A regular MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
april 18, 2017
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: 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; Neil Kelly, Clerk of Court; Kristy Mullane, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Pastor Tim Travis from the Father’s House gave the Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. David Heath, County Manager, stated that he had several changes to the agenda and requested that they move Tab 26 regarding the Central Florida Expressway Authority up to be heard with the proclamations immediately after Tab 3, since there was staff from the Expressway Authority present to accept that resolution, and for the Board to entertain a motion to approve all three proclamations prior to presenting them. He pointed out that a new Tab 27 was added to the agenda under Commr. Campione’s business for the new school impact fee waiver program, which necessitated moving the closed session and the County Manager interviews to Tabs 28 and 29. He also related that Tab 7 dealing with housing replacement would be pulled from the Consent Agenda for a separate vote so that Commr. Parks could abstain from that vote.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Parks, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Minutes of February 21, 2017 (Regular Meeting), February 23, 2017 (Special Meeting), and March 2, 2017 (Special Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares and writer of a blog regarding fiscal and governmental issues, encouraged the Board to set conditions such as performance audits for the constitutional officers’ budget requests so that the public can see the oversights and expressed concern that some constitutional officers do not publish detailed versions of their budgets. He pointed out that the Sheriff’s budget makes up over half of the County’s budget, and he believed that the public needed to know how efficient or effective that office was.
approval of proclamations and resolution
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Proclamation No. 2017-33 proclaiming April 2017 as Altrusa Centennial Month in Lake County, Proclamation No. 2017-32 congratulating the Leesburg Yellow Jackets as the 2017 Class 6A State Basketball Champions, and Resolution No. 2017-38 supporting the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s (CFX) purchase of portions of SR 528, SR 429, and SR 417 owned by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
presentation of altrusa international proclamation
Commr. Breeden noted that they were celebrating the Altrusa International organization’s centennial, and she read Proclamation No. 2017-33 aloud which elaborated on the organization’s service locally as well as to communities around the world. She then presented the proclamation to a group of Altrusa members who were present.
presentation of proclamation to leesburg yellow jackets
Commr. Breeden announced that they were proud to honor the Leesburg Yellow Jackets varsity basketball team, a group who represented the City of Leesburg and Lake County very well and who won the 2017 6A State Basketball Championship this season. She read Proclamation No. 2017-32 aloud, congratulated the team, and presented the proclamation to them.
resolution supporting cfx purchase of portions of roads
Commr. Parks commented that the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) was the local agency for residents living in Lake, Seminole, Osceola, and Orange Counties and explained that Resolution No. 2017-38 conveyed Lake County’s support of the effort to purchase some of the roads from the Turnpike Authority and to switch that authority to CFX in order to have local control of those roads, which would give them the ability to represent their citizens and be held accountable for that transportation system. He read the proclamation aloud and presented it to Ms. Laura Kelly, Director of the CFX.
Ms. Kelly stated that she sincerely appreciated the partnership with Lake County and looked forward to working with the County for many more years.
CLERK OF COURTS’ CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of Courts’ Consent Agenda, Items 1 through 5, as follows:
List of Warrants
Request to acknowledge receipt of list of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136.06 (1) of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes as attached Exhibit A and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk’s Office.
Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento Community Redevelopment Agency Annual Report
Request to acknowledge receipt of the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento Community Redevelopment Agency Annual Report dated March 31, 2017, as well as a copy of the public notice that will be published in the Daily Commercial for same.
Ordinance from the City of Clermont
Request to acknowledge receipt of Ordinance 2017-18 from the City of Clermont annexing contiguous vacant property into the city limits of Clermont.
Ordinance from City of Minneola
Request to acknowledge receipt of comprehensive plan amendment Ordinance 2016-30 from the City of Minneola providing for a textual amendment to the City’s Comprehensive Plan to create Policy 1-2.11.4 entitled “Johnson Mixed Use Development.”
Letter from City of Fruitland Park
Request to acknowledge receipt of a letter from the City of Fruitland Park dated March 24, 2017 stating that a certified letter previously sent regarding Ordinance 2017-013 from the City of Fruitland Park regarding a boundary amendment for property north of CR 466A and west of Timbertop Lane was sent in error and that the City enacted the ordinance at its March 9 regular meeting.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Consent Agenda, Tabs 5 through 18, pulling Tab 7, as follows:
Request for approval to purchase four ADA Compliant Lowered Floor Dodge Grand Caravans SXT (Support Vehicles) through the Federal Transit Administration Grant Number FL-90-X834-00 FY 2013. These vehicles will be purchased through the State of Florida's bid list Transit Research Inspection Procurement Services (TRIPS) program. The fiscal impact is $198,928 (County Portion: $0 / Grant Funding: $198,928) (Expense).
Request for approval to purchase up to four (4) Gillig fixed route buses over the next two years via access of a third-party contract awarded by the Central Contra County Transit Authority (with AC Transit as a participating member), and authorize the Procurement Office to execute all implementing documentation in support of the purchase. The contractual entities are all located in California. The fiscal impact is an estimated $489,772 for each bus ($1,959,088 for four buses). Grant funding is currently available to purchase three buses ($1,469,316). The County anticipates receipt of grant-funding to support the purchase of a fourth bus during FY 2018.
Request for approval of Resolution No. 2017-34 authorizing the County Manager and County Attorney to approve and "Pin" any and all Federal Transit Administration (FTA)/Federal Department of Transportation (FDOT) federal transit grant documents electronically. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval of mediated Settlement Agreement between Lake County, Lake EMS and Nathan and Liza Farzati. The fiscal impact is $40,000.00 (a portion of which will be paid by the County’s re-insurer: approximately $19,860.00).
Request for approval of an amendment to the Central Florida Boy Scout Conservation Easement to allow the building of non-residential structures for the purpose of a campground facility. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 4.
Request for approval of a list of vendors to be used for competitive bidding of Park Amenities and Playground Equipment materials and/or installation, and authorization for the Procurement Services Division to complete all implementing documentation in coordination with the County Attorney’s Office. The estimated annual fiscal impact is $50,000, but will vary depending on amenity purchases and/or repairs needed at each park.
Request for approval of the University of Florida's recommendation that Dallas Daniels be hired as Extension Agent I, 4-H Youth Development Program, in the Lake County Extension Services Division. The annual fiscal impact is $38,408.00 (Expenditure).
Request for approval to award contracts 17-0423, Roadside Mowing and Litter Removal to Groundtek of Central Florida, LLC (Ocoee), Paff Landscape, Inc. (Brooksville), and CF Landscaping and Lawn Care, LLC (Ocala). The estimated annual fiscal impact is $318,000.52.
Request for approval of Resolution No. 2017-35 and amended Railroad Reimbursement Agreement with the State of Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Central Railroad Company, Inc. for the crossing located on CR 44 (6143), west of its intersection with CR 452 (6743), in Eustis. The amendment calls for FDOT to construct flashing lights and gates and install a new cabinet, at no cost to Lake County. The County will reimburse FDOT 50% of the annual maintenance cost of $3,600. The fiscal impact $1,800 for annual maintenance. Commissioner District 4.
Request for approval to release a cash surety in the amount of $222,227.41 that was posted to guarantee the completion of the infrastructure for Pretty Lake Ranch. Pretty Lake Ranch consists of 64 lots and is located on the east side of State Road 33, South of Florida Boy’s Ranch Road, in Section 17, Township 23 South, Range 25 East. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 1.
Request for approval to execute an Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and the City of Groveland to Transfer Jurisdiction of Sampey Road at a fiscal impact of $11,097.14 to be expended from the Renewal Sales Tax Capital Projects – Public Works – Resurfacing Fund. Commission District 1.
Request for approval and signature of Resolution No. 2017-36 to advertise a Public Hearing to vacate and annul the Plat of Paddock Hills, located on Number Two Road (#3024) lying South of Leesburg. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 3.
Request for approval to award the Johns Lake Road Widening and Resurfacing and Sidewalk Project, Project No. 2017-04, Bid No. 17-0812, Tracking No. W&R10028, to Goodwin Bros. Construction, Inc. (Brooksville, FL) in the amount of $2,109,986.25 and expend $1,792,994.33 from the Renewal Sales Tax Capital Projects – Public Works Fund and $316,991.92 from the County Transportation Trust Fund. Also, request approval of the Unanticipated Revenue Resolution No. 2017-37 to recognize $316,991.92 from the City of Clermont in the County Transportation Trust Fund for the agreed upon utility work associated with the project. Commission District 2.
award of agreements to construct housing replacements
Commr. Parks stated for the record that he was recusing himself from the vote on this item because of a potential business contact with Manzella Services, LLC.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Campione and carried by a vote of 4-0, the Board approved Tab 7, the request from Community Services for approval to award agreements to construct Housing Replacements under the County’s State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) and/or Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs and authorize the procurement office to complete implementing documentation. The recommended vendors are GCICGCCMA, LLC (Mount Dora), Glen Holt Aluminum (Fruitland Park), JFB Construction, Inc. (Eustis), Manzella Services, LLC (Clermont), Charlie Johnson Builders (Mount Dora), and Homes in Partnership (Apopka). The estimated annual impact is $634,000, entirely grant funded.
public hearing – ordinance regarding fertilizer use
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, placed the proposed ordinance on the floor for its second and final reading by title only as follows:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA; AMENDING LAKE COUNTY CODE, APPENDIX E, LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS, SECTION 6.13.00, TO CREATE A NEW SECTION, ENTITLED “FERTILIZER USE;” ADOPTING THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION MODEL ORDINANCE FOR FLORIDA-FRIENDLY FERTILIZER USE ON URBAN LANDSCAPES; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR FILING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Mac Carraway, a resident of Bradenton and the Executive Director of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, indicated that he was speaking on behalf of a number of green industry stakeholders in Lake County and throughout the state, which includes golf, turf, landscape, sports turf, and professional lawn care providers, and they have had a vested interest in the development of these ordinances across the state for many years. He related that they support the staff’s model and draft ordinance and appreciate the staff’s efforts in keeping his group apprised of the progress on that draft. He expressed concern about the possibility that the County might conform their ordinance to the provisions in the recently-passed Seminole County ordinance which imposed a summertime fertilizer blackout, and he read an article stating that scientific research did not support the summertime fertilizer blackouts and that the University of Florida, the Department of Agriculture, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) do not recommend or endorse them. He commented that the summer blackout model has always been controversial, and providing information on the usefulness of blackouts would require a minimum of five to ten years of data collection; however, that has not been done except by FDEP, which is the only full-scale credible evidence available and unequivocally disproves blackouts. He requested that the County act on the evidence and not give in to an old disproven myth and emotional rhetoric. He added that their group practices environmental stewardship and focuses primarily on education, which they think can make real change happen regarding this water protection issue.
Commr. Campione asked whether Mr. Carraway considers the utilization of a fertilizer that does not have nitrogen and phosphorous but still has minerals and iron a blackout.
Mr. Carraway responded that those minerals are helpful and part of a broad nutrient management program for turf grasses, but nitrogen is essential during the four-month active growing season in the summer and cannot be replaced by other nutrients. He added that the amount of leaching of nitrogen is limited and almost indiscernible, even during excessive fertilization of nitrogen during the summer and in periods of soil saturation. He opined that turf is considered a filter rather than a contributor to nutrient pollution, and eliminating the nutrients it needs during that period of time places an additional risk and results in a higher likelihood of nutrient leaching during the summer than to protect against it.
Commr. Campione asked about further 10- to 15-foot setbacks off of the waterways.
Mr. Carraway related that he does not object to the additional setback or the use of control release materials and thinks both of those are reasonable. He commented that the vast majority of the FDEP model ordinance is good and that they support it, along with some of the additional restrictions that some of the other local governments had added. His only concern was about the summer blackout, which he feels is extremely punitive, especially to the professional lawn care industry which is using those nutrients correctly.
Commr. Parks indicated that he supported increasing the buffer off of the wetlands and the surface waters, but he believed the blackout period is the most controversial part of this issue. He asked whether there was a blackout period in the industry prohibiting fertilizer from being applied 24 hours before a heavy rain.
Mr. Carraway answered that the prohibited period that is described in the FDEP model was absolutely observed by the industry, which was 24 hours before heavy rain and tropical storm conditions, and he noted that those were well-defined in the County’s ordinance as well as incorporated into the green industry’s best management practices and developed by the industry to ensure that they are not doing the things that would contribute to incidental nutrient runoff. He suggested that they educate people not to put fertilizer on their impervious surfaces or to blow their grass clippings into the storm sewer.
Commr. Parks commented that the weather was unpredictable in the summer, and storms sometimes came up suddenly without warning.
Mr. Carraway assured him that the study done by FDEP showed that nutrient applications and summer rains do not cause runoff and pollution by replicating those circumstances with non-control release fertilizers and did not have leachate in their test. He opined that the proposed ordinance contained a solid core of protections for the county and the spring shed.
Commr. Parks asked for Mr. Carraway to send the Board a copy of the studies that he referenced.
Mr. Carraway indicated that he would do so and offered to participate in any future workshops regarding this issue.
Mr. Jochim mentioned that he has been interested in this issue, since he lived on a canal on Lake Dora which was the site of a fish kill several years ago, and he has heard that residents who use the fertilizer are not usually aware of whether it was slow release and are mainly interested in price. He added that he has observed that a lot of grass clippings get into the water when his neighbors mow their lawns.
Commr. Campione commented that she believed that some jurisdictions have put restrictions in place on the kinds of fertilizer being sold to the public, and she suggested that the County could ask for cooperation from the businesses that sell it.
Ms. Lavon Silvernell, a resident of Astatula, commented that change is hard and that it was difficult to take personal bias out of how people interpret information. She added that the County is concerned about the economic impact of anything that affects an industry. She mentioned that the County had intentions of creating a committee to review the landscape ordinance in 2016 and expressed concern that the Board’s intention of creating a committee to look at the fertilizer ordinance would not occur. She suggested that they approve the proposed ordinance but with an added sunset clause in the ordinance stating that it would expire in six months to give the County time to create a committee.
Commr. Campione clarified that she does not recall the Board expressing an intention to form a committee but rather to gather information as they were doing that day and from emails they were receiving before ultimately deliberating on any change to the proposed ordinance with further input from the public.
Commr. Sullivan explained that the County had a deadline from the state to pass this ordinance, but the Board would get input from staff and the public and look into the best way to educate the public before bringing the ordinance back for any possible revisions. He offered to make Ms. Silvernell an interested party and to make sure she gets noticed about any further meetings that would have this issue on the agenda.
Commr. Parks commented that he liked the idea of a sunset clause after one year.
Ms. Merillee Malwitz Jipson, a representative of the Sierra Club of Florida, expressed concern that the Board does not have enough information and is waiting for further studies, noting that there have been studies to prove that fertilizer does impact waterways. She suggested that they table this vote until they have that information rather than using a sunset clause. She referred to a list she handed out of jurisdictions that had passed strong urban fertilizer ordinances which included strict summer rainy season application bans. She opined that it was important to add a requirement to the ordinance to apply only summer blend fertilizer formulations which contain iron, potassium, and micronutrients but no nitrogen or phosphorus between June 1 and September 30 and pointed out that the model ordinance does not have those requirements. She added that there was no recommendation in the model ordinance for at least 50 percent slow-release nitrogen content when adopted and an increase to a minimum of 65 percent slow-release after three years of adoption. She also recommended at least a 15-foot rather than a 10-foot buffer, a reclaimed water component, and an exemption for fruit and vegetable gardens in the ordinance. She related that there was no mention of enforcement in the existing ordinance, and she recommended that the staff from the St. Johns River Water Management District conduct authorized code enforcement activities for any violation of this ordinance. She concluded that ten other Florida counties have already passed ordinances which include summer restrictions on nitrogen and phosphorus.
Ms. Laurie Trenholm, a professor of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida, stated that she was the lead researcher on the FDEP nutrient study which was conducted in three locations statewide over a period of about 11 years and pointed out that the primary focus of that study was nitrogen. She commented that she could unequivocally state that grass in a healthy actively growing turf will take up the majority or all of the nitrogen fertilizer applied to it, and the root system was at its deepest and most massive during the growing season. She suggested that any blackout period be during the winter months, since they tended to see the highest rates of nitrate leaching from January through March throughout the state. She also related that she did not recommend that people apply fertilizer to newly planted sod for 30 to 60 days until the root system was established, since that is a time of extremely high amounts of nitrate leaching. She commented that she would support the current model ordinance and that she agreed that education is extremely important, noting that the extension agents in Lake County do a great job training people in the statewide best management practices program for the green industry. She emphasized that those in the industry who apply fertilizer commercially are required to be certified in those best management practices.
Commr. Campione asked whether the model ordinance mentioned the 60-day period for applying fertilizer to sod.
Ms. Trenholm answered that she believed that was not in the original ordinance but was in the modified ordinance.
Commr. Blake asked about the additional five-foot setback.
Ms. Trenholm responded that much of the soil in Florida is very sandy with no ability to provide nutrients, and a larger setback to the waterbodies could lead to some soil erosion.
Commr. Breeden asked if they would be required to start the process again in order to add an amendment to the ordinance such as a larger setback.
Ms. Marsh answered that generally they would want to readvertise it if the amendment would make the ordinance more restrictive so that they could give the public an opportunity to comment about that restriction. She also clarified that state statute requires the County to adopt this ordinance by July 1.
Commr. Parks indicated that he still had a lot of questions about this issue and believed that putting a one-year sunset clause in the ordinance would force them to look at it again in the future after learning more about it. He indicated that he would like to look at changes specifically regarding the slow-release requirements and increasing the setback off of the surface waters and wetlands, although he realized that they had a deadline to approve this ordinance.
Mr. Heath recommended not to sunset the ordinance in a year and suggested that they take action that day and have staff bring it back to the Board in October or November.
Commr. Blake added that a sunset clause might not comply with what the state requires.
Commr. Campione commented that they would at least have minimum criteria in place by adopting the ordinance, and she was extremely interested in reaching out to hardware stores and businesses that sell the fertilizer to the general public, noting that she believes that professionals in the industry knows the correct way to use the fertilizer. She wanted them to revisit this issue in about six months after having done their research and having additional discussions, and she opined that making the ordinance more stringent in the future would not be hard to do.
Commr. Sullivan agreed that bringing the ordinance back in November was an excellent idea to give staff enough time to work through all of these issues and review the programs, but they currently had a deadline they needed to meet.
Commr. Campione commented that she believed the Keep Lake Beautiful committee would be a good vehicle for outreach possibilities and to get some input.
Commr. Breeden opined that they needed to see some of the studies that might support more stringent rules as well as those that support the basic policy.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Blake and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved Ordinance No. 2017-17 creating a new section in the Lake County Code, Appendix E, Land Development Regulations, Chapter VI, Section 6.13.00, entitled Fertilizer Use, with the understanding that the Board will revisit this ordinance within the next six to seven months and to request the involvement of Keep Lake Beautiful in this issue. There is no fiscal impact.
public hearing – medical cannabis activities ordinance
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, placed the proposed ordinance on the floor for its first reading by title only as follows:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA; AMENDING LAKE COUNTY CODE, CHAPTER 3, ARTICLE IX, ENTITLED “MEDICAL CANNABIS ACTIVITIES;” EXTENDING THE TEMPORARY MORATORIUM UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2017 WITHIN THE UNINCORPORATED AREAS OF LAKE COUNTY; PROHIBITING MEDICAL CANNABIS ACTIVITIES; PROHIBITING THE TAX COLLECTOR FROM ISSUING ANY NEW BUSINESS TAX RECEIPTS COUNTYWIDE FOR MEDICAL CANNABIS ACTIVITIES DURING THE EXTENDED MORATORIUM PERIOD; REMOVING WHOLESALE USES FROM THE DEFINITION OF MEDICAL CANNABIS ACTIVITIES; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING FOR FILING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Commr. Sullivan explained that the purpose of this ordinance was to extend the moratorium that the County has put on medical cannabis activities, since there were still several bills in the state legislature circulating about the rules regarding this issue.
Commr. Parks indicated that he would support the continuation of the moratorium and noted that the City of Orlando is following the proposal for the regulatory aspect of the dispensaries, limiting it to seven sites, which he believes the Board should look at for next year. He added that the County was waiting to see what happens with this issue long-term.
Commr. Campione clarified that this ordinance will not affect agricultural activities and will only affect dispensing of the medical cannabis.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding this matter, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Breeden, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the first public hearing of an ordinance amending Lake County Code, Chapter 3, Article IX, entitled Medical Cannabis Activities, to extend the temporary moratorium concerning medical cannabis activities in unincorporated Lake County until August 31, 2017.
public hearings: rezonings
Mr. Tim McClendon, Planning & Zoning Division Manager, Economic Growth Department, submitted the advertisements for that day’s rezoning cases. He noted that Tabs 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 were all items approved by the Planning & Zoning Board at their meeting held on March 29, and Tabs 4 and 5 were back before the Board as part of the adoption phase for those cases after being transmitted to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in January and being received back from the DEO with no objections. He requested approval of the Consent Agenda, Tabs 1 through 7, pulling Tab 3, since they have received speaker cards about that item.
Commr. Campione pointed out that it was important to note that the Cagan Crossings rezoning cases would result in a significant reduction in the allowable residential densities from what was originally allowed.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
There being no one who wished to address the Board regarding the Rezoning Consent Agenda, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the Rezoning Consent Agenda, Items 1 through 7, pulling Tab 3 as follows:
Tab 1. Ordinance No. 2017-18
Rezoning Case CUP#1/1/1-5
Evans/Hatch Family Cemetery
Voluntary CUP Revocation
Tab 2. Ordinance No. 2017-19
Rezoning Case #RZ-16-23-4
Cat Protection Society, Inc.
Tab 4. Ordinance No. 2017-20
Rezoning Case #NOPC-2016-02-1
Cagan Crossings FQD
Development Order - NOPC
Tab 5. Ordinance No. 2017-21
Rezoning Case #FLU-2016-11-1
Cagan Crossings Map & Text Amendment
Tab 6. Ordinance No. 2017-22
Rezoning Case #RZ-16-21-1
Cagan Crossings PUD Amendment
Tab 7. Ordinance No. 2017-23
Rezoning Case #RZ-16-34-1
Horton PUD/Cagan Crossings
rezoning tab 3 – village pet spa - cup #17-01-5
Mr. McClendon explained that Tab 3 was a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) amendment for the Village Pet Spa for about five acres of property located on the west side of Rolling Acres Road with a Future Land Use designation of Urban Low, which allows up to four dwelling units per acre as well as commercial components. He elaborated that the current zoning of the property is Agriculture (A), and the County had an approved site plan for the property as part of the original ordinance for this amendment. He related that the applicant in this case was requesting to amend the existing kennel CUP ordinance to increase the number of dogs that could use the front grass play area from five dogs to a maximum of 20. He mentioned that the request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and all of the Land Development Regulations, and the Planning & Zoning Board approved the request for a maximum of 20 dogs in the front grass area with an added condition limiting the operating hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as on weekends if there were five or less dogs present and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekends with more than five dogs present in the grass play area. He requested that the Board approve the CUP amendment with the conditions listed in the staff report.
Commr. Parks, Commr. Campione, and Commr. Sullivan all disclosed that they previously had a brief conversation with Mr. Jim Crawford, an attorney representing one of the neighbors.
Mr. Andrew Mayo, a resident who lived in New Jersey but owned property adjacent to the subject property, related that he was in the process of working with an architect to build a residence on that property and commented that he was affected by the noise. He mentioned that the original ordinance allowed five dogs in the grass play area on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, and the applicant is requesting that 20 dogs at a time be allowed in that area seven days a week. He expressed concern that noise mitigation is not addressed in the ordinance, and he commented that although two handlers were required to supervise those dogs, he did not believe that would mitigate the noise level. He showed the location of the applicant’s property and grass play area in relation to his own property on an overhead map. He recapped that the current applicant purchased the property with the knowledge that that there was a restriction in place limiting their use of the front play area to five dogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the applicants expanded the kennel from 40 to 80 dogs in September of 2014, and there was language added to the CUP by agreement between him and the applicants for construction of a fence on the south side made of sound abatement material. He opined that the requested fourfold increase in the number of dogs and increase in the hours of use of the play area would negatively affect the peaceful use of his property, and a noise study should be done to confirm the level of noise and the size and placement of any noise mitigation material. He added that the topology of the land adversely affected him, since it sloped down and to the left towards his property, whereas both the neighbors to the left and to the north of the subject property were 1,000 feet away from the grass play area and 800 feet away from the back play area, and there was a natural ridge that buffered their homes from the subject property.
Mr. Mayo noted that Siebein Associates, acoustical engineer consultants, had reported that the proximity of the property and the increase in the number of dogs and days of use will “disturb the comfort, peace, quietude, or repose” for him or any person of normal sensitivities residing on his property, and he presented a chart showing the decibel levels emitted by a barking dog from a range of 10 to 500 feet away when there were no solid noise barriers enclosing the kennel play area, which was a range of 72 to 107 decibels respectively. He specified that his property was 190 feet from the back play area, which put him in the 79 to 87 decibel range or the intensity of an alarm clock, coffee grinder, power lawn mower, or vacuum cleaner. He relayed that the consultants recommended that a noise study of the site be conducted to determine whether the noise ordinance requirements are met. He also discussed the findings of Keane Acoustics, another consultant, who also recommended that a noise study be done and who stated that the topology of the land is a large factor in the level of noise and that a four-fold increase in noise emissions would yield a sound level increase of about six decibels, which is clearly noticeable. He pointed out that both of the experts he consulted referenced certain pertinent Lake County laws, such as the excessive noise law and an animal control ordinance stating that an animal establishment facility is not allowed to emit any offensive noises that shall disturb the comfort, peace, quietude, or repose of any person residing near the establishment. He summarized that the ordinance would allow a 250 percent increase in the amount of time that the grassy area could be used and 400 percent increase in the number of dogs that could use it. He requested that the Board deny the CUP request and maintain the current restrictions as they had in the past or that they amend Section 2(b)(6) in the CUP to add language requiring a noise study to determine whether the noise ordinance requirements are met and/or additional properly designed noise mitigation devices are required to be installed to meet those requirements.
Ms. Marcia Gosline, the applicant and co-owner of the property, recapped that she and her husband purchased the business in August 2013 and changed it from a rather run-down facility with great potential which had staff consisting of three kennel assistants, a groomer, the owner, and the owner’s daughter at that time to a successful and growing full-service boarding, grooming, and day-care facility. She elaborated that they currently had a great clientele and 20 employees on their payroll, including 14 kennel assistants, 4 groomers, a general manager, and an onsite facilities manager and had doubled the capacity of the business with the addition of a second building. She pointed out that they have never had any complaints, even from Mr. Mayo, in the whole time they have been in business, and she opined that their success as a small business is one that Lake County could be proud of. She confirmed the fact that she was aware of the restrictions when they purchased the property but commented that their sights and focus were on getting the facility up to its potential. She stated that they now had the capacity, the need, and the ability to manage this daycare facility to its full potential and had a need for the expanded use of that play yard for the dogs to get out and romp. She assured the Board that the total hours would not be utilized in the summer because of the heat, and she opined that if a sound study was conducted, it would pick up more noise from the road traffic on Rolling Acres Road, farm equipment from nearby sites, roosters crowing, and other neighborhood dogs barking than from the activity in their facility and front play area. She presented a signed letter of support for this CUP amendment from five of their neighbors who directly adjoin the property.
There being no one else who wished to address the Board regarding this issue, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Commr. Parks asked whether a sound study was required when the applicant applied for this amendment to the CUP.
Mr. McClendon responded that in lieu of doing a noise study, the Board required full soundproofing of the kennel building itself as well as an eight-foot tall fence around the gravel area with sound abatement materials as part of the original CUP approval back in 2010, which was deemed adequate by the Board at that time.
Commr. Parks commented that he supported the business and thought they were doing a great job, but he realized that the increase in the amount of dogs allowed outside at a time would add to the noise.
Commr. Blake disclosed that he had boarded his dog in that facility in the past. He asked whether there were any other guidelines for noise mitigation in the previous CUP.
Mr. McClendon answered that the noise abatement that was required for the CUP was the soundproofing of the kennel and the gravel play area on the west side he previously mentioned.
Commr. Breeden asked whether the County’s noise ordinance was taken into consideration in the decision.
Mr. McClendon responded that it would be strictly a code-enforcement reactionary issue if the noise ordinance was affected.
Commr. Campione stated that she did not think the County had any trained noise experts or the equipment for that on their code enforcement staff and did not get involved in noise issues, which were usually handled by the Sheriff’s Office. She commented that she believed they needed to find a way to look at both property owners’ rights and not to set up a situation that would become an ongoing problem in the future.
Commr. Blake asked how expensive the noise mitigation studies would be.
Commr. Campione stated that she personally had a noise study done on her property and that it would cost a couple of thousand dollars.
Mr. Heath elaborated that it would cost $2,000, and the County did not have the staff or equipment to do that.
Commr. Campione commented that a solid wall will mitigate sound better than most other buffers such as a landscaping, and she pointed out that the County would be spending a lot of staff time trying to work an issue like this out in the future if they do not take care of it during the rezoning process.
Commr. Breeden clarified that this concerns an area that does not have the sound abatement that was required in the previous CUP.
Commr. Blake commented that the applicants were doing a good job running this business and were being responsible, but he wanted to protect Mr. Mayo’s property rights and believed that a noise study would be a reasonable way to do that.
Mr. Heath suggested that the Board continue the case and have the applicant have a noise study done before making a decision.
Mr. Ed Livingston, co-owner of the Village Pet Spa, commented that the basis of Mr. Mayo’s presentation was all theoretical, but the real question was how much barking takes place when the dogs are in the grass play yard. He assured the Board that the dogs do little to no barking and are busy running around when they are out in that area and that the dogs are out for 15 minutes at a time before being brought back into the kennel by the handlers. He offered to pay for the noise study after Mr. Mayo builds his house, but emphasized that no problem exists at this time. He opined that the traffic noise from Rolling Acres Road is twice as loud as the noise from dogs barking.
Mr. Mayo mentioned that there was a discussion at the Planning & Zoning meeting of different configurations of sound abatement walls, and he added that the sound engineers indicated to him that sound abatement fencing would not be able to be put up the same way as it was in the back because it might not be the right height or location. He pointed out that the acoustical engineers were experienced in this kind of issue with an existing database and that their opinion was not just theoretical, and he asked the Board not to ignore their expert opinion.
Commr. Blake asked Mr. Mayo if he would be willing for the applicants to conduct a noise study once he builds his house on the property.
Mr. Mayo replied that doing the study afterwards would not work for him and expressed concern that doing so would cause problems for him in the future. He suggested that the applicants could just put in the fencing now or just keep the amount of dogs out at a time at five.
Commr. Campione explained that the County’s staff would look at the scope and parameters of the study to make sure that it would contain reliable information pertinent to that situation. She added that she did not want to create difficulty for this business, but she felt that it was important to address any potential problems now rather than later, since common sense indicates that increasing the amount of dogs from 5 to 20 could become problematic.
Commr. Parks pointed out that it was hard for the County to enforce noise requirements with what is currently in place and he wanted to be fair to both parties.
On a motion by Commr. Blake, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to postpone the public hearing for Tab 3, Rezoning Case #CUP-17-01-5, Village Pet Spa CUP, until receipt of a noise study that is paid for by the applicant, and the application will be deemed withdrawn if said study is not submitted to the County within six months. Also, the consultant conducting the study shall coordinate with County staff on the scope of the study.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:50 a.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
community safety & compliance update & budget presentation
Mr. Brian Sheahan, Community Safety and Compliance Director, stated that he would provide the Board with an overview of the department’s operations and proposed FY 2018 budget. He related that the mission of his department is to provide enforcement of county codes, public safety, animal welfare, and oversight of individuals sentenced to probation for misdemeanor offenses. He added that the department also coordinates countywide beautification efforts through Keep Lake Beautiful and other special projects. He presented the organizational chart of the Community Safety and Compliance Department, which had a total of 50 full-time employees. He related that the mission of the Probation Services Division under the Community Safety and Compliance Department was to provide supervision to offenders placed on probation for traffic and misdemeanor offenses and to ensure their compliance with court-ordered sanctions in order to promote a crime-free lifestyle by requiring offenders to be employed, perform community service, make restitution, attend counseling, and remain substance free. He pointed out that some of the probation positions are term-limited in order to allow that division to rapidly respond to variations in case load. He listed some of the probation services such as pre-trial intervention case supervision, the mental health jail diversion program grant management, the weekend work program, DUI vehicle immobilization, teen court, and work in lieu of arrest. He specified that the division monitored over 4,700 adult offenders last year, made over 13,000 personal supervision contacts, supervised an average of 275 new cases each month while ensuring that 71 percent of the offenders completed their probation satisfactorily, enforced the collection of nearly $50,000 in restitution to people who were victims of crimes, coordinated the completion of 17,740 hours of community service hours, and worked with the Sheriff’s Office staff to coordinate the arrest of over 100 probation violators before their release from jail, which saved Sheriff’s resources to apprehend those individuals. He presented a chart illustrating the average new cases per month over the last several years, noting that there was a spike in 2013-14 which was now tapering off. He listed some of the accomplishments of Probation Services this year, including implementation of the fingerprint-based FALCON Watch List which enhanced probation response time by tracking when offenders were taken into custody anywhere in the state, continuation of a specialized caseload for offenders with mental health issues and sex offenders which offered enhanced supervision, and improvement of access to Probation Services for offenders who live in outlying areas of the county with satellite substation offices. He related that in FY 2017 they have implemented new Probable Cause Violation of Probation procedures to streamline case processing for the different agencies they work with, implemented electronic filing of financial documents with the Clerk’s Office using the E-portal, and assisted in implementation of Veterans Treatment Court. He elaborated that they expect to fully implement the Probation Showcase software system in 2018 for seamless case management of offenders in cooperation with the Clerk’s Office. He explained that most of the costs of Probation Services are offset through fees collected from people sentenced to probation, and those supervision fees were about average in the region. He went over other benchmarks showing that Lake County is also about average in the amount of active cases. He reported that there was a slight decrease in the proposed budget and noted that this division was part of the general fund. He also pointed out that grant decreases reflect completion of the Criminal Justice Substance Abuse Mental Health Grant, and FY 2018 reflects elimination of a limited-term probation officer position to adjust for a decreased caseload.
Mr. Sheahan explained that the mission of the Code Enforcement Division was to provide fair and equitable enforcement of the codes and noted that there are 11 full-time employees in the division. He related that the division’s employees respond to complaints related to County codes, conduct annual inspections of Conditional Use Permits (CUP), perform the environmental inspections required for mines and conservation easements, conduct special master hearings for code cases and animal services cases, and provide education to residents. He added that they have also started removing illegal signs along the roadways this year. He specified that Code Enforcement has responded to over 2,500 complaints, forwarded over 300 of those cases to a special master, completed 327 CUP inspections, and completed 50 standard housing inspections when there is a complaint that a home is not up to code, usually from a renter. He elaborated that Code Enforcement responds to complaints received by phone, mail, email, in person, or through their online automated system, and they have found it effective to allow complaints to be anonymous. He listed the most common complaints, including overgrowth of grass and weeds, parking of vehicles, accumulation of trash and debris, and abandoned property. He noted that they have addressed over 2,500 citizen complaints, responded to almost 10,000 phone calls, completed over 4,000 inspections, processed over 300 special master cases, and collected over 800 illegal and snipe signs from the right of way. He stated that the county is divided into four zones of roughly 165 square miles balanced by workload and population for efficiency. He mentioned that recently implemented new field technology that provides three times the connection speed has helped the inspectors get more inspections done in less time, and they have created a procedure with the Public Works Department for cases involving right of way code violations. He presented graphs showing that there was roughly the same number of complaints this year as there were last year as well as a benchmark illustrating that Lake County had a lower level of code enforcement officers per 1,000 residents than most of the surrounding counties, although they are the third highest in number of complaints. He displayed a bar graph showing that Lake County only sends about three percent of their code enforcement cases to a special master, illustrating that the Code Enforcement staff worked out most of the cases before then. He reported that the Code Enforcement Division’s budget is lower than last year due to attrition of staff that had been with the County for a long time, and he noted that the proposed budget maintains the current level of service and reflects a $14,000 reduction in the budget. He commented that the aging fleet of vehicles is a challenge for the division, some of which are due for replacement.
Mr. Sheahan explained that the Animal Shelter is a receiving facility for unwanted domestic animals, animals held for quarantine or investigation, and stray pets. He displayed the organizational chart showing the Animal Shelter Division’s 21 full-time employees and pointed out that three positions were added at mid-year to help with the workload. He explained that they are responsible for the housing and care of a wide variety of domestic animals at the shelter, the return of lost pets, the quarantine of animals culpable for dog bites, rabies prevention and education, veterinary care of impounded animals, community events and outreach, and partnerships with other animal agencies. He reported that since taking over the animal shelter in January 2017, $3,500 in impound fees were collected, 375 licenses were issued at the shelter, over $3,800 in donations were collected, 1,170 pets were taken into the shelter, over 400 pets were adopted to new owners, over 500 pets were spayed or neutered, over 250 animals were returned to their owner, and staff has fielded over 4,000 calls. He listed the accomplishments since the County took over the shelter in January, such as implementing Surrender by Appointment, instituting behavioral assessments with color coding, increasing the volunteers from 14 to over 56, providing redesigned housing for feral cats to be more humane, holding community meetings, and achievement of a 90 percent Leave Live Rate for all the pets at the shelter, which sets the shelter on the road to be a no-kill shelter. He related that the spay and neuter rebate program helped Lake County residents with the cost of spaying or neutering up to $50, and $29,000 has been awarded in rebates for the sterilization of over 400 cats and over 200 dogs. He noted that they have worked with the Communications Department to create an online volunteer application, which significantly reduced approval time from when it was a completely paper process and made it a lot easier for the volunteers; have digitally mapped kennels and holding areas to ensure accurate tracking of animals within the shelter; moved the surgery room to the interior of the building; modified the dog and cat intake areas to minimize animal stress; and changed to individual caging in the feral cat area to reduce the stress of the cats.
Mr. Sheahan mentioned that the total pet population according to the American Veterinary Medical Association for Lake County is almost 110,000 pets, and animal intake at the shelter is about 8,100, which is about average for the smaller counties. He commented that the shelter is more successful than many surrounding counties at returning animals to their owners. He reported that the adoption rate to the public is about 30 percent, which is the second highest of the other surrounding counties, and about 16 percent of the animals go to rescue group partners, which is higher than all of the surrounding counties. He noted that the pet to staff ratio has gone down to 14 animals per person since adding the three positions, which is second only to Polk County, which uses a significant amount of inmates to help run their shelter. He listed the services that they were mandated by Florida law to do, including tracking of rabies vaccinations, sterilization of shelter pets upon adoption, record keeping and monthly reporting, impoundment for ten days in cases of dog bites, and assisting emergency management for the evacuation of pets. He reported that the Animal Shelter budget for 8 ½ months in 2017 was a little over $915,000, and the proposed budget for 2018 was $1,489,000, which was a 63 percent increase over last year. He mentioned that the shelter consultant recommended in March that the County add six positions, three of which were added in midyear, and the 2018 budget included the other three recommended positions. He added that there are major facility needs that could be addressed separately through the infrastructure sales tax reauthorization, such as a new animal shelter facility, replacement of the existing air conditioning system, and addition of isolation kennels for disease control, and other needs were recoating of floors in the kennel area for safety, upgrading the kennels to meet modern sheltering standards, lab equipment to assist in veterinary care, and additional funds to replenish the trust for the spay and neuter rebate.
Mr. Sheahan related that the Keep Lake Beautiful program has been very successful since it was launched in 2015, receiving the President’s Award in 2016 and becoming a member of the President’s Circle, and there was one full-time employee for that program who was added this year. He specified that the program held eight events and collected over 29,000 pounds of litter from the lakes and roadways, and the operating expenses include $50,000 for the litter response contractor. He summarized that the overall Community Safety & Compliance departmental budget reflects an 11 percent increase primarily because of the increase for the animal shelter, and he noted that the animal shelter budget makes up the largest amount of the budget from his department, followed by Code Enforcement and Probation. He related that the department’s budget maintains the level of service, includes the previously-mentioned three full time employees for the animal shelter, eliminates one limited term position in Probation Services, and maintains the existing Keep Lake Beautiful Program full-time employment to allow for more events.
Commr. Campione commented that the presentation showed a lot of the good things that Mr. Sheahan had been doing and the changes that he had made in the department.
Commr. Sullivan noted that although the probation officers were still working an above-average caseloads, there was still a cut in that position, and he mentioned that Lake County had the highest caseload per probation officer throughout the whole region when he first became a Commissioner. He commented that Mr. Sheahan has made significant improvements across the board and that his staff should be commended for what they were doing.
public resources - update and proposed budget presentation
Mr. Jeff Cole, Public Resources Director, stated that this presentation was to provide the Board with an overview of the Public Resources Department operations and proposed Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget and stated that the mission of the department was to provide and promote life-enriching experiences that exceeded expectations for Lake County residents and visitors. He presented an organizational chart of the Public Resources Department showing that they have a total of 101 full-time employees, which was the same as Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016. He related that the mission of the Lake County Fairgrounds was to provide event and farmers’ market opportunities through management of the fairgrounds. He elaborated that the fairgrounds contained 30 acres and 48,250 square feet of indoor and covered building space available for public events as well as 614 indoor and outdoor vendor spaces. He reported that the fairgrounds increased net revenue and gross income, hosted 16 public and private events, and averaged 305 spaces rented per market day in FY 2016. He presented some slides depicting some of the events held at the fairgrounds, including the farmers’ and flea market on Thursdays, gun show, dog show, vintage motorcycle swap meet, and the Annual Lake County Fair. He mentioned that his staff has worked with the Communications Department for a number of months for a new design and logo for a new fairgrounds sign that will look a lot nicer than the current sign and rebrand it as the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center. He pointed out that they have streamlined and simplified the internal vendor check acceptance procedures, which expedites the process for the staff and the public; changed purchasing procedures for janitorial supplies, which has reduced their operational expenditures; focused attention on employee turnover and identified appropriate staff, which has enhanced employee morale and customer service; and revised market rules to ensure consistency among vendors. He reported that the proposed budget for the fairgrounds totaled $246,787, which included a capital expenditure relating to the sign that they want to have in next year’s budget.
Mr. Cole related that the mission of the Extension Services Division was to provide research-based information and educational programs cooperatively with the University of Florida for all aspects of horticulture, agriculture, nutrition, food safety, home environment, financial management, and 4-H youth programs, as well as to promote conservation of Lake County’s soil and water resources through education and outreach. He mentioned that 4,511 people attended the group teaching events and that there were over 2,500 field and office consultations. He noted that the organizational chart was the same as it was last year with 14 full-time employees, and the division relied on volunteers such as the 79 active Master Gardeners who gave over 8,600 hours and provided 3,500 plant clinic consultations and the 4-H volunteers who gave over 21,000 hours to help support 22 clubs with more than 500 youth. He added that the Mobile Irrigation Lab was a partnership with the Soil and Water Conservation District that was completely funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services through Soil and Water which funded two positions and helps to save over 82 million gallons of water per year. He related that the Landscape and Garden Fair drew 1,283 attendees, and there was a ceremony to dedicate a bench in the memory of Alice Ayers who passed away in 2014, which was approved by the Board last year. He recapped that they had completed the Greenhouse Operation Manual in 2016, which was nominated as a national extension model. He displayed a benchmark of the county funds spent on extension per capita showing Lake in the middle range of surrounding counties, and he noted that the more agricultural counties will typically spend more on extension. He also showed graphs depicting the benchmarks for state funds per capita and group consultations per agent also showing Lake in the middle of the range of surrounding counties. He reported that the Extension Services proposed budget was generally status quo with a slight increase in operating expenses as a result of an increase in the mobile irrigation lab, although that is 100 percent funded by the state.
Ms. Ava Barrett, Library Services Manager, related that the mission of the Library Services Division was to provide access to library materials, electronic resources, and programs to assist the public in meeting its recreational, informational, cultural, and lifelong learning needs. She displayed the organizational chart, noting that there were 48 full-time employees managing six facilities. She stated that the levels of service for the six branch libraries and nine municipal libraries included access to print and electronic information for education, recreation, and collaboration; a collection of over 629,000 items, including 9,744 eBooks; educational and recreational programming for all age levels; literacy programming; job and career skill-building opportunities, including the Career Online High School program; and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning and exploration opportunities, including coding, digital media creation, robotics, and 3D printing. She pointed out that this year Library Services provided over 1.7 million total circulations, almost 7,000 total programs which had 151,290 program attendees, 1.8 million visits, over 379,000 library computer logins, 130,500 wireless sessions, and over 57,000 users with technology instruction. She presented slides with photographs of their programs and accomplishments, including 1,357 programs for the Summer Reading Program, Career Online High School, a well-attended special program with author Kate DiCamillo at Cooper Memorial Library, GED instruction at the Paisley Library, chess club and youth story time at Cagan Crossings Community Library, the annual “Pumpkin Chunkin” contest which teaches creative design and physics at the East Lake County Library, and programs at the Astor County Library focusing on engineering and science. She pointed out that the library’s IT staff merged with the County’s IT staff to enhance coordination of personnel and increase efficiencies, upgraded their wireless access points in all libraries, and moved to a cloud based controller to provide cost savings. She added that new procedures in cataloging and processing brought the average time it takes to process an item from an average of 27.9 days in 2015 down to 7.8 days in 2016, and a memorandum of agreement with Lake Sumter State College in 2016 transferring print management to the college saves the County $3,600 annually. She presented benchmarks showing that the County’s total expenditures per capita was middling at about $22.61, and annual circulation per capita was also about average with other counties at 5.5. However, she emphasized that Lake County led the region in library visits per capita at 6.1 as well as per capita program attendance at 0.5 and books per capita at 1.7. She added that the County is doing fairly well with the amount of Wi-Fi sessions per capita and library computer logins, although the data for that benchmark does not reflect the fact that there is no time limit set on computer use as in other county’s libraries. She reported that the proposed budget was being kept status quo with a slight decrease of about 2.5 percent due to reductions in staffing, operating expenses, and capital outlay in an effort to offset decreases in anticipated revenues. She concluded that the mandated or required expenditures were a result of the interlocal agreements with member libraries, noting that the allocation for each municipality was evaluated each year; however, the agreements cover a three-year period with the current agreements expiring September 30, 2019.
Mr. Bobby Bonilla, Parks and Trails Division Manager, stated that their mission was to develop and maintain a clean, safe, and attractive parks and trails system for the health and enjoyment of all County residents and visitors while promoting recreation, sports, and tourism; as well as to preserve and restore lands to protect water resources, habitat, and wildlife corridors while promoting eco-tourism through educational passive recreation opportunities. He noted that the Board approved two new positions this year for Parks & Trails, bringing the total to 32 full-time employees, which was the same number of employees as in 2012. He commented that their division was balanced between active, passive, and linear recreation with some capital projects headed by their new engineer. He specified that they have over 500 acres of active parks, over 3,300 acres of passive parks, over 49 miles of trails, over 160 miles of Blueways trails, and 15 cemeteries that they currently maintain. He pointed out that their park system is open with staff available 7 days a week, with extended hours of operation at some of the destination parks such as PEAR Park, Lake Idamere Park, and North Lake Community Park. He reported that there were currently three active parks containing sports complexes open to the public, with a fourth park, South Lake Regional Park, currently under design, which were open with extended hours of operation from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., staffed, and gated. He listed the County’s other active parks, including Astor Lions Park, Scott Park, and Twin Lakes Park located throughout the county which offer some level of active recreation opportunities. He then listed the County’s passive parks which offer natural resources that give residents an opportunity to use the hiking trails, watch the wildlife, and participate in a lot of educational programs that the County offers. He stated that there were currently four public lands properties open which equate to about 50 percent of the acreage, and he specified that they would be opening the Pine Meadows Conservation property later that summer, which would bring the total to 78 percent open to the public. He elaborated that the remaining properties will become open to the public as other projects and partnerships develop. He mentioned that they currently have 16 boat ramps open to the public available for canoe and kayak launching and retrieval purposes as well as 7 additional areas that are available for canoe and kayak events.
Mr. Bonilla stated that currently they have 21 miles of multi-purpose paved trails and 28 miles of hiking trails, the most popular ones being the South Lake and Hancock Trail, and soon the Wekiva Trail would be constructed in the central east part of the county. He commented that most of the preferred hiking trails are located within the public lands, PEAR Park, and Ferndale Preserve, and he displayed a list of the seven cemeteries the County is currently maintaining. He pointed out the location of the 162 miles of Blueways Trails which promote water bodies and their natural resources. He related that Parks & Trails hosted and partnered on 138 nature-based events throughout the county in 2016 such as nature hikes and educational classes. He opined that the County was successful in promoting their Real Florida, Real Close motto by providing nature-based events while promoting passive eco-tourism through educational recreation and getting their citizens and visitors to visit their preferred locations that epitomize this experience. He mentioned that they currently conduct prescribed burns and fire lines as part of their land management program to protect County and adjacent properties. He listed some accomplishments including canal clearing and construction of a parking lot at the Pine Meadows Conservation Area done at no cost to the County by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in order to be able to open 770 acres of the land to the public by the end of the summer, the award of a $1.5 million grant to the County to be utilized for capital improvements to Lake May Reserve, a public-private partnership with the developer next to the Helena Run Preserve property to develop nine out of 20 acres of the property in order for the public to be able to use this land in the future, securing over $52,000 in revenue by selling off some surplus parcels from the Mt. Plymouth Lakes Reserve, and construction of restroom upgrades to the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook and Trailhead which has been well-received by the public. He added that improvements have also been done to Lake Joanna Park, PEAR Park, Marsh Park and Boat Ramp, McTureous Memorial Park, and the South Lake and Hancock Trails. He related that they recently held a ribbon cutting for the McDonald Canal Boat Ramp, which connected to the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook via a trail, and he listed some of the infrastructure that was put in place for the boat ramp such as restroom facilities, signage, landscape and trees, fences, curbing, tables, and benches. He recapped that the Board entered into a partnership with the City of Fruitland Park to provide a multi-purpose field as part of their Northwest Lake Community Park, and Parks & Trails hosted and/or partnered on more than 5,100 sports-related events at East Lake Park, North Lake Park, and the Minneola Athletic Complex. He noted that the Miracle Field, which is a gated and staffed park that is open 7 days a week, is heavily used and offers opportunities for those with all abilities.
Mr. Bonilla reported that the County was currently conducting an update to the Parks and Trails Master Plan, has conducted five public meetings with the residents and all of the stakeholders, and has received over 400 recommendations and suggestions both at the meeting and from the online survey. He commented that the Parks & Trails Division has been able to be successful in a lot of their projects due to their partnerships with volunteers, municipalities, and other governmental entities, and they have utilized some of the tree mitigation fund to assist with the development of capital projects without using operating or sales tax dollars to address tree requirements. He presented several slides illustrating the benchmarks compared to other nearby counties, noting that they currently have 3,907 acres of parks, 17 miles of standalone multi-use trails, 28 miles of heavily visited unpaved trails, 40 total athletic fields, 22 lighted athletic fields, and three County-maintained trailheads. He pointed out that although those benchmarks range from low to average compared to other counties, the County is expected to increase those amenities substantially in the near future with new projects either in the process of being constructed or appearing in the master plan. He emphasized, however, that Lake County is the only county that has the nine Blueways Trails. He reported that although the per capital park operating expenditures for the County of $17.54 is one of the lowest, the staff is working with what they have and working in phases towards continually improving the level of service for the residents of Lake County. He displayed a graph showing that Florida is third in the country compared to other states in economic impact generated by local and regional public parks on the United States economy, noting that they expect those numbers to get even better. He reported that their proposed budget for next year shows a slight increase for personal service due to staff being hired with a slightly higher base salary based on their qualifications and skills, a slightly higher operating expense, and decreased capital outlay; and they were including $30,000 in this budget to address the additional maintenance that would come with the next segment of the Hancock Trail and $100,000 to utilize the tree mitigation fund to replace the trees that need to be put in place without affecting the County’s other funds. He listed some of the unfunded challenges of his division, including getting behind schedule in paving the County’s trails and parks’ parking lots, replacement of boardwalks, and repair and improvement to boat ramps, all of which will be addressed through the infrastructure sales tax reauthorization; as well as funding to expand the Woodlea Sports Complex in order to create a regional park in the central part of the county in cooperation with the City of Tavares.
Mr. Cole reported that the revenues of the Public Resources Department’s proposed FY 2018 budget totaled $11.48 million, with 86 percent of those revenues coming from the Parks MSTU collected in unincorporated areas in the county and ad valorem funding from the general fund. He discussed some of the revenue changes from the year before, including a two percent increase in the MSTU funding, increased utilization of the tree mitigation funding previously mentioned by Mr. Bonilla, reduced beginning fund balance in Parks & Trails and Library Services, and reduction in Library Services fines and forfeitures, an industry-wide trend due to the increased use of eBooks and the use of software to remind patrons about due dates and fines. He showed a chart illustrating their proposed budget totaling $11.4 million reflecting a very slight reduction of less than one percent and a pie chart showing that 50 percent of the budget went to the Parks & Trails Division, 39 percent to Library Services, and the remaining 11 percent to administration, fairgrounds, and extension services. He summarized that the department’s budget is status quo, maintains their current levels of service, addresses the additional recreational needs in Parks & Trails, and does not include funding for outstanding capital repairs or the Woodlea Sport Complex.
Commr. Parks commented that the County had a wonderful ongoing partnership with the City of Minneola for the Minneola Athletic Complex (MAC), and he asked what percentage of the original plans for that park was completed.
Mr. Bonilla answered that at least 50 percent of those plans was completed, with a T-ball and multi-purpose field and some lighting still needed.
Commr. Parks commented that it was unusual for a county to have as many cemeteries to maintain as Lake County does, which has an effect on the County’s budget. He also stated that he appreciated the restraint in adding new positions to the department’s staff.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 12:20 p.m. that there would be a recess until the closed session at 1:30 p.m.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, related that she had previously asked for this closed session which was authorized under Florida Statute 286.011 to discuss pending litigation against the County, and it would be confined to settlement or strategy sessions related to litigation and its expenditures. She elaborated that once the closed session starts, the court reporter will record the entire session from when they begin until when they end and will include all discussions in those proceedings, including the names of all persons present at any time and whoever speaks. She added that none of the session could be off the record, and the court reporter’s notes would be transcribed and be made public once the litigation is concluded. She noted that the session was duly advertised on April 7, 2017 in the Daily Commercial newspaper. She specified that she, the Board, the County Manager, and Attorney Greg Stewart from Nabors Giblin & Nickerson will be present.
county manager interviews
Commr. Sullivan explained that they would be doing public interviews for the four remaining applicants for the position of the County Manager, who have already been through multiple screening steps, for the purpose of continuing their selection process for the position before actually making the final decision. He elaborated that the applicants would be called in individually in alphabetical order and asked up to two questions from each Commissioner, and then the Board would have a general discussion of the qualifications after a short recess and make a final decision about who to offer the position to. He announced that Mr. Jeff Cole would be the first applicant, and he asked Mr. Cole what attributes and experiences he believes he brings to the table in his experience in government to qualify to be the County Manager.
Mr. Cole responded that he brings his integrity and honesty as personal attributes to the table, which he believed are very important for a County Manager. He cited his professional experience, including his experience in government and his leadership experience in Lake County for the past 16 months getting to know the organization, as well as the years he spent at the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) in leadership positions, ultimately in the Chief of Staff position for four years, which broadened his responsibilities and allowed him to be involved in all aspects of the organization. He mentioned that the SJRWMD budget and fund balance was similar in size to the County’s, and he noted that he had a direct role with the Executive Director and as a liaison to the governing board. He added that he also had experience in planning with the SJRWMD, overseeing the interactions with local governments regarding planning for about 13 years. He mentioned that working for a County Commissioner in Brevard County gave him a lot of insights into the political process, how county government worked, and the distinction between county and state governments as well as a lot of appreciation for the role of the citizenry and the public in understanding what they do.
Commr. Parks asked what change Mr. Cole thought he could make that would have the greatest impact on the County government and the way they serve their constituents and residents if he was selected as County Manager.
Mr. Cole answered that the County Manager certainly has a role with the community and particularly the business community and local governments, and the job was a lot about relationship building. He commented that he has spent a lot of time over the last few months reaching out to the business community and understanding what their concerns were. He also mentioned that the hiring of the new County Manager coincided with the reauthorization of the sales tax, and there would be tremendous responsibility in aligning the Board’s priorities with the spending for the reauthorization in trying to accelerate projects that needed to be prioritized and balancing the fact that there were more priorities than there was funding. He concluded that the biggest impact would be how that relates to the budget.
Commr. Parks asked whether being County Manager was an all leadership role, all manager role, or a mix of both.
Mr. Cole responded that it was a mix of both as well as an ebb and flow. He elaborated that it certainly was important to be an inspiring and strong leader, and his experience has shown that there were a lot of managerial tasks and day-to-day work. He commented that he considered himself a collaborator with staff and believed that staff at all levels should have opportunities to provide input into how the County government was run.
Commr. Breeden mentioned that the new School Superintendent proposed a 100-day plan and asked what Mr. Cole’s first 100 days as County Manager would look like.
Mr. Cole answered that his first 100 days would continue the work he has done over the past few months of reaching out to business leaders and local governments and the forming of relationships and partnerships. He opined that for the County to be successful, it has to be closely aligned when possible with other local governments, and establishing a relationship and communication with stakeholders across the board who are interested in what the County does will be a critical part of that as well as hearing from the staff about what they think works and does not work well.
Commr. Breeden asked in what ways the County Manager’s leadership could foster and encourage diversification of Lake County’s economy.
Mr. Cole commented that economic development is obviously a key issue, and the County, the County Manager, and the Board had a role in that diversification. He added that the County has a very talented Economic Development staff, and there will be an opportunity for the next County Manager to work directly with that talented staff to look at all aspects of economic development and what kinds of things they could do regionally with their partners.
Commr. Campione noted that the Commissioners all ran on platforms of fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism and asked how he would help the Board achieve their objectives to provide excellent service to the residents of Lake County while imposing the lowest tax rate possible.
Mr. Cole commented that the bulk of his career has been in the public sector working for conservative elected and appointed officials, and there has been a conservative approach to the fiscal end of everything he has worked on. He assured the Board that he certainly recognized the priorities of this Commission and the focus on the rollback rate and efficiencies, and he opined that reviewing for efficiencies has to be an ongoing effort. He suggested that the County could outsource opportunities to some degree to see how that works, such as like what has been done by Parks and Trails to staff the opening of five parks in the morning and the collecting of the trash.
Commr. Campione asked if Mr. Cole believed that water usage and availability will play a role in Lake County’s ability to realize its economic goals in the future and decisions regarding the approval and location of residential development approvals by the Board.
Mr. Cole mentioned that he had significant background in water supply issues and emphasized that the water supply issue will be part of decision making. He related that Florida is currently using a finite source of groundwater for its drinking water supply, and even though the SJRWMD has been moving communities towards the cheapest alternatives possible to that, it will be more expensive than groundwater. He opined that Lake County has to be part of the decision making process in the region, since water supply will end up dictating where development can and cannot occur, and the County also needs to understand what commitments and permits have already been reserved by the water suppliers for the future to know how it would affect the areas in the unincorporated parts of Lake County that do not yet have water suppliers. He mentioned that Lake County has started that process with the South Lake Regional Water Initiative.
Commr. Blake asked what the most challenging aspect of county government was from an administrator’s perspective and how Mr. Cole would approach that challenge.
Mr. Cole responded that the most challenging part was balancing the priorities of the five different Commissioners with the available financial resources to ensure that the staff could achieve the direction and policies that the Board put in place, and he mentioned that it was very helpful when the Board met in January every year to identify the priorities as a Board, although he recognizes that there were individual priorities. He added that it was a delicate balancing of keeping the millage rate as low as possible while still providing the services that they currently do through efficiencies that they can enhance.
Commr. Sullivan asked Mr. Cole if he would like to add anything before they make their decision.
Mr. Cole commented that he appreciated the opportunity to talk to each Commissioner the day before and felt that they had covered some good ground in those conversations. He stated that he appreciated the opportunity to come before the Board that day and thanked the Board for the opportunity to be part of the final four interviews and to be considered for this position. He also indicated that he looked forward to moving forward quickly if he did get the opportunity to serve as County Manager.
Commr. Sullivan then asked Mr. Steve Koontz, Assistant County Manager and a candidate for the County Manager position, what attributes and experiences he believes he brings to the table in his experience in government to qualify to be the County Manager.
Mr. Koontz thanked the Chairman and the Commissioners for this opportunity to be able to interview with them for this position. He commented that he has had experience with the budget and knowledge of the fiscal side of government and that he was well-rounded as far as understanding county government. He related that some of his personal attributes were strategic thinking, good listening skills, and good consensus building by working with people to come up with compromises.
Commr. Parks asked what change Mr. Koontz thought he could make that would have the greatest impact on the County government and the way they serve their constituents and residents if he was selected as County Manager.
Mr. Koontz responded that he would continue the work they were doing on economic development, and he opined that some serious work needs to be done to figure out the best way to handle that and move the staff into a situation where they can be more successful with bringing target industries to Lake County.
Commr. Parks asked whether being County Manager was an all leadership role, all manager role, or a mix of both.
Mr. Koontz answered that he believed it should be a balance of the two. He elaborated that there were managerial duties that the County Manager has to take care of that are outlined in the state statutes and county ordinances in order to keep the organization moving forward, but the County Manager also needed to be a leader, be out in the community, and have an understanding of the needs of the constituents and the Commissioners.
Commr. Breeden mentioned that the new School Superintendent proposed a 100-day plan and asked what Mr. Koontz’s would do in his first 100 days as County Manager.
Mr. Koontz answered that he would start to tackle the issues that are before the County now and get those things moving forward, since he already has been in the organization and was familiar with all of them, such as the public safety funding, the EMS study, the budget process, and economic development.
Commr. Breeden asked in what ways the County Manager’s leadership could foster and encourage diversification of Lake County’s economy.
Mr. Koontz stated that it would be important for the County Manager to work with the stakeholders, the colleges, Lake Technical College, the School Board, and their own Economic Development group to understand what the focus was and where the Commission wanted to be and to be a leader to make those things happen. He commented that the County is just a part of what will be happening with the cities, the School Board, and Lake Sumter State College; and they had to be involved with all of those entities and get a clear understanding of the direction they needed to go to bring industries to Lake County, since it will take everyone working together.
Commr. Campione asked what he saw as the most important thing that he could do as the County Manager to help the Board achieve the goal of being viewed by the business community as business friendly and by the residents of Lake County as putting service first.
Mr. Koontz responded that service would be one of the top priorities he would look at, starting with building services and permitting, which he believes is on the right path, and he opined that they need to continue on that path making sure that things such as permits for homes and commercial are done in a reasonable amount of time. He added that he would follow through with looking at the Land Development Regulations to make sure that their regulations were business friendly and easy to understand and navigate and that people could get through the process in a reasonable amount of time. He summarized that that part of the organization will be the key to making that happen and being business friendly.
Commr. Campione asked Mr. Koontz if he believed that water usage and availability will play a role in Lake County’s ability to realize its economic goals in the future and decisions regarding the approval and location of residential development approvals by the Board.
Mr. Koontz answered that he certainly believed that water availability was going to play a role at some point in the future and would have to be taken into consideration for large developments moving forward. He elaborated that there would have to be some planning and strategy involved in order to make sure that water will be available for future development and that they are taking care of those water resources.
Commr. Blake asked what the most challenging aspect of county government was from an administrator’s perspective and how Mr. Koontz would approach that challenge.
Mr. Koontz answered that the perception of government by the constituents was one of the biggest challenges, and making sure that the County was transparent, good stewards of the tax revenue being spent, and maximizing efficiencies would help overcome that challenge. He added that even when the County is doing a good job of those things, the public sometimes is not aware of that, and the County should always strive to improve and overcome that perception.
Commr. Sullivan asked Mr. Koontz if he would like to add anything before they make their decision.
Mr. Koontz commented that he has enjoyed his time working for Lake County for the last six years and that he has done everything he could do to learn about every aspect of the organization. He elaborated that he paid attention to his peers, the County Manager, and outside influences such as his experiences being involved in the Expressway Authority. He concluded that everything he has done has led him to this point and experience, and he believed that he would do a great job in continuing to keep the priorities and goals of the Board moving forward. He expressed appreciation for this opportunity.
Commr. Campione thanked him for the great job he has done for the County.
Commr. Sullivan asked Mr. Mike Rankin, a candidate for the County Manager position, what attributes and experiences he believes he has in government to qualify to be the County Manager.
Mr. Rankin thanked the Board for the opportunity and privilege to be there. He answered that he brought an opportunity to strengthen the existing team and noted that his strength was as a team builder rather than a micro-manager. He added that the County had an excellent team, and there was an excellent opportunity to build on that and provide better customer service.
Commr. Parks asked what change Mr. Rankin thought he could make that would have the greatest impact on the organization and the County government in the way they serve their constituents and residents if he was selected as County Manager.
Mr. Rankin mentioned that he had talked to about 200 people about what they would like to see from the County officials, and many indicated that trust was somewhat missing out in the community. He elaborated that he would want to make sure they were responsive to the citizens, put the emphasis on trust, and endeavor to strengthen the form of government they already have.
Commr. Parks asked whether being County Manager was an all leadership role, all manager role, or a mix of both.
Mr. Rankin stated it was both, depending on circumstances, and there was a time to manage and a time to step up to take a leadership role.
Commr. Breeden mentioned that the new School Superintendent proposed a 100-day plan and asked Mr. Rankin what he would do in his first 100 days as County Manager.
Mr. Rankin pointed out that he gave the Commissioners a 90-day plan the day before which was broken down into what he would do the first 30, 60, and 90 days containing continuation as well as fundamental steps. He explained that first and foremost was understanding what the Board’s expectations were of him serving in that role and the opportunities and strengths of the County’s team. He mentioned that he feels very good about the critical path that he had put together.
Commr. Breeden asked in what ways the County Manager’s leadership could foster and encourage diversification of Lake County’s economy.
Mr. Rankin answered that he believed that they were already doing that, and it will foster more trust in the residents by seeing the County and its cities attempting to work together. He added that consultants and organizations interested in growing in Lake County do not necessarily care where the city limits begin and end but are more interested in being able to conduct their business and being treated fairly. He elaborated that since they look at Lake County as a whole, selling Lake County collectively will strengthen that effort.
Commr. Campione thanked Mr. Rankin for being part of this process and expressed appreciation for what he was doing in the City of Leesburg. She noted that the Commissioners all ran on platforms of fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism, and asked how he would help the Board achieve their objectives to provide excellent service to the residents of Lake County while imposing the lowest tax rate possible.
Mr. Rankin responded that he was quite proud of what the City of Leesburg has accomplished regarding its budget, including reducing electric rates, eliminating some staff positions by attrition, and increasing their level of service by cross-training and reinforcement of customer service. He commented that he believed that they constantly needed to look at a better way to perform their tasks, which was an ongoing process, and he noted that what they do was being scrutinized every day.
Commr. Campione asked Mr. Rankin if he believed that water usage and availability will play a role in Lake County’s ability to realize its economic goals in the future and decisions regarding the approval and location of residential development approvals by the Board.
Mr. Rankin answered that those looking to invest in this area are just as mindful as the County about the issues of environment and resources, since they realize how valuable those resources are. He opined that there would be no growth without utilities, and water is critical.
Commr. Blake asked what the most challenging aspect of county government was from an administrator’s perspective and how Mr. Rankin would approach that challenge.
Mr. Rankin responded that the most challenging aspect to him was to proceed with a plan without getting ahead of that plan and to stay in tune with present day circumstances while looking at opportunities down the road as well.
Commr. Sullivan asked Mr. Rankin if he would like to add anything before they make their decision, noting that this was the last opportunity to address the Board.
Mr. Rankin stated that he wanted to make it clear that he does want this job, and he commented that he and his wife live and have invested in Lake County and were very proud to be there. He added that he appreciated the Board’s time.
Commr. Sullivan asked Mr. Randy Vosburg, a candidate for the County Manager position, what attributes and experiences he believes he has in government to qualify to be the County Manager.
Mr. Vosburg opined that there were three important criteria for this position in order to be successful, which were technical background, practical experience, and the right personality for the position. He elaborated that he had the technical expertise and brings diverse practical experience to the table, including planning for Polk County, working for the Sheriff’s Office, and as his current role as Assistant County Administrator in Highlands County. He also related that he believed he was a leader and a people-person.
Commr. Parks congratulated Mr. Vosburg for being one of the final four candidates and expressed appreciation for him being part of this process and spending time learning about their county. He asked what change Mr. Vosburg thought he could make that would have the greatest impact on the organization and the County government in the way they serve their constituents and residents if he was selected as County Manager.
Mr. Vosburg responded that he might be able to see where change needed to be applied once he got into the organization, and he would like a lot more input before he could give a true answer to that question. However, he commented that there were some challenges ahead, and there was a lot of infrastructure, groundwork, and planning in place that needed to stay on track and move forward or be revived rather than sitting on a shelf.
Mr. Vosburg indicated that he believed it was both, with leadership being the personality side of things he mentioned before, including being out in the community and interacting with the employees on a regular basis. He added that communication was the most important part.
Commr. Breeden mentioned that the new School Superintendent proposed a 100-day plan and asked what Mr. Vosburg what his 100-day plan would be as County Manager.
Mr. Vosburg responded that given the timing of the position, the first 100 days would be very consumed with the budget, noting that he had gone through the budget at least once, and it could be even more critical depending on what was passed by the state legislature. He added that he would be out in the community for a big portion of those first 100 days and making the rounds internally with the Lake County staff, which he felt was a very important component for those first 100 days. He stated that he would also focus on the priorities that the Commissioners had discussed at the retreat in January.
Mr. Vosburg answered that there was an opportunity through economic development, as well as through planning and other ongoing efforts; he also mentioned that getting out into the community, helping to grow some of the smaller businesses that are already located in the county, thinking regionally by forming partnerships with the surrounding counties and communities, and focusing on their target industries would all be ways to diversify that base.
Commr. Campione noted that the Commissioners all ran on platforms of fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism, and she asked how he would help the Board achieve their objectives to provide excellent service to the residents of Lake County while imposing the lowest tax rate possible.
Mr. Vosburg emphasized that the formative part of his career had been during very challenging economic times, and they had to live within their means and in some cases cut services or departments, which has been very influential as he has progressed through his career. He specified that Highland County lagged behind most of the other counties in economic recovery and has been very fiscally constrained. He summarized that they should always be continually looking for additional efficiencies in order to keep the tax burden low.
Commr. Campione asked Mr. Vosburg if he believed that water usage and availability will play a role in Lake County’s ability to realize its economic goals in the future and decisions regarding the approval and location of residential development approvals by the Board.
Mr. Vosburg commented that he absolutely thought water was important and a hot topic around the state. He mentioned that the importance of water in Polk County was apparent when he was a senior planner there when they had to stop development because they had reached or exceeded their water permit thresholds. He concluded that water was absolutely critical for growth.
Commr. Blake asked what the most challenging aspect of county government was from an administrator’s perspective and how Mr. Vosburg would approach that challenge.
Mr. Vosburg answered that the biggest challenge probably would be dealing with five different perspectives and directions from the five Commissioners and finding that common thread in order to come to a consensus, although his interaction with the Commissioners over the last couple of days has lead him to believe that it may not be as much of a challenge as some think, since he believed there was a lot of commonalities and that they were coming together on a common vision for Lake County.
Commr. Sullivan asked Mr. Vosburg if he would like to add anything before they make their decision, noting that this was the last opportunity to address the Board.
Mr. Vosburg opined that this has been a great process and that he has appreciated the decisions that the Board has made to get to this point and how they have conducted the process. He related that he wanted them to know that he could do this job, and he hoped that the Board has seen that he has all three of the attributes he had previously mentioned that were essential for the job. He concluded that he was looking forward to helping the Board achieve great things in Lake County.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 3:15 p.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
selection of county manager
Commr. Sullivan recapped that they have vetted the four candidates and opined that the process they had gone through has been validated by the caliber of applicants they saw there that day. He indicated that the business people he had talked to were also comfortable with the process and what the Board had done to select the County Manager. He explained that after the decision is made, he will turn the meeting over to the Vice Chairman so that he could deliver the news to the candidates, who were waiting in a separate area outside of Chambers.
Commr. Campione commented that this was a hard decision, since they had four great candidates with great traits and experience, and she believed that all four of the applicants seemed to appreciate some of the Board’s collective and individual priorities and presented themselves well. She announced that she believed that Mr. Cole would be the best fit for this position, noting his past experience, education, demeanor, presence, ability to adapt, appreciation for an attention to service, and his understanding of resource and aquifer protection, land use type issues, growth management, and quality of life issues, which are important to attract new companies to Lake County. She added that his understanding that the Commissioners were all elected on platforms that were based on looking out first and foremost for the taxpayers of Lake County was important for this position and that he also understands that there would be challenges in this budget season that would take efficiencies, innovation, and negotiation in order to navigate those challenges.
Commr. Parks commented that he agreed with Commr. Campione’s comments and would support the motion to offer the job to Mr. Cole. He added that he believed that Mr. Cole would be very supportive of the staff.
Commr. Breeden stated that she concurred with the previous comments and added that she had heard feedback that Mr. Cole was always respectful and recognized what the staff does on an individual basis. She opined that they had four excellent candidates for the position and that Mr. Koontz was one of the best budget directors the County has had.
Commr. Blake agreed that all four applicants were excellent candidates for the position and that it was a very hard decision. He stated that he concurred that Mr. Cole was the best fit with his broad experience with other governmental entities and County government.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to offer the County Manager position to Mr. Jeff Cole, current Public Resources Director.
Ms. Melanie Marsh, County Attorney, stated that the Board needed to vote to authorize her and Commr. Sullivan as Chairman to negotiate an employment contract with Mr. Cole.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board moved to grant approval for the Chairman and the County Attorney to negotiate an employment contract with Mr. Cole.
Commr. Sullivan passed the gavel to Commr. Campione, Vice Chairman.
information technology update and budget presentation
Mr. Steve Earls, Information Technology Director, related that he would present an overview of the Information Technology (IT) Department as well as the Fiscal Year 2018 departmental budget. He commented that great customer service relied on great technology supporting that effort in the background, and he presented the department’s mission statement, which was to enable high performance within Lake County government through the delivery of powerful and innovative technology solutions designed to meet the needs of the users, businesses, and citizens. He noted that the IT Department was made up of a total of 26 full-time staff members working in four divisions, IT Business Office, Programming and Application Services (PASS), Technical Services, and Geographical Information Services (GIS). He explained that IT provides service in five major technology areas, which were telephone, mobile, and cellular services; computer services; geographic analysis, mapping, data, and addressing services; records management; and audio-visual services. He elaborated that the department’s services are provided to the Board as well as to most local governmental agencies to some extent, such as the Supervisor of Elections, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, and Sheriff’s Office. He noted that IT also provides services to the Lake County Library System, the Lake Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Lake EMS, the Clerk of Court, and the Health Department. He added that IT is often called upon to provide services as they are needed, such as technical support for the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) during an emergency event or activation, technology support when meetings are held away from the Board Chambers, and audio-visual support to the entities that use the Chambers. He related that IT will respond to most nonemergency calls for computer or telecom services within 24 hours, and emergency calls are responded to within two hours, with after-hours emergency calls responded to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.
Mr. Earls specified that the service desk responded to 2,380 computer service requests this year and replaced 36 desktops and 33 laptops; and their Technical Services Division responded to 1,090 requests for telephone related services and responded to over 200 network service requests. He stated that their GIS Division issued 3,884 new addresses, mapped approximately 42 miles of new streets both within the municipalities and in unincorporated areas of the county, mapped 50 annexations from 8 municipalities, and filled more than 140 map and analysis requests from BCC departments and other agencies. He commented that many of the IT Business Office accomplishments have focused on computer security, such as implementation of advanced threat protection for emails, improvement of web security which brought up encryption ratings, implementation of a new training program for County computer users on various security topics, and negotiation of additional cybersecurity protection measures for the FY 2018 budget. He recapped that past Business Office Division accomplishments include development of the sales tax application, which was a web based tracking system for sales surtax money which automatically generates a report enabling the Sales Surtax Committee to see project descriptions and easily get answers to questions they may have. He listed other accomplishments of the division including a fire rescue pre-incident planning application which helped to reduce the County’s ISO rating, upgrade of network connectivity at Solid Waste, and replacement of many of the County’s wireless access points using higher performance but less expensive mesh technology. He announced that the IT Business Office would soon implement a new integrated service desk solution which would eliminate duplication of work among the divisions, create a one-stop shop for the customer, provide a common database for tracking, automate workflows, enable better management of service requests, and incorporate best practices in the design. He added that the IT Business Office also began implementing cloud-based technologies within the IT Department and for other select projects which would allow access of information from anywhere and from any device, freeing up server resources.
Mr. Earls related that the PASS Division created the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) web application which allows Code Enforcement to efficiently plan and coordinate their inspection efforts, generates directions, and provides inspectors with important data. He also noted that the GIS Division implemented the Municipal Addressing User Interface (MAUI) Map, which allows municipalities to add and update city addresses in a GIS format, with the data syncing to the County database, and he pointed out that this was created because many of the municipalities did not have a GIS person on staff. He commented that this system was easy to use and helped to ensure that city addresses get added to the County’s database. He noted that the County has many remote offices that need connectivity to the County’s computer network and access to resources on the main campus in Tavares. He explained that since the cost of fiber or lease lines can be expensive and burdensome to the departments, the Technical Services Division worked closely with Fire Rescue and the Communications Technology Department to reduce the cost of remote connectivity which will save Public Safety $40,000 per year in connectivity costs to the fire stations and Public Works a total of $7,900 per year. He presented some graphs illustrating various benchmarks, including the number of department full-time employees compared to other counties showing that Lake was where it should be with 26; the number of users that receive support from the IT Department illustrating that Lake County supports 1,794 users, which is also comparable to other counties; costs per capita with Lake County at $7.62, which was the second lowest; and the computer replacement cycle showing that Lake County has one of the longest PC replacement cycles at six years. He related that the County is mandated to have an active records management program by the state, and maintaining public records and making them available for inspection is a huge task. He commented that one key unfunded challenge is that the telephone system that provides service to the Administration Building, Sheriff’s Administration Building, the Historic Courthouse, and many remote offices is no longer supported by the manufacturer, since the system is 20 to 25 years old, which means that a system failure could result in extensive downtime while the upgrade is procured and installed. He stated that the cost to upgrade that system is $198,000, which will need to be addressed through the infrastructure sales tax reauthorization. He reported that the total IT expenditures proposed for FY 2018 is $2.9 million, a slight increase over last year, noting that this included $175,000 for additional cyber security measures to protect their users and data from hackers as much as they possibly could as well as $65,000 in Microsoft support for continued transition to cloud-based technologies. He elaborated that the personal services in their budget has gone up less than one percent, operating expenses decreased 2.32 percent or about $18,000, and their capital outlay has increased by $79,000 due to the six-year schedule of replacement for hardware such as computers and network switches and plans to replace a damaged underground telephone cable.
Commr. Parks praised Mr. Earls’ department for doing a lot with limited funding and acknowledged that some of the County’s equipment was getting old. He asked about a concept that had been previously discussed about integrating all the information systems, including the constitutional officers, and combining it with some new technologies to make things more efficient and whether that was included in the cyber security upgrades.
Mr. Earls responded that the cyber security measures they would like to employ were only for the Board users as well as the Supervisor of Elections and Property Appraiser’s Offices, since they also buy licensing on their behalf and charge them back. He clarified that the system he was referring to was actually a new phone system that had all types of alarm devices and sensors that served the purpose of making buildings more secure. He mentioned that that type of equipment could be used with their phone system once it was upgraded for under $200,000 for the constitutional officers and everyone using the County phone system, so they would not need to go out and buy a new phone system to do that.
communications department presentation
Ms. Kelly Lafollette, Communications Department Director, stated that the purpose of the presentation was to provide the Board with an update on the Communications Department’s activities and proposed FY 2018 budget. She related that the mission statement of the department was to effectively coordinate communication between the Board and citizens, business owners, and visitors regarding County services, goals, objectives, and accomplishments. She presented the organizational chart for the Communications Department, noting that they had a total of nine full-time positions within three divisions, which were Graphic Design; Web Development; and Communications, Media Relations & Multimedia Outreach. She related that the department supports outreach initiatives in each of those divisions as well as providing support for all the County departments, divisions, and programs and web and graphic support for the Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections. She added that they also support other outside agencies and organizations such as the Lake Sumter MPO, Historical Society, and Guardian Ad Litem and provide communications, web, and social media support during EOC activations. She related that the County’s Public Information Officer primarily carries out Communications and Media Relations responsibilities, which includes outreach to local media, citizens, businesses, and visitors to help promote County programs, initiatives, and accomplishments. She elaborated that they share information through issuance of news releases, media advisories, and social media engagement; help to plan and coordinate County events; develop content for print and digital outlets; and distribute a weekly e-newsletter that goes out to over 6,100 subscribers. She commented that media relations is a two-way street that involves relationship building with their media partners, and they respond to media inquiries in a timely manner and work with the departments in coordinating media interviews. She reported that over 160 media incidents and inquiries were responded to during the last fiscal year. She pointed out that the approach they take to media relations was not just reactionary, and they pitch story ideas and package up content and video clips to provide to the media, which has been effective in getting their messaging out. She specified that 225 news releases and media advisories were issued, posted on the website, distributed to all local media, posted on their social media outlets, and sent out through the e-newsletter in FY 2016. She noted that they have heavily used social media in their outreach efforts, and they currently oversee ten Facebook pages, eight Twitter accounts, a tourism blog, and a YouTube channel. She commented that the impacts of social media have far-reaching effects as a major source for media outlets to gather news and information and for residents to find out the latest news and information directly from the source. She added that they have stepped up their video and image outreach through social media this fiscal year, including doing some Facebook live feeds at events such as the fire truck dedications, which has had tremendous results. She specified that their Facebook pages have a total of 19,967 followers and their Twitter accounts have roughly 7,000 followers, which is an increase of 50 percent for Facebook and 30 percent for Twitter over last year.
Ms. Lafollette related that their Graphic Design Services is broken into print and digital categories. She elaborated that the print staff designs a variety of deliverables such as advertisements, billboards, and brochures; and they also support some of the constitutional offices with their graphics needs. She added that the team processes all County stationery orders; manages many outside commercial print projects, which ensures cost efficiency; and supports large-scale projects such as the rebranding of the Supervisor of Elections Office and other special events. She mentioned that the department also designs digital graphics, such as the annual branding for the State of the County, design of the layouts for websites, taking and editing of digital photography and video, and custom presentation designs. She noted that the web development staff manages both the front-end user experience and the back-end programming and database connectivity that feeds data and information to the websites, noting that they currently maintain 18 websites, which include sites for the Board; separate sites for LakeXpress, Keep Lake Beautiful, and libraries; and three websites for Economic Development. She specified that there were more than 1,200 web-related projects and work orders completed in FY 2016. She reported that the department helped support numerous County events during 2016, such as the opening of the Miracle Field and the Fire Station 90/104 in Clermont, the Career Online High School graduation ceremony, the launch of LakeXpress Route 50 in Clermont, the East Lake Community Park light-up event, the Wings and Wildflowers Festival, and several other ribbon cuttings and community celebrations. She pointed out that three new websites were launched this past fiscal year, including the Wellness Way website last February, MadeinLake.com manufacturing website in March, and the LakeBigBass.com website to promote fishing in Lake County; and they refreshed the existing Library Services website in May to make it mobile friendly and updated some of the navigation and content management system for the library staff. She announced that this year they were excited to partner with the Property Appraiser’s Office on being selected for a National Association of Counties Achievement Award for making customer friendly enhancements to their website and helping them develop marketing materials to inform residents of those added features. She added that their staff helped the Economic Development and Tourism Division with two events, including developing marketing materials for the Partners in Progress Tour which hosted City of Orlando representatives and helping to reach over 173,000 people on social media to follow a very successful “O”bassador Familiarization Tour which took place in Tavares for social media influencers from Central Florida.
Ms. Lafollette highlighted some efficiencies achieved through their team’s efforts, including working closely with Human Resources to develop branding for the new employee health and wellness center and a monthly employee e-newsletter that brought awareness to the services available at the Primary Care Connection. She added that they also designed new signage for the Extension Office facility, which saved costs on design, and they actively distributed information to the public and media via their emergency management social media page during an EOC activation during Hurricane Matthew, including preparedness information before the storm hit and road closures and electrical outages during the incident. She presented a benchmark showing the number of websites supported by the BCC staff in Lake County and surrounding counties, noting that Lake County was a little higher than the others since many counties do not have a consolidated approach to management of their web presence, as well as a benchmark comparing smart services available through the County’s website, showing that those services were available in Lake County, such as online permitting and payments and the citizen action request line for submitting and tracking questions and issues supported through the website. She displayed a graph of a benchmark showing the number of website visitors in Fiscal Year 2015; however, Lake County’s data only reflects the BCC website and not any of the other websites they maintain. She reported that the proposed FY 2018 budget for the Communications Department shows total revenues and expenditures of $777,145 coming from three sources, which were 71 percent from the General Fund, 27 percent from Tourist Development Tax, and 2 percent from the Library Fund. She gave an overview of the total expenditures and summarized that the budget accounts for a slight increase of 4.9 percent or $36,072 which allows for better project management and work order tracking software, accounts for reconciliation of IT software chargebacks, accommodates online training for the technical staff, and allows for replacement of the five-year old SLR video camera. She mentioned that there were currently no mandated or required expenditures, and the proposed FY 2018 budget maintains the existing levels of service.
Commr. Campione commented that the presentation was impressive and that her department did a great job.
Commr. Parks expressed appreciation for all her hard work and commented that she worked well with the other teams across the county, including the Constitutional Officers. He requested that she keep up with the Real Florida, Real Close branding, since many people are still not aware of that, and quality of life is part of the County’s economic development plan.
reports – county attorney
advertising of panhandling ordinance
Ms. Marsh relayed that her office received a letter from the Sheriff asking the Board to pass an ordinance regarding panhandling, and she had prepared a draft ordinance for collector and arterial roads in the unincorporated areas of the county. She noted that she would bring the draft ordinance back for approval to advertise if she received consensus from the Board to do so.
Commr. Campione asked about how the ordinance would be enforced.
Ms. Marsh answered that violations of this code would be a misdemeanor, and the Sheriff would be enforcing it, noting that offenders could also be just given a warning.
Commr. Breeden commented that she believed they needed to be careful that this ordinance would not include not-for-profit groups that solicit funds.
Ms. Marsh related that this ordinance would not make any exemption for those groups and would prohibit solicitation of money on the right of way medians across the board.
Commr. Sullivan clarified that the definition of panhandling per the ordinance means the act of obtaining money, food, or other items by approaching or begging from a stranger.
Ms. Marsh further clarified that this ordinance would refer to those who are standing in the right of way or median and approaching vehicles that are stopped at a traffic light to ask for money, but it would not apply to those who are selling items on a sidewalk or in front of a business. She elaborated that this ordinance is not intended to prohibit activities such as advertising, distribution of goods and materials, or solicitation that is directed towards pedestrians on the sidewalks, as long as they were off of the roadway and not approaching vehicles.
Commr. Campione commented that the Sheriff felt that this was a safety issue.
Commr. Parks indicated that he supported it.
Commr. Breeden commented that she was not convinced about the need for this ordinance yet and asked if there were any nearby jurisdictions that had a similar ordinance.
Ms. Marsh responded that there were none that she was aware of but that she would research that to make sure.
Commr. Sullivan stated that he would bring this issue back under his agenda at the next meeting.
Mr. Heath offered to have staff do a survey of adjacent counties and noted that some counties have been reluctant to institute this type of ordinance because of firefighters and charity groups who have appealed to their Board of County Commissioners in the past after a long-standing tradition of allowing that type of solicitation.
reports - county manager
groveland four resolution
Mr. Heath reported that the state legislative House had approved a concurrent resolution which offered an apology for what happened to the Groveland Four and that it is now in committee in the Senate.
burn ban for lake county
Mr. Heath noted that he authorized the Public Safety Department to enact an open burn ban in Lake County due to extremely dry weather conditions. He elaborated that Lake County has been fortunate the last several weeks to be behind some of their neighbors in terms of drought conditions, but now parts of the county are exceeding 500, which is the threshold for declaring an open ban. He added that firefighters were currently fighting a 700-acre wildfire in the northern area of the county along SR 44 in Eustis since Saturday that was at 60 percent containment, and there was another brushfire in the Sorrento area.
commissioner parks – district 2
board meeting of st. johns river water management district
Commr. Parks related that he attended a board meeting of the St. Johns River Water Management District in Eustis along with Commr. Breeden. He commented that they do not have a meeting in Lake County very often but hopefully will have more meetings in the future for their residents to attend, since there is discussion about important issues.
Icamr ribbon cutting
Commr. Parks stated that he was at the ICAMR (International Consortium of Advanced Manufacturing Research) ribbon cutting last week, and that there were several hundred people in attendance. He opined that it would be a great facility for Osceola County and the whole region.
commissioner campione – vice chairman and district 4
school impact fee waiver program
Commr. Campione requested approval of the interlocal agreement between the Board and the School Board on the impact fee waiver pilot program. She noted that the School Board has already reviewed the agreement and had requested a few changes, and Ms. Marsh worked with the School Board’s attorney to make those changes. She reported that the School Board had officially approved the interlocal agreement and explained that they would have to advertise the ordinance to put this in place before hearing it at a public hearing. She related that she has received some feedback from some of the local builders indicating that there was some concern that the design criteria was too stringent, and she indicated that she was planning on working further on the design criteria to try to address some of the issues and simplify it. She pointed out that only about 28 of the waivers would be granted, and they would want aesthetically-pleasing homes that would promote infill and revitalization as well as complement the surrounding area. She pointed out that most of those locations would be in older areas where there were already historical-type homes that have a particular architectural feel, and she opined that the infill in those areas should complement those architectural styles. She elaborated that this would apply to older plats that were platted prior to 1991 or a plat that was platted prior to 2001 where 80 percent of the lots were built on already or within the historic district, a blighted area, a Community Redevelopment Area, within three miles of a city hall, or two miles walking distance of a school; also, the school district that serves that lot would have to have sufficient capacity. She commented that hopefully this will act as a catalyst to help the development of those areas, and they could look at expanding the program if it is successful.
Ms. Marsh clarified that they will advertise the ordinance as it is but present the Board at the public hearing with a list of what they would like to change, wherein the Board can adopt it with those changes.
Commr. Blake commented that this ordinance was very innovative, and he thought it was a great idea. He also noted that Commr. Campione put a lot of time and effort into it.
On a motion by Commr. Campione, seconded by Commr. Breeden and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the request for the execution of the Interlocal Agreement between the School Board and Lake County regarding the School Impact Fee Waiver Program and to advertise an ordinance creating Section 22-8, Lake County Code, entitled Waiver of Educational Impact Fees for School Capacity and amending Section 22-14, Lake County Code, entitled Exemptions, and Section 22-11, Lake County Code, entitled Prepayment of Impact Fees.
Commr. Campione added that School Board Member Marc Dodd expressed concern about some locations, including some plats in the Bishop’s Gate subdivision near the Mission Inn, which would meet the criteria because it was within three miles of the city hall but not meet the spirit of this issue, since that area is not stagnant. She related that they would look at putting some things in place in the ordinance that would prevent those types of situations.
commissioner blake – district 5
appreciation for firefighters
Commr. Blake thanked the firefighters and the staff working on the fire on SR 44 in Eustis.
commissioner sullivan – chairman and district 1
inspection of ems services
Commr. Sullivan reported that the State of Florida’s inspection of Lake EMS services, personnel, equipment, and services resulted in no comments or findings of deficiencies and showed that EMS met the highest standards.
florida association of counties legislative day
Commr. Sullivan related that he attended the Florida Association of Counties Legislative Day, and he noted that they were keeping an eye on the legislative process.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m.
timothy i. sullivan, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK