JANUARY 16, 2007

The Lake County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) met on Tuesday, January 16, 2007, at 8:30 a.m., in the Board of County Commissionersí Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. The following members were present:Commissioners Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Debbie Stivender; and Elaine Renick; and School Board Member Scott Strong. Others present were: Sanford A. ďSandyĒ Minkoff, County Attorney; Toni M. Riggs, Deputy Clerk; Ed Havill, Lake County Property Appraiser; Frank Royce, Chief Deputy, Lake County Property Appraiserís Office; and Robbie Ross, Director, Tangible Personal Property and Agriculture Operations, Lake County Property Appraiserís Office.

Commr. Cadwell called the meeting to order, and it was noted that a quorum was present.Because the special master process is new to some of the members, he asked Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, to update the Board on the procedures.


Mr. Minkoff, County Attorney, explained that VAB members have been provided with an agenda with a list of petitions that were heard by Mort Aulls, who was the special master to hear exemption cases and classification cases.He explained that, as noted, the special master recommended that the Property Appraiserís decision be overruled in some cases, and the others show that some had written objections from the property owners, which were forwarded to the VAB members under separate cover by mail.Also in their packet was a copy of the written response from Mr. Havillís office that was received on Friday, which was not mailed because there was a chance that all parties would not receive it by today because of the holiday.The members also had a copy of the minutes from the VAB Organizational Meeting, and a court order from Judge Singletary in a recent case (Baldwin) that may be currently under appeal.He explained that, under the old process, the people used to appear before them, and the VAB took testimony and made factual findings and also conclusions of law.Three years ago the legislature changed it to require them to use special masters for factual findings.When these recommendations come to them, they cannot overturn the factual decision, as Mr. Minkoff explained, and the only thing that they can change is the conclusions of law.As in most of the cases, the objections received are arguing the facts; the VAB does not have the ability to overturn the facts.In looking at Mr. Havillís response, it raises issues of law, particularly in the agricultural classification cases that they do have the ability to disagree with the special master on.Because none of the members have read the response from Mr. Havill, since they just received it today, he would suggest that the VAB may want to postpone all of these cases, so that they have a chance to read his response as well as what has been submitted by the property owners.

Commr. Cadwell questioned whether there would be anything that would preclude individual members from meeting with Mr. Minkoff and going through this process.

Mr. Minkoff stated that he would be glad to meet with the Board members or provide them with written material; however, they would be precluded from meeting with the applicants or Property Appraiser.

On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Renick and carried unanimously by a 4-0 vote, the VAB approved to postpone action on all items until February 6, 2007 at 8:30 a.m.

Discussion occurred regarding the need for additional time to address the issues, with it being noted that Mr. Minkoff will request that the regular Board of County Commissionersí meeting be scheduled for 10 a.m., with the VAB meeting starting at 8:30 a.m.

Mr. Steve Richey, Attorney representing one of the applicants, addressed the Board and stated that, because the VAB did not get the response from Mr. Havill until Friday, and some of them did not get it at all, they would like an opportunity to review and respond to it because, just in a cursory review of it, it so misstates the facts that were before the special master that it requires them to respond in some way.The original order provided that they respond in 30 days, and Mr. Havill should have responded within that time as well.Mr. Richey stated that he would like to respond in writing to Mr. Havillís response so that, when the VAB considers this item, they have all of the facts accurately presented to them based on the law.

Mr. Minkoff noted that valuation cases will also be heard at the February meeting, so the VAB may need additional time, as well as staff, to complete the process.He suggested that they move the meeting to February 20, 2007 and give them until January 31, 2007 to get their responses in.

Commr. Stivender amended her original motion to postpone action until February 20, 2007, at 8:30 a.m.

Under discussion, Mr. Richey wanted to clarify that, when they file their responses, and then the Property Appraiser responds again, he would like to make sure that they are received in a timely manner, so that the VAB will have adequate time to have the information before them.

Mr. Minkoff explained that normally the petitioner files; they get a response; and the petitioner files one response.If they want to allow Mr. Havill another opportunity to respond, then the VAB just needs to set some dates.

It was clarified that the petitioners will file any objections to the response filed by Mr. Havill by January 31, 2007; the Property Appraiser will have until February 7, 2007 to respond to any objections.It was also noted that the minute approval could also be postponed until the February 20, 2007 meeting.

Commr. Renick seconded the motion to postpone action on all items until February 20, 2007, at 8:30 a.m.

Chairman Cadwell called for a vote on the motion, which was carried unanimously by a 4-0 vote.

There being no further business to be brought forth to the VAB at this time, the meeting went into recess at 8:45 a.m., until February 20, 2007, at 8:30 a.m.