BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING
May 17, 2005
Commissioner’s Conference Room
Chair David Crowell presided with Budget Committee Members Scott Bartlett, Bill Dwyer Bobby Green, Sr., Denis Hijmans, Mary Ann Holser, Anna Morrison, Peter Sorenson and Faye Stewart present. Francisca Leyva-Johnson was excused. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, Senior Budget Analyst Dave Garnick and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chair David Crowell called the meeting to order. He announced there would be a dinner break at 6:00 p.m.
II. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Robert Sabin, Eugene, distributed his letter. (Copy in file). He recalled in January 2005, the Oregon State Department of Revenue completed an extensive evaluation of Lane County’s assessment and taxation functions. He said the study showed that the County had failed to maintain current and accurate property descriptions and ownership records as required by law. He said it has created a backlog of 2,315 tax lots awaiting action as a result of local government revenue losses and has resulted in losses of $4.2 million in 2003/2004. He noted the Department of Revenue had recommended that Lane County increase staffing in the Assessors Department of 4.5 FTE in 2005/2006 and an additional 2 FTE in 2006/2007. He hoped the support from the Department of Revenue would result in corrections in the deficiencies that exist. He suggested the County proceed with the staffing increase recommended, but add an additional 4 FTE to eliminate the backlog.
Keith Stanton, Mapleton, indicated he has “come to the County to give money.” He noted for some years the County had experienced the reduction of timber receipts and other road monies that resulted in the deterioration of the County roads. He offered the Board $1 million to be spent on projects to improve road safety. He recalled they originally requested minor repairs and improvements on the one-third mile long Bernhardt Heights Road. He noted the County had maintained it for the past 70 years. He said he appreciated that the Board wanted to construct a new 1¼ mile two lane paved road into their community. He said it had escalated the cost of the project from $42,000 to over $600,000 and might exceed $1 million by completion. He recalled he had brought to the Board the dangers the proposed new road brings. He said the community does not need a replacement road. He thought it would be more prudent to spend $600,000 of road taxes on critical path roads, versus an unwanted driveway serving just seven permanent homes.
Susan McDonald, Eugene, said she has been taking care of abandoned cats and the situation has gotten worse. She said she takes the animals to the vet and finds homes for them. She was distressed about the proposal to cutback LCARA’s funding. She said they need more kennels and more catteries, not less. She said putting healthy adoptable animals to death must end. She challenged the community to do something and stop putting funding for an important service at the bottom. She commented that the government is misdirecting funds by not helping these animals in need. She stated they must fund a permanent low cost spay and neuter facility and put the crisis of pet overpopulation to rest once and for all. She asked the Board to give more money to LCARA.
Jack Dresser, Eugene, supported an increase for LCARA. He recalled that the LCARA task force recommended 16 new kennels. He asked the Board to provide for one-half of the new kennels.
Michael Mattick, Watermaster, Springfield, asked for $6,582 to help fund a part-time. office assistant. He noted that Linn County had given him $2,500. He indicated that he covers two counties and has two volunteers working for him. He said he expects to receive money from the state to fund a limited duration full-time assistant in the summer to work in the Long Tom Basin.
III. COMMITTEE BUSINESS
Chair Crowell discussed the process for the evening.
IV. DISCUSSION, DELIBERATION AND WRAP-UP
Garnick noted that the budget is $473.4 million and is up about three percent. He indicated that the general fund has had a structural deficit over the last few years. He noted the financial forecast shows a couple of years of stability. He added that is only temporary, as they are using cash to carry through a two-year period. He said if they don’t address the deficit successfully, then they would have to make more cuts. He explained that the forecast now shows that in two years they would be facing a $3.7 million reduction and an additional $2 million each year thereafter. He said the proposed budget is recommending a status quo budget to retain the savings and keep even for two years.
Green asked what the level of discretionary funds they had for add packages to meet any requests.
Garnick explained that the budget is balanced and anything that is left over is in the reserves, as the Board still hadn’t made a decision about cost of living adjustments. He said if anything were added, it would come out of the reserves.
Dwyer thought it was prudent to have stability for a couple of years and hold enough in the reserves for the unknown.
Hijmans asked how much was being put in reserves and what the cost would be for the remaining labor contracts settled with a two percent COLA against the reserves.
Garnick responded the impact to the general fund would be $1 million for a two percent COLA across all remaining bargaining units. He noted the reserve has $7 million but there is about $4 million in the prudent person reserve. He added there is about $400,000 that is unknown health care. He stated whatever left over cash they carry forward to next year’s budget would keep it even for the two year period until they start making cuts.
LCARA Add Package for Administrative Analyst $67,000
Garnick explained that this was a request to use LCARA funds, but it is not a general fund add item at this point.
Dwyer thought it was important that they have an analyst so they would be able to raise revenue.
Concerning Lane County’s Public Information Officer, Stewart believed they need a budget so information could get out to educate citizens on the services they provide to improve their status. He proposed $50,000 coming from reserves to be used for marketing or advertising for public awareness. He noted that he contacted the Oregon Community Foundation and he wanted a commitment from the Board on a monetary level so when they go to other organizations asking for grants they could say they need more help and the most they could afford to do at this time.
With regard to Measure 37 issues, Stewart was concerned that they might have to come up with funding to pay for the claims. He asked if they should put funds away for this.
He said they might not have enough money to deal with Measure 37.
Dwyer agreed there should be money for public information.
MOTION: to allow the Fair Board and Florence to utilize the excess transient room tax for their operations in the amount of $900,000 and $36,000 respectively.
Dwyer MOVED, Bartlett SECONDED.
Green said he would support it with the exception that it is not meant to be used in perpetuity, but on an annual basis.
Dwyer stated that he wanted that incorporated into his motion.
Holser supported the motion.
Sorenson asked what the impact of the decision would be on the use of the $900,000 or the $36,000 from the transient room tax.
Garnick responded that the request is to have the flexibility to use the funds for operational purposes.
Dwyer reiterated that the motion was to allow them to utilize the transient room tax for operations in Florence and the Fair Board with the stipulation that it is an annual appropriation and it has to come back to the Budget Committee each year.
MOTION: to approve the LCARA recommendation.
Dwyer MOVED, Hijmans SECONDED.
Dwyer recalled this was for an analyst position that will allow them to expedite cataloging information that would create the revenue.
Stewart explained he was in support of the add package because the Board had taken a role in trying to help them become self-sufficient and fund themselves. He said if they move forward they would be able to work on generating more registration fees to see if they could make it successful.
Hijmans said he would support the budget change.
Holser supported this to improve the condition of the animals.
Sorenson asked what would happen if this position didn’t generate the money halfway during the fiscal year.
David Suchart, Management Services, responded that he would be giving a quarterly report and he explained that the object of having this type of position would be to clarify some of the numbers. He said the person would be responsible for the quarterly report with he and Mike Wellington. He indicated that it would take at least a year before they would see a difference.
Bartlett suggested that there be some real tracking about how many rabies vaccination certificates have come in and the subsequent licensure.
Green supported the position and thought the analyst should be given some latitude with the data.
MOTION: to approve the use of $50,000 from the reserve to fund materials and services and other needed aspects of the Public Information Program.
Dwyer MOVED, Hijmans SECONDED.
Sorenson amended the motion to add the burglary investigator and the SAVE Committee.
Dwyer agreed to amend his motion.
Hijmans agreed to amend his second.
Stewart supported all three of the items.
Hijmans supported all of the items, He thought there was a value with the burglary detective. He said there needed to be responses for burglaries.
Sorenson supported the additional money for the burglary officer. He thought the money they are spending on public information is low and supported the additional money for more of a media presence. He added that all money spent by the SAVE Committee over the years had come out of the County Administration budget. He noted that this was making the program more formal.
Green supported the motion that was originally put on to support the Public Information piece. He commented that he supports public safety and all of his effort will be devoted to try to make the public safety district work. He stated he wouldn’t support the motion as it stands. He said he would support the burglary investigator if it were separate from this motion.
Holser supported the additional person for burglary investigation.
VOTE: 7-2 (Green, Morrison dissenting).
MOTION: to appropriate from the reserve $4,000 for the office assistant for the Water Master.
Dwyer MOVED, Bartlett SECONDED.
Dwyer commented that this would be a busy year for water problems.
Dwyer amended his motion to match what Linn County contributed in the amount of $2,000.
Stewart thought it was an important position and he supported this.
Garnick indicated since this is from next year’s budget that he would take the money out of the reserves.
MOTIONS TO APPROVE THE FY 2005-2006 BUDGET
Move approval of the entire FY 2005/2006 budget with all technical adjustments, additions and/or reductions agreed to.
Sorenson MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.
Garnick recalled during the County Administration budget presentation there was an error in the FTE count. It showed 19.5 and it should have been 20.5 FTE as a result of the addition of the public information office person. He indicated that they received notification from the City of Springfield that they are going to have an additional contract with LCARA for another $12,000 and that was put into their budget.
Move approval of the FY 2005-2006 Permanent Tax Rate of 1.2793 per $1,000 of Assessed Value, and the Juvenile Justice Center General Obligation Bond Tax Levy in the amount of $2,741,948.
Sorenson MOVED, Morrison SECONDED.
Chair David Crowell adjourned the meeting at 7:35 p.m.