DEC. 11, 2018 HERNANDO BOCC MEEETING- Commissioner Jeff Holcomb began board comments congratulating those involved with the Christmas tree lighting service. Holcomb recalled interacting with area residents and how special the event was.
On a less cheerful note, he brought up the financial struggles of the County Government, saying, “On November 15th (2016), the BOCC voted to extend the County Administrator’s contract for four years. Last year, we went through a very painful process trying to close a $4-million gap … we’re going to be struggling with this for the next years to come. I would like to ask this board for a consensus to review that contract on the December 18th meeting.”
Commissioner Wayne Dukes and Chairman Steve Champion are opposed to this review, with Champion saying, “I think Len’s doing a good job for us.”
Commissioner Jon Mitten asked, “Is the purpose for the review to look at overall performance, or is it to parse economic development and administration?”
“Anything can be brought up in my opinion,” Holcomb answered.
Commissioner John Allocco added, “I’m going to be honest, the dollar amounts are probably not where they should be. We have a Deputy Administrator who’s doing a ton of work … I don’t see the problem with going over it and the dollar amounts and seeing if they match up to economic development and administration. We’re in some tight times here. Next week, you’re going to find out some really challenging information when we go over our budget.”
Mitten said, “I would be in favor of reviewing any cost-cutting mechanism we can. But I think if you’re going to look at administration, you’re going to have to look at that union contract and the negotiations that are ongoing there. The cost of government is systemically increasing and whether it’s on an administrative level, or it’s at step increases with COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), there is just a lot involved in how we go about things…”
He gave some examples of necessary expenses, and then said, “I’m okay with talking, and looking and reviewing … but I think we can’t just stop and single out one person. I think it has to be looked at strategically as the whole … especially when you have five, four or three people who refuse to increase millage and funding, or fees and funding. At some point, you either cut here, or you cut there.”
Champion said, “Unless we have cause to bring up this man’s contract, we made a deal with him, and we agreed to execute this four years (term) … unless you think there’s just cause for some action, I don’t think it’s fair to say ‘We agreed to your contract, but let’s just change it now.’”
Dukes reiterated what Mitten had said, “If we’re going to look at cost-cutting, we need to look at all departments … no one can be held harmless.”
Champion said that he will not vote for a millage increase at the December 18, 2018 meeting. “That means cut across the board. If it’s 10%, then it’s 10%, and that means for everybody.”
Commissioner John Mitten and Commissioner Wayne Dukes had no further comments.
Commissioner John Allocco reported that Boating in Florida, which launches kayaks at the Weeki Wachee headspring has instituted a “no disposables” policy. Allocco stated that “With the money that’s going to be spent to rehab (the Weeki Wachee), even though we’ve been very shy to add ordinances, I think it’s something we should consider as a board, to implement a Non-Disposables policy from the headspring … down to Roger’s Park. This way, it wouldn’t affect people who are going out to the Gulf, but it does affect the most sensitive portion of the river.”
Chairman Steve Champion commented that he is looking forward to the rollout of the garbage cans to be used with Republic’s automated trucks. He also reported receiving better reports regarding Republic’s performance.
County Administrator Leonard Sossamon Informed the Board and public that the following meeting would be held the following week, on December 18, 2018, rather after than the usual two-week interval.
Deputy County Administrator Jeffrey Rogers congratulated the Parks and Recreations department on positive reviews on their Christmas floats in the Christmas parade.
Rogers also commended Deputy Chief Kevin Carroll and his staff at Fire Station 4 for setting up temporary housing until the mold situation can be remedied.
Rogers thanked Rebecca Garrett and others at the Planning Department for her coordination of complex development projects.
All Dec. 11, 2018 meeting coverage here: