BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

WORK SESSION

March 17, 2009

2:30 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 4/15/2009

 

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

 

1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA

 

None.

 

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

None.

 

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

 

Dwyer announced that 150 years ago today Oregon found out that it become a state.  He added that Oregon became a free state by one vote.

 

Fleenor commented that when Oregon became a state, there was a great celebration and drunkenness in the streets.

 

Sorenson announced that there will be a Mircroenterprise Meeting tonight with comments by Micro-Entrepreneurs.  He added that they will be approving the Junction City Community Block Grant and discussing the idea of using bonds to increase insulation and alternative energy in Lane County.

 

4. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

a. DISCUSSION/Benton County Water Project - Phase 1.

 

Linda Modrell, Benton County Commissioner and Adam Stebbins, Water Project Coordinator, gave a power point presentation on Phase 1 of Benton Countyís Water Project. (Copy in file).

 

Handy asked when they look at climate change how they can make progress with water quality.

 

Modrell responded that she didnít know what the future held, but she stated they have problems with water splitting among agencies.  She indicated that the governor is looking for water to be integrated and they need to include the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Agriculture  She said they have to work closer together to separate the quantity from the quality of water to keep fish going.  She stated that they need to build scenarios and whatever the assumptions are and whatever people value, she didnít know about the equity element in water distribution regardless of water rights.  She added that farming is an issue, as they need to have food and energy production and how to utilize it as most efficiently as possible.

 

Dwyer commented that Oregonís water problems are unique.  He indicated that to do anything meaningful, they will have to change the Constitution and the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation:  the first in time, first in line.  He added there is an absolute right to water and the state canít tax water or restrict it.  He thought the laws needed to be carefully reviewed.

 

Handy asked Modrell what they wanted from the Board to move forward.

 

Modrell said the goal is to get an affirmation of a continuance of a memorandum of cooperation.  She wanted to work together.  She wanted to put together another meeting in the summer that everyone could attend hosted by the Water Resources Department for people who work for the county and talk about working together to get to common goals.  She indicated that they need to get more money into the project.  She wanted to see how they could leverage money form outside, talking to the Bureau of Reclamation and requiring everyone to come together.

 

Sorenson said the Board would be willing to participate in a multi-jurisdictional meeting.

 

b. DISCUSSION/Insulation and Renewable Energy Bond Proposal

 

Sorenson wanted to have Mike McKenzie-Bahr, Economic Development, come to the Board to talk about bonds, who would be eligible and how they might be used.  He asked how they could produce energy in Lane County and reduce energy consumption.  He asked how they could play a role to jump start the process.  He commented that people donít take advantage of home insulation or solar energy and there is a gap between the savings and existing programs.  He indicated that there is a gap on what the homeowner has to pay out of their own pocket that benefits them. He asked how they could bridge the gap at no cost to taxpayers.  He thought Lane County could authorize staff to look into a cost recovery program, spending staff time with economic development dollars to figure out what the gap is.  He said they could retrofit for insulation and solar thermal.  He added there needed to be sufficient equity to issue a bond for the gap that would repay the County for the cost of putting together a bond. He said they could have an acceleration clause.  He said they have to have IGAís.  He said they would make an agreement with a utility.  He added that the utility would have the Countyís resource to make up the gap.  He said the homeowner has to pay interest and other costs.  He indicated that there will be no taxpayer money involved.  He noted that another benefit would be homes being better heated and cooled, creating savings and comfort for the homeowner.  He said under the proposal he is advancing, it reduces the amount of energy they have to import into the community.

 

Dwyer thought it wasnít a bad idea, but it needed a lot of work.  He said they learned years ago they could conserve more energy than they could produce.  He said they need to write the utility companies to quantify the need if that program were made available to them.

 

Fleenor said they need to have a benchmark and look at the County as a system and part of an experiment.  He said they should establish the fundamentals of how much energy they are importing to the County and exporting out to determine whether they are making progress.

 

Handy thought this went back to job creation.  He commented that the county and state are in turmoil and the role of government (when this creative thinking is used) is beneficial for the County and communities. He wanted staff to look at piecing this together with what David Suchart, Management Services, is doing regarding McKinstry Essention.  He was supportive of the direction to explore and close the cap to create jobs.  He thought this had potential.

 

Sorenson  wanted to get  back true costs.  He wanted Richardson to encapsulate this conversation with Spartz and Garnick and then report back to the Board.  He asked if there were proper controls on borrowing of the money on the IGAís with utilities.  He envisioned this being voluntary and homeowners would be under no obligation to do this.  He wanted to build a competitive way to bridge the gap.

 

Fleenor wanted to invite the local utilities for a work session to brainstorm their ideas and obstacles they have encountered with low income families..

 

Sorenson said their role is not to reinvent the wheel but to make an attractive package for the utilities.  He said they will get the bond councilís opinion on whether they can do this.  He added that Richardson will take comments and give them to Spartz and involve people at HACSA so they could get a work plan.

 

 

5. PUBLIC WORKS

 

a. DISCUSSION/Road Actions.

Mike Jackson, Land Management, prepared a document regarding road actions and compared it with the city of Eugene. (Copy in file).

Marsha Miller, Public Works, recalled that they were directed to come back to the Board to discuss road surrenders.

Fleenor indicated that his concern is with annexation and cherry stemming, using the public right-of-way to grab extra city territory.   He asked about the process of surrendering a road right-of-way.

Jackson responded that they only surrender a road after annexation.  He said a city will ask the County to surrender a portion of the road and they will surrender it within the city limits.

Tom Drechsler, Land Management, explained that road surrenders are driven by urban transition agreements and road fund money.  He added that most surrenders are by road improvement and construction.

Handy asked how they put a price on the road when they vacate or surrender it.  He asked how they generate funds for the County.

Jackson said they have never been charged for the surrender process.  He indicated that they are giving up roads that cost money to repair

Handy asked about the status to review assumptions about vacations and how they generate revenue.

Richardson indicated that they will have a work session in April.  She revisited legal opinions on charging for vacations.  She indicated that it is a murky area, as it is a special benefit and charging for it is not allowed.

Handy asked that when this comes back that they have a range of alternatives to discuss involving different revenue options and assumptions around philosophies and how other counties are dealing with them.

Sorenson asked if they could surrender Delta Highway to the state.

Miller responded that they are talking with the state and ODOT about the issue.

Dwyer wanted to have a definition when the public interest outweighs the special benefit.  He said there are reasons to have roads in the public.  He wanted a discussion on whether it was in the publicís interest to have gates on public roads.  He wanted a report the gates that are currently up.

Fleenor wanted to make sure they are complying with SB222 for subdivisions.  He stated that needed to be coordinated with Land Management

Sorenson asked for the written materials before the April 29 meeting so it could be posted on the website.  With regard to road vacations, he wanted to see what other people were doing.  He wanted a way to help finance and find more creative ways that other counties have used for the road vacation process. 

Drechsler indicated they will be coming back on April 1 to set a public hearing for another road surrender  

 

6. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

c. DISCUSSION/McKenzie River Basin - Salmon Recovery.

 

Handy asked how they are going to make changes and address them in a timely way.

 

Susan Knapp, Natural Resources Advisor, State of Oregon, responded that with  increasing urban growth boundaries, there will be a challenge.  She added that with the climate change they could be more in tuned to opportunities to be involved in restoration projects on an individual basis to protect habitat quality and water quality.  She commented that with municipal jurisdictions, counties and cities have jurisdictions over habitat use and impacts to water.  She said when implementing the recovery plan, setting up an implementation structure and inviting counties to be involved helps entities implement the plan.

 

Sorenson asked if federal agencies find a fish is endangered that they have to make a recovery plan.  He asked if that was the case in the upper Willamette.

 

Knapp said there is a semi-draft document they have but it is not fully complete and the state will move forward in the next six months.  She added in fall they will have a public comment period as the draft document is posted on the federal register.

 

Sorenson asked if Knapp if she could send the Board an e-mail regarding what changes if any in Lane County land use ordinances will be required as a result of the finalization of the recovery plan.

 

Knapp responded that nothing was required.  She said this lays out what the limiting facts are for fish and the actions they can take to alleviate the threats.  She added that it was not required that they change the land use ordinance.  She said there were elements they could be cognizant of as land use decisions are made and what the needs are for the recovery plan.

 

Handy asked what they can do to have setbacks and incentives in place so they can have an area where spawning can take place  He asked what they might do to target those areas that are the most critical to make sure there are successes.

 

Knapp was not sure about county watershed councils that will be looking to restore habitat in critical areas.  She stated that above Dexter Dam the habitat is in good shape.  She commented that one of the reasons they believe the fish they  placed in the area was in good shape was due to the Forest Service and BLM improving the habitat.

 

Handy asked why there was no data on fish kill with turbines.

 

Knapp indicated there is preliminary data from the ODF& W.  She added that the Corps of Engineers have conducted studies of fish mortality of fish going through regulating outlets.  She indicated that the Corps of Engineers is on the hook to conduct studies that would inform them as to what would be the most appropriate and beneficial fish passage.  She indicated that it will entail fish studies with different operations and testing regulating outlets.  She added that they will have to do feasibility studies.

 

Dwyer commented that if they want to help salmon, they need to have a passageway.  He said they need to have fish ladders, but they are expensive.

 

Knapp stated that it takes a  long time to make progress on protecting fish species.  She indicated that fish ladders are for adult salmon.  She anticipated that in the next 15 years fish ladders might be considered for dams.  She commented that it is important for adult fish to get up but more important for juvenile fish to get down.  She thought they would need to install fish screens.

 

Sorenson asked what the counties could do to aid in the recovery of endangered fish.

 

Knapp explained that they could be a participant in planning forums of the implementation of the plan.  She indicated that feedback is important and within their jurisdiction, commissioners could make decisions regarding development, land use or transportation, if they were cognizant of what is needed to improve habitat for salmon and use the information as they make decisions.  She said a critical need is habitat property but water quality and temperature is also important.  She commented that what they are doing along the river is important to improving habitat and water quality for fish.

 

Handy asked what they could do to prevent damage in the first place.  He asked what they are doing with the state and timber industry to help partner with this.

 

Knapp indicated that the State Department of Forestry has the Forest Practices Act for private timber operations.  She said they work with private small woodland owners to implement restoration projects on land and eliminate fish passage barriers and install culverts and follow resource planning documents.

 

Fleenor commented that as they move forward, they need to put value on the environment.  He asked how much the salmon run, clean air and water was worth.  He asked how they quantify free enterprise capitalism.  He commented that they take it for granted if they donít have quantified value.  He thought they needed to find a common ground to work together to have a unified picture.

 

Knapp stated that economics for recovery for clean water and salmon needs to be better quantified for the public to understand what it is they might be losing.  She said if they are able to improve habitat and water quality for natural resources for fish and wildlife, it also improves the quality of life.

 

Sorenson wanted to set up another phone call for an update in October.

 

7. OTHER BUSINESS

 

None.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting at 5:05 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary