A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OCTOBER 8, 2007
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special Department Workshop session, Transportation and Public Works, on Monday, October 8, 2007, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Debbie Stivender; Elaine Renick; and Linda Stewart. 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 Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
TRANSPORTATION DISADVANTAGED FUNDING ISSUES
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Community Services Director, stated that there was an emergency issue that had come up and that he provided them with some information about that before the meeting started. He informed the Board that the Medicaid funding that they had been receiving for the Transportation Disadvantaged Program had been almost cut in half, which was a $439,000 cut from their projected $1,015,000 funding that they were anticipating from the State Medicaid revenue. He showed a chart that explained how they were going to operate within that reduced funding and explained that during the budget reduction exercise this year, they already had reduced the portion of the trips the County paid for by 4500 trips per year, which was right at $93,000. He added that this did not create a huge issue until they received the State cuts. He specified that currently they had an average daily trip demand of around 767 trips per day and were not able to provide 151 of those trips. However, they needed to provide as many of the medical and nutritional trips as possible, because they had some dedicated funding sources that required them to make those trips and would lose that revenue if they stopped making them. He noted that instead they were going to reduce the trips for employment, training, education, life sustaining, and other purposes from the previous funding. He mentioned that there were a number of people in attendance that day that represented vision impaired agencies that were having their funding reduced for trips for training where they learned how to maintain their ability to live independently. He explained that the reason behind the Medicaid cuts was that the State was funding Medicaid HMO’s to provide transportation to their clients and that they initially cut 9700 Medicaid clients from the list of those they needed to provide transportation for and will cut another 5000 clients in January, but that, unfortunately, most of those HMO clients did not require transportation. However, there had actually been an increase in the number of Medicaid transportation clients that they were providing services to in the two months since the State budget year started in July, leaving a very disproportionate way they were funding clients.
Ms. Marianne Kasper commented that one of the women from the Blind Association was depending on this service to get to work since she could not drive herself there.
Ms. Colleen Kollmann, President of New Vision for Independence, the agency that had been hired by the Division of Blind Services to provide the services in Lake and Sumter Counties, stated that they had some of their classes at specific locations in the County so that they were near to the residents who needed the classes and that they were not on the college campus where they had their offices where they conducted their Braille and access technology classes. She added that they also had a number of support groups where individuals who had previously had the classes and graduated met for continual peer support and that they had between 40 and 50 individuals who rode the bus every month. She related that as a new agency, they were just beginning to expand their classes, but with the withdrawal of services for their students, they might very well have to withdraw all services, because they would not have the ability to get all their people to the classes.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they take their enthusiasm for this program to the State, because the biggest cuts came from Tallahassee. He commented that it would be easy for the County to put their $93,000 back in to provide some trips, but that would not cure the problem, and the problem was that the State of Florida continually knew that the County would step up and finance something that they decided not to fund anymore. He stated that it was a problem for them philosophically and physically, and they had to continue to work through it.
Mr. Smith explained that the State has taken money away from the County and given it to the Medicaid HMO providers.
Commr. Hill stated that during the budget process, they put $100,000 in Board reserves, and inquired if there was any other funding apart from that.
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that if the Board gave her direction to look for funding, they would do that.
Commr. Stivender suggested that this was an issue that needed to be worked on at the legislative session in Tallahassee. She mentioned that Senator Carey Baker said he would work on that for them, and they had an appointment with Senator Paula Dockery next week. She opined that they still had to take care of the people in their county.
Commr. Cadwell commented that there was no way locally that they could make up for the deficit that the State cuts caused.
Commr. Hill asked if there were private providers, such as churches, that had buses and would be willing to help with this, or if there were obstacles to doing that.
Mr. David Hope, General Manager of MV Transportation, Inc. (MV), stated that was always a good question to ask statewide, and that he was looking into the possibility of using the private sector, but that there were problems with that such as insurance, liability, drivers, and maintenance. He stated they could also look at things such as ride share, other funding, and putting funding back in and that they could be creative to try to provide more service.
Dr. Tom Cuppett, Treasurer with New Vision for Independence, stated that they had looked into the church issue and were told that they could not be insured if they were not taking their own members. He also pointed out these cuts would put their organization out of business, because they were on a fee for service basis, and if they could not get their students to the classes, they could not run or pay for the class.
Mr. T. J. Fish, Executive Director of the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), stated that their job was to oversee, plan, and evaluate the CTC (Community Transportation Coordinator), which was the Board of County Commissioners, and they were looking at that through future years. He foresaw that the Medicaid funding would be gone completely by 2011, unless there was a legislative change. He commented that the MPO had been talking for two years about the fact that legislatively CTC’s were the model for the nation for coordinating the transportation for the public and had been completely eroded with the change for the Medicaid funding for HMO’s. He hoped that they could include para-transit in the discussion about funding transportation, using state and federal funds and also supplementing the general funds as they were faced with this question today. He also commented that this was not a social service but a transportation service, although it was connected to various social services. He pointed out that para-transit was very different than the LakeXpress and not the same program, and he was very protective of both and did not want LakeXpress changed or decreased in funding, because they just got it started. He stated that he would be happy to look at trying to find a dedicated funding source as part of this overall transportation funding approach.
Ms. Florence Norrito from the group from Clermont stated that she did not understand why they could not pick up and take home all the individuals needing this service all at once instead of making several trips, since they all were going to the same place at the same time.
Mr. Smith commented that when they determined who and where the people were, they could do a route schedule.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that some of the counties in the State were dropping the Medicaid service altogether and not doing any Medicaid trips or taking the money. He specified that he thought Palm Beach County and a couple of others had withdrawn from the program this year because of this problem.
Commr. Stivender asked what it would do to the overall program if they did that.
Mr. Hope stated whenever there were fewer trips, the cost would be increased per trip accordingly, so that would increase the cost of the remaining service for the TD riders.
Commr. Cadwell directed Mr. Smith to get the Board the information regarding the number of riders and the costs they were talking about.
Commr. Stivender summarized that the direction was that they were going to keep working on this issue to try to resolve it as much as they could. She asked them to break it down to show the kinds of trips that were requested specifically, since she had received quite a few calls from people who visited their spouse in a nursing home.
CHERRY LAKE DEVELOPMENT OF REGIONAL IMPACT (DRI)
Mr. Fred Schneider, Director of Engineering, Public Works Department, showed some maps on the overhead from the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, showing Mascotte as a red area, Groveland as a blue area, Clermont as a green area, and Minneola as purple. He pointed out the site of Cherry Lake Tree Farm in the red area, as related to State Road 19, US Hwy 27, State Road 50, the Turnpike, and Cherry Lake Road. He explained that the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council had sent out the documents to all the agencies, such as MPO, Florida Department of Transportation (DOT), the County, and the City and that MPO and DOT had provided very detailed technical comments on the transportation part, and the County provided more general comments on transportation. He showed an aerial of the location of the site showing residential, village center, institutional such as school, and open space areas. He related that the County’s comments were that if they were going to do this, that Cherry Lake Road would need to be realigned through their site. He understood that there was a discussion relating that Cherry Lake Road would also need to be four-laned in Phase III of the project, which went out to 2020, from State Road 19 to Lake Wilson Parkway and that State Road 19 would also need to be four-laned from their entrance north to the Turnpike. He reported that the County had already started a widening and resurfacing of Cherry Lake Road with paved shoulders, but they did not have any program in mind to look at that as a four-lane road. He noted that one of the issues was that if the four-lane requirement was needed, it would have to be both in the City’s and the County’s Comprehensive Plans. He wanted the Board to give them direction about whether they should be commenting regarding how the City’s Comprehensive Plan would affect the County’s Comp Plan to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). He thought that they could provide those comments to the Growth Management Department, who would provide transportation related as well as any other comments they had on Comp Plan issues to DCA.
Commr. Stivender stated that she thought working through Growth Management and giving them their comments was the correct way to do that.
Commr. Cadwell added that he assumed that they would make the comment that that road project was not in their Comprehensive Plan or their Capital Improvement Plan.
Mr. Schneider commented that they had made those kind of comments previously in other DRI’s, such as for Hills of Minneola, where they commented that they did not have the funding for those roads and that the developer needed to assume the full cost unless someone else came up with a match.
Commr. Cadwell commented that in this case, the County already did not have enough money to do what was in the plans.
Mr. Schneider inquired whether the Board wanted them to follow that same procedure on the Comp Plan issues overall on other DRI’s, because currently they were working through the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council on transportation. He also asked whether they would like the Growth Management staff and Public Works to provide comments on City Comp Plan changes, since some of those may be minimal and not paramount, while others may be significant.
Commr. Cadwell stated that they just wanted to know how it was working to make sure that they were getting their say in that process.
Commr. Stivender asked Mr. Schneider what they currently were doing and commented that what they were already doing might be appropriate.
Mr. Schneider responded that right now the Planning Council coordinated the comments and that Public Works did not write directly to DCA and provide comments to the Planning Council, and in this case with IMG, Growth Management would be writing the main body of the letter to DCA directly.
Commr. Hill asked who was doing the preliminary engineering study.
Mr. Schneider answered that Cherry Lake had been on the County program long before Cherry Lake Tree Farm existed. He further explained that they were not doing all the design work right now and were looking at what the social, environmental, and property impacts would be mainly for two-lane roadways, paved shoulders, and turn lanes, and if they moved forward with design, it would be on the east side of Cherry Lake Road. He noted that they were still in the public meeting process, and once they finished that, they would come back to the Board with their findings for the roadway itself. He emphasized that they were not proposing the four lanes on the west side and that it came forward from IMG.
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, clarified that the Board direction was that they were going to be making comments directly to DCA indicating that they did not have funding for the improvements that were associated with this project. She commented that as part of the broader picture, they would need to perhaps come back for more discussion and not lump everything into that decision today, and this would be related to the Cherry Lake Tree Farm DRI.
Mr. T. J. Fish, Executive Director of the MPO, commented that in this case it was bigger than just a funding issue, and it was not even in the 20-year plan of what they needed to fund. He mentioned that the MPO was under contract through an interlocal agreement with Groveland to review this DRI for transportation. He related that they had talked about Cherry Lake and that State Road 19 was in the MPO’s plan, but it was not funded. He added that the MPO did not want to fund anything close to a DRI, because if they were funding it for them, they did not have to provide proportionate share. He commented that the rules for DRI’s were more stringent on the level of proportionate share. He felt that the MPO could help a great deal with inter-governmental coordination between the County and the municipalities in cases where there was an impact to the Land Use Map and a County road.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 9:50 a.m., the Chairman announced that the Board would recess for five minutes.
INTRODUCTION – “THE TEAM”
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director, had members of his Public Works team introduce themselves and tell how long they had been in their job and anything else they wanted to add. He started with himself, stating that he had been with the County for 29 ½ years, and then the County Attorney and the Commissioners also introduced themselves. Other staff included Mr. Kristian Swenson, Road Operations Division Director for 7 years; Mr. Dave Vasquez, Fleet Management Director for 1 1/2 years; Mr. Bobby Bonilla, Division Director for Parks and Trails; Ms. Lori Conway, Funding and Production Division Director; Mr. Fred Schneider, Engineering Division Director for 9 years; Mr. Sam Cauley, Professional Surveyor Director; and Ms. Wendy Pope, Park Ranger.
ROAD OPERATIONS FUNDING AND EXPENDITURES
Mr. Kristian Swenson, Road Operations Division Director, stated that Road Operations was the division responsible for the maintenance of signs, signals, roads, and drainage that made up the County maintained system. He explained that they did tasks such as mowing, grading roads, inspecting signs and signals, and any other normal maintenance that might not be noticed. He distributed a handout which included “Fun Facts” about the County-maintained road system showing that they had almost 1,400 miles of roads in the County network, approximately 10 percent of which were clay and that they maintained over 26,000 signs and 27 bridges. He noted that there were 82 employees who took care of that network, including mower operators, equipment operators, and administrative staff and that they were funded by approximately $10.5 million, which did not go as far as it used to and which was obtained mostly from gas tax, with a small amount from the MSTU, General Fund, and Sales Tax. He mentioned that the staff was made up of the Administration arm; the Direct Maintenance, including special projects and traffic operations; and Indirect Maintenance, which were outsourcing contracts, and he gave specifics about those departments.
Mr. Dennis Warren, Road Superintendent, stated that their work was citizen request driven, including mowing, grading, and sign maintenance. He specified that last year in 2006/07, they received 2,943 requests, each of which generated a work order, and they sent a comment card to each of those citizens. He related that he read all the comment cards they received back, and if it was an average, fair, or poor rating, then the field supervisor would contact that person to find out what could be improved; and if it was a good or excellent rating but they still had questions, the field supervisors would talk to them to answer those questions. He had his district maintenance supervisors tell what their districts were, how many miles they maintained and the main problems they encountered in their districts, which included hilly terrain, drainage problems, weather, and potholes.
Mr. Dennis Dietz, Supervisor of Traffic Operations, stated that currently they maintained 279 traffic control devices and conducted a monthly scheduled inspection and more intensive annual inspection of each of them. He noted that through interlocal maintenance agreements, they maintained traffic signal control devices for all the cities except Groveland, creating annual revenue for the County of $177,121 last year. They also participated in a reimbursement program through FDOT for signals on their system and received $53,659 last year for that. He specified that currently they were maintaining well over 25,000 signs and conducted scheduled inspections on each one of those. He related that they were responsible for all three maintenance districts and all five Commissioner Districts. He stated that they also took care of all the striping, and the cost for striping had gone up 233 percent since last year. They also responded to emergency requests, such as emergency road closures.
Mr. John Bringard, Senior Contracting Officer, stated that his main duties were to write the specifications and work with Procurement and the County Attorney’s Office to secure good contractors that helped them out and supplemented what the maintenance areas were doing. He reported that over the last year, they spent approximately $3.6 million under contracts, including 264 miles of mowing to help them keep up with a five-week cycle and picking up 52,000 pounds of trash, which resulted in a lot less complaints. Also, this last year they were able to start up a tree trimming contract for approximately 60 miles worth of roads. They also have repaired over 32 guardrails that had been damaged from accidents at a cost of over $143,000.
Commr. Cadwell asked Mr. Warren what his biggest challenge was.
Mr. Warren responded that one of their challenges was the non-maintained roads, which they had to keep passable for emergency vehicles. He commented that the road conditions were usually horrible and it was a never-ending battle to keep them passable. He was hoping that since the resurfacing money was increasing a little bit, that they would hopefully be able to get more of those roads taken care of.
Commr. Renick asked about the costs of maintaining those roads.
Mr. Swenson explained that there was an operational cost for the fuel, maintenance, and employee time with a capital expense for the grader. He pointed out that construction costs have gone up a huge amount and that it would be very costly to do any construction on those roads, but that they did a lot of the double surface treatments in house, which put two layers of granite on it. He described the treatment as just like a conventional road, except that the top layer was not asphalt but two layers of stone imbedded in a liquid asphalt, and commented that it was a little rougher riding but was well received by the residents who lived on the roads receiving the treatment.
Mr. Stivender specified that there were 171 employees in the Public Works Department, and showed a chart showing how it was broken down, commenting that Parks and Trails had grown the most in the last couple of years. He opined that they had a very good team that did a very good job and noted that the divisions under Public Works are Engineering, Funding and Production, Parks and Trails, Fleet Management, and Road Operations.
ENGINEERING FUNDING AND EXPENDITURES
Mr. Fred Schneider, Engineering Division Director, stated that transportation and traffic engineering, land surveying and design, right of way, development review as it related to roadways, and stormwater management were all part of the Engineering Division. He went through some division responsibilities, such as working with the County Attorney’s Office on agreements, looking at policies and standards, improving technology, future planning of new roads, public meetings, road design, traffic engineering, and staff training to keep employees updated technically and professionally. He went through the funding sources broken up into gas taxes, road impact fees, stormwater MSTU, and grants. He also talked about transportation planning responsibilities and mentioned that the annual traffic counts they did were published on their web site and were used by the MPO and that the crash data base and traffic studies were often used to justify to DOT why they needed funding. He explained that when the State changed the rules for proportionate share regarding transportation concurrency a year or two ago, the end result of that would be that when the cities were making changes or agreements with developers, it would come back to the Board because the Board administered the funding for the road impact fees. He suggested that they get all the cities and the County in one large concurrency management system if they were all sharing the same source of money. He also mentioned that they were going to turn the GIS system, which was up and running now, over to the MPO in January to be the clearing house to coordinate that effort.
Mr. Schneider related that the land surveying section was involved in surveying many things in the County for Public Works as well as other departments that had surveying needs, such as plat reviews, landfills, parks, roadways, intersections, and right of ways. He stated that they had two field crews and three staff in the office. He explained that the Design Section dealt with all types of technical work including roadway drainage design and construction, sidewalks, and multi-use trail alignments. He noted that this section used the five-year road program as its guide of what they needed to include for PD&E studies or designs. He then explained that there was a long list of agencies that they needed to get permits from and that they had developed a good system to keep track of permits they had or needed. He noted that they met once a week to get an understanding of where they were, and currently had over 60 projects that were in design. He talked about the Right of Way Section, which was responsible for all the research work to secure the necessary right of way from the property owners with land fronting on the proposed roadway of a road construction project, and he discussed the costs of acquiring those right of ways. He discussed the road project costs and timeline of the County Road 466 project, which consisted of two miles of roadway, and all that that entailed, including a survey and an appraisal.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, commented that the survey for that project cost $800,000 and took a year and a half to complete and that the appraisal cost was $500,000. He explained that they used this project as a real-life exhibit because they were currently involved in this project, they were starting to get the appraisals back, and this was the first project that they had ever hired a right of way consultant, at a cost of over $300,000, because the project was too large for the current right of way staff to deal with, since they were dealing with over 100 parcels and roughly 50 property owners. He commented that before they even got to the point of acquiring right of way, they had spent about $2 million on this project, and it had taken them about 3 ½ to 4 years to get to this point. He stated that the right of way acquisition cost was estimated to be about $4 million to $5 million, but that it was likely that they would spend about $8 million to $10 million to acquire right of way for this project. He reported that their current schedule had them coming to the Board in December for the eminent domain petition, and they anticipated using eminent domain so that Mr. Schneider could get this road under construction by next summer. He pointed out that the total cost of the project was going to be about $35 million, with $20 million being Lake County’s share of the cost. He noted that Lake County had never done a large-scale eminent domain taking before, and this one would probably have 25 or 30 property owners who would be defendants with perhaps 50 different easements that they would be taking. He informed the Board that they were planning on using his office in house to handle this through the eminent domain petition and through the court proceedings up to trial, but if they went to jury trial, they may use outside council to help them, since they did not have those resources. He anticipated in this process that they would be getting offers from the property owners, and he would like to come back to the Board with an alternative process where the Board would give him and the County Manager some authority to settle those cases without coming back to the Board for each of them, because it would take two to three weeks to make it through the Agenda process for each offer and counter offer and it would be very difficult. He relayed that they would like to come up with a policy that would give them authority to resolve that without Board approval with a threshold of perhaps 150 or 200 percent of the appraised value. He wanted to make sure that the Board would be comfortable with that, and he thought that they would pay more than the appraised value in almost every case. He also stated that the percentage could vary with the value of the property, making the threshold less for property of higher value.
Mr. Schneider added that stormwater ponds were part of this, and the agreement was that the Villages would take the first 3,000 feet or quarter mile into Sumter County for the stormwater pond there they were donating. He stated that they already owned or had agreements on four ponds and only had one left that they needed to purchase. He commented that in Clermont, in many cases where the roads were done through developer’s agreements, the developers were responsible for maintaining the retention ponds, saving the County money on maintenance of those.
Commr. Renick asked whether it would be cheaper in the long run if Mr. Minkoff could work those out and avoid eminent domain.
Mr. Minkoff responded that it would be much cheaper. He added that they would probably have no jury trials, but that they would probably have to use eminent domain with at least half of the parcels, and those cases would have to settle through the court process. He specified that when they did eminent domain, they paid for their attorney’s fees, appraisal costs, and engineering costs, as well as the property owner’s legal fees, appraisal, engineering, planning costs, and other costs.
Mr. Schneider explained that some of the things the Development Review Section looked at were site plans and subdivision construction plan review as well as Zoning Support for the Growth Management Department. He commented that they did not make determinations on land use in Public Works, but that they would provide comments and recommendations to the Growth Management Department, who would make the final recommendation. He also related that some things that they required developers to do were turn lanes, possible traffic signals, lot grading, and stormwater design. He also went over the different programs that the Stormwater Section was involved in such as the TMDL Program, the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System), Floodplain Program, and construction retrofit projects.
Mr. Stivender stated that there were about 10,000 to 15,000 people that they got most of their correspondence from that were either thrilled with what was happening or not happy about anything. He said their challenge was a balancing act between making sure to appreciate the ones that compliment them and helping those that complained to them, while trying to serve everyone and address all the issues that they received.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 11:30, the Chairman announced that they would recess for 15 minutes.
PARKS AND TRAILS FUNDING AND EXPENDITURES
Mr. Bobby Bonilla, Parks and Trails Division Director, commented that their park maintenance staff was at the same level as 1995, but that their park acreage had increased to three times that amount and they had additional responsibilities of the trails. He opined that they have provided a lot of customer service, which had increased from five to seven days a week with the ranger program and responded immediately to phone calls and actually met people in the field. He commented that their team had been hand selected, including a landscape architect and park specialists. He stated that the master plans that came before the Board were done in house rather than using consultants, which saved money and resulted in the best product. He added that usually a master plan did not come to the Board until they had public meetings, then it went to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for their approval, and then it was brought before the BCC. He commented that the County continued to acquire new property, most of which came to the Parks Department, and some of them required management and some got developed into an active park. He noted that they were going to be getting into more restoration and management this year that would be led by the park ranger program.
Mr. Tom Eicher, Parks and Trails Manager, spoke about what they had accomplished and what they were presently working on, including Blue Ways, which opened in November of 2006, and eight trails throughout the County, with a total of 145 miles of trails, and he commented that almost all of the work was done in house. He noted that they were in the middle of a trails master plan, which was a one-year project, where they were looking at connecting current trails with ones in the future and which would take regional trails and hopefully allow connections to local trails throughout the cities. He related that they were working with Lake-Sumter MPO to make sure all the different areas were discussed, and hoped that it would be finished by February 2008. They also had identified, laid out, and cut 22 miles of unpaved trails, which would eventually be paved for a multi-purpose trail and which was presently being used for ranger led hikes, nature walks, and identification of plant material, butterflies, and birds. He reported that they also produced a five-year sidewalk construction plan with an evaluation priority matrix to help them identify which sidewalks needed to be constructed first because of limited funds.
Ms. Wendy Pope, Park Ranger, stated that they had a mailing list currently of several hundred people who either attended or had hoped to attend a meeting, a kayak or canoe trip, a scheduled program, or other events and who had asked to be put on an e-mail list to be notified as each thing came up. She said they had as many as 100 individuals attend an event, and they were seeing an increase in the interest. She mentioned that there were 50 people who were present at the wildlife presentation that they just held at PEAR Park, and they turned people away, because they could not fit any more people in the door. She has received e-mails from as far away as the United Kingdom inquiring about events that were going on while they were in town or in the Orlando area. She commented that interest in a lot of the events has skyrocketed, especially events guided by their staff, since people did not always feel comfortable or knowledgeable enough to go out on their own in these settings, and that all the materials that they produced in house were extremely well received by the public. She also opined that this interest generated hotel stays and other tourism dollars spent in the County and was definitely a positive thing for the County. She foresaw interest skyrocketing in the future for their events.
Mr. Bonilla commented that the more they educated, the more responsibility they could spread to the citizens that visited their parks to be another set of eyes and hands in the parks to minimize vandalism. He stated that events required a minimum of at least two rangers and that so far it had been very hectic, and the rangers also picked up trash and provided feedback to the maintenance crew. He added that they were getting a lot of increase in attendance and the pavilions were all full, which also gave an opportunity for the park rangers to get feedback and exchange information with the public. He also commented that he appreciated all the support they received from the Board and the County Manager to implement the ranger program and that the benefits were endless.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the expectations for the parks would continue to grow now that more people were using the parks.
Commr. Renick inquired if the Parks Division would be managing and maintaining the PLAAC properties.
Mr. Stivender responded that would have to be worked out in the future.
FLEET MANAGEMENT FUNDING AND EXPENDITURES
Mr. Dave Vasquez, Fleet Management Division Director, stated that he had been there for a year and five months and that it had been a monumental task to get a handle on the fleet assets that belonged to Lake County and to catalogue them accurately. He explained that in the past, the County structure dictated that each individual department took care and procured their own fleets, and as a result, everyone had their own territory to protect as to what they were and were not buying and how they were buying it. He related that they had changed that routine completely and that their department was now the focal point for all purchasing, specifications, and inventories. He specified that the numbers that they currently had were 673 total pieces of equipment that included trailers and everything up to fire trucks and that their garage in Leesburg maintained 534 of those. He reported that the budget last year for replacements was about $2.6 million worth of vehicles, and out of that $1.7 million was for fire rescue equipment. He stated that the budget this year had dramatically been adjusted to reduce the number of vehicles purchased for a total of $815,000, and that fire rescue was only replacing one unit this year for $280,000. He opined that this was not enough money to keep the fleet at a young age, and it probably would have cost close to $4 million or $5 million to bring the vehicles into a replacement life cycle. He noted that they would probably have to spend more in maintenance on the older equipment and that some pieces of equipment needed to be kept on a short life cycle. He also related that he planned to develop a fleet replacement plan that would come before the Board for approval based on the needs of each department and that they had been looking closely this year at vehicle utilization and justification of those assets, such as where the vehicle traveled and how many miles were put on it and were feeding that back to the directors with justification forms and recommendations. He noted that they did all of those things out of Leesburg with twelve employees, including four administrative and seven technicians. He mentioned that one of those technicians was a helper that took up all the slack for the smaller jobs, which resulted in a huge boost in productivity for the technicians. He specified that originally the productivity numbers were 60 percent direct wrench time and 40 percent indirect time doing other things, but this year they had narrowed that to an 85/15 split, which has enabled them to leave two current vacancies unfilled. He commented that they previously had no good method to track fuel management, but he has since been working to implement a better card system that required a PIN entry and the mileage into the terminal.
Mr. Vasquez commented that their operation was an enterprise fund and that they charged for everything they did, and this year they balanced to about $2.6 million in parts, labor, and fuel, which included the Sheriff’s Department fuel and any of the outside agencies that used their fuel systems. He related that they made six cents a gallon on the fuel that they sold, which was not really enough to pay for the infrastructure and the repairs that the fuel system would require. He commented that the system was fairly antiquated and had been there since at least the 1980’s, and they have been running into individual problems with dispensers that had to be replaced. He stated that they just started a new fuel system last October using a state fuel card called ComData, which amounted to about $450,000 through August, and most of that fuel was used for the MV Transport project. He opined that they got a significant discount off of the fuel rate, amounting to about 5 or 6 percent less, and the best part of using the ComData card was the convenience of being able to buy the fuel anywhere and that it was automatically reported back to them so that they could bill it back to the individual customer. The mileage and fuel information was captured by their RTA system, allowing them to keep track of the mileage the vehicle was accumulating. He also reported that they standardized this year with Ford products, which had rolled over their prices for the third year in a row on the Sheriff’s contract, resulting in significant savings, and this also had the benefit of simplifying maintenance.
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, added that their budget process this year required any one who requested a vehicle to get Mr. Vasquez’s approval, giving him the chance of evaluating that request.
Commr. Renick clarified that the customers of the enterprise fund were the different County departments, and commented that if they raised the price of what they charged for fuel, it would affect everyone else’s budget.
Mr. Vasquez also pointed out that they charged the low rate for maintenance of $59 per hour, based on the math that it took to balance the budget, and that price was lower than any mechanic outside the County was charging. He commented that increasing their productivity rate has allowed them to keep that charge cost effective. He also related that his goal was to set the system up as a private cap lease rate where they actually charged the departments by vehicle, paying one fee per month for that vehicle regardless of what maintenance it required. This fee would also fund a replacement value of the vehicle, taking the guesswork out of its lifecycle. He opined that private industry worked that way and that it helped level the budget.
FUNDING AND PRODUCTION DIVISION
Mr. Stivender stated that one of the big issues for them has been revenue.
Ms. Lori Conway, Funding and Production Division Director, explained that the Funding and Production Division had 17 employees, broken up into production and budgetary. She stated that one of the things they were responsible for was the transportation construction program that they brought before the Board in August. She related that it was an annual program that kicked off with an impact fee meeting in February, and they got together with all the cities and discussed their priorities. She stated that the cities submitted new projects to her, and their department made sure they qualified for impact fee funding. She reported that their goal was to produce the draft program in July for distribution so that they could bring it back to the Board by August 20 of every year. She also explained that the construction inspection group consisted of five inspectors, who did stormwater inspections as required, filled out paperwork daily, and kept track of all the costs. She commented that the department was unique in that they took the lead role in bidding their projects, but they worked very closely with Procurement and the County Attorney’s Office. She related that they had a standardized bidding document and standardized bidding process. She stated that there were times when they used contracted construction inspection services, usually with multi-million dollar projects. She also showed a chart in the handout which showed examples of how construction costs had risen since 2002 as much as 106 percent, and she provided a graph of all the utility permits that came through their office from FY 2000 to FY 2007 and commented that they increased the permitting fee to $100 this year. She mentioned that they also handled the special assessment program and that if there were 55 percent of the property owners that were willing to move forward with a program, they would bring it forward to the Board for approval and to identify a funding source. She explained that they worked with their own department as well as other departments, such as Growth Management, Environmental Health, and the County Attorney’s Office for subdivision coordination. She commented that in spite of all that had gone on with the economy, construction plans and final plat amounts have stayed around the same, but were actually indicative of the year before.
Ms. Conway reported that they had an $86 million dollar budget, 70 percent of which was capital, and which included a $42 million cash carry forward that was part of their budget. She pointed out a chart in the handout which showed the sources of the $43 million of the revenue without the carry forward amount, the majority of which came from gas tax money at 27 percent, followed closely by impact fees at 25 percent. She went over the origin, estimated revenue, uses, and distribution for some of the pennies of the gas tax money, including the Constitutional Gas Tax and the County Gas Tax.
Mr. Stivender pointed out that there had essentially been no increase in revenue from the gas tax since 2005 statewide, since people leveled off on their spending when the price increased. He stated that they were still performing services and eating down their cash carry forward, and that in this year, they cut their budget by a large amount by cutting back substantially in all the Public Works divisions. He predicted that revenue would increase some over the next couple of years when the economy stabilized, but mentioned that now they had very little in reserves and that between now and next October, they might not be able to handle as many calls and essential services and would have to defer them. He also pointed out a map which showed what locally imposed motor fuel taxes were adopted by which Florida counties, showing others had brought back extra pennies to the electorate and were adopting an extra five pennies more of tax than Lake currently had, and that he would be showing that to the people on the committee.
Commr. Cadwell opined that he did not think there was a difference in the gas prices between the counties that adopted the extra pennies and those that did not and that gas prices were set by the market and not by taxes.
Ms. Conway reported that impact fees were 25 percent of the department’s revenue source and presented a map which showed the six Benefit Districts and the three Park Districts. She specified that their estimated revenue was $10.9 million, and Benefit District 5 was currently producing the most, which was the Clermont, Minneola, and Montverde area. She noted that funds collected in each district must be expended or encumbered from that district within six years from collection.
Commr. Renick asked if one district could borrow the impact fees from another district if there is a desperate need, as long as that money was paid back.
Ms. Conway responded that they had borrowed money from the impact fee fund for sales tax projects, but they had not borrowed from an impact fee benefit district to fund another impact fee project. She added that those funds could not be used for maintenance. She presented a chart which showed the impact fee revenue from 2001 to the projections for 2010 and commented that the last road impact fee increase was in 2002. She pointed out that the boost in 2005 correlated with the boost in residential driveway permits.
Mr. Stivender stated that the trend from 2001 to 2003 was nice and steady, and then all of a sudden, just like the economy boost, there was a huge influx between 2004 and 2006, and they had collected $6 million more in 2004 than they had in 2003. He commented that when they did the Southern Connector, it quickly ate into those dollars. He projected revenue through the year 2010 and opined that the economy would not get back to normal until 2010 by looking at the surplus of the market.
Ms. Conley reported that sales tax made up 11 percent of their department revenue and that it would sunset in 2017. She commented that this year they were changing their normal distribution percentages to increase the resurfacing program to 50 percent. She noted that these funds were not for maintenance and were road project related and it had to involve fixed capital expenditures associated with construction or reconstruction that had a life expectancy of five or more years. She also reported that the Stormwater, Parks, and Roads MSTU made up 14 percent of the department revenue, which was $6.1 million. She related that the Stormwater assessment began in 200 at .1 mill, and the millage had increased .1 mill each year through 2004.
Mr. Stivender pointed out that the rollback millage of .4984 was adopted for 2008 and that they expected to increase it in 2009 and 2010 another .1 mill to bring revenue up in the areas of road maintenance and the parks program, since it was a flexible fund.
REPORTS – COUNTY MANAGER
AUTHORIZATION TO SIGN OFF ON SHIP PAYMENTS
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that she needed authorization to sign off on some payments, primarily for SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Partnership) which were over the amount of $25,000. She also explained that eventually they were going to have a policy coming to the Board for check writing authorization that actually would make mention of some of the checks specifically.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the SHIP amount increased for affordable housing to over the $25,000 amount the County Manager had authorization for.
Ms. Hall specified that she had eight items and read them off to get the Board authorization for the following:
$30,000 for a home purchase for clients named Seth Pause and Giana Frisaura
$30,000 for a home purchase for a client named Jessica Cassella
$30,000 for a home purchase for a client named Pamela Adams
$30,000 for a home purchase for a client named Daniel Cockcroft
$26,694 for FAC (Florida Association of Counties) dues
$30,000 for new home construction for a client named Nakia Myles
$35,000 for new home construction for clients named Gumercindo and Maria Nunez
$30,000 for new home construction assistance for a client named Christopher Kirkland
On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Renick and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to put that item on the Agenda.
On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Renick and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the County Manager’s request to be able to sign the above-mentioned SHIP payments.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 1:26 p.m.
WELTON CADWELL, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK