BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

February 11, 2009

1:30 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 3/18/2009

 

Commissioner Pete Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy and Faye Stewart present.  County Administrator Jeff Spartz, County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

8. COUNTY COUNSEL

 

a. Announcements

 

Richardson reported her office has been busy due to contracts.  She added that they are busy in the litigation area and she is reassigning and training attorneys in areas of interest for the Board in economic development and carbon sequestration. 

 

b. REPORT BACK/Cost of Including Notices in Other Newspapers.

 

Dwyer asked how many papers qualified for published notice under the law.

 

Richardson explained that before the state changed the statute, The Register Guard was the only paper that qualified.  She indicated that the state took out some language that had percentages of people receiving the paper in the household.  She said with that, others would qualify.  She commented that The Register Guard reaches a vast majority and is the only newspaper Lane County can publish in.  She noted at the beginning of every year, the County has to determine a newspaper of general circulation to publish their notice of expenditures for the tax collector to publish personal property tax warrants and giving notice of real property tax foreclosure proceedings.  She said those were the only three items they were required to indicate the newspaper they were going to use. 

 

Fleenor wanted to do a cost analysis if they were to use a combination of smaller newspapers to reach the critical mass versus using just The Register Guard.   He asked if it would be more expensive to use other newspapers than one ad in The Register Guard.

 

Richardson thought it would be more expensive to try to reach all of the areas in the papers than to continue to publish in The Register Guard.

 

Fleenor wanted a number per capita so they could have an accurate mechanism to objectively evaluate which direction to go.  He wanted the most coverage with the least amount of dollars to equal that of The Register Guard.

 

Spartz asked if the Board considered this a valuable form of communication to the citizenry.  He added if the Board thinks it is more than a burden than a value, then they should be achieving the legal requirement and minimizing the cost.

 

Handy wanted this item to come back with a cost benefit analysis.

 

Stewart wanted more information on this item and what it would cost to publish in all of the newspapers.  He found that different people use different mediums to collect their information and it is important to be in all newspapers.  He added that it is in line with the Good Governance Board Order with their outreach to citizens.  He commented that with this effort they are making every attempt to get all the information to everyone, not just a select few. He thought if they couldnít do all, then to do the bare minimum.

 

Sorenson asked if they could designate one of the newspapers to print all notices.

 

Richardson said they could go beyond what is statutorily required.  She said they could direct everyone in the County to use some publication.  She indicated they are currently only using The Register Guard  for personal property tax warrants, their monthly notice of expenditures and the real property tax foreclosure proceedings.  She recommended keeping The Register Guard and adding another newspaper.  She commented there could be concerns with budgeting in departments based on historically using one paper.

 

Sorenson thought this was a good opportunity to anticipate other media.  He also wanted to promote the website.  He wanted Richardson to come back to the Board in six weeks with legal and other notices.

 

9. PERFORMANCE AUDITOR

 

a. Announcements

 

Stewart Bolinger, Internal Auditor, recalled that the Board asked him to prepare a memo on the collection practices at the justice courts.  He met with Justice Cindy Cable in Florence.  He said he is working on the memo and he will have it to all of the justices early next week.  He said he would report back after he meets with them.  He added that this is not doing a formal audit and he wanted to reach a consensus with them.

 

Fleenor commented that he likes Bolinger reporting to the Board so the citizens could see him more often.

 

Stewart asked Bolinger if he could use a chart system to show the audit he is working on with a timeline to show where he is at.  Stewart commented that it is hard to track what Bolinger is working on.

 

Bolinger suggested that if they get money from federal funds, he would like to try  to push the granting agencies to audit as early as possible. 

 

Sorenson asked Bolinger if they were to receive funding how they should structure it.

 

Bolinger recommended issuing a letter to the agency and within 90 days or the start of the program stating that the County wants an audit.

 

10. MANAGEMENT SERVICES

 

a. ORDER 09-2-11-3/In the Matter of Providing Direction to the County Clerk Division on Reduced Recording Revenues as a Result of the Nationwide Financial Institution Crisis.

 

Annette Newingham, Elections, recalled that the Board asked for more specific information about staff layoffs that would impact collection of revenues.  She distributed information. (Copy in file.)

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-2-11-3.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

Fleenor asked what the result of not doing this would be.

 

Newingham responded that the shortfall of revenues mean they would have to move general fund reserves or a combination with the lapse.  She added that the lapse could be sufficient to solve the problem.  She reported that they would have a reduction of experienced staff in Elections.  She added that they would have three staff to deal with Deeds and Records.  She indicated that if revenues recouped, they will need more staff to deal with the increase.

 

Fleenor recommended Option 1.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

11. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

a. DISCUSSION/Bureau of Land Management Carbon Offset.

 

Sorenson said they were looking for a way to participate in the national and international conversation about what to do with carbon accumulation in the atmosphere.  He wanted to be involved with the conversation at a state and national level where they could put in one of the Countyís major policy problems, affecting the states with federal forestlands and those communities that are heavily dependent on the receipts from the sale of wood products from the national forest and BLM system.  He recalled in the past, the National Association of Counties and other advocates for counties have argued that the federal governmentís land ownership in these communities (over half of the land base of Lane County) is not able to be taxed by Lane County.  He indicated that an idea the northeast states are looking at is reducing the amount of carbon they put into the atmosphere.  He added for omissions they wonít reduce, they are looking for offsets. He wanted to work with the legislative delegation at the federal level to begin looking at a pilot program working with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management, and the largest forest program within the BLM jurisdiction in western Oregon. He wanted to see a Eugene District of BLM be the place where they try a pilot project and allow the BLM to enter into a contract and look at whether they can set up a demonstration of  carbon sequestration and making sure the counties receive a portion of any revenue received.

 

Spartz indicated that the Northeast Climate Initiative is already underway.  He said from research, the conifer forest can sequester a great deal of carbon if they are well managed.  He estimated in Lane County the forests could do about two tons of carbon per acre per year.  He added since Lane County has under 2 million acres in public lands, it should be equivalent to sequestering 4 million tons of carbon.  He commented that if one manages the forest effectively, then one is harvesting trees that have gone past the end of their useful life.  He added that by sequestering carbon, the trees could be cut down and be sold for forest products and then new trees  would be planted to replace them.  He indicated the studies suggest that maximizes the total of carbon sequestered and provides some revenues to help offset any costs involved.  He reported the valuation of credits is based on looking at the European cap and trade system that has been in effect since 2005.  He said their carbon credits have been trading for between $23 and $38 per ton.  He indicated that nationally about 1.6 billion tons of carbon  has been generated across the country and if they manage the forest to their best use, they could sequester about one-third of 500 million tons annually.

 

Dwyer commented that this is just about money.  He said with sequestering carbon, they are still polluting.  He wanted to see a program where the people who are polluting would pay to eliminate pollution and then they wouldnít have pollution.  He said they are not in control of a lot of things because of the weather patterns.  He thought it was a good opportunity but he thinks it is a money game for certain people and the real answer is to get them to lower the  level of pollution to an acceptable level and make them put the resources into it.

 

Fleenor commented that if they do sequester carbon and it is in a cap and trade type of environment, then they are improving the environment on a net basis, not just moving money around.  He said they have to make sure that whatever legislation goes with the cap and trade has regulatory requirements.  He commented that carbon sequestration is a new way at looking at forest stewardship, moving from a rush to grow, to a pull to grow.  He said they are looking at the forest as a resource and to squeeze out as many profit opportunities as they can.  He indicated that the sequestration is one profit opportunity, while the harvest is a second.  He thought at some point in time they will be harvesting and getting the fiber.

 

Sorenson said counties and communities that are forest dependent have been trying to convince Congress that they are entitled to more money.  He stated that Lane County is not entitled to more money.  He didnít agree that it was all about money.  He said it is about partnering with people who have a sincere interest in reducing their carbon emissions and giving them an offset. He thought it was worth trying to set up a partnership with the federal forest for a win-win system with the northeast states for a true emission reduction.

 

Handy wanted to stop pollution.  He said they need revenue.  He commented that they have been asking the wrong question for too long:  how much damage is safe.  He said they should be asking how little damage is possible.  He thought climate and over consumption was part of the problem.  He commented the pilot project was something they could do to change things for children and the revenue stream.

 

Stewart and Spartz visited with Congressman DeFazio in July and pitched this effort to him.  Stewart believed that this was a way they could get back into doing some good stewardship on their lands and moving forward.  He didnít agree at this point that they should ask the BLM lands to make a pilot project on their lands.  He thought it would be appropriate to look to the Umpqua National Forest and use the national forest as a pilot program.  He believed as an O & C County, Lane County has something that other counties donít, an act that says the lands are supposed to be sustainably harvested, managed and the proceeds to go to the county and schools.  He said until the act is changed, he believed he had an obligation to uphold the act and protect the asset for the citizens.  He said by them saying they donít want to follow the act and to start managing the forest for a carbon bank is the not the same intent as a law.  He wanted to try a pilot project to encourage the Umpqua National Forest, Cottage Grove District not give up on the ability to receive revenue.

Fleenor commented that capitalism is a productive and successful tool.  He said they have developed the environment as the result of the success of capitalism and they need to use and exploit capitalism to solve the problem.  He stated that he is a proponent of the cap and trade and using capitalism as the tool to fight this.  He commented that capitalism and conservation together is a dynamic relationship.

 

Spartz said they need to recognize that this idea is gaining currency in congress.  He added that President Obama has indicated that he is interested in this.  Spartz thought letting the marketplace figure out how to solve this is a fairly efficient way of doing it instead of enacting a strict carbon tax on everyone who uses carbon.  He asked if they would get credit for the fact that they are able to sequester carbon. 

 

Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, recalled that this past summer he came before the Board to discuss a letter they generated to the Western Climate Initiative.  He indicated that the Western Climate Initiative is a group of states and Canadian provinces that are attempting to design a framework that states could share similar to how the northeast compact was developed.  They submitted a comment on the design standards related to forestry offsets because they looked at three sources of qualified offsets they would allow under this proposed regulatory framework  He said they brought up the concept of the potential for federal revenue sharing with the Western Climate Initiative.  He added since that time they have also presented information to the Association of O & C Counties and presented information to the state legislature.  He said they proposed an amendment to SB 80, the governorís cap and trade bill.  He said they also have a joint memorial that has been drafted but not printed.  He had a question regarding how it pertains to O & C lands.  He indicated that the state of Oregon has developed offset assistance for private landowners through the Oregon Forest Resource Trust, a project to provide landowners with assistance to develop renewable energy credits they could sell in the market place for forestry related offsets.  He noted that there are private forests in Oregon where they could get offset credit from them.  He indicated this was being done on private lands in Oregon.  He thought the question of O & C needs to be addressed.

 

Handy commented that O & C lands are a good place for a pilot.  He thought Umpqua was a good place for a pilot but BLM was better.  He said they are missing the revenue stream of private timber lands.  He thought it was a good thing to bring the business along.

 

Stewart thought if they could get 42 states to support a pilot project that it would be stronger than one state pushing for an individual pilot project.  He said Oregon is looked upon as a state receiving nearly 90 percent of the total proceeds of the act and the other 49 states donít see equity for them.  He commented that if they could sell the project to the whole country to where they might see benefit in the future, they would be building a stronger coalition.  He said rural communities have been decimated over the last 20 years.   He said they are experiencing the natural resource policy that has taken effect over 20 years.  He added that  they have seen communities die and there is no way to replace jobs or services for these people.  He didnít think they were being good stewards of the land.  He thought this was a way to move forward in creating healthy forests.

 

Fleenor thought they should do this in an incremental manner. He thought they needed an appraisal to see how valuable the resources are with the new transportation in place.  He wanted to look at it from a different perspective and he commented that carbon sequestration was the opportunity.

 

Handy said he was ready to make an incremental and timely move.  He asked Spartz about the next steps.

 

Spartz indicated that they donít have expertise on staff to manage this.  He said if they are serious about working on this in Washington, they need to find someone to represent their interest. 

 

Cuyler said the joint memorial is a tool the legislature can send to congress that would provide their existing lobbyist an opportunity to have something to utilize in Congress.  He added that they have set this issue as their top priority.  He indicated they have a staff person who knows the issue.

 

Spartz didnít expect policy to be developed and signed into law within the next three years.  He said they need to see if they have allies in Oregon who are interested in this approach.  He also recommending contacting AOC.

 

Sorenson recommended Cuyler, Spartz and Mike McKenzie-Bahr, Economic Development, draft a program of how this might work and the Board would invite other stakeholders to a meeting.  He indicated that Lane Countyís congressional allies are willing to attach riders to bills. He thought this addressed one of Lane Countyís funding problems and they should participate. He thought they should partner with people whose objectives are similar as Lane Countyís.

 

Handy said in looking at the draft changes with the joint memorial there is clarity and timeliness that is not caught in the joint memorial.  He asked if they could include language that could capture the center of the Board.  He wanted this to come back to the Board.

 

Stewart thought this was an opportunity to find a way to start actively managing their forests for health and not for what it will produce.  He said they have forests that need management.  He commented that a live tree sequesters more carbon than a dead tree.  He hoped the message goes out that they want live, flourishing healthy forests to have the maximum benefit.  He said this was a new way of taking advantage of new ways of doing business.

 

b. ORDER 09-2-11-4 Support of Increased Freight and Passenger Rail Hauling Capacity

 

Dwyer wanted to insert the words private investment in the board order.  He said they were talking about subsidizing corporations that donít put money back into their infrastructure.  He said he would feel better giving money to the railroads if the citizens owned the railroads instead of private corporations.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-2-11-4. with the following modification:  for the fourth paragraph:  ďWhereas public policies increased private investment.Ē  and for the Second Be it Further Resolved:  ďThat the Lane County Board of Commissioners endorses federal investment tax incentives to increase efficiency in freight and passenger rail hauling capacity.Ē

 

Fleenor MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Handy thought paragraph six could  benefit from a similar amendment.  He agreed with Dwyer that this was not perfect.

 

Stewart thought they should physically connect Lane County into this.  He made the recommendation that they should talk about the Coos Bay Rail Line and the rail lines that go east west and north south.  He indicated they have rail lines that could be enhanced and could increase usage.  He wanted to bring Lane Countyís plight in to make it stronger.

 

Dwyer thought it was a good idea.  He said they have to localize problems so people can understand that the County has a vested interest in this in the community.  He wanted language on how it could benefit Lane County with the Coos Bay rail line.  He said they should explain why rail is important.

 

Fleenor amended his motion to accommodate Stewartís concern:  Whereas Lane County currently has a variety of local and short haul railroads that serve the interests of the community and additional investment in the local lines would enhance the quality of life for their citizens.

 

Dwyer amended his second.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

 

 

12. CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD

 

None.

 

13. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Handy reported that the Board had a meeting in Cottage Grove last night with the Cottage Grove Youth Advisory Council.  He noted that tonight there is a joint town hall meeting with the County and city of Eugene about clean energy and jobs.

 

Stewart thought they could encourage other communities to put in youth advisory council. He added that they could have a regional council that took membership from each advisory council.  He said he is going to work with Alicia Hays, Children and Families, because he thought a youth voice would be beneficial to them and to help the commissioners make their decisions better.  He was looking forward to Oregonís 150th Birthday.

 

 

14. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660

 

Per ORS 192.660(2)(i) for the purpose of consulting with counsel on potential litigation.

 

15. OTHER BUSINESS

 

Fleenor announced that he attended the joint mayors meeting this week to discuss the agenda for the JEO meeting on March 3.  He said it was acknowledged that the subcommittee that was going to investigate correcting the Metro Plan, but they will not be able to meet by March 3.  He said there was a question whether or not they should have the March 3 meeting because there will be no subcommittee report.  He suggested that they should have the meeting and the focus should be on information/education to the commissioners, councilors and mayors regarding the Metro Plan.  He said they should discuss how the Metro Plan evolved to where they are today.  He added there was a discussion about the need for the JEO to look at economic development.  He said they agreed those were two different tracks.  They thought having the entire JEO function as the coordinator for potential regional economic development opportunities would be difficult.  He said there was a suggestion that they form a subcommittee of the JEO that would consist of the two mayors, two city councilors and two commissioners, labeled as the Economic Development Response Team that would provide elected officials more flexibility and quicker response to economic opportunities.  He said it was recommended that the three jurisdictions discuss this among themselves to see if each jurisdiction agrees that an economic development response team comprised of elected officials would be something of interest.  He added that there would be a sunset after six months.

 

Handy stated that he thought it was important that elected officials work directly with processes and decision makers.  He commented that things get lost when staff is too involved with information and decision making.  He asked if the MPC could be involved with a similar strategy.

 

Stewart was supportive of the activities.  He thought any effort to bring everyone to agree and to act quicker so they donít lose opportunities around economic development was important.

 

Fleenor volunteered to be on the committee.  He indicated that an alternate needed to be appointed to have proper representation at all times.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson adjourned the meeting at 4:30 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary