Special City Council - March 7, 2023

City Council 

Special Meeting

March 7, 2023


The City of Titusville City Council met in special session on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at Titusville City Hall, second floor, Council Chamber, 555 South Washington Avenue, Titusville, Florida 32796. Mayor Diesel called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. Those present in the Council Chamber included Mayor Daniel Diesel, and City Council Members Herman A. Cole, Jr., Col USAF Retired, Jo Lynn Nelson, and Dr. Sarah Stoeckel. Vice-Mayor Joe C. Robinson was absent. 


City Manager Scott Larese, Assistant City Manager Thomas Abbate, City Attorney Richard Broome, City Clerk Wanda Wells, and the City’s Executive Leadership Team (department heads) or designees were also present. Assistant City Clerk Jolynn Donhoff completed the minutes of the meeting.  


Mayor Diesel called for a moment of silence, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. City Clerk Wells read the procedure for public comment and participation. 




Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Strategic Planning and Budget Workshop – City Manager Larese reviewed the purpose for the special City Council meeting, including discussing the citizens’ feedback at the community workshop on February 4, 2023, Council holding discussion with senior staff at this meeting as desired, and then Council considering this information and considering whether they (City Council)  desired modifying the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 goals & objectives for the upcoming FY 2024 budget year (for budget planning purposes). 


Meeting facilitator Kristin Bakke of LEAD Brevard facilitated the remainder of the meeting. She used large flip chart paper and markers to keep track of the Council’s discussion and directives. She also distributed the results of the community’s feedback on February 4, 2023. Facilitator Bakke highlighted these results, including having reviewed the FY2022 accomplishments with the community, her view points on the community’s input on February 4, 2023, the community’s concerns and desires, some which were within the City’s jurisdiction or abilities. 


A one-page document with the City Council’s FY 2023 Strategic Plan Goals & Objectives was also provided and discussed. Objectives were listed under each goal. Objectives guided the scope for how the City should work toward accomplishing the City’s Strategic Plan Goals. The FY 2023 goals, a launching point for discussing the FY 2024 goals and objectives, included: 


  1. Quality of Life
  2. Effective and Efficient Services
  3. Financial Stability
  4. Economic Development
  5. Effective Governance


Facilitator Bakke led the Council in discussion to determine the Council’s desires on whether they desired modifying the Fiscal Year 2023 Strategic Plan Goals. The Council indicated they desired continuing Goals 1 through 5 and their associated objectives. Mayor Diesel felt it was important to not lose sight of the current goals.  


Next, Facilitator Bakke asked the Council about the Strategic Plan Objectives listed under each of the five goals and whether the Council desired modifying or adding additional objectives. 


Regarding Goal 5. – Effective Governance and the objectives, the Council paused to discuss the history of the goal and shared responsibilities to increase and enhance 2-way communication with the Community.


On communication, Member Stoeckel felt it was important to be proactive and keep 2-way communication a priority with the community, but acknowledged that social media could be tricky, but useful for gathering feedback on topics that came-up in social media community discussions. This tool could also be useful for the City to make a proactive plan to address social media community comments and public perceptions on topics like drinking water, the health of the Indian River Lagoon, development, wetlands, conservation, managing development carefully, etc. The City was proactive in their responsibilities and she felt the City could improve on bridging the gap on getting information to the community. 


Member Nelson reviewed her perspective of the community conversation on February 4, 2023. She felt the citizens wanted more information on what the City “was doing”, the City Council’s role, agenda items pertaining to their concerns, measuring the City’s progress on the goals and objectives and that the citizens could interpret, development, etc. Member Nelson felt the City could utilize the City’s Talking Points Magazine to publish and communicate this type of information to the public. 


Member Cole felt the City’s website provided the type of information the community discussed and desired, but communication could also be improved in other areas, like the City’s role and areas of responsibilities versus areas that were outside of the City’s jurisdiction (responsibilities belonging to higher authority agencies at the County, State, Federal government, etc.). He added that the citizens could have different perceptions about the City’s role or responsibilities and this was not something the City could easily address. 


Mayor Diesel commented on researching and speaking to other Mayors and City officials on how they communicated with their citizens. He advised that other cities often complimented and referred to Titusville as a model for communication with their citizens, one popular tool being the Talking Points Magazine (published by the City of Titusville). 



FY 2024 Strategic Plan Goals


Facilitator Bakke confirmed the Council’s desire to keep the current five (5) strategic goals intact and continue them into Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, as followed: 


  1. Quality of Life
  2. Effective and Efficient Services
  3. Financial Stability
  4. Economic Development
  5. Effective Governance


Facilitator Bakke also asked whether the Council desired adding a sixth (6th) goal, but which the Council might discuss or decide during the remainder of the meeting. 




FY 2024 Strategic Plan Goal Objectives


Facilitator Bakke redirected the discussion to each goal’s underlying objectives for further review or refinement by the Council. Council indicated their support of the current objectives; however, the Council also made some modifications to the goal objectives for FY 2024, as summarized in the following sections of the minutes. 


Objectives Associated with Goal 1. Quality of Life – 


Discussion ensued on the Indian River Lagoon and measuring the progress, continuing to enhance the appearance of the City, measuring could be subjective, qualitative, or quantitative, getting updates from the City Manager, the citizens were interested in seeing the City’s progress, etc. 


Based on what she was hearing, Facilitator Bakke summarized the indication was the Council desired continuing the goal’s current objectives and communicate the results to the community.


Communication was the next point that became a central discussion topic. The City’s current methods of communication with the citizens included the City’s website, Titusville Talking Points, department spotlight presentations that were presented at City Council meetings, etc. City Manager Larese advised the department presentations would be added to the City website for the citizens to view and for public education purposes. He also advised that current data, statistics, and other measurements were presently on the City website and some included in department spotlight presentations. 


Member Stoeckel discussed “where” citizens looked for information. Some citizens liked Facebook and other social media platforms. Copying and pasting information from factual information and posting it on social media usually stopped the spread of mis-information. 


Member Cole and City Manager Larese discussed internal, quarterly, performance goal measures that previously were provided on the City website, but it seemed to be confusing to some in the community that may not be sure “what” was being measured. Member Stoeckel suggested borrowing from this data and sharing it in a format that was user friendly to the community.  This could bridge the citizens’ perceptions and concerns more frequently. City Manager Larese advised that similar to the City’s Annual Report, the City could provide a type of quarterly report to the community. The type of information communicated could also provide the community the definitions and purpose for items like baffle boxes, Beemats, etc. 


Facilitator Bakke would take this feedback on communication and ensure it was incorporated into Goal 5. – Effective Governance, where enhancing 2-way communications was discussed


Member Nelson and Member Stoeckel discussed Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and learning more from the Federal government over time, increasing the City’s testing, budgeting for testing, and keeping broad and similar related matters in sight. This seemed to fit under Quality of Life, per Member Nelson. 


PFAS or broader concerns in this area were also indicated to be distinguished apart from improving the Indian River Lagoon. Initiatives and actions to improve or ensure the City’s water supply including additional testing, etc. was to be added as a new objective under Quality of Life. Council indicated their support. To this, Facilitator Bakke reflected her understanding of what the Council supported during this segment of the Council’s discussion, so that she could accurately capture it in her report of this meeting. 




Objectives Associated with Goal 2. Quality of Life – 


Discussion ensued on the goal’s objectives. Committing to funding a Capital Improvement Plan should include verbiage for infrastructure


On Develop a Sustainability Plan, a draft of the Plan would be presented to Council in approximately April 2023; therefore, the verbiage for this objective might change to Develop and Implement a Sustainability Plan


On Explore Opportunities for Collaboration, the intent was to Continue and explore… this objective. Council supported this verbiage change. 




Objectives Associated with Goal 3. Financial Stability – 


Council supported the objectives, as written (no change). 




Objectives Associated with Goal 4. Economic Development – 


Discussion ensued on the goal’s objectives and the citizens’ feedback during the community conversation on February 4, 2023, varied perceptions, and sensitivity some citizens felt about the word blight.  A question was posed whether the word blight was useful to seeking grants or other State or public funding. Council agreed to keep the word in-use for now. 


Member Nelson felt that additional parking was needed in the downtown. 


Member Nelson also felt affordable housing needed to be added to this goal’s objective. Mayor Diesel agreed. Member Cole felt the City could support affordable housing, but it was not entirely in the City’s jurisdiction or control. It was noted the City had recently applied for a matching grant of $450,000 toward affordable housing, but the City was not awarded the grant. 


Council indicated their support to add an objective to “Explore opportunities for collaboration, partnerships, and coordination with public, private, and non-profit entities to support affordable housing”. 


Member Stoeckel desired protecting conservation and green areas, while simultaneously supporting growth. Mayor Diesel noted the idea of providing more affordable housing and protecting conservation and green areas were contradicting ideas. 


Member Stoeckel, City Manager Larese, and Council also discussed the status of continuing the implementation of a comprehensive economic development plan, which the indication was the plan was working. It was not necessary to state this objective was to be done “…in conjunction with other agencies”, because this would be carried out anyway. 


Mayor Diesel commented on editing and wordsmithing the objectives. He advised he wanted to add more details to the objectives pertaining to environmental, affordable housing, and communication. 


Based on the discussion, Facilitator Bakke summarized Council desired six objectives appear under Goal 4. The changes included shortening the length of the first objective related to the implementation of an economic development plan, add objectives for affordable housing and protecting conservation and green space, and keeping the other objectives. 




Objectives Associated with Goal 5. Effective Governance – 


Facilitator Bakke reviewed the Council’s earlier discussion during the meeting on 2-way communication. The theme indicated earlier was to do more to communicate the work the City was doing on the goals and objectives with the community. 


Facilitator Bakke reviewed the goal’s current objectives to continue the effectiveness of current advisory boards and continue policy advocacy.


Mayor Diesel desired increasing broadcasting City advisory board meetings, but where it was  appropriate. He felt this would enhance communication with the community. Member Nelson agreed and stated that more education was better to assist communicating with the citizens (indicating communicating the topics that were on board meeting agendas and their discussions being broadcasted via the City’s YouTube Channel, government TV, etc.). 


City Manager Larese reviewed information that had been provided on City advisory board meetings that were broadcast (on the City’s YouTube Channel or Government TV. Financial costs were associated with broadcasting board meetings). Meta-analysis indicated two of the board meetings had less than ten viewers. For this reason, the Council might consider shifting or revising which advisory board meetings were broadcast. 


Mayor Diesel felt the City Manager’s suggestion was a good start and that the City could monitor the viewing statistics, etc. Member Stoeckel supported this idea. If the budget was limited, she wanted to equip staff with the flexibility to utilize the budget where the most benefit was received to the community. 


Member Cole and City Manager Larese discussed the City’s tracking tools for tracking viewers of broadcast meetings. Member Cole suggested shifting funding to televise the Titusville Environmental Commission meetings. 


Member Nelson suggested completing audio recordings of board meetings versus broadcasting, as a possible cost-saving compromise.  


Member Stoeckel supported the verbiage of “increasing broadcasting…”.  She also desired keeping the other current objectives. 


Council discussion ensued on adding verbiage for education or bringing or increasing awareness, of what was happening in the City, for transparency purposes, being proactive, and minimizing the mis-spreading of faulty information, etc. 




Facilitator Bakke asked the Council if they desired adding a sixth goal. The indication was no. Council also sought senior staff’s input on whether the goals and objectives needed to be amended, based on what senior staff may know in their various professional capacities. The indication was no.




Public Comment –  


Toni Shifalo reviewed her perception on the progress the City was making on the Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives, the importance of the Sustainability Plan, smart growth, her development concerns, etc. 


Bill Klein read from a prepared statement that reviewed his concerns and requests related to Goal 1 and the objective on improving the Indian River Lagoon. He suggested codifying additional objective verbiage that addressed reducing pollution and specific nutrient levels, by specific quantitative parameters, which he read aloud. He also commented on federal water quality requirements, protecting human health, etc.  


Marlys Breckle thanked the Council for listening to the community. She also commented on her husband’s formal education, expertise, and experience with designing safety systems for nuclear power plants, his accuracy and research preparing numbers, etc. 


Tom Perez read from a prepared statement that reviewed his desires on improving accessing City Council meeting agenda packets on the City website, modeling after the City of Cocoa and allowing citizens to give input on agenda items via email, allowing citizens to submit electronic presentations, videoing and broadcasting Titusville Environmental Commission (TEC) meetings, improving the City’s performance measures, etc. 


Kristin Lortie distributed information. She reviewed her concerns on the City addressing comments presented to Council and the City’s performance measures and targets being tracked on a more user-friendly matrix. She requested the City complete continuous quarterly monitoring of said matrix being sure to include the citizens’ desires on the matrix, her perception that the City was not evaluating the performance measures against the Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives, the importance of all stakeholders reading or evaluating progress on the targets from the same document(s), etc. 


Stan Johnston commented on his concerns on whether the City was reading his emails, a prior sewer spill, his perception bad things were happening, etc. 




With no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.