A special MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
january 17, 2017
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special board retreat session on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 9:00 a.m., in Training Room A and B, Emergency Operations Center, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Timothy I. Sullivan, Chairman; Leslie Campione, Vice Chairman; Sean Parks; Wendy Breeden; and Josh Blake. Others present were: David Heath, County Manager; Melanie Marsh, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Kristy Mullane, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Sullivan welcomed everyone to the board retreat workshop and referred to the packet of information that the Board had received. He explained that they would work through every subject mentioned in the packet as they go forward and noted that there would also be further workshops in the future on subjects that were listed in the packet.
Mr. Heath explained that the backup information contained all of the verbatim comments that he had received from the Commissioners, which was noted with the initials of the Commissioner who brought that issue forward, with similar subjects grouped together under each topic. He commented that he believed that a discussion of the mission and goals would be a good way to start the retreat and ascertain whether there would be any differences between the mission and goals of the current Board as opposed to the previous Board. He mentioned that the budget and millages, including Commr. Breeden’s comments about lower taxes and dealing with services, would be a good transition into the other topics of discussion. He suggested that they add a discussion about the Sheriff and the constitutional officers in the context of the budget and the millage. He noted that everyone was interested in economic development, and most of the Commissioners wanted to discuss the Land Development Regulations (LDR). He indicated that there were two schools of thought regarding impact fees, which were an adjustment of the impact fee itself versus an impact fee waiver, and he commented that the Board needed to come to a consensus on that issue. He listed some of the other topics that would be discussed, including transportation, Vista del Lago, public safety, parks and trails, the environment, and the issue of the new County Manager, which he placed as the last item on the agenda for the day.
mission, goals, and objectives
Commr. Sullivan read the mission statement, which was to provide exceptional service, enhance and protect the quality of life for all Lake County citizens, facilitate a vibrant economy with an abundance of workforce opportunities, and exercise fiscal responsibility, while using innovative approaches and making well-planned decisions. He specified that Goal 1 was to provide exceptional public safety and emergency response services to achieve a safe and secure community, and he opined that they would need to rewrite the second objective for that goal which pertains to Animal Services in light of the fact that the Sheriff is no longer responsible for the Animal Shelter. He stated that the County has worked with the state legislature toward the fifth objective under Goal 1 of facilitating and supporting re-entry programs and services directed at reducing inmate recidivism, which is currently at about 60 percent, and they will continue to work toward that objective, although the programs at the state level have totally changed and are being reworked.
Commr. Breeden commented that she believed the Board did a great job last year towards Goal 1.
Commr. Sullivan related that Goal 2 was to facilitate a strong and diversified economy. He read the first two objectives under that goal, which were to simplify the permitting process for construction activities and target manufacturing and high-wage job creation for Lake County, and he opined that he did not believe that those goals have changed a lot. He elaborated that their number one legislative goal last year was to get the Advanced Manufacturing Center funded, which they did in cooperation with many community partners. He continued to read some of the objectives relating to Goal 2, including continuing to work closely with regional and municipal partners, and he noted that the EDC (Economic Development Commission) is going through a major change. He asked for feedback from the Board about that goal.
Commr. Parks pointed out that a resolution that the Board recently approved expressing Lake County’s intentional support and willingness to work with Osceola County to promote the International Consortium of Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) in Kissimmee was an example of how important the regional partnerships are to the County.
Commr. Campione brought up the subject of the pay for the County’s building inspectors in relation to the first objective of simplifying the permitting process and assuring a business-friendly environment, and she asked when the Board would be discussing and addressing that issue. She commented that the County would not be able to maintain a business-friendly environment if the contractors were upset and losing money because they could not get their inspections done in a timely manner or if there was a massive turnover of inspectors who use Lake County as their training ground before leaving to work in other places. She suggested that they add timely inspections by building inspectors to the first objective, which is service-driven.
Mr. Heath responded that the issue was scheduled to be on the agenda on January 24.
Commr. Sullivan pointed out that they had not done online applications until about four years ago, and that seems to have worked out well, although they still have work to do. He then noted that they have been very successful in working with the Department of Transportation and the state legislature to fund some road projects in regard to the third goal to plan, develop, and maintain a high-quality, safe, and reliable transportation network. He opined, however, that the County will get behind schedule in their planned transportation projects if the legislature does not support some of their requests, which will result in traffic and a decreased quality of life due to not being able to keep up with increasing growth.
Commr. Parks asked whether they would have a work session about the LDRs.
Mr. Heath responded that they would need to have a work session with input from the community and the home builders.
Commr. Sullivan asked if there were any comments on the next goal, which was to deliver exceptional customer service in a friendly and professional manner and assure fiscal responsibility throughout the organization. He opined that all of the statements or objectives listed under that goal were still important, including number 7 regarding providing state-mandated capital needs for constitutional officers.
Commr. Breeden mentioned that the constitutional officers might have operational as well as capital needs.
Commr. Sullivan pointed out that Goal 5 to enhance the quality of life of Lake County residents by providing active and passive recreational opportunities, library services, and promoting conservation and protection of natural resources will be discussed with some of their workshop items that day, and he noted that their successful Keep Lake Beautiful program is a good example of their efforts toward that goal.
Commr. Breeden commented that she appreciated this goal, because it was frequently difficult to fit this into the budget in the past.
Commr. Sullivan related that the minimum design criteria the County is working on is a step toward realization of Goal 6 of assuring that new residential and commercial development is well-planned, attractive, and high-quality.
Mr. Heath elaborated that this issue will be coming before the Board in February or March, noting that inconsistencies were found between the LDR’s and the Comprehensive Plan. He specified that the approval to advertise the design standards for the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento Community Redevelopment District (CRA) is scheduled to be heard on February 21, but he did not know if those will work as a countywide model. He recommended using a consultant if the Board ultimately decided to overhaul the LDRs and to get the stakeholders involved in the process to make sure anything the County decides is acceptable to the community and the industry.
Commr. Campione opined that addressing the inconsistencies of the LDR’s and the design criteria are two separate things. She also expressed concern that delaying this issue will result in more unattractive buildings with the increase in permits due to the improvement in the economy, and she believed it would not be difficult to have something in place that would address the aesthetics of a building.
Mr. Heath responded that staff will be looking for direction from the Board about the types of areas and issues regarding the LDRs they want them to look into.
Commr. Blake expressed concern about not sending a message that they want to micromanage the economy and asked what timeless development mentioned in objective 1 under goal 6 looks like.
Commr. Campione suggested that they start with making sure they do not have rules that promote development that looks bad.
Commr. Sullivan opined that the County previously had landscaping requirements that were onerous, cost prohibitive, and did not align with their water conservation ideas in many cases. He believed that they needed to find ways that were economically feasible, aesthetically pleasing, and still provided some rules and guidelines.
Commr. Campione pointed out that objective three states that Lake County regulations should be well-balanced and mindful of protecting private property rights, which she believes goes hand-in-hand with financial feasibility and affordability. She commented that even though they do not want to create a situation that makes it impossible for someone to develop or use their property, they have to be mindful that what one resident does affects the people around him. She opined that she believed it was the proper role of local government to be engaged in zoning and land development regulations that are well-balanced, easy to navigate, and not overly costly.
Commr. Parks related that he regularly hears concern from residents about design criteria, and he agreed with Commr. Campione that what happens around a resident’s property very much affects his property value and the investment he has made in his property. He added that he wanted to talk about making general and business permitting much more predictable and quicker than it currently is.
Commr. Campione noted that the County and the cities have agreed to impose the cities’ LDRs in the areas covered by Joint Planning Agreements that the County has with most of the cities for properties that the cities are eventually going to annex and are providing with water and sewer service, and the County coordinates with the cities to make sure they are applying consistent rules.
Commr. Blake expressed concern he has heard from constituents about significant financial obstacles to comply with some of the landscaping requirements.
Mr. Heath commented that there is uncertainty regarding noncontiguous properties in the Joint Planning Areas that have to get utilities from the city but will stay in the County, and the cities usually require nonadjacent development to comply with the city’s landscape and design standards in the course of negotiating the utility agreements with those developments.
Commr. Campione opined that it was usually factored into the cost of doing business.
Commr. Parks commented that businesses look at demographic data and what kind of market they would have as a sole basis for making a decision to locate a business in a specific area rather than the landscaping and design standards.
Commr. Campione stated that simplifying and making the process easier to navigate would help attract businesses and economic development, and she suggested that they concentrate on the industrial and manufacturing businesses that they were trying to target for job creation and working with the cities to try to simplify the process.
Commr. Parks elaborated that they should make the process more predictable and use common sense in interpreting the code in order to avoid delays that would discourage business development.
Commr. Sullivan related that Goal 7 was to facilitate and coordinate the delivery of services to those in need. He commented that how the County reworked the criteria of affordable housing by adding transitional housing as an option is an example of how it has improved and made progress in that regard, but he pointed out that the county’s needs are constantly growing as the population grows. He added that cooperation with the cities and some of the not-for-profit organizations is very crucial in providing some of those services.
Commr. Campione opined that this was one of the things that the County does very well by using grants to help the local not-for-profit organizations leverage the funds to fulfill their missions, which was a great model, rather than having a large social services division inside their County government. She pointed out, however, that they were also required to be the pass-through agency for dollars coming from the federal and state government for specific housing needs.
Commr. Sullivan asked if the Board was comfortable with the mission, goals, and objectives.
Mr. Heath recommended that staff make the changes that were discussed, and they could put this back on the agenda this summer after the budget summary and before the Board sets the millage in July so that they can compare what is in the budget with their goals and objectives, which is what they did last year as well.
budget and millage
Commr. Sullivan noted that one of the objectives under the topic of Budget and Millage was to be realistic in setting budget goals while weighing lower taxes against new or improving services.
Commr. Breeden explained that consultant fees to overhaul the LDR’s is an example of something that would impact the budget, and she stated that they needed to have a list of other things that would have an impact on their goal of a rolled back budget.
Commr. Sullivan emphasized that about 56 percent of their budget goes to the constitutional officers, with only 23 percent going to the County departments that they can control from the general budget. He then read the next objective, which was to implement a tax abatement or similar program to enhance economic development efforts.
Commr. Breeden clarified that they were currently working on a rebate program rather than an abatement program.
Commr. Sullivan pointed out that the County’s rules are different than the cities’ regulations, and Lake County competes with 66 other counties to bring jobs or economic development to the area, some of which have more funding and advantages. He opined that the rebate program is something they could do that does not have big out-of-pocket costs to the County which would enhance the chance to attract businesses of the quality and calibre they were looking for to come to Lake County.
Commr. Parks asked for an explanation of the differences between what cities and counties could do regarding tax abatement.
Mr. Heath answered that the incentives the County has used in the past have been fairly meager and were rewards for things that were already happening, and the Economic Development Department is currently working with the Property Appraiser’s Office on a program based on tangible property and assessed value. He elaborated that there will be a work session to discuss this in the near future after there was a firm concept to present to the Board, and he opined that the Board will be happy with the proposal staff is putting together.
Commr. Sullivan read the next discussion item under Budget and Millage, which was to ensure staff is using best management practices if it was utilizing a method other than zero based budgeting to continue operating efficiently.
Mr. Heath directed the Board’s attention to an article in the backup information about zero based budgeting.
Commr. Parks commented that there was zero based budgeting in its purest form as well as the use of zero based budgeting principles.
Mr. Heath stated that the essence of zero based budgeting is having the departments prepare a budget based on direction from the Board for a target of a certain percentage reduction, noting that there would be impacts associated with that. He elaborated that they have tried to keep the departments at a status quo budget over the last several years during the budget work sessions, with the need for a new position or something additional required to be documented.
Commr. Breeden related that the County did more zero based budgeting in the recession, noting that the conclusion of the article stated that this method could be especially helpful for organizations that are facing stagnant or declining revenues, although that is not the case now.
Commr. Blake commented that the most important principle is to justify expenses year to year rather than leaving it in the budget in perpetuity just because it has always existed.
Commr. Parks agreed that everything should be examined.
Commr. Campione read a part of the article which stated that part of the zero based analysis should be driven by top management and policy makers, and the organization should not leave the identification and analysis of alternative methodologies to lower-level or even departmental managers. The article also recommended that they aggressively monitor and identify best practices and alternative service delivery methods used by other local governments.
Commr. Parks indicated that he would like to see more use of the benchmarking process in their reports and presentations showing comparisons to other counties, including on some of the more specific expenses and processes.
Mr. Heath related that the County has joined the Florida Benchmark Consortium, which will be giving a presentation on January 24.
Commr. Parks suggested that they invite the public to hear that presentation and be part of the process.
Mr. Heath assured him that every meeting is heavily advertised.
Commr. Sullivan announced that the next item under the budget and millage section was to reduce the ad valorem millage to the 2014 level.
Commr. Blake indicated that he would like to accelerate the process by postponing some expenditures that have been planned which were currently on the sales tax expenditure list to pay down the debt service in order to free up more money in the General Fund.
Mr. Heath clarified that Commr. Blake is trying to defer some sales tax projects that have been planned for FY 2017 to pay towards the debt service in order to preserve cash for FY 2018 and to get back to 2014 levels within two years. He explained that 50 percent of the sales tax revenue has to be used for public works in the old allocation, and the other 50 percent could be used for items such as the East Lake Park expansion, the South Lake Park, and the building for the Tax Collector. He reported that they are working on a plan for the Board to continually reduce the general fund millage in order to get back to the 2014 levels in about three to four years, depending on the sales tax revenues and the needs of the constitutional officers.
Commr. Campione related that the cycle for the new sales tax would not allow them to utilize that tax to pay down the Judicial Center debt, and she opined that it may not be prudent to use that source of revenue, because she believes they should be weaning themselves off of that as opposed to relying on it more. She pointed out that some decisions made in 2014 regarding long-term contracts and other matters that were put into place cannot be undone. She added that she wanted to look at how long it would realistically take the Board to reinstate the millage to the 2014 levels and ways to accomplish that as quickly as possible.
Commr. Blake replied that he believed a two-year time period to do so would be reasonable with a natural increase in revenues.
Commr. Sullivan mentioned that a refinancing of the County’s bonds resulted in a substantial savings for the County in the long and short term, although it did not initially seem feasible to do so.
Commr. Campione commented that she liked the fact that the County joined the Benchmark Consortium, which she believed would help the County to compare their goals to other counties and would be a good opportunity to have staff look at whether the County is doing things as efficiently as possible after the mandated levels of service are met.
Mr. Heath stated that there was a presentation recently about the changes requiring the departments to identify state mandates and requirements with the understanding that they could segregate those from the total budget to delineate the discretionary expenditures or line items the Board could adjust. He opined that zero based budgeting would result mostly in a reduction of staffing costs, since the departments do not have large operating costs, and he pointed out that the Board reduced staff considerably during the economic downturn.
Commr. Campione asked for a discussion of the elimination of the local business tax receipts, possibly paid for by EDC funds.
Commr. Blake mentioned that this was his idea, since he did not believe that they get a large return on the $300,000 that the County pays the EDC. He noted that the County gets approximately $250,000 in revenue per year from the local business tax receipts, and he thinks that the fee is one more obstacle for small businesses, although the actual individual fee is not a large amount. He opined that it was an unnecessary hurdle for those businesses, and he believed it would send a good message to the business community to eliminate it. He suggested that they take the extra $50,000 that was the difference between the amount that would be saved by eliminating the EDC and the amount of loss of the tax receipts to hire someone to attract businesses to the county under the Economic Development Department.
Commr. Parks asked if the local business tax receipt fee had a registry purpose as well.
Commr. Campione responded that it gives the County a record of who is operating a business in the county, which is useful during zoning issues, and she pointed out that there is some administrative cost involved in maintaining that registry and information and that it does bring legitimacy to a business.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, clarified that the business tax receipt had been called an occupational license in the past, and she added that Code Enforcement will look to the Tax Collector’s Office to determine how long a business was in a certain location for Code purposes.
Commr. Breeden indicated that she wanted to look at the fee schedule to see whether it could be simplified if there was a range of fees.
Commr. Campione replied that she believed the fee was the same for most businesses.
Commr. Blake related that it was diversified by the type and size of the business, and many counties were getting along fine without it, although it was authorized by statute. He opined that there are other ways to gather information about the businesses, such as the paperwork that businesses file for the Division of Corporations.
Commr. Campione commented that not everyone incorporates their business.
Mr. Heath noted that this revenue goes into the General Fund and suggested that they schedule that issue on the same day as the tax abatement in order for the Board to get briefed on both of those matters and to see a total fiscal impact of those items.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:12 a.m. that there would be a 15-minute recess.
economic development and tourism
Commr. Breeden suggested that they look at whether the County could do a better job by using some of the EDC funding to start their own economic development agency.
Commr. Parks suggested that the Board look at the feasibility of establishing a non-profit agency governed by a board comprised of three Commissioners, five business representatives, and an at-large member to advise on decisions regarding incentives. He noted that this would be similar to the old IDA (Industrial Development Authority) and was just a starting point. He commented that he still saw the EDC as having a role in the County’s economic development endeavors, especially since Lake County is part of the Orlando region, although he does not know if it would be to the same degree as they currently do. He added that he understands the concerns about the amount of money spent on the EDC, and he could see both the advantages and disadvantages of doing something different. He elaborated that a governing board containing business leadership can help advise on whether the County should use incentives, look at which regulations are working and which are onerous, and be actively involved in promoting the county. He requested to move forward with looking at this before the budget process.
Commr. Campione suggested using a hybrid of the Marion and Osceola County models for a public-private economic development department agency to actively engage in recruiting businesses. She asked for staff to come back with a proposal after looking at other similar agencies to ascertain what works and does not work well and to make some recommendations. She asked to have a workshop regarding possibilities for other opportunities for economic development such as the Wolf Branch Innovation District to maximize the attraction of targeted industries, noting that they have been working with the City of Mount Dora on the marketing and promotion of that area. She also mentioned that there were no fiber optics in the Highway 44 area near Leesburg where there were a lot of light industrial uses, which was a real hindrance, and she wanted to look into working with the City of Leesburg to provide that type of activity. She asked about progress regarding utilities in the Mount Plymouth-Sorrento area that they had discussed at their last workshop.
Mr. Heath asked whether the Board wanted to go to the next step to prepare an RFP (Request for Proposal) for the utilities.
Commr. Campione responded that she had heard that the City of Apopka had indicated an interest in being a provider in that area, but Eustis and Mount Dora wanted to sell their services to the County. She commented that they need to know how much it would cost the County to provide those services in order to objectively evaluate whether they should pursue that and if it would help that area. She pointed out that this would be for a very narrowly defined area of the CR 46 corridor, the Main Street area, and the immediately-surrounding areas. She also suggested that the County recruit and target end users within an industry by inviting businesses to visit Lake County to look at what it has to offer, noting that the County might be in a better position to do that type of recruiting if they had a different economic development structure.
Mr. Heath pointed out that the City of Leesburg was in the process of trying to sell their fiber optics network and have done an RFP for selling it to a private entity. He asked if the Board was comfortable for staff to go forward to develop an RFP for an alternatives analysis on the utilities comparing the cost of the County creating its own utility company versus the other alternatives and assured the Board that they will have a chance to look at it before it goes out to make sure that they are satisfied with the concept.
Commr. Campione emphasized that the concern of the residents living in Mount Plymouth-Sorrento is that they would be annexed by one of the cities, although that is not what they want, and the County needed to be very clear while negotiating with the cities on wholesaling or serving those areas about not wanting that area to be annexed.
Mr. Heath stated that they could bring that back to the Board during the midyear budget adjustment to make sure there is money to pay for it.
Commr. Blake commented that he was heavily against the County getting into the utility business after hearing the presentations at the retreat on December 13 and believed that there were not enough users presently to make it feasible.
Commr. Campione responded that the speakers who spoke at the retreat had not looked at the land uses and allowable densities of vacant land in that area in determining whether it was viable or not. She pointed out that there was a reason why the cities of Mount Dora and Eustis are interested in providing service in that area, even though additional lines and upgrades might be needed to their systems.
Commr. Breeden commented that annexation and an additional tax base might be the ultimate goals for those cities, which is what the County was trying to avoid.
Mr. Heath clarified that staff will prepare the RFP and then bring it to the Board as well as identify the funds at midyear.
Commr. Campione noted that the County was waiting to see what would happen with the Central Florida Partnership merging with the EDC, including what structure would result and whether that would be better suited to Lake County’s needs. She expressed concern about the impact of leaving the EDC and asked how many leads for business recruitment they were getting as a result of the EDC.
Mr. Robert Chandler, Economic Growth Director, answered that about one-third of the leads they received were from the EDC.
Commr. Campione stated that she was not sure if it was worth losing those leads for business opportunities by leaving the EDC, and she suggested that they see how the EDC would fit into a separate economic agency in Lake County.
Commr. Parks commented that there was a marketing aspect to what the EDC does that would be difficult and costly for the County to duplicate, noting that Lake County is benefitting from the EDC’s marketing efforts nationally and internationally to target areas and the fact that Lake County can offer quality of life attributes.
Mr. Heath suggested that they look at this issue at a retreat and have someone from the new EDC and Mr. Chandler explain the new structure, as well as have a discussion with the Sports Commission and the economic development people from other counties and areas.
Commr. Blake pointed out that they could always rejoin the EDC if they chose to do so in future years and that none of the EDC’s successes that were listed on their annual report were in Lake County.
Commr. Parks commented that the County had to manage their contract with the EDC.
Commr. Sullivan summarized that they wanted to take a look at how they were spending money on economic development, whether there was a better way to do it, and what the different options were moving forward. He related that there may be a hybrid way to establish their own agency and still stay engaged with the region.
Commr. Campione asked if they were still under their old EDC contract.
Mr. Chandler responded that they had a year and a half left on their three- year contract.
Commr. Campione noted that she brought the next objective to maximize TDT (Tourist Development Tax) money for tourism-related activities that directly and indirectly benefit Lake County residents such as trails and to work with the Lake County Water Authority to replace fencing at Hickory Point Park similar to the good-quality fences at other County parks.
Commr. Sullivan reported that the County was still working with the TDC (Tourist Development Council) on the fieldhouse at Hickory Point Park.
Commr. Campione opined that trails which attract visitors to the area for both day and overnight trips are also enjoyed by Lake County residents, and she was hopeful that they could use some of their hotel tax dollars for trail construction, especially the Wekiva Trail and the North Lake Trail from Umatilla to Astor, which already has right of way. She opined that the Umatilla area will become an upcoming tourist destination after the trail is completed there, with visitors staying in the Mount Dora area.
Commr. Breeden added that the connection point to the Wekiva Trail in Mount Dora, where there are already a lot of biking events that bring overnight visitors, might be a logical place to use TDT dollars.
Commr. Parks asked Ms. Marsh for an opinion on specifically what projects they could spend the TDT money on.
Ms. Marsh stated that there were multiple Attorney General opinions about what was permissible and not permissible and that she would provide those to the Board.
Commr. Sullivan related that the next objective to be discussed was the continued support for the Lake Tech Advanced Manufacturing Center, including the possible opening of a magnet school with Lake Tech, the School District and Lake-Sumter State College (LSSC).
Commr. Campione reported that the Advanced Manufacturing Center has received its funding, was moving forward, and was expected to be open by the end of this year. She noted that Lake Tech and the new President of LSSC were very interested in the idea of a magnet school similar to the sciences magnet school in South Lake, and she asked if there was support to advocate that idea for economic development purposes. She commented that the County identified the need for the Advanced Manufacturing Center early on and was the entity that brought the partners together to make that happen, and she believed that the County was also the right entity to help pull the magnet school concept together.
Commr. Parks agreed that it was a great idea.
Commr. Sullivan commented about the great relationship and collaboration between LSSC and Lake Tech, which was not always the case in the past. He mentioned that he talked to the new Lake County Schools superintendent about how important the Advanced Manufacturing Center was to the county’s economic development and job creation.
Commr. Parks related that he had an interesting discussion with representatives for Trout Lake Nature Center, which the County values as an asset and an example of “Real Florida, Real Close.” He stated that Trout Lake has indicated an interest in helping the County provide some programming at other facilities such as the public lands, including lectures, hikes, and children’s programs. He mentioned that there probably will be some cost to doing that, but he wanted to see if the Board was interested in expanding their partnership with Trout Lake to promote Lake County’s natural assets.
Commr. Breeden indicated that she liked the concept and believed that it might be a natural extension to what they have done with the Water Authority.
Mr. Heath explained that the problem will be with the fiscal impact, because it would entail an additional employee position, and Trout Lake was trying to make their activities countywide as opposed to area-specific.
Commr. Campione elaborated that Trout Lake does a lot of outreach to the school system at their facility, and they were starting to do some programs in South Lake.
Commr. Parks added that Trout Lake was starting to see reduced amounts of field trips to their facility because of the limited size, particularly from South Lake. He suggested that they have a discussion with the School Board about a way to cooperate with them regarding this issue. He then asked why the slogan “Real Florida, Real Close” was not on all of the County’s correspondence and email signature blocks.
Mr. Heath answered that this was an issue of marketing and communication in ordering their letterhead, and he assured Commr. Parks that he will work with staff on that.
land development regulations and permitting
Commr. Sullivan read all of the objectives under the goal of Land Development Regulations (LDR) and permitting, which were to revise the LDR’s with an emphasis on building with common sense and flexibility, develop design standards for commercial construction, an LDR Comprehensive Plan Amendment, rewrite LDR’s to include deadlines for various permits and tiered permit penalties, eliminate the majority if not all landscape regulations, and revise development regulations. He pointed out that the County has been rewriting the LDR’s for many years, and he suggested that they outsource that, since coordinating that is a big task. He related that they will talk about what it will cost during the budgetary process, and they needed to make sure that it made common sense. He opined that the biggest issue is that the Comprehensive Plan and the LDR’s do not always correspond. He mentioned that they were currently working on design standards for commercial construction, and he believed that this subject alone would take up a whole workshop.
Commr. Campione discussed an issue with a property owner in a rural area without deed restrictions who keeps placing modular buildings on his property and seeks permits to remodel them only after there are complaints to Code Enforcement about the structures in order to meet Code after the fact. She commented that this situation has frustrated his neighbors, who follow the correct procedures. She suggested that they look at a change in the Code to make property owners remove structures that are not up to Code in order to protect the surrounding neighbors and to prevent a situation like this from happening again in the future.
Commr. Parks cautioned the Board that a consultant to help with revising the LDR’s could cost about $300,000, although there are qualified people who could do it for a third of that cost, and he wanted the Board to be open to firms that could do a more cost-effective job, some of which were local, and to look for ways to pursue community planning grants that are offered by the DEO (Department of Economic Opportunity).
Commr. Blake commented that he wanted to reduce school impact fees to previous levels, since he felt they were excessive. He stated that his discussion with the Home Builders Association indicated that it was the home buyers who ended up paying the fee rather than the developers, noting that the additional $10,000 in impact fees gets rolled into a mortgage for working families who build a home in Lake County. He added that he liked the idea of the impact fee waiver for infill development, but wanted to do that in addition to a reduction of the actual fee.
Commr. Campione explained that the impact fee waiver idea was proposed as a way to try to work with the School Board, recognizing its need for capital for new school construction, and she pointed out that the school system does not have a funding source for the new classroom space that is needed, especially in South Lake. She related that she had attended the concurrency workshop recently and looked at the different capacities around the county which showed that while the capacity is still fine in most areas, the demand is much higher in South Lake for new classroom needs. She explained that she wanted to find a way to give relief to residents who built homes in infill areas, which were older and established neighborhoods or developments that were 90 percent built out. She noted that the Board has not had a discussion about this issue since the new Board and School Board has been in place, and she suggested that they have County staff work on the ordinance and then bring it back to the Board before exploring that option with the School Board.
Commr. Parks stated that he would be interested in having a discussion with the School Board and expressed a desire to move forward with the infill program. He commented, however, that he is not in favor of lowering the current impact fees, although he does not like that they are that high, since there is a very limited amount of options for funding school construction at this time. He added that the School Board was very much opposed to lowering the fees.
Commr. Campione stated that although she was not opposed to looking at lowering the impact fees and to come up with creative ways to make up the difference, she wanted to present the impact fee waiver concept as the alternative with the added benefit of revitalizing the older areas.
Commr. Blake commented that he does not deny that the School Board needs funding, but he is concerned that the people who are paying the fees are working families who are paying more than the actual fee when it is paid over 30 years with interest when rolled into their mortgage.
Commr. Breeden expressed interest in trying the impact fee waiver idea for two or three years in order to see whether it would be effective and believed it was a better alternative than reducing the actual amount of the fee.
Commr. Campione suggested that they do that as a pilot program.
Commr. Sullivan summarized that there was consensus to move forward with the infill idea, noting that it would not create new needs such as sidewalks or utilities.
Mr. Heath related that the County Attorney’s office has been working with Commr. Campione to finalize that so that it could be brought back under Commr. Campione’s report. He suggested that a joint work session with the School Board be scheduled once the Board is comfortable with the proposal to discuss this issue along with other school-related issues such as Trout Lake.
Commr. Breeden asked whether they could explore the issue of concurrency.
Commr. Campione commented that concurrency is already in place and has been applied using proportionate share agreements that would put infrastructure in place before construction begins.
Commr. Breeden related that there was a transportation workshop coming up and noted that funding for transportation has been an ongoing problem. She commented that it would be difficult to raise impact fees and requested for the Board to start considering a referendum for an extra five-cent gas tax.
Commr. Campione asked whether that funding would be used exclusively for resurfacing, since she believed the voters would be more receptive to use that money to keep their existing roads in better condition with a more aggressive resurfacing program.
Mr. Heath stated that he could work with Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, to include in an upcoming presentation regarding transportation a list of exact projects they would use the extra gas tax for.
Commr. Parks commented that there will be very specific roads that will be resurfaced listed in a referendum as well as a limited timeframe of a specific number of years.
Commr. Sullivan pointed out that there were caveats regarding what the extra gas tax dollars could be used for, and some of the funding is shared with the municipalities.
Commr. Campione indicated that she wanted to discuss development of more solutions for improving non-paved residential roads other than special assessments, and she wanted to figure out where there are the most complaints and problems and how many non-paved roads there were that needed attention. She mentioned that there is sometimes no right of way and suggested that some roads be improved in order to make them passable. She commented that in some situations, residents do not want the road to be improved. She also related that she wanted to develop solutions for addressing trees and debris that have fallen on someone’s property and have been moved out of the right of way. She elaborated that she wished the County could be more helpful to elderly residents and others who could not easily move that debris and suggested that they allocate a certain amount to be used for those types of situations. She added that the other transportation issue she wanted to discuss was a more aggressive resurfacing program, and she listed some of the roads that have been recently resurfaced and improved for better drivability.
Commr. Parks mentioned that Ridgewood Avenue, which is a very high priority, could be discussed during the transportation workshop and that the improvement of this road has been pending for many years.
Mr. Heath reported that there were three distinct transportation presentations scheduled which discussed the issues of funding, non-maintained roads, and transit, ride sharing, and Uber.
Commr. Parks opined that he strongly felt that the County should look at a ride sharing pilot program, even though there could be many obstacles to instituting that program.
Commr. Breeden commented that all of the other pilot programs seem to be in dense urban areas.
Commr. Parks acknowledged that it would be a challenge, adding that there were a limited number of urbanized areas in Lake County, and he suggested that they look for partnerships and opportunities, such as with the South Lake Community Foundation and some of the nonprofit organizations that are interested in the program. He commented that people who miss a bus with the fixed route system could be waiting another hour for the next one, and he acknowledged that they would not be able to do this at the same level as it was done in Orlando.
Commr. Campione related that she was in favor of looking at it, since the cost of a paratransit trip is expensive, but she expressed concern about what the Uber trips would cost to the outlying sections of the county.
Commr. Parks commented that the case studies he has looked at indicate that there has been real savings on those trips after a good rate is negotiated with a ride sharing program that fits their corporate structure to assist people with those needs. He suggested that they could use this service to get people to educational facilities such as Lake Tech, which would also help from an economic development perspective as well.
Commr. Campione discussed how to resolve the long-standing Vista del Lago road access issue. She recapped that when the South Lake Connector was being built, the residents in that neighborhood were trying to generate the level of trips they needed to justify a traffic light and had a major problem with traffic cutting through the neighborhood from Lake Louisa Drive. She noted that the closing of the Vista del Lago entrance was supposed to be temporary, and over time the residents did not like the temporary barriers that were there, so a group of the homeowners decided to remove the barrier and put in an earthen berm. She requested that the Board revisit and try to resolve this issue to open the road in the most cost-effective way, with the homeowners bearing the cost of any upgrades or enhancements they would want to make such as an elaborate gate, since this issue has been going on for too many years. She opined that although the proper way to close a road should be with an official vacation, she did not feel there was enough neighborhood support to completely close it, so she believed that the right thing to do was to open that road.
Commr. Parks reported that he discussed this matter with the HOA (Homeowners Association) and received a letter stating that the HOA was not interested in the vacation.
Mr. Heath suggested that Mr. Stivender do a departmental presentation about the chronology of that issue to give the Board an educated briefing and then have a public hearing where the Board could make the actual decision of whether to keep it opened or closed.
Commr. Campione asked if they needed the agreement of everyone in the neighborhood in order to vacate it.
Ms. Marsh answered that a vacation would entail a public hearing process which would enable the Board to hear from any resident who is interested in this issue, and the Board could approve a vacation as long as it would not deny access to anyone.
Commr. Campione cautioned about giving a lot of credence to the HOA, which she opined was controlled by a few people who try to stifle the opinions of the residents with whom they do not agree.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 11:55 p.m. that there would be a fifteen-minute recess.
Commr. Sullivan announced that the first issue under Public Safety was a discussion about continuing to evaluate and study Fire Services and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) to determine the best and most cost efficient ways to provide quality services in the future.
Commr. Breeden related that she was interested in seeing the EMS study as well as the Fire Services assessment study that were coming up, and she commented that she believed the Board needed to look at both entities and see how they could best work together.
Commr. Blake stated that he wanted to consider options for saving money and to make sure that they were providing the best service at a reasonable cost.
Commr. Campione noted that the present EMS study was limited in scope to transport in rural areas rather than looking at whether to merge fire and EMS services.
Commr. Blake expressed a preference for doing a separate study and looking at other counties who have merged those services into one entity.
Commr. Breeden commented that she was also interested in seeing what other counties are doing.
Commr. Campione requested to find out how they work with the cities during a transition like that by checking with an expert in the field about how to work the logistics and what the options would be. She commented that she did not want to give the impression that they were not sensitive to the fact that the cities have their own fire departments, but she wanted to make it an option for the cities if they wanted to be part of the County’s system. She opined that this seemed to be becoming the industry standard, and they have to at least give it consideration unless there was a glaring reason not to do so.
Commr. Sullivan summarized that the Board wants to take a look at whether they were doing this in the most efficient way while providing the best services that they can at the most cost effective level and to make sure that they include municipalities and everyone in the process. He pointed out that they have recently transitioned from being Lake-Sumter EMS, and he believes now is the time to move forward and look at this issue.
Commr. Campione commented that they do not know if merging the services will be viable, whether they would save more money or have better service, and if they would be eliminating duplication of services or making it more costly and cumbersome. She noted that they can put those uncertainties to rest and answer those questions by doing the study.
Mr. Heath responded that the issue would be the timing, since the study currently being done regarding EMS will be delayed, and he asked the Board if they prefer to wait for the results of that study before doing the study they just discussed, which will limit their ability to do anything in Fiscal Year 2018, since it will be fall before they get the results of that study back. He added that there will be some transition issues integrating EMS into the Fire Department.
Commr. Blake stated that he wished to do the study as soon as possible and move forward independently of the other study.
Commr. Parks asked what the timeframe would be if they moved forward with the study.
Mr. Heath responded that the EMS study has two phases, the data collection and the actual recommendations, with the first phase due in August and second phase due in December of 2016. He elaborated that both of those phases have been delayed, and the EMS board has not taken action on phase one yet. He estimated that the study would not be properly vetted until the summer, which would mean that the Board would not be able to take action until the fall at the earliest if they waited for that to occur before doing a solicitation.
Ms. Marsh pointed out that nothing obligates the EMS board to go forward with the second phase.
Mr. Heath clarified that the focus of the current study was to explore the efficiencies between EMS and fire services rather than to actually consolidate those two agencies.
Commr. Breeden asked if they could look at outsourcing as an option.
Commr. Parks stated he was not interested in looking at outsourcing other than discussing it for informational purposes and recap what they found when they looked at that option in the past and the reasons they chose not to do it. However, he did indicate support for moving forward to get answers in a timely fashion about consolidation.
Commr. Sullivan opined that he believed they should wait on the current findings, but he realized that the Board wanted to look at a much broader scope than the current study examines. He commented that this would entail a long-term process which might include a fire advisory board that was discussed earlier to decide their best options moving forward among alternatives such as staying with the status quo, consolidation, or using some type of hybrid system. He mentioned that the County had just received the SAFER (Staffing for the Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant to hire 15 firefighters, which means they would need to find funding sources for those firefighters in a couple of years when that grant expires.
Commr. Campione edified that the SAFER grant was for locations where there were gaps in coverage, which was a basic need that was important to address.
Commr. Blake opined that would make it even more important to start looking at what their options were, and the sooner they have that information, the better they will be able to prepare.
Commr. Campione emphasized that they were doing the study to get information to make sure they were providing those services the best way they possibly could with the tax dollars that they have to work with and not paying more for something than they really need to.
Commr. Sullivan elaborated that they would also be looking at employee benefits, since employees made up the largest financial cost to maintain in any governmental entity and commented that he agreed that it was better to move this issue forward sooner rather than later. He opined that he did not believe this would affect the 2018 budget. He summarized that there was consensus to go forward with the study that would help the Board decide what the most efficient system would be.
Mr. Heath asked if the Board wanted him to develop an RFP now, with the Board then discussing this with the members of the EMS board the next time they met. He noted that the EMS board will be discussing extending their contract, since both phases expire the first of April.
Commr. Campione and Commr. Parks both indicated that they were in favor of limiting the scope of the study to the possibility of consolidation to create efficiencies.
Commr. Sullivan suggested that they give direction to staff to work on an RFP which would be brought back to the Board for approval to move forward based on that scope, which will give them time to work with the EMS board and get input from them.
Ms. Marsh pointed out that they could include outsourcing as an optional task so that they would not have to put out a new RFP if they decide to move forward with it.
Commr. Parks noted that outsourcing was a different issue altogether than consolidation. He recapped that there previously has been discussion about using an outsourcing service for non-emergency transport and asked whether that was part of the current study.
Mr. Heath responded that that issue came up at an EMS board meeting last summer.
Commr. Campione opined that they only do that when they do not have the fleet and staff to transport.
Mr. Heath suggested that they limit the study to who transports and how to move from the current system to consolidation, as well as looking at outsourcing if the Board is interested in looking at that.
Commr. Campione added that she would like to include a caveat that the level of service for the cities would have to remain the same.
Commr. Sullivan clarified that the Board wants a study solely to look at whether consolidation is the right move for Lake County based on the system that they currently have.
Commr. Parks commented that a fire advisory board could be helpful for this kind of decision, particularly in the planning process and communicating the level of service needs. He opined that there was some worth in having citizens and experts involved in an advisory capacity, although he knows that will entail more work for staff.
Commr. Campione opined that it was premature and duplicative to have a fire advisory board at this time until they get some recommendations and information back, since the questions they would look at may change depending on the outcome of the study.
Commr. Sullivan noted that the name of the committee might have to reflect the fact that they are looking at emergency rather than just fire services. He expressed concern about the fact that some of the recommendations made by advisory boards are not put into effect. He asked Commr. Parks to work with staff to bring back a proposal to the Board regarding the advisory board.
Commr. Campione discussed the objective of either modification or repeal of Interlocal Service Boundary Agreements (ISBA) to address both County and City issues and expressed concern about County residents being forced into annexations after their area becomes an enclave as a result of areas around them being annexed into the cities. She opined that the County should look for a way to bifurcate the public safety issue from the land use issue with automatic aid agreements and look at ways to go back to using Joint Planning Areas (JPA) with the cities instead of the ISBA’s.
Commr. Breeden agreed that that made sense to her.
Mr. Heath specified that Leesburg uses the County for about 200 emergency calls, and the County uses the City for about 100 calls, with Clermont’s call volume being about even with the County’s.
Commr. Parks asked how many other places use this type of system which results in an exchange of money.
Mr. Heath responded that most places do not exchange money or do what Lake County does. He recapped that the only way he was able to get the cities to agree to enter into an agreement with the County was to offer noncontiguous annexations and compensation, since the cities originally had concern about having to subsidize the County. He elaborated that they were coming out of a recession at that time as well. He commented that it would be especially difficult to enter into an agreement without any expectation of annexation with the cities of Mount Dora and Eustis.
Commr. Campione proposed that they make the agreements for six months to a year rather than long-term to ascertain whether there was a balance of calls between the two entities.
Mr. Heath noted that currently the agreements were for 20 years, and he expressed doubt about the cities giving up the noncontiguous annexation provision.
parks, trails, and environmental issues
Commr. Sullivan introduced the first objective under this topic, which was to accept the first parcel of the Cannon property and to work to secure funding such as grant funds to acquire the remaining parcels, and he related that there was a work session scheduled to discuss that.
Commr. Breeden commented that the property, which was in her district, has a lot of unique species. She recapped that the Board had already given approval for the County to apply for the grant.
Mr. Heath reported that he has scheduled a work session for the end of February to discuss the two parts to the issue of the Cannon property, and he explained that the state legislature will have to take action on the grant, which was coming to the state from the federal government. He related that the first issue regarding the property is that the Trust for Public Land (TPL) wants some relief from some of the conditions the Board put on them last year, and the other issue was the subsequent phases of the remaining portions of the Cannon property. He elaborated that the grant cycle will be at the end of February, and the Board will have to decide whether they are interested in participating in the second phase of the Cannon property, since it will require a match from the County in the amount of about $500,000 from either the General Fund or the sales tax.
Commr. Parks commented that he thought the TPL have backed off some of their concerns.
Mr. Heath replied that currently one of the largest issues is the request for legal paved access to the property as opposed to constructive access, noting that it was originally conceptualized as a place for educational purposes for the public. He further explained that relieving the trust and property owner from that responsibility would necessitate that the County assume that burden, noting that there were ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements as well.
Ms. Marsh asked the Board to keep in mind that 12 acres of the first phase is all the way at the back of the property surrounded by residential property on the other side, and access would have to be through the main part of the property to get to that part. She elaborated that they would have to acquire access to parcels owned by other people.
Commr. Sullivan announced that the next topic of discussion under Parks, Trails, and Environmental was to get a handle on long-term costs associated with trail maintenance.
Commr. Blake expressed concern about the long-term maintenance expense for upcoming trail projects as well as the current trails and requested an estimate for maintenance up front on all the new miles of paved trails they were working on, since he believed it would affect the County’s budgets significantly in the future.
Commr. Parks related that they also take a similar approach when they look at the 20-year operational costs before they accept grant money.
Commr. Campione recapped that they were given a presentation at a previous BCC meeting which gave an analysis of what it costs to maintain the County’s current trails.
Mr. Heath acknowledged that staff could readily identify those costs as they move forward with those projects.
Commr. Campione noted that the County was getting some state dollars for trails because of the multi-modal aspect, so it would seem logical to have a funding source that would be related to transportation.
Commr. Sullivan read aloud the next objective, which was the designation of scenic sidewalks to facilitate safe access by residents and visitors and to explore the use of TDT money for sidewalks or walking trails in specific locations.
Commr. Campione explained that she believed there could be a separate category of locations for scenic walkways rather than multi-use trails in places where there was constricted right of way and no room or desire for the multi-use trails in unique and incredibly beautiful areas of Lake County such as on Lake Shore Drive between Mount Dora and Tavares. She opined that visitors to Mount Dora would like to take a walk to see sunsets and to explore those kinds of locations, and she wondered whether TDT money could be used for a sidewalk that was scenic and usable for residents and visitors and how many other places in Lake County would fit into that category, which she believed to be about five or six. She asked staff to try to come up with some ideas about how to do that.
Commr. Sullivan commented that it could fall into the category of a streetscape project, and he mentioned Silver Lake as another possible destination to look at.
Commr. Parks mentioned that Lake Shore Drive in Clermont is also well used but with traffic problems.
Commr. Sullivan read the next objective, which was the use of TDT money for the initial trailhead for the Gateway to Forest Trail from Umatilla to Astor and the use of volunteers for clearing and preparation of an initial non-paved and horse trail.
Commr. Campione commented that this trail is greatly anticipated in Umatilla and opined that this would be a great asset for the county which would be extensively used. She added that community involvement by groups such as 4-H, Boy and Girl Scouts, and trail people might be an asset that could help the County with the initial clearing, development, and maintenance of a non-paved trail. She related that Mr. Carl Ludecke indicated that he intended to dedicate a quarter of an acre of property to be used as the official trailhead. She opined that working with the city on a non-paved trail would be a valuable use of TDT money. She added that there was an opportunity for coordination with the City of Eustis to explore connection to a downtown trailhead for the Pine Meadows Trail for both city and County residents on property that the County has acquired from the St. Johns River Water Management District (St. Johns). She also suggested that they could coordinate with agencies such as the Lake County Water Authority and St. John for water quality projects, since pristine waterways are important for the County’s economic development.
Commr. Parks stated that he would like the County to look into opportunities for public-private partnerships as an option for the construction of the South Lake Park in its entirety and then to lease it back for one dollar, since he felt that the progress was too slow on the South Lake Park construction, noting that 2019 is not an acceptable time frame for construction on the park. He commented that growth in the population in the South Lake area has made this issue even more pressing and that he and many other residents of South Lake already have to travel to other places for their children’s sporting events. He suggested that the County compare the cost of this option to how much it would cost to continue to do what they are doing now to finish all the phases of the South Lake Regional Park as well as the level of service each option would bring.
Mr. Heath assured Commr. Parks that he could certainly look at that and mentioned that they were currently in the middle of designing the park. He commented that the road, the trees, and the utilities would be the largest issues, but the previously-mentioned comparison for the actual development of the park itself would not be a problem. He related that the presentation of the design was scheduled for a future meeting and recapped that the Board was concerned about saving the trees, which would have an impact on the road cross section.
Commr. Campione commented that she believes it is worth looking at the option for a public-private partnership if it will help the project move forward quicker and expressed interest in learning more about that.
Commr. Parks explained that the County would own the park and would get it back after a certain time period of 25 or 30 years.
Commr. Breeden brought up the possibility of using TDT money for the lease buyout of Florida Central Railroad in order to enable the Wekiva-Mount Dora Trail development to move forward. She pointed out that Mount Dora has many bicycling events that bring in “heads in beds” and she expressed concern about losing the opportunity to construct that trail.
Commr. Campione noted that they will have a problem getting the trail from the City of Mount Dora out to the Wekiva Parkway if they do not buy out the Florida Central Railroad part. She elaborated that there was also some uncertainty about the railroad company itself, and the County would be dealing with a new entity which may not be inclined to go forward with this arrangement if that company is sold. She opined that the County should come up with some way to buy that lease.
Mr. Heath explained that the issues involved with that are buying the interest for Florida Central Railroad as well as buying the actual property. He reported that the option with the railroad expires next year to buy out their interest or encumbrance, which was not an eligible use for the infrastructure sales tax, and the Board would have to find money from someplace else to do so. He pointed out that it might be eligible if the County can make an arrangement to pay for the property along with the interest. He reported that the other issues are whether this project would be eligible for TDT funding and that the City Manager of Mount Dora indicated that she wanted to pursue a delay or an extension with the Florida Central Railroad to give them more time to come up with the funds. He summarized that this was a complicated issue.
Commr. Campione suggested that they look into doing some kind of installment agreement with CSX where the County did not have to pay for the property up front. She pointed out that although an extension would lock in the price the County had agreed to, it would not bind future purchasers of their company.
recess and reassembly
Commr. Sullivan requested that they discuss the County Manager position next, since Commr. Blake needed to leave at 2:00 p.m. He excused most of the staff in attendance from the room for that discussion and announced at 1:15 p.m. that there would be a fifteen-minute recess.
county manager position
Commr. Sullivan stated that he believed the Board needed to start the process of looking for a new County Manager throughout the state through the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) for someone with county experience, adding that he did not believe they should discourage anyone from their staff who is interested in the position from applying. He suggested that they then interview the top two or three candidates.
Commr. Breeden reiterated that she believed there is some talent locally and did not want the fact that they are doing a statewide search to discourage someone on staff from applying.
Commr. Parks echoed similar sentiments and agreed that a statewide search through FAC is a good idea rather than a nationwide search. He commented that there were a couple of candidates internally for the position who should be encouraged to participate in the process, and he stated that time was of the essence, since they only had six weeks before Mr. Heath was expected to retire.
Commr. Breeden related that they would have to make a decision about whether they would appoint an interim manager or try to convince Mr. Heath to stay longer.
Mr. Heath commented that realistically it would take until about June to find a replacement, including getting a job description done to go before the Board, giving applicants a 30-day turnaround time to get their applications in, putting together a short list of the best candidates for the position, having one-on-one interviews with those candidates, scheduling an evening mixer to have the public meet the candidates, bringing those individuals before the Board the following day to vet them at a special Board meeting, and allowing the person that is chosen time to give a 30-day notice to his present employer. However, he indicated that he believed that the timeframe could be reduced if they choose someone regionally or within the state.
Commr. Parks commented that they wanted to take their time to choose the right person for the job and that it could be July or August before a new County Manager is in place.
Mr. Heath commented that he did not believe in hiring a headhunter for this position, which would cost an additional $25,000 to $50,000, and he did not have confidence in the applicants they would bring in to apply for the position. He added that the most important thing will be that the Board is comfortable with the person who is chosen, and he opined that the FAC is a good network.
Commr. Campione opined that she believed the County had some great people who she would feel comfortable with immediately, but she realized that several Commissioners would like to conduct a search before hiring anyone. She urged the Board to complete the job description quickly and to start the process as soon as possible.
Commr. Parks asked whether the standard job description would fit what the Board currently wanted.
Mr. Heath responded that he will keep in mind that the Board’s three most important issues are economic development, public safety, and fiscal responsibility, as well as other important matters such as parks and trails.
Commr. Parks indicated that the candidates’ thoughts on work culture and personnel are important to him.
Commr. Breeden suggested that the Board look over the existing job description and let Mr. Heath know at the next BCC meeting whether they want to change anything.
Commr. Campione opined that the current description will be close to what they are looking for but suggested that they add the words “dynamic” and “high energy.”
Mr. Heath responded that he could add an addendum under the Chairman’s report for the BCC meeting on January 24 consisting of the existing job description. He added that they could bring it back again on February 7 if the Board decided that they wanted a massive overhaul of it.
Commr. Sullivan asked for and received consensus from the Board delegating the responsibility to him as Chairman to work with the County Attorney and Mr. Heath on extending Mr. Heath’s retirement date.
Commr. Blake indicated that he had a topic to discuss under Human Resources regarding exploring outsourcing areas with high turnover gradually through attrition, which he mentioned was done in other counties.
Mr. Heath elaborated that Polk County has successfully used a system to do this for about ten years after it had a hard time recruiting staff during the economic boom, which gradually reduces the workforce by using a company to provide a contract person to work alongside a permanent County employee until someone retires.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 1:50 p.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
Commr. Blake left the meeting at 2:00 p.m.
Commr. Campione expressed hope that the City of Leesburg will join the County in applying for the HOME grants program to be used in conjunction with the Forward Paths program, which provides support to Lake County’s most vulnerable youths, including those who age out of foster care, as they strive to live independently as successful adults. She remarked that she was dedicated to working with the County’s housing staff to put together the criteria they would need to demonstrate that the HOME grant program would be used for things like the transitional housing provided by Forward Paths rather than a subsidy or entitlement program. She elaborated that the grant is awarded every year after they apply for it and that it is used for rental assistance.
Commr. Parks mentioned that the Forward Paths people seemed supportive and interested in using ride sharing to assist with that effort.
Commr. Campione responded that lack of transportation to jobs and school is a large problem for that population, which was why they were looking at property along the fixed transit route. She ensured that staff will have talking points when presenting this to Leesburg.
Commr. Sullivan announced that there would be a workshop on February 21 to discuss the next objective under Housing, which was to approve a resolution to allow qualified agencies to bring the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program to Lake County for both commercial entities and homeowners.
Mr. Heath pointed out that multiple companies were involved with this.
Commr. Breeden related that some other counties have done multiple agency resolutions in order to clarify it.
Commr. Campione reported that they had received the award from the state for bear-proof trash cans and education and asked about the alternative that the Board previously discussed of providing residents with special latches to put on existing trash cans. She mentioned that there were demonstrations at the Wildlife Festival of how those latches work, and she asked whether it would be more beneficial to use those latches or the bear proof containers.
Mr. Heath answered that the County was having a hard time finding a durable bear-proof cart, and the latches have some promise; however, they have to make sure that the latches would be an allowable use under the grant. He reported that there was a work session scheduled in March to discuss how to proceed with this issue, and he clarified that the educational aspect has always been a part of it.
Commr. Campione wondered whether the County should look into doing a second pickup during the week in places where they would use bear-resistant trash cans that could not be picked up by the automated trucks. She pointed out that another one of her objectives under Solid Waste was to fix current problems with solid waste collection and allow more flexibility on additional items and overflow trash being picked up. She related that the current solid waste haulers were strict and rigid about what they would and would not pick up in order to force people to recycle more, but she receives complaints from a lot of residents and has personally experienced problems when she has a little bit more garbage than what fits into the container, noting that previously everything was always picked up in Lake County. She added that she believed that there is now more trash along the side of the road as well, which she opined was due to either residents throwing it out after the haulers do not take their additional trash or from it blowing out of the garbage trucks sometime during the collection process.
Commr. Breeden agreed that there seemed to be more litter on the roads recently.
Mr. Heath reported that the haulers were due to bring a list of requests and discussion items to the County soon, and he will put this issue on the list of things to discuss with them.
Commr. Parks commented that he has not seen as much trash on the roads since they have been working with the contractor to improve that problem.
Commr. Sullivan noted that although the haulers do their best to get the trash in the truck, some trash still drifts onto the roadway if the wind is blowing and residents do not put it in trash bags. However, he still indicated that they could discuss with their haulers how to improve the situation, especially since the County has started the Keep Lake Beautiful program.
Commr. Parks related that once in a while he sees where the trucks leaked oil on the asphalt.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, responded that they are diligent about pointing those kinds of things out to their haulers when they occur, especially since his department is responsible for the condition of the roads.
Mr. Heath addressed the issue previously brought up by Commr. Blake before he left the meeting regarding outsourcing staff in areas with high turnover, which he specified was referring to replacing an employee who leaves the County’s employ with a contractor. He added that he could also look into joining with Polk County’s contract for those positions with a high Workman’s Compensation risk such as road crews and facilities employees, and he assured the Board that he would bring that issue back to them.
Commr. Parks discussed participation by key County staff in the FAC training programs and certification that parallels the Advanced County Commissioner programs to help certain employees grow professionally, help with succession, and give acknowledgment of best practices in all areas. He opined that a satisfied and good staff is essential to the County’s goals, and he expressed interest in expanding on what the County has already done, such as a pay for performance study and incentives for efficiency and innovation, as well as to keep looking at benefits packages the County could provide for their team, particularly in the area of health benefits. He added that he would provide some other information to Mr. Heath that could be distributed to the Commissioners about an option that could help them better support their team at all levels and empower the County Manager to make changes that would enable them to support their goals with a team that feels more empowered to provide innovative ideas rather than to just go along with the status quo.
Mr. Heath explained that the incentives for innovation and pay for performance were tied to the issue of inspector pay by identifying and compensating a class of employee who obtains certifications that bring value to the County, such as inspectors, mechanics, and equipment operators; and that issue is scheduled to be discussed on January 24. He noted that medical insurance is an important and major benefit that is discussed often, and getting the employee health clinic started has been a large priority that the County has worked on over the last several months. He recapped that the concept of paying for ideas had been put in the budget, and a proposed program for that as well as the Citizens Academy program for maximizing volunteerism and community participation in County government is expected to be brought before the Board at a future meeting.
Commr. Breeden commented that she wanted to make sure the County is still working towards running a no-kill animal shelter, although she realized that they will learn more about that at the upcoming work session.
Mr. Heath explained that the County has taken over the animal shelter and hired a manager who will start that week, and there was a community meeting scheduled at the Agricultural Center on January 23 for public input. He added that Mr. Mike Fry from Minnesota’s first and largest no-kill shelter will conduct a work session on Tuesday, January 24, after looking at their protocol, policies, and facilities. He elaborated that Mr. Fry had helped with the recruitment of the manager and that he has seven principles for no-kill shelters, including volunteerism and facilities.
Commr. Campione asked whether they would need to make any ordinance changes in order to follow Mr. Fry’s recommendations.
Mr. Heath responded that after Mr. Fry’s presentation, the consultant will point out to the Board what the County will need to do immediately versus longer-term.
Commr. Campione pointed out that they invited the Sheriff and his enforcement crew to that presentation, since she believed they were an important part of the program, and the County needs to work hand-in-hand with them on enforcement and give them the tools they need, such as ordinance changes.
Mr. Heath added that training was provided to both County and Sheriff‘s staff last week.
Commr. Campione related that she had put the issue of gateway signs, which the Board had discussed in the past, on the list of discussion items, since she believed they needed to move forward with it.
Mr. Heath recapped that there was a split decision about what kind of signs the Board wanted to use when the Board discussed this last year, and he was planning on bringing this back to make sure this Board was comfortable with the approach staff was looking into and to present some mock up larger versions of the signs for the Board to get a better idea of what they would look like rather than waste the time and money for signs the Board was not happy with.
Commr. Campione emphasized that she also wanted to look at improving the aesthetics of the surrounding area around where the signs would be located, including litter control and landscape maintenance.
Commr. Parks opined that the number of Advanced Wireless Communication Facilities, which were the smaller antennae systems, will increase because of the advancement in technology in their society. He added that the County needed to seriously watch this issue and look at ways to regulate the installation and aesthetics of these new facilities in the rights of way, and there may be a revenue source associated with those systems, although it is very limited.
Ms. Marsh related that the Florida Association of County Attorneys just had a task force on this issue and released their report in January. She mentioned that her office has been following this for a couple of months to determine what changes they might need to make to their Code, and she will be bringing something back to the Board in the future.
Commr. Parks noted that they could end up with 80-foot antennas every 300 feet down their roads.
Ms. Marsh mentioned that the County has already received a few applications, and she is taking the position that they need to be treated the same as cell towers.
Commr. Parks requested to have a joint meeting with the School Board to discuss topics such as sharing of facilities for recreation and offering courses in computer language coding as a language requirement replacement, which was a skill that was attractive to technology companies and could be used in the workforce.
Mr. Heath added that there were about four or five items that the Board wanted to discuss with the School Board, including the impact fee waiver program, cable television, and Trout Lake. He noted that the new Superintendent starts in March and suggested that they schedule a session for April or May.
Commr. Sullivan opined that it was a very productive day.
Commr. Parks thanked the Chairman and staff for doing a great job organizing that day’s retreat. He also thanked staff for a veterans program last year giving the spouses of veterans the funds to assist with their spouse’s homecare needs. He suggested that they let their legislators know that the Board feels that the program needed to be supported even more so this year in their budget.
Commr. Sullivan added that he would be making a trip to Washington DC to visit their delegation and discuss with lobbyists ways for Lake County’s federal priorities to attract the attention of the legislators.
Mr. Heath mentioned that staff will do a presentation regarding veterans’ services in the beginning of February.
Commr. Campione suggested that the TDC loan the money to the County to buy out the previously-mentioned railroad lease in order to be able to construct the Wekiva Trail, and then the County could pay the money back when FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) came out to buy the right of way.
Ms. Marsh assured Commr. Campione that she would look into that.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 2:38 p.m.
timothy i. sullivan, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK