BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

January 11, 2006

1:30 p.m.

Commissionersí Conference Room

APPROVED 3/22/06

15. PUBLIC HEARINGS

a. PUBLIC HEARING AND ORDER 06-1-11-5/In the Matter of Renaming Blue Mountain Lane North (a Portion of Co. Rd.  2117) to Brumbaugh Lane (21-02-18) (NBA & PM 11/30/05).

Bill Robinson, Land Management, explained this was from Public Works Transportation.  He said there was confusion in the area with roads looping around that have the same ďBlue MountainĒ name.  He said this would be renaming Blue Mountain Lane North to Brumbaugh Lane.  He noted Brumbaugh has significance locally to the area, as there was once a covered bridge there.  He said they were having the hearing because fewer than 100 percent of the adjoining properties responded to the petition.  He added there was a notice of resolution on November 30, 2005 where they brought it to Board for a hearing, renaming this portion of the road. He said they had advertised this in the paper and posted it.  He added they mailed out notices to people within the area.  He noted there were no properties accessed from the road.  He said it connects the northerly portion of Blue Mountain School Road with Allen Road.

Dwyer opened the Public Hearing.   

 

Galef Garvin stated he supported this.

There being no one else signed up to speak, Commissioner Dwyer closed the Public Hearing.

Stewart supported this as it is in his district and close to his home.  He added that it is confusing, as the two sections of the road donít touch one another.

Sorenson asked if there was any opposition.

Robinson indicated when this was initially proposed; they had a number of different names suggested.  He said there were no addresses on the road and there was nothing negative about it.

MOTION: to approve ORDER 06-1-11-5.

Stewart MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.

VOTE: 5-0.

b. CONTINUED FIRST READING AND PUBLIC HEARING Ordinance No. 1-06/In the Matter of Amending Chapter 4 of Lane Code to Add Provisions for a Lane County Public Safety Income Tax, to Adopt Administration and Collection Provisions, To Renumber Differential Tax Provisions and to Set an Effective Date (LC 4.500 through 4.571) (Second Reading and Deliberation: January 25, 2006).

Dave Garnick, Budget Finance Planning Manager, reported that Lane County had been on a long journey to stabilize its revenues and expenses so it could halt 20 years of degradation of its general-purpose government services and the public safety service.  He noted in 1998 the Board of Commissioners commissioned a Future Focus Task Force to review the County services.  He said the task force at that time found that over time all County services had been reduced to an anemic and underfunded level.   He said a key finding was that the County didnít have a Strategic Plan and couldnít tell what business the County should be in.  He said in March 2001, the County prepared and adopted a five-year Strategic Plan.  He noted in the beginning of the goal sections, the plan listed four core strategies to implement the plan:  service improvement, resource planning and allocation, performance management and revenue development.

 

Garnick recalled in 2000 the U.S. Congress adopted the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.  He noted that the act provided $15 million additional revenue to help stabilize the general fund but it was only for a short term.  He indicated the expenses have now continued to out pace revenues.  He noted there were large budget cuts in 04/05.  He said at the end of that budget process, the Board decided to commission a Citizen Service Stabilization Task Force and in November the task force initially recommended that the County should live within its means.  He commented that they do that already.  He noted other recommendations were that the Board should pursue new revenue options in order to meet its long-term policy choice to remain a general-purpose government.  He said they should establish a public process that would include a revenue task force to complete an in-depth analysis of revenue options and consider the implications and the Board should consider the creation of a Public Safety Service District before deciding to proceed.  He said in the report, the task force encouraged the Board of Commissioners to provide the leadership necessary to overcome the current budget crisis so that it does not become permanent and meet the Countyís goal of general-purpose government.  He said the task force concluded that with the leadership they would acquire a high degree of cooperation with city mayors, councils and administrators and the special districts in the County so they could assess their needs together and decide how to move forward.

Garnick recalled on April 13, 2005, the Board adopted three overarching goals for the County:  to fund and improve the public safety system for the long term, to decrease and eliminate the structural deficit in the general fund and establish a public safety district as a long-term funding solution.  He noted the planning commissions for Eugene and Springfield and the Springfield City Council approved the district formation, while the City of Eugene did not, which brought the process to an end.  He said in June 2005, the Board of Commissioners formed the Public Safety Task Force, (made up of mayors and city councilors from all 12 cities) a process in line with what the Stabilization Task Force recommended.  He said in October they received the Stabilization Task Force recommendations: for the next five years, Lane Countyís public safety system should concentrate on achieving the following four goals on the focus of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse: to target illegal drug producers, dealers and users and property criminals, reduce family violence, enhance treatment programs and provide prevention programs.  He noted the task force reviewed a variety of revenue options and recommended a revenue measure to raise $24.5 million for programs geared to addressing the four public safety goals.  He said the task force recommended a sales tax and a gross receipts tax.  He recalled at the public hearings at Lane Community College, there was little support for either tax.  He noted on November 29, and 30, 2005, the Board met and gave direction on 13 separate issues related to the task forceís recommendation with the overall recommendation to postpone consideration of a gross receipts and sales tax and to consider instead, a broad-based income tax across business and personal income.  He said the two items for consideration are a charter amendment authorizing a personal and business income tax for the May election and an income tax ordinance that would become effective if the voters approve the measure.

Wilson explained that Subsection 1 of the charter amendment sets the cap for how much income tax the Board could ever levy. She said it is set at 1.5 percent.  She noted the maximum rate was set consistent with Board direction to cover the amount if they lose the Secure Rural Schools Act.  She added it also covers the cost of the property tax relief and the cost of collection and administration. She said Subsection 2 of the charter amendment dedicates the funds for the public safety dedicated fund.  She noted there were other monies that could come from an income tax before the monies go into the dedicated funds.  She said the dedication is not only for the new programs the task force recommended but for the three departments that provide public safety:  the Sheriff, District Attorney and Youth Services.  She said it also provides that the initial goals are the same as what the task force recommended.

 

Wilson noted that Subsection 3 of the charter amendment provides property tax relief at $1.00 per thousand and directs that the commissioners not levy that amount.  She said it would affect property tax payers in the amount of their property tax that goes to the County.  She said it doesnít affect what they pay for their schools, cities and special districts.  She said that Subsection 4 of the charter amendment described the Secure Rural Schools Act and establishes that the maximum rate includes funds in case the Secure Rural Act is not renewed or renewed at a lower rate.  She added if it were renewed at a lower rate, the charter amendment would require that the income tax rate be reduced to reflect the Secure Rural Schools Act revenue that comes in.

Wilson explained that the ordinance as written has four components:  a personal income tax, a non-resident income tax, a business income tax and the administration collection provision. With regard to the personal income tax, she said it would impose a tax at the rate of one percent of County taxable income.  She said it is the income determined from the Oregon Personal Income Tax Form.  She noted the tax rate is less than the charter amendment because the first year they expect to receive the Secure Rural Schools Act monies and donít need to levy at the maximum rate the charter amendment would allow.  She added with the personal income tax, there is a credit if the business income tax is paid and carries into the personal business income, then they are not expected to pay twice.  She added it also has provisions to require employers to do withholding and for people who are required to pay estimated taxes to the State of Oregon. She indicated that the non-resident income tax has the same features, the difference is the non-resident income is designed to tax the wages earned in Lane County by people who donít live here or have the assets that exist in the County that produce income.  She added the non-resident income tax has a credit for the business income tax paid.

Wilson noted the business income tax is a one percent tax on business income that occurs in the County. She explained that the business income tax has an exemption for persons whose gross business income is less than $25,000. She said the Board had offered as part of the options discretion on the personal income tax to consider whether they want low-income exemption on the personal income tax.

Wilson explained about general administration and collection that they had tried to make it consistent within the state, and the state income tax. They worked with the City of Portland, which administered the taxes there.

Garnick noted that the Public Safety Task Force recommendation was $24.5 million.  He added the Board of Commissioners decided to add another $1.5 million for additional jail capacity plus an additional $1 million for prevention programs, with the new program costs of $27 million.  He added the proposal is to also move the public safety programs out of the general fund and put those current programs in a dedicated fund so they could be stabilized and protected.  He noted that cost is $41.2 million.  He said the renterís tax credit cost is for a $30 credit for each renter or $1.00 per thousand that the property owners would get.  He said that would cost about $2.8 million.  He explained since that money would be going away in the form of a renter tax credit it needed to be added in to the overall cost of the program.   

 

Garnick explained that if they donít get any Secure Rural Schools Act funding, the proposal would provide an option to have a tax rate high enough to recover those costs to continue the programs.  He said they would also need an allowance for people who donít pay the taxes.  He said the total amount--if they donít receive Secure Rural Schools Act money--is about $75 million.

Commissioner Dwyer opened the Public Hearing.

David Mikula, Eugene, said he represents the Center for Family Development, specializing in mental health and addiction services for adults and adolescents.  He said they need law enforcement to address the issue.  He said they need detention centers, jail cells and probation officers.  He added that it is important they understand the root of delinquency.  He thought to get to the root of public safety, they have to address family relationship and emotional factors.  He commented that the Department of Youth Services was doing a good job in collaborating with other agencies. He believed a full spectrum of services needed to be funded to address the public safety issues.  He thought a tax had a good chance of being passed if they conveyed the dual nature of what they wanted to do with public safety with law enforcement and the service sector.

Jennifer Foley, Relief Nursery, stated she is the program manager. She said the program focuses on offering recovery, support and education services to parents involved in the nursery.  She noted the program helps to alleviate the gap between treatment services and recovery.  She said it was more effective for the community to help fund a program to be able to serve 75 more adults if this passed and the funding was there.  She noted the cost to serve 75 adults is $141,000 per year.  She added to incarcerate those 75 same adults, it would cost Lane County over $1.7 million.  She thought if they could work with the 75 adults and they would remain clean and sober, they could save over $1.5 million.  She noted the program had over 13 years of history, was established and effective and they could add additional staff and work with the additional families within a month.

Laura Rodillo, Springfield, stated she works with at-risk youth.  She was in favor of the initiative.  She commented that youth and families need better resources and tools to get to them.  She encouraged the initiative without putting youth or the public at risk.  She said they need to address youth and this initiative could provide funding for programs.

Martin Waechter, Director, Center for Family Development, Eugene, supported the Boardís efforts in advancing stable funding for public safety.  He commented that good public safety is a balance between enforcement and the provision of services.  He said they currently have a contract with the Department of Youth Services to provide psychological services.  He said they had been involved in the development of a continuum of services.  He said if they had stable funding, they would find that fewer kids would leave the residential facilities and it would strengthen families.

Mike Taylo, Junction City, thought a public hearing was preliminary.  He was more interested in the Board being transparent and providing full disclosure.  He said it has to be made clear what is going to happen to people in this change.  He didnít think an income tax was fair if PERS or federal government retirees wouldnít have to pay the tax. He didnít think this would be a fair tax.

Flo Averque, League of Women Voters, Eugene, believes that adequate and broad based public safety activities are essential and critical to the quality of life in the rural and urban areas of the County.  She said the League could support the proposal to fund public safety based on a percentage of taxable income for individuals and businesses.  She believed that an income tax is the fairest revenue method for a system that covers the entire County.  She indicated they would be involved in helping to inform the voters of all aspects of public safety when the measure is scheduled for an election.

Julie Willet, Springfield, said she was a former drug abuser.  She commented that without resources she would have been dead.  She has been clean for two years and she got her five children back, owns her own home, and is going to college.  She said without the resources, there is nothing.

Rudy Herr, Springfield, said the levy of $27 million was straightforward and easy to understand.  He thought it made it more important for communication when they delayed the process, but he didnít know how the County would get the total message across.  He commented that as a taxpayer, they thought they were being blackmailed in all the budgets as they take the most important things and cut them.

Craig Opperman, Executive Director, Looking Glass, commended the Board for facing the meth issue and providing resources to solve the problem.  He stated that treatment is a critical component of the solution and must be funded to have a true impact on this problem.  He commented that sending more people to jail was not a solution.  He said they need efficient and effective services that utilize public and private funds to provide alcohol and drug treatment for juvenile offenders.  He commented that of the youth they serve, over 80 percent have successful outcomes measured by recidivism rates.  He noted of the youth they are serving, most have meth as their primary drug problem.  He recalled in 2003 their budget was cut in half and there is a waiting list for their program.  He stated that treatment programs are needed to improve public safety.

Susan Walsh, Eugene, discussed the importance of prevention and long-term strategies to stop the intergenerational cycle of incarceration.  She commented that 62 percent of men and 54 percent of women who are incarcerated in the state prison had a family member in jail when they were growing up.  She advocated mentoring as it has become popular nationally.  She commented that she had seen improved school behavior and positive peer relationships.  She stated that mentoring works and was glad that it is in the prevention package.

Megan Friese, CASA, noted when she started working at CASA six years ago, there were 500 children living in foster care.  She noted as of last week, there were 1,040 children in Lane County living in foster care.  She added there were nine days in December where 55 children were brought into foster care.  She commented that these are the silent victims of public safety issues.  She stated these were the people who are actually living the nightmare.  She believed the Board came up with a good plan and encouraged the Board to use the agencies to help them.

Marc Shapiro, Eugene, commented that telling the people this is a public safety issue was misleading the public. He thought the prospects of succeeding are hurt by that.  He said it is about the credibility and fiscal responsibility of government and delivery of services. He said they need to identify where the pain is and see if they could make the pain enough so people could respond to it.  He said a major piece of this is that they have to communicate to the people that prevention is the major part of the plan.  He said there is a hole in public services and it relates to benefits.  He said the benefits for public employees are growing so fast that no source of revenue would keep services.  He said they are paying more and getting less.

Terry Connolly, Chamber of Commerce, Eugene, commented that the Chamber had yet to develop a position on this proposal.  He suggested that it be placed on the ballot in November.  He said the need is known that it is a community problem.  He indicated the challenge would be when it gets placed on the ballot that the immediate focus would be on the income tax instead of public safety.  He added the fate of the Secure Rural Schools Act couldnít be ignored.

Mary McRi, Judge, Eugene Municipal Court, stated she was advocating on behalf of Lane County Mental Health.  She said that resources had cut down their social agencies.  She commented that those in the criminal justice system had become the last social agency for the community.  She said the people who fall through the cracks and come into their systems take a lot of police time and require special services at the jail, and sometimes a trip to the Oregon State Hospital.  She said she is the judge in charge of the Mental Health Court.  She said they average about 25 criminal defendants in their six-month diversion program.  She noted that the program gets individuals out of the criminal justice system.

Denis Shine, Springfield, stated he was a member of the Service Stabilization Task Force. He stated that an income tax is preferable to any other form of taxation because it is progressive.  He said they needed to sell this as a tax shift and not a tax increase.  He was in favor of the creation of a public service district.  He said it essential and he wanted to reinforce prevention.

Charles Biggs, Eugene, commented that the information was too much to digest to have a vote in May.  He thought it should be put off to November.  He said they need to educate the people who will be voting.  He commented that some of the statistics were chosen to promote their argument for a tax.  He requested to keep the record open as long as possible and to make it as available to as many people as possible.  He thought they should have a point person who could answer questions.

John Hoffer, Eugene, stated that he had voted against all other tax measures in the past 10 years.  He was impressed the Board was going through a thoughtful process.  He thought what they were trying to do was honest and straightforward.  He favored an income tax as a fair, efficient and enforceable way to collect taxes on personal income taxes.  He was concerned about the business tax.  He thought they could tax local business but he thought with the national changes, that it would be hard to track and collect.  He hoped the Board could find a way to fairly and efficiently tax business income.  He recommended a property tax surcharge or including equipment and other parts of business wealth.

Jim Hale, Eugene, supported simplicity and education so people will understand what is going on.  He said they needed to have a charter amendment that establishes important things with voters.  He said they have to educate people to let them know that the money would be dedicated for public safety.  He thought they should go for a two percent tax if that is what is needed.  He said the Board needs a provision of a charter amendment that mandates property tax relief and makes it clear that is what is going to happen.  He thought what was missing was a rainy day element to help to make sure it works over time.  He said they needed a charter amendment with a rate limitation and the dedication of the funds so they get the votersí attention.  He thought if the Board did that there was an opportunity to win the election.

Curtis Greer, Springfield, commented that two items needed to be addressed before any tax measure:  the state statutes that bar privatization of incarceration, and until the state stops supporting the meth problem, he could not support any tax measure for any type of public safety.

There being no one else signed up to speak, Commissioner Dwyer closed the Public Hearing.

Wilson explained if the Board wanted to place a measure on the May ballot, she would need to write a ballot title and have them meet tomorrow to adopt the ballot title.  She said if they wanted more time to consider placing this on the November ballot, July 10 would be the date they will need a ballot title. She added there were matters where staff would feel more comfortable if they had more time to analyze it.

Sorenson asked what the downside would be of separating the tax issue from the charter amendment.

Wilson responded that the Board does not need to have a charter amendment to impose an income tax, they have the authority.  She said they should look at a charter amendment that limits the authority to reassure the citizens that any income tax that would be imposed would be limited by a cap and what it could be used for.  She thought with putting a charter amendment on the ballot, they would want to adopt an ordinance imposing the task.  She added the charter amendment sets the parameters on the range within the ordinance.  She said it displays the Boardís attention.

Green thought they should engage the communities as partners to promote this.  He thought they had more work ahead of them than to place it on the ballot it May.

Stewart didnít believe they had a charter amendment that was prepared and ready to go.  He believed when people vote on the issue it is whether or not they want to approve a tax.  He believes the citizens hadnít connected with how the tax would work.  He didnít want to make the mistake of going out too quick.  He wanted to fine-tune the charter amendment to get the wording that was recommended. He thought they would need a public information campaign telling people the status of public safety and trying to gain their confidence.  He thought this should be on the ballot in November.

Wilson thought they could put both the charter amendment and the ordinances on the ballot, but added it is not required.  She noted if the Board was to adopt an income tax ordinance they could time it contingent on the charter amendment passing.

Sorenson asked if they risked anything by waiting until November.

Wilson explained that a risk of tabling is that the Board wasnít moving forward with anything.  She noted by continuing it, they hadnít placed the measure on the ballot and it isnít clear what the charter amendment would look like.  She said the public information initiative has many components.  She said the public information efforts about what Lane County does is solid public information that could be done even if they had the ballot measure on the ballot.  She thought there would be some risk that this could be challenged.

Sorenson asked what their next step should be.

Wilson recommended a motion to continue deliberations in spring (without setting a date certain).  She said they could set a date or have another reading.  She asked what information the Board wanted them to bring back from staff.

MOTION: to direct staff to come back with a revised charter amendment with the language that was the intent of the Board and have Melinda Kletzok, come back with an outline of what a public information campaign is.

Green MOVED, Morrison SECONDED.

Wilson recommended coming back the second week of February.

Morrison wanted to keep this moving so they could start working with people who said they were willing to help.  She stated they had been talking about a public education campaign for the seven years she had been on the Board.  She commented that whatever they had done up to this point with public education had not met the mark.  She said they would have to refocus on the message they get out, and still stay within the law.  She agreed coming back the second week of February.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Dwyer adjourned the meeting at 3:25 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary