Ms. Hall take over the County Manager’s position and that, while she is serving in said capacity, she receive a 10% increase in salary, over her regular salary, and that, upon her annual evaluation, due in May of this year, her base salary be increased by 4%. He noted that the interim salary increase would be removed, once someone is hired permanently as County Manager.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the appointment of Ms. Cindy Hall, Assistant County Manager, as the Interim County Manager, and request that, while she is serving in said capacity, she receive a 10% increase in salary, over her regular salary, and that, upon her annual evaluation, due in May of this year, her base salary be increased by 4%.
It was noted that a discussion regarding the process to be used for filling the County Manager’s position would be postponed until a later date, at which time staff will bring back to the Board the process that was used in hiring the former County Manager and a recommendation as to whether the County should use an outside firm, or an inside firm, in filling said position.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER HILL – CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT 1
COUNTY’S BBQ AT FAIRGROUNDS
Commr. Hill reminded those present about the County’s BBQ that is scheduled to be held at the Fairgrounds on Thursday, April 14, 2005.
REPORTS – COUNTY ATTORNEY
COUNTY’S ANNUAL PICNIC
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, informed those present that the date for the County’s annual picnic was changed to Thursday, May 19, 2005, because the original date that was chosen conflicted with another event, and that the picnic would be held at the Hickory Point Recreational facility, rather than at Wooten Park, from the hours of 11:00 to 2:00 p.m.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER CADWELL – DISTRICT 5
HANDLING OF COUNTY MANAGER’S RESIGNATION
Commr. Cadwell responded to a concern that Commr. Hanson had indicated at the beginning of the meeting about the way that the County Manager’s resignation was handled. He stated that he could understand why she feels the way she does about it, but that, if he had it to do all over again, he would probably handle it the same way.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:15 p.m.
JENNIFER HILL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK