LANE COUNTY

BOARD OF HEALTH

June 18, 2008

9:00 a.m.

Commissioners’ Conference Room

APPROVED 11/25/2008

 

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

 

1. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Lynn Bowers, Eugene, Eugene, stated for the past 20 years they have been having the same discussion about spraying in Lane County.  She stated that Public Works has mowed and weeded and she was pleased.  She favored the option that includes a budget for small equipment and no spray.

 

Amy Pincus Merwin, Deadwood, indicated that oil is needed to make an herbicide and the costs have gone up.  She added that would outstrip any perceived savings over other methods such as manual or foam control.  She supported the use of manual equipment and employing rural residents for weed control. She encouraged the Board to go with no spraying and not putting money and poisons into pesticide use.

 

Jan Wroncy, Eugene, stated she was previously a member of VMAC.  She supported Alternative 2 that requests a three year moratorium on the use of pesticides and the hiring of two full time employees plus a small budget for equipment.  She said if funds are not available for the expenses for Alternative 2, then she would support Alternative 3, a three year moratorium without additional expenses.  She said if the Board returns to herbicide spraying, she encouraged the Board to order a full review by the Lane County Health Advisory Committee of the permitted products to be used and another 60 day comment period for the public to address the health and environmental concerns that surrounds the specific products.  She read the Health Advisory Committee’s recommendations and agreed there was no need to return to herbicides.  She urged the Board to adopt Alternative 2 or Alternative 3.

 

Glenn Harden, Eugene, said he, his wife and their neighbors went onto timber property and pulled noxious weeds by hand.  He thought other collaborations might be possible among the public to encourage manual means of weed control instead of the use of pesticides.

 

John Sundquist, Coburg, urged the Board to choose Alternative 5 that he is proposing.  He explained it would continue the moratorium of herbicide use except when the strategic use of chemicals authorized by the Board (on a case-by-case basis) would contain the spread of dangerous weeds into an area or watershed that is known to be free of the dangerous weed.  He thought VMAC working with Vegetation Management could help identify the most dangerous weeds that could still be prevented from spreading.  He commented that the new leadership at Public Works gives him hope that the unnecessary spraying would be over.  He said Alternative 5 would allow the new leadership the option of tackling their invasive problems while prioritizing human and environmental health.

 

Ruth Duemler, Eugene,  said she is a member of the Health Advisory Committee, but she spoke on her own behalf.  She supported Sundquist’s Alternative 5 for herbicide use only when absolutely necessary.  She asked the Board to consider the health problems presented.

 

Samantha Chirillo, Eugene, stated she is with the graduate teacher fellow federation in the Oregon Pesticides Action working group.  She said she is the liaison between the working group and students at the University of Oregon who have become concerned about roadside spraying.  She said they supported no spray along the County roadside.  She agreed that the cost of pesticides will continue to increase and not spending the money on pesticides is important.  She supported the use of alternative methods with no spraying along the County roadsides.

 

Lilly Crowheart, Eugene, said she had been aware of the topic for a long time and she supports no spray.  She indicated that herbicides also affects animals.  She asked the Board not to spray.

 

Jan Nelson, Eugene, urged the Board not to approve the order but to discuss the alternatives proposed by Public Works.  She resubmitted testimony during the public comment period and submitted a petition.  She  thought there needed to be another audit of the department.

 

Genie Harden, Eugene, indicated that in looking for information to pull weeds, she was surprised to find out about Roundup.  She thought it was the least toxic chemical because most of her neighbors use it.  She found the half life of Roundup is 47 days and other chemicals are worse.  She commented that she doesn’t feel safe with the pesticides or herbicides as they are not tested on adults, children or animals.  She thought the problem with fish had to do with the use of pesticides.

 

Deb Frisch, Eugene, discussed the link between mercury vaccines and autism.

 

Kathy Ging, Eugene, thought this was the time for the County to rethink its chemical future.  She said a few years ago she was denied a seat on VMAC because she was “contaminated” because she was accidentally sprayed by some kind of poison.  She was concerned about the animals and humans exposed by the spraying who don’t know they are being exposed.

 

2. COMMISSIONERS' REMONSTRANCE 

 

None.

 

3. REGULAR BUSINESS

 

a. ORDER 08-6-18-1/In the Matter of Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program Annual Report for the 2007 Reporting Period.

 

Orin Schumacher, Public Works, recalled that he came before the Board with their annual report a few months ago.  He indicated the report was approved with modifications to remove all language regarding any proposed herbicide application or purchase of equipment.  He said they were directed to hold a 60 day public comment period and it concluded on March 10. 

 

Schumacher gave a presentation on roadside vegetation management.  He recalled since August 2003 they have been in a self-imposed moratorium for spraying.  He indicated they have been relying on mechanical methods.  He commented that Lane County’s IVM program is a mechanical program.  He said cost efficacy, time and staffing has been a problem.  He didn’t think they had adequate staffing levels to deal with all of the roadside miles they have.  He didn’t know if mechanical methods could actually control some of the problems they have with noxious weeds.

 

Schumacher reported that the Last Resort Policy, Ordinance 12-03 was adopted by the Board of Health in 2003 and Lane County went into a self-imposed moratorium at that time.  He said they came up with a management prescription plan that was approved along with their permitted products list in 2006 by the Board of Health.  He said the management prescription plan tried to clarify what the last resort was and what they would use before they used herbicides.  He said they have the documentation, the plan and the products but they still can’t get to a last resort.  He indicated that they are having sight distance problems.  He said they heard from VMAC, the public and staff.  He said they came with four alternatives they proposed.  He said they are proposing to use herbicides as a last resort.  He said if they aren’t able to use the products of the four proposals, they then need additional funding to staff people to keep up with the emergencies.  He commented that positions they asked for in Alternative 2 would not cover the solution.  He noted the other proposal was no herbicide and no additional funding for the next three years.  He explained that Alternative 4 was no action, to keep going and to have Public Works come up with new proposals that would include herbicides.  He commented that there are associated risks with all of the actions.  He added there are public safety concerns on both sides.  He asked the Board if they were at a no resort or a last resort with spraying and where the Board of Health wants them to go.

 

Fleenor asked about the current status of the Sheriff’s Work crew.

 

Ollie Snowden, Public Works, reported that the Sheriff’s work crew was eliminated last year.  He noted that 626 has contract language that states if any 626 positions are eliminated through attrition or otherwise, the Sheriff’s work crew goes away.   He recalled last year they eliminated three positions: two through attrition and one through layoff from 626.  He indicated that the inmate work crew cost $1 million per year and they had numerous crews that would go throughout the County and would do litter pick up and vegetation removal of guardrails and bridge ends and high volume roads.  He added they also did graffiti removal.  He said when they were doing the blackberry removal behind the guardrail, they were doing it by hand, and they couldn’t use power tools.

 

Fleenor asked what about the original purpose of VMAC and its ongoing need.

 

Snowden recalled the original purpose of VMAC was to get a diverse and balanced view of the community from practitioners and special interest groups to help the County develop its integrated vegetation management program, in the late 1980’s.  He said the IVM document from 1990 is still the guiding principle for the current program.  He said the committee started with 21 members but is now down to nine.

 

Fleenor asked what the estimated cost is to keep the VMAC Committee functioning on a yearly basis.

 

Schumacher responded that it was around $28,000 per year.

 

Fleenor asked if the $28,000 could be used for purchasing a one time FTE for the eradication of vegetation on the roadway.  He also asked if there was any alternative to VMAC by folding it into another committee and as necessary have an ad hoc committee that examines herbicide issues on an ongoing basis.

 

Schumacher said there could be options.  He said their IVM program is related to roadside vegetation management.  He said it is for the roads and rights-of-way in Lane County.  He said the other committee similar to VMAC is the Roads Advisory Committee.

 

Fleenor asked if they were to eliminate VMAC, add the function to the Roads Advisory Committee and bring two original VMAC members to the Roads Advisory Committee, if they would still be able to take care of their ongoing needs.  He thought going to a no spray would take about 98 percent of the issues away.

 

Schumacher said if there is no herbicide discussion the committee could have a smaller voice.

 

Fleenor noted LCOG, AOC, and LRAPA have road fund money still allocated to those organizations.  He recommended taking the road fund money from LCOG, AOC and LRAPA and using the money to offset the two FTE’s that are necessary to exercise Option 2.  He wanted to consider moving to Option 2 with the notion that they are not going to dip into reserves that they are going to take already allocated money from other areas and apply it to the FTE’s.

 

Snowden noted that part of the annual report presented by Schumacher included specific situations that defined last resort.  He indicated that if they find a certain species in a certain location in a certain concentration, that constituted last resort and that was what they wanted the Board to adopt and define.  He asked the Board to make a decision about last resort.

 

Schumacher said they did define last resort and it was defined by the Board of Health.  He said it laid out strategies for last resort.

 

Stewart said he was a liaison to the VMAC Committee.  He believed they had done an excellent job.  He said the Board needed to come up with an approved plan that gave guidance on how herbicides would be used as a last resort.  He added the Board of Health did adopt a list of products.  He said when the report came back for adoption and there was a need for herbicides he recalled that the Board said they didn’t want to do it.  He didn’t think it was anything staff had done, he said it was up to the Board to do what was in place or for something different.  He said if they are not going to move forward with a last resort policy, he believed they needed 2 FTE to start taking care of incidents in the County.  He said they have to make sure they are cutting vegetation so stop signs and guardrails are visible and not impeding traffic.

 

Green asked if Alternative 5 which has been suggested had been discussed at VMAC.

 

Schumacher responded that Alternative 5 was never discussed but the previous four alternatives were.

 

Green said to make it clear, he wanted to state no herbicides as a policy.  He asked where they would get money to pay for the road crew.  He proposed giving staff the task to find the money to pay for the 2 FTE and move on.  He commented t hat they keep going around with no end in sight.  He said to put staff out of its misery and to give the community some assurances, he wanted to go with Alternative 2 or Alternative 3 or a combination and move forward.  He said they need to start the process as to which other advisory committee would be the appropriate committee and bring back options.  He commented that staff had done everything the Board asked them to do.

 

MOTION: to adopt Alternative 2 with a three year moratorium on herbicide use on roadside vegetation and including 2 FTE and direct staff to come back with how to pay for the 2 FTE and whether the VMAC is needed and if it needs to be restructured.

 

Green MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Dwyer stated he didn’t agree with pulling VMAC.

 

Green said if 95 percent of the work of the VMAC was on herbicides and spray, then he didn’t think they should still have the committee. His direction was to come back with some options as to where they could place the committee.

 

Sorenson amended the motion to continue the moratorium on the use of herbicides for roadside vegetation management by the Department of Public Works to evaluate the efficacy of managing guardrails, urban vegetation concerns and evasive plant species along County roadways by mechanical and manual methods at current staff and funding levels.

 

Fleenor SECONDED.

 

Sorenson explained that the amended motion allows them to not establish any period of time to continue a moratorium but a policy they want to have for a continued moratorium   He added in the event they are able to get additional funding either in this fiscal year or next, if road fund dollars are freed up in adopting the County budget, then taking the money from dues.  He said it was important the Board make clear their continued effort to have a last resort policy until they can sort out who will make the call and until they defer the decision to someone else.  He stated that they should make it clear it is really the Board’s responsibility.  He thought the modification of Alternative 3 he made clarifies it, uses the language that has been suggested and it makes it clear what the Board is asking staff to do.

 

Fleenor asked if Sorenson’s amended motion included 2 FTE’s.

 

Sorenson indicated that it included any amount of FTE that is allowed by current staff and funding levels.  He said it is a longer term by the Board.  Sorenson said they would have 2 FTE’s currently because the budget goes to the end of the year.

 

Stewart stated they laid people off on May 30 and the positions don’t exist. He added the 2 FTE’s would not be included in the motion he had just made.

 

Sorenson said current staff and funding levels mean current as of the day it is being read, not meaning today.  He said if they get more money later, it is money as established as current funding levels.

 

Green didn’t support the amendment because it states “if” something happens.    Green stated Sorenson’s motion states at the current staff level and staff said they don’t have current staff to do this.  He said they could do it with the current staffing level but then he asked what other work wouldn’t get done.  He thought the motion he made should be the motion as it gave certainty and they can come back with the options to find the money to get the extra FTE.  He commented that this gave them more certainty than the Federal Government to bail them out from work they could get at the local level.

 

Dwyer said if Sorenson wanted his motion to apply, he shouldn’t have made an amended motion until everyone had discussed it.  He didn’t support Sorenson’s motion because the current status is the positions have been gone and it doesn’t get anything done.  Dwyer indicated that Green’s motion gets the guardrails fixed.

 

Sorenson commented that Option 2 as presented requires them to increase staffing by 2 FTE and that is not in the current budget.  He said it was good to direct staff to come back and make a recommendation but he thought the bottom line is the proposed budget for the County has those positions eliminated.  His motion had to do with the moratorium continuing and if they received additional money, staff could come back and they could increase the staff level.  He said it was never premised on the idea they would increase it or dip into reserves and get federal money.  He said that staff recommended Alternative 1, purchasing equipment to start up a spray program.  He said they have to make clear they want to continue the moratorium and that is his motion.

 

Schumacher recalled that with Alternative 2 they proposed two additional FTE.  He commented that it is a band aid and a lot more is needed.  He added he didn’t know if those positions would still be around next year due to the road fund.

 

Dwyer said they had to consider 2 FTE’s and that wasn’t considered in Sorenson’s motion.  He commented that Alternative 2 did consider adding employees even though it is not everything they need, but it is a start.  He thought Green’s motion was more appropriate.

 

Fleenor thought last resort had to be identified by citizen’s input.  He thought the Board should decide where the money is going to come from right now.  He asked why they are always giving the hard work to staff when the Board should be doing it themselves.  He said they should direct staff exactly where the money comes from to pay for the two FTE’s while they are at the table instead of deferring it and having them come back with a proposal.

 

Sorenson said he read from Option 2 and he just changed the phrase continue the moratorium instead of establish a three year moratorium.  He said he would take out the phrase at current staff and funding levels if it would add to the idea they are going to do the best they can with what they have and if they get more money by freeing up additional road fund money or to find some money they would do that.  He said Option 3 preserves all that.

 

Stewart recalled that Sorenson’s motion is Option 3 plus a continued moratorium by Public Works.  He added that Green’s motion is Option 2 with a three year moratorium and increasing staffing by 2 FTE.

 

Sorenson said another benefit of the amended motion is that it allows for more staffing for roadside maintenance beyond what is recommended in the main motion.  He said if they get additional funding beyond 2 FTE, they would be allowed to use it under his motion.

 

VOTE ON SORENSON’S AMENDMENT: 2-3 (Dwyer, Green, Stewart dissenting) MOTION FAILED.

 

With the original motion, Stewart asked for an amendment from establishing a three year moratorium to a continued moratorium.

 

Green accepted the amendment.  Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Stewart thought it was important to spell out that they were committed to 2 FTE and to find a way to make it happen.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

Fleenor thought it was the Board’s responsibility to make a determination as to whether or not VMAC should consider to be in existence since they adopted a moratorium on the use of herbicides, saving the County’ $28,000 per year.

 

MOTION: to disband VMAC or roll it into the Roads Advisory Committee and have as necessary an ad hoc committee appointed to deal with herbicide issues in the future.

 

Fleenor MOVED, Green SECONDED.

 

Green was more comfortable giving staff direction to start the process to transition instead of doing it now.  He thought there could be other things they need to decide.

 

Fleenor wanted to do this today to free up $28,000 that could move toward the FTE.

 

Dwyer said the VMAC Committee performs a service.  He said they discuss ways of beautifying Lane County by using flowers and other species that benefit butterflies.  He said this was a small part of what VMAC does and takes the most time.  He thought they should ask how they could put VMAC to the best use for the people of Lane County.  He thought there was a need for the committee.

 

Sorenson thought they should ask staff what else is left.  He wanted to see if the $28,000 was worth it and if it was to continue.  He thought they should withdraw the motion as they will get staff direction.

 

Fleenor requested staff come back to the Board with a proposal that would either keep VMAC operational at a scaled down level, or if it is not essential, to roll VMAC into another established committee such as the Roads Advisory Committee at some date in the near future.

 

Stewart was in favor of them looking to continue the moratorium on herbicide use.  He said as a liaison to the committee, there are other things they do besides talking about herbicides.  He wanted them to solve a problem about Game Farm Road and what could be done in the area to minimize the amount of effort to put into managing that strip.  He said there were fences and shrubs in the right-of-way.  He said things could be dealt with if that is the way it is structured.  He was in support of the committee, but he said if there is not enough work to do full time, for another committee to take on those issues.  He didn’t want to get rid of it today.

 

VOTE; 5-0.

 

 

4. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660

 

None.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Stewart adjourned the meeting at 10:35 a.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary