BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
March 31, 2009
Harris Hall Main
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
Rick Pettigrew, Eugene, said his non-profit organization submitted a project proposal for the Lane County Parks tourism grant, but they were turned down. He asked the Board to amend the recommendation and award $5,000 of the undistributed funds to the project. He said the project is to bring in Dr. Zahi Hawass, as keynote speaker for the Archeology Channel International Film and Video Festival. He added that it is designated to bring in outside visitors and to build this event as an increasingly powerful draw year after year. He commented that Dr. Hawass is one of the most notable celebrities to appear in public in Lane County in recent years. Pettigrew said Hawass sold out all 1600 seats in the Seattle Opera House four years ago.
RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE
Sorenson said that he was impressed with what Dr. Pettigrew said regarding Dr. Zahi Hawass.
Handy reminded citizens how Lane Workforce Partnership was working hard for people who were laid off.
4. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
a. ORDER 09-3-31-1/In the Matter of Approving a Lane Transit District's Request for a Letter of Support for a Transportation Growth Management Grant Submittal.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-3-31-1.
Fleenor MOVED, Stewart SECONDED
Fleenor commented that this was a good matter that addresses future long range needs. He said in light of the economic stimulus money coming, it would be good to have that type of information available. He was in support of this order.
Handy asked who in Lane County was competing for the grants and the dollar amount. He asked if there were multiple recommendations by the Board, how it impacts an applicant.
Celia Barry, Public Works, responded that the letter of support is to strengthen the applicantís request to ODOT. She was aware that the city of Eugene submitted a grant proposal. She said they looked into whether Lane County should submit a grant proposal, but there were strings attached. She said if they update Lane Code in the future, it could be a potential funding source. She didnít know all the applicants in Lane County who were applying for TGM grants.
Handy asked why they needed a separate plan.
Mary Archer, LTD, said this plan is needed and is the first of its kind for LTD because TransPlan has been serving as the Regional Transportation System Plan for Eugene and the city of Springfield. She stated that the city of Springfield is not asking for a TGM grant. She indicated that LTD is concerned with the dissolving of TransPlan because it held a transit element for the region. She said there wonít be a consistent transit element for the individual transportation system plans for Eugene and Springfield and Coburg. She indicated that LTD thought they should put together a long range transit plan.
Stewart learned in Washington, D.C. this past week that there is pressure among the entities to get the stimulus money to work no later than June 1. He added that most money will go through the normal process as a grant request and allocated in those areas competitively.
Barry explained that this was not stimulus money; it is a regular grant program through the Oregon Department of Transportation every two years.
5. PUBLIC WORKS
a. ORDER 09-3-31-2/In the Matter of Approving the City of Veneta's Request for Authorization to Include an Area Outside the City in a Grant Proposal to Study Highway 126 West.
Ric Ingam, City Manager, city of Veneta, explained that the city of Veneta has been trying to address some of the existing safety and corridor issues. He said they were designated a freight route and when the railroad stopped operating, they saw the number of semi-trucks and tractor trailers increase. His concern is to continue to try to address the driveway and business access issues along the section within the city limits.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-3-31-2.
Fleenor MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.
Fleenor stated that this was an excellent application. He indicated this was where a high level of accident takes place. He was supportive of this because any improvement would enhance public safety.
6. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS
a. DISCUSSION/Hybrid Process for Revenue Measures.
Sorenson reported that the Board has been asked by a number of people over the years to put various revenue measures on the ballot. He said the Board had a discussion in Florence about a hybrid process for revenue measures. He indicated that the Board could either enact a tax of the public or the public could ask them through the initiative system to enact a tax. He added that the idea would come from the public. He said there is a concern about putting a dollar amount or a political contribution amount onto the requirements for a petition. He said that would get them involved in a political campaign that they cannot be involved in. He wanted to have the senior officials identify the dates over the next five years when elections will be held. He said they would receive petitions from the public that are a one page idea of what the revenue source would be and the intended purpose of the funding. He added that it would require the petitioner to produce no money but a list of 8,000 named voters. He said when the Board receives this list; they need to confirm they are Lane County registered voters. He said if there is no more than a five percent error rate, they will accept the petition. He indicated the citizens will agree to hold meetings, where they need to have 500 people attend the meetings and the then the Board will begin to process their idea. He wanted to ask for this far in advance of a given election of about five or six months.
Dwyer stated that the voters already have a process. He asked what the count was to initiate a measure in Lane County.
Richardson said for an initiative they need 8 percent of the people in the County who voted in the governorís election the last time a governor was elected.
Dwyer commented that he didnít see the current process as being broken.
Fleenor said they want to help people who have ideas on how to better improve the County. He thought the hybrid could help lower the upfront costs. He said they are asking for a single page document that lays out what it is they are requesting the Board to consider to be placed on the ballot. He added that once they qualify, their legal staff would legitimize the process and bring it forward to the citizens for a vote.
Dwyer indicated that the amount of signatures is set out. He asked under the home rule charger if they could make the signatures less restrictive. He wanted to know how much latitude they have before they invest time.
Sorenson said this is not an intrusion on the citizenís right for an initiative. He said it is a process to help the Board use their power. He stated that this is not an initiative.
Richardson said if they get six percent of the people who voted in the last governorís race on their initiative, they could go forward regardless of whether the Board wants to support it or not. She said if they want the Board to put the measure on the ballot, the Board could put criteria on what they want before they put staff to work on it.
Stewart thought if the Board tries to shorten the process that they could be buying a problem. He thought they should leave the public process alone.
Dwyer said whatever process the Board develops that is something not legally bound by state law and he doesnít like it, he is not bound to support it and he doesnít care how many people show up at the door with signatures.
Fleenor indicated that the one pager had not been properly vetted for legal content and whether or not there is a proper source of money and who is qualified to pay the revenue. He added that they have costs associated with this. He thought it could be stated that if the petitioners want them to pre-vet it, they might want to assist in the resources necessary to undertake this. He said they need to find out the ramifications first.
Sorenson said the idea of having a group of people speak to this is a way to reconcile the problem of the ongoing complicated nature. He said having the one pager and the five member committee designated improves the process. He said they are looking for a process that helps the Board find something the community could agree on. He wanted to get a process started.
Richardson said there have been calls to Elections about the last talk in Florence. She said this is not affecting any of the state laws or current rules. She stated at some point if they move forward with this they will need a staff person to be designated as the person for all of the community to call to check in on the various requirements. She said Annette Newingham, Elections, is trying to give rules for putting it on the ballot and they are getting confused. She said for this type of pre-process they would need to talk to a staff person.
Stewart didnít think this had to be crafted before getting 8,000 signatures. He wanted the idea reviewed with the committee and staff so they are presenting a fairly good representation of what is going to be on the ballot. He wanted the issues to be reviewed as soon as possible. He said the effort is to get something successfully passed. He waned to make sure they donít set themselves up for problems.
Sorenson asked if the Board wanted an optional process where people could come in and present one page ideas where they would review it and give feedback.
Richardson asked who would be the initial sounding board. She said depending upon the petition; it might take many hours of attorney time to review.
Sorenson said as part of this, they will offer an optional process by which people could come in, designate five people, present a one page idea and they could get back a response and it would be a majority of the Board response. He said they could always do that prior to this process.
Fleenor said they need to make it clear that it is for revenue enhancement only.
Sorenson recommended calling it a tax measure. He added that if they get no responses within one year, that maybe 8,000 signatures would be too large a number. He recalled the opponents of the tax the Board enacted two years ago gathered 10,000 signatures in a week.
Fleenor asked about the time frame the Board would give them to gather the signatures.
Sorenson responded that they have to come up with a date. He asked when this document could be prepared.
Richardson indicated that they currently have the election dates through the end of 2011. She said given the timeline, she thought she could have it done in two weeks.
Fleenor wanted Richardson to take into consideration the time it takes to get the 8,000 signatures certified to draft the language and to go through the legal notification.
Sorenson said part of the reason for dropping the monetary component is because of the legal issues connected with them trying to start a political action committee. He said they wouldnít put any money into it, but in return, they would have an earlier date.
Handy asked Richardson her understanding around the idea of the five person committee, how they would mitigate some of the costs to legal counsel.
Richardson responded that her understanding of where her five person committee comes in is when they submit the one page petition. She added they would also have to list their five people. She thought if the 8,000 signatures have also been met, she would consult with the five people and to try to determine whether what they are trying to do is legal. She said it wouldnít save legal time because it is technical. She said the end product would be as close as legally possible to what they had envisioned when they started.
Fleenor said there needed to be a level of minimum specificity in the original one pager that identifies what they are asking, where the source of money is coming from and how it could be used. He wanted to have Legal Counsel prepare a questionnaire and use it as a format
Richardson said she will look at what will work the best and bring it back in four weeks.
Spartz asked to keep it simple and concise. He didnít think they could anticipate everything that could happen in advance.
Stewart thought they already had information on every tax that had been able to be used to generate revenue in the state of Oregon and they could hand them the information. He thought they could do it easily without cost and a burden to staff and be able to respond to the citizens.
There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting at 12:00 p.m.