February 9, 2010

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 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; Elaine Renick, Vice Chairman; Jennifer Hill; Jimmy Conner; and Linda Stewart.  Others present were:  Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, Interim County Manager; Melanie Marsh, Acting County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Brenda Law, Deputy Clerk.

agenda update

Mr. Sandy Minkoff, Interim County Manager, stated that he would like to have a discussion at the end of the meeting regarding the Federal legislative package to be submitted.

library services proposed budget

Mr. Minkoff stated that Tab 7 is a recommendation to make changes to the Library Program.  He reported that there are three factors that caused this issue to be presented to the Board earlier than other budget issues.  He noted that in December 2009 the Board was notified that the Library Fund was balanced by using the fund balance.  He stated that the fund was over expended by at least $400,000.00, and indicated that the deficit will be larger next year due to the reduction in ad valorem tax revenue.  He reported that there are eight vacancies, six full-time and two part-time, in this department which are creating a hardship on the Department to maintain operating hours in the two South Lake libraries.  He stated that based on the budget, he can not recommend that these positions be filled because he foresees that these positions will be cut in October.  He commented that the East Lake Library is in a rental facility whose lease expires in June of this year.  He stated that the property management office has been renegotiating this lease, but the landlord has increased the rent and changed the terms of the lease with a clause that would prevent the County from being able to cancel the lease.  He stated that library management recommended that the County close the East Lake Library and that significant operational cuts be made.  He reported that both medium sized libraries were evaluated, but the East Lake Library is in a leased facility, whereas the other is in a County owned building.  He explained that the suggested closing date of April 1, 2010 would allow for the inventory to be relocated and the facility to be repaired prior to the expiration of the lease.

Commr. Stewart conveyed the importance of the East Lake Library to the Mount Plymouth and Sorrento communities.  She commented that these communities have been struggling to establish an identity and do not really have anything but the library.  She stated that the community values the library, and noted that the community not only uses the library for the books and computers but also to host community events.  She opined that taking the library away from the community would tear the heart and core of Mount Plymouth and Sorrento.  She stated that she had letters of support for the library from Dr. Moxley, Principal of Round Lake Elementary and Mrs. Boyd, Principal of Seminole Springs Elementary.  She presented petitions containing hundreds of signatures in support of keeping the library.  She commented that this library not only serves the immediate area of Mount Plymouth and Sorrento, but it also serves the entire Wekiva Basin.  She reported that many residents travel to attend this library, and the closing will affect the college education of some residents because they use the library computer to obtain their degrees online.  She read an email from Ms. Lindsey Gilbert, Senior at Mount Dora High School.  She pointed out that the East Lake Library is very efficient, and even with the lease payment of $45,000 to $50,000 a year, it costs approximately $4,000 more annually to operate compared to the next library.  She stated that this library serves very low to moderate income families.  She commented that many residents would not be able to travel to the W.T. Bland Library in Mount Dora if the East Lake Library closed, and noted that the W.T. Bland Library is already overcrowded.  She asked the Board to allow a member from the community to address the Board.

Ms. Catherine Hanson, resident and East Lake Chamber of Commerce member, stated that Ms. Pam Jennelle, Executive Director of the East Lake Chamber of Commerce was not available to address the Board.  She agreed with the comments made by Commr. Stewart.  She reported that she was involved in the process of bringing the library to East Lake County.  She stated that the Chamber offered a lease without any escalator clauses but did not receive a counter from the County.  She asked the Board to give the Chamber more time to evaluate and review all other options other than removing the library.

Commr. Stewart commented that she met with the East Lake Chamber this morning, and that they offered some concessions that they would like to discuss with the County.  She asked the Board to postpone this matter to allow time to continue lease negotiations with the Chamber.

Commr. Cadwell stated that he did not mind allowing more time, but reminded the Board that there are going to be some very tough decisions between now and the end of the budget year.  He commented that the Board has stated that they do not want to raise taxes, and the only alternative is to cut $9 million from the budget.

Commr. Stewart opined that if we allow more time for negotiations with the East Lake Chamber, she felt the figures would change drastically.

Commr. Cadwell asked what the expected operational savings would be if the Chamber gave the building to the County for free.

Mr. Minkoff stated that there would be a $45,000 to $50,000 savings if the rent was free.

Commr. Renick commented that she did not want the meeting to turn into a discussion of the merits of one library versus another.  She stated that she felt a certain kinship with the smaller libraries, and agreed that they become the heart of the community.  She commented that this is not as much a discussion about libraries as it is about the budget.  She mentioned that there is going to be pain with the budget cuts that have to made, but opined that it should be spread across the County.  She asked if the Board could review the contractual requirement with the municipalities regarding the operating hours.  She opined that she would rather cut the hours at a library than close it altogether.

Commr. Cadwell stated that the operating hour requirement is a County policy and can be addressed by the Board.  He noted that the Board needs to look at the integrity of the system as a whole.  He stated that he understood the passion of the library patrons, but wanted to address some of the comments made in the correspondence that there is a lack of concern for the libraries.  He noted that historically the Board has done a lot for the library system, and indicated that it has grown at a faster rate than any other department.  He stated that it is with a heavy heart that the Board has to have this discussion.

Commr. Stewart opined that the Board needs to find a way to keep all of the libraries open.  She stated that it was her understanding from discussions with Mr. Minkoff that the reduction of operating hours would not generate enough savings.  She commented that if the lease is deducted from the East Lake Library then the total cost is $249,117, which is much lower than other libraries.

Commr. Conner commented that no one wants to be known as the commissioner who closed a library, but more importantly no one wants to be known as the commissioner that depleted $30 million of reserves in a few years because they did not have the fiscal discipline to balance the budget.  He stated that the real issue of the $400,000 to $600,000 deficit has not been addressed.  He commended Mr. Minkoff for notifying the Board two months into the budget year of the financial Armageddon the County is facing due to the economic downturn and the decreased property values.  He reminded the Board of the situation in Lady Lake when the city commission used all of their reserves.  He stated that he does not want to delay this issue, and instead wants the Board to give direction to staff.  He opined that the Board needs to tell the Chamber that they need to give us that building for free, because the County has been a good tenant and invested $110,000 of capital into that building.

Commr. Stewart stated that the East Lake Chamber is willing to work with the Board.

Commr. Conner suggested that if the Chamber gave the Board the building resulting in a ten percent savings of the total deficit, then the Board would consider reducing the hours at all of the libraries.  He opined that the responsibility should be spread among all of the libraries.  He stated that government is going to be providing less.  He commented that if the citizens want to maintain the same services, then taxes are going to be increased, which is hard to do with the current unemployment rates.  He stated that he was committed to closing the deficit, and not using the reserves to balance any of the funds.

Commr. Cadwell asked the Board if they had any other suggestions for cost savings.

Commr. Hill commented that she would like to review the spending on capital outlay books and materials.  She stated that she did not want to destroy the integrity of the library system in an effort to save one branch.

 Mr. Minkoff reported that the submitted proposal to close the deficit showed a ten percent reduction in materials collection and a forty percent reduction in periodicals

Commr. Hill asked if that was effective for both branch libraries and member libraries.

Ms. Wendy Breeden, Public Resources Director, clarified that $200,000 of the capital outlay budget was allocated to the law library collection and another $100,000 was grant funded for online databases.  She noted that the current proposal includes a ten percent reduction for capital outlay and a forty percent reduction for periodicals.

Commr. Renick commented that if Cooper Memorial is required to stay open longer and requires more staff because of the college, then the Board should approach the college to request assistance with meeting the demands of that library.

Commr. Cadwell expressed concern that Cooper Memorial and Cagan’s Crossing would be punished because of the other libraries, and noted that those two libraries service a lot of people.

Commr. Conner commented that he understood the Chairman’s position, but opined that the inconvenience or responsibility should be spread among all of the libraries instead of completely eliminating the library services in one community.  He emphasized that the Chamber has had a good deal with the County when the $110,000 is taken into consideration, and called for some reciprocity from the Chamber.  He suggested reducing the operating hours based on use instead of cutting a standard five hours at each library.

Commr. Cadwell questioned how the hour reduction would affect the employees.  He commented that he was not sure there would be enough savings by reducing operating hours but agreed that it should be evaluated.

Commr. Stewart stated that closing a library is final, and noted that it would be a huge expense if it was decided to re-open it when the economy turns around.  She hoped that the economic hard times would pass and the libraries would return to current funding levels.

Commr. Conner commented that the County is not going to return to the level of prosperity it has had for another ten or twenty years.  He noted that the federal debt is approximately $35,000 for every man, woman and child.  He stated that the County is in need of some permanent downsizing.  He commented that the Board needs to figure out more efficient ways to deliver services.  He stated that he has outlined the terms of his expectations if the Chamber wants his support for the library.

Commr. Stewart stated that based on her discussions with the Chamber, they are more than willing to work with the Board.

Commr. Conner commented that this issue is like a cut on the finger compared to the massive surgery that is going to need to be done on the budget.

Commr. Stewart stated that she hoped all of the libraries could remain open, but if it was determined that libraries were going to be closed, she was going to fight to keep East Lake Library open.

Mr. Minkoff stated that the property office would work with the Chamber on the rent issue, and that he would work with staff on the projected savings on the operating hour reduction and the capital outlay budget.

Commr. Cadwell echoed the comments by Commr. Conner commending Mr. Minkoff on his proactive efforts during the budget process.

Commr. Stewart agreed that Mr. Minkoff is doing a great job.

Commr. Cadwell asked to schedule a specific date when this matter would be brought back before the Board.

Mr. Minkoff stated that this matter would be brought back to the Board at the March 2, 2010 meeting.

recess and reassembly

The Chairman announced that there would be a ten minute recess at 9:39 A.M.

community development block grant (cdbg) program

Mr. Minkoff explained that staff was going to provide an educational presentation on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.  He stated that he had a recommended change on the program structure for next year and would present that recommendation to the Board after the staff presentation.

Ms. Allison Thall, Community Services Director, reported that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program is a flexible program that provides communities throughout the nation with resources to address a range of unique community development needs.  She stated that the CDBG program began in 1974, and is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD.  She explained that this program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1209 units of local governments and states.  She noted that Lake County became eligible as an entitlement community in 1999, and received its first funding allocation in October 2000.  She reported that every CDBG funded activity must meet one of three national objectives of the program in order to be eligible, and requires that each activity meet a specific test for either benefiting low or moderate income persons, preventing or eliminating blight or to meet other community development needs that have very particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of the community and because other financial needs are not available at the time to meet such needs.  She stated that the statute requires that each grant recipient must ensure that at least 70 percent of their expenditures are used for activities qualifying under the first of those national objectives that benefit low or moderate income persons.  She indicated that low and moderate income persons are identified as families or individuals whose income is no more than 80 percent of the median area income.  She stated that there are several additional subcategories for each of the national objectives, and noted that Lake County’s program ties closely to the national objectives and several of the subcategories.  She commented that the CDBG funding is approximately one million dollars annually, and explained that it was increased to $1.3 million due to the addition of Minneola and Howey-in-the-Hills to the list of urban county partners.  She outlined the allocation of fund spending between public services, administration and brick and mortar projects.  She stated that the goal of the CDBG Program is to improve the living environment and quality of life and to increase housing opportunities for the County’s low and moderate income persons.  She reported that Lake County benefits from three of the several program areas including the entitlement communities, Disaster Recovery Assistance Program and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Ms. Thall explained that entitlement communities are comprised of metropolitan cities with populations of at least 50,000 and qualified urban counties with a population of 200,000 or more.  She stated that HUD determines the amount of each grant by using a formula that is comprised of several measures of community need, including the extent of poverty, population, housing overcrowding, the age of housing and the population growth lag in relationship to other metropolitan areas.  She reported that the County must develop and follow a detailed plan that provides for and encourages citizen participation, particularly by persons of low or moderate income and residents of predominantly low income neighborhoods, slum or blighted areas.  She explained that the County must develop and submit a five year comprehensive planning document in its consolidated plan that identifies the goals, priorities and programs.  She stated that the County must also submit a one year action plan that certifies that no less than 70 percent of funding received will be used for activities in compliance with the national objectives.  She reported that the Disaster Recovery Assistance Program provides flexible grants to help cities, counties and states recover from presidentially declared disaster areas.  She stated that HUD generally awards these non-competitive, non-reoccurring disaster recovery grants by formula that considers the disaster recovery need that is unmet by any other financial resources in the County at that time, and explained that funds could be used for recovery efforts including housing, economic development, infrastructure and the prevention of further damage to an affected area.  She reported that the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was established for the purposed of stabilizing communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment.  She stated that the NSP provides grants to all states and selective local governments on a formula basis, and allocated $3.92 billion to 55 states and territories and 254 selected local governments with Lake County receiving over $3.1 million.  She commented that Lake County developed its own program and funding priorities with the requirement that at least 25 percent of the funds be used for the purchase and redevelopment of abandoned or foreclosed homes that will be used to house individuals or families whose income does not exceed 50 percent of the area median income.  She stated that all activities funded by the NSP must benefit low or moderate income persons whose income is less than 120 percent of the area median income.  She reported that Lake County has contracted with Habitat for Humanity, Homes-in-Partnership, and Leesburg Housing Authority, which are purchasing foreclosed homes in Eustis, Leesburg and Clermont to rehabilitate and sell to low or moderate income persons as affordable housing.  She indicated that LifeStream Behavioral Center and New Beginnings have contracted with Lake County to purchase foreclosed homes for supportive housing like the Housing the Homeless Program.  She commented that the funds must be obligated or encumbered by September 30, 2010 and must be fully expended by March 30, 2013.  She reported that as of January 31, 2010 ten properties had been purchased and three of those ten have been sold.  She stated that Lake County currently has approximately $1.7 million or 65 percent of the funds encumbered, and are in the process of preparing an amendment to expand our areas of greatest need in order to identify and secure additional foreclosures.  She reported that HUD gave a favorable report on the County’s NSP plan.

Ms. Thall noted that the NSP2 are NSP funds that were authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) which provides grants to states, governments and non-profits on a competitive basis.  She reported that Lake County’s NSP2 application was not funded.  She stated that during the ARRA, Lake County received an additional CDBG allocation of $263,083 for project year 2008 known as CDBG-R funds that must be expended by September 30, 2012.  She explained that the CDBG-R activities include various projects at Camp Challenge, Astor, Lady Lake, Leesburg, Astatula, Tavares and Montverde, and noted that most of the projects are currently in progress and the sewer line installation at Camp Challenge has been completed.  She commented that the total CDBG allocations for the County’s five year consolidated plan total under $5 million.  She stated that the CDBG funds are allocated to Community Enhancement Areas (CEA), community projects, public services, county urban partners, and housing rehabilitation.  She reported that the CEA beneficiaries received over $670,000 and includes Yalaha, Altoona, Paisley, Umatilla, Ferndale and Okahumpka.  She explained the process of becoming a CEA.  She commented that community projects has received over $1.5 million in funding for a variety of projects with the majority of the funding being used for road paving in the Lake Kathryn area.  She stated that public services spent over $700,000 on the weekend meal delivery program, meal site transportation, prescription assistance program and the community health worker program.  She reported that the urban County partners including Tavares, Montverde, Lady Lake, Astatula, Howey-in-the-Hills, and Minneola received $1.1 million to be used for parking improvements, community center renovations, sidewalk construction and paving projects.  She noted that the housing rehabilitation program spent over $224,000, and assisted 18 mobile homeowners with repairs to their roofs, wells and septic tanks, eight mobile homeowners with substantial home repairs in the wake of the 2007 tornadoes, and provided seven mobile homeowners with down payment assistance for a replacement mobile home.  She presented two charts that represent the CDBG funding allocation over the five year period and the current project year.  She recommended increasing the number of mobile home and housing rehabilitations under the housing program, continuing the Prescription Assistance Program in conjunction with the Health Department, continuing the Community Health Care Worker Program, continuing coordination with the cities for various improvement projects, and discontinuing the Community Enhancement Area Grant Program.  She explained that the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) is a future opportunity available through the CDBG Program, and is the largest federal block grant allocating approximately $2 billion to state and local governments that is designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low income households. She reported that HOME funds could be used to purchase and rehabilitate homes, provide financial assistance to eligible homebuyers, build or rehabilitate housing for rent or ownership, and up to ten percent could be used for administration of the fund.  She stated that one of the conditions of the HOME funds is that the County would have to match every dollar of HOME funds with twenty-five cents from non-federal sources which may include anything from donated materials to labor.

Ms. Thall commented that HOME funds are allocated based on a formula that considers the relative inadequacy in each area, the housing supply, the incidence of poverty, fiscal distress, and other HUD conditions.  She stated that participating governments must have a current and approved consolidated plan with an action plan that outlines the intended uses of the HOME funds.  She noted that Lake County would be considered a new jurisdiction and would have to formally notify HUD of the County’s intention to participate under the HOME program.  She reported that another future opportunity is a Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy which proposes a series of strategies that are intended to better the quality of life and enhance the economic opportunities for the residents and businesses in an indentified area.  She commented that successful revitalization strategies bring together the community stakeholders and forge a partnership that obtains commitments to community building that generate community participation to ensure that the benefits of the economic activity are reinvested in the community for long term development that fosters the growth of resident based initiatives to identify and address not only their housing and economic needs but their human service needs as well.  She reported that a revitalization strategy must include a community profile which analyzes the physical and social environments of that community.  She stated that after the community profile was completed, there would have to be public participation to develop a planned action step to implement the revitalization.  She reported that revitalization strategy activities include performing drainage studies, design and implementation of updating building facades, neighborhood cleanups, housing rehabilitation, and almost anything that will improve the physical, structural, and economic strength of a community.

Mr. Minkoff explained that staff’s recommendation to eliminate the Community Enhancement Area (CEA) Program would not change the way funds are used; however, it would change the decision making process on where the funds are to be spent.  He noted that these funds would be very beneficial to lower income residents needing housing rehabilitation, particularly for mobile homeowners where the SHIP monies are not available.

It was a consensus of the Board to approve staff’s recommended changes.

judicial center funding presentation

Mr. Minkoff stated that Tab 2 is a presentation on the judicial center funding, and noted that staff anticipates presenting the guaranteed maximum price for the expansion to the Board in May with a projection of funding to completion.

Mr. Kristian Swenson, Facilities Development and Management Interim Director, outlined the revenue sources totaling $97.5 million for the current construction projects.

Commr. Hill noted that the General Fund transfer and the renewal sales tax revenues were not included on the list of revenue sources.

Mr. Minkoff explained that based on the December presentation, those funds would not be needed this fiscal year, and stated that staff is planning to make those transfers at mid-year.  He commented that staff anticipates outlining the guaranteed maximum price of the judicial center expansion compared to the available funding, and noted that the plan is to utilize the sales tax revenue to make up the difference of those two amounts.

 Mr. Swenson displayed on the monitor a breakdown of all expenditures and encumbrances on a project basis for the design, site work and master project costs, Property Appraiser and Tax Collector Building, Central Energy Plant, parking garage, judicial center expansion, judicial center repairs, and the South Tavares Complex projects.  He indicated that some of the projects have a small balance in encumbrances, and explained that the final invoices have been received and processed for those balances.  He summarized that the total funding was $97.5 million with expenditures and encumbrances totaling $55.7 million, with an available funding balance of $41.7 million.

judicial center envelope repair

Mr. Minkoff stated that Tab 3 is a request for the judicial center envelope repair, and apologized for not previously presenting all of the facts to the Board at the November meeting.  He commented that the budget for this project was originally approved at $730,000 with a $70,000 contingency.  He reported that the City of Tavares informed him that all of the work was scheduled to be done at night which resulted in a significant cost increase.  He stated that the City of Tavares was concerned about the amount of noise that would be created at night.  He noted that staff worked with PPI to reevaluate the options and performed a test cutting at the judicial center with the Clerk and City officials.  He stated that staff’s recommendation is to perform the cutting at night and the patching during the day to expedite completion and save approximately $130,000.  He asked the Board to approve the purchase of a warranty from the manufacturer that would cover any leaks to the entire building including the investigative costs for a ten year period as long as the cost of the warranty did not exceed $10,000.

Commr. Conner stated that he did not want Mr. Minkoff to take the blame for not previously presenting the information to the Board, because the information was not given to him.

On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Option 2 for a budget of $597,504 with a ten percent contingency for a total budget of $657,254.  The Board approved the purchase of the extended warranty to be purchased from the contingency for the amount not to exceed $10,000, with the stipulation that if the warranty exceeds $10,000, it will be brought before the Board for discussion.

Mr. Minkoff commented that staff has committed to work with the City of Tavares and the area residents to minimize the noise.

lake county ambulance mstu fund

Mr. Minkoff provided a brief history of the Ambulance Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) Fund, and reported that once Eustis and Mascotte are part of the MSTU, the County will be paying approximately $700,000 to the cities for them providing Advanced Life Support (ALS) systems.  He stated that there is a savings to the County because there is a reduced need for ambulances in the field which cost approximately $500,000 each.  He noted that the MSTU Fund will be fine for the Fiscal Year 2011 but foresees issues in the future due to the reduction in taxes.  He stated that the City of Groveland implemented ALS prior to October 1, 2009 with the expectation that they would be compensated by the County.  He commented that there was a miscommunication or a decision was made that there were not any funds available to fund the City of Groveland.  He asked that the Board approve the contract to pay $56,071 to the City of Groveland as long as the other cites are being compensated.

Commr. Cadwell stated that it was implied that the County was going to compensate Groveland like the other cities.

On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the contract between the City of Groveland and Lake County for the payment of $56,071 to Groveland from the Ambulance MSTU Fund for the 2009-10 year.

Mr. Minkoff reported that the one year warranty on the countywide radio system expires in September 2010, and noted that there will be a maintenance requirement of $1.6 million for the first year.  He stated that there is a grant for $500,000 and some revenue from traffic fines, but there will still be a balance of approximately $800,000 that will be due in Fiscal Year 2011.  He suggested including this item in the MSTU budget because all of the cities are involved, and it is an emergency type of expense, but noted that there may be some legal issues with this option.  He mentioned that if the cities agreed to include this item in the MSTU budget, then the County could include the maintenance on the actual radios once the three year maintenance contract ended.  He informed the Board that if it was not budgeted in the MSTU fund, then it would have to be put in the General Fund budget.  He questioned the accuracy of the formula for the payments to the cities and the County for providing ALS, and noted that he acknowledged the benefit of this service to the overall system but wanted to mention it to the Board.

Commr. Hill asked if the 911 funds could be used to pay for the radio system.

Mr. Greg Holcomb, Communication Technologies Director, Public Safety Department, stated that 911 funds are strictly regulated by legislation to be used only for the call taking functions of 911.

Commr. Renick asked where the maintenance costs were originally budgeted.

Mr. Minkoff reported that he has researched this matter and did not know if this expense was ever budgeted.

Commr. Conner asked why this expense was not budgeted.

Mr. Minkoff explained that he was not aware of this expense when the December budget projections for 2011 were made, and did not know why the item was not included in the current budget.

Commr. Conner asked if there was going to be a $1.6 million expenditure for this fiscal year.

Mr. Minkoff stated that there would be one month’s worth of maintenance costs for this fiscal year, and noted that staff was researching if the entire amount would be due in September or if the amount would be prorated.

Commr. Conner asked whose responsibility it was to include these costs in the budget.

Mr. Minkoff explained that it is the County Manager’s responsibility.  He opined that the costs for one month would not be a problem for this fiscal year, and stated that funding would be an issue for 2011.

Commr. Conner asked the Board if they were aware of the $1.6 million maintenance requirement when they approved the radio system.

Commr. Stewart and Commr. Cadwell stated that they were not aware of the required maintenance cost.

Mr. Holcomb explained that the maintenance costs were not included in the budget, because the expenditure was not expected until the end of the year and because there was a calculation that the cost for the one month would be paid with the reduction from the old system maintenance.  He noted that Motorola had extended the warranty period.

Commr. Stewart asked what the maintenance costs were for the old system.

Mr. Holcomb reported that the maintenance for the old system cost between $200,000 and $300,000 per year.

Commr. Conner asked if the maintenance costs were presented to the Board at the same time the capital expenditures were presented.

Mr. Holcomb stated that the maintenance costs were an exhibit of the contract, but noted that the actual dollar amount was not known until the system was fully constructed and approved.

Commr. Conner asked if the maintenance costs were verbally presented to the Commission.

Mr. Holcomb commented that he did not know if it was specifically mentioned to the Board, but was certain that it was an exhibit in the contract.

Commr. Conner clarified with Mr. Holcomb that the maintenance costs were critical to keeping the radio system operational.

Mr. Minkoff reported that staff is in the process of having discussions with Motorola to negotiate a better price and exploring other ways to reduce the costs.

Commr. Conner expressed concern that the $1.6 million maintenance cost per year is going to equal the cost of the capital expenditure.

Commr. Stewart expressed concern for the amount of the maintenance cost, and stated that she is a supporter of the radio system because she thinks it is going to make the County a safer place to live and save lives.

Commr. Renick stated that she shares the same frustrations as the other commissioners because she was not aware of the amount of ongoing operational costs.  She asked where the Board is going to find the money to keep the radio system operational.

Mr. Minkoff commented that he was hopeful that the cost for the first year could be paid from the MSTU if the legal issues were addressed.

Commr. Cadwell agreed with the suggestion by Mr. Minkoff to use the MSTU funds for the first year, but opined that it would be a short term fix and that the spending of the MSTU funds would have to be re-evaluated.

Mr. Minkoff stated that if the County is not able to use the MSTU funds because of legal issues, then payment will have to be made from the General Fund.

Commr. Cadwell asked if it could be split between other funds if the MSTU fund is not an option instead having it all come from the General Fund.

Mr. Minkoff stated that there might be the ability to split the costs based on usage, and mentioned that there is a possibility that the County could use funds from the General Fund and the Fire Fund.

voluntary early out program

Mr. Minkoff stated that Tab 5 is a request to authorize the County Manager to offer employees the option to participate in a voluntary early out program.  He noted that the proposed program clearly defines the benefits and offers the program to employees with less than 15 years; whereas only employees with more than 15 years were eligible to participate in the program last year.  He reported that there are three employees that already initiated the retirement process before the announcement of the voluntary early out program, and asked the Board to approve the payment of additional severance pay to these individuals instead of allowing them to receive all of the benefits of the early out program.  He commented that the proposed plan is similar to the plan last year except for the change in years of service.

On a motion by Commr. Conner, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the implementation of the voluntary early out program and the payment of additional severance pay to the three employees that have already initiated the retirement process.

vacant positions

Mr. Minkoff stated that Tab 6 is a request to fill 11 vacant positions, and noted that due to the earlier discussion on libraries he would like to postpone discussion on that position; therefore, he asked the Board to authorize the filling of ten vacant positions.  He commented that he worked with Mr. Doug Krueger, Fiscal and Administrative Services Director, and each of the directors to ensure that there were enough funds in the budget to maintain these positions next year.  He stated that the General Fund would not be impacted by the position for the probation officer because it is funded by the collection of probation fees.  He explained that Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, released some capital funds from Stormwater to fund the two park ranger positions that are needed in the Parks Department, and noted that the Stormwater fund has a reserve of $4 to $5 million for next year’s projects.  He reported that Public Works has proposed a solution to their budget issues to ensure the employment of the two equipment operators, survey crew chief and roads maintenance operator which are needed to maintain basic road maintenance.  He noted that the Community Development Specialist and Community Access Counselor are grant funded positions.  He stated that there is only one position that would impact the General Fund, which is the Office Associate III for Community Services.

Commr. Cadwell confirmed with Mr. Minkoff that all of these positions are vacancies created by employees leaving, and that none of them are new positions.

Commr. Conner asked how many vacancies there are compared to the number of positions being requested.

Mr. Minkoff explained that the current budget has approved 778 full time positions, and there are currently 24 vacancies.

Commr. Conner asked what basic services were not currently being provided in Public Works due to the vacancies in that department.

Mr. Stivender responded that all of the positions are for equipment operators that operate the trucks for clay, pavement, asphalt, and all other equipment essential to road maintenance.

Commr. Conner asked if Public Works had a heavy workload.

Mr. Stivender stated that the Public Works Department is always busy during the rainy and drought season.

Commr. Conner asked if Mr. Stivender was requesting these positions because he had enough funds in the budget to arrange for them or if the positions were absolutely necessary.

Mr. Stivender commented that these positions were required to keep the roads maintained.

On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board authorizes the County Manager to fill the following ten vacant positions: Conservation and Compliance: Probation Officer (1); Public Resources: Park Rangers (2); Public Works: Equipment Operators (2), Survey Crew Chief (1), Roads Maintenance Operator (1); Community Services: Community Development Specialist (1), Community Access Counselor (1), and an Office Associate III (1).

deputy director of facilities

Mr. Minkoff stated that Tab 8 is a request to create a Deputy Director position for Facilities because there are three employees retiring including the current Maintenance Director, Mr. Robert McCullough.  He explained that it is a slight upgrade of one classification from the maintenance director position, and noted that the three positions from the upcoming retirements will not be filled.  He opined that the deputy director position is important due to the current maintenance issues.

On a motion by Commr. Hill, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the creation of the Deputy Director position for Facilities Development and Management.

promotions, reclassifications and position upgrades

Mr. Minkoff stated that Tab 9 is a request for clarification of the effects of the freeze for promoted, reclassified and upgraded positions.  He noted that under the Personnel Policy individuals that have been promoted, reclassified or had their position upgraded would have received an increase to the minimum of the new job level or a five percent increase, and explained that his interpretation of the freeze has been that pay increases of any kind were prohibited.  He reported that employee feedback is that the freeze should not apply to promotions and reclassifications, and that the employees feel that with increased responsibility there should be increased pay.  He noted that division and department directors would only receive a pay increase if they were below the minimum for the new position.  He opined that the county would lose good employees when the economy turns around if pay increases were not given with any promotions, reclassifications or position upgrades.

Commr. Renick agreed with the comments by Mr. Minkoff, and opined that the pay grade for upper management should be re-evaluated.

Commr. Stewart commented that she did not perceive this as a pay increase and instead viewed it as an employee accepting a position with an established salary based on added responsibility.

Commr. Hill asked how many employees this scenario would affect.

Mr. Minkoff stated that there are six or seven employees that meet these criteria.  He noted that he would scrutinize the promotions and would not allow this to be used as a way to give pay increases.

Commr. Conner asked if the promotions were creating vacancies.

Mr. Minkoff commented that there could be vacancies created depending on the reason for the promotion.  He explained that if an Equipment Operator II applied for the Equipment Operator III position and received it, then the Equipment Operator II position would be vacant, and remain vacant until the Board authorized it to be filled.  He stated that if an employee meets the qualifications for a higher level job and is promoted it will not result in a vacancy.

Commr. Renick reported that a County employee discovered an alternative method of doing something at the Hooks Street Project and saved the County a million dollars.  She noted that employees are trying to save the County money every way they can.

Commr. Conner clarified that his interpretation of the hiring freeze was not to penalize employees that were getting promotions.  He opined that promoting individuals and creating vacancies that are not filled actually saves the County money.

On a motion by Commr. Renick, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board authorized pay increases for employees that have been promoted, reclassified or had their positions upgraded.

legislative packet

Mr. Minkoff stated that he was contacted by the lobbyists and Rep. Alan Grayson requesting the County’s funding requests, and noted that most of the department directors wanted to keep the same funding requests as last year.  He mentioned that the Board asked staff to work with the City of Tavares, City of Mount Dora and the Lake Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) on the rails issue.  He commented that there were questions about the amount of funding the County would get to improve the rail lines, but opined that any funds received would be beneficial for the County.

On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved adding the legislative packet to the Agenda.

On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the submittal of last year’s legislative packet with the addition of rail funding as a priority.

Commr. Cadwell asked Mr. Minkoff to contact the cities involved to inform them of the Board’s actions.

Mr. Minkoff responded that staff has already been coordinating with both cities and the Lake Sumter MPO.

reports – commissioner hill – district 1

wekiva parkway

Commr. Hill reported that she received a letter from Seminole County regarding the Wekiva Parkway.  She stated that the County’s design plan followed along SR 46, and noted that Seminole County, while not opposed to Lake County’s plan, is evaluating an alternative trail.  She asked if the Board was going to respond to the letter.

Commr. Stewart stated that there are ongoing discussions with Seminole County.

Mr. Minkoff stated that this item was scheduled for discussion on the trail, tolls and governance issues for the February 23, 2010 meeting.

Commr. Stewart commented that she is part of the Wekiva River Management Committee, which has concerns that putting another bridge across the river will affect the integrity of it as a wild and scenic river.

metro orlando economic development council (EDC)

Commr. Hill reported that she attended the last Metro Orlando Economic Development Council (EDC) meeting and obtained a copy of their financials and audit report for the Board’s review.

reports – commissioner renick – vice chairman and district 2

appointment for st. john’s river management district board chairman

Commr. Renick commented that she had a meeting with Ms. Susan Hughes, Chairwoman of the St. John’s River Water Management District Board and Ms. Melissa DeMarco, Mayor of the City of Mount Dora, to address the cities’ points of view.  She opined that Ms. Hughes has taken a leadership role and been receptive to the area’s concerns especially concerning conservation.  She stated that Ms. Hughes is going to have a discussion about public interests and is considering making changes to some of the rule making.  She reported that Ms. Hughes is up for reappointment, and asked the Board if it was appropriate for the County to submit an endorsement letter for her reappointment.

Commr. Cadwell responded that the Board can legally submit endorsement letters, and explained the only concern is whether it is a wise political decision.  He asked if that is something the Board is comfortable doing.

Commr. Stewart stated that she is very comfortable submitting a letter of recommendation for Ms. Hughes based on her work and the emphasis she is putting on conservation.

On a motion by Commr. Renick, seconded by Commr. Stewart and carried unanimously, by a vote of 5-0, the Board added the said item to the Agenda.

Commr. Conner questioned if this is a vacancy that can be filled by a Lake County person and if the Board is comfortable submitting a recommendation for Ms. Hughes if a like minded Lake County person is applying for the position.

Commr. Cadwell noted that he wrote two letters of recommendations the last time there was a vacancy for this Board.

Commr. Conner asked when the deadline is to submit applications for the appointment.

Commr. Renick commented that March 1, 2010 is the deadline for applications, and noted that other applicants have applied but none from Lake County.

Commr. Cadwell suggested framing the motion so that if a Lake County person is not eligible, then the Board would write a letter of support for her.

Commr. Hill clarified that it would be a letter from the Board and not each individual commissioner.

Commr. Renick stated that Ms. Hughes did not ask for the letter of recommendation, and explained that when she found out about the reappointment, she wanted to do what she could to keep Ms. Hughes as the chairperson.  She suggested that the Board wait.

Mr. Minkoff stated that Ms. Melanie Marsh, Acting County Attorney, would find out if the appointments were geographically based and present that information at the next meeting.

reports – commissioner stewart – district 4

relay for life

Commr. Stewart encouraged everyone to get involved in the Relay for Life event to support the fight against cancer.

reports – commissioner cadwell – chairman and district 5

proclamation honoring judge boylston

Commr. Cadwell commented that he would like to prepare a proclamation to honor Judge Boylston for his years of service, as he is not seeking re-election.

It was a consensus of the Board to prepare a proclamation to honor Judge Boylston.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 11:13 a.m.



welton g. cadwell, chairman