BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

WORK SESSION

April 5, 2005

9:00 a.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room 

APPROVED 5/11/05

 

Commissioner Anna Morrison presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer; Bobby Green, Sr., Peter Sorenson and Faye Stewart present.  County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA

 

None.

 

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

None.

 

3. COMMISSIONERS' REMONSTRANCE

 

None.

 

4. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660

 

None.

 

5. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

 

a. Announcements

 

None.

 

6. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

a. STATUS REPORT/Development of Lane County Public Safety District Proposal for General Election November 2006.

 

Van Vactor reported that the Board of Commissioners authorized staff to work on the possible development of a public safety district for the November 7, 2006 ballot.  He noted since January they have been meeting every other Friday morning.  He said they have to overcome the amendment to the Metro Plan, and as part of the Boundary Commission process they need the resolution of support from the twelve cities.  He said work had been done on the Metro Plan.  He noted that the provisions were complex and interrelated in trying to do a single revision to the plan that would take care of the issue. He added that they received advice from the city manager of the City of Eugene to keep the proposed amendment as narrow as possible.  He said this was taken out to the three planning commissions and they processed them and recommended approval.  He said the City of Eugene’s planning commission had some concerns with language.  He noted they completed the planning commission phase and the next phase is to work with the governing bodies of Eugene and Springfield on April 19.  He added there is a potential of ambiguity in state law where the statutes state they can’t have overlapping county service districts.  He said they have proposed HB 3301 that states overlapping in county service districts are permissible so long as they provide different services so there is no duplication of services.  He noted the City of Eugene spoke in opposition.

 

Morrison indicated the city council itself had not made a decision.  She said it was their legislative committee and the vote was 2-1. She noted that their recommendation had not gone to the full city council.

 

Van Vactor explained this morning the Board will hold a first reading on the Metro Plan Amendment and it will go to a public hearing on April 19.  He added the work group commissioned a survey to find out the citizens’ understanding on the needs regarding public safety. He noted a 40-page report was included in the packet. (Copy in file.)

 

Doug Harcleroad, District Attorney, noted the work group gave him the job of project manager.  He said that Linda Cook, Sheriff’s Office, has developed a master projects plan that gives assignments to people.  He said the plan would be approved on Friday and then they will have a master plan with timelines and variables. He explained by January 1 they would have all the legal hurdles taken care of for the Public Safety Service District.

 

Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services, explained that this would impact everyone’s systems.  He said what is a priority for them is Parole and Probation and supervision staff.  He noted that Lane County’s case rate is 101 clients to one Probation Officer and it is the highest in the state.  He said they need more Parole and Probation Officers to do supervision adequately.  He said they are also going to be doing prevention and treatment services with a combination of Youth Services and Children and Families.  With regard to treatment services, he said they had focused on meth issues.

 

Sorenson asked how they would create a district and reconcile the tension between the need to have direct law enforcement services and jail capacity to handle the immediate problem of public safety, versus the failure to treat substance abuse. His concern was that if it were too oriented to rural law enforcement, it would lack the political support of the constituencies that tend to vote for measures.  He said they have to craft a measure that is truly balanced.

 

Alex Gardner, District Attorney, responded that everyone is committed to striking a balance.  He said they recognize they can’t adequately address prevention while they have a mature adult criminal set causing crimes.  He stated both have to be done at the same time.  He asked the Board to trust in their process and they would come up with a cooperative agreement.

 

Russ Burger, Sheriff, suggested that they recognize this as a system, not just corrections or treatment.  He said they have to work together for the system to work.  With regard to treatment, he commented that if they don’t have some way of holding people accountable in the form of jail beds, then the system doesn’t work.  He said they would come up with a solution that everyone would agree would be the most viable.

 

With regard to Mental Health, Rockstroh said they still have the legal obligation of hospitalization.  He said they would put some of the Mental Health money into crisis teamwork.

 

Burger noted there are 119 empty jail beds and they have no burglary investigator. He noted from January 1 to March 28, 2005, they had 1,056 burglaries reported in  unincorporated Lane County.  He added they had 1,107 thefts reported.  He said a large portion of those crimes is drug related.  He said the Domestic Violence investigator is a position that is at risk every year.  He noted that they have no resident deputies in outlying communities.  He said at the minimum, they are in need in Florence, Cottage Grove, Oakridge and Blue River.

 

Gardner reported the District Attorney’s office is at its lowest staffing level in more than 25 years.  He said the caseload is climbing.  He said they couldn’t prosecute larger blocks of crime.  He added they have a salary problem.  He said they are swapping journeymen people for new people.  He said their senior people have to train the new attorneys and it takes away from their productivity.  He said they are not able to handle the volume, making their situation worse.  He indicated they are 17% behind average government pay.  He commented that it makes it harder to recruit new attorneys.

 

Alicia Hays, Children and Families, said they have been able to take a broader view with public safety around prevention in different departments.  She said part of the safety system is prevention. She indicated they are determining what would be the best mix of prevention work as part of a public safety district.

 

Green said they needed to put in prevention strategies based upon evidence-based practices.  He wanted things that worked, not something that felt good.

 

Morrison commented they sometimes fund things under pressure by advocacy groups that don’t always accomplish something else that could be more cost effective.  She wanted a package that the voters could support which impacts the system more than now.  She wanted treatment and prevention.

 

Dwyer said the people would have to be convinced that they would feel safer and be safer as a result of the investment they would make in the system.  He stated if they couldn’t convince the public, he doesn’t know if it could ever work.  He said there needed to be different elements and components.  He added it would be different for different demographics.

 

Green explained they have been discussing a system through the Public Safety Coordinating Council.  He noted they spent a decade designing the system.  He said it is something that didn’t just happen.  He indicated they have a historical basis for discussing a system and could show that what doesn’t happen at the front-end causes problem throughout the system.  He commented that the offenders know the system better than law enforcement because they know the part that is broken.

 

Dwyer said they are going to have to delineate what their responsibility is.  He thought they should amend the constitution to allow the road dollars to fund state police.  He said they have to develop a system that the people could understand and how it would benefit them directly so they could make an investment in maintaining the public health and public safety.  He said if they can’t do that, then their chances of success are greatly diminished.

 

With regard to the juvenile component, Harcleroad said they have one pod out of three open.  He said they are going to lose more than $1 million in grants next year. He noted the state training school has been cut in half to 35.  He said they have serious youth offenders with no place to be put. He noted this has to go out to other cities and to non-profits as it is an inclusive process with all of the various partners.

 

Sorenson asked if they should have a differential rate to recognize that city taxpayers are paying for some of the public safety that people outside the cities are paying or if they could make a funding formula to compensate the cities by giving them some of the money that would be raised from this district.

 

Harcleroad noted that one of the key conclusions in the poll is that the County should not include split rates in the measure. He commented that when they combine the compression issues and trying to hold cities harmless, they don’t get charged for jails anymore if they have a public safety district and are able to raise enough money.

 

Harcleroad explained how they thought they would be successful with this work in the public safety system for the cities.  He said in Eugene, 39% of the caseload that comes to their office comes from the City of Eugene.  He added that 32% of the book-ins in the jail came from the City of Eugene. He noted the referrals to the juvenile department are 42% from the City of Eugene and the City of Springfield has 50%.  He said the citizens need all of the services that the County provides.  He said public safety would take the hits in the future because of the costs.  He added they would either have to fill the gap or their partners will lose services. He said they want support and a well-run campaign that is well-financed.

 

Dwyer said the need is demonstrated for this by the revolving door in the jail. He said they have to try to impress upon their partners that Lane County is providing their services.  He noted there are mandated responsibilities from the citizens and the state.  He said they have to make the system work. He commented that the passage of this measure would result in them feeling more secure.

 

Morrison thought it was important that the Board of Commissioners stress to their partners on a regular basis what this means.

 

Green thought he and Sorenson should talk to the city councilors who represent the wards.  He said it was also important that the rural communities see value in this.  He commented that people move out of the city to avoid paying city taxes so with that comes the understanding and a choice they would have a different level of service.

 

Stewart stated they have gotten to the point where they have to go to the cities and craft the language of what is involved.  He said the cities are going to have to see Lane County’s support and commitment to the plan.

 

Harcleroad indicated they are short of jail space in the broader system.  He said they have started the conversation that Springfield doesn’t need 100 beds for their municipal court.  He asked if there was another way the public safety service district could use the other beds and help them with the operations.  He was hopeful they could do double bunking in the jails so they don’t have to build a new building.

 

Morrison commented that each step is a hurdle and if one of them doesn’t go forward, then they have to stop.

 

7. PUBLIC WORKS

 

a. FIRST READING AND SETTING SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING/Ordinance No. PA 1221/Amending the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Area General Plan (Metro Plan) to Clarify and Provide Greater Flexibility for Public Safety Service Delivery in the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Area (Metro Plan, Growth Management, Policy 15) (Second Reading & Public Hearing: April 19, 2005, 7:00 p.m.).

 

MOTION:  to approve a First Reading and Setting a Second Reading and Public Hearing on Ordinance No. PA 1221.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Green SECONDED.

 

Kent Howe, Land Management, explained that this is one of the early hurdles.  He said it was odd that land use is in this context of preventive and reactive public safety.  He commented that the Rural Comprehensive Plan land use policies or the ten small cities’ Comprehensive Plan land use policies do not address issues of district formation.  He said the Eugene Springfield Metro Plan does and that is why this is part of the process.

 

Morrison indicated that Springfield suggested elected officials consider a single district within the County instead of a single countywide district.

 

Howe explained the first group to deliberate was the City of Eugene’s Planning Commission.  He said they were concerned about specificity in two areas of the amendment.  With regard to the description of the district, instead of what is proposed (in the draft before the elected officials), is a district for a zone of benefit to provide services. He said that Eugene wanted to make one single countywide district and that was presented to the Springfield Planning Commission  He said Springfield suggested calling it a single district within the County.  He said it clarifies that if a city opts out, they don’t have to deal with the issue of whether they have a countywide district or not.

 

Van Vactor noted another issue the Eugene Planning Commission was concerned about was the language in the middle of the text that says: “Including but not limited to.”  He said they are planning to have a discussion at this Friday’s meeting with regard to specific language and have a recommendation for the elected officials on April 19.

 

Howe recalled the Eugene Planning Commission was concerned about the “not withstanding” language as an exception but they didn’t have an alternative recommendation, so that moved forward.  He said that was presented to Springfield and their main recommendation had to do with being careful around the single countywide district.  He added the Lane County Planning Commission was supportive of it as it was crafted.

 

VOTE: 5-0.  

 

8. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

None.

 

9. EMERGENCY BUSINESS 

 

None.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Morrison adjourned the meeting at 10:25 a.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary