BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

GOAL SETTING

March 18, 2008

8:30 a.m.

Laurelwood Golf Club

APPROVED 4/9/2008

 

Present:  Joe Hertzberg, Facilitator, Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Bobby Green, Sr.,  Peter Sorenson, Faye Stewart, Jeff Spartz, Jennifer Inman and Melissa Zimmer, Recording Secretary

 

Approach to 2008/2009 Budget

 

Proceed on the assumption that federal funding will not be renewed.

 

Reduce Services and workforce to a level we can pay for

 

Stabilize the organization at the new level

 

The community needs to see it involved with real cuts

 

Stewart said he had meetings in Washington DC with Nancy Polosi and Reedís Chief of Staff.  He said with Polosi, it was his understanding that she did not believe in Secure Rural Schools and wants to see that program go away.  He said it doesnít mean that something new couldnít be derived but a new bill starting from scratch could be a three or four year effort.  He noted when they met with Reedís chief of staff, he said at the present time there is not enough support to move this through the Senate.  He believed the only way there would be enough support was to witness pain. Stewart said there needed to be layoffs and then after a year there would be enough time to feel the pain and push to get something through.  He added there is not enough energy to get it passed now without seeing cuts.

 

Spartz reported that there were 10,000 layoffs in Secure Rural School counties in California.  He didnít know if they could combine Oregon with California on this. He thought if there was going to be a renewal that it wouldnít come before the budget deliberations.  He said they have to do the worst case scenario budget and then if there is an extension they can decide what they want to do with the funding.

 

Green commented that they need to operate on the premise there is no money coming and to budget with what they know they have.  He thought there was consensus to take cuts and make reductions for the next few years. He wanted to balance the budget and give direction to staff to move with the no Secure Rural Schools budget.

 

Inman indicated if there are going to be reductions, they have to deal with the bargaining units.  She said they would have to send out notices by late April.  She added that they only have six weeks left before they send those notifications. She said they also have to give notice of termination of contracts where they have agreements in the future.

 

Sorenson asked why they couldnít just lay off the employees now.  He asked what the rationale was for waiting.

 

Spartz wanted a sense of how the Board wants to proceed and he didnít want to do it sooner than they had to. He said if the Board wants him to start sooner, he would comply with what the Board wants.

 

Sorenson wanted to do it sooner because it would give them more flexibility with the budget.  He  didnít want to wait because it delays the inevitable.

 

Fleenor agreed with Sorenson to start reducing expenses as quickly as possible.  He stated they couldnít stabilize the organization based on the structural deficit.

 

Dwyer deferred to what Spartz thought was the best for the organization. He noted they had already budgeted through this fiscal year.  He said he would rather make cuts sooner than later but he didnít want to do it in a panic mode.  He wanted to do it in a thoughtful way to allow them to maximize the relationship with employees.

 

Spartz said based on the perspective budget, he has to send lay off notices.

 

Sorenson asked what they could do now in preparation of July 1.  He asked if they are going to try to do anything about getting more revenue.  He asked if the state could take over some of the responsibilities.

 

Spartz recommended not prosecuting misdemeanants.  He said if they are not going to prosecute misdemeanants then they shouldnít be booking them into the jail.  He thought they could have other cities do it.

 

Green asked how they would do lay offs.  He wanted to know if they as a Board would commit to the budget so the community sees it.  He wanted to see the public come to the Board after they see the cuts and then tell the Board want they want.  He thought that was the level of certainty they could provide to the organization.

 

Stewart wanted to give clear direction on what they expect to take place from today on.  He agreed they should focus on Budget 3.  He was concerned about the employees as they get their jobs done and they have lives and commitments.  He added that everyone realized that July 1 would come and there would be no certainty.  He thought they could tell employees that they have to focus on Budget 3 over the next six weeks to do everything they can to right size the organization and start notifying the unions.  He stated that this is going to be the hardest thing he had ever done in his life.  He said it is critical that they do this with compassion and thoughtfulness.

 

Fleenor said the cost of mothballing programs and the recovery of those programs should be factored in.  He asked if they could keep Animal Services intact as non-functional.

 

Spartz said the human aspects would be gone.

 

Green noted there are costs with mothballing.

 

Fleenor said that public safety will consume as much money as they have.  He commented that they would never have enough money to do the job.  He wanted to invite the Sheriff and District Attorney to the Board so they could discuss public safety as a system that is part of Lane County government, not as a separate stand alone facility.  He did not want to publish that they will not be processing misdemeanants. He commented that staff is important but they work for the citizens and citizens come first.  He said the needs of the citizens are always first and foremost in his mind and staff is a means to the end.  He commented that lots of people lose jobs but they have to protect the institution first and staff is just part of the larger program.

 

Dwyer said they know what the mothball costs were for the Forest Work Camp.  He thought they might be able to find another way to use prisoners for maintenance that could possibly save them money for mothballing.  He wanted to make sure that it was the Board giving Spartz direction so  the Sheriff is not to be blamed for the cuts. He said they need to wean the Sheriff and the District Attorney off of the general fund.

 

Sorenson didnít want to tell the public they wouldnít have taxes collected or they werenít going to be prosecuting misdemeanors.  He thought there were alternatives.  He thought instead of naming dollars, they could think about percentage mixes where they could prosecute 98 percent of felonies and two percent of all misdemeanors.  He didnít want to send the message that crimes could be committed in Lane County.

 

Spartz recommended giving the District Attorney a certain amount of money for prosecuting felonies and misdemeanors and ask that they do their best and let them decide how they want to spend it.

 

Fleenor recommended making cuts to Tier 1 and Tier 2 PERS employees.  He thought there could be more programs with highly compensated employees getting mothballed first, giving them the greatest savings.

 

Inman explained that in Health and Human Services and the Sheriffís Office they would run into a bumping issue.  She said they canít target a classification of employee because they could bump down and opt to take a lower position.

 

Dwyer thought they could provide incentives to leave earlier.

 

Green stated they are obligated as they just approved contracts with bargaining units.

 

Hertzberg noted other things brought up by the board: to confront the state as a united group with other counties losing their money; selectively raise fees to replace general funds; consider whether any services should be supported by levies and calibrate administrative and support services to a new budget level.  He added other ideas include having to address the structural deficit, reduce the budget, establish a new baseline for County services and they must resolve to live within their means.  He indicated other ideas were that they need to stabilize to a new level using leverage with long term partnerships, offer incentives for employees to suggest innovations and efficiencies, coordinate strategies with the Sheriff and District Attorney and restore grants.

 

Sorenson thought that they could possibly give public safety back to the state.  He commented that it didnít make sense to spend $10 million for 12 beds.

 

Fleenor believed Lane County needed to comply with one more officer, one transport officer and one jail bed.  He thought that should be researched.

 

Stewart hoped they would spend the next three or four months on how they could do things different. He asked if there were things they could do that had never been done before to keep things going.  He thought this could be an opportunity to move forward and retool Lane County to meet the needs of the citizens.

 

Fleenor asked what Lane County needed to do to make the budget.

 

Green indicated that they had already established priorities  He said they could cease to be a general purpose government or they could be a general purpose government with limited resources. He thought the voters have to see the cuts and it becomes more relevant when they feel them.

 

Stewart said they donít have answers about what they can turn over to the state. He said they would no longer have 1145 pieces, but that doesnít do anything for misdemeanor or property crimes.  He doesnít know if they could physically turn the whole jail over to the state.  

 

Sorenson said they lack a buy in at the top level of Lane County government.  He said they have to believe they could bring in some improvement. 

 

Fleenor stated his management style is that he does not spend time behind his desk.  He said he spends time talking to constituents in the community.    He said instead of talking to people at the courthouse, the commissioners should be out in the community. He said he had seen an enhancement of trust over the last  year as a result of his positive outreach.

 

Stewart said they canít let people know what they can do until they actually have a budget.  He didnít think they could do much more than what already had been done.  He said if they want to make information to the public, they have to give them the best knowledge they have at this point and focus all of their efforts to prepare a budget without federal funding.

 

Fleenor asked what they are trying to convince the citizens.

 

Green said they have to teach the citizens that the County will be different.  He commented that education is foremost.  He thought they should go to the small cities to discuss their action plan.

 

Sorenson said they need to give the notices to employees so it could buy them another month in going into the next fiscal year. 

 

Stewart said they need  a community outreach. and not to sell a measure.  He said he will go back to Springfield and Eugene and will explain the Countyís situation.

 

Hertzberg asked what the expectations were about reaching out to potential partners.

 

Sorenson thought they should consider a large scale public meeting with a giant screen and the County Administrator gives his proposed budget in a positive way.

 

Green said they canít force people to come to a meeting.  He recalled there was little participation with the income tax.  He noted that Eugene took out an ad in the newspaper, but when Lane County did they got complaints from the public that they were spending money.  He said they need to be strategic.

 

Fleenor thought that department heads need to go to the public with the budget presentation.

 

Hertzberg asked has how they get the state involved.

 

Fleenor commented that the Association of  O & C should be better directed to lobby Salem for solutions as opposed to lobbying something if there is no possibility of getting it.

 

Stewart indicated they are going to get public information to outreach to the state legislators to talk about  issues to find a way to replace O & C money.

 

Sorenson commented that having the commissioners tell the state legislation that their county is in trouble is not a good approach.  He noted the legislature deals with a variety of interest groups asking for help.  He added they are more motivated to act when the person doing the lobbying is pointing to economic or social interest.  He noted in most counties the commissioners know the public doesnít want to pay more money.

 

Dwyer said they need to send a letter to the governor, the speaker of the house and to the senators stating they are giving notice that they wonít provide services.  He said then they can   see what happens.

 

Green commented that there was value in working with the legislators if they do it as a small group.

 

Hertzberg asked the board if they wanted to raise any fees and if they needed to go in that direction.

 

Dwyer said he wanted the departments to rely on general fund fees to raise their fees.  He thought a good goal would be programs to get to be self-supporting.

 

Stewart wanted book-in fees to be explored.  He was cautious about doing it now.  He commented that the economy doesnít look good and he did want to multiply fees and stick the costs to the citizens.

 

Sorenson indicated no fees are charged to use the Law Library and they could possibly add fees there.  He thought the Board could have control over the fees.

 

Spartz commented that fees need to be in line with the value given.  He didnít think they should charge excessively and shouldnít be subsidizing service to the citizens.

 

Fleenor wanted to have a policy review of all fees in a timely manner or add a cost of living adjustment to them.  He said they canít go 13 years without increasing fees.

 

Inman indicated that over the past 18 months most existing fees have been evaluated.  She said the concept of new types of fees could fit with the transition. She said there was more work they had to do that couldnít fit into these budgets.  She thought some of the new fits could fit in the organization changes that might be suggested in the organizational piece.

 

Spartz gave examples of new systems in Land Management and a way to help amortize costs.

 

Hertzberg asked if they should consider whether any services should be supported by levies.

 

Dwyer thought in the short run they shouldnít go out for a levy.

 

Sorenson though they should have a process.  He thought in the short run they shouldnít have a tax.  He thought at some point in the future they could have an RFP process to put something on the ballot.

 

Stewart was not interested in a levy.  He noted that some groups will ask for support.  He said that Lowell, Pleasant Hill and Dexter want the Boardís support in forming a patrol safety district.  He added they would support paying a property tax for patrolling the area.  He asked if the Board wanted to work on it.

 

Dwyer responded that if they have a levy countywide, that there is a split for rural and urban.  He said he wouldnít support a patrol safety district because it still wouldnít support the jail.  He wanted everyone to pay consistently for everything.  He said unless everything is paid for, the system is broken.

 

Green said if the community petitions the Board to put something on the ballot that would be okay with him.  He thought it was problematic for the Board to campaign for another levy.

 

Stewart heard about citizens wanting to put a levy on the ballot for Health and Human Service fees that could free up the general fund.

 

Hertzberg asked about mandates and leverage.

 

Dwyer thought it had to do with how strict the mandate is and at what level.  He said they need to find out what level of a jail they have to meet for the statutory requirements.

 

Fleenor said there are certain positions mandated by the state, but he asked if the Assessor needed a full time secretary or if she needed a staff.  He asked if they could get rid of middle management that could backfill other programs.

 

Hertzberg thought they needed to coordinate these efforts with the Sheriff, the Assessor and the District Attorney.

 

Green agreed they need to coordinate with the other elected officials as they are officials for a single purpose while the Board is a general purpose board.  He wanted to give them discretion on how to use the money.

 

Spartz said they could set up a variety of accounts and if the departments wanted to move money around in the accounts they could.

 

Inman explained that the Board appropriates total revenue and expense by fund and department and they also appropriate the total amounts of FTE by fund and department.  She indicated that this would be setting up sub funds to the general fund to be used for specific purposes.  She added the implied piece is that they are adopting an entire budget that has a plan in it about what is to be provided and how things are budgeted.

 

Fleenor asked if they could possibly look at not funding an assistant to the Sheriff or that position not being full time, as a way of their commitment to try to save money.  He said the Commissioners donít have secretaries.  He didnít think the other elected officials should have them.  He asked if they could use the administrative aides through CAO.

 

Inman responded that CAO did not have any administrative aides.

 

Hertzberg asked if the Board should offer incentives to employees and how to stimulate their ideas.

 

Inman said a strategic plan was implementing new E government strategies.  She indicated that that had happened in Public Works and Assessment and Taxation..  She said they are trying to create sustainability over time and it changed the way services were being provided. 

 

Spartz said if they get a one time payment from the feds, they will come back to the Board with a list of places where money could be invested as a one-time investment.

 

Sorenson said promoting the SAVE program and increasing the benefits the employees get will increase the number of ideas.  He said they need to have a greater education on deferred compensation that is offered.  He said they cut their other costs and the tax payers gets more bang for their buck and the employee gets more money at less cost to the taxpayer.  He thought they should have the Board model the ideas and invite the unions to come in and discuss what they envision during this crucial period. 

 

Hertzberg asked what the Board should expect in the future.

 

Spartz said they currently have no control of their health care costs.  He commented that employees have no incentive to manage their individual cost.  He thought they should look at going with a high health savings account.  He said if the employees reduce the utilization of their health care, it will start to reduce their premium costs.

 

Inman said that todayís discussion is like the framework of the Strategic Plan.  She said the specific strategies and activities are not filled in like they were before.  She said they might want to get other peopleís input about approaching this.  She asked what they could do to broaden the audience.

 

Dwyer said they need to bring experts in to do some cross comparisons.

 

Fleenor asked if Monaco could give a workshop about their program. He commented that it solidifies the private sector and the government.

 

Inman asked how to energize employees to get to the transition. She said it is a whole countywide process.

 

Fleenor said they need to coordinate a Strategic Plan with the other elected officials.  He said the Board canít make the decision, the others need to have a say in the matter.  He wanted to have a coordinated strategic planning session as a follow up to the goal setting meeting.

 

Hertzberg asked what would happen if federal money does come in.

 

Dwyer said they need to make a decision on what level of restoration they want to achieve and how to carry it over if it is a one year addition.  He thought they might want to spend that over four years.

 

Fleenor wanted to look at technological advancements.

 

Sorenson said technology and public outreach would be better uses of the funding instead of using funds to temporarily restore services.

 

Spartz indicated that there are some PERS bonds outstanding and they could reduce the operating costs.  He thought they would be able to fully fund in advance the retirees health care cost so they could take it out of the annual health care cost.  He thought there could also be technology investments.

 

Inman thought there could be other organizational or structural development changes like rapid process improvement that could be a one time effort to reorganize.

 

Hertzberg asked how the Board would apply discretionary funds.

 

Stewart wanted to get the organization in a position where they could stop cutting services every year.  He wanted to address the structural deficit and get to a position where they could live within the 3.5 percent increase instead of cutting.  He said there could be opportunities with paying down health and operating costs by two percent.

 

Dwyer commented that they canít control the rate of inflation and other things that are beyond their control.

 

Fleenor thought the state should address the problem or everyone will be bankrupt because of the structural deficit.  He favored recommendation number one.

 

Green concurred with recommendation number one.  He wanted to utilize funds to bring the future liability down to stay with the cost of operation.

 

Sorenson said part of the long term Strategic Plan has to be to gain support of the taxpayers and voters they serve. He thought they could use a portion of the money to fund a creative outreach with people that is not in the context of asking people for more money.  He asked how to get some knowledge measurably raised and how to move forward.

 

Hertzberg asked what happens when organizations come to ask for money, knowing the Countyís problems.

 

Stewart said they have to show the public the decisions they made and that they would work with organizations that have ideas. He said they have to hold their ground. He stated the one goal for the County is financial stability.  He indicated they have given direction to go with Budget 3 and if they get the money it would go toward the long term stability.  He added that until they get the proposed  budget, they canít do anything.  He added that until Spartz comes back with a proposed budget, it was hard to say how they were going to address things.

 

Spartz said he would recommend Budget 3.

 

Sorenson wanted to give direction today and make it formal tomorrow.

 

Dwyer said they should condense their thoughts and go for Budget 3.

 

Green wanted to focus on Budget 3, as that is the budget they know for certain and it is what they have control over.

 

Fleenor concurred with Budget 3.

 

Stewart decided on Budget 3.  He added that even if they got funding, that everyone was in agreement that at this point they would address the Countyís long term stability.

 

There was consensus to go forward with Budget 3.

 

Hertzberg asked what they would put on a short term list for two years to keep focused. 

 

Dwyer said the problem with Lane County is that they have a provision in the charter to allow them to raise the rate of the tax base three percent per year.  He added they used to be able to raise six percent per year but due to Measure 47 and 50, they were never able to raise the amount because they got federal dollars.  He commented that the County has grown and they have to take into account the growth of inflation and the population growth.

 

With regard to a purpose statement, Sorenson said it was written at a time when the economy was better than it is now. He thought there would be greater demands being placed on government.  He thought they could bring in the role of economic and sustainable development as a function of Lane County government. He thought the purpose statement needed to encompass safety and security.   He said currently the words about youth and children are not in it.

 

Hertzberg asked about satisfaction and public service.

 

Fleenor commented that in the final analysis, his goal is client satisfaction.  He said it determines if they are successful.

 

Spartz said they have to deliver value for the money.

 

Sorenson thought when they discuss customer service that they narrow it down to who the person is, and think of them as the registered voters of Lane County.

 

Stewart wanted to have a customer satisfaction piece.  He added that it was important to have an initiative to improve customer service.

 

Dwyer said the purpose is to better ensure and increase the safety, well being and economic status of the people that work and live in Lane County. 

 

Fleenor wanted to see a customer driven organization. 

 

Stewart said a large issue is the workload.  He said a lot of employees are maxed out because of 15 years of cuts.  He said they have to recognize that fact and they need to express from the top down what is important.

 

Spartz said they have to figure out how to put fun in the job for people.

 

Stewart commented that the Board needs to be more mindful of their employees and their workloads.  He added they also have to think about the funding mechanisms.

 

Sorenson asked if they could figure out how employees were spending their time.  He said then he would be more sympathetic.

 

Hertzberg asked about Economic Development

 

Stewart said if they are going to live by property tax that the only way they could work to increase property taxes would be through some level of development.  He added that doing nothing hurts them.

 

Fleenor commented that sometimes the cost of development exceeds the revenue from the property taxes.  He said it cost more money to deliver the services because $1.27 per thousand is not sufficient.

 

Dwyer thought they needed to do things in the future to buy land in open space and have opportunities for those types of businesses.

 

Stewart said if they are going to tie themselves to property tax revenue, he wanted to spend more time to develop a stronger economy for redevelopment that increases the value of property. 

 

Green said they need to bring in the chambers of commerce to discuss the level of economic development needed.  He thought other people needed to be at the table.

 

Fleenor said he was a supporter of the concept of a healthy community and economy.  He said it has to be based on sound business practices, not subsidized by taxpayers.

 

Hertzberg wanted to have a goal for projects for a short list.

 

Dwyer didnít think they should give away the opportunity to purchase the land in Golden Gardens to keep in open space.  He thought it was in the Countyís interest to exercise its option.  He thought money from video lottery could buy the land.  He said they could lease or farm the 180 acres to grow food for their jail or the new psychiatric hospital.  He said his goal is to acquire the land for future decisions by future boards.

 

Green said acquiring land would give them an opportunity in the future.  He thought it was an opportunity that they could actual realize.  He indicated there is some leverage with the city.  He thought it would be more about creating a long term vision for the County.  He said the land is conducive for farming and he thought that could be a good use to grow crops.

 

Sorenson wanted to improve the areas of customer service.

 

Stewart said it didnít look good to try to buy the property when they are cutting so many jobs.  He said there is a disconnect with the people. He said if they want to move forward, he recommended pushing it out in the future as long as they can.  He said they could keep the reserves in economic development funds and not accept any more opportunities to spend the money.  He thought they should look at solar opportunities to help make the County more sustainable.  He asked about a solar field.  He asked how they could partner with local utilities.  He thought a year round farmers market was a good idea.  He wanted sustainable work.

 

Green thought they should invest in a farmers market year round. 

 

Stewart thought it could be incorporated into the fairgrounds site.

 

Dwyer also thought it was a good idea.  He said they could entice people to grow things on the ground the County owns.

 

Hertzberg asked if they Board had any other goals.

 

Sorenson said the private sector is ahead of government.  He talked about tourism and using solar energy at the jail, the public buildings and the Short Mountain Landfill. He indicated that companies are approaching local governments in the brokering role.  He liked the idea of process improvements.  He said it is cheaper to save money than to earn money.

 

Green thought they should look at water for the sustainability factor.

 

Sorenson wanted to take the best of what was already working and looking to Portland and other counties for the short term.  His goals in the current fiscal year are education and the customer service.

 

Green said they need to be clear about sustainability.  He said they should continue what they are doing.

 

With regard to the fairgrounds, Stewart hoped that after July 1 they would bring back a condensed review of all the information they had received from the public on what they want to do for the future.

 

Fleenor thought they needed to have regular ongoing meetings with the other joint County elected officials once every six months.  He wanted to develop a countywide family friendly relationship.

 

Hertzberg said there are three major goals. He noted the overall approach included several things to do for the budget process.  He said there is an idea of doing a strategic transition plan. He said they have to determine long range planning with the other elected officials.  With regard to the initiatives (copy attached) they asked staff to bring it back in July showing what they would do, how they would do it and how much it would cost.

 

Stewart didnít want to spend staff time on it, he wanted to bring this back for a work session.

 

Green said that he wanted to make sure everyone was on board together.

 

Inman said the board seemed to be on the same page and they shared the same instincts that the department directors do about this budget.  She said the consistency of the message was reassuring.

 

Stewart asked that if they have a change of heart or ideas that they bring out in a matter where they could all work together.  He wanted to give a clear message to the employees and citizens that this is what they chose to do.  He believed that if they could all move together they would do a lot better.  He wanted to send out the appropriate messages.

 

Fleenor was impressed with how well the Board worked together.  He said they need to send out a message to the citizens that they are in control and not in a crisis mode.

 

Sorenson asked for an e-mail on what the reason is for the PERS bond and how much the present value is.  He also wanted the 1986 employee retiree health care benefit and the approximate amount as of today so they have the future numbers available.  He wanted to know what was callable. 

 

 

Adjoined at 2:40 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary