MINUTES OF A REGULAR MEETING OF THE GILCHRIST COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HELD NOVEMBER 3, 1997.
The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, in and for Gilchrist County, Florida, convened in a regular meeting on November 3, 1997, at 9:00 a.m., in the County Commissioners Meeting Room, in the Gilchrist County Courthouse in Trenton, Florida, with the following members present to-wit:
Sue B. Suggs, Chair
Other persons in attendance were: Joseph W. Gilliam, Clerk of Court, Samuel Mutch, County Attorney, Ron McQueen, EMA/County Coordinator, Sherree Pitzarell, Deputy Clerk, Sheriff David Turner, Diane Avery, Solid Waste Supervisor, Linda Walker, EMS Supervisor, Eric Black & Bobby Mikell, Division of Forestry, Scott Koons, North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Warren Emmenecker, Animal Control, George Cole, Don Alexander, Art Ingram, Jim Ivings, and Gary Martin, volunteer firemen.
Mr. Mutch announced that the proposed ordinance for animal control was not advertised for today's meeting, therefore, the first public hearing will need to be postponed.
Chairman Suggs announced that Ben Dickerson, Chuck Shane, and Mark Steinberg, are here this morning to address the Board.
Gary Martin may also be here later today, from the Wacasassa Volunteer Fire Department.
Approval of Minutes:
Commissioner Sheffield made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Durden to approve the minutes of the meeting held October 20, 1997 and the bills. The motion carried unanimously. After researching the minutes of previous meetings, Mr. Gilliam explained that the public hearing held January 15, 1997, was for the use of LETF funds, and that according to those minutes, location for the new facility was not being considered. Commissioner Bush stated that he had previously asked how much the total cost would be for the entire facility. Mr. Gilliam stated that later today, during Mr. McQueen's report, the total cost will be discussed. There are some questions as to what phase I includes. According to Mr. Gilliam, Sheriff Turner is under the impression that phase I has been approved, which only includes the construction of the administration building.
Mr. Mutch feels that the process of county ordinances needs to be defined. He feels it would be more cost effective if the Clerk's office prepares the notices, which he will review prior to publication in the local newspaper.
Mr. Mutch presented a resolution for the Board's consideration regarding the Local Sources First issue. This relates to the position regarding water transfers, urging that local water sources be used first before tapping into sources elsewhere. Chairman Suggs stated that the Florida Association of Counties is supporting this resolution. Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson, to adopt the resolution. The motion carried unanimously. A copy of resolution 97-69 is on file in the Clerk's Office.
Mr. Mutch prepared an opinion of counsel for the lease purchase of the Caterpillar motorgrader. It states that the county has not put out more than $10,000,000.00 in qualified tax exempt obligations. It is important to get a tax exempt obligation from Ring Power, because that decreases the interest rate that we will be charged.
Mr. Mutch reported that he sent a letter to Mr. Don Thomas, School Superintendent, indicating that the Board is unwilling to renew the lease for the administrative offices, which expires in April 1998.
Mr. Gilliam reported that the Prime property, which consists of lots 3 & 6, block 26 of the Trenton original survey, has been offered for sale to the county at the price of $50,000. The lots are 66.67 by 150 feet each and could be used to provide additional parking near the courthouse. Following discussion, Commissioner Bush made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson to offer $35,000 total for the two lots. The motion carried unanimously. Commissioner Sheffield suggested that gravel be placed on the lot next to the Weeks Building for additional parking, indicating that there should be enough gravel stockpiled at the road department to do a parking area. Commissioner Bush suggested that a sidewalk be extended from that parking area, behind the Weeks Building, to the courthouse.
Mr. Mutch distributed a letter he sent to Dr. Reynolds, DEP, regarding the fugitive dust problem, indicating that the road in question may be a city rather than a county road, as well as explaining that the county has experienced drought in recent months.
In regards to the tax deed problem discussed during the last Board meeting, Mr. Gilliam and Mr. Mutch have researched the issue further. The tax deed did not identify that there was a mortgagee involved. J. P. Lourie bought some tax certificates, and after a sufficient period of time, applied for and received a tax deed. A search of the title did not reveal the third mortgagee. Clear Lakes Estates was the first mortgage holder, and they sold the property to Fleet Finance. Fleet Finance in turn sold the property to Chase Manhatten, the third mortgagee. Mr. Gilliam spoke to someone with Chase Manhatten and they indicated that the mortgage had been written off, however, no release of lien was recorded. Neither Chase nor Fleet were notified of a tax deed sale. The Lourie's received title of the property and have since sold it, however, they do not have clear title to the property. Mr. Mutch feels there was appropriate notice, however, the county could find itself in litigation. He feels Chase should be offered the opportunity of a release of lien, for a minimal fee of $500. The title company that performed the search is obligated up to $1000 for not picking up the third mortgagee. Commissioner Bush made a motion to authorize Mr. Mutch to resolve the problem. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson and unanimously approved.
Mark Stienberg appeared before the Board, reporting they had previously approached the Board about a request WDFL submitted for a special permit to construct a 600 foot radio tower. The Board denied the request. WDFL, stationed in Cross City, was trying to reach Gainesville customers. They thought the issue was over at that point. Later, WDFL wanted to locate on the Trenton radio station tower but felt it was not big enough for the 100,000 watt signal. On March 3, 1997, the Trenton radio station approached the Board and Mr. Dickerson asked if they had any intention to locate another station on their tower. Subsequently, the Board approved their request. After that the Cross City station went to the FCC and said we have a site and tower and are ready to go forward. Pinnacle Broadcasting Inc. was the company that applied for the permit in March and they were not a duly formed corporation until 4 months later. They represented they were going to build a 499 foot tower, however, it was 518 feet. The land that the tower is going to be built on is owned by another company, so there are three different companies involved. WDJY is now closed, according to the Chair. Both the Cross City and Starke stations are located at 106.3 broadcasting signals. Mr. Mutch is concerned about the ownership represented at the time they approached the Board and received the permit. WDJY is owned by Florida Radio Partners and they should have been the applicant. Our permit applications should have a requirement for verification of ownership. The Board needs to notify the FCC that the permit was only issued for 499 feet, based upon the criteria within the LDR's and the Board would have to review another application for more footage. Mr. Mutch stated that the Board is preempted by FCC regulations regarding wattage and power. The question is did Pinnacle have permission to act as agent for the property. The 499 foot tower, according to the application was a replacement for the other tower (300+ feet), however, it was built 100 feet away from the first tower. Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson, to authorize Mr. Mutch to write to the FCC about the misrepresentation, notifying the various interested parties of the Board's concerns. The motion carried unanimously.
The final budget adjustments for FY 1996-97 were submitted by the Clerk. Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson to approve those adjustments (#'s 97169, 97170 & 97172). The motion carried unanimously. Commissioner Bush made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Durden to approve budget adjustments for FY 97-98 (#'s 98001-98007). The motion carried unanimously.
A resolution appointing members to the Affordable Housing Task Force was presented to the Board for approval. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Durden to reappoint the members of the Affordable Housing Task Force, by resolution. The motion carried unanimously and resolution 97-70 is on file in the Clerk's Office.
Mr. Gilliam distributed a letter from Representative Mackey concerning water resources. The Board agreed that the Local Sources First resolution, adopted earlier this day, supports Representative Mackey's position, and a copy should be mailed to him.
Mr. Gilliam reported that the Chairman submitted her pager and reimbursed for costs incurred. Commissioner Bush stated that he has not talked to Mr. Weaver about the extended coverage for his pager.
Wacasassa VFD has $628.72 outstanding charges that were personal calls placed by the former fire chief. The Chair stated that they have security problems with the station itself and outstanding special assessments that have not been paid.
In regards to the discussion about signal maintenance at railroad crossings, it appears that Florida West Coast Railroad is the successor to CSX, according to Mr. Mutch, adding that the agreement executed approximately 15 years ago is valid. However, the agreement did not specify the maintenance amount. Mr. Mutch feels that the county is liable for 50% of the maintenance cost. State transportation guidelines establish criteria for the placement of crossings and maintenance thereof. It may be that the criteria situation has changed where the signal is no longer needed. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion to pay the invoice for signal maintenance for last fiscal year and the current fiscal year, and authorized Mr. Mutch to check with DOT to see if the crossing signal can be removed since the train only runs about twice per week. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Durden and unanimously approved. The county billed Florida West Coast for the paving done by the road department when tracks were removed west of Trenton over a year ago and the bill has not been paid. Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield, to table further discussion on the bill until Mr. Forbes can appear before the Board. The motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Gilliam stated that Chief Judge Cates would like the Board to impose an additional $20 on traffic fines, by resolution. The Judge has the authority to impose an additional $20, and would like to see $2000 used for the court facilities, however, he has asked that the Board endorse the increase. It could generate up to $25,000-$30,000 total for the general revenue fund on an annual basis. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Durden to adopt a resolution increasing all traffic fines by $20. Commissioners Wilkerson, Durden, Bush and Suggs voted in favor of the motion. Commissioner Sheffield voted in opposition, stating that he thought traffic fines were excessive.
Gary Martin, Wacasassa VFD, appeared before the Board regarding problems which have occurred at the fire department. According to Mr. Martin, the former chief went to Alltel and signed a form stating that he would accept responsibility for the personal phone calls he made on the department's phone, which totaled over $600. Mr. Martin stated that the former chief turned in the phone and the service has been disconnected. Mr. Gilliam checked and said there were no arrangements made by Mr. Bivens to pay the bill; the bill is in the county's name. Mr. Mutch suggests that Mr. Bivens be given a certain number of days to pay the bill and if he does not, a sworn complaint can be filed with the state attorney's office. Commissioner Durden made a motion to contact Mr. Bivens and give him 30 days to make arrangements to pay the bill and if he can not pay the entire amount he may pay it over a period of 90 days, at an interest rate of 18%. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Wilkerson and unanimously approved.
Mr. Martin reported that they have a security problem at the station and some equipment is missing. They would like to install some roll down doors with locks to better secure the building. The Board advised Mr. Martin that he could purchase the doors through the fire department's budget, providing that he follow the Board's procurement policy. Mr. Martin stated that it has recently come to his attention that special assessments were not paid for the fire department for the last five years, and someone has purchased the tax certificates on the property. The total is about $830. The Board suggested that Commissioner Sheffield meet with the fire departments and Mr. McQueen to resolve some of these problems. Mr. Martin and representatives from the Spring Ridge Fire Department expressed that they would like to accomplish more at their fire chiefs meetings and be made aware of budgetary concerns. They were not aware until today that there are funds available in the district wide budget for emergencies. They expressed that during the last two fire chiefs meetings, there were able to get more done since Mr. Brideson was not there. They would like to have their meetings rotated at the various fire stations. The Board directed them to hold their meetings at the fire stations, and to meet with Mr. McQueen instead of Mr. Brideson.
Mr. Black submitted his annual report indicating an increase in the number of forested acres. They are creating a tri-county project learning tree, to teach environmental issues to students. The district boys scouts group recently put out a survey in the schools and they are trying to implement a forestry explorers program. Gilchrist County is ranked number 63 in size and number 33 in timber harvest production. We are ranked number 31 in percentage of forested acres. There are 134,000 acres forested in the county and there are 23 people involved in the stewardship program, with 8 active. Chairman Suggs spoke to the Board about forest-based economic development, which was a recent topic of discussion at a rural development conference she attended.
Mr. Bobby Mikell presented the annual fire report. Mr. Mikell is the area supervisor for Alachua and Gilchrist counties. The number of wild fires have decreased as well as the number of acres that burnt. This was probably due to the weather conditions. There are 13 trucks on lease to various fire departments within the county and Spring Ridge is going to get a tanker soon.
The Board recessed for lunch at 12:00 and reconvened at 1:28 p.m.
Clerk's Report (cont.):
Mr. Gilliam reported that the an MIS Director has been hired. Mr. Gilliam has hired a full time receptionist and counter clerk and is in need of additional space. He would like to remodel his office similar to the Tax Collector's. Mr. Daube submitted an estimate for the construction which includes a roll-down type window. The total cost for the construction is $1120. Woodbuilt Products has not submitted a price for the counter work yet, but Mr. Gilliam expects it to be about $1000. Commissioner Bush made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Durden to approve the construction. The motion carried unanimously. Mr. Gilliam stated that there are funds in courthouse renovations available.
Commissioner Bush reported that he spoke to Mr. Weaver and the extended coverage for his pager could be eliminated.
Ms. Avery gave the Board members tee-shirts with the Keep Florida Beautiful logo embossed. The participants (18 total) at the adopt a shore program received tee-shirts last weekend. The new recycling pick up at Fanning Springs will be located at the fair pavilion.
Fire Department Discussion:
Commissioner Sheffield advised Mr. McQueen to have the fire chief's meetings at the various fire stations, rather than the Sheriff's office. Mr. McQueen stated that IFAS has donated two firetrucks for the county fire departments to use. These trucks need radios and sirens. Funds have been identified in the district-wide budget ($11,233) for Wacasassa, Spring Ridge and North Gilchrist for upgrading these trucks. Commissioner Durden made a motion to authorize Mr. McQueen and Commissioner Sheffield to meet with the fire chiefs and establish a plan for capital improvements for each department. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner's Committee Reports:
Ms. Walker, EMS supervisor, reported that Danny Davis has submitted his resignation. The Board agreed to accept his resignation. Ms. Walker stated that Bell High School no longer has a school nurse. They do have a nurse for elementary students, however, high school students are not allowed to be treated by the elementary school nurse. As a result, the EMS department has received an increased number of calls to the high school, the majority of which are for minor injuries and illnesses. In most cases, the calls do not involve a transport, because the parent arrives and takes custody of the student, or the injury does not warrant transport. The problem is that the school is using the EMS department as a school health nurse, which ties up the unit, and produces no revenue for the call. According to Ms. Walker, Dr. Cox, the medical director, feels the $30 no-transport fee is too low. Ms. Walker suggests that the school board be billed for EMS calls to the school. Ms. Walker also stated that the Health Academy at Bell Schools wants to use the EMS department as part of their program. Mr. Mutch stated that if the Board agrees to allow the EMS department to participate, the school board needs to execute a hold harmless agreement with the Board of County Commissioners and provide proof of insurance coverage for this type of activity. In addition, each parent of a student involved would need to provide proof of insurance and execute a hold harmless agreement.
Ms. Walker stated that she is interested in doing a remount on one of their trucks to establish a BLS unit.
Commissioner Bush stated that Mr. Bud Josey spoke to him about
using an EMS unit at his Antique Car Show. The Board took no action.
Animal Control Ordinance:
Chairman Suggs announced that the ordinance was not advertised properly and the first reading will not occur today. Commissioner Sheffield thanked Ms. Iris Roberts and the town of Bell for their support of the program. Mr. Warren Emmenecker would like to see an Animal Control Board established. He understands that the pens being used by Levy and Fanning Springs are not being kept clean and he would like the Animal Control Board to be able to inspect the facilities. Mr. Mutch stated that the proposed ordinance could be revised to include language establishing an oversight committee, granting them authority to inspect the property housing the kennels. The Chair stated the first hearing for the proposed ordinance will be held December 1, 1997.
Public Hearing- Final Plat for Santa Fe Bend Subdivision:
Mr. Mutch stated that he reviewed information to determine if there is clear title to the property. There were problems with the title report. Roberts Timber & Land Company is the title holder and they have a mortgage on the property. The search went back thirty years, which is a requirement, but you usually go back as far as the last transaction. The report does not go back to the time when Ms. Stroser obtained the property, which she sold to the Roberts. The Board advised Mr. Mutch that Ms. Stroser owned the property for many years prior to the sale. Mr. Mutch stated that if the Board is certain that Ms. Stroser held title to the property for many years prior to the sale to the Roberts, he would recommend approval. Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bush to approve the final plat for Santa Fe Bend subdivision. The motion carried unanimously.
Scott Koons- NCFRPC Services:
At the last meeting the Board had requested that Mr. Koons explain the difference between Level II and Level III services provided by the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council. According to Mr. Koons, for the past 4 years they have been providing planning services, estimated on the amount of activity occurring for a county of this size. Level II services provides assistance to the county staff for the comprehensive plan and land development regulations, for an annual cost of $13,500. Level III services include Level II services, plus reviewing all other approvals, special permits, subdivision plats, etc., for an annual cost of $20,000. According to Mr. Koons, the assistance the Board received last fiscal year involving the proposed landfill and dairy, were consistent with Level III services. Mr. Mutch stated that although the roles need to be clearly defined, he recommends that the Planning Council continue to be involved so that he or Mr. Pelham can render an opinion in a quasi-judicial situation. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bush to continue with Level II services, with the anticipation of going to Level III services next fiscal year. The motion carried unanimously.
Bobbie Wray Suggs presented a letter regarding the proposed LDR amendments. Ms. Suggs stated that the Suwannee River Water Management District has compiled new information regarding nitrates and nitrites levels in the rivers and springs. She urged the Board to invite two representatives from the SRWMD to the Zoning Board meeting scheduled for 11-13-97. Chairman Suggs and other board members stated they would invite them to the Zoning Board meeting.
Mr. Gilliam and Sheriff Turner spoke to the Board about the engineering & architectural services offered by Bailey, Bishop and Lane. A contract was negotiated as follows: basic services payable at a rate of 7% of the estimated construction cost, the master plan of site for $5900, the topography survey at $3200, and the design and preparation of construction documents for a wastewater treatment facility for $7700 (if the Board elected to build a wastewater treatment facility).
Mr. McQueen reported that the case crossings are in and ready to be connected for the fibre optic line from the courthouse to the jail. Since the project began two years ago, many different needs have arisen, requiring a change. A 6 pair multi-cable is being considered at this time, in order to meet those needs. The cost will be $1.87 per foot. The total cost will be $10,000 to $11,000. There are funds budgeted for 911 only, which Mr. McQueen has identified to pay half of the cost of the materials. He would like the Sheriff to pay the other half. Mr. McQueen added that if the Sheriff can pay half of the materials cost, he will pay for the installation. That would leave enough funds to purchase some computer equipment for the ambulances. Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bush to authorize Mr. McQueen to proceed with the installation, paying 50% from 911 and 50% from the Sheriff. The motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Rehberg has made a recommendation that since the Zoning Board meetings are lasting for hours, that Ms. Strickland be paid the same amount as the Zoning Board members, rather than $20 per meeting. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield to approve the request. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Wilkerson spoke to the Board about Clark Cannon. According to Commissioner Wilkerson, Mr. Martin, Road Superintendent, spoke to him about increasing his hourly rate, since he is not receiving any benefits. He is currently working 20 hours per week. Commissioner Wilkerson made a motion to raise Mr. Cannon's hourly rate to the same rate as the other grader operators. Commissioner Sheffield stated that if he does not have a CDL license and other grader operators are receiving more based on that requirement, then Mr. Cannon is not eligible. Commissioner Durden will check the policy regarding raises and CDL licenses.
Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bush to enter into a contract with Bailey, Bishop and Lane for professional services. The motion carried unanimously.
Mr. McQueen submitted the Building Department report which indicates 64 permits issued for the month of October. Of that total, 29 were for mobile homes and 10 were for new construction of homes.
Mr. & Mrs. Hatcher appeared before the Board to request that they be released from the three year deferred payment loan through the CDBG program. Because of poor work they received from the CDBG program, they had to make numerous repairs to their home, refinancing their mortgage. In addition, they have experienced a decrease in income and that, along with the higher mortgage payment has forced them to place their home for sale. According to the terms of the deferred payment loan, they must pay the county back for any funds they received under the CDBG program, if they sale their home within the three year period. Commissioner Sheffield made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Durden, to waive the deferred payment loan terms, eliminating the repayment requirement, by resolution. The motion carried unanimously. A copy of resolution 97-72 is on file in the Clerk's Office.
Commissioner Sheffield asked Mr. Mutch if he sent D. J. Daube a letter regarding the Osteen job. There is a letter in the Board's package from Mr. Daube regarding the hot water heater from the Thomas job. Mr. Mutch sent a letter to Ms. Osteen regarding the kitchen flooring. Mr. Gilliam spoke to Mr. Daube and he verbally indicated that he would bear the cost of replacing the flooring and would send a letter to that affect, however, we have not received a written response.
The Board discussed the letter they received from the Department of Environmental Protection regarding the fugitive dust problem. Mr. Mutch stated that he spoke to a representative from DEP and they claim the county still has a dust problem on the road in question, even after five inches of rain was received. Mr. Mutch advised DEP that the road involved is a city road and he would like to see the roads deeded back to the city with an interlocal agreement. The Board advised Commissioner Durden and Mr. Mutch to get together to try to identify the affected roads. Mr. Mutch stated that he will draft a letter for the chair's signature regarding the foolishness of the complaint.
Commissioner Wilkerson spoke to the Board about a bill for $247 for advertising in the Source Book. The advertisement is for Hart Springs Park and was authorized by the park manager. Following discussion, the Board agreed to pay the expenditure. Commissioner Wilkerson stated that he would speak to Mr. Zeigler about making purchases without a purchase order.
The Board discussed out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the Park Manager, in conjunction with the Octoberfest at Hart Springs Park. Mr. Gilliam advised Mr. Zeigler that he had plenty of time to submit purchase orders for the event, which he did for all expenses except one (from the Dollar General Store). The finance office has agreed to reimburse him for those expenses. Mr. Zeigler also wants the profits from Octoberfest set up in a special account for the event next year. This topic was discussed last year, and the Board indicated that they did not have a problem with it, however, it was not budgeted.
Mr. Gilliam reported that Spring Ridge Volunteer Fire Department will be receiving a bill for special assessments. Commissioner Bush made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Durden to pay the special assessment bills for Spring Ridge and Wacasassa Volunteer Fire Departments through the district-wide fire budget and create a line item for this expenditure. The motion carried unanimously.
The Gilchrist Development Authority has received a bill for liability insurance totaling $790.32. The Board advised Chairman Suggs to approve the bill, which will be paid from the GDA budget.
Chairman Suggs announced that she will be attending the FAC legislative conference in November.
Chairman Suggs reported that the annual dinner for the Road Department will be scheduled for December 4, 1997.
There being no further business to come before the Board, a motion to adjourn was made by Commissioner Durden, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield, and unanimously approved.
JOSEPH W. GILLIAM, CLERK SUE B. SUGGS, CHAIR