March 29, 2010

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, March 29, 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 Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.

agenda update

Mr. Sandy Minkoff, Interim County Manager, pointed out to the Board that he had added a discussion regarding the Clermont land purchase to the agenda, which was also on the agenda next week for a final decision.

budget discussion

Mr. Minkoff explained that they would be focusing mostly on the general fund, which significantly affects some of the other funds, such as solid waste because it has such a big general fund contribution and library, which he considered a general fund budget item because of the impact it has on the fund.  He informed the Board that the departments are in the process of entering their budget requests to the accounting system, and that process should be completed within the next week or two.  He also reported that Mr. Doug Krueger, Fiscal and Administrative Director, has been monitoring the revenue side, and he will be able to have that information essentially at the same time the departments’ information is received, enabling them to look at proposed expenditures and income.  He noted that he intended to be able to present the budget to the Board before the July 15 date required by the Ordinance if possible and that he would be requesting some additional budget meetings before the budget comes out in April and May to discuss the Board’s priorities, since he thought that it was best to discuss the budget in advance if they were going to have to make cuts.

Mr. Minkoff went through the bulleted items on the handout entitled County Budget Made Responsible, which outlined the principles that he intended to use while going through the budget preparation, and he wanted to get the Board’s opinion of those to make sure that they agreed with them.  Regarding the first bullet, he stated that rather than utilize across the board reductions by requiring everyone to cut 5 or 10 percent, he believed that it would be better to examine every department and division individually so that they did not penalize those departments that have been frugal and reward those that have not been.  He noted that the second bullet reflected that he reorganized the things they were required and not required to do into the essential and nonessential core functions of government and then further dividing those into services that provide direct services to the public, and if they do have to make cuts, they will focus on the things that are non-essential but also things that do not provide direct services to the public.  He stated that the third bullet was to ensure transparency of the budget process by requiring public input and making written documentation readily available to the public prior to reduction or elimination of any program or public service.  He explained that the fourth bullet stated their intention to continuously and closely examine their programs, departments and divisions; alternative methods of providing programs and services; and the procurement of goods and services.  He stated that the next bullet noted that during the budget process, they would streamline department and division organizational structures and eliminate unnecessary or redundant advisory groups.

Commr. Conner opined that the fourth bullet was something they should be doing in both good and tough economic times, and he would like the County to be efficient and not let the amount of revenue taken in determine what it spends.  However, he noted that since in this environment they are looking at $10-12 million less in revenue this year, that is going to be a driving factor in what they were able to spend.  He expressed his belief that part of this process should entail examining each position and giving it a number grade ranging from 1 to 10 as to how important it is to the County.

Commr. Renick opined that Mr. Minkoff has done an excellent job looking at how to streamline things and that she believes there has been a definite shift in terms of looking at the question of needs and wants.

Mr. Minkoff related that Mr. Krueger was going to discuss some budget reductions that they were already in the process of making, which they have identified as Tier 1, 2, and 3 cuts. He explained that Tier 1 cuts are those that are already being implemented, which also include vacant positions as they come forward that are not going to be filled, and those are expenditure reductions.  He stated that Tier 2 reductions are those that directors have identified as ones that could possibly be cut involving the elimination of programs and positions that are somewhat internal to the organization and that did not provide direct services to the public, although there would be an impact to the level of service.  He continued to explain that Tier 3 cuts are those that would actually eliminate or reduce a direct public service, which they have not focused on yet, since they are waiting for the outcome of today’s meeting to get Board direction regarding how much focus to put on those, and he noted that Tier 3 reductions would involve discussion with the Board and public input.

Mr. Minkoff mentioned that Mr. Krueger would be explaining the Schedules as well as each of the scenarios under those schedules that they had provided to the Board, which uses some portion of the current fund balance to operate over the next 1-3 years.  He commented that a primary objective was to get the Board’s opinion and feelings on whether or not they should be using the fund balance for operating expense.  He pointed out that there was a fourth scenario that Mr. Krueger will not present that day that will not use any of the existing fund balance. He emphasized that Lake County is not in any financial difficulty and that their reserves are as strong as any county in the state, but if they elected to not use any of the existing fund balance, then the County would be looking at cuts of about $16 million or more in their general fund budget next year, which would be a 12 percent reduction in terms of general fund.  He pointed out that roughly half of the general fund goes to public safety for law enforcement and corrections, and if no reductions were made there, then a 24 percent cut in the general fund expenditures would have to be made, which would eliminate every optional County program if it was even possible  to make that kind of expenditure cut.   He also noted that the County’s policy does require that they keep a minimum of 10 percent of the expenditures in the reserve, and this year they had a 28 percent reserve and were hoping to push that higher as they go through the rest of the year.

Commr. Conner stated that he thought they should present a scenario that does not use any of the existing fund balance just to show people how bad things would be if they did not use any money from the reserves, which would give justification for using some of the reserves that they might not feel comfortable doing otherwise.

Commr. Cadwell asked if he would have them do that under a scenario that holds the constitutional officers harmless from making any reductions in their budgets.

Commr. Conner responded that he thought that as liaison to the constitutional officers the Chairman should have a discussion with the Sheriff about the budget.

Mr. Minkoff commented that Mr. Krueger could give them an idea of what would happen if the County had to make those kinds of cuts.  He continued to explain that the Tier 2 reductions that he had mentioned would result in a reduction of roughly an additional $2 million in expenditures mostly through eliminating positions that were currently filled, and even though these reductions would not reduce or eliminate direct services to the public, they would impact the level of service.  He recommended that if the Tier 2 reductions have to be made, it should be relatively in the near future to have the money saved for next year and because it was not fair to leave the employees wondering if their jobs were safe or not.  He pointed out that all but one of the scenarios would require additional reductions over and above Tier 1 and 2 for the 2011 year, and two of the scenarios might avoid making the Tier 2 reductions in 2011.  He noted that all of the scenarios would require additional budget reductions sometime in the three-year period if revenues do not improve.

Mr. Doug Krueger, Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services, noted that all of the schedules that would be presented were developed assuming a 10 percent reduction in the tax base, and any 1 percent change in that number either up or down would impact their revenues by about $1 million. He also explained that all of the scenarios assume a minimum of 10 percent in their stabilization and economic development reserves.  He pointed out the revenue changes from what was currently budgeted and anticipated at the top of Schedule 1 which made up about $5.1 million of their $36.9 million projected fund balance, and he mentioned that $3.8 million of that is from the fund balance that came over from last fiscal year.  In addition to that, a $700,000 transfer from the Christopher C. Ford Fund and a $300,000 transfer from the Code Enforcement Fund will be presented to the Board on April 6 as part of the mid-year budget amendment.  He noted that other major revenue includes $550,000 from a COPS Grant that was reimbursement for some equipment that was previously purchased.  He stated that that is somewhat offset by their interest income which is lower than estimated by about $669,000, since their interest rates are somewhat in the neighborhood of 1.25 and 1.3 percent, which would bring only half the interest than they had in the past.  He went over the expenditure adjustments on Schedule 1, which contained some of the adjustments that they suggested at the December 8 workshop to transfer the funding for the BCC Warehouse and the South Lake Community Park from the general fund to the sales tax fund and some additional revenues in the amount of $2.3 million that were in the landfill capital project fund and long-term care fund that could be transferred to their operating fund, which would reduce the general fund transfer.  He specified that those adjustments equate to $5.6 million in money that was freed up in the general fund to be placed in the fund balance. He informed the Board that some additional departmental adjustments totaling about $6.7 million were available in the packet on Schedule 6, the largest of which was $6 million that was originally allocated to the judicial center project that was placed in the reserve fund balance, since there was enough bond fund money for construction for the next couple of years.  He stated that the $755,000 balance of those funds primarily consisted of positions that have become vacant since the beginning of the fiscal year or will become vacant as a result of retirement or the early out program.  He related that the last section illustrates that they have about $19.3 million in reserves that will be carried over to next fiscal year.

Mr. Krueger explained that Schedule II was based on $2.4 million of Tier 1 reductions which were adjustments made in the current year as well as those that carry over to next fiscal year, and the additional reductions above what were made in the current year are listed on Schedule VII on page 8.  He mentioned that the information presented is a snapshot of the fund balance section of several schedules that he used to develop this information.  He recapped that Mr. Minkoff was looking for direction from the Board as to whether they could use the fund balance to help fund next year’s budget and if so how much and whether that should be used over one, two, or three years.  He noted that the top line indicated that the fund balance was $36.9 million in 09/10 and showed a reduction in the fund balance each year without getting below the required 10 percent fund balance figure of the projected expenditures.  He explained that they were projecting a carry-over of $36.9 million, and about $17.8 million would go to either the economic stabilization reserve, the economic development reserve, the $5 million reserve for capital projects that came from the judicial center project, or $100,000 reserve for operations, which leaves $19.1 million that could be used to help fund next year’s budget.  He stated that if they just make the Tier 1 reductions, it would take $14.2 million of that $19 million to fund next year’s budget, leaving $4.8 million that would be carried over to 2011/12.  However, under this scenario they would have to make another $9.4 million in cuts in 11/12 and $3.8 million in 12/13 that would involve not only internal reductions to internal programs that did not provide services to the public but would also entail cutting programs that provide direct service to the community.  He related that the second section in the middle of Schedule II illustrated spreading the $19.1 million over a two year period, using $9.5 million in 10/11 and $9.5 million in 11/12, with the same amount reserved for the economic stabilization reserve and the capital projects and so forth.  He emphasized that that scenario would require the County to make additional cuts for 10/11 of about $4.7 million; the County’s budget would then be balanced in 11/12, but then they would have to make $9.5 million in reductions in 12/13 above Tier 2 which would provide direct service to the public.  He commented that the hope was that the economy will have improved and that their tax base will have increased enough by 12/13 to mitigate some of these reductions.  He presented the last scenario on Schedule II, which spread $19.1 million over a three-year period, using about $6.3 million of the reserves a year for the next three years, and he pointed out that that scenario would basically double the amount of cuts that have to be made for 10/11 from $4.7 to $7.9 million, which would involve direct services to the public; however, they would then have a balanced budget without further cuts for the next two fiscal years.

Commr. Conner asked what they would do in the third scenario after 2012-13 when they only had a 10 percent reserve balance left.

Mr. Krueger answered that if the revenues did not improve by 2013-14, they would be looking at a $6.3 million reduction.

Commr. Conner asked how they would balance the budget in the next fiscal year if the County didn’t have the $36.9 million in reserves,

Mr. Krueger responded that the Board would have to decide if they wanted to maintain the 10 percent economic stabilization reserve or cut $14.2 million out of the budget.

Mr. Minkoff noted that it is a legal requirement that the BCC balance the budget every year.

Commr. Conner pointed out that it was a matter of what they are going to cut now and what to cut later, which depended on the philosophical direction that the Commissioners were going to give the staff.

Mr. Minkoff commented that the reason they wanted to develop the scenarios over a three-year period is because he felt that it was not a good idea to look at one year at a time, and he pointed out that they could adjust subsequent years after year 1 depending on economic conditions and that these were only intended as illustrations.

Mr. Krueger also informed the Board that the 800 MHz Radio maintenance was not included in those numbers, and it was assuming that the $1.5 million will be funded out of non-general fund revenue sources, such as the ambulance municipal service taxing district.

Commr. Renick said she believed that was an assumption that could not be made, and they still had to have that discussion.

Mr. Minkoff clarified that the MSTU that Mr. Krueger was referring to was a County-wide millage and that the Board’s direction previously was to at least do that for the first year, because they have a reserve in that millage account, which would solve that issue for that first year.

Commr. Conner recommended that the minutes for the meeting where the direction was supposedly given to be checked.

Commr. Renick stated she did not think there was any specific direction, and that was one of the possibilities that was given.

Commr. Conner stated that he did not think there was any decision on that issue yet.

Commr. Cadwell stated that they would look at it and see, but he thought that Commr. Conner was mistaken about that.

Mr. Minkoff mentioned that they currently have excess reserve in that account anyway, and the request from EMS for funds was going to be less; they were also talking about increasing that millage.  He emphasized that these are illustrative and were meant to illustrate the issues and were not necessarily specific in terms of making final actual decisions.

Mr. Krueger explained that the difference between Schedule II and Schedule III is that Schedule II assumes that the $5 million dollars set aside from the judicial center project would be reserved and spent on capital projects, and Schedule III assumes that that amount would instead remain in the reserve and be used to help fund operating programs.  He pointed out that this scenario dramatically changes the reductions that would have to be made if in fact the $5 million was not spent on projects, and he asked the Board to put the two schedules side by side to see what that difference is.

Commr. Conner commented that it was general fund money allocated for a capital project which could be reallocated back to the general fund, because it was not legally binding to be applied to capital projects.

Mr. Krueger pointed out that they were going to focus on the additional fund balance that would be needed to maintain a minimum of 10 percent reserve, so instead of having additional fund balance of $19.1 million that is on schedule 2, there would be an additional fund balance of $24.1 million over a one-year period.  He explained that since they did not need the entire $24.1 million for 10/11, the first column is exactly the same, and they would only need to use $14.2 million to balance next year’s budget without further reductions above the Tier 1 reductions.

Commr. Conner asked if there currently were any identified projects for that $5 million.

Commr. Renick answered that besides the judicial center, there had not been any that they have discussed, but there have been some road issues for which there could possibly be a need for that $5 million, particularly an interim road to the new high school in South Lake.

Commr. Conner commented that he thought they should move that money back to the operating budget where it originally came from unless there was a real identified pressing capital project.

Commr. Stewart agreed with Commr. Conner about this issue.

Commr. Renick asked Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, if that road was a pressing need.

Mr. Stivender responded that they were currently looking at overlaying the existing roadway and not widening it, which they had money in their reserves to do.

Commr. Conner commented that the County is in excellent financial health, and he thought that they need to be willing to make tough decisions so that they did not run their reserves down to the minimum requirement.  He noted that Mr. Frank Royce, Chief Deputy, Property Appraiser’s Office, indicated that he saw no end to the depression of property values in the immediate future.  He asked whether this scenario would use the $5 million next year or this year.

Mr. Krueger stated that they would not need that for next year, but it would be restored to the operating budget and used in 2011-12; however, it would no longer be earmarked for capital projects, but would be in the reserve to be carried over.   He continued to explain that the amount needed for the economic stabilization reserve would total about $12.7 million, which would increase the amount available in the fund balance to use for operating purposes from $19.1 million shown in the first schedule to $24 million, and if they only needed $14.2 million to balance next year’s budget without further reductions above Tier 1 as shown in Schedule II, then almost $9.8 million would be carried over to 2011/12, which would decrease the reductions that would need to be made in that year.  He related that in fiscal year 2010/11 there would be no change, and in the second year the needed reductions would drop from $9.4 million to $4.4 million, but it would increase the needed reductions in the year 2012/13 from $3.8 to $9.3 million.  He commented that this basically would push the cuts into the future with the hope that the tax base and the revenues will increase, and maybe they would not need to make those serious reductions in year 12/13.  He went over the next scenario on Schedule III, which proposed spending the $24.1 million over the next two years instead of the first year alone, which would only require additional reductions totaling $2.2 million versus the $4.7 million reductions proposed in Schedule II and prevent reductions involving services provided directly to the public    However, under this scenario, there would be anticipated reductions totaling $12 million in FY 2012/13.  He related that the last scenario illustrates using the $24.1 million over the next three years, allocating $8 million for each year, which would require additional cuts in indirect and direct services to the public totaling $6.2 million in FY 2010/11 but no cuts over the following two years.  He concluded that they provided these scenarios to help the Board decide whether to use reserves and whether to use it over a one, two, or three year period.

Commr. Hill expressed concern about having enough sales tax revenue for the judicial center project if needed.

Mr. Krueger specified that there would be approximately $3 million in sales tax available for the judicial center project.

Mr. Minkoff assured the Board that there appears to be adequate money in the local infrastructure sales tax to make up that difference, but it probably would not be needed for about two or three years.  He noted that the guaranteed maximum price that would be brought back to the Board will actually demonstrate that.

Mr. Krueger stated that Schedule IV and V followed the same sequence, and the difference between those and the schedules that were previously discussed was that these reflect the Tier 2 reductions.  He specified that Schedule IV assumes the $5 million is going to be spent on capital projects, and Schedule V assumes that it was not going to be spent on those projects.

Commr. Conner reiterated his opinion that there was no logic using operating money for capital, especially in tough economic times, and that they should move the $5 million to the operating budget.

Commr. Renick recapped that they had pulled the money from the judicial center project, and commented that it did not matter where they currently put that money, since it could be moved to another fund in the future.

Mr. Krueger reported that Schedule V made the assumption that they would have about $24 million in additional fund balance above what was needed for the economic stabilization and development reserve to be used against operating expenses, and included scenarios spreading that amount over a one, two, and three-year period.  He noted that because of the Tier 2 cuts that would be made, the first scenario showed that they would only need $12.8 million of the reserve for 2010-11 to balance the budget, and they would carry over $11.3 million to use in 2011-12, resulting in the need for only $1.5 million more in cuts that year.  However, under this scenario, it would be necessary to make additional reductions in the amount of $11.2 million in 2012-13.

Commr. Conner expressed concern about waiting two years to make reductions.

Mr. Minkoff pointed out to the Board that the Covanta debt would end in 2014, which would result in a $3 million to $4 million decrease in what the County is paying to the Solid Waste fund from the general fund.

Mr. Krueger continued to go over Schedule V, stating that the second section was based on the assumption that the $24 million would be spent over a two-year period, and it would require a little bit more reduction in 2010-11 of about $753,000.  He stated that they would not have to make any further reductions in 2011-12, but they would need to make about $12 million in reductions in 2012-13 if the economy did not improve by then.  He explained that the last scenario shown was spreading the $24 million equally over the three-year period of $8 million each year, necessitating another $4.7 million in reductions in the year 2010-11 with no reductions in the years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Commr. Conner asked if these scenarios take into consideration any reductions made in the Sheriff’s budget.

Mr. Krueger answered that they were assuming current level of expenditures for the constitutional officers.

Mr. Minkoff noted that he did want the Chairman to talk to the Sheriff and the Clerk to see if their budgets could be reduced, but for illustrative purposes they have shown all the reductions on the County side.

            Commr. Cadwell noted that they would be getting into a discussion of philosophy, and he commented that he has been favoring spreading the reserve out over three years, understanding that he would be discussing budget reductions with the Sheriff and the Clerk.

recess and reassembly

The Chairman announced that there would be a ten minute recess at 10:20 a.m.

budget discussion (cont’d)

Mr. Minkoff pointed out that all the numbers that they had given the Board today were estimates, and he assured the Board that the staff was watching expenditures as closely as they could.  He stated that they were hoping to increase fund balance through reduced expenditures, and the anticipated ten percent decline was only an estimate, since they did not have those numbers yet.  He related that two questions he had for the Board at this point were  (1) how much if any fund balance they should plan on using in the 2011 budget year, and (2) how they should spread that fund balance out if they did use it.  He also wanted to let the Board know if they have to make those Tier 2 cuts, they probably would be making those in the next few weeks.

Commr. Cadwell commented that he thought they would need to use some of the reserves, and he was not opposed to using them over at least a two-year period.

Commr. Stewart stated that Schedule III over two years made the most sense to her, since she believed those reductions would affect the taxpayer the least.

Mr. Minkoff commented that if the Board were to choose the second column of Schedule III, then they would probably hold off on making Tier 2 reductions until after the constitutional officers discussions occurred, and they would look at everything to see if they could find that $2.2 million without actually laying employees off.

Commr. Stewart noted that that scenario would give them two years for the economy hopefully to improve, and there were positive signs of that happening.

Commr. Conner commented that he did not like any of the scenarios presented, even though he thought staff did an excellent job of presenting them, because he did not think it was wise to delay cuts that he believed were inevitable.  He also opined that it was fiscally irresponsible to raid the reserves to balance the budget, but he thought that using a small amount of the reserves for continuation of an important program would be justified.  He added that using a large amount of reserves was not what businesses were doing or what the public was demanding and went against trying to change the culture to where they were not doing as much.  He pointed out that the County could not provide the same level of services that it did when it had the money to do so.  He recommended looking at how they would balance their budget if they did not have any reserves, and then they could justify pulling money out of reserves if those cuts were too profound and showed a bleak situation that the public could not support.  He also opined that the County should have more than the minimal amount of 10 percent in their fund balance.

Commr. Stewart commented that cutting services to citizens would be more expensive in the long run, and the programs that they were discussing whether to cut actually save the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money, because the needs that the programs addressed would not go away.

Commr. Cadwell noted that Schedule VI shows the recommended adjustments in this year’s budget and the Tier 1 reductions.  He agreed that they did need to see the worst-case scenario before making a decision regarding the budget.

Commr. Conner wanted to clarify that he was not for closing libraries or other important services to the public, and he commented that the Board should institute Tier 1 and Tier 2 cuts and debate how many Tier 3 reductions should be made.  He also pointed out that there was an assumption that the constitutional officers were at the same funding level as last year, and he thought they should have a discussion with them before making any further decisions regarding the budget.

Commr. Cadwell commented that in the past it was a lot more productive to go to the constitutional officers with a predetermined number of funding reductions that the Board could show to them.

Commr. Hill pointed out that there were core and mandated functions of government, and it would be hard to determine a number without determining what those are.

Mr. Minkoff responded that the problem with using mandated and core functions is that there would probably be disagreement on the Board as to what a core function is, and there are things that are not legally mandated to be funded that would be considered a core function.  He emphasized that if they had to absorb the full $16 million in reductions in the County budget, then almost all of the County’s programs would be eliminated.  He explained that the Board would decide what the core function of government is.

Commr. Renick clarified that they were not talking about depleting their reserves, which were very healthy.  She commented that the reserves were to be used in case of emergencies, and the current economic environment might qualify as an emergency to use some of those reserves.  She opined that the County has already made many cuts in staff, and she thought they should look to see if they were at the bare minimum as far as employees and providing those services.  She pointed out that in the future when the economy improves, the County would have lost the good employees that were laid off.  She also opined that they would have to use some of their reserves, and they needed to decide how much was acceptable.

Commr. Hill commented that they were faced with the same decisions as last year, and she felt that they did not make the hard decisions at that time.  She wanted to have a more in-depth discussion of all the options, and she believed that they could not keep reducing their employees until they had a skeleton of a staff.  She stated that they balanced the budget last year mainly by making cuts in areas that affected staff, such as staff reductions and furlough days, and when they proposed cuts in any County programs, they had special interest groups asking for and usually receiving restoration of that funding.

Commr. Conner stated that he preferred that the County use the reserves over a three-year period rather than a two-year period, but he thought it was too short sighted to just look at the next three years.  He commented that they had to permanently downsize government.

Commr. Renick stated that they were getting down to discussing direct services to the public that people expect from them and whether they were willing to part with some of their reserves.  She also noted that they would soon find out during the budget process what the public thinks is and is not necessarily important and what were needs.

Mr. Minkoff clarified that the Board was asking him to show them scenarios of reductions in the amounts of $8 million and $16 million from the County budget.  He stated that he thought they could get that information to the Board by the budget meeting set for Tuesday, April 13.

Commr. Stewart commented that the County was making huge changes in the way they had been doing business to save money, including cuts in unneeded positions and combining of departments.

discussion regarding clermont spray field

Mr. Minkoff reported that he and Commr. Cadwell met with Clermont Mayor Hal Turville and Mr. Wayne Saunders, Clermont City Manager, to discuss an alternative proposal.  He recapped that the original contract called for them to purchase the property for $4.1 million and required the County to spend $2.5 million to improve the property by 2012.  He reported that the new proposal would have the County purchase the property for $2 million, still make $2.5 million in improvements, and have the County match a City contribution to capital improvements in parks for an additional $1 million beginning 2012.  He summarized that the end result was that the property value came down to $3 million, with Clermont taking $2 million of that and adding to it for parks.  He also reported that on Thursday, March 25, the adjoining property owner informed the County that they had lowered the price of their property from $3.5 million to $2.8 million, which was unsolicited information.  He continued to explain that he had discussed with the City that day having payments begin in 2012 and having the County spend the amount that was currently budgeted in sales tax of $2.5 million to improve the park.

Commr. Renick stated that they had to have a discussion about what the basic things were that the County was going to provide, and if they were going to provide a park in the south end of the County as they had provided in other areas, they had been offered property at prices that they could have never imagined.  She stated that in order to make a decision on this, they needed to decide whether parks are one of the core needs of the County.

Commr. Conner commented that parks are very important to have, but the question was whether they were essential, and he did not put parks in the same category as public safety in terms of what was essential.  He added that he thought parks enhanced the overall quality of life, and he mentioned that he voted against it last time because it was a $4 million expenditure.

Commr. Renick mentioned that she had listened for years on the Clermont City Council about the need for a park in South Lake, but she wanted to hear what the rest of the Board thought about this issue.

Commr. Cadwell stated that he and the mayor looked at this as a joint parks project and not just as the purchase of a piece of property.  He pointed out that most of that money would be put into a park project.

Commr. Conner commented that this was a much improved proposal than the one the Board was asked to vote on 60 days ago.

Mr. Minkoff reported that this issue would be on the agenda for the BCC Meeting on April 6 for the Board to make a decision.

martin luther king commemoration committee

Commr. Cadwell stated that he received a letter from the Dr. Martin Luther King Commemoration Committee asking if anyone was interested in serving on their joint planning committee for their activities and specified that they meet the first Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Leesburg Community Building.  He asked Mr. Minkoff to ask the staff if anyone would be interested in being the County’s designee.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 11:20 a.m.



welton g. cadwell, chairman