JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
And FAIR BOARD MEETING
November 2, 2005
Commissioners' Conference Room
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.
Fair Board Chair Tom Hunton, Steven Ward, Michael Schwartz, Bob Zagorin were present. Angel Jones was excused. Warren Wong was also present.
1. Fair Board Vacancies.
Hunton explained that at the end of this year Bob Zagorin and Angel Jones’ terms expire. He said they re-applied and had two other candidates that applied. He said it was a unanimous decision by the rest of the Fair Board that Zagorin and Jones be reappointed for a second term.
Sorenson was in favor of both of the nominations. He wanted to take action today. He was concerned because before Zagorin got on the board, he had an advertising contract with the Fair Board. Sorenson asked what the policy was on this issue, so the public is aware of it. He said it was a contract for advertising services that was in place prior Zagorin being on the Fair Board.
Wilson recalled it applied specifically to Zagorin with respect to a contract, but it also applies to the other Fair Board members. She said that any income opportunity that might exist where they would be associated and would have the potential of affecting them positively or negatively financially, that it has to be announced as a potential conflict of interest.
Dwyer commented that Zagorin and Jones were hard working and he wanted them reappointed.
MOTION: to approve Angel Jones and Bob Zagorin’s reappointment to a second term on the Fair Board.
Dwyer MOVED, Green SECONDED.
Wilson thought the statute for the Fair Board requires that the action take place at the first commissioners meeting of the new year. She said if that were true, this would be brought back as a board order on the Consent Calendar at the first meeting.
Sorenson asked if Wong could meet with the other applicants to let them know that they weren’t chosen and inform them the Fair Board meetings are open to the public and urge them to stay involved.
Wong said he would make the phone calls.
2. Response to September 13 Commission Direction of "Community Values and Needs" for Fairgrounds.
Hunton noted that this was their response to the September 13 meeting and direction on the community values and needs survey. He said it had given them an opportunity to discuss what needs they have been looking for into the future; acknowledging they would be at the current location for the next ten years.
Wong explained that the Fair Board is established in state law and its charge is to produce a county fair. He said in Lane County the mission has expanded to include providing services to youth, providing a venue for community festivals, and a trade show facility. He believed that there is an economic impact on Lane County. He noted the Lane Events Center acts as a business incubator for small businesses in Lane County.
Wong believed that an assessment should be the first in order to ascertain the economic impact of the fairgrounds on the Lane County economy. He added they would include the impact on the hospitality industry. He said they want input from the users of the fairgrounds and general public. He noted they have data from the fair from the exit surveys as well as evaluation feedback from each client. They thought they could do it in an expeditious manner. He said they would take that information and review the redevelopment of the existing site, or determine if they should start from scratch to build a new facility.
Dwyer asked how much the assessment would cost.
Wong said the estimates were between $41,000 to $67,000. He asked--since the Board had already authorized the Fair Board to spend up to $50,000--if the Board was comfortable with a four-phase approach beyond the scope of the initial motion passed on September 13.
MOTION: to move beyond the scope of the spreadsheet.
Dwyer MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.
Hunton stated that the Fair Board was not content to let the facilities go down. He said they want it to work better at the site they are on, (looking at all possible options) or look at creating new fairgrounds. He said they should get a baseline on the economic impact, including what type of impact they are generating from their events, and what kind of room tax revenue they are generating; plus input from user groups and vendors.
Morrison said when she looked at the timeline and methodology; this would address opportunities they were not aware of that they should be capitalizing on, and see if it could be included in a work plan. She commented that hockey has grown and has the potential to grow. She thought they should redirect the money to maximize the dollars. With regard to the economic study, she wanted a full RFP, not just signing an agreement with an entity because they had always done that. She wanted it as objective as possible, with factual data. She was confident that Wong would keep to a lower cost.
3. Review per Board Order 02-1-9-4 on Excess Transient Room Tax.
Hunton said they brought this back to the Board because it is a strategic planning issue for the Fair Board. He said at their last meeting they were given direction that the fairgrounds will stay at the site for ten years. He added they wanted to be prudent and secure the funding and financing that will allow them to operate the facility, whether it is at the current site or any other. He sent a memo that said $290,000 of the special projects fund for the Planetarium loan had been fully repaid. He commented that they wouldn’t have been able to do that if they didn’t know in advance that they would be receiving TRT that would be able to handle some of their other concerns. He said they are asking for future guidance so they could do planning for fine-tuning operations. He commented that it had helped them indirectly to help promote tourism. He added that it had freed up money in the special projects funds that are available. He said they couldn’t run the fairgrounds without TRT and the commitment to use them. He commented that the Fair Board is comfortable in Wong’s ability to not spend money frivolously. He added when Wong brings to the Board funding issues, they take those issues to the Board of Commissioners.
Wong explained that the cover memo captures the Board orders that the Board had passed over the past ten years with respect to the excess transient room tax the Fair Board gets. He said it summarizes by percentage where the TRT (capital resources) had gone over the past four years and next year’s budget. He noted that over 50 percent had gone into capital projects, but in adding the capital project’s equipment and the debt service, 82 percent of the resources had gone into asset type expenditures. He noted there is a history of using TRT at the fairgrounds. He indicated it began in 1977 when the Board used TRT to revenue back a general obligation bond that was approved for the events center.
Wong explained the board order that is currently in effect authorizes the TRT with a review in FY 06. He noted the board order expires in FY 07. He said they had taken the resources and applied it to the most urgent needs. He said the first thing the Fair Board did was build the summer storm water collector system that enabled large animals to be onsite during the dry weather. He added that enabled the 4H and the County Fair to continue. He contacted the City of Eugene regarding the dry weather period and they informally advised him that they were willing to expand the period by a month on either side. He said they were positive on the request. He noted that they also re-roofed the events center and the expo building with the TRT funds. He added they tried to begin to replace the equipment. He noted most equipment goes back 27 years. He said they are in a situation where things are breaking down on a daily basis. He said they are attempting to replace things. He recalled the Board allowed them to use the TRT to establish a cash reserve. He added that this year they increased the target to $307,000. He said their goal is to get it up to $500,000. He indicated the Board also approved TRT for subsidizing the operations because of the inability of the revenue base to cover the expenditures. He said the Fair Board is asking the Board of Commissioners to consider reauthorizing the excess TRT beyond FY 07. He added the recommendation is to extend it eight years beyond that period.
MOTION: to approve to extend the term of the excess TRT room tax commitment to the Fair Board for an additional eight years beyond the current term to 2015 and direct County Counsel to prepare a board order.
Dwyer MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.
Dwyer wanted to give certainty to the Fair Board because they wanted to do long range planning. He said the Board of Commissioners has the final say in the matter and the fact they said they are going to do it doesn’t mean it gets done this year. He added that was the same on the ten-year moratorium. He said they have the ability in the future to make the changes that might affect the use of the tax.
Green couldn’t support the motion as stated. He supported committing to a defined amount instead of the entire sweep. He indicated that gives them flexibility.
Stewart asked about the flexibility of using TRT for the upcoming Olympic trials. He thought this could be used for that reason.
Wong noted it is within the Board’s authority to direct the Fair Board that a certain amount of TRT should be allocated to the Olympic trials. He added in the TRT special project account they paid $140,000 that would be available for the Olympic trials. He noted that this year they budgeted $900,000 of TRT as the amount that will come to the Fair Board. He noted that beginning in FY 07, the first principle payment on the 2002 revenue bond comes into play. He said it is $245,000 off the top and each year it grows by $25,000 per year. He said they are not projecting more than $700,000 in the immediate future.
Stewart stated he was committed to seeing that the Fair Board functions. He would rather do that on a yearly basis and determine what the needs are, then supply the money. He said if there were money for upcoming projects, it would be easier to judge the money on a year-to-year basis.
Morrison commented it was hard for the Fair Board to plan on an annual basis when they are taking reservations into the future. She said there is no certainty to anyone in the message they are sending forward. She asked what the direction, intent and commitment was regarding the fairgrounds, what the fairgrounds provide to the community and what the Board of Commissioners expects of the Fair Board. She thought the Board was giving the Fair Board mixed messages.
Zagorin noted that Lane County as a community needs to develop convention and meeting space. He said the Fair Board is more in sync with Lane County’s mission of youth and families. He noted they have room tax activities and other activities that fit into a broader mission. He said the $900,000 could go to immediate capital improvements. He added that they were already diverting $250,000 to the operating budget. He noted the remainder is not enough to fund the capital list they had been looking at. He said they have a PERS’ liability and the bond repayment. He was convinced the Fair Board needed this.
Dwyer supported the continuation of the fairgrounds. He likes the current location. He supported the ten-year moratorium. He said people could change their mind at any time. He thought it was reasonable for the Board to give the Fair Board this request. He thought they could meet the commitment without impacting the fair.
MOTION: to end debate.
VOTE: 4-1 (Dwyer dissenting).
VOTE ON ORIGINAL MOTION: 2-3 (Green, Stewart, Morrison dissenting) MOTION FAILED.
MOTION: to direct the county administrator to work with Warren Wong to determine the defined amount over a period of time.
Wong indicated they were projecting $1 million under this authority. He said they would be receiving a supplemental budget request to process because of the growth in the TRT. He said they should put a top limit on it.
Wilson explained that the way the Lane Code is written relative to the piece of the TRT and the way the 2002 order was written, that the money is submitted for capital purposes. She added it is only allowed to be used for operating purposes on an annual basis.
Morrison thought that anything the numbers warrant they could do; plus there would be flexibility.
Wong asked if $900,000 is what they should go for.
Wong indicated that, on an annual basis, he would ask for authorization to use some TRT to repay the PERS liability.
Morrison responded that was understandable.
Sorenson asked if Wong could draft a board order.
Morrison recommended this come back on the Consent Calendar and if they want to pull it from the Consent Calendar, then they could do that.
Schwartz asked if they were discussing FY 2008/2009. He said he would be more comfortable with the date.
Van Vactor indicated that date was correct.
There being no further business, Commissioner Morrison adjourned the meeting at 1:10 p.m.