BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

January 14, 2009

1:30 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 1/28/2009

 

Commissioner Peter Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy and Faye Stewart present.  County Administrator Jeff Spartz, Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

#14. PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

a. PUBLIC HEARING AND ORDER 09-1-14-5/In the Matter of the Vacation of a Portion of West Boundary Road (Co. Rd. 360, Blakely Road), Located In The Southeast One Quarter of The Northwest One Quarter (SE1/4 NW1/4) of Section 14, Township 19 South, Range 1 West of the Willamette Meridian, in Lane County, Oregon, With a Public Hearing and Adopting Findings of Fact (19-01-14-24).

 

Mike Jackson, Land Management, explained that this is a vacation for the portion of an old right-of-way of West Boundary Road in the city limits of Lowell.  He recalled that this portion is a remnant of an old alignment in 1966.  He said if the Board approves this vacation; the portion will become part of a larger parcel and will be used for an assisted housing project developed by St. Vincent de Paul.  He recalled on May 7, 2008 the Board approved ORDER 08-5-7-7 between Lane County and the City of Lowell for the Lowell assisted housing project.  He indicated this proposed vacation is part of the order.  He added if the Board approves the vacation, the City of Lowell will adopt a resolution concurring with the Boardís action.  He stated the surveyorís office has followed the statutes for posting and notification.  He indicated that he received one letter of objection from Linda Jo Bugbe who was against any development in the City of Lowell, but   all other people were in support.  He commented that taking a marginal piece of property and using it to help create assisting housing is in the publicís interest for the proposed vacation.

 

Dwyer stated that he was familiar with the project and he didnít have any objections.

 

Handy wanted to know more about potential pros and cons of the revenue streams for the County and a way to share in the proceeds.

 

Commissioner Sorenson opened the Public Hearing.  There being no one signed up to speak, he closed the Public Hearing.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-1-14-5.

 

Stewart MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Stewart explained that this was an important project for low income housing in the City of Lowell.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

15. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

 

a. DISCUSSION/Budget Recommendations FY 08/09.

 

Spartz explained that the 08/09 Fiscal Year adopted budget was difficult because they didnít have Secure Rural Schools funding available.  He recalled it was several months after the budget was completed by the Budget Committee that they got renewed Secure Rural Schools, but at a reduced level.  He said based on their best estimates over a four year period, they will receive not less than $42 million for the general fund and not more than $44.3 million.  He noted during budget deliberations, the board did a swap with the cities of Eugene and Springfield for road funds to help add back a number of items that were priorities.  He added that the Board dipped into reserves to provide additional expenditures for FY 08/09.   He indicated that they had expended $7.5 million above the estimated long term revenue to restore services for FY 08/09.  He said they want to maintain funding on a level basis so they donít have huge variations from year to year.  He said they will discuss this in depth on January 27.  He noted that if they wanted to maintain a stable level of funding for six  years, the board in 09/10 would have to reduce spending by $1.6 million at current levels.

 

Spartz met with the department heads and the attachment showed what initial requests were made for funding. (Copy in file).  He recommended another $485,000 in spending for the remainder of this fiscal year.  He noted the bulk would go for crisis food shelter, health self reliance, communicable disease control and Parole and Probation.  He also wanted to help the Courts so they could deal with offenders.  He thought the Sheriffís Office needed additional technical support.  He added there were other minor requests that either generated matches from state and federal monies or resource development for prevention programs.  He indicated that it gives them a good opportunity to secure grant funds 20 times their expenditure.  He thought they could sustain this level of spending for three and a half to four years and maintain the services the Board has appropriated in the current budget.

 

 

Fleenor asked if they didnít buy back any programs and they take all of the money to buy down debt, (keeping the remainder in reserves) if it would be the equivalent of laying off people if they donít use the Secure Rural Schools money to buy back the $485,000 worth of programs.

 

Jennifer Inman, Budget Analyst, explained that the current level of service is not sustainable past FY 09/10 without substantial use of Secure Rural Schools funding for service purchase.  She said they would need $6.5 million more in FY 10/11 to provide the current level of service.

 

Spartz said if the Board wanted to sustain the current level of spending for the programs the Board identified for 08/09, they will need all of the general fund timber payments to take it out four years.  He added then none of the money could be spent on debt.

 

(Dwyer was excused to leave the meeting at 2:45 p.m.)

 

Sorenson asked what happens at the end of four years when stability ends.

 

Spartz said if it is the decision the Board takes, they will be looking at general fund deficits between $10 to 12 million.

