LANE COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE

Thursday May 15, 2007

5:15 p.m. Ė 8:45 p.m.

Commissionersí Conference Room

APPROVED 4/30/2008

 

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

I. Committee Business

 

Christine Moody distributed information.

 

II. Fair Board

 

Warren Wong, Fair Board, reported the budget before the Budget Committee for next fiscal year is a carry over of the current year, adjusted for inflation and other rate adjustments.  He requested that part of the transient room tax be transferred to the operating budget as a subsidy, as the Budget Committee had approved for the past several years.  He wanted that amount up to $600,000 in the next fiscal year. 

 

Wong indicated if Budget 2 is in enacted, there would be $176,000 in reductions in transient room taxes that would be available to the Fair Board.  He said they would take it out of three areas.   He indicated that they are planning to increase the amount by $50,000 next year, but if the TRT is reduced they will not implement the increase.  He said there is a management position they would reclassify into a supervisor level to save $28,000. He indicated the last part of the TRT reduction would be $100,000 in out of pocket costs for the County Fair.  He said they would reduce the kind of entertainment they provide, including the reduction in the use of tents and other items.

 

Wong commented that the long term issues the Budget Committee are faced with are the infrastructure of the fairgrounds is approaching 30 years old and the financial stability of the fair.  He noted the Fair Board operates at a deficit because of the public benefit structure.  He said they have increased the operating tax reserve to a target of $350,000 from zero.  He said they had been running closer to $400,000 this year.  He said they established a cash reserve of about $135,000 and by the end of the year it will be at $185,000.

 

III. Assessment and Taxation

 

Anette Spickard, Assessment and Taxation, reported under Budget 1, their department is fully budgeted within the general fund and they were requested to prepare a budget that was equal to the same amount of money they have in their budget this year.  She added that in order to absorb all of their cost increases next year she had to cut one position and some extra help money for a reduction of $118,000.  She noted it was the Deputy Assessor position.  She indicated they would still be able to meet their requirements under the three year compliance plan they are participating in with the Department of Revenue. 

 

Spickard noted that under Budget 2, they still have 60 FTE and would cut the one Deputy Assessor position.  She said her expenses go up because they are taking on more of the PERS bond costs that would be specific to her department.  She met with the Department of Revenue and discussed their situation and the Department of Revenue gave her department a favorable review.  She added they will be issuing a written report certifying them for the state grant.  She explained the reason her department was prioritized at the top of the list in Budget 2 was because the department directors used the criteria they all had agreed to and her department met revenue generation and leverage and cost avoidance.  She indicated they bring in over $359 million in taxes for 83 districts.  She added that Lane County gets approximately $31.5 million for Lane Countyís operations and in addition the County receives about $6.8 million from the state to help offset the cost of A & T functions.  With regard to cost avoidance, she said there are strict standards in the statutes about appraisal and tax collection and authority to keep their records updated. She explained if her department took a significant reduction, the state would be required by statute to step in to perform the duties of the assessor or tax collector and the County would not receive the $1.8 million grant.  She added they would also lose any state shared revenue such as liquor or cigarette taxes and there would still be a cost from the state to perform the services.  She said even if her department would cut $100,000, they would take the full $1.8 million from the County.

 

Spickard reported they are coming into the third year of the Compliance Plan and they have achieved their goal of eliminating 60% of the backlog and processing tax lot changes.  The goal is to have 100% of that fund by June 30, 2008.  She stated they also eliminated a four year backlog and updated taxing district changes.

 

Spickard explained the challenges and opportunities in her department include 100 bills still pending in the legislature that affect the property tax system.  She said SB 417 deals with the Lane County Boundary Commission and if that happens, they will have to pick up a part of that work.  She said if the Springfield and Eugene Urban Growth Boundary splits, it will have valuation impacts over time.  She commented that the real estate market is going down to more normal levels of appreciation.  She noted when the tax statements go out in October they will reflect the market that took place in 2006, not the current market.  She commented that there is an unknown about Measure 37 properties.  She said once people make use of their waivers, she is not sure how the land would be valued and what type of tax qualifications will happen to those properties.

 

IV. Department of Children and Families

 

Alicia Hays, Children and Families, explained they built Budget 1 and Budget 2 from the state monies, not the governorís proposed budget and what they received for the past two years.  She indicated with Budget 1, they would retain one position from the County general fund and it would go away with Budget 2. She commented that they are not just making the cuts for now but cuts that will affect their future.

 

Scott Bartlett arrived at 5:45 p.m.

 

Diana Avery, Children and Families, reported from the $74,902 of general fund investment they had in their department since last July, they have been able to bring to their department $859,000 from different grants.  She said they are recipients of a three year project of $750,000 from the Department of Justice.  She noted it is not for direct service, it is designed to support local agencies to improve the way they work internally and with each other so there is a more efficient effective response to women who are survivors of violence.

 

Sorenson asked why the grant position was not part of the revenue enhancement portion of the budget under Budget 2.

 

Hays explained she didnít include it because it wasnít going to pay for the position.  She indicated that all of the money goes out into the community and there is not money going to pay for the position.  She said they are not funding direct money to WIC or an FTE and  they couldnít make the guaranty. 

 

Avery indicated that most of the grants they receive have limitations and they canít use funding to seek other funding.

 

V. County Administration

 

Bill Van Vactor, County Administrator, commented that the reductions in his department pale in comparison to the rest of the organization.  He reported that only 15 percent of the budget of County Administration and the Board of County Commissioners is discretionary general fund.  He said the way they leverage funds, they donít net a lot of money.  He indicated that even under Budget 2, they will still have a $466 million budget and it is essential to the citizens of Lane County that someone is accountable and responsible for the money.  He indicated they need to be in a position to do their basic core job in order to address the accountability and produce a budget that is publicly presented that the citizens could review.  He reported under Budget 1, there would be a loss of a .5 FTE position in the Document Resource Center.  He defined Document Resources as a core function with the whole agenda public information process.  He explained with only one person left in Document Resource Center, when that person is ill or on vacation, they will have a glitch in their operating system and there will be an impact.  He said they will cross-train other people for public notices.  He indicated there might be weeks where the agenda doesnít go up on the Internet.  He added Document Resources is available to do routine commissioner correspondence and resolutions, but based on Teresa Nelsonís schedule, if there are other things more critical or if she is ill, work might not get done.  He said with this reduction, County Counsel has accepted the responsibility for Lane Code and Lane Manual.  He noted that they will lose back-up to the front desk and other major projects. 

 

With regard to Budget 2, Van Vactor indicated there would be the same reduction to Document Resource Center but they would eliminate the Public Information Officer.  He indicated Amber Fossenís position would remain.  He indicated that if other departments  have public information initiatives, they would have to find the funding with their own resources.  He said they would eliminate an Administrative Analyst and an Administrative Assistant.  He said it would be a significant loss and he didnít know how they could continue with the Public Safety Coordinating Council.  He thought they could probably meet just twice a year to meet the statutory minimum duties.  He said the financial duties in County Administration would fall back to Zoe Gilstrap.  He said it might indirectly impact the preparation of the agenda.  He said they wanted to preserve Sascha Cosioís job and the ability to deal with the citizens when they come into the office.  He added with Budget 2, they might not be able to keep the office open during the lunch hour.  He said they might have to go to voice mail during lunch hours.  He commented in a difficult situation those choices have to be made, but he wanted to try to work out a situation to keep the office open.

 

Bartlett asked if there were any cuts to commissionersí staff.

 

Van Vactor responded that there were no cuts.

 

Dwyer stated he enjoyed answering phones and recommended the Board cover the phones at lunch.

 

Fleenor asked what the costs were for the 63 standing committees they have and if they could significantly reduce some of the costs by reducing the committees.

 

Van Vactor responded that not all of them were Lane County committees.  He noted only 18 were purely advisory committees and most are statutorily required.  He said they put the costs of filling those committee obligations out to the departments.  He thought there could be a potential to reduce the number of committees.

 

VI. Office of County Counsel

 

Terry Wilson, County Counsel, reported that the Law Library had reviewed the Strategic Plan and they looked at their reserve level.  She added they completed long range planning.  She said they continue to match their expenditures through the revenue they get from the Court filing fees.  She said revenues are showing a slight increase.

 

Wilson recalled that last year she projected a decrease in litigation. She said the payoff for 05/06 was $367,000 and she predicated for this budget is around $300,000.  She noted that employee complaints were up.  She received four pieces of litigation last month arising out of employee problems.  She commented that their managers are managing many employees and they are doing base-level work.  She said the effect is they donít have the time and they are not aware of a little incident that could be taken care off.  She added that the organization is going through a lot of stress and employees need to take care to protect their familyís paycheck.  She said if the budget situation continues to degrade, she expected to see ongoing litigation.  She reported that land use appeals have become more frequent, in addition to the Measure 37 claims.  She recalled that last year the Budget Committee authorized hiring a sixth attorney in their office and they had not completed that process.

 

VII. Department of Human Resources

 

Greta Utecht, Human Resources, commented that they view the rest of the County organization as clients.  She stated that this past year had been one of uncertainty and it has manifested itself in many ways.  She said they have lost more employees to other organizations than is normal.  She said so far this year more than 30 people had voluntarily left the County.  She commented that non occupational medical claims and workers comp claims have become more complicated and difficult to resolve.  She added there has been more stress claims filed this past year.

 

Utecht reported with Budget 1 and Budget 2, they had been spared making drastic cuts.  She said orchestrating layoffs come to Human Resources.  She noted with Budget 1 they would reduce an Analyst 2 to an Analyst 1.  She added with Budget 2 they would reduce a Labor and Employee Manager position from a full time to three-quarter time.  She said they took a .5 FTE cut for Human Resources support to the Human Resources Advisory Committee.  She said if they end up with Budget 2, the impact in the Sheriffís Office will affect her department.  She said Human Resources will have to perform many of the functions now being done by the Sheriffís Office staff.

 

Utecht commented that their relationships with bargaining units are positive.  She said they are scheduled to begin bargaining with LCPOA and FOPPO later this month and the results of those sessions have an impact to the budget.  She said these bargaining units are subject to binding arbitration.  She hoped they wonít be spending the summer cleaning up from the lay offs. She stated it could take several years to rebuild the organization to one that would be able to attract the caliber of employees needed for the Countyís future challenges.

 

Bartlett asked if they had the worst case scenario if the Board could initiate and phase in over time a five or ten percent increase in employees' medical or a ten percent salary reduction, and what it would take for the County to recoup from personnel costs.

 

Utecht said that $20 million comes out of the road fund.  She said they would have to do it through negotiation.  She indicated they could not unilaterally impose any kind of change in either salary level or benefits without negotiating, otherwise they would be subject to an unfair labor practice and served with an injunction by the Court and if they lost, subject to a fine.  She indicated they had seen savings over the years as employees had given up cost of living adjustments to keep the benefit package intact. She said if they reduced wages and benefits, they could get to $18 million, but that wouldnít get them where they wanted to go.  She didnít think they could fix the Budget 2 problem through salary or benefit cuts.  She added that some salaries are below market.  She said her problem will be persuading people to come to work at Lane County.

 

Green asked Utecht to explain the rumor that the managers and supervisors were getting a six percent raise.

 

Utecht stated there was an ad in the newspaper that stated that all managers were going to get a six percent pay increase this next year.  She stated that was not true and she didnít know where it came from.  She recalled the Board approved a compensation classification plan for non-represented supervisors and managers in December 2006, but the implementation option they chose to adopt is that no one gets an increase, they move onto the plan exactly at their current salary and they donít get an increase until their regular annual merit date, assuming they have a successful performance evaluation.

 

Moody reported that last Wednesday LCARA was moved from Management Services to Health and Human Services.  She said they would do a technical adjustment moving their entire department under Health and Human Services.  She added there was a slight difference with Health and Human Resources with regard to overhead in bringing in LCARA starting in FY 08/09.

 

VIII. Department of Management Services

 

David Suchart, Management Services, explained that Management Services is composed of several components.  He indicated that he has internal support and public service divisions.  He said within the support service are Finance and Facilities. He indicated the public service component is Elections, Deeds and Records and the Board of Property Appeals.  He said Management Services is responsible for the Capital Improvement Program, building security and emergency response coordination.  With regard to next yearís budget, support serviceís reductions were developed in meetings with the other support service directors.  He reported that public service reductions came as a result of revenue projections for Budget 1 and in conjunction with a prioritization exercise with the Management Team for Budget 2.  He said the reduction in support services are the elimination of the purchasing manager and the custodial supervisor.  He noted the purchasing manager will be absorbed by Finance and Administration.  He commented that unplanned absences have stretched control and audit functions within Finance.  He said in the long run, it could cost the County in audit fees.  He said the custodial supervisor means that the maintenance supervisor will cover both maintenance and custodial. He noted that Facilities is a 24/7 day operation and emergencies happen outside of working hours.  He added the proposed reduction in other departments will not decrease the total amount of building space to be maintained and cleaned.

 

Suchart reported the prioritization exercise with the Management Team left two programs above the line:  Records and Elections.  He said the Records have greater revenues than expenses and help defer the cost of elections.  He noted three programs were below the line:  The Board of Property Tax Appeals will be absorbed within Records.  He said unless there are changes in the priorities all that will remain of LCARA is field and kennel service for the City of Eugene and kennel service for Springfield.  He added the reduction was greater than just the general fund dollars as there will be no County program and little or no license fees collected.  He said the reduction is a loss of eight positions. 

 

With regard to the Capital Improvement under Budget 2,  Suchart reported that $200,000 will be returned to the general fund.  He indicated that currently the only projects in the CIP are completing two projects at the jail that were previously funded and the Public Service Building elevator replacement. He added there was an allocation of $175,000 for the Courtís project.  He said to date Probate had been relocated to the basement using current funds and next yearís allocation.  He said the Courts will remodel two courtrooms and the clerk area on the second floor.  He noted the main project in the CIP is the newly acquired public health building.

 

Bartlett asked about the potential expansion of LCARA in the CIP.

 

Suchart stated that it was the next project after the Public Health Building.

 

Bartlett said they wanted to make sure that LCARA gets on-line so they could accept credit card payments.  He asked if there was money left over from the cost of the facilitator to help work with Tony Black, Information Services.  He said he was told under the bargaining unit contract that Managers and Volunteers are unable to clean animal waste.  He asked if that was true and if there was any way to get around it.

 

Suchart said the money was still there.  He didnít know of any manager or supervisor who did not step up to the plate in an emergency.

 

Bartlett asked if Oregon law requires by statute that they have animal control programs.  He asked if the County withdraws from any animal control program outside the jurisdiction of Eugene or Springfield, they could be legally vulnerable if they couldnít provide a slim animal services program in the unincorporated areas.

 

Suchart didnít know the legal implications.  He said if they donít provide some type of service that they could be legally liable.

 

IX. Lane Workforce Partnership

 

Chuck Forster, Lane Workforce Partnership, reported what is in the budget is reflective of only personnel costs that they in turn reimburse Lane County for.  He noted it is a $2.9 million budget item.  He reported that they are a workforce development organization and they are overseen by a 39 member board of directors.  He said their mission is to meet the workforce needs of businesses and job seekers through both partnerships and innovation.  He said they work with the universal job seeker, low income adults,  people who have been laid off or lost work due to a plant closure, and low income youth who need help staying in school or assistance to furthering their education.  He said they provide a one stop service to both businesses and job seekers.  He reported this past year they provided services to over 13,000 individuals. 

 

Forster stated they have a recreational vehicle consortium through a $500,000 grant.  He explained that they were able to bring the companies together to help them mutually identify training needs and jointly operate training programs together to share costs.  He indicated that so far over 800 employees have benefited from their services.  He added they are also upgrading skills of low wage workers within the local hospitals. 

 

Forster reported that beginning July 1; Lane Workforce Partnership's estimated budget is $6.9 million, down from $7.8 million this current year.  He said half of the reduction comes from formula funds they receive from the federal government based on the number of unemployed in the area.  He noted they started with a staff of 35 and they will be at 33.5 by July 1.

 

Tony Black, Information Services, reported that they had a 2002-2007 Strategic Plan and it is complete.  He recalled in 2004 they merged the IS Department with the RIS Department and the administrative divisions of the two into one administrative division.  He indicated they went from an admin staff of nine to six.  He said they have been running a $20 million operation with four administrative people. He indicated they share the data center with Springfield and Eugene, LCOG.  He added they share a law enforcement data system with Eugene and Springfield and 20 non-partner agencies around Lane County.  He indicated they built a new Strategic Plan.  He noted they are doing Parks reservations and permits on line with e-government.  He added they have a list of new service offerings that could be provided electronically.  He explained the main difference between the new and old Strategic Plan is that the old plan was technology centric and there was need from a technology infrastructure when it was produced.  He indicated things have changed where the new Strategic Plan will be business oriented.

 

Black said their overarching goal is high customer satisfaction.  He said they have to provide service that is efficient and reliable.  He commented that they need trained staff with good morale and ethics.  He said if they implement best practices in service delivery support then they had met their goal.

 

Black discussed AIRS.  (Copy in file.)

 

Sorenson asked how Black based his charges with other departments.

 

Black responded there are different allocation methods.  He noted the primary ones are any of the shared services that are countywide, are allocated based on an average of a program, FTE and work station counts.  He said it would cover all shared services including RIS' costs and e-mail.  He said the change he is working on is when they base an allocation method on a total number across the County, as one department fluctuates up or down, it impacts everyone else.  He said in the near future they want to make that static.  He indicated there was risk, if they donít receive 100 percent cost recovery at the end of the year; they might have to lay off staff.

 

Bartlett noted that LCARA contacts with IS for $50,000 for a comprehensive management program.  He said there wasnít any attention getting LCARA credit card receipt payable or online so they could accept payment.  He said the Board passed an ordinance mandating rabies reporting and it requires tracking vets.  He asked if they had the capacity to help LCARA do that.

 

Black said the information was included with the original project proposal.  He said because of the funding, that part of the project was scaled back and rebudgeted for this coming fiscal year.  He said LCARA decided to hold back until the next fiscal year.  He indicated the infrastructure was complete to accept credit cards.

 

X. General Expense/Community Requests

 

Garnick reported that general expense is all non-departmental, like employee benefits and self insurance.  He said the overall general expense will be $119.8 million next year, a $5.6 million increase in the benefit funds.  He added there is a small increase in Budget 1 in the general fund as a result of having to raise the reserve.  He noted for Budget 1 the operational reserve is $10.28 million and it drops to $8.4 million in Budget 2.  He indicated the transfer to capital improvement is there and they had taken out one-time expenses.  He said debt service needs to remain and Extension Service and Animal Regulation had been zeroed out.  He said the AIRS conversion had been paid in a different manner.   He noted that association dues and agreements are at the same level.  He said there would be a savings if the Boundary Commission does not exist.  He noted that the transfer to Children and Families is eliminated and staff support for the State Watermaster is eliminated in Budget 2.  He said the Metro TV webcast is eliminated in Budget 2. He said they still have the lobbying contract and the capacity to borrow money for tax anticipation notes.  He said overall in Budget 2, the total reduction is $3.9 million in changes. 

 

With regard to special services and projects, Garnick reported the dollars are dedicated funding that they have no control over.  He said they have control over the Juvenile Justice Justice funds and they are the remains of the proceeds from the GO Bonds sold.

 

Garnick indicated he had to make a technical adjustment for the County School Funds.  He said the video lottery dollars will increase and they received $250,000 more than they budgeted.  He noted that tourism dollars in Budget 2 has a $400,000 transfer to Parks back to the general fund.

 

Christine Moody, Budget Analyst, reported with Budget 1, Title III funds would come in the same method and go into the Sheriffís Office and Youth Services.  She said in Budget 2 it leaves interest earnings and they will remain with reserves of about $1.3 million, which is about what it would take to pay unemployment costs, an allowable use of the money.   With regard to risk and benefits, they anticipated a ten percent increase in health medical insurance costs next year that is built into both budgets.

 

McCown announced he won his race for the LCC School Board.

 

Crowell reported that the preliminary results for the County Income Tax indicate it was failing almost 72 percent to 28 percent.  He added the two percent cap was passing.

 

XII. Next Meeting Review Staff Assignments

 

Garnick recommended holding Budget Committee meetings during the last week in May and possibly June 5 and June 6.  He said since the income tax has failed and if they donít hear anything from Congress, they would be focusing on Budget 2.

 

Crowell said they would not meet again until they have certainty from Congress one way or the other but no later than June 5.

 

Hijmans recommended reviewing Budget 1 first and then review Budget 2 to discuss what needs to be done.

 

Dwyer commented that they have to balance the budget.  He said this would be bad no matter how they do it.

 

Bartlett stated that this is the worst day he had ever seen for Lane County government.  He commented that they are facing a fiscal tsunami from Florence to Waldo Lake.  He thought some people might die because of this.  He said the reliance and dependence on the timber subsidy is a curse as it wasnít forever.  He didnít think they should wipe out certain programs 100 percent.

 

Van Vactor thought it would be difficult to go through two weeks of Budget 2 deliberations.  He suggested the Budget Committee meet on May 30, May 31, June 4, and June 5.

 

Bartlett asked if they have to do Budget 2 if it were a loss of $47 million to the organization and 250 jobs.

 

Garnick responded the loss is $60 million.

 

Crowell said there would be Public Comment on Wednesday May 30.

 

XIII. Adjourn

 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary