A special MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
may 26, 2021
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special session on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 9:00 a.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 Managers Office; Kristy Mullane, Chief Financial Officer; and Kathleen Bregel, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Commr. Parks welcomed everyone to the meeting and stated that it would be held in person as well as online virtually and that since it was a workshop there would be no public comment that day. He indicated that the Pledge of Allegiance would be led by Mr. Dave Burgess, who was the Facilities Manager over contracts in the Office of Facilities Management and had worked for Lake County since November 2015. He remarked that Mr. Burgess had served in the United States Air Force from August 1975 to September 1998 and had been assigned to the Civil Engineering squadrons in Oklahoma, Washington State, Florida, Utah, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. He explained that during his time in the Air Force, he had been deployed for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in which he had the opportunity to build a base from scratch and maintain it with people from around the world. He indicated that Mr. Burgess had always been extremely blessed to always come home to his family and that he was still married to his wife after 43 years. He then thanked Mr. Burgess for his service.
Pastor Bobby Rowe, Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for North Lake County, gave the invocation, and Mr. Burgess led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Alan Rosen, County Manager, stated there were no updates, but wanted to remind the presenters that they needed to be finished in Chambers by 2:30 p.m. for the Lake County Water Authority meeting.
Commr. Parks expressed that his thoughts and prayers were with the families of the victims of the helicopter crash that occurred the afternoon before in the City of Leesburg.
Mr. Tom Allen, Director for the Office of Building Services, stated that the presentation would include an overview, organizational chart, individual divisions within their office, accomplishments, efficiencies, highlights, benchmarks, and the proposed budget. He explained that permitting ensured that building permits had the information required by state and local laws and ordinances; plans review ensured that construction plans were reviewed by State Certified Plans Examiners certifying that the plans were accurate to ensure the safety and stability of the structure; inspections were performed by State Certified Inspectors who ensured that the construction was according to plans; fire prevention ensured that there was Fire Code compliance for new construction through plan review and inspections of construction and fire systems, noting that although it was under the authority of the Fire Chief, the process was streamlined because they worked together during the plan review and also had three field inspectors who were fire inspectors; license investigations were for mediating consumer complaints and checking licenses/insurance to ensure that individuals were compliant; special master hearings were coordinated by their office to hear cases involving issues with property owners in Lake County; Board of Building Examiners were also coordinated by their office to hear cases involving licensed and unlicensed contractors in Lake County; and contractor licensing helped to maintain and verify the licenses and insurance for qualified contractors to obtain permits within Lake County. He displayed an organizational chart showing 47 full time employees (FTE) and three part time employees for a total of 50 employees, noting that they were proposing to add two interns as well. He then listed the following accomplishments for their office as follows: they served 15,315 walk-in customers; had 59,417 phone calls; issued 14,081 permits; reviewed 8,449 plans for code compliance, noting that small projects were done within three days, residential projects were done within 3-7 days, and commercial projects were done within 7-14 days; had 795 inspections and 2,362 plan reviews for fire prevention for new construction; license investigators processed 1,412 action orders last year with 833 being code cases for 62 unlicensed contractors and 87 unsafe structures; and their inspectors passed seven licensing exams, the plans examiners passed five licensing exams, and three permit technicians obtained International Code Council (ICC) Certifications. He shared that some of their efficiencies included instituting over the counter permitting and plan review to quickly move small projects through the permitting process; instituted the Online Plan Review System (OPRS) which was a fully integrated online permitting, plan review and permit issuance software that was rolled out on March 23, 2020, just in time for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, allowing the permitting process to continue and that about 60 percent of the permits came through that system; instituted auto-issue permits for residential reroof and HVAC change out permits for contractors, noting that they still had to do inspections for approval, they added window and door replacement permits to that, and planned on adding residential plumbing and electrical permits for service change outs later that year; furthermore, they had received a lot of good feedback on it from contractors because they could get permits 24/7; and lastly, inspections could be scheduled until 4:00 a.m. of the business day of the inspection. He then discussed their highlights, stating that they met every other month with their community partners, such as the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Lake-Sumter and noted that they had a very good relationship with them and started meeting again in January 2021, and the Commercial Contractors Association (CCA), noting that they restarted their meetings and that he looked forward to providing them updates on how everything was going. He indicated that they were members of iBuild Central Florida, which was a group of manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, and educators that were trying to promote careers in the construction industry, adding that they were looking at internships and apprenticeships to attract people into this industry since there was a lack of skilled labor. He mentioned that it was self-serving because that was where they went to get plans examiners and inspectors. He related that he was also on the Lake County High School Drafting Advisory Board where he gave advice about drafting programs at the high schools in Lake County. He showed several benchmark graphs comparing Lake County to surrounding counties and cities for fiscal year (FY) 2020 and noted that they had dropped Orange County from their benchmarks because their numbers and volume were not comparable to Lake County any more. He pointed out that the plans reviewed per plans examiner for Lake was 2,112 and that although they had six positions, only four of them were filled last year; additionally, they filled one of the positions this year and were still actively pursuing filling the other. He mentioned that the inspections per inspector for Lake was 5,862 with 11 positions and a Chief, and that they planned to fill a part time position. He indicated that the permits issued per permit technician for Lake was 1,173 with only eight of the 12 permit technician positions filled; however, they filled the remainder within the last month and were in the process of training them so they could hopefully pick up the pace on timelines and possibly offer additional services. He then displayed a chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget, and the percentage change between the two. He indicated that personal services increased to $3,597,698, operating expenses increased to $1,188,480, capital outlay increased to $2,957,089, and reserves decreased to $2,289,797 for a total budget of $10,033,064. He pointed out that one of the big items was the permit software replacement and explained that the permitting software they were currently using had been used for over 25 years and they wanted to replace it before the individuals who created the software retired or sold the company. He added that they had received recommendations from other municipalities and were exploring which one would be the best fit, especially since other departments such as Planning and Zoning, Code Enforcement, Solid Waste, and Public Works used the same software. He explained that their funding source was an Enterprise Fund, which meant that all of their funds came from permit fees and related fees and that they tried to maintain a healthy reserve in order to cover services in the event of a downturn of construction; furthermore, he opined that the problem with that was that although permit fees were collected upfront they sometimes had to service a job for years after the permit was obtained and that meant it could go into three budget years. He added that they were also being conservative about adding positions to their budget as they did not want to have to get rid of people due to a downturn and that they did utilize overflow contracts with plan review, but fortunately did not have to utilize them for inspections.
Commr. Shields opined that in his own personal experience he thought the permitting and inspection process was great. He then mentioned that he had asked a commercial contractor about the reason why new buildings were being built across from dilapidated buildings instead of fixing those up, and that the contractor remarked that it was most likely because the building was not up to code and would be too expensive to bring it up to code. He then asked if staff was doing anything to solve that issue and help get those buildings refurbished.
Mr. Allen explained that the Florida Building Code had an existing building volume which was designed for being able to renovate an existing building and not have to bring it entirely up to new code; additionally, it mostly focused on life safety and accessibility, but that there were a lot of options in there for redesigning a building so it could be reutilized. He indicated that his office did not proactively look for those buildings because that was not their purview; however, he believed that economic development was always looking for opportunities.
Commr. Parks commented that he had heard that the City of Winter Garden had a lot of old, dilapidated buildings and in trying to restore the downtown area they were allowed some flexibility in getting those old buildings back up to code and not make it so impossible that any investor would just walk away.
Mr. Allen pointed out that it allowed four pathways for renovating structures which allowed a lot of flexibility, noting that the City of Mount Dora used that a lot when he used to work there as they wanted to renovate everything downtown instead of building something new. He opined that it was a very useful tool to be able to work with people on renovating a project and reuse of an existing structure.
Commr. Shields suggested educating their contractors on this, since it was a commercial contract that he had talked with.
Mr. Allen agreed, and stated that their designers were also unfamiliar since the existing building code was set in 2004 and a lot of people did not understand how to utilize it.
Mr. Rosen mentioned that the Building Services and Planning and Zoning departments already utilized a customer satisfaction survey; however, they were in the process of creating an online survey and hoped to release it by the end of that week where customers will receive an email to take a survey and there would also be a QR code in the office that the customer could take a picture of to go online to take the survey. He added that staff would be able to find out in real time how they were doing and what they needed to focus on.
Commr. Smith asked if they would provide a monthly or quarterly report with the results.
Mr. Rosen replied that the data came through Microsoft forms with graphical representation as well, so they could download that and provide it to the Board. He added that it would show the peaks, the valleys, and the main comments and that he hoped the customers would give reasons as to why they were either happy or upset.
emergency medical services
Mr. Jerry Smith, Director for the Office of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), stated that he appreciated being able to talk about their office and their staff, and then showed the outline of his presentation, noting that the benchmark counties were different because those were counties that had separate EMS offices within the county organization. He explained that their mission was to provide community based EMS throughout Lake County and that they held the only transport Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) for the county. He noted that over the past year and a half they had been able to get agreements between the interfacility providers for Orlando Health South Lake Hospital, UF Health Leesburg Hospital, and AdventHealth Waterman to take the vast majority of the interfacility transports allowing them to focus specifically on the 911 side. He stated that they had a software program that allowed them to review all of their reports electronically to ensure they had specific documentation where it needed to be, which was required by the State. He indicated that their quality assurance officer reviewed specific calls, such as cardiac, trauma, and substance alerts, to make sure the protocol was followed specifically and if they noticed any trends in those then they had a training officer establish training to correct that trend. He stated that the University of Florida medical school provided a medical director and associate directors as part of a contract between them and EMS and that the current medical director was Desmond Fitzpatrick, M.D., who he opined was very progressive in his protocols and they were very proud of that. He added that they also had contracts for advanced life support (ALS) services with the municipalities for 10 of the 11 fire departments, noting that Dr. Fitzpatrick was also the medical director for those, as well as for The Villages and Sumter County who had separate contracts. He displayed the organizational chart showing 153 FTEs, noting that they had identified early on with COVID-19 the need for a preparedness planning officer, specifically for such things as with nursing homes and group homes, and because of discussions with the hospitals, that would be managed by the Office of Emergency Management but would be provided by EMS for their technical expertise on the medical side and to continue to improve the rapport between the facilities. He related that their billing services were done by another vendor, but that they had individuals who reviewed the system especially for any issues regarding Medicare as the County would be responsible. He listed the following accomplishments for their office, noting that they expanded agreements with area EMS education programs for ride time to use as a recruiting tool; they promoted five paramedics to field training officer (FTO) positions and nine emergency medical technicians (EMT) to paramedics; their EMS system logged 7,729 completions in Target Solutions totaling 4,256 continuing education unit (CEU) hours; the county-wide average response time was 11:27 with 17 units; and for COVID-19, they performed mobile group home testing, administered vaccinations at Lake Square Mall and other pop-up sites with working with the Florida Department of Health (DOH), had partnerships with other entities to allow them to focus on the 911 side of the business, and created the Preparedness Planning Officer position. He shared that some of their efficiencies were that they relocated Station 121 to the Lake Tech location and were in the process of implementing the relocation of Station 311 to the Groveland Public Safety Complex resulting in better response times; they installed all new toughbooks, toughpads, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approved narcotic safes on all ambulances; they revised their ambulance deployment plan and altered treatment and transport protocols for operating during COVID-19 by having 17 full time units, creating an isolation alert for the hospitals, changing how they interacted with the patients, and prioritizing which treatments were given to patients. He showed several benchmark graphs comparing Lake County to various surrounding counties for FY 2020 for incidents/transports, square miles and population, and the range of EMT and paramedic hourly rate. He noted that Lake County had the highest transport percentage at 75 percent, the population utilization was at 14.5 percent with Leon County at 15 percent, which was most likely due to the fact that the majority of the residents in Leon County were either employed by the State, County or City and there was a high commercial insurance payer mix, and that Lake was the only county that needed to address the minimum wage constitutional amendment as the other four counties had a bargaining unit and the only one that was programmed to go into negotiations to discuss salaries was Manatee County.
Commr. Campione asked how he decided which counties to choose for comparison.
Mr. Smith answered that those counties had independent offices of EMS. He then continued his presentation with a budget chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget as well as the dollar amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that personal services decreased to $11,777,577, noting that they increased salaries to the mandated $10 per hour minimum wage; however, they had to make an accounting correction for the part time positions since they were placed in one part of the budget but being paid out of another part of the budget. He related that operating expenses slightly increased to $2,673,880 and pointed out that the capital outlay decreased to $2,461,955, noting that they had been working on the capital plan for the past two years and did not see the need to meet that next year; additionally, the plan was based on life span of the equipment and utilization. He indicated that the total budget was $16,913,412. He then discussed their current challenges and related that the minimum wage amendment for increasing between $10 and $15 would be effective October 1, 2021, noting that would create compression issues for current EMTs and paramedics as they needed to be competitive in the market. He added that the wage scale was set in August 2011 and at that time the EMT minimum was 22 percent above the State minimum wage, but it was now only three percent. He mentioned that they were budgeted for 136 field FTEs, but that they were currently only using 102 of those; however, they kept the additional FTEs in the budget because they needed to fill those to put more units onto the road to help with the call volume and workload that was on their staff. He also noted that they had 31 EMT and 31 paramedic vacancies, two EMTs in orientation, five EMTs and two paramedics in the hiring process, and that the Office of Fire Rescue was providing two ambulances for four months to help in the City of Fruitland Park and the Four Corners area to get caught up on staffing.
Commr. Campione asked if that payment came out of his budget, and Mr. Smith confirmed this, adding that it was a journal entry.
Mr. Smith continued the presentation with a chart displaying the proposed EMS wage scale showing the current and proposed minimum and maximum hourly rate for EMTs, paramedics, paramedic/FTO, district chief, and assistant chief and indicated that this plan was for two fiscal years and that they would have to readdress this going into FY 2024. He related that they conducted an informal market analysis and found that this currently was a good starting point to be able to move forward with being able to attract personnel to their system.
Commr. Smith asked if he thought the reason they had 31 vacancies was because the employees were leaving for higher paid positions in other counties, cities or organizations.
Mr. Smith confirmed this, adding that it was a challenge they needed to address as they usually lost employees because of pay, the workload, or other opportunities. He related that the workforce competition had changed dramatically over the years as there were urgent cares, doctors offices, stand-alone emergency rooms, and even intravenous (IV) clinics that employed EMTs and paramedics.
Commr. Smith asked how much it cost to get an EMT or paramedic trained and on the road.
Mr. Smith replied that they completed an analysis about three years ago which found that it cost $12,000 for a paramedic and $5,800 for an EMT.
Commr. Shields asked how bad the turnover had been, and Mr. Smith answered that it was horrible.
Commr. Shields encouraged him to take the opportunity to try to get ahead of this as a lot of companies were already increasing the pay to $15 an hour. He opined that he would most likely be facing that with the people he was recruiting talent from.
Commr. Parks expressed that this was a big question and it was something the BCC would need to talk about that day and within the next couple of months. He opined that from a business standpoint this was very concerning as they could not emphasize enough the issue with the way the business had changed, noting that the people being training at Lake Tech already had contracts in place before they even started.
Mr. Smith stated that another challenge they were having was the lack of interest as the EMT class for the registration ending in May 2021 at Lake Tech only had four applicants.
Commr. Parks opined that this was a code red.
Mr. Smith remarked that it definitely had their attention.
Commr. Campione mentioned that they may have already talked about this, but asked if he was looking to go into high schools to recruit.
Mr. Smith responded that they had a proposal they had been discussing with the Office of Human Resources to take to the Deputy County Manager and the County Manager about creating a program to recruit from the high schools and the general public, bring them onboard as an employee, pay them minimum wage, and then let them attend EMT school as part of their work.
Commr. Smith expressed that he could only imagine that his employees were tired with having 31 vacancies.
Mr. Smith answered that they were and remarked that he was thankful for Fire Rescue for stepping up and taking over the two ambulances, as well as volunteering to work overtime on the EMS units with their staff.
Commr. Campione commented that they were circulating through the entire organization.
Mr. Smith opined that from a managing the system point of view, he believed that it would improve their treatment and medication even when they were back on the fire truck.
Commr. Campione related that she always thought it would be a good idea to do that anyway, because even though they were paramedics they werent doing the exact same thing that the EMS paramedics were doing on a daily basis.
Mr. Smith stated that there was a different approach, because the Fire Rescue paramedics were typically only with a patient for 15 to 20 minutes, whereas the average time for EMS from being dispatched to being available was one hour meaning they had a longer patient contact time.
Commr. Campione mentioned that at the beginning of his presentation he talked about average response times and asked if that was the time for the first responder to arrive or for the ambulance to arrive.
Mr. Smith answered that that was for them to arrive and that system wide the response time was 7.5 minutes.
Commr. Campione remarked that it was so important for the public to understand that the first individual getting there was a paramedic and they were getting there in 7.5 minutes. She then asked if that was an average or the 90th percentile.
Mr. Smith replied that it was an average, adding that they were working on that with the new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system in getting it into the right format. He mentioned that it took them about a year with the previous system to get the format to where it showed the 90th percentile and would calculate correctly. He expressed that Public Safety staff and emergency dispatch was doing a great job in working with them to get the new system configured properly. He then displayed graphs showing the range of EMT and paramedic hourly rate among Lake County and surrounding counties and mentioned that the proposed increases would bring them up competitively with the other counties.
Commr. Parks commented that the figures would only be for one year.
Mr. Smith agreed, adding that this was only a temporary fix. He then discussed that the advantages of the proposed increases were to increase retention, decrease turnover costs, reduce mandatory overtime, decrease workload, improve employee morale, and reduce response times. He displayed a budget chart for option 2 showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget as well as the dollar amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that personal services would increase to $13,777,577, operating expenses would increase to $2,673,880, and capital outlay would decrease to $2,461,955, with a total budget of $18,913,412. He opined that he believed this was a viable opportunity for his office.
Commr. Smith asked what kind of affect there would be if he delayed the capital outlay plan for a year and moved those funds up to personal services.
Mr. Smith replied that he had not looked at that, but he could. He added that they could not use the penny sales tax for personal services though. He related that his concern was that they had delayed the capital plan for so long that it seemed as though they stopped moving forward and started moving backwards.
Commr. Smith stated that he understood that his employees could not work too much because they could start making mistakes from being tired and this was one department where mistakes could not be made.
Mr. Smith agreed, and pointed out that they were still making sure everyone was taking vacation time off and were still allowing swaps. He added that they had eight employees in paramedic school and required all EMTs to become a paramedic within three years of when they were first hired.
Commr. Parks asked about the location issue with the City of Clermont.
Mr. Smith responded that it was still a challenge and that they were still dealing with GatorSktch Architects & Planners to get it sent into the Lincoln Center.
Commr. Campione commented that the call volume went down significantly during COVID-19.
Mr. Smith stated that they were back up and were seeing volumes close to pre-COVID.
Commr. Campione asked if they were seeing more than before.
Mr. Smith said they were not, adding that the trade off with the interfacilities helped and gave examples that they no longer had to take a unit from the City of Leesburg to go to the City of Gainesville or did not have to take a unit from the Four Corners area up to South Lake.
public safety support
Mr. Greg Holcomb, Director for the Office of Public Safety Support, explained that his presentation would include an overview, organizational chart, accomplishments, efficiencies, challenges, benchmarks, as well as the proposed budget. He noted that they were budgeted differently from other departments as they had three funds in their organization which were EMS funds, 911 funds, and general funds. He stated that their office was responsible for the following: the oversight and management of the countywide radio system including tower sites, user repairs, radio programming, installation and maintenance; the maintenance and management of the countywide 911 services for six public safety answering points (PSAPs), which included emergency dispatch, the Lake County Sheriffs Office, and the Cities of Eustis, Groveland, Leesburg, and Mount Dora; to deliver fire and medical 911 dispatching services countywide for all county and municipal public safety agencies; to review and approve 911 addressing assignment for site plans, lot splits, and subdivision applications; to facilitate standard 911 street naming, addressing and inspections; to manage logistical support for participating public safety agencies; and to provide ambulance fleet services for the Office of EMS and Fire Rescue. He displayed their organizational chart which showed 54 total FTEs, noting that included a few part time employees. He listed their following accomplishments as follows: radio console upgrades for emergency dispatch; participation in the relocation of the new City of Groveland Public Safety Complex and allowed the citys public safety to use their facility during that transition; assisted with the City of Apopka tower co-location through an interlocal agreement with them, noting that the tower was constructed during FY 2020; successfully set up a county staging area (CSA) for receiving and distributing COVID-19 pandemic supplies, noting that they worked closely with emergency management to come up with the plan and that they converted some of their radio bays into distribution points for healthcare facilities, first responders, and municipalities; supported the COVID-19 vaccination sites by providing assistance on a daily basis, which was about 700 hours of support, and assisted with the daily logistical coordination of food, water, and supplies; integrated the countywide addressing into the 911 process with interlocal agreements with the Town of Howey in the Hills and the Cities of Montverde and Umatilla, which brought them up to 7 cities with the City of Astatula currently reviewing their agreement; and the telecommunicator furniture refresh and replacement in partnership with the Sheriffs Office was just approved by the BCC the day before, noting that the current equipment was over 20 years old and needed updating. He discussed their efficiencies, stating that the City of Apopka tower co-location was funded entirely by the City, the building and generator was repurposed and brought from another site to this one, and that the site radio equipment was something they already had. He added that his office would be bringing a contract from Motorola to the BCC in June 2021 so they could get the equipment installed and get the site back up and running.
Commr. Campione asked for clarification on whether Public Safety was operating from that tower or if only the City of Apopka was.
Mr. Holcomb answered that they were not; however, they had some interoperability through their agreements which meant they had the ability to use the City of Apopkas channels.
Commr. Campione asked if they would be operating there by June 2021, and Mr. Holcomb confirmed that that was what they were anticipating.
Mr. Holcomb continued his presentation of their efficiencies and indicated that they created a network infrastructure operations group and started a cybersecurity initiative to help with the new CAD system and with the EMS transition. He pointed out on a map the different countries that pinged their system on a daily basis and noted that they received daily reports from the United States Department of Homeland Security about different scenarios they saw as well. He mentioned that they standardized tower switches in the network and initiated monitoring to encompass the cyber security, created a storage area network (SAN) to replace old unsupportable equipment, and reduced nine data server devices. He related that they restructured staffing to enhance services and increase productivity, noting that they partnered with the Fire Department to do their logistics and in doing so they funded a logistical supervisor position for Public Safety. He stated that they integrated Fire and EMS supplies and the ordering process under one program and also instituted an electronic payroll process. He mentioned that they were doing a feasibility study for moving from their current leased building to the co-location in the City of Groveland, noting that the architectural design was almost complete and that they would be back in front of the Board before October 2021 with a price consideration on the building. He related that they worked hard on the grant process, noting that the 911 telecommunicator furniture grant for $287,915 was approved on May 20, 2021 and that the 911 addressing and GIS data support grant for $495,321 and the next generation 911 (NG911) core services grant for $383,091 were still in progress. He then discussed their challenges, indicating that the funding of obsolete Public Safety infrastructure was always a challenge because it was funded by the General Fund and it was difficult to try to create reserves dedicated to Public Safety and that they had space constraints, specifying that the building they were in was not designed to be a warehouse. He mentioned that the impacts of COVID-19 were a challenge because of the increased demands of products nationwide, noting that they relied on federal and state deliveries and were able to keep the stock running; however, the prices started ballooning and he gave the examples that the cost of gloves increased from $7.90 per box to $26.29 per box and the stretcher bottom sheets increased from $60.00 per case to $75.68 per case. He indicated that they had been able to stay within budget with the help of some grants and that they started bulk purchasing to maintain availability. He showed several benchmark graphs comparing Lake County to surrounding counties and pointed out that for address points for FY 2020 versus FY 2021, Lake County was number four in growth across the counties with about a 10,000 point increase from last year. He indicated that for radio users in service they were about the same as last year at 3,514, which was based on staffing and population. He mentioned that for the total number of 911 calls for law, fire, and medical, they were starting to climb and were almost equivalent to Seminole County which was due to the countys growth. He related that for the number of 911 calls per call taking positions they were number two just behind Orange County with only 33 positions, which was the lowest out of all the counties. He noted that for wireless versus nonwireless Lake had increased to 76.5 percent, which meant that landlines were going away. He stated that for the labor comparison of their fleet operations of ambulances for public versus private Lake was lower than the other vendors. He then displayed budget charts for the EMS fund and countywide radio showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget as well as the dollar amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that for the EMS fund, personal services decreased to $3,280,920 which was due to staffing restructure and vacancies; operating expenses increased to $3,495,273 which was mainly due to COVID-19 price increases, bulk purchasing, fleet repairs and fuel costs; capital outlay decreased to $55,000 because they only needed to replace a few fleet shop items and that the total proposed budget was $6,831,193. He related that for the countywide radio, personal services increased to $169,696 and operating expenses increased to $2,210,897 for a total budget of $2,380,593. He explained that the operating expense increase was due to an increase in Motorola costs as well as the need for replacement of some of their tower lighting systems. He added that the cost to replace those was between $35,000 and $40,000 per tower; however, they were currently looking at a program that could potentially replace all of them at no cost and provide the tower monitoring services that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required. He mentioned that there were some unfunded capital costs not included in the budget, such as microwave replacement, tower combiner replacements, air conditioning upgrades, generator replacement, and the City of Umatilla relocation to Fire Station #14. He then discussed their funding initiatives for the unfunded items, noting that they applied for an infrastructure and hardening Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) this past year for $13 million, but was not awarded; however, they were awarded $2 million through the State Legislative Appropriations for their microwave system. He added that they applied for $1 million through the Federal Legislative Appropriations as well, but they had not heard anything back yet.
Mr. Rosen commented that they put that through for their community project funding; however, none of their representatives were participating in that program.
Mr. Holcomb related that they were also looking at using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) since there was discussion about broadband in there and microwave was a broadband service, although it was dedicated service to public safety and not the general public. He concluded his presentation with a slide displaying the E911 proposed budget, noting that this funding came from the fees paid on cell phones in Lake County, which was 40 cents per month and that they were starting to see an increase due to the population increase. He related that the State 911 board might be doing some reallocations so they could see some increases there. He mentioned that personal services increased to $380,056, operating expenses decreased to $1,271,888 which reflected the 911 addressing and GIS Data Support Grant, capital outlay decreased to $111,757 due to the telecommunicator furniture refresh, grants and aids increased to $441,752 as they had some high requests from their 911 centers, and the reserves increased to $1,635,441 for a total proposed budget of $3,840,894.
Mr. Rosen mentioned that the Sheriffs Office was paying for their portion of the equipment refresh and asked if they received a grant to help with the other part of it.
Mr. Holcomb confirmed this, adding that they received the grant on May 20, 2021 and would be coming back to the Board to accept the grant. He noted that, per legislation, 911 funds could only pay for the call taking portion and could not be used for the radio components or anything associated with dispatching; therefore, they put 911 funds towards the equipment refresh and had it fully funded, but the grant would now allow them to keep that money in reserves, specifying it was an additional $287,000.
Mr. Tommy Carpenter, Director for the Office of Emergency Management, explained that they were responsible for the Lake County Emergency Operations Center (EOC); maintaining and updating the Lake County Preparedness Plans, such as the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and Local Mitigation Strategy; managing Lake Countys Emergency Notification System (AlertLake); managing and coordinating the Countys training and exercise program; managing the special needs registry; reviewing and approving healthcare emergency management plans, which included the three hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and day surgery centers; and processing and approving Lake County special events, which he believed was the only county in the State to do that. He displayed their organizational chart which showed four FTEs, noting that the Preparedness Planning Officer shared with EMS was in their office three to four times a week and was an integral part of the vaccination site at Sears. He discussed their accomplishments, noting that by utilizing Lake Countys Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP), their office coordinated with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Lake County, county offices, volunteers, municipalities, constitutional offices, and faith-based organizations to implement and maintain Lake Countys COVID-19 response which included coordinating personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution, COVID-19 testing, and vaccination of Florida residents. He indicated that they partnered with Lake Support and Emergency Recovery (LASER) to distribute face masks and hand sanitizers to schools, churches, the public, and to local businesses and that they collaborated with the DOH, the Sheriffs Office, the Lake County Tax Collector, county staff and volunteers to open the countys primary vaccination site at Sears, which to date has immunized 114,513 Florida residents. He showed their efficiencies, which included coordinating with Adult Medicine of Lake County to provide COVID-19 testing at no cost to Lake County residents, prepared a COVID-19 compliant emergency shelter plan in the event hurricane sheltering was needed, and created a COVID-19 cold weather shelter plan which was implemented eight times between November 2020 and January 2021. He showed several benchmarks graphs comparing Lake County to various surrounding counties for FY 2021 and noted that Lake County had a population of about 368,000 with four staff members and that they had 1,000 special needs population. He indicated that for Healthcare Facility Emergency Plan Annual Reviews they sat in the middle at 83 and that even though Orange County was at 200, they were about three times the size of Lake so in comparison Lake was still doing about the same number of reviews they were. He discussed the funding composition and explained that each county in the State had a minimum of three funding sources, which included the general fund and a state and federal grant, noting that each county received the same amount of money for the state grant, but the federal grant was based on population. He pointed out that the graph showed that Lake County was almost equal in funding with the general fund versus the grants, adding that they have worked very hard to maintain those grants while still providing the best COVID-19 response that they could and that they maintained them right along with the larger counties that had more funding. He concluded his presentation with a chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget as well as the dollar amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that personal services decreased to $342,099 due to some turnover, which he mentioned was normal to see about every year and a half to two years; operating expenses increased to $64,639 to align their budget to what they were actually spending; grants and aids stayed the same at $60,000, noting that this was the third year that they provided LASER this annual amount and that this funding allowed LASER to remain active and ready for weather emergencies and opined that they did a phenomenal job; and that the total proposed budget was $466,738.
Commr. Parks commended Mr. Carpenter and his office for doing all that they did even with a budget decrease and with COVID-19, noting that they were spending the same amount as Sumter County, but with their diligence they received all the grants. He expressed that he was fully supportive of LASER in whatever they needed and that he appreciated what they were currently doing with the faith based initiative with the vaccines.
Mr. Fred Schneider, Assistant County Manager, explained that the Public Works Department included engineering, construction, and maintenance of roads and stormwater systems; solid waste collection and disposal; and mosquito and aquatic plant management. He displayed their organizational chart which showed 171 FTEs between the two divisions of the Operations Division and Engineering Division.
Mr. Jeff Earhart, Engineering Manager for the Office of Engineering Services, stated that engineering was first and foremost about the health, safety and welfare of the community, but it was also about making the community better. He displayed a slide showing a picture of the Sawgrass Bay Boulevard project and explained that the Engineering Division was responsible for the planning, design, permitting, bidding and construction inspection of new and improved roadways and multi-use trails; project development and environment (PD&E) studies; development plan review for county road connections; right of way use, driveway connection, road closure and haul permits; right of way acquisition, title search, appraisal and vacations; and boundary and topographic surveys. He stated that another aspect of their division was traffic operations and safety and showed a picture of the County Road (CR) 455 and Ridgewood Avenue Roundabout, noting that this was a great example of a safety project as roundabouts typically take conflicts down from about 28 conflict points to eight conflict points thus causing less fatalities. He indicated that all of those projects involved coordination with cities, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and with the community in asking what their concerns were and hopefully receiving their support in what the division was doing. He mentioned that they also designed, constructed and maintained traffic signals. He then displayed a chart showing 50 FTEs between the engineering, construction inspection, right-of-way, survey, and traffic operations departments. He showed the accomplishments for the different sections in their office and stated that the development review section looked at site plans, subdivision plans, and roadway plans, as well as quality control, and pointed out that the Citrus Grove Road project had been completed recently bringing it from two lanes to four lanes with sidewalks and an upgraded signal at US 27 and that they received about $10 million in grant funding for that project. He also noted that they solved the drainage problem on Sylvan Point Drive by designing a stormwater conveyance system. He indicated that the right of way section had served 1,147 counter customers, had eight road vacations and releases, and secured 58 deeds. He related that they were currently working with a matching funds grant from FDOT to acquire property for the Wekiva Trail near the Red Tail development in the City of Sorrento. He remarked that the survey section helped the entire community by having control points throughout the county to help developers and the cities to know where they were located; furthermore, they had surveyed 47 projects, including the Citrus Grove Road Phase 2, the Sawgrass Bay Boulevard roundabout, and the three miles of the North Lake Trail in the City of Umatilla. He mentioned that the design section did small to large projects and that they sometimes designed in house or used consultants. He indicated that the Citrus Grove Road project was done by a consultant and that they were currently working to continue that road to the northeast by the Publix and would have a bridge near the Turnpike. He noted that the construction inspection section had processed 647 right-of-way utilization permits, 825 residential driveway permits, and 52 commercial driveway permits, and had bid, inspected and constructed five projects at a total of $10,889,215. He pointed out that the Lake Saunders Outfall project in the City of Tavares was a ditch that they filled in to make it more aesthetically pleasing and that they were currently working on the pond for the CR-466A Phase 3A project in the City of Fruitland Park. He stated that the traffic operations section had maintained 226 traffic signals and 489 beacons/blinkers in the towns and cities, maintained 37,446 signs and striping on the county road network, as well as street/regulatory signage in the Cities of Clermont, Tavares, and Minneola. He mentioned that the radar speed signs at CR 561 s-curves resulted in a 47 percent reduction in off road crashes and that the CR 561 and CR 455 roundabout reduced crashes by 80 percent. He related that the traffic engineering section worked with FDOT and developed a five year transportation construction program, in which they would come back with in August 2021, and that they provided the following: Wolf Branch and Britt Roads traffic signal, Hancock Road and Greater Pines Boulevard traffic signal, Citrus Tower Boulevard and Mohawk Road traffic signal, and US 27 and Citrus Grove Road traffic signal upgrade. He mentioned that they also completed a PD&E for CR 455 and Hooks Street and were working on the Wekiva Trail Segment 5 between the Cities of Mount Dora and Tavares. He discussed their efficiencies and noted that they addressed the deficiencies with the Tax Collectors Office on Hooks Street in the City of Clermont and that they designed it in house, which saved $50,000, adding that the County was able to purchase that knowing it would be safe. He related that they performed the survey for the North Lake Trail for a $500,000 savings, they did construction inspection for the roadway resurfacing project for a $650,000 savings, and the right of way staff had negotiated the donation for Citrus Grove Road for a $3 million savings. He then displayed graphs showing benchmarks for Lake County as compared to surrounding counties and noted that they inspected about 80 percent of their signs each year and 100 percent of them on a monthly basis. He indicated that they had 226 traffic signals, 263 flashing beacons, and had 81.5 signals per technician, which he opined was a very high efficiency rate.
Commr. Parks expressed his appreciation for the great work Mr. Earhart and his office was doing and also encouraged him to continue to be as innovative as he could especially when it came to cost and trying to build trails. He added that trails were costly, particularly with right-of-way acquisitions and that there may be certain cases where they had to stray a bit from the standard and get the trail closer to the road, which saved them from a very difficult right-of-way situation. He related that he appreciated the fact that they tried to be very risk averse and tried to keep the county out of trouble; however, if there were any cost saving ideas that were outside the standard that maybe other counties were doing that were still cutting edge, he would appreciate him bringing those to the Board. He then mentioned that he and Mr. Schneider had already discussed the idea of having solar powered cross walk lighting and how that could potentially be a cheaper option.
Mr. Earhart commented that they were requiring developers to put some solar powered lighting in and that they were working innovatively on the trails and also at some of the preservation techniques for roadways.
Commr. Parks stated that he only said that in a sense of empowerment, so that he would know he was supported by going in that direction.
Commr. Campione mentioned that there was an issue with the signalization at CR 44A and Highway 19 east of the City of Eustis where traffic would stack up all the way to Trout Lake Nature Center around 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. because there was a solid median and no way to get into the left turn lane, and she asked if they had gotten anywhere with that yet.
Mr. Earhart pointed out that they monitored the traffic on a Friday, Monday and Wednesday and did not notice the traffic backing up so far that people could not get around, adding that they were still planning on monitoring it to see if the traffic continued to increase.
Commr. Campione remarked that it was unusual how it would seem fine for a while and then all of a sudden it would start happening again several days in a row.
Mr. Schneider explained that when their technician went out there to try to figure out what the problem was, they realized that there was a problem with the power coming from Duke Energy that may have caused the signal to switch to flash which then created a huge backlog and would take a while to clear once it was operating again. He related that he asked staff to look at adding a study or design for that particular intersection when they brought back the work program, because it would take some geometric improvements to make a long term improvement there; however, he believed it was fixed in the short term.
Commr. Parks asked for clarification on whether the paving of the sidewalks and trails were project based, such as they got approval and the project was completed after a short amount of time, whereas the trails could be a bigger project.
Mr. Schneider explained that most of the new roads had sidewalks and sometimes trails if they were listed in the Office of Parks and Trails Master Plan, noting that they had about 193 total miles of sidewalk. He indicated that they used sales tax funds for a sidewalk that went from Woodlea Road south to the new school in Cagan Crossings, because there were a lot of students that would be walking to that school. He related that they had done sidewalk repairs and still had some more to do, specifying that the sidewalks in Sylvan Shores in the City of Mount Dora area were built in the 1950s and were thin and that they spent a little bit of money each year for many years to repair them; furthermore, the total site repairs just in that location was about $2 million and they had already expended $1.5 million.
Commr. Parks asked if they hired a contractor to come in per project or did they hire a contractor for a whole year to do nothing but sidewalk repairs.
Mr. Schneider responded that the new sidewalks were contracted out on their continuing contract, noting that it was more of a funding issue because the funding came from sales tax and that was split between resurfacing, sidewalks, and traffic signals. He indicated that they had about seven or eight new sidewalks in the program coming in September 2021 that FDOT was helping to fund for construction two years out and that most of them were school related, such as the area of CR 44 up to Eustis Middle School in the City of Eustis.
Commr. Campione stated that she thought they had started out as Safe Routes to School grants.
Mr. Schneider commented that they would see that a lot of the sidewalks were grant funded when they brought back the road program.
Commr. Campione commended their office for their work on the Sylvan Shores drainage issue, stating that it had been an issue for many years but it seemed insurmountable. She added that it finally hit critical mass, because the lake was high, the water table was high, there was nowhere for the water to go, and the septic tanks were failing. She related that they had several community meetings at the EOC and that that was one of those problem solving situations.
Mr. Schneider commented that the Engineering division got creative and found a way to get it done, adding that it was one of their projects to be proud of. He mentioned that it was not a good situation when he first saw it, but they took care of it.
Commr. Parks expressed that they did a great job on that project and that they handled themselves very well in public meetings addressing concerns of residents.
Mr. Nick McRay, Operations Manager for the Office of Public Works, explained that the Operations Division was responsible for the maintenance of the roadways, rights-of-way, and drainage systems contained in the County maintained road network; provided for the planning, design, and construction of water quality related stormwater improvements; protected public health through effective and environmentally safe methods of mosquito and aquatic plant control; and provided the Solid Waste collection and disposal programs, hazardous waste collection, and partnered with local law enforcement for the collection of unwanted prescription medication. He displayed their organizational chart which showed 120 FTEs. He discussed the accomplishments for the different sections in their office and noted that solid waste provided collection and disposal services to 73,074 unincorporated residential units and disposed of 64,790 tons of trash, processed 19,278 tons of recyclable materials, and mulched 37,121 tons of yard waste in FY 2020. He then showed a chart listing the residential service by convenience center and mentioned that they continued to be a popular amenity and that they were funded through the general fund; furthermore, the visits to the central facility and the loghouse were very high and remained high even during COVID-19. He stated that mosquito control responded to 4,922 biting mosquito and 479 aquatic midge resident service requests and that of those over 1,700 came through an online request portal that was created in 2019. He indicated that they also had AlertLake to make the residents aware of when mosquito spraying would take place, specifying that they had over 2,000 subscribers in that system. He related that aquatic plant management treated 5,260 acres of invasive plants with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), including 4,247 acres of hydrilla, and that they were in the 9th year of a 10 year contract with FWC to manage plant growth in the major lakes. He mentioned that road operations maintained 1,396 miles of county road inventory, which included mowing through in-house and contract efforts of 1,074 miles of right-of-way and that through those efforts they also collected 820 tons of litter from the right-of-way, including vegetative, household, and tires. He stated that they handled 2,735 maintenance requests that turned into over 2,000 work orders and that they were able to coordinate with engineering and construction inspection to contract 40 miles of roadway resurfacing with 35 miles of resurfacing scheduled for this fiscal year. He indicated that stormwater completed the Lake Joanna Nutrient Study in partnership with Lake County Water Authority (LCWA) and they were able to leverage $20,000 county spend matched by $32,000 LCWA funds to complete that study. He noted that the recommendations from that study for phase 1 baffle box was being funded this year and was in the design phase and that they were successful in leveraging their construction dollars to secure an LCWA grant for 50 percent of those dollars. He added that they just received word of a St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) cost share award for that same program. He mentioned that they were underway with a flood study of the lower Palatlakaha River in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers and that they anticipated completing it this fiscal year and were programming in funds next fiscal year for whatever recommendations came from that study. He stated that the water lab continued to see a diversification of the customer base beyond the Lake County departments that included outside customers such as the Cities of Tavares, Eustis, Leesburg, and Clermont. He added that they provided contracts for assisting the Lake County Health Department for testing water samples they received as well. He indicated that the Keep Lake Beautiful program was able to continue during COVID-19 by adapting their clean up protocols in compliance with the COVID-19 guidance at the time. He noted that they created a self-directed cleanup program with online registration that had over 320 volunteer hours collecting over 11 tons of litter and tires. He added that the Keep Lake Beautiful program also acted as the coordinating entity for their fertilizer awareness campaign that included radio commercials, billboards, and commercial tv ads. He then discussed the efficiencies for the different divisions in their office and noted that solid waste replaced two roll-off trucks and a claw truck and they cross trained staff to allow for sufficient coverage of operations. He indicated that mosquito control partnered with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Florida Medical Entomology Lab to test chemical resistance in area mosquitoes, adding that staff collected the mosquito egg rafts and then sent them to the lab in the City of Vero Beach to have them analyzed. He related that they also made adjustments to their chemical applications in product rotation so that they could prevent the development of chemical resistance in the targeted species. He stated that aquatic plant management continued to collaborate with FWC and UF/IFAS to learn about different chemical combinations that helped to eliminate non target plant kills while treating invasive plants and that they also upgraded their GPS tracking technology for more precise treatment areas. He mentioned that road operations continued to leverage in-house and contract forces for maximum effectiveness and efficiency, noting that they rebid the road resurfacing and saved over $200,000 and that they outsourced 49 percent of their services, such as mowing, tree trimming, pavement and base repairs, and drainage repairs. He related that stormwater continued to integrate the Keep Lake Beautiful program, the Adopt-a-Lake, and stormwater outreach efforts together under one umbrella to provide citizens the opportunities to participate in environmental programs and that they had been very successful in leveraging program funds with grants and making those capital dollars go further. He then displayed graphs showing benchmarks for Lake County as compared to surrounding counties and indicated that the solid waste assessment for Lake County was a $190 average for the three zones for the once a week service and that the mosquito expenditure per capita was $2.63, which was right in the middle, noting that Volusia County was so high because they had self-taxing mosquito control districts and that Marion County had a $20,000 contract for mosquito control services. He mentioned that Lake County was at $1.07 for the aquatic expenditures per capita, which was the lowest out of the counties.
Commr. Campione asked if they were being efficient or were they not doing all that they should do.
Mr. McRay responded that they were being efficient and creative in their application of funds as they had a great partnership with FWC which was where the majority of those funds came from.
Commr. Campione stated that it would be interesting to drill down on that and see the amount of square miles they had on their lakes.
Commr. Smith asked if the LCWA participated in that program with the County.
Mr. McRay replied that one year they had made a one time commitment for hydrilla funding.
Commr. Campione mentioned that that was when they had an emergency situation.
Mr. McRay confirmed it was an issue in the Harris Chain.
Commr. Campione related that they used some Tourist Development Council (TDC) money too for the hydrilla spraying to address the problem in Lake Harris.
Mr. McRay continued his presentation, noting that Lake County had 1,286 miles of paved road miles maintained, which was right in the middle as compared to the other counties, and that they were at 110 miles for unpaved road miles maintained. He indicated that the stormwater expenditures per capita was at $1.99 and explained that the stormwater budget included a significant carry forward from when the municipal service taxing unit (MSTU) was split differently and that was being leveraged into the capital programs; furthermore, the actual MSTU that was allocated annually to the program budget was $730,000.
Commr. Campione asked if the stormwater expenditures per capita were only for the unincorporated county, and Mr. McRay confirmed this.
Commr. Campione commented that she wondered if the other counties expenditures were countywide.
Mr. McRay answered that some of the others were countywide, particularly Seminole County, had comingled their gas tax and other dollars in their road program funding.
Commr. Campione opined that it seemed this was an area where they had needs that were not being met because they did not have funds available, adding that they needed to be looking at this more closely.
Commr. Parks commented that maybe the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) could help with this.
Commr. Campione related that there were flooding issues but it was mainly about water quality and how those projects impacted their lakes and water quality.
Mr. Rosen mentioned that he was not sure if any of the cities did this, but there were some cities and counties that had a stormwater fee similar to a fire service fee, so there were different ways to fund this.
Commr. Campione stated that she thought municipalities could only have a stormwater utility and that by law she was unsure whether counties could do that or not, adding that municipalities just put that on their water bills.
Mr. Rosen indicated that by law they could put it on the monthly utility bill or could put it on the tax bill like the fire service fee.
Commr. Campione suggested creating a location and draw the utility boundaries to address the stormwater needs in that particular area.
Commr. Parks commented that it could be like a municipal services benefit unit (MSBU).
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, stated that for the purposes of the Board they would need to create some type of MSTU or MSBU in a defined geographic area, adding that they needed to keep in mind that they currently had a MSTU in place for stormwater, roads, and parks so they would need to make adjustments to that.
Commr. Campione mentioned that most municipalities did not do it as a tax on the tax bill, so it was not going to their particular millage and that was probably the reason they did it as a utility. She related that she knew of places that had used it to fund capital improvements where they bond off of it and in some areas it was their primary way of funding stormwater needs.
Mr. McRay continued his presentation with their challenges, noting that the maintenance of clay roads continued to be a challenge for their office and that it cost more per mile to maintain them as compared to paved roads; furthermore, the source of the clay and the ability to continue providing that on an ongoing basis was also a concern. He indicated that non-maintained roads were a challenge, especially in rural areas with older platted roads that were not accepted for maintenance as they were seeing increased maintenance calls on those roadways. He added that in FY 2020 they spent over $275,000 on non-maintained roads. He mentioned that they continued to spend down the reserves for the solid waste assessment and that they would be bringing a recommendation in FY 2023 to address the shortfalls. He noted that there would be an update to the Ocklawaha basin management action plan (BMAP) to include an allocation for septic tank loads to the county for the five priority water bodies, which included Lakes Yale, Harris, Trout, Carlton, and Palatlakaha. He related that it would be in addition to their allocations of stormwater load, which they were already working on and that the unincorporated Lake Harris area was a significant load; however, they could address that with either a next generation septic program or they could overachieve in their stormwater improvements. He added that those water bodies had already been identified as not meeting their total maximum daily load (TMDL) by 2022.
Commr. Parks stated that the BMAP process and meeting the TMDLs was a requirement by State statute and not just something the County voluntarily did, adding that that was a challenge they would need to address.
Commr. Campione asked how it was enforced and whether the County could get fined.
Mr. McRay answered that the BMAP implementation was through Florida Statute and was tied to their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to operate the Countys stormwater system; therefore, compliance was imperative as they were audited annually, submitted reports biannually, and were visited every five years by the NPDES program monitor out of the City of Tallahassee.
Commr. Campione commented that they would have to do more research regarding the lakes previously mentioned that would show the extent of the issues or that the nutrient loading was a result of the septic systems and what percentage were septic. She opined that from a return on investment standpoint it was better to increase the stormwater efforts.
Commr. Parks related that it was a pounds per removal analysis.
Mr. McRay clarified that it was done on a case by case basis and that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) created allocations by drawing a line 660 feet away from the shoreline of those lakes and then used the Department of Healths recent mapping of septic systems. He related that they would have to do an analysis to see what the cost tradeoffs were, see if there were direct discharges still existing for stormwater that could be cost effective, and whether they could partner with city utility service boundaries to help facilitate bringing those onto city sewer. He added that they could also look at the springs priority focus area qualified septic systems, which was the next generation septic systems, that were developed for compliance with the concern for springs; however, they were standalone septic systems with high nutrient reduction deficiencies and not a utility.
Commr. Campione asked if they could get grants to help as they could not require people to change those out.
Mr. McRay responded that the first focus of SJRWMD and DEP has been the springs concern, so they have made funds available for agencies that were in a springs priority focus area, such as the Cities of Apopka and Ocala, as well as Marion County with Silver Springs. He indicated that they had discussions and raised questions about grant opportunities for surface water bodies since they would be seeing those allocations and they have verbally been told that these agencies were considering making cost shares available to local jurisdictions.
Commr. Campione asked if Public Works had the man power for this as it would be very time consuming work; additionally, she was concerned about getting in front of it and making sure they were positioning themselves to try to get any type of grants to meet those requirements and to know exactly the best route to go. She opined that this was something they really needed to look at.
Mr. Rosen opined that was a good point, noting that they may be able to use some of their dollars on sewer to where they could provide a grant to the businesses or homeowners where the county was requesting or requiring next generation septic, explaining that if they swapped out their septic the County would pay the difference of what the cost would have been if they had put in another septic system. He also noted that there was no centralized grants division in the County and that every department would look for grants when they had time, but it took away from their ability to do other things. He related that he wanted to create a grants division within the Budget Division to centralize that work and it would have two positions, noting that they just added one position and that employee started the other day with most of their salary being paid by the ARPA dollars since they would be helping to manage that. He mentioned that he wanted to add an additional position that would hopefully pay for itself where that employee would spend their time helping the departments look for grant opportunities they may have never been aware of to help make their dollars go farther.
Mr. McRay continued his presentation displaying a graph for the gas tax revenue trend and pointed out that the fund balance and recommended fund balance was coming closer due to the decline in revenues and spending fund balance. He then displayed a chart for the gas tax fund showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that personal services had increased to $7,568,273, operating expenses had decreased to $7,057,321, capital outlay had decreased to $267,360, grants and aids stayed the same at $815,000, administrative costs/transfers decreased to $657,728, and reserves had decreased to $253,158 due to the recent capital outlay for the Challenger and Lenze Special Assessment, for a total budget of $16,618,840. He displayed a graph for the stormwater MSTU revenue and noted that they had some carry forward from when the MSTU was split differently between the parks and roads and that they currently received 12 percent of that for stormwater; additionally, they had some capital projects planned that would continue to draw down that fund balance. He then displayed charts for the remaining funds for their office showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that for the stormwater MSTU personal services had increased to $370,983, operating expenses had decreased to $128,133, capital outlay had decreased to $1,492,386, administrative costs/transfers had increased to $61,501, and the reserves had decreased to $0 for a total budget of $2,053,003. He noted that for the general fund, which covered the laboratory, mosquito control, aquatic plant management, and the Astatula fuel remediation, personal services had decreased to $896,080 due to an employees retirement and replacement with new employees at a lower salary, operating expenses decreased to $1,007,040, and capital outlay had increased to $126,000 because they were including a need for an airboat and trailer for the aquatics program and a discrete analyzer and hydrolab field meter for the water resources lab. He noted that the total budget was $2,029,120. He mentioned that for solid waste personal services had increased to $1,764,705 due to merit based raises, operating expenses increased to $16,460,697, capital outlay increased to $339,986 for the Phase III cell closure, grants and aids and administrative costs/transfers had increased to $1,134,219, and reserves had decreased to $1,454,880 for a total budget of $21,154,487.
Commr. Parks thanked Mr. McRay and stated that he looked forward to hearing his input on the distributed wastewater treatment systems (DWTS) that they discussed at the meeting the day before and about a solution for septic systems and sewage. He then asked if he would be doing the fertilizer video again this year as he did a good job on that last year.
Mr. McRay replied that he would be doing the fall season video.
Mr. Rosen commented that one of the slides mentioned there were about 60 FTEs in road operations, and asked if he knew how many vacancies they currently had.
Mr. McRay answered that they had between 14 and 17.
Mr. Rosen asked if he knew what the minimum pay was for a road operations employee.
Mr. Jim Kovacs, Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, answered that it was $10.87 an hour.
Ms. Marissabelle Tighe, Director of the Office of Veterans Services, explained that the Lake County Veterans Services office was organized in 1945 per Florida Statutes and that Lake County was home to over 40,000 veteran families. She indicated that their office educated and assisted current and former military members and dependents in successfully obtaining benefits available by county, state and federal laws, which included disability compensation, veterans pension, survivors pension, education, home loans, burial, and healthcare. She displayed an organizational chart showing three FTEs, noting that the Office Associate position was currently vacant. She pointed out that their accomplishments included the following: 9,000 interactions logged, wait time for appointments decreased by 50 percent, their newly hired Veterans Service Officer (VSO) would be attending training certification in June 2021, all claims documentation was digitally uploaded to the Veterans Administration (VA) system, the VA allocated $303 million in benefits to veterans in Lake County, and 2,600 VA claims had been submitted. She explained that their efficiencies included implementing the VETPRO software in December 2020, which allowed them to submit applications electronically and remotely; they transitioned from live appointments during COVID-19 to virtual visits with secure software and shareware in compliance with privacy act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) policies; they reduced appointment wait times by 50 percent by briefing clients prior to their appointments; and created informative flyers with frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the process of numerous types of claims and benefits. She then displayed slides showing benchmarks for Lake County as compared to surrounding counties and pointed out that the data was based on FY 2019. She noted that the veteran population for Lake County was 33,358 and that those numbers did not include dependents or surviving spouses. She stated that there were 11,119 veterans per VSO and that the biggest impact on those numbers were due to the VA taking away the VSOs that were at the clinics in the Cities of Clermont and Tavares after COVID-19; furthermore, she did not foresee them returning due to the issues with the space and walk-in traffic. She related that they had a six week wait time and were one of the highest as compared to the surrounding counties, which had to do with the lack of VSOs as there were only two for the entire county. She opined that the wait time was unacceptable and that it was difficult to meet the deadlines for the VA claims with such a long wait time. She displayed a chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. She indicated that personal services increased to $172,959 and the operating expenses increased to $18,654, which was due to the implementation of the new software and annual certification costs, for a total budget of $191,613. She discussed their current challenges, noting that they had a part-time position available for an Office Associate, but it was currently vacant, and that they lacked customer service representation and had extended wait times to see the VSOs. She then pointed out their proposed solutions for enhanced level of service and stated that option 1 would add a full time Office Associate and option 2 would add a full time Office Associate and an Assistant VSO. She noted that adding these two positions would reduce the wait time by adding another 1,040 appointments per year and that when they were fully staffed with three VSOs they had about a four week wait time; furthermore, she was anticipating that adding another VSO would allow for only a two week wait time. She then displayed charts showing options 1 and 2 for the FY 2021 adopted budget, FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. She noted that for option 1, personal services would increase to $196,667 and operating expenses would increase to $18,654 for a total budget of $215,321. She indicated that for option 2, personal services would increase to $245,343 and operating expenses would increase to $18,654 for a total budget of $263,997.
Ms. Nicole DeYarman, Interim Director for the Office of Housing Services, explained that the Office of Housing Services strived to improve the quality of life for residents by providing affordable housing opportunities and that the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, was the federal government's program for assisting low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly afford housing. She noted that participants could choose housing that met the requirements of the program and receive housing vouchers to help with their rental costs. She related that the Section 8 program had been active in Lake County since the early 1990s and that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Section 8 vouchers to Lake County every year along with a maximum amount that could be spent on those vouchers. She added that it was their responsibility to use as many vouchers as their awarded dollar amount would allow while meeting all program requirements. She displayed the organizational chart which showed 8 FTEs. She discussed their accomplishments, noting that they modified systems, processes and procedures, and staffing hours to allow for social distancing requirements while maintaining uninterrupted and flexible service for both clients and landlords in response to COVID-19. She related that those changes allowed for remote processing of changes and immediate response to losses of income and that they were able to effectively operate the program with no delayed payments to landlords while sustaining accurate and timely reporting to HUD. She pointed out that in 2020 their office partnered with over 230 landlords to assist over 600 families with $4.9 million in Section 8 rental assistance for Lake County residents, with $3.8 million through awarded grants from HUD and $1.1 million through the portability component of Section 8 which allowed voucher holders from other jurisdictions to move to Lake County with continued assistance from the initial jurisdiction. She related that their efficiencies included a self-service area which was developed to provide clients and landlords access to resources and staff to facilitate timely processing of paperwork while maintaining social distancing; a virtual workflow was created allowing staff to process interim and annual changes remotely enabling staff to effectively serve the community through a remote location; drop boxes were installed outside and inside the lobby which provided further flexibility for the clients and landlords; and a remote inspection process was implemented to allow continued service during the pandemic. She then displayed charts showing benchmarks for Lake County as compared to the surrounding counties for vouchers per capita and housing assistance per capita. She noted that it was difficult to compare counties as each county did not have a countywide housing choice voucher program and that the other counties had a combination of countywide agencies, county and city agencies, and strictly city agencies, specifying that Sumter County did not have a housing agency at all; Osceola, Seminole, Lake, and Marion Counties all had one; Polk County had four; Orange County had two; and Volusia County had five. She related that at 485 vouchers Lake County was considered a small agency. She displayed a chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. She indicated that personal services increased to $382,490, operating expenses decreased to $85,639 due to the requirement to spend the CARES Act administrative fees before the end of FY 2021, grants and aids increased to $3,899,632, and reserves decreased to $542,440 due to the increased demand from COVID-19 to better serve the clients for a total budget of $4,910,201.
Ms. Rene Bass, Human Services Coordinator for the Office of Community Services, explained that the Office of Community Services served as the link between government and the community working with numerous partners to improve the quality of life to Lake County residents in need of assistance ranging from housing to health and that many of the programs were covered under Lake County Policy LCC-49 General Assistance. She displayed an organizational chart showing 8 FTEs. She indicated that they covered various mandated programs as required by Florida Statutes from mental health including the Baker Act and public health, as well as indigent cremation. She noted that they oversaw two restricted trust funds that collected money through fines and fees and that they covered the non-ad valorem tax hardship programs for eligible residents and the We Care contract that assisted with medically indigent residents, and offered services to children and elders. She related that they were currently developing a program to address homelessness in Lake County and also offered an affordable housing waiver program, which encouraged the provision of housing for individuals and developments. She indicated that they received their first funding for the CDBG/Home program in 2000, noting that 15 percent of the CDBG allocation was to be used for public services and that they used it for homeless services and a shelter in the City of Eustis known as Hope House. She mentioned that the other portion was used to fund a full-time community healthcare worker who worked with uninsured and underinsured individuals and who also assisted with the homelessness program. She expressed that this year they would be receiving home funds from two new urban county partners in the Cities of Fruitland Park and Mount Dora that would help cover the cost of new construction, which was not typical under CDBG funding. She related that the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program produced and preserved affordable homeownership and multifamily housing. She stated that they had accomplished many things this past year through improving neighborhoods, lives, and for all, highlighting that the CDBG allocation was increased by 11.5 percent this year; 3,509 citizens benefited from Phase 2 rental and mortgage assistance through SHIP totaling over $13 million; the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) assisted 895 people with rent and utilities totaling over $2.8 million; they secured $181,260 from the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition to assist in their homeless population with the rapid rehousing program; they administered 22 grants to not-for-profit agencies to serve children, families, and elders; they approved 73 solid waste fire assessment hardship applications; and provided 124 indigent cremations. She mentioned that their efficiencies included utilizing consultants when possible to assist with grant functions during staff shortages and changes in programs, using online platforms to conduct business and public hearings while maintaining a safe and healthy environment, and utilizing social media to help locate next of kin for deceased individuals, thus reducing the cost of the indigent burial program. She displayed slides showing benchmarks for Lake County as compared to surrounding counties and noted that Lake Countys Medicaid share was a mandated expense at $4,723,442 and that it represented the countys cost share of residents who were Medicaid eligible and resided in nursing homes or had received in-patient hospital care; furthermore, she stated that they would be notified if there were any changes in this allocation once the state budget had been fully adopted. She indicated that the CDBG allocation funds had increased this year and that their current projects included the Leesburg Teen Center, Forward Paths Foundation which was transitional housing for homeless youth, Tavares Wooten Wonderland Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements, Habitat for Humanity senior housing cottages, the Astor library project, as well as the new Lake County roads project that was reallocated recently. She related that as part of their public service they also had an eight bed emergency shelter in the City of Eustis and noted that this did not include the $568,429 they received for home funds this year. She displayed a chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. She stated that personal services had decreased to $709,441, operating expenses had decreased to $5,631,285, debt service was still $112,700, capital outlay had increased to $400,000 which was due to the addition of the Astor library project, grants and aids had decreased to $4,358,871 primarily due to the CARES Act funds that ran through the SHIP program and the spending down of older CDBG funds, and the reserves had decreased to $390,521 which was strictly SHIP funds and reflected the available grant funding for FY 2022 for a total budget of $11,602,808.
Commr. Parks opined that having another VSO would greatly help with service and then asked for clarification about the funding of the VSOs due to space issues with the clinics.
Ms. Tighe explained that they had asked for help from the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) who provided one VSO who was alternating between the Clermont and Tavares Clinics; however, the Clermont Clinic no longer wanted them there due to issues with walk-ins and after COVID-19, the Tavares Clinic eliminated them too. She added that there were only two VSOs doing all of the appointments and the population of veterans was increasing.
Commr. Smith asked if they could reach back out to the Tavares Clinic and see if they would allow that VSO again.
Ms. Tighe responded that the VSO was only there one to two days a week and there was not enough space for them, so neither clinic wanted them there. She added that people would line up at 2:00 a.m. waiting for a spot and it would create a lot of chaos and distraction for the people that were there for medical reasons. She related that they would still need to find space for another VSO if they got one because they shared the space with Library Services.
Commr. Parks commented on the wait time and opined that the most immediate impact was going to be having another VSO and an Office Associate.
Ms. Tighe agreed and mentioned that they were alternating covering the front which made an impact on wait times. She added that she did not want to compromise their customer service and that they had already made a lot of changes to minimize the wait as much as they could, but they really were short staffed.
Mr. Rosen asked if they were in a rented space.
Ms. Tighe confirmed this, adding that it was a small space in the City of Tavares by Library Services and Guardian Ad Litem.
Mr. Rosen mentioned that the BCC had just approved an agenda item on the previous day for adding more space and asked if that was for Veterans Services.
Ms. Jennifer Barker, Deputy County Manager, explained that the agenda item that was approved was for a lease on Classique Lane in the City of Tavares where Housing Services was located. She related that there was a business next door that was vacated so they worked with the County Attorneys Office on leasing that space to allow additional room for Housing Services and to move Veterans Services into that area which would free up space for Library Services.
Mr. Rosen stated that although he was not in favor of renting, it was something that was needed to give more space to serve their clients. He noted that for the long term they were looking at ways to consolidate within buildings so they did not have to continue to pay rent and provide better spaces for the people that came in to see them for services.
Commr. Campione mentioned that she was curious about the Medicaid funding they provided and asked if that number was pretty constant at that time as they were seeing a decline in their sales tax revenues from the State which was how they paid for it.
Ms. Barker replied that it was pretty consistent and that they had a little bit of an increase two years ago, but it had been a stable amount; additionally, it did come out of the General Fund.
Commr. Campione wanted to clarify that when the state sales tax was collected, it was then remitted to the County and even though it seemed like such a large number, she did not want there to be a perception that funds were coming out of property taxes. She added that there was an expectation that State dollars were supposed to be used for things like this.
Ms. Barker noted that it was part of the six percent sales tax and not part of the penny sales tax, adding that they did have several revenue streams that came to the General Fund from the State in addition to the state sales tax.
Commr. Campione wanted more of an explanation on the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition housing money they received, specifying that the presentation noted it was $181,000 for the rapid rehousing program.
Mr. Sedrick Brinson, Housing and Homelessness Liaison, explained that the total funding was $181,260 with $120,000 for rapid rehousing and $61,260 for emergency shelter so they could put individuals with referrals from the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition into hotels.
Commr. Campione pointed out that it was helpful for everyone to know that this was one of their strategies for the homeless by having contracts with hotels for those needing assistance as opposed to having a homeless shelter.
Mr. Brunson mentioned that they had a contract with Choice Hotels for a flat rate for any of those hotels in Lake County and that he was in contact with the owners of those hotels on a regular basis.
Commr. Campione asked if it depended on how long they stayed there and if they were trying to connect them with services to get the help they needed during that time.
Mr. Brunson stated that they were allowed to stay for 90 days in an emergency shelter and that within those 90 days staff visited them to find out their information and situation and they then worked with Mid Floridas housing locator to find them housing within the county. He related that there was an instance where they had to house someone in Sumter County because of an ADA situation and they could not find anything wheelchair accessible in Lake County. He noted that there was also a one-time 30 day extension from the 90 days if they needed additional time to find housing.
Commr. Campione then asked if the $120,000 was for the one year max that someone could get while they were trying to get them into permanent housing.
Mr. Brunson confirmed this, adding that it was for rapid rehousing and that they visited the rapid rehousing clients on a monthly basis to see what their needs were and to teach them financial management and life skills. He indicated that they let the clients know up front that it was only a 12 month program and they were on their own after that; therefore, that was the reason they tried to teach them how to budget their money so they could become sustainable after the program ended.
Commr. Campione opined that it would be worthwhile in the future for them to get more into this to see exactly how it all worked and where the shortfalls were. She related that one of the big issues they were up against was not being able to find housing the clients could afford and opined that the location of where they lived had a huge impact on whether they would be successful and be able to launch into a regular kind of lifestyle.
Mr. Brunson stated that they asked on the application where they wanted to stay and that there were different options available, such as renting a room or even a one bedroom efficiency. He related that they tried to place them within the cities that they felt comfortable with, noting that they currently had a client who was very adamant about being in the City of Clermont, so they were trying to accommodate that.
Commr. Campione commented that she has hoping that in the future the Board would consider the possibility of applying for CDBG funds to create some housing units in each of the districts that could be used as bridge housing for this type of program where they would be getting paid back from HUD. She explained that they could put an individual in that housing, the County would be the landlord and own the housing unit and then when that individual moved on they could place another individual in it. She added that they could have duplexes and if the program was not successful and did not function the way the wanted it to, they could just sell the properties on the free market and put the money back into the CDBG.
Mr. Brunson mentioned that they could also possibly partner with Mr. Brian Broadway who was with Find, Feed, and Restore in the South Lake area as he was extremely helpful with getting people in housing.
Commr. Campione opined that was worth exploring and that maybe they could find someone in North Lake to replicate that and let Mr. Broadway be their mentor.
Commr. Parks stated that continuing those discussions was very important and that they needed to discuss how they would address the people that were living on the streets, camping in front of businesses, and the ones that were in camps.
Commr. Campione related that it was worth having a longer discussion about because the more they learned about it the more they understood which situations they could help and which ones they may never be able to help. She indicated that staff was doing great with the manpower that they had, especially with working with the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition since they were tracking who needed help and were working with police departments who were helping to contribute as well. She opined that a lot of good things were happening right then, but they just needed a bit more manpower to help with the immediate outreach and coordinating with their city partners; furthermore, she believed it would be a huge success if they could coordinate with the particular cities that had the problems, such as the Cities of Leesburg, Eustis and Clermont. She stated that they started this several years ago with wanting to create an emergency shelter, but now they were able to help these people and try to meet their specific needs and connect them with the social services they needed to get them into housing.
Commr. Parks opined that this was a good approach; however, they needed more tools and thought they should have another summit to discuss this. He then commended Commissioner Campione for leading this effort.
Commr. Campione asked if Mr. Brunson had been able to talk to the other commissioners about the Florida housing.
Mr. Brunson clarified that the Florida Housing Coalition was currently creating a homeless strategic plan for Lake County and that it was supposed to be done in July 2021. He noted that he had sent them contact information for the Board as well as for the faith based leaders and business partners in the community so they could interview them and get viewpoints. He related that the Florida Housing Coalition had also received data from the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition and that they said the data they had received had been phenomenal. He expressed that he was excited to see what the strategic plan held as it would be another big thing to determine how they would structure their homelessness program in their department.
Commr. Parks stated that he was looking forward to that.
Mr. Burgess explained that the Office of Facilities Management provided oversight for various County construction projects as well as financial, managerial, and architectural support for the Facilities sections, other county departments, constitutional officers and other groups as directed by the BCC. He added that they also oversee the repairs, maintenance, and daily operations of County facilities and that they monitored and paid County utility bills. He displayed their organizational chart which showed 27 FTEs. He discussed their accomplishments, noting that they completed the construction of the chiller plant piping which addressed the HVAC in the County Administration Building as well as in all of the buildings on the same side of the road from the energy plant, and the Animal Services building was also completed. He mentioned that they renovated the first and third floor restrooms, the first floor elevator lobby, and three courtroom doors in the Judicial Center and they renovated the Agriculture Center exterior with new landscaping and were in the process of installing a new sign. He discussed their efficiencies, noting that the chiller plant piping project would allow for more efficient equipment, there was greater reliability, and enhanced automation on secondary pumps in the older chiller plant. He related that the fire alarms in the Administration Building, the Sheriffs Office Administration Building, and the Historic Courthouse were all connected; therefore, they were in the process of separating the fire alarms and upgrading them, and that they were also upgrading the Building Automation System (BAS) in the Administration Building to allow for better control of the HVAC system. He then displayed slides showing benchmarks for Lake County as compared to surrounding counties and noted that Lake County was the highest for the square foot maintained per FTE at 83,950, they were at $2.82 for the cost per square foot to maintain, and the total facilities budget was the lowest at $5,883,192. He also mentioned that the costs for building materials had increased and that lumber was up 50 percent since April 2020, plywood was up 19 percent, iron and steel was up 25 percent, and hardware was up 31.4 percent. He displayed a chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that personal services increased to $1,615,288, operating expenses increased to $4,778,776, and capital outlay decreased to $0, noting that the increased costs were due to contract pricing, utility costs and material costs. He mentioned that the total budget was $6,394,064.
Commr. Shields asked if they had ever done a financial analysis for solar.
Mr. Burgess responded that he was not aware if that had been discussed, but he could ask.
Mr. Rosen explained that one of the things he noticed when he was first hired was the electric costs and he gave the example that the electric costs for the Animal Shelter was much more than anticipated and that they were trying to do everything they could to bring those costs down. He related that he had asked about looking for a grant to put solar in that building as well as all the other buildings, but solar was not one of the biggest things at the time. He added that he still planned on trying to find a grant to help them get solar.
Commr. Smith commented that they had done a fantastic job on the Agriculture Center.
Mr. Rosen referred to the benchmark slide for the number of square feet maintained per FTE and opined that they were very efficient; however, at some point staff would not be able to get to everything they should because of lack of manpower and it would ultimately lower the life of the facilities thus creating more costs down the road.
Mr. Fred Schneider, Assistant County Manager, mentioned that Mr. Joseph Blackwell, Director for the Office of Fleet Management, could not be there that day so he would be making the presentation, adding that he had been with Fleet Management for about four weeks. He explained that the Office of Fleet Management provided a full range of fleet services to the LCBCC and some constitutional offices of Lake County. He indicated that they provided maintenance and repair services at competitive prices for a range of vehicles and equipment, managed four county fuel sites and offsite fuel services for Lake County & constitutional offices, and he noted that Fleet Management was a recognized Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Blue Seal Shop. He pointed out that they maintained heavy equipment, such as fire trucks, dump trucks, flatbed trucks, tractor trailers, brush trucks, and box trucks; construction equipment, such as loaders, graders, dozers, and equipment trailers; tractors and mowers; stationary generators; as well as lift trucks, aerial lifts and forklifts. He displayed their organizational chart which showed 12 FTEs and one part-time employee. He discussed their accomplishments, noting that the BCC had entered into a contract with Enterprise a year ago for a program where they received 190 lease vehicles. He added that the program consisted of one year and five year lease terms and that most of the vehicles were pickup trucks because those were the most cost effective. He related that after a year Enterprise would take them back and the County could recoup some of the money they spent because the vehicles were actually worth more. He mentioned that four mechanics and three master mechanics had earned the ASE certification, and six mechanics and one master mechanic had earned the Emergency Vehicle Technician (EVT) certification. He pointed out that they had provided an area to store PPE, water, meals ready-to-eat (MREs) and hand sanitizer in response to COVID-19, and that one FTE was assigned to assist at the vaccination site. He discussed their efficiencies, pointing out that they had an $82,070 net savings through utilizing the Enterprise vehicle lease program, that the vehicles were more fuel efficient and had better safety features, and that there were 63 one year lease vehicles and 127 five year lease vehicles. He indicated that they were proposing to outsource the Fleet Parts Department and that they would be bringing back a proposal to the BCC on June 22, 2021. He noted that the parts vendor would provide a person to manage the department at the location instead of having a county employee there, which would in turn allow for more control of the parts and would provide a cost efficiency. He then displayed benchmark charts for Lake County as compared to surrounding counties and stated that Lake County was the highest at $88 for the labor rate comparison for light/medium duty vehicles, noting that it was due to the fact that other counties supplemented their fleet with other funding sources so their hourly repair cost was lower.
Mr. Rosen asked if he remembered if the $88 included overhead as well.
Mr. Schneider answered that he believed it did.
Mr. Rosen stated that part of the issue was that some of the other counties did not include their overhead, it was just their straight cost.
Mr. Schneider continued his presentation and noted that the labor rate comparison for heavy duty vehicles was at $115 and that it was similar in that some of the other counties were offsetting their costs. He added that they also compared their rate to the private sector and found that Lake County was still lower than private companies, although the county did have contracts with vendors for specific technical requirements. He displayed a chart showing the FY 2021 adopted budget, the FY 2022 proposed budget and the amount and percentage change between the two. He indicated that personal services decreased to $785,589 and operating expenses decreased to $2,190,689 due to some efficiencies they had and what they were proposing for in the future for a total budget of $2,976,278.
Mr. Rosen stated that they planned on bringing a proposal to the Board within the next year regarding combining their fleet operations between different divisions which were at different locations and with different operations. He added that they would have some savings by doing that; however, they would need a one-time infusion of cash to finish off the building, noting that they were currently doing the engineering for it.
Commr. Parks commended the staff on their presentations and thanked Mr. Rosen for having his whole team there that day.
Mr. Rosen commented that they could continue this type of format for next year if the BCC liked it, noting that they could set aside a couple of days for all departments to present.
Commr. Smith expressed that he liked it and thought it was good for the staff to not have to spend their entire day in a meeting.
Commr. Parks commented that he thought it was good as well, adding that they were still adjusting the format of the meetings. He noted that they were going to try to separate the zoning hearings so that should be helpful since those were difficult to predict how long they would last.
Mr. Rosen thanked staff for their willingness to work with him and provide the information he asked for since he had new ideas about how the presentations should be.
Commr. Parks stated it was very concise and that they could always drill down further into detail as they got deeper into the budget process.
Mr. Rosen asked if they wanted to have a final discussion on the Liberty Tree.
Commr. Parks stated that he had hoped they could that day; however, he did not think they had enough information since they still had questions about the irrigation. He expressed that he liked Commissioner Smiths idea, but that they needed to look into the irrigation issue first. He related that the Liberty Tree would either be out front of the County Administration Building or at a potential site with the City of Tavares.
Commr. Campione asked exactly where it would be located if it was in front of the Administration Building.
Commr. Parks answered that it would be on the main road in front of the Administration Building and to the left of the front doors. He then asked for everyone to promote it, noting that he promoted it the night before in the City of Clermont.
Commr. Campione asked if he thought they would actually be able to get it planted and have a ceremony.
Commr. Parks confirmed this, adding that it had already been donated and it was just a matter of working with Facilities on who would actually break the ground on it and put the tree in. He related that they could get an elm or a maple tree; however, the original liberty tree was an elm so it would probably be wise to get an American elm tree and make it authentic.
Commr. Campione stated that the only downside of elms was that they go bare during winter and Commissioner Parks agreed that they were deciduous.
commissioner campione district 4
lake joanna project
Commr. Campione mentioned that Mr. Mike and Mrs. Claudia Russell executed the easement agreement and dedicated an easement to the County for the Lake Joanna project and opined that it was very generous of them to do that. She indicated that she wanted to make sure that the residents around Lake Joanna understood that they did that voluntarily. She also expressed that she appreciated staffs work on it, because it was important to get the document prepared with the language they were comfortable with and follow through with it.
COMMISSIONER BLAKE DISTRICT 5
Commr. Blake mentioned that there would be a flag lowering ceremony on Monday, May 31, 2021 at 6:15 a.m. at Mr. Carey Bakers gun shop, A.W. Peterson, and that everyone was invited to attend.
commissioner parks Chairman and district 2
Eustis High School state championship
Commr. Parks reminded everyone about the celebration of the Eustis High School state championship that day at 5:30 p.m.
Commr. Campione asked if he had talked to the mayor and noted that they would be starting at the Eustis Memorial Library and going down to Ferran Park which was where the official ceremony would be.
Commr. Parks stated that they would not have to be part of the parade but if they wanted to be there they would need to be at Ferran Park.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:39 p.m.
SEAN PARKS, chairman
GARY J COONEY, CLERK