BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

January 28, 2009

following HACSA

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 4/15/2009

 

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.

 

1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA

 

There will be an Emergency Business item on the economic stimulus briefing.  Sorenson indicated that there is a corrected title on the Consent Calendar for W 4. D.1.  Sorenson noted that item 7a had been pulled.

 

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Shawn Bessel, Westlake, OR, stated that there has been a problem for more than 20 years. He said he complained to Fleenor more than two years ago.  Bessel said his previous complaints have led to the pollution of Siltcoos Lake and needless exposure to neurotoxins.  Bessel recalled that in the two years he has been discussing this problem with Fleenor, Fleenor hadnít shared his concerns with the Board or with the general public. Bessel said Fleenor told him he didnít deserve due process.  Bessel said he has no access to protection under the law.  He said he will be back to the Board to make sure that his concerns are addressed. He said these are important issues that need to be addressed to stop the cycle that is polluting all of Oregonís waterways.  He stated that this was not an isolated incident, he said it is a difficult situation that all Oregonians need to work together on.

 

Juan Carlos Valle, Eugene, stated that he is speaking as a private citizen, asking for support for non-profit agencies.  He wanted support for social service agencies in the area.  He said there are 21,600 non-profit agencies in Oregon.  He added that about 200 are social services agencies providing service in Lane County.  He recalled those numbers were from 2006.  He asked the Board to support social service agencies.

 

Erin Bonner, Veneta, thanked the Board for listening to the presentations and for the additional funding to the Human Services Commission to assist non-profit agencies, as the need is great.

 

Loraine Still, Creswell, commented on Mr. Bruceís presentation.  She was impressed with his presentation.  She commented that it was based on the carrot, not the stick approach.  She added that at LCAS, it had been the stick, not the carrot.  She asked the Board to listen to what Bruce had said and then there will be positive results.

 

Steve Dodrill,  Director, OSU Extension Services, said that Handy approached him and asked for clarifications.  He said Handy asked how they were being innovative in finding new funding sources.  He said they are working on grant proposals and they have been working with the Community and Schools Together Project.  He said they have secured some funding for the Climate Masters Program with the University of Oregon and they are working on a program called Wildlife Stewards.  He said it is their intent not to be within the County general fund as of 2010. He said they are working to remove themselves completely and to make sure they have a diversified set of funding sources.

 

Zachary Vishinoff, Eugene, distributed The Daily Emerald.  He said the indoor track proposal has resurfaced.  He said the site is unknown.  He didnít think there was a reason to rush things.  He commented that these are regional planning scenarios and it means regional impacts.  He thought Lane County could be saddled with costs that were indirectly associated with the university.  He asked the Board to consider a resolution from Lane County opposing the use of eminent domain by the university to expand its footprint.  He thought part of the resolution could be sport specific.  He wanted to make sure sports donít continue to divide the city and the County.

 

Margaret Graziano, Eugene, commented that the Lane County Jail needs financial help and a budget that would help them do their work better.  She believed in positive programming.  She said officers are being dismissed due to lack of funds. She asked the Board to consider the jail.

 

3. COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE

 

Dwyer thought the University should be cautious in use of the power of eminent domain for non-essential things like sports.   He didnít think a resolution from the Board would do anything.

 

Fleenor commented that he takes no backseat to water quality.  He thought it was an important matter.  He said seeing blue and green algae blooms in Dunes City disturb him.  He said he takes it seriously, but it is a disaster in slow motion.  He said building over the last several decades has contributed to the problem.  He said that Dunes City has no permanent tax rate so they have little enforcement capabilities..  He said there are agencies that have been involved.  He didnít think there had been a lack of attention.  He noted there has been frustration in dealing with this in notifying the public.  He said it is expensive but he will be on the forefront to help the communities have healthy drinking water.  He said they have to make sure they are not contributing to the problem as they move forward.

 

Sorenson thought about a process where they would engage groups and individuals to finance the particular program they are advocating.  He said they would let the public obtain signatures and ask them to come out with a plan for a countywide campaign.

 

Handy encouraged Vishinoff  to go to the three neighborhood groups near the University encouraging them to send the Board an advisory.  He found Bruceís presentation informative.  He commented that a lot of people have passion around this issue.  He appreciated the Extension Service being creative around initiatives.  He commented that the County was in a bind with the budget and they are having challenging issues with labor negotiations.  He stated that he has unanswered questions about the debt picture.

 

Stewart recalled that the Board received notice after the fact that the algae problem was taking place.  He said that Fleenor brought it to the Boardís attention and Fleenor worked with Linda Cook, Emergency Management, to put plans in place to address it in the future.  He thought they tried hard to keep things for the Human Services Network. He stated that they canít do everything, but they are trying to do the best they can.

 

4. CONSENT CALENDAR

 

A. Approval of Minutes:

May 16, 2007, Regular Meeting, 9:00 a.m.

January 5, 2009, Regular Meeting, 1:30 p.m.

January 7, 2009, Regular Meeting, 9:00 a.m.

January 13, 2009, Work Session, 2:00 p.m.

January 14, 2009, Regular Meeting, 9:00 a.m.

January 14, 2009, Regular Meeting, 1:30 p.m.

 

B. County Administration

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-1/In the Matter of Transferring $6,000 from the General Fund Operational Contingency to Materials & Services Within the General Expense for Project Homeless Connect.

 

2) ORDER 09-1-28-2/In the Matter of Appointing a Justice Pro Tempore for the Oakridge Justice Court Through January 8, 2010.

 

C. Assessment and Taxation

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-3/In the Matter of a Refund to Murphy Company in the Amount of $67,112.55.

 

D. Board of Commissioners

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-4/In the Matter of Appointing a Member to the Lane County Fair Board.

 

E. Children and Families

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-5/In the Matter of Delegating Authority to the County Administrator to Execute Amendment #2 to Oregon Commission on Children and Families 2007-2009 County Healthy Start Ė Medicaid Administrative Activities Intergovernmental Agreement LAN0709.

 

F. County Counsel

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-6/In the Matter of Amending Lane Manual 20.110(3) to Correct Citations to Cooperative and Special Procurements to be Consistent with Other Rules (LM 20.110(3)).

 

G. Health and Human Services

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-7/In the Matter of Approving a Contract Amendment with Laurel Hill Center in the Amount of $190,770 for Mental Health Treatment Services for the Period July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009.

 

2) ORDER 09-1-28-8/In the Matter of Increasing FTE and Adding Four Positions in the Developmental Disabilities Services Program in the Department of Health and Human Services Fund 286.

 

H. Public Works

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-9/In the Matter of Amending Chapter 60 of Lane Manual to Change Electronic Equipment Recycling Fee Provision to Apply Only to Large Businesses and Large Nonprofits in Order to Participate with the New State E-Cycles Program (LM 60.875), Effective 1/7/09.

 

I. Management Services

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-10/In the Matter of Readopting Lane Manual 4.020 Relating to Investment Policies.

 

MOTION: to approve the Consent Calendar as corrected.

 

Fleenor MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

5. EMERGENCY BUSINESS

 

ORDER 09-1-28-18 Approving a List of Projects in Priority Order to Submit to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for Funding Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

 

Celia Barry, Public Works, explained that this is regarding the federal economic stimulus moving through the House and Senate.  She added that it is coming to the state and some of the deadlines are coming up soon.  She said two versions were working through the House and Senate and the House version is out of the House Appropriation Subcommittee and they are expecting a vote by the House today.  She added the Senate version is on February 3.  She indicated that the Senate version is $140 billion and the House version is $90 billion.  She noted that the House version was getting more attention.  She said statewide there is $349 million coming to Oregon distributed based on population.  She reported that ten percent is to go to transportation enhancement activities.  She believed ODOT was going to take their last transportation enhancement list from the last round and backfill some of the projects.  She said there will be an allocation to MPO areas of over 200,000 population and to other areas of the state.  She added there is another 37.5 percent going to any area of the state.  She believed that would be kept at the state level.

 

Barry reported that for Lane County: $1.7 million will go to Lane County; $5.8 million to the Central Lane MPO; (based upon the House version) $198,000 to Cottage Grove; $197,000 to Florence; and $111,000 to Junction City. She added that there is $11 million statewide.  She stated that they havenít had a public process on how to spend the money.  She explained that there are two priorities that will occur: 50 percent of the money has to be allocated and on the ground in 150 days and 100 percent by July 2010. She added that since the money is all federal, it must meet the federal requirements.  She said they need to fill out prospectus forms to ODOT by this Friday. She asked for the Boardís support.

 

Fleenor thought they would have to move forward with this and submit the application even though they are forfeiting the public process.  He didnít want to lose the opportunity for the project.  He supported moving forward.

 

Sorenson wanted a board order that states this is an emergency and that they learned they had three days to respond and there was no previous material.  He wanted it known that they strongly favor Lane County participating in a federal emergency stimulus package funding.  He wanted to say that they have projects ready to go and they approve the list without any public process and they reserve the right to change the list in the future.

 

Barry didnít know if they could change the list in the future.

 

Handy was concerned about the lack of public process.  He asked what other projects might be available for the funding.

 

Barry reported that all the projects are for preservation and they were prioritized through their regular maintenance program on their pavement management system.

 

Handy commented that jobs were important, but it was important that there are family wage jobs that local people can get.

 

MOTION: to approve the list as presented for ORDER 09-1-28-18.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

6. COMMITTEE REPORTS

 

a. Legislative Committee

 

1) ORDER 09-1-28-20 Approving Lane County United Front Priorities for Purposes of Federal Advocacy and Securing Appropriations

 

Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, distributed a list of federal priorities. (Copy in file). He explained that it is a joint project between Lane County, the cities of Eugene, Springfield, Coburg, Cottage Grove, Lane Transit District, Willamalane Parks and Recreation District and Springfield Public Schools.  He said every year they come in front of their respective bodies to get approval for the projects the individual entities are bringing forward for recommendation.  He indicated that the project gets put into a book.  He said they will be getting together a United Front book for federal priorities and a separate book for the Federal Transportation Reauthorization effort.  He distributed a list that shows all the projects for United Front specific to Lane County. (Copy in file).  He noted for Territorial Highway, the project should be for $40 million and not $20 million.  He said Territorial Highway is not a County owned facility.  He said the state own it and there are negotiations underway between the County and ODOT to make a swap for a County facility for the state owned facility.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-1-28-20.

 

Fleenor MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.

 

Sorenson thought the most important legislative issue facing Lane County was whether or not they are going to get Congress to straighten out the system by which Congress compensates communities like Lane County that have substantial federal ownership.  

 

Spartz commented that he didnít think supporting this list jeopardizes the Countyís efforts at getting a permanent source of funding for federal lands in Lane County.

 

Sorenson stated that they have always included federal forest funding in the past United Front projects.  He said the Countyís number one issue is federal forest payments.  He didnít want it left off their projects.  He wanted to amend this to state that their United Front will be endorsing the continuation of federal forest payments.

 

Handy wanted to amend the motion to state that United Front priorities are overarching concerns for all of the jurisdictions to continue the federal forest payments. On the project list Handy wanted to substitute the LTD maintenance facility expansion of $4.5 million, replacing the same amount of money for LTD service for routes.

 

Spartz explained that these are a complex set of negotiations. He said what is likely to cause the unraveling of the United Front is if Lane County tells other jurisdictions what their priorities should be.  He said they would have to convince LTD it was a better priority than saying Lane County wanted it off the list.

 

Handy withdrew his amendment.

 

Stewart amended the motion to include Sorensonís recommendation of putting Lane Countyís number one priority as finding a permanent funding solution to replace Secure Rural Schools.

 

Fleenor SECONDED.

 

With regard to Territorial Highway, Cuyler indicated that it required a local match.  He said they didnít know about the local match requirement.  He added that they want to make sure it doesnít commit Lane County if they are unable to come up with the federal match

 

Dwyer didnít want to imply that there was match.  He said he wonít agree to support something when he doesnít know what it will cost.

 

Barry explained that they will be negotiating with ODOT on the match.  She noted that the exchange being discussed is Delta Highway. She added that it is in good shape and maintained and Territorial Highway will need improvements to come up to current standards.  She said they will be negotiating on the match.

 

Sorenson favored the motion and the concept of having leaders getting together with other governments.  He commented that they need to educate Lane Countyís own partners on the seriousness Lane County is facing.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

 

2) ORDER 09-1-28-19 Adopting Positions on Legislative Issues During the 75th Legislative Session.

 

Cuyler distributed an updated Attachment A (copy in file). He also distributed positions the Board directed the County Administrator take to the legislature to see if they could get bills passed that addressed Lane Countyís priorities.  He indicated that they have been in session for the past two weeks and the legislation has taken up a number of issues.  He said they established a tracking system for staff to respond to bills.  He summarized the bills.  

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-1-2-19 with the concurrence of the recommendations.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

Dwyer recommended Cuyler state a bill should be monitored instead of taking a position in case something changes and then it wouldnít be in their interest.

 

Fleenor commented that voting in the affirmative is like voting on a moving target.  He hoped that if there were any substantive changes in any of the bills that he would report back to the Board immediately.  He will support the motion.

 

Sorenson asked if they could amend to support the instant run off bill, but make it clear the costs incurred by Lane County in implementing it would be paid for by the state.

 

Dwyer made the amendment.

 

Cuyler explained that they are moving forward with another elections measure that they are trying to get sponsored.  He said they are trying to get the law changed to recognize that those who participate in elections pay for the apportioned costs.  He added that they are not implying that the state should pick up all the costs.  He didnít want to send two messages.   

 

Sorenson want it to state that the County shall not be liable for any cost.

 

Sorenson proposed monitoring the military, as it allows counties to establish a donated leave plan for members of the military.  

 

Fleenor accepted the amendments.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

 

7. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

a. ORDER 09-1-28-11/In the Matter of the Board of Commissioners of Lane County, Oregon, Supporting Freight Rail Infrastructure Capacity Expansion.

 

Dwyer said they have been putting money into the rail lines and the money has been going through a corporation of stockholders but no money goes into the upkeep of the rail.  He said there wasnít an alternative.  He said he would support this order.

 

Fleenor said he was involved in the crafting of the board order. He believed the essence of the board order is that Lane County Board of Commissioners would support investment in the infrastructure of rail.  He supports it and thinks they should move forward.

 

Handy supported it but wanted whereas language supporting the neighborhoods that would surround the facilities where the trucks are offloaded.  He noted there is technology to deal with the pollutants from idling diesel engines for the freight engines and for the trucks.  He said if they could deal with the idling situation and the impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, then he would have overwhelming support for it.

 

Stewart wanted specific items in Lane County mentioned.

 

Sorenson wanted to work with Miller, Cuyler, Richardson and Spartz to re-write this and incorporate the different concerns.  He wanted people to know how much Lane County spends on roads.

 

Dwyer thought they should quantify the number of trucks that would stay off the road as a result of the Coos Bay line.  He wanted a number in tonnage that was readily available.  He thought it would make their case better.

 

Stewart wanted to state that the Board went on record supporting rail projects.    He commented that the rail lines were critical to supplying either people or industryís needs and they support it.  He wanted to see a variety of items put in.

 

 

b. ORDER 09-1-28-12/In the Matter of Declaring the Period From January 30, 2009 Through April 4, 2009 a Season for Nonviolence in Lane County.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-2-18-12.

 

Fleenor MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

c. ORDER 09-1-28-13/In the Matter of Board Direction on the Appropriation of FY 08-09 Secure Rural Schools Revenue.

 

Dwyer commented that they are depriving the public opportunity of hearing the discussion because it is not currently televised.

 

Fleenor was concerned about having all the data they could accumulate regarding debt reduction and other programs that might need to be restored or refunded as a result of the downturn in the economy and some of the enterprise funds.  He was more interested in getting the data before he could make a decision.

 

Sorenson wanted Spartz and Garnick to consider that if the Board approves the request as put forth to the Board to change the budget and add the additional appropriations, what the general fundís ending fund balance for each of the following dates would be:  June 30, 2009, June 30, 2010, June 30, 2011, June 30, 2012, June 30, 2013, June 30, 2014 so the ending balance and reserve number would help guide the Board on the impact of the decision they are to make on the out years and the future years.  He asked for the percentage of the property taxes of each of the years he requested with the projections Garnick can make.  He asked how much property tax is collected in each of the years and the total appropriation for DYS, DA and Sheriffís Office as a percentage of the property tax being collected in those years, assuming they approve the $500,000 appropriation.

 

Stewart wanted more information to just take care of the matters they know are short for this fiscal year and what it would take to hold the budget at the level they approved.  He was interested in whatever they used out of the general fund to pay for services.

 

Fleenor waned to continue to highlight the additional information that Sorenson requested and the consequences of the ratification of the proposed AFSCME contract.  He believed a percentage of this yearís budget will be a liability they were not budgeting for that they will have to add back to the liability column.  He thought it should be part of the add back package.  He also wanted to find out what items could be imposed on them and should be added back for the next five years.

 

Sorenson asked what the amount it would take to restore the funding for the DUII program being threatened with closure.  He also wanted to know the amount of the Extension Service rent forgiveness and the amount of money from the general fund if they need additional money into Elections to deal with the shortfall.  He asked what those dollars would be to finish out the rest of the fiscal year.

 

Handy asked about the CAO priorities that generated matches for FTE adds.  He asked about the $12,000 for the basic health safety for adults who are disabled and the match for at risk children. He asked if Health and Humans Services could find other dollars that could leverage those positions so they donít have to use the general fund for the 2 FTEís.

 

8. MANAGEMENT SERVICES

 

a. REPORT/Finance and Audit Ė Presentation of Annual Investment Report.

 

Kay Blackburn, Finance, explained that the three items she has typically go to the Finance and Audit Committee in January and are informational items.  She indicated it is information that has already been presented to the Board or has been made available on the website. 

 

Blackburn indicated Financial Services manages the Countyís investments and they provide an annual investment report and prepare a quarterly investment report, posted on the internet. She added that every month they provide a treasurerís report, a summary of the cash and investments.  She recalled that they started going paperless to save paper.  She said besides preparing reports, they have an investment advisory committee that meets quarterly, reviews the reports and they address Lane Countyís policies on investments and whether or not they should be changed. She indicted that the Countyís investments are highly restricted under ORS 294.  She added that it is a conservative investment restriction and it is serving them well.  She indicated that the conservative investment restriction protects Lane County from losses.  She commented that even though the returns are down, the County has not incurred any losses and they still have investment income.  She indicated the returns are currently at 3 percent where historically they have been closer to 4 percent, but it is good in this environment.  She commented that due to the market, they have been paying attention to the things Lane County invests in.  She recalled last fall they stopped investing in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac investments. 

 

Blackburn stated that they have been told by their investment advisors (and the research shows) the International Leased Finance Corporation is a different line of business than AIG.  She said the brokers anticipate full payment.  She said they werenít concerned about non-payment.

 

Sorenson wanted Blackburn to report back to the Board next year.

 

Fleenor indicated that he was concerned about volatility.  He asked Blackburn if they see any deviations, if he could receive a report immediately instead of waiting for a quarterly report.

 

Blackburn noted in the supplemental information in the report, they have historically benchmarked their returns against the city of Eugene returns and the LGIP Pool.  She said it was easy to get that type of information in a timely manner.  She recalled that in the past there was interest in benchmarking against comparable counties.  She said it is their intent to put it into the quarterly and annual report.  She added that it was difficult to get the information timely.

 

b. REPORT/Finance and Audit Ė Presentation of Annual Debt Affordability Report.

 

Blackburn recalled that they developed this report two years ago to monitor the level of debt.  She said it was due to the negative outlook that was placed on the Countyís bond rating.  She wanted to make sure they were within benchmarks if they issued any new debt and they were monitoring reserve levels that would affect the bond rating.  She indicated that they have been able to strengthen their financial policies and maintain good reserve levels and the negative outlook has been removed.  She said they bring the Debt Affordability Report to Finance and Audit in January of each year.  She indicated that the report is from June 30.  She said they wait until January to make sure they have audited numbers that go into the report.  She reported that the issued debt is well within statutory limits:  two percent on general obligation bonds and three percent of the limit on limited tax bonds.  She said because the Budget Committee convened in December and discussed debt, they made the report available to the Budget Committee at that time. 

 

Blackburn reported that the County has done a good job of strengthening financial policies in the past few years.  She indicated that they have got their general fund reserve level to a point where Moodyís reviewed the bond rating in August 2008.  She indicated that because Secure Rural Schools had not been re-authorized, they removed the negative outlook and reaffirmed the bond rating.

 

Sorenson asked if there were any concerns.

 

Stewart Bolinger, Internal Auditor, indicated that through the proceedings, the County demonstrated significant controls. He said they have statutory limitations on what they could invest in.  He noted that the outside auditors will review this every year.  He indicated that he also reviews it.

 

c. REPORT/Finance and Audit-Presentation of Quarterly Budget Monitoring Reports.

 

Blackburn stated that this is another Finance and Audit item.  She recalled that two years ago the Finance and Audit Committee asked Central Finance to prepare quarterly budget monitoring reports to bring back to the committee.  She indicated that the purpose of the report is a high level view to give them an early warning of programs that might be in difficulty of meeting their budget and might need adjustments made prior to the end of the year.  She noted that there would be no report for the first quarter because there would be inadequate information.  She said for the second quarter, any fund that had results of below 40 percent or above 60 percent would be reported.  She added at third quarter where they would expect 75 percent of budget results, any fund that had results below 65 percent or above 85 percent would be reported.  She said they are presenting any funds that have results outside of the 40 to 60 range.  She indicated that it is the responsibility of departments to monitor those budgets because they are decentralized.  She noted every night they run Invision reports and they could be viewed by departments. She indicated that ten funds had results outside of what would be expected.   She added at the bottom of the results were comments provided by the fund manager.  She said there were no results where the fund manager reported back that there was some problem they thought would need major adjustment before year end. 

 

Fleenor recalled that Land Management reported a $1 million deficit that was not caught by the quarterly reports.  He asked if this would have been reported on a quarterly basis if they would have found the deficit.

 

Blackburn said they didnít do reports for the first quarter because the decision at the Finance and Audit Committee was that at the first quarter there wasnít adequate information to project year end results.  She asked if they wanted to change the reporting or criteria for when they view the reports. She indicated that Land Management ran its own report and brought it to the Board.  She thought the policies that were currently in place were adequate because the policy and APM states that any time it appears the accounts would be significantly off budget, the fund manager needs to bring that information to the County Administrator.

 

Sorenson asked how they would know about the problems so they can make decisions soon enough.

 

Blackburn said there is no glitch. She said the County is decentralized with finances and they donít monitor individual programs.  She said they could request Central Finance to monitor this closely on a line by line basis instead of a high level the quarterly reports are on.

 

Sorenson asked the next time Finance and Audit meets to ask how they get more reporting, but not cost time and money. He didnít want to put another requirement on the Finance Department.

 

Blackburn said what would take time in Central Finance would be the analysis.

 

Handy asked if they needed to reformat their criteria.

 

Spartz responded a big issue is how much data they need to have to say with reasonable certainty that it is a trend and will not reverse itself and then they would have to lay off half of the staff.  He said that Matt Laird, Land Management, let him know early in the fiscal year that their funding didnít look good.

 

d. DISCUSSION/Providing Direction to the County Clerk Division on Reduced Recording Revenues as a Result of the Nationwide Financial Institution Crisis.

 

Annette Newingham, Management Services, reported that this is the first time since 1988 that she had to come before the Board because of a shortfall in revenue.  She indicated that historically over the past 20 years they have exceeded the department revenues. With regard to the economy, she said they have seen a dramatic decrease in recordings due to housing not moving and no refinancing.  She added that credit is still tight.  She commented that they see this continuing through 2009.  She reported that they are about $338,750 short this fiscal year.  She added that Elections has the majority of expenses and they have minimal revenues because they can only charge back to districts their apportioned costs.  She said the cities and state do not pay their apportioned costs of the primary and the general elections.  She indicated that they currently have less staff than in 1988.  She said their registrations are over 210,000 and they have increased and taken advantage of technology. She added with the reduced staff, they have made a higher number of recordings.  She reported that they used all of the Deeds and Records staff for Elections.  

 

Newingham indicated that they also have the Board of Property Tax Appeals. She noted they have double the appeals that have been filed.  She said they will have to decrease all of their hearings to one board, decreasing both commercial and residential hearings to 10 minutes.  She indicated that all of their processes are mandated services with the exception of the County archives. 

 

Newingham explained that they will need to have a supplemental budget to move the money over to see them through this fiscal year or a combination of cuts in staff and revenue.  She commented that they couldnít make up all the money with the shortfall by cutting staff.  She stated that it will have an impact on mandated services.

 

Dwyer asked if they had to record five days per week.

 

Newingham reported that statutes require they have to record five days per week from 9:00 a.m.  to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  She added that was the minimum statutory requirement, unless there was an emergency declared.  She said they could reduce Deeds and Records staff but they are also used for other Election processes they currently oversee.  She stated that they would have to bring more staff to Elections with less expertise.

 

Dwyer asked what happens next year.

 

Newingham said they have no control over the economy.  She thought legislatively that recordings could be increased.  She said they need to be compensated from the state and cities for their apportioned costs of the primary and general election. She recalled the cost was $500,000 for the general election and they had to pay the cost. 

 

Fleenor asked about three or four day work weeks where they could alternate staff so there is coverage until they see a change and a combination of lapse.

 

Newingham stated they looked at everyone reducing to 80 percent.  She said the problem is the May election because the filing deadline is in March.  She recalled in 1996 they went down to 80 percent in hours.  She said the Board would have to have an emergency declared to have the recording reduced.  She wanted to let the Board know the consequences.  She said they need to have enough people to do the work at the level the constituents are expecting.

 

Sorenson said they need to have layoffs instead of the lapse concept.  He added that the general fund will need to backup whatever she doesnít have with the revenue stream.  He said they donít have the revenue and they might have to declare an emergency.

 

Newingham reiterated that they should do a reduction of staff.  She added that they will not have the staff to issue marriage licenses or process all of the Election issues.  She said that recording pays for staff.  She said the fact they have to run Elections is what is costing them. 

 

Sorenson wanted Newingham to come back with a proposed order. 

 

Handy wanted Newingham to work with Spartz and Richardson to come back with a set of options to look at for an emergency clause.  He wanted to see what fee increases looked like and if they could reduce some hours.

 

Stewart was in support of Newingham using the lapse to get through this period.  He thought they were going to set themselves up for serious criticism because they do have the Secure Rural Schools money.  He was in favor of Newinghamís recommendation.

 

Dwyer thought this had to do with a combination of things.  He concurred with Stewart, he thought the lapse was appropriate.  He asked what they were going to do in the future to stop the loss.  He thought they could use the lapse as a tool to try to get the legislature and the cities to give them momentum to require them to pay their share

 

Fleenor was reluctant to allow a reduction in the general fund lapse because it was setting a precedent and then they will have all the department directors asking the Board for permission not to meet their lapse.  He thought if they declared an emergency, they could have an option to layoff people or then to break into the lapse.

 

Sorenson agreed they should not use the lapse, but have the minimum layoffs possibly over a 15 month period.  He wanted Richardson and Newingham to work together on the emergency declaration. 

 

Dwyer didnít think they could declare an emergency when there is no emergency.  He said the other commissioners donít want to spend $40 million and it wonít work legally until the money is gone. 

 

Richardson said she would have to look into that.

 

Stewart echoed the comments Dwyer made.  He said they are hearing about a few shortfalls, but they are not in an emergency situation.  He thought they could be in the future.  He agreed there are people wanting more money because their services are exploding due to needs.  He didnít think that was an emergency.

 

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting at 12:00 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary