Commission Meeting Minutes
Draft Minutes of the February 28, 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; Thad Carroll, Growth Management Director; C.T. Eagle, Public Works Director; Mike Burske, Parks & Recreation Director; Aly Herman, Library Director; Nancy Wilson, Town Clerk
Presentation by Dickerson Architects regarding library renovations.
Judd Dickerson from Dickerson Architects presented the proposals for the first and second floor of the library. The Growth Management (GM) offices will be located on the first floor where the children’s library is currently located. The plans showed GM offices, storage, break rooms, an open area for the public and meeting areas. Also, on the first floor will be three additional offices for the library. Restrooms will be renovated on both floors to meet ADA standards.
The children’s library will be relocated to the second floor and the proposal includes enclosing the balcony to create a new meeting room at a cost of approximately $90,000. To accommodate the new children’s area, the two large meeting rooms will be combined and the restroom locations will be reworked to be more secure for children. There is a room for volunteers, a computer area and a new layout for secure entrances. The IT department will consist of three offices and storage. The large meeting room will stay intact and a corridor will run alongside it.
The first option is broken down as follows:
- Growth Management – 1st floor - $326,454.
- Library – 1st floor - $49,090
- Children’s Library – 2nd floor – $777,360
- IT – 2nd floor - $141,200
- Balcony Enclosure – $90,555
The total estimated budget for the first option would cost approximately $1.8 million. Without the meeting rooms, the total is $1.4 million.
With the second option, most everything stays the same except for the relocation of entry doors that would create a more welcoming two-story entrance to the children’s library. The entry points would provide more secure entries. This second option would add $911,100 to option one with a new total of about $2.8 million.
Commissioner Hannan asked Town Manager Lawrence if what kicked off the entire library plan was that Growth Management was going to construct a new building. The Town Manager answered in the affirmative. There is $1.5 million in the budget now for the buildout of Growth Management. The previous budget was expended on design. With costs continuing to increase, an entirely new building would simply be too expensive, so the library project was born. If the Commission chooses to approve one of the options, three departments will improve their office space instead of just one. The project would be funded over two fiscal years.
Commissioner Hannan said the plans are beautiful but are all the changes necessary? He agrees that Growth Management should move to the first floor of the library, but the other renovations are very costly.
Commissioner Kussard said that when the library was built, it was built with future expansion in mind. Growth Management and the children’s library are being squeezed out of their current spaces and have run out of room. If the proposed changes are made, those in Town Hall would also have more room. However, she is concerned about the cost of the project.
Commissioner Gourlie likes the idea of changing the entrance and likes the open design. The new entry makes more sense. Mr. Dickerson used his architectural renderings to show the locations of the entry doors and how they would be accessed. Commissioner Gourlie asked what the corridor would be used for that is located alongside one of the meeting rooms. Mr. Dickerson responded that it would be used mainly for staff. Discussing entrances again, it was clarified that from the new entrance (in the $2.8 million option) only the children’s library could be accessed. Adults using the meeting room on the second floor would use the entrance on the opposite end of the building. Commissioner Gourlie commented that the parking area for the meeting room would empty out into the parking lot that has few spaces. He also did not like the plan to enclose the upstairs porch because it would cost an additional $100,000 and would only accommodate 12 people.
Mr. Dickerson confirmed that the west and north parking lots are connected and in response to a question asked by Commissioner Freeman, he said that all HVAC units will be salvaged for the children’s library.
Also responding to Commissioner Freeman, John Pearl said that the rooms with a lot of boxes and excess items will be taken care of by digitizing most of what is currently in boxes and by disposing or selling at auction the other items.
Mayor Rietz asked about access to different locations on the second floor and floated the idea of a third elevator though that would cost an additional $100,000. He voiced concern about the safety of the balcony overlooking the first floor and queried how long the project would take. In response to build out time, Mr. Dickerson said it would be a phased approach starting with moving the children’s library to the second floor.
George Taylor – Director of the Office of Library Services for Lake County
Mr. Taylor said he has had a lot of conversations with Town Manager Lawrence and Library Director Herman about the expansion of Lady Lake’s library. He was present to discuss the library impact fee process and how the build out of the library could be funded.
The Lake County Library System currently has an impact fee trust fund. Currently, they take in about $1 million per year in impact fees from all over Lake County which can be used for capital expansion. Projects are usually phased in over a couple of years.
Regarding the process, there is a March 1st deadline though the County Commission voted to defer the impact fee trust fund for 2023. They are working with a consultant to help them change the approach for awarding impact fees. Every March, they will issue applications and once the County Attorney vets the submitted applications for legality and to determine if the money would be used for expansion rather than for addressing a deficiency. At this point, the applications will be forwarded to Mr. Taylor and he will work with his staff to evaluate the applications and make recommendations to the County Library Advisory Board who will vote on Mr. Taylor’s recommendations. They then make their recommendations to the Lake County Board of Commissioners for funding which happens in June or July. The library project has Mr. Taylor’s support. Once funding decisions have been made and interlocal agreement is signed, reimbursements can begin but only for projects beginning after the agreement is finalized and only for library specific projects. The process takes about four months.
Projects are currently limited to $500,000 per year with an unofficial cap of $1 million per project. FFE funding is on top of that. He is hoping for more funds and expanded availability. Also, there may be changes to the process and policies with possibly a larger window for reimbursements.
Town Manager Lawrence said we currently have $1.5 million available so we could do the project in phases. The first phase would be to move the children’s library upstairs followed by moving Growth Management to the space vacated by the children’s library. Regarding finances, the project will stretch over two fiscal periods.
Finance Director Winegardner said that at this time, the Town has $32 million in the bank. The General Fund brings in between $10-$12 million throughout the year; Special Revenue brings in around $1.5 million. Considering the Town’s ongoing projects and including Reserves, we should have $18-$20 million available: $7 million in Reserves, $4 million in committed assets; $2 million in surtaxes and $7 million in unrestricted fund money.
Commissioner Gourlie stated that if the Commission decides to move forward with one of the plans, the first move would be the children’s library for which we would not be reimbursed. Should we wait until 2024 before beginning the project?
Town Manager Lawrence is concerned about delaying the project due to ongoing cost increases. We would probably not even get started until late fall. Town facilities are tight and with an influx of possibly 7,000 people in the coming years we need more space.
Commissioner Freeman wants to move forward with the project.
Commissioner Kussard is concerned that the money would all come out of the Town coffers and not from Lake County.
In response to a question asked by Mayor Rietz, Mr. Dickerson commented that the estimates are just estimates and it is very hard to guess what the actual costs will be. Responses to RFP’s will show more concrete numbers and decisions will be made at that time.
There was Commission Consensus (5-0) to move forward with the second option laid out by Judd Dickerson costing $2.8 million.
There were no comments from the public.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:19 p.m..
Nancy Wilson, Town Clerk
Jim Rietz, Mayor