MAY 9, 2008

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special Department Workshop session, on Friday, May 9, 2008, at 9:00 a.m., in Training Room 233, Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Elaine Renick; and Linda Stewart.  Commr. Stivender was not present.  Others present were Melanie Marsh, Deputy County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; and Ellie McDonald, Deputy Clerk.

Commr. Cadwell introduced Ms. Teri Stanic, Business Manager for Covanta, who was attending the meeting as an intern from Leadership Lake County.

Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, stated that this was the next-to-last workshop that they have had with the Board which gave the Departments an opportunity to present what their jobs entail and stated that she appreciated the time allowed to bring this information before the Board.  She stated that today there would be four smaller departments making presentations.



            Mr. Barnett Schwartzman, Procurement Services Director, addressed the Board stating that their presentation today would be focusing on individuals in the Department who have made significant accomplishments.  He stated that they are very proud of their participation and support of county departments and the citizens of Lake County.  He explained that the Mission Statement of the Department consisted of Procurement, Fixed Assets, Document Service Functions and Fleet Operations.  He referred to the organizational chart in the handout stating that Procurement Services falls under Fiscal Services, Office of Budget. He then referred to the internal organization chart stating that the new Fleet Management Division was a significant addition to the structure.  He reviewed basic budgetary information indicating the following:

    • That the Adopted Budget for the Department for Fiscal Year 2008 was $885,433 which included Personal Services ($837,039), Operating Expenses ($48,394), and Capital Outlay ($0);
    • That Adopted Budget for Document Services for Fiscal Year 2008 included Personal Services ($75,858), Operating Expenses ($290,738), and Capital Outlay ($3,000), noting, however, that all costs for this operation were recovered through charge-back to department/clients and that operating expenses includes budget and payment for most County reprographic equipment; and
    • That the Adopted Budget for Fleet Maintenance for Fiscal Year 2008 included Personal Services ($763,804), Operating Expenses ($2,259,427), and Capital Outlay ($0), noting that all costs for this operation were also recovered through charge-back to departments/clients and operating expenses included fuel for most County vehicle utilization.

            Mr. Schwartzman stated that formal contracting over $25,000 was a very involved procedure and within that process there was a ninety day lead time -  thirty days to prepare a solicitation, thirty days on the street, and thirty days to evaluate and award the contract.  He stated that an RFP takes approximately 120 days to process to ensure it is done correctly.  He explained that they would like a lot more competition.  He commented that beyond competition was consolidating Procurement and that they had their first consolidated Procurement Group Meeting recently which included the School Board, Cities of Tavares, Mt. Dora, Lady Lake, and Leesburg.  He explained that by working together on purchases they could make one order among them in order to drive up buying power and obtain a better price.


            Mr. Jeff Cooper, Contracts Administrator, stated that he handled the Resource Recovery Contract (Covanta) and the Procurement Card (PCard) Program.  He explained that the new Covanta Contract began in December 2004 calling attention to the chart on the second page of Tab 2 in the handout.  He reported that the year 2005 was not included in the chart due to settlements that clouded the issue and he wanted to keep to the basic issues.  He stated that when the Contract was approved it was reported that they could save $30 million over a course of ten years.  He then called their attention to the total Covanta Budget in October 2004 stating that before renegotiating their Contract they were budgeting $11,250,000 and this year (October 2007)  they were budgeting only $7,517,425 indicating the promises they had made were being kept.  He referred to the millage transfer approved by the Board was 0.83 mills in 2004 compared to 0.2185 mills last year.  He noted that all costs were going down which guaranteed savings with a continuous drop of about $100,000 - $150,000 every year over the balance of the Contract which terminates in the year 2014.  He related that the funding of $16,208,157, shown on the Covanta Funding chart, goes to the Trustee who distributes those funds as indicated.  He distributed the Solid Waste Operations Monitoring Annual Report of September 30, 2007, to the members of the Board.


            Mr. Cooper then discussed the PCard Program stating that they had updated their policies and procedures in November 2007, partially because the software they were using was no longer supported, and that as of October 1, 2007, they changed to a much more sophisticated program from Bank of America called WORKS.  He explained that with real time review anyone holding a PCard could exam his/her transactions on the internet at any time.  He stated that all cardholders received initial training, as well as refresher training once a year.  He explained that he, as an accountant, scrutinized every single transaction made on a PCard by Lake County to ensure all employees using PCards do not have any problems.  For informational purposes, he commented that there are 315 cardholders in Lake County and of those, 286 are individual cardholders; 21 cards for emergency use; 6 library cards; and 2 tourism cards.  He mentioned that there are twenty departments holding PCards and that he trains forty individuals - twenty card representatives, as well as their backups.  He reported that in Fiscal Year 2007 there were over 16,800 transactions with charges of $2,891,000, among 1609 different vendors and 340 different cardholders.  He explained that they were working towards obtaining an increase in rebates by doing all construction on the PCard.  He noted that if the program was successful they would be able to save another $250,000 per year just by using the PCards.  He mentioned that they would be meeting with Bank of America’s Finance Department May 23 to ensure all proper procedures were in place.


            Mr. Schwartzman stated that in the absence of Ms. Donna Thielhart, who was unable to attend as she had company from out-of-town, Ms. Susan Dugan would give their presentation.

            Ms. Dugan represented the Procurement Professional Services and Construction Teams which consist of Ms. Donna Thielhart, Supervisor, and herself as Contracting Officer.  She stated that both she and Ms. Thielhart had achieved their Certified Public Purchasing Buyer (CPPB) Certification through continued education which is to be recertified every five years. She explained that when a department has a need she and Ms. Thielhart assist them starting with a scope of services.  She stated that they then determine if a bid, proposal, or request for statement of qualifications is needed, and follow through with the procurement process which includes evaluating bids, facilitating selection committees and public meetings, and negotiating contracts.  She provided a list of various professional services and construction that both of them procure.  She stated that most of their time was spent on large dollar projects falling into the greater than $25,000 category.  She explained that Ms. Thielhart’s main responsibilities were the procurement of Architectural and Construction Projects.  She mentioned that Ms. Thielhart procured all the building construction that is going on in Tavares, such as the new parking garage on Main Street.  She explained that Ms. Thielhart had accomplished many firsts for the County including the utilization of Construction Managers on large construction projects and the Emergency Debris Contract.  She stated that Lake County was one of the first entities to have such a contract and at one time more than twenty other counties piggybacked this contract.  She stated that there were two firms handling the debris in case of a disaster, namely, Ceres and D&J of Alabama.  She reported that Ms. Thielhart worked on the following projects:  Cagan’s Library and Café, Umatilla Health Clinic, Lake Jem Fire Station, South Tavares, and the Park in Umatilla.  She then commented on the projects in which she, herself, had been involved which were:  Construction of a New Cell at the Landfill which was a $7 million project, with a $2.5 million savings on the low bidder; a $10 million bank loan to help fund the upgrade of the Public Safety Radio Network receiving a 2.92% interest rate; working on Employee Health Benefits; and completing several engineering contacts for the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (LSMPO).  She stated that their Professional Services Team Department was acknowledged by other entities as a resource for help and knowledge, noting that they often assist other cities and counties with difficult procurement questions.


            Ms. Roseann Johnson, Certified Public Manager (CPM), Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB), and Procurement Services Supervisor, Commodities Section, addressed the Board.  She explained that the Commodities Section was responsible for the purchase of goods and services that do not require architectural and engineering services.  Those goods range from small items such as paperclips to large items such as fire trucks, radio towers and landfill compactors.  She stated further that they solicit bids and Requests for Proposal (RFP) for such services as janitorial, lawn maintenance, leasing of office machines and/or heavy equipment as well as other services.  She referred to Tab 4 in the handout which listed the main buying assignments for her Section.  She reported that she was the lead in several areas, namely:  Fuel and lubricant contracts used by multiple public entities within Lake County; a multi-jurisdictional annual contract worth approximately $4 million for agricultural chemicals and herbicides utilized by 40 public entities within Central Florida; a fire apparatus supply agreement for fire departments utilized by ninety or more entities from the Florida Keys to the Panhandle and worth approximately $20 million annually. She stated further that she is the functional lead for the Board of County Commissioners’ (BCC) financial software “Munis” for its financial records and is also responsible for workflow approval, building tables, testing upgrades, and working with County staff and Munis Support to find solutions for any glitches which may occur.  She commented that she also serves as the County’s EOC Logistics Chief in times of emergencies and is working on becoming certified from the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, for her Professional and Advanced Development Series (PDS and APS) Certifications.

            Mr. John Wight, CPPB, Senior Contracting Officer, addressed the Board reporting that some of the current Commodities Contracts were:  Fire rescue vehicle lettering; traffic signal maintenance; information technology equipment; uniform rental, which is a cooperative purchase including nine other entities in the contract; guardrail repairs, installation and replacement; asphalt; office supplies; recycled toner; and the county-wide communications contract with Motorola.  He stated that two of his specific cost-saving contracts were with RICO on multifunctional devices which is an example of how new technology could reduce costs.  For example, one machine that copies, prints, faxes and scans would eliminate separate fax machines, printers and scanners and save money as well as having only one vendor for maintenance needs.  He reported that another savings contract he deals with is the Computer Bulk Order Program.  Working closely with Information Technology (IT) he stated that they incorporate the specifications needed for each department within the County.  He explained that the contract gives them the price lot for the Fiscal Year with the benefit of the State Contract specifications as far as warranties and replacements.  He stated that initially, the contract was for 49 desktops with the State Contract price of $945, but they were able to negotiate a price of $484 per unit which resulted in a quantity savings of $22,540.  He stated further that the initial laptop order was for 21 units with a State Contract price of $1,211 with a negotiated price of $879 which resulted in a quantity savings of $6,972.  He reported that there was an overall savings for desktops, notebooks and monitors of $32,557.  He stated that he was also a member of the Emergency Management Operations Center where he is responsible for primary emergency support to acquire all goods and services needed for the citizens of Lake County.


            Commr. Hill introduced Mr. Vince Yokum of the School Board’s Citizen Audit Committee who was in attendance, at her invitation, to attain information on the County’s Procurement Procedures.



            Mr. Freddy Suarez, Senior Contracting Officer, CPPB, Secondary Emergency Support Function for ESF-7 and currently working on his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at  the University of Central Florida (UCF).  He stated that he deals with Building, Service, and Maintenance contracts and provides needed services to existing County buildings such as Public Safety, Parks, and Public Works.  He explained that his purchasing assignments are broad ranged including building materials and supplies, park and playground equipment, fire detection and criminal alarm systems, pool installation, drinking water, food services, appliances, paint services, locksmith, and others.  He mentioned that in the handout there were examples of Vendor Pool Contracts, Term & Supply Contracts, and One Time Purchases from 2006 - 2008.  He explained that Vendor Pool Contracts provide a way for the County to pre-qualify vendors for future price competition.  One example of Vendor Pool Contracts is Roadside Tree Trimming Services which takes place in various locations throughout the County and the contract consists of ten vendors – five local, four in Central Florida and one outside the Central Florida region.  He commented that the Term & Supply Contracts, such as fence installation, removal and repairs, provide a fixed price agreement throughout the year with agreements up to twenty years and provides all services of all types to the County.  He mentioned that the Term & Supply Contracts consist of three vendors, two local and one in the Central Florida area.  Additionally, One Time Purchase Contracts consist of park precast concrete restrooms, park entry sign walls, park pavilions, playgrounds and amenities.  He referred to the graph charts in the handout to indicate estimated cost of Vendor Pool Contracts, and Term and Supply Contracts showing how much of the contract value goes to the local economy.

            FIXED ASSETS

            Mr. Ed Luning, Jr., Fixed Asset/Surplus Manager, EOC County Staging Area Manager, and a Certified Professional Properties Specialist explained to the Board that the purpose of the Fixed Asset Section was to establish guidelines and procedures for the management, accountability and overall use and eventual disposal of the Fixed Assets entrusted to the Lake County Board by and for the citizens of Lake County.  He explained that a Fixed Asset is not consumable, but rather is any item with a total value of $1,000 or more and has a life expectancy of one year or more.  He commented that this does not include items that are leased with a contracted return-to-vendor date, such as copiers involved in the cost per copy contract and certain heavy equipment leases.  He mentioned that the responsibilities of the Fixed Asset Department included tagging new assets; transfers; donations; disposals via public auction and other disposals; managing yearly physical inventory; and running the surplus storage/warehouse.  He stated that the three most important aspects of the job were the disposal via public auction, the yearly physical inventory and the surplus storage/warehouse.  He reported that the public auction was the most common method of disposal they have for old worn out, and obsolete assets.  He mentioned that all assets must have Board approval prior to being disposed of and the sale must be advertised in a local paper.  He reported that since 2004 there have been over $600,000 in returns on surplus items either going to auction or being recycled through a company called MARS who come pick up and load the assets, take them away and actually pay the County for them.  He remarked that an inventory must be performed each year pursuant State Statute, Rules of the Chief Financial Officer, and Lake County Policy.  He stated that they currently have over 7,000 fixed assets with a value of more than $60 million and that every division, including elected officials with the exception of the Sheriff’s Office, must perform this function.  He explained that the Sheriff’s Office is governed by his own rules pursuant to State Statutes.  He stated that at the present time, the fixed asset portion of the warehouse on CR 473 is being used for storage of surplus property of capital and non-capital items as well as items for Information Technology, the Clerk of Court, Property Appraiser, State Attorney, Emergency Management and Environmental Services.  He explained that these items are kept until the best method of disposal has been determined.


            Mr. Schwartzman stated that Ms. Dianna Magrum, Document Services Coordinator is in charge of the Reprographics Department, commenting on her responsibilities and the quality of her work.  He stated that she supports all County Departments, primarily, Tourism; Library Services; Agricultural Center; Board Office; Planning; Community Services; Environmental Services; Public Works; Public Safety and LSMPO.  He explained that the ten most recent projects were listed on the second page of Tab 6, included black and white Inspection Lists for Road Operations, color Tutor Postcards for Library Services, and Farmers Market Directories for the Fairgrounds, to name a few.  He then distributed handouts to show the quality of work they produce in-house.


            Mr. Schwartzman referred to the chart in Tab 7 which reflected pertinent information of the Fleet Management Division including the number of staff members, vehicles and equipment owned by the Board, vehicle and equipment purchases from Fiscal Year 2006 to present, expenses and revenues, and amount of fuel used.  He stated that the goals for this Division were to reduce fleet size to the most appropriate level, consolidate public transportation bus fleet operations to a common fleet facility, and to improve the facility by examining build-out requirements.  He reported that there is a grant in process through Public Transportation to support a new facility.


            Ms. Sharon Wall of Employee Services distributed a booklet to coincide with the Department’s presentation to the Board.  She stated that their Department is responsible for all the Human Resources (HR) activities for the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) and has combined Risk Management into the HR Department as well as Quality Improvement.  She stated that the Department is divided into two major sections headed by Ms. Kasie McAdams and Ms. Susan Irby.


            Ms. Kasie McAdams, Employee Services Manager, addressed the Board stating that the first key in managing employment is to get the right people on board through their recruitment program.  She stated that the hiring process is left to the department seeking a new employee. However, the recruitment function of their Employee Services is to give advice and guidance to the hiring department, making sure they have all the information needed, and administer any employment laws such as Florida’s Veteran’s Preference Laws. She stated that they advertise vacancies on CareerBuilders.com as well as on the BCC website and have been very successful using this means of recruiting.  She commented that the majority of applicants apply online which speeds up the amount of time to process the applications and decreases the amount of paper used.  She reported that the turnaround time was approximately 30 days from the date the exiting employee leaves and the new employee begins employment.  She explained that after an employee selection is made their office completes a comprehensive background check which consists of criminal history; calling references; and a driving record history being performed for any position requiring driving.  She commented that they received over 15,000 applications in Fiscal Year 2007 and of those they have recruited over 230 people.  She stated that the Department assists in properly maintaining job classification plans and recommends necessary amendments thereto, as well as ensures a fair and equitable administration of any increase of wages, and ensuring that the County’s pay plan is comparable and competitive to the surrounding market.  She stated that Employee Services is responsible for placing data into the HR/Payroll Integrated Financial System (MUNIS) to ensure employees are paid accurately and receive the appropriate benefits and accruals.  She reported that they are working towards implementing a self-service system which would enable an employee to go online, pull up their own data and make changes to their address as well as view accruals for sick and vacation time.  She stated that as a safety measure every employee would have a password and use their employee number to access the online service.

            Commr. Cadwell questioned Ms. McAdams how the six year service average in Lake County compares with other governmental agencies.

            Ms. McAdams stated that she did not have the exact statistics, but that she believed Lake County’s number is higher than the average.  She stated that County employees range in age from 17 to 84, with the average being 44 years of age.


            Ms. Susan Irby, Employee Services Manager, spoke to the Board regarding employee relations which encompasses a variety of functions:  Development of policies and procedures regarding employment; training and development; and being available to the employee for questions regarding policies and procedures.  She stated that they provide guidance and advice to management when dealing with employee situations such as disciplinary actions; employee complaints; investigating complaints of harassment, etc.; pre-determination conferences with any employees who are to be suspended, demoted or terminated; violations of policies and procedures; and administration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) for fire/rescue personnel.


            Ms. Irby provided the Board with Benefits Facts and Figures as shown on Attachment 1 in the presentation booklet.  She stated that the County offers a comprehensive health and benefit package including medical coverage, dental, vision, long term disability, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, retirement and deferred compensation.  She commented that there are several agencies that participate in the benefits program including the BCC, Property Appraiser, Water Authority, Supervisor of Elections and LSMPO.  She stated that the County contracted with BlueCross BlueShield of Florida (BCBS) as a Third Party Administration (TPA) which provides an HMO and PPO option.  She reported that in Fiscal Year 2007 they have seen a vast decrease in overall medical costs of $2 million since the County has been with BCBS and was attributed to considerable discounts from BCBS together with better case management.  She stated that employees must hold a position working thirty hours or more weekly to be eligible for participation in the health plan.  She referred to and discussed the Medical Cost Breakdown chart showing what the County paid per year, what the employees paid and what the actual plan costs for a given tier.  She stated that this chart also indicates the percentage paid by the County and by the employee.


            Ms. Nadine Ohlinger, Employee Services Specialist / Training & Wellness, stated that one innovative way to save the County money is to have a Wellness Program.  She commented that some of the goals of the Wellness Program were to increase employees’ knowledge and awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle; to increase participants’ knowledge of health and wellness information; to facilitate positive behavior change among participants; and to improve the environment in which Lake County employees work through implementation of policy and environmental changes.  She explained that workshops were provided covering topics chosen by employees based on needs and interests, as well as relevance to the current times.  She stated that they held Wellness and Safety Expos in Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007 which contained health and safety information.  She commented that because of the Wellness Program employees have lost a total of 552 pounds through Weight Watchers and the Weight Loss Challenge Programs and that the success rate of people in the County’s Smoking Cessation Program was 71%, noting that a total of five employees have remained smoke free after a three month follow-up.   She explained the “2000 Step Challenge” which motivated 53 participants to walk 6,533,041 steps, which is approximately 3,267 miles, over a six week period of time.  She invited the Board to attend one of their Wellness Programs.

            Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, mentioned that Ms. Ohlinger does an excellent job in coordinating and managing the Citizens Academy twice each year.


            Mr. David Merrill, Employee Services Supervisor, spoke to the Board concerning Safety, the Worker’s Compensation Program, and the Property & Liability Program.  He stated that they are committed to provide a safe workplace for all employees.  He explained that the program not only covers BCC employees, but the Constitutional Officers’ employees as well.  He stated in order for the employees to know what is expected it is a requirement that they all take part in the orientation/training process.  Within that process, he speaks to them for about an hour discussing their responsibility, as well as their supervisor’s responsibility, under the Worker’s Compensation Program and the Property & Liability Program; spending time explaining where they can find all the information on the internet, the intranet, and what types of forms need to be completed; and what would happen if they had to report an on-the-job injury, illness or damages to County property.  He explained that he also discussed having a drug free workplace by going through the procedures and forms, and that at the present time the County was drug testing safety centered positions as they come into the County, such as firefighters and also CDL employees.  He stated that 100% of firefighters are drug tested annually and that by DOT Standards, CDL’s are tested randomly throughout the year -  50% for drugs and 25% for alcohol.  He stated that safety specific training needed was covered during the new employee’s first week on the job.  He commented that everyone needed to go through fire alarm procedures and know where to exit all buildings and where to meet.  Once the training is complete, the employee signs the Area Specific Safety Orientation Form and it is then placed in the employee’s file.  He stated that the County has written Safety Policies and Procedures and a Safety Action Team comprised of volunteer employees across the County meet at the end of each month to discuss Worker’s Compensation cases, Property Liability cases and if they see a specific trend in one area they present it to the entire County.  He mentioned that they have another specific safety team comprised of Public Safety and those are volunteer firefighters sitting who talk specifically about public safety regarding Worker’s Compensation and Property Liability.


            Mr. Merrill mentioned that this year in the month of March the Public Safety Department had no Worker’s Compensation cases and no Property Liability cases, which was a first.  He reported that there were 87 Worker’s Compensation claims for 2007 for $185,324.91 and compared them to 71 claims in 2006 for $377,289; 92 claims in 2005 for of $297,656; and 108 claims in 2004 for $231,350.  He stated that in 2007 there were 36 Property Liability claims in the amount of $266,750.16 compared to 37 claims in 2006 for $66,956; 39 claims in 2005 for $96,31l; 96 claims in 2004 for $76,174; and 45 claims in 2003 for $84,337.  He noted that some of these claims were attributed to the Ground Hog Day tornado in 2007.  He explained that Employee Services is working on a bid for a Third Party Administrator (TPA) who handles all the Worker’s Compensation claims.  He stated that at the present time they have Employee’s Mutual (EMI) and also a broker for insurances.  He commented that they are re-evaluating the County buildings and their contents to ensure they are up-to-date, as they have not been evaluated since 2004.

            Commr. Renick commented on several Worker’s Compensation claims stating she did not understand why something like being exposed to MRSA while performing CPR could be claimed under Worker’s Compensation.

            Mr. Merrill stated that exposure incident reports are to be completed when an employee is exposed to blood borne pathogens.  He stated that there are certain standards required by OSHA relating to blood borne pathogens which require getting a baseline test to make sure nothing was transmitted by the patient to the employee, and is followed by other blood tests six months later.


            Ms. Jeannine Nelson, Employee Services Specialist / Training and Development, addressed the Board speaking to their accomplishments and future plans.  She referred to the last page of Attachment 5 in the handout which gave the statistics for employee training and supervisor and leadership training in Fiscal Year 2007.  She stated that they had 4800 training hours for that fiscal year, noting that the number will vary from year-to-year according to the number of programs being offered.  She included in their handout a Training and Development Catalog, Lake County BCC University, and stated that this was a blueprint for training offered in Lake County where classes are available through the Online Training Calendar.  She noted that on the last page of the Catalog is an item called “Spice up Your Meetings” which is an innovative program offered to supervisors or managers to invite a seasoned guest speaker from Employee Services to assist them with their departmental or team meeting.  She stated that the speaker can offer them a presentation on safety, wellness and teambuilding.  She commented that they offer a class for managers called “Legal Peril” which highlights eight management pitfalls to avoid.  She mentioned not training your managers and supervisors was the ninth pitfall.  She reported that almost all of their management staff has taken this class.  She referred to the Lake@Work newsletter highlighting FOCUS as its feature article.  She explained that “FOCUS” stands for Fulfilling Our Customers through Unbeatable Service and is a one day program open to all employees.  She stated there are six facilitators for the FOCUS Program - five from departments other than Employee Services.  She mentioned that there are different customer service points such as empathy, respect, flexibility, expertise, initiative and business communication classes.  She stated the focus is on giving the very best possible service at all times to all constituents and to each other.  She stated that one segment of FOCUS teaches quality improvement by respecting the customers needs and improving on that process.

            Commr. Cadwell asked if employees receive any credits or rewards for taking classes at Lake County BCC University. 

            Ms. Nelson stated that they have some mandatory classes and others such as public speaking so the reward is inherent in terms of bettering themselves for future promotions.


            At 10:45, the Chairman announced that there would be a ten-minute recess.


            Ms. Dottie Keedy, Director of Economic Growth & Redevelopment introduced her staff, Ms. Linda Green, Office Associate, and Ms. Lori Barnes, Senior Planner.  She stated that because her job varies from day-to-day she thought it best to review her tasks and accomplishments during this fiscal year.

            COMMERCE PARK

            Ms. Keedy stated that the Department is responsible for the management of the Commerce Park.  She explained that they have a development of regional impact on that property which necessitates the preparation of annual reports and other requirements as part of the DRI.  She mentioned that they are required to maintain compliance with their Master Stormwater Permit.  She explained that they had worked on and maintain the gopher tortoise habitat and that it is now a very nice park on the lake with a trail that winds through the property.  She commented that there are approximately 65 active tortoise burrows which are marked with signage describing the species.  She reported that they were in Phase III of the project and were maintaining some development review as it was almost built-out.  She stated that it was a very popular site particularly for distribution and warehouses.  She explained that they are beginning work on a Notice of Proposed Change to the DRI to address issues that have changed since it was adopted in 1993.  She stated that in addition to the property that is being mined for clay, there are two County-owned properties remaining and that they are marketing those.


            Ms. Keedy stated that they started an Industry Visit Program which has been very successful which they are going to continue.  She referred to a list of companies that they have visited recently.


            Ms. Keedy stated that there were a number of ongoing meetings and collaborations with different organizations and have just started meeting with the City of Leesburg’s Economic Development Director discussing how they can encourage those businesses, one of which is Covanta.  She mentioned that the Manufacturers Association of Central Florida, Workforce Central Florida, and the Disney Entrepreneur Center, are organizations that have a great deal of resources available.  She commented that both SECO and Progress Energy have Economic Development staff and that they maintain contact with them to discuss specific projects, and infrastructure in general, related to business development.  She mentioned that The University of Central Florida has an Economic Development Department that is interested in a regional approach to economic development and turning research projects into commercial applications.


            Ms. Keedy stated that she is often asked to speak at committees and organizations.  She mentioned that some of the Chambers of Commerce, as well as some of the cities, have asked her to speak about economic development and how they can partner.


            Commr. Cadwell stated that he and the County Manager, Ms. Cindy Hall, were in Washington a few weeks ago, and through their lobbyists they were given encouragement about opportunities on a federal level with some dollar figures.  She stated that Ms. Hall had shared that information with her and she thought that they would definitely have some opportunities to take advantage of that next year.


            Ms. Keedy stated that some of the Boards and Committees of which she is a part are regional in nature and others are local.  She commented that to have regional collaboration not only markets Lake County by reminding people of the County’s desire to diversify its economy, but also brings a wealth of resources to the County.


            Ms. Keedy stated that she has within her budget a “Sponsorship” budget used to assist businesses in providing information or seminars.  She reported that in collaboration with the Leesburg Chamber and its Women’s Symposium she will be taking the Director of The Alliance (an organization to help women in minority-owned businesses) to hear two Lake County business women speak.  She commented that these two women have greatly benefited by successfully achieving the Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) certification for women-owned businesses.  She stated that she anticipates attendance will be in the range of approximately 250 people.


            Ms. Keedy stated that she had started work on several projects and hoped to continue them this next year.  Among those, she mentioned the Robotics Project which had been presented at a Board Meeting.  She stated that they were implementing the Strategic Plan and had a good meeting with the Steering Committee and that they would be moving into the next phase.  She commented that she has had a great response from the business community indicating that they like the structure and the proposal.  She remarked that perhaps they could take advantage of federal assistance with the Incubator Program.  She stated that she has been talking to both the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Lake-Sumter Community College (LSCC) about collaborating to create business incubators in the County.  She reported that at the present time there is a business incubator in Leesburg, however, it is under-utilized and she has been discussing with UCF the possibility of working together in order to staff same.  She stated that she and Ms. Barnes had begun work on the Mt. Dora Office/Employment Center with the staff from the City of Mt. Dora.  She mentioned that Ms. Barnes is also working on an expedited permitting procedure for economic development projects.  She stated that the procedure had been in their Compensation Plan for quite some time but have not yet written the procedures.  She mentioned that the Virtual Entrepreneur Center, a web-based source of information for the startup or expansion of small businesses, is the newest project that the Florida High Tech Corridor Council was working on and would include Lake County.  She stated that at the present time there are approximately five counties participating and that they are working with MetroOrlando EDC to build their database specific to Lake County which would enable local businesses to obtain a wealth of information.  She commented that they hoped to include every county in the 23-county corridor.  She mentioned that they have been working with the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento Committee as they develop plans for their area.

            Commr. Cadwell mentioned that although there are a lot of negative remarks about the economy right now, Vac-Tron Equipment was having their 10th Anniversary and serves as a great success story for industry in Lake County.  He commented that this celebration should be attended by anyone having an opportunity.

            Commr. Renick stated that not every city has a designated economic development person, and made a suggestion that perhaps they could contact each city and have them to designate one of their employees to serve as an economic development representative.  She stated that this would provide a network of communication for Ms. Keedy.

            Commr. Hill stated that the recent meeting went very well and commended Ms. Keedy.  She stated that Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, provided an historical background and gave the Board’s view on this new committee.  She mentioned that the members of the new committee may be elected officials, it may be someone they designate, it may be a planner, but she thought once the cities realize the idea of a committee coming forward and the whole procedure and process was spelled out, a lot of people, cities, and schools will come on board. She commented that Mr. Larry Metz was in attendance from the School Board.  She explained that since it will not be a Sunshine Committee they could converse with each other and that was very exciting.  She commented that the conversation at the meeting blossomed and it seemed they really wanted the committee to be created in this manner.  She commented that a question regarding the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) arose and that the Board would let them know how they plan to proceed.  She mentioned that one of the very first things they wanted to know was if this new committee would utilize them, or whether there would be a subcommittee working with our Local Planning Agency (LPA) on land use ordinances and questioned how that would play into economic development.

            Commr. Stewart commented that Ms. Keedy had dealt with some very difficult business communities and had won them over.

            Commr. Hill reported that Ms. Keedy would represent Lake County in Montreal and could perhaps distribute our CDs at the event which would serve as an introduction to Lake County.

            Ms. Keedy stated that the trip would be a great networking event where kickoff receptions are held and she would be glad to present those in attendance with a CD of Lake County.  She stated that she had met some great people at these meetings who were very interested in Lake County.  She stated that she had received more calls about Lake County in the last month than she had in the last two years.  She stated that many people were looking to invest here.  She commented that others were trying to figure out how to market their residential property and are looking toward industry.  She stated that many cities have redevelopment areas and most of them have city staff acting as an economic development person, or, a separate Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Partnership.  She commented that they stay in contact with one group and with Ms. Barnes assistance; she would like to formalize the group and meet on a regular basis.  She explained that this would implement the part of the strategic plan dealing with redevelopment and arts, leisure, and culture.


            Mr. Greg Mihalic, Tourism & Business Relations Director, provided a PowerPoint tour of the department to help the Board understand better what they do.  He explained that they have five functional areas:  the Historical Museum; the Fairgrounds and Expo Center; Tourism; Arts and Cultural Alliance; and Business Relations.  He stated that employees from each of these areas would be addressing the Board today with the exception of Ms. Kathy Pagan who had a family emergency.  He commented that Ms. Pagan is a Tourism Specialist who plays a big role in the Arts and Cultural area as well as being the account executive for Radio Disney.


            Dr. Diane Kamp, Director and Curator of the Lake County Museum, addressed the Board regarding the Lake County Museum noting that attendance at our museum rivals many large museums in the area including Disney, Sea World and Orange County Regional History Center which seems odd, but true.  She stated that Lake County is listed as one of the top twenty attractions in Central Florida, as one of the top museums in Florida, and has visitors from all 50 states and 34 countries.  She remarked that Harcourt Publishing Company included the Lake County Historical Museum in their fourth grade Social Studies textbook which was used all over the world.  Additionally, she stated that Lake County has been recognized in a book called Museums of the World, as well as in guide books all over the United States and Florida.  One of the basic functions of the museum is to discover and convey historical information about Lake County.  She explained that they discover information from academic research, recorded stories, personal interviews and documents that are often hidden.  She stated that they have many new finds including a new Medal of Honor recipient who was a pioneer of Lake County, buried gold treasure, and much more.  She explained that the exhibits are changed throughout the year and that some of the contents of the Museum are in partnerships with about 100 community groups including Boy Scouts, and Quilters Guild.  She reported that one of the most recently installed exhibits was the HH Duncan exhibit, first Clerk of the Court of Lake County.  She stated that they also share partnerships with other county museums, and other county and state programs.  She mentioned that many school groups and organizations visit the museum.  She remarked that they have publications such as Fast Facts with thousands of copies in distribution.  She commented that they respond daily to requests of citizens, elected officials, state offices, the press and other researchers and also assist citizens in applications for properties on the historic registry and for applications on genealogical research.


            Ms. Jane Allen, Expo Center/Fairgrounds Director, spoke to the Board about the Fairgrounds Operations.  She stated that the Fairgrounds in Eustis consist of approximately 30 acres with 5 buildings, an open air pavilion and an arena.  She reported that the Expo Center is the largest meeting space in the County.  She explained that during the past year, and prior to the Fair opening this year, they have been concentrating on a number of cosmetic improvements, including painting the exteriors of all the buildings, paving, patching and repaving the interior roads, replacing the sinks in the Expo Center bathrooms and the new landscaping provided by the Fair Board.  She went on to say that in addition to these improvements, they have been working on becoming more involved with the community, being active in the Eustis Chamber, patronizing local businesses, and will begin a series of promotions with local groups this summer.  She mentioned that the ongoing main event at the Fairgrounds is the Farmer’s Market every Thursday from 8:30 to 1:30 in season and that during the peak season they average between 250-300 vendors with between 8,000-10,000 visitors to the market.  She commented that this summer they will be promoting Trout Lake Nature Center and that this promotion is designed to attract local families and build a stronger summer market.  Coupled along with that will be a 40% vendor rate decrease during the months of June, July, August and September.  She explained that they are one of the unusual Divisions in the County - they produce revenue and are on target to make $165,000 from the Farmer’s Market this year.  In addition to the Farmer’s Market they hold a series of diversified special revenue producing events ranging from Boy Scout Camporees to Monster Trucks, and a Latin Radio Station Rodeo and Concert.  She reported that they had 30 events last year and exceeded their projected budget of $43,000 with $51,000 of income from special events.  She explained that they have limited use of the facility at the Expo Center for rentals during six months of the year due to the fact there is no air conditioning.  She remarked that this Division is a revenue neutral division.

            Mr. Mihalic interjected that the Fairgrounds is a substantial client of reprographics.


            Mr. Mihalic stated that Tourism is a diverse industry in Lake County.  He mentioned that some of Lake County’s neighbors to the East have about 35% of their growth tied to Tourism compared to Lake County with only 4% of the Tourism market.  He explained that Tourism provides superior customer service to those visitors coming into the Welcome Center and leaving with a good understanding of what we have to offer in the community.

            Ms. Debi Dyer, Tourism Specialist, and Ms. Cheryl Thomas, Financial Analyst presented an example of a typical conversation with visitors coming into the Welcome Center by way of a skit.  Within the skit they explained the many things to do in Lake County and gave the tourist various brochures of attractions, such as Antiquing Brochures; Canoes, Kayaks and Airboat Brochures; and Balloons, Gliders, and Trucks, all within the area.  They also provide visitors with travel directions and answer questions regarding Florida attractions outside Lake County.  She stated that the Tourism Department provides excellent customer service to each and every person who walks through the door.


            Mr. Mihalic referred to the charts within the Tourism packet indicating Welcome Center visitation had dropped over the past ten years.  He reported that there were almost 18,000 visitors in the last fiscal year and through March of this year there were approximately 11,000 visitors.  He mentioned that although they are offering more amenities at the Welcome Center such as Wi-Fi, orange juice and water, visitation was dropping because the nature of the Center is changing.  He explained that people decide ahead of time what they are going to do and use the internet for planning rather than visiting the Welcome Center.  He commented that many of the people visiting the Center are new residents coming to see what the area has to offer and others come to obtain material for their guests.  He stated that a study prepared several years ago reflected that about 1.8 million people visit Lake County each year, but that half of those people stay with relatives or friends.  He reported that Lake County “heads in beds” generate revenue with a 4% bed tax and this year they are at 2.5% per year which is substantially less than what they have been in the past.  He mentioned that in the last four-five years they had been running 12%, 13%, and 15% but those days were over.  He explained that those percentages were derived from the boom in residential housing which occurred when many sub-contractors, people seeking homes, and new residents waiting for completion of their homes, were staying in hotels with prices ranging from $25 - $250 per night.  He commented that market has pretty well disappeared and felt that it was probably about 20%-25% of their total tax revenue at that time.  He reported that the County had a severe shortage of beds in the past, but were now getting more hotels online, comprising 3,000 beds in Lake County and about 7,500 campgrounds and RV slots.  He remarked that the operation runs in cycles, with bed tax revenues going up and down with our season - primarily in January, February and March each year.  He stated the worst third of the year was September, October, November, and December.  He commented that those months would be a time for more activity to stimulate occupancy in our hotels.  The projections are that this will be a stable “up” year for business but not for leisure markets.  In closing he stated that the Welcome Center basically creates informational databases of what Lake County has to offer to pass on to their clients by means of visitors to the Center.


            Mr. Mihalic stated that they are event oriented but are only capturing about 65% of the ongoing events.  He explained that they continue to reach out to organizers and partners to obtain their information and place it on the computer so the public will be informed of ongoing events in Lake County at all times. He mentioned that Lake County has primarily small events rather than world class theme parks and has to rely on those to attract visitors.  He stated that it was their job to promote all Lake County events by helping the organizer with media, sponsorships, and printing assistance as needed.  He remarked that by capacity building, Lake County events increase the numbers in the length our visitor stay which benefits the resort tax revenue, local businesses non-profit groups, cultural organizations, our chambers and local attractions.  He reported that approximately two-thirds of the assistance provided last year was from Arts & Cultural events.  He stated that they also “brand” items within the community to expose Lake County and help both local residents and visitors understand that we are a sophisticated, high-class community with a lot of quality services for the customers and residents.  He mentioned that they provide promotional items and receive 6-7 million hits a month on the internet.  He stated that they distribute trinkets at Board meetings to determine their popularity, noting that when a department calls asking for a particular item for their staff, they know which ones are a hit.  He commented that they brand Lake County through cover logos on such magazines as Florida Outdoor Adventures; Southeast Competitor, a magazine that reaches  85,000 active sports participants in the Southeastern United States; and Lake Magazine.  He also explained that they sponsor events such as Cinco de Mayo, African American Heritage, Black Bear Festival and others by offering the printing assistance.  He commented that they are an eco-tourism entity.  With regard to sports, Mr. Mihalic stated that they sponsor a variety of sports events partnering with Central Florida Sports Commission (CFSC).  He mentioned that when he came here about 6.5 years ago they put on 5 golf tournaments at Mission Inn.  Last year they sponsored 19 events, softball, fishing tournaments, golf tournaments, boat races and rugby events which filled 7,764 hotel rooms and had 13,336 event participants.  The CFSC has a number of events scheduled in 2008 and that in 2009 they are bidding for the USA Women’s Golf Championship at the Redtail Golf Club.  He stated that they need geographical and schematic diversity in our sports events.  He mentioned that they deal with several media partners to advertise local events; namely, radio, television, newspapers, Wal-Mart checkout, Radio Disney website, Google and Yahoo.  He commented that Radio Disney is an important partner.  He stated that Tourism has an arrangement with them to advertise events and provide a link to our website on five radio stations throughout the State.  He mentioned that they also have an arrangement where the station will bring their fun crew out for two hours of entertainment at ten events during the year bringing people to our event and adding a new perspective.  He commented that they will have the Radio Disney Fun Squad two hours prior to the first of the Leesburg Lightning / Clermont Maverick games at the beginning of June.  He commented that when Radio Disney has an event people will attend simply because of the name and that helps expand participation and reaches out to the family audience.  He explained that the contract with Disney was an $80,000 annual contract which includes about 2,000 radio ads for Lake County events, primarily in Orlando, but also spread among the other four stations in Florida.  He stated that they also feature Lake County’s events on their website.  He remarked that the contract with the Sports Commission is for approximately $100,000 annually, noting that Lake County has a representative on the Commission.  The contract also includes an additional $125,000 for sponsorship money that they use to bring events to the community.

            Commr. Cadwell asked if all this was paid out in tourist tax.

            Mr. Mihalic responded that all of their department, except for the Fairgrounds and the Historical Museum, were paid for from the 4% bed tax and amounts to approximately $2.2 million per year.

            Commr. Hill asked if his department paid for volunteers and staffing of the Sports Commission when they attend the event.

            Mr. Mihalic stated that if the Sports Commission incurs expenses it pays for them and would be worked out between the Commission and the organizer.

            A discussion ensued regarding the June 6, 2008, game between the Leesburg Lightning and the Clermont Mavericks.

            Commr. Cadwell asked that representatives from both teams make a presentation to the Board prior to the first game.

            Mr. Mihalic stated that he would arrange that before June 6.  He stated that they also provide feedback to their clients.  He explained that they advertise these events but if the client does not know about it, it provides no value.  He stated that they send the advertising to the client to let them know its value.  He explained that small businesses do not realize, nor understand, the value of what advertising costs so they re-enforce it by sending the client a DVD from WFTV when they run that advertising.  He commented that events do not just happen.  He stated that they work with event planners and organizers starting about four months out by advertising the event in magazines, and each month promote the event through various media down to the very day of the event.  He mentioned that at every event they have DVDs and brochures of current and future events in Lake County.


            Ms. Debi Dyer, Tourism Specialist, spoke about theme experiences noting that in 2006 they began celebrating weddings within the parks of Lake County.  She mentioned that they have developed a database and brochure for weddings to promote various venues.  She stated that she researches information about Lake County either through the community and local Chambers of Commerce, or on the internet in order to provide visitors activities and events while in our community.  She also sponsored and attended a Lake Receptions Wedding Expo to promote weddings in the County.  She mentioned that they have had several unique weddings this year at the Renaissance Fair.  She stated that area weddings are held every year at such venues as Lake Reception, Lakeridge Winery, and hotels with wedding facilities able to accommodate large parties.  She reported that Lake County weddings are highlighted in the Lake and Sumter Style Magazine, Lake Magazine, and Limelight, a new magazine since January.


            Ms. Dyer stated that there is an annual Antique Boat Festival in Wooten Park which will continue for the next five years by contract.  She stated that they assist the event organizers by advertising through publications, newspaper, radio and website; and printing.  She mentioned that through advertisements of the Boat Festival in magazines, the event was attended by 6,000 visitors.  She remarked that during the event a table is set up by staff with brochures promoting Lake County.

            Mr. Vince Yokum of the School Board’s Citizen Audit Committee, a guest at this meeting, reported that there was an underground boat restoration community in Lake County and that he has been writing an article for their newsletter.  He commented that they were restoring boats in the price range of $100,000.  He went on to say that he actually moved here because of the Boat Festival and many others do the same.  He remarked that the boat show was a major draw to the community because Lake County was the major center for antique wood boat clubs for the East Coast and the entire Southeast.

            Mr. Mihalic commented that this is one of those events that could have national draw, and that it was also tied to the Classic Race Boat Association event.  He commented that there was an ongoing discussion to hold an Antique Boat Festival Auction and educational events the week between these two events in order to encourage visitors to participate in marine activities during that timeframe.  He commented that this would be a way to capacity build these events.

            Ms. Dyer expressed the importance of having someone at these events to pass out brochures and provide a continuous DVD running in order to get promote the County.

            Mr. Mihalic stated that many of the event promotions are electronic which was optimized on Google and Yahoo where certain words have been keyed in to make our County’s listing appear first. He explained that they spend approximately $6,000-$9,000 monthly on website optimization. He reported that over the last three months 163,000 visitors came to our website through Google and Yahoo.


            Mr. Mihalic stated that Ms. Kathy Pagan, Tourism Specialist, oversees the Art and Cultural Alliance section of Tourism and that in her absence he would make her presentation.  He explained that special sections of a magazine were purchased to promote a particular theme.  He displayed the Lake and Sumter Style magazine showing the Fall Arts Preview which previewed all the Arts activities going on in Lake County.  He mentioned that the Board had formed the Art and Cultural Alliance last Spring with the first meeting being held in September.  The seven members of the Alliance represent different areas of the County and municipalities to promote arts and culture.  He stated that the mission of the Alliance is to recognize Arts as a component in the County.  Since the initial meeting several things have occurred such as:  Art in the Air, with local artists from Mount Dora, Eustis and Leesburg; the Public Art Project in Minneola; and the compilation of a database of artists in the area.  He commented that the Alliance is trying to unify the standards required for benches and signage for our transportation system.  It would allow the city to have its own creative interpretation of the signage and noted that these discussions were being had with the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (LSMPO).  He stated that the Alliance had scheduled and held grant workshops in conjunction with United Arts of Central Florida.  He commented that the Department’s partners in business relations are the County’s Chambers of Commerce who distributes the County’s information and the Department, in turn, distributes their information.  He remarked that generally people call the Chamber of Commerce when they are seeking activities.  He stated that there was interaction with the Chambers on a daily basis and that they have been given the County’s Vacation and Events Guides, a CD, a one-page map and various brochures advertising different niche areas within the County.

            Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, joined the meeting at 12:10 p.m.

            Commr. Hill stated that when working with the Chambers she understood there are not enough beds in the County and that was what provides revenue.

            Mr. Mihalic responded by stating that they were running about 300 beds a night and that 300 hotel rooms a year were being added into the market.  He stated that hotel occupancy was down because of the downturn in the residential base.  He commented that there were no mass of rooms at any price level - they go from $25 per night to $250 per night which can prevent the promotion of larger events which require a mass of rooms in one area.  He reported that there were a couple of hotels under construction.

            Commr. Hill and Mr. Mihalic discussed hotel capacity and events that would promote marketing hotels in this area.


            Ms. Dyer invited everyone to attend the National Tourism Celebration to be held Friday, May 16, 2008, at the Welcome Center where there would be food, Alpacas, Segway representatives and others.


            Ms. Cindy Hall, County Attorney, stated that the folders for the budget workshop next week were being distributed for everyone’s review before the meeting.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:15 p.m.



                                                                                                WELTON CADWELL, CHAIRMAN