March 4, 2010

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session and in closed session on Thursday, March 4, 2010 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:  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; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.

Agenda update

There were no updates to the Agenda.


community services

service development grant from Fdot for route 4 funding

Mr. Ken Harley, Public Transportation Director, reported that the initial ridership numbers for Route 4 were projected at about 40 trips per day, but currently it was averaging over 81 trips per day.

Commr. Cadwell commented that he has observed several people waiting at bus stops along that route.  He also noted that a lot of the residents who were riding the bus to the Health Department were paratransit users who would cost the County more money to serve under the paratransit system than the fixed route system.

Mr. Harley commented that he believes that the ridership of this route would continue to improve, since it was still in its infancy stage, and the more marketing they do, the higher the ridership numbers would be.  He also confirmed that a lot of the riders were paratransit users, and they were targeting that market to remove as many of those users from the paratransit system and add them to the fixed route system.

Commr. Conner inquired what the ridership was during a one-year time period.

Mr. Harley responded that there were about 5500 trips for the first six months.

Commr. Conner clarified that would mean that there would be 11,000 trips during a year’s time and asked him what the figures indicating 23,000 and 31,000 represented in the Alternate Corridors Ridership Summary.

Mr. Harley explained that was one of the analyses done by the consultants, and those were the numbers for the anticipated ridership that the consultant came up with when they did the Transit Development Plan.  He pointed out that his staff used numbers that were more realistic that they anticipated based on current ridership of their existing routes when they applied for the grant, and he opined that staff had better knowledge and understanding of the area than the consultants had when they put together that document.

Commr. Renick asked what the reason was for the consultant’s analysis and what it was used for.

Mr. Sandy Minkoff, Interim County Manager, explained that those figures were taken from a TDP (Transit Development Plan) document which was prepared by the MPO, not the County.

Commr. Conner commented that he specifically wanted to scrutinize their public transportation, because the Board was being asked today to take almost $100,000 out of their general fund to pay for bus ridership strictly from north Lake County to Zellwood, and he did not want to make commitments from the general fund unless they absolutely had to, because of their budget situation.  He was concerned that in the past when he had asked for the projected ridership, he was given the MPO document with the higher projection, and he had previously based his vote in favor of this on the projected ridership that was in that report rather than one that was prepared by staff.

Mr. Harley responded that he believed they provided all the Commissioners with a copy of the TDP, which was the long range plan for their transportation system as a whole, and he apologized for not providing the Board with the application for the Service Development Grant.

Commr. Conner clarified that they were looking at 11,000 trips per year rather than 31,000 trips per year, and they had to decide whether that was worth the $95,000 that the Board was being asked to pay out of the general fund.  He inquired about the time limit for making this decision.

Mr. Harley responded that they had to have the funding agreement submitted back to FDOT before July 1.

Commr. Conner commented that he believed it was unwise for them to make commitments out of their general fund right now until they could figure out what their priorities were as a Commission.

Commr. Renick stated that she had this pulled from the consent agenda because she was concerned that they were spending close to $100,000 before they had started discussions regarding the budget, and she felt that they would regret making such a large decision regarding general fund dollars today.  She asked that this be postponed.

Commr. Cadwell commented that even though they were aware they would have to make some tough budgetary decisions, the Board had also decided that they would cut anywhere they could before they cut things that affect the public, and he believed this is something that would affect the residents.  He also commented that it was an emerging system and would take a long time to grow, especially in a culture that never had that available before.  He related that he sees increasing ridership more and more, and he did not want the Board to forget the importance of the public transportation system.

Commr. Hill stated that they could look at all the routes to see which ones were the viable routes and which ones could change.

Mr. Minkoff pointed out that the whole purpose of the LakeXpress was to get people off of the paratransit buses where the cost was three or four times as much per trip, and they would have to send a bus door to door to pick the paratransit riders up if they discontinued this route.  He stated that they needed to keep that in mind as they evaluate the numbers.

Commr. Conner suggested that they ascertain in some documented manner rather than guess what percentage of the trips are paratransit so that they could more easily justify the expenditure that was in front of them.

Mr. Minkoff assured the Board that he would bring this back as part of the budget process.

On a motion by Commr. Renick, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to postpone the request from Community Services for approval to accept a Service Development Grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for partial funding of Route 4 from Altoona to Zellwood.


new business in sorrento

Commr. Stewart announced that there was a new business opening in Sorrento called SCT Fitness Complex, which she related was a wonderful gym with great equipment and aerobics classes.  She invited everyone to go to the grand opening this Saturday, March 6, and to support the local businesses there.

closed session

Ms. Melanie Marsh, Acting County Attorney, stated that she requested to have this closed session today, which was authorized by F.S. 286.011, for the purpose of discussing impending litigation before the Board.  She related that once the closed session starts, it would be confined to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation and litigation expenditures.  She noted that there was a court reporter there who would record the entire session once they start, along with when they begin; when they end; all discussions in the proceedings, including the names of all persons present at any time; and whoever speaks.  She related that none of the session could be off the record.  She explained that the court reporter’s notes would be transcribed and would be made public at the time that litigation was concluded, and she stated that she had a copy of the advertisement that was required.  She named the persons that would be present at the meeting besides herself, who were the Commissioners and Mr. Minkoff, and she anticipated that the closed session would last for approximately one hour.


The Chairman reconvened the meeting at 3:00 p.m.

reports – county attorney

request for approval to hold future closed session

Ms. Marsh requested to hold a closed session on March 16 at approximately 11:00 a.m., and she stated that she would advertise for that.

On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Renick and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to add that request to the Agenda.

On a motion by Commr. Stewart, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the request to schedule a closed session on March 16 at approximately 11:00 a.m.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 3:05 p.m.



welton g. cadwell, chairman