A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
february 8, 2011
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special workshop session on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 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: Jennifer Hill, Chairman; Leslie Campione, Vice Chairman; Sean Parks; Jimmy Conner; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Darren Gray, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Reverend Don Thompson from the Golden Triangle Center for Spiritual Living gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that he wanted to add an item involving the Growth Management Department for the issuance of a permit for a pet grooming business, which he believed would take Board action.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to add that item to the agenda.
Commr. Hill related that although they have already appointed Commr. Campione to the Wekiva River System Management Advisory Committee, she wanted to appoint Mr. Gregg Welstead, Code and Compliance Director, as an alternate member to that committee, which would need a vote by the Board.
On a motion by Commr. Conner, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to add that item to the agenda.
Mr. Darren Gray, County Manager, announced that they had some power outages last night in the building, which resulted in the computer feed not working for the monitor, so they will show the slides on the overhead.
presentation by department of community services
Ms. Dottie Keedy, Community Services Director, stated that they would present information to the Board about the department’s mission, funding, programs and services, and she related that they provide an integrated system of services, resource referral, and opportunities to address the social service needs of many of their citizens. She noted that they used a large number of funding sources and administered numerous programs to fulfill the mission. She related that they would start the presentation by talking about the funding sources of the department and then describe in more detail the funding services and programs within each division of the department. They would also be discussing some of the challenges they were facing and some of the opportunities they think would exist to address some of those challenges. She explained that the department has three divisions plus administration, which include Housing Services, Health and Human Services, and Public Transportation, and they had 22 total staff positions.
Ms. Brenda Likely, Financial Coordinator, started out by giving the Board an overview of the department’s overall revenue and expenditures and briefly explained how they were funded. She noted that only 30 percent of the revenues for the department comes from the general fund, which includes transfer to Public Transportation, and she showed a slide illustrating the revenues, which primarily come from federal and state grants. She related that the Housing Services Division is comprised of three separate funds, which were SHIP (State Housing Initiative Partnership), Section 8 Rental Assistance Program, and CDBG (Community Development Block Grant), a federally funded program by HUD. She explained that the Housing Division provides funding for rental assistance, down payment assistance for home ownership, acquisition and rehab of foreclosed homes, demolition and replacement of homes, repair and rehab of homes, mobile home rehab, prescription assistance, and various community and capital projects. She reported that the CDBG budget for fiscal year 2011 includes prior year’s projects that were not completed, and the CDBG allocation for this current year is about $1.1 million. She illustrated on the next slide that over 85 percent of CDBG funds were used for community and capital projects, acquisition of rehab and foreclosed homes, and funding to municipalities; and the remainder was used for prescription assistance and administrative costs.
Ms. Cheryl Howell, Housing Division Director, stated that this division consists primarily of four programs, which were SHIP, Section 8, CDBG, and NSP (Neighborhood Stabilization Program). She explained that the SHIP program was a state-funded program through doc stamps which they primarily utilize to assist income eligible households with first-time purchase assistance or home ownership rehab. She noted that this program has not been funded since 2009, but there was $1.3 million of recaptured funds that the County was allowed to use for their residents. She informed the Board that all of the funds have been encumbered to date and thus far they were assisting a total of 23 clients which consists of 8 rehabs, 13 purchase assistance, and 2 demolition replacements. She related that they also received back $429,000 from a failed Kristen Court bridge loan project. She explained that their Section 8 program that provides rental subsidies for income eligible clients who rent from private landlords is also federally funded, and the County pays a portion based on the client’s income and family size. She commented that there are strict guidelines for property standards that each landlord must adhere to for participation in the Section 8 program, and currently 420 families have been assisted by this program each month. They were also servicing 110 additional families that have been ported in on this program from other areas, who were not utilizing a portion of Lake County’s entitlement funds. She mentioned that the waiting list was approximately 1,430, and she opined that there was a huge need for rental subsidy and for affordable housing in this area. She specified that the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) average $250,000 monthly.
Ms. Howell explained that CDBG was a federal entitlement program received from HUD, meaning each year they were entitled to receive an annual allocation, which was $1.1 million last year, and she explained that they have historically used these funds for street improvements, community centers, sidewalks, and parks for low to moderate income neighborhoods. She stated that the Neighborhood Stabilization Program was a federally-funded program received by entitlement communities to help stabilize neighborhoods that have been decimated by the economic downturn and the housing market, and she specified that they were allocated $3.1 million for NSP1, as well as an additional $3.1 million for NSP3. She emphasized that these were one-time funds and will not be received on an annual basis, and they are used to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed or abandoned homes in specific target areas per HUD guidelines. She stated that all homes will be sold to income eligible homebuyers or will provide affordable rental properties, which is a huge need for their area, and they have purchased 33 homes so far and sold 18 of those homes to income eligible homeowners. She commented that these funds have very strict guidelines in terms of the areas, and they are provided a mapping tool by HUD to determine where the greatest need is. She informed the Board that they would be seeing the NSP3 plan soon.
Ms. Likely pointed out that Health and Human Services was primarily funded by the general fund, and she mentioned that the jail receives money for room and board from other counties to house inmates that have been transferred to Lake County. The general fund pays for mandated programs, provides grants to organizations and other programs that the Board has decided to fund, and pays for administrative costs to run these programs. She reported that the budget for fiscal year 2011 includes 77 percent for operating expenses, 7 percent for personal services, and 16 percent for grants and aid to organizations.
Ms. Allison Thall, Health and Human Services Division Director, listed the six general funded programs that they are required to manage pursuant to Florida Statute, including to administer Medicaid hospital and nursing home billing, cremation or burial assistance, Inmate Medical Invoice Administration, and the local participation contract with LifeStream Behavioral Center; and there were four additional programs that were funded but which were not mandated by the State, which were Non Ad Valorem Tax Hardship Assistance, LASER (Lake and Sumter Emergency Recovery), We Care, and the Shared Services Network in conjunction with the Sheriff for crime prevention programs. She related that they also participate in the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant under the Financial Incentive Program for the residential and small commercial rebate activity which would be up and running in about 30 to 60 days. She stated that Children and Elder Services was also within the Division of Health & Human Services, and Ms. Rebecca Foley-Kearney, the Children and Elders Manager, oversees the components of the Choose Life License Plate fund to assist not-for-profit agencies so that they could provide counseling and material needs of pregnant women who are committed to giving their children up for adoption. Ms. Foley-Kearney also processes the invoices received by the Children’s Advocacy Center for services provided by their Child Protection Team, which performs medical evaluations that are related to abuse, abandonment, and neglect and serves as staff support to the Children’s Services Council, which is comprised of 15 members and a Commission liaison, as well as the elder Affairs Coordinating Council, which has 13 members and a Commission liaison. She mentioned that Ms. Foley-Kearney provides an enormous amount of information outreach to agencies, individuals, and service providers to share needs, announce available resources, and provide opportunities pertaining to seniors and elders. She briefly reviewed and discussed the Children Services grants which totaled $158,708 given to eight agencies which have been selected for funding, including the Boys and Girls Club, Early Learning Coalition, Golden Triangle YMCA, and Haven of Lake & Sumter Counties. She noted that they have progressively received each year a reduced amount during the budget process for these grant awards. She described the process that the review committee goes through to select the agencies to receive the grants utilizing the RFP process before the committee’s recommendations were submitted to the Board for final funding approval. She also went over the Human Services Grants process, which was similar to the process for Children’s Services. She noted that she had two Veterans Services officers whose sole purpose is to work directly with their veterans to assist them with their VA claims process, and they have been able to help them secure over $9 million in previously unclaimed benefits during this last fiscal year. They also provided outreach once a month at the Leesburg and Clermont VA clinics. She reported that the Community Health Worker Program was fully funded by CDBG and that it included the KidCare Program; Food Stamp Outreach Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helped 450 seniors to secure food stamps; and direct assistance to their low-income seniors through the Medicare Beneficiary Outreach Assistance (MBOA) Program to help them apply for the extra help on their Medicare premiums.
Ms. Likely commented that there were many funding sources for the Transportation Division, and she showed a graph which illustrated an overview of the funding, noting that 55 percent of the funds came from federal grants, 14 percent from state funds, 8 percent from the general fund, 2 percent from paratransit co-pays and fixed-route fair box revenues, and 28 percent from other sources. She reported that paratransit, commonly known as Transportation Disadvantaged, is budgeted at $4.1 million in FY 2011, and their fixed route budget is $1.8, which includes $293,000 for the two Lynx routes at the south end of the County. She also reported that the capital expenditures which include some stimulus funds from last year will be used to purchase shelters, buses, facility improvements on Griffin Road, and bus equipment.
Mr. Ken Harley, Transportation Director, related that Lake County provides three modes of public transportation, which were the fixed route service, ADA complementary service, and their paratransit door-to-door service called Lake County Connection. He stated that LakeXpress, the fixed service route, has been in operation since May 1, 2007 with routes 1 and 2, and there were currently seven buses that were used to provide this service, including a cross-county connection from the Villages to Eustis, circulator routes in the cities of Leesburg and Mount Dora, and a route from Altoona to Zellwood, all which run Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. He explained that their second mode of transportation was the ADA complementary services, which was required by the federal government to be provided to individuals who live along or within three-quarters of a mile of the fixed-route and are disabled and unable to navigate the system on their own. They also contract with Lynx to provide service in South Lake County consisting of five trips in the morning and five trips in the afternoon, and they provide service in the Four Corners area as well which runs from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. with a 30-minute headway. He also related that their Lake County Connection program, which was the Transportation Disadvantaged program, was available to those who qualify and who have no other means of transportation, such as the elderly and disabled, which was funded in part by state and federal agencies. He pointed out that ridership was up on all of their routes, with LakeXpress continuing to exceed their expectations, and with a correlating decrease in ridership on Lake County Connection as they try to get more of those riders to use the more cost-effective fixed-route system. He commented that it was important to promote LakeXpress through as many community events as possible, so that more people would take advantage of this valuable service, and he listed some of the marketing ideas and community events they have utilized this year, such as Dump the Pump, which allows riders to ride free when they donate a nonperishable food item; a transit users contest creating a public awareness campaign about public transportation; providing transportation to the Leesburg Bikefest; the Stuff the Bus event, which collects nonperishable food items to be donated to the local food pantries; a program allowing students to ride free during the summer months; and mock DUI crashes at local high schools.
Commr. Cadwell asked whether they will reiterate the promotion they did with the YMCA last year charging students only $1 per day during the summer months.
Mr. Harley responded that he has not heard from them yet, but he believed that they would be doing that promotion again this year. He went on to note that they were excited this year about the upcoming construction of 28 bus shelters using grant funds, including the first one outside the Administration Building, and they were looking to renovate the fleet facility on Griffin Road.
Ms. Keedy related that one of the challenges they were anticipating in the future was how the designations would come out after the population is counted from the 2010 census, which could change the allowable use of some of the federal funding for operating the bus system, and they were working with some associations to request a waiver for small systems if that happens. Also, she noted that South Lake could be designated as part of the Orlando urban area, which would change their funding as well. She commented that Medicaid and Med-Waiver reform could have impacts on both public transportation and the Health and Human Services Department, and any reductions in public transportation could impact the required match for the fixed-route funding and the overall budget for transportation disadvantaged. She explained that regarding housing services, the loss of SHIP funding and potential reductions of HUD funding could impact their housing programs, and she expressed concern that long-term monitoring requirements of the housing programs would have to be paid for with other additional sources if they lost funding for that. She explained that Medicaid reform would impact required payments for nursing home care and hospitalization for the low-income elderly, and it could fall to the County to make up for a shortfall resulting in reduction in fees; also declining general fund revenues would affect all of the programs that have a general fund match or completely funded by the general fund. However, she also saw future opportunities, such as those they were seeing in public transportation to continue to market and to increase the fixed-route ridership, which would eventually increase their funding. They have also been in talks with Mascotte, Groveland, and Clermont about developing a fixed route along Hwy 50, and they continue to discuss coordination with Sumter County as they look into possible partnership opportunities for expanding their fixed route. She noted that they get numerous requests for weekend service from their riders, especially for those needing to get to work, and they have been looking into the Vanpool program, which provides transportation to larger employers outside of Lake County. They also want to implement some housing program modifications that would bring in some income and make that program more self-sustaining, and they want to develop strategies with their CDBG funds to look at how they could spur economic development housing and infrastructure projects. She added that they want to continue their outreach and marketing in the Health and Human Services Division, including a second Senior Fest, which was a well-attended event that was a great way to get information out to that population about all of the services that are available, and they wanted to look closely at partnership opportunities between the funded agencies that receive the grants to enhance the level of service to seniors.
Commr. Cadwell asked where the fixed route at Four Corners went and if the ridership for that route consisted mostly of workers.
Mr. Harley responded that it runs along the I-92 corridor into Orange and Osceola Counties, and some were using it to get to work in the service industry along the route.
Commr. Cadwell commented that a lot of the riders in the south end work in the resorts and that type of business, and he believed that the lack of weekend service was a hindrance for them.
Mr. Harley answered that many citizens throughout the County have been expressing concerns about the lack of weekend service.
Commr. Parks asked Ms. Thall how often they look at the process she outlined for the Children’s Services Grants to see if it needs to be improved.
Ms. Thall responded that they review it annually, utilizing the members from the Children’s Service Council as well as in-house staff, and she opined that they were very cognizant of the need for the information to ensure that their funds were being spent in the most accurate way and resulting in the most direct benefit to their residents as possible.
Commr. Hill added that they spot check to make sure that the money is being spent on what was requested, and if not, the agency would reimburse the County.
Commr. Campione asked if the agencies were ever asked for financials or their agency audits.
Ms. Thall answered that the agencies were required to submit an annual audit and identify all of their in-kind and other funding that is used to support the specific program that they are requesting County funding for during the budget process.
Commr. Campione noted that while reviewing the applications or synopsis of them, she came across a roughly $2,000 grant to provide balloons and cards for shut-in elderly, and she was concerned that that was not something that they should be using general fund dollars for, in contrast to the magnitude of need of providing medical examinations for children that have been through abuse.
Mr. Gray assured her that they would review that as they go through this process.
Commr. Campione asked Ms. Howell to explain in more detail how the rental NSP3 funds would be used for providing rental assistance, such as whether they were refurbishing existing facilities.
Ms. Howell explained that it was basically similar to the home purchasing portion of it, and their partner agency would acquire a property in the same manner as previously described with the NSP1 funds to use as a rental property. She added that the hope was that the partner agency can work with that small pool of people to help them become self-supporting in the future and hopefully realize home ownership.
Commr. Campione stated that New Beginnings, one of the agencies that received the grants, indicated to her that one of the most difficult things they have to do after working with people who are homeless and need a bridge situation was to find a place to move them which charges rent those people could afford, and she opined that she thought that there was a great need for affordable rental properties.
Ms. Howell responded that there was also a tremendous need for an emergency shelter in the County as a first step in the process from homelessness to home ownership, and then they are moved into transitional living where they become more stable, followed by affordable housing, and finally home ownership. She noted that the County needed to have some things in place in order for this process to happen, such as an increase in transitional housing, and even though that could not come from these funds, there are other opportunities out there. They want to be able to work with the non-profits to build capacity so that they can receive those other funds along with their entitlement money, so every dollar could bring in four or five dollars from outside sources to leverage the money.
Commr. Campione opined that programs which refurbish facilities that could be used for rental purposes is a great way to use those funds, since they were upgrading and retrofitting existing facilities and putting people to work, and she believed all of that made a lot of sense as opposed to new housing assistance.
Mr. Gray mentioned that this department was funded in large part by state and federal grants, so they would be monitoring what was happening with that over the next couple of months as well as working through the budget process, and they would update the Board.
Mr. T. J. Fish, Executive Director of the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), added that they had a very unique collaboration with several of the County’s departments, especially Public Transportation, because there are statutory requirements that the MPO monitor and evaluate the BCC as their community transportation coordinator, and he explained that the MPO does all of the planning, helps with the Transportation Disadvantaged service plan that their staff puts together, and does the Transit Development Plan.
Commr. Hill commented that they did need to look at regional funding, especially with transportation. She then asked if the refund money from Kristen Court that was currently in trust at the Clerk’s Office had to go back to the federal agency or whether they could roll that into the next phase.
Ms. Howell responded that the money did not have to go back and was still under the County’s control, and they were feverishly working with the Affordable Housing Committee to decide how these funds would be spent.
REPORTS – COUNTY ATTORNEY
issuance of permit to pet grooming business
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, stated that they had a request from the Growth Management Department for someone who has a pet grooming business. He mentioned that he believed that this issue has not arisen in the past since most of these businesses have been located in cities, and he explained that under their current LDR’s (Land Development Regulations), a pet groomer is defined as a kennel, which have very stringent setback requirements of 200 feet. He related that this groomer wanted to locate his business in a multi-tenant shopping center that does not meet the 200-foot setback, but the department does not believe it makes sense to have a pet groomer meet a 200-foot setback. He noted that to approve this permit, they would have to change their LDR’s, which is a process which usually takes three months, and he asked for Board permission to issue the permit to this particular person to allow him to open this business, and then come back and fix the LDR’s so that anyone else could have that opportunity.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the logic for that was that a lot of those businesses were being located in homes rather than commercial areas, but that requirement did not make sense if it was located in a commercial building.
Mr. Minkoff mentioned that the new regulations would require them to be inside a fully-enclosed building with air conditioning and would include pet stores as well.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the issuance of the permit to the above-mentioned pet grooming service.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER HILL – chairman and DISTRICT 1
appointment of alternate member to wekiva river committee
Commr. Hill stated that in addition to the appointment of Commr. Campione as the representative, she also wants to appoint Mr. Greg Welstead, Conservation and Compliance Director, as the alternate member for the Wekiva River System Advisory Committee.
Commr. Cadwell noted that Mr. Welstead has been working hard with the Congress of Regional Leaders on some water issues that they were taking up to try to get a consensus regionally, and they were at a point where they were discussing them with the utility directors. He mentioned that they would be getting that report to the Board
On a motion by Commr. Conner, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board made the above-mentioned appointments to the Wekiva River System Advisory Committee.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:10 a.m.
jennifer hill, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK