AUGUST 14, 2007

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, August 14, 2007, at 9:00 a.m., at the Bob Norris Auditorium, Lake County Agricultural Center, Tavares, Florida.  Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Elaine Renick; and Linda Stewart.  Commr. Debbie Stivender was not present, due to illness. Others present were: Sanford A. (Sandy) Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.

The Chairman opened the meeting.


Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, informed the Board that the Sheriff made some revisions to his budget, adding some funding for Operations and taking out some funding for Vehicles, with the net result being $164,270 of additional dollars in his budget.  She noted that, should the Board approve the request, staff would recommend taking the funds from Reserves and requested approval to do so.

On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved the funding adjustments in the Sheriff’s budget, as presented, and for said funding to be taken from Reserves.


Mr. Daryl Smith, Environmental Services Director, addressed the Board regarding the County’s attempt to take over the operation of its recycling facility, which has been operated by a private contractor since October 1, 2002 and before that by the County.  He discussed the current contractor, SP Recycling, and the fact that they pay the County approximately $50,000 to $60,000 per year to rent the facility.  He stated that it is a good deal for the contractor, because they only pay the County for what comes in from the unincorporated areas and the municipalities, which represents approximately 11,000 tons per year of recyclables, and, in addition to that, they bring in 7,000 to 8,000 tons of their own material, which only they receive revenue for.  He stated that their annual revenue is approximately $2.4 million, based on current market rates, which he feels is going to stay fairly high, because of what is happening over seas, so that is additional revenue that the County could receive, allowing the opportunity to share more revenue with each of the municipalities.  He stated that staff hopes, by enhancing the revenue for each of the municipalities, the County can encourage them to do more recycling.  He stated that the County will do some additional separation of the recyclables and will utilize people from Sunrise Arc, as well as inmates from the Jail, to do so.  He stated that new collection service contracts will be coming up in 2009 and, by being in charge of the operation of the facility, the County will have much more flexibility and be able to enhance the recycling program when it does the new collection services, which is another aspect of taking over the operations and it being beneficial to the County.  He stated that, if the Board concurs with staff’s recommendation, they would ask that they be allowed to hire personnel, as well, to enable them to get started on October 1st, noting that the current contract expires September 30, 2007.  He stated that they need to purchase some equipment, which costs $156,000, and would ask that the Board allow them to initiate the Procurement process for the purchase of that new equipment.

Commr. Cadwell stated that he liked the idea that the County would have environmental and economic control over the sale and disposition of the recyclables, as well as the fact that it would employ the services of physically and mentally challenged individuals, in partnership with Sunrise ARC of Lake County, and/or perhaps inmates, to accomplish its sorting activities.

Commr. Renick stated that it is an excellent idea; however, she feels it might be prudent on the part of the County to wait one more year, to see how things go, with regard to the risks involved.  She stated that she would like to know what the contractor would be willing to do and the County has not gone through that process yet.

Mr. Smith interjected that, in discussing the matter with the contractor, they did not seem to be receptive to negotiating the contract.

Commr. Stewart stated that, when she met with the contractor, they were very eager to keep the contract with the County, which gave her the impression that it must be very lucrative for them and, therefore, could be very lucrative for the County.  She stated that Mr. Smith has done his research and feels comfortable about the market value of recyclables, and she does not feel the County would jump into this endeavor without being pretty sure that it will be successful.  She stated that she feels anything the Board can do to help the County make money and possibly save the citizens money down the road is worthwhile.

Commr. Hill, the Solid Waste Advisory Committee Liaison to the Board, stated that the Committee did a very intense financial analysis of the recycling process and was very positive about it.  She stated that their recommendation was for approval, but, if the Board approved to do so, she would recommend that the equipment used for the recycling process be upgraded.

On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved a request from the Department of Environmental Services to bring the Recycling Program in-house and, by doing so, to amend their budget, as presented, increasing both the Revenue and Expenditures.


Ms. Regina Frazier, Budget Director, informed the Board that there will be further adjustments to the budget, with the Solid Waste Revenue figures changing, noting that the administration fees coming to the General Fund from Solid Waste will have to be adjusted.

On a motion by Commr. Renick, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved funding adjustments to the General Fund, as indicated.


The County Manager stated that there is approximately $2.6 million in the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park Fund, with $1 million of it being budgeted to go out as an upfront payment for the softball complex in Clermont, which she noted the County envisions being paid back over time from the tourist tax.

Mr. Greg Mihalic, Tourism and Business Relations Director, addressed the Board stating that the Tourist Development Council (TDC) will pay back the $1 million over four years, however, noted that they do not anticipate borrowing that money until next fiscal year.

Commr. Hill stated that she would like the Board to have a discussion about reserving the monies within that fund for incentives, etc., to promote businesses to come to the County.

Commr. Cadwell interjected that incentive dollars are played less now than they used to be, in getting companies to come to the County, noting that it is now more about the work force where they are moving to, etc.


Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, informed the Board that staff has come up with a funding solution for the 800 mHz Radio System, noting that a number of months ago they approved for Public Safety to work out a contract with Motorola, which they have done and are now ready to bring it to the Board for approval.  She stated that they have established a price for the new system of $32 million, adding in the cost of replacing the Royal Trails Tower that was destroyed during the tornadoes, which is estimated to be $2.4 million.  She stated that staff has compiled a number of sources of money that were either earmarked for things that are not proceeding as quickly as planned, or that were not earmarked at all, at which time she reviewed said information with the Board.  She stated that it was staff’s recommendation to fund this project and, if the Board were to approve it, it is covered.  She stated that the Public Safety Department will be in a position to bring the contract before the Board for final approval in September of this year.

Staff’s recommendation would be cash funding in the amount of $24.9 million; a bank loan of $10 million, or have the balance of the project paid over 7 years from Infrastructure Sales Tax; the County will carryforward monies that were previously earmarked for Conserv II and/or the South Tavares Complex; there are insurance proceeds from the destruction of the tower in February of 2007 from the tornadoes; and grant funds are anticipated from Federal legislation.

Commr. Cadwell stated that it has been a long time coming and that he was glad the County would not be tapping into the bond money to pay for it.

Commr. Renick stated that there was a need for this system before the tornadoes - the tornadoes just emphasized the situation.  She stated that she did not have a problem with the radio system, but was concerned about the bank loan.  She suggested that the County make the loan as small as possible, by cutting elsewhere, which she elaborated on, noting that she feels the County should be prepared for the worst case scenario, so, rather than having an okay year this year and then having to make cuts next year, she feels the County should make more cuts now and reduce the amount of the loan.

Commr. Stewart concurred, stating that she feels the County can make more cuts to cover the cost of the system.  She stated that lives are being risked every day and the least the County can do is make it as safe as possible for those men and women who are risking their lives, who need to be able to communicate with each other.  She stated that she feels the County needs to approve this request and, if some cuts can be made someplace else to reduce the amount of the loan the County needs to do it, especially with the uncertainty of what is going to happen next year.

Ms. Hall, County Manager, stated that the County could reduce some other programs, by making cuts in the General Fund or the Infrastructure Sales Tax Fund, where some of the larger projects are funded, and, if that was the Board’s direction, staff would look into it.  She stated that the $10 million is currently being used as a balancing number, but, once the County’s books close at the end of September and Finance does their reconciliation as to how much cash was actually not spent, she feels there will be some additional funding available in April.  She stated that staff has planned it that way, so they hope that will be the case.  She stated that the County will have the opportunity at that time to reduce the $10 million loan.  She requested approval to move forward with the funding plan, so that, in a worst case scenario, if the County does not have an extra dime, staff will be able to seek out a $10 million loan, if needed, but with the understanding that during the next few months, as the County moves towards the construction of this project and the final portion of the funding, which is the bank loan, staff will be looking for other sources to buy down that loan to some extent.

On a motion by Commr. Renick, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved staff’s recommendation for the funding of the 800 mHz radio system, with the stipulation that staff continue to look at other projects to draw down the amount of money that the County will have to borrow at the end of this project.



The County Manager, Ms. Hall, stated that the County is entering into an agreement with Lake-Sumter Community College for the joint use library, with the final cost, as a worst case scenario, being $17.8 million.  She stated that the current funding does not total that amount, so some options are to make the library smaller, or obtain additional money.  She stated that, when she met with the Board earlier, she indicated that there was no additional money earmarked for this project, but that was incorrect, noting that the County has $1 million budgeted for said project in the Infrastructure Sales Tax Fund, in recognition of the probability that this project would come in a little higher than what was already budgeted.

Ms. Wendy Breeden, Library Services Director, addressed the Board stating that another $1 million could be matched by the State, which would put the project within range, and they have some other options that they feel could get them the rest of the way, which she elaborated on.

Commr. Cadwell stated that this is a diamond of a project and he would hope the County would continue to fund it fully, so that they can get it done and have something to be proud of.

Commr. Stewart concurred, stating that businesses looking to relocate look at an educated workforce and this request goes a long way towards educating the County’s workforce.  She stated that she feels it is an important thing for the County.

Commr. Renick stated that she thought the library was going to be smaller than it is.

Ms. Breeden stated that it was originally smaller than what was being presented this date and that she feels one of the ways to help bridge the gap in funding is to go back to the original square footage.

Mr. Richard Scott, Vice President of Administrative Services, Lake-Sumter Community College, addressed the Board stating that they were going to have to look at ways to drive down the cost per square foot of the library and that one way of doing it would be to go back to its original square footage.

On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved for the County to move forward with the joint use library project with Lake-Sumter Community College.


At 10:00 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for five minutes.



Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that staff would be attending the City of Tavares’s Council Meeting on Wednesday, August 15, 2007, for the second reading on the downtown rezonings.  He stated that the City has made some requests of the County, contained in an amended agreement that he distributed to the Board, for their perusal.  He stated that the first request pertains to Sinclair Avenue, noting that there is a portion of said road, by the lake, that originally housed the County’s package plant, which the City has requested that the County deed to them, to be utilized for the Tav-Lee Trail, and staff does not see any issues regarding that request.  He stated that the second request is for the County to process its own building permits and inspections for all county owned properties within the City, which would apply not just to the downtown projects, but any other properties that the County owns, but still retain for the City the zoning approvals and site plan approvals.  He stated that the third request, which pertains to the Parking Garage, is a little more substantial, which is to allow the City to use the Parking Garage when the County is not utilizing it, being nights, weekends, holidays, etc.  He stated that the County will be agreeing to let the City have exclusive use of the garage, even to moving county vehicles there, if necessary, when the City has a very large event.  He stated that the Agreement requires the City to give the County 30 days notice to use the garage, however, pointed out the fact that the County is reserving the right, should they choose to do so, as part of their program, to charge fees for the public to park there, but they would be responsible for charging and collecting the fees.  He stated that it also provides that when the City has exclusive use of the garage, they will leave it the way they found it.  He stated that the City’s interest in this matter is to not have the County erect a sign stating that the parking garage is only for employees of the County, noting that they want the customers of merchants in the downtown area to be able to park in the garage during the day.  He stated that the City wanted the County to propose to leave the garage open all the time, which was of concern to the County, so the County inserted wording stating that, upon the written request of the City, the County shall adjust the operating hours of the parking garage to make it available for use by the public during those times that the City may need it.  He stated that the City is planning a vibrant entertainment type district downtown and they feel, if that occurs, the parking garage may be needed for those nighttime and weekend events, for security purposes.  He stated that the County is not proposing to close the parking garage at this time, but wanted to reserve the right to do so.  He stated that the agreement is a 20 year agreement and it does not have a termination clause, which he noted he is always hesitant about, because sometimes the County changes its mind.

On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Renick and carried unanimously, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved the Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and the City of Tavares for Use of the County’s Parking Garage, with modifications, as presented this date.

Mr. Minkoff stated that another item that came up, with respect to the Parking Garage, was the fact that the County has a fast track system involving its permitting, where projects that are placed in it receive priority attention, permitting-wise, and, in discussing the Judicial Center and downtown projects, the Building Department questioned whether the Board would like to have those projects placed into that fast track system.

It was noted that the Board did not want the County’s projects to receive any special treatment.


Mr. Barnett Schwartzman, Procurement Director, addressed the Board and discussed the County’s purchasing policy, as it pertains to the signature authority of the County Manager, at which time he answered questions from the Board regarding same.

Commr. Renick stated that she was in favor of reducing the signature authority for the County Manager from $50,000 to $25,000, noting that it was no reflection on the County Manager, it is just that she feels it is a way to make sure that anything over $25,000 comes back to the Board for approval.

Ms. Hall, County Manager, stated that she did not have a problem with the Board reducing the amount of her signature authority, however, requested that the Procurement Director be given some time to figure out how to make it work, noting that there are some operational issues.  She asked that, rather than it being done this date, staff be allowed to come back to the Board at a later date with some suggested changes to the Procurement Policy, giving them a chance to work with the departments and make sure that everything is aligned and that nothing that is already in the works gets cut off.

Commr. Stewart interjected that she too would like to lower the threshold.

On a motion by Commr. Renick, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously, by a 4-0 vote, the Board approved for staff to bring back to them at a later date a new Procurement Policy reducing the signature authority for the County Manager from $50,000 to $25,000.



The County Manager, Ms. Hall, informed the Board about some things that will be coming before them that she wanted them to be aware of, one being that a special legislative session has been scheduled, to look at Medicaid.  She stated that the worst case scenario is that the County may end up having to pay approximately $1.2 million in additional money for Medicaid.  She stated that it is something that may be coming the County’s way and, if so, they will need to make an adjustment for it.



The County Manager, Ms. Hall, stated that another thing that is going to be coming before the Board at a later date is a recommendation from the Public Safety Coordinating Council for the LifeStream Behavioral Center to apply for a grant, which is a matched grant, that would reduce the population in the County’s Jail of inmates who have mental problems, in that they will be moved to the LifeStream Behavioral Center.  She stated that, if the County is awarded the grant and the Board chooses to move forward with it, it will be approximately $330,000 for three years.

Commr. Hill interjected that it will be for non-violent misdemeanor inmates, who need medical attention more than they do incarceration.  She stated that they require a different level of care and it is very expensive to house them – it costs more to house them than it does a regular inmate.  She stated that they are not receiving proper care in the Jail, so when they get out they still have a problem and end up right back in Jail.


Commr. Stewart stated that, with regard to the County’s budget, she feels they have made a good start in reducing it, but is not sure that they have gone far enough, because these are tough times and the citizens of Lake County are really hurting.  She stated that citizens are having to make tough decisions about cutting their spending down to the bare necessities and she feels that government should expect no more of its citizens than it expects of itself, so they have to make some tough decisions too.  She stated that the County has some great programs for its citizens, but, with these being very difficult economic times, she feels that, temporarily, until things get better, the County needs to look at some of its programs and reduce their scope, if not eliminate them altogether, such as mail order library books, DVDs, etc., that are provided to the public by the County’s libraries; the Wellness Incentive Program, which rewards county employees for making positive choices about their health; the Anti-Litter Coordinator, etc.  She stated that these are all wonderful things, but she feels they are not necessary at the present time.  She stated that the County has an obligation to spend the citizens’ money wisely, efficiently, and frugally, just as the citizens have to do with their own money in these challenging times. She suggested that each of the County’s directors revisit their budget proposals, with a critical eye towards reducing expenses even more and making sure that all their employees are being used efficiently and not duplicating each other’s jobs unnecessarily.  She stated that the Commissioners, as well as all government employees, should work together to restore the trust that the citizens of the County have placed in them and which they seem to have lost over the last few years.  She stated that they must be good stewards of the citizens’ money and she feels that every effort they make now to show the citizens that they can trust the County and that the County is willing to look at how it spends their tax money and separate the “needs” from the “wants” would be energy well spent.

Commr. Renick stated that she felt each of the Commissioners, in going through their copies of the budget, saw things that could still be cut.  She stated that she feels they should cut back as much as possible this year, because it will make the transition a little easier next year, when she feels the County is going to have to cut back a lot.  She suggested that each of the Commissioners give a list of their concerns about the budget to the County Manager and then have the Board hold a follow-up Budget Workshop, where they can discuss those concerns.

Commr. Cadwell stated that he disagreed with Commr. Stewart’s suggestion that the directors be told to revisit their budgets, noting that he feels they have made professional determinations about what they need to operate their departments and it is now the Board’s job to look at those budgets and, if they do not agree with the directors’ determinations, to tell them so.

Ms. Hall stated that the first public hearing on the budget is set for September 4, 2007, which is the first Tuesday after Labor Day, therefore, suggested that the follow-up Budget Workshop be held the last week in August.  She asked that the Board get their lists of concerns to her by Friday, August 17, 2007.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:50 a.m.



                                                                        WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN