BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA
JUNE 6, 2005
†††† The following is a non-verbatim transcript of the BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING OF SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA, held at 4:00 p.m., on Monday, June 6, 2005, in the SEMINOLE COUNTY SERVICES BUILDING at SANFORD, FLORIDA, the usual place of meeting of said Board.
†††† Chairman Carlton Henley (District 4)
†††† Vice Chairman Brenda Carey (District 5)
†††† Commissioner Bob Dallari (District 1)
†††† Commissioner Randy Morris (District 2)
†††† Commissioner Dick Van Der Weide (District 3)
†††† County Manager Kevin Grace
†††† County Attorney Robert McMillan
†††† Deputy Clerk Carylon Cohen
PROOF OF PUBLICATION
†††† Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner Morris, to authorize the filing of the proof of publication for this meetingís scheduled public hearing into the Official Record.
†††† Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 voted AYE.
†††† Mr. Grace advised that as a result of the Boardís priority-setting process completed earlier this year, the Board established transit funding as one of the top four issues to address.† The Board indicated it would consider an additional one-cent gas tax if the cities would support its use for transit purposes.† In April, staff was directed to send a letter to the
cities to ask if they would support such action.† He stated Board action would have to occur prior to July 1 in order to collect revenues beginning January 1, 2006.† The staff has received resolutions of support from each of the seven cities.† The interlocal agreement regarding use of the revenues is also required between the County and the cities representing over 50% of the municipal population.† The cities of Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Oviedo, and Sanford have executed the interlocal agreements, which make up approximately 65% of the municipal population.† The City of Lake Mary executed a different version of the agreement.† He said $1.7 million in new gas tax revenues is proposed to be used for transit purposes, specifically to reassume the cost of ADA paratransit services currently shared with the cities in the County and to cover the growing budget deficit in the fixed route service area.† Without the gas tax, it is projected the County will face a $2.1 million shortfall in transit funding in the next fiscal year.† Even with the additional revenue, the County will likely face a deficit of $400,000.† He reviewed the two actions requested today to approve the interlocal agreement with the cities regarding the gas tax and adoption of an ordinance imposing the additional one-cent gas tax.† He explained the approval of the interlocal agreement is contingent upon approval of the ordinance, so the agreement would not take effect if the ordinance is not adopted.† The action to adopt the ordinance will require a super majority vote of the Board.
†††† Chairman Henley advised that Item #1, Interlocal Agreement, is not a public hearing, but the Board will take public input for Item #2, proposed Ordinance levying an additional one-cent motor fuel tax.† He explained the Board has to have an interlocal agreement approved in order to adopt the ordinance.
†††† Upon inquiry by Commissioner Morris, Mr. Grace defined ďparatransitĒ and the portion of the motor fuel tax that would go for that, stating about $840,000 of the tax revenues is projected for paratransit.† He also advised that the cities have been sharing with the County those expenses for paratransit for the last three years or so.† They did that with the understanding that it was a temporary solution to be done until a longer term solution would be in place.† Lately, some cities have indicated an unwillingness to continue with the same way of funding.† Mr. Grace said the County would have to fund this or look at service cuts if the cities discontinue their funding.†
†††† Commissioner Morris explained that this service is provided by Lynx, which is a regional provider, and is not run by Seminole County, but the County has a member on their Board of Directors.
†††† Chairman Henley said the 9th cent levied covered the cost up until recently.† Then within the last five years, the deficit started.† He said the tax they are talking about today will not cover the total cost on this issue, particularly in the years to come, when they know it will cost more.†
†††† Commissioner Carey stated that to date all the cities have paid for ADA services except Winter Springs.†† She said the fact that the cities passed a resolution they are aware and are in support of paying for their citizensí ADA transportation.† By their performance, it would seem they are willing to pay.† If they donít pay, it is the Countyís obligation to pay.†
†††† Whereupon, Mr. Grace said that is debatable.† He said that in the past, the County has assumed that responsibility.† The question is does the County have to pay and what mandates the County to pay.† He said really nothing, other than the County is the main member of Lynx.† Historically, the service has been provided and the County has paid for it.† He is not sure the County is legally required to pay.†
†††† Commissioner Carey said the fact ADA citizens live in the municipalities and are taxpayers in the cities and County, obviously it is a moral responsibility of the County to provide transportation services.
†††† Mr. Grace said it is a policy decision of the Board.† He said by federal law, Lynx is required to provide paratransit services with three-fourths of a mile of each fixed route the County has.† That is an indirect obligation to the County.
†††† Commissioner Carey asked, aside from the gas tax and $2 surcharge, where else has Mr. Grace looked to try to find funding.
†††† Mr. Grace responded it has been in the past and in the current year, there is approximately a half million to $1 million in the General Fund that goes for transit.† He believes it was two years ago, the Board asked staff to go back and look at other alternatives.† The alternatives are the ad valorem tax and utility tax (public service tax).† He said itís not equitable to use the utility tax because that would be taxing the unincorporated residents for a countywide service.† He said the staffís conclusion was that this was the most equitable solution to help provide an alternative.† He said he doesnít know how other counties pay for the service, but he understands it is a variety of ways.† He understands Orange County uses their general fund.†
†††† Upon inquiry by Commissioner Morris, Mr. Grace stated he believes Volusia County is the only surrounding county that has used the entire five cents that can be put in by a simple majority vote of the Board.† Statewide, there are 13 counties that have done the entire amount and one county has done 11 cents.† Overall, 17 counties in the State would be at a higher rate of gas tax than Seminole County.† He stated that not all 67 counties have paratransit operations.
†††† Commissioner Van Der Weide stated he does not see this as whether the County is going to fund or not fund.† They are going to fund the services and itís a question of how.† He said the County is not going to let these people go without this service.† The County has been funding it, but has not increased the gas tax since 1993.† He is saying he canít support increasing the gas tax.† He said the timing is atrocious, and the cost is astronomical right now for the citizens.†
†††† Commissioner Carey asked Mr. Grace how did the County come about getting all the resolutions from the cities.†
†††† Mr. Grace reviewed the direction to staff at the April 12, 2005, meeting was to send letters to the cities to see if they were in support of the one cent-gas tax for transit purposes.† A draft resolution was attached to that letter.† He said the Board also went through this a couple years ago.
†††† Commissioner Van Der Weide stated the Commission reviewed this in 2003.
†††† Commissioner Carey said itís not like someone has not been trying to come up with a solution.† The rental car surcharge would generate $39 million versus $1.7 million on the gas tax.
†††† Commissioner Morris said the seven cities have all requested this.† There is a city or two who are threatening not to pay it.† Obviously, this Board is going to take the responsibility even if there is a shortfall funding by the cities to cover their element.† He said the need is great.† He reviewed the kinds of situations for those who need these type of services.† He said because of the cities and because of the request, at least they would be once and for all over the paratransit issue. †He said he had no problem with the Board not taking action a couple years ago.† This time, the cities have all said they would support it.† The idea is to move forward.
†††† Commissioner Dallari stated no one likes to raise taxes.† When it comes to the gas tax and paratransit, he thinks it is an equitable situation.† People using the roads throughout the County would be helping the County to fund the services.† He said if the Board didnít have any intent in moving forward, he would be concerned why they asked the cities for their support.† The cities are counting on the Board to try to put together some kind of revenue source in place.† If they donít, the cities wonít be inclined to continue paying their portion of ADA; and all that funding will fall back on the County.† He asked to hear from Commissioner Morris on the revenue neutral plan.
†††† Motion by Commissioner Morris, seconded by Commissioner Dallari, to approve and authorize the Chairman to execute an interlocal agreement with the cities assigning the revenues of the tax to the County for public transportation (transit) expenditures.
†††† Districts 1, 2 and 4 voted AYE.
†††† Commissioners Carey and Van Der Weide voted NAY.
ORDINANCE LEVYING ADDITIONAL FUEL TAX
†††† Proof of publication, as shown on page _______, calling for a public hearing to consider adoption of an ordinance levying an additional one-cent motor fuel tax, received and filed.
†††† Commissioner Morris explained his revenue neutral plan, stating the Board would have to adjust the budget every year.† He said the only way the proposal would work would be to add the gas tax revenue and then every year roll back the unincorporated property tax for that percentage.† They could also roll back those full countywide ones but it would be best if the cities chose their own solution than for the County to do it for them.
†††† No one spoke in support or in opposition to the proposed Ordinance.
†††† Chairman Henley stated one reason the deficit is what it is regarding transportation and the amount Lynx has requested is because it has been significantly impacted by the Legislature in the amount they reduced.† That amount has to be made up.† The Lynx Board, in an attempt to lessen the impact upon the County, did increase the fares to all riders.† He said no one likes to levy taxes but if they continue to enjoy the quality of life they do, then the Board needs to do the responsible thing in order to provide services to those depending upon paratransit.† He said he thinks it is important to continue to make that service available.† He said he would be supporting the tax because the need is there, the cost is growing each year and will continue to do so and once the commuter rail comes about, it will be a significant jump to service that in order to get vehicles off the highway.
†††† Commissioner Carey stated she wants to clarify that in the Chairmanís opinion, it is the responsible thing to do; but that may not be in everyoneís opinion the responsible thing to do.† She thinks it is the responsibility of every city and of the County to step up to the plate and pay as they need to.† She thinks it is their responsibility to find a transit funding solution of a dedicated source.†
†††† Commissioner Morris stated he has given an alternative proposal.† That is not a tax increase for the unincorporated people.† Also, he suggested that the cities can do what they choose to do.† The fact they are making a policy that says if we pick this up, then basically it will be for the one or two cities who have said they donít want to pay.†
†††† Commissioner Dallari stated they all have different versions of whatís the right thing to do.† One of the questions he has if the ordinance doesnít pass, is why did the Board ask the cities for a resolution for their support if they did not have at least four members to support it.† He said he can almost assure the Board that if they donít move forward, those cities wonít pay their portion for paratransit.† Since they asked the cities for a resolution and all seven gave them, the right thing to do then is that the Board should move forward.
†††† Commissioner Van Der Weide stated the real issue is, is the Board going to provide service to these people that need it.† He said, yes, they are and nobody is suggesting they are going to discontinue this service.† He is just not in favor of using an increase in gasoline tax to do it.†
†††† Commissioner Carey quoted from the minutes of the April 12, 2005, Board meeting and said no where in the minutes did she find that staff was asked to ask the cities to pass resolutions.† Having been one commissioner who has never had the opportunity to sit through the budget process and never had the opportunity to support taxes to pay for stormwater and other taxes to support infrastructure needs, the fact the Board in the past was not responsible to the needs, she canít do anything about that.† Having looked through the budget, even if the County had to pay the entire amount for ADA services, there is plenty of room to tighten their belts to find the money.† She asked why half fix the problem.† Until the Board has a permanent solution, she is not willing to support it.
†††† Chairman Henley stated there wonít be enough money to do all the requests.†† They are going to have to tighten the belt somewhere along the line.† One of the reasons for the dedicated funding is so they may have some dollars to apply towards other needs.† He reviewed the other needs coming up and said these things are going to eat up all the new money.† He said if the Board doesnít start tightening the belt or cutting programs, they are going to be faced with significant increases.† He said they cannot continue with the services they want to provide and need to provide with the same dollars that they have right now.† He added that the reason the letter went out to the cities was because it had been brought up at the City Managers/Mayors meeting.†
†††† Commissioner Morris said he understands the general disagreement among the Board.† The issue is they have a request for approval.† If the ordinance doesnít pass, they are going to be tightening their belts, while some of the cities are going to be loosening theirs.†
†††† Motion by Commissioner Morris, seconded by Commissioner Dallari, to adopt an ordinance levying an additional one-cent motor fuel tax with the explanation that if this motion is passed by a super majority, there will be a follow-up motion to make this revenue-neutral funding for the unincorporated.
†††† Districts 1, 2 and 4 voted AYE.
†††† Commissioners Van Der Weide and Carey voted NAY.
†††† Chairman Henley advised the vote is not a super majority so the County will not be levying the additional tax.
†††† Commissioner Morris requested, if it is the consensus of the Board, for the County Manager to draft a letter to the seven cities saying the Board did hear the item and advise them what occurred so they know the Board honored their request.
†††† Commissioner Carey stated she would like to see the letter before it goes out.
†††† Commissioner Van Der Weide said the Board needs to discuss the windfall that is up to 10% of last yearís amount.† He said the County is not broke and they have to continue to do what they have done to set the priorities and fund them accordingly.
†††† There being no further business to come before the Board, the Chairman declared the meeting adjourned at 4:43 p.m., this same date.
ATTEST: ______________________Clerk ____________________Chairman