BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
April 19, 2006
Commissioners' Conference Room
Commissioner Bill Dwyer presided with Commissioners Bobby Green, Sr., Anna Morrison, 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
2. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Iona Matthew Harris, Eugene, speaking about the Free Speech Platform, stated she looked over the minutes from the April 4 meeting. She understood that it was a complex issue that would take time to resolve. She said the Board has the power and the choice to turn on the electricity for their program. She indicated that David Suchart, Management Services and Commissioner Morrison believed the Board didn’t have an obligation to amplify the sound. She said to have no mike prevents them from having an open mike. She said they work hard to create the civic venue to enjoy and they don’t have the money to provide their own sound. She quoted what David Suchart had stated from the Minutes of April 4: “That the people from the Wayne Morse Youth group that came last week about the use and paying for electricity knew last year they were cut off.” She recalled that they were at the terrace from April to October last year and they were never informed they would be cut off. She stated they never received complaints from anyone about their program. She thought there was a lack of communication at times. She was waiting to hear back from Bobby Green about a community discussion on this issue. She said the mayor and police chief say they are working out the security issues and she thought it was up to the Board to work out the sound issue. She thought the Board was silencing them for no reason. She wanted to know the real reason why they were being silenced.
David Ishi Woods, Eugene, thought the Board was not accepting responsibility for the steps at the courthouse. He said there was a kind way of dealing with issues and he thought the Board was dealing with this issue in a mean way. He wanted the Board to turn on the electricity for the outdoor receptacle.
Dwyer said they are trying to find the solution. He said they had written the mayor and the city manager. He said they would find a way to deal with this. He commented that the Wayne Morse Free Speech area is owned by the people, is a public place and can’t be desecrated the way it had been.
Jean Blanchard, Eugene, was concerned about domestic violence. She said the County has lost substantial ground in holding batterers accountable. She noted in the past year there were a number of women killed by their partners. She said that was due to the decreased resources available that hold batterers accountable. She indicated they are facing the loss of an important mechanism of accountability: Parole and Probation and the supervision of domestic violence offenders. She was concerned about the loss of supervision for misdemeanor offenders, particularly that a number of felony domestic violence charges are pled down to misdemeanor convictions. She believed it put victims and their children at great risk as well as members of the community caught between a batterer and his victim. She commented that Parole and Probation supervision has the effect of holding offenders accountable. She stated that the Board of Commissioners has the duty and obligation to provide funding to assure the public safety.
Cheryl O’ Neal, Junction City, said it sounded promising that there would be funding for Parole and Probation. She said that the Domestic Violence docket had been discussed in terms of putting it into place with the court. She noted it had been effective in other jurisdictions for monitoring behaviors. She hoped the solution would work and is funded.
Morrison commented that whatever happens with the community corrections money for the next session will predicate a lot of what they are going to do.
O’Neal understood that there will be Parole and Probation officers for the more serious offenders. She said it is hard to assess who would be a danger and would reoffend.
Elaine Walters, Eugene, said domestic violence afflicts more people in the community than any social or medical issue that families deal with. She commented that it tends to drop to the bottom of the priority list despite the impact of domestic violence. She indicated that supervision is not a cure but a harm reduction approach in dealing with domestic violence. She thought the supervision part might protect their lives. She supported the people who needed the most attention to protect their families.
Ann Nelands, Eugene, said she is director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at Lane County Legal Aid. She echoed the concerns about the limitations that are placed on the Parole and Probation services to the ones convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors. She said it is a problem that affects the victims and children in the families and the wider community. She thought they also needed to be concerned with the effectiveness of the criminal system to respond to this. She said it was important to assure that there would be accountability for the perpetrator once convicted and they are standing behind the victims who are coming forward to hold the perpetrators accountable. She urged the Board to remedy the problem.
Terry Guiterrez, Eugene, stated she works in several areas of child welfare and sees how tired and overworked people are. She said people care about the issue, but there is a lack of funding. She thought without funding, people working hard would get burned out and won’t be able to meet the needs for better accountability and victim safety. She thought everyone has to do their part but funding makes the difference.
3. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
4. COMMISSIONERS' REMONSTRANCE
Dwyer thought it was interesting that the FBI asked to access the papers of Jack Anderson. He said if government is concerned, they should be concerned about the illegal activities instead of who’s reporting them. He said reporters should be left alone.
5. WORKFORCE PARTNERSHIP
a. REPORT/Response to Mass Layoffs.
Chuck Forster, Lane Workforce Partnership, said they were asked to share how they respond to lay offs and closures in the community. He indicated they were involved with Western Graphics who are closing and moving to China and with Sage, a software company that is downsizing.
Forster reported since July 1, 2005, they worked with 11 employers representing 859 individuals who had lost their jobs. He said from July 2001 to June 30, 2002, they worked with 29 employers representing 2,500 individuals losing their jobs. He said the funding for this activity comes through the Federal Workforce Investment Act. He said they are working with a budget of about $1.4 million and they anticipate some reductions as of July 1, 2006.
Christina Payne, Lane Workforce Partnership, described the way she worked with Sage Software and how they dealt with the employees.
Morrison commented that the training is different with the urban and rural population. She said in the rural areas they have to retrain because the job opportunities are not as fluid and the opportunities are different.
Green asked how they interfaced with employers to make them aware they have employees with job readiness.
Payne indicated they have gained relationship with employers to find out the needs of their industries so they have an idea of what the gaps are and as they train employees they could bridge them together. She noted they have consortiums and they know the needs and issues are in the training programs. She added they are working with the healthcare group. She stated that a majority of their scholarships had been in health care because of the career path that had been in the industry.
Forster reported that industries in the field will contact them to let them know about the openings or they will contact the Workforce Partnerships. He stated if the laid off company was willing, they brought in employers from a like industry to connect with. He discussed a survey they use when they go into a company to get a sense of what the workers’ interests and needs are.
6. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS
a. ORDER 06-4-19-1/In the Matter of Awarding Time Management to Damien Sands, Ron Gernhardt, Patrick E. Utter, Robert Hickock, Terri White and Jerry Hibler for Their S.A.V.E. Proposals.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 06-4-19-1.
Stewart MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.
VOTE: 4-0 (Morrison out of room).
b. ORAL REPORT/PERS' Actuarial Methodology
Karen Artiaco, Human Resources, reported a letter came from the last meeting with the PERS stakeholders last week. She said they were asking questions of the actuaries and PERS staff. She recalled there was a meeting yesterday morning between AOC, League of Cities, the School Board Associations and Bill Gary of Harang Long, to determine if they need to continue an employer presence that would require some legal and actuarial support. She said the group decided to form an alliance where they would fund such methods and give a unified voice to the bulk of the public employers in the State of Oregon with representation to PERS. She said they were going to share the information. She said the approach might be different than the letter. She added they may want to amend the letter before it is signed and sent out. She noted the PERS Board meeting is next week. She didn’t know if she could bring this back before next week’s Board meeting.
Morrison asked if it was possible between now and next Thursday (when the PERS Board meets) they would want to change the things in the letter. She thought it could be circulated in case it can’t come to the full Board by next Thursday’s deadline.
Green asked if they could give direction to Artiaco that once the letter is reviewed, if there are some major concerns that they could ask the Board chair to sign.
Wilson said they should give the direction to the chair to write correspondence to PERS commenting on the changes in the actuarial method the PERS Board is considering after advice from staff based on the outcome of the discussions from the alliance. She thought Dwyer could sign the letter.
MOTION: to give the direction to the chair to write correspondence to PERS commenting on the changes in the actuarial method the PERS Board is considering after advice from staff based on the outcome of the discussions from the alliance. She thought Dwyer could sign the letter.
Green MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.
7. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
b. ORAL REPORT/Status of Charter Amendment/Income Tax.
Van Vactor reported that this is the status report of the charter amendment and the income tax. He said the specific assignment the Board gave on the discussion of the income tax was that they wanted a financial analysis to determine the base level where the tax should start. He noted that was critical for calculating the rate. He said the second assignment was to work with local people in the community to design the forum that would be used and how it would be implemented to make it as easy and simple to administer. He said they are in the process of recontacting the accountants.
Dwyer asked about taxing social security.
Van Vactor said that for local taxes, there is a statute that prohibits enacting a local tax on PERS retirement income.
Dwyer stated social security income is exempt from state taxes. He said whichever way the state treats social security was the way he wanted to treat PERS.
Dave Garnick, Budget Analyst and Financial Planner, commented that depending upon the process of the budget, it was a status quo budget but there are some issues they needed to discuss. He said they weren’t certain about the amount of income that comes into Lane County from PERS that they would have to exclude.
Wilson indicated they rolled the ordinance to a reading on May 3. She said the Board would have an ordinance as it presently exists. She noted the concerns that Van Vactor raised about developing information is critical and she didn’t want to go too long beyond May or June if they want to put the measure on the ballot. She said if they want to be in the voter’s pamphlet they would have to adopt the ordinance by mid-August.
Green stated that they owe it to the citizens of Lane County to try to resolve what they are doing. He said they need to look at all options. He said the charter amendment gives credibility and protection.
Stewart said they went through an incredible process to get to this point. He noted the charter amendment they are proposing is different. He said they are discussing giving back property tax relief, going to a different tax and limiting the tax. He said the tax is for public safety. He was concerned if they are discussing just doing a charter amendment that would limit a certain tax, it doesn’t include the assurances that need to be in place for the citizens to feel good on what they are working on.
Dwyer commented that they needed to keep it simple. He thought the more that was put in, the more people wouldn’t understand it or question it. He wanted tax relief.
Sorenson said if they put a limitation in the charter, they should ask the voters to put the restriction in and protect the right of the commissioners to do what they need by either referring a tax or enacting a tax. He thought the voters would want to limit the power of the Board. He asked what a free standing charter amendment would look like that limited the Board’s power to initiate and enact an income tax.
Van Vactor indicated that was one of the issues they had put into the ordinances.
Wilson recalled the direction is to see what a charter amendment would look like that would limit the Board’s authority to impose an income tax at a certain rate. She said it would be a limitation with respect to an income tax.
Sorenson commented that the needs for public safety are tremendous and there is uncertainty about the federal funding. He said if they move to an income tax there should be a limit on what the tax is. He wanted to work on something the community and the Board would be comfortable with.
Van Vactor said the complicating factor is the original schedule that the income tax would be enacted, but not effective unless the charter amendment was passed. He added in order to have it become effective and pass in November, it would be in 2007. He noted that was under the assumption that they would be facing an immediate deficit of about $2.5 million in 07/08. He stated if PERS changes its actuarial assumptions, it is hard to predict what the deficit would be. He didn’t know if there would be adequate time to get the tax enacted and be able to deal with the local accounting community so it is enacted in an orderly fashion. He commented if the income tax is enacted after the charter amendment that action would be subject to referendum.
Wilson explained that doing the ordinance conditionally on the charter amendment puts the timing of referendum at the same time as the charter amendment.
Stewart said they don’t know about the Secure Rural Schools Act or PERS. He said they have a problem with public safety not meeting the needs the public deserve. He said it wouldn’t solve it if they wait another year. He commented that it would be one of the hardest things as commissioners that they would do to represent this and convince the voters that what they are doing is the right thing to do.
Green suggested staying the course and giving staff direction to continue what they need to do. He said when they know for certain what happens, they still have to deal with the problems.
Dwyer commented that Lane County couldn’t continue to have the expenses grow at seven percent and income grow at three percent and then have to do more with less. He said they are at the point where they are going to have to do less with less. He said they have to reduce County government at the same time the population is growing and businesses are expecting to be safe.
Wilson said May 3 would be the next reading.
8. CONSENT CALENDAR
A. Approval of Minutes:
October 12, 2005, Regular Meeting, 9:00 a.m.
January 18, 2006, Regular Meeting, Following HACSA
March 21, 2006, Work Session, 9:00 a.m.
B. Health and Human Services
1) ORDER 06-4-19-2/In the Matter of Approving the Submission of a Continuum of Care Grant Application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Amount of $2,044,995 for the Period of January 1, 2007 Through December 31, 2008.
C. Public Safety
1) ORDER 06-4-19-3/In the Matter of Ratifying Execution of Memorandum of Understanding Between Womenspace, Sponsors and Lane County.
D. Public Works
1) ORDER 06-4-19-4/In the Matter of Awarding Tourism Special Projects Grants for 2006, Releasing Funds from the Special Revenue and Services Fund, and Authorizing the County Administrator to Sign Contracts.
2) ORDER 06-4-19-5/In the Matter of Awarding Requirement Contracts to Various Contractors to Establish Unit Prices for Dust Abatement Material (Lignin Sulfonate), Delivery, CRC Distributor and Operator Needs During the Period of June 1, 2006 to September 15, 2006, Contract No. 06-M&S-50.
MOTION: to approve the Consent Calendar.
Morrison MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.
9. PUBLIC WORKS
a. REPORT BACK/Administrative Procedures for the Establishment of “Quiet Zones” at County Road-Railroad Grade Crossings (NBA 9/27/05 & 2/8/06)
Sonny Chickering, Public Works, recalled that he came before the Board at the request of a citizen in the Jasper area. He noted that the citizen and his neighbors had put together a request that a quiet zone be established in and around the community of Jasper. He said they didn’t know about the process. He indicated they did initial investigation to determine that the Federal Railroad Administration had put together a process whereby quiet zones could be established. He noted at the end of that presentation, the Board explained to staff that they were not interested in paying for those types of improvements. He said the costs ranged from $50,000 to $500,000 for establishing a quiet zone. He noted the Board directed them to look into the possibility of the Board acting as a supporter and a representative for communities within the County who wish to pursue the quiet zones and were willing to pay for them themselves. He indicated there is a proposed procedure in their memo and they would be looking at an organization coming to the County to request an establishment of quiet zones. His staff would explain the process and the cost and indicate that the applicants would bear all costs associated with the establishment, including County staff time, surveying, design engineering and the time to prepare the necessary federal applications. He said those costs are estimated to be $15,000. He added there would be deposits required for the Union Pacific Railroad Company and a deposit of $20,000 before they would do any design to modify their gates or signal systems.
Chickering said once the money was put up by the applicants, they would fill out the applications and the work would have required an agreement with payment to the County. He said that legal counsel would get involved and depending upon the outcome of the application, the application would have to be approved by the railroad, but there would have to be an order for construction issued by the Oregon Department of Transportation Rail Division. He said after that they would proceed to construction. He said the bottom line is it is very expensive and they didn’t believe there would be many individuals who would be willing to pay for this. He thought a city entity or neighborhood association with the assistance of a city might be an applicant. He asked the Board for direction to pursue this further. He said if they were to pursue this, they would create a process in Lane Manual so when and if an application is desired by a member of the public or community, they would have a process to follow.
Stewart thought that anyone who wanted to establish a quiet zone would have to go through the County.
Chickering responded that the application has to go through the jurisdiction with ownership of the road that crosses the railroad.
Morrison was not opposed to being a sponsor but she didn’t think people would be knowledgeable about the costs and what it entails.
Stewart said Lane County would be doing the work and the people would be paying Lane County. He was in favor of setting the process up.
Morrison’s concern was when it gets to the point it is implemented and there is an outcry they are not being sensitive to the request of the people. She feared Lane County would be labeled as not being sensitive if they didn’t absorb the costs.
Dwyer asked if they should amend Lane Manual to include a process that allows for the application.
MOTION: to direct staff to work on Lane Manual to accommodate the quiet zone process.
Stewart MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.
Green stated he would support this but might not support it in the final language. He wanted to see what the cost was going to be. He wasn’t opposed to having people having access to a process but it is the expectation they can’t control.
Dwyer didn’t support it. He said it would be lost in the details and they would end up having to pay for it.
Morrison asked, with the ordinance that comes back, if there would be no responsibility by the Board to pay.
Chickering noted that language would be included in it.
Dwyer changed his mind and said he would support drafting the language.
Chickering noted absent a process in Lane Manual, every request will come to the Board and they would be able to make an individual decision based on that particular crossing. He said it would allow a uniform policy for all suggested quiet zones throughout the County and they would be treated equally.
10 CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD
11. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Green reported he toured the Central Lane Justice Court. He wanted the Board to see how they could best help them.
Morrison reported she went to a special County Forests Trusts meeting in Salem. She distributed a copy of the historical overview of 1936 about the County Forest Trust Lands. She reported that they were still incurring problems with regard to the lawsuit they won. She said there was discussion on how they are going to move forward. She wanted Todd Winter to come back with the agenda team on how the next steps would happen with state parks and the 80 acres and the role the County plays in the development.
12. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
Pursuant to ORS 192.660 (2)(d) for the purpose of deliberations with labor negotiators and ORS 192.660 (2)(h) for the purpose of consultation with counsel on litigation.
The following is an addendum item to the morning meeting.
18. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
a. REPORT BACK/Policy Choices for Parole & Probation Supervision
Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services, commented they do not have the resources to offer this. He noted that costs are going up. He said they need Sheriff’s and a rural patrol and they don’t have enough jail beds or District Attorneys. He said he sat down with the Supervisory Authority Team and the Sheriff’s Office and they discussed the Domestic Violence docket. He said even if they adopted that, it would get half of the misdemeanants and it still wouldn’t preclude other things from happening.
Rockstroh said they settled on a combination of things: a DV docket and judges working with dedicated Parole and Probation officers. He said it was a scaled back model because they have limited resources. He indicated it is not mandated. He noted with death cases in the past few years, domestic violence, homicide and suicide are issues around domestic violence. He thought it would cost $20,500 per month. He said they could reallocate existing County general fund from lower priority services areas. He said they could reallocate the existing Department of Corrections, SB1145 money from lower priority services area. He thought they could possibly reallocate some dollars from the County general fund contingency reserves, but he didn’t know if it could affect the County’s bond rating. He also recommended reallocating the old public safety levy within Health and Human Services and subcontracts. He said they could also reduce or reallocate County general fund and Corrections evaluations. He said they do court evaluations for the Court and they are not paid to do that. (He noted they put in $137,000 per year for that). He noted another idea is to reduce or reallocate the Health and Human Services general fund. He also suggested allocating Department of Corrections dollars if it is higher than budgeted. He commented that the way the grants work, they have to spend grant money first before they spend County general fund. He stated that he gets beer and wine money and if it comes in higher than budgeted that money could be put towards it. He thought the easiest and most straightforward way would be allocating the unallocated funds from the Department of Correction money. He noted there is currently $264,000 that is unallocated. He stated it would be one-time money but it would solve the problem.
Rockstroh reported that currently the Supervisory Authority Team would look at that and it would go to the full PSCC.
Green asked about the unintended consequences that could happen as a result of doing this.
Rockstroh said that no matter what they do there will always be unintended consequences. He added the $264,000 is a one-time allocation.
Morrison asked about the consequences if they were to use the unallocated funds--they know the legislature would be starting in January and they have no guarantees about what they will do. She had concerns about what Lane County would get for funding the 1145 population.
Rockstroh commented that this just buys time for that.
Green wanted to review the options in more detail and see what it means to other parts of the system.
Rockstroh thought they could do bench probation without using Parole and Probation supervision as a possibility.
Green wanted to get a process going with the options that might work. He commented that the longer they wait, the more problems continue to grow. He wanted a package that included a “give and take.” He asked about the docket portion.
Rockstroh responded for the docket, the judges would work with about 210 people. He thought the SAT could be a way to go. He said if they were looking at getting some of the Community Corrections money, that would be part of the process with SAT. He said he would like the money from items number 4 and 10.
Morrison said they need to look at the services they have on the lower end of the priority list. She stated it is how they choose to allocate those dollars, and where they serve the most people in the long run, and if domestic violence was a high priority. She wanted to see more than one option.
Rockstroh said his intent is not to come back with anything higher than $269,000.
Van Vactor recalled the Board wanted options on the court docket and bench probation.
Linda Eaton, Parole and Probation, reiterated that the direction she understood from the Board was to flush out the options related to the court involvement and bring back money options for the $269,000.
Stewart asked if they had time to prepare a budget add package. He recommended doing it that way.
Rockstroh said he would bring this back on May 3.
Eaton suggested having the presiding judge work with them.
Dwyer requested Eaton prepare a letter asking a judge to work with them and the Board would agree to it.
There being no further business, Commissioner Dwyer recessed into Executive Session at 11:45 a.m.