BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

February 13, 2007

6:30 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 1/2/2008

 

Commissioner Faye Stewart presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Bobby Green, Sr. and Peter Sorenson present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

  1. PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

a. SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING/Ordinance No. 2-07/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) (Third Reading and Public Hearing: February 21, 2007, 1:30 p.m.).

 

Dave Garnick, Budget Manager, reported that Lane County gets over $47 million per year from Secure Rural Schools and $7 million of that goes directly to Lane ESD and gets shared with the schools in the county.  He added that Lane County itself gets $40 million:  $20 million for the general fund and $20 million for the road fund.  He said the $20 million in the general fund pays for services like the Sheriff Patrol, services at the Jail, prosecution at the District Attorney’s office, Elections, and Assessment and Taxation.  He stated all of the services are in jeopardy.  He reported the money for the road fund is to be used for new construction and modernization projects throughout the county.  He said the Secure Rural Schools Act was a six-year act and has sunsetted.  He indicated there was talk about Congress taking some action to extend or renew, but the action had not happened.  He added that they still have to prepare a balanced budget and they are in the process of doing that.  He gave an overview of the County payments. (Copy in file).

 

Wilson explained that the ordinance levies an income tax on personal income: non-residence and business income at the same rate.  She added the idea is to spread the burden of the tax across as broad a group as possible.  She discussed the ordinance options. (Copy in file).

 

Wilson explained that the personal income tax is based on the Oregon Income Tax.  She said there are deductions allowed:  residents who file single can take a $7,500 deduction from their income and residents who file jointly can take a $15,000 deduction.  She indicated state law requires a deduction of the PERS benefit and federal case law requires a deduction of the federal retirement benefit.  She said the Board of Commissioners directed that there be a pension and annuity deduction so that private employers’ pensions have a comparable deduction similar to PERS.  She said it would apply to qualifying pension profit sharing plans, annuity plans and simple 401K plans.  She added there would be no deduction for individual IRA’s or Roth IRA’s.  She noted there is an exemption in the personal income tax for those whose combined adjusted gross income is $20,000 or less if they are filing jointly. She said people who pay a business income tax are allowed to take a credit for the business income tax they pay on personal income tax.  She noted the non-resident income tax was similar to the personal income tax and is designed to tax wages of people who live outside the county but work inside the county and people who live outside the county but who derive income from assets that are located within the county.

 

Wilson noted the business income tax is designed to tax business income.  She said income that occurs outside of the county would not be taxed.  She said there is a requirement that any business whose gross business income is over $25,000 would file a return.  She added that there is an exemption for businesses whose gross income is less than that.  She noted there are exemptions for personal income activity and that is as a result of the county using the business income tax presently in place in Multnomah County.  She said they used theirs as a model for writing the business income tax.

 

Commissioner Stewart opened the Public Hearing.

 

Jerry Henderson, Eugene, stated he is a retired school principal and President of the Board of Directors of Birth to Three. He supported the effort for a strong Lane County public safety initiative, one that has a preventative component and the inclusion of Birth to Three’s Making Parent a Pleasure and Teen Parent Program within the present component. He supported Option 5. He said the most successful way to support successful students is to support their teachers.  He added the most effective way to support healthy children is to support their parents.  He believed in programs and how essential they are for the well being of the community.

 

Darryl Larson, Eugene, commented that the component parts of public safety include crisis response, policing, investigation, prosecution, sentencing, warehousing, supervision and rehabilitation.  He said they are expensive components and are needed due to the flow of dysfunctional people into the system with personal problems.  He said research has proven that the most important component of raising functional children is consistent quality caring parenting.  He said it could be taught to anyone for little money.  He said public funding should be ramped up for parent training, targeting  those parents posing the highest risk to raise dysfunctional children.  He said Birth to Three has pioneered specialized parent training and should be included.

 

Carol Grappo, Eugene, said she was against taxing people who make $10,000 per year filing as single and $20,000 if filing married.  She commented that this was a continued regressive taxing system.  She supported some type of income tax if it is progressive.  She commented that this was premature as they didn’t know what was going to happen with the federal government.  She suggested charging anyone who made over $11.38 per hour one percent for an income tax.  She asked not to punish the people who make under $50,000 per year.

 

Jerry Ritter, Springfield, said he was supportive of the proposed measure and the need.  He stated in order for any proposal to pass, it has to be necessary, reasonable and fair.  He said it has to be perceived by the voters. He thought most people would vote on voter perception that might not mirror reality.  He said there is necessity for an income tax due to the loss of the Secure Rural Funds.  He said they need to find a way to replace the Secure Rural Schools funding.

 

Juan Carolos Valle, Eugene,  asked for the Board to consider in the budget funding for programs that address prevention because it was important to the people in the community.  He said the idea of not having adequate funding for public safety makes him want to support the income tax.  He said prevention programs need to be supported and need to be in the budget.  He commented that parenting classes work and it makes a difference in the community.  He thought dollars invested in these programs would save in the future.  He said funding public safety is important and if they want to have less encounters with child neglect and child abuse, they should do it through parent education and support.

 

Zachary Vishinoff, Eugene, stated the public doesn’t understand the politics and the ramifications of Lane County’s situation.  He said there is a media problem in reporting Lane County’s problems.

 

Amber Lengele, Eugene, was in support of the Extension Service.  She said she had been in 4H for six years and she shows animals.  She said many kids participate in 4H as their only extra curricular activity.  She added that 4H teaches responsibility and has a high participation rate.

 

Jack Roberts, Lane Metro Partnership, encouraged the Board to enact the income tax, not to refer it to the voters.  He recommended making it effective by July 1 because of the serious situation with the loss or reduction of Secure Rural Schools. He thought they should keep the tax as modest as possible and to fully offset any amount they do receive from Secure Rural Schools.  He commented that no one wants to pay taxes unnecessarily but they all rely on the things taxes pay for.  He indicated that Oregon had been rated as among the ten best business tax climates in the country by the Tax Foundation.  He said he knows what it means to have a functioning County government and what will happen if they don’t get the Secure Rural Schools funding.

 

Bill McConochie, Eugene, said they need to have small group discussions so the public understands the situation and would be more willing to fund government service.  He said Lane County citizens receive services and are the ones who will pay with tax dollars.  He said business as usual has them treading water.  He said they should try basing local government decisions on what the citizens want after they are informed on issues.

 

Justin Erkess, Eugene, spoke about the OSU Extension Service.  He said the Extension Service is important to the community.

 

Paisley Matheson said she is a 4H member.  She supported Option 8.  She said if Option 8 is not passed, then the Lane County Extension Office would be closed and 4H would be eliminated.  She said it is special and 700 children would be affected.

 

Peggy Thomas, Eugene, stated that 4H is a terrific prevention program.  She said she runs a gleaning group and she works with farmers.  She said every dollar that is spent for Extension Service impacts many parts of the community.

 

Kaitlyn Allen, Junction City, said it was important to keep the Extension Service for everyone in the community.  She said without the Extension Office, 4H would not exist.  She said the Lane County 4H would have to merge into surrounding counties.  She commented that the Extension Service is one of the most important parts of the agricultural community and without 4H children would be at a loss.  She urged the Board to include Option 8.

 

Mike Allen, Junction City, said they all have to work together to make this happen.  He said they have to look at programs in place that are doing a good job.  He supported the OSU Extension Service.  He said the Extension Service and the 4H program are critical to the children in the community.  He said almost everyone at one time has called the Extension Service to ask for advice or to save a life.  He stated this service is essential.  He supported a tax to keep the programs.

 

Carla George said she is a Program Manager for the Relief Nursery.  She was concerned about the reduction of funds for human services.  She commented that even though the money goes away, the families won’t.  She said there will be more families in need because of the amount of services that will be lost.  She asked the Board to make sure there is funding to provide the services to children they need.  She asked the Board to take this into consideration.

 

James Harrang, Eugene, spoke in favor of the public safety income tax.  He commented that it is the fairest and most efficient of taxes.  He thought the levels of income were too low.  He asked to Board to reconsider the exemptions.  He asked why there couldn’t be a progressive rate structure after they have gone beyond the exemptions so the lower income people who will be exposed to the tax will pay a lesser rate of tax than those in the higher income.  With regard to the ordinance options, he thought there was urgency and that the Board should adopt the ordinance.  He said it can be referred to the people and if it is referred, it will be up to the citizens of the community to support the tax.  He said Option 5 was appropriate to minimally restore the public safety system.

 

Jim Hale, Eugene, believed the Board should enact the tax because they still won’t know if they have any money on July 1.  He commented that it was an unacceptable situation to be in.  He said they should also refer a charter amendment to limit the tax and have the Board pass the ordinance that enacts the tax.  He said they cannot afford to lay off employees.  He said if the citizens want to repeal the tax, then it would be their decision. 

 

Stuart Ramsing, Eugene, supported Option 5 and Option 8.  He said the Extension Service leverages and amplifies the volunteer efforts of the community and for the dollars that go to the program; there are thousands of hours that are put in by volunteers.  He commented that they couldn’t do better with the dollars than with the Extension Service.

 

Doug Newton, Eugene, stated he grew up in the River Road area.  He said the community has a problem of separating essential from non-essential services.  He said they have managed to find funding for different services.  He thought there should be a single metro area police force instead of a system of having four different police departments patrolling one contiguous metro area.  He said he hadn’t decided how he would vote but thought the Board should look at other options.

 

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

 

MOTION: to approve a Second Reading and Setting a Third Reading and Deliberation on February 21, 2007 for Ordinance 2-07.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

There being no other business, Commissioner Stewart adjourned the meeting at 8:05 a.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary