BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

June 17, 2009

9:00 a.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 8/26/2009

 

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

 

8 e. Discussion on Hodson Lane, 8 f. Discussion about the city of Eugene contract for the municipal jail beds,  8 g. a report from Spartz on draft letter to Congressman DeFazio.

 

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Alice Kaseberg, Eugene, said that last night the Board heard a variety of opinions about budgetary decisions.  She said they heard promises to defeat them in the next election if they don’t vote for the beds.  She said there were promises to support long term funding for public safety.  She heard that historically government was organized for public safety.  She recalled that by the time county government came to Oregon, according to the Oregon Blue Book, the responsibilities of county government were delineated as forest and farm to road and farm to market roads.  She added that law enforcement, courts; care for the needy and tax collection is the basic form historically for county government.  She stated that last night they heard two citizen budget committee members ask them to find a compromise to enable funding at some level of the jail beds.  She added her support to the position of compromise.  She stated that any of the following three compromise positions will be better than an all or nothing impasse.  She asked to use the closed intake, open intake 32 beds to provide an intermediate step of 52 new beds for a time certain.  She said this reduces the $3.2 million, but not by a proportional amount, due to fixed costs.  She said the intake closure model was set out in the 2009/2010 service option sheet number 18, level 4, as presented earlier to the Budget Committee.  She added that another possibility is to delay the opening of the 64 jail beds to a time certain, like Scott Bartlett’s motion at their final budget committee meeting and supported by Commissioner Fleenor.  She thought the Board could cut approved budget items now and delay the 84 bed decision to a time certain in a first supplemental budget.

 

Carol Berg Caldwell, Eugene, stated that testimonies at last night’s Budget Hearing were inspiring.  She said it showed the community cares.  She added a couple threats of recall were unwarranted.  She thought the general was tone was that people of good will want to find solutions.  She said some speakers noted other counties are being cautionary and fiscally conservative regarding timber revenues. She added that other speakers (while urging immediate opening of the 84 jail beds at a cost of over $3 million) publicly committed to working on how to replace those costs to create a long term funding cushion.  She said people recognize that everyone needs to pull together to fund public safety needs. 

 

Zachary Vishinoff, Eugene, discussed an article from The Register Guard on the PK Project.  He wanted to make sure it was on the Board’s radar.  He thought their effort was mainstream.  He hoped Civic Stadium could become a project like the covered bridges and the coins that were issued.  He announced a City Club discussion on July 10.  He stated that city councilor Mike Clark will speak about the potential to move Eugene City Hall into the existing EWEB Building.  He thought that proposal had merit.

 

Samantha Chirillo, Eugene, asked the Board to pull out of the O & C Counties.  She stated the group has played a role in the destruction of Oregon’s native forests.  She said voting to stay in the O & C is a vote for the WOPR and a vote for staying in the same failed path they have been on.  She said there is no assurance that if they stay in the Association of O & C Counties that the federal government will continue to give county payments and tie the revenue to thinning native forests.  She added that biomass removal is another false solution because it is based on the over consumption and profit motive that ancient forest clear cutting has been based on.  She added that science does not support it.  She stated that it was time for fair taxation and they need to tax the industries that do the most damage to the public trust..  She thought the revenue could be put toward capital investments in food security infrastructure such as storage and processing facilities, or a year round Lane County Farmers Market. She added that the revenue would be decreasing over time if they were successful in stopping destructive activity.  She stated by voting to pull out of the AOCC they are defending Oregon and the natural assets in choosing a hope for the future.

 

Deb Frisch, Eugene, said if they calculate the amount of money spent on public safety as a percentage of general fund, Oregon is number one in the country.  She said if they take the ratio per state of corrections spending to education spending, Oregon is third in the nation. She commented that they spend more on corrections as a state than any other state in the Country.  She added Oregon has a high unemployment rate and no sales tax.  She said they have a cap on property tax and they voted down corporate tax. 

 

Betty Egerton, Siuslaw Outreach Services, Florence, spoke about the federal stimulus for homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing.  She said they are recipients of the money and they are pleased to have that amount of money to help people who are homeless or to help them get into a home or to stay in a home if they need too. She said the problem is that most of the money is designated for the rent assistance or utility assistance and little is designated for staff or case management.  She said the money that Lane County had designated from the budget to go to their center is $35,000 and they are urging the Board to keep the amount in the budget so they can use the money to pay for staff who will be working with the people who are homeless.  She commented that if they don’t have the staff to deal with the money, they will be giving people rent or utility assistance for three months and then wonder what would happen.  She said they need to have the staff that will help with a long term solution. 

 

Chris Richter, Florence, said she runs the housing program for Siuslaw Outreach Services.  She said the funds are intended for her to have the ability to sit down and spend time with clients when they come in to assess their housing needs and to address any other need.  She wanted to take the time to find out what the issues are with the family, not just the housing issues. She said they do intensive case management.  She commented that it is not just giving them a band aid, but the money will allow them to help them become self-sufficient.

 

Jonie Bour, Florence, said she is with Siuslaw Outreach Services. She said they offer assistance to people who have no plans for the future.  She stated that they need the funds to help case manage them, to teach them a better way of living their lives. 

 

Randy Prince, Eugene, stated that last night he said the County needs to set itself on a path for long term funding.  He asked if they could get the legislature to get the property taxes adjusted so counties are properly funded.  He asked if they could fix the under taxing of timber.  He asked if there were special districts that could be set up or other taxes that might be approved.  He thought the Board should make a statement to get off the reliance on the federal timber payments.  He added that the economy is unstable and they can’t rely on this for county funding.  He thought the statement the Board could make was not to fund the AOCC.  He didn’t see their purpose.   He stated the Board needs to make a statement that they are going to get serious to get stable funding.

 

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

 

Dwyer commented that people have the right to make public testimony and give their opinion.  He stated there are rules they expect people to have.  He said they are not just talking about the behavior before the Board.  He said they don’t expect gestures, bad behavior or offensive language directed toward staff who is not elected.  He had a series of vulgar communications as a result of Ms. Frich’s claim that she has constitutionally protected speech.  He said it doesn’t allow that kind of behavior and the Constitution doesn’t protect it.  He commented that this is our government but they require special decorum if citizens want to participate and Frisch does not meet the threshold.  He stated that she continuously wants to be disruptive.  He said she can be disruptive toward him, but if she continues toward staff, he will ask that she not be allowed to speak.

 

Fleenor echoed Dwyer’s sentiments about Frisch.  He stated that last night they had three hours worth of impassioned testimony.  He said not being able to respond was difficult.  He said there were many instances where people were right on target.  He noted there were other instances where there was not correct information being portrayed.  He commented that they are just as impassioned about public safety as everyone else in the community.  He doesn’t want his family harmed.  He said it was not about him, but about the community.  He said they found out there are no free lunches and they have gotten to a point in the community that they are running out of money.  He said if the citizens want good services then they need to help through donations or through supporting a revenue enhancement measure in the future.  He said they want to provide a quality government but they don’t get enough money.  He stated Lane County has the lowest property tax rate in the state of Oregon.  He commented that you get what you pay for.

 

Sorenson commented that what is unique about Lane County government is that they provide an extensive opportunity for the public to come in and give their point of view on issues.  He added that it is not an absolute right for the public to come in and disrupt meetings.  He said they try to have a structured format for public comment.  He noted in Lane County people can come in to testify and he said it was a good thing.

 

Handy thanked everyone who came down last night to speak at public comment.  He said they are working on the new economy and they have lots of ideas.  He commented that part of the challenge is the local media not covering them 

 

Stewart indicated that there have been comments about what other counties have been doing with their Secure Rural School revenue since they received it.  He spoke with several different counties at the AOC meeting last week that were quoted in the article last October, as to how they were saving the money.  He stated that wasn’t exactly the case.  He said Josephine County reallocated 10 percent of the revenue in last year’s budget and as they move forward into the next budget they have enhanced services.  He indicated that they went from 12 hour patrol to 24 hour patrol and they doubled their jail bed capacity.  He said what Lane County is contemplating and how they are dealing with it is no different than other counties.  He said they are spending it and trying to stabilize for a two to three year period.  He commented that O & C Counties natural resource use is a heated emotionally charged conversation.  He doesn’t share a lot of the comments that were made because he is part of the organization and he doesn’t actually see what had been stated.  He said what is difficult as a Board member and a responsible citizen to the County is that the O & C timber lands are an asset to the counties.  He recalled the O & C law was placed on the books in 1938 and the assets spin off money to the County.  He believed at this time it was their responsibility to protect the asset.   He stated that they have an obligation to protect the asset and he wanted to fight to protect the asset and he thought they should be involved.

 

 

4. EMERGENCY BUSINESS

 

ORDER 09-6-17-2 Authorizing the Sale of County-Owned Real Property to Gerald Ladd (Map #20-0326-401 and 20-03-26-402, Commonly Known as 78783/78779 Sears Road, Cottage Grove)

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-6-17-2.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Handy SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

 

5. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

 

a. DISCUSSION/2009-2010 Lane County Budget, Making Appropriations and Levying Taxes.

 

Sorenson indicated that this year the Board had outlined an extensive process leading up to the budget.  He said they began work on the budget in December 2008.  He said the county administrator worked with senior staff to put together a proposed budget.  He said they held extensive workshops and  public comment session. He noted that following the Budget Committee’s approval on May 19, 2009, the matter was handed to the Board of Commissioners.  He commented that they received more public comment on this budget than they have in previous years.  He noted that they held the first evening public comment opportunity during the Lane County budget and heard from over 100 people about the budget. He indicated that the budget adopted by the Budget Committee went through an extensive process.  He indicated that they heard a lot of good news in recent days regarding the cuts by the state and whether or not the state budget is sufficiently sound to rely upon and be put into their base budget.  He recalled that yesterday the Board was informed by the Oregon Department of Revenue that the amount of the CAFFA grant in the base budget is $1.3 million, but the amount they will receive is closer to $1.4 million. He noted there are technical changes in the budget. 

 

Dave Garnick, Budget and Finance Manager,  explained that they treated the Health and Human Services request from LCAS as a policy decision because it is an increase of a position, as is the Children and Families position.  He said everything else is either technical or grant related where they had the funds this year but the project needed to be carried forward. He added that they have other attachments to go through.

 

Spartz recommended they incorporate the technical items into the proposed budget before they deliberate.

 

MOTION: to approve the base budget approved by the Budget Committee with the following modifications:  a) to remove the part-time commissioner assistants;  b) to include new add packages for the Lane County Animal Services and Children and Families; c) to incorporate the technical adjustment and to restore the 84 jail beds.

 

Fleenor MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Dwyer thanked Fleenor for making the motion.  Dwyer thought it was time to move on.  He commented that the motion while restoring jail beds effective July 1, is well intended and he intends on supporting it.  He was glad that the hearing provided an opportunity to hear what the citizens were telling them.  He said it seems that they are getting the appropriate response.  He didn’t think they would be impacted much by what the state does.  He added that if they are impacted more than ten percent of what they anticipate, they would need to revisit the issue supplementally in the future.  He said they need to give the community the message the Board heard them, they were understood and the Board is proceeding to protect them the best they can with the resources they have, knowing they only have three years of stability.

 

Handy said it was prudent for them to take their time. He said the state news was not as bad as first anticipated.  He said they got a strong message last night from the Sheriff and District Attorney that they and others understand that they will make a down payment on getting the jail beds going but it is not a sustainable solution and they need to hold their federal partners’ feet to the fire around their direction. He added that would help with the renewing of the federal commitment and locally having the Sheriff and District Attorney signal their commitment to help find a levy sustainable solution involving the citizens with a possible ballot measure.

 

Stewart thanked Fleenor for bringing the motion.  He asked about the additional analyst for the Board of Commissioners.  He asked why they need the position and what they think the position will do for them.  His understanding is they have Garnick who has two analyst positions double checking budgets and looking for waste.  He stated that Stewart Bolinger, Performance Auditor, thought Garnick was fully competent. 

 

Sorenson said that although they heard from the Sheriff and District Attorney regarding recommendations to the Board about a public safety levy or local tax, they are passing the budget and providing direction to staff to prepare the budget for adoption next week with no new significant taxes or fees.

 

In response to Stewart’s concern about the Performance Auditor and the Management Analyst, Fleenor explained that the performance auditor has been part of Lane County’s structure for six years.  He believed the function represents a critically important part of the overall accountability they need to have in order to assure the citizens of Lane County that there money is being spent wisely, efficiently and effectively.  He noted that Bolinger was hired by the Board and works directly under the Board, similar to County Counsel and the County Administrator.  He said if they aren’t satisfied with the level of performance, they might want to re-examine his work schedule.  He thought it was important to use this branch of the organization to look for waste.  He said he would want to have the Management Analyst position work under the Internal Auditor and report to the auditor, but also be available for the Board to be asking questions.  He thought the Board not having any staffing would benefit by having someone available to ask questions about contracts.  He fully supports the Performance Auditor and the Management Analyst in that capacity.

 

Handy said when looking at their budget, they can only cut so much.  He said administratively there is a lack of people being able to work with the current leadership.  He said Spartz doesn’t have an administrative assistant and it is not productive for the County.  He said it isn’t about cutting, but how they look ahead.  He said they need to create revenue streams  to be looking ahead. 

 

Stewart shared Handy’s  concerns with Spartz. He was uncomfortable with the position and he asked that when they look at this position and filling it, the person could do duties for Spartz half-time and do some things for the Board.  He thought the position could be flexible and work where they need it.  He hoped they could consider an assistant for Spartz.  He said there were comments about what would make people more comfortable about O & C Lands.  He indicated that tomorrow he has an O & C meeting in Salem and he will bring up to the Board about their Bylaw changes that might make his colleagues more comfortable.  He believed it is important to be part of the O & C organization. He said they have to work together to find a long term solution to federal funding and he didn’t think it would be in timber harvest like it had been in the past.  He reiterated that the law has given Lane County and the 18 counties in Oregon the revenue off of a sustainable harvest of the land.  He said they have a responsibility to protect that asset.  He wasn’t aware of any old growth harvesting that is currently taking place.  He asked if the Board doesn’t feel comfortable at this time in adding this into the budget, that they give him direction and the opportunity to try to meet their concerns.  He asked if the Board would reconsider belonging to the organization and paying the dues in the future.

 

Sorenson commented that this is a budget that covers a one year period and it may have to be reexamined throughout this year because of the serious economic conditions they are in and they have to monitor the revenue received from the federal and state government.  He asked staff to bring them the bad news fast.  He hoped that part of what they do in adopting this budget will be that the Board will be united in the idea of continuing their outreach to improve public safety and the services they provide.

 

Garnick indicated this is information will be incorporated next week when they adopt the budget.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

Dwyer complimented the Board on their recent action.  With regard to the O & C, he thought they provide a service.  He thought the Board needed to give explicit instructions regarding O & C so they can be part of the organization.

 

Fleenor thought they should have a work session with O & C.  He said he hadn’t had time to study O & C.  He thought they should schedule this as soon as possible to find out about the organization, how it is driven and the level of transparency.  He said he agreed to be part of the organization, but it had to reflect who they are as a County.

 

Sorenson thought they need to continue working toward finding a solution that improves the public safety situation for Lane County.  He hoped part of their outreach could be working with the Sheriff and District Attorney and other public safety experts. He also hoped they could continue with the momentum created by the public concern over their budget and it could be translated into some action on the part of the leadership of the community

 

Handy said he was cautiously optimistic about what the community is seeing around the County’s dire situation with the budget.  He hoped they could work together with a package that works for the community.  With regard to the O & C, he thought Fleenor’s idea was a good one to invite some of the people from O & C to work with them and have the public come to address a contemporary approach.

 

Stewart said he will take this information back to O & C tomorrow to find out their willingness to meet for a work session.  He said the additional $518,000 payment they received was O & C recognizing that Lane County wasn’t being paid for the payment in lieu of taxes.  He added that the acreages were wrong and were recalculated.  He stated there are a lot of benefits and he hoped through the work session they could work out some of the discomforts the Board has.  He said they have to find a solution for the future but they have some time.  He wanted to ask the Agenda Team to consider a regular meeting to find a solution they could get to the citizens that they could support in the future.  He said it has been brought to his attention that there had been a slip in adding the “Working for You” videos into the budget.  He indicated that it was supposed to be an $80,000 add to the budget.

 

 

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

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary