BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

February 21, 2007

1:30 p.m.

Commissionersí Conference Room

 

APPROVED 4/4/07

 

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.

 

16.†††††† PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

a.†††††††† THIRD READING AND PUBLIC HEARING Ordinance No. 1-07/In the Matter of Amending Lane Code Chapters 16 and 10 to Revise Floodplain Definitions and Floodplain Zone (NBA & PM 1/24/07 & 2/7/07).

 

††††††††††† Kier Miller, Land Management, explained that this is a series of amendments to the Floodplain Combining Zone of Lane Code 16.244 and 10.271.He recalled that from the Public Hearing on February 7, 2007 the flood ordinance is being updated to ensure Lane County remains in compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program and to participate in the community ratings system.He added that participation in the National Flood Insurance Program enables Lane County residents to purchase subsidized low cost federally backed flood insurance.He explained if they want to participate in either of the programs, they are required to periodically update their floodplain ordinance and keep it in line with the Federal Title 44 version of the Flood Ordinance.He noted the First Reading was on January 24 and on February 7, 2007 the Board held a Second Reading and Public Hearing.He added at that meeting staff requested that the Board open the hearing but postpone taking final action on the item to meet the two-week statutory notice requirement.He indicated they made the request because a minor change in the ordinance had been made between the first reading and the second reading.He noted in the past two weeks no additional comments had been submitted and if there is no substantive public comment, staff requests the Board adopt the proposed amendments.

 

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

 

††††††††††† MOTION: to adopt Ordinance No. 1-07.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

††††††††††† ROLL CALL VOTE: 5-0.

 

b.†††††††† 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).

 

††††††††††† Dave Garnick, Budget and Finance Planning Manager, discussed how the County got into the current budget situation.He indicated they have been trying to maintain services but havenít been able to keep up.He said the revenue has not been sufficient.He recalled in 2000 the federal government enacted the most recent federal act, the Secure Rural Schools Community Self Determination Act.He said it was only a six-year act and has expired.He indicated they are now facing large budget reductions.He said they are going to have to make cuts.He indicated in the general fund they are looking at a $20 million reduction.He stated that they have to prepare a balanced budget by June 30, 2007, due to Oregon State Budget Law.He added the Road Fund is similarly looking at large reductions.He noted in the general fund they were looking at reductions of 220 positions, with the road fund cutting between 50 and 60 positions.He indicated there would be services that have already been reduced or they will have to start eliminating services.

 

††††††††††† Wilson explained the Board of Commissioners asked staff to prepare an income tax ordinance to help solve some of the problems.She said the income tax ordinance is designed to tax across economic activity in Lane County: personal income, non-resident income and business income.She said they will be taxed at the same rate.She indicated the personal income tax would be the largest share of a revenue source.She said the Lane County ordinance is designed to work off of the Oregon Income Tax at the Oregon taxable income level.She explained it minimizes the amount of expenditure. She indicated that Social Security income is not taxed by the state so the County would not be taxing it.

 

††††††††††† Wilson said they tried to provide options for the Board to consider.She noted there are 11 options (copy in file).She explained that the first option would determine when the income tax would go into effect.She said that Option 1 would have the Board of Commissioners enact the tax.She said it would be effective July 1, 2007 and would apply to the full calendar year of 2007 but at half the rate.She said that way they wouldnít have to recalculate the income taxes.

 

††††††††††† Wilson noted the second option is for the Board of Commissioners to refer the income tax to the election, but with the same date of July 1, 2007, applying to the full calendar year at a half rate.She added that Option 3 has the Board enacting the income tax but it becomes effective January 1, 2008.She said the effect is likely service reduction cuts for the period of July to January.She indicated they donít have the revenue to sustain the services of the current level for that six-month period.

 

††††††††††† With regard to Option 4, Wilson said it is to refer it to the election effective January 1, 2008.She indicated it would have the same service implication.She noted that Options 5, 6 and 7 discuss the mix of services that would be supported by the income tax revenues.She stated that all three options would replace the Secure Rural Schools funding.She said Option 5 would replace the Secure Rural Schools funding, and minimally restore public safety services with restorations and enhancements.She said the minimal restorations are described. (Copy in file). She indicated it is $25 million in projected revenue that would be used to support four goals the Board has been looking at for the past few years:targeting illegal drug producers and dealers, reducing family violence, enhancing treatment programs and providing prevention programs.She stated it would maintain the current level of service plus add a component.She explained that the first year yield on Option 5 is estimated to be about $54 million and it would mean an income tax rate of 1.6 percent of the Oregon taxable income.She added there was a nuance with Option 5 (called 5 a).She said it would add Lane County Animal Regulation to the mix as a public service and provide $1 million in additional revenue for animal control.

 

††††††††††† Wilson noted that Option 6 is a different level of service; it would replace the Secure Rural Schools funding and maintain current public safety services.She said it would stabilize the current public safety system.She said it would bring a first year yield of about $32.5 million at an income tax rate of 1.1 percent.

 

††††††††††† Wilson stated that Option 7 would replace Secure Rural Schools but they would have to reduce current services.She said there would still be about a $4.5 million reduction in the services and that would mean some loss in the public safety system.She stated that would be an income tax rate of 1 percent and it would be a first year estimated yield of $28 million.

 

††††††††††† Wilson explained that the income tax ordinance dedicates 60 percent of the property tax in order to provide the public safety services. She indicated that Option 8 does that and also dedicates 2.2 percent of property tax revenues for Extension Services.She said currently the OSU Extension Service receives funding from the County property tax at the rate of about $554,000.She added there was an old Extension Service levy before Measures 47 and 50 that was rolled into the County permanent property tax rate.She explained if they dedicated 2.2 percent of the property tax revenues, it would yield about $650,000 for the Extension Service.

 

††††††††††† Wilson noted that Option 9 is a similar dedication of property tax revenues for Veteranís Services.She said they currently receive about $164,000 of discretionary general fund.She said that would achieve about $205,000 for Veteranís Services.She said with the option for Extension Services or for the Veteranís, if the Board chooses the highest income tax rate, it would cause no impact on other discretionary funded services.She said if the Board chooses Option 6 or 7, and dedicates the additional amounts for Extension and Veteranís Services, the increased funding would cause a decrease in funding for other discretionary services.She noted there would be some cuts elsewhere.

 

††††††††††† Wilson noted that Options 10 and 11 address the question of what happens if the Board does something or the ordinance gets placed on the ballot and Congress provides money.She said if Congress provides the renewal of Secure Rural Schools at the current level or an increased level by June 1, Option 10 would say the income tax rate is reduced.She added if Congress acts after June 1, it would impose on the Board an obligation to have a public hearing to decide what to do.She said if the Board chooses the mix of services option, (to replace the Secure Rural Schools funding,) and then Congress acts, Option 11 says the income tax wouldnít be collected if Congress acts before June 1.She said the Board would have to hold a hearing on what citizens believe is the best thing to do.

 

††††††††††† Wilson said retirees who receive a PERS or federal retirement benefit have a deduction required by state law.She said the Board had provided a companion deduction for people who have a pension or annuity income from an employer-sponsored plan.She said qualified pension and profit sharing plans, annuity plans, and simple 401kís would have that level of deduction.She added it does not apply to Roth IRAís, or traditional IRAís.

 

††††††††††† With regard to personal income tax, Wilson noted that residents who have an adjusted gross income of $20,000 or less who file jointly are exempt from the income tax.She said if someone files a personal income tax and has a business, there is a credit for any business income paid.She said they want to tax income activity once, not twice.She indicated with the personal income tax for the non-resident, employers are expected to withhold the tax from the wages.She said with non resident income, if someone lives outside of the county but works within the county, they will pay income tax on the income earned within the county, whether its wages or owned income property.She said similar deductions, exemptions and credits will be given.She said the business tax is the same tax rate, and the idea is to take the business income that occurs within the county.She said if they have a business that earns all of the income within the county, it would be taxed.She said income for businesses is taxable business income, less deductions.She said that business income was defined broadly as any business activity before apportionment.

 

††††††††††† Wilson noted they have the standard administration and collection provisions in the income tax, including penalties and interest if it is not paid.She said the ordinances dedicate income tax revenues for public safety purposes.She said they are the departments that operate public safety programs:District Attorney, Youth Services, the Sheriffís Office, Parole and Probation and things that address the four goals of targeting drug producers and dealers, responding to family violence, and treatment and prevention programs geared to reducing criminal activity.She said it requires that the income tax revenues go into a dedicated fund so it is possible to evaluate where those revenues are used and for what they are dedicated.She said it includes language that states performance audits are to be conducted on a regular basis to validate they were used appropriately.

 

††††††††††† Van Vactor reported that Lane County had been working on this for the past two years.He recalled they held public hearings and had an extensive process with the Public Safety Task Force in 2005.He said what Lane County settled on (based on testimony) was an income tax.He noted the only other alternative was a property tax.The problem with that is the County could only go out with a local option levy which is limited in time and not permanent like an income tax.He said if the vote occurs at any election (except a general election every two years) then a double majority is required.He commented it was politically practical to pursue a property tax at this point in time.He indicated the testimony the Board received requested that the tax be broad based because everyone uses public safety and an income tax is attractive because it is based on the principle of ability to pay.He said David Garnick stated things have changed dramatically.He said in the fall they still had hoped Congress would have renewed the Secure Rural Schools to give additional time to work on the issues.He reported Congress didnít take action and the advice they received from Washington, D.C. is they arenít certain if they will get it passed in time for the budget for July 1, 2007.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer commented that in over 20 years of elected office, this was one of the most difficult decisions he has had to make.He thought the last time it was unfair that they exempted PERS and federal retirees and they didnít exempt other types of pensions.He said this time they are going to exempt all bona fide pensions that are legally defined under the federal tax code, and they are working to change the law.He said they asked their legislative delegation to ask that the law be changed to allow counties to tax PERS.†† He asked if they are successful in the ability to tax PERS pension if there was a provision in the code that would allow them to levy the tax on those pensions.He said it is the Countyís intention to tax all the pensions equally and the tax should apply to them.

 

††††††††††† Wilson said if they are successful at changing the law, all that would be necessary would be for the Board to change the ordinance to tax the pensions.She said if the Board wants to enact the ordinance themselves, they have the flexibility; they are not bound by any timeline.She said if they enact, citizens who are unhappy about it could do a referendum, within a 90-day period.She said at the end of the 90-day period if there hasnít been a referendum, they would move forward.She said if the Board wishes to place this on the May ballot, and have it go into a Countyís voter pamphlet, they would need to make a decision today.She added the ballot measure would be due to Elections not later than March 14.She said if they are going to have it in the Countyís voter pamphlet, they need to allow an explanatory statement committee time to write the statement.She stated if the Board was looking at referring this to an election, changes to the ordinance today would put at risk their ability to make the election timeframe.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson asked how much money the proposal would raise.

 

††††††††††† Garnick responded if they go with the full rate, it is 1.6 percent, bringing in $54.5 million.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson asked if all of that would be dedicated to public safety.

 

††††††††††† Garnick said it would be dedicated to the public safety fund.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson asked how they would reconcile the Veterans, Extension Service and other non-public safety aspects of this with the idea that this would be dedicated solely for public safety.

 

††††††††††† Wilson explained the Veterans and Extension components are not being paid for with income tax revenues.She said it is a dedication of property tax revenues accomplished within the context of the income tax ordinance but it is not a dedication of income tax revenues.

 

††††††††††† Fleenor asked how they would deal with the deficit in Public Works.

 

††††††††††† Van Vactor indicated the director of Public Works is working on items where they could suggest some fees to the Board.He said they have had modest fees.He added there is a potential for a countywide gas tax.

 

††††††††††† Fleenor asked that because of the structural deficit, (even with the passage of the income tax) if some programs would still be suffering as they move forward.

 

††††††††††† Garnick responded that it depended upon which option they choose.He said with Option 5 or5 a., there would be enough property tax revenue left to cover the structural deficit in the general fund for all programs.

 

††††††††††† Commissioner Stewart opened the Public Hearing.

 

††††††††††† Garnick clarified that Option 5 and Option 5 a. is current services plus the additions, and it maintains the current general fund services.He said Option 6 is the current services and stabilizes the general fund.He added with Option 7 they were replacing Secure Rural Schools but it doesnít stabilize the funding.

 

††††††††††† Josh Goldstein, Swisshome, commented for the past ten years public safety spending had outpaced the consumer price index by 300 percent.He asked what they considered would be sufficient revenue growth to maintain safety.He said he hears strong adjectives about the needs for the Sheriffís Department.He didnít know how they were measuring effectiveness and whether there is a need.He wanted to know the percentage of certified Sheriffs that are in the field at any one time.He wanted to know if the Sheriff provides services in any cities that have existing police departments.He said he hears of numerous alternatives for taxing people but he didnít hear about ways to improve or increase the revenue base of the County and the economic health of the County that would increase the revenue sources.

 

††††††††††† Anna Maria Dudley, Eugene, spoke on behalf of Birth to Three.She thinks this tax is at the right time as the needs are great in the County.She said in Cottage Grove they are offering parenting classes.She said they need prevention in the rural communities.She hoped the Board would move forward with a tax.

 

††††††††††† John Altshuler, Eugene, said he hard talk about the fairness of qualified retirement planstaxing fairly.He said 401Kís qualify.He didnít know how they would treat 401Kís that rolled over that go to an IRA, but which initially were not an IRA or a SEP IRA.He said that should be addressed.

 

††††††††††† Wilson explained that if a pension gets reported on line 16 b. of Form 1040, then it would be covered by this deduction.She added if it gets reported on line 15, it is not.

 

††††††††††† Altshuler stated he has a negative view on the plan.He read aloud an editorial comment that was in the paper from his friend.He thought there should be more than a tax.He thought there were other ways of getting funding.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson asked if they could have a business and occupation tax and substitute it for the proposal of a flat income tax.

 

††††††††††† Wilson said it would be a new ordinance.She said that Multnomah County and the City of Portland still have a business income tax.She noted they used Multnomah Countyís business tax as a model.

 

††††††††††† Flo Alverque, League of Women Voters, Eugene, stated the League of Women Voters commended the commissioners for working to obtain a new source of funding for vital County services.She said they supported the income tax measure on the November 2006 ballot because it would have addressed a public safety crisis in Lane County.She stated the League favors a tax system that is adequate, stable, easy to administer and as simple as possible.She said it should be based on the ability to pay and provide for broad sharing of the tax burden.She indicated that the income tax proposal satisfies many of the criteria.She said although the proposal doesnít provide for progressive rates, it includes low-income exemptions and personal deductions. She thought administrative costs could be minimized by contracting with the City of Portland.She said they support the modifications the Board made to the proposal and eliminating the property tax credit simplifies the measure and removes the concern that the credit would unfairly benefit some more than others. She commented for the long term they would prefer legislative changes that would allow all pensions to be taxed by local governments in the same way they are taxed by the state.She said the focus should be delivering adequate public safety services that include law enforcement, prosecution, incarceration,substance abuse treatment and prevention.She said although the Animal Regulation, Extension Services and Veteranís Services are valuable programs, they should not be an element of an income tax proposal. She believes that Lane County is facing a crisis that necessitates action. She commented the decision to enact the ordinance without an election is a political one, not a legal one.She stated that citizen education will be critical.She commented that many citizens are reluctant to believe that the County is short of revenue.She urged the Board to continue to find adequate revenue to deliver essential services.She said they support an adoption of an income tax that would generate sufficient revenue to pay for existing public safety programs. and to fund additional programs to address the effects of alcohol and illegal drug abuse.

 

††††††††††† Ruth Duemler, Eugene, encouraged the Board to enact a tax instead of putting it up for an election.She thought it should be a progressive income tax.She said they need tax reform. She encouraged the County to work with the state to push the state into having a tax reform measure statewide that would provide for more services.She said they need a reversal of what happened with Measure 4, 47 and 50.She would limit the tax to a certain time period to work for tax reform and make measures fair to the public.She wanted to see more priority given toward prevention.She encouraged the Board to purchase the new building [for Public Health] that had been suggested.She thought that was something the people of Lane County urgently needed as a preventive force in the community.She also wanted more money going toward education.She commented they would need a lot less money for public safety if they put more toward preventive measures.

 

††††††††††† Jack Roberts,Eugene, Lane Metro Partnership, urged the Board to enact the income tax and do it outright, not by referral.He thought the cuts would be hard to make if they donít get Secure Rural Schools for this revenue source.He said from the general fund when they take out public safety and Health and Human Services, there isnít much left.†† He said the Board would be making the cuts that hurt the most because there isnít any other place to balance the budget.He commented for businesses that wanted to expand, the number one quality of life issue is low crime rate.He noted in a community where they are matrixing people out of the jail and not prosecuting property crimes, this is not a place where businesses want to grow. He said it isnít a place to raise families.He recalled when he was on the Board of Commissioners in 1993 they looked at a County income tax to be offset with timber revenue.He said they have been working on this for a long time and it is time to act.He hoped the Board would enact this.

 

††††††††††† Michelle Rivers, Eugene, spoke on behalf of the teen parent program (Birth to Three).She indicated she is a student in the program and it is a necessity for young parents in the community.She said they need support networks to help them to make healthy decisions for themselves and their children.She said that Birth to Three helps provide critical support emotionally, psychologically and socially.She said the parenting courses are critical.She commented that if they do not have the education, they risk putting their children into a school system when they are not ready.She added it also helps prevent domestic violence.She said there werenít enough resources and it was important that the tax be passed to prevent the problems.

 

††††††††††† Carole Grappo, Santa Clara, urged the Board to put the income tax proposal on the ballot instead of enacting it without citizensí voter approval.She opposed the income tax because of what the options are.She didnít think they would be popular with anyone.She said only some people would be taxed on their retirement.She said it is unjust because people on marginal incomes will not be able to afford ďthis regressive tax.ĒShe requested that the Board adjust the exemptions to $23,670, adjusted gross income for a single person, and $62,400 for joint filers with two dependents and head of household.She said they need to look at a progressive tax.She requested that the Board look at any top-heavy management positions and clean out any departments that are not doing work.She requested that four of the five commissioners recuse themselves from attempting to enact the income tax ordinance because they have a conflict of interest, as they will receive retirement income from PERS which is exempt from this income tax.††

 

††††††††††† Don Lance, Creswell, Tax Director, Monaco Coach, indicated they actively participated with the last campaign and the true public safety need the County faces.He said they were troubled by some of the proposed revisions.With regard to retirement, he knew that the PERS exemption creates a problem.He said the proposed fix of removing other employee-sponsored income creates other problems.He wondered why a person who wasnít given the opportunity in an employer sponsored retirement plan does not have the opportunity to exempt their IRA income from the tax.He commented that it causes an increase in the tax rate.He said they have people who are trying to raise families and they have problems making ends meet.He said at Monaco, their biggest concern is making sure they fund public safety.He wanted to make sure they get the approval from Lane County citizens whatever theBoard enacts.He didnít want the Extension Service or LCARA added in as riders to this ordinance.He encouraged the Board to accept the 1.1 percent to stabilize the budget.He said they need to make sure the public accepts it.

 

††††††††††† Marilyn Rothbard, Eugene, didnít think this tax was fair to lower income people.†† She said if they donít present something that offsets the PERS people who will be exempt, they would have to provide some exemptions for other retirees in order to make it fair.She hoped they would put the vote to the public and make it clear they are enacting a tax, not limiting a tax.She hoped the Board would show that the tax is necessary, reasonable and fair to all.

 

††††††††††† Richard Nell, Eugene, commented that the tax proposed is not broad based.He said he is a PERS recipient.He stated the Board needed to go after a different revenue source.

 

††††††††††† Kim Belden, Springfield, supported the Extension Service. She said there was no discussion about the 4H program and the kids involved in it.She commented that it would be devastating if the program were to go away.She urged the Board to consider this for the children.

 

††††††††††† Bob Hoyt, Springfield, commented that any government bodyís main asset is trust and confidence by the people the Board represents.He said he feels threatened as a citizen because they are not represented by law enforcement.He said if they cut law enforcement, it will turn out to be a poor choice.He said if they donít have laws, they donít have peace and if they donít have peace, they donít have justice.

 

††††††††††† Jill Winans, Eugene, stated she is affiliated with animal welfare organizations. She was against the $1 million that is being considered for LCARA as part of the public safety tax initiative.She commented that LCARA already has one of the highest budgets of any animal regulation agency in Oregon at $1.75 million.She noted that Coos County has one of the lowest at $150,000 or less than one-tenth of LCARAís. She added that Coos County takes in a comparable amount of impounds and has similar save rates. She commented that LCARA is held to no standards, as there are no performance standards for the employees or the agency itself.

 

††††††††††† Jane Moodie, Eugene, resented shifting the tax burden to personal incomes.She asked why they couldnít have a Lane County inheritance tax.She said instead of looking at middle-income monies they should look at the federal government.She commented the thought of building more prisons to incarcerate more people is appalling.She asked if Lane County looked at decriminalizing victimless crimes.

 

††††††††††† Steve Lee, Eugene, stated he was active with the last tax measure.†† His preference is Option 6, to enact an ordinance to replace the existing general fund programs and the 3 percent shortfall Lane County has.He had some concerns as this is an ordinance and not a charter amendment. He noted in the past the Board had done cuts across the board, but he thought they should focus on priorities.He said the trust of the constituents and their ability as a the Board could solve the problems is being challenged.He wanted to make sure that everyone was working full-time focusing their efforts on this.He recalled with the last measure all five commissioners were not for the measure and for some of the new options that are being thrown in.He said they have to prioritize and he hoped that Option 6 would have the best chance of not having a referendum.He didnít want to see jobs cut.He thought there needed to be a bigger shift toward treatment with some of the alternative funds otherwise they wouldnít get votes.He suggested just enacting a replacement to what they had lost.He thought if they tacked on LCARA to any funding measure, it would be the kiss of death that they wouldnít be getting the votes they need.

 

††††††††††† Wendy Gardner, Eugene,supported the highest level of the Countyís income tax in order to address the safety and social issues.She spoke on behalf of the Lane County Extension programs.She said her area of expertise is the Master Gardner Program, she said their mission is to share their knowledge in practical encouraging ways with the community.She said they affect the health and well being of the citizens and the environment.

 

††††††††††† David Hoffman, Eugene, commented there is no substitute for food and that should be the top priority.He stated that food comes before shelter.He thought that a simple no frills budget was necessary.

 

††††††††††† Minalee Saks, Eugene, read a letter from a teen parent.She encouraged the Board to enact the tax, with Option 5.She noted there is no County funding for Birth to Three and it is needed.She said the County needs to look at the bigger picture and include Birth to Three.

 

††††††††††† Stewart asked Saks what funding she wanted to see for Birth to Three added.

 

††††††††††† Saks said they would want two all year long teen parent programs, with some in Spanish.She noted there was flexibility going from $42,000 to $100,000.

 

††††††††††† Wilson commented that if the Board considered adding funding, if they want to fund a teen parent program, is should be generically.She said they need to be careful that any service which is not provided by County staff will go through a contract bidding process.She said they couldnít identify any particular agency.

 

††††††††††† Jin Rundall, Eugene, urged the Board to enact the tax. He commented that public safety is in a bad state and he thinks it is important to have the tax enacted.He said if there is a referendum that the Board consider a vote for the tax in July.He stated he volunteers at the Grassroots Garden and they produce 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of fresh produce distributed through Food for Lane County.He said without the Extension Service, they wouldnít be able to do it.He said it provides support for 4H, low-income nutrition and forestry.He said he doesnít like to pay taxes but a number of things are influenced by crime in the community.

 

††††††††††† Merry Bradley, Eugene, stated she is a Master Gardner. She was in support of the Extension Service.She commented that without the Extension Service they couldnít grow food and change peopleís lives.

 

††††††††††† Joan Ojeria, Eugene, said she is active with Extension.She agreed with what was said regarding the Extension Service.†† She supported whatever the Board could do to help the Extension Service stay a viable part of the community.

 

††††††††††† Barbara Olson, Pleasant Hill, stated she is associated with the Extension Office as a volunteer.She recalled going door to door to get a levy for the Extension Service.It passed easily and now they have been handcuffed in the regulations and changes that have come up.She commented that they do good things for the community.She noted that Extension Services receives County, state and federal money.Without any of the funding, they go away.She added if Lane County doesnít give them money they will not exist, as they have no other avenue of support.

 

††††††††††† Suzanne Callahan, stated she is a 4H parent.She said she is new this year to 4H.She said that prevention needs to be a priority.She commented it would be a loss to the community if this was not high on the importance list.

 

††††††††††† Jim Hale, Eugene, stated the Board should enact the tax.He said the Board should adopt the Option 6 ordinance at a rate solely to fill the gap of federal payments with a dedication to public safety at 1.1 percent.He said they should then refer an ordinance to the May ballot to increase the rate to provide the new spending they would have achieved had the ballot measure in November passed.He commented that this is a crisis and they need to give the voters an opportunity to approve the increase in spending and the addition of a dedication of property tax revenue to public safety or to Extension.They should put that into the ballot measure they refer.He said in the next month they should refer a charter amendment to the November ballot.He indicated that would set a maximum rate and dedicate revenue to public safety. He said it would make sure the voters understand that the money could not be disturbed by either the Board or their successors.He said they should enact it because there is no more time and any federal fix would be a one-year fix.He added they would have to make employee lay offs.He thought that enacting this would be leadership by the Board.

 

††††††††††† Dave Hauser, Eugene Chamber of Commerce, agreed that there is an important connection between a functioning public safety system, healthy economic, business success and quality of life.He said in the fall proposal they were disappointed not to see inclusion of a charter amendment to cap the rate of an income tax.He noted the earlier proposalís ability to cap the rate in the charter goes a long way to build trust.†† He said they were encouraged about the focus of the prior measure.He wanted some of those elements to be included in the charter.He said the Board should enact and then refer a charter amendment that caps the rate and dedicates the sources down the road.†† He said new revenues are tough.He suggested building a bridge to apermanent solution. He recommended an emergency replacement with Option 6.

 

††††††††††† Sheri Steiner, Eugene, commented that she had a problem with the wording of the ballot measure from November.She thought it was intentionally unclear. She said (given the public relations campaign) she was surprised it didnít pass. She said the Board needed to make sure if they put it out that people understand it.She was more inclined to deal with the emergency funding with the Secure Rural Schools some time in the future.She wanted to see it go to a vote by the public.

 

††††††††††† Mary Ann Holser, Eugene, stated she is a member of the Budget Committee.She applauded staff and the Board for preparing the options that were brought by forces outside of their control. She commented the budget is bare bones.She stated that public safety is youth services, domestic violence programs, mental health, counseling, animal regulation, family health and other prevention programs.She said public safety is not protected.She commented that people who are not helped early on are on the road to incarceration.She stated that prevention programs are necessities of a full public safety program.She commented that they are not safe when they donít treat the alcohol and drug abuse and mentally ill and program for youth.She indicated they still cannot serve girls in any treatment facility at Youth Services.She commented that the programs they have at Youth Services are working so well they are nationally recognized.She said they unreward them by not funding them.

 

††††††††††† James Fox, Florence, stated he is the person who wrote the ballot argument against the tax proposal last fall.He said for six years they [the Board] knew the money was going away and the Boardís solution was not cutting costs but putting an initiative on the ballot that would have added over 100 new employees to the County.He commented that Lane County has out of control retirement costs and nothing is being done to address it.He said the perception is they are not good stewards of public funds.He commented that people donít vote for the tax proposals because they donít think the Board would spend the money wisely.He said they have to convince people that they are serious about cutting the cost and not the services and show they will be sound stewards of the public funds.

 

††††††††††† Kelly Makinson, Santa Clara, indicated her grandmother was born one year after the Extension Service made its home in Lane County.She said her grandmother has a long relationship with the Extension Service.She commented that the 4H program is part of what children are all about. She asked the Board to consider Option 8 and keep Extension working for the local Lane County area.

 

††††††††††† Mike Clark, Eugene, said he was not speaking on behalf of the City Council.He commented that he is a fiscally conservative person and is not in favor of a new kind of tax, but the time has come for the Board to enact Option 6.He thought this was the right thing to do.He said to refer it to the ballot is to risk dooming it to failure.He wanted to see Option 6, closer to 1 percent, and keeping public safety whole and addressing the 3 percent and 6 percent institutional deficit issue.He suggested if the Board got Secure Rural Schools reauthorized, that should be rebated back to the taxpayer to rebuild trust.

 

††††††††††† Cheryl OíNeill, Junction City, said she is Chair of the Human Service Network.She encouraged the Board to enact a comprehensive funding solution with a progressive tax rate.She said she worked hard for the public service levy.She said they had a nationally recognized response to domestic violence.She said the murder and suicide rates have soared.†† She commented that the levy was not a bigger or better system, it was the restoration of an adequate system.She added with the loss of Secure Rural Schools and the recommended cuts, they face a new situation.She questioned the dedication of any new tax to public safety only.She commented that every human service agency has taken a funding cut every year.She asked the Board that whatever funding solution they choose, to ensure that some funding continues for human services..

††††††††††† Marshall Peter, Eugene, urged the Board to enact the proposed tax measure effective July 1.He was concerned about the imminent demise of County general fund support to the Human Services Commission.He commented that human services play a critical role in addressing human needs.††† He said that support for human services reduces demand for law enforcement and the money spent in human services results in fewer requests for sheriff and other demands on the system.He urged the Board to see if there is a package that goes beyond law enforcement that might pull in people who would be supportive of looking at the measure and referring it out to the voters.

 

††††††††††† Michael Smith, Eugene, said he is a volunteer for the Human Rights Party.He said they are petitioning the State of Oregon to have their name put on the voterís registration.He said their focus is to put forth authentic solutions to poverty issues in Lane County.He supported a comprehensive plan with as low a tax rate as possible.He wanted the Board to consider a refundable tax credit.

 

††††††††††† Moshe Immerman, Eugene, said he met with Ollie Snowden.†† He indicated they had been cutting into the multimillion-dollar reserve for years.He said they had already laid off some civil engineers in Public Works.††† He said if they want to attract and retain quality business they need to be enhancing the infrastructure.He wanted to more strongly fund public safety.He wanted the Board to unanimously pass the tax and he wanted it to be a progressive tax.He asked that the tax be enacted July 1 and it is in two phases, including a minority portion of the tax sunsetting in 18 months with the whole tax sunsetting in two and a half years.

 

††††††††††† Charlotte Riersgard, Santa Clara, supported a balanced approach to public safety that includes prevention.She said the Lane County Extension Service is part of the prevention of the public safety spectrum.She said the mission is to give research-based information out to the community.She noted that last year 910 volunteers made 40,000 educational contacts with information to help their families, finances and the environment.She commented that County funds are essential to keeping Extension open.She stated for every dollar received from the County, Extension brings in $2.90 from federal and state sources.She encouraged the Board to consider a balanced approach to public safety, including education and prevention programs as an investment in long-term health and safety.

 

††††††††††† Andrew Mosher, Coburg, stated he participates in the 4H program.He said many kids are involved in the program and it helps them through life and creates life values.He noted that through 4H kids are involved with animals because not all kids are involved in sports or other school activities.

 

††††††††††† Joe Pishioneri, Springfield, encouraged the Board to enact the tax effective July 1.He thought Option 6 was the most logical answer.He encouraged the Board to look at the rate and build into it extra room so they could take significant steps to restoring what they had in the County in the past.He commented that they have a crisis on their hands.

 

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

 

††††††††††† Sorenson distributed ORDER 07-2-21-12 (see material on file).

 

††††††††††† MOTION: to approve ORDER 07-2-21-12.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer didnít support it.He said they had a Board retreat yesterday and this wasnít brought up in discussion.He didnít know ďwhat type of political grandstanding this wasĒ but he wasnít happy with Sorenson reading the resolution because ďthere was no reality based on it.ĒHe stated they had been giving staff instructions to prepare the budgets and they are in preparation.He noted one budget is with the loss of Secure Rural Schools completely and one with the structural deficit assuming that Secure Rural Schools is reauthorized.He said to give notice to employees so they could find employment elsewhere would cause them lose thousands of dollars in training.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson commented what they have in Lane County is a serious problem.He indicated that they have gone to the voters many times.He said he had opposed one-third of those attempts. He didnít think Lane County could get out of the problem quickly.He thought they should wait until Congress makes its decision.He said DeFazio, Walden and Smith know that Oregon is most affected by the Secure Rural Schools funds.He said voters are upset when measures are put back after they had recently voted them down.He said they need leadership to take the hard work of putting together a budget that does not have the revenue he wished it had.He asked what the real facts are that lead them to the decision they make today.He said the voters told them no about the income tax.He said they should show they have a plan to get out of the hole they are in.

 

††††††††††† Green stated he wasnít going to support it.He thought this was an opportunity to get attention by grandstanding.He said the only way he would support this was if Sorenson were the first one in line leaving with the rest of the people he suggested they lay off.Green said if Sorenson did that, he would think that Sorenson was sincere and was genuine if he showed leadership by leaving.

 

††††††††††† Fleenor was sympathetic about what was going to happen in the future.He said on a philosophical level he was opposed to enacting it.He said they needed to use the democratic process.He said he would not support enacting the motion.

 

††††††††††† Stewart was disappointed because he said they had been working on this as an organization for over two years.He noted he heard from Sorenson only once or twice about suggestions on progressivity, prevention, and treatment.He commented they had gone out of their way to address the prevention and treatment side.He declared that to come today and say there is no solution and they are going to lay off people and move forward was something he was not prepared to do.

 

††††††††††† VOTE: 2-3 (Dwyer, Stewart, Green dissenting). MOTION FAILED.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer declared that he takes the public trust seriously.He said it wasnít just political grandstanding, and peopleís lives are at stake in what they do.He said Sorensonís motion didnít represent anything he heard from the public.He stated that he cared about the human services and wasnít going to let people down.He wasnít willing to duck his responsibility and pass it on to someone else.

 

††††††††††† MOTION:to adopt Option 6, including 8 and 9, the Veteranís Services and Extension Services, with it apportioned at 2.2 percent of property tax revenue for the Extension Services and .7 percent of the property tax for Veteranís Services.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer MOVED, Green SECONDED.

 

††††††††††† Fleenor agreed with Dwyer that this is a serious matter.He noted they had public testimony and people told them about different options to pass.He said he was doing the best he can to represent his people.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer said they had a public hearing and people had an opportunity to give testimony.He noted they didnít have a hearing on the motion that Fleenor seconded.

 

††††††††††† Fleenor stated the principles in the motion he seconded are consistent with many of the public comments today on fairness and building a bridge to permanent solutions.He said they are looking to the public safety income tax measure as more of a stopgap.He said it is not a comprehensive package.He noted there is a $20 million shortfall in Public Works.He asked if they are going to come back next year and ask for another income tax.He thought they should look at this more comprehensively before they rush to judgment.He said it is terrible to lose 200 jobs, but at the same time, democracy trumps expediency.He said they need to slow down and do it right.He said they need to give the citizens an opportunity to voice their ideas.He said minimally he would accept a referral to the May ballot.

 

††††††††††† Green noted the Board and staff had been working on this for the past two years.He recalled when he came to the Board in 1995 they were faced with a similar situation.He indicated they shut down the Forest Work Camp and reduced room tax monies and reduced services.He commented that only in three of the past twelve years have they had a surplus to enhance services.He stated since 1999 they have been telling people they have had problem.

 

††††††††††† Green liked Option 6.He said they didnít have the charter amendment that would cap it at two percent.He wanted to consider that as it provides a level of security to the public that the Board canít keep raising it at will--it would require a vote of the people.†† He said they donít have the luxury of waiting, since renewal of the Secure Rural Schools Act is not a guarantee.He agreed with the dedication of the property tax, as it doesnít influence the rate for Extension and Veteranís Services.He wanted to enact the tax and not put it on a May ballot, as it would give the voters an opportunity for a referral.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer stated he was committed to referring the cap on the taxes.He said he had no problem with enacting a tax because if the voters want to refer it to the ballot then it would be they who would be dismantling County government.He said with Sorensonís suggestion they would have had no option but to dismantle the public safety system and give lay off notices, plus lose millions of dollars invested in employment training.

 

††††††††††† Green recalled when they put this out in November; there was discussion about the Board enacting the tax.He didnít want to do it then because he was hopeful of the timber receipts.He said Congress has failed and the situation has changed dramatically, not just for Lane County, but also for the State of Oregon.He said they should enact it because based on the information they have, they canít wait.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson said in offering a pro-active plan that has a longer-term likelihood of success than what the Board is about to do.He added there are legitimate reasons why he is voting no and the public will vote no on the motion.He stated it is a flat tax and the federal income tax is more progressive than that.He didnít like that, under the guise of an emergency, the Board is enacting a tax to raise possibly twice to three times as much money necessary to cover the problem of the federal government not renewing the Secure Rural Schools funds.He said they are going to lose $18 million and it is going to create problems.He was willing as an elected official to try to accommodate that reduction and work to get the federal law re-enacted.He said they have been talking about this in the context of the federal legislation.An option is if they levied the tax but the federal government did give them the money, they would reduce the tax.He said now the motion doesnít discuss reducing the money if they received the Secure Rural Schools funding.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer stated he meant to put that in his motion.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson was against the motion.He said Lane County will lose $47 million if Secure Rural Schools is not re-enacted.He noted that $20 million of that is road funds.He added that $7 million goes to Lane ESD for distribution to the public schools.He suggested getting the $7 million that would be lost to Lane County schools and if they canít give it to schools directly, give it to the Lane County Commission on Children and Families so they could help children and put money into prevention.He said for him to repeat the error of their going out over and over again, or enacting a tax like the real estate transfer tax and have the voters say no is not going to be a successful strategy.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer assumed they were not going to profit if they got the Secure Rural Schools.He thought that was in Option 6.He wanted to add that to his motion.He indicated the effective date of his motion was July 1, at half the rate.

 

††††††††††† Green SECONDED the amendment to the motion.

 

††††††††††† Stewart said right now they have no Secure Rural Schools funding and are doing everything they can to get it reauthorized.He said they have no federal or state help that would bail them out.He commented that the only thing is to do it themselves.He said today they have a problem with funding.He said they have a problem when they cannot address the 300 property crimes a month.He said they have a six-month waiting period for people to get into treatment programs.Those people will not get the help they need under the current plan.He said what they would be enacting would keep it at the current levels.He wants to improve it.He wants the opportunity for people to improve their lives.He said they are releasing 4,000 people per year early from the jail.He added they have a juvenile program that is releasing 1,000 kids.He indicated that they have a program that is nationally recognized that has proven to treat kids and make a difference in their lives and they canít treat them today.He is in support of Option 6 because he doesnít want the organization getting worse.He doesnít want their juvenile program shut down with the only option being Parole and Probation to monitor the kids.He didnít want to see jail beds going away for Lane County offenders.

 

††††††††††† Stewart stated he was making the toughest decision of his life and is going to stand behind it because there is no other way to fix the problem.He noted the first 25 percent of the population is exempt from the tax in Lane County.He said that 80 percent of the tax is going to be paid by 10 percent of the people.He said the remaining 20 percent would be paid by people with an income level of $20,000 to $100,000.He didnít see the unfairness of this tax.

 

††††††††††† Fleenor thought this was a good attempt at solving the short-term needs of Lane County.He commented that staff has worked diligently to incorporate the ideas and opinions they heard.He wanted to see this referred to the people for a vote.He said they need to have the people behind them.He did not want to see Lane County disseminated but he didnít want to go against the will of the people.He expressed confidence that the voters would make the right decision if they gave them the opportunity.He said he is opposing the enactment and prefers to send it to the ballot in May.

 

††††††††††† Sorenson indicated in the past they had asked the voters to look at the problems the way they see them and put it out for the public to vote.He said they implied by the public hearings that they were looking at doing that in May.He thinks this is a long-term issue of the financial stability of Lane County government and the ability to perform its functions.He said they have to be respectful of the will of the voters. He thought if the measure had a better balance between the needs of general government and other aspects of public safety it would be more acceptable.He added there is the problem of the flat tax.†† He commented there are so many problems that it is a bad package and they should vote no.

 

††††††††††† Stewart reiterated that the motion is to enact Option 6, effective July 1, (Option 1), to dedicate the funds to public safety, to include Option 8, to dedicate 2.2 percent of the property tax in the general fund to OSU Extension, Option 9, to dedicate .7 percent to the Veteranís, Option 10, and if federal funding is received by June 1, 2007, the rate would be lowered to offset the funding they receive.

 

††††††††††† ROLL CALL VOTE: 3-2 (Sorenson, Fleenor dissenting).

 

††††††††††† Dwyer declared he was committed to limiting the amount and having a Charter Amendment go forward if it is not referred.He said it would limit the ability to levy or increase the tax.

 

††††††††††† Wilson said she heard in an earlier discussion that they wanted a Charter Amendment dedicating the revenue with a two percent cap.

 

††††††††††† MOTION: to give direction to prepare a charter amendment dedicating the revenue with a two percent cap.

 

††††††††††† Dwyer MOVED, Green SECONDED.

 

††††††††††† Wilson explained the ordinance is enacted today.She added that citizens who are interested in starting a referendum on the ordinance would need to file a prospective petition with County Elections.She said there is a process where a ballot title occurs and they would need to collect signatures.She added they have 90 days from today to collect the signatures, and then it would then go on the ballot.

 

††††††††††† VOTE: 5-0.

 

17.†††† COUNTY COUNSEL

 

a.†††††††† ORDER 07-2-21-9/In the Matter of Directing that There Be a County Voters' Pamphlet for the May, 2008 Election.(DID NOT VOTE ON)

 

b.†††††††† ORDER 07-2-21-10/In the Matter of Referring the Lane County Public Safety Income Tax to Election and Directing that It Be Placed in the Voters' Pamphlet. (DID NOT VOTE ON)

 

c.†††††††† ORDER 07-2-21-11/In the Matter of Appointing A Committee to Write the Explanatory Statement for the Lane County Public Safety Income Tax. (DID NOT VOTE ON)

 

18.†††† COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

††††††††††† None.

 

19.†††† CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD

 

††††††††††† None.

 

20.†††† OTHER BUSINESS

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Stewart recessed the meeting at 5:53 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary