CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION
DECEMBER 19, 2017
CHARTER COMMISSION: District 1 – Josh Strzalko
- Tom Boyko
- Vice Chairman Tom O’Hanlon
District 2 - Edward L. Schons
- Colleen Hufford
- Michelle Ertel
District 3 - Robert O’Malley
- Robert Levy
- Pasha Baker (6:38 p.m.)
District 4 - Kevin Grace
- Chairman Larry Strickler
District 5 - Michelle Smith
- Robert Turnage (6:40 p.m.)
ABSENT: District 4 – Bob McMillan
District 5 - James Dicks
ATTENDEES: John Horan, Chairman of the BCC
Grant Maloy, Clerk of Court & Comptroller
Dana Crosby-Collier, Attorney
Jane Spencer, Deputy Clerk
The following is a non-verbatim transcript of the CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION MEETING, held at 6:30 p.m., on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Room 3024 of the Seminole County Services Building at Sanford, Florida.
CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL
Chairman Larry Strickler confirmed that they have a quorum and called the meeting to order. Kevin Grace led the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion by Tom Boyko, seconded by Michelle Ertel, to approve the Official Minutes of November 21, 2017.
All members present voted AYE.
LEGAL REPRESENTATION UPDATE
Chairman Strickler reminded everyone that one of the things they voted on at the last meeting was to try to secure legal services. He explained that the authority to do that was delegated to the Chairman and Vice Chairman, and they met prior to tonight’s meeting. The Chairman then introduced Dana Crosby-Collier. He reported that she just finished handling the charter for the City of Ocoee and believes they are very lucky to find someone that is homegrown, doesn’t have a conflict, and has this type of background.
Chairman Strickler advised that legally speaking, Ms. Crosby-Collier is not under contract yet and will have to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners, which will probably be at their first meeting in January. After that, Ms. Crosby-Collier will be serving the County under contract but working with the Charter Review Commission (CRC) and providing great legal advice as they move forward. Ms. Crosby-Collier stated she looks forward to working with the CRC starting at the next meeting.
Chairman Strickler announced that there will be presentations tonight from the Property Appraiser and from the BCC Chairman and County Manager. He explained that the whole process that they have been going through with the elected officials, especially the statutory officers, is to better educate the CRC about who they are and what they do and how they fit in with the County Commission Government.
Seminole County Property Appraiser’s Office
David Johnson, Seminole County Property Appraiser, began his presentation regarding the Roles and Responsibilities of the Property Appraiser (copy received and filed). Mr. Johnson read the Mission Statement into the record. He displayed a slide containing information about himself and pointed out that he started with the organization in 1986. Mr. Johnson talked about who the Property Appraiser is and what he does. He talked about Seminole County at a Glance statistics, which compare the population, the number of real estate parcels, and the number of Tangible Personal Property accounts from 1986 to that of 2017.
Mr. Johnson discussed the Property Tax Base and advised that total market value in 2017 was about $43.3 billion and the taxable value was about $30.6 billion. He reviewed the Property Tax Cycle. Mr. Johnson emphasized that the Property Appraiser does not determine the property tax rate. The local governments that levy a property tax determine the millage rate. The Property Appraiser’s Office just gives them a value to work with and then it is a simple math equation; value x millage rate = the tax bill. He advised that about 50% of all revenue that comes into the State of Florida for its school system is generated by the property tax and about 30% funds local government. There is about $500 million worth of taxes collected in Seminole County through all of the jurisdictions on an annual basis. The Annual Truth-In-Millage slide was displayed.
Mr. Johnson talked about how the Appeal Process works. He discussed Other Functions of SCPA such as maintaining the GIS base map of the entire county. The Geographic Information System (GIS) is the basis for doing a lot of different work and is a very important function of what his office does. Other agencies within the county utilize all of the names, addresses, legal descriptions, and ownership status on a daily basis. He added that his office works very closely with the Clerk of the Court because the information is coming from the public records and deeds and such that get recorded. Mr. Johnson reviewed the bullet points on the two Oversight by the Department of Revenue slides.
With regard to Budget and Staff, Mr. Johnson noted that his budget is submitted to the Department of Revenue for approval and funded by the County (98.33%) and SJRWMD (1.67%). With regard to Cost efficiency, the cost to do what they do per parcel is about $33.50. He remarked that one of the things his office is most proud of is the fact that as the number of parcels has increased and taxable values have increased, their budget has remained relatively steady over the years. He displayed the Budget History graph. The Financial Audit slide was displayed and briefly reviewed.
Mr. Johnson talked about the credentials of his 51 full-time employees. He displayed an organizational chart and pointed out that he and the four directors have direct authority over expenditure approvals. With regard to SCPA Customers, Mr. Johnson listed both the internal customers and the external customers. The SCPA website (www.scpafl.org) was discussed. He displayed the Transparency and Customer Service slides. Mr. Johnson concluded his presentation by pointing out that his office earned the Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration (CEAA) in 2005 and was recertified in 2012. There are 12 out of 67 counties in Florida that have earned their CEAA.
Robert Levy asked Mr. Johnson about the appeals process. Mr. Johnson advised that they get about 700 appeals a year with a success rate of probably about 20‑something percent. Of the 700 petitions, probably 85% of them are commercial‑type properties or properties that are a little bit more complex. They are not necessarily hearing from mom and pop about their homestead property. With regard to an agricultural exemption, Mr. Johnson explained there is a person that does nothing but agricultural properties and there are about 1,100 of those countywide. Any new application gets checked on an annual basis. All properties are checked on a three‑year cycle to make sure they are still doing what they are supposed to be doing. Certainly some will be denied that application and they have the right to appeal also.
Mr. Boyko asked if the property value increases, who determines that increase. Mr. Johnson stated from a value perspective, his office does. He described how the process works and explained that they need to determine what the level assessment is compared to what the property is selling for. They need to be in the 85% to 90% threshold according to the Department of Revenue. If they are not there, they need to raise the values. Mr. Boyko asked whether the property values went up 8%. Mr. Johnson advised they went up about 7.5% in 2017. He indicated they are just beginning that process for 2018 and are projecting that they will have similar numbers. Mr. Boyko asked if that also increases his budget income. Mr. Johnson stated it creates a base value for the taxing authorities to levy a tax rate against and that money goes into the General Fund and his budget is funded out of the General Fund. He pointed out there is not a direct correlation. If the values go up 8%, his budget does not go up 8%. Mr. Boyko confirmed with Mr. Johnson that it is his office, and not the State, that makes the decision on the increase. Mr. Johnson added that when they come up with the values and submit those to the State electronically in July, the State will run statistics to see if the values are in that 85% to 90% threshold and whether there are standard deviations. If not, the State will come back to him and say you need to raise these neighborhoods. Mr. Johnson emphasized that that is where the oversight comes from; his work will be checked.
Mr. Boyko confirmed with Mr. Johnson that even though most of his budget comes from the County, most of his direction comes from the State. Mr. Johnson agreed and stated that is the beauty of his office, like the other four Constitutional Offices, being independent. They want his office to do one part of the equation and the County, the taxing authority, the School Board, to do the other part of the equation, the tax rate. There are checks and balances there, so you don’t have one group working the values and the tax rate.
Mr. Boyko asked Mr. Johnson whether his budget is approved by the State and not the County, even though the County supports the Property Appraiser's Office with a high percentage. Mr. Johnson responded that is correct. He added that the County has some appeals processes if they have real concerns about the budget. The budget is submitted on June 1. The DOR reviews it and they respond back to the County saying we think this looks good and this is what we are going to approve for the County to fund next year. They tell the County if they have any problems, they need to hear from them quickly.
Robert Turnage stated that it looks like Mr. Johnson's income is dictated by 192.091 F.S. and Mr. Johnson agreed. Mr. Turnage confirmed with Mr. Johnson that he submits a bill to the County each quarter. He then confirmed with Mr. Johnson that his budget goes to the Department of Revenue, who either approves or doesn't approve it. He asked Mr. Johnson if he shares his budget with the County Commission; and Mr. Johnson stated on June 1, when the budget is submitted to the Department of Revenue for approval, the County also gets a copy. Mr. Johnson talked about how his office works with the County throughout the year.
Tom O'Hanlon directed his question to the County folks and asked how they feel about the efficiency of the Property Appraiser's Office and whether there is any way to judge if they are spending taxpayer dollars for maximum benefit. Commissioner Horan remarked that David Johnson is the best. The Commissioner added that Mr. Johnson is an actual property appraiser. A lot of counties have people who run for property appraiser because they are termed out of the County Commission or termed out of the Legislature. He reiterated that Mr. Johnson is an actual property appraiser and highly professional. They know the product that comes out of Mr. Johnson's office is not only efficiently produced but also is excellent.
Mr. O'Hanlon agreed that Mr. Johnson is doing a phenomenal job. He pointed out they are talking about taxpayer dollars, and they always want to make sure they are getting the "best bang for the buck." He has no way of judging the "bang for the buck" that they are getting. Commissioner Horan explained that they had about 2,500 employees in 2007; and today they have somewhere in the neighborhood of just under 1,500 employees, including the Constitutionals with the exception of the Sheriff's Office. They are doing much more in terms of service to the public such as the amounts of properties that have to be appraised and the number of emergency medical services that are required. There is a statistical portion of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) that identifies from 2007 to 2017 how many employees they have per year per unit and how many services there are broken down by what they are. Commissioner Horan emphasized that they are handling more governmental services today than they were in 2007 and they have almost 1,000 fewer employees.
From an operational standpoint, Ms. Guillet remarked that one thing she loves about Mr. Johnson and his budget is that it only went up 2.5% this year. His budget increases are usually pretty conservative even though they are based on the State formula. Those increases impact the overall budget and are pretty conservative and pretty consistent, so they can rely on that from a financial planning standpoint. Ms. Guillet stated the County works with all of the Constitutional Officers; but of all of them, the two the County works with on a day‑to‑day basis most frequently are the Clerk and the Property Appraiser. With both of them, if the County needs something, they call them and they are there. She noted that she had the people in Mr. Johnson's office running around today trying to get some information for something they were working on. Ms. Guillet stated they are very fortunate that they have good working relationships.
Michelle Smith asked Mr. Johnson what he thinks allows him to be so efficient with fewer employees and Mr. Johnson responded that it is mainly because they have invested in technology over the years. There were 54 employees back in 1986 and they have 51 today. They invested in the Geographic Information System and knew that the more information they got geographically, the more efficient they could become. He briefly discussed other ways technology has made his office more efficient. Ms. Guillet advised that Mr. Johnson is an integral part of the County's budgeting process. She pointed out that because he is so accurate, it has raised the County's ability to perform and budget and to predict effectively. They are really very grateful for that and appreciate how accessible Mr. Johnson's office is to the County in that respect.
County Government Overview
Commissioner Horan, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, began his presentation (copy received and filed) and explained that the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is the governing body of Seminole County. He advised that he was asked by Chairman Strickler to distinguish how the BOCC's role is different from the Constitutional Officers. The BOCC is the only governing body in Seminole County other than the cities. The Constitutional Officers are specific constitutional component units of the BOCC's operation. The Commissioner stated the Board of County Commissioners is vested with all of the policy-making and legislative authority pursuant to the Florida Constitution (Article VIII, Section 1(g)). He explained that as the policy‑making and legislative authority, they have executive powers and also quasi‑judicial powers. As the governing body, they can levy property taxes and other fees.
Commissioner Horan stated they adopt the budget including the Constitutional Officers, which are part of the BOCC's budget. He talked about how they hire the County Manager, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the County, and the County Attorney, who is the Chief Legal Officer. Commissioner Horan reiterated that the BOCC is the governing body and they have the Constitutional Officers under them. A Constitutional Officer has no legislative powers and is not a governing body. It does not govern. It does not issue laws or ordinances or make judicial decisions. The Commissioner stated the Constitutional Officers perform a particular function. They are component units of government for which the primary government (which is the governing body of the county) is fundamentally accountable.
Commissioner Horan stated if you go to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report you will find that all of the component units of the primary government, that being the Constitutional Officers and Special Districts, are all consolidated under that financial statement. He added that the Constitutional Officers, while legally separate entities, are in substance a part of the primary government's operations. He noted that the CRC has heard a lot about the cooperation that is required by the governing body together with the Constitutional Officers. He asked how can he be accurate in assessing the tax if Mr. Johnson is not accurate. If they don't cooperate with the Sheriff's Office, how can they coordinate those types of things that normally would be part of the County's business such as running the jail? He listed some additional authorities that the County has delegated to the Sheriff's Office. He talked about how the BOCC has no problem in cooperating and delegating those duties to a Constitutional Officer. Commissioner Horan reiterated that the Constitutional Officers’ budgets are included in the County’s budget.
Commissioner Horan listed the five constitutionally mandated county offices in Florida and pointed out that each is independently elected, created by statute and by the Florida Constitution. He added that in some charter counties, one or more of these offices can be brought under the County by way of a vote which amends the county charter. Two slides listing the special duties performed by each of the five Constitutional Officers (Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, and Clerk of the Circuit Court) were displayed and reviewed. He noted that the Constitutional Officers perform special duties in cooperation with the governing body but do not govern. Commissioner Horan next reviewed the slide listing a full range of government services that the County provides. A brief video entitled “By the Numbers,” which was narrated by Commissioner Carey, was displayed.
Commissioner Horan displayed the Seminole County organizational chart. He pointed out that the most important thing that you see at the top of the chart is the Citizens of Seminole County. He emphasized that it is all about the quality of their lives. The Commissioner explained that the way they are organized is the County Commissioners are the governing body. The County Manager and County Attorney are executives who are right under the County Commissioners. Commissioner Horan reviewed the departments that report directly to the County Manager, which are the Office of Emergency Management, the Office of Human Resources, and the Office of Economic Development and Community Relations. He referred to the departments in the bottom row of the chart and then reviewed each of the divisions within those departments. He talked about some of the funding for the Fire Department (separate MSTU), the Environmental Services Department (fees), and the Public Works Department (one-cent sales tax).
Commissioner Horan displayed the Adopted Budget Summary chart and stated they collect between $400 million and $500 million in ad valorem taxes and have a budget of $755 million. There are other resources, other types of revenue. They have the one-cent sales tax, water and sewer fees, and solid waste fees. Some of the funds are restricted and some are not. Commissioner Horan explained how the different types of funds listed on the chart work.
Commissioner Horan stated that when he goes and talks to people about what he does, he usually asks if anyone knows what a county commissioner does. When they say no, he tells them that he takes $755 million of their money every year and he spends it. He now has their attention. He added this is what happens when you do so many things, like a governing body does. He stated that is why they are a governing body, because they have so many different functions, so many things to do, so many resources and revenues, and so many different things that have to be done with those revenues. To give an example of the order of magnitude, Commissioner Horan stated that the City of Winter Springs has a budget of about $35 million and about $18 million of that is water and sewer. Commissioner Horan pointed out that Ms. Guillet has a really big job.
Commissioner Horan displayed the General Fund pie chart. He stated this is the biggest problem they have as the governing body. He stated they basically have to operate their governmental services, those services that are not funded through an enterprise fund or a restricted fund or sales tax or something like that, pretty much out of their General Fund or ad valorem. The Constitutional Offices have to be funded out of the General Fund. The operating fund for General is $213.9 million. He pointed out that 36% of those funds are what they get to use right now to operate the Board of County Commissioners' operations. He added that 64% goes to the Constitutional Offices, over whom they have no control of their budgets. Those are the budgets of the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser, who are approved by the Department of Revenue. The Clerk's budget is approved by a special legislative area, except for the County Commission; and they approved the Clerk's budget, which is approximately $3 million. With regard to the Sheriff's Office budget, the Board of County Commissioners approves the budget; but with regard to the budget, the Sheriff’s Office has the ability to go to the governor and the cabinet. He has never seen a governor and cabinet that didn't side with a sheriff.
Commissioner Horan advised that the problem they have right now is they have to manage this particular pie (referring to the pie chart being displayed) and how it is going. As the Board of County Commissioners, they have done about as much as they can in terms of marshaling the other revenue sources. They have nowhere else to go in terms of the pie chart. Commissioner Horan reported that it takes a lot of cooperation between the Board of County Commissioners and the Constitutional Officers in order to go ahead and manage that pie in such a way that they have enough to manage their governmental services that are not funded by other means. The Commissioner reiterated that the numbers on the pie chart are probably the largest challenge right now.
Chairman Strickler requested that the organizational chart be displayed. He referred to the box containing the Constitutional Officers and pointed out there is not even a dotted line, much less a solid line, connecting those Constitutionals to the County Commissioners. Chairman Strickler stated he does not know how Commissioner Horan manages that. Commissioner Horan replied that it is cooperation. He referred to Sheriff Lemma's presentation and stated that is the perfect example of a Constitutional Officer cooperating with the governing body in such a way that they come to rely on him. If you become valuable to a governmental body, you are going to continue to get more work. You will continue to get probation and you will continue to get the jail. Commissioner Horan stated it is the same thing with Mr. Johnson. They work hand and glove all of the time throughout the entire year. With regard to the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Ertel has to be very careful not to do anything political. He stated that, of course, the Clerk has a small job with the BOCC.
Commissioner Horan remarked that before Mr. Maloy got elected, the Clerk's Office needed help from the BOCC. The Clerk is really getting squeezed on the court side of the budget. Several years ago, the BOCC decided they were going to fund through the court services a magistrate for juvenile court. The BOCC actually funded a judge, a juvenile court judge, because they are not going to let their kids suffer and go unserved. To the same extent, they did some other advocacy things through the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) for the Clerk's Office.
Commissioner Horan emphasized that is the kind of cooperation they need to try and get; that is the kind of cooperation that you need. He advised there is a reason there is independence there. With regard to the Constitutional Officers, just like Mr. Johnson said, you don't want them doing the property assessment because if the governing body does the property assessment and also the property taxation, you can see a conflict there. It is the same thing with the Constitutional Officers. If the Constitutional Officer is doing the audit of the governing body and also is in charge of investments for the governing body, there is a conflict there as well. Commissioner Horan stated what they try to do with a Constitutional Office is keep them independent but cooperative at the same time. He stressed that it really takes everybody understanding that they all work for people at the top (indicating on the organization chart), the Citizens of Seminole County.
Mr. Levy talked about a major increase they have had in water costs and wondered if the County has input into that. Commissioner Horan advised that Utilities, Inc. is a private utility and is regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Commissioner explained that the County went in front of the PSC against the increase but lost. The County has now joined in an appeal of that decision. Commissioner Horan remarked that while the County does not have any control over the increase, in a situation like that, they will support their population. They have some really good people in the legal department and they have outside counsel who are water experts in that area. He stated there was unanimous consent among the BOCC that this was something that they had to do, not just because of how it affected the County but more so because of how it affected their population even though the County was not providing the water.
Upon inquiry by Mr. Boyko, Commissioner Horan confirmed that the County Manager is the Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Boyko asked Commissioner Horan to confirm that many of things that happen go through the County Manager before it gets to the BCC. Ms. Guillet stated that happens sometimes but not always. Commissioner Horan stated the staff does a wonderful job of providing the BCC information. He talked about how the County Manager briefs each of the Commissioners in conjunction with the Sunshine Law. Mr. Boyko pointed out that the agenda is formed by the County Manager; and Commissioner Horan stated as Chairman of the BCC, he tries to announce items that are passed on the Consent Agenda because a lot of times people think the County Manager runs the whole thing. He discussed how staff comes into meetings prepared.
Mr. Boyko gave an example of someone saying our subdivision has this problem and we would like to have this discussed by the BCC. He pointed out that it has to first go through the County Manager before it gets to the BCC. Commissioner Horan stated in a matter like that, they defer to the District Commissioner; so unless there is some kind of overarching reason, that usually gets on the agenda. He suggested they keep in mind that any Commissioner can propose an agenda item and bring it up.
Ms. Guillet agreed that she has a big job but emphasized that she is staff, not an elected official. She pointed out that she is not a policymaker; that is the Board of County Commissioners’ purview, their responsibility and obligation. She stated her obligation is to implement their policy and to address issues in the county consistent with the policy that they have set. Everything she does on a staff level and everything that all the wonderful people who work for her do is driven by the policy that the BCC establishes. It is not her making these big decisions on her own. She has tried to follow the direction from the Board and the policy that the Board has established. Ms. Guillet explained that when they put the agenda together, she does manage the agenda preparation; but she always does it in consultation with the BCC Chairman, whoever the BCC Chairman is at the time. That is the protocol that they always follow.
Ms. Guillet advised that the Board members are never shy about asking to have something put on the agenda as well, and she does not want anyone to think that she is the gatekeeper of the agenda. She stated her office manages it, but it is not her decision to decide what the Board is going to take up; it is their decision. Ms. Guillet stated she wanted to make sure that is clear and noted that she always remembers that she is staff and is just here to help the Board deliver the policy decisions that they have made and to execute the day‑to‑day activities of the County consistent with the policies that the Board has established.
With respect to the charter and the things the CRC is considering, Ms. Guillet stated the County Manager’s role is mentioned in the charter. In addition to running the day‑to‑day activities, there are two specific functions in the charter that she has to do. The first is she has to prepare a State of the County report, which she does every year. The second thing she has to do is prepare a budget. Ms. Guillet stated she has the distinct pleasure of talking to the Constitutional Officers, all of whom have been wonderful to work with and have been very gracious to her and gracious in their time and in their efforts to help her deliver a budget. It is all about cooperation. The General Fund pie chart was again displayed. She explained they have a lot of governmental functions and she has to bring the Board a budget where she only has control over $77 million of $200 million, so cooperation is really important. Ms. Guillet reported that a very large part of the 64% is the Sheriff's Office. Of all of the Constitutional Officers, the Sheriff's Office is the biggest piece of that piece of the pie. A large portion of that is the jail and some of the other functions the County has delegated to the Sheriff’s Office.
Ms. Guillet advised they have several challenges. In the last two years, they have been able to bring a budget forward that was structurally balanced, meaning expenditures and revenues balanced out. Since the recession, they have been balancing the budget with reserve funds and savings. In the last two years, they have been able to move forward and have a structurally balanced budget, which has been a very big priority of the Board. Ms. Guillet stated that just when they think they are getting stabilized, they have a couple of issues on the horizon that are coming up. One of the issues is the additional homestead exemption, which is expected to hit in a couple of years. They are relatively certain and planning that it will pass. They figure that will be an $8 million hit to the General Fund budget so this pie here (indicate the pie chart) is going to be $8 million short. There will be another $3 million to the Fire Fund, but they think they may have addressed that with the adjustment that they did to the millage rate. That hits in two years.
Ms. Guillet advised that in three years, their obligation with respect to SunRail comes due. When the Board of County Commissioners took on this partnership for SunRail, at the time it was estimated that upon the local government taking over the operational responsibilities for that system, the aggregate deficiency in operating would be about $7.5 million. Ms. Guillet reported that they got some new numbers today and the expectation is now that it will be about $35.5 million. She talked about how that responsibility will get divided amongst the governmental partners.
Ms. Guillet remarked that between the homestead exemption and the obligations under the SunRail agreement, they have some significant budget challenges coming forward, which just punctuates the need for ensuring that they are able to cooperate. The personalities that they have in the County now are what makes that work; but moving forward, that is one of the things that she loses sleep over. How is she going to deliver a balanced budget? Ms. Guillet stated she has been very blessed in the last three years to have Constitutional Officers that have been willing to work with the County and recognize that they all want to deliver good services to the residents and they all want to keep the cost as low as they can. She advised that this theme of cooperation that they have been talking about tonight is just going to be all that more important in the coming years. Ms. Guillet referred to the pie chart and emphasized that the graphic always scares her.
Mr. Turnage stated he wanted to give Commissioner Horan and Ms. Guillet a big pat on the back. Before, during and after Hurricane Irma, the communication was excellent from the BCC Chairman. The support from the County afterwards was excellent in the cleanup.
Mr. Boyko told Ms. Guillet that they were glad to have her. He recognizes, as Commissioner Horan mentioned, the pressure that is on her and pointed out that she has to make the individual contacts with the Constitutional Officers; and that is not an easy task. Ms. Guillet responded that they are not such bad guys. Mr. Boyko stated from what he understands, if someone goes to their Commissioner and tells the Commissioner a problem, the Commissioner cannot go to that department and say get that done because he has no control over that. He asked if his statement is correct. Commissioner Horan stated the way that they work, Ms. Guillet is not concerned about having any of the Commissioners contact a staff member directly or their assistants contacting a staff member directly because that is mostly what their assistants do, they hook up a constituent with the person that can do it. The Commissioners respect that by making sure that Ms. Guillet knows they have contacted that staff person and the staff person, of course, is trained not to go off half‑cocked and do something that Ms. Guillet doesn't know about. He added that these relationships move at the speed of trust.
Mr. Boyko stated the public in general doesn't understand the procedures that have to be gone through. They feel they can just get it done and have their Commissioner go down and tell Harry down in Public Works to get that done. It doesn't work that way. It is sort of an education‑type thing and he thinks, as a body here, they can eliminate and shut those fires out. Commissioner Horan agreed that was a tension a lot of times with the constituents. They are telling you hey, I want you to get this done for me; but Seminole County's form of government is a county manager form of government.
Commissioner Horan stated he believes strongly in that form of government especially for this county. He is here to make policy and help out in any way, shape, or form that he can. He added that everybody has to do their job. He makes policy and Ms. Guillet runs the County and the Constitutional Officers do their specific jobs. Constitutional Officers don't make policy. Constitutional Officers don't run the County functions. The Commissioner explained that everybody has got their job and everyone cooperates together. He noted that if he starts getting in Ms. Guillet's way and telling her no, that is wrong and we really should do it this way, he shouldn't be getting in her way. He stated if he has a different opinion or any of the Constitutionals have a difference, Ms. Guillet is going to listen but they are not professionals at this and she is.
Commissioner Horan advised the Constitutional Officers are not elected to govern. The Constitutional Officers are not elected to make policy. They are elected to do certain jobs. He pointed out they all have to do their job. They have to cooperate with each other and understand and respect each other and most importantly, trust each other because, as he said before, relationships move at the speed of trust. If the Constitutional Officers are regularly disparaging the County Commissioners to the public or vice versa or you have the County Commissioners disparaging the County Manager in some way, shape, or form, trust breaks down and everything else starts to break down. Commissioner Horan reiterated that everyone has to do their job. He thinks this is a form of government that is so quintessentially American because it requires consent and cooperation, which when you look at the United States Constitution, it is exactly the way it is set up. He likes this form of government and tries to respect it all of the time and he knows his colleagues do to. He added that everyone has to understand their job.
Mr. Turnage advised that he has found that a call to the District Commissioner gets answers and gets problems solved very quickly. He tells the general public that he deals with in a couple of roles to just call their Commissioner and if they really want to get something done, call the assistant. Commissioner Horan relayed the story of how he got his assistant and stressed that all five of the assistants do great, great constituent service.
Don Menzel, 270 East Bahama Road, noted that in looking up when the CRC had meetings, there was a notation tonight that the meeting was starting at 5:30. Mr. Menzel requested that they get that corrected. He stated he would also like an opportunity for citizens to be able to have a published agenda prior to the meeting because for the last several meetings, he has not seen an agenda. That would make it easier for constituents to show up if they knew exactly what was going on. Chairman Strickler stated he did not see the public notice for the 5:30 meeting. He clarified that the meeting was to deal with the CRC's legal counsel needs and to negotiate a contract that would ultimately be approved by the Board of County Commissioners. They had to publically notice it because this group had delegated that authority; and since he and Mr. O'Hanlon represented the entire group, the meeting had to be in the Sunshine. That is all that meeting was. It wasn't part of the Charter Review meeting itself.
Mr. Grace asked Chairman Strickler if the agenda was being posted on the County's website. Chairman Strickler replied that he thought it was. Ms. Guillet responded that her staff can make sure that it gets done. Chairman Strickler reminded everyone that they started out by saying that they represent the citizens and taxpayers so they need to make sure they communicate.
With regard to public participation, no one else in the audience spoke and public input was closed.
NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING
Chairman Strickler announced the next scheduled meeting is January 16, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at the County Services Building. The Chairman mentioned that they have had several meetings and received a lot of information. He would like to use the next meeting as a work session and requested that the CRC members come up with a list of perceived problems, issues, or concerns that maybe a charter could deal with. He added that anything can be on the list, and the CRC will determine whether it is worth pursuing based on consensus building and also based on their attorney telling them if they are wasting their time or not. Chairman Strickler stated if they can do that and make some headway, then at the following meeting maybe they can start talking about, for those items they agree need to be addressed, how they can be addressed. He wants to get to that.
Chairman Strickler advised that he was rereading the minutes of the last meeting and remembered that Mr. O'Hanlon brought up an issue regarding the presentation by the Tax Collector where Mr. O'Hanlon indicated he thought either a mistake was made or the truth wasn't told. Mr. O'Hanlon replied that the CRC was misled. Chairman Strickler requested that Mr. O'Hanlon mention that again and see how as a group they want to deal with that. The Chairman pointed out that Mr. O'Hanlon had mentioned at the time that maybe there should be another presentation. The Chairman doesn't like that idea and thinks getting something in writing as an answer might be better. He asked Mr. O'Hanlon to make a recommendation.
Mr. O'Hanlon explained that there were two main issues. One issue was that the Tax Collector said he collects fees, not taxpayer dollars; and that really rubbed Mr. O'Hanlon the wrong way because everyone, including the Constitutional Officers, work for the taxpayers. One of big things that he wants to make sure the CRC addresses is efficient use of taxpayer dollars because they are basically representing all of the taxpayers. The Tax Collector stated he was collecting fees and basically shrugged off the taxpayers. Mr. O'Hanlon stated as far as he is concerned, all the Tax Collector has is taxpayer dollars. He then suggested maybe they should work on this at the next meeting and maybe they need some questions. He commented that he feels like he was misled. Mr. O'Hanlon noted that when the Tax Collector said he was just collecting all of these fees, Mr. O’Hanlon kind of let his guard down that he wasn't talking about spending all of his money; it was taxpayer dollars. Chairman Strickler confirmed with Mr. O'Hanlon that he will have that on his list at the next meeting as an issue or problem.
Mr. O'Hanlon noted they have a phenomenal Sheriff and phenomenal Constitutional Officers. With regard to the Tax Collector going out and hiring people, if there is this issue at the Tax Collector's Offices that they have to basically have a police presence, he does not understand why they are not having a conversation with the Sheriff. Mr. O'Hanlon stated he wants that question answered also and emphasized that he is uncomfortable with having two law enforcement agencies in the county. They get their efficiencies by doing everything together, cooperating together. He added that there did not seem to be any cooperation and that concerns him. Mr. Grace stated that these sound like issues they should be talking about at the next meeting; otherwise, they can all start going into their issues. Chairman Strickler stated he just wanted Mr. O'Hanlon to get it off his chest now and put it on the list at the next meeting since it happened at the last meeting and no action was taken.
Mr. O'Hanlon suggested that in all future agendas after roll call, they have a Chairman's Report and Agenda Review by the Chairman. Chairman Strickler agreed. Mr. O'Hanlon stated that right after Public Comment, they should have another item called Any Other Business (AOB); so that if anybody here has an issue, there is the place on the agenda where they can bring it up. Mr. Turnage reported that he will not be able to attend the next meeting due to a previous commitment and requested that he be able to contribute his issues in writing. He wondered if that was allowed under the Florida Sunshine Laws. Chairman Strickler replied that Mr. Turnage could submit his list and a discussion ensued with regard to the ways all members could submit a list. Pasha Baker wondered if there will be a legal presence at the next two meetings since they will be discussing what should be on the charter. Chairman Strickler replied that there would be assuming the County Commission approves it. He believes they will approve the contract with the attorney. Chairman Strickler had Ms. Crosby‑Collier reintroduce herself.
Hearing no objections, Chairman Strickler adjourned the meeting at 8:06 p.m., this same date.
After the meeting was adjourned, Mr. Menzel submitted a Memo addressed to the Charter Review Commission members and the Memo is attached to these minutes.