A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
MAY 19, 2006
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Friday, May 19, 2006, at 8:30 a.m., at the Cnow facility, located near Lake Jem, in Mt. Dora, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Debbie Stivender; Jennifer Hill; and Robert A. Pool. Others present were: Sanford A. (Sandy) Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk, as well as various members of staff.
Commr. Hanson opened the meeting and welcomed those Commissioners and members of staff who were present. She thanked Mr. Luke Baker, the Director of Cnow, for allowing the Board Retreat to be held at their facility, at which time Mr. Baker gave the Board a brief overview of the facility, noting that they provide support to people with disabilities, in particular autism. He stated that a national research project that the Department of Education sponsors, which was started at the facility in October of 2005 and is currently ongoing, has sparked some interest in Washington, D.C. He stated that they are very excited about the project and are grateful to the County for supporting them and what they are doing.
FINANCIAL CONDITION PRESENTATION
Mr. Jason Showe, Revenue Coordinator, Budget Office, addressed the Board and presented a slide presentation (contained in the Board’s backup material), giving them a snapshot of the County’s financial condition. He stated that the process started in 2003, when the International City Management Association (ICMA), along with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), decided there needed to be some formal method for looking at the financial condition of governments, so they came up with a publication called, “Evaluating Financial Condition – A Handbook for Local Governments”, and the presentation that he would be giving the Board this date follows those guidelines. He stated that said report contains a total of 22 specific indicators, along with descriptions, warning trends, graphs, and analysis of that data, however, noted that it is important to know that said figures are not easily comparable to other governments, because of the variation of operations that Lake County has. He stated that it is important to look at the trends, not just one data point in particular, noting that it is really going to give the Board an idea of where Lake County is heading, as a county. He stated that the data that would be presented this date was generally obtained from audits from 2000 to 2005, but would contain data from 2006, when appropriate. He then reviewed the following data and answered questions from the Board regarding same:
· Strong population increases projected
· Creates pressure for infrastructure and services
Population Percentage Increase
· County showing strong growth percentages
· Outpacing State growth % from 2000-2004
- Lake 23.9%
- State 8.8%
% Population Under 18 and over 64
· Strong growth will continue in the over 64 category
· Slower growth is projected in the under 18 category
Revenue Structure 2005
· Since 2000:
- Increased % from tax sources (52% - 62%)
- Level Intergovernmental Revenue
- Reduction in Licenses and Permits
- Remainder have stayed level
· Steady increases in the value of 1 mill
· 2006 value of 1 mill is $13.4 M
· 2006 value is 98% higher than 2000 amount of $6.7 M
Residential vs. Commercial Value
· Strong growth in both segments
· Residential has been at least 13% since 2002
· Commercial grew by 41% in 2005
Residential vs. Commercial Value
· 2006 residential = 70.13% of total
· 2006 commercial = 13.69% of total
Top Five Taxpayers
· Continued diversification of tax base
· Top ten reduced to 5.5% in 2005 from 7.14% in 2002
· Article V has reduced Revenue Sharing and ½ Cent Sales Tax
· Subject to Legislative issues
Intergovernmental Grant Revenues
· Consists of Affordable Housing, Public Transportation, Section 8, CDBG
· Could impact General Fund, if revenues from Federal and State are reduced/eliminated
Expenditure Structure 2005
· Since 2000:
- Public Safety decrease
- Human Services and Culture/Recreation increases
- Court decreases
- Others remain at consistent levels to meet growth
Employees per 10,000 Citizens
· Generally level trends in employees to citizens
· Consists of Social Security match, insurance, retirement, workers’ comp, and unemployment
· Increases due primarily to retirement and insurance rates increasing
Operating Surplus or Deficit
· Since 2001 current revenues exceed expenditures
· BCC Economic Stabilization Reserve policy (2003) established 10% target
· 2006 based on 100% budgeted expenditures
· 2000-2005 based on actual expenditures
Long Term Debt
· Debt consists of Solid Waste Note Payable and Pari-mutuel payments
· Potential Future Debt:
- Environmental Lands Program
Road Maintenance Efforts
· Increases attributed to:
- Backlog of maintenance needs
- Increased demands from population
- Provision of new services
- Declining infrastructure
· Increases expected to continue in the future
At this time, Commr. Pool arrived at the meeting.
BUDGET ISSUES FOR FY 2007
Ms. Regina Frazier, Budget Director, Budget Office, addressed the Board stating that she would be presenting them with some informational data and would then be looking for some direction, as her office prepares the budget for 2007. She then gave a slide presentation regarding the following:
Ms. Frazier discussed CRA (Community Redevelopment Agencies) estimates, noting that there are CRAs within the cities that the County gives money to and the General Fund and Ambulance Fund will reflect those ad valorem dollars - the cities get a percentage, based on growth. She stated that, on Page 2 of the Board’s backup material, it shows the projected amount of dollars that the County can expect to pay out next year, based on that growth that the County is estimating will occur, noting that the General Fund is expected to be increased by approximately $2.3 million, which will be disbursed to those CRAs.
Ms. Frazier reviewed the following two categories, answering questions from the Board regarding same:
Employees Per Capita
Ms. Frazier stated that Lake County is on the low end of employees per 10,000 citizens in 2005, compared with Osceola, Manatee, Collier, Okaloosa, Marion, Polk, Volusia, St. Lucie, Seminole, Alachua, and Leon counties, and, as Lake County continues to grow, its employees have continued to grow, consistent with the population, but, as the County becomes more urbanized and more services are required, those percentages will need to increase a little.
Proposed New Positions
Ms. Frazier reviewed new positions that are being proposed for the County, as follows:
Ms. Frazier requested direction from the Board regarding the County’s merit range, noting that staff is proposing 0% - 5%, which is what the County has had for the last few years, which averages out to 4.10%.
It was noted that the Board feels the County should remain consistent with said merit range, because they feel it has worked.
Ms. Frazier discussed the County’s health insurance contributions, noting that what they have put in the budget, tentatively, is a 21.8% increase. She stated that they are currently in the middle of the RFP process for health insurance, so the figures contained in the Board’s backup material could change, depending on the outcome of the RFP. She stated that said figures were preliminary and reflect what staff has included as the Board’s contribution for next year.
PAY AND CLASSIFICATION ADJUSTMENTS
Ms. Frazier stated that the County has begun the Pay and Classification Study that the Board approved last year and, based on some things that staff has heard, the adjustments could equate to approximately $2 million. She stated that it is too early in the process to have true numbers, but, based on current salaries, they estimate that increase will be approximately 6%. She stated that said figure is currently not in the budget, but it is anticipated that some funding will be set aside, to implement those changes.
It was noted that it has been six years since the County did its last salary adjustment.
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, interjected that the Board might want to look at having the minimum ranges adjusted on an annual basis, noting that one of the things staff found is that the minimum salary ranges have not changed over the past six years, so people have continued to come in at the minimum ranges, which is one of the reasons why the County is a little bit out of whack. She stated that staff will look at changing the structure and bring a recommendation back to the Board at a later date.
Ms. Frazier stated that this category would give the Board a snapshot of where the County is with current tax rates and millage rates and what staff is projecting for FY 2007. She requested input from the Board about what they would like to see in the budget for next year.
General Fund Millage
Staff is projecting that the Board will decrease the General Fund millage by .05, as they have done each year.
Ambulance Fund Millage
Staff is projecting that the Ambulance Fund millage rate will stay constant.
Stormwater, Parks, and Roads Millage
Staff is increasing the Stormwater, Parks, and Roads millage by one-tenth of a mill, to fund proposed parks and roads projects.
Environmentally Sensitive Lands Millage
Ms. Frazier stated that it is a little too early to project the Environmentally Sensitive Lands millage, noting that the figure indicated is the maximum that the County would levy, which is 0.3033 mills.
Ms. Hall, County Manager, interjected that, if the County were to levy the entire bond, which is $36 million, the millage rate would not be this high, so it is not likely that said millage will be 0.3033, but it is likely that it will be around .2 mills, to cover the debt service. She stated that it will depend on what the tax rolls actually come in as and when the Board thinks it will be levying the bond.
Assessments – Solid Waste and Fire
Ms. Frazier stated that, currently, staff is projecting to leave the Solid Waste Assessment the same, with no increase, and, with regard to the Fire Assessment, staff is putting that budget together and will be coming back to the Board in June of this year with a millage rate – they have not determined it as of yet.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether there was any interest in looking at a fire ad valorem and assessment combination, as opposed to strictly an assessment.
Ms. Hall stated that the County serves three or four cities; therefore, if the Board was interested in doing it this year, staff would need to work with the cities on how to do it. She stated that, in the past, the County discussed splitting it – half assessment and half ad valorem, which she feels is a very good system and something that the Board should definitely consider. She stated that, if the Board is interested in doing it, staff could target it for next year.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that the Board has brought the matter up for the past four or five years and staff keeps telling them that it is a good idea and that they will look into it for the next year’s budget, but the Board is telling them to look at it now.
Ms. Hall stated that she knows the County can do it next year, but that she needed to look into it a little more, to see if they can pull it off this year. She stated that the County would need to enter into an interlocal agreement with the cities, where they would honor whatever millage the County would need to assess. She stated that it would be a separate millage, at which time she noted that the cities are on the County’s assessment program and pay a fire assessment to the County, so the County would need to have a mechanism where they contribute to the ad valorem function, as well, if they were to split it half and half. She asked for a consensus from the Board that staff move forward with the millage rates and assessments presented this date, with an understanding that they will come back to the Board with some ideas regarding same at a later date.
Commr. Hanson stated that, as the Board moves forward with said combination, they might want to look at retrofitting the retention ponds that currently exist in the County, landscaping them, and, if they are large enough, turning them into passive parks. She stated that she also felt, even though the Board is reducing the General Fund millage rate, because of the Solid Waste issue, they need to keep in mind that, as they do that, they are lowering the millage rate and the participation of the cities in the Solid Waste Program. She stated that that may be what the Board wants to do, but the solid waste facilities exist and there is a cost to be paid and shared among all the citizens in the County, not just those citizens in the unincorporated area.
PARKS AND TRAILS PRESENTATION
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director, informed the Board that what they had before them was information that was brought forth from all the divisions of Public Works, as well as the GIS (Geographical Information System) Department and others. He stated that they would be showing the Board what the County has accomplished over the past 15 years – not just in parks, but in trails, paved shoulders, and sidewalks, at which time he noted that the paved shoulders project between the State and the County was started in 1990. He stated that it was mandated by the State and the County has adopted it, where it can, throughout the projects that the Board has approved to move forward. He stated that last October, during the MPO’s Transportation Summit, they addressed the Statewide Trails Program and staff would be showing the Board how they all connect, as well as where the County is at this point in time, and then, in six months, staff will bring back to the Board a Five Year Capital Improvement Plan, which prioritizes, based on studies that have been conducted, what the County will do next. At this time, he gave the Board a power point presentation, which addressed Florida’s Multi-Use Trail Network and how Lake County plays an integral part in it, as well as the County’s Park Impact Fee Districts, its Paved Shoulders Program, its Sidewalks Program, and its Parks Program and answered questions from the Board regarding same.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, informed the Board that the County Manager made a written offer to the railroad, to purchase the remaining trail pieces in south Lake County, from Clermont to Mascotte, for $400,000, and that she hopes to have something to bring back to the Board in one to two months.
The Board asked that they be kept informed about the matter, as information comes in.
Mr. Bobby Bonilla, Parks and Recreation Director, addressed the Board and discussed what has transpired at the various parks in the County, since he came on board approximately five months ago. He stated that the parks need to be clean, safe, and attractive and those three things have to work together, at which time he displayed slides of the various parks in the County, showing what staff has done at each park, thus far, and what they plan to do in the future. He stated that he is trying to get the public involved and let them know that the County has such facilities available. He stated that he is understaffed at the present time, however, noted that, starting in June of this year, he is going to go park by park and get the community involved, which he feels will give them a sense of ownership and will provide for long-term maintenance. He stated that staff is doing a lot of things inhouse, in an effort to save money and time, such as designing ball fields, putting in basketball courts, etc., at which time he noted that he does not need a consultant to tell him how to design a ball field, or put in a basketball court. He discussed landscaping that needs to be installed at some of the parks and the fact that he is looking at having a landscape architect on board in the near future, and that he would like to have the building that is currently located on the grounds of Sorrento Park turned into a Park Ranger’s headquarters, giving the park a sense of security. He discussed the conceptual plan for the Northeast Community Park, noting that it has a lot of potential, with four football fields, three football/soccer fields, two soccer fields, volleyball courts, tennis courts, and play equipment areas, however, noted that the play equipment areas are scattered throughout the park and he would like to put them all together in a central area of the park.
Mr. Stivender stated that, out of the nine people that he has budgeted for the Public Works Department, six of them are for the Parks and Recreation Program, which is going to be a big help to Mr. Bonilla.
Commr. Hanson noted that she did not see anything about Emeralda Marsh in the parks presentation, but that she felt it should be included.
Mr. Stivender stated that staff would like approval from the Board to move forward with an RFP (Request for Proposal) on the Trails Master Plan and proceed with one-tenth of a mill, for the first year ($550,000 Parks/$250,000 Roads), noting that funds are available in the Parks Impact Fee Districts, as of May 17, 2005, as follows:
Benefit District No. 1 (South)
Benefit District No. 2 (Central)
Benefit District No. 3 (North)
Commr. Cadwell stated that he feels the County should have the greatest parks in Central Florida, but it can only have them if the Board commits money to them. He stated that he loves trails, but feels that the Board needs to put more money into the Parks Program, if they want to have something down the road that will draw people to the County and make them want to live in the County. He stated that there is already such a visible difference that Mr. Bonilla has been able to make in the parks, since he has been on board, so he could imagine what would happen if the Board were to put some money into the Parks Program. He stated that it is something they need to commit to, as a board, and they need to have an ongoing commitment to it.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board has talked about sector planning and a big part of that is looking at where the roads and trails are, on a larger scale, such as several thousand acres, and be able to plan for it ahead of time, so that it fits in with the County’s plan for open space, trails, roads, and walkable communities.
At 10:15 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for a Closed Session, to allow the County Attorney to discuss labor negotiations with them.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:45 a.m., the Chairman reconvened the meeting.
DOWNTOWN TAVARES PROJECTS
Mr. Jim Bannon, Director of Facilities Development and Management, addressed the Board stating that there were two items that he would like to discuss with them, the first being the LEED Certification, noting that he needed some clarification from them regarding it, and, secondly, the footprint of the parking garage to be located in downtown Tavares. He stated that he would be leaving options for the Judicial Center expansion for another day.
Mr. Shawn Good, the LEED expert for HLM Design Heery International, Inc., addressed the Board to obtain some clarification regarding the LEED Certification for the proposed projects, at which time he read into the record the following portions of Resolution No. 2005-92:
That it is the County’s intent that all buildings constructed meet the highest level of high performance building certification feasible, Florida Green Building Coalition Green Buildings certification, or any comparable performance criterion.
That any type of new COUNTY building or facility that is not applicable to the USGBC LEED Rating System shall at minimum incorporate the USGBC LEED checklist for Silver Certification into the planning and construction of the facility.
That all major renovations and remodels performed on COUNTY buildings or facilities incorporate sustainable design and construction guidelines in the form of the USGBC LEED Silver Certification or another comparable certification standard available for existing buildings.
Mr. Good stated that the Resolution references two different certifications, although they are very similar. He stated that the County would not want to get LEED certification just to have certification – they would want all the benefits that go along with it.
Commr. Hanson questioned what staff’s recommendation would be and was informed by Mr. Bannon that it has been documented that, over the life of the building, the County would be saving money and, if there is a 4% to 5% increase in the cost of the project, it would be something that the Board would have to be comfortable with. He stated that another advantage of it is that staff and the architects will come to the Board at various stages, as the documents are developed and they get to the schematic design stage, indicating what increases there might be and the Board might want to think a little more about whether they want to go down the path of LEED, noting that that 4% to 5% increase will be in construction. He stated that there is a little bit of a cost involved in paying the architects for making the building LEED certified, but the Board will have an opportunity to step back, if they feel the additional up front costs are preventing them from constructing another building, perhaps on the side of the campus.
Mr. Bob Egleston, Project Manager, HLM Design Heery International, informed the Board that there were two recommendations for the Board’s consideration this date, the first being to select the type of criteria that his firm will use, noting that their recommendation would be to use the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards, which is nationally recognized criteria for building green facilities; and, secondly, how LEED would pertain to the five projects that they have under contract with the County at the present time. He stated that they are suggesting that, absolutely, the Judicial Center should go for certification, but they are also tying in the Central Energy Plant with that, which is where the County will receive a lot of savings over the length of the project. He stated that the new building for the Tax Collector and the Property Appraiser is on the edge, noting that they could get it certified, but whether the County would want to go for a higher level or not is debatable. He stated that the County would not want to certify the parking garage or the Jail addition, however, pointed out the fact that the parking garage may get rolled into the Judicial Center, because they obtained some points for parking, in that the County is not building a massive amount of parking encompassing blocks and blocks - it is in one concentrated area, vertically, downtown.
Commr. Hanson stated that the Board is looking at a leadership role in the green building efforts, but they want to be practical, too.
Commr. Cadwell interjected that he did not want to give the impression that the Board was being irresponsible about it, noting that there are efficiency standards being built into the Building Code that were not there before, so the County is going to build a better building, whether they go with the certification or not, efficiency wise.
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved to go with the architects’ recommendation for LEED certification.
Mr. Bannon stated that the Board approved for the architects to move forward with the design of the parking garage, which is to be located behind the proposed Tax Collector/Property Appraiser building, however, because of the parking needs that are projected, that footprint is getting quite tall. He stated that he felt the Board might want to make the footprint larger, thereby, reducing the height of the building, which the architects would be presenting to the Board this date.
Mr. Egleston, Project Manager, presented various options for the proposed Parking Garage, noting that it will be addressing the parking needs of all the County facilities that are located downtown. He stated that a preliminary parking study was conducted, based on the old Judicial Center program, and there is an additional parking need of approximately 1,000 cars. He stated that the Judicial Center program has grown, because of moving from the old projections, to bring them up to date, plus the fact that the Clerk of Courts is rolling all of his facilities into the Judicial Center. He stated that, based on that, they are estimating it will take approximately 1,500 parking spaces to meet the current needs. At this time, he reviewed the various options for the Parking Garage, noting that Option 1A calls for putting it totally on the block with the Tax Collector/Property Appraiser building, but it will be 13 levels tall, due to having to meet the City of Tavares’s current standards for parking, which allows the County to only have 30% compact spaces – all the rest of the parking spaces will be the standard 10’ x 20’ spaces. He stated that, if they were able to update the current standards and went with all 9’ x 18’ parking spaces, it would bring the Parking Garage down to 12 levels, keeping it all on the same block. Option 2A calls for having the Parking Garage go halfway onto Maud Street and, if they use the City’s requirements, there will be 11 levels, with 70% of the spaces being 10’ x 20’ and 30% being 9’ x 18’. Option 2B calls for 10 levels, with all the parking spaces being 9’ x 18’, again, with having the Parking Garage go halfway onto Maud Street. Option 3A calls for taking over the Law Library, which is scheduled to be moved into the expanded Judicial Center, and, if there is a way to capture the Dillard Building, the Parking Garage can be expanded onto the property to the north of Maud Street, and, if the County is allowed to use relaxed square footage requirements, having all the spaces being 9’ x 18’, it will bring the Parking Garage down to 8 levels. Option 3B calls for the Parking Garage to be extended further onto the property north of Maud Street, in an effort to bring the height down, for a total of 7 levels, which will allow for a little over 1,600 cars, with all the parking spaces being 9’ x 18’, and it was suggested that there could be 6 levels in the front, encompassing half of the garage, stepping up to 7 levels in the back, so that the garage will be a little lower as it gets closer to Main Street.
Commr. Pool questioned whether one or two of the levels could possibly be constructed underground, but was informed that that would not be possible, due to the water table in the City and the expense of doing it.
It was noted that the City of Tavares had not yet seen the various options for the Parking Garage, because the architects wanted to present them to the Board first, although the City’s staff had seen an earlier option showing the Parking Garage expanding out over Maud Street.
Commr. Pool interjected that the Board could choose which option they would like to go with, but felt that they should make sure that the City agrees to it.
Commr. Stivender questioned whether a 7 level Parking Garage could be constructed on the block between Main Street and Maud Street, if the Tax Collector/Property Appraiser building was not constructed on it, as proposed, and was informed that the block could accommodate it, however, it was pointed out that the proposed Tax Collector/Property Appraiser building will only be two stories tall, which is a nice pedestrian scale, as opposed to a seven level parking garage being constructed on Main Street, plus the fact that there has been talk about having a corridor exist between the buildings, creating a courtyard effect for the City, which is something they would like to have.
Mr. Egleston stated that there needs to be a service drive behind the Tax Collector/Property Appraiser building, as well, which would be difficult to do utilizing the earlier schemes, with the two buildings being constructed so close to one another.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried, by a 4-1 vote, the Board approved to go with Option 3B for the proposed Parking Garage (7 levels), with the Tax Collector/Property Appraiser building (2 levels) being located in front of the garage on Main Street.
Commr. Stivender voted “No”.
At this time, Commr. Stivender left the meeting, due to another commitment.
MOSQUITO AND AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT PRESENTATION
Mr. Eric Cotsenmoyer, Mosquito and Aquatic Plant Management Director, addressed the Board and gave a brief slide presentation regarding the Mosquito Surveillance Program, which he noted the County uses to assess the changing mosquito abundance levels, evaluate the impact of mosquito abundance levels on human intolerance, and determine management activities, based on risk of arboviral disease transmission. He discussed the Mosquito Adulticiding Program, noting that it is a key component to the Mosquito Surveillance Program, which the County uses to give staff information, based upon where they are going to do abatement activities. He stated that last year they conducted 1,214,535 acres of adulticiding activities and expect to do approximately 1,175,007 acres this year and approximately 1,364,230 acres in 2007. He stated that another key component to the program is the mosquito field activities that are conducted, which manage the immature stage of mosquitoes and greatly impacts what is done in the adulticiding activities that the County conducts, which is a real critical component, as well. He stated that it is very laborious and takes a lot of effort, but people would rather have the County do this than the adulticiding program. He stated that the Aquatic Plant Management Program primarily consists of three major invasive exotic noxious aquatic plants, which are hydrilla, water hyacinth, and water lettuce, and staff spends the majority of their time managing said species. He stated that it is all done with herbicide applications and they hope to get all three of the species under control in 2007. He stated that another component of his department is Service Requests, which they track closely and use the information that they get from them to determine the level of service and the effectiveness of their service to the County residents, at which time he noted that, in 2007, they expect to be handling around 1,467 requests. He stated that they try to keep said requests as low as possible and try to manage things before they become a problem. He stated that aerial applications will be needed for better penetration of areas that are not accessible by roads, noting that the County is growing and there are areas where homes and communities are being built that are adjacent to marshes and swamps and areas that his staff cannot penetrate, so it is going to be a major component. He noted that aerial applications are 99% more effective than ground applications.
Ms. Hall, County Manager, informed the Board that money is being put in the budget for additional staff for the Mosquito and Aquatic Plant Management Department for next year, however, noted that there is not money in next year’s budget for the aerial spraying – it is something that the County is going to be working towards.
CODE ENFORCEMENT PRESENTATION
Ms. Carol Stricklin, Growth Management Director, addressed the Board stating that she wanted to discuss with them the philosophy of Code Enforcement and how it evolves, as the County grows. She stated that one of the themes of this meeting has been the impact of population growth on the Growth Management Department’s budget and the demand for services, which impacts Code Enforcement in two ways, being an increased demand for services, just in terms of numbers, and it changes the nature of the services that the County provides, as it becomes more urban. She stated that there is more commercial development, in particular, that said services evolve from – a complaint driven code violator type of service, which she elaborated on. She stated that, as areas become more urbanized, they will often go to a more pro-active form of Code Enforcement – maintaining the quality of the environment, as opposed to simply responding to complaints, noting that staff pro-actively go out and do inspections, to make sure that properties that are constructed meet the County’s standards. She stated that the County is looking at providing some new services for the Code Enforcement Division, noting that, as she looked over the Growth Management Department, relative to inspection of new construction, she felt they could provide those services for Code Enforcement.
Mr. Tommy Leathers, Code Enforcement Director, addressed the Board and presented a slide presentation, stating that the purpose of his department is to enforce Land Development Regulations and various zoning ordinances, governing the use of property in the County; however, they have a statutory purpose, as well, which is to ensure public safety, health and welfare. He stated that his department has five Code Enforcement Officers who work countywide and one Code Enforcement Officer who performs Conditional Use Permit inspections countywide. He reviewed statistics for his department, obtained from October 1, 2005 thru April 30, 2006, noting that they conducted 6,915 inspections for violations; conducted eight Special Master Hearings and presented 156 cases for legal action; conducted three mediations; and initiated foreclosure on 12 properties. He stated that, in addition to that, they collected $57,000 in fines; answered 1,518 noise disturbance calls; and conducted 230 Conditional Use Permit inspections. He stated that the trend is going up, noting that the total number of inspections has increased from 5,934 in 2003 to 10,796 in 2005, and they are projecting that they will receive approximately 12,000 requests for inspections this year. He stated that, with regard to the complaint process, every call that comes into his office, or every violation that is generated by staff in the field, goes through the exact same process, which he reviewed with the Board, noting that they can end up in foreclosure, however, after a couple of letters and visits from the Code Enforcement Officer, most people do what they need to do to get themselves straightened out. He displayed photographs of various routine violations, which he discussed with the Board, noting that his department receives more calls about accumulation of debris than any other calls.
Mr. Leathers stated that his department has a great working relationship with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, noting that his staff can call them anytime and they can call his department anytime. He stated that, over the years, his Code Enforcement Officers have discovered dog fighting operations, chicken fighting operations, counterfeit operations, and lots of drug manufacturing, at which time he noted that a few years ago they discovered the largest semi chop shop in the nation, just five miles from Tavares. He further noted that, in 1987, a Code Enforcement Officer was killed in the line of duty, in Dona Vista. He stated that the Board approved an additional Code Enforcement Officer position for his department, which he is very excited about, in that it will be a great opportunity for his department to partner with the Sheriff’s Office and the Community Enhancement Program, working pro-actively in blighted neighborhoods, with a myriad of violations that need to be corrected, such as abandoned buildings, unsafe buildings, and substandard housing. He stated that said individual will deem structures as unsafe, or need of repair, and then follow-up with legal action, to have said structures repaired or demolished. He stated that it is going to be very good for the County, in ridding it of abandoned and/or unsafe structures. He discussed some new services being proposed for his department for 2007, such as commercial site plan inspections, noting that a Site Plan Inspector will inspect a site during the entire phase of a project, from the groundwork up, to make sure that all special requirements are in place, such as landscaping, lighting, buffering, fencing, etc.; and stormwater and lot grading inspections, which has been long overdue in Lake County. He stated that, if initiated and conducted properly, said services will prevent a lot of problems down the road, at which time he pointed out the fact that, in 2005, there were 3,500 CO’s for single family residences issued in Lake County and there were little or no stormwater inspections performed on any of them. He noted that the surrounding counties have an average of one Code Enforcement Officer per every 23,000 citizens, while Lake County has one officer per every 45,000 citizens.
OTHER ISSUES (CONT’D.)
UPDATE ON FAIRGROUNDS
Ms. Regina Frazier, Budget Director, gave the Board a brief update on the Fairgrounds, noting that, in preparing the capital plan for facilities for next year, the Fairgrounds has been pushed out another year, due to the fact that there is not sufficient funding for all the projects being proposed, to include the Fairgrounds project in the FY 2007 budget.
Commr. Hanson questioned whether the County had received any feedback on the trade with the City of Eustis and was informed by Ms. Hall, County Manager, that staff had received some information on the soils in that area, at which time Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director, discussed the information that the County had received regarding same.
Ms. Hall stated that she, Ms. Frazier, and Mr. Bannon met and reviewed the various projects that are on line at the present time and, with construction costs going up, there was no way to fit into the available dollars all of the projects. She stated that it is likely that in a year the County will have additional sales tax dollars and will be able to move forward with the Fairgrounds project at that time and, in the meantime, staff can see if there are some things that can be done to make some small improvements to the current Fairgrounds property.
Commr. Hanson stated that the current property is too small and the soils are not good, so the Board was a little concerned about putting money into improving property that will not solve the problem. She stated that she would like to see the County form a task force of some sort, to focus on the issue of the Fairgrounds and acquiring another location for it.
Ms. Hall stated that staff would look into the matter and come back to the Board with some recommendations at a later date.
UPDATE ON SPORTS COMPLEX
Ms. Regina Frazier, Budget Director, updated the Board on the Sports Complex, noting that last Summer the Board approved for $1 million to be donated to the Sports Complex, as matching dollars, from the tourist tax fund, which was done, and now another $1 million match is required from the County. She stated, however, that there is not enough money in that fund to donate another $1 million, so there will have to be some type of inter-fund borrowing, in order to do so.
Ms. Hall, County Manager, interjected that said funds will be paid back to the County as tourist tax dollars are accumulated.
It was the consensus of the Board that an additional $1 million be donated to the Sports Complex, as requested.
UPDATE ON TRANSIT IN SOUTH LAKE COUNTY
Mr. T. J. Fish, Executive Director, Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (LSMPO), addressed the Board and gave them an update on the transit system for Lake County, noting that the first route, which will run along the Hwy. 441 corridor, from Lady Lake to Mt. Dora, with routes going through Leesburg, Tavares, Eustis, and Mt. Dora, with all the downtown areas to be served along that corridor, is scheduled to start in December of this year. He stated that it is being financially structured with no new tax payer investment at this time, noting that it is taking the transportation dollars that the County has already committed and restructuring it with federal and state monies that the County has received. He stated that they are not as far along with the south Lake County route, noting that one of the components of planning that system is the fact that the County now has two routes that are completely funded through the Department of Transportation (DOT), as long as the County provides a local match. He stated that it falls under a service development grant that was filed by LYNX last Summer and endorsed by the LSMPO, and it was stated at that time that, once the grants were awarded and the financial numbers were worked out, they would come back before the Board and discuss the local match portion. He questioned whether the Board would like to have said issue covered at the next LSMPO Board Meeting, noting that, ultimately, it is a Lake County Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC) funding issue, in that the Board is the CTC, as well as the Board of County Commissioners.
Mr. Fish stated that what they are talking about under the grant are two routes – one for the Four Corners area, which is an extension of an existing bus line that LYNX runs that will be extended through Cagans Crossing and the Four Corners area, up to the Super Wal-Mart. He noted that LYNX is willing to fund the open end dollars to run the bus line per year, which is $100,000, with DOT paying half, however, noted that said figures are approximate, until they receive the final interlocal agreement from LYNX. He stated that the numbers seem to still be very much on target. He stated that the other route that is part of this grant is the direct route, which runs from Clermont to downtown Orlando, where one will have the ability to transfer anywhere in the LYNX system. He stated that there will be five buses in the morning and in the evening, with LYNX covering the capital for said buses, which amounts to approximately $260,000, in terms of the local match. He stated that they are service development grants, which are precursors to a formal fixed route system in the south Lake County area. He stated that a couple of years ago, they received service development grants for the Hwy. 441 corridor, which were experiments, to some degree, however, noted that county staff, as well as the LSMPO staff, feel very confident about the future success of the Four Corners route and they are willing to support the experimentation of seeing how this direct express route will function between Clermont and downtown Orlando. He stated that they would like to see the County fund it for at least the first year, under the grant, and, if it appears to be building, they can come back to the Board next year and suggest that the County continue to fund it for the second year. He stated that, if it is not succeeding, they will inform the Board that they do not support funding it any further and, meanwhile, they will be applying for other grant dollars, to continue to move toward a south Lake County system. He stated that, what they see in the future, for at least the next four to five years, is a north Lake County system completely separate from south Lake County, although they will be planning connections, noting that there is not enough urbanized population in the center of the County to warrant a countywide system. He stated that, at the present time, that is the way that it is playing out, and, from a financial standpoint, he feels it is unfair to lump into the Hwy. 441 system what they are trying to do in south Lake County. He reminded the Board that these are early planning service development grants that they are dealing with.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board had talked before about contacting the cities, to see if they would like to participate, and questioned whether Mr. Fish had had any such conversations with the cities.
Mr. Fish stated that he had had conversations with the City of Clermont regarding the matter and they are supportive of having the service established, but would prefer to have their cost sharing built around a local circulator in Clermont. He stated that, just like what is currently happening on the Hwy. 441 corridor, the County is providing a spine service – one hour buses, and they are saying to the cities that, if they want better than that, then they are going to have to come up with the money to do it. He stated that they would like to use that same blueprint for south Lake County, but, in the meantime, they would like to test the market down there, to see if there is a demand in the downtown area, because, if there is not, they are going to try a route from Clermont to Disney, to see how it will work. He stated that the issue of a transit need is going to be there, regardless, and he feels it is important for both the MPO and the Board to know that the goal is not to argue about whether they should subsidize transit or not. He stated that the County has got to provide options for its citizenry and whether it is trails, transit, or roads, there are some mechanisms out there. He stated that, first, there is some language in existing Developments of Regional Impacts (DRIs), both proposed, as well as approved, that they are currently looking at, to see if they can extract any funds from said language, and, secondly, he would suggest to the Board that it is worth doing a CRA for transit and transportation, especially on the SR 50 corridor. He stated that it is something for the Board to think about and something that he will want to talk more with the MPO about, as well. He stated that a transit route in south Lake County will need to be a joint venture with the City of Clermont, in order for it to be truly effective. He stated that they have talked about having an express route, but it may still be a couple of years away, however, noted that Plaza Collina is obligated to provide a transfer station, which means that a LYNX bus, or a Lake County bus, can utilize it and an individual can transfer between the systems. He stated that people will not always have to go downtown, they can go to Oakland, Winter Garden, Ocoee, etc. He informed the Board that he would need a consensus from them, as to whether they would like for this matter to be brought before the LSMPO Board, noting that they have already taken action to endorse the filing of the grant, but the funding will have to come from the Board.
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried, by a 3-1 vote, the Board approved local match funding for a proposed transit system for south Lake County.
Commr. Hill voted “No”, noting that she felt the request was premature, until the County gets some other issues settled.
Mr. Fish brought up the issue of the County’s Trails System, noting that DOT needs a letter from the Chairman stating that the County is still in negotiations with CSX Railroad about acquiring railroad right of way for the South Lake Trail, noting that they are threatening to withdraw the funds that were put into the work program, until they see a local demonstration.
It was the consensus of the Board that the Chairman send said letter to the Department of Transportation.
COUNTY’S FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE
Commr. Cadwell stated that he had read an article about the fact that fire and casualty insurance costs have gone up since the hurricanes and that there are some cities in the State that have decided not to ensure at the level that they should, purely because of the costs involved. He asked staff to check into whether said costs have gone up for the County and bring a report back to the Board at a later date.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:05 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK