LANE COUNTY

BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING

May 15, 2008

5:15 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 12/9/2008

 

Chair David Crowell presided with Scott Bartlett, Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Bobby Green, Sr., Denis Hijmans, Alice Kaseberg, Tony McCown , Peter Sorenson and Faye Stewart present. County Administrator Jeff Spartz, Budget/Financial Planning Manager Dave Garnick and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

 

Chair David Crowell called the meeting to order.

 

II. PUBLIC COMMENT

 

Eric Lackie, Eugene, supported the Phoenix Program at the Department of Youth Services.  He said without the support of the Phoenix Program, it gets them back to working on a detention basis.  He said the kids are put in detention and they don’t have as many resources to work on their skills and preparation for going back into the community.  He recommended the Board invest in the program as it will do wonders for the community.

 

Diana Robertson, Eugene, said she represented Shelter Animal Resource Alliance, a rescue and advocacy organization for shelter animals.  She said over the past eight years they rescued 850 dogs and 335 cats.  She urged the Board to continue to work with the City of Eugene.  She thought the city would be willing to step up to help with new options and ways of providing progressive animal services.  She asked to embrace change in all programs.

 

Tim Canter, Eugene, said he is a silent majority of Lane County. He asked the Budget Committee to follow through and make cuts throughout the County.  He said over the years measures continue to fail because they no longer have faith in what the Board says.  He said he has heard for the past three years that Lane County is in a fiscal crisis.  He said if Lane County is truly in a fiscal crisis, he wonders why they are adding programs back and not making cuts.  He supports transferring money from the cities.  He asked the committee to be cautious when they talk about adding programs back.  He said people are watching and they think that Lane County is not in a fiscal crisis because all of the programs are back.  He said if the Board could find $400,000, he recommended opening extra detention beds and adding back community service.  He also recommended the Pathways program. He asked the Budget Committee to really look at the decisions they are making as people are paying attention.

 

Craig Opperman, Eugene, CEO, Looking Glass, said the Board supported Pathways last year when it was scheduled to be cut.  He was hopeful that they would be able to develop other funding for Pathways.  He noted that efforts are continuing, but at this time they have no additional funding and face closure next month.  He commented the crisis hitting Lane County non-profits is real.  He noted that as of July 1 due to county budgeting and contract terminations this year, Looking Glass will have lost over $1 million in services and have laid off 25 staff.  He noted that Pathways has delivered intensive alcohol and drug treatment and mental health services to Lane County youth for 17 years.  He added it is nationally recognized and nationally accredited and holds one of the highest evidence based practice scores ever achieved in the Northwest.  He said it has an 85% success rate and measured by reduction in recidivism.  He said he has served nearly 1,000 adjudicated youth and their families. He commented that the greatest tragedy of Pathway’s closure is the affects to the youth.  He supported funding of the Phoenix Program.  He also supported funding additional treatment dollars for youth served by DYS.

 

Mona Lindstromberg, Veneta,  asked for a graduated pay cut with those having the greatest net worth taking the largest cut.  She believed in graduated and progressive taxing.  She agreed with the commissioners’ expense account that in some cases does not appear to have adequate oversight.  She said the County’s Forest Work Camp is going to be cut but it is actually a program that brings in federal funds to help offset its costs.  She asked to reconsider not to close the Forest Work Camp.

 

Jerry Rapier, Cottage Grove, said he has more pages of signatures for the LCAS petition.  He asked the Board to keep the shelter open through the end of the fiscal year so there is more time to find alternatives.  He commented that if it is disbanded, it is harder to get it back together and the services are needed.

 

Betty Wong, Eugene,  said closing the shelter is a bad idea.  She asked the committee to review Lane Code Chapter 7 on animal control.  She said they have 1,874 signatures that can show people in the community care  and want to have LCAS  stay open.  She said real estate is slow in Lane County and potential buyers would not want to invest in real estate knowing that Lane County has no animal shelter.  She said children and adults won’t be safe from wild dogs.

 

James Wong, Eugene, said he wrote the petitions that are going to be submitted.  He said that Greenhill does not have enough pens to accommodate the large number of dogs and cats from LCAS.  He added that Greenhill has no authority to enforce compliance to Lane Code for animals.  He urged the committee to find a solution to keep LCAS.

 

Mitch Schwartz, Eugene, was in favor of funding the Phoenix Program.  He said it was important to keep the program going.  He stated that the Phoenix Program brings money into the County.

 

Megan Wuest, Eugene, spoke about the Phoenix Program.  She indicated that they have been able to engage 90 percent of the families with youth and they have reduced recidivism by 74 percent.  She commented that it would be hard to recreate the program if they stopped it and started it up again under another fiscal year.

 

Grace Wong, submitted petitions with 1,874 signatures.  She asked to keep LCAS open.

 

David Hinkley, Eugene, commented the committee is wasting all of the public’s money.  He said they need to pick the things that could be properly funded, fund them and then let the rest fall by the wayside. He stated that a 28 bed jail in a county this size is tantamount to having a zero bed jail except they spend money on it that could be placed somewhere else.  He said there is nothing the County is doing that can’t be done by volunteers.  He said public safety is the one thing they don’t want to have volunteers doing.  He said they have to start funding public safety and criminal justice and if they have to let everything else go, then to find volunteers.  He said they can’t do everything and by trying to do everything, they have done nothing and they are hiding the crisis from the public.  He said to fund public safety and cut everything else out.

 

Amy Van Dyke, Eugene, spoke about the importance of keeping the Phoenix Program running.  She said she is a culinary arts instructor.  She said the students are learning technical skills that they couldn’t get anywhere else.  She asked the committee to consider the work with youth as they want to make changes.

 

Marcus Poppen, said he coordinates a tutoring program that provides 20 hours of tutoring service through the Phoenix program.  He indicated they are work study students and all wouldn’t have a job without the Phoenix Program. He stated he was present on behalf of all tutors and he asked the committee to consider keeping the Phoenix Program.

 

 

III. UPDATE ON SECURE RURAL SCHOOLS

 

Alex Cuyler,  Intergovernmental Relations Manager, reported on the last update from Washington, D.C. this morning. He indicated there was language for a one year county extension.  He explained that the bill has to come out of the house and get over to the senate where the language will be inserted along with other domestic funding priorities.  He noted that the President would not approve a bill that was over $108 billion dollars.  He said there would be  post veto strip of the bill and the County Payments could survive and could come back to the President for another consideration.  He said the timing could be into mid-June before they would have an answer.  He noted that Congressman DeFazio has authored a multi-year bill that has initial county payments that ramp down over a period of four years.  Cuyler indicated that it is trying to become a stand alone bill.  He said they wouldn’t know its moving through the process until mid-summer.  He said the language does exist and is waiting to be inserted into a house appropriations bill.  He indicated that the governor has put together a task force for federal forest payments and there are recommendations being examined to help counties help themselves.

 

Cuyler said those are efforts that have to make it through the 2009 legislature.  He added that DeFazio has a stand alone multi-year bill he is trying to get to the floor of the House of Representatives.  He didn’t think the funding would be in place by the time the budget is approved.

 

Sorenson asked what the state would help with.

 

Green said the concept is to allow local control and that is what counties have been requesting for many years.  He reported that they made recommendations that have been adopted by the AOC Legislative Committee.  He said they have developed a legislative policy option package for the governor’s revenue and the legislative review.  He added that they developed congressional recommendations that the governor could take to his association in Washington, D.C.  He said there are things that could be done administratively.  He noted the only idea that has been put forth that has a lot of support is through Assessment and Taxation where they have recommended that up to $15 million in penalty interest could come back to the counties to help the Assessment and Taxation Department.  He indicated that the state may take more responsibility for offenders. He said his group has met four times and they are scheduled for two more meetings and they will end the process of the task force in June.  He noted it will go to the governor and the governor asked that they take the recommendations of the task force to different counties around the state to make sure everyone knows what is going on from an education standpoint.  He commented that as a task force they were not under any illusions that what they will do would stabilize any county in the State of Oregon.  He indicated that there is recognition by the state that they are at the table talking about department heads at the state level to find out how efficiencies could be met.

 

 

IV. BUDGET COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

Spartz said he had heard people ask why the Board can’t move money around for certain purposes.  He explained that they can’t move money as most of the money is dedicated and they are not permitted to move that money around even if they think there is a  higher priority that is not being served.   

 

Spartz indicated that City Councilor Bonny Bettman and Commissioner Sorenson came up with the idea of possibly swapping funds so the County could address some of the high priorities they know are not properly funded in the proposed budget.  He indicated that discussions have been conducted and they now believe they can transfer money from the County Road Fund into the City of Eugene’s road fund as long as they use it for road purposes.  He added that they could legally transfer the same amount of money back into the County’s general fund, giving them more flexibility to deal with the priorities the Budget Committee needs to establish and has been expressed.  He said they would transfer a two year block of spending of $4.5 million from the road fund.  He said this would precipitate a crisis in the road fund one year earlier than they planned.   He said it will come next year and not the year after.  He added in return, they receive about $2.5 million from the City of Eugene in the general fund that the Budget Committee could allocate to the highest priorities.  He said they had the discussions and believe they have a deal in principle.  He said the Budget Committee could act as if those dollars were there and debate as to how they should be allocated.  He added that he has had conversations with Springfield’s city manager and he is going to try to identify whether or not they could do the same thing on a smaller level.

 

Spartz said they were proposing that two additional District Attorneys be hired with two support staff to prosecute non-felony cases and an additional 48 jail beds be restored.  He indicated that would give a net of 75 local jail beds.  He said they restored funding to the Buckley House for a detox facility in Eugene.  He indicated they would restore 16 beds to the Phoenix Program so they would have 32 secure beds, not 16 and they would restore day treatment services to treat approximately 60 youth.  He said they would plan to budget that over a period of two years and that would give them time to work with the state and federal government to come up with alternative funding sources.

 

Crowell asked if they could conclude the budget tonight.

 

Spartz recommended getting the budget to the 99 percent level so it is set and transmit it to the cities of Eugene and Springfield so they could review it and they could finalize the agreements on a transfer of money and they could approve the budget next week.

 

V.  DISCUSSION AND FINAL BUDGET Q&A

 

Dwyer wanted to include funding the Human Services Commission.  He said if the County puts money into the commission, the commission will put in another $140,000.  He indicated the money will buy budget money from Eugene.  He wanted to use some of the money for LCAS.

 

Steve Manila, Human Services Commission, said the number he put into his e-mail responds to the level one funding that is in the service option sheet.  He indicated that all of the money is dedicated to go to agency payments for non-profit agencies that are providing human services.  He said the level one funding is the most essential to keep the system whole.  He said all of the money to be dedicated is $254,117.

 

Green asked if Lane County Public Works employees could perform the road construction work and be involved with the road projects.

 

Spartz didn’t know if staff could provide the service.  He said he will raise the issue tomorrow with the Eugene City Manager.  Spartz said the city manager of Springfield said they wouldn’t be able to do as much but it would be high quality.

 

Christine Moody, Budget Analyst, discussed the spreadsheet (copy in file). 

 

Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services,  explained the first option was no cattery and they didn’t think it was functional. He added it is primarily funded through the City of Eugene and Springfield isn’t interested in doing anything with cats.  He commented that he thought not having a cattery was not the thing to do and it would cost $55,000 more.  He noted Option 2 was one less field officer and one less management position.  He said they would do less of what they were doing and they were still not saving adoptable animals for $164,000 of additional money.  He stated that Option 3 is $571,000 of continuing service level budget offset by the $229,000 for a total of $342,000.  He thought the Board still wanted them to look at saving adoptable animals.  He noted Option 4 has the same positions with a certified vet tech and animal behaviorist.  He said they have to add in money for vet support and behavioral changes.  He added that person would be working with volunteers.  He noted the cities of Springfield and Eugene didn’t have the interest to put money in saving adoptable animals.  He indicated this year his department has absorbed $217,000, for the volunteer coordinator and the indirect to sustain this budget.  He said they have increased costs.

 

With regard to adding five traffic deputies, Stewart stated he spoke with legal staff and Howard Schussler, Public Works, and Schussler pointed out there might be issues if traffic deputies are used for any amount of time responding to an emergency other than traffic control. Stewart wanted to continue to have that in there, but only take $575,000 from the timber dollars in the road fund and it would generate $500,000 from fines that would need to be reduced to $50,000.  He said $150,000 would need to be made up for the cost of the five deputies and that would leave $350,000 of new money that could be generated to spend on programs like the Human Services Commission.

 

Wilson explained the money they are discussing is coming from the federal timber receipts through state statute and it is given to the County for road fund purposes as dictated by the legislature.  She noted the last legislature allowed Lane County and Douglas County to use funding for patrol services.  She added it was unclear how broad the word “patrol services” is.  She noted with the funds they received from Secure Rural Schools, they had to be scrupulous on how the hours were used.  She said with this money it is less clear because it is so general.  The advice she gave to Stewart was that those deputies will generate revenue and to use a portion to cover the non-control types of things and use the timber revenues to cleanly cover the patrol function. 

 

Fleenor asked if they could get LCAS out off the general fund and the concept of levying a $5 surcharge on rabies vaccinations.

 

Rockstroh said they would need to engage the vets as partners and split the cost for processing.  He said they would have to  buy into saving adoptable animals as a concept.  He said LCAS could be off the general fund but he was concerned about competition from other non-profits and it would be hard to raise money.  He added they need a whole new kennel facility.  He reported the first two quarters of  2008 indicated a 17 percent decrease in the number of licenses sold. 

 

Green recommended paying the Watermaster out of contingency as it was included in the budget. Green indicated he didn’t see anything in the budget about Public Health.

 

Spartz said if the Board makes no adjustments, then Public Health will be funded at the minimum level the state would allow.

 

Sorenson asked if Drug Court was included in the budget or a separate line item in the District Attorney’s budget.

 

Alex Gardner, Deputy District Attorney, responded that the Drug Court has not been made part of the budget or any proposed add back.  He said the cost for the Deputy District Attorney who is currently handling the Drug Court intake is $105,252.

 

Sorenson asked what the general fund cost would be for Pathways.

 

Lisa Smith, Department of Youth Services, responded that the general fund cost would be $349,000.  She added the Title 19 Medicaid match is 40 percent of $113 dollars per day for the youth with a social security number.  She noted it is between $125,000 to $150,00 per year.

 

Issues for Deliberation

 

a. Takes 4 votes to bring a “known” issue to the table (“known” = add/redux packages/community requests).

b. Takes 4 votes to bring “other” issue to the table.

c. Discuss items receiving minimum of 4 votes.

d. Takes 6 votes to approve any of these items.

 

Crowell noted that line items 6 through 12 were fully funded, they had no impact on the general fund and they pay for themselves.

 

MOTION: to tentatively approve line items 6 through 13.

 

Sorenson MOVED, McCown, SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

MOTION: to tentatively approve line items 14 to 25.

 

Sorenson MOVED, Hijmans SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

MOTION: to tentatively approve line items 26 and 27.

 

McCown MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

MOTION: to tentatively not fund the Watermaster with general fund money.

 

Sorenson MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

Dwyer thought they should support it.  He didn’t think there would be a problem this year with water.  He said next year when there is a water shortage, this person’s job is critical.

 

Green proposed they take this off the list.  He said they have $25,000 that would be put into contingency on July 1 and they could pay the Watermaster’s request from that.

 

Dwyer agreed.

 

Sorenson indicated the State of Oregon provides the expense for the Watermaster and they decide how much to pay the Watermaster, his office and how much office help to give him.  He said the Watermaster has asked for additional help from the general fund to assist him.  He thought it should be taken off and defeated. 

 

VOTE; 9-1 (Hijmans dissenting).

 

Burger reported the cost of a deputy, based on the fact they are keeping the senior deputies is about $145,000 per deputy.  He said based on the revenue generation on the estimates he got from Judge Carl, it would be in the area of $140,000 per year per deputy. 

 

Dwyer asked Spartz to contact the other cities to see if there could be a swap.  He asked that between now and next Thursday that Spartz find out the information.

 

With regard to swapping with the cities, Green indicated they are dipping into the road fund reserve and they have exceeded what was projected.  He added there were thoughts about dipping into the general fund reserve.  He thought they needed to be cautious about that. He thought the swap was a mutual collaboration with the City of Eugene.  He thought there were other cities that wanted to be partners.

 

MOTION: to tentatively approve the mutual swap by the City of Eugene, items 27 through 35.

 

Green MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.

 

Spartz stated as the committee exceeds the spending level of the proposed budget by dipping into the reserves, they are making the 09/10 and 10/11 budgets more tenuous in terms of the ability to fund them.

 

Kaseberg was concerned about the swapping funds.  She stated they are dipping into Lane County reserves and in the road fund budget.  She was concerned about the prudent management of all of their resources in total, not what is fiscally nice this year.

 

McCown commented that he has been told by the citizens what they want and he was comfortable for central services to dip into the reserves.  He added that the public has spoken over the last two weeks and they should move forward with what they are requesting.

 

Green was concerned about the downward spiral and the future projects that won’t get done.  He noted other counties who are in the similar position have already made a decision to take county roads and turn them into gravel roads.  He said if the situation is as serious as they think it is, they need to take more serious actions.  He was concerned about going into the reserves to the impact of their ability to deliver services for Public Works.  He added that they haven’t discussed this matter with Public Works staff.  He thought this should have been done with the Board at a policy level.

 

Stewart was also concerned about the Public Works piece.  He said he heard tonight from staff that if this moves forward, they reduce the timeline of not having enough money in Public Works by six months to take it from two years to 18 months.  He added that now instead of having 48 beds in the jail, they will have 96 beds and they will have twice the ability for youth, going from 16 beds to 32 beds.  He said they have to do everything they can but it puts more responsibility on the Board of Commissioners to find a solution for Public Works sooner than they had anticipated.

 

Fleenor commented that people come first over roads.   He thought they could get by on gravel roads.  He thought there could be more money coming in 2009 from the legislature.

 

Dwyer stated they are spending more on public safety than roads.  He commented that most roads are at 70 percent or better.  He thought if they pay more now, they could save costs later in community corrections.  He wasn’t as concerned about the road fund as he was for other services.

 

Stewart stated he attended the Eugene Budget Committee meeting.  He indicated that the City of Eugene was comfortable with Lane County’s list of services that was presented to them. He said it is important to the City of Eugene that there are increased jail beds, prosecution is increased and for keeping Buckley House.  He added they also agreed on the Phoenix Program and to restore the day treatment.  He said they thought it should be funded.  He commented that it comes at a cost to the City of Eugene because they were only programming $1.5 million from their general fund to be transferred into their road fund.  He said they are having to make up extra money out of there general fund to give Lane County $4.5 million.

 

Steve Manela, Human Services Commission, indicated that the City of Eugene was not planning on increasing their contribution this year to the Human Services Commission.  He said once they see there is equity in the relationship with the other partners in the County funding, then there would be consideration of looking at the HSC funding.

 

Sorenson commented that the City of Eugene contributes more than one-third of the general fund money that goes to the agency and they have done that for many years.

 

Fleenor asked when they do the IGA if they were going to specify that the $4.5 million would be used to fund the programs, or just a generic swap and if it is up to the County to make the decision.

 

Wilson replied that there have been no drafts written.  She said legally it would be written that each governmental entity retains its full jurisdictional authority over the funds it has and receives.  She said with regard to the road fund, it must be used for constitutionally dedicated purposes.  She said they are not telling the City of Eugene what roads they are to use the money for.  She anticipated that the City of Eugene Budget Committee will have a similar discussion on what they are going to use the road funds on and there would be a single line for the general funds coming to the County.  She said the actual agreement will not bind the Board to anything more than $4.5 million of road funds to be used for road fund purposes and they will receive money to be used for general fund purposes.

 

Crowell reiterated the motion is approval of sending $4.5 million of County road fund to the city and in return receiving $4.5 million of their general fund money that will go into Lane County’s general fund whereby the Budget Committee will spend it in the way that is outlined in the blue sheet, committing themselves for FY 08/09 to those numbers for those programs and with a good faith promise they will spend the funds in the right hand column for FY 09/10.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

MOTION: to tentatively approve the addition of five traffic deputies to generate revenue of $355,000 (line 38, 39 and 40).

 

Stewart MOVED, Green SECONDED.

 

McCown asked how much they had in the current reserve.

 

Garnick explained that their prudent person reserve is 10 percent of operating revenue,  about $6.7 million.  He commented that amount is lower than it had been because when taking the Secure Rural Schools dollars out it drops down to that figure.  He added as a result of the Board giving direction to cut two years of reductions in one year, they have an additional $6.3 million set aside.  He explained that they cut for 08/09 and they have two more years of stability in the current proposed budget.  He said they are using the additional $6.3 million for the stability.  He indicated that is where the County Administrator said that as they spend that money down the second year,  they will have to make cuts sooner.  He indicated the services added would take an additional $1 million out of the reserves.

 

Fleenor said they have to be careful about giving mixed messages to Spartz. He said they said they wanted to stabilize the budget and now they are using reserves.  He agreed that they don’t know what is going to happen within the next 18 months but they need to be prudent and make careful decisions.

 

Spartz said the Board always has the right to change the approach to budgeting.  He said the administration will always be cautious about the level of spending.  He stated that he doesn’t want to put the Board in a catastrophic situation.

 

Green commented that they started with a zero based budget.  He indicated that they need to start budgeting for outcomes if they want a good solid public safety and public health system.  He said these systems are being deteriorated.  He thought they needed to talk about what is going to happen and the funds to make it happen.  He commented that the budget didn’t feel comfortable to him..  He said by going into the reserves, they are spending money to do the same things.

 

Dwyer said they don’t know what the rate of inflation will be or the health, food or oil costs.  He said they have to adjust because they can’t control all the costs.

 

Sorenson thought the motion was a good idea to use road fund dollars and return the dollars for other purposes.  He had concerns about the road funds.  He had a concern that if the traffic deputies are not producing the return, they have to step in to redeploy deputies so the amount of money coming back into the general fund approximates what they are budgeting.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

Stewart  explained that because the Eugene City Council is deliberating on their budget before Lane County, he had been in contact with their budget committee members. They said if Lane County would put some money into the Human Services Commission that they would leverage the remaining money needed. 

 

MOTION: to tentatively approve line 53.

 

Stewart MOVED, McCown SECONDED.

 

Dwyer thought it would  be a good idea and it will send a clear message to the city that Lane County cares about the services.  He thought it could leverage other money that would not be forthcoming.

 

Sorenson supported the motion.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

 

 

VI. TENTATIVE NEXT MEETING – IF NEEDED

Continued budget deliberations: Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 5:15 pm in the Board of Commissioners Conference Room

 

VII. ADJOURN

 

Chair David Crowell adjourned the meeting at 9:20 p.m.

 

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary