MINUTES OF A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE GILCHRIST COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HELD AUGUST 1, 1995.
The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, in and for Gilchrist County, Florida, convened in a special meeting on August 1, 1995, at 9:00 a.m., in the Commissioner's Meeting Room at the Courthouse in Trenton, Florida, with the following members present to-wit:
Wilbur Bush, Chairman
V. C. Cannon
Sue B. Suggs
Other persons in attendance were: Jackie R. Barron, Ex-Officio Clerk, Ted Burt, County Attorney, Ron McQueen, Emergency Management/County Coordinator, Sherree Pitzarell, Deputy Clerk, Joe Blanchard, Director of Management Information Services, Susan Bryant, Supervisor of Elections, W. W. Welch, Tax Collector, D. Ray Harrison, Property Appraiser, David Branson, Florida Power District Manager, Sheriff Jim Floyd, Chief Deputy Jim Cooper, Albert Martin, construction supervisor
The Board unanimously agreed to reschedule their regular September meeting date to September 11, 1995, at 9:00 a.m., upon motion from Commissioner Cannon, which was seconded by Commissioner Suggs.
Supervisor of Elections- Fiscal Year 1995-96 Budget Request:
Ms. Susan Bryant, Supervisor of Elections, reviewed her budget request for fiscal year 1995-96 with the Board. A significant portion of her budget request is for personal services, which includes her salary, the salaries of her two half time employees, and fringe benefits. In addition, the wages for the pole workers are in personal services. Ms. Bryant stated that she increased wages for pole workers by $1200. Because people can now register to vote at locations other than the Supervisor of Election's office, she is concerned that they will not be familiar with the voting system used in Gilchrist County. She anticipates using a pole worker as a "floater person" who can demonstrate the use of the voting system and assist with problems at various precincts. Chairman Bush asked Ms. Bryant how many people are currently registered to vote. Ms. Bryant replied that there are 6622 registered voters. Of that amount, 14.6% are republican, 81% are democrats, and 4% are registered under "other". The budget reflects a $4000 increase in operating, primarily related to computer expenses. Ms. Bryant said she hopes to upgrade her software program, but is waiting to see how it works on a trial basis before making a purchase. There will be a major (presidential) election next September which impacts this budget request. The overall budget increase is 8.4%. The Board advised Ms. Bryant that they are looking for ways to cut expenditures and asked Ms. Bryant to cut her request if possible.
Tax Collector- Fiscal Year 1995-96 Budget Request:
Mr. Welch reviewed his budget request with the Board, explaining that the figured a 4% salary increase for his employees. In addition, there is a $5700 increase in operating. The Bronco being used by the Deputy Tax Collector has accumulated quite a number of miles and the repairs are expected to increase as the vehicle ages. Mr. Welch stated that he anticipates purchasing the Property Appraiser's Risk 6000 computer so that he will be on his own system. The total increase over the current years budget is $14,127 or 5.7%. The Board informed Mr. Welch that they are looking to cut expenses for next fiscal year and requested that he trim his request in any area possible.
Property Appraiser- Fiscal Year 1995-96 Budget Request:
Mr. Harrison spoke to the Board about his budget request, indicating that the total increase is $1316 over the current years approved budget. Mr. Harrison stated that the only increase amended into the current years budget is the 911 interlocal agreement monies. After amendments, his total budget for the current fiscal year was $389,081. He is requesting $390,397 for next fiscal year, which is a $1316 increase. Included in this budget request are raises for his staff at 4%, which is the same as the proposed raises for state employees. Commissioner Sheffield asked Mr. Harrison how many temporary employees he has working. Mr. Harrison replied that he currently has three temporary employees, however, when school starts, that number will reduce to two. Since they will be in school, their hours will be reduced as they will only be working after school and during school holidays. Mr. Harrison added that due to working on the 911 project, his staff were unable to work on the mapping for approximately one year. According to Mr. Harrison, they are at the stage of creating the text layer of the maps, which is one of the last major layers.
Mr. Barron stated that he is aware that Mr. Harrison is anticipating or has already changed software vendors, going back to BRC (Business Records Corporation), and asked if he has discussed with them the special assessment rolls. Mr. Harrison replied that Bradford County staff are in his office now looking at Infocad, and they have special assessments very similar to ours and have not experienced problems within the system. Mr. Barron stated that the county's ordinance may need to be changed to where the Property Appraiser certifies the role. Mr. Harrison interjected that he is not going to certify the special assessment role. Mr. Barron stated that he is not going to certify a special assessment role which is generated from a system that he has no control over nor any access. Commissioner Suggs asked why Mr. Barron can not access the information. Mr. Harrison stated that he will give the information to Mr. Barron; all Mr. Barron has to do is ask for the information. Mr. Barron reiterated that he is not going to be responsible for certifying information that he can not run checks and balances on. Mr. Harrison reminded the Board that his office inputs the data into the system, and again stated that he is not going to be the special assessment coordinator; it is not his job. Commissioner Suggs asked why Mr. Barron can not access the information through the network. Mr. Barron replied that under the current set up, he takes the data generated from Mr. Harrison's data base and dumps it into a program that allows his staff to format the proposed assessment notices. Mr. Barron added that he requires that the assessment numbers in the report balance to the Property Appraisers recap. Without access to the Property Appraisers data, there is no way to do a comparative recap or discovering where problems may exist. He went on to add that he has found differences in the numbers of units. Mr. Harrison stated that changes are sometimes made after the preliminary tax roll is submitted, but those changes are accounted for when the final tax roll is submitted. According to Mr. Harrison, unless you stop making changes on a date certain, the numbers are never going to match. It is his understanding that they are only off by one unit at this time and he does not feel uncomfortable with that. Mr. Barron stated that it allows people to challenge your information. Mr. Barron further stated that when he took the job as special assessment coordinator, the information was in a mess; there had never been a reconciliation to the roll as to what was collected and he is not going to run the program in such a manner. Chairman Bush asked if the new system the Property Appraiser is going to purchase will coincide with the Clerks. Mr. Barron replied that it will not. Commissioner Suggs asked Mr. Harrison why he is changing systems. Mr. Harrison stated that the system he currently has is not as advanced as the one he intends to purchase, which is in fact the same vendor he had previous to the current system. Commissioner Suggs stated that she does not understand how the system can be more advanced, and yet not communicate with other systems within the courthouse. According to Mr. Barron, the AS400, which Mr. Harrison intends to purchase, can only communicate with other systems within the courthouse if an additional computer is purchased, which will act as an interpretor. Mr. Harrison stated that one solution may be to separate the tax roll from the special assessment roll. Commissioner Sheffield stated that the county is looking to save money, and separating the rolls would require generating two bills. Mr. Burt, County Attorney, suggested that the ordinance be amended to coincide with Mr. Harrison's date methodology, as to the preliminary roll and final role, however, he needs to research the ordinance first. He will report back to the Board on August 7th.
Mr. Barron stated that he could certify what he has now as a tentative role, and at the point where the Property Appraiser stops making changes, a final role could be adopted, which should reconcile with the billing.
Mr. Barron reminded the Board that the Property Appraisers budget is different from the other constitutional officers. He does not turn back to the Board his carry-over funds, so when he states that his current year budget is $389,081 and the increase is only $1316, that is not necessarily the case. His originally approved budget was $359,248.
Clerk of Court- Fiscal Year 1995-96 Budget Request:
Mr. Barron stated that he has increased his Clerk to the Board of County Commissioners budget by $37,687.00. Because there have been surplus funds in the fee budget, he has been able to subsidize the Board's share of operations. Those funds have been spent and are no longer available. It does not reflect an increase in personnel nor operations. It's a shift back to where the cost should have been in the first place, such as EDP (electronic data processing) costs and the personnel cost represents your share of the total cost of the Clerk's operation budget. The advent of the administrative position with Mr. McQueen has doubled the workload in the finance office. The Commissioners asked how that could be, since it was their intent that the county coordinator could take some of the load off the clerk. Mr. Barron stated that the purchase order system alone increases work load, but if the county coordinator had not been involved, all decisions would be made through the finance office, now, however, the finance office looks at the purchase order to see if it's a legal expenditure and if the cash is available and if its properly budgeted in the correct account. If it is not, it is sent back to the coordinator, and corrections must be made and resubmitted. So purchase orders are many times handled twice by the finance staff. Also, purchase orders are being submitted incorrectly for contracts (such as lawn service contracts). Instead of the error being detected by the coordinator's office, it is being detected by the finance office. In essence, the finance department is providing support for the clerk and the coordinators office. There followed discussion of the purchase order system and the chain of command regarding that system.
The Board recessed for lunch at 12:15 p.m. and reconvened at 1:15 p.m. Commissioner Wilkerson departed from the meeting at 1:30 p.m.
The impacts of his staff supporting the Board has been tremendous. Mr. Barron stated that he does not want the Board to think that he does not see the need for the county coordinators position. Because of the heavy workload, there were a few instances where things fell through the crack, and shifting some of the load to the coordinators office has brought some relief. There are many things that the clerk and staff are involved in that simply take man hours, such as following up on testing at the landfill, gathering information for bond revenues, etc. This is in addition to the normal everyday work that must continue.
The Board discussed various revenue options and the need to reduce expenditures for next fiscal year. Some of the options available to the Board are: establishing new revenues, cut expenditures, increase more productivity, eliminate or drastically cut unmandated services and program, and/or take the available revenues, after establishing an adequate reserve and distribute the remainder to the various departments.
Mr. Barron stated that he met with Bob Nabors regarding the possible establishment of a water utility and they (Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson) are trying to set a meeting with various individuals, that are involved in water issues.
Sheriff- Fiscal Year 1995-96 Budget Request:
The Sheriff reported that the Department of Corrections does not think that the jail will support a second story, and does not recommend the county spending alot of money on repairs to the existing building. DOC does recommend that the county begin thinking about constructing another jail. By using inmate labor, a 120 bed jail could be constructed for $300,000. They also recommend that the county patch the existing roof. The quotes for repairing the roof have ranged from $23,000-$27,000. Mr. Barron stated that there is currently about $20,000 in the general fund reserve.
Tri-County Regional Library:
Mr. Albert Martin furnished the Board with the figures to finish the EMS building, which is the former Medical Center building. According to Mr. Martin, it will cost between $4500-$4800 to finish the unoccupied section of the building, which includes the installation of new carpet. Commissioner Cannon made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield, to Mr. Martin to renovate the remainder of the building, offering it for lease to the Tri-County Regional Library for $600 per month for one year, (which includes electric and utilities), transferring the funds from the general fund reserve. The motion carried unanimously.
Mr. McQueen stated that he has received requests from elementary teachers, for some of the surplus bookcases, which were donated to the county. According to Mr. McQueen, the surplus bookcases are currently being stored in the microwave tower building. Commissioner Suggs made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Cannon to donate the bookcases to the teachers, providing they are not needed by any other county departments. The motion carried unanimously.
The Sheriff stated that his budget request for corrections reflects a $99,286 or 16% decrease over his current year budget. The law enforcement budget has an increase of $238,135 or 38%. These budgets reflect the transfer of the 911 operations from corrections to law enforcement. The Sheriff stated that he is asking for one new correctional officer and continued funding for the communications specialist position. In addition, 6% raises have been figured into these budgets. The Sheriff presented the selective enforcement, DARE officer, and D & E budgets. The majority of the funding for these budgets come from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. The Board advised the Sheriff that constitutional officers are being asked to cut their budget requests, and asked the Sheriff to do the same.
Emergency Medical Services Assessments:
Mr. Barron reported that to fund the EMS budget as it is being requested will require a raise in the special assessments rates to $80.28 for households, $120.42 for small commercial businesses, $160.55 for large commercial businesses, and $3.21 for campground sites and nursing home beds. Board members expressed their concerns over such a large increase and recommended that the EMS budget request be reduced as much as possible. Commissioner Suggs asked how long the county will be paying for the GIS (geographical information system). Mr. Barron stated that he did not have that information, however, it may be a good idea to evaluate that system's cost. Mr. Barron stated that budgets should be based on operational requirements and not what it was the year before.
Commissioner Wilkerson returned to the meeting at 4:30 p.m.
Mr. Barron reported that the audit contract with Davis, Monk & Company covers the audit for next fiscal year, however, the time to discuss whether the Board would like to bid audit services or negotiate with the current firm is during this budget period. Commissioner Suggs made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield, to negotiate with Davis, Monk & Company for a continuing contract. The motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Burt presented a contract amendment with Current Problems, Inc. to add the word "salaries" because it had been omitted in error. This is the contract to clean the river shorelines, which is funded through the county by way of a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection, for an adopt-a-shore program. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield, to approve the amendment. The motion carried unanimously.
Following discussion, Commissioner Suggs made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson, to request that the clerk present budgets as approved for the 94-95 fiscal year, the budgets as approved for the 94-95 fiscal year with amendments, and the budgets as proposed for comparison purposes, as well as an account of travel from all departments. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Wilkerson requested a listing of all unmandated programs and services.
Commissioner Sheffield made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson, to request that the clerk perform an inventory/audit on all volunteer fire departments and report the information to Mr. McQueen by August 14th. The motion carried unanimously.
Following further discussion of the budgets, Mr. Barron stated that he will not tolerate his budget being cut beyond the amount he feels is needed to operate his office in a responsible manner, if the Board does not cut or eliminate unmandated services.
There being no further business to discuss, a motion to adjourn at 8:53 p.m. was made by Commissioner Suggs, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield, and unanimously approved.
WILBUR BUSH, CHAIRMAN
JACKIE R. BARRON, CLERK