july 12, 2011

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special workshop session on Tuesday, July 12, 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 Courtney Vincent, Deputy Clerk.

Agenda update

No changes or deletions were noted.

ems budget presentation

Mr. Gray stated that the purpose of the emergency medical services (EMS) PowerPoint presentation was to review the 2012 fiscal year (FY) proposed Lake EMS (LEMS) budget and for the Board to approve the new EMS organization, the organization of the new Board of Directors, a new name for the organization, and the contract for the efficiency study.

Lake Ambulance MSTU

Mr. Steve Koontz, Budget Director, reviewed the Lake Ambulance Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU).  He displayed a five-year comparison of the millage rates from 2008 to 2012, stating it was a countywide millage and noting the amount towards Lake County Ambulance had been reduced in 2011 to help pay for the countywide radio system maintenance contract.  He then displayed the revenues for the Lake Ambulance MSTU fund for the last five years.  He explained that the main source of revenue was the MSTU while a much smaller portion came from the fund balance carried forward from the previous year, adding that there was a much smaller revenue source in the form of interest and excess fees received from the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector a few years ago.  He indicated that revenue amounts had been decreasing over the last five years.  Next he displayed the expenses for the Lake Ambulance MSTU fund, stating the majority of the funding went towards ambulance services.  He also noted that the subsidy had been decreasing over time, mentioning that for the current year the subsidy was at $6.5 million and would be reduced to $5.5 million for 2012.  He briefly discussed the other expenses to the fund such as payments to the cities because they were advanced life support (ALS) certified, transfers to fire rescue services, and capital outlay.  He displayed the proposed FY 2012 ALS payments to the cities, mentioning that the City of Eustis had a pending ALS certification and agreement to also receive funds.

Lake Emergency Medical Services Proposed Budget

Mr. Jim Judge, Executive Director for LEMS continued the presentation, discussing the proposed 2012 budget.  He described the core services offered by LEMS such as clinical care and transportation of the sick and injured and mentioned how the LEMS Communication Center provided dispatch services for all 12 fire departments in the County as well as the Lake County Health Department.  He specified that they handled approximately 85,000 fire and EMS calls per year in the County.  He stated staff had performed a complete system analysis which included the vision and mission of the organization, finances, system processes, and deployment plan as well as reviewing consolidation of services and infrastructure.  He discussed the County’s call and patient volume, reporting that call volume rose about three and a half to four percent per year between FY 2005-2006 and FY 2009-2010.  He also reported that for FY 2009-2010 they had received 40,000 calls for service and transported approximately 29,000 patients.  He stated the current deployment method was called a static method, meaning there were units housed at fixed stations throughout the County.  He explained that after researching different methods of deployment and visiting different EMS systems around the State it had been decided to create a hybrid deployment strategy where there would be 11 ambulances on static deployment 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and in addition there would be mobile units on a 12 to 13 hour shift deployed throughout strategic parts of the County.  He stated the new system would be tracked constantly to ensure the demand was covered as needed.  He then displayed a chart of revenues by type illustrating that 66.7 percent of revenue came from user fees and 32.9 percent from subsidy, and a chart of expenditures by type illustrating that 73 percent of expenditures were from personal services and 25 percent went towards operating costs.  He noted that two percent went towards other expenditures and that in 2012 no capital would be requested.  He discussed the budget summary comparing FY 2010-2011 and the proposed FY 2011-2012, specifying that despite decreases in revenue because Sumter County would no longer be contributing, there were also decreases in the expenses which meant the revenue should completely support the expenses without any capital.  He commented that extended wait times at the hospitals delayed offloading, stating that currently delays lasted as long as two hours between the time a patient arrived by ambulance and when the hospital could admit the patient.  He remarked it was their desire to work with the hospitals in order to have the wait time reduced to between 15 and 20 minutes.  He added that other challenges presented themselves in State and Federal reimbursement legislation, any future statutory or regulatory mandates and changes, and the organizational transition itself.  He reported that they would continue to work with the County Manager and staff, monitor all expenditures, continue to explore opportunities for increased efficiencies, and work with the consultant to identify further improvements.

Organizational Issues

Mr. Minkoff continued the presentation, discussing LEMS organizational issues.  He stated LEMS would come into effect on October 1, 2011, but there would be some overlap with Lake-Sumter EMS because Lake-Sumter EMS would be transporting patients until 11:59 p.m. on September 30, 2011, and since they would need to bill for those patients and collect the funds, he anticipated that Lake-Sumter EMS would not be fully dissolved until as late as March or April 2012.  He remarked that LEMS could not wait until 12:00 a.m. the morning of October 1, 2011 to start so it was anticipated that LEMS would be initiated in about a week or two if the Board approved it.  He reviewed the existing legal structure of Lake-Sumter EMS and discussed the impact of Sumter County’s notice of intent to terminate.  He stated that the interlocal agreement between Lake and Sumter Counties regarding Lake-Sumter EMS required the dissolution of the corporation, mentioning that the Lake-Sumter EMS Board had met the previous day and approved the County to cancel or reassign all agreements and leases.  He reported the BCC had decided to move forward with a new governmental corporation that would keep ambulance services separated from general County government since the municipalities were partners, adding that it allowed for municipal representation in decision making matters.  He noted there would be fiscal savings because employees of the corporation could not participate in the Florida Retirement System (FRS) and the retirement plan that had previously been set up was less costly than FRS.  He asked the Board for direction on the composition of the LEMS Board of Directors, suggesting a nine-member Board consisting of the five County Commissioners, three city representatives, and one hospital representative.  He asked the Board for direction on the name of the new corporation, suggesting Lake Emergency Medical Services, Inc. (LEMS).  He stated the first meeting of the new Board of Directors was scheduled for Monday, July 25, 2011 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Agricultural Center, adding that it was anticipated the new Board of Directors would need several meetings between August and September to approve the readoption of all contracts, leases, and policies.

Commr. Hill asked how the three city representatives would be decided.

Mr. Minkoff stated the BCC would appoint them.

Commr. Hill asked if the breakdown of city representatives would be from North, Central, and South Lake County.

Mr. Gray replied that that was correct.

Efficiency Study

Mr. Gray concluded the presentation with a discussion of the efficiency study, recounting that back in April 2011 the Board had directed that an efficiency study of Lake-Sumter EMS be conducted.  He reported that seven responses had been received for the Request for Proposal released in May and a selection committee picked Berkshire Advisors, Inc. as the top candidate for the study.  He stated the efficiency study was to review the functions provided by Lake-Sumter EMS to determine if any were duplicative with other County resources or could be provided more efficiently by a private contractor, adding that the study would also review the proposed hybrid deployment model.  He discussed the deliverables in the contract, specifying that the initial report as well as the set of recommendations for immediate transition efforts was due on September 1, 2011 and the final report addressing long term structure and considerations was due by December 31, 2011.  He informed the Board the actions being requested of them were to award contract 11-0219 for the efficiency study to Berkshire Advisors, Inc., to approve the creation of the new corporation, approve the new name of the corporation, and approve the composition of the new Board of Directors.

Commr. Campione asked if they had to make recommendations on the three city representatives immediately.

Mr. Minkoff said they needed to have the recommendations before July 25, 2011 in order to have the city representatives at the LEMS meeting.

Commr. Campione asked the Chairman if she would allow public comment over the agenda item.

Commr. Cadwell suggested creating a new policy to allow public comment during workshop sessions.

The Chairman agreed to the request and opened the floor for public comment.

Mr. Paul Richardson, a resident of the City of Clermont and member of the South Lake Tea Party, addressed the Board.  He asked if there would be a term limit for the city representatives appointed to the LEMS Board of Directors and if they would have to live within the city they represented.

Mr. Minkoff replied that there would be a term limit for the city representatives and they would be required to remain elected officials in order to remain in their position on the LEMS Board of Directors, adding that as elected officials of the cities they were required to live within the municipality where they held office.

Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of the City of Tavares who writes a blog on fiscal issues, addressed the Board asking if the Board was voting on the proposed LEMS 2012 budget that day or if they were only voting on the formation of the corporation.  He also asked why Berkshire Advisors had been selected for the operational efficiency study.

Mr. Gray replied that the Board was not voting on the proposed 2012 LEMS budget that day and Berkshire Advisors had been selected because, out of the top three firms that had replied to the RFP, Berkshire Advisors was the only group that was not an EMS group, they had great references, and the selection committee was confident that Berkshire Advisors would be able to provide an objective view of emergency medical services.

Commr. Campione asked who was on the selection committee.

Mr. Gray replied it had been comprised of himself; Mr. Jeremy Martin, Clerk of Court Internal Auditor; and Mr. Michael Patterson, the President of the Florida Association of County EMS from Putnam County.

Mr. Peter Tarby, Acting Mayor and City Council President for the City of Umatilla, addressed the Board stating there should be equal representation of the cities on the LEMS Board of Directors since all five Commissioners were being included and opined there should be five city representatives selected.

Mr. David Vongunten, a resident of the City of Eustis, addressed the Board to suggest having a hospital representative from each of the hospitals in Lake County as opposed to only one hospital representative in order to help facilitate faster patient drop off times.

Commr. Cadwell replied that the three hospitals got together and made the recommendation to the Board as to who should act as the hospital representative.

Commr. Campione suggested the Board have the flexibility to implement the recommendations from the consultants regarding LEMS.

Mr. Minkoff responded that the consultants would report to the LEMS Board of Directors and not the BCC since it would be the LEMS Board of Directors that would have to approve the implementation of the recommendations.

Mr. Gray remarked that if Berkshire Advisors was approved, they could possibly come to the first LEMS Board of Directors meeting to answer any questions.

On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved awarding contract 11-0219 for operational efficiency review of the County’s emergency medical services (EMS) operation to Berkshire Advisors, Inc., the creation of a new EMS corporation for Lake County, naming the new organization Lake Emergency Medical Services, Inc. (LEMS), and the composition of the LEMS Board of Directors as consisting of the five County Commissioners, three city representatives, and one hospital representative.

recess and reassembly

The Chairman announced that there would be a fifteen-minute recess at 9:57 a.m.

lake county sheriff’s office budget presentation

Lake County Sheriff Gary S. Borders addressed the Board to give a presentation on the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) budget for FY 2012.  He began with a video which outlined the myriad of departments and their functions within the LCSO as well as the services they provide the County.  He then gave a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the LCSO 2012 budget.  He compared FY 2010-2011 law enforcement budgets for Sheriff Offices in different counties throughout the State as well as their average cost per citizen, stating the displayed chart illustrated that the LCSO budget was in line with other counties.  He also noted that their budget was actually lower than some of the other counties.  He explained the budget was split between law enforcement and corrections, displaying a comparison of the corrections budget for Sheriff Offices in different counties throughout the State as well as their average cost per citizen, noting that not all Sheriff Offices paid for their jails.  He remarked the LCSO corrections budget was low compared to other counties and they were continuing to look for ways to cut jail costs.  He then displayed a graph depicting the population of Lake County by city, explaining that 2010 Census data was used for the County population and the city populations were attained by contacting each of the municipalities.  He stated that unincorporated Lake County had a population of 155,367 residents but the LCSO was responsible for more than just the unincorporated residents, stating they also had a responsibility to serve the city residents because there were times when a city’s law enforcement needed additional resources the LCSO could provide.  He reviewed the staffing ratio, specifying that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) recommended a ratio of 1.8 officers per 1,000 residents and reported that the ratio for Lake County was 1.6 officers per 1,000 residents for the unincorporated population.  The displayed graph also showed the staffing ratios for all of the municipalities within the County.

Commr. Cadwell asked if the contract the LCSO had with the City of Minneola was costing the County money.

Sheriff Borders replied that it had been costing the County money but now the amounts were breaking even.  He noted they had been negotiating with the City of Minneola over the past year and he believed they had agreed to $1.1 million, so whatever that amount paid for in terms of services from the LCSO was what would be provided.

Commr. Campione asked how much per capita was being spent for the LCSO contract with the City of Minneola, remarking that her initial estimate had the amount at $138 per person in the City.

Sheriff Borders replied that when the City of Minneola contracted out they received more officers in their city to reduce the response time.  He then continued the presentation, comparing law enforcement officer salaries for all law enforcement agencies within Lake County and reported that the LCSO ranked eighth for the starting salary of a Deputy Sheriff.  He concluded by displaying illustrations of the call volume within the County and every location where a Deputy Sheriff responded, the first showing the volume between July 8 and July 10, 2011 and the second showing the volume on July 11, 2011.  He noted there were close to 1,500 calls over the July 8th weekend and over 400 calls during the 24 hour period on July 11th.  He expressed that it was his commitment to ensure his employees and the residents of Lake County were safe by providing quality law enforcement throughout the County.  He opined that the initial $2 million cut he made in his budget combined with the additional $1 million cut to the LCSO budget he would be submitting that week was the maximum that could be cut while ensuring the quality of service remained the same.

Commr. Hill noted the Board had initially requested the budget for the LCSO be cut by $3 million, and now that Sheriff Borders had met that requirement the Board should be satisfied.

Commr. Parks remarked that by 2014 the County would have depleted the reserve funds to an unacceptable level and while the Board needed to be careful not to micromanage the budget of an elected official, both parties should continue to work together.  He suggested a member of the Board and the Sheriff should meeting monthly with the County Manager, County Budget staff, and budget staff from the LCSO to discuss the budget and work towards finding more ways to save money by such methods as eliminating duplicative services, explaining that the purpose would be to report back to the Board in March with the results of the discussions.

Commr. Cadwell stated that it was the function of the Chairman to initiate a meeting with the Sheriff for those types of discussions, adding that while it was a good long-term solution, it was not good for the short-term.

Commr. Hill noted that the Board had always had a good relationship with all of the constitutional officers of the County and opined that as they continued to work on budget issues they would all need to work together over the long term.  She mentioned the County Manager had suggested creating a five-year plan.

Sheriff Borders stated he was willing to meet once a month as Commr. Parks had proposed.

Commr. Cadwell stressed that they needed to focus on the budget shortfall and asked the Sheriff to review his budget one more time for possible places to save money.

Commr. Campione agreed with creating a five year plan allowing for quarterly adjustments depending on changing economic indicators.  She stated the County had to make major changes to spending now because there were only a couple years until the reserves would be depleted.  She suggested the Sheriff’s Office could establish an optimal per capita amount, and as the economy improved they could gradually move towards reaching that amount.

Commr. Cadwell asked the Sheriff if attempting to solicit Federal inmates as had sometimes been done in the past would generate any revenue.

Sheriff Borders answered that because the jail was already staffed, the addition of the Federal inmates would generate revenue.  He noted he had already spoken with the U.S. Marshall for the State of Florida regarding bringing in additional inmates while the jail population was low.

Commr. Campione mentioned that the Florida Retirement System (FRS) savings would have been the logical place to find the maximum amount possible for this year.

Sheriff Borders explained that his office was giving that savings back to the employees, adding that the overall savings was only about $1 million.  He stressed that they had eliminated everything they could without compromising the safety of both the employees and the residents.  He opined that the only way to save the budget was to attract residents and new business to Lake County, noting that safety was a factor potential residents and businesses looked at before moving.

Commr. Campione stressed that she had been referring to cutting the expense to the reserve account because those funds were supplementing the budget since revenues were not matching expenditures.

Commr. Hill stated that the original request from the Board had been for the Sheriff to cut $3 million from his budget and he had met that request.  She noted that the Board had requested an additional $2-$3 million, but the Sheriff had stated it would not be possible.

Commr. Conner stated that the County would not be fiscally sound until the budget could be balanced and if the Sheriff’s budget was not addressed then the County would be forced to raise property taxes in two or three years to compensate the loss to the reserve account.

Mr. Gray estimated that the reserves fund would fall below the Board’s reserve policy in 2014, noting that when that happened they would be forced to make difficult choices such as adjusting millage rates and cutting other services from the departments or having all constitutional officers who used the general fund make further cuts to their budgets.  He stated that the original $16 million to be taken from reserves was now, with the Sheriff’s additional $1 million cut, $9 million and there was a goal to lower that amount to only $5 million.  He commented that even if they were able to reduce the amount to $5 million it would only prolong the deficit.

Commr. Conner said he appreciated that the Sheriff had cut another $1 million and asked the Sheriff to go back over his budget and attempt to cut another $1.5 million.

Commr. Parks expressed that he was thankful for the additional $1 million the Sheriff had cut from his budget and that it would be good if he could go back and cut another $1.5 million, but he had some concerns about the additional cuts because he did not want to leave the Sheriff without enough funds for his organization to function safely.  He stated he needed to trust when the Sheriff told him that everything that could be cut had been cut. 

On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board approved asking Sheriff Borders to review the LCSO FY 2012 budget again in an attempt to cut an additional $1.5 million from his budget.

Commr. Hill and Commr. Parks voted, “No.”

On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved having one of the Commissioners, the County Manager, and budget staff formally meet monthly with the Sheriff and his budget staff to report back to the Board by March 2012 regarding a fiscal evaluation and how to reduce duplication of services.

recess and reassembly

The Chairman announced that there would be a five-minute recess at 11:18 a.m.

Lake County Budget Presentation and Discussion

Mr. Gray gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Lake County 2012 budget to address the general fund and the next steps in the budgeting process.  He stated the general fund millage rates would remain the same going into 2012 and added that they would be brought before the Board on July 26, 2011 for approval.  He stated that since 2007, the total county-wide millage rate had dropped 19 percent.  He reported that the gross taxable value of the general fund had dropped 30 percent from 2008 through 2012, noting that the taxable value for 2012 was comparable with the 2005-2006 amount and the county-wide ad valorem amounts were trending in a similar fashion.  He reported speaking with the Property Appraiser’s Office and mentioned they estimated another decrease in property values next year.  He displayed a graph of the County’s population, specifying the data was from the 2010 Census.  He noted the graph covered from 2000 to 2010 and illustrated the growing population trend in unincorporated Lake County, the cities, and all of Lake County combined.  He discussed the expenses to the general fund from 2003 to 2012 and how expenses had been in relation to the countywide population and he reviewed the revenues and expenditures to the general fund from 2008 to 2012.  He stated that the Board had directed to minimize the amount being taken from the reserves to $5 million, noting that at the start of 2011 there had been $30.3 million in reserves and at the mid-year adjustment the amount had gone up to $34.1 million.  He explained that the proposed budget for 2012 left $24.8 million in reserves, which was a difference of $9.3 million from last year, and the goal was to increase the reserves to $29 million.  He listed the steps to achieve that goal such as making approximately $360,000 in further reductions to the departments, additional reductions from the LCSO and reviewing funds at the end of the current fiscal year and recalculate fund balances.  He suggested having a budget workshop in December or January after the start of the new budget year to discuss further budget reductions, if necessary, as a part of the mid-year adjustments.  He added that the EMS efficiency study would be completed by then which might also result in additional adjustments to the budget.  He opined 2013 would be a very tough year if the County did not make some changes.  He hoped that by March with the mid-year adjustments they could reach the $5 million goal.  He discussed the long-term strategy that staff had been working on such as the five-year model, quarterly budget reports and presentations to the Board, and having a professional give an economic update in January.  He reviewed the next steps in the budget process including the July 15, 2011 statutory deadline for the FY 2012 recommended budget document, the July 26, 2011 adoption of TRIM rates and fire assessment, and the August 1, 2011 deadline for the budget from the Tax Collector.  He recommended having another budget workshop in August before the Public Hearings for the budget in September.

Commr. Campione asked if the recommended budget that would be submitted for the July 15th deadline was the budget that had been previously submitted to the Board which showed $24 million for the reserves.

Mr. Gray replied that was correct, explaining that the goal was to make the adjustments to the budget by March 2012.  He noted that the budget was not what would actually be spent and he was hoping that once the current fiscal year ended on September 30th that there would be more savings they could carry over into FY 2012.

Commr. Campione asked if the recommended budget that was going to be submitted would include the additional $1 million cut that the Sheriff had made to his budget.

Mr. Gray replied that it would not include that cut because the document had already been generated in order to be submitted in time for the July 15th deadline, but the change would be made in August and reflected in the final budget up for approval in September.

Commr. Conner asked how much of the County’s money was being spent on the Lake Express fixed route.

Mr. Gray replied that he did not have that information off hand, but added that the Board was having a transportation workshop on August 9, 2011 and that information would be presented to the Board at that time.

Commr. Parks requested the status of the operational efficiency audit of Public Works.

Mr. Gray answered that the first meeting regarding that audit was scheduled for Friday, July 15, 2011.

The Chairman opened the floor for public comments.

Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares who writes a blog on fiscal issues, addressed the Board regarding the earlier discussion on the savings from the FRS pension plan.  He noted that on Monday, July 11th, the School Board had a budget workshop and they were worried about the ramifications as well as the teacher’s lawsuit that was trying to prevent the three percent reduction for pension.  He commented that the School Board set aside the potential $3 million in savings from FRS into reserves.  He added that the FRS savings might not be realized and when he had discussed it with Mr. Gray during the recess of the BCC meeting he had said it would be talked about in the future because there were different alternative approaches to handling the issue.

Mr. Minkoff stated the lawsuit did not challenge the FRS contribution rates, only the employee contributions, so even if it were successful it would not effect what the legislature commanded employers to pay for their share.  He added that it did not mean that the legislature might not change those rates at a later session.

reports – commissioner conner – district 3

Zoning Board member attendance issue

Commr. Conner reported that Mr. Jim Gardner had resigned from his position on the Zoning Board.  He stated he would send a letter to thank Mr. Gardner for his service on the Zoning Board and that he would be advertising for the vacancy.  He noted receiving a phone call from a member of the Zoning Board expressing concern over the number of meetings where quorum requirements were not being met.  He mentioned that the School Board representative had missed four of the last five meetings.  He suggested the Chairman could tactfully address that issue with the Zoning Board members.

Commr. Cadwell suggested the Chairman write a letter to the Chairman of the School Board regarding the attendance of their representative.

Commr. Hill stated she had contacted the School Board Chairman several times and the School Board Chairman’s suggestion was for their representative to have an alternate.  She commented that the Zoning Board members received their meeting information a week in advance, making it difficult for an alternate substitute.  She reported she had told the School Board Chairman that there could not be an alternate for that position.  She added that they had changed the quorum criteria, but it was very important from both a residential and commercial aspect that the School Board representative be present for the Zoning Board meetings.  She stated the School Board Chairman said she would try to correct the attendance issue on her end.

Mr. Minkoff reported that the quorum requirements had been changed to needing a majority of the appointment members, so when there were seven members on a Board there would need to be four present for a quorum.

Commr. Conner suggested creating an attendance policy.


Joint meeting with school board

Mr. Gray reminded the Board that there was a Joint Meeting with the School Board on July 19, 2011 at Lake Minneola High School starting at 2:00 p.m.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:17 p.m.



Jennifer Hill, chairman