OFFICE OF THE CITY COUNCIL
CHERYL L. BROWN 117 WEST DUVAL STREET, SUITE 425
DIRECTOR 4TH FLOOR, CITY
OFFICE (904) 630-1452 JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA 32202
FAX (904) 630-2906
March 23, 2010
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,
In attendance: Council Members Webb (Chair), Holt,
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Materials: Listing of tree
mitigation fund expenditures by council district - LSD