LANE COUNTY

BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING

May 9, 2006

5:15 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 5/16/06

 

Chair David Crowell presided with Budget Committee Members Scott Bartlett, Bobby Green Sr., Denis Hijmans, Mary Ann Holser, Tony McCown, Anna Morrison, Peter Sorenson and Faye Stewart present. Bill Dwyer was absent.  County Administrator, Bill Van Vactor, Budget Financial Planning Manager Dave Garnick and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

1. COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

None.

 

2. QUESTION/ANSWER DISCUSSION

 

Holser indicated she had a sheet that had programs and services to achieve goals. She said some of her questions were answered, but others weren’t.  She asked if this was an attempt to answer the goals.

 

Jennifer Inman, Budget Analyst, indicated it was an attachment to the end of the Sheriff’s Office’s answers that clarified the answers to McCown’s questions.

 

3. JUSTICE COURTS

 

Garnick reported the total budget for the Lane County Justice Courts is $3.3 million.  He noted that the Justice Courts were moved out of the general fund and into special revenue funds because they receive no general fund support.  He noted the courts are part of a system and they are tied to the Sheriff’s Office’s Traffic Team.  He added that each year the goal is for the courts and the traffic team to be self-supporting. He noted that last year they ended up in the black and did not use any general fund resources last year.  He said the Justice Courts do not use any discretionary general fund revenue.

 

Garnick reported that at the Oakridge Justice Court, Judge Charles Navarro resigned last fall.  He noted that Judge Cindy Cable was able to cover for several months until the governor appointed Gary Carl who was sworn in on February 22, 2006.  He added the Oakridge Justice Court had merged with the Oakridge Municipal Court, budgeted at $194,000.  He noted that next year it is expected to bring in that exact amount of money in order to fully cover their cost.  He noted there is a $17,000 decrease in the Oakridge budget as a result of a position being double filled.  He said starting in 06/07 in Oakridge, they will have a half-time Justice of the Peace and a full-time senior clerk.

 

With regard to Central Lane Court, Garnick stated it is the largest with a full-time judge, a clerical supervisor and seven clerks.  He indicated the majority of the traffic team citation activity flows through the court.  He noted their budget is $2.9 million and the court operation is $1 million.  He added that $1.85 million is transferred from Central Lane to the traffic team to help fund that operation.  He said they generate about $1.8 million to support court operations. He said they have over $14 million worth of outstanding fines that have not been paid.  He indicated they have a collection agency working on that.  He said next year they are expecting to pay $160,000 to the collection agency to get about $730,000 back.  He said there is no change in staffing.  He indicated that Central Lane will continue as they have been doing.

 

With regard to the Florence Court, Garnick said they continue to struggle because the District Attorney is no longer filing any misdemeanors and there is no prosecution.  He added the state troopers have been cutting back so there is not a lot of activity.  He said that the Sheriff’s Office is not citing much into the Florence Court.  He said because the work load is going down, the judge is recommending they reduce the office hours and reduce the clerical staff time from full-time to .7 FTE for a savings of $25,500.  He indicated that it wouldn’t cause a reduction in service.

 

Cindy Cable, Judge, (via speakerphone) said if they were just talking about traffic matters, it wouldn’t cause a reduction of service.  She said they don’t just handle traffic matters, there are civil matters and closing the office could impact that.

 

Garnick indicated the Florence court itself is projected to collect $137,000, so the difference between the two is being handled by a transfer from Central Lane so the entire system remains intact and fully balanced.  He said the total FTE for the Justice Court will be 12.25 FTE.  He said there are no add packages and no other technical adjustments.

 

Holser asked if it was possible to have the Florence Municipal Court and the traffic court combined.

 

Cable responded it was a possibility.  She indicated that the municipal courts do not have jurisdiction over civil matters.  She said in order to maintain an opportunity for local residents to utilize the court for civil matters; the municipal court would be combined into the justice court. and the justice court would take over municipal court services.  She noted they had done that in Oakridge.  She indicated that at this time the city of Florence was not interested in pursuing that type of intergovernmental agreement.

 

Hijmans asked if the extra revenue from the Florence Justice Court goes into the County. He asked why they couldn’t hire more deputies whose primary job is traffic enforcement.  They could be available to back up a regular deputy on serious calls.

 

Garnick explained that the extra revenue the courts generate supports the current traffic team; there isn’t enough revenue to hire additional deputies. 

 

Cable noted that the traffic team does have the option of filing cases in any of the three justice courts and at this time, they choose to utilize Central Lane Court for cases that occur in the Florence area.

 

4. Department of Health & Human Services

 

Jennifer Inman, Budget Analyst, reported that the total budget for Health and Human Services is $97.5 million in three different funds.  She indicated that Health and Human Services has a bigger budget dollar wise than all three of the public safety departments.  She noted that only $4.1 million of that is in the general fund.  She stated that over half of the Health and Human Services budget is contracted out to local non-profits.  She noted the total FTE is 295.03.  She indicated there were no major changes from the current year budget.  She noted there was a reduction package regarding the family planning program.  She said there was an add package regarding misdemeanor offender supervision.  She added there were no technical adjustments.

 

Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services, distributed information. (Copy in file).  He reported they work on health and safety issues in his department.  He noted they put out about $50 million per year for non-profits.  He explained that he actually had more people on payroll who were working extra help, bringing it up to about 400 FTE on payroll.   He noted the department is split into three funds:  Health and Human Services, the Joint Allocation fund that deals with poverty programs, and Lane Care, where people get mental health services under the Oregon Health Plan.

 

Rockstroh noted people had asked about the impacts of reductions.  He said family planning services was the largest reduction.  He said their department only has four percent of the County general fund.  He said that family planning hit their break even point this year.  He said they had to put in $180,000 towards it.  He added if they combine it with Riverstone and have primary care attached, it would be complicated to try to transfer a function that has worked well within public health for years.  He said the difference is a money issue in that because they have a federal qualified health center, they get extra money for seeing those clients.  He added it is an incentive.  He said because it is a different reimbursement rate, it allows them to do the service.  He hoped that when the changes are done, they would have a shift to Riverstone to do family planning for the public health plan.  He said the intent is to transfer the service to Riverstone as that is where he can get the money to continue family planning.

 

Rockstroh indicated a big issue is public safety funding.  He said if they look at the money in the $24 million measure, there is funding for misdemeanor supervision and other services.  He said these are core parts of a measure that would go out in November.

 

With regard to Veteran’s Services, Morrison asked if the additional dollars the County gave them had increased the dollars the veterans could apply for.  She wanted to see an analysis for that.  She wanted to see a review on a three year basis.

 

Green asked what happens if they opted out Parole and Probation to give it back to the state.

 

Rockstroh responded the opt out provision had to do with funding of 1995 to 1997 and they can’t go below that base.  He said if the state funds them at that base level, they do not have the choice to opt out.  He stated that now they can’t opt out legally.  He thought something could possibly be done through AOC.

 

Green asked if the budget committee were to approve the add package, what the future plans would be for dealing with the increase of offenders.

 

Rockstroh said the plan was for only 210 offenders and he has over 400 offenders.  He said they have three parole and probation officers with cases of 70 to 1.   He thought there were other alternatives.

 

Green asked what the plan was with the number of offenders.

 

Rockstroh indicated they were asking for more money to do less.  He said if felons are assigned to him, he has no type of matrix.  He added they operate under judge’s orders.  He commented that Lane County doesn’t have enough money to do what they are doing.

 

5. Department of Children and Families

 

Inman said the Department of Children and Families’ total budget is $2.75 million that came from the general fund into a special revenue fund, 265.  She noted that currently the department’s budget has no discretionary general fund dollars.  She indicated the total FTE is 6.5.  She said there were no major changes from the current budget, but there is a large grant going away, but smaller revenues were offsetting that.  She said there are no reductions and there is an add package.  She added there were no technical adjustments.

 

Alicia Hays, Children and Families, reported her department has 6.5 FTE and they have one senior volunteer and one youth intern.  She said the overall department objective is to promote the health and well being of Lane County residents through prevention.  She said their role is to look at engaging families and support them in making differences.  She described the programs that are part of her department. (Copy in file).  She said that in 2004 they had a joint meeting with the Board of Commissioners and they showed the importance of prevention service in public safety.

 

Hays indicated that for the services they fund, it is shown that seven dollars for every dollar invested could save the high cost of incarcerating people.  She added that Healthy Start saves taxpayers four dollars for every one dollar invested.  She said that 16 percent of their administration is for all of their contract management, technical assistance, physical management and working with performance measures.

 

With regard to reductions, Hays reported there is a $250,000 cut to their community based programs.  She asked for a 1.0 FTE for a Program Services Coordinator to work on development to increase funding that comes into the community.  She added it would leverage more federal and private funds and increase collaboration with state and federal grant proposals that effect systems work and increase resource development with the community partners and the County on getting grants.

 

Holser asked if they get money for resource centers or if it was for consultation.

 

Hays responded instead of small grants, they looked at their overarching goals to see where they wanted to spend the money.  She said they came up with safety nets and family resource centers.

 

Stewart asked if they found a grant writer if there was a way in the future to recover the administrative costs.

 

Hayes responded that they had not had indirect for their department.  She thought there could be a way to recover the costs for a grant writer.

 

6. Department of Assessment & Taxation

 

Inman reported that their total budget is $6.3 million and Assessment & Taxation is a general fund department.  She noted their total FTE for the next fiscal year will be 61.00 FTE.  She said it includes the plan approved phase two of the Department of Revenue action plan for the addition of two property appraisers.  She indicated there were no major changes to the budget and no add or reduction packages or technical adjustments.

 

Jim Gangle, Assessor, indicated that this year they collected $335 million in property taxes that was turned over to 80 taxing districts. He noted that Lane County keeps nine cents of every dollar.   He indicated that property taxes are half of the discretionary revenue fund.  He said they rely on the general fund for funding and they receive a grant from the Department of Revenue that is about 30 percent of their budget.

 

Gangle reported their number one goal is to have a 100 percent accurate tax roll by the October certification date.  He said they rely heavily on technology.  He said in January 2005 they responded with a three year plan to the Department of Revenue to fix the problems they had identified in their department.  He said they identified a backlog in their department with the property divisions.  He stated they were on track to meet their goal for the first year of a three year plan.  He said their goal was to eliminate 20 percent of their backlog.  He added the Department of Revenue wanted them to add appraisal staff to realign the neighborhoods and they are in the process of completing the pilot project in Cottage Grove.

 

Gangle explained that this budget represented the second year of a proposed three year plan to get them back in compliance and eliminate the backlog and realign their neighborhoods.  He noted in the budget are two positions to be added and that is part of the original plan.

 

Anette Spickard, Assessment and Taxation, reported their first year 05/06 was spent on catching up that had been requested by various property owners.  She indicated the goal they set was to eliminate 20 percent of that by the end of the fiscal year.   She said in evaluating the amount of work that was to be done, it would have equated to over 2,000 accounts to be worked on by the end of the year.  She said they have to make sure they have no more than 2,000 accounts to start working on the next fiscal year.  She noted as of May 1, they are close to being at their goal.   She said they have a lot of work but have new people on board and they are close to meeting their first year goal.  She indicated the results of this work would be on the October 2006 tax roll.  She said in 06/07, the goal is to get down the next 40 percent of the backlog.

 

Gangle explained the accounts were adjusted using statistical methodology. He said they look at the neighborhoods and how they align them.  He noted one of the problems the Department of Revenue identified was their neighborhoods have not been aligned since 1990.  He said they used ORMAP information that Public Works had been working on and that established the base to build a geographic information system to do the analysis.  He said the idea was to work through Cottage Grove to establish a plan they would use as they worked through the rest of the County.  He said they were able to provide zoning information and quality of class and school district.

 

Spickard indicated they put together a report in January 2005 that showed phase one.  She added that was what the Budget Committee and the Board funded in the current year.  She noted that for phase two for 06/07, they estimated for the County’s contribution, they would need to bring in two additional appraisers for $182,000 but in the budget for the upcoming year they were able to put it together for about $140,000 and their department covered $60,000. She noted the Budget Committee would be covering $80,000.  She noted they were able to achieve that through turnover savings from people retiring.  She commented that it won’t be as expensive as originally forecast.  She said there was a question from Holser and Green from the budget kick off about the impact of the tax collection as a result of doing this work.  She indicated the Department of Revenue in their revenue thought there was about $4 million in their original analysis in the tax accounts waiting to be worked.  She explained that was for spreading across every tax district in the County.  She noted of that, half would go to school districts and a third would go to cities.  She said the nine percent represents the County’s portion of that.  She said they were estimating the 20 percent they will be certifying in October would be $70,000 more to Lane County as a result of that work.  She added there was confusion about the amount of money that is to be collected.  She said there was a question about a $27 million outstanding tax revenue.  She said the estimate of the value of the properties (not the revenue side) that would come on the roll is about $27 million of assessed value.  She noted the taxes would be $4 million and of that, Lane County gets $350,000.  She indicated the strategy this year was to work on the most complicated and time consuming items that are out in the backlog to get it cleared up.

 

7. Department of Public Works

 

Garnick reported that their total budget for next year is proposed at $145.5 million, with 378.6 FTE.  He said it is across six divisions and seven different funds.  He indicated the fund is down $8 million from the current year.  He noted the road fund is the largest fund at $78.1 million and the fund is down over ten percent of the current year.  He added the second largest fund is solid waste with $38 million and it includes operation of Short Mountain Landfill and the transfer sites.  He noted the fund is flat.  He noted that fleet is at $19.8 million that contains all of the vehicles, equipment and fuel for County departments.  He noted the fund is up a total of four percent for next year.

 

Garnick stated the general fund portion is $5.4 million including the entire division of Land Management, but Land Management is fully fee supported and that includes any general fund money.  He said they are working to get that entirely off the general fund.  He said they use $170,000 of video lottery funding and another $40,000 from Title III funding of Secure Rural Schools.  He noted that Parks and Open Space is $2.3 million, the corners fund is $1.6 and there are SDC’s and special revenue funding.  He said the proposed reduction packages are $753,000 in engineering and 9.4 FTE.  He indicated there is an add package request from Land Management. He said they would like to do an overhaul of Lane Code Chapters 10 and 16 and is asking for $100,000 to do that.  He said the request is to use video lottery funding.  He added there are no other technical adjustments.

 

Ollie Snowden, Public Works, said the overall budget is $145 million, or about 30 percent of the County’s total budget.  He said their FTE this year is 378.6 and it is down from 389.5 last year.  He noted the budget instructions asked them to respond to changes that the department had seen. He said for Public Works it wasn’t the changes they saw so much that were the big issues, it is the things that haven’t changed since last year.  He said the biggest challenge is the structural imbalance they have between revenue stream and their expenses.  He indicated the imbalance was manifested through the divisions.  He said in Land Management, Jeff Towery, had approval for permit fee increases this year and they anticipate he will be back this coming year with a request for additional permit fee increases.

 

Snowden reported that for Parks, the Board approved the sale of certain tax foreclosed properties to help with major maintenance and capital improvements that will either decrease operation expenses or increase the cash flow to help offset the increase in expenses that Parks had seen.  With Waste Management, they were to the point of completing the five year financial plan.  He said they would probably come back to the Board to discuss a tipping fee increase.  He noted that would be the first increase in ten years.  He indicated that Fleet has been hit with increased petroleum costs.  He noted for the coming fiscal year on average, Fleet had raised its light vehicle rates by six percent and its heavy equipment rate by nine percent.  He indicated it was the largest increase they have had in a number of years and driven by the increase of petroleum costs.

 

Snowden explained that 28 percent of the road fund is fund balance and reserves and it is likely to decrease over time.  He noted the solid waste disposal fund is about 54 percent reserves and they anticipate that will increase in the future.  He added in the motor and equipment fund is about 48 percent reserves so as equipment comes due for replacement, they will have the capital available to buy the replacement equipment.

 

With regard to the road fund, Snowden commented that it wasn’t business as usual.  He said they have reductions in the budget and it is the first time they had reduced positions in 25 years.  He said they are anticipating reducing 10.5 positions in the road fund that are related to the Capital Improvement Program, or 9.5 FTE reductions.  He said that five of the positions that were eliminated will work through October.  He said combined with the reduction in surveyors office, it is about $900,000 savings they will see this fiscal year.

 

Snowden said they looked at total new revenue for the road fund.  He said this is the last payment this year of the Secure Rural Schools Act money.  He said they assumed that Secure Rural Schools was continuing at the current level, an increase of one-half the rate of inflation for the duration of the plan.  He said the state highway road transfer from ODOT based on motor fuel taxes and registration fees had a model to forecast.  He said they used the number from ODOT and there wasn’t much growth over the next five years.  He said that $4.95 million is $400,000 less than what is in the budget.  He said within the past couple of months they had an update from ODOT on the forecast before the last fuel cost spike.  He said ODOT saw a reduction in consumption of gasoline because the increase of hybrids and higher mile vehicles and people are driving less.   He said they will be comparing the new revenue with their operating expense.  He said next time they anticipate eliminating another six positions that are related to the Capital Improvement Program.  He thought there would be another $600,000 in savings in personnel costs.

 

Snowden explained that the County Strategic Plan says that when the money gets short in the road fund, the highest priority is operations, maintenance and preservation of the County road system.  He added the next highest priority is modernization projects on a county road system and the lowest priority is revenue sharing with the cities or other governmental agencies.   He noted that was reflected in the Capital Improvement Plan that went to the Board last week.   He indicated this is the last year they are proposing the County City Road Partnership is funded and it zeros out the rest of the planning period.  He recalled from 1989 to 1999, they typically had a capital program that was between $16 million and $18 million dollars.  He added from 1999 to 2002 it dropped closer to $11 million per year.  He noted since that time they have been back around $16 million per year for a capital program.  He said they can’t support that with new revenue so they have been subsidizing it with the fund balance.  He said if they don’t have money to build projects, then they don’t have enough to keep the engineers busy who work on the projects.  He said if they don’t have additional revenue in the future, then they will see another round of position reductions.  He said they programmed the CIP down to about $10 million.

 

Snowden said the road fund revenue is lumpy.   He indicated they get state highway funds that they get on a monthly basis and the money from the Secure Rural Schools Act they receive in January.  He said they looked at FY 10/11 and between July and December, the only money they get in is state highway fund with some miscellaneous money. He said they would need over $3 million per month to make payroll.  He said the new cash flows would be closer to $1.5 million over that.  He said in order to make payroll, they would need about $10 million to start the fiscal year until the Secure Rural Schools Act comes in.  He said they don’t want to go below a fund balance of about $10 million in 10/11.

 

With regard to the Solid Waste Fund, they have new revenue of $11.8 million from the tipping fees, the commercial hauler fees, system benefit fees and residential fees.   He said they hired Eco Northwest to look at the solid waste to provide direction on the assumptions they would use for new revenue generation and the rate to fill the Short Mountain Landfill.  He said they have a cell development fund and they are required by DEQ to have a closure fund and a post closure fund.  He said the closure fund is used to put a geomembrane on the surface of the landfill to cap it to keep the water from penetrating the completed landfill so they don’t generate leachate.  He said they need enough money in that fund in case the DEQ asks them to close the landfill.  He indicated their operation budget is up 60 percent higher than it was in FY 02 because of benefits, PERS and material costs.  He said they need to make sure they have the money instead of having a bond measure.  He said when they look at the tipping fees they have to overlay the fund and subfund and post closure fund.  He said they will look at post closure and closure and make sure they are in compliance with the DEQ requirements and come back to the Board to discuss the potential of a tipping fee increase.

 

Snowden noted that Land Management is fee supported with $170,000 of video lottery money and $43,000 from Title III fees.  He indicated they need to look at fee increases if they are going to continue with the current level of service.  He said they are going to have a policy discussion on the restrictions on use of the fees that Towery collects and to develop a prudent person reserve for Land Management.  He said that Towery would be back on a regular basis with the Board to discuss fee increases.

 

With regard to Parks and Open Space, Snowden reported that $900,000 comes from car rental fees.  He said admissions, picnic and camping fees are about a third of the budget from fees.  He said that expenses are up about ten percent because Todd Winter, Parks has to match it with available funds.  He said he had to cut services in order to stay within budget.  He added without increased revenues, they would be facing a deficit.  He hoped they would complete the Parks Master Plan and from that the tax foreclosed revenue.  He said that Parks would be developing a capital projects list that would identify rehabilitation and renovation projects to lower operating costs as well as identifying capital improvement opportunities that would generate a net positive cash flow.  He noted that the funds from the Glenada property were not in the budget.  He said it would be a supplemental budget as the money is received.   He said they also need to set a prudent person reserve for parks.

 

Stewart asked if they anticipated any added costs from rising fuel costs.

 

Snowden responded that they hadn’t built any in.  He noted the revenue estimates that were put in the budget were from January and February on the car rental fees.  He added there wasn’t a cushion in the Park’s budget to support the loss in revenue.

 

Hijmans asked about the traffic impact at Delta and Beltline and what the cost to the County would be

 

Snowden indicated the comments they and ODOT sent back on the completeness review of the hospital study were they didn’t think there was enough detail to be able to assess the effect the mitigation measures would have on either Beltline or Delta Highway on the ramp.  He said at one point they had $8 million in the CIP for Delta Beltline interchange modifications and because of a number of reasons, they cut it back to $1.1 million this year.  He said one reason was cash flow.  He added with the uncertainty of what ODOT would do with Beltline, they weren’t sure how to build their interchange improvements.  He indicated that a portion of the $8 million was supposed to go into widening the bridge on Delta over Beltline, but they don’t know how wide Beltline is going to be.  He thought it was problematic to try to spend the $8 million at the interchange.  He noted the Board asked them to get together with ODOT decision makers to see if they could identify some project that could be done on a short timeline that might help with the traffic increase.

 

Morrison asked about the increase in the gas tax.

 

Snowden stated that AOC had a questionnaire out asking the counties what projects they would build with the new money that they might get from the legislature.  He noted 1993 was the last time the legislature increased the gas tax and weight mile fee to any extent that provided any type of relief to the counties.  He commented that their personnel costs are increasing so much that it was hard to take the money to build new projects when they need the money to continue to maintain their own roads.  He said if money from the legislature and the Secure Rural School Act falls through, they will be back to the Board to prioritize where they spend their road fund money.  He commented that the road fund is in more jeopardy than any other program in Public Works because the revenues are mainly federal and state.

 

McCown asked if they, as a department, had looked at what would happen if the Secure Rural Schools Act is reduced or eliminated.

 

Snowden said they hadn’t.  He said they will be watching what goes on with Congress and if they are still not making progress late in the summer, then they will have to define those programs and make staff recommendations on what they think the priorities are.

 

Green recalled the direction from the Board regarding Delta and Beltline was they were going to work together with the problem solvers.  He commented at some point there is a point of diminishing return around the increase of fees.  He said they can’t continue to increase fees.  He stated they could choose not to increase fees and just provide that level of service.  He commented that even if Secure Rural Schools was fully restored, that wasn’t enough.  He wanted to know what wouldn’t get done.

 

Bartlett wanted to know what the total value of the foreclosed land was that could be made available to Parks.

 

Winter wasn’t sure what the properties were worth.

 

Bartlett wanted him to come back with that information.

 

Van Vactor said they could try but it took a long time for the facilities committee to get an inventory of the property.  He didn’t know if they could do it.  He added that each piece of property is unique and would have to go through different processes.  He didn’t think there could be a blanket policy for properties.

 

Crowell reminded the committee that there was a 15 minute rule for staff time and if a project is going to take longer than 15, it takes a majority of the committee to approve that use of staff time.

 

Holser asked about the obligation with road funds to the City of Eugene.

 

Snowden stated there was no legal obligation.  He said the IGA they have with the cities is a three year agreement that ends with the last payment in December 2006.  He said if the Board wants to change the direction, it is up to them.  He said if the Board does want to do that, then they would have to find other cuts in order to free up money to pay to the cities.

 

Towery explained that they identified the potential costs for rewriting Chapters 10 and 16.  He said that Jackson and Washington Counties had rewritten their development codes and the projects of three years for $500,000.  He  indicated it was an add package of a consultant for three years.  He said they identified staff resources to manage it and $47,000 was from the video lottery fund that had already been approved by the committee and the Board for operations.

 

Crowell asked why they needed to be re-written.

 

Towery said it was a suggestion from the Board and County Administration to clarify and streamline their development code.  He said that state law continues to change and it is to make their code current.

 

9. Next Meeting

 

Materials were distributed for the next meeting.

 

There being no further business, Chair Crowell adjourned the meeting at 8:10 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary