The Lake County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) met in regular session on Tuesday, September 8, 2009, at 2:00 p.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida.  Commissioners present at the meeting were:  Jennifer Hill, Chairman; and Linda Stewart.  Debbie Stivender attended for the Lake County School Board and Will Walker was present as a citizen member.  Larry Metz and Ralph Smith were unable to attend.  Others present were:  Leigh Tucker, Counsel for the Value Adjustment Board; Frank Royce, Chief Deputy, Property Appraiser’s Office; Robbie Ross, Director of Tangible and Agricultural Properties, Property Appraiser’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; Kevin McDonald, Budget Officer, Clerk Finance, and Ellie McDonald, Deputy Clerk.

Commr. Hill called the meeting to order at 2:00 p.m.

approval of minutes

The Chairman asked for approval of the Minutes of the meeting of August 18, 2009.

On a motion by Ms. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously by a 4-0 vote, the VAB approved the Minutes of the Regular Meeting held on August 18, 2009, as presented.



Ms. Leigh Tucker, Counsel for the VAB explained that at the June 23, 2009, VAB Meeting they had remanded Petition No. 2008-33 back to Special Magistrate Morton D. Aulls as a result of a response from the Petitioner’s attorney.  She stated that Special Magistrate Aulls held another hearing which was duly advertised, noting that the participants were present, evidence was admitted, and the recommendation of the Special Magistrate was before them today.  She explained that the Special Magistrate’s recommendation was in favor of Mr. Serrano and recommended that the VAB grant the relief requested in the Petition.

Mr. Walker moved to grant the relief requested and the motion was seconded by Commr. Stewart.

Under discussion, Commr. Hill noted that this Petition regarded goats on the property and explained that she never saw any evidence of an active Consumptive Use Permit (CUP) or a Business Permit for conducting business on the property.  She stated that the information they had was that the Petitioner said he periodically sold the goats.  She questioned whether Special Magistrate Aulls continued to hold that this was a viable business.

Ms. Tucker stated that this Petition’s purpose was for an exemption and Special Magistrate Aulls reviewed the evidence presented him at that time, believed there was enough evidence to substantiate the fact that the goats were there, and the exemption was appropriate.  She commented that the recommendation was disputed by the Property Appraiser’s office noting that they had also added evidence to the record which contradicted the evidence Mr. Serrano’s attorney had presented.  She explained, however, that when the evidence was weighed by the Special Magistrate his recommendation was to grant the exemption.

Ms. Stivender remarked that the recommendation notes that the property owner testified that he had between 10-12 cows and 25 goats and she believed that was under the threshold number for an agriculture exemption.  She remarked that it was a different issue than the zoning issue.  She explained that if he had 100 goats on the property he would need a CUP, but that was not the case.

Commr. Hill agreed.  She asked for a vote on the motion and second to award the Petitioner the relief requested and grant him the exemption.  The vote carried 4-0.


Ms. Tucker updated the VAB on the Request for Proposal (RFP) for new Special Magistrates, noting that the contracts had expired for both Special Magistrates.  She remarked that they had previously discussed that it may be better to have a choice between Special Magistrates for at least the valuation petitions due to the fact that there were so many petitions last year.  She explained that the RFPs had been advertised on the County page and in the Lake County Bar Association Newsletter.  She noted that the time period for the close date would soon end and by the VAB Organizational Meeting is held for the 2009 Tax Year they would have several options from which to select Special Magistrates.

Ms. Stivender asked for the date of the Organizational Meeting.

Ms. Tucker responded that they were hoping to have that meeting either the end of September or beginning of October in order to set the schedule for the VAB 2009 Tax Year and select the Special Magistrates.  She commented that today they were wrapping up all the Petitions for Tax Year 2008.  She noted that Mr. Frank Royce, Chief Deputy, Property Appraiser’s Office would provide the Certifications for the Tax Roll which would complete the VAB 2008 Tax Year.  She explained that the contracts for Mr. Morton D. Aulls, Attorney, and Mr. David Taylor, Appraiser, had expired and those positions would need to be filled at the Organizational Meeting.

certifications to be signed

Mr. Frank Royce, Chief Deputy, Property Appraiser’s Office, requested the signatures of Board members on Certifications to the Department of Revenue indicating taxable value of Lake County’s Real Property Assessment reflecting reductions in the amount of $5,162,653, and the taxable value of the County’s Tangible Personal Property Assessment reflecting no changes having been made.  He noted that he had given the Clerk the form for the advertisement listing the amount of exemptions granted and the values changed, the dollar amount, and the taxes incurred.

Ms. Tucker explained that there would be a Record of Notice advertised showing all the changes made to the Tax Roll.  She further stated that the Decisions of the VAB were ready for Commr. Hill’s signature.

Mr. Royce stated that the Tax Roll would be re-certified including the three cities that had been involved in property value loss.

minutes of final meeting

Ms. Tucker stated that one last housekeeping item was calling their attention to the Minutes from today’s meeting which would require execution by Commr. Hill.  She requested that the VAB authorize Commr. Hill to sign those Minutes on their behalf and allow her to approve any further invoices received in relation to expenses of the VAB for the 2008 Tax Year.

On a motion by Ms. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously by a 4-0 vote, the VAB authorized Commr. Hill to execute the Minutes from this meeting as well as any outstanding invoices from the Special Magistrates or other necessary items relating to the VAB 2008 Tax Year.

other business

Nomination of VAB Board Members

Mr. Royce suggested that before the Organizational Meeting for VAB Tax Year 2009 the School Board and County Commission would be required to meet and decide who would represent them on the Valuation Adjustment Board for the upcoming year.

Ms. Tucker stated that the Rule reads that each member of the VAB will serve until such time as either the School Board or Board of County Commissioners replace their VAB members, or someone else replaces them or decides to stand-in; or if a citizen member becomes disqualified by virtue of the fact that he has lost his qualifying status such as owning property within the jurisdiction, or having a business within the jurisdiction.  She commented that she would notify each of the VAB member’s Board and let them know that it might not be a bad idea to add the re-nomination of VAB members to their agenda.

Commr. Hill commented that they would definitely bring this matter before the two Boards.

Department of Revenue Rule Changes

Commr. Hill remarked that changes in the Rules state that training is to be provided for any new Special Magistrates.

Ms. Tucker stated that there were preset dates with training online for incoming boards through the Department of Revenue (DOR).  She noted that as soon as the VAB chooses a Special Magistrate they will make sure everyone is qualified under the new Rule.  She commented that since she had been Counsel for the VAB they have not had a Special Magistrate who required training because they had the same Special Magistrates the past three years.  She remarked that in the event anything changes they would have to be qualified through the DOR Rules.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the VAB, the meeting was adjourned at 2:15 p.m.