MINUTES OF A JOINT MEETING OF THE GILCHRIST COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE TRENTON CITY COMMISSION HELD JULY 30, 2002.
The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, in and for Gilchrist County, Florida, convened in a joint meeting with the Trenton City Commission, on Tuesday, July 30, 2002 at 6:30 p.m. in the courtroom located in the Gilchrist County Courthouse, 112 South Main Street, Trenton, Florida with the following members present to wit:
County Commission: John Rance Thomas, Chairman
Wilbur Bush, Vice Chairman
City Commission: Pete Randolph, Mayor/Chairman
(Absent: Commissioner Sue Suggs, City Commissioner Sherree Pitzarell)
Others in Attendance were; John McPherson, County Attorney, David Miller Lang, Jr., Attorney for City Commission, Joseph W. Gilliam, Clerk of Court, Michael Lamar, City Manager, Karen Heaton, Deputy Clerk, Sam Ferguson, Finance Director, Ron McQueen, EMA/County Coordinator, Robert Willis, Mike Edwards, Tommy Smith, Troy Breton, Billy Rogers, Mona Burns, Sheriff David Turner, Darrell Williams.
Call to Order:
Chairman Thomas called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. Commissioner Bush delivered the Invocation and Commissioner Thomas led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. McQueen explained approximately six (6) years ago, the County and the City had an agreement for Fire Protection Services within a zone surrounding the City of Trenton. The contract amount was $15,000. Later, an agreement was reached to pay the City $300 per fire. Recently, a request was received from the City of Trenton to increase this amount to $364. Mr. McQueen stated to his knowledge, the County does not have a written agreement with the City of Trenton for Fire Services. Commissioner Haley advised the City has a copy of a written agreement for the contract amount of $300 per fire. (1/082)
Mayor Randolph stated that the proposed increase of $64 was calculated by an audit firm, Purvis and Grey. He contended that this amount is not much compared to the total amount funded to the Fanning Springs Fire Department; $18,454 from Levy County, $15,000 from Gilchrist County and a budget of $48,000 from Fanning Springs. Mr. McQueen stated, for clarification, that the amounts received from Levy County and Gilchrist County are placed in the General Fund and the Fire Department is budgeted a total of $48,000.
Mr. McQueen stated that some of the issues are in regard to response, the level of response and timeliness of response. He explained these problems are experienced by every fire department in the County. Discussion followed concerning the geographic area covered by the department and the total number of calls. Mr. McQueen explained the Trenton Fire Department is different than the other departments in that they have access to water within the city limits but do not have a tanker. Therefore, the departments ability to bring water to a fire within the County is limited. This past year, the department has also experienced a manpower shortage. (1/335)
Commissioner Durden stated that he had recently attended a meeting with the Town of Bell concerning the Bell Fire Department and it is his opinion that all of the fire departments are equally important and should receive the same amount of funding. He recommended that all of the departments including the Trenton department receive the same budgeted amount which has in the past been $15,000. (1/652)
Commissioner Haley stated that he would not be willing to agree to less than $300 per call. He suggested that the Fire Department cover only the City limits. Mr. Lamar advised, over the past 12 months, there has been an average of 8.34 out of City calls per month. Commissioner Durden mentioned that of the 164 calls that the Bell Fire Department made, only three (3) calls were within the City limits. Discussion was held regarding an equitable amount for fire calls for the service provided. Commissioner Leggett asked for the total paid out to the other departments. Mr. Gilliam answered that the County departments are funded $15,000 annually plus worker’s comp, liability insurance and some of the equipment. Mr. Billy Rogers pointed out that if the City of Trenton ran 86 calls this year at $300 each, they received $25,800 which is a little more than 10% of the total monies collected from MSTU (approximately $236,000). Mr. Rogers stated that if the City would accept $300 per call, this was a reasonable amount. Commissioner Haley stated again that he is willing to agree to stay at $300 per call. Chairman Thomas called for a consensus and all board members agreed. (1/681)
Mr. Lamar asked the County Commission to advise them of any questions or concerns regarding the Community Redevelopment Zone. Chairman Thomas commented that he did not have a problem with the plan initially, when he heard that it was going to be downtown redevelopment of the City of Trenton but later he learned that it would be a community redevelopment program incorporating the whole city. He asked how it was determined to include the whole City of Trenton in the redevelopment area. Mr. Lamar replied that there may have been a misunderstanding concerning the definition of slum and blight. Mr. Lamar passed out a copy of the “Slum and Blighted Areas” definitions provided by the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council and reviewed them as follows:
· Inadequate and Outdated Building Density
· Inadequate Transportation or Parking Facilities
· Inadequate Open Spaces
· Dilapidated and Deteriorated Structures
· Dilapidated and Deteriorated Improvements
· Detriment to Public Health, Safety and Welfare
· Endanger Life or Property by Fire or Other Causes
· Defective or Inadequate Street Layout
· Unsanitary or Unsafe Conditions
· Faulty Lot Layout
· Tax Delinquency
· Defective Title Conditions
· Deterioration of Site or Other Improvements
· Inadequate Ventilation, Light, Air or Sanitation
· Overcrowded Conditions
· Factors Conducive to Ill Health or Crime
Mr. Lamar explained that using these definitions, the City Commission determined to incorporate the entire city in the plan. By incorporating the whole city, there will be more flexibility. He pointed out that the Community Redevelopment Plan may be amended anytime, therefore, the City intends to proceed with the downtown redevelopment street scaping as the first project and then move on to others. The City Commission expects to receive and consider citizen input for future projects or needs. Concerning the ad valorem taxes derived from the city, Mr. Lang explained any annexed property would not be included, only properties described within the plan.
Discussion was held concerning the Economic Development Transportation Grant which is provided through the Office of Tourism and Trade Economic Development (OTTED). Mr. McQueen advised this grant has been awarded to the County in the amount of $665,500 for the paving of Sante Fe Avenue. The grant award is contingent upon the County acquiring the right of way to build the road. Application was made for the grant for a proposed boat plant owned by Action Craft Manufacturing Company. It is not certain at this time if the owner of the Company will be able to establish the new facility. Mr. Lamar stated that if they do proceed with the plant, the City of Trenton will also be making application for assistance with water and sewer connections to that property. (1/1344)
Dispatch / Law Enforcement:
Mr. McQueen began the discussion concerning funding for dispatch services. He explained that the Road Department, EMS Department and the Solid Waste Department each fund a dispatch position and that one (1) position is funded out of the fire budget. Chairman Thomas asked the City Commission to consider assisting the County with funding an additional position which has been requested by Sheriff Turner. (1/2565)
Sheriff Turner reviewed a list of services the Sheriff’s Office currently provides to the City of Trenton at no cost.
1. Receives calls for service and complaints.
2. Answers calls after hours for various departments (Police Department, Fire Department, Maintenance, Animal Control)
3. Maintain a separate recording system for the Trenton Police Dept.
4. Provides three (3) School Crossing Guards with the city limits.
5. Provides training, which is accessible to the Trenton Police Department and the liability associated with the training.
6. Responds to law enforcement calls when City Police are not available.
7. Responds as backup for the Trenton Police Department.
8. Dispatch all Fire and EMS calls within the City.
9. Process and book all City prisoners into the County Jail.
10. Coordinate major case investigations.
11. Radio License, the Trenton Police Department operates under the Sheriff’s Office radio license.
12. County Paging System
13. Victim’s Advocate
14. Provide FCIC & NCIC computer terminal access to maintain separate date entry files and validations on all property from cases derived from the City of Trenton.
15. Provide data from the Criminal Justice Information System and State Computer System.
16. Provide Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD)
17. Provide 911 services.
18. Designated as the County Wide Emergency Operations Center.
19. Monitor Weather and Alert Channels.
20. Provide Courthouse security and bailiff functions.
21. Provide Community Crime Prevention Classes.
22. Firearms custodian as defined by statute.
Sheriff Turner discussed the fact that these services have increased over the years yet there has never been an interlocal agreement.
Chairman Thomas referred to the Sheriff’s Office 1998 report, which stated that 16.5% of the calls were for the Trenton Police Department and 5% of the calls were for the Sheriff’s Office within the City limits. Chairman Thomas estimated that these calls with the addition of the calls for animal control, EMS and Fire, would be approximately 25% for the City of Trenton. Discussion ensued concerning the request for the City of Trenton to assist with the funding of dispatch. Mr. Lamar contended that most counties give a break to cities which have their own police departments so that they do not pay the same for Sheriff’s patrol as everyone else.
Sheriff Turner referred to Section 166.049, Florida Statutes, concerning the requirement to have two (2) police officers on duty at all times and argued that if the Sheriff’s Office did not provide that backup the City would have to have a second officer on duty. Mr. McPherson explained that if the backup is provided by the Sheriff’s Office, it has to be under an agreement with the City of Trenton.
Chairman Thomas stated that it was his opinion that the number of calls generated from the City of Trenton justifies the request to fund an additional position in dispatch. Commissioner Haley contended that by providing a police department, the City of Trenton is taking a load off of the Sheriff’s Office. He suggested that the City of Trenton would be willing to pay for a position if the County would give the citizens of Trenton a tax break. Chairman Thomas pointed out that dispatch also handles the after hours calls, fire calls and EMS calls. Mr. Lamar stated that he would like to operate under a model in which the City residents do not pay the same portion of patrol services for the Sheriff’s Office as the citizens in the unincorporated areas. Mr. McPherson advised that this would not be possible as the County has a uniform tax rate. An MSTU would have to be established.
Judicial Complex / Church Building Requirements:
Discussion was held concerning the zoning requirements for the church building, the Week’s Building and the proposed Judicial Complex. Mr. Gilliam advised the City Commission that the plans for the judicial complex have not been finalized. Questions were raised regarding the requirements for parking, on site storm water retention and the traffic impact for HWY 129.
Mr. Lamar stated that the City will be willing to work with the County by amending the zoning category of the property from Residential zoning to Commercial Central Business District zoning. He pointed out that the Week’s Building and the church building are currently zoned residential. If the property is rezoned, the parking requirements could then be changed. Currently, under residential zoning, the County would be required to include one (1) parking space on the site plan per 200 square feet of the building.
Mr. Lamar advised that with a building of approximately 32,000 sq. feet, the usage is going to go over the total traffic impact for HWY 129. This would possibly require the highway being four-laned. Mr. Lamar explained the City could petition DCA to have the highway reclassified from “C” to “D.” It was mentioned that there should not be any impact to traffic considering the same offices housed in the courthouse will be relocated to the proposed building and that the use of the church building will actually be less.
The County Commission agreed to allow Mr. Gilliam and the County attorney to draft a letter to USDA, Architects Design Group and other parties putting them on notice that the project will be stopped pending resolution of these issues. Chairman Thomas advised the County will need affirmation from the State that changes will not be required for HWY 129.
Both Boards agreed it would be best to wait and include the church building and the Week’s Building in the master site plan for the judicial complex project.
Sewer to Jail:
Chairman Thomas recalled that a cost estimate had been done to put a sewer line to the jail but no progress has been made. Commissioner Durden explained that Lee Mills, the County Engineer had been working on finding the best route for the line but there were some right of way issues with property owned by Mr. Caswell Akins. Mr. Akins is reluctant to agree to providing the easement if the sewer line is going to be a forced main.
Mr. Lamar stated that Mr. Jonathan Kincaid is planning to annex 150 acres just South of the Jail and plans to develop property for approximately 240 residential units. If the City proceeds with the annexation, a gravity flow system will be put in. Mr. McQueen replied that Mr. Akins might be willing to work something out if he could have sewer taps on his property. Mr. Lamar advised that he will contact Mr. Akins regarding this issue. (2/1893)
Solid Waste & EMS Special Assessments:
Mr. Lang recalled at a recent City Commission meeting, he had been asked to submit a request for an Attorney General Opinion concerning the County’s Solid Waste & EMS Special Assessment Ordinance and its imposition upon the city resident’s without the Trenton Commission’s approval. Mr. Lang explained that he has not submitted the request as of this date. (2/2363)
Mayor Randolph asked about the grading of some of the roads within the City. Discussion was held regarding the roads which are graded. The County had recently decided to charge to City $6.00 per load for rock which is at cost.
Commissioner Durden explained that there have been misunderstandings on this issue. He recommended that the Animal Control Committee meet to work out an agreement. Discussion was held concerning the County and the City working together to build the holding pens and to enter into an agreement. Commissioner Durden suggested that the Committee meet and bring back a few options for the City Commission and the County Commission to consider.
In conclusion, Mr. Gilliam suggested the County not pursue the declaratory judgement for the Downtown Redevelopment and that the City assist with Judicial Complex project. He also suggested that the City not pursue litigation in the Solid Wastes and EMS special assessments.
The Boards reviewed the items in questions and discussed the request for the dispatch position. Mr. Gilliam advised the cost to fund the dispatch position is approximately $35,000 (base pay $23,000 plus benefits). Commissioner Leggett suggested the City pay $8,750, which is 25%. Commissioner Durden stated that the County would consider that amount but would have to discuss it with Sheriff Turner first.
After discussion, it was agreed these issues would be considered in regular meetings of the Board of County Commissioners and the City Commission for any action prior to another joint meeting.
Mr. Lamar stated that the City can move forward to change the zoning for the judicial complex site. Mr. Lamar will also contact DCA regarding HWY 129.
There being no further business to discuss, Chairman Thomas adjourned the meeting at 10:07 p.m.
John Rance Thomas, Chairman
Joseph W. Gilliam, Clerk