MINUTES OF A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE GILCHRIST COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HELD AUGUST 28, 1995
The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, in and for Gilchrist County, Florida, convened in a special meeting on August 28, 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 and Sam Ferguson, Deputy Clerks.
Fiscal Year 1995-96 Revised Budgets:
Mr. Barron presented the revised budget for general revenue fund, which reflects the changes suggested by the Board at the last meeting. General revenue is now balanced with a $154,000 reserve for contingency, however, there are no funds budgeted for cash carry-over. Transportation Trust fund is balanced with a $38,400 reserve, however, it required a transfer from General revenue of $176,941. Mr. Barron stated that he is concerned about the Law Enforcement Trust Fund budget. Currently the funds are not there to fund some of the LEFT activities, including the Selective Enforcement Unit. The Officer Training Fund is balanced. The MSTU (fire district) budget is balanced with a $289 reserve for contingency. Each fire department is funded at $5000, and the Town of Branford and City of High Springs' funding was eliminated. Mr. McQueen reported that the North Gilchrist Volunteer Fire Department appears to be more concerned about reorganizing their department than proposed budget cuts by the Board. They will be meeting again to reorganize in about two weeks. Both the Court Facilities Trust Fund budget and the Law Library budget are balanced. The Fine & Forfeiture budget is balanced with a $610 reserve and a $45,516 transfer from General Revenue. The State Attorney/Public Defender Trust Fund budget is balanced with a $3325 reserve and a transfer of $29,076 from General Revenue. There will be funds available to cover the increased costs for court reporter services. Mr. Barron added that the Chief Judge should be in later today to speak to the Board. The State Housing Incentives Program (SHIP) budget is balanced. In addition, the Capital projects budget is balanced, however, Mr. Barron stated that he would like the Board to review this budget further. The Transportation Impact Fund budget is balanced with $16,252 available; most of this budget is paying debt service. The EMS budget is balanced at $604,431.00, with a $45,787 reserve. This budget reflects the proposed increased EMS special assessment rates, and increased fees for services. Mr. Barron added that he is not comfortable with Mr. Brittin's projections of the percentage of reimbursement for medicaid and medicare. The Solid Waste fund budget is balanced at $822,246.00, with a $205,000 reserve for cash forward.
Mr. Barron reported that the figures received for departments in the general fund budget were bottom line figures (i.e., line item adjustments were not presented). Mr. McQueen stated that the County Agent cut line items in his budget to budget funds for salary increases. In addition, 4% raises were figured into the respective budgets for Charissa Strickland and Beth Latner. Again, certain line items were reduced in order to fund raises. There followed discussion of office hours worked by various county offices. It was pointed out that the Building Department, County Agent's office, and the Veterans Services office is open half an hour less than the courthouse offices. The Board discussed increasing the hours for those offices to 40 hours per week, which would amount to a 7% increase in work load and salary. According to Mr. McQueen, there is currently a 4% salary increase figured in those departments. In order to increase the work week to 40 hours per week, an additional 3% salary increase would need to be absorbed by the Board, which will amount to approximately $1933, split across those departments.
Ms. Sheree Lancaster, School Board Attorney, appeared before the Board to request that the $200 fee to file a special exception application with the Zoning Board be waived. According to Ms. Lancaster, the property in Bell for the proposed new school site is zoned A-1. According to the zoning requirements, a special exception application filed by the School Board will be required. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Cannon, to waive the filing fee. The motion carried unanimously.
1995-96 Fiscal Year Budgets (cont.):
The Board spoke to Mr. Burt about a possible cut in funding for attorney services. Mr. Burt stated that his fees have not increased since he became the Board's attorney, several years ago, and he had hoped to increase those fees for the first time next year, however, due to the budget situation, he is willing to provide services at the current rate next year.
The Board briefly discussed the budget for solid waste and unanimously agreed, upon motion from Commissioner Suggs, which was seconded by Commissioner Sheffield, to not grant raises to solid waste employees for next fiscal year.
Mr. Barron asked the Board what their intentions were at a previous meeting regarding the paramedic upgrade for Danny Elkins and Danny Davis. The Board stated that it was their intention that the raises be granted, if the funds can be found in the current operating budget.
The Board reviewed the EMS budget with Mr. Brittin. If the special assessment rates are not increased, five positions will have to be eliminated. Mr. Brittin suggested that one vacant position be eliminated, and that $10,000 budgeted for repairs could also be eliminated.
Chief Judge Robert Cates introduced his senior court administrators, Pat Callahan and Carol Zagle. The Judge and his staff appeared to discuss reporter and guardian ad litem services for Gilchrist County. According to Ted McFetridge, court reporting cost will decrease for Gilchrist County. Mr. Barron pointed out that it is the budget for court reporting that will decrease, however, the actual dollars spent will be an increase.
Ms. Ellen Bair and Ms. Janice Woods spoke to the Board about funding for the Tri-County Senior Citizens. According to Ms. Bair, their referrals have doubled in the last few years, and they are expecting budget cuts from the federal level, which is why they have increased their request for funds from Gilchrist County. The Board explained that they have been cutting budgets in previous meetings and an increase is not possible, however, they will leave the funding level at the same rate as the current rate of funding. Commissioner Suggs stated that the Tri-County Senior Citizens are now contracting with Gilchrist County to provide transportation for disadvantaged services and are doing a commendable job.
Ms. Sable Bolling, administrator for the Gilchrist County Public Health Unit, spoke to the Board about her budget request. Ms. Bolling is concerned about meeting ADA requirements and feels that lawn maintenance is an issue for the upcoming year. Ms. Bolling explained the services offered by the Health Department; stating that they now have an adult physician every Monday. They also provide a pediatrician on a daily basis. Following discussion, the Board reduced funding for the Health Department to $24,316.00.
Mr. Joe Gilliam appeared before the Board representing the Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Gilliam stated that he understood the Board's position in having to make budget cuts and stated that the Chamber is thankful for whatever funding level they receive. The Board informed Mr. Gilliam that the funding for the Chamber had been reduced to $5000 for the next fiscal year.
Ms. Cheryl Smith appeared before the Board representing the Community Counseling Center, and she also stated that the Center is appreciative of whatever level of funding the Board can support. The Board advised Ms. Smith that funding for the Center has been reduced to $19,217.00 for next fiscal year.
Mr. John Hadden, regional library director, spoke to the Board about funding for the library for next fiscal year. Mr. Hadden stated that he reduced the budget request to the same amount of funds for the current year, however, he is concerned about the utilities for the newly renovated and expanded building. Mr. Ken Frey asked the Board if it would be appropriate to request a workshop regarding the Tri-County Regional Library structure. Mr. Frey stated that he is concerned about the amount of funds being offered by Suwannee County as a fair share for the three counties upcoming departure from the six county region. Commissioner Suggs stated that approximately $130,000 to $140,000 will come from Suwannee County after October 1, 1995. Mr. Barron added that in addition to the cash, the newly formed tri-county regional will receive approximately $35,000 to $45,000 in books and other assets. Commissioner Suggs informed the Board that she was re-elected to chair the Tri-County Regional Library Task Force for another year.
Mr. Barron spoke to the Board and others present about the budget for fire protection services. Mr. Barron explained that the Board has considered imposing special assessments for fire services, however, the initial figures appeared to place an unfair burden on one class of properties. The Board agreed to implement a reporting system, whereby each fire call would be counted as to its nature, (i.e. residential structure, grass fire, car, etc.). Under the previously proposed system, pole barns and agriculture structures would raise 65-70% of the assessment revenues.
Mr. Ted Schaeffer spoke to the Board about previous experiences in other counties, whereby each household paid a flat amount for fire services and if you paid it once each year, you paid nothing else, even if you have a fire call during that year. However, if you do not pay the annual rate, you are billed for the fire call, at a higher rate, if you receive fire protection services.
Mr. George Cole, Spring Ridge Volunteer Fire Dept., proposed that a $50 per year membership fee be imposed for residents in the Spring Ridge area. He has talked to Mr. Burt about the idea and Mr. Burt is researching the possibility of implementing such a fee. Mr. Cole added that the fire department would respond to fires even if a resident has not paid the membership fee.
Mr. Joe Blanchard suggested implementing a fee for fire calls and have the EMS department bill for the services on behalf of the fire departments.
Mr. Barron reminded the Board that there is another 9.5 mills that could be imposed for fire services and franchise fees could be applied county-wide, except for the municipalities of Trenton and Bell.
Mr. Strom, North Gilchrist Volunteer Fire Department, stated that the department is undergoing reorganization and it is his understanding that the Trails have bills totalling over $4000 that were never submitted to the Board for payment. Mr. Barron suggested that the Board speak to Mr. Burt, prior to asking the Trails to attend a Board meeting. These bills were not anticipated and will affect the funding level for all departments next year.
Mr. Barron reported that the constitutional officers have indicated that they will attempt to operate with the current level of funding for next fiscal year.
Mr. Barron reminded the Board that even though the general revenue budget is balanced with a $154,000 reserve, there are several expenditures that are not budgeted that could affect the reserve, such as the water filtration system at Hart Springs, and the jail roof, which is currently leaking. In addition, the roof over the Clerk's office may have to be replaced soon. According to Mr. Barron, the water filtration system will cost at least $8000. DEP will require an engineer to certify it; at one point DEP was willing to go with an experimental system if an engineer would certify it. The system needs to be installed and operating by April 1996.
Mr. Barron reported that the School Board is paying approximately .64 cents per gallon for delivered fuel, however, they are not taxed for their fuel as much as the Board of Commissioners.
The Board discussed funding for fire services. Mr. Barron stated that the Board has been putting band aids on budgets each year, when they should develop 5 and 10 year plans for funding to stay abreast with the growth. Mr. Barron reminded the Board that they promised the fire departments better funding for the following fiscal year. Special assessments have been discussed, however, there are two factors to consider when imposing special assessments; you must demonstrate that the service benefits the property, and that it's an equitable relationship between that property and all other classes of property. The only relief for the fire budgets for the next fiscal year would be the imposition of a franchise fee. According to Mr. Barron, in order to fund the fire budget at the current level of $110,000 the Board would need to impose a franchise fee of 2.2 percent.
Commissioner Suggs spoke to the Board about the performing arts tags which are being sold in the Tax Collector's office. Each tag sold will net $20 to the county, however, the Board must designate where the money will go and how it will be spent. So far, 20 performing arts tags have been sold in Gilchrist County. Commissioner Suggs made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson, that the Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners will have the authority to designate those funds, to be determined at a later date. The motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Barron asked the Board to consider amending the Local Housing Assistance Trust Fund budget, by budget entry 9603, in the amount of $117,301.00, which represents the cash carry-over. Commissioner Suggs made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson, to amend the SHIP budget, by resolution, increasing that budget by $117,301.00, which represents unanticipated revenues, in the form of a cash carry-over. The motion carried unanimously.
A RESOLUTION AMENDING THE LOCAL HOUSING ASSISTANCE TRUST
FUND BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 1994-95.
WHEREAS, Chapter 129, Florida Statutes, sets forth the requirements for adoption of the annual county budget; and
WHEREAS, Gilchrist County did lawfully and appropriately adopt an annual budget for the Gilchrist County Local Housing Assistance Trust Fund for Fiscal Year 1994-95; and
WHEREAS, Chapter 129.06, Florida Statutes authorized amendments of the budget by resolution to lawfully expend unanticipated revenues; and
WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of Gilchrist County are in receipt of $117,301.00 of unanticipated revenues, in the form of cash carry-over, as reflected in budget entry 9603, for the Local Housing Assistance Trust Fund;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, that the Local Housing Assistance Trust Fund is hereby amended in an increased amount of $117,301.00.
RESOLVED, this 24th day of October, 1995.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
GILCHRIST COUNTY, FLORIDA
/s/Wilbur Bush, Chairman
/s/Jackie R. Barron, Clerk
Mr. Barron informed the Board that the results of a 10 mill levy in property taxes will be an increase of 13.12 percent over last years property taxes.
There being no further business to discuss, a motion to adjourn at 7:20 p.m. was made by Commissioner Cannon, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson, and unanimously approved.
WILBUR BUSH, CHAIRMAN
JACKIE R. BARRON, CLERK