A regular MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
May 11, 2021
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 1:00 p.m., in the County Commission Chambers, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Sean Parks, Chairman; Kirby Smith, Vice Chairman; Douglas B. Shields; Leslie Campione; and Josh Blake. Others present were: Alan Rosen, County Manager; Melanie Marsh, County Attorney; Niki Booth, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Kristy Mullane, Chief Financial Officer; and Kathleen Bregel, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Commr. Parks remarked that the Pledge of Allegiance would be led by Ms. Heather Iannone, probation officer with the Office of County Probation, who had been with the County since December 2019. He remarked that Ms. Iannone had served in the United States Marine Corps from June 2003 until October 2011 when she finished out her military enlistment as a sergeant. He shared that in May 2004, Ms. Iannone was stationed in Okinawa, Japan as one of the only female Marines selected to serve as a Field Military Police Officer. He commented that Ms. Iannone was then deployed to Mongolia to train the Mongolian Military to Support Operation Iraqi Freedom; furthermore, that same year, she deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to Kuwait. He remarked that in November 2004, Ms. Iannone was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Phantom Fury where she and her team conducted route recon and provided security to convoys and other teams. He relayed that in January 2005, Ms. Iannone was part of two teams of all female Marines that provided security for the first election in Iraq where Iraqi women were allowed to vote, noting that these teams would later be known as the “Lioness Program.” He said that in June 2005, Ms. Iannone was stationed in Quantico Virginia where she was selected to be one of four Combat Deployed Marines to speak to high school students, along with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Conway. He stated that during her distinguished career, Ms. Iannone was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, two Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and two Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbons. He shared that Ms. Iannone was one of four siblings that enlisted in the Military with her two older sisters being Marines, and her younger brother was currently active duty in the Air Force. He then thanked Ms. Iannone for her service to this country and to the citizens of Lake County.
Ms. Jocelyn Williamson, with Central Florida Freethought Community, gave the Invocation, and then Ms. Iannone led the Pledge of Allegiance.
virtual meeting instructions
Commr. Parks mentioned that this meeting was a hybrid meeting which was a combination of an in-person meeting and one which allowed individuals to participate virtually. He asked for Mr. Erikk Ross, Director for the Information Technology (IT) Department, to explain how citizens who were listening remotely could participate.
Mr. Ross explained that this meeting was being livestreamed on the County website and was also being made available through a Zoom Webinar for members of the public who were unable to attend in person but wished to provide comments during the Citizen Question and Comment Period later in the agenda. He elaborated that anyone watching though the livestream who wished to speak during the Citizen Question and Comment Period of the meeting could follow the directions currently being broadcast through the stream; furthermore, he relayed that anyone who had joined the webinar via their phone could press *9 on their phones to virtually raise their hand and anyone participating online could click the raise hand button to identify that they wished to speak. He said that when it was time for public comment, he would then identify the person or their phone number, unmute the appropriate line, and allow the citizen to speak for their three minute timeframe. He added that anyone wishing to provide written comments could visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/commissionmeeting, noting that comments presented before 5:00 p.m. the previous day were shared with the Commission prior to this meeting, and that comments sent during this meeting would be shared with the Commission after the meeting was concluded.
Mr. Alan Rosen, County Manager, mentioned that Tab 14, which was the Office of Planning and Zoning budget presentation, had been added as an addendum since the agenda was first published, noting that it would be presented after Tab 10.
Commr. Parks relayed that the Legislative Update would be presented later in the meeting.
Commr. Parks stated that this would be the last regularly scheduled coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) update since things were going well and the vaccination site would soon be closing. He said that updates may continue once a month until they were fully phased out as the county transitioned into full recovery from the pandemic.
Mr. Tommy Carpenter, Director for the Office of Emergency Management, provided a brief update on the COVID-19 vaccination site at the former Sears location at Lake Square Mall. He reported that as of closing the previous day, a total of 112,009 shots had been given at this location during its operation, which included first and second doses; furthermore, this site had been in operation for 79 days with an average of 1,418 shots per day. He relayed that the number of individuals coming to the site had decreased significantly, that the operating hours were compressing, that this site would be closing within the next two weeks, and that the demobilization process had started in order to return equipment back to those who had allowed them to utilize it. He reported that over 86 percent of the 65+ population had been vaccinated, and that 55 percent of those age 16 and older had been vaccinated. He said that he was pleased that this site had done the job it was intended to do, and expressed appreciation to all those who had assisted with its operation. He also mentioned that the United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the Pfizer vaccine for those aged 12 or older; therefore, the Lake County Department of Health (DOH) had begun working with the Lake County School District to assist with getting children immunized.
Commr. Blake relayed that there had been nothing but accolades since the vaccination site had opened; additionally, he praised Mr. Carpenter and his team for the amazing job they had done. He expressed appreciation to Mr. Carpenter for all the work he had put into this.
Commr. Shields agreed that it was nicely done.
Mr. Carpenter acknowledged that there were so many people involved who deserved the credit as well.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Carpenter for his great leadership for the County. He also asked for him to speak at a future meeting regarding how the County was prepared in case of any cyber security attacks.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Shields, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the minutes for the BCC meeting of February 16, 2021 (Special Meeting).
commissioners board and committee updates
Commr. Shields reported that the Tourist Development Council had their additional meeting and approved three items which would be coming to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) for approval. He relayed that at the Elder Affairs Coordinating Council meeting, they had a gentleman from Sentra Senior Living come and present information on 100 forms of dementia, noting that this organization offered free training for anyone in the business of elder care.
Commr. Smith reported on the Keep Lake Beautiful Advisory Committee and mentioned that they discussed America in Bloom, that this organization helped to beautify each city within the county, that there were several City representatives present at the meeting, and that a City of Tavares representative would be giving presentations to individual cities regarding how they could get involved with America in Bloom. He relayed that there was some exciting information coming out from the Parks, Recreation, and Trails Advisory Board which he thought would enhance everything happening with parks and trails in the county. He mentioned that the County had been funded for the Green Mountain Connector and Wekiva Trail, noting that these were in the Florida Governor’s Office; furthermore, he indicated that there was some movement pushing forward for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Discretionary grant through the Federal Government for the Wekiva Trail. He stated that more information would be coming on these items soon.
Commr. Parks reported that he had been able to participate in the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council Resiliency Summit the previous Friday, noting that resiliency was merely how an area bounces forward from a disaster or issues that affected them. He said that he had the honor to introduce Mr. Craig Fugate who was the former Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) as well as the former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He mentioned that Mr. Fugate was able to share some of his viewpoints on preparedness, not only for COVID-19 but also potential storms.
Commr. Campione reported that there was an Orlando Economic Partnership meeting the previous week at the Orlando Science Center, and stated that much of what was discussed was similar to the presentation made to the BCC. She shared that one of the highlights was regarding a local company in Seminole County which was involved in microchip manufacturing, and was seeking to be selected for an expansion; additionally, she relayed that a large recruiting, accounting and business development firm had recently selected the Lake Nona area in the City of Orlando, noting that this would bring approximately 350 jobs to the area. She indicated that companies were looking at Central Florida as a place to relocate or bring their business. She also mentioned that there was an Arts and Cultural Alliance meeting the previous day which she was unable to attend; however, she stated that she had received a summary of that meeting and indicated that a lot of focus was on helping local artists, groups, and nonprofits in the arts and cultural realm learn best practices for grant writing. She reported that they were attempting to bring more attention to the arts community in Lake County, and said that there was discussion regarding whether they would fund united arts or come to the BCC to ask for assistance.
Commr. Blake stated that the Children’s Services Council did not meet the previous month. He shared that the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) did meet the day after the last BCC meeting, and relayed that they had their draft list of priority projects for 2021. He explained that municipal partners helped to formulate this list, and said that if anyone wanted to contribute to this or have input, then this was the time to get involved. He elaborated that this list included the top 20 priorities from the MPO which gets provided to the State and determined what got funded, although the projects may not get funded in the order presented depending on Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) available funding.
Commr. Campione asked when it would be finalized.
Commr. Blake replied that he thought it was in July 2021, noting that the next MPO meeting was June 23, 2021. He reiterated that if anyone had input regarding the priority projects, then they could reach out to him or the MPO. He then inquired from Commissioner Parks regarding the resiliency summit, if they only addressed natural disasters or did they address situations like what had recently happened with the cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline.
Commr. Parks responded that cybersecurity was extremely high on the preparedness list, and indicated that there was some discussion on it at the summit. He opined that based on current events, it was something that they should take seriously. He reiterated his desire to have Mr. Carpenter report to the Board on what the County was doing to be prepared and how they were involved statewide on this effort. He thanked Commissioner Blake for serving as the Chairman of the Lake-Sumter MPO, and expressed appreciation for the job he was doing leading those meetings.
comprehensive annual financial report
Ms. Kristy Mullane, Chief Financial Officer, stated that this was the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (Report) for the fiscal year (FY) ended September 30, 2020. She relayed that this was a big report with a lot of information which took quite a bit of time to put together, and she then recognized staff from the Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Office who had worked on this report as follows: Ms. Mary Burns, Accounting Director, who was the lead on the project; Mr. Kevin McDonald, Budget Director; Ms. Tracy Zeller; Ms. Julia Wilson; Ms. Cyndi Richardson; Ms. Connie Rodgers; Ms. Merrilyn DiVenanzo; Ms. Lisa Yanco; Ms. Kelly LaFollette, who designed the cover; and Ms. Dianna Magrum, with the Lake County Government Document Services Department, who assisted with putting the books together. She then introduced Mr. William Blend, Shareholder with MSL, the County’s external auditors, who would be presenting the Report.
Mr. Blend explained that the external auditor’s role was to work for the County and ultimately the citizens of Lake County; furthermore, while the Report is presented once a year, his firm was always available if anyone ever had concerns or questions. He reiterated Ms. Mullane’s comments that this was a team effort, that they got involved with many County departments and Constitutional Offices, and that while this document was over 200 pages and time would not allow for him to present everything, he was always available for any questions that County staff or the Commissioners might have. He reported that the required communications, in accordance with the audit standards, required that they communicate at least twice during the audit process. He explained that one was at the entrance to the audit which was in letter format and described some of the procedures that were performed as well as account balances, and the second was at the end of the audit; furthermore, if something of concern came up during the audit, they would come to the Board during the audit process, noting that there was no need to do that for the past fiscal year. He indicated that their responsibilities were to follow the appropriate audit standards which they had done, and that management responsibilities were to be open and provide the auditor with information in a timely manner, noting that they had performed those responsibilities accordingly. He clarified that while MSL did evaluate internal controls and compliance for the purposes of auditing the financial statements, they did not look at or issue an opinion on every internal control. He stated there were not significant matters beyond those that would be formally reported, and that management did provide them with the appropriate management representation, noting that Ms. Mullane and her staff were the assigned personnel to oversee the process. He mentioned that the last required communications was the audit schedule which included being present at this meeting to report. He remarked that for audit reports, the first one on pages 13 and 14 was the report on the financial statements themselves, noting that the County had received an unmodified opinion which was the highest level of assurance that can be received from a public accounting firm. He commented that the County did have a requirement for the single audit this year, both a Federal and State single audit, and that both audits were performed, noting that essentially it required them to evaluate all of the County’s state and federal programs, and identify major programs, which were identified in the schedule of findings and questioned costs; furthermore, they audit those major programs and evaluate the compliance related to that, noting this was also an unmodified opinion and that there were no findings. He said that under government audit standards, they were required to evaluate internal controls, compliance and other matters, and that there were no findings. He explained that the Florida Auditor General’s Office required them to provide a management letter, and he indicated that there was nothing unusual or that they felt needed to be reported. He relayed that the last item was that the Auditor General of the State Legislature required them to report on several items with the main one being the County’s investment policy and compliance with Florida Statutes, noting that the County’s policy did comply with the Florida Statutes. He summarized that overall, the County had all clean reports with no findings. He asked if there were any questions regarding the deliverables or required communications. He then provided a high level overview of the financial statements and displayed a chart of the government-wide analysis which showed certain items such as current assets over current liabilities, total assets and deferred outflows, and total liabilities and deferred inflows, noting that this was the government accounting standards attempt to make government look similar to private business. He indicated that this basically accommodated the accounting for all of the County’s long-term liabilities as well as all assets, noting that overall the County had a strong current ratio, in both business type and governmental activities. He then showed a chart of the General Fund which was the main operating fund for the County and where the majority of the ad valorem taxes went, and opined that this fund was generally looked at to represent where an organization stood financially. He specified that the County did not have a policy on their unassigned fund balance; however, they had a goal of between seven and twelve percent, noting that the County was in the middle at 9.7 percent. He said that in regards to the budget to actual numbers, the County was in line with their overall budget. He mentioned that for business type activities, the landfill was doing well, and that the County was in a positive position; additionally, the internal service fund included the Lake County Sheriff’s Office internal service fund, which was like an insurance program, and was sometimes a challenge since it related to what was being charged in terms of insurance rates internally. He recapped that this was a high level overview, and asked if the Board had any questions.
Commr. Parks inquired about the ratio that the County should try to be above.
Mr. Blend replied that the General Fund unrestricted fund balance to overall expenditures in the General Fund was the ratio, and that the County aimed for between seven to twelve percent, noting that the County was just under 10 percent.
Mr. Rosen asked what the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) recommendation was for fund balance in the General Fund.
Mr. Blend responded that the GFOA had a general guideline that essentially said that every governmental entity should have approximately two months’ worth of expenditures and or revenues within its general operating fund, or general fund, noting this would be about 16.7 percent rounded. He specified that this was an important organization in governmental accounting and reporting, was utilized by many of the professionals in what they did, and was a guideline.
Mr. Rosen inquired for how many other government agencies did MSL do audits for, and if these other agencies had goals or objectives of a fund balance below 16.7 percent.
Mr. Blend replied that they did audits for quite a few agencies, and indicated that these agencies did not have goals; however, the policies were around 15 percent with some potentially higher, noting that some did not have any formal policy. He stated that he would not argue with the generic statement that a formal policy was good, although the one caveat he would add to a policy was that sometimes entities could get into a technical issue such that if they did not meet the policy then they could potentially have a finding as it relates to it.
Mr. Rosen asked that if a government organization was going to do some bond issuances and get some information from a credit rating agency, then would a formal policy of 16.7 percent or higher impact the credit rating that a governmental agency might receive.
Mr. Blend responded that it could as the more funds that an entity had available that were in the unrestricted fund balance number, then the credit rating agency would look at that as saying that the entity could cover those debt service charges, which he opined would be helpful. He stated that having the requirement instituted in a policy made it stronger; therefore, he assumed they would look at it favorably.
Commr. Parks commented that this was a very important report and that he would be able to consider what was coming out of this report as they went into the budget. He commented that an entity did not want to see the change in net position in the wrong direction and was the reason reserves were important, although he realized that some of that was out of the immediate control of what the Commission could do as far as liabilities for retirement and things like that. He reiterated that reserves were important and could affect their net position. He complimented the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Office for their work on the Report, noting that it was very usable for the general public and had such great information.
Ms. Mullane indicated that the full Comprehensive Annual Financial Report as well as the smaller citizen’s financial report would be on the Clerk’s website later this week.
Commr. Campione recapped the earlier comment that having reserves at 16 percent would be a positive thing from a bond rating standpoint, and asked for clarification that having a policy that required that would be even better.
Mr. Blend responded that a finance person would have more insight into that; however, what he was saying was that having reserves at a certain percentage would show the potential to fund the debt service. He commented that having the policy merely gave it more strength as it meant that the entity would hold itself accountable to that specific percentage identified. He indicated that this was his personal opinion and he did not want to speak for whoever the County might go to in order to obtain funding. He reiterated his former comment that the risk to this policy was that if they did not meet the criteria, then there could be a finding.
Commr. Campione opined that what seemed to be the biggest risk was if they had to dip into reserves and went below the policy, then they would be impacted.
Mr. Blend clarified that potentially this could happen, and thought that there would be some consideration as to what might make that occur and what actions the government body might take to make corrective action in that fund.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year ended September 30, 2020.
citizen question and comment period
Ms. Patricia Bennett, participating virtually, indicated that she had addressed the Board on March 23, 2021 regarding the North Lake County Hospital District (NLCHD) Board and Florida House Bill 257. She expressed concerns that while this bill was not passed by the Florida Legislature, that Representative Anthony Sabatini had discussed at the Ways and Means Committee the potential for the property tax millage rate to be reduced down to zero. She opined that this would leave clinic and indigent emergency care with no funding, and would accomplish the same goal as if House Bill 257 had been passed. She asked for the BCC to hold workshops to develop alternative sources to provide care for the indigent population.
Commr. Parks relayed that he had previously talked with Ms. Bennett, and that the Board could consider what might happen next with the NLCHD.
Ms. Terri Blessing, a Town of Howey-in-the Hills resident who lived off of Number 2 Road, showed a map of a large proposed residential development that would be built off of U.S. 27 and go into the Town of Howey-in-the Hills. She expressed concerns for increased traffic on the roads if this development was built. She asked for the County and the City of Leesburg to work together to address development and to help keep these areas rural. She also asked for the BCC to review the members of the Planning and Zoning Board as she opined there was a member on it who was also a sales agent for this development.
Commr. Parks asked for staff to provide some follow up regarding this at a future meeting.
Commr. Campione asked for clarification that if there was a Planning and Zoning Board member who was a sales person for a project that came before that Board, then that this member would have to recuse themselves and could not even participate in the discussion.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, indicated that they could participate in the discussion; however, they would have to recuse themselves and would have to make the announcement before the discussion took place since they were an advisory body. She reiterated that they would have to sign the appropriate form and not vote on the issue, but could participate in the discussion. She then provided some information regarding this topic, and relayed that she had been asked to look at the Hodges development. She relayed that the Planning and Zoning Board had turned that project down as being too soon for that area; however, it did go to the City Commission in June 2021. She explained that it was an annexation and a Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) amendment; therefore, if the City Commission approved it, then it would go to the State and come back for a final hearing in August 2021. She remarked that the same thing would happen with this development, that she did not believe this property had been annexed yet, and that the County did have an interlocal service boundary agreement (ISBA) with the City of Leesburg which permitted them to do noncontiguous annexations; therefore, the County would not be able to challenge the annexation with the Whispering Hills project just as they could not for the Hodges project.
Commr. Campione asked if they could have discussions with the City of Leesburg regarding concerns and consistency with the County’s Comp Plan.
Ms. Marsh remarked that staff could certainly have discussions with the City or the Board could have discussions with the City Commission; however, from a legal perspective, the County did not have the ability to challenge those annexations because the ISBA was in place. She stated that in regards to the Hodges development, staff recommended against it, the Planning and Zoning Board voted against it, and that both this Board and staff comments indicated that this was a premature development, although she was not sure whether the City would vote for it.
Commr. Parks commented that what the Board could do, in the spirit of good governmental coordination, was to have some discussions.
Commr. Campione suggested approaching the City such that the BCC wanted to coordinate and work together as opposed to telling them that the BCC did not like what they were doing and wanted it to be done another way. She remarked that they could let the City know that they have unincorporated residents who had concerns, that the County had their land use designations, and was there a way they could all work on this together, noting that they did not know anything regarding the design or plan for the larger proposed development and what affect it might have on roads. She commented that they would need to keep an eye on the impacts to roads and determine if the development would meet the thresholds such that it would then take over the roads.
Commr. Smith indicated that the impact to the roads was one of his biggest concerns, noting it was currently a county road going through that area. He opined that if this development was going to be within the City of Leesburg, then the City should take over the road and fix it to the capacity needed.
Commr. Campione questioned what the ISBA stated.
Ms. Marsh responded that the ISBA between the County and the City required for the City to take the road if they annexed more than 50 percent of a road, noting that there might be some specific roads excluded. She commented that additionally with the City of Leesburg, their ISBA stated that if the road did not meet the City standards, then they did not have to take it.
Commr. Campione said that the road would then have to be brought up to the City standards in order to transfer the road and then the City would be responsible for maintenance going forward. She said that sometimes the timing on getting this done can be negotiated so that the City ultimately took the road, noting that maybe the County could not do all the improvements at one time but once they were done, then the City would take the road.
Commr. Parks reiterated his thoughts on the need for discussions regarding this, whether it might be in a separate workshop or be included in another meeting.
Commr. Smith stated that since it was in his district, he could talk to the City, see what they were planning to do, and discuss how to figure this out.
Commr. Parks expressed concerns for the road issue.
Ms. Blessing stated that the roads were her concern as well; furthermore, she relayed that her biggest issue was for there to be a check and balance between the City, the County and the MPO.
Commr. Campione inquired if the City would normally ask for County staff input on their traffic studies.
Ms. Marsh replied that was part of the ISBA and that there was a provision in it which talked about development application and the requirement for the City to give the County notification so that they could review. She believed that the Lake County Public Works Department did routinely comment on the various Cities when they notify the County of various applications.
Commr. Campione asked if the concern was that the County could weigh in but the City could ignore the County’s comments, and Ms. Marsh confirmed that.
Commr. Parks mentioned that what often happens at a City meeting was they may want to approve it with the understanding that the County would take care of the road issue at some point; furthermore, he had heard in the past from some Cities that they felt the County should have taken care of that and it was not the City’s issue, noting the City did not think they should not approve a development due to a substandard road. He added even though the development may be along an old grove road, it was still the City’s decision. He opined that it was an overused phrase but they were all in it together. He expressed a desire to get that question answered.
Commr. Campione remarked that if the City did not want to work together then she was uncertain how they could impose different rules.
Commr. Smith thought they needed to find a better understanding of where the City was on this issue, and stated that he would get with Ms. Marsh in order to understand the ISBA since it was different than what he was used to from working in the City of Tavares. He commented that he would then get with the Leesburg City Mayor to discuss.
Commr. Campione inquired about impact fees in this particular impact fee district, and asked if these were still lower. She recalled that when they put in place the enhanced impact fees in north-east Lake County, the Wekiva area, and in South Lake, she said it seemed like the Central and Northwest District were left lower because the concern was that there was not a lot going on and higher fees might stifle new business activity. She thought that if this was 500 homes, then it seemed like the BCC should review that impact fee study.
Mr. Rosen thanked the Commissioners for mentioning this, and relayed that staff was looking at that. He stated that the last road impact fee study was performed about three years prior; furthermore, they could not really do any updates to the road impact fees unless they had a new study every three years at least. He indicated that they were currently doing an impact fee study for some of the other impact fees that the County had, and they were asking the consultant who was doing this how much more it would cost to add the road impact fees onto that in order to then review the road impact fees in some of the districts to make sure they still made sense.
Commr. Campione commented that the Board picked the percentage and chose to put less percentage in those districts.
Mr. Rosen reported that the Central District was a 70 percent discount currently. He understood that part of it was to encourage development; however, he remarked that what has to be considered on the other side was that as development came in, then did the 30 and 70 percent make sense, or did they need to adjust. He opined that once they did a study, it was obsolete because prices were greatly increasing. He thought that if they were going to change it, that they did not have enough time to do that currently without performing another study.
Ms. Marsh explained that if they were going to increase the fees, then from the point that the Board would adopt the fees, it would take 90 days before the fees could go into effect. She remarked that the Board would need to add that to the legislation that recently passed, which she believed had not been signed by the Florida Governor yet, noting this would cap them at a 25 percent increase which had to be spread out over a year. She elaborated that if they did a 50 percent increase, she believed that they had to spread it out as well as some other requirements, or she said they would have to make a finding that it was an emergency for them to increase it more than that percentage, noting that there would be some public hearings and other items the Board would have to do in order to increase it significantly. She stated that there was a lot going on currently with impact fees especially in the event that the Board wanted to increase them.
Commr. Campione asked if the increase was over what the maximum amount was for the study or what the County was currently charging.
Ms. Marsh responded that the way she read it was that it was what they actually charged; therefore, 25 percent, if there was already a 70 percent discount, would not be a great increase.
Commr. Parks inquired if the City could ask for the applicant to pay 100 percent of the County’s transportation impact fee.
Ms. Marsh replied that they probably could not when looking at the new legislation; additionally, there were also some changes to the Bert Harris Act. She said that the question would be that if the City asked for more of that, then would it trigger a claim under the Bert Harris Act.
Commr. Campione asked if the County could adopt an ordinance that required the collection of, for example a Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU), to address the ongoing maintenance of the roads if the City did not take the road itself. She summarized that if the City left the road as the County’s responsibility, then could the County impose an MSTU on the new territory that was being annexed by the City.
Ms. Marsh responded that they could not impose an MSTU in the city limits unless the City agreed to it; therefore, the option would be to impose an MSTU on the unincorporated residents to cover that roadway however the district was defined. She said for the Board to keep in mind that they currently had an MSTU for unincorporated county that was supposed to cover stormwater, roads, and parks; therefore, she opined it would be difficult to attempt to impose another road MSTU.
Commr. Campione indicated that in this situation, it would not make sense to add more on the unincorporated residents.
Ms. Marsh agreed, and reiterated that they would have to have the City agree to the imposition of an MSTU within their boundaries.
Commr. Campione suggested that when Commissioner Smith talked with the City, to explore this concept of what they were finding across the county that as more growth occurred, they could not keep up with the ongoing maintenance; furthermore, this might be a perfect opportunity to create a new model.
Commr. Smith said he would figure something out.
Mr. Rosen remarked that this was a foreshadowing, noting that on May 25, 2021, they would be having a road presentation by Mr. Fred Schneider, Assistant County Manager. He indicated that one of the issues they would present was how they would deal with this in the future.
Mr. John Blodgett, a concerned citizen, stated that he also had concerns for the proposed development mentioned by Ms. Blessing, and was under the impression that the City of Leesburg was annexing areas outside of the ISBA. He questioned if the City was communicating with the County regarding this annexation, and asked for the County to reach out to the City to discuss these matters. He also expressed concerns for the lack of utilities in this rural area.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Blodgett and Ms. Blessing for taking time to speak on their concerns, and indicated that staff would provide some follow up regarding this issue.
Commr. Campione opined that it sounded like an important distinction if the City was extending beyond the ISBA, noting this might give the County the leverage to review it together.
Ms. Marsh remarked that the map attached to the ISBA was a pretty general map; therefore, she would have staff review the location and see if it crossed over into the Town of Howey-in-the-Hills.
Mr. Blodgett explained that the map presented by Ms. Blessing was the developer’s map with the ISBA listed on it. He said he was uncertain who designated that; however, he opined that the developer understood that they were over the ISBA line since they had presented the map to the City.
Ms. Marsh reiterated that staff would obtain the information from the City of Leesburg, and once they had the actual legal descriptions, then they could compare it to the boundaries in the ISBA.
Mr. David Serdar, a City of Fruitland Park resident, thanked the BCC for all they do for the county, expressed appreciation for the military, and wished all the mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. He shared his concerns for the number of people moving to the State of Florida and the effect on roads.
CLERK OF the Circuit COURT and comptroller’s CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Consent Agenda, Item 1, as follows:
List of Warrants
Notice is hereby provided of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136.06 (1) of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk's Office.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Consent Agenda, Tabs 3 through 6, as follows:
Recommend approval to terminate the Agreement for the temporary lease space with the Village Lake Promenade, LLC, d/b/a Lake Square Mall for the State-supported immunization site at the Lake Square Mall in Leesburg and authorization for County Manager and County Attorney to determine the final termination date should vaccination demands increase.
Management and Budget
1. Of Lake County Board of County Commission Chairman or Designee to execute a Certificate of Participation for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG-C) for the Fiscal Year 2020 Program; and name Stephanie Glass, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Grants Coordinator, as Program Coordinator; and authorize the Chairman to execute the related allocation support letter.
2. Authorize the Chairman to execute any Certificates of Participation, contracts or other documents necessary to apply for and accept any JAG grants for future fiscal years.
There is no fiscal impact.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
1. Of an Interlocal Agreement with the Town of Montverde for fire protection and rescue services; and
2. An approval of Unanticipated Revenue Resolution 2021-67 for the appropriation and expenditure of related funds to be received in fiscal year 2021; and
3. Of a budget transfer for the capital payment.
The fiscal impact is $22,500.00 (revenue) from Montverde within Fiscal Year 2021 and $90,000.00 (revenue) within Fiscal Year 2022 that will be expended on providing the services. In addition, the County will pay $42,500.00 (expenditure) within Fiscal Year 2021 and $42,500.00 (expenditure) within Fiscal Year 2022 for the purchase of equipment from Montverde. Commission District 2.
PUBLIC SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Recommend approval to revise the application for the Florida Department of Transportation Section 5311 Grant Application for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 and adopt related Resolution 2021-74.
The fiscal impact is a savings of $342,658.80 in matching County funding.
state legislative update
Mr. Chris Carmody, with GrayRobinson, reported that it was a great Florida Legislative session and expressed appreciation for the legislative delegation in Lake County which he said did good work for the county. He then showed a slide of each of the members which included Senator Kelli Stargel, Senator Dennis Baxley, Representative Anthony Sabatini, Representative Keith Truenow, and Representative Brett Thomas Hage. He reported the following for homerule and local issues; impact fees legislation was the toughest loss, noting that the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) and the League of Cities did their best. He explained that this legislation changed the rules on how high a County could increase impact fees, and that it could only be done once every four years unless there were extraordinary circumstances; additionally, the percentage that they could be raised was limited to 25 and 50 percent depending on how often it was done. He added that there was movement to encourage the Florida Governor to veto this legislation. He opined that for Counties that had been offering discounts on impact fees over the years, it would be difficult to recoup those discounts when trying to do these increases as this legislation did not take that into account. He relayed that the bill regarding the North Lake County Hospital District (NLCHD) died in the House Ways and Means Committee. He mentioned that the legislation regarding the tourist development tax (TDT) was going to expand TDT uses to flood mitigation and was also going to require Counties which use TDT to put out to referendum every five years on those uses. He opined this was going to be tough on Counties that use TDT, and that the hospitality industry was not a big fan of having a blanket use for flood mitigation. He reported that this bill died in the Senate and then was brought back to life in a tax package in the House; however, the Senate removed that from the tax package. He expected that this may come back the following year. He stated that the last homerule issue regarding building design was basically going to restrict building design across the state for Counties and Cities such that they could not put building design restrictions in their ordinances or codes. He indicated that the compromise that was worked in was that this would not apply for master plan communities or planned unit developments (PUDs), noting there were a few other exceptions. He expected the Governor to sign this. He then reported on policy issues and said that the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) fix was in the transportation bill, and he expected that the Governor would sign it. He explained that the language would say that it was no longer consent but consultation with FDOT on any kind of projects that Lake County and the CFX wanted to do in Lake County. He relayed that the bill regarding online sales tax did pass, was already signed by the Governor, and that they would begin enforcing this tax. He indicated that at the State level, the revenue would be used in the short term to offset the expected rise in unemployment tax for businesses to replenish the unemployment fund; additionally, when that fund got to the amount of $4.017 billion, which would probably take two to three years, then they would then take the revenue and offset the business rent tax and move it from currently 5.5 percent to 2.0 percent. He remarked that the documentary stamp tax traditionally was for the Sadowski Trust Fund or affordable housing, and reported that the percentages that went into that were amended. He explained that the part going to affordable housing was reduced, and would effectively be $209 million for the current year, noting that even though it went down, it was still more for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. He said that the rest would go towards the resiliency fund that was set up and to water improvement with both being ones that would benefit the county for water and flooding issues as growth continued. He then shared information about Lake County’s appropriations, and reported that all four were funded and included the public use building at $1.5 million, both the Green Mountain Connector and the Wekiva Trail at $2 million, and the public safety radios at $2 million. He shared that they were having conversations with FDOT staff to ensure those trails were protected. He concluded by mentioning that the Florida budget was $101.5 billion, which was the largest in the state’s history. He noted that $6.7 billion of this budget was Federal funding from the coronavirus aid package, that the State of Florida was entitled to $10 billion but spent $6.7 in this budget for reserves and other projects, and $3.3 billion was being saved for future years. He reported the following for the budget: $75 million for Visit Florida, with $50 million from general revenue and $25 million from the Federal funding; $500 million for the Resilient Florida Trust Fund with all of that coming from Federal funding and a portion of the funds that would start coming from the documentary stamp tax; $500 million for water protection and sustainability, mostly dedicated to septic to sewer projects; and $209 million for affordable housing with most of it going towards the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) and 40 percent going to the State Apartment Incentive Loan program (SAIL).
Commr. Shields mentioned that he and Mr. Rosen were in a Four Corners action committee meeting and relayed that one person said that developers come to the area and have to choose between the counties and their different impact fees with one county being $8,000 and another right across the street being $22,000. He opined that Lake County could be penalized and unable to do much with this new impact fee legislation especially since the County was giving discounts.
Mr. Carmody reported that 275 bills were passed this session, which was more than any over the last ten years. He specified that the Governor would likely sign most of them, and that 20 of them were local bills. He relayed that some within the lobby core thought that since most County and City Commissioners and staff who work on legislative issues were not in the Capital this session, these bills were able to gain momentum that might have otherwise been stopped if County and City staff had been there in person to oppose. He stated it was a different session because of COVID-19, that future sessions would be different, and that some of these issues could potentially be carved back if they are able to show that the solution created more problems than it helped. He guessed that it would hurt developers as much as it would the Counties as Counties may begin to raise their fees because if they do not, then they may lose their window to raise them. He thought there would be changes to this legislation in the future.
Commr. Campione said that when considering how many people were moving to the State of Florida every day, that there was no consideration to the fact that if legislation was going to take that away from local governments, then at least give them another tool or help from a State level to take care of transportation needs.
Mr. Rosen clarified that on the online sales tax that the State would take their portion of the funding for the first few years and put it into unemployment fund. He thought that he saw within the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that the State could use some of that funding to replenish those funds as well. He asked if Mr. Carmody had heard anything regarding if the State may take some of that funding and put it into their unemployment fund as opposed to using their portion of the sales tax.
Mr. Carmody responded that he had not heard that; however, that bill created two allies on this with the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) saying that this would be an astronomical tax raise in order to replenish that fund in a timely manner and suggesting to offset those taxes, and the other being the realtors and commercial developers saying to offset that business rent tax. He relayed that he had heard that the push to reduce that business rent tax would continue in the sense that they may say in the tax package to reduce it to 5 percent the following year and adjust the statute so that in three years, or whenever the unemployment fund was replenished, it would go from 2 to 1.5 percent so that they could eventually get to zero. He indicated that part of that conversation could be for them to say that if they could hurry and replenish this fund with some Federal funding so that they could get to the business rent tax cut the following year, then let it be done right away. He specified that realtors would support that, and he imagined that the legislators would quietly be fine with that because the sooner they got to that point, the sooner that funding could start going towards general revenue. He said that in two to three years when that online sales tax was expected to go towards the business rent tax reduction, it would be greater than $1.1 billion based on the growth in the state and that more was going into online sales. He remarked that as soon as they could get to freeing up those funds to be used however they wished, that was probably a good thing for legislators as it would make it easier for them to pass a balanced budget every year. He indicated that he would inquire on this to find out more information.
federal legislative update
Mr. Maurice Kurland, with Alcalde & Fay, shared information on the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds which would be coming to Lake County. He relayed that since the last BCC meeting on March 23, 2021, they had been waiting to receive information from the U.S. Department of Treasury on what the exact allocation would be for Lake County and what guidelines would be provided regarding uses; furthermore, he reported that Lake County would be receiving approximately $71.3 million. He relayed that Mr. Rosen had inquired when that funding would be coming to the County, and explained that the general rule was that 50 percent would come in the current year, noting that there was a provision that if a state’s unemployment was over two percent from pre-COVID-19, then there was the possibility to get the full amount. He elaborated that once the County submitted the required financial information through the Department of Treasury portal, at least 50 percent, or close to $36 million, would be forthcoming to Lake County. He specified that the primary utilization of this funding was in five different areas to address public health impacts such as testing, vaccinations, behavioral health, etc.; additionally, the other area was for economic impacts with a wide range for this category as well. He remarked that since the State of Florida was a heavy tourism state, the legislation laid out that for impacts to those industries, the County could utilize some of this funding to address businesses that had been impacted in those areas. He added that it could also include nonprofits within the county that had been impacted as a result of COVID-19. He mentioned that while hotel, travel, and hospitality were spelled out, it could include other industries that had been generally impacted from the pandemic. He commented that another key aspect that had been addressed by certain national groups was the impact to County workers such as layoffs, overtime hours due to social distancing requirements, additional cleaning, etc., noting that this funding could also be used for the additional expenses of essential workers. He remarked that the County should look at their budget and what the revenue impacts had been as these dollars were available to address that issue of lost revenues due to the pandemic. He indicated that regarding the question of what could be done for necessary improvements in infrastructure, the bill said that the funding could be used for water and sewer infrastructure and broadband since people needed to access the internet for work and school. He summarized that this was the broad overview of the approximate $71.3 million coming to the County, and specified that the window for expending these funds was about three years, noting that if it was a water project and the funding was obligated in the third year, then the completion could take up to 2026 for those projects. He specified that the Department of Treasury did have reporting requirements that would be quarterly and annually, that it was not a reimbursement, that it could be used for third parties performing essential duties, and that administrative expenses were an eligible use for purposes of disbursing and managing the funding. He relayed that the Department of Treasury stated that they wanted to get this information out but that it was currently an interim rule and there would be time for public comment before it became a formal rule. He also mentioned that the municipalities in the county were considered non-entitlement communities, or those that were under 50,000 in population, would also be receiving allocations of funding, noting that the estimated amounts ranged from $6 million for the City of Mount Dora to $16.24 for the City of Clermont. He relayed that the State would be receiving funding as well, and that there were provisions that the State could elect to send some of their funding to the non-entitlement communities if there were particular needs. He then thanked the BCC for the opportunity to present.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Kurland for providing this information. He commented that what was about to happen to the County was extremely important and that all the Commissioners would be involved in making these decisions.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman called a recess at 2:54 p.m. for fifteen minutes.
office of extension services presentation
Ms. Megan Brew, Director for the Office of Extension Services, mentioned that her presentation would include an office overview, organizational chart, highlights and efficiencies from 2020, benchmarks to surrounding counties, and an overview of the proposed FY 2022 budget. She mentioned that the Office of Extension Services represented a 100+ year cooperative partnership between the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the Lake County BCC. She relayed that the mission of UF/IFAS Extension in Lake County was to provide research-based educational programs, cooperatively with the University of Florida, in the areas of horticulture, agriculture, livestock production, natural resources, nutrition, food safety, chronic disease prevention, financial management and positive youth development through their 4-H program; additionally, they provide practical assistance to help people, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build better futures. She then displayed an organizational chart of 12 full time employees (FTEs), noting that each extension agent covered a separate program area based on the identified needs of the community, taught classes, authored publications, and served as local experts to the community. She specified that as a cooperative partnership, the six extension agents, including herself, were considered both County employees as well as faculty of UF, and that their salaries were shared between the two organizations with UF sharing the responsibility of the employer health insurance cost. She indicated that during normal years, their department focused equally on teaching and consulting, and that their focus did not change in 2020. She indicated that in response to the community, their office immediately gained access to and learned how to utilize webinar technology which allowed them to begin teaching online; furthermore, 4,500 people chose to spend time learning with them between mid-March and the end of May 2020. She reported that overall they had nearly 15,000 individuals attend their classes in person and online in 2020, and that 6,300 young people developed their public speaking skills through their 4-H public speaking program. She stated that their building, fondly known as the Ag Center, was utilized by more than merely the Office of Extension Services, and reported that over 5,000 people attended classes, workshops and meetings there in 2020, that a total of 366 meetings and events were held there, and that of that number, 57 were meetings hosted by other County departments. She mentioned that since agriculture was the State of Florida’s second economic driver, behind tourism, their department focused emphasis on supporting friends and neighbors working to grow food in Lake County by providing access to cutting edge research and education available through the university, noting this was largely accomplished through one-on-one consultations with agents, specialists and trained volunteers. She reported that during 2020, they conducted nearly 8,000 in-person and virtual consultations, and that another way they support agriculture business was by providing continuing education units (CEUs) which are licensed requirements of individuals employed in the green industry; additionally, they proctored more pesticide exams than any other extension office in the central district. She also mentioned that their volunteers donated over 12,000 hours and that their office donated 500 pounds of fresh produce from their discovery gardens to local food banks during the shutdown. She remarked that in terms of efficiencies, the Office of Extension Services leveraged their partnership with UF in order to secure additional financial support to ensure that their educational programs were able to continue seamlessly during the transition from in-person to virtual and then back again. She reported that they secured $5,625 in funding from UF to improve capacity for providing distance and hybrid education, were awarded a UF Intern for the summer of 2020 at no cost to the County, and the master gardeners developed creative solutions to maintain funding for Discovery Gardens. She then displayed several benchmarks slides comparing Lake County to surrounding counties in the areas of County funds for extension per capita, State funds for extension per capita, class attendance per agent, educational materials produced per agent, and on-farm consultations conducted per agent. She explained that extension offices statewide were funded through a partnership through County governments and UF, and that Lake County was in the middle at $1.49 per person for County funds per capita and $2.11 per person for State funds. She reported that for class attendance per agent, Lake County had the highest number of class participants compared to surrounding counties, and that their agents authored an average of 64 academic publications per agent. She then presented the proposed FY 2022 budget as follows: there was a 2.6 percent increase in personal services, which was at $491,191, due to approved merit based increases after the adoption of the FY 2021 budget; there was an increase of 2.9 percent for operating expenses, which was at 107,655, due to an increase for the risk internal service charge for insurance which reflected increases in costs and updates to the allocation; and total expenditures of $598,846. She then thanked the BCC for their ongoing support.
Commr. Parks commented that agriculture was an essential part of Lake County character, and he thanked Ms. Brew for representing the County well.
department of information technology budget presentation
Mr. Ross stated that the mission of the Information Technology Department is to enable high performance within Lake County government through the delivery of powerful and innovative technology solutions designed to meet the needs of their users, businesses, and citizens. He explained that they accomplish this through providing these variety of services: computer services which involves updating devices, setting up networks, maintaining file servers, supporting applications, and custom programming, noting that these services were not only provided to the County but there was also limited support for the Lake County Supervisor of Elections (SOE), the Lake County Water Authority (LCWA), and the MPO; security operations which includes monitoring and reacting to security incidents; telephone, mobile and cellular services, noting that they support not only the BCC, but almost every Constitutional Office including the SOE, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Office; geographic analysis, mapping and data services; records management services; and audio-visual support for the County Commission Chambers. He then displayed an organizational chart depicting 24 FTEs. He shared that for accomplishments, they deployed over 115 digital mapping and reporting laptop devices for the Office of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), deployed all technology at the new Lake County Animal Shelter facility, and focused on COVID-19 response. He reported that in addition to building the infrastructure and providing support for remote work when COVID-19 first started, they were also very involved with the vaccination services by providing technical and leadership support as well as an online scheduling system. He indicated that in December 2020, the BCC desired to have an appointment based system for vaccinations which was prior to the State offering any scheduling system; therefore, the IT department launched their own online appointment system, noting that the demand was extremely high at approximately 20,000 to 30,000 people wanting appointments. He shared that other COVID-19 accomplishments included launching a cloud-based software call center to handle COVID-19 vaccination calls; additionally, this call center had handled over 150,000 calls since January 2021, 13,000 calls a week at the start, and over 27,000 calls during the peak week in January 2021. He indicated that his office had placed an emphasis over the last two years on security, and shared that they were able to hire a security administrator who was able to focus on policies and procedures regarding security, signed a contract with a vendor to provide 24/7/365 monitoring of all County systems, analyzed over 3,300 security alerts, and implemented over 2,500 threat protection safeguards. He then displayed a chart depicting the number of phishing and malware emails that their systems had intercepted since January 2021, and reported that they get about 5,000 phishing attempts per day that their systems already intercept and prevent from going to mailboxes. He discussed some of the efficiencies for the department as follows: virtual Board meeting support when COVID-19 prevented the BCC from meeting in person; launch of a procurement e-bid system which created efficiencies to the County’s procurement processes both internally and externally; development of the COVID-19 geographic information system (GIS) dashboard application which showed county and nationwide COVID-19 data; and the development and launch of the vaccination scheduling and check-in application which reduced check-in time, noting that they had about 2,500 to 3,000 people every day and that prior to this check-in application, they had paper printouts of the list of vaccination appointments. He then displayed two benchmark graphs comparing Lake County to surrounding counties, noting that Lake County was the lowest at $9.77 for IT costs per capita, and second lowest at 13.57 percent for percentage increases of IT budgets over the previous two years. He concluded by displaying the proposed FY 2022 budget which showed a reduction in personal services at $2,177,558 due to a reorganization after some staff retirements, an increase in operating expenses at $1,391,335, capital outlay at $107,000, and an overall budget amount of $3,675,893. He explained that the $136,024 overall increase was to fund security enhancements, upgrade the public records system, and to fund IT strategic fund development, noting that the IT department was funded 100 percent by the General Fund.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. Ross for the update regarding security, and said that he understood the increased need for that. He also acknowledged the great job Mr. Ross and his team had done at the vaccination site.
office of animal services budget presentation
Ms. Whitney Boylston, Director for the Office of Animal Services, mentioned that her outline would be similar to the other budget presentations; however, she had added a section on trends in order to review what was happening in animal shelters across the country. She commented that the Office of Animal Services provided quality customer service to the public by assisting with adopting pets, finding lost pets, and the surrendering of animals, that they provided exceptional care and compassion for all animals brought into their “no-kill” shelter, that they did take in a large number of animals that required veterinary and rehabilitative services, and that they provided some public safety components. She displayed an organizational chart of 29 FTEs, and noted that they also had two part-time employees. She reported that they had raised their live release rate to a 96 percent overall live release rate, which included 99 percent of the dogs and 95 percent of their cats finding a positive outcome; additionally, they had 5,113 admissions for the last fiscal year, sent 450 animals to rescue partners throughout the state, had a productive operation community caturday until elective surgeries were stopped due to the pandemic, 960 pets went to foster homes, 870 pets were reunited with their families, had over 3,000 pet adoptions, positive outcomes at 5,107 were very close to admission numbers, and over 24,000 visitors came to the shelter. She then displayed two pie graphs comparing FY 2019 to FY 2020, and noted that their stray intake reduced significantly in FY 2020 which was attributed to more people being at home, noticing when dogs got away from home, and reuniting without a shelter intervention; furthermore, the decrease in other animal admissions for FY 2020 was due to the acceptance of a large number of cats from the Florida Panhandle in FY 2019 when Hurricane Michael affected their shelters. She also displayed a pie graph comparing outcomes between the same two fiscal years, noting that the euthanasia and non-live outcomes decreased since the live-saving numbers had increased, but the other numbers remained at consistent levels. She then discussed national trends for 2020 and mentioned that many animal shelters saw between 20 to 40 percent decreases in admissions which was partly due to the direction to only do emergency intake at the beginning of the pandemic; furthermore, Lake County saw about a 20 percent reduction overall in their intake but it was increasing back to normal. She indicated that they were seeing a 150 percent increase in kitten intake for 2021, and she thought that this was due to the lack of sterilization services available in 2020. She reported that they were seeing a 300 percent increase in their Wait-till-8 program, which was the program in which people find kittens and take responsibility to get the kitten up to adoptability, noting that they provide medical supplies, deworming, vaccines, food, litter, etc. and that many end up adopting the kittens. She commented that they participated in Shelter Animals County, which was a national database of animal sheltering data, and displayed a graph of this data. She reported that there was a sharp decline in intakes in April 2020 nationwide, and that Lake County’s separation between intake and live outcomes represented the increase in pet fostering that happened during the pandemic. She then showed a graphic of 2020 gross intake as compared to both the state and nationally, and indicated that Lake County was returning to normal more quickly than other places and that admissions were also increasing faster. She shared some of their creative programming in order to continue operations through the pandemic, which included the cuddle shuttle, virtual adoption counseling, drive-thru and curbside services, online appointment scheduling, and the Wait-til-8 roadshow. She relayed that since the volunteer program was suspended, they enhanced their enrichment programs with the animals and began to treat it similar to a preschool with recess, story time, music time, nap time, snack time, and scent of the day in order to keep animals engaged and stimulated. She mentioned that one of their cherished partnerships was with the Office of Fire Rescue, and that when they were planning to take their Wait-til-8 program on the road, they considered where they could park the trailer and they took advantage of a fire station in Paisley. She shared that some of their ongoing partnerships were with Lake Technical College’s veterinary assisting program, Beacon College’s animal shelter management, and the Lake County Office of Library Services for adoption promotion, literacy cross promotion, and summer reading program. She stated that they had also partnered with local food pantries to support pet parents in need, and reported that since the pandemic started, they had distributed over 7,000 pounds of pet food, noting that this initiative originally started with Chewy.com and GreaterGood.org. She then displayed two benchmark graphs comparing Lake County to surrounding counties in the areas of cat and dog intake and animal admissions per 1,000 residents. She explained that Lake County was in the middle when compared to other counties for cat and dog intake, and that the national average intake was 12 pets per 1,000 residents, which was where Lake County was. She concluded by showing the proposed FY 2022 budget and specified the following: there was an overall 0.6 percent increase; operating expenses at $399,605 showed a 13.3 percent reduction as a result of transferring some of their utility expenses over to the Office of Facilities Management; personal services was at $1,385,674; grants and aids was at $50,000; and the overall budget was $1,835,279.
Commr. Campione inquired about where the County was with the trap-neuter-return (TNR) program and funding for it.
Ms. Boylston responded that Dr. Taylor started on the previous Sunday, and that as part of bringing him onboard, they would be launching their new program, “Every Day is Caturday.” She relayed that they had already met with some TNR groups, leaders and trappers, and they would be offering a set number of TNR appointments scheduled online every day of the week, noting that some of the appointments would be for the organization to use but many would be for the public to use. She said that Operation Community Caturday was $10 per cat unless the person expresses financial hardship, noting that the sterilization costs were about $10 and since staff was already working, there was not an additional impact on personnel expenses. She added that they had also discussed performing some TNR workshops for the community at which they could provide training and best practices as to where, when and how to trap with a possible incentive for those attending.
Commr. Campione asked if they were communicating this opportunity directly to the current groups that trap, and if they were referring residents to a group who could assist them or did they teach residents how to trap and bring in the cats.
Ms. Boylston replied that each situation was different, and mentioned that they had a period of time in which the availability of the veterinarian was limited. She explained that they had one animal care technician who was their community cat support liaison, noting that this technician would trap in certain situations. She elaborated that if there was a colony of 20 or more cats, if there was a person who had a disability or reason they could not trap, and if there was not a nonprofit who could assist, then this was the type of situation in which they would send this staff person out for the community outreach program. She indicated that they were hoping to expand that program since they had more sterilization opportunities throughout the week. She specified that if someone called the shelter regarding community cats that needed to be fixed, then they would let them know that L.E.A.S.H., Inc. would let the person borrow a trap, since the shelter did not have traps that could be loaned out, or possibly assist with the trapping. She indicated that L.E.A.S.H. was aware of this new program and that she had met with them to coordinate the process and which days would work best for them. She specified that the “Every Day is Caturday” program would be going live on June 1, 2021, with a pilot week prior to that. She expressed her and her team’s support of community cat sterilization.
Commr. Campione relayed that the Board had been hearing various things regarding this which she thought had to do with the issues of the veterinarian not being available, the different circumstances due to COVID-19, and the inability to perform these surgeries. She commented that it sounded like the animal shelter was moving in the right direction on this.
Ms. Boylston mentioned that even the ability to get supplies for surgeries was an issue as well during the pandemic since they use similar items to what is utilized for human surgeries. She relayed that they were not seeing supply issues as much currently.
Commr. Campione asked if they stockpiled supplies in case there was ever another issue with obtaining them.
Ms. Boylston replied that they place larger orders for supplies when they are available; additionally, she shared that they have a relationship with one of the hospitals which gives them supplies that are nearly expired, such as sterile surgical gloves.
Commr. Parks inquired if surrounding counties were as supportive of TNR as Lake County was; furthermore, if they were not, then he suggested this was something they could share as a best practice to the FAC.
Ms. Boylston responded that she thought anyone who was progressive was supportive of TNR, noting that most of the counties were except for Seminole County. She relayed that what needed to be determined as an organization was how they could be the most effective at TNR. She specified that when TNR is targeted and high volume, then that is when an actual difference is made in population reduction; additionally, if they were not sterilizing 80 to 85 percent of the cats in a colony, then it did not make much of a difference for future years, noting that the goal is 100 percent. She remarked that while sterilization was a phenomenal thing for a cat, if their goal was community cat population reduction, then they needed to hit those areas strongly and completely. She indicated that this was where the organization and volunteers came into play as it enabled them to do a cat assessment in which they would be counting, logging and checking the cats off as they sterilized them. She mentioned that they also had great partnerships with local counties and they discuss how each county handles TNR as well as other items.
Commr. Parks expressed appreciation for all her team was doing.
Mr. Rosen commented that the $10 fee for sterilization was very inexpensive and a great value, and mentioned that in a previous area he had worked, they charged $55 per cat.
Ms. Boylston explained that this was probably because it included the costs of the veterinarian, technicians, and overhead; however, Lake County was running their shelter and already had staff present all day anyway.
Commr. Campione commented that the veterinarian had to be available anyway, so why not perform these other items to the extent possible throughout the day.
Ms. Boylston invited anyone who wanted to see the process to stop by the shelter.
Commr. Parks shared that his family had fostered a cat which was then adopted.
office of code enforcement budget presentation
Mr. Glen Guzman, Director for the Office of Code Enforcement, mentioned that this office does the following: responds to complaints related to County codes and land development regulations (LDR); provides standard housing inspections; performs conditional use permit (CUP) inspections and related billing; performs environmental inspections and investigations; conducts average setback, commercial landscape, and mining inspections; conducts monthly public hearings for code enforcement and animal services cases; reviews and coordinates with the Office of Planning and Zoning on County Code amendments; and oversees the demolition and cleanup of properties in violation by order of special master or court. He showed an organizational chart of 11 FTEs. He reported that over the previous year, the Office of Code Enforcement brought over 1,100 cases into compliance, completed 3,971 inspections throughout the county, established new methods for resolution, improved their webpage, and established the Code Case Near Me application. He gave an example of how they started to utilize video conferencing to verify compliance of issues rather than waiting several days to accomplish this. He reported that for efficiencies, they continued utilization of five zones for balancing workload/population with each officer covering approximately 187 square miles of travel, centralized the issuance of violation notices for consistency which reduced officer data entry in the field, and began using Zoom for staff safety which created additional time management efficiency. He then displayed several benchmark graphs comparing Lake County to surrounding counties in the areas of population per officer, square miles per officer, total complaints, and cases brought into compliance. He reported that Lake County had 2,252 complaints and brought 95 percent of their cases into compliance; additionally, he shared a story of how this office worked to resolve issues and not merely assess fines. He concluded with the proposed FY 2022 budget which reflected an overall 0.5 percent reduction with personal services at $632,859, operating expenses at $196,852, and a total budget of $829,711. He specified that they were 100 percent funded by the General Fund; however, they did retain some fines in order to address property cleanup and demolition projects.
Commr. Shields thanked Mr. Guzman and his team for their work, and expressed appreciation for their help.
Mr. Guzman understood that code enforcement was not a great subject; however, they worked to resolve conflicts as best they could.
Commr. Campione opined that this office did a great job, and that they make their resources go as far as they could. She remarked that she liked that Lake County did code enforcement as complaint driven as opposed to counties that take different approaches. She thought Mr. Guzman’s philosophy was admirable, that the Board wanted resolution of conflict too, and that the Office of Code Enforcement did a great job diffusing situations that might otherwise get out of hand.
Commr. Parks agreed that Mr. Guzman and his staff represented the County well, and thanked him for responding to the Board’s emails and inquiries.
Mr. Rosen recognized Mr. Guzman for serving in a higher capacity while the County was determining its structure of some various departments. He expressed appreciation for Mr. Guzman’s willingness to help, and for how he tackles problems, looks at them from a different perspective, finds solutions, and looks beyond his department to other departments that could potentially assist families in need. He shared a story of how Mr. Guzman had a code enforcement situation in which he connected a family in need to the Office of Housing and Human Services, rather than merely telling the family they were out of compliance.
Mr. Guzman mentioned that he reaches out to other offices on a monthly basis and often has them come and present to his staff for learning purposes so that his staff is aware of what other departments can do.
Ms. Marsh mentioned to the Board that Florida House Bill 60 did pass which would prohibit code enforcement from taking anonymous complaints; therefore, when someone calls in a code compliant, they would have to provide their name and address. She indicated that it had not been signed by the Florida Governor yet; however, if it was signed, then her staff would bring an amendment to the BCC as they would need to change the Lake County Code.
Commr. Blake asked if that would then become subject to any public records request if someone had a complaint brought against them, and Ms. Marsh confirmed that was correct.
Commr. Campione opined that was another good reason to diffuse these situations before they escalated.
office of planning and zoning budget presentation
Mr. Tim McClendon, Director for the Office of Planning and Zoning, stated that the primary function of the Office of Planning and Zoning was to manage growth and development of Lake County, and that they review all development applications to ensure consistency with the Comp Plan and the LDR, that they collect and assess impact fees on new development, and that they were the liaison to the Mt. Plymouth Sorrento Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). He displayed an organizational chart depicting 15.5 FTEs. He relayed these accomplishments for FY 2020: permitting was up 400 percent including residential, commercial, and public hearing cases such as Comp plan amendments, rezonings, CUPs, and variances, noting that they had permitted over 530 single family homes to date in this calendar year; they handled over 23,000 phone calls, which equated to about 12 hours per day, while assisting customers in person; and notable projects included the finalization of the Wolf Branch Innovation District and the Wellness Way Design Guidelines, noting they would be coming to the BCC for adopting soon, and they reviewed the Amazon distribution center in under 40 days which included two rounds of reviews and comments back to the applicant. He then did a brief demonstration of how the Development Near Me application worked so that individuals could learn what was happening in their area.
Commr. Campione inquired what qualified on this application and if it had to be an actual development application, building permit or subdivision that was pending.
Mr. McClendon responded that it could not get as specific as a building permit since there were so many, but this focused on public hearing cases and any major site plan reviews that were in process as well as subdivision reviews.
Commr. Campione recalled that at the recent Four Corners meeting a citizen had mentioned a particular area and she tried to look it up, noting that she was able to see some items but not the particular one the citizen was referring to. She wondered if this was because it was a site plan that had been previously approved.
Mr. McClendon said that could be the reason why, and relayed that once they were approved, signed, and out the door, then they were removed from the application site, noting that they then place new projects on the site.
Commr. Campione thought it might make sense to leave the projects on the site for a period of time, and suggested they could possibly be in a different color on the site. She asked if they had to develop within a certain number of months.
Mr. McClendon replied that he believed it was 18 months from the time of the site plan.
Commr. Campione opined that when people start to see dirt being moved was when they tended to question what was happening.
Mr. McClendon indicated that staff could leave the projects on for a period of time as requested by Commissioner Campione, and they would look at doing different colors.
Commr. Campione confirmed that it was just unincorporated Lake County and that this was clear on the application, and Mr. McClendon confirmed that was correct.
Mr. McClendon then finished his budget presentation by mentioning these efficiencies: codified and administratively streamlined several development processes including allowing e-signatures on development applications which reduced delays; internal cross-training for development application processing, review of impact fees, and the new online permitting tool; added an associate planner position dedicated to online permitting customer service; and relayed information through bi-monthly meetings with the Home Builders Association (HBA). He explained that in the world of planning and zoning, it was difficult to compare permitting numbers, and gave an example of how Orange County required permits for more situations than what Lake County did; additionally, he relayed that some of the organizations in different counties were split out into different functions with planning being one office and zoning being another office. He elaborated that these elements often affected the numbers, and mentioned that Lake, Seminole, and Osceola County had planning and zoning under one department. He then displayed several benchmark graphs comparing Lake County to surrounding counties in the areas that could be compared such as employees working on public hearing cases, rezonings per employee, Comp Plan amendments per employee, and site plans reviewed per employee. He reported that Lake County had seven employees working on public hearing cases, was second only to Orange County in the rezonings per employee, was in the middle for Comp Plan amendments, and was closer to the top in number of site plans reviewed per employee. He concluded by presenting the Office of Planning and Zoning proposed FY 2022 budget. He specified that personal services at $1,157,540 had increased due to salary increases approved after the FY 2021 budget, that operating expenses at $92,248 had increased due to insurance rates, that grants and aids at $76,612 had increased slightly due to membership dues to the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, and total expenditures were $1,326,400, noting that this office was funded out of the General Fund.
Commr. Parks commented that a 400 percent increase was intense and opined that this high volume did not allow much time to consider long-term planning. He recognized Mr. McClendon and his staff for their hard work. He remarked that they wanted to remain lean, did not want to grow government, and that they did not want to obtain more employees unless they had to. He asked Mr. McClendon to consider using local consultants without any conflicts in order to assist when overloaded such as on Monday mornings; furthermore, he also said to keep the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council in mind because their cost to help was very affordable. He encouraged thinking out of the box for ways to stay ahead of this 400 percent increase; additionally, the County wanted to keep their reputation of being customer and business friendly. He knew that Mr. McClendon was aware of all this and expressed his support.
Mr. Rosen asked for confirmation that Mr. McClendon’s staff had bi-monthly meetings with the Home Builders Association (HBA) and the Commercial Contractors Association.
Mr. McClendon responded that the Commercial Contractors Association had stopped meeting the previous year due to COVID-19, although he believed they were getting ready to start their meetings again and he would be a part of that.
Mr. Rosen inquired if this organization ever brought up issues regarding timelines or process issues at these meetings since a 400 percent increase with the same staff was a lot to accomplish.
Mr. McClendon replied that they primarily used those meetings for a sounding board, noting that each month he brought a spreadsheet of how much Lake County was seeing. He indicated that this information helped the organization to better understand what Lake County was dealing with.
Mr. Rosen asked if Mr. McClendon received feedback.
Mr. McClendon confirmed that they did, noting that it could be ideas for code or process improvements, or preempt meetings with developers coming in. He opined that it had been a phenomenal relationship.
Mr. Rosen inquired if the Office of Planning and Zoning had any long-term vacancies, and expressed his understanding that there were some classes of employees that the County had difficulty obtaining, possibly due to other areas paying more, or those who possibly left which caused high turnover.
Mr. McClendon responded that he was not aware of any long-term vacancies. He mentioned that they were proactive in getting staff certified as planners, noting that many times planners were highly sought after becoming certified. He commented this was true in all planning organizations. He shared that it was helpful that the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of Florida were so close, had regional planning schools, and that he had good relationships with those schools and was able to reach out to the dean and professors he knew whenever his office did have openings.
Commr. Parks encouraged Mr. McClendon to utilize those connections whenever they got a high volume of zoning clearances.
Mr. McClendon shared that the UCF dean was a great resource, and that UCF students were heavily involved in creating the master plan for the CRA.
Commr. Campione recalled that several months prior, the commercial contractors had reached out to her and that they had asked about the possibility of having a process through which if an issue came up and it seemed like there was something possibly wrong within the system, then they would have a way to speak with someone regarding it. She relayed that she had suggested for them to call Mr. McClendon, who confirmed that was fine to do. Commissioner Campione said that she knew staff was having these meetings with them, and mentioned that it might be good to reach out to them to emphasis that the door was open when something arises. She opined that sometimes a contractor will see an issue from their perspective and that maybe once all the information is out on the table, then it may be merely about understanding the facts.
Mr. McClendon understood and relayed that was exactly what they had done with the HBA, noting that the HBA did reach out directly to him.
Commr. Campione stated that maybe there should be something similar to what they were doing with HBA, that it could be more often, that there could be something other than the meeting that all of them attended, and that possibly there could be a smaller working group that met once a month or once every other month.
Mr. McClendon replied that they would gladly offer that service.
Mr. Rosen relayed that he and Commissioner Smith had a meeting with the Commercial Contractors Association and the Home Builders Association the previous day. He indicated that they had a proposal through The Lake 100 group to do something; however, he was not sure if that was the best avenue to reach the goals of what they were looking for. He added that there were also things that they were considering doing internally; therefore, they discussed that as well. He mentioned that one of the things they would be doing was getting together with their groups and discussing who had been using the services recently, what they were seeing, what issues they were seeing, etc., noting they would compile some information regarding this and he and Commissioner Smith would take some notes on this. He explained that he was also working on a customer satisfaction survey that he wanted to do for the entire County, but also specifically for those departments such that as people came in or sent an email, there could be a link to gather that information. He elaborated that they could then compare what the County was receiving on the customer satisfaction survey to what these groups were saying and then look for the overlap regarding any potential issues. He remarked that they also discussed looking into doing other reviews which would highlight the issues, noting that understanding what was happening would bring to light things that they may not be seeing when they hear complaints. He said they had already begun to work on this.
Commr. Campione was glad to hear this.
Mr. McClendon reiterated that he was available for anyone who needed him.
Commr. Campione appreciated Mr. McClendon’s accessibility; additionally, she liked the idea of having a little bit more structure in order to make sure they heard whatever issues might be there so they could solve them early.
Commr. Parks commented that the Board had interests in this area, and that Commissioners Campione and Smith had expertise in these areas and wanted to be involved.
Commr. Campione inquired if the money that came in for applications went into the General Fund, and if it was different then the Office of Building Services which was an enterprise fund.
Mr. McClendon confirmed that was correct.
Commr. Parks stressed for people not to be afraid of the continuous measurement of processes and experiences as mentioned by Mr. Rosen, opining it was good business to evaluate and obtain the public’s opinion since that was how they got better.
resolution 2021-66 regarding funds for the lcso
Mr. Rosen explained that the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) provided some support for the municipalities, had agreements directly with them, and were reimbursed by them for those costs. He elaborated that instead of having that money funneled through the County as they were repaid, this agenda item would change for the revenue process to go directly back to the LCSO for the support they provided.
Commr. Smith said this was basically streamlining the process, and Mr. Rosen confirmed that was correct.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved for invoiced funds, paid to the Sheriff’s Office by municipalities per a Spillman Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software annual support agreement, to be recorded against the related expense in the Sheriff’s Office general fund and no longer be remitted to the Board of County Commissioners, and approved Unanticipated Revenue Resolution 2021-66 recognizing the $6,333.47 remitted to the Board as of April 14, 2021 and transferring the funds to the Sheriff’s Office for recording.
affordable housing advisory committee appointment
Commr. Campione stated that Mr. Richard Gonzalez served on the Planning and Zoning Board which needed a representative from this board on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. She remarked that Mr. Gonzalez fit the requirements, had served in this role for quite a long time, came to all the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee meetings, and participated actively.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Smith and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the reappointment of Mr. Richard Gonzalez to the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee as the representative from the Planning and Zoning Board.
commissioner shields – district 1
single member districts
Commr. Shields asked if the Board would be interested in discussing the possibility of having a single member district on the 2022 ballot in order to allow the voters to decide if they would prefer to have a single member district as opposed to how it was currently setup. He explained that his thoughts behind this was that when he decided to run for office, he had to live in District 1 but had to campaign across all five districts which cost five times the amount of money. He commented that having single member districts would bring running for office down to include others besides just those who could afford it. He understood that the Commissioners were supposed to represent the whole county; however, he opined that when listening to the different Commissioners’ positions, they cared most about where they lived such as the roads they drove, the people they were most impacted by, etc. He opined that this would force Commissioners to meet with their constituents in order to get reelected. He asked if any of the Commissioners were interested in giving this to the voters to decide.
Commr. Parks recalled that Commissioner Shields had brought this up prior, and suggested that if they wanted to have a serious discussion on this, then maybe Commissioner Shields could bring a list of pros and cons to the Board.
Commr. Shields said he would do that unless it was something no one wanted.
Commr. Campione stated that she was not in favor of it. She remarked that in regards to the statement that Commissioners cared more about their district, she did not think it was that they cared more; rather, that was where they lived and were more engaged. She commented that this translated into that district Commissioner being able to bring issues to the attention of the rest of the Board which allowed them to review those situations. She expressed concerns that with single member districts, it would make Commissioners just care about their district such that when they got into situations that involved solving countywide issues, the Commissioners would not be up to speed on what was happening. She opined that it could also put them in a situation in which alliances between Commissioners formed and they voted certain ways or teamed up together; furthermore, it was not conducive to the county being unified and feeling like they were part of a whole. She gave the example that regional transportation issues went across the county line, and while they could only do so much in working with the region, within their own county, they knew that their issues transcended beyond their districts. She felt that it would become disjointed and contiguity and connectivity would be lost if they were broken up into individual districts.
Commr. Smith remarked that he understood what Commissioner Shields was suggesting; however, he agreed with Commissioner Campione and was not in favor of it. He relayed that he ran for County Commissioner to be one for the entire county and not merely District 3. He shared an example that he would be driving to the City of Clermont the next day in order to review the road issue in that area so that he could have a better understanding of it. He thought it was one of the reasons they decided to have district meetings in different areas, which he opined was wonderful and allowed them to reach out to more people. He reiterated that he ran to be a County Commissioner for all of Lake County, although he understood the concerns with it being expensive and time consuming.
Commr. Blake appreciated the discussion, but opined that it would result in a less effective county. He thought that with it being set up that Commissioners had to live in their district, it limited it to somebody who understood a lot of the issues particular to that area but forced them to familiarize themselves with things in other parts of the county. He opined it was a good system, that there were pros to the other approach, but that the cons would outweigh the pros.
Commr. Shields appreciated the comments and input.
commissioner smith – vice chairman and district 3
customer service, economic development, parks and trails
Commr. Smith relayed that the County continued to focus on ways to be customer focused and attentive to economic development; additionally, he indicated that he would soon be discussing new things happening within the area of parks and trails.
commissioner CAMPIONE – district 4
thoughts on customer focus
Commr. Campione commented that in regards to the County’s continual focus on customer service, she suggested that they develop a method for staff within the departments to be able to easily bring up concerns when they identify things that might not be customer focused. She gave the example that if an Office of Planning and Zoning staff member was working with a customer and realized that they were unable to assist with what the customer wanted, that there be a way that the staff person could bring it to the attention of their director or the BCC to consider if the Lake County Code might need to be changed.
mt. plymouth-sorrento cra board meeting
Commr. Campione said that she would be unable to attend the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento CRA Board meeting the following week and inquired if any of her fellow Commissioners might be able to attend the meeting.
law enforcement memorial service
Commr. Campione shared that she had attended the Law Enforcement Memorial Service the previous week, and opined that Commissioner Parks did a wonderful job representing the Board, that Representative Truenow had done a great job as the speaker, and that the Lake County Sheriff’s Office had organized an event which allowed the community to show their appreciation for law enforcement.
eustis city commission meeting
Commr. Campione mentioned that she had attended the Eustis City Commission meeting the previous week, noting that Ms. Marsh was also present, and relayed that the Commission did hear the annexation case and decided to postpone it for 30 days, noting that two Commissioners were in favor of having it denied in order to allow the County and the City to continue working on joint planning. She also relayed that Eustis Mayor Michael Holland was frustrated and when it was not denied, he said that he would resign from being the negotiator with Commissioner Parks. She remarked that the BCC would not know where this would go until the City met again.
Commr. Parks inquired when the next face-to-face meeting with the Eustis City Commission was.
Ms. Marsh responded that they did not have a meeting scheduled because the Mayor was going to bring that up at their meeting and get direction on whether they wanted to have a joint meeting or continue the workgroup meetings. She explained that discussion did not happen after that agenda item took place. She relayed that the City Commission met again the following Thursday and that appointing a new liaison was supposed to be on their agenda, noting that at that point, the BCC would figure out if they were going to continue workgroup meetings or how they might want to proceed.
Commr. Parks assumed that the BCC wanted to continue to do that, and that they would wait to schedule until after the next week.
Commr. Campione thought Commissioner Parks was making incredible progress, and that having the planner who worked on the City of Groveland’s plan was brilliant to at least put forward something that could be reviewed in order to see how it might potentially work in a situation such as this, which was rural, semi-rural and transitioning. She encouraged the Board to stay positive as they waited to see what happened next.
Ms. Marsh mentioned that the City Commission also had some Comp Plan amendments on their last agenda which would remove the rural designation, noting that they postponed that item until the next week as their planner was unavailable for that meeting. She stated this would be coming up the next week.
Commr. Campione indicated that she would not be able to attend the following week. She opined that was pretty monumental as the City was literally taking the rural land use out of their Comp Plan and were taking the joint planning area map out; therefore, the only things still in place to attempt to address some of these issues were being removed. She opined that without having something to take its place, it was bad timing.
Ms. Marsh relayed that she was not planning to attend that meeting either since it was not related to the annexation; however, she would go if that was the Board’s direction.
Commr. Parks said that would be great if she could go, or possibly if Mr. Rosen could attend.
Commr. Campione inquired if they would ask Ms. Marsh or Mr. Rosen to make the point that the BCC was asking for the City not to proceed with these changes until they had a chance to go through this planning process and hopefully come up with something that would replace those provisions. She said that their goal was joint planning; therefore, if they were taking the old map out, then it would be important to have a new map or plan to put in its place. She asked if the Board was in agreement that this was the position they would want articulated. She opined that the County had shown that they were committed, that Commissioner Parks had attended the workgroup meetings, and that there had not really been any delay until what just happened.
Commr. Parks agreed that he would want the City to wait in order to let the planning process continue. He relayed that he would miss meeting with Mayor Holland, and that he would make the time to meet with whoever might be replacing the Mayor in this situation in order to keep the process going. He said that they had been making good progress.
resolution honoring dr. diane culpepper
Commr. Campione asked for the Board to draft a resolution honoring Dr. Diane Culpepper, Executive Director for Lake Technical College, for all her contributions and service to the community, since Dr. Culpepper would be retiring.
Commr. Parks opined that was a great idea.
Ms. Marsh said that staff would bring that to the next BCC meeting.
commissioner parks – chairman and district 2
District 1 Bcc meeting
Commr. Parks commented that he thought the BCC meeting held in District 1 went well, showed the citizens that the BCC was listening to their concerns, and that they had learned much from the meeting.
federal legislation funding
Commr. Parks stressed the importance of the decisions that the Board would make regarding the Federal Legislation funding discussed previously in the meeting. He remarked that it would involve intergovernmental coordination, daily communication, and the development of a plan on how to administer it. He indicated that he and Mr. Rosen had discussed a plan and process on how to roll this out and to keep the Board informed.
Mr. Rosen commented that there was a longer period of time to spend the funding than the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; therefore, there would be more time to think though it and to ensure they were doing it correctly.
Commr. Parks encouraged getting ahead of it since the entire country would be doing it too.
Commr. Parks mentioned the Liberty Tree in the City of Boston and its importance in history, and suggested that the Board consider planting their own liberty tree for Lake County, noting that the Cherry Lake Tree Farm had offered to donate a tree for this purpose. He asked for the Commissioners to draft a proclamation honoring the nation.
Commr. Campione thought the focus should be on liberty and what it meant.
Commr. Parks said he would work with Ms. Marsh, and that each Commissioner could provide the whereas statements for the proclamation so that it was reflective of all their views, love for the country, and encouraging residents to love the country too. He relayed his desire to do this around June 25 or 28, 2021 right before Independence Day.
tourist development taxes
Commr. Parks requested that the County Attorney write a letter to the Attorney General (AG) requesting the opinion on the use of tourist development taxes for feasibility studies, design or engineering costs. He recalled the question regarding whether TDT could be used for a project development and environment study (PD&E), noting that the feasibility studies and even construction was something that was legislatively not able to be answered. He indicated that there were other county attorneys who felt that feasibility studies and PD&Es could be used, and some believed that was not the case; therefore, in order to obtain some clarity on this, he thought that a request for an opinion could go to the Attorney General. He remarked that if that was the case, then they would know for the next year that legislatively it had to be taken care of if it was; furthermore, if it was something that they were able to use TDT funding on, then they would have the clearance to do so and would not have to worry about being challenged.
Commr. Campione inquired that whatever would be constructed would be something that would definitely fit under a use that was permissible; furthermore, the question was whether the PD&E could be paid for. She asked how this would be different, and gave the example that if they were to build a rowing center or a volleyball court and it had to be designed, did they also pay for the design, architecture, site plan, etc. through this.
Ms. Marsh explained that what happened was that back in 2018 when the legislature passed that provision that if a County received more than $10 million in TDT, then the County could use the money for infrastructure, was that when they adopted that language, they added that it could be used for design, engineering and professional studies. She elaborated that those three phrases were not anywhere else in that statute as the rest of the statute said it could be used for construction, renovation, and maintenance; additionally, when they adopted this, it gave the impression that when looking at standard statutory construction rules, that because they added it to a new section, it was not permitted to begin with otherwise why did they need to add that language. She remarked that it was called into question whether an entity could use it for design or engineering if it was a County that did not fall under the $10 million a year in TDT revenue. She said that was what they were trying to get fixed in this legislative session and the proposal the County sent to the FAC and which FAC attempted to move forward with; however, there was some resistance in the legislature about doing that because some county attorneys believed that it was implied. She opined that one cannot typically imply when a statute specifically tells one what to do with it. She said that was why it did not move through the legislature. She relayed that the thought process was that if they submitted a request to the AG and the AG said that it was implied and the legislature did not change it when they adopted this provision in 2018, then everyone goes about their business and uses it in that manner. She commented that if the AG comes back and says that it can only be used for construction, which is not design and engineering otherwise why do those words have to be added, then the County could use that the following year as a basis to try and again clarify the statute that use is allowed for everybody and not just Counties that earn $10 million or more. She stated it was up to the Board, they did not have to apply for the AG’s opinion, and it was merely an idea since they could not get anywhere with the legislature this current year and it might give the BCC flexibility if it came back in their favor, to go ahead and use that money for design and engineering of trails which had been a priority of the Board. She indicated that if the Board approved this item, it would be a formal submittal to the AG.
Commr. Parks thought the Board would not lose on this as it would either help them the following year or would clear it up right away. He remarked that they would ask about the construction too in order to clarify that TDT could be used for construction of a trail as well.
Ms. Marsh stated that was already a permissible use.
On a motion by Commr. Smith, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved authorizing the County Attorney to seek an Attorney General's opinion on the use of Tourist Development Taxes for feasibility studies, design or engineering costs.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.
SEAN PARKS, chairman
GARY J COONEY, CLERK