march 15, 2011

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special workshop session for a county-wide fire services/public safety joint meeting on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 4:00 p.m., in the Magnolia Room, Everett Kelly Convocation Center, Lake Sumter Community College, Leesburg, 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; and Susan Boyajan and Courtney Vincent, Deputy Clerks.

welcome and introduction

Commr. Cadwell recapped that they met in December to discuss whether they could collaborate better together on fire service and that most of the municipalities were in agreement and wanted to move forward with ways that they could work in partnership with each other.  He noted that they completed the fire survey that was mentioned at that last meeting containing data such as the demographics, personnel, call data, equipment, and inventories.  He related that already the municipalities have joined together on a fuel purchasing contract; and the County, Lake-Sumter EMS, and the Cities of Clermont, Eustis, and Leesburg are now using a consolidated uniform purchase contract.  He also reported that the County and the City of Clermont have entered into a single-unit response right-of-way agreement, and a county-wide mutual aid memorandum of understanding has been drafted, with approval pending legal review along with the results of meetings held with the municipalities.  He mentioned that to date, the County has had four meetings with Eustis, Mount Dora, and Tavares, and he congratulated them on the hard work they have been doing and that it made a lot of sense.  He named the many meetings he has had with various municipalities, and stated that the County Public Safety Department and EMS staff have made presentations to the Board and that the fire staff from the Cities of Eustis, Mount Dora, and Tavares has each made presentations to their councils.  He also announced that Sumter County would decide next week whether to withdraw from Lake-Sumter EMS and go to a private company, and they would be in a holding pattern until a decision is made regarding what they would do with that entity.  He assured everyone that the decision that Sumter County makes would not affect Lake County, and they would reform that Board to make sure they have representation from all of their partners and the citizens if Sumter County was no longer involved.  He mentioned that 11 counties in close proximity were surveyed to determine how ambulance service was provided in those counties, and none of them used private firms for emergency ambulance service, with dispatching in most cases provided by the Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department, or the ambulance company.

discussion of possible fire and ems service study

Commr. Cadwell reported that they initiated some talks with UCF and Lake-Sumter Community College about exploring a possible study of county-wide fire and EMS services which would get an outside perspective of fire service to look for efficiencies and collaborative opportunities, and he thanked Mayor Melissa DeMarco for bringing that forward.  He asked whether the elected officials present at the meeting thought they needed that, whether it would be a good thing to do, and whether there was a willingness to assist in the funding as a group of that study, and he related that they were currently in the process of looking at the cost of that.  He also noted that the Board discussed at a workshop whether they should put that out for an RFP so that private companies as well as the college could bid on it.

Mr. Peter Tarby from the City of Umatilla responded that a study would probably be a beneficial thing so that an outside force would have an input that was not perceived as skewed.

Mr. Ray Goodgame from the City of Clermont opined that the cities in South Lake can all work together, and he did not think they needed to go to this expense.

Mr. Tim Loucks from the City of Groveland stated that he was in agreement with Mr. Goodgame and that he did not think the County and the cities need to bear the expense of this type of study.

Mr. Tony Rosado from the City of Mascotte commented that they did not have the money to spend on this, and he believed they were currently doing well.  He did not see that the study was really needed or what they would gain from it at this point.

Ms. Sanna Henderson from the City of Leesburg agreed that they do not need a study.

Commr. Cadwell asked whether everyone was pleased with the progress they have made so far and whether they believe that they were moving forward.

Mr. Goodgame thought that the idea of cooperative arrangements that they could make for uniforms, vehicle maintenance, and fuel, as well as possibly looking at some large grants for the entire county would be beneficial.

Commr. Cadwell related that their plan was to see what Sumter County was going to do and then discuss the structure of the new EMS and how they would operate at their next joint meeting.

Mayor Melissa DeMarco from the City of Mount Dora stated that she would like to see the information that Commr. Cadwell mentioned that was compiled from the cities and have that distributed among the elected officials and city managers, so that they all know if they were talking about similar levels of service and equipment in conjunction with other cities that border them.

Commr. Cadwell assured her that the County staff would do that.

Mr. Paul Berg, City Manager for the City of Eustis, stated that he would like to have more of a clearly-stated goal as to what they were trying to achieve, and he believed they could do cooperative purchasing without any formal agreements in most cases.  He wanted to know what was meant by “trying to coordinate services,” and he commented that the definition of level of service was very critical in how they compare what they currently have with whatever they might have differently at some point in the future by working together.  He added that they need to spend some time defining what their level of service is in a common way, so they have something to compare when they look at different arrangements for service provisions other than cost.

Mayor DeMarco opined that although three of their cities are starting to communicate, they do not have anything to offer the greater group at this time, because they have been concentrating on their own cities of Tavares, Mount Dora, and Eustis.  She reported that they had a joint workshop coming up with the three cities where they would be able to further define what the ultimate goal is, and they were pleased with the progress and meetings that they have had.

Commr. Cadwell responded that there may be pockets of cities that could use their model to be able to do that with their own cities.

Mr. Shane Lanoue from the Town of Astatula noted that they currently do not have a fire department of their own and that Lake County currently provides that service for them.  He asked whether they were looking at automatic aid and mutual aid agreements between the cities, the County areas that are intermixed in the cities, and enclaves to fix the problem of emergency vehicles crossing over different areas, including responding to calls through multiple traffic lights to get to an area where there was already a truck available inside a station that could have responded to that call.

Commr. Cadwell answered that they absolutely were looking at that, and one of the major causes of this meeting was to end that kind of scenario, although they would have to look at what fits in the different communities.  He opened the meeting to anyone who wanted to comment, but there was no one who wanted to speak at that time.

Commr. Sean Parks commended the Cities of Eustis, Tavares, and Mount Dora for what they were doing and the great leadership that has been shown during that process, and he opined that the continuation of communication in itself is a worthy and constructive goal.

Commr. Cadwell clarified that they would meet again to discuss this after hearing from Sumter County

Mr. James Gearhart from the City of Groveland related that they had a concern about reimbursement for taking care of several of the County’s areas, and he suggested that EMS or whoever is doing the dispatching use a boundary map to figure out who would respond to what area.  He noted an incident where the County responded to a call that was just two miles out of the City of Groveland which was near a Groveland fire station.

Commr. Cadwell assured him that the County was working on that issue.

Mr. Darren Gray, County Manager, reported that they have already held a couple of meetings with Mascotte and Groveland and will continue to meet with them, and he thought they could bring something back to the Board within a month.

Mr. John Gunter from the City of Fruitland Park commented that there were County trucks coming through their city almost daily, and he wanted to know if they were going to be reimbursed if they provide their facilities or respond to a call.

Commr. Cadwell responded that they hoped that some of those mutual aid agreements would address that issue, which may be different in different places depending on the level of service that was requested from each entity.

Mr. Gray interjected that he believed they had a meeting set up with Fruitland Park within the next couple of weeks to discuss that issue.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.



jennifer hill, chairman