A special MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
june 14, 2011
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special budget workshop session on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. at Trout Lake Nature Center, Eustis, 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; Melanie Marsh, Deputy County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; and Shannon Treen, Deputy Clerk.
introduction and welcome
Mr. Morris Pelham, Board member for Trout Lake Nature Center, welcomed everyone and expressed his appreciation for the support that they receive from the County.
Commr. Hill mentioned that today was Flag Day and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
No changes or deletions were noted.
fiscal year 2012 budget
Mr. Darren Gray, County Manager, stated that this was an update to the last budget presentation back in May, and noted that the Property Appraiser and most of the constitutional officers had submitted their budgets. He explained that this would be an update mainly on the general fund, and added that there would also be a presentation from Tindale-Oliver regarding the fire and rescue assessment, and a presentation on the progress of the capital projects. He discussed the general fund, pointing out that the millage rates have decreased over the last five years due to mandatory rollbacks from the state legislature and actions taken by the Board, and noted that the total county wide millage rate had stayed constant at 5.2263 since 2009. He related that the gross taxable values have also decreased over a five year period by 30 percent. He explained that there were three major revenue sources in the general fund: the county wide ad valorem, the state revenue sharing, and the state sales tax, and related that over the last five years, the ad valorem has been decreasing, whereas the state revenue sharing and the state sales tax have held steady. He added that because these have been steady, it may be an indication that the economy was slowly recovering. He then showed slides illustrating the revenues and the expenses in the general fund over the past five years, and explained that the fund balance was the money left over each year that was used to help fund the first few months of the following budget year. He pointed out that “other uses” was the biggest expense, representing 67 percent of the expenses, whereas the county departments only represented 25 to 30 percent. He then showed a chart that listed the “other uses” category, noting that all of the proposed budgets for 2012 have decreased, except for the Supervisor of Elections, because of the upcoming general election. He added that the Tax Collector had not presented his budget yet, as his was not due until August 1. He remarked that the landfill enterprise fund was the Covanta payment, and that contract would end in 2014. He noted that the debt service was for the Judicial Center bond, and although they only had to pay $3.7 million this year, the annual payment was $5.7 million each year. He also specified that the fire assessment was approximately half a million dollars because the institutional properties, like churches, were only charged 50 percent of the fire assessment fees; therefore, the general fund paid the other 50 percent. He explained that out of the $121.9 million budgeted for expenses, about $82 million represented “other uses.”
Mr. Gray related that they were working on a model that projected five years out to show the direction the budget was moving in. He noted that for fiscal year 2012, the fund balance was $37.8 million and the revenues were $112.9 million, and due to state statutes, they could only budget 95 percent of the revenues; therefore, the total fund balance with the revenues were $145.5 million. He added that the expenses would be $121.9 million, but they were still looking at cutting some of those. He explained that the Board had a policy stating that the money left over at the end of the fiscal year would be put into reserves, so that money could be reallocated at any time during the next fiscal year if needed. He then pointed out that the reserves would decrease to $23.6 million, noting that approximately $8 million would have to be taken out to balance the budget at the end of the current fiscal year. He noted that they have done a great job over the last couple of years of increasing the reserves; however, he did not want to get in the habit of using this money to balance the budget, which was why it was important to create the five year model to see how this would look in the future. He recommended that this budget report be done quarterly, so he could keep the Board informed of their financial conditions.
Commr. Conner stated that since the reserves were disappearing pretty quickly, he would like to see a three or five year projection where they were not taking money out of reserves.
Mr. Gray responded that once the five year model was put together, they would be able to tweak it each year as needed.
Commr. Conner commented that their policy stated that the reserves could not go below 15 percent, and right now since it was at 19.4 percent, that meant there was only 4.4 percent remaining.
Mr. Gray stated that he was predicting it to go up to 20 percent after the mid year adjustments since the departments have been working hard on cutting their spending. He noted that he would continue working on this, and when the Board voted on the millage rates at the end of July, they would have a better understanding of what the budget would look like. He explained that when they first looked at the budget, it looked like there would be a $16 million shortfall, so their goal was to reduce it by $5 million, but so far they have only reduced it by $2.2 million. He noted that they also planned on receiving $2 million from the hospital tax, but according to previous discussions, Lake County only qualified receiving $200,000 from the taxing districts. He remarked that a letter was sent to the taxing districts, along with an invoice, letting them know what the County was requesting.
Commr. Hill specified that the first letter stated that the Board wanted to meet with them to discuss the issue, and a second letter may possibly go out stating the Board’s position and what they were looking for in that meeting. She added that the Tax Collector mentioned that there may be some savings for the hospital taxing districts, so it was possible that they could give that money to the County since it was not anticipated.
Commr. Campione clarified that the County was trying to capture the amount for this year, and opined that it was a great idea to send that letter out, laying out exactly how the amount was calculated, so the hospital districts had a chance to review and understand it before the meeting.
Mr. Gray commented that Ms. Allison Thall, Health and Human Services Director, did an excellent job with this, and she had all the documentation prepared for that meeting.
Commr. Cadwell remarked that the hospitals should not have a problem since it was such a small amount.
Commr. Hill mentioned that the hospital districts have been faced with an ongoing lawsuit and now with the Governor and his task force, so it was unknown what would happen to the districts, or even if they would be in existence next year, but she just wanted to sit down with them to talk about the big picture of what would happen with the hospital tax in the future.
Commr. Campione pointed out that once the Governor gave his recommendations, there would probably still be another year before the legislation would impact the district, so they would have to take it one year at a time to see if they could get that money.
Mr. Gray continued the presentation, noting that they also wanted the constitutional officers to reduce their budgets by a total of $3 million, but so far they only got them down by $2.2 million. He added that the revenue decline was budgeted at 10 percent, but it was actually only at 8.3 percent. He related that they had a very optimistic goal of only taking $4 to $6 million out of reserves; however, they were now looking at taking $8 to $10 million, but it could be less as they start looking at other options to help reduce the budget.
Commr. Conner opined that they needed to be given some direction on what was acceptable for a budget and how much should be taken out of the reserves.
Mr. Gray stated that when the five year model was completed, they would be able to see the big picture and see that it would be rough these next couple of years, but it should start to level out and move in a positive direction. He emphasized that county departments were doing their best to be more efficient yet still provide the best service to the citizens, but there may be a time where they would have to evaluate their programs to see which ones they could cut back on until things picked back up.
Commr. Campione expressed that it was time to start looking at programs, because the five year model would be made on assumptions that things would change for the positive.
Mr. Gray reiterated that the county departments only represented 30 percent of the general fund, and added that they needed to look at the money that was allocated to outside sources to really make an impact. He noted that this Board and the previous Boards have done a great job over the last couple of years at scaling the County down to the absolute minimum, but county departments could not continue to balance the general fund.
Commr. Parks pointed out that they were making an effort by doing efficiency and operational audits on EMS and now Public Works, and recommended that approach for all the departments.
Mr. Gray noted that they were doing everything they possibly could to reduce the budgets. He added that they would be doing a forensic budget analysis of the internal departments, and hoped that the outside entities were doing the same. He then explained some of the challenges that they were dealing with for this fiscal year, and noted that the Motorola contract would decrease by about $100,000, putting it at $1.5 million for next year. He stated that they were estimating the public lands to be only $500,000 for next year, since three of the public lands would be opening by the end of July. He pointed out that the total cost of the Astatula Fuel Cleanup project would be approximately $800,000, and since the first phase started this year, they were estimating $400,000 for next year. He explained that the Medicaid health services increased every year, and they were projecting $3.1 million. He described his recommendations for moving forward, and added that they have been meeting with the departments on a regular basis to see how they could streamline things more, and were anticipating making additional cuts, and he also wanted to continue to work with the Sheriff. He explained that they were considering switching cell phone providers from Sprint to Verizon because they could save approximately $18,000 a year; however, staff was still looking into this to see how that service compared to Sprint and whether it would fit their needs. He related that at the mid year adjustment, they would know exactly how much was spent during that fiscal year and how much would roll over into the reserve account, and there would be opportunity for the Board to decide to leave that money in reserves or use it to fund any projects that may have been put on hold.
Commr. Conner commented that they needed to figure out a solution to narrow the $8 million gap. He noted that if they could not get close to balancing the budget, they may have to raise property taxes, and the Board had a fundamental commitment that they would not do that in such a down economy. He added that they needed to do something fairly significant to cut their expenses because the money in reserves would not be there much longer.
Commr. Cadwell opined that first of all, they needed to talk to the Sheriff about cutting his budget more, because the reductions for his proposed budget were just the savings on the FRS (Florida Retirement System) change; he was not making operational cuts. He emphasized that the Sheriff needed to understand that everyone in the state was making operational budget cuts, and he needed to do the same.
Mr. Gray explained that they would have to balance the general fund out of reserves for a couple years because of the economy.
Commr. Conner expressed that he understood they would need to take money out of reserves for this year, but they keep taking huge chunks to balance the budget. He reiterated that together they needed to figure this out because they could not wait until the reserves were at 15 percent.
Commr. Hill pointed out that they would need to start cutting programs, so they would have to decide which ones were essential.
Commr. Campione mentioned that the only possible programs to cut were public transportation, parks, and libraries, and opined that parks and libraries were just as essential to preventing crime as law enforcement, since it gave children something to do and kept them off the street. She remarked that if the Sheriff was not willing to cut any operational expenses, then they should ask him if he was willing to cut parks and libraries.
Commr. Conner stated that they really needed to look at their own organization because even if the Sheriff did decrease his budget by $2 or $3 million, there was still a $5 or $6 million gap. He noted that he had previously suggested putting volunteers in the libraries, but he had received a lot of pushback from that idea.
Mr. Gray related that they have identified another $250,000 to $400,000 that they could cut from the internal departments, and they were still looking at eliminating duplication within the departments. He added that he would have those suggestions for the next budget meeting in July, but he would still need a couple months to do a forensic analysis of the departments. He noted that last year they had predicted they would need $11 million from reserves to balance the budget, but they only ended up needing $6 or $7 million, and that was because they continuously worked on the budget.
Commr. Hill explained that when she did talk with the Sheriff the first time, she did not talk about his operations; she only mentioned the savings with the FRS change.
Mr. Gray opined that the FRS savings would really help balance out the fire fund, because public safety positions were classified in the high risk category, so that would be a big savings to the County.
Commr. Cadwell mentioned that in the past, they have never asked the constitutional officers to cut any of their programs; they have always trusted in them to decide what was important for their operations.
Commr. Hill commented that Ms. Emogene Stegall, Supervisor of Elections, reduced her budget by $30,000 last year, and knowing that this year would be an election year, they put that money in reserves so she could have it back for this year. She added that the Tax Collector has told them that there would probably be a big reduction to his budget for this year.
Mr. Gray pointed out that they have had discussions with the Sheriff since then, and he was willing to work with them this summer, so he and Chairman Hill can meet with him again and discuss this in more detail.
Commr. Conner noted that he was not sure how realistic it was, but he would like to take no more than $5 million from reserves to balance the budget.
Commr. Cadwell asked if the Chairman could request the Sheriff to cut an additional five percent from his budget, because with the FRS savings, that five percent would still keep him below a 10 percent total cut in his budget.
Commr. Campione opined that having a set amount was the way to go if they wanted to make progress.
Commr. Conner commented that would be roughly a $3 million cut for him, and added that they were all public stewards and with the economy the way it was, they all had a responsibility to do what they could to cut their budgets.
Commr. Parks emphasized that it was important that they let everyone know that they were now facing choices with cutting programs.
Commr. Cadwell asked if the Board would stand behind the Chairman when she talked to the Sheriff.
The Board agreed that they would support the Chairman.
Commr. Campione opined that they should show the Sheriff some of these slides so he could see what they cut and what they were faced with cutting if he was not willing to reduce his budget.
Commr. Conner asked if there were any other areas that needed to be evaluated.
Mr. Gray answered that they have already made a list of all the programs within the County and other ones that the County has funded over the years, and he would give that list to the Board for them to review.
Commr. Campione asked if the Sheriff helped fund some of the grant programs, such as the Children’s Services and the Elder Affairs Council, and opined that the Sheriff and the County could work together to eliminate duplication of those.
Commr. Hill noted that she knew there were some programs in the South Lake area, and noted that she would ask the Sheriff to see if there were some things that were overlapping.
Commr. Campione mentioned the grand opening of the South Lake Community Health Center, and asked how this center correlated with the Health Department.
Commr. Cadwell responded that they were like a supplemental agency because they worked hand in hand with each other.
Commr. Campione explained that she would like to receive some more information on that facility and what it provided, and opined that the Health Department could partner with that facility to help provide some services that they may not offer.
Mr. Gray related that one of their goals was to get individuals out of the hospitals and into these types of facilities, and noted that he and Commr. Parks spoke with Mr. John Moore, Chief Operating Officer for South Lake Hospital, and one of their discussions involved educating patients on using primary care clinics instead of the emergency room, and added that the hospital was very willing to work with the County on creating an educational program.
Mr. Gray continued the presentation, describing their long term strategies and noted that they would bring back the five year model at the end of the calendar year, and they planned on making quarterly budget presentations to the Board in the new fiscal year. He added that at the beginning of January, they planned on having either Dr. Sean Snaith from the University of Central Florida (UCF), or someone from his office, to come help them with some economic indicators that were coming up, and thought it would be important for the Board to hear that information. He explained the changes in personal services and the number of positions, adding that personal services has decreased by $13.4 million county wide and by about $7.2 million from the general fund within the past five years. He pointed out that 144 positions have been decreased or deleted county wide, and 95 positions have been decreased in the general fund within the past five years. He then discussed the furlough system, explaining that each County employee has been required to take 12 days of unpaid leave each year for the past couple of years. He noted that the current personal services budget was approximately $14.6 million, and with the FRS savings, the budget would be approximately $14 million. He stated that the Board had asked him to evaluate different scenarios for eliminating the furloughs, and remarked that they came up with three. He noted that the first one was to cut the furloughs in half, with only having six furlough days each year, and that budget would be approximately $14.3 million. He added that if they eliminated furloughs all together, the budget would be almost $14.6 million; however, it would not be much different than their current budget because of the FRS savings. He pointed out that they also looked at an option of eliminating furloughs for employees who made a salary of $50,000 or less, but that option would pose issues and would be very difficult to manage. He opined that furloughs were very ineffective because it created inefficiencies within the County since there was a decrease in staff. He recommended that they either reduce the furloughs or eliminate them all together since they were suppose to be a short term remedy and not a long term solution.
Commr. Cadwell expressed that the County would still have a savings if they eliminated all furloughs, and opined that they should implement that to keep the office running efficiently so the citizens got the service they expected.
Mr. Gray explained that they could make up for having no furlough days by working with the $200,000 to $400,000 cuts that they planned on making within the departments, and expressed that there were other ways to reduce the budget without having furlough days.
Commr. Campione stated that she agreed with Commr. Cadwell because furloughs were not efficient for employees since they broke up the continuity of their work, or for customers because they expected employees to be there to help them.
Commr. Parks pointed out that it was also a morale issue for employees because they would be losing more of their money this year.
Mr. Gray agreed, and emphasized that the County has already reduced staff, the employees have not had raises in a couple years, they have already had a five percent reduction in pay from the furloughs, and now they would be required to have three percent more of their pay deducted for retirement.
Commr. Hill commented that she viewed furlough days as a temporary fix, and if they lasted more than two years, that would be considered a permanent reduction in pay, so it could not be called a furlough anymore. She asked if they wanted to reduce them to six days or eliminate them altogether.
The Board reached a consensus to eliminate all furloughs for fiscal year 2012.
Commr. Conner asked whether this would be subject to the final approval of the budget or if they were making this decision today.
Mr. Gray stated that he understood that the elimination of furloughs would be approved when the Board adopted the budget in September.
Commr. Cadwell mentioned that was a decision they could make today because they already knew they would be saving about $100,000 with the FRS change.
Commr. Conner opined that a decision like this should not be made today.
Commr. Campione expressed that they should move in this direction now, otherwise they would have to stop calling them furloughs and would have to readdress the employee’s salaries. She added that she wanted the employees to be as efficient as possible and it was not fair to prolong furloughs any more.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, Deputy County Attorney, clarified that the employees would finish taking furloughs for this fiscal year, but starting next fiscal year they would not be required to take them.
Commr. Conner commented that the employees would almost be breaking even with the furlough elimination and the added three percent for retirement, and noted that they did have an excellent work force that has stepped up and they do appreciate it.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced that there would be a short recess at 10:27 a.m.
Fire Rescue Fund
Mr. Gray stated that at the last budget meeting, he received direction from the Board to evaluate the scenario of having a 75 percent fire assessment and 25 percent ad valorem split, so Tindale-Oliver updated their presentation based on those numbers, and were here today to present those.
Ms. Nilgün Kamp, Associate Principal, addressed the Board stating that they had a short presentation focusing on the changes since the last update. She recapped that the report was last updated in 2008 and Tindale-Oliver was retained to update it this year. She explained that the two key areas of an assessment methodology focused on determining the legally assessable budget, and distributing that among land uses in an equitable manner. She noted that they looked at procedures to identify the first response from the advanced life support, so they could include both fire calls and the basic life support (BLS) calls. She related that they were able to use multiple years of data, and they looked at allocations based on not just the frequency, but also the total resources used, so that expanded their database, resulting in shifting the burden from non-residential to residential. She discussed the two primary changes to study, noting that one was the reduction in the assessment factor from 80 percent to 75 percent, and the other was the additional administrative cost allocation, and these resulted in a three percent increase for the residential fees, while all the other fees decreased.
Commr. Hill stated that they currently had a fire resolution that required the County to fund the remaining 50 percent of the fire assessment fees for institutional land uses, and asked if they could reduce the amount that they pay since the institutional land use has decreased. She added that if they could, that would be another revenue source for the general fund.
Mr. Steve Tindale, Chief Executive Officer, noted that the Board could stop subsidizing if they were willing to send a bill for 100 percent of the new rate.
Mr. Gray added that the rate would be the exact same as last year, but they would not have to pay half a million dollars of the general fund into the fire fund to cover it.
Commr. Campione asked why there was such a difference between the rates for commercial and industrial from before as compared with this study.
Mr. Tindale explained that they measured three years of data by frequency to the site and time spent at the site, and realized that the residential uses were using more effort and resources, so that was why they reallocated more to residential.
Commr. Campione asked if there was a similar distribution for other counties that had assessments.
Mr. Tindale replied that there were a lot of counties who did it differently, but a lot of counties have based their research on frequency.
Ms. Kamp added that in some of the more recent studies, there have been other jurisdictions that started using effort as part of their research.
Mr. Gray continued the fire rescue fund presentation, adding that the residential units would now be $181 per unit, and they were estimating receiving about $16.2 million for the fire assessment. He stated that with the millage rate staying the same at .3222, they expected $2.8 million for the fire MSTU. He then showed slides for the revenues and expenses, and noted that for next year, they estimated the revenues at $24.3 million, and the expenses at $20.5 million, adding that the personal services represented the majority of the expense budget because these services were very labor intensive. He reported that for fiscal year 2012, they would have about $3.8 million rolling over in the fund balance, the revenues would be $20.5 million, and because of the statutory deduction, the total fund balance with the revenues would be $23.3 million. He noted that the expenses would be $20.5 million, which would leave them with a reserve of about $2.8 million, and pointed out that the fire fund was balanced. He then discussed their recommendations for the Board, explaining that they would need to adopt the Fire Assessment study from Tindale-Oliver today, and on July 5 they would need to set the Fire Assessment Rate when that resolution was presented. He specified that they recommended the increase to $181 for the residential rate. He noted that there have been many discussions about the funding for Groveland and Mascotte because of the annexations those cities have done over the years, and they were recommending funding them at 75 percent instead of what they were currently receiving. He added that Groveland was currently receiving $120,000 and they would now get $90,000, and Mascotte was receiving $104,000 and they would now get $78,000.
Commr. Cadwell asked if Mascotte was aware of this change.
Mr. Gray responded that they have been in contact with Mascotte and Groveland and because they knew their budgets were tight, they did not want to cut them off completely. He added that he has not told them a figure yet, because he wanted to discuss the recommendation with the Board first. He explained that they would continue to be in contact with those cities throughout the year. He then showed a map outlining the new areas for Groveland and Mascotte, noting that those cities could then concentrate on the unincorporated areas just below and just above their cities. He pointed out that a lot of those cities applied for SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) grants, which were funded by the federal government to employ additional firefighters, and those grants were now ending; however, one of the stipulations was that they had to keep those positions for a certain number of years afterwards, so they now had to use local dollars to fund those positions.
Commr. Campione suggested that once they get into the next fiscal year, they should look at this almost immediately so they could give those cities enough notice to make adjustments for the following year.
Commr. Hill expressed that those cities needed to know that this was for one year only, so they should not depend on it for the following year. She added that other cities would probably start coming to the County once this agreement was approved and saw what they were doing for Groveland and Mascotte.
Mr. Gray stated that he would be coming back to the Board with recommendations on how they could work together with the cities since they were expecting the cities to start coming to the County. He added that they had some pilot projects that would help get started in that direction. He noted that they could move forward with the agreement with Groveland and Mascotte if the Board approved of it.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Fire and Rescue Assessment Fee Study for Lake County.
Mr. Gray thanked Tindale-Oliver for completing the study because they now had three years of great data, and added that Chief Jolliff and his staff have done a great job documenting data for the study. He noted that they would be evaluating this on an annual basis; however, it would be beneficial to have a consultant do a study every couple of years.
Commr. Campione stated that since this study was already completed and seemed pretty accurate, it would just be a matter of plugging in any changes that have happened since then, and asked when they would need to do another study.
Mr. Tindale explained that they have a contract with the County which allows them to come every three years to do mini updates to this study, and it would only cost about one fifth of the price.
Commr. Campione pointed out that it was a possibility considering the changes with EMS, and added that they could not underestimate the importance of having the professional expertise of a consultant on an issue like this because of the potential for liability if it was wrong.
Mr. Gray remarked that they were currently working with Lake EMS on their budget for next year, and noted that the Board would be able to review that at the July 12 meeting. He also stated that a part of the county wide millage was MSTU, and since MSTU would probably decrease, that could potentially be another savings.
Commr. Conner asked if there have been discussions with Sumter County about what they were doing with their assets.
Mr. Gray replied that they were currently dealing with the separation of the two counties. He related that they were also in the process of selecting a contractor for the operational and efficiency audit of EMS, and noted that the committee reviewed the eight respondents yesterday, and on July 12, he would be bringing their recommendations to the Board. He then discussed the next steps, adding that they would have information from the Sheriff and the additional budget cuts they were anticipating at the July 12 budget update meeting. He explained that the deadline to give the Board the recommended budget book was July 15; however, they planned to give it to them on July 8 so they could have it at the beginning of the month. He noted that July 15 was also a tentative budget workshop day if needed, and that would be based on the July 12 meeting. He pointed out that they would need to adopt the millage rates on July 26 for inclusion in the TRIM notices, and the Tax Collector’s budget was due on August 1. He related that the budget public hearings were set for September 6 and September 20.
Mr. Gray mentioned that he wanted to address some of the questions from the Commissioners from the last budget workshop, with the first one being from Commr. Conner about the energy improvements to the County facilities. He explained that they had a plan to use $440,000 from EECBG (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant) funds to retrofit County facilities.
Commr. Campione asked when they would see that plan.
Mr. Kristian Swenson, Facilities Development and Management Director, stated that the consultant that was hired through the EECBG process targeted about five buildings to update, and had also suggested putting up metering on the chiller pipes. He added that they were working on having an engineer look further into those items.
Mr. Gray commented that they would bring a detailed list of those items back to the Board.
Commr. Conner asked if it was too late to change some of the priorities in the EECBG, and opined that they should look into installing motion sensors in the buildings to help with electricity costs.
Mr. Swenson pointed out that the Board could elect to add more money into the grant, but he was not sure how that would work. He explained that there were hundreds of recessed lights in the rotunda of the Administration Building, and they realized that these lights burned all day and were all connected, even to the bathrooms, so they were suggesting motion sensors, as well as automation systems for the lighting throughout the rest of the building. He noted that the consultant also pointed out that the 1975 energy plant should be updated as well, as that would be a great reduction in savings for the County.
Mr. Gray stated that they could probably just change the grant, but he would verify that. He noted that the next question was regarding purchasing versus leasing computers, and added that they researched this and found it was less expensive to purchase computers because they were at such a low cost right now, and they could get a great price when buying in bulk. He then addressed the question about outsourcing for the maintenance of the parks, and reported that they currently contracted out about $1.2 million of the parks budget.
Commr. Conner mentioned that he received information about a conference being held in Fort Lauderdale regarding outsourcing, and asked if anyone would be interested in attending.
Commr. Campione expressed that they should look into it because there might possibly be quite a savings from outsourcing certain positions, especially since the County has to provide certain benefits. She stated that she would consider going to the conference depending on her schedule, and added that Commr. Parks may want to go as well since he brought up the discussion on outsourcing.
Commr. Conner remarked that a Commissioner should go, but if no one was available, then a staff member should go; however, historically there has been resistance at the staff level regarding this.
Commr. Parks added that either he or Commr. Campione would attend.
Capital Projects Update
Mr. Swenson stated that the update on the Judicial Center was not in this presentation since it was presented at the meeting last week, but representatives from PPI were there in case there were questions about the Emergency Communications and Operations Center or the Judicial Center. He discussed the Animal Services building renovation, noting that this was on CR 561 and the project was to expand and renovate, adding more kennel space to the existing building. He related that they currently were at 95 percent construction document design, and they have selected one of the on-call Construction Managers (CM) to review the documents. He pointed out that the next update was on the Road Operations Center, adding that this was located at the landfill in south Tavares, and they were expanding the building to add 2,000 square feet of office and storage space. He explained that the project was currently designed, and they have received a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) from an on-call CM and upon completion of that review, they would create an appendix to their contract to bring to the Board for approval. He mentioned that the BCC Warehouse, located on CR 473, was expanded to 13,000 square feet for climate control storage for files for the Clerk’s Office and the BCC. He noted that the project was done; however, the contractor was performing punch list items, and the Clerk’s Office has already brought boxes in the building for storage. He reported that the Combined Fleet Operations Center was an existing County owned building in the industrial park, and the purpose was to combine Fleet, Fire Fleet, and Mosquito Control Fleet. He added that they were enclosing the building and doing fire protection, and County staff would be making some improvements to the interior office space. He mentioned that the interior improvements were done, they were just doing punch list items to close it out, and they hoped to move the Fleet Administration employees to this building next month. He related that the design was underway for the enclosure and the fire protection, and a CM has been selected to review that design. He discussed the next update, noting that the Historic Courthouse reconfiguration and renovation was lumped with the Sheriff’s Administration Building renovation because the Sheriff’s Office wanted to make some functionality improvements, but by doing so, they tripped a number of electrical and HVAC codes, resulting in some additional costs to the project. He added that those costs were taking it above their budget, so the Sheriff’s Office decided not to complete that project and put those funds towards the completion of the Historic Courthouse, which was currently in the design phase. He explained that the Leesburg Health Clinic, located on Griffin Road in Leesburg, was an existing County facility that was vacated because of a mold problem; however, the mold has since been remediated and a design was done to refurbish the inside. He related that the Health Department was currently in this lease space, which would terminate when the improvements were completed, and this project had some Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding components to it, so they were not able to use an on-call CM. He added that they were currently analyzing the bids that have been received for this project, and those bids, as well as an Interlocal Agreement with the Health Department for a funding exchange, would be brought back to the Board. He mentioned that the next project was the Radio Operations Center and it also was County owned property in the industrial park. He noted that this project was enclosed but the inside was not completed, as it was in the middle of construction when the County bought this building. He related that they have finished the design, and an on-call CM has returned a GMP to them, and they were currently negotiating and analyzing that. He stated that an appendix would be brought back to the Board soon.
Commr. Conner asked who the CM was for the Radio Operations Center project.
Mr. Swenson explained that the Board awarded contracts to four Construction Managers and given their experience, they rotate different projects to each of them to try them out and negotiate their fees by looking at the other fees. He noted that he selected Ruby Builders for this one because they currently did not have a project with the County and they had an extensive amount of school renovation experience, and since this building was in the middle of construction, it seemed fitting to use them.
Commr. Conner asked if Ruby Builders had gone through the process of getting bids, and why the GMP was being negotiated.
Mr. Swenson replied that they have, and added that Ruby Builders submitted bids to the County with a list of locals who they would use and who they would not use. He noted that there was an add alternate on this project to enclose some storage space, so they have been trying to do some post GMP bid value engineering to try to reduce the scope to be able to afford the add alternate.
Commr. Campione asked if they would be using the entire building, and if they would be able to get rid of their current lease space.
Mr. Swenson responded “yes” to both questions, and noted that it was fairly similar in size to what they were currently leasing.
Mr. Swenson mentioned that they would now have an update on the Emergency Communications and Operations Center (ECOC) and noted that the architect, Mr. Kevin Ratigan, Senior Vice President of Architects Design Group (ADG), was here to present some of the slides as well.
Mr. Ratigan illustrated the site plan for the ECOC and the Central Energy Plant and pointed out that there have been a number of minor changes to the plan since the last update. He added that they were going to leave the northeast corner vacant, and they would be removing the pavement and replacing it with sod. He noted that the landscape shown was fairly accurate with the plan, and they would be able to relocate some of the plants that were currently in the parking lot of the Judicial Center. He related that because the Board gave them direction to reduce the budget by $2 million, the footprint of the building was reduced from 33,000 square feet to 26,000. He then showed slides of the first and second floors of the building, noting that the first floor would be the communications center combined with EMS and Sheriff, and the second floor would be the emergency operations center and training facility. He reported that they were far along with the project, and they believe they have achieved the functionality as well as the cost reductions that had been requested of the team. He explained that the building was tilt wall concrete construction, it would blend in with the rest of the Judicial Center complex, and it was designed to withstand 160 mile per hour winds as well as 36 inches of rainfall. He added that they reduced the number of windows to only the essential areas; however, it was designed so they could add extra windows and expand the building if needed in the future. He then reviewed a list of cost reduction items that were taken out during their value analysis of the project, indicating that many would be add alternates. He pointed out that they did not put ceilings in areas like the corridors and restrooms, they used exposed sealed concrete in the functional areas, they only put in a cove base in the public areas, and they did not install any interior glass. He reported that the project was 90 percent complete through construction documents, the site permitting was on schedule, and they have received comments back from the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) for inclusion into the project.
Mr. Swenson continued the presentation with the budget update, and noted that they submitted design documents to their independent cost estimator and to the CM and received very similar numbers. He discussed the amounts for the two options of the Central Energy Plant, adding that option A was a reduction in the parapet wall, with that being an $8.3 million project, whereas option B would put pilasters on the outside of the plant to retain height, and that would be an $8.4 million project. He explained that they reduced everything in the budget except for the site development, security, and the City of Tavares generator, which was the hardening of the generator for the lift station that takes waste from the building, because that was a requirement of the grant. He pointed out that they also reduced the press pedestal and made it an add alternate, and they would not be purchasing any new audio visual equipment or furnishings since they could use what they currently owned.
Mr. Gray reiterated that the original budget was just over $11 million, but in February the Board asked them to reduce it to $9 million, and those were the options Mr. Swenson was presenting today.
Commr. Conner stated that even though he did not support the project, it was rewarding to see how the culture has changed since they were able to decrease the budget for that project from $11 million to around $8.5 million. He asked Mr. Jerry Smith, Emergency Management Director, if they would still be able to function in that building since a lot of the items that were originally part of the project have been designated as add alternatives.
Mr. Smith noted that those items were designated as add alternates so they could get the budget to $9 million, and yes, they could still function in that building; however, they planned to review those items to see which ones they could possibly use, and would ask for approval from the Board.
Mr. Swenson added that after the last Board meeting, they met with all of the users for that building and agreed upon a list of items to phase out that would still make the building functional.
Mr. Ratigan then illustrated the designs for the two options of the Central Energy Plant, adding that the current wall was 13 feet high and it did not meet current wind requirements. He stated that option A would reduce the parapet, and defined a parapet as a high wall that projects up over the roof, showing more of the equipment on the roof. He related that with option B, they would install pilasters, or pillars, on the outside of the wall for extra support, and only a small portion of the equipment would be seen on the roof. He explained that it was less expensive to cut the wall down than to add pilasters, as there was a cost difference of $140,000; however, it was really insignificant relative to the overall project cost. He remarked that he and Mr. Swenson had a meeting with Mr. Jacques Skutt, Community Development Director for the City of Tavares, where they discussed Tavares’ intention to change the downtown access from Highway 441, and explained that at some point in the future, that part of the road would be vacated. He related that Mr. Skutt also stated he did not see a big difference between the two options for the buildings, so they should leave the decision up to the Board. He added that once a decision was made, they would need to submit an overall development package to the City.
Commr. Conner mentioned that he has been told that hardening chiller plants was not aesthetically appealing, and asked if he disagreed with that.
Mr. Ratigan stated that he did disagree because they designed the building to blend in with the Judicial Center so it would not look like a chiller plant. He pointed out that their biggest challenge was the parapet and the fact that none of the openings in the building were designed to withstand the same wind loads or the impact resistance of flying projectiles, and added that they were proposing to use a deployable impact resistance screen, which was a reinforced fabric, that would cover those openings. He noted that all of the intake and exhaust elements on the building would also be replaced to be more robust.
Commr. Cadwell opined that they should choose the least expensive option since the equipment would be seen on the roof either way.
Commr. Hill commented that she liked the cheaper option as well because it was a cleaner look.
The Board reached a consensus and chose option A.
Mr. Ratigan mentioned that he agreed with their decision as he liked option A as well. He then discussed their upcoming milestones, noting that they would have a formal submittal to FEMA on June 20, and they were hoping to receive agency comments back by July 1 to incorporate into the project. He explained that after they received the GMP and the project was approved, they planned on starting the construction on October 26.
Commr. Conner asked if this project was moving forward, unless someone decided today to not support it.
Mr. Gray stated that was correct, and added that this was how they would proceed unless he received other direction from the Board.
Mr. Swenson commented that they would be bringing back a GMP for discussion at the Board meeting on October 25; however, that date could change depending on when they received information back from the state or the federal government.
Commr. Campione asked if the Sheriff would be putting dispatch in this building.
Mr. Gray replied that 911, fire and EMS would be in the new building.
Commr. Campione asked if the other EMS operations would stay at the shopping center plaza, and whether there would be a reduction in the cost of the lease.
Mr. Gray responded that those operations would stay there for now, and added that the lease would be part of their discussion with EMS when they reviewed their budget with them.
Mr. Swenson mentioned that some of the administrative employees from EMS would also come to this building.
Commr. Campione asked if they could put the decision in the Sheriff’s hands as to whether the County moved forward with this new building, since the Sheriff decided not to make renovations to the building where dispatch currently was, and chose to put them here.
Commr. Parks asked how she would present that to him.
Commr. Campione suggested adding that to the discussion when they ask him to cut his budget by five percent. She expressed that there would also be operational costs associated with this building once it was up and running.
Mr. Swenson noted that his staff conducted an analysis based on their current maintenance contracts for a variety of services, such as the elevators, pest control, janitorial services, and energy usage, and came up with an estimated annual maintenance cost of $90,000. He pointed out that Mr. Greg Holcomb, Public Safety Communications Technology Manager, indicated that he would look at his budget to see if some of those costs could be absorbed by them as well.
Commr. Parks stated that he understood there to be another savings because of the cost of roughly $30,000 each year to have data stored off site.
Mr. Swenson related that was correct, and added that they currently paid to have the backup of all the data from the MUNIS system stored off site, so there would be some lease space reduction; however, he could not remember the exact number.
Commr. Parks asked if this building would be used everyday.
Mr. Swenson answered that a portion of the building on the first floor would be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the administrative offices would be used Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. He stated that they were concerned about the energy costs for the area that would be used continuously, so they looked into using LED fixtures to try to reduce the cost, and they also planned on using occupancy sensors for every room in the building. He pointed out that they were trying to stay within the budget, but they also wanted to be conscious of the operational costs of this building.
Commr. Cadwell expressed that this building was the County’s responsibility, not the Sheriff’s, and he continued to support it.
Commr. Campione opined that it was not the right time for this building, especially since they were paying $5.7 million from the general fund for the Judicial Center.
Commr. Hill clarified that the $5.7 million was a bond payment that included many other governmental facilities, not just the Judicial Center.
Commr. Conner mentioned that he agreed with Commr. Campione because the County did have a lot of debt. He pointed out that they have not talked about the economics of this project, and stated that the most important question was whether they could afford more debt.
Mr. Gray explained that they were not borrowing money for this project; it was funded through the grant and sales tax revenue.
Commr. Conner noted that it was still considered debt because they were committing revenues towards it, and related that there were other projects they could use this money for that would generate jobs and create long term economic development for the private sector.
Commr. Campione commented that this money was the only liquid thing they had to use in case something of greater need came up.
Commr. Parks added that he recognized that this was not an easy decision; however, he felt this was something they needed. He noted that there would be an operational cost with the new building, but the savings from consolidating those departments into one building would balance out that cost.
REPORTS – COMMISSIONER HILL – CHAIRMAN AND DISTRICT 1
severance pay packages
Commr. Hill explained that the state legislature made a ruling that after July 1, severance pay packages could be no more than 20 weeks, and suggested that the Board review the current contracts for the County Manager and County Attorney to see whether they wanted to amend those since the deadline was approaching. She noted that the County Manager’s contract was set at four months severance pay, but at the end of the year it would increase to six months, and the County Attorney’s contract was set at four months.
Ms. Marsh clarified that they would have to meet the statutory parameters if a contract was renegotiated after July 1, so if they wanted to exceed 20 weeks of severance pay, they would need to do that before then.
Commr. Hill stated that they needed to think about this, and pointed out that she could add it to the agenda for the meeting next week.
Commr. Conner commented that since the County Manager negotiated six months, and the County Attorney negotiated four months, it seemed like it did not need to be addressed.
Commr. Hill stated that the County Manager’s contract would be fine since after October 1 his severance pay would increase to six months, but then the County Attorney’s contract would need to be addressed.
Commr. Cadwell opined that he did not think it was an issue.
reports – commissioner conner – district 3
renaming of lake idamere park
Commr. Conner asked the Board for direction on whether they planned to rename Lake Idamere Park after Coach Rudy Rolle.
Commr. Cadwell remarked that one of the School Board members had suggested naming the track at Dan Boggus Stadium after him.
Commr. Conner commented that they did not have jurisdiction over that.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he knew that, but it could be requested. He mentioned that it could be named Rudy Rolle Track at Dan Boggus Stadium.
Commr. Conner opined that was a good idea, and stated that he would pursue that.
annexing of roads
Commr. Conner stated that during his first year on the County Commission, he realized that cities were annexing property, but not the roads, and wanted to address this issue with the cities.
Mr. Gray mentioned that staff had made a presentation to the Board a few months ago proposing that the County start transferring some of those roads back to the cities. He added that they had an initial meeting with the municipalities and presented a packet of information, as well as a map, illustrating the roads they wanted to transfer back, and explained that they were following up on that and would bring that information back to the Board in October.
reports – commissioner parks – district 2
capital facilities advisory committee
Commr. Parks reported that the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee met on Thursday, June 9, and they requested that the County start designating two percent of the general fund money towards road projects. He stated that they planned on doing a budget presentation for the committee to show them what that amount would be.
Commr. Campione expressed that it was really important for that committee to understand exactly what that number would be and how far it may or may not go.
Mr. Gray reiterated that they would be doing a budget presentation using some of these same slides to show that committee all of the current expenses out of the general fund.
Commr. Parks mentioned that he expresses at every committee meeting that the Board was very concerned with making sure they could demonstrate that they were as efficient as possible and that they have a good prioritization system in place.
Commr. Campione asked if there were any vacancies on that committee.
Commr. Parks stated that they had two vacancies, but one appointment would be made at the next Board meeting. He explained that the other vacancy has been hard to fill because they needed someone from a conservation related field, and it has been difficult finding the right person to fit into that slot, mainly because no one has been interested in it.
REPORTS – COMMISsIONER campione – VICE CHAIRMAN & DISTRICT 4
eustis spray field situation
Commr. Campione informed the Board of a situation at the Eustis spray field where an individual who was growing hay for the City put sludge on that property without permission, and noted that the individual came back and put lime over it to deal with the smell. She added that the nearby residents were worried as to what it actually was, and the City had taken samples and were investigating the matter.
Commr. Conner asked if she knew who dumped it.
Commr. Campione responded that the City told them that the individual growing the hay had a key and let this other entity onto the site. She related that once the City got the test results back, they would let the residents know what was going on, and would assure them that they would put precautions in place so something like this would not happen again.
scrub jays on lake may property
Commr. Campione reported on the allegation that there had been scrub jays nesting on the property at Lake May, and suggested that a study be done to verify whether or not this was true, and noted that staff did not feel like the habitat would have supported scrub jays.
Commr. Cadwell asked how they would be able to document that after the fact, and also if there was any evidence that scrub jays were ever there.
Commr. Campione stated that the trees that were taken out were not the type of trees that scrub jays would nest in, and mentioned that the previous owner of the property had a study done in 2006 which showed that there may have been a family of scrub jays in that area.
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Public Resources Director, stated that another study was done back in 2008 in preparation for purchasing the property, and it did not show that there were scrub jays on that property.
Commr. Conner asked why another study needed to be done if there was one from 2008.
Mr. Gray responded that they wanted to bring someone in to do another study just to verify there were no scrub jays. He added that the temporary parking lot was in, but not completely finished, so they have stopped all operations until the study was complete.
Commr. Cadwell expressed that this issue would not go away until a study was done.
Commr. Conner remarked that was a smart thing to do if they were planning on doing more to that property, and added that they had his full support.
Commr. Campione mentioned that it would be prudent to go ahead and do the study since the original property owner was making these assertions, and stated that she was hoping that the results of this study would show that the 2008 study was accurate.
reports – county manager
public works grant
Mr. Gray informed the Board that they applied for a federal grant to help with Public Works, and since he received individual consensus from the Board, they went ahead and applied because the deadline was approaching.
Mr. Gray announced that they received an opportunity from a partner with NACo giving them a free service that would help with economic development.
Ms. Kelly LaFollette, Information Outreach Director, stated that CGI Communications, a corporate partner with NACo, contacted the County about a month ago to discuss partnering with them to provide video promotional material. She added that CGI Communications would write the scripts, send a film crew and do all the post production for these 60 second clips; however, the only requirement was that the County had to first do subjects on education, quality of life, and real estate and relocation, and they would then provide six additional videos on any topic for free. She noted that they were proposing to do the videos on economic development, and they would come back to the Board with their plan. She related that these videos were free because CGI Communications sold sponsorships around the video perimeter, and explained that she was currently working with the County Attorney’s office to come up with criteria of what could not be advertised. She mentioned that they could put a disclaimer on these videos, similar to the current one on the Ustream videos. She pointed out that they had a deadline to meet in order to get the film production crew scheduled so they could get started, and added that the County was required to put links to videos on the homepage of the website, so there would be a video tour book on the homepage that would link to these videos.
Mr. Gray opined that these videos would be advantageous for the County to use, and noted that they would show these clips to the Board before posting them on the website.
REPORTS – COMMISsIONER CADWELL – DISTRICT 5
Commr. Cadwell reported that their lobbying firm now had grant assistance as part of what the County already paid them for, and added that it should enhance their ability to receive some of the grants.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:33 p.m.
JENNIFER hill, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK