The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a regularly scheduled session on Tuesday June 6. As is customary, a number of employees as well as volunteers were recognized for their years of service. Sharon Hogan and Mary Hamilton (Public Works/Environmental Services) were awarded Employee and Supervisor of the Quarter respectively. The TEAM of the Quarter was the Lake County Fire Rescue Pre-Incident Planning Application Team. Clarence Archie (known as “Mr. A.”) retired after 33 years as a Park Attendant; Mr. Archie is 94 years old!
The Economic Development Department made a request for approval of $28,500 for a sponsorship grant agreement with CareerSource Central Florida. This would bring in matching funds and provide internships for some forty high school students with local businesses during the summer. The Board approved the expenditure on a 4-1 vote (Commissioner Blake dissenting); the Commissioners requested a report back at the conclusion of the program later in summer to evaluate whether it was a worthwhile use of the funds.
Fred Schneider (Public Works) presented the CR437 Realignment Study results. This concerns CR437 in Sorrento and has been the subject of a series of meetings over the past eleven months. The proposed project does not have the major funding in place yet; the County had requested $3 million from the state this year, but that request was denied. However, design and small “fixes” can proceed now. The preferred design would create a new road with round-abouts south of State Route 46 to allow north-south traffic to bypass the central business district and connect the two sections of CR437. There would also be trails created along the roads which would connect with the new Wekiva Trail. The Board unanimously approved the study and directed Public Works to proceed with the design phase.
Tommy Carpenter (Hurricane Management Division Manager) gave the 2017 outlook. Over 700 people were sheltered last year during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Matthew. The last occurrence of “hurricane-force winds” in Lake County was the “Ground Hog Day Tornado” of 2007. Lost Lake Elementary and Mascotte Elementary are among the nine shelters designated for Lake County. The Division works with these schools to upgrade facilities for hurricane preparedness. They also work to educate the public on preparedness and operate a Citizen Information Line (352-253-9999). There is more information at the Lake County website. One interesting note: Chairman Sullivan noted that all ATMs for miles around were quickly out of cash during the last occurrence so it’s a good idea to get cash ahead of time.
The Public Works Department presented their proposed budget for FY2018. The Road Operations Division maintains 1391 miles of road, 27 bridges and almost 200 miles of sidewalk. They outsource about 42% of their work .and have the lowest expenditure per mile of road in any Central Florida county. Their proposed budget is slightly less than this year. The Engineering Division works with the BCC as well as cities, FDOT and other agencies in looking at new construction and other projects. They are presently involved in design and project management for some $47 million in potential expenditures. Fred Schneider pointed out that they receive relatively few calls for traffic signal repairs compared to neighboring counties. He attributes this to an aggressive inspection program on county roads as well as city roadways. The proposed budget of FY2018 is slightly higher than FY2017. The Environmental Services Division administers a variety of services, including mosquito management, storm water and floodplain management, aquatic plant management, and monitoring of water quality. The proposed budget for FY2018 shows a slight reduction in expenses. In total, Public Works Budget for FY2018 is just under $20 million, down about 3.8% from FY2017. Commissioner Breeden and Commissioner Parks both asked about potential costs for Public Works to “catch up” with regard to road improvements. There are unfunded needs in various areas but no easy answers.
The complete meeting can be viewed on the Lake County website www.lakecountyfl.gov.