Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Bill Kemerer introduced Pastor David Clevenger of Grace Tabernacle Independent Baptist Church, then invited him to offer a prayer and to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Vice Mayor Joe Bernardini asked for the Great Brooksvillian Screening Committee Advisory Appointment to be moved up. Council member Robert Battista moved to approve the modified agenda. Council member Pat Brayton seconded the motion. The agenda was approved with a 5-0 vote.
Certificates and Proclamations
Recognition of Betty Erhard, 2018 Mayor – Kemerer presented the plaque of recognition to the former mayor. Kemerer handed the plaque to Erhard, who addressed the public. She thanked those who came to support her, saying that she could not have been as successful without them. “I do what I do because I love what I do. I care about Brooksville. I care about the people.”
Erhard said that her term was filled with challenges, including decisions about which departments to close and which to retain. They were decisions which strengthened the City, she said. Erhard said her goal is to continue to make sure that the taxpayers’ money is carefully spent. Before she finished speaking, she received a standing ovation from the audience and from the other council members.
Erhard invited all the members of the audience to be in the photograph with her. “You all inspire me,” she said. The council members then came down for a photograph before making statements to Erhard.
Bernardini – He agreed with Erhard’s assessment of her term, complimented her handling of council meetings.
Battista – He recounted his work history with Erhard as mayor/vice mayor and their first work assignments in the county attorney’s office. He told Erhard that she impressed him with her consistent conduct on the council and as mayor, saying, “You were a big part of what we were able to do.”
Brayton – Though he did not serve during Erhard’s term, he has followed her decisions as mayor, characterizing them as “well thought out and well handled.”
Kemerer, who nominated Erhard for both the position of vice mayor and then mayor, said of his selection, “I know I was right both times.” He said it was a pleasure to work with Erhard and because of all she accomplished during her term, she left big shoes for him to fill.
January: Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Brayton read the proclamation. Only two other states rank higher than Florida in calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The proclamation defined Human Trafficking and gave statistics about the most commonly found victims of the commercial sex trade – children between the ages of 11-15, from all neighborhoods and socioeconomic brackets. Some are runaways, and of those runaways who are sex trafficking victims, the statistic was very high – 86% were in foster care.
Human Trafficking is also found domestically in various forms. The proclamation listed several: “from domestic caregivers, nail salon manicurists, farm laborers to underage sex workers”. Locally, the Tri-County Human Trafficking Response Team works diligently with both private and public entities and with non-profit organizations so that victims can be rescued and restored, and the traffickers are prosecuted. Awareness and prevention are important components of this fight.
Janine Kell, Program Manager of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Hernando County, accepted the proclamation. She said she appreciates that the City recognizes Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Kell said that the County is developing an ordinance requiring an Asian massage parlor registry. There are human trafficking victims in Hernando County, she said, and the path to prosecute traffickers takes a long time.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Proclamation– Battista read the proclamation which detailed Dr. King’s leadership in the fight for equal rights for African Americans, and which led to the Civil Rights Act (1964). The Civil Rights Act prohibited segregation, unequal voter registration requirements and discrimination in many forms.
The City plans to honor Dr. King on 01/21/19 with a day of service, remembering his accomplishments and the way he still inspires people. Leechele Booker and Billy Healis, who are on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade committee, accepted the proclamation.
January: Cervical Health Awareness Month – Erhard read the proclamation. Cervical cancer is one of the forms of cancer that is often found in women over 30. It can be treated effectively if it is detected early through Pap tests and pelvic exams. Screenings and vaccines can prevent the disease. Premier Community HealthCare is one provider that screens women regardless of their ability to pay.
Aaron Brandt, CFO of Premier Community HealthCare Group, thanked the council for recognizing the importance of cervical health.
Enrichment Center parking lot hours of operation signs
Samantha Schillinger referred to the 12/03/18 meeting and the discussion of the parking lot at the Enrichment Center. The Enrichment Center was to post signs detailing the hours of operation, and a phone number for a towing company. Schillinger asked the council when they were going to hold the Enrichment Center accountable. Kemerer said the council only recommended that action and has no authority over the Enrichment Center. He said Schillinger should contact the Enrichment Center for their input.
Sheriff’s Office Patrols
Donna Morin asked if the City Manager or the council received a CAD report or detail of activity within the city. She said the promised patrols are not happening and referenced a call she made to the Sheriff’s Office asking for assistance when she saw a golf cart crossing US 41. She also felt there should be signs posted.
Brooksville Main Street 2018 Christmas events
Ryan Malloy, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street, thanked the city, county and volunteers for the work during the Christmas season which made it one of the most successful events. The weather prevented some activities from happening but said attendance at the tree lighting and Kiwanis-sponsored Christmas parade exceeded their goals. Kemerer thanked Malloy, saying, “I think the city and the county owe you a great debt of gratitude for what you did.” The audience and council members applauded Malloy for his efforts.
Quarry Enrichment Center
Ivy Cordell asked Battista for the name of the city manager who worked for the $1/year lease at the quarry. It was Jennene Norman-Vacha, he said, but was not on the council at the time. She then asked Bernardini who the city manager was when the Enrichment Center’s $1/year lease was negotiated. Again, it was Norman-Vacha. Cordell began to ask another question, but Kemerer stepped in, stating citizen input time was not designed as a question/answer session and he would direct council not to answer the questions, but that she could ask the city manager and he would get answers for her. “This is the disconnect in the community,” Cordell said.
If the city is a business, she said, then what has happened is not good business practice. The lease terms of $1/year for 40 years, with two 20 year extensions does not benefit the city, she said. With the city paying 50% of the maintenance, she asked who pays the utilities on the property (electric, water). Cordell finished by saying that it would be important for the current council and city manager to review the lease agreements and other actions taken by Norman-Vacha.
Tina Nichols, former Parks Department employee, continued the discussion, asking what has changed in the last eight years at the quarry/Enrichment Center? She recalled others who had gate keys, and wanted to support Cordell, who she said seems to have a great following.
Bernardini asked Kemerer for the opportunity to respond to Cordell. Kemerer said that the Enrichment Center issue took up two council meetings in December, and he did not wish to use up a third meeting because there was already a full agenda.
Erhard responded to Kemerer, saying she could understand his position, but countered, “We work for them.” The audience applauded Erhard’s comment. Kemerer agreed but stated there are policies and procedures the council is obligated to follow. Because the agenda is published and the public may wish to hear the council on an item, Kemerer wanted to respect the process and the public by adhering to the schedule and policy.
Sponsorship Credit Requests
Hernando High School for Dr. M.L.K., Jr. Parade – Permits are required to hold a parade. There are also costs for street closures, which are coordinated with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Public Works and the Parks and Recreation Department. Leechele Booker and Billy Healis requested the $438 in fees to be waived, but the recommendation from staff was to waive 50%. Bernardini made the motion to waive the entire cost, and Erhard seconded the motion. The council passed the motion 5-0. The parade is scheduled for 01/21/19 beginning at 10 am.
Entirety K-12 School Family Night – Brent Gaustad, who recently retired from Hernando County School District, is the principal at Entirety K-12. The sponsorship credit request was to waive the $102 in fees for a special event to celebrate school choice. Main Street will be closed for entertainment, food trucks and other vendors. Staff recommended waiving up to 50% of the fees. Erhard moved to waive the entire cost, and Bernardini seconded the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Great Brooksvillian Screening Committee Advisory Appointment – The appointment is necessary because of the passing away of Gail Samples, who was on the committee for many years. The posting was advertised, and Lester “Skip” Samples III, responded. As a 5th generation Brooksvillian, he said he wanted to honor his mother’s legacy by serving on the committee. Kemerer stated that after he moved to Brooksville, Mrs. Samples taught him “a lot real quick” about Brooksville. Brayton made the motion to appoint Samples, and Battista seconded. The appointment was approved with a 5-0 vote.
Erhard stated that except for the minutes, she wanted all the items relating to money discussed. Battista moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Bernardini. The motion passed 5-0.
Saxon Brook Drainage Contract Extension – Erhard asked for an explanation of the extension. City Manager Mark Kutney asked Public Works Director Richard Radacky for more information. There are many trees growing in the drainage canal. This prevents the water from moving through the canal. Funding comes from the State of Florida out of the gas tax, but a SWFWMD policy regarding permitting has caused a three-year delay. A bid was approved by the council in July 2018 and a Notice to Proceed has been provided to the contractor. Work initiated on 01/07/19. The FDEP will oversee the project, but the grant expired 12/31/18. FDEP issued an extension with a completion deadline in June 2020, but Radacky estimates it should take 120 days. Brayton made the motion to approve the extension, with Erhard making the second. The motion passed 5-0.
Fire Department Emergency Reporting Software – Fire Chief Ron Snowberger stated that the recordkeeping system the department currently uses is inefficient. It’s a challenge to find records for assessments, which wastes time. It also causes redundancy. All the information that the dispatcher records should be saved and exported to the records system. But it doesn’t work that way for the Brooksville Fire Department. Once the call is complete and the responders return to the fire station, they must duplicate this work and enter the same information that dispatch saved.
Improving efficiency is one benefit of the software. Another benefit of transferring documentation to an electronic system is in reducing supply cost (paper). The initial cost of the software is $4,223.50. This includes setup fees to transfer and integrate the current information system so the interface is seamless. Annual maintenance is $3,535.00. Brayton moved to approve the purchase of the software and a maintenance contract. Bernardini seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
Pro-Civil 360 Contract (Howell Ave. Sidewalk Project) – Radacky explained that the project was discussed in detail at the 12/03/18 meeting. It will be completed in two phases: the sidewalk first, and then the drainage ditch. Brayton stated he recalled that part of phase 1 included silt removal and stabilizing the bridges but was concerned that this would only delay the water backup from 30 minutes to 90 minutes or affect residents further downstream. Radacky said that phase 2 of the project involves straightening the sides, applying sod, and removing silt from the bottom so the water flows easily away from Howell. Brayton made the motion to approve the contract and Bernardini seconded it. The motion passed 5-0.
Mid-Florida Lease Renewal of Jerome Brown Community Center – Parks and Recreation Director Mike Walker described the Meals on Wheels senior program held at the Jerome Brown Community Center, serving an average of 280 seniors monthly. Mid-Florida has been coordinating the programs for the past three years at $300 per month. Walker said the seniors who come to the Center greet one another like family and enjoy the activities or just spending time together daily. The extension is for another one year term with an option to renew for another two years. Bernardini made the motion to approve, and Brayton seconded. The motion passed 5-0.
ENCO Utility Services contract – Finance Director Jim Delach stated that Municipal Code Corporation notified the city that the company would be focusing on software development and would no longer provide utility billing services. Delach said Municipal Code Corporation recommended ENCO Utility Services, a company which has also received a State of Florida bid. The contract is just being transferred, or assigned, from one company to the other with no bid requirement. Brayton motioned to approve the contract assignment and Erhard seconded it.
Second reading of the Small Cell Communication Facilities – Bernardini requested that this item be tabled until the 01/28/19 meeting. City Attorney Betsy Vose advised that the heading needed to be read before any action could be taken. The City Clerk read the heading. Bernardini then moved to table the item, and Erhard seconded. There was no public comment. The motion passed 5-0.
Social Media Policy – Sandra Kirby, Deputy City Clerk, explained to the council the purpose of the policy was so that the City could establish a social media presence with guidelines for posting, content retention and security. Social media sites such as Facebook, she said, will enhance the information on the city website. Bernardini made the motion to approve the resolution. Erhard seconded the motion. This required a roll call vote. All council members voted to approve the resolution. Bernardini then moved to approve the policy and Battista seconded. This motion passed 5-0.
People Ready Contract – Kutney asked Radacky to discuss more detail about the People Ready contract that was brought before the council in December. In Brooksville there are two companies that provide temporary labor: People Ready and Labor Finders. There is a contract in place with Labor Finders that was approved in May 2018. People Ready and Brooksville have had a relationship for more than 20 years, but a formal agreement was not found.
The salary for a full time city sanitation worker is $11.34 per hour base rate or $19.29, including all the benefits. In the Utilities Division, the base rate is a little higher, so it’s easier to find temporary or part-time help. People Ready’s contract rate is $14.06 per hour for a sanitation worker and $15.20 for general labor. They provide insurance and other benefits.
Hiring a contract employee is not meant as a permanent solution but does fill a need. Radacky said that having agreements with both agencies means that if one agency doesn’t have a laborer, the city can contact the other. It will allow the sanitation department to ensure that the trucks are fully staffed, and garbage collection can occur.
Bernardini made the motion to approve the agreement with People Ready. Battista seconded the motion. There was no further discussion and the motion passed with a 5-0 vote.
Mission Statement – Kutney stated that during the council meeting that was his interview on 10/10/17, Erhard stated that one of his directives would be to create a new mission statement for the city. During the past year, Kutney said he met with Erhard and with staff to rewrite the statement so that it more accurately reflects the city’s purpose.
After Kutney read the new mission statement, Erhard asked to comment. She said she had hoped for more community involvement, not just staff, and that she had only one meeting with Kutney about the statement in the last year. She offered suggestions to Kutney’s new mission statement.
Battista made the motion to approve the amended statement. Bernardini seconded it. The amended mission statement was approved by a 5-0 vote. It will read, “The City of Brooksville’s mission is to provide superior municipal services in a reliable, efficient, fiscal and socially effective manner, making Brooksville a desirable City to live, work, and visit.”
City Manager Evaluation Process – At the 12/17/18 meeting, Kemerer had called for a workshop to be held prior to the regular meeting for 01/07/19. Currently, the city has a resolution and an administrative policy for the city manager’s evaluation dating from 2009. It requires the council to evaluate the city manager each January using a specific form.
The new form the council decided to use requires an administrative policy change and to amend the wording of part of the resolution. First, Kemerer read the proposed changes to the resolution and then opened the floor for discussion, but no one approached. Council members had no comments to add. Battista moved to approve the changes to the resolution and Bernardini seconded them. By a roll call vote, the motion passed 5-0.
Second, Kemerer read the proposed changes to the administrative policy. One change was to the subject of the evaluation (from “employees” to “city manager”), another was that the evaluation could occur at the end of the fiscal year or in January. Kemerer allowed time for the public to comment, but no one spoke. Battista made the motion to approve the changes to the administrative policy and Bernardini seconded them. The changes were approved 5-0.
For the workshop, Kutney prepared a self-evaluation that detailed his accomplishments over the past 14 months as well as projects underway. This is available on the city’s website. Kutney’s formal evaluation will occur at the special council meeting on 01/28/19.
Items by City Attorney
Vose clarified the City’s social media policy, stating that it was not intended to infringe on the rights of the public to post comments to the City’s Facebook page, only the content posted by City employees on that page.
Items by City Manager
Paul Sireci, Interim Police Chief who assisted Kutney in transitioning law enforcement services from Brooksville Police Department to Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, has accepted a position as Interim Police Chief for the City of Wildwood.
Shawn Foster, the lobbyist representing Brooksville and Hernando County in Tallahassee, advised Kutney that legislators said there was a possibility of the City receiving approximately $300,000 for a mini pumper that would replace an older vehicle at the Brooksville Fire Department. In response to a question from Bernardini, Kutney said that he did ask if the funds could be used for other equipment, and Foster indicated it was only for the fire department. Kutney asked for the council’s approval to move forward with the change to the City’s original requests.
Snowberger said that the mini pumper would replace the 2000 American France truck, and could be put into service immediately as an ALS (Advanced Life Support) pumper. The vehicle size is better for the city and meets National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.
Snowberger said the department purchased a replacement in 2012; and said because American LaFrance went out of business in 2014, the department chose to keep the 2000 vehicle as a backup, found parts for repairs and it was put back into service. The purchase of the mini pumper would allow the department to sell the 2000 LaFrance as surplus. The fire department would see a savings in maintenance costs as well.
Battista said the mayor should write to the legislative delegation to request the funds for the mini pumper and made a motion for that. Bernardini seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
Following the council’s direction at the last meeting, Kutney provided the council a new policy to review called Neighborhood Traffic Management Program. Traffic calming on Mt. Fair Avenue is scheduled for discussion at the 01/28/19 meeting.
Items by Council Members
Council Member Battista
Relating to sponsorship credit requests, and referring to the memorandum for the parade, Battista said that in the revision of the policy, the wording should make it clear the City should be listed as an additional insured regardless of whether the sponsorship credit is approved or not. Battista then asked for details about the parade and the council’s participation.
Collective Bargaining with Fire Union
Battista asked if an Executive Session will occur to discuss the Collective Bargaining Fire Union. Vose stated that they could have an Executive Session. The attorney’s office and Kutney would meet with Snowberger first. Kutney said that he has had discussions with Finance, Human Resources and Snowberger and they will be scheduling an Executive Session.
Battista asked Radacky how the gas tax money could be used if the drainage ditch was not a road. Radacky said he thought it could since the flooding affects the ability to use the road.
Council Member Brayton
Responding to Citizens Input
Brayton said he would like a way to respond during Citizen Input time, even though the policy says that responses are made later. He thinks the citizens deserve a timely response. Erhard suggested changing the policy.
Battista explained the process the BOCC uses, where there is no immediate dialogue, but questions/comments are answered mainly by staff following Citizen Input. Bernardini agreed that a policy change is in order. He wanted the opportunity to respond to the citizens and not make them wait until the end of the meeting.
Brayton made the motion to try the BOCC process at the next meeting on 01/28/19. During Citizen Input time, the City Manager will record the concerns as they are voiced. At the end of Citizen Input, he will answer the questions with the assistance of staff. Bernardini seconded the motion and it passed 5-0. If the process is acceptable, then a resolution to change the policy will be made.
Council Member Erhard
Thanked the public for their support of her recognition by the council. She congratulated Ryan Malloy on the Tree Lighting and the other Christmas festivities.
Erhard would like more time to review agenda packets, not receiving them the Friday before a meeting. Returning to the City’s mission statement, she said she wants action, not just words.
Erhard has wanted the council members to have tablets so they can review agenda documents rather than printing them out. She asked about the tablets from the police department. Kirby stated that there were not tablets, but there are laptops which need hard drives. Kutney said the one-time cost to purchase hard drives is approximately $500.00. Erhard said her intention is for the City to go paperless, but is “more importantly, about progress and growth.”
Bernardini said he prefers the paper format so he can use tabs and make notes. He believes that typing notes while someone is talking is disrespectful but said that Erhard could if she was comfortable doing. Brayton said he would ordinarily agree with the paperless option. But because he sits next to the City Attorney who referred to her tablet during the meeting, Brayton said he observed her taking far longer to locate documents in the downloaded packet than he did with the paper.
Erhard addressed concerns from the citizens.
Kutney will contact the Enrichment Center regarding signage.
The crime report can be added to the City’s website.
Golf cart traffic is not regulated, and the City would not be liable in the event of an accident, but the golf cart driver/owner on a state highway could receive a ticket from the Sheriff’s Office. However, if the golf cart has a license tag, then it is considered a car, Vose said.
Erhard asked for the option for customers to use a checking account online to pay the utility bill, not just a credit/debit card. Delach offered PayPal as a solution, or ACH (automatic payment). Delach will check with the Utility Department to see if that can be added to the website as a payment option.
Vice Mayor Bernardini
Bernardini suggested that the public could submit questions in advance so that an answer can be given during the meeting. He said he is in favor of letting citizens speak freely and being able to respond to the citizens. He thanked Malloy for the Christmas events.
Bernardini asked for the agendas to be provided earlier to the council. He recommended that staff members should be prepared during their meetings with Kutney and provide him with the necessary documents for the council to review. If not, then Bernardini said it was a management issue and suggested that Kutney should inform staff that the missing items would have to be moved to another meeting date.
Bernardini asked Vose about the golf cart lawsuit. She said she served the plaintiff with discovery during the summer but has not received a response. As the defendant, the City is not obligated to push for a response from the plaintiff to bring the matter to trial. Vose said that if there has been no activity for a year, the defendant can ask for the case to be dismissed.
He addressed Cordell’s concern about the $1/year lease for the Enrichment Center. Recalling the negotiation of the lease, which he said was more difficult than the Blueberry Festival lease negotiation, Bernardini stated the Enrichment Center also offered to construct a building that the City could use as an emergency shelter. As the renter/lessee, the Enrichment Center has rights to the property as to who can use it and when. It’s one of the issues with a private/public partnership, he said. At the time of the negotiation, both the attorney (Hogan Law Firm) and the city manager (Norma-Vacha) said the agreement was a good one, and the council followed that advice.
Bernardini asked Walker to bring information on activities at the recreation center for children to the next meeting.
Returning to the drainage ditch, Bernardini said that while some of the silt was removed by the school district, some has moved to the other side of Croom Road and is filling in the ditch there. He recommended asking the State to clean up that section.
Kemerer thanked Malloy for the Christmas at Main Street events. Malloy said that Brooksville Main Street will be bringing streetscape ideas for the council’s vote after the next Main Street meeting. He is requesting architectural renderings which will show the improvements to historical buildings with property improvement grants. “Words are great; pictures are so much better,” he said.
Kemerer mentioned the City’s former K-9 officer, Scout, who recently passed away following an illness. He said Scout was very faithful and part of the police department family.
He offered citizens the opportunity to have a direct dialogue with Kutney by taking his business card and meeting with him. Kutney handles day to day operations and personnel. If Kutney does not respond, Kemerer said, that is when the matter should come to the city council.
Kemerer asked for information regarding a webinar hosted by DPW. Because they were able to obtain two generators for the schools under a FEMA grant, Radacky and Dowler were asked to discuss the grant process.
He thanked the public for attending and felt that the meeting and the earlier workshop were productive. Battista moved to adjourn the council meeting and Erhard seconded the motion. Brayton stated he respected Kemerer and his earlier comments were regarding the need for a policy change and were not directed toward the mayor. Kemerer said he agreed and hopes the BOCC’s process works for the city council.
The City Council will have another workshop on 01/28/19 at 3:00 pm. Items for discussion are: asset management, fire pension, and city manager priorities. The meeting was adjourned with a 5-0 vote.