The following is a non-verbatim transcript of the BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING OF SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA, held at 7:05 p.m., on Tuesday, September 9, 2009, in the SEMINOLE COUNTY SERVICES BUILDING at SANFORD, FLORIDA, the usual place of meeting of said Board.


     Chairman Bob Dallari (District 1)

     Vice Chairman Mike McLean (District 2)

     Commissioner Dick Van Der Weide (District 3)

     Commissioner Carlton Henley (District 4)

     Commissioner Brenda Carey (District 5)

     County Manager Cindy Coto

     County Attorney Robert McMillan

     Deputy Clerk Eva Roach



     Chairman Dallari gave his opening remarks as outlined on page 2 of the Budget Proposal Book (received and filed).  He reminded everyone that the Board does not have any control over the tax levies and budgets of the School Board, the Water Management District, or any of the seven cities.  Questions regarding property assessments should be addressed to the Property Appraiser.  The BCC has limited authority over the budgets of the Constitutional Officers of the Clerk of Court, Property Appraiser, Sheriff, Supervisor of Election and Tax Collector.  The Property Appraiser and Tax Collector budgets are reviewed and approved by the State Department of Revenue.  The Sheriff has the right to appeal any decision regarding his budget to the Governor and Cabinet.  He stated the purpose of this public hearing is to take public comment regarding the proposed millage rates and budget, amend the budget as desired by the Board and tentatively adopt the millage rate of the County budget for FY 2009/10.  He asked the County Manager and staff to discuss the proposed budget for FY 2009/10.

     Cindy Coto, County Manager, addressed the Board to present her proposed budget.  She stated in the midst of the perfect storm at the national, state and local levels, the magnitude of the challenge before them is without precedence in local government service.  The impacts of the economic recession and tax reform will permanently shape all future budgets.  As an organization, the County has dealt with these realities for the past three years and with no expectation of strong revenue growth for the next five years.  To achieve long-term operational sustainability, focus has been placed on defining the levels of public service delivery critical to our community’s wellbeing while protecting the public from volatility and local taxes and fees.  The loss of General Revenue is estimated at $70 million per year.  Despite $54 million of operating reductions already made, a deficit of operating revenues to expenditures of $16 million for FY 2009/2010 still exists and it is projected to escalate to over $30 million in FY 2010/2011.  She stated six public meetings were conducted since March in which available options were presented and discussed.  She reviewed the strategies relating to service level reductions and the results of the reductions.  She continued by reviewing operational efficiencies, the revenue stabilization, economic stabilization, major decline in revenue sources.  She stated addressing the opportunities facing them requires a concentrated approach that focuses on establishing a revised set of policies and priorities under which the County operates.  She stated she believes that the proactive approach taken in reducing the County’s budget over the last three years is a responsible means of protecting the community.

     Lisa Spriggs, Fiscal Services Director, addressed the Board to state pages 6 and 7 of the first public hearing booklet shows a detailed fund summary of the budget.  She stated the proposed budget total is $714,428,947 and the total budget is inclusive of a proposed General Fund budget totaling $258,548,383.  The adjustments column totaling $5,877,931 reflects certain adjustments to fund revenues that are detailed on pages 9-14.  These are inclusive of a $6.8 million increase in the General Fund beginning fund balance and this includes a $1 million decrease in FY09 estimated interest revenue which was offset by $6.4 million in additional FY09 savings based on estimated actual operating expenditures through the end of the fiscal year, and an additional $1.4 million due to cancellation of certain projects.  She reviewed the additional adjustments made to the budget.  She also reviewed page 5 on the summary table of millage rates.  She stated based on the Board’s previous action to not move forward with the stormwater assessment for FY 2010, staff has submitted a revised first public hearing handout (received and filed) reflecting the Countywide millage rate at the trim rate and eliminating the stormwater assessment revenue, and providing for funding of stormwater through a General Revenue transfer to the Stormwater Fund.  She displayed and reviewed the 5-year forecast and what that means.  She displayed and reviewed the forecast assumptions and what’s to be expected.  The County has a base reserve of $20 million in the General Revenue funds and an economic stabilization reserve that sits at about $37.6 million.  The economic stabilization reserve can be used over the forecast period to offset the structural imbalance, but eventually they will have to look at other reductions in order to bring the County’s budget in line so that operating revenues can cover operating expenditures.  The millage rates and budget set by the Board tonight will be adopted as the tentative millage rates and tentative budget.  The budget will be advertised and a second public hearing to adopt the final millage levies and budget will be held on September 22, 2009.  The millage rates set at this tentative hearing cannot exceed the proposed trim rates.  Millage rates set at the final hearing cannot exceed the rates adopted tonight.

     Ms. Coto informed Commissioner Carey that there were no changes in the library hours as staff did not receive consensus from the Board to go with any of the proposals that staff presented or the offer from the Friends of the Library.  

     Colleen Jarrell, 5769 Autumn Chase Circle, addressed the Board to state she is in support of the budget and millage.  She stated she is thankful for the amenities and services provided and she doesn’t want to see more services reduced or staff reduced.  She said she wants to see the County stay the same.

     Mr. Lambert was called to speak but was not in attendance.

     Ron Ligthart, 1036 Winding Waters Circle, addressed the Board to state he is in opposition of the budget and millage rates.  He spoke with regard to the windfalls the County has had in previous years and what has happened in the private sector over the last year. 

     Randy Wright, 2063 Kimber Circle, addressed the Board to state he agrees with everything that Mr. Ligthart said.  He said he moved to the rural area to get away from the city.  He added his property tax went up 36% in 2004.  He said he feels it is time for government to slow down and stop using the citizens as an unlimited funding source.  He stated he is against raising taxes and the County needs to go down about 25%.

     Grady Johnson, 3912 E. Osceola Road, addressed the Board to state he would like to echo the sentiments of the last two speakers.  He said the citizens are being taxed for services that they have been promised for 35 or more years.  He stated what he is asking for is consideration as the citizens in the rural area would like to see services be brought to their area.  

     Linda Radun, 1509 Heights Lane, addressed the Board to state she doesn’t understand how the budget has been in the plus for last few years and now it is in the negative.  She asked if the County foresees that there are troublesome spots in the economy to warrant a cutback ahead of time.  She stated Lake Mary has beautified their city and trail bridges were built along 17-92 which hardly anyone uses.  She said she thinks the County should foresee the lack of money coming in if the budget was done properly and take precautions ahead of time.  She asked if the Board cut back on their cell phone usage, travel, and their luncheons.  She stated she can’t afford internet services or cable, and she would like to know where the cutbacks are if the citizens have to put out more money each year.

     Ed Dedelow, 622 Morgan St., addressed the Board to state 58,000 citizens are moving out of Florida because of the low wages.  He discussed about the citizens being worried about not getting their social security, a large move of voting out the incumbents, and taxing the people.

     Ann Esterson, 1235 Myrtle St., addressed the Board to state she believes the Board should hold the current millage rate and they should try to cut expenses.  She stated she feels over time work should not be going on when it is not needed as it could be done during regular working hours.  The medians are overly planted and replanted and fertilized and these things add to the stormwater runoff.  She said she feels the benefits of the County workers should be looked at.  She added she believes those using the libraries could pay an extra fee for the library card.  She also stated it may be feasible to not invest $126 million to pump water from the St. Johns.  She suggested that the Board hold the millage rate at 4.5153.

     Gordon Shaw, 5587 Whispering Woods Pt., addressed the Board to state he is in opposition to the increase in millage rates.  He spoke with regard to the housing cost burden on Seminole County citizens and the job and income loss.

     Richard Young, 221 Hamlin Drive, addressed the Board to speak with regard to fire protection and culverts not being cleaned in his area.

     Henry Stone, 15107 Plantation Lakes Circle, addressed the Board to state the County needs to rewrite their budget.  He spoke with regard to property values and said this budget represents the high cost of free parking.

     J. D. Daher, 7018 Winding Lake Circle, addressed the Board to state he is opposed to the millage increase. 

     Ms. Spriggs explained for Mr. Daher how the Save Our Homes law works.

     Mr. Daher stated the taxable value of his property went down and he should have a tax decrease instead of an increase.

     Shannon Rininger, 1707 Mullet Lake Park Road, addressed the Board to state she believes that if the County had to function as a private business they would be bankrupt.  She stated government needs to be held responsible and accountable for not only what they collect but for what they spend. 

     Bill Saintemore (phonetic), 645 Milhen Road, addressed the Board to state he is not going to say anything new that hasn’t been said but he just wants to echo the sentiment.  This country is going down the tubes and it has to start with the smaller guy standing up and telling the people in charge that they have to stop spending and do more cost-cutting efforts.  This goes across-the-board in all phases.  It is a lot easier to spend other people’s money when it is not yours.

     Ted Wokovich, 558 W. Springtree Way, addressed the Board to state he moved from Longwood to Lake Mary in February and his property taxes went up and the market value went down by $30,000.  He stated he would like to know what kind of plan is being implemented to ensure that this won’t happen again; to stop the wasteful spending. 

     Chairman Dallari stated there may be savings with portability since Mr. Wokovich moved from Longwood to Lake Mary.  He recommended that he speak to the Property Appraiser.  He informed Mr. Wokovich that the County has reduced the budget by $54 million.  The County is looking at the budget for the next five years, they have looked at various cutting plans for two years, and they have looked at cutting operations in different areas. 

     No one else spoke in support or in opposition.

     Speaker and Written Comment Forms were received and filed.  Copies of tax bills with comments written on them were received and filed.

     Commissioner Henley stated the ad valorem millage rate has not increased since 1997 and it has been reduced several times.  He stated the County has paved over 120 miles of dirt roads, they have improved their libraries, they have bought park lands and conservation lands, and that is what has happened with the money during those good times.  The point is there have been significant increases in costs over the years.  The people need to understand that the demands the County gets from the citizens for improved services cost money.  Seminole County has been one of the most desirable places to live and work.  The County does not have control over the School Board’s taxes and they did not have anything to do with raising their millage.  That was done by legislative action.  The Board is in this situation because of the legislative action and the referendum that was passed not too long ago.  The Board is inundated constantly with unfunded mandates from the Legislature and they are inundated with regulations from Tallahassee as well as from the Federal government.  The question is what other services do they cut as they are down to the bone now.  Otherwise, this is going to become a less desirable place to live.

     Commissioner Van Der Weide stated the Board has not set the millage rate yet, and the Board should set it at the right level and give staff the opportunity to put it in concrete.

     Chairman Dallari said the County is trying to live well within their means and it is not an easy task. 

     Commissioner McLean stated this has been an unprecedented situation that local governments have gone through.  The local governments have to deal with these issues.  He stated 235 positions were eliminated over the last two years.  The County is attempting to give the high quality of service that is expected and deserved. 

     Commissioner Carey stated she agrees with a lot of things said this evening, but she doesn’t agree that the way this government is run is the right way.  She stated she was disappointed during the work sessions that they didn’t spend more time looking closer at the expenses of government.  She said she doesn’t think it is fair that they continue to have the best benefit plans for their employees when there are citizens being laid off.  She added she didn’t vote to trim this millage rate at 5.118 because she didn’t agree with the philosophy they have gone about in looking at this government.  She stated she feels this government is way too big as private businesses have made cuts and sacrifices. 

     At the request of Commissioner Carey, Ms. Spriggs reviewed what action will be taken for the first public hearing tonight and what will take place at the second public hearing.

     Commissioner McLean stated the Board has attempted to put away money in reserves to deal with challenging situations, but they need to be careful that they don’t use those reserves quicker than they anticipated.

     Commissioner Henley stated traditionally, they have always gone to the second public hearing with the trim money and that is when the final decision is made.  He stated he would like to know what the impact will be if it is reduced.

     Commissioner Carey stated she doesn’t want to see the services to the citizens cut but to look at how they run government and how they operate it.  She stated she would like consensus of adopting the millage rate at 4.5153.

     Commissioner McLean suggested moving the discussion in the direction of 4.9989.  Chairman Dallari said the consensus of the Board was 4 to 1 for the rate of 4.9989.

     Commissioner Carey stated the employees had sent a lot of great ideas as they are out in the field seeing what needs to be taken care of.

     At the request of Chairman Dallari, Ms. Spriggs read the proposed tentative millage rate as follows:  General County Millage 5.1181; County Debt Service Millage .1451; Fire/Rescue MSTU 2.6629; and Unincorporated Road MSTU .1256.  The proposed “aggregate” millage rate (exclusive of voted debt service millage) is 6.9684, which represents a .92% decrease from the current year “aggregate” rolled-back millage rate of 7.0331.

     At the request of Chairman Dallari, Ms. Spriggs defined what the rolled-back millage rate is. 

     Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner McLean to adopt the General County tentative millage rate at 4.9989 for FY 2009/10. 

     Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 voted AYE.

     Commissioner Carey voted NAY.

-   - -

     Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner Henley to adopt the Fire MSTU tentative millage rate at 2.6629 for FY 2009/10.

     Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 voted AYE.

     Commissioner Carey voted NAY.

-   - -

     Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner Henley to adopt the Unincorporated Road MSTU tentative millage rate at 0.1256 for FY 2009/10.

     Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 voted AYE.

     Commissioner Carey voted NAY.

-   - -

     Motion by Commissioner Carey, seconded by Commissioner McLean to adopt the Voted Debt Service tentative millage rate at 0.1451 for FY 2009/10.

     Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 voted AYE.

-   - -

Ms. Spriggs advised the total budget is $714,428,947.

     Motion by Commissioner Van Der Weide, seconded by Commissioner McLean to adopt the tentative budget for FY 2009/10.

     Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 voted AYE.

     Commissioner Carey voted NAY.

-   - -

     Motion by Commissioner Henley, seconded by Commissioner Van Der Weide to authorize the scheduling of the second public hearing to take final action on the millage rates and budget for FY 2009/10, scheduled for September 22, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in Room 1028 BCC Chambers, and authorize staff to advertise the public hearing pursuant to Florida Statutes. 

     Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 voted AYE.


     There being no further business to come before the Board, the Chairman declared the meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m., this same date.