Commission Meeting Minutes
Minutes of the February 16, 2023 Commission Workshop
The Workshop of the Lady Lake Town Commission was held in the Commission Chambers at Lady Lake Town Hall, 409 Fennell Blvd., Lady Lake, Florida, with Mayor Jim Rietz presiding. The meeting convened at 4:00 pm.
Call to Order
Mayor Jim Rietz
Bill Lawrence, Town Manager; Mike Burske, Parks & Recreation Director; Aly Herman, Library Director; Julia Harris, Executive Assistant; Nancy Wilson, Town Clerk
Discussion regarding the Community Building and library meeting room rentals
At the January 16th Commission meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Burske said that he, the Library Director, and the Town Clerk modified the existing ordinance related to the Library and Community Building facility rentals. This change resulted from discussion at the December 5, 2022 Commission meeting where Lori Blum from the Orange Blossom Lion’s Club, asked to be given exempt status from rental fees when using the Community Building and library meeting rooms. The Commission voted to grant exempt status to organizations that provide a service to the town which includes the Lion’s Club, the Kiwanis Club and the Supervisor of Elections. All other groups would be given 30 days’ notice that their exempt or partially exempt status is being revoked. Other housekeeping changes were made along with new four hour minimum rental blocks on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Commission voted to approve the changes on first reading.
At the February 6th Commission meeting, the second reading of Ordinance 2023-01 was presented. Commissioner Kussard said the Lady Lake Garden Club does a lot for the Town and she would like them to be granted exempt status because charging them a rental fee would pose a hardship.
Conversation ensued about how to move forward. Mayor Rietz wanted to eliminate the need to rewrite an ordinance each time a group was added or removed from the exempt list. He agreed that those who do a lot for the Town should be granted exempted status, but everybody should have to submit an application for Commission review.
Commissioner Hannan said that the Commission should review the list of all groups who use the Community Building and determine who deserves to use it without being charged. He suggested scheduling a workshop.
Commissioner Gourlie suggested that the Garden Club be added to the list of exempt organizations and to then entertain other exemptions by having them present their benefit to the community at a Town Commission meeting.
Town Manager Lawrence said that upkeep for the Community Building is budgeted at $25,000 and the Town is only offsetting that by $12,000. Change is difficult but we are operating at a loss with fees that are the lowest in the region. The taxpayers are subsidizing those who pay little or nothing to use our facilities.
Commissioner Freeman and Commissioner Hannan said that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) saves lives and that they provide a valuable service that warrants exempt status. The issue with the Sunday AA meetings utilizing the space is that Sunday evenings are in high demand for full paying customers plus there is a four-hour minimum.
After several motions died for lack of a second, the Commission voted 4-1 (Kussard dissenting) to add verbiage suggested by the Town Attorney which was to approve the ordinance by removing all references to individual groups and adding more generic language (“Any group may obtain exempt status if approved by a majority vote of the Town Commission at a regular meeting.”)
Following the February 6th meeting, it was decided that a workshop would be held on February 16th. Much of the same discussion from the previous meetings continued. At this meeting, there was a representative from AA who asked to speak.
Mike Sage - 1144 W. Boone Ct.
Mr. Sage was there to speak on behalf of the AA group that meets on Sunday nights and have been doing so for over 40 years. They are in the building from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Everybody knows that AA meetings are held on Sunday nights on Guava Street and on other nights, the meetings are held at other locations. He argued that the revenue that could potentially be lost by not having full paying renters does not amount to that much. AA saves lives and makes people productive members of the community. In addition, more than half of the Sunday night AA members live in Lady Lake.
AA was discussed and there was no argument about the many benefits that AA meetings provide. The argument was about renting the Community Building to a group being charged a reduced fee on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday for under four hours.
In the end, the Commission consented to removing from the ordinance all references to individual groups or organizations; continuing to rent the Community Building and Library as they have in the past for those not asking for reduced fees; and, presenting applications to the Town Commission from all groups or organizations requesting exempt or partially exempt status to determine if a waiver is justified. For those granted fee exemptions, a deposit will still be required. The Town Commission will have the final say in approving or denying applications.
There were no comments from the public.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:13 p.m..
Nancy Wilson, Town Clerk
Jim Rietz, Mayor