Commission Meeting Minutes

Draft Minutes of the June 10, 2021, 10 a.m.
Commission Workshop

The workshop meeting of the Lady Lake Town Commission was held in the Commission Chambers at Lady Lake Town Hall, 409 Fennell Blvd., Lady Lake, Florida. The meeting convened at 10 a.m.

A. Call to Order

Mayor Ruth Kussard

B. Roll Call

Commissioner (Ward) Present
Hannan (Four) NO
Kussard (One) YES
Holden (Two) YES
Vincent (Three) NO
Rietz (Five) YES

Staff Present

William Lawrence, Town Manager; and Nancy Slaton, Town Clerk

C. New Business

1. Open Discussion

Mayor Kussard opened the meeting by asking if Commissioner Rietz had any items to discuss.

Commissioner Rietz said he had a question whether the CARES Act funding the Town received a couple of months ago in the amount of $400,000+ has been earmarked or spent. He asked if the need has changed for squad cars.

Town Manager Bill Lawrence replied there is approximately $474,000 in CARES Act funding available. He and the Finance Director have discussed this and they are trying to decide whether to include the CARES Act monies with next year’s budget to offset revenues with expenses and include the department head’s requests, or to go ahead and utilize the funds now for the requests/projects such as eight new police cars, new chairs for the Chambers, and other departmental requests. He stated they will be determining what is the best use for these funds as the requests total more than the CARES Act funds.

Mr. Lawrence stated he will try to decide this at the next department head meeting next Tuesday, and the recommendations will be brought before the Commission. He stated he is not sure whether the CARES Act funds should be used to purchase all eight police vehicles as that would take up the majority of these funds. He stated the Public Works Director was requesting to use these funds to add to the pavement project for resurfacing the parking lot, along with other staff requests.

This was discussed further.

Commissioner Rietz mentioned that he believes something needs to be done to move the podium further away from the Clerk’s desk in the Chambers, or create some sort of barrier between the Clerk’s desk and the podium where people come to speak.

After some discussion, the Commissioners asked to speak with I.T. Director John Pearl about the possibility of extending the wires to the podium to move it further away from the Clerk’s desk.

Mr. Pearl joined the meeting and stated that the wiring could be extended at a minimal cost to move the podium over two to three feet. A cord cover could be placed over the wiring to prevent a tripping hazard. He commented that there have been discussions regarding making other improvements in the Chambers such as redoing the flooring as well as the lighting. There are issues regarding the way the ramp is set up in front of the work space opposite the Clerk’s desk which would be usable space for production of video streaming if it was implemented. He stated he would welcome direction from the Commission on what they would like to see happen in the Chambers. After further discussion, Mr. Pearl stated he will proceed with having the podium moved at this time by extending the wiring.

Commissioner Holden stated that the Town has been collecting Parks & Recreation impact fees for years and only some of these funds have been used for upgrading the children’s park at Guava Street. He suggested developing a park behind the community building for adults so that they could watch their children from a distance. He noted there is a rotten Water Oak in that area that should be removed.

Mayor Kussard stated that as a mother, she would rather be close to her children in the park, but she agreed something could be done in that area and any rotten trees should be removed. She stated a shaded area should be a factor.

Commissioner Holden stated that in the future, the Town should have more recreational areas since there are more apartment complexes proposed to be built in Town. He stated there are a lot of rentals in this area and the people need space to enjoy the outdoors.

Commissioner Holden suggested that perhaps a bandstand could be built in the park where the walking trail is being developed. He stated non-professionals could play music and people could bring their lawn chairs out and enjoy this on a weekend.

Mayor Kussard commented that she believed the Parks and Recreation Director is already considering something of this nature such as a gazebo. She agreed it is a good idea.

Commissioner Holden stated that the Town needs to have a grid pattern for the new streets being built in the new developments and suggested an ordinance be drafted to address this.

Commissioner Holden also stated he would like to reduce new multiple dwelling apartment buildings to two stories instead of what is allowed by ordinance at this time.

Commissioner Holden mentioned that he was told by someone that no permits are issued the same day they are applied for. He stated he feels staff in the Growth Management Department should be able to issue some permits the same day if this is not already occurring.

Commissioner Holden commented that he really likes the information provided by the weekly reports by the Town Manager.

Mr. Lawrence stated he appreciates the feedback on this. He stated he feels this is helping the Commission meetings run more smoothly as well.

Commissioner Holden stated that he believes that police officers should direct traffic during storms when traffic lights are out, as there were huge traffic jams during the last power outage. He suggested that the reserve police officers could direct traffic, although he was not sure if that was a problem on state highways.

Mr. Lawrence stated the Town can maintain traffic control even on state highways in their jurisdiction.

Commissioner Rietz asked if the traffic signals had battery packs for power outages. He asked if the Town maintains the traffic signals.

The Town Clerk noted that the Town does have traffic signal maintenance agreements with the state for some or all of the traffic signals in its jurisdiction.

Commissioner Holden noted that the Public Works Director mentioned at the last meeting that generators would be made available for traffic signals at major intersections.

Commissioner Holden stated that he is on the HOA board in his subdivision and there have been a couple of occasions where a resident passes away and the utilities are cut off when the bills are not paid. He stated there should be an ordinance that allows the Town to turn on the utilities for inspections, etc., in order for the property to be sold after it comes out of probate.

Mr. Lawrence stated he feels this should be able to be changed, although they may need to check with the Town Attorney.

Commissioner Holden stated a couple of people have complained to him that the library is not open on Saturday. He asked if it could be opened for at least four hours on Saturday.

Mayor Kussard stated that it was open on Saturdays in the past and very few patrons took advantage of this. That is why they extended hours in the evening instead.

Commissioner Rietz stated that earlier this year, there was a large number of utility customers facing water disconnect because they could not pay their bills. He asked if this has been resolved.

Mr. Lawrence replied that he has not been made aware of any problem with this, although he will check on it.

Mayor Kussard stated she would like to restrict public comments to either the beginning or the ending of the meeting. She stated she did some research, and out of 11 communities, six had public comment at the beginning, four that had public comment at the end, and only one had public comment at the beginning and the end. Mayor Kussard stated she would have liked to restrict public comment for Lady Lake residents only, but you cannot restrict it by law.

Commissioner Rietz and Commission Holden both agreed that public comment should be at the end of the meeting rather than the beginning.

Mayor Kussard stated she would rather have a digital countdown timer for public comment, which will be restricted to three minutes.

The Town Clerk stated that staff is looking into this. They need to find a timer that can be set for multiple three-minute sessions so there is no delay starting the timer between people making public comment.

This was discussed further, and it was agreed that staff will work on obtaining an electric timer for public comment.

Mayor Kussard stated a resident contacted her and asked when the Town will do some paving in front of the dog park and up to the Parks and Recreation building at the Rolling Acres Sports Complex. She stated it is in terrible shape with gravel, etc., up to the parking lot for the Parks building and it collects water during heavy rains. Mayor Kussard suggested using the same engineer to assess that property that was used for the driving range and the park off Old Dixie Highway, for a possible cost savings. She stated it would be nice to pave another walking path on the grassy area at the Rolling Acres Sports Complex as well.

Mayor Kussard stated that one of the Planning and Zoning board members brought up that the Town should be collecting more impact fees, and the Town should increase their road impact fees by the amount allowed by the Florida legislature, which is 12.5% per year. She stated the Town is way behind what others in the area are charging for impact fees. She stated the Town charges $761 versus $2,081 charged by those in the northeast section of this area.

Mayor Kussard stated she believes the Town should increase our minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. She stated 19 full-time and two part-time employees are currently making less than $15.00 an hour; of those, the lowest is at $12.02 per hour and the highest is at $14.67. She stated the paper stated this morning that Sumter County residents earned an average of $44,244 in annual private wages over the last five years.

Commissioner Holden stated this was discussed last year during budget time after the wage study came out, and the Commissioners did not agree to it because it would have cost an additional $63,000 in the budget.

Commissioner Holden asked whether the Town should contract out the grass mowing.

Mayor Kussard and Commissioner Rietz stated they would like to retain control and not have a middle man for this as the Public Works crews do a good job of maintaining the right of ways and picking up trash.

Mr. Lawrence stated he is finding this workshop valuable as it is giving him direction and bringing up the issues that are concerning to the Commissioners. He stated he wished the other two Commissioners were present.

Mr. Lawrence stated that he and the Parks and Recreation Director have talked about the area behind the community building. The Parks and Recreation Director has ordered picnic tables, but they need to decide which trees need to come out before they are placed.

Mr. Lawrence stated that he has had discussions with staff regarding pay issues. He stated that there were complaints about how the pay study was done and that some positions were labeled as “unskilled” labor. He noted that the Town is not alone in having trouble hiring and keeping employees. He stated he will simplify the report and bring this back for the Commission’s consideration. Mr. Lawrence stated he believes he was told that the cost of bringing everyone up to the $15.00 an hour wage is approximately $27,000.

The Commissioners agreed that the pay study was confusing. After further discussion, the Commissioners agreed they would like to see a simple and easier to understand report. It was the consensus of the Commissioners that they were in favor of revisiting the issue of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour; as the Town is having a recruiting problem with current starting wages. This will be discussed at the budget workshop and any changes made would be included in the upcoming budget.

Commissioner Holden commented that he liked the changes in the purchasing policies that were approved at the last Commission meeting. He stated these changes have been needed for the last ten or 15 years.

Mr. Lawrence stated that he planned on looking at how he could make the operation more efficient when he was hired. He stated the Town Clerk brought up the issue of updating the purchasing policy during his first week or two, and he agreed this was needed. He stated he appreciates the Commissioners’ vote on this.

The Commissioners and the Town Manager agreed that they felt this workshop accomplished a great deal and was worthwhile.

D. Adjourn

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:13 a.m.

Nancy Slaton, Town Clerk

Ruth Kussard, Mayor

Minutes transcribed by Nancy Slaton, Town Clerk