LANE COUNTY BUDGET

COMMITTEE MEETING

May 14, 2009

5:15 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 2/2/2010

 

Chair Alice Kaseberg presided with Budget Committee members present:  Scott Bartlett, Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy, Denis Hijmans, Cindy Land, Peter Sorenson, Faye Stewart and Rose Wilde present.  County Administrator Jeff Spartz and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER

 

Chair Alice Kaseberg called the meeting to order.

 

II. COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

Approval of Minutes from May 5, 2009

 

MOTION: to approve the May 5, 2009 minutes.

 

Fleenor MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

III. DISTRICT ATTORNEYíS OFFICE

 

Alex Gardner, District Attorney, reported that SASS form #7 was incorrect.  He said it shows there isnít any funding leveraged, but it is highly leveraged.  He noted that under SB1145  they manage state offenders locally.  He indicted it is a compensation process that provides for money from state to the counties.  He added it is a percentage of the total population under supervision.  He indicated that if they donít convert offenders into supervision, they donít get paid.  He noted the most important cases are involving violence, felonies and then misdemeanor property and drug cases.  He stated that most felony person crimes are subject to Measure 11 and not part of the population in Lane County.  He added that most crimes are drug and property offenses.  He reported that there is  a continued increase in violence.  .

 

Gardner gave a PowerPoint presentation on the District Attorneyís office.  (Copy in file).

 

IV. SHERIFFíS OFFICE

 

Russ Burger, Sheriff,  recalled that last year as a result of no Secure Rural Schools funding, they were forced to close 244 correction beds, 100 Forest Work Camp beds, 84 beds in the North Annex of the Jail and 60 beds in the  Community Corrections Center.  He noted that his department lost 97 positions.  He asked the Board to add 84 jail beds in conjunction with the County Administratorís recommended budget..  He noted an expense variation for them is in County charges. He said they placed charges in one program so as adjustments are made, staff can keep track.  He indicated that charges are going up $1 million from 2008/2009 to 2009/2010,  totaling over $7.6 million or a 15.4 percent increase.  He noted that another revenue challenge is in Parole and Probation, with operating costs up $367,000.  He said they had $108,000 in general fund this year for Community Corrections and the state of Oregon reduced their money.  He stated the Board of Commissioners backfilled reductions by $175,000, giving them $283,000 from the general fund for the last fiscal year. He added for next  fiscal year, they will need over $1 million to sustain the same level for Parole and Probation.  He said there are increased operating costs.  He discussed  the change with the Traffic and Life Safety Team.  He said five positions were added last year and the revenue couldnít sustain the positions because they couldnít collect the funds. He noted Fleet is up $525,000.  He said they transferred Fleet to Public Works and they had no historical data for the Sheriffís Office.  He noted that fuel costs are not as much as they were charged for. 

 

With regard to other revenue reduction,  Burger said they donít know what will happen with the Community Corrections dollars.   He recalled the mid year cuts of $575,000 were backfilled by the Board.  He doesnít know what will happen.  He said they are budgeting over $10 million..  He said the city of Springfield is opening their jail. They have a contract with Springfield that provides $190,000 and $200,000 is budgeted for next year. He indicated Springfield is projected to open the jail in November 2009 and at that point Lane Countyís revenue stream ends.  With the U.S. Marshall revenue, they have an agreement for 120 beds that they rent from them.  He added that they have one of the highest rates in the nation at $117.00 per day and they average 108 beds.  He said if that fluctuates, it could have an impact.  He said the more jail beds, the lower the incremental costs per jail bed. He noted there are fixed costs with operation including booking in and offenders.  Their incremental costs are $70 to $100 per day and the costs go down with a contract of more beds.  He said they could leverage funds to buy additional beds. He added that for every four beds, they get an additional bed by contracting.  He stated that more than half of their revenue comes from contracts and other sources other than general fund.

 

Doug Hooley, Captain, Adult Corrections, reported that a significant amount of criminals that are dangerous are being let out prematurely.  He added that they are driving up the crime rate and it will have an impact to the community with the resource shortage.  He stated their first priority is the immediate protection of life and their second goal is reducing recidivism.  He added that incarceration alone will not reduce recidivism. He indicated that supervision of an offender in the community alone will not reduce recidivism.  He added that treatment alone will not reduce recidivism..  He noted another priority is failure to appear.  He recalled in 2004, there was a study completed on data from 2003 and during 7,222 occurrences of defendant and offenders failing to appear in court, was at a cost of $3.4 million and that number is now up to $4 million.  He indicated they have a validated risk assessment tool, but donít have the resources to keep them in jail.  He reported that this fiscal year they anticipate the release of 4,585 total offenders.  He noted that every bed open decreases the offenders out in the community by nine.  He indicated with 78 jail beds, they will reduce the offenders in the community by 702.  He added they will still release 3,500 offenders, but they would be releasing 700 fewer people, putting the community at risk for person crimes.  He indicated that next year they shouldnít have to release any Measure 11 offenders or those determined to be dangerous.  He said they would be down to releasing 200 offenders instead of 900 offenders.  He stated that it could have positive impacts.

 

V. DISCUSSION

 

Why are Measure 11 charges to prison instead of jail? Could they charge more for Measure 11 crimes?

 

Gardner responded that with Measure 11 offenders, they carry a presumption of being innocent.  He noted once they are convicted, they go to prison.

 

Will a future morgue be separate or could it be located in another Lane County facility?

 

Gardner said a morgue does not require a building, but there are structural OSHA requirements.  He said they discussed partnering with the Oregon State Police Crime Lab.

 

If a city wanted to have a misdemeanor crime to prosecute, could they charge the city?  Is it done in any other communities?

 

Gardner stated that many communities donít have municipal courts.  He added that most municipal courts are prosecuting ordinances.  He noted the city of Eugene enacts its own ordinances and Springfield adopts the state code.

 

Kaseberg asked about outcome measures for the jail beds.

 

Burger said they hope to achieve 70 percent of violent offenders or more being held within custody instead of being in the community.  He added in the budget is a request for an analyst and they could track performance measures.

 

There was a graph showing capacity based releases from other communities.  How do you account for other jurisdictions that send them to the Lane County Jail?

 

Hooley responded that in 2008, they had 3,780 total capacity releases and out of those Eugene had 971 and Springfield had 568.  He added that most offenders came in with Municipal Court and Circuit Court charges.

 

For the lower risk offenders, could they be placed in an industrial building or Community Corrections Center?

 

Burger indicated that currently they are worried about the most dangerous in the community.  H e said once they handle that, then they could focus on the lower level offenders and alternative sanctions.

 

What are the criteria used to evaluate whether to release an inmate and if they have been changed to remove flight risk from the matrix.

 

Hooley said every local offender and SB 1145 goes through an extensive pre trial interview with a history check.  He said there is a questionnaire with 54 questions that goes into failure to appear in court, risk of recidivism and risk of being in the public.  He said a risk score is given.  He said there is about two hours invested in each inmate.  He said an offenderís dangerous points factored by four and recidivism points, gives them the overall capacity released score.  He indicated that is how they determine who is released.

 

What cuts are coming down from the state that are not reflected in the service option sheets?

 

Burger said they were concerned about Community Corrections.  He recalled that last year they received over $10 million divided between jail capacity, Parole and Probation, treatment and transitional housing.  He said they donít know yet what the budget is going to be.  He said there is discussion that the Department of Corrections (who grants reduced capacity for prisons) will push offenders out and not cut Community Corrections.  He added that there is a discussion about Measure 57 funds being postponed and being backfilled for Community Corrections.  He didnít know what would happen with Community Corrections.

 

In looking at the programs sheets, Community Corrections and Parole and Probation are different program lines.  What is the connection?  If the state lowers the Community Corrections money why does it reduce Parole and Probation officers?

 

Burger said Parole and Probation is funded by Community Corrections dollars.

 

Are there any other budget balancing related issues they should know about before the Budget Committee makes their recommendation?

 

Burger responded there werenít any issues.

 

What would a 40 percent cut in the major state funding do to keeping the 84 beds open?

 

Burger responded that they need Community Corrections capacity in Lane County.  He said they need to find a way to fund it as it is a matter of public safety.  He said by releasing people into the community who should not be released, they are victimizing citizens.

 

Hijmans asked if they see a major hit with state funding, will the potential of the reduction of Community Corrections cause them to move the $3 million to make up for what has been cut.

 

Burger said they would consider every possibility.  He said there would be work done to consider the best use of Community Corrections dollars.  He said the state of Oregon may reduce their prison capacity..

 

Related to Springfield, the cost per day they were charging the federal government was significantly higher than other places.  When Springfield opens its jail, would Lane County be saving money?

 

Burger said they will hold male misdemeanors only.  He added they wonít hold anyone with medical problems.  He said they had discussion about trading for some females.  He said what hasnít been factored into their analysis is transportation costs.  

 

Is the Jag grant of $252,000 an additional fund or is it describing the grant fund?

 

Burger said this was from the U.S. Department of Justice.  He indicated that it is a requirement to maintain a certification for all police deputies and correction deputies.  He indicated that this would supplement the grant to bring staff up to compliance.

 

Does County Corrections use evidence based best practices?  If they use evidence best practices, could they lower their costs?

 

Hooley said the risk assessment is part of a seven part system for reducing recidivism.  He added that they do mental health evaluations and parole and probation needs assessment.  He added they have evaluations for sex offenders, drug and, parenting classes in Community Corrections.  He indicated there are resources placement through grant funding for mental illness and for providing positive reinforcement in the jail.  He said it is a 4 to 1 ratio for the inmates and they do motivational techniques with the inmates.   He said they have precursor activities for reducing recidivism.  He said data shows if educating one group of offenders and not the others, they are not as employable.

 

It was mentioned about the federal consent decree.  If they want to buy 84 beds and only get 78 beds, how do they get rid of the decree?

 

Burger said they could get rid of the federal consent decree and would have to go back to  the court and petition.  The Board of Commissioners would decide the capacity.  He stated that it provides some protection for the County from that possibility.  He said they are releasing them because federal law is telling them they have to.  He indicated that if the County would release them, they wouldnít have the same protection.

 

 

VI.  Lane County Community Survey 2009.

 

Jenn Inman, Senior Budget Analyst, discussed the Lane County Community Survey. (Copy in file).

 

 

VII. MUNICAST

 

Garnick incorporated previous scenarios into the MuniCast.

 

VIII. DISCUSSION

 

Bartlett said if they were to do the add packages, they could look at the next budget year and they could make changes if things went bad.  He thought they could revise the budget in a supplemental. He thought they could go with the add packages and have the flexibility to adjust accordingly.

 

Stewart commented that the MuniCast is only good with the information they have today.  He said decisions need to be based on what they know today.

 

Wilde commented that they have to do the best they can with what they can control.  She said they have ideas they will bring forward on what they can do.  She said they need to explain to the community why they are in the situation they are in.

 

Fleenor stated things they do today have consequences.  He said it helps to manage risk.

 

Kaseberg said they have a lot of needs and if they can fill as many as they possibly can, to set aside for the jail and look at it in the future.  She asked if there were any way to backfill a little with the SRS money.

 

Handy indicated that he and Sorenson went to the Budget Committee in Eugene.  He said they were interested in a swap.  He said they discussed the Municipal Court contract.

 

Hijmans said they know the state is in dire straits.  He said if they take $1 million in general cuts every year they would be able to go to 2013 with stability.

 

Sorenson asked for more money for the jail and HSC from the city of Eugene.  He said they raised the seriousness of the Countyís situation.  He said if they exchanged the money with the city, they would have a net to the general fund of $800,000. He distributed spread sheets. (Copy in file).  He indicated that it was a modest attempt to cope with what they say and how they have to live within their means.  He said there will be changes for the document, but it restores prosecution of non-violent offenders.

 

Land said she looks forward to next Tuesday and hoped they can be fair to take care of all the citizens of Lane County.

 

Kaseberg noted that Sorenson distributed information.  She asked if they should discuss this matter now.

 

MOTION: to extend the meeting to 9:00 p.m.

 

Sorenson MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 9-1 (Dwyer dissenting).

 

Sorenson commented that a big issue in this draft is the issue of the 84 jail beds.  He said that is something he did not add on his list, as it will be a big ticket item.  He noted that they had savings on the health costs.  He indicated that the Metro Partnership money has been reallocated to economic development.  He noted the proposed budget is $477,000 for Land Management Division.  He said the proposed budget has the COPS Recovery program.  He believed they could transfer $263,000 from the road fund to fund the first year component part of the federal grant of 5 FTE of law enforcement.  He added there are proposed adds in County Administration.  He said the $3.2 million is in the stabilization reserve.

 

Dwyer didnít support this budget.  He didnít think $400,000 should be spent for staff and hiring a resource development analyst and sales manager.  He said if they are really talking about tough times, then donít cut everyone else and reward themselves.  He didnít think it was right to cut out Metro Partnership instead of putting the $100,000 into economic development. He didnít think they would get the same bang for the buck.  He didnít like the political gyrations about the special interest groups.  He said it was fraught with problems.  He will not support this.

 

Bartlett said they had to make cuts last year and they saved a lot of money.  He indicated that money is in reserves. He asked if they could delay a budget to save money.  He said they could say the beds should be restored and they could have a ramp up time of six months to ramp up the beds.  He said it would show the citizens they were interested in setting up the beds but that they were still saving money.

 

Stewart said there were things on the proposal he was concerned about.  He noted there was no explanation about the $250,000 for FTE for the Board.  He said there is no guaranty the money for rural resident deputies would come through because it is a grant.  He said O & C was pulled out.  He said it is not a special interest group, they are commissioners from other counties.  He said to say they donít need $13.5 million from the past few years is a mistake.

 

Wilde asked what the 84 beds in a stabilization reserve meant.  She said the other decisions in the proposed budget were irrelevant with money.  She wanted to see what options there were to develop proposals to not make the huge leap of adding jail beds, but to address an issue in the community.  She wanted to buy time.  She wanted to know what other jurisdictions were doing to help the County solve the problem.  She also wanted to know what the state does.  She was not against providing staffing to the Board, because they are bringing resources to the community and she thought it was a good return on their invest  She thought the commissioners should have assistants.

 

Fleenor concurred with Bartlett and Wilde about setting aside the appropriate amount of money to restore the 84 jail beds during this fall or next year after they had time to see how the economy is.  He wanted certainty they could give to the Sheriff that they have allocated the money in a dedicated contingency for restoring the jail beds.  He said it will be based upon how severe the state cuts are and the property tax collections.  He said they canít make decisions because they donít have all the information.  He indicated that they need to send a clear message to all the public safety people that they will pre-commit the funds based upon the economy stabilizing, giving them a certainty so risk management could be mitigated.  He said the proposal with the problems Dwyer had pointed out should be factored in. 

 

Kaseberg commented that they are being overwhelmed with factors and problems.  She thought staffing for commissioners was good so they could focus less on filing and have time to think rationally about what is going on.  She was looking forward to options with the Sheriffís office.

 

Handy wanted to write checks to companies to help them through the economy.

 

 

IX. ADJOURN

 

Kaseberg adjourned the meeting at 9:05 p.m.

 

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary