Notes: BCC meeting 4.10.08

Committee of the Whole Workshop
Board of County Commissioners
10 April 2008
9 a.m.

All commissioners were present.

Escambia County Muzzleloaders Update
“There are just over eight homes, as I understand it,” said Kevin Briski. “Mr. Fred Johnson and Ed Kesler will be representing the neighbors.”

“From there stand point the club has control of the range, but it is open to the public,” Commissioner Grover Robinson said. “They are just out there to police and collect the membership fee.”

“The only way you wouldn’t be able to be a member is if you had a record,” Briski said.
“But is it REALLY a public range,” Young asked.

“It’s not public in that you need a membership to join,” Briski said. “It’s quasi-public.”

“To allow the muzzleloaders to go forward is okay with me as long as the mitigate the land with its degree of lead contamination,” Commissioner Gene Valentino said. “If we took this land back and had to clean it up it would cost a lot more than the $2 million it will take to pave the road.”

Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Update
“In the terms of economic development we are in the business of making jobs for Escambia County,” Evon Emmerson said.

You’ll see more of our branding initition around town,” a chamber representative said.
He said in the last year and a half we have worked with 10 other companies to create more than $62 million in jobs.

“We are working with about 30 companies at any one time,” he said. “There is a lot of opportunity across the river in Mobile. The four county area has a lot of people. People forget that.”

One of the biggest issues that we face is real estate. Most companies are looking for land incentive, he said.

“We are competing with Santa Rosa and Mobile who will give away the land if you come in and employ 100 people,” he said.

“Our chamber is working hard here to get quality jobs into Escambia County,” Commissioner Mike Whitehead said.

Arts Council Funding Request
“We are here to address an economic impact study on arts and culture in our community,” an Arts Council representative said. “We have raised about $3,500, but we need about $8,000 to perform the study.”

The council is trying to get the money at a state level, but would like the counties assistance in the event that state funding does not come through.

“I am glad to support this,” Robinson said.

“I ask the commissioners to support this study,” Valentino said.

The total allocation request is for $4,500 through the TCC fund. A motion was made by Valentino and seconded by Robinson to fund this program. It was passed unanimously.

Sertoma Funding Request for Expanded Fireworks Display

“We have been organizing this event for 18 years,” said Angela Borraco. “We are not requesting $75,500.”

This money would ensure a day long event, concert and fireworks at 9 p.m., she said.

“This year we would like to have a headline band about 6 p.m. on Bayfront Parkway,” Borraco said. “This would encourage out of towners to come in and fill up our hotels and such.”

Valentino moved to allocate this money out of the fourth-cent tax. It was seconded by Young.
It was passed unanimously.

“This is an event truly for the people,” Robinson said. “That is one of the best things. Everybody in Escambia County is touched by this celebration.”

Lease Fees Versus Taxes – SRIA

“Commercial users are getting double taxed,” Robinson said. “With appeals going through now, they have finalized the lawsuits on those and are now collecting back taxes.”

The problem is we haven’t had this problem solved all the way around, he said.

“We need to do something to help out the commercial lease holders out there,” Robinson said.
Hilton Garden now pays about $300,000 in lease fees and $200,000 in taxes. Robinson suggested offsetting the lease fees by the taxes paid for commercial lands.

“We need to find a way to credit the lease fees with the taxes,” Robinson said.

“I support this, but this is just a patch on the tire,” Valentino said. The board decided to have staff look into a mechanism for doing this. Robinson made a motion to offset the lease fees by the BCC taxes. It was seconded and passed unanimously.

“This is only a temporary fix,” Valentino said. “We’ll do this by fiscal year.”

Consolidation Plan fire Services/Volunteer Fire Department
“There is a high degree of commitment on both sides to consolidate services,” said Chief Ken Perkins of Escambia County Fire Rescue.

“The organizational chart is going to be one of the most difficult issues to workout,” said Chief Robbie Whitfield. “We are going to try to tackle three to four items a month.”

The first thing to work on is the organization structure and job descriptions. Starting in May they will make plans to consolidate training.

“Hopefully in October we will be on target,” Whitfield said. An update will be present at a monthly committee of the whole meeting.

Forgiveness Release of Nuisance Abatement Liens Policy

“I suggest that we have an out clause included in the policy,” said County Attorney Alison Rogers. “This would concern extreme financial hardship or flaws in legal procedure.”

“I thought we were trying to get this down to the accessed value, not double the value,” Robinson said. “I think we can play with that discretion.”

“We always try to give what the currently accessed value of the lot is,” Rogers said. “We have had cases where the liens have accrued over a long period of time and will surpass the value.”

“I would like for us to have some discretion in this area,” Whitehead said. “I think having unspoken guidelines will give us the flexibility we need.”

The board decided to change the language by eliminating the wordage “the board may reduce the lien to no less than twice the property value.”

“We need a significant amount of latitude here,” Whitehead said.

Lien Forgiveness Policy for Special Needs Cases
“There have been some significant additions of wording,” Rogers said. “The whole idea here is that code enforcement is trying to help those who have significant fiscal or physical disabilities. This would help keep them away from the problems with the hearing process while still getting the issues addressed.”

Bradley Property – Option to acquire three parcels in 1100 block of Decatur Avenue
“The parcels we are looking at here are on the north end of Decatur Avenue,” Keith Wilkins said.

A meeting area and volleyball courts would be put on these parcels eventually.

“This is off of Gulf Beach Highway almost to Fairfield Drive,” Wilkins said. “We would add these into the Jones Swamp reserve.”

The board decided to go forward with the purchases and passed this motion unanimously.

Unit Price Agreement/Overview of Procedures for Selection Process for Roads Projects
The procurement process starts with pricing agreements then move to a design-bid-build or a design-build program.

The following changes were proposed:
–Increase cap from $50,000 to $200,000 – $500,000.
–Cumulative total must be within the cap.
–Project phasing not allowed.
–Make balance of line cap at no more than 10 percent.
–Resurfacing contracts will not be chosen from the pricing agreement.

The board decided to make changes to this agreement including a cap of $350,000. A full review of these changes will be presented at the next meeting.

Sign Regulations
“Are ya’ll interesting in looking into doing something with signs in this area,” Whitehead asked. “I don’t think we need KFC buckets 60 feet in the air. If we get rid of this property values will go up.”

“I suggest we appoint you as our representative,” Valentino said. “Work with staff and get this thing done.”

“I can’t support this,” Robinson said. “This isn’t a time to slam small businesses.”

“This would give small businesses 10 years,” Whitehead said. “But I don’t want to waste time if the board is not for this.”

“So you want to put something on the board now and give them 10 years to do it,” Young asked.

“Yes, and it will apply to new businesses immediately,” Whitehead said. “I would encourage you to drive through Gulf Shores and see what they have done.”

“Those people have lots of money in those areas,” Young said. “We need our signs high.”

“No we don’t,” Whitehead said. “Somewhere along the line we got to grow up.”

“I want to grow up,” Young said. “But I want to make money too.”

“It’s about making this community a better look,” Whitehead said.

Change in the Organization of the Departments Under the County Administrator
“The staff and I are working on a viable, efficient organization,” County Administrator McLaughlin said. “We hope to be organized (with in a few months).”

Code Enforcement Support for Century

“So we will do code enforcement and they will pay us $30,000,” Robinson asked.


“I just want them to commit to follow through,” White said. “I don’t want our guys to go up there and issue all of those citations and then them not follow through.”

The meeting adjourned at 12:35 p.m.