Hernando County Commission Meeting Run Down (part 1)

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Hernando County Commission Meeting Run Down (part 1)

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 10:52
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Notes from the first half of the Oct. 9, 2018 meeting.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

An agenda item was added proclaiming a State of Emergency in the county due to the uncertainty of Hurricane Michael’s track at the time of the meeting.   Emergency Operations Director Cecilia Patella reminded the board that even a 5-foot storm surge (as Hurricane Hermine caused in 2016) resulted in significant flooding along costal Hernando County, from Bayport to Aripeka.  The proclamation was also added to Correspondence to Note.

Commissioner John Allocco expressed concern over the public hearing regarding the  Resolution Adopting Civil Penalty Schedule for Violations of Animal Services Department Feline Trap-Neuter-Return Program (item J7 on the agenda).  Alloco reported that the resolution contained increases in civil penalties pertaining mostly to dogs, and that nothing in the resolution had anything to do with the Feline Trap-Neuter-Return Program.  As a result, anyone only reading the agenda item would be misinformed as to the objective of the resolution.

The item was pulled from the agenda, and the board estimates a revision of the agenda title and notice will be added to the agenda on October 23, 2018.

PRESENTATION OF RESOLUTIONS

1.    Resolution Proclaiming October 14, 2018, Through October 20, 2018, as Mediation Week
2.    Resolution Proclaiming October 15, 2018 as White Cane Awareness Day
3.    Resolution Proclaiming October 17, 2018 as Chamber of Commerce Day
4.    Resolution Proclaiming October 2018 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month
5.    Resolution Proclaiming October 2018 as Dyslexia Awareness Month
6.    Resolution Proclaiming October 2018 as Head Start Awareness Month

Citizen Comments

Please be aware that this is not necessarily a complete list of citizen comments.

Elimination of term limits on volunteer members of boards/ committees

Jimmy “Sarge” Dendy of Hernando Beach addressed the board regarding the elimination of term limits for volunteer board and committee members.   Dendy said the elimination of the current term limitation of two years would be most important to the Port Authority, since a Port Authority project can possibly last longer.  Someone beginning a project “may or may not be there to finish the project”
Dendy went on to mention the potential formation of Airport Board, and that term limits could affect its efficacy as well.

Board/Staff Responses:

Some discussion was held regarding Dendy’s query on the possibility of eliminating term limits for volunteer board members.  The BOCC is capable of rescinding this policy.  

BOCC Chairman Steve Champion reminded the board that volunteer board members are hard to find.  So far, the Airport Advisory Board has two applicants. 

Commissioner John Mitten said, “A best practice on boards is a term limit … an old adage is ‘The best way to solve a problem is don’t hire it’, or don’t let it get on the board. The only thing worse than a big problem is a perpetual big problem.  I think there’s a safety with term limits … and so, I think that’s a good thing.”

Commissioner John Allocco said he is also a fan of term limits for several reasons.  “One of them being, that over time, I think lack of term limits … creates apathy in the community.  Because new leaders decide not to apply for positions or attempt to run for positions because they think there is no opportunity for them.”

Allocco however agrees that a member leaving a board due to term limits should be allowed to re-join the board after a term, or continue if a suitable replacement cannot be found. 

No full time Deed Processor at Property Appraiser's Office

Kristie L. Compton, worked at the Hernando County Property Appraiser’s Office from 2002 until she resigned last September.   Compton described the workflow of the Property Appraiser’s office:

“After a deed is recorded at the clerk of the circuit court recording division, the property appraiser’s offices in that county works the deed, and puts the property in the names of the new owners.  So the new owners receive their tax notices and their tax bills.  Per Florida Statute 193.114 Section N, the property appraiser’s office has to update the tax roll within three months after the date the deed is recorded.  Sumter County has two full-time deed processors, and they are one week out from the date deeds get recorded at their clerk’s office.  Pasco County has four full-time deed processors, and they are processing those recorded deeds the next day after the deed gets recorded.   Citrus County has four full-time deed processors, and they are generally three to four weeks out from the date the deeds get recorded. 

“Hernando County has no full-time deed processors in the public service department.  They had a lady who worked there for twenty-four years… in August 2018, she left.  While she was the main deed processor, she also had to go out to the front counter and take exemption applications, and help with walk-in customers and take phone calls. 

“When the main deed processor left, we were three months behind, with four of us working deeds part-time and none of us doing it full-time. 

“Chief Deputy Manuel Pedron is the supervisor of the Public Service and Exemptions Department, and is over Deed Processing.  In July, when the file was sent to print the TRIM and tax notices, there were many owners who had purchased property in April, May, June and July who did not get their tax notices… their deeds were not processed.

“It’s now October and the Property Appraiser’s office is still running over three months behind, which means all of the owners who purchased property, but whose deeds have not been processed will not get their tax bills in November.
“Not getting tax notices and tax bills is not fair to the public. 

“When John Emerson ran for Property Appraiser, he ran on the platform that he would eliminate the position of chief deputy. Which was the position he held before he was elected.   He became the Property Appraiser for Hernando County in 2013, and he now has two Chief Deputies, but no full-time Deed Processor.

“Multitasking has been scientifically demonstrated to be ineffective.”

Board/Staff Responses:

BOCC Chairman Steve Champion replied to Kristie Compton:  “(Emerson) is a constitutionally elected officer, he does not report to us.

Is using personal email for county business normal?

Bill Loomis addressed Commissioner Wayne Dukes directly, saying “Is it normal for you to use your own email, ‘yahoo.com’ when communicating with the other commissioners and citizens about government subjects?”

Board/Staff Responses:

County Attorney Garth Coller addressed Bill Loomis’ concerns by saying “It’s not prohibited. A different email (address) is not prohibited, but the document is still a public record.” 
Later in the meeting, Commissioner Wayne Dukes stated, “I use both (email addresses) because I don’t want to miss anything.  I give anybody who asks, my personal cell phone number, so you can call me 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Lodato thanks Commissioners for SROs and assisting in medical emergency

School Board Candidate Jimmy Lodato thanked the board for their efforts to help the school district.  “The fact that you stepped up… when we need the SROs (School Resource Officers).  The fact that you stepped up to help us with the funding we needed for our Crossing Guards and SROs, and I know it was a deep situation where you went into your reserves.   As a citizen of this county, I want to thank you for the cooperation that you’ve given us, and the fact that we have come together as a community, like we’ve never come together before.”

Lodato spoke of attending a recent African-American gathering, focusing on community cooperation, and said, “... They asked all the races, all the candidates to come forward and to speak at this community gathering.  It was a real heartfelt situation where they wanted everyone involved in the process of electing their officials.”

During the gathering, there was an attendee who faced a life-threatening medical emergency.  Commissioners Jeff Holcomb and Wayne Dukes along with Commissioner John Allocco,  a Physical Therapist, and his wife, Randi, a nurse assisted the gentleman until Paramedics arrived.

Lodato ended with “Thank you!”

Port Authority denies her dock and approves red zone along perimeter channel of Hernado Beach

Sarah Hill of Hernando Beach spoke at the podium about creation of new dock criteria by the Hernando County Port Authority.   Hill went on to say that the members of the Port Authority “have misquoted not only their own design criteria, but quoted non-existent state… federal guidelines in which they have tried to say… my proposed dock is a navigational hazard.” She continued,

“One member made meetings with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to dispute the types of permits that the DEP was issuing, and tried to get the DEP and Corps to say that docks were a navigational hazard along the perimeter channel.   

“After my DEP permit was issued, one Port Authority member who is also a Coast Guard Auxiliary member, sent a letter to the DEP quoting US Coast Guard criteria, saying my dock was a navigational hazard. 

“Just before this Coast Guard Auxiliary letter went out, the Port Authority decided to vote against the docks along the perimeter channel because it didn’t meet current county criteria.

"Before the vote, the Port Authority wouldn’t give me my three minutes to explain that in all of my previous meetings, certain Port Authority members were reading their own criteria incorrectly, which I confirmed with Waterways.  I was able to modify my final dock layout to take into account the correct county guidelines, that was also approved by the DEP and submitted to the county for permitting.  

"After a 3-2 vote, the Port Authority voted to deny my dock, and they voted to establish new rules and invent a ‘red zone’ area along the perimeter channel of Hernando Beach.

"Since they couldn’t get the DEP corps or even the US Coast Guard to say that docks along the perimeter channel were a navigational hazard (because they were within 20 feet of a channel), the county would now be adopting this 20-foot criteria as their own criteria.

"After the Port Authority meeting, I used my seventeen years of engineering experience to complete a preliminary analysis of the new design criteria.  My analysis showed that it would affect 39 property owners, would eliminate docks along the perimeter channel for at least 15 property owners, and more if they encountered constructability issues. 

"While the current county criteria works fine in the red-zone, it is more stringent than the state and federal guidelines that are already in place.  It wouldn’t allow for docks to be placed inside a marked channel when the channel is offset from a seawall. 

"Currently, I’ve gone over and above ... in having to verify everything Port Authority claimed to be true …”

Board/Staff Responses:

Commissioner Wayne Dukes is the BOCC’s liaison to the Port Authority.  Addressing Sarah Hill’s issues, he said, “Over the course of (Port Authority) meetings, (Hill) was able to change the design, and then, of course, we didn’t really have rules for it.  We’ve never had them for the outside canals, and the rules for the inside canals didn’t really apply.”

Dukes said that the legal department has become involved, and at some point, the BOCC needs to make an agenda item with presentations so the board can make a decision. 

BOCC Chairman Steve Champion added, “As much as we have given praise to some of the Port Authority, I was concerned when they’re creating more stringent regulation, and not giving Ms. Hill a chance, her three minutes … and that’s why I have a problem with it.”

Champion noted the amount of time it has taken Hill in meetings with the Port Authority, and said, “I think citizens should be able to bypass all that.  (The BOCC) is the only one that can make the decision … I think there should be something like a ‘speedy trial,’ but a speedy process to get something done. So, if she wants to bypass that whole thing and come here, she should be able to do it.” 

Commissioner John Allocco said he had reservations about putting policies in place that would “significantly devalue property.”  Allocco said “I would think that the value of that property would have been very different had it been clear that you would not be able to put a dock there.”

Commissioner John Mitten spoke on the side of less regulation as well, and is interested in hearing both sides of the story.  Mitten also said, “Government is here to keep people safe, and to keep things in order.  Sometimes that looks ugly, and it takes a long time.  If we fast-track it, we have to be very sure about it.”

CORRESPONDENCE TO NOTE

1.    Letter From Pasco County Fire Rescue Expressing Appreciation for Assistance Provided by Hernando County Fire Rescue on August 23, 2018

Pasco County Fire Chief Scott Cassin sent a personal letter of gratitude to Hernando County Fire Chief Scott Hechler for his departments’ support and assistance given to Pasco County Firefighter Jason Tucker and his wife, Wendy.  The Tuckers lost their 17-year old daughter in an automobile accident in Hernando County on August 23, 2018. 

2.    Notification of Peer Review Conducted by Pinellas County Clerk of Court, Office of Inspector General of Hernando Clerk of Court Audit Services Department

The Hernando County Clerk’s Office requested and independent peer-review of their Audit Services Department.  The review was performed by the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Division of Inspector General.  The review covered four years, from January 1, 2013 through September 30, 2017.

The decision of the Pinellas county reviewers stated, “It is the unanimous conclusion of the PRT that your office met relevant standards for the period under review. There are no qualifications on our opinion.”

3.    Transmittal From City of Brooksville of Ordinance No. 892 Authorizing Voluntary Annexation of Real Property Into Municipal Boundaries

This is about a private property currently owned by AN Motors of Brooksville.
 It is adjacent to the current boundary of the City of Brooksville.  Once approved, it will be incorporated into the city.  The long legal description can best be summarized as; an irregularly-shaped plat slightly south of Wiscon road on the the east side / Northbound side of Broad Street. 

4.    Transmittal of FY 2018-19 Meeting Schedule for Spring Ridge Community Development District

In accordance with Chapter 189, Florida Statutes, Community Development Districts (CDDs)
business is conducted in the “Sunshine,” which means all meetings and records are open to the public. Public hearings are held on CDD assessments, and the CDD’s budget is subject to annual independent audit.  More information on CDDs can be found here:  http://tampabayhousefinder.com/cdd.htm

5.    Transmittal of Southwest Florida Water Management District FY 2019 Meeting Schedule and Boundaries Map

The county received a letter from the Southwest Florida Water Management District
(SWFWMD) transmitting the District's FY 2019 schedule of meetings and a map depicting the District's boundaries.  The information is submitted in accordance with the requirements of Section 189.417, Florida Statutes.

6.  Added to Correspondence to Note was the proclamation of State of Emergency for Hernando County until Hurricane Michael posed no threat to the county. 
 

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