July 5, 2016 City Council Meeting Synopsis and Video Link

With big ticket issues to discuss, like $273,000 for police software and the hiring of a new manager, the city council and the public settled in for a long meeting night.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and a moment of silence, the meeting opened with several members of the public addressing the city council.

Mr. Jim Murray spoke about a recent article in the local media on Mount Dora’s crime statistics and explained that residents need to the numbers related within it in perspective, given the city’s overall low crime rate.

Liz Wincup, Chairperson of the city’s Public Arts Commission, spoke about the city’s public arts ordinance.  She read a letter to the council from the board that expressed concern about the council’s March 1 decision to de-fund the commission.  She provided information on funding public arts, as it is done in other cities, for the council to review.  She provided a request from the commission, asking for funding in the upcoming fiscal year.

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Mr. Waddell of Grandview Street is unhappy with code enforcement, wants the police to have more power for enforcement

Mr. Waddell spoke on code enforcement.  He expressed dissatisfaction with the current status of code enforcement.  He complained that code enforcement needs to be more legally empowered to deal with code infractions.  He wants registered letters sent to violators rather than a current practice of leaving information on the door.  He explained again that he is dissatisfied with the current efforts of code enforcement.

Mr. Don Stuart of Visit Mount Dora spoke about the success of “For the Bible Tells Me So.”  He said that based in part upon the success of that event, Visit Mount Dora will be bringing the Global Peace Film Festival to Mount Dora, which will be a prestigious event for Mount Dora to host.

As the council moved on to the approval of its minutes, Mr. Slaby spoke up and expressed his desire to change the previous minutes as they related conversation relative to Ordinance 2016-04.  He felt, in keeping with the policy on action minutes, the conversation should not be included.  The mayor expressed that he felt conversation surrounding ordinances should be included in the minutes so people understood why the council voted for ordinances.  In the end, no change was made.  Mayor Girone said he and Mr. Leinbach and Ms. Johns would get together and discuss future modification of how minutes are kept.  Mr. Slaby questioned whether it was appropriate to keep actions that happened prior to the start of the meeting within the council minutes.  Mr. Girone said that it was.  Council unanimously approved the minutes from June 21 as written.

PRESESNTATIONS:

City Manager Kim Leinbach opened a presentation for the council on new software for the police department.  Lt. Hunter offered a powerpoint presentation to the council on the department’s need to upgrade their 20-year old reporting/analysis/operating software.  The system proposed is $273,000.  Johnna Shamblin, the IT Manager and Mike Sheppard, the Finance Director spoke of their dissatisfaction with the current system and the review that had been done on the proposed new system.  Chief O’Grady spoke of the due diligence the MDPD and other city departments had done to try to work with the old system, but the disadvantages it presented far outweighed the cost of the proposed Spillman Technologies software being proposed.

Lt. Coy Hunter presents council with information on Spillman Technologies software, Chief John O'Grady is seated in the background.
Lt. Coy Hunter presents council with information on Spillman Technologies software, Chief John O’Grady is seated in the background.

After the presentation, residents Eric Clark and Susie Waddell came to the podium to encourage council to approve the purchase of the new software, which will be funded from discretionary sales tax funds.

Council unanimously approved the purchase, to audience applause.  Lt. Hunter said it will take from 6 months to a year to negotiate, install, and train staff on the new software.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

There was a final reading and adoption of Ordinance 2016-04, which is a planned amendment to the land development code as it pertains to the city’s Employment Center Zoning District.  The ordinance allows limited multi-family uses as a conditional use permitted within the PUD, prohibits single-family sues and allows hospitals. (The council approved the ordinance on first reading at their June 21 meeting.)  The ordinance was unanimously approved.

The next 3 ordinances, 2016-05, 2016-06, and 2016-07 pertain to the Mount Dora pension plans and boards for general employees, the police and fire department.

Charles Revell, Chairman of the General Employees Pension Fund requested that the term of service for members of that board be extended to four years, from two years, as they are having a hard time filling seats on the board.  Other changes proposed were to comply with changes to IRS law and according to actuaries, would have no financial impact on the city.

Mr Revell noted that there are currently only 58 employees in the general employee pension program and the number is diminishing.  He is asked that the required makeup of the board be broadened to allow for service from retirees, in place of the requirement for employees.  As to the request to extend the term from two years to four years, Revell said, “It makes it difficult to have consistency and longevity on the board.  Also, this is not a short-term gig, it takes a while to understand the finances and mechanics of pensions.”  He went on to explain the mandated training schedule did not correspond well with the board appointment schedule.

Cal Rolfson voiced support for all changes.  The vote to support was unanimous for all three ordinance readings.

RESOLUTIONS:

With council approval of the police department’s request for software upgrades, it was then necessary for the council to adopt a resolution to amend the current year’s budget, so it would comply with the approved expenditures.

Resolution 2016-17 to approve the amended budget to reflect the $273,000 purchase was approved unanimously.

Mark Slaby asked how this item would be funded if the discretionary sales tax fund was not available.  Mr. Sheppard responded that it would be funded through the general fund.  Mr. Slaby wants to see all of these things on the 5-year plan.

The City Clerk, Council Members, City Manager and City Attorney at the July 5 meeting
The City Clerk, Council Members, City Manager and City Attorney at the July 5 meeting

Resolution 2016-25, relative to the Fire Assessment Fee was the next item.  This resolution sets the assessment and provides for its purpose and defines terms within the fee program.  It makes clear that the previously approved fee will begin October 1 and for the upcoming fiscal year and will continue until it sunsets in 2018 or is otherwise discontinued.

Mr. Rowlett said he had no issue with funding the fire engines but he did not like the word fee. He said “people are smarter than that” and that it should be stated as a “tax.”  Mr. Rolfson said the only reason for the re-read of the previously approved fee was to advertise it to any new property owners, that this was not a new resolution.  It was explained to Mr. Rowlett that this was not a renewal of the fee, so much as an advertisement of a previously approved fee.

Mark Slaby agreed with Mr. Rowlett.  He asked if there might be a way to sunset the law early and look to another funding method.  Mr. Slaby wants the issue reviewed.  It was again explained that this was not a new fee, but a requirement to notify the public of the current process.

Mr. Rolfson said he was not interested in re-visiting the issue until the end of the agreed-upon three year period.  Mr. Crail agreed.  Laurie Tillett said she did not have enough data to decide whether the fee should be subsetted prior to 2018, but she thought it would be good to, “get smart on it,” prior to that time.

Mayor Girone cut off the conversation about reviewing the fee itself and directed council back to the issue at hand.

Ms. Tillett directed the conversation back to the fee and its collection schedule.

The council voted and the resolution was approved 6-1, with Mr. Rowlett dissenting.

PROCLAMATIONS:

The mayor read a proclamation for Parks and Recreation Month, July.  Girone then congratulated city staff on their performance over the holiday weekend.

OLD BUSINESS

Cal Rolfson proposed alternative ethics seminar for the council, which could be done at a previously scheduled session in Eustis in August.  The council had planned to pay legal council to do a seminar July 8.  The cost is only $15 in Eustis.  Council discussed and agreed not to pay Mr. Groot for that service and meeting.  Mr. Groot says that it is a good idea, but he still wants to hold a training session with council at a future date.  Council agreed to postpone it, but Ms. Tillett was still interested in meeting on Friday.  Mr. Groot did say the council needed training on the quasi-judicial functions of the council, that they will face in the future.

Council unanimously agreed to cancel the July 8 meeting.

NEW BUSINESS

The next item up for discussion was the staff memorandum regarding the proposed millage rate for fiscal year 2016-17 and establishing a budget review and adoption schedule.  Staff proposed advertising the maximum potential millage rate at the current 5.997 rate, explaining that could always be lowered once advertised, but not raised.

The mayor said he didn’t want to advertise anything until the council had a budget in front of them.  Mr. Sheppard explained that all he was looking for was the advertisement of a maximum rate, so that there would be agreement about the figures upon which the budget council would review were based.  “This is just to give notice of the dates,” he said.  The mayor preferred that come up for discussion on July 19.  Mr. Leinbach explained that, in his experience this type of request and maximum millage rate advertisement was typical, but said although it would compact the schedule under which the statutes require budgetary advertising and hearings, he would comply with council’s wishes.  Further complicating the issue, the finance director will be on vacation at the July 19 meeting.

Mr. Leinbach cautioned that the council be aware, once advertised, the rate could be lowered but not raised.

Mr. Slaby said that although 5.997 might seem reasonable, “In our collective wisdom, we may want to spend more than that.”  He wondered if the rate might need to be advertised a little higher in such case.

The mayor asked that the issue be tabled.  He felt there was plenty of time to address any questions the council would have.

Mr. Rolfson asked if the delay would present any administrative “crunches.”  Mr. Leinbach said the council would need to address the issue of the millage rate by the end of July.

The mayor insisted that the council could use a workshop later on to take any action they chose.  Mr. Groot mentioned that the usual process would be to take action at a meeting rather than a workshop, but council could do as it pleased.  There was some discussion over the scheduling of budget workshops and scheduling.

After considerable exchange about scheduling, the council unanimously chose to meet on July 28 to vote on the tentative millage rate.

CITY ATTORNEY UPDATE:

As to Attorney Lonnie Groot’s suggestion that the council consider changing the City Clerk position currently held by Ms. Johns, Mr. Roflson said he had no interest in reviewing that option at this time.  He pointed out that the city had just held a charter review last year, that a member of the council (Mr. Slaby) had sat on that board and that no one was interested in that until it was introduced and the idea disseminated via emails to council through Mr. Groot.

After considerable discussion, no action was taken on the subject.

A request for an Executive Session to discuss Medallion Home, LLC v. The City of Mount Dora, was proposed.  The council will meet behind closed doors on July 12 at 5:00 pm.

CITY MANAGER UPDATE:

Land Acquisition Policy: Mr. Leinbach had distributed a policy to council prior to the meeting, and asked their direction.  It was decided the policy would be added to another agenda.  Based upon emails between the attorney and the public works department it was decided to update it.  It was decided that it should be delayed for discussion on the next agenda.

John Peters, Public Works Director, announced that Mr. Pastue had discovered a grant opportunity to match city funds of $50,000 with a grant of $30,000 to do a tree inventory on public property, establish a tree committee of some type, and to have a certified arborist to enhance the city’s tree ordinance.  The application included information about public reaction to the loss of downtown trees.  Mr. Rolfson complimented staff on their efforts to seek the grant.

On Saturday, July 9, beginning at 8:30 am there will be a council goal setting session, which will last all day.

At this point there was a brief adjournment.

Council reconvened and discussed an amendment to Mr. Pastue’s employment agreement in light of him securing another position.

The mayor mentioned that the closure of parking places in downtown that lasted from Friday until Monday.  He asked why the signs were put up well in advance of any events occurring in downtown.  There was clearly confusion about how and why the parking was closed so early with no resolution reached.  The parks and recreation director, Roy Hughes said he didn’t have people to put the signs up over the weekend, but he would look into the issue.

Mr. Rolfson discussed the success of the parade and mentioned a complimentary conversation from a visitor who enjoy coming to Mount Dora for our Independence Day and Christmas celebrations.

Ms. Rich talked about the success of the trap, neuter, release program for feral cats and the positive results that are coming about from it.

Mr. Slaby expressed his eagerness to receive the budget from staff.  He also thanked the police department for a recent tout of their facilities and said he enjoyed the parade.  Mr. Slaby complimented Mr. Rolfson on his council service and said he believes he had no opposition because his district believes he does a good job.

Mayor Girone speaks with recruitment firm representative, Mr. Slavin, during a recess
Mayor Girone speaks with recruitment firm representative, Mr. Slavin, during a recess

UPDATE AND CONVERSATION ON CITY MANAGER CANDIDATES AND FINALISTS:

The consultant, Mr. Slavin addressed the council, explaining the national recruitment effort focused on Florida and the Southeast.  There were 66 applicants who responded, and there are actually a couple more now.  From the 66 applicants, there were about 20 who Slavin worked with further.  Slavin recommended council interview 5 people – 5 among the top 11 candidates, whose resumes he provided to council.  The council agreed, after rating the candidates individually to interview 5 people.  The consultant will do the appropriate background checks on 6 of the candidates, so that should one drop out, there will still be 5 individuals available for their interviews and consideration.

The weekend of July 29 the council will do individual interviews with the candidates, with a reception on the evening of July 30, which the public will be invited to attend.  Public, group  interviews will be held Saturday, July 30 before the reception.

The top six finalists, as rated by council members are:

  1. Albert Stonitsch of the Village of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  He is the current Assistant Village Manager.  The population of Glen Ellyn is 27,500.  He has been there since 2013.  Prior to that, Mr. Stonitsch worked for the Village of Glenview, Illinois in various assistant and director-level positions.  Current base salary $127, 878/yr.
  2. Mr. Robert Francis of Mid-Columbia Council of Governments.  He has been in this position since 2015.  He describes that position as: being responsible for a Board of Directors, and insight and direction to 100+ people in in providing services to 5 counties and 11 cities.  He also cites promoting business activities and advocating to provide resources to the underserved in rural Oregon.  Prior to this service he was the city manager in Fort Hood, Oregon from 2004-2015. Salary Requirements are $130,000-$140,000 range.
  3. Calvin Peck of the Village of Bald Head Island, North Carolina.  The population is 150, with a seasonal population of 8,000.  Mr. Peck has been in the position since 2006, but resigned in February of this year.  His most recent salary is $125,000.
  4. Robin Hayes of the City of Oviedo.  (The only Floridian in the group) The population of Oviedo is 38,000.  Ms. Hayes is the director of Management Services and Communications.  Her first reference listed is that of Mr. Lonnie Groot, the city attorney for Oviedo and Mount Dora.  She has held that position since 2012.  She lists in her credentials, “Providing leadership and direction to/for all aspects of the annual budget process and city-side Communication’s [sic], Strategic Development, Performance Measurement Program, Ten Year Capital Improvement Program an Economic Development programs, which includes the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) district.”  She has no City Manager experience, but was also the Finance Director in Winter Garden from 2006-2012.  Her salary is currently $96,675.
  5. Steve L. Garman of the City of Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Mr. Garman was the City Administrator.  The population is 9,750 with a seasonal spike to 60,000 residents.  He was there between 2008 and 2013.  Prior positions include City Manager of Decatur, Illinois, population of 80,000 from 199-2008; and consulting in the private sector from 1985-1999. He currently makes $120,000 plus a car allowance of $500.
  6. David Niemeyer of the Village of Tinley Park, Illinois.  He is the village manager of the city, which has a population of 57,000.  Niemeyer has been there since 2014.  Prior to that position he was employed by the Village of Oak Brook, Illinois, population 7,900 from 2007-2014.  His present salary is $178,000. (Alternate candidate, the recruitment firm will do appropriate background checks, but he will only be interviewed if one of the other five candidates under consideration is withdrawn.)

After agreeing upon the finalists, and an interview strategy, the meeting was adjourned for the evening at 9:25 pm.

Melissa DeMarco, Editor (editor@mountdoracitizen.com)