SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
following is a non-verbatim transcript of the BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING OF SEMINOLE COUNTY,
Vice Chairman Brenda Carey (District 5)
Commissioner Bob Dallari (District 1)
Commissioner Mike McLean (District 2)
Commissioner Dick Van Der Weide (District 3)
County Manager Cindy Coto
Deputy Clerk Carylon Cohen
Commissioner Van Der Weide gave the Invocation.
Commissioner Carey led the Pledge of Allegiance.
PROOF OF PUBLICATION
Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner Dallari, to authorize filing the proof of publication for this meeting’s scheduled public hearing.
Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 voted AYE.
FY 2007/2008 SEMINOLE
The First Public Hearing booklet for the proposed Budget for Fiscal Years 2007/08 and 2008/09 was received and filed.
Chairman Henley gave opening remarks, stating the public hearing is to allow the public to express their opinion regarding the millage and the budget. During the hearing, they
will discuss the proposed operating millage
levy and roll-back rate. The Board will
hear comments and attempt to answer questions from the public. He advised this is the first of two public
hearings and the final approval will be at the second public hearing. He asked the
Spriggs, Fiscal Services Director, addressed the Board and introduced Lin Polk,
Budget Manager. Ms. Spriggs advised
pages 10 through 12 of the First Public Hearing booklet is a detailed fund
summary budget for FY 08 totaling $734,782,361.
This includes the General Fund proposed budget totaling $252,578,692. She said pages 20 through 21 of the booklet
shows the detailed fund summary of the proposed budget plan for FY
2008/09. Page 7 is the summary table of
millage rates, which she reviewed. She
advised that House Bill 1B, placed into law during the 2007 legislative
session, statutorily rolls back millage rates levied by local governments. Effective for FY 2008, counties must roll
back property tax revenue to equal what was generated in FY 2007 and then
further reduce the tax revenue by a reduction factor ranging from 3% to 9%,
which is determined by comparing the County’s growth and per capita property
taxes to the State’s average for the period from FY 2002 to FY 2007. She explained that
Judge Clayton Simmons, 18th Judicial Circuit Court, addressed the Board to
state he is speaking as a resident and as Chief Judge. He introduced others present: Judge Galluzo, Judge McIntosh, Judge Eaton,
Judge Nelson, Judge Heard, Judge Perry and Judge Dickey. He had staff persons in attendance to stand
who were present in support of his comments and which included some affected
employees. Judge Simmons stated the
proposed budget cuts eight, County-funded staff positions. Those positions represent eight unique
functions or services that the County has provided over the years to the
McLean asked where the County would fit compared to other peer counties without
the Foreclosure Case Manager. Judge
Simmons said if these cases go back into the regular stream of Circuit Court
cases, these are handled as they come up among four judges and it typically
takes about six months for a case to go through the system. He said several large foreclosure attorneys
around the State have said it’s a pleasure to do business in
Commissioner Carey stated if the financial institutions can’t turn around the foreclosures, that affects a lot of things including the bank ratings. She said foreclosures are obviously going to go up and the faster they can process them, the better. She said her main concern is children’s services. She thinks it is really important to have special people keep track of the foster children. She thinks the direction yesterday was for Ms. Coto to continue to work through the Judges to talk about some of those positions and what the critical path of those are, unless the County Manger wants the Board to make the decision.
Ms. Coto said members of the Commission did express their concern over children’s services. What she has done is provide the Board with information that the Judiciary has provided to her and indicated she will need a decision no later than the September 25 public hearing for the final budget.
Commissioner Dallari said the Board wanted to be sure how the Guardian Ad Litem program was going to still be functioning and working.
Commissioner Carey said she was expecting staff to come back about the $2 technology charge and how that is assigned and implemented.
Miller, Executive Director of Guardian Ad Litem, speaking on behalf of the 700
abused, neglected and abandoned children in
Henley advised Mr. Aquilon that the millage levied by the
Commissioner Carey further explained that the TRIM notice was based on the 4.5872, but the budget the Board is looking at to approve has the 5% roll-back in it. She said her office has referred most calls about the property taxes to the Property Appraiser, and she referred to Chief Raw regarding Mr. Aquilon’s ISO rating and the fire issue.
Henley explained to the public, concerning the positions Chief Judge Simmons
discussed, that the
Commissioner Dallari explained, for clarification, that the budget they are looking at is exactly what the State statutes required the Board to do.
Ms. Nash said that if each department doesn’t act responsibly, they will have an overwhelming budget. It seems to her that the Board needs to be more responsive to the residents without cutting vital programs like the foster care program. She suggested the Board go back and look at some of the other departments and see if there are some things they might be able to cut. She said the people need some relief and the Board needs to understand that they do.
Chairman Henley said the public needs to understand the Board and staff agonized for months over the budget. He said the Board deals only with the ad valorem portion of the budget because the rest of the budget cannot be spent for these types of things being talked about tonight, as they are in the enterprise fund. He explained the ad valorem portion of the budget is not the largest portion. The Board does not have the latitude to take money out of one account (Enterprise Fund) and put it elsewhere.
Commissioner Carey explained how “Save Our Homes” works for the taxable value of homes to only increase 3%. She said if this structure is lost in the referendum, the people may lose all control. She said the “Save Our Homes” cap has helped the citizens.
Chairman Henley further said the homestead exemption has done exactly what it was designed to do--to protect homestead property from huge increases. The biggest opponents of “Save Our Homes” are commercial people. He reiterated that the Board has cut $27.5 million out of the budget. He said the Board is required by law to balance the budget and that’s what they have done.
Chairman Henley called for Arthur Jackson and Dorthie and Robert Roges to speak, but they had left the meeting room to speak with the Property Appraiser’s representative in the lobby.
Commissioner Carey stated the Property Appraiser’s office can help explain “Save Our Homes” and David Medley, Community Services Office, can help Mr. Matthews with preventative services for the foreclosure issue.
Chairman Henley called for Alexander Kallimaines and James Bradwell, Jr. to speak, but they had left the meeting room to speak with the Property Appraiser’s representative. He acknowledged the Written Comment Form from Carl Kravit opposing the action on this item.
Mr. Adams said he was hoping to see the comparison of the percentage increase of the budget to the consumer price index percentage increase. Commissioner Carey advised that information is available in Ms. Spriggs’ office.
Mr. Adams said he would also like to see over a five or seven-year period how many voters there are in the County and, based upon the voters, as compared to the budget, to know a cost per voter basis.
Commissioner Carey said only about 25% of the citizens are voters, so she thinks they would have to look at that on a population count. Commissioner Van Der Weide added that many of citizens aren’t old enough to vote.
Mr. Adams said he thinks this information would be an indicator. As it is now, the public doesn’t know how well they are doing with the budgets. Chairman Henley said Ms. Spriggs can provide him with that information.
Ms. Spriggs stated all the documents and historical budget comparisons are available on the web site and copies can be provided from her office.
Chairman Henley stated to the public that everything they experience, County government experiences also with the budget. They have to take all that into consideration in order to try to prioritize where to use the money. He said when they cut $27.5 million out of the income and then try to maintain the same services, it doesn’t work that way.
No one else spoke in support or in opposition.
Speaker Request and Comment Forms were received and filed.
Chairman Henley announced that the final public hearing for the millage and budget will be held on September 25, 2007, at the same time (7:00 p.m. or as soon thereafter as possible).
Ms. Spriggs referred again to page 7 of the Public Hearing booklet and said the Board will vote on the millage rates given in the third column, Statutory Maximum, as follows: General County Millage, 4.3578, a 5% decrease from the rolled-back rate and 13% decrease from FY 06/07; County Debt Service for Natural Lands/Trails, .1451 for a total Countywide millage of 4.5029; Fire/Rescue MSTU, 2.3299, 3% decrease from the rolled-back rate and 12% decrease from FY 06/07 rate; Unincorporated Road MSTU, .1068, 5% decrease from the rolled-back rate and 13% decrease from the current rate, for a total County levied millage of 6.9396.
Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner Dallari, to adopt the tentative millage rates as read for FY 2007/08.
Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 voted AYE.
Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner Carey, to adopt the tentative budget for all funds for FY 2007/08 as originally presented to the Board of County Commissioners by the County Manager in her official capacity as Budget Officer (per Florida Statute 129.025) and subsequently amended as the proposed budget of the Board of County Commissioners.
Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 voted AYE.
Chairman Henley announced again that the second public hearing and final action on the millage rate and the budget will be held on September 25, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
There being no further business to come before the Board, the Chairman declared the meeting adjourned at 8:14 p.m., this same date.