BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

March 31, 2009

1:30 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 9-1-2010

 

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.

 

6. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

ORDER 09-3-31-6 Urging Enactment of Comprehensive National Healthcare Reform and Insuring an Honest and Fair Healthcare Reform Debate.

 

Rand Dawson, Marc Shapiro, Dr. Mike Huntington, and Dr. Frank Turner gave a presentation on the single payer health care system.  (Copy in file).

 

Dwyer commented that it was a disgrace that this country canít take care of their workers.  He thought this was long overdue.  He thought the government should pool the money with all the companies that provide health care.  He added that for those businesses that donít provide insurance, they would be taxed an equal amount to make it equitable for everyone.  He said it will take a lot of pushing in order for them to have a debate to find out what is the most effective way to provide for the citizens.

 

Fleenor said they need change.  He thought this was the first step in making change. He said they need to send a loud and clear message that they want a good healthy debate that will lead to positive change.  He didnít want to mix politics and rhetoric with the need to take care of the American people.  He thought the Board should work with counsel to develop a resolution that sends a clear message to Congress that they want reform now.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 09-3-31-6 with the change of Dunes City to Lane County.

 

Handy MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Stewart asked how they would lower the medical costs to Lane County alone from $24 million to $3 million by going with this plan.  He asked if they would see a reduction in quality healthcare the current employees would see.  He asked how they would add more money for this.

 

Dawson said if they used a single payer model, it provides for an employer tax of about 3.5 percent compared to 34 percent.  He said they donít get the quality of outcome in the United States under the current fragmented competitive system.  He found as they go outside of the United States for single payer systems, the quality of outcomes go up.  He said the single payer system is like a Medicare system and the consumer satisfaction is higher in the U.S. under Medicare than the private systems.  He added the V.A. medical outcome is rated the top in the single payer system.  He said they wonít see savings in the first few years.

 

Dwyer asked what a single payer system is.

 

Dawson responded the working definition is Medicare.  He added that they would just expand and improve it.  He said it is a system where they have centralized financing that administers reimbursement to physicians and the delivery of health care according to certain established set standards.  He added that it is an administrative mechanism that has accountability to the public that is more transparent in terms of how it operates.

 

Dr. Turner said he hadnít seen a definition of single payer.  He said it would be a universal single system that covers everyone in the country.  He said it will pool all the insurance risk in one place.  He added that the single payer systems accepts the authority and the responsibility for the health care system, including the performance, funding, manpower, infrastructure planning, payment system and designs the benefit package and responsible for getting everyone signed up.

 

Fleenor said they need community involvement.  He said Americans need to discover they are in this together and they need to work together to solve problems.

 

Stewart was supportive to try to find a solution to the health care problem.  He recommended a debate of all options.  He wanted to see how much money would be saved.

 

Dawson commented that the cost driver is the rising cost of medical intervention.  He said they need policy management solutions or they will be looking at health care that has financially collapsed.

 

Sorenson asked if Richardson reviewed the resolution and if it was legally sufficient.

 

Richardson had no concerns about its legality.  She caught three errors and Spartz caught a few more.  She said they could provide changes to the resolution.

 

Fleenor asked Richardson to draft a new resolution and have this on the Consent Calendar tomorrow.

 

Handy asked about the expenditures to the County.

 

Dawson responded that the out of pocket savings would be in excess of $23 million.  He said they would remove a contentious item with regard to management and labor with employee contract negotiation.

 

Handy withdrew his motion.  Dwyer withdrew his second.

 

DISCUSSION/Communication Vehicle Between Lane County, City of Eugene, and EWEB.

Bob Cassidy, EWEB Commissioner, said when they were working on the charter revision with the city, there was tension between EWEB and the city.  He proposed an idea to have one elected official from each body and citizens to gather occasionally to discuss what is going on between the two bodies.  He thought all three bodies could have designated volunteers and citizens, with no minutes, officers, or voting, but sharing of information about what is happening at the local jurisdictions.

 

Cassidy said at EWEB they are discussing possibly moving the administration building to the Roosevelt site.  He said they are studying what it would cost to build the building and they are going to make a decision by June whether they are going to remodel the present building for the next 30 years or build a new building for administration.  He added that EWEB is looking at the Seneca Saw Mill for biomass burning.

 

Sorenson thought they should have a joint meeting with the Board of Commissioners and EWEB.  He wanted to see what Lane County could do in fulfilling its responsibilities to have an energy plan for Lane County.

 

Cassidy said EWEB does future planning with water and electricity.  He added that water is the key issue.  He said they are capable of supplying water to surrounding areas.  He added that they are capable of getting technical information, about getting different sources of electricity, making sure the right power is on the line at the right time. He indicated that they are required to get renewable resources. He thought that was how the County could help. 

 

Cassidy  thought a meeting would be difficult to set up and burdensome.  He thought a small group meeting occasionally would be better.

 

REPORT/Approval of Letter to City of Eugene Regarding River Road and River Avenue Safety Concerns.

 

Handy recalled that a few weeks ago the Board had a request to vacate property around the LTD Park and Ride at River Road and River Avenue. He said the discussion involved give and take. He said instead of forwarding safety improvements as part of the vacation, he wanted to write a separate letter and make it a request outside of that approval.  He worked on this letter with Marsha Miller, Public Works.   He indicated that the letter is asking the city of Eugene to address the safety issues involving adding signage to address the issues. 

 

MOTION: to send the letter to the city of Eugene.

 

Handy MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

7. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

 

Announcements

 

Spartz reported that last week at the SEL Meeting, they began discussion about putting together an economic summit for the region.  He said the main issue they are dealing with is the competition between focus and inclusion.  He said they were concerned that if they came in with a proposal to be evaluated, (providing focus for economic development) people could argue it wasnít inclusive enough.  He said they are working on how to balance the need for focus and outreach.  He hoped they would start this in early June.

 

8. COUNTY COUNSEL

 

Announcements

 

None.

 

 9. PERFORMANCE AUDITOR

 

Announcements

 

Stewart Bolinger, Performance Auditor, noted on his schedule for activity for the audit, that they were hosted by Springfieldís fines and collection staff last week.  He reported they have automated their fines processing.  He said they scan in the documentation at the beginning of the process.  He added in compliance with state law and the approval of the state archivist, the paper is shredded and they rely on an electronic system.  He said they were willing to share the details of the process.  He thought there could be potential for improving the Countyís process.  He said they have to get to the bottom of cost effectiveness.  He indicated the Short Mountain audit report is being reviewed by County Counsel and Waste Management and he will have it ready next week.

 

Fleenor asked if a new ordinance with a property seizure might increase the amount of recovery of fines if they were to put a Denver boot on the vehicles.

 

Bolinger said that County Counsel is helping analyze exactly what the Countyís options are in terms of using the Denver boots.  He said there are technicalities with the boot and parking citations.  He said they would know more in 30 days.

 

Handy asked how much they collected for amnesty versus what is to be collected.

 

Bolinger responded that it was around $40,000 to $45,000.  He said the total receivable balance is in the millions. 

 

Stewart asked that when Bolinger brings that item back to the Board, that they have representatives to answer questions.

 

10. PUBLIC WORKS

 

ORDER 09-3-31-4/In the Matter of Amending Chapter 4 of Lane Manual to Establish a Firewise Incentives Program (LM 4.300).

 

Keir Miller, Land Management, explained that this proposed order will amend Chapter 4 of Lane Manual.  He indicated that these amendments will articulate specific financial incentives and other details necessary to implement the newly developed County Firewise Protection Program.

 

Miller recalled on February 18, 2009 the Board authorized $288,000 in Title III funding to Land Management.  He said the purpose of the funding was to carry out wildfire mitigation and firewise activities as permitted under the reauthorized Secure Rural Schools Act.  He said the SRS legislation narrowly defines how the County can expend the funding and wildfire planning and firewise activities are permitted uses.  He stated that the funding will primarily be used to reimburse rural property owners for certain activities they undertake on their properties that will decrease the vulnerability of their homes to a wildfire event.  He said the types of activities they are proposing come out of the National Firewise Communities Program literature.  He added that Land Management has also been working with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the State Fire Marshal Office to ensure the program they are designing coordinates with the ongoing efforts of those agencies and the SB 360 Wildland Urban Interface Protection Act.  He added that because the goal of the program is to provide stimulus to the local economy, they have been working with local area builders and landscapers to ensure that the incentives that they are developing will be attractive to homeowners.  He said they have been working with homebuilders to design incentives that are attractive. 

 

Miller said there are three situations where County residents can qualify for Title III funding.  He indicated one way is for new construction and they want to build their home or residential accessory structure to certain firewise standards.  He said for those situations, Land Management would waive building permit fee waivers up to a maximum amount of $5,000.  He said they would have to use fire resistant building materials and create landscaping defensible space around their homes and other criteria.  He indicated the second option is when citizens want to retrofit their home.  He said they would offer small grants to do certain structural improvements to their properties such as replacing a wood shake roof with a Class A roof.  He added that they would also provide funding for replacement of windows with fire resistant and energy efficient windows and other minor structural improvements.  He stated that they would offer small grants for homeowners who want to do some landscaping on their property to create a defensible space, an area around the immediate surroundings of the home where fuels have been modified to slow the advance of a wildfire.  He indicated that they will offer funding for landscaping materials and plants that are fire resistant.  He indicated that the proposed code language also sets up the authority for County staff to make site inspections on properties to determine program eligibility and it provides for an appeals process if homeowners are unhappy with determinations made by staff.  He added that there are provisions in the language that would prevent any conflicts of interest with staff evaluating in their own home or a home of a friend.

Dwyer commented that this appears to be evolving into a regulatory process.   He asked if Miller reviewed Cindy Landís comments regarding the enactment of the provisions.

 

Miller responded that he hadnít seen the comments.

 

Dwyer thought Miller should review the letter.  He was worried about the evolution of the process.

 

Miller thought it was a flaw in the Lane Code language.  He explained that the only thing the language was attempting to do was make it clear to residents the funding is available if they want to undertake any of the programs.  He said they were not designing it to be regulatory.

 

Fleenor concurred with Dwyer.  He wanted to make it as permissive as possible and not restrictive.  He liked Landís suggestion that they should avoid creating a County staff bureaucracy with unwarranted private property searches.  He said they need to look at the impact this might have on expansion into the urban growth boundaries.  He thought they should go through Landís letter to incorporate as much permissive language as they can.

 

Miller reiterated that the Board had allocated funding to Land Management to get the program working.  His intent was to have the Lane Manual language adopted as soon as possible so they can be ahead of the fire season and get the information out to the residents.

 

Sorenson asked Miller to come back after review of Landís letter.

 

Handy wanted to see the criteria for the program weighted toward existing residences.  He wanted to see a benefit instead of subsidizing new development in the urban rural interface.  He didnít want to waive permit fees.  He wanted to see an option where they leave the permit fees intact.

 

Stewart stated this is a volunteer program and if they sign up for the program, there is an obligation to allow the site to be inspected.  He didnít interpret this as a program that is going to encourage or be an incentive to build on their land.  He commented that the citizens already have the right to build on their land.  He said this program is trying to encourage limiting the liability of causing a fire.  He wanted to make sure the waiver didnít include the construction excise tax schools are receiving.

 

Miller explained with the building fee permit waivers, their intent is to cover 100 percent of the building permit fee if people really build to the standard.  He said they are not promoting growth, they are setting guidelines for people who live in sensitive areas.

 

Sorenson said that this would come back next week.

 

11. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 

ORDER 09-3-31-5/In the Matter of Adopting Lane Manual Chapter 9 Rules for Procedures for Lane County Board of Health.

 

Trina Laidlaw, Assistant County Counsel, explained that the purpose of this order is a way to suggest a framework for how they would make decisions in this area.  She said a reason to bring this to the Board is that they have Public Health statutes that talk about the Countyís role as the Public Health authority.  She indicated that there is a system for delivering Public Health services.  She noted that the County is designated as the Public Health authority and the County has its own existing procedures for conducting its own business.  She didnít think the statute was intended to require that the County change any of its practices.

 

Laidlaw indicated the issues that come up are what the Board is considering related to Public Health and having a procedural framework for how they will deal with them.  She proposed language that would be an option.  She wanted to change this to a brief discussion with the Board.  She didnít think the Board needed to take action today. 

 

With regard to Public Health statutes, Laidlaw indicated county governments are established as the local Public Health authority.  She said the statutes mention that the Public Health authority has its own rules it could adopt.  She added that it states the governing body of each county shall constitute the Board of Health.  She indicated that the Board of Health is described as the policy making body of the County in implementing the duties of the local departments of health under a particular statute and that applies to local Public Health authorities.

 

Laidlaw recalled that recently they had an issue come up and they looked at an organizational structure in Multnomah County and the way they make decisions.  She explained that the Multnomah County organization structure is that it keeps the rules that are being adopted within the department. She said the  Board of Health adopts policies and rules relating to duties of that department under the Public Health authority.  She said Multnomah County presents a plan to the state and tells the state what areas they want regulated and what type of services to provide and issues that need to be addressed countywide.

 

Laidlaw said rules could be adopted by the Lane County Board of Commissioners as their role as the Public Health authority. She said it isnít clear about the types of rules to be adopted.  She thought it was up to the Board on how they want to structure which rules get dealt with.  She recommended that if the Board wants to deal with an issue (that is a public need and they are operating as a Board of Health) that they also have the Board of Commissioners as the Public Health authority tagging onto that.  She added that after the Board of Health makes its decisions and decides what rules it wants to help implement, then they could have the Board of Commissioners with the Public Health authority make an approval

 

Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services, explained that Lane County has a choice to carve out a Board of Health.  He added they have a Health Advisory Committee and they take those positions and require doctors and nurses.  He indicated there are some Boards of Health where county commissioners are not involved.  He explained that the money does not come to the Board of Health; it comes to Lane County and the Board as a Public Health authority and to Rockstroh as a public health administrator.  He is obligated to follow the rules from the state.  He thought this was a way to keep things clean and legal.

 

Laidlaw said under number 1, where they are adopting the Board of Health, it is adopting policies by order.  She said they could say with the approval of the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Health will set readings and public hearings before rules relating to Public Health in the community and then have the Board of Commissioners acting on behalf of the Public Health authority.  She said they could have the Board of Health acting first, (recognizing the public need) addressing the departmentís roles and what it is supposed to do under law, and then having the Commissioners approve it.  She said they could be in either Lane Code or Lane Manual.  She added if it is just the Board of Health creating rules and policies to direct the department, they could be in Lane Manual.

 

Sorenson said they are making it clear that the Board of Health can act.  He said they are all behind taking this action.  He said he wants this to come back to the Board.

 

Handy said it is important the Board be the policy makers and decision makers.  He said they are going to have to look at how rules are either made or decided in the departments when it comes to reorganization.  He added that anything questionable he wanted to come back before the Board.

 

Spartz said they need to put procedures and policies in place for both the protection of the Board and to make sure the actions they take are legally defensible.  He thought it was transparent.

 

Stewart was in support of what Laidlaw had outlined.

 

Laidlaw said she would come back to the Board within a couple of weeks.

 

Richardson indicated that they will have a first reading on this tomorrow.

 

12. CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD

 

None.

 

13. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Dwyer asked to remember neighbors when things get bad.  He said it was important that the community sticks together.  He commented that when they have capacity to grow something, they can become more self-sufficient and stop relying on others for oil and food.  He stated that he was planting a garden.

 

Fleenor announced that he was resuming his Community Dialogue with Mike Clark at the Eagles Lodge from 10 to 11:30.

 

Sorenson announced April 23 is the National Take your Daughters and Sons to work Day.  He announced a high school art show at the Lane Community College Art Gallery on April 2.  He noted that the Lane Workforce Partnership send out a card for people who are laid off.  He reported that the Board is having their Garage Tour this evening.

 

Handy noted the nationís first solar highway installation is running in Tualatin.  He said it helps light the I-205 and I-5 interchange. 

 

Stewart said tonight his wife will be sitting in for him for the Community Sharing Organization in Cottage Grove.  He announced that Cottage Grove had a successful basketball season this year.  He reported on his Washington, D.C. trip.  He thought this was the most encouraging trip he had taken.  He came back with information where they have areas of opportunity.  He hoped that some of the issues in the short term will give them a bridge to a longer term solution.  He reported that Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, did an incredible job in Washington, D.C. He thought most money is coming from the state programs or through grant opportunities.  He thought as the department is reviewing opportunities that they are able to act quickly, even if they have to hire someone with expertise to get it done.  He said in the future grant writing will be an important way for Lane County to receive money.  He participated in a Human Services Commission townhall in Cottage Grove where Kate Davidson explained the HSC.  She asked people to fill out a questionnaire regarding the prioritization of services.

 

Spartz stated that Mike McKenzie-Bahr, Economic Development, identified an individual who would be available on a contract basis if they need this.  He thought they might need to execute a contract to bring the resources on board.

 

14. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660

 

None.

 

15. OTHER BUSINESS

 

Working for You Video

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson adjourned the meeting at 4:50 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary