CHERYL L. BROWN                                                                                                        117 WEST DUVAL STREET, SUITE 425

            DIRECTOR                                                                                                                                                                                 4TH FLOOR, CITY HALL

   OFFICE (904) 630-1452                                                                                                                                                          JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA  32202

     FAX (904) 630-2906                                                                                                                                                                                                               


March 23, 2010

5:00 PM


Meeting Minutes for 3.19.10  

Finance Subcommittee on

Tree Protection and Related Expenses Trust Fund


Location:  Conference Room A, City Hall – St. James Building; 117 West Duval Street,

     Suite 425


In attendance:  Council Members Webb (Chair), Holt, Yarborough, Crescimbeni

Dave McDaniel and  Don Robertson – Public Works Department; Janice Billy – Auditor’s Office; Zim Boulos – Jacksonville Arboretum Board; Peggy Sidman and Kristina Nelson – General Counsel’s Office; Suzie Loving, Debbie Delgado, Stan Johnson and Dianne Smith – ECAs; Meg Gaffney – ReLeaf Landscape; Lisa Rinaman – Mayor’s Office


Meeting Convened:  3:01 p.m.


  • Chairman Webb introduced the topic – the use of the tree mitigation funds which had accumulated to a considerable amount of fund balance over the years, then became rapidly depleted in the last 2 years.  Several bills are pending in Council to expend additional funds and the Finance Committee felt that some systematic thought needs to be given to the purpose of the fund and the development of a rationale for its use.
  • Kristina Nelson explained that the tree mitigation funds come from 2 sources – collections as a result of the City Charter provision regarding tree mitigation and a different provision in the Ordinance Code.  Charter-generated funds are more restrictive as to use (tree planting only) and types of trees that may be planted (e.g. crepe myrtles prohibited).  Code-generated funds can be used for landscaping incidental a tree planting project as well.
  • Janice Billy explained that there are 2 subfunds – one for Charter funds and the other for Ordinance Code funds.  Charter funds are generated by the removal of protected trees, which include hardwoods, some pine and palm species over 11.5 inches in diameter. Ordinance Code funds are generated by the removal of protected hardwoods 24 inches or more in diameter.  The Ordinance Code fund currently has a balance of $1.7 million; the Charter fund has a balance of $1.3 million.
  • Chairman Webb questioned the practice of utilizing funds generated from tree removal in one part of town to plant trees in another part of town – tree migration, not mitigation.  Neither the Ordinance Code nor the Charter specifies where tree funds must be spent.  It has traditionally been at the discretion of the City administration and individual council members to propose projects for use of the funds.
  • The fund has dwindled significantly in recent years, from $12 million to $3 million, as a result of the decline in building due to the economic recession.  One or two large projects could completely deplete the remaining funds.
  • Proposed tree planting projects come from a variety of sources – the Public Works Department, town center plans, citizens, council members, etc.  They are all routed through Public Works for City staff to walk the proposed site, judge the site conditions and estimate costs for proposed projects.
  • Council Member Holt proposed a prioritization of uses of the remaining funds, with plantings in parks and town centers rating more highly than roadway medians.  He suggested at least some thought be given to division of the funds fairly among the council districts.
  • Council Member Crescimbeni noted that the Jacksonville Landscape Commission used to be thought of as a mechanism for investigating and prioritizing potential uses of the funds, but that commission was dissolved 6 or 7 years ago.  Recent use of the fund has been haphazard and without any overall plan.
  • Council Member Yarborough distributed copies of an e-mail from the Council Auditor’s Office showing the amount (as best it can be determined) of tree mitigation funds expended in each City Council district.  The City administration does not track expenditure of these funds on a council district basis, so the figures are approximate.
  • One idea would be to establish a minimum funding amount below which the fund could not be allowed to go, perhaps $1 million or $500,000.  Members objected that the purpose of the funds is to put trees in the ground, not to keep a fund balance.
  • Council Member Yarborough noted that has reduced his bill to appropriate mitigation funds to the Jacksonville Arboretum from an initial amount of $250,000 to less than half of that in order to be fiscally responsible with the remaining funds.
  • Council Member Holt suggested adopting limits on the uses of the fund for the next few years until the economy turns around, development picks up, and tree mitigation funds begin to flow again.  Any uses outside of those limits would require a waiver of the rule and additional Council action.
  • Chairman Webb recommended that the committee recap today’s discussion at the next Finance Committee meeting when the pending bills to expend additional tree mitigation funds are moved.
  • Don Robertson noted that funds expended through the Public Works Department are strictly for trees in the ground, not for design fees, landscape architects, etc.


Meeting Adjourned: 3:41 p.m.


Minutes:  Jeff Clements, City Council Research


Tapes:      Tree Protection Subcommittee LSD


Materials: Listing of tree mitigation fund expenditures by council district - LSD