 

Stewart was supportive of all Spartzí recommended items. Stewart was supportive of getting more beds open at the jail.  He asked how many beds they would have in the jail if they added the level one add request of $1.5 million

 

Spartz responded that it would add back 84 beds.

 

Stewart asked how much of a cut they would have to make next year to stabilize the County.

 

Spartz said if they were to add the 84 jail beds, then they would be looking at instability after three years. 

 

Fleenor wanted to see reworked budget scenarios that would factor in the savings they would incur by buying down debt. He stated that currently they donít have that activity reflected.  He thought if they started buying down debt and saving interest, it would allow them to buy back more programs.  He thought they could buy back jail beds and other essential services.  He commented that there will be a lot of need in the community, but the County has to survive. 

 

Sorenson thought in the short term the Finance Department was not recommending purchasing down debt because of the current market conditions.  He said if they have no new taxes for four years, they will have to start making serious reductions next year.  He asked if they went to a five year budget (effective July 1, 2009) how much the cut would be to the general fund to have stability over the next five years. He thought an e-mail with that information would help the Board.

 

Inman noted that at the January 27 work session, Dave Garnick, Budget Manager, planned to go into detail on the exact question in the general fund forecast. 

 

Sorenson thought they should adopt the recommendation.

 

Stewart commented that they are in a crisis situation in the County.  He said they have to try to build the citizens back up.  He was supportive of this add back situation.   He questioned whether they could add back the 84 jail beds.  He didnít want to add back the jail beds and then in the next budget cycle have to make cuts. 

 

Fleenor stated they have to identify the core essential services the County must provide.  He added that they have to protect the services and once they identify them, expand to the second layer and continue until they exhaust the funds through a zero budgeting process.  He thought that was where the strategic planning needed to come in.

 

Sorenson recommending writing a letter to the Springfield and Eugene mayors and city councilors thanking them for allowing the County to provide them with road funds in return for general fund dollars.  Sorenson suggested that they build this into their current budget process so it would provide additional money the County would use in the ensuing years. He also thought they should get more involved with University of Oregon students.

 

Spartz recalled that last fall he and Matt Laird, Land Management, utilized a group of business students to help work on a permitting issue.  His goal is to get a group of business students coming in every quarter to work on an identified project.  He said the arrangement they had with the money swap last year was not sustainable into the future.

 

Handy asked how they could create revenue streams.  He wanted to see what a world without Secure Rural Schools would look like. He commented that the commissioners need support.  He recalled the commissioners used to have 2 FTE supporting them and they currently have none.  He said the community is looking to them for leadership to create revenue streams and to find a long term plan.  He said they should look at staffing for the commissioners.  He wanted that discussion to take place in the future.

 

Stewart thought they should get another report from Public Works before they send a letter to the cities.  He said they will be facing major cuts three years out because they canít sustain the operation.  He commented that the more they spend down the road funds, the quicker the cuts.

 

 

b. DISCUSSION/Finance Debt Reduction.

 

David Suchart, Management Services, explained that the document in front of the Board discusses the Charnelton Building project and the AIRS project. (Copy in file). He indicated that the AIRS project has been ongoing since 2000 and the Charnelton project has been in place since 2007.  He gave the Board four options to review.  He said one is to use $21.2 million to avoid issuing any debt.  He indicated the savings of future debt service would be $35.7 million and the total interest avoided would be $14.5.  He indicated that the bond issuance cost of $.25 million would have interest savings of  7.4 percent.  He said those were estimates based on their work with Seattle Northwest, as to what they know today.

 

Suchart explained that the second option would be to go with $11.2 million and keep the debt down below $10 million.  He said that would allow going for a bank qualified bond and there would be savings.  He noted the third option would be to issue debt only for the existing mortgage. He indicated the mortgage has a balloon payment due no later than January 1, 2010, but it could be paid off on October 1, 2009 and that was the direction they are leaning.  He said if the Board only wants to use $2 million, they would retire the PERS debt on the callable pieces.  He noted there are other potential debt that will come to the Board in spring, depending on what decisions the Board makes on January 28.  He noted there is some debt in getting off the EWEB steam system, but it wouldnít affect the general fund.

 

Dwyer thought it was good for government to save money.  He wanted to use a bridge loan instead of taking money from one payment and proportion the total debt out the length of the agreement.  He wanted to leave it open for different options.

 

Suchart said he needs 95 percent of the cash within the next 18 months to pay off the building, as most of the remodeling will be completed by summer 2010. 

 

Fleenor was more interested in using all of the Secure Rural Schools money and amortizing it for four years versus either spending it all or spending a little amount.  He wanted to use creative financing.  He asked if they could borrow from the road fund.

 

Suchart said the solid waste fund is what they would look at but he would ask bond council if that would work.

 

Kay Blackburn, Finance, explained that there were restrictions in ORS regarding interfund loans.  She said she would have to do research to make sure they have adequate levels in the funds to support interfund loans.  She commented that the bond market is such right now that it would be more favorable to avoid issuing new debt than to take the cash and pay down the existing debt.  She added that all of the existing debt is not callable and it would not be economically feasible to pay down existing debt. 

 

Handy wanted PERS and employee medical reviewed as a whole with other long term obligations.  He asked if they were to pay down as much debt as possible what it would look like to end up with a seven percent fund balance over six years.

 

Stewart was interested in their options.  He wanted to know what would be added into the supplemental budget and how it would affect their source of revenue and at what level they could pay down debt. 

 

Fleenor wanted to take affirmative action in paying down debt in a cautious manner.  He supported the investigation into the laws and regulations that dictate how their interfund loans could be allocated and how much they have to carry in reserve in order to maintain their bond rating.

 

Sorenson wanted a report back on debt and financial  obligation.  He also wanted estimates of principle amounts on bonds, the PERS bond and interest rates associated with retiree medical.  He also wanted additional long term debt contemplated for the Charnelton building and other indebtedness if they had the opportunity to purchase real estate.

 

16. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Fleenor stated that he was having a community dialogue in Veneta at Our Daily Bread. 

 

Sorenson thought the meeting in Springfield went well.  He hoped the Board would support additional time for economic development to understand what is happening with the local economy.  He also wanted the agenda team to try to schedule in advisory committees.  He hoped to bring Stewart Bollinger, Internal Auditor, to the Board on an update of his activities. Sorenson announced that he would be going to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration.

 

Handy commended the letter carriers for their raising food for Food for Lane County.  He also commended Sorenson for the way the meetings are being run.

 

Stewart commented that he preferred meeting in Harris Hall, as it was better for the public.  He got confirmation from Priscilla Gould of the United Way regarding a meeting on February 3.  He thought there needed to be a space on the agenda for reports from commissioners and committee assignments.  He also announced that there would be an AOC Legislative Meeting on Monday.

 

17. OTHER BUSINESS

 

ORDER 09-1-7-9/In the Matter of Approving an Intergovernmental Agreement With the State of Oregon and the City of Eugene to Facilitate Replacement of the Interstate-5 Bridge Over the Willamette River.

 

Handy wanted inspections every other week instead of monthly, to keep an eye on things.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-1-7-9.

 

Handy MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 4-0 (Dwyer excused).

 

ORDER 09-1-14-4/In the Matter of Entering Into a Bulk Services Agreement with Comcast of Oregon II, Inc. for Cable Television Services for the Armitage Park Recreational Vehicle Campground.

 

Fleenor pulled this because when he reviewed the contract, the provider stated that they may give a 30-day notice increase, but it didnít state how much of an increase  He indicated there was no termination agreement. 

 

Sorenson thought Todd Winter, Parks, could send the Board an e-mail on the status of the contract.  He wanted this board order to be put on the next agenda.

 

Vorhes indicated the infrastructure was in, this board order was to turn the power on.

 

Handy asked if this involved right-of-way on County roads.  He wanted to know how they could capture revenue in the future.

 

Vorhes indicated this involved only County owned parkland.  He noted it was the infrastructure and services to be provided to the campers at Armitage.

 

Project Homeless Connect

 

Pearl Wolfe, Human Services Commission, recalled that the County has supported the event in the past.  She said it started in 2007.  She indicated that Commissioner Stewart has been Honorary Co-Chair for the past two years.  She noted that Sorenson has agreed to be Chair for the event on March 6.  She stated that last year they had 1,158 people attend the event with 281 providers providing an array of services.  She added that they had 604 volunteers at last yearís event and they had to turn people away who wanted to help. She requested $6,000 from the Boardís contingency fund to help with the event.  She commented that demand will be bigger than last year because of the economy.

 

MOTION: to have the Board of Commissioners financially support Project Homeless Connect out of the Board contingency fund.

 

Stewart MOVED, Handy SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 4-0 (Dwyer excused).

 

Follow up on JEO Meeting.

 

Sorenson reported that Lane County met with the cities of Eugene and Springfield regarding the Metro Plan and the cooperation between the three jurisdictions.  He said they took a vote to create a six person committee consisting of two representatives from each jurisdiction. He indicated that these six people would look at the two main questions presented at the meeting and come back with a recommendation to the joint elected officials in March.

 

Handy noted there are two members from Lane County who would be representatives on the committee.  He said coming out of the meeting, he heard Stewart had interest in being on the committee.  He wasnít clear they had another commissioner who was interested. He said if they donít have another commissioner, he recommended appointing a citizen to be a second Lane County member.

 

Fleenor believed there was a rush to form an ad hoc committee to review proposals by staff:  Options 2 and 4 that were identified.  He recalled during the discussion,  he believed that the MPC would look at the technical adjustments of Options 2 and 4 and the ad hoc committee would identify the various layers of the Metro Plan.  He thought the bigger picture was what the center of the Board was looking at.  He said now they will be looking at the technical aspects instead of the core issues. 

 

MOTION: to appoint Commissioners Stewart and Handy to the ad hoc committee.

 

Sorenson MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.

 

Sorenson said they agreed to send two elected officials from each of the jurisdictions.  He wanted to make sure this committee was as broad as possible, but it wasnít what the cities wanted to do.  He indicated that this was for the March 3 meeting and not a commitment to have a six person committee into the future.

 

Handy stated that he didnít want to be on the committee because it was a direction he couldnít support at this level.  He didnít think he could add to this committee.

 

Spartz stated that the County should engage in good faith until early March.  He didnít think they had to put out a huge effort but he thought there could be opportunity to get movement on one or more of the issues.

 

Stewart recalled that the entire joint elected officials meeting was for the Board of Commissioners.  He said they have been trying to bring this to the other jurisdictionsí attention for over three years.  He said the Metro Plan is what they have and that is what they have to work for.  He added that the Board came up with the five items and presented the items to the cities.  He indicated that they are now saying they donít want to be a part of the process.  He said if they donít show good faith and try to participate in this, they will be back to square one, with no one wanting to bring the topic up to fix the problems.  He heard at the joint elected officials meeting that Handyís concern was that it wasnít an open process and it didnít involve the public.  Stewart said all that was stated was that they wanted two members from each body to start on the topics.  He said it wouldnít prohibit Jim Seaberry from coming to the committee to talk about what he is trying to accomplish.  He thought it would be a mistake if they didnít try to make this happen

 

Fleenor said the Boardís five priorities were given out but they as a Board didnít state what their priorities were in order.  He said he would have voted on representation as his number one priority   He didnít think they were correcting the underlying problem with technical adjustments  He stated the people in the urban growth boundary do not have legal representation.  He thought that as a Board they needed to prioritize what they wanted to do to make sure it is a clear message that is sent to their partners.  He suggested Handy taking the appointment but assigning Mr. Seaberry or John Dotson to represent him on the position.

 

Sorenson recommended putting a sunset on this that as of March 3, the appointments of Handy and Stewart expire.

 

Spartz was concerned that if they substitute citizens for commissioners in this initial round of meetings, their city partners would think the County wasnít taking the issue seriously.  He thought that was a risk they would take.

 

Stewart recalled that the five priorities were made up by the Board.  He said they tried to send notice that the County was trying to get out of the 190 agreements.  He said they wanted to get away from the Metro Plan.  He said they came up with the five items because they couldnít do what they wanted to do philosophically as a Board.  He was asked to meet with both mayors to discuss the joint elected officials meeting and how they could proceed forward. He was told by both mayors that if they wanted to have something productive and move forward positively, they didnít think that number priority one, three or five would be accomplished in any timely manner.  He wanted to make sure if they move forward, they will try to do the best they can.

 

Fleenor asked Handy if he is appointed, would he serve.

 

Handy commented that there were a lot of surprises for him at the joint elected officials meeting.  He thought they were going in the wrong direction by the assignment of this committee.  He said he would do his best to work with Stewart.

 

Fleenor recalled that with the good governance board order, the committee appointee shall try to represent the center of the Board.  He said if Handy serves in this capacity, it would not be based on his preferences, but on his perception of the center of the Board.

 

VOTE 4-0 (Dwyer excused).

 

Sorenson recommended Spartz send a letter to the mayors reflecting the decision the Board made.

 

Communications from Sheriff Burger

 

Fleenor said they received an e-mail from Sheriff Burger asking each commissioner for a half-hour conversation to discuss their plans.  He thought with the good governance model it would serve them well to have the Sheriff come before the entire Board to share each otherís plans.  He wanted to hear the Sheriffís plans as it relates to his good governance, accountability and an external audit of his department.

 

Sorenson asked that the item be sent to the agenda team.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson adjourned the meeting at 4:55 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary