A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
january 13, 2015
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 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: Jimmy Conner, Chairman; Sean Parks, Vice Chairman; Timothy I. Sullivan; Leslie Campione; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: David Heath, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager; Neil Kelly, Clerk of Court; Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan and Victoria Bartley, Deputy Clerks.
INVOCATION and pledge
Pastor Brooks Braswell from the First Baptist Church in Umatilla gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commr. Conner announced and recognized Commr. Cadwell for his re-election as the Chairman of the Central Florida Expressway Authority and mentioned that the Orlando Sentinel named Commr. Cadwell as one of the 15 most influential people in Central Florida. He added that they were very appreciative of Commr. Cadwell’s service.
There was no update to the Agenda.
Ms. Christina Brandolini, Human Resources Manager, presented the following employee awards, commenting briefly on the employee’s service to the County.
Patrick Billson, Firefighter/EMT (not present)
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
Brian Merkle, Firefighter/Paramedic (not present)
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
John Reynolds, Library Page (not present)
Public Resources/Library Services Division
Jessica Woods, Permitting Technician I (not present)
Growth Management/Building Services Division
Timothy Judy, Firefighter/EMT
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
thirty five years
Mr. Bill Veach presented the employee award for thirty-five years to Mr. David Walker, A/V and Asset Technician, Information Technology, and he spoke of Mr. Walker’s service to the County.
Commr. Conner commented that Mr. Walker has helped them extensively behind the scenes and was a very valuable employee.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Sullivan, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Minutes of December 2, 2014 (Regular Meeting) and December 16, 2014 (Regular Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Ronnie White, a resident of Leesburg, stated that there was a dangerous curve just before the intersection of Thomas Avenue and Talley Road in Leesburg, and the caution lights at that location are ineffective, since motorists travel at a high rate of speed. He specified that there have been eight accidents and one fatality at that location, and he requested that the Board do something about this situation, such as putting a stoplight there.
Commr. Conner asked Mr. White to give his contact information to Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, who will help him with this situation.
presentation of proclamations
we care of lake county proclamation
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Proclamation No. 2015-1 recognizing January 30, 2015 as We Care of Lake County Day, per Commissioner Cadwell.
Commr. Cadwell presented the proclamation to Ms. Carol Millwater, Executive Director of We Care of Lake County, and he noted that We Care saves money as well as lives and then read the proclamation aloud.
Ms. Millwater stated that on behalf of We Care of Lake County, she is extremely excited, pleased, and grateful for this proclamation. She commented that the County’s support and faith in what they do is paramount to their ability to help the most people they could and reflects the Board’s good wishes and good will towards them. She expressed hope that they will all join them at the gala on January 30 so that they could recognize the Board for all of the work and support they have given to the organization. She announced that within the next six months We Care would be launching We Share, which would be a medical equipment reclamation center that would provide used and donated medical equipment to those that need it, since that was a great need in their community as well. She elaborated that this was possible with seed money they had received from the Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.
Commr. Cadwell added that We Care is different than other agencies, because it assists those with major life-and-death medical problems with the help of physicians in the community who have donated their time to make this possible, which has filled a void in the county.
Human trafficking awareness month proclamation
Commr. Parks read and presented Proclamation No. 2014-148 proclaiming January 2015 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which was previously approved at the BCC Meeting on December 16, to the members of the Human Trafficking Task Force.
Ms. Lori Humphrey, Project Manager, Lake County Shared Services Network, commented that they have an outstanding task force represented that day who work behind the scenes to make the families and children in Lake County safer, and she wanted to make sure that they were recognized as well. The task force members were representatives of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Schools, local churches, LifeStream Behavioral Center, the Department of Children and Families, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Lake County Shared Services Network. She opined that it takes a team to be able to do what they do, and they have seen amazing strides in the prevention and awareness of human trafficking.
Ms. Joelle Aboytes with the Department of Children and Families, pointed out that Florida is ranked as one of the states with the highest call volume to the National Trafficking Human Resource Center website, specifying that there were over 1,100 calls to that center and over 285 cases reported, and she emphasized that the majority of those cases are United States citizens rather than foreigners as commonly believed. She commented that children in foster care are strongly at risk of being victims of trafficking, as well as other vulnerable adults and children. She related that she was proud of their task force and thanked them for their efforts which made a difference in these cases.
Commr. Conner asked Ms. Humphrey to discuss Representative Larry Metz’s involvement in this issue, since he has been a great leader in this state on this.
Ms. Humphrey commented that Rep. Metz was a leader in everything they do in Lake County, and he was influential in taking some of the concerns that were presented by the task force to Tallahassee to be able to spread that information and also work on some of the legislation that was recently passed last year that would help them in their fight in Lake County. She stated that she wanted them to be proactive and raise awareness, and she opined that their efforts are working to save some of those children. She thanked those that were on the front lines in the fight against human trafficking.
Commr. Conner commented on the change in their culture and wanted everyone to be mindful that the duties of the Sheriff have really expanded. He thanked Sheriff Borders and his staff for their help, and he stated that the Board wanted to support their task force.
Sheriff Borders elaborated that this Human Trafficking Task Force started before it became a big problem in Lake County, and they got involved with teams in different counties to learn what was going on in those areas.
CLERK OF COURTS’ CONSENT AGENDA
Commr. Campione clarified that Item 3 regarding the annexation ordinance from the City of Groveland was not related to the golf course issue that they had discussed last month.
On a motion by Commr. Sullivan, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of Courts’ Consent Agenda, Items 1 through 3, as follows:
List of Warrants
Request to acknowledge receipt of list of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136.06 (1) of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes as attached Exhibit A and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk’s Office.
Order from the Florida Public Service Commission
Request to acknowledge receipt of Order Approving Water Rate Tariff Revision by W.B.B. Utilities, Inc., Before the Florida Public Service Commission, Docket No. 140171-WU, Order No. PSC-14-0681-TRF-WU.
Notice of Public Hearing for Annexation from City of Groveland
Request to acknowledge receipt of Notice of Public Hearing for Annexation from the City of Groveland for Ordinance 2015-01-01 extending and increasing the corporate limits of the city pursuant to the voluntary annexation provisions of Section 171.044 and Section 171.204 F.S. by annexing approximately 1.33 acres of real property not embraced within the present limits of the City of Groveland.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the County Manager’s Consent Agenda, Tabs 5 through 17, pulling Tab 6, as follows:
Request for approval and signature on the Third Supplemental Agreement with Ride Right Transit, LLC to allow for a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) of 1.70% for the second year of the contract. The fiscal impact is $54,751.
Request for approval of renewal of District Office Lease to provide office space for Congressman Daniel Webster at the Clerk's Public Record Center located at 122 East Main Street in Tavares. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval and execution of the Third Amendment to the Agreement between Lake County and Bryant Miller Olive, P.A. for disclosure counsel services. The fiscal impact is unable to be determined at this time.
Facilities Development and Management
Request for approval of contract awards under Invitation to Bid (ITB) 15-0607 to twenty-two (22) vendors for the provision of multiple brands of parts for use in repairs to Lake County vehicles and operating equipment on an as-required basis, and authorize the Procurement Office to execute all supporting documentation. The fiscal impact is indefinite in nature at this time.
Fiscal and Administrative Services
Request for approval to (1) declare the items on the attached list surplus to County needs, (2) authorize the removal of all of the items on the attached list from the County’s official fixed asset inventory system records, and (3) authorize the Procurement Manager to execute any required title documents. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval and execution of the Special Master Agreement between Lake County and Love's Landing, Inc., John Hall Love and Samuel B. Love, Jr. The fiscal impact is $437.50 (Expenditure).
Request for approval and execution of: (1) Hazards Analysis Grant Agreement with the State of Florida, Division of Emergency Management; (2) authorization for the County Manager to sign future amendments/modifications that do not involve financial impact; (3) Unanticipated Revenue Resolution No. 2015-3; and (4) Authorization for staff to complete any necessary budget adjustments. This agreement provides revenue to the Emergency Management Division. No local match is required. The fiscal impact is $9,865 (Revenue) and $9,865 Expense.
Request for approval and execution of: (1) FY14 State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) Funding Agreement in the amount of $17,778; (2) Unanticipated Revenue Resolution No. 2015-4; and (3) authorization for the County Manager to sign future amendments/modifications that do not involve financial impact. This Agreement provides revenue to the Emergency Management Division. No local match is required. The fiscal impact is $17,778 (Revenue) and $17,778 (Expenditure).
Request for approval of the agreement between Lake County and Lake and Sumter Emergency Recovery, Inc., (LASER) through the first renewal of the available four (4) additional one (1) year periods. The fiscal impact is $5,000 (Expenditure).
Request for approval and authorization for Chairman to execute a satisfaction and release of lien for two (2) special assessments. There is no fiscal impact. Commission Districts 2 & 4.
Request for authorization to accept the final plat for Las Colinas Phase IV and all areas dedicated to the public as shown on the Las Colinas Phase IV plat. Las Colinas Phase IV consists of 2 lots and is located in the Mission Inn community west of Howey-In-The-Hills in Section 22, Township 20 South, Range 25 East. Commission District 3. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for authorization for the Chairman to execute change order #7 in a net deduct amount of $16,195.02 to the Alfred Street One Way Pair Project No. 2013-07, Bid No. 13-0038, to DeWitt Excavating, Inc. Change order #7 is the final change order and is for changes to the project not shown on the construction plans involving signage and striping changes to provide additional route direction along the Alfred Street and Caroline Street corridors, the addition of a driveway, and the furnishing of a fiber optic termination cabinet. The change order also provides a credit for the sanitary sewer lateral and water service relocations not needed for the City of Tavares that were included in change order #2. The net cost of change order #7 is a reduction of $16,195.02 and is to be funded by the Road Impact Fee Benefit District 2 Fund. Commission District 3.
Commr. Campione asked whether the outside counsel named in Tab 6 to be used by the County on an as-needed basis was the same environmental law firm that assisted with the RFP’s in the trash contract.
Mr. Minkoff responded that it was the same firm and added that this firm has represented the County for many years.
Commr. Campione expressed a concern that Mr. David Deas, an attorney in that firm, had also represented the company that established the disposal site that is involved in the contract with the County, and she opined that there was potential for that site to have some issues in the future which could result in a possible conflict of interest for that firm. She suggested that the Board seek a more objective legal counsel on issues related to solid waste contracts.
Mr. Minkoff noted that this firm and Mr. Deas in particular are experts throughout the state in this area, and he pointed out that they also represented Covanta, who was their disposer at the time; however, he stated that he would not have a problem with the Board going out for proposals for another environmental lawyer instead of utilizing that firm.
Commr. Cadwell commented that although he understands the relationship and the other things that have happened over the years with the landfill provider, he does not think anyone would question that law firm’s ability and prowess in the field of environmental law. He elaborated that he understands Commr. Campione’s concerns, but he disagrees that it would be a problem in this case.
Commr. Campione recapped that she has expressed concerns about the trash contract from the beginning. She commented that she believes some of those concerns could have been addressed earlier, and she questions whether they did get the best counsel in this instance in that regard. She added that she believed that this would be a good time to have someone else step in that could advise them to the extent that they may have to renegotiate if they find themselves in an adverse situation with the haulers or with the disposal site, since this firm has had a relationship with that disposal site and has some ownership in its success by virtue of its being there from its inception.
Commr. Conner opined that she was still trying to debate the garbage contract, and he stated that she needed to put any allegations she may have “on the table.”
Commr. Campione added that one of her concerns is that the contract was written in such a way that gives them a way out of the contract if it was no longer economically viable for them to run that landfill pursuant to the terms of their contract and making it possible for them to ask the County for more money to utilize that site. She reiterated that she believed it would be prudent to have new legal counsel.
Commr. Sullivan pointed out that the Board was getting ready to look extensively at solid waste issues, and he opined that he feels it would be better to pull this issue and look at it when they discuss solid waste next month.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried by a vote of 3-2, the Board approved the request from the County Attorney for approval of outside counsel firms and their use on an as-needed basis for County purposes and authorization for the County Manager, with approval from the County Attorney, to sign for direct payments for legal services.
Commr. Campione and Commr. Sullivan voted “no.”
uniform collection agreement for firethorn road
Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, explained that these agreements would be for the uniform method of special assessment so that they could work with the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector to move forward with the Firethorn Road Special Assessment Project. He illustrated on the overhead monitor that the project is complete, and he stated that the approval of these agreements would allow them to move forward with putting this assessment on the tax bill.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this issue, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Campione commented that she felt that the bill would be high for the residents who did not want to do this for strictly personal financial reasons, although she believes that this project will increase the value of their homes and properties over the long run. However, she expressed concern that paying this bill may create a hardship for some when they receive their tax bill.
Commr. Conner pointed out that the term of the payback was extended from seven to ten years, and the interest rate was lowered as well from what it usually is, which were concessions that were made to make it easier on the residents that would be paying this special assessment.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried by a vote of 4-1, the Board approved Resolution No. 2015-5 expressing the intent of Lake County to use the uniform method for the levy, collection, and enforcement of non-ad valorem assessments, approval of the Uniform Collection Agreement between Lake County and the Lake County Tax Collector, and approval of the Agreement between Lake County and the Lake County Property Appraiser for reimbursement of costs all associated with the Firethorn Road Special Assessment Project No. 104 in Commission District 4. There is no fiscal impact.
Commr. Campione voted “no.”
ordinance re-imposing local option fuel tax
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, placed the proposed ordinance on the floor for reading by title only, as follows:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA; RE-IMPOSING THE THREE-CENT, FOUR-CENT, FIVE-CENT AND SIX-CENT LOCAL OPTION FUEL TAX AS AUTHORIZED PURSUANT TO SECTION 336.025(1)(a), FLORIDA STATUTES; RE-IMPOSING SUCH LOCAL OPTION FUEL TAX FOR A PERIOD OF TWENTY-EIGHT (28) YEARS AND FOUR (4) MONTHS COMMENCING ON AUGUST 31, 2015 FOR THE THREE-CENT AND FOUR-CENT TAX, AND CONTINUING THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2043; RE-IMPOSING SUCH LOCAL OPTION FUEL TAX FOR A PERIOD OF TWENTY-SEVEN (27) YEARS AND FOUR (4) MONTHS COMMENCING ON AUGUST 31, 2016 FOR THE FIVE-CENT AND SIX-CENT TAX, AND CONTINUING THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2043; AMENDING SECTION 13-27, LAKE COUNTY CODE, ENTITLED ADDITIONAL TWO-CENT TAX (FOUR-CENTS TOTAL); AMENDING SECTION 13-28, LAKE COUNTY CODE, ENTITLED ADDITIONAL TWO-CENT TAX (SIX-CENTS TOTAL); PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR FILING WITH DEPARTMENT OF STATE; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the unusual dates in this ordinance is an attempt to sync all six cents so that they will all expire on December 31, 2043 so that the Board at that time will only have to do it one time.
Commr. Cadwell commented that it made sense to sync those dates, and that will make it a lot easier for people to understand.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this issue, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Campione noted that since there was a debate about how they would distribute those funds, they have changed the funding distribution which will result in an impact on Eustis and Leesburg. She stated that she wanted to use this opportunity to reiterate the importance of getting the work on Kurt Street completed with the opening of the new school, and she added that it was a heavily used road that was in very bad condition right now.
Commr. Cadwell added that Kurt Street is such an important transportation cog, and the road is over capacity even without the new school opening there, since motorists use that road to avoid the US Hwy 441 and SR 19 intersection. He elaborated that the traffic pattern will change when the new school opens, which will cause a lot of problems.
Commr. Campione asked Mr. Stivender to keep them informed about that project.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the adoption of Ordinance No. 2015-1 re-imposing the third-cent through sixth-cent local option fuel tax pursuant to Section 336.025, Florida Statutes. The re-imposition shall be for a period commencing August 31, 2015 and continuing through December 31, 2043. The ordinance also amends Section 13-27 and Section 13-28, Lake County Code, to make them consistent with the re-imposition of the local option tax. The fiscal impact cannot be determined at this time.
budget presentation – economic trends and conditions
Mr. David Heath, County Manager, explained that he wanted to start the new year with an economic forecast to give context to the beginning of the budget process, including some of the variables such as unemployment and interest rates. He reported that they would have a series of about 10 to 12 work sessions on the budget at every meeting from now until June. He elaborated that some of the topics that will be covered are the budget process, schedule, and revenues. He related that there will then be a summation of all of the work sessions, and they will get the initial values from the Property Appraiser and the Constitutional Officers’ budgets.
Mr. Robert Chandler, Economic Development and Tourism Director, stated that he would give the Board the 2015 economic outlook as a result of the research staff did on the predictions from the national, local, and regional experts, and they would provide a historical overview and projected forecast for national, state, and local economic indicators. He noted that the Lake County economy is very dependent on the regional, state, and national economy. He started with a national overview and mentioned that the recovery from the recession began about 5 ½ years ago nationally with an average economic growth of 2.3 percent compared to a historical average of about 3.2 percent, although it has been enough to drop the unemployment below 6 percent. He pointed out that this expansion has been the longest expansion since World War II, but the perception of the slow rebound is due largely to the lagging income growth. He reported that growth in 2014 nationally was consistent with 2012 and 2013 from a percentage perspective, but the composition of that growth has changed and has become more stable and diverse, with more full-time versus part-time employment coming to the market. He specified that non-farm employment increased 241,000 per month in 2014, which was up from 194,000 jobs per month in 2013, with that job growth being broader and more based in the high-paying sectors. He commented that there were many positive indicators moving into 2015, including a rise in hiring, cheaper gas, job openings at a near record level, very low rate of initial unemployment claims, and increased consumer spending; and the GDP average annual growth is expected to reach 3 percent by the end of 2015 and stay stable through 2016. He illustrated on an overhead graph the GDP annual growth rate from 2013 through the forecasted GDP through 2016, noting that the third quarter of 2014 has been one of the best they have had in a long time.
Mr. Chandler reported that there was major momentum moving into 2015, with employment across the country increasing, and he specified that companies hired 321,000 in November, which was the largest one-month gain since the recovery began, and full-time employment increasing with widespread gains across nearly most industries; also, they were expecting gains of 250,000 per month in 2015, which will keep the unemployment rate dropping from 5.8 to 5.4 percent. However, he predicted that wage growth will continue to be modest compared to historically averages at about 2.4 percent, and he displayed a bar graph illustrating these trends. He mentioned that short-term interest rates are expected to increase at a modest rate, but multiple forces will keep interest rates from rising faster, such as increasing value of the U.S. dollar and a slowdown in Eurozone, Japan, and China. He related that inflation was kept in check in 2014 at 1 percent due largely to the drop in gas prices, and he predicted that food price increases should subside in 2015 but that shelter costs are expected to increase about 3 percent based largely on the demand for rental housing. He noted that the core rate of inflation, which excludes food and energy, is expected to rise only slightly higher in 2015 as it did in 2014 from 1.8 to 2 percent. He went on to report that although business spending is expected to be less than pre-recession levels, it is expected to increase to over 6 percent growth versus 5 percent in 2014, shown by signs such as an increase in the monthly shipments of finished goods, increase in manufacturing employment, multi-year backlog by aircraft makers, more orders from railroads for locomotives and cars, and growth of unfilled orders. He explained that oil is down about 50 percent to $55 per barrel from its peak in the summer of 2014 of $101 per barrel due largely to increases in production, and it was expected to come back up to about $78 per barrel by the spring of 2015 with gases going up to about $2.75.
Mr. Chandler noted that the housing market is nearing normal again, with the exception of new home sales, and there was positive housing momentum moving into 2015 with rising incomes and employment, a backlog of young adults looking into moving out of parents’ homes, and easing credit conditions. He elaborated that sales of existing homes in 2015 are expected to match or exceed the norms prior to the housing boom, and strong rental demand has pushed multi-family construction back to normal levels. He pointed out, however, that there are still credit difficulties for first-time buyers and a shortage of tradesmen, and bank lending for raw land remains tight, although housing starts and sales are expected to increase by about 20 to 25 percent next year, with moderate price increases expected for homes, with the current median sale price about $201,000 and about 3.5 to 4 percent expected gains on a national level. He related that retail and food service sales are expected to increase just under 5 percent, which was similar to the 2014 gains, and falling energy prices will simultaneously hurt and help retail sales by decreasing the overall value of sales while resulting in more disposable income for consumers to put back into the economy and more sales of trucks and larger and more expensive vehicles. He added that retail sale year-over-year growth was expected to increase about 4 percent moving forward over the next eight quarters.
Mr. Chandler commented that Florida’s recession was longer and much deeper than the nation, but Florida’s rebound has surpassed the country’s in both the pace of job creation and economic growth. He added that population growth is returning, especially for retirees, and he opined that all elements are in place for strong economic growth in Florida. He specified that the state’s GSP experienced its first post-recession growth in 2012 and 2013 at 2.2 percent driven by improving consumer confidence, housing market recovery, and labor market improvements, and is expected to expand at an average annual rate of 3.1 percent from 2014 to 2017, which is higher than the national rate. He remarked that the unsustainable speculation prior to the recession has ended, and they now have a more stable and broad economic base to build on. He also noted that Florida’s labor market recovery continues to outpace the national job market recovery with an average job creation of 2.3 percent per year and a labor force increase about 2.1 percent, and he predicted that payrolls should recover to their pre-recession high’s by the fourth quarter of 2015, with unemployment expected to average around 6 percent with the increases in the labor force and employment. He indicated that housing starts remain strong and are expected to continue to increase at about 25 percent per year, but the pace of the increase will be heavily impacted by interest rates. He pointed out that cash transactions are falling, suggesting less interest from investors, and mortgage availability will determine the gains in the housing market. He specified that the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Credit Availability Index currently stands at 116.1, compared to the benchmark of 100 in March 2012, noting that the 2006 index was 869. He explained that this shows that it still is very difficult for home buyer’s to find the financing to purchase homes, which will temper the expected increases in home values. He reported that personal income growth lost momentum in 2013 by going from 4.1 percent in 2012 to 2.9 percent in 2013 due to sequester spending cuts, expiration of the payroll tax cut, and a decrease in dividend payment, but is expected to return in 2014 and grow steadily at an average rate of 5.5 percent through 2017. He also noted that retail sales in Florida grew 5 percent in 2012, due to higher gas prices and release of pent up demand, as well as increased at a slower pace in 2013 and 2014; and he was expecting a 4.5 percent increase in retail sales moving forward.
Mr. Chandler explained that since Lake County was heavily dependent on what happens regionally, he would report the statistics for the Orlando Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which encompasses Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. He noted that the Orlando MSA unemployment rate has been below the national rate since 2013 and its job market was the first to recover in the state in pure employment terms. He elaborated that the Orlando MSA job growth has exceeded the nation’s rate for 37 consecutive months, with a 4.3 percent job growth in 2014, which was second in the nation, and he emphasized that the Orlando MSA reported the largest end-of-year gains in both absolute and percentage job growth of the 22 metros in Florida.
He also mentioned that workspace occupancy of large spaces is decreasing, but rents are rising and speculation has returned to the industrial market. He related that home sales and prices are expected to settle into a pattern of more traditional growth of 3.5 percent over the next 12 months within the MSA, and economists do not believe that there is an imminent construction bubble within the Orlando MSA, since permits are on the rise but remain below historic norms. He reported that there were strong tourism gains in both the MSA and Lake County, which was driving consumer spending in the market, and things are looking very positive for the Orlando MSA. He presented a chart for the forecast for the Orlando MSA for 2015 to 2017 which showed that the GMP was up 5 percent, unemployment decreased 5.4 percent, employment rose 3 percent, wages increased 3 percent, and incomes increased an average of 6 percent, along with the how the MSA ranks in the state; and he mentioned that Naples is projected to lead the state in those metrics over the next three years, although it also looks good for Orlando moving forward. He summarized that Florida and the Orlando MSA have returned to their pre-recession levels of growth across many economic indicators, which is a good indicator for Lake County as well.
Mr. Chandler recapped that Lake County did not experience a rebound until 2012 from the recession, and it has been modest compared to the rest of the MSA. However, the indicators have been trending in the right direction, and they could experience substantial gains in 2015. He reported that the unemployment rate reached a peak of 13.3 percent in 2010, but they were now down below 6 percent and at a level that they have not been since May of 2008. He presented a chart illustrating that there were about 127,000 employees in Lake County, and mentioned the employment has averaged historically 4.4 percent in year-over-year growth increases. He specified that they had a 5.1 percent year-over-year growth in November, and they averaged 4.5 percent for the entire year of 2014. He concluded that they have reached their pre-recession levels as far as Lake County’s residents being able to find employment, which was a good sign. He pointed out on the next chart large gains in the labor force, including a 4.2 percent increase in November, which he noted was a good indicator even though that will keep the unemployment rate from dropping further. He related that there was a 3.5 percent increase in jobs year over year, which was greater than the state’s numbers, and he specified that the county has gained back 10,000 of the 11,000 jobs that were lost in the recession. He commented that the average annual wage growth of 3.8 percent is not very good, although this was not unique to Lake County. He stated that business tax receipts were up 10 percent in 2014 following a year when they were up 16 percent, which gives them an idea of what type of investment and attitude the business community has regarding the creation new businesses, and gross taxable sales are also up 10 percent in 2014.
Mr. Chandler illustrated with a bar graph the lowest point for building permits in 2011 and an 82 percent increase in building permits from 2013 to 2014, pointing out that those numbers look strong. He specified that the median home price in Lake County is currently about $159,000, which is about 23 percent lower than what they would have been with an historical growth rate, but they were expecting average growth moving forward at about 3.5 to 4 percent. He showed on a graph the increase in the property values during the bubble, the drop in the recession, and over 4 percent growth in 2014; and he predicted that those numbers will continue to grow. He summarized that the national indicators point to a strong economic rebound in 2015, and Florida and the Orlando MSA are showing positive sign of a recovery and actually leading the nation and the state respectively. He commented that it is expected that Lake County is poised to experience an accelerated pace of growth in 2015, given its geographic and economic positioning within the MSA, and these encouraging trends should positively impact taxable property values.
Commr. Cadwell opined that they should acknowledge that the quality of the rebound has value because of the diversification of their economy rather than just the reliance on housing.
Mr. Chandler responded that this recovery was at a point where it was sustainable, and they had a broader and more diverse tax base rather than the speculative nature that was seen before the recession.
Commr. Parks commented that they are seeing that diversification away from housing, but the main focus will be on income growth and trying to exceed what other counties around them are doing.
Mr. Chandler added that businesses seem more confident and are beginning to reinvest again.
Commr. Parks asked for Mr. Chandler’s opinion on what they should focus on in order to increase the income value of the county.
Mr. Chandler explained that the discussion in economic development circles has shifted away from jobs to income, and their jobs are to improve the quality of life for citizens through job growth, which enables them to have enough income to spend on the things that they want. To that end, they should continue to focus on the strategic corridors and workforce improvements that will allow residents to acquire the skills they need in order to secure jobs that pay more money. He added that the focus should also be on preparing their infrastructure from a product standpoint, as well as training the workforce so that they are better able to take on those higher paying jobs.
Commr. Parks opined that quality of life is a big factor for attracting businesses that provide higher incomes, as they want to be in a place that provides that higher quality of life.
Mr. Chandler agreed and expounded that both quality of life and of place that was important, and he defined quality of place as being the diversity of resources available or the activities offered outside of work, such as the culture, arts, and parks. Further, this is one of the things the “creative class” of people are looking for when they move.
Commr. Sullivan pointed out that transportation networks were part of that quality of life, and they have to continue to encourage business growth in order to change their tax structure so they were not 70 percent dependent on homeowners,
Mr. Chandler stated that the focus should be on how to improve Lake County, so that they have a better product to sell, and rather than trying to actively recruit people, they should try to take care of themselves as best they can, and people will come of their own accord.
Commr. Campione expounded on the distribution of land uses and tax bases brought up by Commr. Sullivan and suggested that they review where their distribution was four or five years ago and track that annually or quarterly. She related that this would be helpful in seeing where they were in regard to other counties, such as being more heavily weighted in commercial or light industrial, to track whether they are making in gains in that regard, though it may be subtle at first.
APPOINTMENTS TO PARKS, RECREATION, AND TRAILS ADVISORY BOARD
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the appointments of Mr. Ed Waterman to the Lake County Parks, Recreation, and Trails Advisory Board to complete a two-year unexpired term ending May 20, 2015 representing District 5.
APPOINTMENTS TO THE ELDER AFFAIRS COORDINATING COUNCIL
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the reappointments of the following members to the Elder Affairs Coordinating Council to serve a two-year term beginning January 31, 2015: Barbara Howell representing District 1, Mary Lou Wieloszynski and Joseph Wynkoop representing District 2, and Barbara Wilson Smith and Frances Weston representing District 4; as well as appointment of Peter Caracciolo as an at-large member.
APPOINTMENTS TO THE pLANNING & ZONING BOARD
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the reappointment of Debbie Stivender as School Board Member and Rosanne Brandeburg as alternate School Board Member to the Planning and Zoning Board to serve a four-year term beginning January 31, 2015.
COMMISSIONER DISCUSSION/ACTION ITEM
lake apopka ecotourism coalition
Commr. Campione related she had attended a meeting set up by Commr. Bryan Nelson of Orange County where he requested that two Lake County Commissioners be appointed to the Lake Apopka Ecotourism Coalition. This coalition would be comprised of two Orange County commissioners and all of the state agencies involved with water quality issues, such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the St. Johns River Water Management District, as well as several other entities like the Florida Audubon Society and Friends of Lake Apopka. She relayed that Commr. Nelson asked that they reach out to cities that would be adjacent to Lake Apopka, such as the city of Mount Dora. She also explained that they had been asked to prepare a list of projects that Rep. Nelson wants to push forward with the legislature on ecotourism-related issues and also related a discussion she had with Commr. Nelson where they had decided tentatively that they would adopt a 50-50 approach to the legislature, focusing equally on water quality issues and on seeking projects that are ecotourism related to bring people to the area at the same time. She also requested that staff put together the list for Commr. Nelson, including such things as the improvements for the Ferndale Preserve, the Apopka Loop Trail, and particularly the McDonald Boat Ramp. She inquired of Commr. Parks if the Montverde Boat Ramp would be able to be included on the list.
Commr. Parks relayed that yes it could be something to discuss, as he had received a call from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding a grant for the Montverde Boat Ramp that they had received, and they had plans for an adjacent park facility.
Commr. Campione suggested reaching out to Montverde now so that if they had plans in the works for the park adjacent to the boat ramp, they could do the construction for it all at once. She commented that the formation of the Coalition was very exciting, and that many organizations such as the Friends of Lake Apopka want to keep moving forward with it. She noted that getting the lake cleaned up would be a major source of ecotourism for them.
Commr. Parks mentioned that the Montverde Boat Ramp was the only place on the west side with access to Lake Apopka, so there was a lot of potential in that.
Commr. Cadwell remarked that Mount Dora should definitely be included in the Coalition as it was the closest city that could utilize the lake to market tourism. He asked Commr. Campione if she thought this would be a sustainable coalition.
Commr. Campione answered that she believes so and that this was a long range plan for Lake Apopka. She added that while the Water Management District had acquired property around the lake and worked to restore the north shore, they had not really been able to focus on water quality. She mentioned that they wanted to ask the District if it would be feasible to implement a multi-year plan where they put a certain amount into dredging every year, while simultaneously looking for new technology that will become a more cost efficient way to clean up the lakes.
Commr. Campione also related that the request was for Commr. Parks and herself to be appointed to the Coalition and to have them coordinate with their respective cities so that they could participate in the next meeting. The hope was to meet once a month, with smaller committees within the Coalition meeting more frequently.
On a motion by Commr. Sullivan, seconded by Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the request to appoint Commissioners Parks and Campione to Lake Apopka Ecotourism Coalition, authorizing the appointed Commissioners to coordinate with Minneola, Montverde, and Mount Dora to make appointments, and authorizing staff to prepare a list of projects to be included in a legislative package.
reports – DAVID HEATH - county manager
Mr. David Heath, County Manager, related that there was a BCC retreat scheduled for Tuesday, January 20, at the Emergency Operations Center and noted that anything requiring Board action will be put on a subsequent agenda for future action. He noted that last year’s retreat was very productive.
reports – commissioner parks – vice-chairman and district 2
dreamplex grand opening
Commr. Parks commented that it was great to be part of the Dreamplex grand opening in Clermont last Saturday, January 10, with hundreds of people in attendance. He stated that Dreamplex provides the opportunity for ordinary sports for extraordinary people. He goes on to say that Dreamplex has opened a short term facility in Clermont, with plans with the Wellness Way Sector Plan to build a one-of-a-kind facility that will attract people from all around the state.
herb garden demonstration at discovery gardens
Commr. Parks stated that he spoke at the opening of the herb garden demonstration at Discovery Gardens that weekend and thanked the Commissioners who came to that event.
Commr. Campione remarked on how much she enjoyed the herb garden presentation and how impressed she was with the facility. She hopes that more Lake County residents can learn about the opportunities that are available there. She related that she had family members 25 years ago who learned how to garden in the Florida climate from the Agricultural Center.
reports – commissioner cadwell – district 5
use of discovery gardens for future bcc workshop
Commr. Cadwell suggested that the Board use a classroom at Discovery Gardens as a location for a BCC workshop in the future, and he noted that Discovery Gardens has matured recently.
east lake chamber banquet
Commr. Cadwell related that he had attended the East Lake Chamber banquet last week, where it was mentioned that they would focus more on the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area. He remarked on how well Mr. Chandler and his associates did with the presentation. He related that all the comments he received about the CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) were very positive, reflecting the feeling that the County was an ally to the area.
cfx committee appointment
Commr. Cadwell explained that they have to make an appointment to a one-time, short-term CFX committee having to do with an executive director search, and he asked for consensus from the Board for Mr. Heath to appoint Mr. Bill Veach, Deputy County Manager, as a staff person for this appointment. The Board gave consensus for this appointment.
cfx legislative agenda
Commr. Cadwell reported that he had a good visit with the new Secretary of FDOT to work through some wording for the CFX legislative agenda regarding specific permission that the Secretary had to get from DOT and Lake County for funding of their portion of the Wekiva, since it was a bond issue for them. He explained that this would be on the bill that will be introduced by Senator Simmons, and added that they were still looking for a sponsor in the House.
reports – commissioner conner – district 3
martin luther king jr. breakfast
Commr. Conner related that he represented the Board at the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast last Friday morning, January 9. He noted that unity in the community was important and that he hopes everyone would strive to achieve that.
Commr. Conner remarked that he would be leaving the liaison appointments the same except for the appointment of Commr. Cadwell to the Shared Services Network and the Medical Examiner’s Board, since they wanted a mortician on that board.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:46 a.m.
jimmy conner, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK