BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
November 1, 2005
Lane Community College, Center for Meeting and Learning
4000 E. 30th Avenue, Bldg. 19, Room 104
Commissioner Anna Morrison presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Peter Sorenson and Faye Stewart present. Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer was also present.
1. Task Force Report
Jim Johnson, Facilitator, reviewed the Task Force Report (Copy in file).
2. Public Safety Needs
Johnson said they had been listening to staff for needs within the County and the Task Force decided the County should be focusing on illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol. He added that meth was a key factor as well as reducing illegal and criminal acts and family violence. He said they also wanted to provide prevention programs.
3. All Available Funding Options
Johnson reported they looked at personal taxes, gross receipts, restaurant tax, a business license and an amusement tax to fund the public service district.
4. SECOND READING/Ordinance No. 5-05/In the Matter of Amending Chapter 4 of Lane Code to Add Provisions for a Lane County Sales Tax and Use Tax, to Dedicate the Revenues, to Adopt Administration and Collection Provisions, To Renumber Differential Tax Provisions, and to Set an Effective Date (LC 4.400 through 4.462).
5. SECOND READING/Ordinance No. 6-05/In the Matter of Amending Chapter 4 of Lane Code to Add Provisions for a Lane County Gross Receipts Tax, to Dedicate the Revenues, to Adopt Administration and Collection Provisions, To Renumber Differential Tax Provisions, and to Set an Effective Date (LC 4.500 through 4.563).
Commissioner Morrison opened the Public Hearing.
Pat Patterson, Cottage Grove, stated he had been a resident in the area since 1958. He said the drug problem is everyoneís problem. He was impressed that, of the 11 jurisdictions present, 10 decided to take the recommendations of Commissioner Stewartís proposal of one cent on the dollar sales tax, with a property tax reduction with specific areas of need. He said law enforcement needs the tools in the rural areas. He said they need to come forward with this and accept that everyone who is a resident of Lane County needs to help fix the problem. He commented that one cent on the dollar will generate enough money to help law enforcement people in the rural area and give the District Attorney the tools to put people in jail, and work on the drug and alcohol problem. He hoped the Board would support this, as it is a way to start to work on the law enforcement problems.
Fred Simmons, Springfield, commented that whatever the Board does, they need to meet the need. He said the problem is they need to attach to people their fair share of the cost. He said for whatever tax they have, the Board needs to adopt it and refer it to the voters. He thought the voters needed the opportunity to vote on it. He said if the Board doesnít refer this and a referendum comes along, they would be guaranteed to lose. He thought they needed to get the education out and once the public understands what the issues are, they would vote on it. He said if they donít give it to the voters, there would be a taxpayer revolt. He said they have to improve the delivery system they have.
Teresa McSween, Eugene, said the problem is Oregon voters have indicated they donít want a sales tax. She declared that the voters are tired of being taxed. She doesnít think putting people in jails is the way to go. She indicated it was a community problem. She said they need to be more creative with funding. She thought they should tax the corporations.
Ree McSween, Eugene, stated she is on a limited income due to an accident. She said she canít work to raise income because of an accident and now she is being asked to add more taxes to take away money from her to support something she doesnít believe in. She didnít have faith that this money would accomplish anything except add to the bureaucracy and the politics and corruption that are taking place. She thought there was a big problem but she doesnít think jail is the answer. She didnít believe the law enforcement could solve the problem. She commented that throwing money at any problem is not the answer.
Tim Schweitzer, Eugene, said he was a multiple business owner in Cottage Grove. He wanted to know how many people recommended fixing public safety at the surface level without a public vote. He asked if a majority of business and taxpayers had been visited and asked about what they thought about new taxes or solutions to public safety issues. He noted the survey poll taken of 400 people was not a large enough representative sample of Lane Countyís population. He commented that a majority of the taxpayers need to be educated on how the proposed taxes would affect them. He said they should be asked in a valid vote whether they want to have these particular proposed taxes. He thought if the voters got this tax, then what would stop the state from doing the same thing. He asked how many people would really come to meetings when their lives are so busy.
Green commented what he had heard people say was that they understand the problem but he hadnít heard a set of solutions that everyone could agree on. He said for the root problem, it is the bare minimum that they are trying to address. He added the money they are asking for would not get them to the root of the problem. He said that starts around prevention. He said the only way to fix the problem would be to determine who should be in jail.
Mike Fleck, Cottage Grove, City Councilor, commented that this was a difficult process for the elected officials. He had voted against sales taxes in the past. He supports this because he understands the need. He said they cannot allow this to continue. He said he would try to reach consensus where he can and look for what he could live with instead of the best possible solution. He said he would help the Board to advocate this. He thought the Board should work as hard as possible to reach what they could live with to fix the situation.
Green indicated that they as a Board started working on a public safety district and they went around to the smaller cities to talk about Lane Countyís financial structure. He said they were facing a financial problem because expenses werenít keeping up with revenues. He said they received support from some communities. He added when it went to the City of Eugene, the concept to amend the Metro Plan was denied. He wanted to appoint representatives to the large task force that was being convened. He commented that the problem is still there and few solutions are being offered. He said if there were no solutions, they would continue to limp along like they had been doing.
Dwyer said they needed to educate the public and the public officials as to what the needs are. He said they need a system where they can prosecute. He said they couldnít continue to build jails and not get to the crux of the problem. He noted the Task Force brought the recommendations to the commissioners. He said they didnít adopt any sales tax. He was not in favor of it. He said they had broadened the scope to include all options and had heard from the public. He said they have a large task in getting people to gain a greater understanding of what the problem is.
Frank Simpson, Cottage Grove, sated he is a newcomer to Oregon. He said he hates to pay taxes but there are service needs in the community and if they donít have the level of support at the government level with safety and security and treatment of problems with drugs, then the whole community would go downhill. He said they have to reverse the trend and correct the problem. He was for a corporate or sales tax combination. He said it is a fair tax across the board. He said that corporations need to carry their fair share of the burden. He thought they needed to have a better proportion of prevention funds. He said they need police and people need to be held accountable. He added the treatment portion was low.
Vernon Edwards, Springfield, stated he is a lifetime resident of Oregon. He said if a sales tax is started low that it wouldnít be the end of it. He commented that the County needed to learn to live within its means. He suggested laying people off.
There being no one else signed up to speak, Commissioner Morrison closed the Public Hearing.
There being no other business, Commissioner Morrison adjourned the meeting at 7:10 p.m.