LANE COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE

Thursday, May 1, 2008

5:15 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 5/22/2008

 

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

 

I. COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

Crowell reported that Bill Dwyer is excused.  There was material distributed by staff. (Copy in file.)

 

II. OVERVIEW OF TOPIC FOR EVENING: PUBLIC WORKS

 

Christine Moody, Budget Analyst, explained that because Information Services is not in the general fund, they didn’t have to prepare a SOS form and we didn’t get to see the reductions that were taken.  She asked Tony Black, Information Services, to explain the reductions to them. She said the bottom line is that he reduced $507,000 out of his entire budget and $311,000 from the general fund directly.  She noted that as the budget grew, the percent of IS stayed flat.  She added when comparing I.S. to the entire County budget, IS was 1.96% ten years ago and is proposed at 1.98% for 08-09.  She indicated that they followed the trend of the budget.  She indicated, therefore, the statement that I.S. has exponentially increased is not supported by data.

 

Jeff Spartz, County Administrator, commented that Lane County is doing more work automated now than they did in the 1998/1999 budget.

 

Fleenor indicated that the cost of technology has gone down over the years but the service level has gone up as a result of the performance.  He didn’t see anything out of line.

 

Moody said what the total percentage chart doesn’t show is the much higher work load and data being stored.

 

Moody said the tax comparable rate chart in the Budget Document, page 156 had an error in a couple of the columns.  She distributed the corrected page. (Copy in file.)  She provided additional information on revenues available in other counties and discussed how Lane County compares to other counties losing O&C revenue.

 

Spartz reported that the Public Works Department uses about one-third of the revenues within the overall budget.  He said they are responsible for about 1,430 miles of roads and more than 400 bridges.  He indicated that Public Works disposes of 290,000 tons of solid waste, has more than 2 million visitors to County Parks and issues more than 1,100 building permits during the course of the year.  He added that Public Works handles fleet services for the rest of the County (except for the Sheriff’s Office) and does transportation planning on behalf of the County.  He said Public Works this year will not be suffering some of the drastic cuts that other programs will face due the loss of Secure Rural Schools.  He commented that the good news can only continue for about another year without additional revenues coming into the system.  He stated that if additional revenues do not come in, the ability to maintain the existing structure will begin to fail.  He added that after next year the citizens of Lane County would be driving on road surfaces that are not up to the current standards.

 

III. PUBLIC WORKS

 

Ollie Snowden, Public Works, reported that page 121 of the budget book shows revenues and expenditures for the department.  He noted the budget is about $151 million.  He said on page 122 is an organizational chart showing eight divisions in Public Works.  He reported that they have seven funds and they have some type of restrictions due to constitutional, statutory or contractual restrictions.  He indicated that they have no discretionary money in Public Works.  He said that generally they are continuing with their current level of service in nearly all programs except for Land Management.  He noted the budget has proposed a 6.5 FTE reduction and an add package would restore 5.5 FTE of the 6.5 FTE.  He said their costs continue to increase faster than their revenues in all of their funds.

 

Snowden reported that the Fleet Fund is an internal fund and is in good shape for the coming year.  He said they get their revenues from fleet rental rates for light vehicles and hourly rental rates for heavy equipment that Solid Waste and Roads uses.  He thought the Sheriff was going to transfer his vehicles to Lane County fleet ownership in the future for 130 vehicles.  He noted they have had a Mechanic 2 position that has been vacant and they are going to fill that in anticipation of the increased workload from the Sheriff.  He said they have a reserve built in for increased fuel costs.  He said they assumed about $3.50 per gallon cost and if they run over that, they have a cushion in the reserve fund.  He said rates are up 3.5 percent for light vehicles and one percent for the heavy equipment.  He noted they are running B5 and B5 biodiesel in all of their heavy equipment except for emergency services equipment.  He indicated they are going to do a pilot project at Short Mountain Landfill with biodiesel fuels.

 

With regard to the Public Corners Preservation Fund, Snowden said this fund is paid for by $10 per property tax filing.  He said it funds corners restoration on public lands.  He indicated the fund balance is $370,000 and will drop to $75,000 in the coming year.  He commented that unless there is an increase in the fee for land corners, there will have to be reductions to the crews next year.  He indicated there is a special revenue and services fund where the SDC is for the Parks Fund.

 

Snowden reported that the Solid Waste Disposal is an enterprise fund and supports the Waste Management Division.  He noted there are 79 FTE.  He indicated that most of the money comes from garbage fees and system benefit fees.  He said they are packaged in a tipping fee.  He recalled the Board of Commissioners in September of 2007 increased the per ton tipping fee from $45 to $65.  He indicated that is split for garbage fees to run Short Mountain Landfill and a system benefit fee that pays for system wide benefits like the rural transfer sites and recycling programs.  He noted that was the first fee increase since 1995.  He thought it would give them at least another two or three year’s stability before they ask the Board for additional fee increases.  He indicated what is imbedded in this year’s budget is the final closure activities at Short Mountain Landfill Phase 3.

 

Snowden reported that this is the first year of implementation of the Nuisance Abatement Program that started in June 2006. He added that they didn’t get citation authority in Lane Code until December 2007.  He noted between July 1, 2007 and April 18, 2008, the nuisance abatement specialist cleaned up 207 illegal dumpsites in the road right-of-way.  He said since then they have issued four civil citations for littering.

 

Snowden noted when the Board added the $20 per ton tipping fee increase, there was a $3.50 fee they wanted to use for nuisance site clean up and for waste diversion opportunities at Short Mountain Landfill.  He said they will have to address their relationship with EPUD who is operating the methane recovery power generation facility at Short Mountain Landfill.  He indicated that EPUD’s concern is that any further diversion of waste from the landfill may make the continued operation of the power generating site infeasible from EPUD’s standpoint.  He said they need to deal with the resolution of the leachate treatment facility contract that began in 1998.  He said the goal of the leachate treatment facility was to fully treat the leachate coming off Short Mountain Landfill on site.  He said currently they collect it and put it in tanker trucks and drive to the wastewater treatment plant.  He said they need to get the contract closed.  He said they expect to have an increasing fund balance in the solid waste fund.  He said they have a facility improvement fund to use to add additional cells to the landfill.  He added they also have a closure and post closure fund required by DEQ so if they shut down the landfill, the County would have enough money to do the final closure and to monitor it for 30 years after closure.  He said they are likely to see the fund balance in the solid waste fund continue to increase over the next few years. He said they have to right size it compared to the amount of surface area exposed and the size of the landfill that they have to monitor for 30 years after it is completely closed.

 

With regard to Parks and Open Space, Snowden explained that there are a variety of revenue sources.  He noted that this year they are getting about 16 percent of their revenue in car rental tax.  He recalled prior to this year about 40 percent of the revenue was from car rental tax.  He noted the Board took some of the car rental tax and put it back into the general fund and substituted a portion of it with transient room tax that represents about 23 percent of the 09 budget.  He added that they also increased Parks fees last year.  He noted they have a $3.00 per day fee at all County parks and they have a $30 annual pass.  He added that they also have recreational vehicle fees and camping fees.  He said they need to find a solution for their collection problem.  He noted they have automated fee stations in seven parks with regular vandalism.  He said the challenge for the upcoming budget year is to find a workable fee collection system in Parks.

 

Todd Winter, Parks, reported that they have seen a 20 percent increase in season pass sales through REI and G.I. Joes from last year.  He added that they have vendors set up throughout Lane County.  He said it is not practical to have collections at each individual park.  He noted at locations like Triangle Lake, Munsel, Bender, Heceta and West Lake, they put in a pay tube.  He said it makes compliance difficult.  He recalled that they used to have fee collectors at the large seven Class A facilities in their area:  Richardson, Mt. Pisgah, Armitage, Orchard Point, Perkins, Baker Bay and Hendricks.  He said when they did a cost analysis, they found they paid out in staffing what they collected.  He indicated that they switched to an automated machine system, costing $12,000 per machine.  He said the issue with the automated machine was vandalism.  He noted it is posted on the machine that the money is collected regularly, but the criminal element believes something is in the machines.  He noted that Baker Bay and Hendricks have never been hit because they are in close proximity to the host or caretaker.  He indicated he was moving the cage from Mt. Pisgah to the arboretum.  He said they are going to pay tube Perkins and Hendricks and leave Baker Bay as a machine.  He said Richardson, Orchard Point and Armitage will find local vendors.  He indicated when the machines were broken into, they realized a loss of about $1,000, but the damage to the machine was $3,500.  He said currently there are no collections at the seven locations.  He said they placed signage telling them where the local vendors are.  He indicated that they are not doing compliance.  He added when they put the tubes in place, they will place warnings out for a 30 day period.

 

Bartlett asked about Diamond Parking taking over enforcement.

 

Winter recalled that it wasn’t well received by the Board.  He said it has been tabled and the Board challenged staff to find a better way to get the job done.  He noted that Diamond Parking has the ability to patrol that Lane County doesn’t.

 

Bartlett asked if the sign department could inform people they need to have dog licenses and where they could get them.

 

Winter said they have brochures in Spanish and English about how to license and vaccinate animals at the fee booths.  He indicated they pass them out at trade shows and the dog park at Armitage and at Zumwalt.

 

Bartlett asked if the license information could be present at Mt. Pisgah.

 

Green asked if they could charge fees for dogs.

 

Winter thought if it went for upkeep for the park, the dog owners would like it.  He added they put in a track at Armitage so the owners could run while the dogs were at the park.

 

Hijmans asked if they were making any money with the use of the parks versus the cost to replace the machines and people.

 

Snowden responded that it is a concern with the collection problems they are having. He said if they don’t have a good solution by the end of the summer, they need to reassess their strategy.  He said if they are short on revenues they will end up doing a supplemental budget because they will not have enough money to cover their costs.  He recalled the problem with Diamond Parking was a Diamond employee would be the face of the County when dealing with a customer.  He said if they could mitigate that, then maybe Diamond Parking would be more acceptable to the Board.  He indicated they would still use some labor for minor maintenance and cleaning up in the major parks. He added that they did it last year with the consent of Union 626 and it was successful.  He said they agreed they can continue contracting with the Park hosts to do some of the maintenance and labor.

 

Snowden reported that tax foreclosed property sales continue to be an important part of the Parks budget.  He noted that Winter will be using some of the Glenada Dunes tax foreclosed property sale proceeds to build the Armitage Campgrounds.  He said they have a property near the casino in Florence the Board has declared Parks usage that will generate additional money.  He noted they have started negotiations with State Parks to purchase the property on which the old Bring site was located off of Seavey Loop Road.  He indicated they are working to get an appraisal on the Wildish property.  He added there is nothing in the budget for the property except for SDC money to help pay for the appraisal.

 

With regard to the road fund, Snowden explained the two main sources are timber receipts and state highway funds.  He commented that without Secure Rural Schools, they fall back to the old formula of 25 percent of the gross receipts of timber harvested on national forestland.  He recalled that over the last six years it has averaged $1.5 million and last year it was closer to $2 million. He said without Secure Rural Schools they will lose around $19 million.  He noted the SB 994 money that came from the legislature in the 2007 session would bring $9.9 million to Lane County in Fiscal 08/09.  He said the restrictions are that it has to be used for projects on County roads.  He said he will be coming to the Board next Wednesday and there are two options to present for the use of the 994 money.  He added that if they don’t get a four year reauthorization for Secure Rural Schools, his recommendation is to use the 994 money for the Harvey Road project and overlay and chip seal projects.  He said if they do get a four year authorization, there might be an opportunity to add other capital projects.  He commented that the funding would be a one time deal.

 

Snowden noted that with discretionary revenue, they expect to drop from $38 million to $28 million.  He said it is within discretion of Article 9, Section 3(a) limitation of the Constitution that they can’t use it for general fund activities.  He added they also receive other revenue but most is for a specific project or reimbursement for work they are doing for other agencies.

 

Snowden reported that there are 200 FTE tied to the Road Fund.  He indicated Transportation Planning has 29 employees, Road Maintenance has 97 employees, Engineering has 40 employees, Admin has 20 employees and there are 14 employees in the County Surveyor’s office.  He added in the Sheriff’s budget, there is about $550,000 that will go to fund the Weighmaster.  He recalled that last year they went from six Weighmasters to three and the money is transferred from the road fund to the Sheriff’s Office.

 

Snowden reported the road fund is a continuation of current levels of operation, maintenance and preservation.  He noted their budget will move forward with no layoffs in the road fund for the next calendar year.  He said they see a continued downsizing of the Capital Improvement Program.  He added that they are going to draw the fund balance to $25 million.  He noted that SB808 will allow the County to use the Secure Rural Schools portion of the road fund to pay for Sheriff Patrols on County roads.  He said the direction he received from the discussion on the general fund is that even though they have no Secure Rural Schools this year, the Board still expects to take $1.2 million from the road fund and put it in the Sheriff’s budget for traffic team work.  He wanted to see if there could be expenditures to help position them to be more effective and efficient going into the future.  He added that they want to upgrade their radio system from a VHF system to a UHF system and it would cost $2 million to do it.  He said they will have to do it because of FCC regulatory changes.

 

Snowden reported that they are being more entrepreneurial in their approach to their business.  He said they have a valuable resource with their Engineering Design Section and lab.  He said they are finding IGA’s with the state, cities and LTD to do engineering related work.

 

Snowden recalled that over the past three years they have reduced 24 positions from the road fund and moved two out of the road fund into the Land Management fund.  He added that many of the reductions are directly related to the decrease in the capital improvement projects they have in the CIP.  He noted they will continue to see CIP reductions.  He indicated they increased the overlay budget in the CIP from $3 million to $4.5 million, but they think this year it is about $4.5 million or more for 30 miles of overlay

 

Snowden noted the amount in the CIP is about $28 million.  He noted it has about $9 million in projects for 08/09.  He said it is dropping off to between $5 million and $6 million for 09/10 and after that they have no modernization projects in the CIP.  He indicated the only thing listed is the pavement fund that is used for contract overlays.  He commented that without some new infusion of money, they won’t be doing any modernization projections in the near future. He wanted the Board to wait until the cities get together to look for a reasonable transportation funding solution.  He commented that with the approach they are using, they expect to get two years of stability for 09/10.  He said under their proposal, they would go from a $39 million fund balance to about $25 million at the end of 2009.  He expected it to be down about $7 million during 09/10 and he didn’t think they could go lower than that  He noted in the past they have looked to co-locate or consolidate to gain efficiencies.  He indicated they were marketing their services to the cities and ODOT.  He said the Board will have to look at whether they want to give road fund money to the Traffic Team or whether it would go to road maintenance or traditional road fund activities.

 

With regard to Land Management, Snowden reported that they have revenue from a number of sources.  He indicated it is primarily fee supported from a long range planning surcharge, subsurface sanitation, building, electrical permit and the enforcement of state building codes.    He said in looking at their revenue forecast, they are short of funding.  He noted that the budget in front of the committee has a proposed  6.5 FTE reduction.  He indicated one position is a road fund position in the surveyor’s office.  He said the other 5.5 FTE will affect service in building, planning, compliance and subsurface sanitation.  He added they have add packages to restore those positions. He said they have one add package that would increase the building subsurface sanitation permit fees that would restore 1.5 FTE of the positions slated to be cut.  He said they have an add package for a planning permit fee increase.  He said if this is approved, it would restore the other 4 positions proposed for elimination.  He indicated they also have an add package as a rural addressing fee increase.  He said it would be a $17,000 difference that doubles the fee for rural addressing from $95 to $190.  He said it is to take it off the road fund and make it self-supporting.  He indicated they have three more add packages they are proposing to increase the service level.  He said they are adding $20 to the technology fee assessment and that money would be used over four years to convert their paper parcel file into digital format and putting it on the internet to allow the public to be able to view the permitting activity on any parcel in the County.  He added that another add package is an increase in the long range planning surcharge from 10 percent to 13 percent.  He said it would add one FTE and they would update Chapter 10 and Chapter 16 of the Land Use Code.  He indicated that all of these fees have been to the Finance and Audit Committee and they are going to bring these back to the Board.  He said if the Board doesn’t approve the increases, they will be sending lay off notices for the 5.5 FTE.

 

With regard to issues going forward, Snowden said they should look at permit revenue trends.  He noted that all of their forecasts for 08/09 were based on a two percent reduction in permit fees.  He indicated it has been 25 percent lower over the past few months.  He said as they get to 2009, they will need to have a mid-year review and if the drop in permit revenue is low, they might need to do a supplement budget with position reductions.  He said they were looking at doing on line permitting for Land Management but it got to be expensive.  He thought it was important to get the website up to speed but they don’t have the money and it is not included in the add packages.  He said they need to get into an annual mode of looking at the land use planning fees.

 

IV. PUBLIC COMMENT

 

Jerry Valencia, Lowell, said he came to the meeting because of what happened yesterday with firing LCOG.  He wanted to know the direction the Board was going, as there was an underlying activity.  He said yesterday the Board slapped due process in the face and stabbed little towns in the heart.  He didn’t know if the big cities would be enlightened by all the activity the Board had taken.  He said the Board had bewildered the entire state.  He sent congressmen and senators e-mails about what is taking place in Lane County.  He asked what the hidden agenda was.  He asked Sorenson for a Freedom of Information Act for all information that transpired between him and Mia Nelson, but he wasn’t given much information.  He said Sorenson said they weren’t going to do any more coordinated population studies and brought an order and then they voted. He said staff was shocked. He said cities like Lowell, Creswell, Junction City and Veneta asked what happened.

 

Bartlett raised a point of order about this item.

 

Crowell indicated this wasn’t a Budget Committee matter but a Board matter.

 

Valencia stated it was a Lane County matter.  He asked if Lane County was going to move into a different direction for the Budget and as a County.

 

Adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary