LANE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS’
Wednesday May 30, 2007
Commissioners Conference Room
Commissioner Faye Stewart presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., and Peter Sorenson present. Bill Fleenor was present via speakerphone. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
THIRD READING AND DELIBERATION/(Ordinance No. 5-07/In the Matter of
Amending Chapter 4 of Lane Code to Provide that Car Rental Tax Revenue be Place into the County General Fund (Lane Code 4.250)
THIRD READING AND DELIBERATION/Ordinance No. 6-07/In the Matter of Chapter 4 of the Lane Code to Revise the Use of Transient Room Tax Revenue (Lane Code 4.175)
Stewart explained that this is a special Board of Commissioners meeting called as a result of their last Board meeting when they ran out of time and were unable to deliberate on Ordinance No. 5-07 and Ordinance No. 6-07.
Ollie Snowden, Public Works, reported that they have a different proposal than what was presented in Budget 2, where all of the car rental tax would be redirected to the general fund. He said they have received a one year extension for Secure Rural Schools, but they found getting a one year extension was harder and it raises questions about the likelihood of Congress finding a permanent long term solution. He wanted to give the Board a proposal that would allow Public Works and Parks to transition off the reliance on car rental tax, diversify the way they get revenues and how they deliver services and capitalizing on partnerships.
Snowden distributed a one page description (copy in file) on the short term goal that would allow them to re-open parks that have been closed or parks slated for closure under Budget 2. He indicated for the long term goal, they would like to find a path to more stability for Parks funding that has less reliance on revenue sources like car rental tax that could be re-directed. He said instead of taking all the car rental tax for the general fund, they reverse the distribution formula. He explained that instead of the current Parks’ 76 percent, the general fund 24 percent, they flip it, giving Parks 24 percent and the general fund 76 percent. He said the general fund would receive $910,000. He added that they have shown for Parks in Budget 2 to receive about $287,000. He said the Board would then provide a transfer of transient room tax to Parks to cover the gross expense of operating campgrounds and Camp Lane. He estimated that would be $400,000 for the coming fiscal year 07/08. He noted the transferring of money would end up with a net gain to the general fund of $623,000 and a net loss to Parks of $223,000. He said they propose to change the way they deliver services as a way to get more parks back open. He said they would reduce their Parks FTE from 17 in Budget 1 to 14 FTE in Budget 2 and in a way to provide flexibility. He said the Board had already approved Parks’ parking fee increases for all parks beginning June 1. He said they will do minor contract maintenance using the park hosts to do mowing, restroom and picnic site clean up. He indicated that they have heard from volunteers and could use more volunteer labor. He thought long term it could bring $600,000 back into the general fund and allow them to keep Parks open to the same level they had been proposed under Budget 1.
Todd Winter, Parks, reported that they want to create community partnerships and using hosts and caretakers to operate more efficiently. He said they have a strong multi-year plan to deliver similar service levels, and keeping Parks open and cut back from the dependency on the car rental tax.
Fleenor asked why there was a rush on this. He thought they could postpone this and put in benchmarks for Parks to meet before they transition into this plan.
Van Vactor stated that the law determines the use of funds occurs when the taxes are collected. He noted that they have to have it operational before July 1. He added that transient room tax couldn’t go to the general fund; it has to be used for tourism related purposes specified in the statute.
Fleenor asked if they could give a recommendation to the Budget Committee that this would be the preferable way to go and suspend this motion until a future date.
Dwyer said Parks needs direction. He said they are in charge of things that are not functioning as well as they could and the plan before them allows it to function now through subsequent years.
Wilson explained that adoption of the ordinances as written with the concept that the car rental tax goes into the general fund and they allocate a portion back to Parks is consistent with the ordinances as written. She noted the plan Parks brought forward is one that could go through the Budget Committee for further discussion.
Sorenson said the public asked the Board not to take money away from Parks.
Wilson said the plan as presented by staff responds to the public’s concerns. She added that the ordinances do not get in the way of accomplishing that and they introduce a degree of flexibility for the Board to manage in the future through the budget process.
Van Vactor asked if the $176,000 in the budget might impact the fairgrounds on a more recurring basis instead of for one year.
Warren Wong, Fairgrounds, said part of the $176,000 in next year’s budget is not funding the capital reserves and it could be a one-time event. He noted the balance would be taken out of the County Fair and reclassifying a management position. He commented that if this were to be on an ongoing basis, they wouldn’t increase the capital budget reserve until the TRT grew in the future. He commented that the other part of the reduction would continue but he would have to reallocate part of that reduction to the rest of operations.
Stewart said that under the proposal, they will be able to keep Parks open and they will change the operations to have more seasonal help. He noted that it is a $267,000 savings and gets $687,000 in the general fund. He thought it was a win-win situation for the organization and the citizens.
Green indicated that people were objecting to Parks using the previous mechanism they had. He said the overriding message was don’t close Parks. He thought this should come to Finance and Audit to see the net effect of a diminishing return around increasing fees.
Fleenor asked if all enhancements took place and they are in the same position next year, if Parks should be able to transition from CRT out of the general fund. He asked why they don’t delay this to allow Parks to make the natural transition and next year they would implement this ordinance.
Winter responded that there is urgency for the community to rally with them with community partnerships. He thought some of the public perception could be with the allocation that if CRT stays with Parks that some of the commitments might go away. He said currently with their staffing structure they are limited in their ability to bring on seasonal employees when the bulk of the work and minor maintenance need to occur and build on their efficiencies.
Dwyer commented that he liked it and thought it was a good plan. He thought they needed to take the advantage of partnering with the community and utilizing other personnel who are cheaper in contrast. He indicated that this opens Parks, and builds relationship and does other things that make Parks more self-sufficient for the future.
Winter explained that over the past few years with flat revenues and increased costs for insurance and retirement, they have eliminated a number of positions. He recalled in 2002 they had 26 field employees but with Budget 1, they will have nine permanent employees and nine field employees versus 26, with no flexibility in staff coming into the summer months. He said with this they are able to trade for minor maintenance and it provides people in the field and increases the labor capacity. He indicated that Budget 1 has the status quo, with nine employees in the field.
Fleenor thought this was premature when they should be taking a look at the whole County.
MOTION: to adopt Ordinance 6-07.
Green MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.
Sorenson asked if the public hearing on the proposal was to take all car rental tax from Parks and replace it with TRT.
Wilson said it reflected a lot of the testimony they received. She stated what was scheduled before a public hearing and what was before the citizens were the ordinances themselves that have specific language in them. She said with Ordinance 6-07 (the transient room tax ordinance) the change reflects that the Board can direct the use of transient room tax purposes through the annual budget process for purposes allowed under state law. She noted Ordinance 5-07 (amendment to the car rental tax) provides for the car rental tax to go into the County general fund and the general fund can be used for any purpose that the Board chooses through the annual budget process. She noted that one of those purposes is Parks.
Sorenson stated the ordinance changes were different than what the public was under the impression when they came to the hearing. He thought that before they enact this that they should give the public an opportunity to respond to the proposal. He wanted an additional public hearing on the compromise that is put forth.
ROLL CALL VOTE: 3-2 (Fleenor, Sorenson dissenting).
MOTION: to adopt Ordinance 5-07.
Dwyer MOVED, Green SECONDED.
VOTE: 3-2 (Fleenor, Sorenson dissenting)
There being no further business, Commissioner Stewart recessed the meeting at 4:15 p.m.