A special MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
JANUARY 12, 2016
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special workshop session on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 9:00 a.m., at the Emergency Communications and Operations Center (ECOC), Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Sean Parks, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Timothy I. Sullivan; Jimmy Conner; and Leslie Campione. Others present were: David Heath, County Manager; Melanie Marsh, County Attorney; Kristy Mullane, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan and Angela Harrold, Deputy Clerks.
call to order and welcome
Commr. Parks welcomed everyone to the retreat and explained that the purpose of the retreat is to encourage open discussion in a relaxed environment. He elaborated that this would be a time to talk openly about what can be accomplished this year and what initiatives can be brought to the table. He mentioned that there was staff present if any questions were to arise, and he appreciated their presence. He related that the agenda was simple and short to allow for freeform discussion and explained the plan of starting in District number order with himself closing and Mr. Heath summarizing at the end.
COMMISSIONER SULLIVAN – DISTRICT 1
South Lake Water Initiative
Commr. Sullivan explained that while he knows the South Lake Regional Water Initiative is in progress, he has yet to see any action items. He opined that water is of concern because the area and economy are growing rapidly, so he believes now is the time to pass ordinances and regulations regarding water savings and conservation. He expressed a belief that it will need to be done incrementally, because accomplishing it all at once is too large a task. He indicated that he would like to see the Board add those items to the agenda or set up a workshop on the topic in order to put items into action around the South Lake Regional Water Initiative (SLRWI) based on the ideas that have been worked on over the last three years and that it is the number one concern for the area at this time.
Commr. Parks agreed that there needs to be an agenda item soon providing an update and opined that they are at a critical point again for the South Lake Regional Water Initiative. He stated that there was an agreement being worked on within Lake County and five cities called the Unified Conservation, and landscape regulations will be drafted this year. He noted that another critical item is the need for the SLRWI to formalize itself. He added that the SLRWI received $300,000 from the Florida Legislature in the first year of 2014 to do preliminary planning and engineering, and they received the same amount in 2015 to do the base study. He pointed out that when the SLRWI moves into the long term, where additional funds of larger amounts will be needed for things such as a regional water project, the Florida Legislature would not award a large fund amount to an unestablished organization, and a more formalized group would also be needed when going up against larger agencies around Lake County, such as Orange County Utilities (OUC.)
Commr. Sullivan stated that Lake County is currently operating at about 90 percent capacity in the South Lake region and likely across Lake County, and if economic development is to continue, there needs to be a solution in place. He opined that this will be a regional issue and that the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida Legislature will need to get involved going forward because this is going to be larger than just a county issue. He suggested that the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council be contacted and the issue be taken there moving forward because he does not believe that fellow counties see it as urgent an issue as Lake County does. He noted that Conserv II is taking up 3,000 acres and questioned whether there was a way that Lake County could utilize that system through regional cooperation.
Commr. Campione suggested receiving a credit for the 3,000 acres being used by Conserv II, as it is considered a recharge area. She noted that even though the water is coming in from elsewhere, Lake County should be receiving credit for that through the Consumptive Use Permits and overseeing the recharging of it. She noted the politics of water and being on the same page with the other counties sounded good, but in reality it is a cut-throat business. She asked for clarification on what the Board would state the purposes were for requesting the funds from the State of Florida, such as whether the funds would be applied to infrastructure to allow for alternative water supplies. She noted that the Board is also looking into where the alternative water supply would come from, and she wants to understand more of the purpose and outcome.
Commr. Parks responded that the first $300,000 given by the State of Florida to the South Lake Regional Water Initiative was to answer some of the questions that Commr. Campione rose. He stated that one issue arising is that Lake County is in a 16 million gallon deficit per day for South Lake, and the year 2035 is being used as a planning horizon. He pointed out that this shows that the purpose of a water initiative is to have a plan for making up a deficit so that the water utility bills to the community do not increase, and the first plan would be to go to the lower Floridan aquifer which will be helpful but is not the end solution. He noted that there would still be a gap to meet needs, but that they could close that gap through conservation and reuse efforts of the SLRWI. He pointed out that Lake County is competing with the other, much larger water agencies in the surrounding areas that have greater resources and funds to hire legal representation and consultation firms. He noted that another reason for the SLRWI to continue is so that the individual cities do not hire their own consultation firms and duplicate service, and the cities are starting to understand this and the benefit of receiving a long-term water permit for 20-25 years as opposed to 2-3 years.
Commr. Campion noted that each individual city being together under one organization would receive a longer term permit.
Commr. Sullivan added that it would be under governmental coordination.
Commr Parks agreed and pointed out that right now the cities are receiving the water permits on a 2-5 year basis in the short term and then hire consultants to return and start the process over, but they can achieve a longer permit time with a long-term plan in place.
Commr. Cadwell stated the only way to address this and ultimately have conservation regulations would be to have some type of unified discussion on Consumptive Unit Permits (CUP) themselves, and to have a true reuse program in South Lake, it needs to be done as a non-competitive group to be successful. He opined that Lake County needs to either choose to be in the water utility business or choose to be a conduit for the other cities, noting that years ago the Board had decided against having a utility business in the south end of the county. He noted that currently there are two private utility companies in the south end of Lake County, and now is the time for the discussion on whether to enter the water utility business and what part the County as a whole will play in the business. He opined that the current goals set forth by the SLRWI will be successful until the first entity decides to go out on its own, and Lake County would not be able to compete with the larger agencies if that were to happen. He suggested that having something more concrete, even a hybrid, would be in the County’s best interest, and they need to discuss whether this is truly the next big opportunity to have some control of a valuable resource like water.
Commr Parks stated that the next step would be to go to a formalized cooperative model, such as one similar to Polk County, where there is a framework in place to address long term planning and where clear responsibilities lie in pursuing and receiving funds for an alternative water supply.
Commr. Cadwell elaborated that it is similar to the citrus cooperatives where each business was a member and had ownership in the cooperative.
Commr. Campione asked what Lake County’s role would be considering the County does not have a utility business.
Commr. Parks related that the County is currently making certain the cities are working together and that economic development is originally a factor and not just conservation.
Commr. Campione noted that she believed that the same issues will come up as the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento area is getting larger and expanding. She opined that it is an easy case to make that central water and sewer is needed in the Wekiva Basin of Lake County from a conservation and environmental protection standpoint, and the question would arise as to whether Eustis, Mount Dora, or piecemeal developers would provide this service to the area. She speculated about whether developers would attempt to build as much as possible without having central water and sewer installed, and she noted that there is a good opportunity for County government to be the utility provider in the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento area while also guiding the development patterns which would keep them consistent to the Comprehensive Plan that is already established, which could lead to more cluster and conservation-based development but that cannot be achieved without a water system.
Commr. Cadwell commented that the area offers a less-expensive way to get into the water utility business if the Board decides to pursue that endeavor, but the County needs to show leadership soon to be in the business. He remarked that it would be more cost effective to build initial infrastructure and then purchase capacity afterwards.
Commr. Conner opined that while a water utility can be profitable, there is also risk involved, and he would like to be sure there is a broad perspective being looked at, as there have been some governments that have suffered from the business side of providing water because of a faltering economy. He shared some concerns pertaining to the economic recovery and noted that caution should be taken from an economic perspective, although he does agree that what Commr. Cadwell has proposed is a good way to minimize risk.
Commr. Cadwell opined that because of the Green Swamp, particularly in the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), there could possibly be some funding assistance that would normally not be there for a startup utility. He stated that he thinks this will be the case for an area that is receiving a new expressway, and he believes that because of this, there would be initial funding support that would minimize the risk that Commr. Conner is concerned about. He opined that there is both regional and state interest in the Wekiva Basin and that would help when going to the State of Florida seeking initial startup funding. He also noted that it could be easier to obtain funding because it will be needed out of necessity for economic growth and to help the Wekiva Basin as opposed to just profitability.
Commr. Conner stated there was a reason they had not ventured into the business previously.
Commr. Cadwell opined that the Board was shortsighted 20 years ago.
Commr. Campione noted that it is rare for a county not to have a water utility business.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that there are two areas where growth is expected and that it will make sense when a consulting firm surveys these areas. He noted that the two areas will be changing drastically in the next two years, and everything works from a population and a geographic standpoint, so a serious discussion would be prudent because of the opportunities there.
Commr. Campione then stated that it is near impossible to improve the ratings of the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) report if there is not water available in the area. She noted that it could be possible that water would come from elsewhere for those areas but that they do go hand in hand for increased fire protection.
Commr. Cadwell opined that there may be many fire stations, but there are limited water vehicles available.
Commr. Parks stated that water is a critical issue. He summarized that they need a clear picture of the future of the South Lake Regional Water Initiative, what can be acted upon this year through the SLRWI, and further formalization of the SLRWI as a cooperative.
Commr. Cadwell clarified that the cities should have a clear understanding of what the future holds and where boundaries lie for each city because of the Interlocal Service Boundary Agreements (ISBA) in place.
Commr. Parks announced that there will be a SLRWI meeting on January 21, 2016 and welcomed any Commissioner to attend, and he presented the idea of having a workshop to get individuals up to date on the SLRWI and what to do in regards to utilities.
Commr. Campione opined that having staff-present concepts at regular Board meetings would be sufficient.
Commr. Parks suggested dividing the concepts presented, SLWRI action steps, and an update on SLRWI into two separate meetings.
Mr. Heath agreed that two separate meetings would be best, including overall discussion as to what is available that could be used as a model.
Commr. Sullivan opined that the first step is to find out what capacity each city has and what their opportunities and strengths are within each.
Commr. Campione agreed that it would be helpful to review the CRA and look at the existing water supply locations and try to gain some estimation on the outright purchase of water. She questioned what the cost would be to run one water pipe from one location to another, which was the kind of water study she had hoped to get funding for, although it could be done internally.
Commr. Sullivan restated that water is a large issue. He noted that Leesburg is providing water into Plantation which is not in the city limits, so he believes it is a good time to move forward with a countywide or regional plan because the concern is overreaching. He opined that doing it cooperatively would be the difference to a successful outcome.
Commr. Sullivan noted that there are three large transportation projects coming up. He stated that he has talked with the Florida Legislature to get funding for projects, including the Turnpike exchange from Minneola to Highway 27, and this affects all areas of South Lake County. He related that he understands that the planning is completed at the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) level; however, he would like to know what the next steps are if the legislative funding being sought does not come through. He believes it will not prevent the Turnpike exchange from being built or the Wekiva Parkway from moving forward if the funds are not there to connect. He stated that he is concerned that there is not a plan in place for funding a network of roads that would be supporting these projects that can be communicated to the community, although he does not believe it is something that will need to be acted upon unless the funding from the state does not come through.
Commr. Campione stated that if funding does not come through, their choice of ways to cover the expense would be to create a funding source, increase an existing funding source, or work within the funding currently available by shifting priorities. She opined that she would prefer to work with the existing funds and shift priorities because the penny sales tax was put into place with the idea that it would go to infrastructure, and the next step would be to look at the list of priorities and make changes within those to cover the expense if they do not receive state funding.
Commr. Conner stated that he agreed with Commr. Campione’s statement.
Commr. Sullivan noted that he was very comfortable with that solution. He continued by saying that transportation is completed in 5, 10, and 20 year increments, and it is a possibility that Lake County will need to come up with additional funding to complete the projects because this would coincide with the end of legislative terms. He suggested having a workshop to find new solutions and priorities.
Commr. Campione pointed out that after the last round of approval for the penny sales tax, it was noted that an annual meeting was to be held to go over the penny sales tax projects. She noted that changes in priorities would need to occur during the annual meeting as well.
Commr. Parks questioned what the new road priorities would be since the penny sales tax had been renewed.
Mr. Heath noted that there was a work session planned to review what the new road priorities would be and how the implementation of the penny sales tax would be applied.
Commr. Parks noted that if difficult decisions arose, the Board would need to come together and make those decisions on where to shift priorities. He stated that transportation is a key to economic growth.
Commr. Sullivan opined that what was previously a long-term plan has now become a short-term plan due to the Turnpike exchange being completed in the year 2017.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he does not want Lake County to take responsibility for fixing the issues, as it should fall under the State of Florida’s responsibility for funding, since the two roadways are part of a connecting, regional and statewide network of roads.
Commr. Parks stated that he and Commr. Sullivan are working with large developers on the Sugarloaf roadway in Minneola, and this particular developer is requesting to amend their PUD that was created in the year 1991. He explained that Lake County, the City of Minneola, and the developer are working together on obtaining the infrastructure improvements needed, and the developer seems amenable to these additional needs. He noted that there was a workshop in the City of Minneola that evening, Tuesday, January 12, and the following week to continue the discussion.
COMMISSIONER CONNER – DISTRICT 3
Commr. Conner stated that he wants to lower millage rates again this year, as Lake County has seen a 4 to 5 percent rise in property value, and he believes that one of the reasons there was overwhelming support for the penny sales tax is because the community believes that the County Commissioners are good stewards of Lake County’s tax dollars. He wants to ensure that measures are in place to guard against overspending regardless of Lake County’s positive financial health so that the County can stay on the right path, and he commended the Board for meeting the needs of the county and the community on limited resources.
Commr. Conner noted that he was concerned with the cost of the healthcare clinic being proposed and requested that the Board and staff think carefully about the decision before moving forward with the idea. He opined that he wants to speak in realities rather than in theories about the plan ahead with a survey of claims experience.
Mr. Heath stated that they are working with a consulting firm on this plan and are having weekly meetings at the staff level. He said that he anticipates that there will be a work session to discuss this issue, and he noted that Constitutional Officers and County staff have been contacted to gauge their interest. He explained that after they have finished collecting the data, a procurement item would then be presented to the Board for review and approval.
Commr. Conner asked Mr. Heath if the health clinics would be 12 or 24-hour clinics.
Mr. Heath responded by noting that clinic hours can vary. He pointed out that more local governments, such as Alachua County, are moving to a health clinic plan, and he has been told that it changes the experience for the employee. He opined that because of this, it would take several years to achieve optimal participation rates, so being cautious not to spend too much at the beginning is best.
Commr. Conner noted that he had spoken to Mr. Heath on the utilization times of the health clinic and opined that a parent will not make their child wait to see a doctor if a clinic is not open. He suggested that looking at the times of day claims are made would be an efficient way to set hours for the clinic to be open, and he wanted to be clear that he wants the Board to venture into this with all of the facts. He opined that there needs to be a corresponding savings in health insurance premiums if an investment is to be made in the health clinic.
Commr. Campione suggested that the evaluation needs to take into account that people choose to utilize the emergency room because there is not an alternative available to them and noted that applying whether or not preventative or proactive care was in place to the evaluation would also give better data because it might result in less emergency room visits. She opined that evaluation of the claims would be more of a pattern of people’s actions instead of what could be achieved.
Mr. Heath noted that there are a lot of factors to consider, with the bottom line being able to save money. He specified that there is an average of 7,200 primary care visits per year, so that number will need to decrease for the clinic to be successful.
Commr. Campione stated that some models have guarantees that are made by the operator of the facility, and this should help in terms of concern over risk factors. She elaborated that the operators of these facilities have experience and data to draw from and are willing to place confidence in the system. She added that they also have knowledge in engaging the employees in the wellness portion of the system, not just the reactive portion.
Commr. Parks stated that it was similar to Leesburg’s system.
Mr. Heath clarified that although employees will still have the option of going to their primary care physician, there is a convenience and time-saving factor in utilizing the clinic.
Commr. Cadwell noted that it could take individuals too long to receive an appointment at their PCP (primary care physician), so utilizing a clinic would be helpful.
Commr. Campione suggested that the clinics can be stocked with regularly prescribed medications which allow the individual to leave the clinic with what they need as opposed to having to go and wait at a pharmacy for their medication; however, she opined that while some individuals may appreciate that, there are others that will still want the comfort level of seeing their PCP.
Mr. Heath noted that the end result would be a balance between customer service for the employees and cost savings for the County.
Commr. Conner stated that he feels more comfortable moving forward based on the guarantees given by the operating vendor.
Mr. Heath noted that staff kept the comments made by Commr. Cadwell at the work session with the vendors in mind when they created the RFP (request for proposal), and he believes the RFP will be a hybrid between the rate of return, which will be the largest factor in the RFP, and customer service. He pointed out that there will be a work session with the Board prior to the procurement item being brought forth so that the Board has familiarity with it.
Commr. Parks stated that he is hopeful this will be a positive thing.
Commr. Cadwell asked if a survey of employees about the clinic has been completed.
Mr. Heath replied that the survey had been signed off on, sent to the Constitutional Officers, and would be completed.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he is interested in seeing how the survey turns out.
Commr. Campione noted that the most attractive quality of the healthcare clinic is its accessibility.
Mr. Heath pointed out that a change needs to be made in the current model in order to make it sustainable, and other alternatives to a clinic would be to increase employee contribution to the healthcare premiums or move to a higher deductible Healthcare Savings Plan.
Commr. Conner noted that there was a type of wellness program in the past that was cut when the economy started to slip, and he listed some of the activities done through that program.
Commr. Cadwell elaborated that there were lunch meetings and the ability to speak to a coordinator about your overall health.
Commr. Sullivan pointed out that most major corporations have gone to this model where there is incentive to make healthy lifestyle choices and take overall initiative for their health, and he believes that it helps to reduce primary care visits.
Commr. Parks concluded that there is a lot of information out there, and he is hopeful for innovative ideas on the preventative side moving forward with this.
Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement (ISBA)
Commr. Conner asked how many cities have an Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement (ISBA) with Lake County.
Mr. Heath replied that there are currently six cities that have an ISBA with Lake County, and he pointed out that there will be a work session on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 to review this and give an update.
Commr. Conner noted that through conversations with Mr. Heath, he has heard that the six current ISBA’s are working well and asked if there were plans to increase that number.
Mr. Heath explained that there will not be an ISBA with any city that has a volunteer fire department, which leaves three remaining cities in Lake County where an ISBA can be done.
Commr. Campione pointed out that there is still an agreement that the closest fire rescue unit would be dispatched even to cities with volunteer fire staff.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the unit in Umatilla is currently doing that for the area, but they are just not getting paid.
Mr. Heath stated that currently it is more of a mutual aid where the Umatilla unit calls Lake County when needed, but he pointed out that mutual aid is not the same as automatic aid which goes through dispatch.
Commr. Campione pointed out that even though most locations do not get paid to do this, it has been something that has proven positive to all involved, and she questioned why there could not be an agreement in place that states dispatch will still send the closest unit regardless of pay to the station.
Mr. Heath replied that it then becomes an issue of fairness, since that places some cities in a position of paying out funds while others are not expected to do so.
Commr. Cadwell stated it would be difficult to find a fire unit in a city under the current mutual aid agreement that would not go if called upon and opined that they would go to where they were needed.
Mr. Heath replied that automatic aid is more efficient and quicker. He continued to explain that the three cities left to enter into an ISBA would be Fruitland Park, which will be doing a study to determine whether they will be growing their own fire department or opting in to Lake County Fire and Rescue; Eustis, where the process to automatic aid is further along with new leadership from a new City Manager and a new Fire Chief; and Mount Dora; which has no interest at this time but could in the future once the innovation project begins to expand to the point where they will be in need of resources. He recapped that this will all be shown in the update that will be provided at the Regular BCC meeting on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.
Commr. Conner opined that what has progressed is a big accomplishment which makes more sense and results in better service to residents, and the progress needs to be continued in this area.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:15 a.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
COMMISSIONER CAMPione – DISTRICT 4
Interlocal Service Boundary Agreements (ISBA)
Commr. Campione stated that while working on the request for proposals with the committee for EMS deployment, she came across an item that she believes should be a priority. She noted that there are ISBA’s in place and dispatch following automatic aid, but fire vehicles are not equipped with Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), which allow the units to interface with dispatchers.
Commr. Conner asked for clarification on the use of interface.
Mr. Heath explained that these are computer tablets installed on the fire vehicles so that dispatch can send site information on what is occurring at the incident. He related that different platforms have been evaluated over the last year such as Apple, Google and Microsoft; tablets have been ordered; and they are looking to implement this by April. He noted that this would be part of the presentation Tuesday January 19, 2016.
Commr. Cadwell asked whether the cities had these devices and if that data would be addressed in the presentation.
Mr. Heath responded that some of them do, and some of them do not. He noted there is a cost difference between the MDTs and Automatic Vehicle Locators (AVLs), and this was provided to the cities during negotiation of the ISBAs. He believes this is a separate issue from automatic aid and that it is a qualitative improvement that the cities need to take responsibility for and complete as opposed to Lake County.
Commr. Campione noted that several cities are doing this, some incrementally, but from the standpoint of Lake County Fire and Rescue, she believes the Board needs to take the lead on this to provide the best service to the community, since it allows the fire units the ability to do the best job possible.
Community redevelopment area (CRA)
Commr. Campione noted that some of the cities were changing their current CRA date and expanding the breadth of their CRA.
Mr. Heath replied that there is some expansion, but a lot of them that were created in the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s set the base year at one level, and this caused the CRA’s to be at a loss after the economic decline. He explained that the cities are attempting to reset their base year until after the decline so that growth can be realized on their property values, which has a direct impact to the general fund.
Commr. Campione agreed that it does have a direct impact, but she does not believe the Board has the authority to tell the cities they are unable to do this unless it falls under good government.
Commr. Cadwell stated that some of the boundaries are questionable as to whether or not it would have been a CRA.
Commr. Campione pointed out that the focus is on the blighted areas in the Statute, but if this is not watched and continues to be expanded, it could become the entire city, which she noted was not the intention of the Florida Legislature. She opined that this seems to be an issue where working together with the cities would be a positive thing.
Mr. Heath relayed that on February 2, 2016 there will be a work session on the standing of the millages and the plans that the cities have for their CRAs, which have been requested.
Commr. Campione noted that she is in favor of the CRAs.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he is in favor of the true CRAs and requested from Mr. Heath a map showing the CRAs from past to present and any potential growth.
Mr. Heath added that it is his understanding that Leesburg is in the process of some changes.
Commr. Campione pointed out that everyone benefits when the cities can address blighted areas, and businesses can thrive in the downtown districts. She opined that a CRA helps bring up property values and has a lot of benefits, but they do not function as intended by the Florida Legislature if misused.
Rural Corridors and c1 uses
Commr. Campione pointed out that it has come up that it does not specify in the Comprehensive Plan that commercial uses (C-1) are allowed in the rural corridors, which she believes has created some uncertainty, and she opined that these commercial uses in rural areas need to be specified from an economic growth standpoint. She indicated that she would like to initiate getting that clarification fixed in the Comprehensive Plan, and she believes it goes along with her request to further architectural criteria. She requested that staff put together additional architectural requirements to apply to these areas so that the visual appeal is prevalent.
Commr. Cadwell asked whether it was a blanket ordinance over all C-1 uses in the rural corridors.
Commr. Campione stated that the only exception would be a no drive-through scenario which she has no issue denying and which may need to be clarified if it is based purely on an aesthetics issue, in which case it may need to be reviewed so that possible family-owned businesses are not kept out.
Commr. Cadwell opined that taking a look at all of the C-1 uses would be beneficial, noting that he believed this would expand on what he recalls as the Pine Lakes Ordinance, which was changed to get ahead of the needs of that area and now would be expanded further to cover the needs of the rural corridors.
Commr. Campione agreed and recalled that site plans were brought back for review during that process, which resulted in some additions that were pleasing, but there could have been more improvements made with extra time.
Commr. Parks stated that he had a number of small changes that he would like to see applied to the code. He noted as an example that manufactured homes are currently allowed in all zoning districts, and he has received a recent complaint about this. He also noted that the complete streets criteria that have been talked about in the MPO should be applied to some suburban areas, and the changes need to be in the code. He suggested that they should have a work session to review all of the aspects.
Commr. Campione queried if it was a good practice to do the code changes as they present themselves rather than widespread changes at once, since she believes that doing too much at once can lead to mistakes; however, she agreed about adding in the complete streets criteria.
Commr. Cadwell agreed that taking the issues as they come in is best so that focus can be given to the details which vary from issue to issue.
Commr. Parks inquired about the next steps.
Commr. Cadwell replied that the next step would be the rural commercial corridors, because there is growth there, and he believes that it is urgent enough to look at first.
Commr. Campione noted that it would be beneficial to start with small changes and then to include additional items that can be done if it needs to be revisited later.
Commr. Cadwell elaborated that deliberation would need to be done at the time additional codes are added, because there are still commercial opportunities for family-owned businesses in those areas. He noted that he does not want to see the Board make it too difficult for those businesses to be able to come in and succeed.
Commr. Campione noted that she brought the topic to the Home Builders Association to have commercial builders review items and to be sure it would not add more than 2 percent of the cost.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the Pine Lakes Ordinance changes that were brought to the table were noted as not being too expensive for family-owned businesses or other small business, and the larger corporations have those costs built into their budgets where smaller businesses do not.
Commr. Conner queried what the time table was to do any Comprehensive Plan amendments the following year.
Mr. Heath replied that there would be two cycles in 2016, the first being in April. He noted that they try to batch them up as to utilize resources properly and that the process takes four to five months.
Commr. Parks asked whether it was possible for changes to be submitted monthly or if it is done in cycles due to the length of time it takes.
Mr. Heath responded that his observation is that doing them as they come up is not efficient as far as Comprehensive Planning is concerned.
Commr. Cadwell noted that Comprehensive Plan amendments should be an arduous process, because those need to be thought through since they are large scale comprehensive changes, but the previously-mentioned C-1 use items are smaller scale issues. He clarified that the cycle for the Comprehensive Plan amendments were set up by policy rather than by ordinance.
Commr. Campione wanted to be clear that the map is not being altered, nor is there the addition of more designated areas as rural corridors, but instead the specified allowable uses inside those corridors are changed.
Mr. Heath mentioned that staff is working on the review of the West SR 50 Gateway as directed at a previous BCC meeting, along with the commercial design.
Commr. Campione noted that this would affect the CRA as well, since there is no architectural criteria in place because there is not a budget to devote to it, but it would apply out in that area which would lead to activity out in the CRA if minimum requirements were increased.
keep lake beautiful
Commr. Campione passed on a suggestion made during a Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) meeting to spread wildflower seed while shoulders are being fixed with sod, since Lake County is trying to facilitate the Wings and Wildflower Festival along with the wildflower community.
Commr. Conner opined that it is less work for mowing when the flowers are planted.
Commr. Parks noted the cost savings as well.
Commr. Cadwell stated that thought needs to be given to the topic, since it may not be for all areas, and it would need to be done on routes where it would work best for the idea to be viable.
Commr. Campione replied that the key is to plant them strategically and around where the Wings and Wildflower Festival takes place. She also suggested getting property owners to partner up with the initiative.
Commr. Parks noted that it would be a certain distance off of the actual roadway, and the rest would be left to grow with shrubs being cleared twice a year, which could result in cost savings and have a traffic calming effect.
Commr. Campione asked that the Board coordinate and think about these issues. She pointed out that power companies had tried to regulate growth with herbicides, but that it only left brown areas that were not pleasing. She suggested communicating with the power companies about where Lake County would like them to be more careful of the use of herbicides for aesthetic purposes.
transportation and clay road issues
Commr. Campione recapped that they have addressed using special assessments to make clay roads more passable in the past, which can be costly for people who live on large lots, and she suggested that they look at giving residents in an area where they have continuing complaints and requests the option of an MSTU (municipal service taxing unit) that defines a special district for those services after taking a referendum from the residents of that area about whether they want to do that. She elaborated that they would have to specify how much it would cost those residents on their tax bill and whether it would be used to maintain or pave the road.
sign on empty hotels
Commr. Campione related that she had asked staff to look into taking down the large signs that she has noticed were still on empty hotel rooms on Hwy 27 near Hwy 19 in South Lake and opined that those signs make that area look extremely blighted. She suggested that they either look into whether those businesses were grandfathered in to be allowed to keep those signs up or if they could negotiate with those businesses.
economic action plan
Commr. Campione handed out copies of the County’s economic action plan and the Commissioners’ goals and focus areas that were prepared January 18, 2008, since she believed that both of those documents needed to be updated. She suggested that they prepare a taxpayer appreciation statement to recognize that they are thinking first and foremost about the impact to taxpayers whenever they make a fiscal decision which was related to their delivery of customer services.
Commr. Conner opined that it should be in there, because it was stating the obvious as well as a reflection of the Board’s practice.
Commr. Campione also recommended that Mr. Heath write the mission statement and that the Board defer to his suggestions on how to make that happen. She commented that there were some statements and ideas contained in the old documents that she liked.
Commr. Parks added that he believed they needed to build into the RFP of the employee performance and salary review to encourage efficiency and ideas to promote a high- performance environment.
Mr. Heath responded that those documents were staff-generated before he worked for the County, and he suggested that they make this part of the budget document. He also recommended that the Board state their preferences and come up with a revised set of goals and objectives at a work session.
Commr. Campione added that their mission statement is multifaceted, which will make writing one more difficult.
Mr. Heath recapped that their mission a few years ago was economic development, but they have a broader perspective since the economic recovery.
Commr. Campione related that she believed they can refine their old mission statement to be more in tune with their goals and objectives. She summarized that she believes it should first address the taxpayer and second address how to deliver the best customer service in as efficient a way as possible; and she then believed it should next address economic prosperity and a balanced tax base and then the other quality-of-life type issues such as transportation, public safety, community services, and parks. She commented that those things can also be incorporated into the budget discussions, and the economic plan document is currently working as well as giving a framework and pulling together the different efforts that everyone has been engaged in. She recommended that they cross-reference the action plan in order to focus on economic prosperity rather than try to recreate that.
Commr. Sullivan opined that they should have a great, broad, and general mission statement that will be the base for their goals and objectives.
Commr. Parks suggested that they reference that action plan in any kind of decision that the Board makes and in the materials that the Commissioners receive.
commissioner cadwell – vice chairman and district 5
Commr. Cadwell asked whether the Commissioners have any specific issues they would like him to bring forward on the committees on which he serves, and he asked if the Board was in agreement with the direction of the TDC (Tourist Development Council) regarding grants and use of funds for capital. He mentioned that he was on the Public Safety Coordinating Council. He pointed out that Commr. Sullivan worked hard on the re-entry program, and he wanted to continue to utilize whatever resources are available through NACo (National Association of Counties), FAC (Florida Association of Counties), and the legislature to continue that program, since he recognized the social and economic value of that program in helping to keep people out of jail.
south lake regional park
Commr. Cadwell asked Mr. Heath for the timeframe on the South Lake Regional Park.
Mr. Heath responded that they were currently in the middle of doing the master plan and recapped that the South Lake and East Lake Parks were the two priorities that were to be done with the reauthorization of the sales tax, with the East Lake Park being on a faster track due to the fact that there is not as much earthwork needed.
Commr. Conner added that there was money in the budget for East Lake, and there were some immediate needs in that area as well. He mentioned that most of the help for reauthorization of the sales tax came from South Lake in order to have enough money to fund the South Lake Regional Park. He stated that they needed to develop a plan and a timetable and suggested that they look at doing that project in phases.
Commr. Cadwell emphasized that he will continue to push for completion of the South Lake Regional Park, adding that the timeframe for that project needs to be addressed during the budget process. He opined that the County was past the planning stage and should start actual construction on those parks.
Commr. Sullivan agreed that they were at the point that they were ready to move forward and that those projects were shovel-ready.
Commr. Parks related that he heard an update for the South Lake Regional Park at the Parks and Trails Advisory Committee the day before indicating that they have held all of the stakeholder meetings and plan on getting the engineering plans as soon as possible. He expressed concern that there is not enough supply of recreational facilities to meet the needs of local residents and emphasized that the County will not be competitive for bringing tournaments to the County if there is not enough space and facilities for those events. He mentioned that the residents will also be paying user fees to use the sports facilities as well.
Commr. Conner recommended that the phasing include meeting the immediate need as phase one, noting that both of those parks are a priority.
Commr. Parks mentioned that the cities of Groveland, Clermont, and Minneola are involved with the planning process for the South Lake Regional Park so that they are not duplicating facilities and are making sure there is a variety in the fields that are built.
Commr. Cadwell opined that there is no danger of overbuilding anything because the need is so great, and they need to build the parks rather than just having committee meetings to discuss it.
Commr. Campione asked how long it would take to actually start to build facilities at that park.
Mr. Bobby Bonilla, Parks and Trails Manager, responded that it would take two years, since it is in the Green Swamp and needs approval from the state. He stated that it would also take two years to complete East Lake Park, since they need to put in a central sewer system and connect it to the school system; they would also need potable water and electrical, and everything would have to be done in phases in order not to tear up something they just completed.
Commr. Conner asked if they could use an accelerated schedule to build those parks.
Mr. Bonilla replied that they could do so, but that would drive up the cost.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he believes they have proven that parks are important to the Board, and one of his priorities is getting those two parks done, since there is economic value to those parks, which will be a billboard for their county and good for heads-in-beds tourism dollars.
clay roads assessment program
Commr. Cadwell suggested that they have a policy discussion about increasing the funding for the assessment program for the clay roads and market it rather than waiting for residents to come to the County with their requests. He indicated that he was intrigued by the idea of an MSTU on non-County maintained roads that have available right of way, and he suggested that they do that in a similar way to the current special assessment program, which is community-driven with majority support to maintain them as clay roads, with the option of paving those roads. He added that the third option would be to continue maintenance for emergency vehicle passage. He also stated that they could look into whether they would collect the money and contract that work out or if Public Works staff could do that.
mt. plymouth-sorrento cra
Commr. Cadwell commented that he was impressed with what the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento CRA has done so far, and he thinks that the timing of the changes there will be faster than expected; however, he wanted to make sure that the County was doing their due diligence in staying informed about what is going on in that area as well without taking over that process from the CRA, since it was an opportunity to improve the community.
Commr. Campione added that the plan is for Hwy 46 to look better, with sidewalks and streetlights, and to attract commercial opportunities to that area, noting that the utilities were a large part of that.
recycling numbers under new program
Commr. Cadwell asked to see the recycling numbers under the new program compared to the old program.
Mr. Heath answered that staff would be presenting that in April.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 11:45 a.m. that there would be a 15-minute recess.
commissioner parks – chairman and district 2
meetings at different locations
Commr. Parks suggested that the Board have two regular BCC meetings this year at different locations, one in South Lake and one in the northern part of the county, in order to provide an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to come to a meeting that would be at a closer proximity for them.
Commr. Conner initially agreed that that idea would be alright, but pointed out that the meetings would not be able to be televised at those locations.
Mr. Heath suggested that they look into using one of the cities’ systems that are able to televise the meeting.
Commr. Campione asked whether they were thinking about having the meeting in an unincorporated area or a city.
Commr. Cadwell noted that the Board has tried to hold meetings in other places in the past, but it did not attract any additional citizen attendance.
Commr. Conner echoed that sentiment and asked whether anyone would show up for the meeting just because of the change in location.
Commr. Parks suggested that they find a meeting location which will correspond to a big issue that comes up in the future. He then also suggested that the Board have a meeting with the School Board at some point, since he understands that education is the key issue for economic development, and he mentioned that he has talked to School Board Chairman Bill Mathias. He clarified that he knows he needs to be careful that the School Board issues do not erroneously become the Board’s issues.
Commr. Conner suggested that it would be much more productive if the Chairman first works out with the School Board Chairman any issue that comes up and then comes to the Board with anything that needs to come to their attention. He opined that it would not make sense to have a meeting just to have one and expressed confidence in the ability of both Chairmen to work on any issues that come up.
Commr. Sullivan expressed a desire to be knowledgeable about information regarding the school system, such as where the next school site will be.
Commr. Campione suggested that the Chairmen think about things that would be beneficial for both of their boards to discuss or to get an update on their capital plan that was not as detailed as the last presentation that the School Board made to the County, including which schools would be built first and where improvements would be made.
Commr. Parks added that they want to know about the current facilities plan and how to work together on the Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
property tax abatement for new commercial buildings
Commr. Parks requested a presentation on property tax abatement for new commercial and industrial buildings, including other options and what other counties were doing.
tourist development tax discussion
Commr. Parks related that he has been asked by mayors and some of the elected officials in South Lake if the heads-in-beds tax collected in an additional zone that is set up for collection of that tax can be spent on a project in that geographic area.
Commr. Campione replied that it was illegal to even get the information about where the heads-in-beds taxes are even collected, and she did not think they could set up a zone for that.
Commr. Cadwell added that he believed they would need to change the Statute to be able to do that.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, stated that she did not recall a statute allowing the County to create a zone, adding that they have specific pennies they can use for specific purposes.
Commr. Parks requested an answer in a written format to the aforementioned officials’ inquiries that he could convey to them.
Commr. Conner related that the County has some immediate needs for parks, and he asked if TDC dollars could be used for that.
Ms. Marsh responded that they cannot use TDC money for local parks without a regional or tourism aspect to it, such as being used for sports tournaments, although it could be partially used for parks with a dual purpose if the funding is allocated among different funding sources, as long as it is determined that it is bringing tourism into the county. She elaborated that data would be needed to determine the percentage of funding that could be used in that case.
Commr. Campione suggested that they can determine an amount of time that it would be used for tournaments and base the amount of funding from the TDC on that percentage, and they would pay the money back to the Tourist Development fund if they do not meet those targets.
Commr. Cadwell related that Polk County built a facility using tourism money as a commercial ball facility, but organizations could use it if needed, although the tournaments get priority for those fields. However, he opined that the need was so great in Clermont that it would be a “hard sell” in that area to do that because they would not believe there is enough commitment on the County’s part to build purely recreational fields.
Commr. Conner commented that they should not lose sight of the fact that they were building those fields for their children and grandchildren, and he believes they can accomplish the construction of fields for both purposes.
Commr. Cadwell related that they would need to do a business plan and have a vehicle to run the tournaments, such as USA Volleyball, and he opined that the timing has not been right regarding softball in the South Lake area.
Commr. Campione added that they would need a business plan or an agreement in place with sports organizations for a certain amount of time for their tournament play to give them the data they would need in order to allocate the funding, but there would have to be something in place in order to pay the money back if it was not able to be used for those purposes.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that they have to take into consideration that the level of commercial facilities would cost more because the quality expectations for those will be greater for professional-level facilities than it would be for a community-use facility.
fire rescue discussion
Commr. Parks stated that he believed that they should form a fire advisory board at some point as they go into the long-range planning that they have been talking about for fire services.
Commr. Campione opined that doing that would be tricky because of the union, although the County is ultimately responsible for the service that is delivered, and she liked the advisory board from the standpoint of getting some input from the community and creating more connectivity between the residents in the unincorporated area and what they are trying to achieve in the fire department.
Commr. Conner commented that there was a myth that Lake County’s fire service is inferior or has been neglected by the County, although that has not been brought to his attention by the citizens, and he opined that they have an outstanding fire department. He remarked that he did not understand why that perception persists and opined that the Chief would have come to the Board if there were any issues that needed to be addressed, including personnel issues.
Commr. Campione suggested that Commr. Conner take a good look at all of their fire stations, since some of the facilities are old, small, and in bad condition, and some of their equipment could be updated. However, she added that they have great personnel and firefighters, and a couple of the stations are really nice. She elaborated that some of the needs of their fire department have been put on a back burner because of budgetary constraints, and they needed to look at how long it takes to get another station’s staff to a fire event when there were gaps at certain locations, such as CR 452 towards Marion County, which was a safety issue. She requested that they look at all of those areas and deficiencies.
Mr. Heath clarified that staff will give the Board an overview of the ISO (Insurance Service Organization) rating, the ISBA’s, renovation of the stations, technology, where new stations are needed, and how they will staff those new stations at the next BCC meeting.
Commr. Parks expressed concern about some of the issues brought up by Commr. Campione, as well as concerns that they do not have a five-year plan and have a growing population, although he does believe that they do have a very good fire department.
Commr. Conner opined that they do not need an advisory board to address those issues, which he believes would focus on needs rather than on resources. He commented that he realizes that the problem of facilities that are in bad condition need to be addressed, but he does not think they need an advisory board to point out those needs and to make them a priority.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the feedback is coming from the firefighters and not particularly the community.
Commr. Campione replied that she has also heard from people who were not firefighters, although they might have a connection to firefighters in some way such as a family member or those who had been a firefighter in the past.
Commr. Conner commented that he has never made a negative comment about their fire department, which he opined that the County has treated better than any other employees, and he expressed appreciation for the great job that the firefighters do.
Commr. Cadwell asked Mr. Heath to write up a framework of what an advisory committee would look like so that they can discuss it at the next meeting after they hear the public safety update presentation.
Commr. Parks mentioned that he has heard from people who are surprised that the County does not have a five-year plan for their fire services.
Commr. Conner commented that he appreciates this discussion and assured everyone that he intends to schedule some site visits to the fire stations to look into the conditions of those.
transportation COMPONENT of school impact fee waivers
Commr. Parks stated that he wanted to address the $1,065 transportation component of the school impact fee by providing a waiver for those constructing homes within the two-mile parent-responsibility zone.
Commr. Conner replied that future School Boards may rescind that two-mile requirement, and he thought it was down to a one-mile zone.
Commr. Campione opined that it was changed back to two miles within a school.
Commr. Parks related that he would change the wording for that designation to “the area for which the school system is not providing the transportation to encourage infill.”
Commr. Conner opined that it was fair to look at that.
Commr. Cadwell asked whether they needed to put other requirements on that regarding things such as sidewalks.
Ms. Marsh answered that they need to keep their schools separate from their other infrastructure.
Commr. Parks summarized that they will try to get an answer about this issue and asked staff to look into that.
Mr. Heath summarized that they will look at fire service and EMS during the budget process, including the fire assessment methodology to include vacant property. He commented that the major issue they will have this year will be solid waste relating to the landfill and the convenience centers, and they will have a discussion with the Board about countywide services that have to be paid for out of the general fund as a separate issue. He expressed concern about the subject of housing projects, with three of those having come to the Board from a Commissioner rather than through a process, and he wanted to have a work session on the SHIP (State Housing Initiative Partnership) funding this spring to give the Board more of an ownership in that process.
Commr. Sullivan explained that the County has traditionally spent all of their affordable housing dollars on single-family units, but that has been changing as they grow their workforce. He opined that the priorities in the SHIP program ought to reflect the Board’s priorities.
Mr. Heath mentioned that they currently have an employee salary study underway as directed by the Board, and there will be work sessions on sidewalks and the road program. He noted that the special election for the reauthorization of the North Lake County Hospital District will be this November, which means they will have to schedule a public hearing for that by statute. He related that there will be many work sessions scheduled from April to June, including discussions regarding LifeStream and WeCare. He mentioned that they were getting a substantial increase in the number of requests for hearings for industrial development bonds, and he will have a work session to discuss whether the Board is interested in changing the criteria for those as well as the new developments in terms of financing. He related that staff was in the process of looking at various facilities in conjunction with the sales tax to determine whether there will be cost savings, including the ideas that Mr. Bob McKee, Tax Collector, has referenced, and he was also looking into the funding of the public television stations and trying to get the stations to cooperate rather than being in competition with each other.
Commr. Parks commented that he had hoped to have one outlet for public outreach and to be able to promote the County in an efficient manner.
Mr. Heath explained that both stations were initially the County’s. He elaborated that the Board has traditionally over the last several years given money to Lake Sumter State College, and now Lakefront TV from Leesburg, which is associated with Comcast, is involved and has been a lot more aggressive in viewing the County’s meetings.
Commr. Campione pointed out that those stations were running businesses, and she opined that she did not want to be in the middle and making decisions for those businesses.
Commr. Conner commented that he agreed that he did not want to be the referee between two competing entities.
Commr. Sullivan added that the cities and Lake Sumter State College are involved.
Commr. Parks explained that one station is community access and the other is promotional where people pay to do their own show.
Commr. Campione commented that the programming on those stations provide a lot of good tourism information as well as promotion of their downtown districts and activities within the county.
Mr. Heath also reported that they will look at overhauling the sign codes because of case law, which might address the signs on Hwy 27 previously mentioned by Commr. Campione, and they have the landscaping code ready for review. He related that they will also look at street trees, wildflowers, and the possibility of using the general fund for transportation needs this year during the budget discussion.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.
sean parks, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK