LANE COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE

May 5, 2005

5:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Commissioners’ Conference Room

APPROVED 5/2/06

 

Chair David Crowell presided with Scott Bartlett, Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Francisca Leyva-Johnson, Denis Hijmans, Mary Ann Holser, Peter Sorenson and Faye Stewart present. Anna Morrison excused.  Bill Van Vactor, Dave Garnick and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

 

Chair David Crowell indicated that dinner arrived late.  He said the Budget Committee would recess for 15 minutes and reconvene.

 

Chair David Crowell reconvened the meeting at 5:35 p.m.

 

II. COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

Crowell distributed information on allotted time for committee guidelines.  He discussed the process.  He commented that some people tend to dominate discussions.  His recommendation is that they rotate questions around the committee.

 

Sorenson was in favor of the process.  He recommended that with the rotation that they have a two-minute question limit.

 

Dwyer said they need to have a focus.  He didn’t think limiting questions gave justice to the process.  He liked the elimination of the dog and pony show.

 

Holser thought they should be able to ask the questions they want to ask. She thought the Leadership Team suggestions should be taken as recommendations instead of the final say.  She was concerned about not being able to respond to people who come to talk at public comment.  She was interested in citizen participation.  She agreed to try out the system to see if it works and for the Budget Committee to evaluate it.

 

Hijmans proposed that the Budget Committee members limit their questions during the presentation to absolutely essential questions that need to be asked at that point in time.  He suggested using cards to write down questions which could be posted on the website so the public is included in the process.

 

Bartlett commented that Oregon State law sets up a budget committee and it is to be sensitive to what the public feels and to hear public testimony.  He thought the process last year was fair.  He was in favor of putting a limitation on the presentation by departments. He thought this was going overboard.  He agreed to go along with the presentation limitations but not limiting the Budget Committee members.

 

Green didn’t care what process they used.  He didn’t want the discussions to go on forever. He said he had received feedback about some members talking so much when the question had already been answered.  He thought if someone had a question, it should be submitted to staff so it could be answered.

 

Dwyer commented more people had televisions than computer access and questions should be asked during the process.

 

MOTION: to adopt Rule 1 and 2 and the schedule that was presented.

 

Sorenson MOVED, Bartlett SECONDED.

 

Crowell asked why he didn’t include number 4.

 

Sorenson said he didn’t hear a lot of agreement on it.

 

Green suggested just moving forward if everyone agrees on it.

 

Sorenson thought everything else would depend on how Crowell conducts the meeting.

 

Crowell didn’t want a motion.  He wanted consensus, and what they normally do for  meetings.  He said he would do the rotation and keep the questions to two minutes per person.

 

Sorenson withdrew his motion.  Bartlett withdrew his second.

 

III. SHERIFF’S OFFICE

 

Garnick reported that the Sheriff’s Office total budget is $50 million in five different funds.  He noted that $45.4 million is in the general fund with the balance in the road fund, the fleet fund, special review and services and the promissory fund.  He added that 50 percent is discretionary.  He indicated they have 385 FTE and there are no major changes in the proposed budget.  He said they have $675,000 in reductions in personnel services.  He noted the Sheriff’s Office would be putting lapse into the budget to fill a $1.1 million hole as a reduction in the State Community Corrections grant funding.  He recalled the past three years the Sheriff’s Office had to make $1.8 million in reductions and have lost 15.2 FTE.  He said for 05/06, their total reductions to date are $2.4 million and 16.2 FTE.  He indicated there were no other reductions proposed.  He noted they have an add package of $149,700 for a burglary investigator.  He added that there are no technical adjustments.

 

Russ Burger, Sheriff, reported the two highest priority services of Lane County’s seven service guidelines are immediate response to life, health and safety matters and services that provide prevention, deterrence or treatment.  He noted that all of the services fall within the top two categories.  He said they are trying to balance it with the limited resources they have.  He said they are not meeting their public safety partners or the public’s expectation for incarceration or for response for calls for service.  He said they have limited resources to address the problem.

 

Burger indicated there had been an administrative change within the organization.  He said there would continue to be changes in the operation of the Sheriff’s Office under his administration.  He said there are two new administrative captains:  Dennis Ewing and Corrections Captain, Kevin Williams.

 

Burger indicated they reviewed the policies and procedures in the organization to bring them to a level that meets or exceeds state accreditation standards.  He added they would have a two-day executive staff planning session.  He said they will write a Strategic Plan that is a working document.  With regards to corrections, he said there continues to be 119 empty jail beds because of the lack of operating funds.  He added besides a lack of capacity, they are dealing with clientele in corrections who are dangerous.  He stated that kitchen staff now feels concerned for their safety and the deputies at the Forest Work Camp indicate that the clientele they are supervising are more dangerous than in the past.

 

Burger announced that the Sherman Center had just opened and should result in a more efficient process and more accurate assessment of inmates for placement.  He said they have had a five percent reduction in capacity-based releases using the Sherman Center.  He said as a result of the analysis, bookings are down but they don’t know what is driving that.  He hoped to continue to improve efficiencies in their ability to evaluate inmates and reduce the number of capacity based releases they do.  He added with more efficient scheduling at the jail, they are able to provide 24-hour coverage with nursing staff.

 

Burger was concerned that if the Secure Rural Schools Act is not renewed, Title II and Title III monies go away and they would lose the entire Forest Work Camp operation.  He said they are trying to work with the capacity issue in the jail.  He said they are under a federal consent decree that requires that they not exceed 93 percent of their available jail space based on staffing of 26 jail beds.  He indicated that decree was enacted in 1988 and corrections procedures had changed in the past 17 years.  He said if they are able to raise the cap from 93 percent to 96.5 percent, that would give them 13 additional beds and leave 13 beds that would allow flexibility when they have overbookings, so people are not sleeping on the floor.  He added they were discussing double bunking at the jail facility.  He explained there are ACA standards that require that inmates have a certain amount of unencumbered floor space and they don’t have to abide by the rules, but it is good practice.  He said they are trying to see if there are opportunities to create capacity in the system without violating the standard.  He said they could add 10 beds and if they were able to adjust the federal cap, they could add 23 beds without any extra cost to the community.

 

Burger reported that last year they released just under 4,000 offenders, just short of them doing their entire sentence.  He said they are still faced with the issue of not having enough capacity.  He noted the Domestic Violence position continues to be underfunded and fewer detectives result in fewer crimes being investigated in property crimes.

 

Burger discussed that last year they had 94,054 calls for service that came into the dispatch center.  He said they made 4,500 criminal arrests and issued 25,706 traffic citations.  He explained because of the call load and the lack of personnel resources, they are experiencing demands that can’t be met and frustration by the public.  He noted they no longer have any resident deputies in Lane County.  He added if the Secure Rural Schools Act goes away, they have a Forest Deputy Program that would go away completely and Search and Rescue and Dunes Patrol are also in jeopardy.  He reported the 2004 burglary report stated that burglaries increased by 22 percent compared to 2003.  He added that vehicle theft was up in 2004 by 25 percent.  He indicated the total reportable motor vehicle crashes increased from 176 to 231.

 

With regard to neighborhood watch, Burger said they lost their volunteer coordinator.  He commented that it is an outstanding program throughout Lane County but it has been anemic.  He said they hired extra help and passed duties onto administrative staff to keep the program going.  He wanted to support that program because it is important to the community.

 

Burger reported that they are going to begin a reserve academy for people who could become full time police officers.  He added that reserve provides a resource for the community, as it is volunteers who help with some of the police work that can’t be done.  He said they are going to work with local agencies so they could get reserves trained and they would leverage the resource to provide services.  He added they would be sharing training resources with other police agencies in the area.  He indicated since the 1960’s they have about 21 unsolved homicides in Lane County. He said they are in the process of putting together a cold case team to try to solve some of the old cases.

 

Burger indicated the outcomes they have identified include reducing patrol response time to critical emergencies, priority one calls and any other life-threatening event.  He said from the 911 calls to their arrival is 17 minutes.  He said they have the second lowest unincorporated patrol capacity in the State of Oregon at .25 deputies per thousand in the state and they cover the third highest service population.  He said they need to reduce the number of capacity based releases and the only way they can do that is by enhancing capacity.  He said they are trying to do that without spending more money.  He said they have to determine the percentage of inmates that are re-offending within the year.

 

Due to the County’s inability to address property crime, Burger indicated he contacted Chief Lehner in Eugene and Chief Smith and Mike Bloom from the State Police office and asked if they would be interested in joining a task force approach to address property crimes.  He said they agreed it was a good idea and they would be willing to do that.  He asked the Budget Committee to consider adding a property crimes investigator back to the Sheriff’s Office so they could work together with their partners to address the problem.

 

Burger believed the budget as presented was underfunded and if they experience poor revenue performance and have higher than expected M & S expenses and high unfunded overtime liability, they would have to make mid-year adjustments with the budget they presented.

 

Burger commented the key point is the system, not just jail and they need the prosecutor and Parole and Probation officers to supervise, and they need capacity in Youth Services.  He thought if they could intervene with the children early enough, it saves work down the road.  He thought corrections capacity was the most important component.

 

IV. DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

 

Garnick explained the District Attorney’s office budget totals $7.7 million.  He noted that 97 percent of their budget is in the general fund and 69.5 percent of that is discretionary.  He added they also have some money in the special review fund and the liquor law enforcement fund.  He indicated there are 72 FTE and no major service changes.  He said they had to cut down on their costs.  He noted within the past three years they have had to cut $800,000 and 11 FTE.  He said there are no additional reduction or add packages.

 

Alex Gardner, Assistant District Attorney, explained the growth that was allowed was 4.3 percent of the general fund.  He said assuming they had no COLA’s, they had cost increases of 6.6 percent.  He indicated they started out with 2.3 percent in the hole in the general fund sum and they had to cover the cap.  He said part was covered by the turnover in the Criminal Division.  He said when they trade people who are more senior for new people, they are starting at the bottom of the salary scale and that generates lapse in those positions and there is some savings for the year.  He indicated that wasn’t adequate to cover the cap they had.  He said there wasn’t any margin with materials and services because they cut back.  They decided to plan for contingencies in favor of keeping bodies. He added they also have a budget with IS of $30,000 per month.  He said they might have to make corrections mid-year.

 

With regard to the Criminal Division, Gardner said they used to investigate and prosecute all of the cases that came into their office.   He said they can’t do that anymore and made the first corrections in May.  He said they added property crimes back.  He explained at the time they made the initial cuts in May, their intake rate was about 150 cases per week.  He said they made the cuts and other adjustments and the rate dropped significantly but they are now close to the 150 cases per week.  He indicated since January 1, 2005 they opened 3,440 cases.  He said they are seeing the impact about doing nothing with property crime locally. He said they made corrections, cut their caseload and their caseload is higher than it was before they made the cuts. They concluded that they are going to have to go through another round of cuts.  He said they found efficiencies and a number of alternative disposition programs that are in place.  He said they only make one appearance on probation violation cases except in rare circumstances.

 

With regard to Family Law, Gardner said there were some incentives earned through efficiencies and high recovery rates.  He indicated that they have a pool of money to draw from to supplement the budget.  He said this year Family Law was $150,000 of general fund money and they are going to produce over $20 million for Lane County’s kids and families.  He added the federal government is picking up 67 percent of the expenses.  He said it costs them about 75 cents to collect $100.  He indicated there are concerns about the federal supplement as there are other states coming on line and there will be more states competing for the same pool of money.  He said the incentive money would diminish over time.

 

Gardner explained that almost everything they do is mandated and directly related to the Strategic Plan and critical safety concerns.  He said they are failing to do what statute requires them to do.  He commented that they don’t have discretion over whether or not they investigate things that the legislature decides is criminal.  He said they are not looking at 100 cases per month.  He noted that Lane County issues 900 arrest warrants per month because they don’t have a jail.  He said they are not getting additional beds and it means the people who are lower level criminals are a high irritant factor for the community because they cycle through faster in order to keep higher-risk people in jail longer.

 

Dwyer asked how they get the system back in balance.

 

Gardner responded that the problem is failure to effectively communicate with the public.  He said it is within the power of the people of the community to fix the problem.  He said they don’t listen.  He thought they would fix the problem if they understood the magnitude.  He commented that they were not getting that message out there. He said they have to help make the public understand how grim the situation is.

 

Doug Harcleroad, District Attorney, said they need money in order to do the job properly.  He said the public safety systems takes the majority of the discretionary general fund and there isn’t enough money.  He said they are working on a public safety district that will help fund the critical services.

 

Stewart noted last year the budget for the District Attorney for IS services was $400,000.  He noted this year it is at $340,000.  He asked what IS provides the District Attorney over and above those fees to make up the difference.

 

Gardner didn’t agree with all of the numbers.  He noted there were other component costs, AIRS access and quarterly fees that are assessed.  With regard to overall computer costs, he said they have a fund to divert money to cover the cost of replacing the PC’s on a regular schedule.  He added there are other fixed costs.  He was asked earlier about controlling the IS costs but didn’t know the answer.

 

Van Vactor thought that was a question that Tony Black, Information Services, could answer.

 

Crowell asked how many adult beds were being funded.  He asked how many beds a county like Lane County should have.

 

Gardner recalled they have 488 beds, 119 of which are not being used.  He added the analysis in 1999 stated they needed in excess of 350 additional beds.  He noted the optimum would be at over 800 beds in the jail.

 

Harcleroad indicated they are under jail size.  He commented if there were only one thing they could fix with the criminal justice system, he would fix the jail.  He added it was the most expensive thing to fix, but it would stop the same criminals being released and returning.

 

Green recalled that last year they mentioned the crimes they weren’t prosecuting.  He said there was a conversation with the City of Eugene city prosecutor about prosecuting cases.  He asked if that could be in their jurisdiction, given that it is a systems issue.

 

Gardner said that the City of Eugene recognizes how extensive it is.  He added the City of Eugene hadn’t adopted the State Criminal Code so most of the offenses cannot be prosecuted.  He said they could create their own municipal ordinances to do that.

 

Green asked if Lane County could legally impose a surcharge or indirect costs to the City of Eugene for services.

 

Gardner didn’t think there was a way to charge the City of Eugene.  He noted there was some discussion about their contributing to Lane County’s need.  He added it wouldn’t be appropriate for the District Attorney’s office to just prosecute a particular type of crime in Eugene.  He indicated when they did an analysis last year, the District Attorney’s office (because of the efficiencies in the office) could prosecute the crimes they were most concerned about for the entire county for less than it would cost the City of Eugene’s prosecutor’s office for the City of Eugene.

 

V. DEPT. OF YOUTH SERVICES

 

Garnick reported Youth Services’ budget is $9.8 million and 99.6 percent is in the general fund, with $42,000 in special revenue.  He noted $5.9 million, or 60 percent is discretionary.  He commented that all though the budget balanced, he indicated the department made it clear they would be facing elimination or reductions of several federal funding programs during the coming year of $1.1 million.  He said they had already reduced $2.3 million in the past year and 12.7 FTE.  There were no other adds, reductions or adjustments at this time.

 

Lisa Smith, Department of Youth Services, reported they remain underfunded despite overwhelming needs.  She noted they continue leveraging County funds with federal reimbursements.  She noted the upcoming changes include county, state and federal policy and resource changes.  She said they have 50 percent fewer shelter beds locally, 100 percent fewer state beds locally that were cut by the state.  She said they have 50 percent fewer residential drug and alcohol beds for boys.  She said they have 73 percent fewer juvenile crime prevention dollars and reductions in prevention, mental health services, alcohol and drug treatment and education.  She said they have seen an increase in youth with mental health problems.  She indicated that youth in the community are not receiving the physical health care and the mental health services.

 

Smith reported they have had to respond to the new Oregon Youth Authority rules for youth in detention over eight days after they had been adjudicated.  She said the rules require more treatment services, a higher staffing level and individualized treatment plans.

 

Smith explained in the past they had lost eight juvenile counselor staff, loss of state and treatment beds, reduction in juvenile crime prevention dollars and $550,000 in Juvenile Breaking the Cycle funds.  She said over the course of 2005/2006, there will be the loss of $1 million in various grant funds and the loss of up to 11 FTE.  She indicated this includes the elimination of the Juvenile Breaking the Cycle federal program, the elimination of the federal juvenile Drug Court grant, a three-year grant for $300,000.  She said there would be the elimination of the federal Safe School Healthy Students grant for DYS of $338,000 annually.  She added they had a reduction in the juvenile accountability block grant federal funds from $205,000 to $55,000 annually. She said they have been able to delay some impacts of the grant losses by holding existing vacant positions open and trying to leverage treatment services.  She explained that in the past 13 years Youth Services has brought in $13 million in grant funds and it meant they have not been coming to the Board for $13 million in need, but they had been able to find other ways to meet it.  She added there are not options now.

 

Smith said their challenge was to maintain a status quo budget.  She said with the challenge, they found themselves in a position of either cutting critical services or half of detention.  She said that was an unacceptable solution and the Youth Services Strategy for 2005/2006 budget is to maintain status quo through increased revenue.  She indicated they used one-time funds of $150,000 that the Board allowed in excess of their lapse to explore implementing the Oregon Youth Authority rules around the youth care center and they use 16 existing detention beds for leverage funds of federal reimbursement.  She noted from United Front they received a one-time federal earmark for mental health services for juvenile justice youth. She added those funds could not be used for youth in detention.

 

Smith explained that over a 12-month period, intake served 2,356 youth, probation served 668 youth and detention had 904 admissions. She indicated for allocating resources they looked to the County Strategic Plan and critical life, health, safety, took priority over everything else.  She said they prioritized their services and looked at external versus internal.  She noted for the youth care center, they found a large number of detained youth needing a secure extended stay program and the youth care center model would work.  She said in order to qualify for the federal reimbursement, the youth care center program had to be physically separate from detention.  She reported that they have 16 beds of detention and 16 beds for youth care.  She indicated they maintained capacity and for now capacity was important.

 

Lisa Wagner, Youth Services, explained with the cuts at the state, federal and local level, they are seeing a higher risk group of individual juvenile offenders remaining in the community for longer periods of time.  She said with higher risk kids and fewer resources, there is an increased likelihood that they would see more episodic but serious offenses.  She added even with increased resources, there is likelihood that a juvenile and adult will commit crimes in the community.  She said with the reduction and elimination of critical services for high-risk kids, they are increasing the probability that they are going to see more crimes.  She commented that the public is still paying for services and expect to see a return on their investment.  She said in looking at the data they are about 83 percent successful.  She said they have 17 percent of all offenders committing 72 percent of offenses.  That is the group that needs the resources that have been eliminated and reduced.

 

Wagner stated their purpose for the Department of Youth Services is to protect the public by reducing delinquency and improving the ability for juveniles to productively live in the community.

 

Hijmans commented that the Department of Youth Services was probably the most valuable use of discretionary general fund money.  He believed in prevention.  He asked what they believed was the critical elements of the grants they are losing.  He wanted to know about the critical need for females.  He believed they needed to discuss the development of skills in youth so they could succeed and thrive.

 

Stewart said they have to find a way to stabilize the funding and to do it without grants and continue the good work.  He said they are going to have to ask the voters for more funds so they could continue to do the good work.

 

Green stated that prevention is key for kids from 12 to 17.  He said they need to include prevention in the public safety district formation.  He asked how the Board could help them engage the other counties around the state for resources.

 

Smith said they had been talking to other counties about utilizing the capacity.  She said the budget challenges that Lane County face, other counties face as well.  She added they have had discussions with the Oregon Youth Authority that when times get better, using the capacity Lane County has, as opposed to other facilities throughout the state.  She said that evidence based practice states they should provide service closest to that person’s home.

 

VI. DEPT. OF CHILDREN & FAMILIES

 

Jennifer Inman, Budget Analyst, reported the total proposed budget for Children and Families is $2,763,474.  She noted that all of the Children and Families’ budget is in the non-discretionary general fund, no discretionary general fund dollars currently go to Children and Families.  She said in the last three years, Children and Families had made reductions in their budget.  She noted in the 03/04 year, there were about $500,000 in cuts through FTE.  She added they came out of services funded by Children and Families.  She noted there would be another $970,000 cut from Children and Families this year and that is before any additional cuts in the state budget.  She explained a majority of the cuts would be in the Healthy Start Program.   She said there is a reduction in the ability of Healthy Start to generate new Medicaid funds.  She noted there is about a 70 percent drop in the ability to generate medical reimbursable efforts.  She indicated there were no technical adjustments to the budget.

 

Alicia Hays, Children and Families, explained they are an 18 member commission.  She passed out information from the Oregon Commission on Children and Families, that reviews how they look at children and families. She said they fund services and do community mobilization.  With regard to total leveraged resources, they have over $1 million in prevention practices.  She said they have activities such as increased support service efficiencies, quality improvement and accountability.  She noted their total leveraged resources from July through December are $1.4 million and over 316 hours in volunteer help.

 

Hays reported the Healthy Start budget was a spend down.  She said they had money sitting in the account and they used it over the past biennium.  She said they were hoping they could keep it at that level, but they are going to make some changes to the program. She said the Commission on Children and Families was active in talking to the Board of Commissioners to discuss public safety and prevention.  She noted the impact of changes with the loss of FTE’s, they will be losing the ability to generate that type of services into the community.  She said they wouldn’t be able to go out for as many grants.

 

VII. NEXT MEETING

 

Garnick passed out materials for Tuesday’s meeting.

 

VIII. ADJOURN

 

Chair Crowell adjourned the meeting at 9:05 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary