LANE COUNTY BUDGET
Tuesday, May 19,
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, County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
I. PUBLIC COMMENT
Mike Tayloe, Springfield, discussed public safety. He said he has done research from an accounting position and the County is spending close to $150 million per year in police, District Attorney and jail services. He commented that for that amount of money, they run a revolving door. He went to the Public Safety Coordinating Council to get a real number and found that they didnít know how much is spent on public safety on a countywide basis. He requested accountability for the money they are spending before they add more money.
Ken Larsen, Lowell, commented that the citizens of Lane County voted the commissioners into their seats and the commissioners can be voted out. He said as a commissioner, they are representative of the government authority of Lane County and they are entrusted by the voters with the administrative powers to properly and realistically manage the affairs affecting the operation of Lane County and the services it provides its citizens.
Phil Brubaker, Mayor of Florence, stated that last night their city council unanimously adopted Resolution 12, Series 2009, requesting Lane County to increase expenditures for public safety. He read the resolution. He asked the Board to approve the recommendation of the Lane County Administrator to expend additional funds to increase County Jail operation capacity and District Attorney staffing.
Steve Dodrill, Director of OSU Extension Service, Eugene, said they are at a crossroads for their organization. He noted the money runs out March 1 and they are looking for continuation of their rent forgiveness plus $100,000 to get them from March 1 through the end of the fiscal year. He said the Extension Service has been around for 95 years and the community has supported them for all of that time. He said they are working hard to get a diversified portfolio of funding sources in place so they can continue into the next fiscal year. He hoped they could get the bridge funding and rent forgiveness to continue. He said for the extra four months, they are able to maintain their programs in 4H, youth development, horticulture and nutrition education programs. He said those areas would continue for another four months. He reported that they have 635 trained volunteers in the County doing work with them. He said if they as a unit go away, then the master gardeners, food preservers and 4H youth development leaders go away.
Karen Cholewinski, Eugene, commented that the OSU Extension service engages people with research based knowledge and education that focuses on strengthening communities and economies and promoting healthy families and individuals.
Andrea Larsen, Lowell, commented that it was time for action. She said the citizens in charge of the County have a voice and they will be heard. She commented that the PAC is here to stay.
Taylor Gotlieb, Junction City, said people need to know how dangerous it is Lane County. He said it concerns him that kids in Lane County are not safe. He said there were two predatory sex offenders that live within walking distance of his former home. He stated if violent criminals were locked up, it would be a safer neighborhood. He said the Board needs to fund public safety and they need to fund it now.
Tab Davis, Junction City, thought her opinion would be disregarded by her representative, Mr. Fleenor. She said she lives in rural Lane County. She reported a story where her neighbor was followed home and robbed at gunpoint. She indicated that there are not enough detectives in the County to investigate these types of crimes. She added that her parents were victims of theft and identity fraud. She commented that while those crimes are considered non-violent, she was aware that violent crime in Lane County is on the rise. She stated that violent offenders are being released from jail every day. She recalled that for this year nearly 150 violent criminals have been released back into the community to offend and victimize again. She indicated that the commissioners were sending a clear message to the criminals stating ďBe our guests.Ē She said taking a stand for public safety and releasing the federal timber money the Board has been holding hostage since late last year is taking a stand for all of the people and services in Lane County. She said none of the services vying for funding could successfully operate properly without a foundation of security. She commented that the Board owes it to the community to prove their worthiness to hold the office they now hold.
Darryl Davis, Cheshire, commented that the Boardís priority list, the Criminal Justice Commission Report and the citizenís survey just completed said it all. He noted the Boardís priority list ranked public safety number one. He added that the Criminal Justice Report shows how bad the public safety system is Lane County. He indicated that the citizenís survey showed the majority of respondents want to restore the services cut from last year. He commented that a few individuals on the committee want to put funding for 84 beds in a dedicated fund, possibly opening the beds at a later day. He didnít think that would ever happen. He said it was not acceptable when the ability exists to fund the evidenced based request. He said if the committee was unwilling to fund the request, he asked how Sorenson could propose to add 3.5 FTE to the Board of Commissionersí staff and to propose to increase the County Administration budget by $557,668 as new service additions, not currently included in the proposed budget. He stated the Board of Commissioners has stubbornly refused to restore funds to fund public safety when it was so severely cut during the last budget cycle. He wanted to see the evidenced based practice suggest that the Board of Commissioners needs this type of increase when they asked the rest to tighten their belt. He said even though a majority of the Budget Committee has no intention to fund the 84 beds, he asked Sorenson, Fleenor and Handy to uphold their oath. He also asked the Budget Committee to uphold the state law to restore the small portion of what was lost by the Sheriffís Office last year.
Doug Robertson, Douglas County Commissioner, Roseburg, thanked the Board for their participation in NACo, the Association of Oregon Counties and the Association of O & C Counties. He said with the Boardís help in working with Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, Congressman DeFazio, Congressman Waldon and others, they were successful in getting a four year extension of the safety net. He said this year Lane County received $45 million due to the Boardís help and work with the Association of O & C Counties. He recalled in the letter the committee received from Senator Wyden today, Wyden underscored the importance of that effort. Robertson reported that for over 80 years Lane County has been a member of the Association of O & C Counties and it has never been more important for the Boardís continued membership in the association than it is now. He distributed information on what the organization is doing in Lane Countyís behalf to help Senators Wyden and Merkley identify their colleagues and how they are affected by the safety net legislation and what they have to lose in four years when it sunsets. He said Lane County and Douglas County will be a huge casualty if they donít get reauthorization. He provided a list of every county that receives safety net payments and payment in lieu of tax payments. (Copy in file).
Mary Bradley, Eugene, said she is a master gardener and coordinator of the Food for Lane County Grassroots Garden. She commented there is much need in the community and resources are tight. She hoped the community would keep the broader picture for the long term change they need to make in the community. She recalled in the first four months of 2009, she has seen a 20 percent increase in the amount of hours people are spending in the Grassroots Garden. She said that means that as the economy is getting worse, people are ready to make lifestyle changes. She said the Extension Service is the vehicle for community volunteer based information to help people transition to the future in their lifestyles.
Carol Berg Caldwell, Eugene, said that jail recidivism continues because programs for prevention are shortchanged. She commented that the skewed priority must be corrected. She agreed that jail sanctions are essential. She said she makes donations to the jail, County homeless programs and to other services. She hoped others from the community would voluntarily donate some of their funds to the jail or any crime prevention program that they recognize needs support. She indicated that jail space is taken up with housing, not treating the mentally ill and caretaking the homeless. She thought it was fiscally wiser to care for the mentally ill and homeless and not jail them.
Greg Rice, Veneta, said he has grown up in Eugene. He said it is sad they donít have jail space to keep criminals in jail. He asked the committee if they want to be known as the group to let criminals go deeper into a criminal hole or as the group that guided them out. He said they need they jail space. He commented that programs are great but if they donít have the jail space, they donít work. He stated that he works at the jail. He indicated that defense attorneys are telling clients not to go for treatment. He said the community needs jail beds, as they need to get violent criminals off the street.
Ashley Miller, Eugene, thought public safety was more than just jail beds. She said it is unfortunate they are in a financial state to choose the jail beds; she thought it was an important opportunity to look closely at how they spend the money and to think outside the box for new ways for the system to run in a sustainable way. She thought spending money on jails alone was a short time fix. She said they need to find a creative way to keep people in jail. She added that they need to retain the programs they have. She hoped they could find new ways to fund programs that will benefit the public including the developmentally disabled, Mental Health, Public Health and for treatment.
Marshall Peter, Executive Director, Direction Services, Eugene, said that Human Services are being devastated. He commented that they are in a perfect storm of escalating need and contracting capacity, the consequences of which are being measured in human suffering. He said savings that come from investing in human services lead to reduced costs in the legal and medical systems. He indicated that human services through the Human Services Commission are an incredible value. He commented that the array of non-profits serving Eugene deliver first rate services at cut rate prices while leveraging other sources of support. He said the funding for HSC is sound public policy. He hoped the committee would direct its attention to the development of new forces of revenue.
Hal Reed, Eugene, was in favor of public safety. He believed the first priority of local government is to provide and fund a criminal justice system that ensures the citizens are properly protected and to do otherwise was irresponsible. He said they donít have enough money to properly fund their criminal justice system. He added that the federal government had come forward to give Lane County money. He said they have the money in the budget for 84 more beds. He noted the statistics the Sheriffís Department had provided showed a shocking number of serious offenders being released because there are not enough deputies to make use of the current jail space. He believed the Budget Committee must make funds available to help with the serious problem.
Fred Hamlin, Eugene, agreed that public safety is number one. He asked each commissioner what their oath was when they took office. He agreed the County is in bad financial condition. He said the citizens of Lane County have been affected by the financial times. He added that most would agree that the dollars from bond issues would probably not pass. He said they need to be more creative and more efficient. He commented that this was not the time to increase staff as Handy proposed. He said it was irresponsible. He asked the Budget Committee to support the District Attorney and the Sheriffís budget request and to abide by Senator Wydenís request to spend the money. Hamlin noted Wyden was the one in Washington, D.C. responsible for the money they are currently receiving.
Ed McDunn, Executive Director, Pearl Buck Center, asked that the Budget Committee restore the $166,000 for the Human Services Network that has been taken out of the budget. He said that money would put them back to their current funding level. He asked the Budget Committee not to cut programs for the most vulnerable citizens, the developmentally disabled. He added that public safety is a critical issue. He recalled that the Pearl Buck Center has been vandalized on numerous occasions. He wanted to make sure that public safety is a continuous process. He said government needs to step up when the public is hurting. He encouraged the Budget Committee to do that.
Shawn Winkler-Rios, Executive Director for Entrepreneurial Developmental Services, thought that Lane County should take stock of where they are and what they are supporting. He noted the small businesses in Lane County (with one to nine employees) created thousands of jobs between 2000 and 2007 and they are now struggling and they need support. He said his organization helps small business to stay strong, but they canít do it alone. He asked the Budget Committee to see how they are supporting small businesses, as they need help.
Jan Johnson, Eugene, said she was a veteran of the Korean conflict between 1952 and 1955. She discussed Veteran Services and hoped no jobs would be lost.
Duncan Murray, Eugene, told a story about someone who was raped.
John Parrish, Eugene, urged the Budget Committee to increase funding for the jail. He said public safety is of paramount importance. He commented that removal of offenders from the streets and re-educating them in jail education programs breaks the cycle of recidivism. He said it helps people turn their lives around, gain decent jobs and heighten self-esteem. He said increasing the jail capacity is money well spent.
C.T. Fulkerson, Eugene, said he is a member of LCAS Advisory Committee. He said the LCAS staff and the advisory committee had done an outstanding job this past fiscal year in developing programs that have resulted in a dramatic drop in the euthanasia of adoptable and treatable animals. He noted that there has been an increase in volunteers and dog license sales and adoptions from full-page ads in The Register Guard. He said this would not have been possible without the ongoing commitment of Karen Gaffney and her staff at LCAS who have made saving adoptable and treatable animals a top priority. He requested that the LCAS budget be approved as submitted by the Health and Human Services Department including a veterinarian and certified vet tech for FY 09/10. He commented that anything less would severely jeopardize the health and safety of the residents of Lane County.
Martin Gasgoney, Cottage Grove, recalled an employee of his was assaulted by a meth addict. He said there was no investigation of the crime. He added that three weeks later a friend of his was assaulted in a similar fashion by another meth addict. He said this type of crime was taking place on a regular basis. He sees property crime ongoing on a regular basis. He recalled in the past seven years there have been 12 robberies on his street and there are only 18 homes on the street. He stated the Board has been given money by the federal government and they have to fund public safety and treatment. He said the Sheriffís Department and the District Attorneyís office need to be funded. He said there is a crime problem and the Board has the money. He said it is unlikely the federal government will give any more money if something is not done effectively with the money that had already been given.
Craig Opperman, CEO Looking Glass, stated that all areas of public safety need resources and their support. He is supportive of the Sheriffís Department and the District Attorneyís Department. He said the community providers of treatment and prevention services are important and essential partners in making the community safe and healthy. He stated that treatment and prevention have immediate positive impact as well as long term positive impact. He thanked the Budget Committee for what they have done.
Peggy Whalen, Executive Director, Womanís Space, said they are members of the Human Services Network. She agreed that public safety is important and without a public safety system to assist women and children they serve, they could not do their job effectively. She said the Budget Committee cannot forget the importance of human services and the Human Services Network.
Bob Richards, Director, Buckley Center, Eugene, indicated that people are competing to keep programs alive. He commented that to him, social services are public safety. His concern was that they wonít know what they will be left with until the state makes its decision. He hoped the Board would keep something in reserve. He thought things could be more dire than they are today.
Cliff Kelley, Elmira, said he has been a long time 4H volunteer and leader in the County. He was concerned about the direction 4H is taking under the current Extension Service leadership. He stated there was an air of retaliation and exclusion in the program. He said that the OSU staff has become focused on fund raising to remain in the County. He said there was a better way, called multi county programming. He indicated that it is something that OSU promotes. He said the programs could continue and improve using resources shared from other counties. He said there doesnít have to be an Extension office in Lane County. He commented that funding the local Extension Service will only prolong the inevitable. He heard for the past five years that OSU needs a stable funding source but none has been provided.
Alex Hill, Eugene, said he has a family member that has become a repeat offender at the age of 17. He said his relative knows that when he turns 18 he wonít be held longer than 24 hours after entering the jail. He asked the Budget Committee to consider the young people in the community who struggle with drug and alcohol. He asked to restore the budget for public safety. He commented that his future and fellow citizensí futures are on the line.
Larry Schrenk, Creswell, said he spent 26 years with the Sheriffís Office. He said in 1978 when he started they had more officers on the road than they do now. He added that they also had resident deputies, which they no longer have. He said they need juvenile drug counselors for kids getting into drugs. He said when he started with the Sheriffís Office, the city had the jail as a contract and then the Sheriff took it over. He recalled there were a lot less people in the county then compared to now. He said crime has increased. He recalled when this county was formed, public safety was number one and the Sheriff was the first person who was elected. He said if a person is not safe in their home, they are not safe.
Charles Moss, Santa Clara, spoke in support of improvement to public safety. He said the commissioners were having a hard time with public safety, but they discovered money for a research assistant. He said there was money for political debts, but none for public safety. He stated that the commissioners wanted funds in the budget for a listening tour. He said this is a tour. He asked if the commissioners were listening. He said they want better public safety and accountability.
Jean Tate, Eugene, said there is disagreement about how to best serve the public safety needs of the larger community. She believed there needs to be a carrot and a stick. She said the stick is incarceration. She commented that without incarceration, the carrot does not work. She said the Board has an opportunity to open 84 additional jail beds. She indicated that is the stick that will allow the Parole and Probation officers as well as social services to apply their carrots. She recalled that over the past several months she has talked to law enforcement officers, county administrators and several commissioners and others in the community concerned about public safety. She has spoken with someone who has done groundbreaking work with Parole and Probation science. His work and subsequent research have shown dramatic improvement in recidivism rates. She thought the ideas would work in Lane County. She said if there are not sufficient funds in the Parole and Probation Department, she was willing to write a substantial check and recruit others to do the same to fund the experiment. She added if the results could be achieved in Lane County, they could improve public safety in all of the communities.
Jack Roberts, Executive Director, Lane Partnership, Eugene, said he was surprised to receive a call that there was a motion not to fund his organization that was formed by Lane County and the cities of Eugene and Springfield, 24 years ago. He said it has been a partnership for economic development for that time. He said they are not competing with others for money; their money comes out of video lottery funds that are constitutionally dedicated to economic development. He added that whatever action is taken tonight, there will still be money in the economic development fund to fund their organization. He said if the Budget Committee still wants to support him, it requires action by the commissioners to contract with him. He saw it as an opening to a dialogue and discussion about the future of economic development. He reminded the Board that this was a partnership that was in longstanding. He recalled the commissioners who voted to create the organization in 1985 were Peter DeFazio, Jerry Rust, John Ball, Chuck Ivey and Bill Rogers. He commented that the Metro Partnership is not the product of a right wing group; they were designed as a partnership to work together. He indicated that most of their time is spent with local businesses trying to grow and expand. He added that they have been involved in recruitment.
Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, Eugene, said they could save money by not sending dues to Association of O & C Counties. He said they have worked for many years to try to increase logging on public lands to send money to the counties. He commented that the counties are now decoupled from federal timber receipts and should remain that way. He said they have the safety net payments not because of the work of the association, but in spite of the work of the association. He said they are trying to view forests in a different way. He said they are looking for new views on where the County is going to get their future federal payments and the Association of O & C Counties is not a productive part of the discussion. He noted that Lane County has no say in the policies of the discussion. He said they could increase thinning to make forests healthier.
Paul Conte, Eugene, stated that he previously submitted testimony by e-mail. He received a reply from Fleenor that said ďI do not share your level of concern, paranoia, stop marching to the beat of terror and fear, please stop the fear mongering.Ē Conte added that Fleenor thought he was operating in a vacuum of a self-generated echo chamber. Conte read in Senator Wydenís letters to the commissioners ďHe was ultimately able to convince members of the Senate in part using repeated assertions from Lane County warning of dramatic public safety cuts that would force inmates to be released, Sheriffís patrols to be reduced and smaller communities to receive less protection. He read in a letter from Congressman Peter DeFazio where lives would be put in jeopardy if Congress failed to authorize some form of continuing payments. He asked Fleenor if he thought that DeFazio and Wyden were paranoid and marching to the beat of terror and fear. He asked Fleenor if DeFazio and Wyden were operating in a self-generated echo chamber when they fought to get over $40 million in federal funds to help Lane County. He asked Handy whether he shares the view that Lane County citizens who communicate their support for public safety to the budget committee are paranoid and fear mongered.
Bob Avery, Junction City, said he was appalled at the level of funding for public safety. He said he recently served on the Grand Jury in the Kids First facility. He indicated that Kids First is where they take care of the children in the community and the crimes that are committed against them. He indicated the jails, Sheriffís Department and the District Attorney are one of the ways they break the cycle against the children and it needs to stop. He said they need to fund the jail now. He heard the Board is talking about hiring additional staff for commissioners and additional staff that was part of a political campaign. He asked for the commissioners to publicly comment that they would not do that until they hire back the people to run the jail.
Steve Sieczkolski, Eugene, commented that Sorenson just proposed a budget providing over $550,000 to add to County Administration. He noted that the positions are for outreach meetings, strategic planning, additional staff and creating one position that will cost over $82,000. He asked why the Board refuses to take action on Presiding Judge Beardenís warning that Lane County is violating law by prematurely releasing offenders. He asked why the commissioners continue to fund non-essential programs and then cut essential programs in return. He noted that out of 14 departments, the Sheriffís Department lost 97 positions, laying of 67 employees. He added that the other departments only lost 2 positions. He said instead of figuring out a way to stretch the timber money, he asked the Board to find long term financial stability for public safety. He commented that they cannot have a thriving community when criminals have no consequences. He noted that officer involved shootings have skyrocketed and rapes and home invasion robberies are up. He said their kids need a safe community so they can play safely in their front yard without fear of being abducted or brutally assaulted. He asked if the commissioners were living in a bubble or if they were focusing on their personal agendas. He asked if the commissioners read the letter by Senator Wyden, as he was concerned about the commissionersí decision and how it will affect the long term goals for the County, state and the nation. He stated that the Lane County Political Action Committee will be actively informing the community about the commissionersí decisions and the dire need to support public safety. He commented that some Budget Committee members donít know the difference between arraignment and trials, but they are the ones making funding decisions. He stated the SRS funds are there and he asked the Budget Committee to fund public safety now.
Doug Harcleroad, Coburg, stated he was the Lane County District Attorney for almost 24 years. He indicated that he is in private practice for the Oregon Anti Crime Alliance and they are dedicated to making Oregon one of the five safest states in the Country. He said they do prevention to prisons. He supported the County Administratorís budget for public safety. He said the Co-Chairs for Ways and Means at the state level will eliminate 941 position under their proposed budget for public safety. He said there will be more offenders out in the in the community and some will come to Lane County and they will repeat their crimes. He said they know that 30 percent of offenders who are released from prison are convicted of a new felony within three years. He said they will need the jail space in Lane County to deal with those people. He added that the courts will lose $52 million under the proposed budget. He said that is the entire custody referee release program at the Lane County Jail. He said there will be more demand for jail space based on what is happening with the state.
Mike Clark, Eugene City Councilor, Eugene, said he submitted a letter to the editor of The Register Guard that was published. He said the Budget Committee has a duty to fund an adequate public safety system with the money they have. He added they have to provide an ethical, moral and legal duty to provide a jail system that is functioning for the County. He thought the most important task the committee has is the duty to listen. He said he has spent many hours with Commissioner Fleenor listening to the people in Santa Clara. He knew how important it was for the commissioners who spent time on their Listening Tours throughout the County. He knew from Handyís campaign that the central premise was how important it was for Handy to listen to his constituents. He thought it was a good idea for the committee to look at different types of proposals or options to achieve the best end for the public. He encouraged the Budget Commission to listen to everyone who is stating what their priority is and take the Countyís Administratorís budget.
Barbra Stoeffler, Eugene, recalled that she came before the Board with Crime Victims United. She came as the founder of Mothers against Drunk Driving in Lane County. She said they came before the Board to ask them to preserve the law enforcement funds and put them back into the system. She stated that they havenít changed their position, everyone in her organization wants the Budget Committee to restore the funds for public safety.
Becky Lemler, Elmira, stated she is a native Oregonian. She said she works in the medical field. She asked the Budget Committee not to cut funding for police services, as they are already underfunded. She said they need more jail beds and police officers to keep properties safe in Lane County.
Loren Corner, Eugene, said his wife just finished her Master Gardener Program and his sister-in-law is developmentally disabled, but all of the programs available to them are meaningless without public safety. He indicated that he is a Deputy Sheriff and they have had to do more with less over several years and in the last two years they suffered drastic cuts due to shrinking budgets. He recalled that over 60 people were laid off from the Corrections Division. He said the result is that good people are now gone from the community working for other counties. He indicated that Lane County has a reputation that you can get away with crime here because there are no consequences for criminal behavior.
Albert Roy, Springfield, said he has a business in Lane County and several months ago there were break-ins of cars at his business. He said sustainability cannot be divorced from public safety. He said if the Budget Committee wanted vigilantism to grow, they should follow the policies they are currently following. He said if the Budget Committee doesnít take the law seriously, then the citizens will begin to do it.
Jim Welsh, Elmira, indicated that he was representing the Lane County Realtors, Eugene Association of Realtors, Springfield Board of Realtors, Cottage Grove Board of Realtors and Central Oregon Coast Board of Realtors in Florence. He indicated they have over 1,000 members. He said many members were involved in getting the SRS payments that are replacing timber harvest payments. He said the message to Congress was the timber dollars were needed for the public safety budget. He said it is time to deliver to the citizens of Lane County a well-funded public safety budget. He commented that holding the funds in reserve in case the economy worsens sounds good when the primary budget responsibilities are adequately funded, but not when public safety is facing more budget reductions than other budgets. He said it is time to use the funds awarded to Lane County for replacement of timber harvest payments. He asked the Budget Committee to approve the County Administratorís recommendation to use $3.28 million in the next fiscal year to reopen the 84 jail beds and allow the District Attorney to prosecute non-violent felonies before the Countyís Circuit Court Judges need to order individuals accused of violent crimes to other counties. He stated the Countyís quality of life is diminishing without a solid public safety budget.
Cheryl Lowman, Eugene, said she is a teacher in the jailís education program and thought funding the additional 84 beds would be beneficial for everyone in that it would hold more people accountable for their actions. She added that it would provide the education program with more opportunities, work force development and GEDís. She said by doing so, the offender becomes employable and less likely to commit new crimes because of a lack of basic needs. She said by reducing the rate of recidivism, the savings of tax dollars becomes exponential. She said in order for them to have a sustainable community, it must be a safe community. She added that if it is not a safe community, the community will collapse.
Scott Russell, Eugene, said he is a resident, small business owner and taxpayer in Lane County. He said he opened a small business five years ago and had to work very hard. He noted that in the past five years they have seen a reduction in public safety throughout Eugene and Lane County that has led to increased crime and repeat offenders. He said his business has been vandalized. He stated with the economy the way it is now, they need creative solutions and tough decisions, but they have to live with the consequences of the decisions. He asked the Budget Committee to restore jail beds, the District Attorneyís office and more people within the Sheriffís Office.
Jerry Smith, Springfield, commented that the lack of capacity at the Lane County Jail has crippled the criminal justice system. He stated that without a jail, the system does not work. He recalled that the Sheriffís Office released a report several months ago that identified a need for 1200 additional beds with the existing facility operated at full capacity. He said they need to get their hands around the problem. He said the police are good at catching the bad guys, but they put them in jail and then they get out. He indicated that with prosecution, Parole and Probation, the courts and service providers, none are functioning adequately because they donít have to. He added that criminals donít show up at court and it is costing them millions of dollars every year in the County. He said the failure to appear for municipal offenders alone in 2006 was $1.4 million. He asked the Budget Committee to consider adoption of the County Administratorís budget.
Margaret Thumel, Eugene, said public safety was a major issue. She recalled that 20 years ago the Sheriffís Department had 20 investigators and they now have only two investigators. She said last Monday there was a bank robbery two blocks from the Sheriffís Office. She indicated that it took 20 minutes to respond to get the robber. She added that Lane County has the lowest per capita amount of police officers in the nation. She said in Eugene it is not uncommon to have only five police officers on duty at any one time. She stated that it is time to prioritize what is important.
Joe Pishioneri, Springfield City Councilor, read a letter from Mayor Sid Liken. He urged the Budget Committee to approve the recommendation during the budget process. Pishioneri spoke with all members of the Springfield City Councilors today. He said they unanimously agreed that public safety is a must and they must allow it to operate at a higher level with adequate funding. He said he is an elected official and he has had policy decisions that he personally disagreed with, but this is a time where the Budget Committee should listen to the constituents and do what they want the committee to do. He indicated that the citizens of Springfield realize that it was not possible for the County Jail to hold misdemeanant offenders. He added that the citizens have stepped up and are building a 100 bed capacity jail. He noted that these are the same citizens that pay County taxes. He urged the Budget Committee to fill the gap that is so important.
MOTION: to put item 15, Fund 285 for the Human Services Commission/Human Services and Housing for $1,466,310 into the budget.
Sorenson MOVED, Land SECONDED.
MOTION: to adopt the County Administratorís budget with the following adjustments: Number 1, keep the five FTE within the District Attorneyís Department; Developmental Disabilities Specialist, 1 FTE; Communicable Disease Nurse and Support 2.1 FTE; One communicable disease community service worker, 1 FTE; Juvenile Justice Security; temporarily do not fund the 84 jail beds; Developmental Disabilities Children, 1 FTE; Resource Development Prevention Programs .5 FTE; BCC Outreach Community Meetings; BCC Outreach Remote Meetings; the expanded Budget Meetings will be withdrawn; withdraw the Strategic Planning; add Sales Manager for the Lane Events Center; fully fund one year of the Resident Deputies, contingent upon as long as it is lawful out of the road fund reserve and in they event they do get the COPS Grant, that money will be allocated over the term of the COPS Grant; BCC staffing; BCC Resource Development Analyst; do not fund the O & C membership dues, fund NACo, do not fund the Metropolitan Partnership.
Fleenor MOVED, Wilde SECONDED.
Dwyer stated that he didnít like the way this was going. He didnít like the start because they are already trying to get to the end. He said this smelled to him
MOTION: to move to table the motion.
VOTE: 5-5 MOTION DIES FOR LACK OF MAJORITY.
Dwyer called for the question on the motion to end debate.
Handy didnít want to vote on the motion until they have the correct figures.
VOTE: 6-4 (Handy, Wilde, Kaseberg, Land).
Dave Garnick, Budget and Finance Manager indicated that some of the figures need to be updated.
Kaseberg said prosecution of non-violent felonies is $439,798, same FTE; Developmental Disabilities Specialist, net cost $31,349; $174,639 for Communicable Nurse and Support; Communicable Disease Service Worker $68,378; Juvenile Justice Security Contract for $50,000, 84 jail beds $3,237,695; Developmental Disabilities Specialist Children $31,349; Resource Development for Programs $33,465.
Christine Moody, Senior Budget Analyst, believed the FTE on the BCC staffing is 5 part-time positions or 2.5 FTE.
Jennifer Inman, Senior Budget Analyst, reported that the only portion of rural patrols that could be taken out is the time they take patrolling. She added that this would not fully fund any of the deputies.
Moody noted that the Sales Manager should not say Fund 124, it is in its own special Enterprise Fund 521, a non-general fund item.
Fleenor asked about the resident deputy program. He said they have to identify the funding source in order to fund it. He said if only 50 percent could come from the road funds, he wanted to request the other 50 percent come from the general fund or other funds that could legally support it. He said without a funding source this would be a moot motion.
Moody indicated that taking out the O & C monies would make it a negative number.
VOTE: 6- 4 (Stewart, Dwyer, Hijmans, Bartlett dissenting).
MOTION; to include Item 6, to reopen 84 jail beds for $3,237,965 into the budget.
Hijmans MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.
Dwyer said it was obvious to him that they would never be able to save themselves out of a crisis. He said to think the government will abandon them in 2011 because they donít have Secure Rural Schools is a fallacy. He commented that to not make people safe when the government gave them the money was not right. He said they withheld the money from last year. He added that they have the money accumulated, even if they fund this year. He said even with the new funding, they expect to have about 709 capacity based releases this year. He commented that Congress gave them the money. He said they have a responsibility to step up to make sound public policy based on the common good. He said all people would be a lot safer if they can sanction a crime. He thought by not funding the jail beds would be the beginning of a firestorm within the community that will be difficult to deal with and they wonít have any credibility as a government.
Bartlett said he wasnít appreciative of threats over the past twelve months. He said they should be free of fear of intimidation and look at what the values are with the community. He thought there should be a compromise. He said fiscal prudence is important and it was good to put money away into a rainy day fund. He wanted to signal a time certain for the 84 beds. He wanted a compromise.
Fleenor said their primary mission is to balance the budget by June 30. He said they have no idea what the state of Oregon will do with respect to the existing $350 million deficit that they will pull out of the last quarter. He said they have to backfill with existing reserves. He said moving forward for two years, they are looking at a $3.8 billion revenue deficit for the state of Oregon. He said their need to balance the budget is a constitutional requirement. He said he made the motion not to fund the jail beds for now, meant they need more time to see what the state of Oregon will do. He agreed they should have a definitive date certain, but he is not competent they can come up with that until the state of Oregonís legislature adjourns in late June. He wanted to put together a public safety contingency fund with as many of the reserves possible and in July or August when they have the information as to where they are with state funding, they could make a rational decision. He said their fundamental mission is to keep the County solvent. He said they need to be deliberate and cautious.
Land said she is a volunteer citizen and had never been employed by the government. She wanted to see the stability of County government. She indicated that they have a firestorm of fiscal problems coming. She said they are working hard to respect the brave employees of Lane County and the services that are provided. She said they need to be patient. She stated that they hear the citizens loud and clear. She said it was about 1,437 employees who work for Lane County.
Kaseberg said there are three sources of public funds that come from the state of Oregon besides income tax: the lottery, the gas taxes and the tobacco settlements. She said the state of Oregon has issued millions of dollars of bonds against future revenue of lottery, gas and road taxes and tobacco settlements. She said the amount of money they can expect to get from those funds in the future is dropping. She said the budget they are dealing with contains $3,216,818 in cuts from Health and Human Services, Public Works, Youth Services, the Justice Court, Children and Families and the Energy Assistance Program. She said that is what they are proposing to hold back from jail beds. She wanted to fund them all but they have a finite amount of money.
Sorenson said they have to balance the budget and they have to budget for the most important things. He said public safety is the most important thing they fund in the budget and they spend more money on public safety than any other single category of expenditure. He commented that Lane County is going through an economic crisis. He is in favor of not funding the jail beds now. He said their total federal funds are down. He said Lane County taxes will be lower next year. He said the state revenues are dropping radically and there will be lots of problems. He didnít want to fund expansion of the jail beds now but keep it in reserve so when they find out how difficult the problems are, they will be in a position to do it.
Hijmans said it was clear to him that they have letters from those who are in the know in Washington, D.C. about the process of getting the emergency allocation in October and have already begun thinking about its permanency. He saw the letters as trying to be helpful. He stated that the community has spoken in quality and quantity and has made a compelling argument about the jail beds. He said they have the Sheriff, District Attorney, the entire administrative team getting together and making the jail beds their number one priority, when they could have all argued for their own shops. He said the County Administrator thought this was a significant enough service they have to provide that he put it in the budget, knowing they have the SRS funding. He said they have the letter from the judges and he thought they were trying to be helpful. He indicated that the SRS funding is in the bank and they have to do justice to all of those people that have led them to this point.
Stewart stated that they have a public safety crisis and that was why he ran for county commissioner four years ago, to improve public safety. He said they have released over 170 Measure 11 offenders before they were able to go trial. He added they are violent people and need to be held accountable and held in their system until they can be proven guilty or not guilty. He said they have between $25 million and $26 million they will have received from SRS for last year and this year. He stated that it is beyond him why they canít spend $3.2 million to improve the situation. He added they know it wonít solve the problem and they have a lot of work ahead of them. He believed they owed it to the citizens to show them they are trying to fix the problem and send the signal that this is as bad as they are going to let it get and they are going to find solutions for the problem. He didnít see any commitment in the future to try to improve it. He heard from his colleagues that the money will be gone in five years and they need to save the money to stretch it. He said to add over $300,000 for BCC support is unconscionable. He didnít believe they did that and they allowed the public safety system to crash.
Wilde was happy the proposed budget included residential deputies. She didnít see how they could possibly afford to buy 84 jail beds. She said it looks to her like it is $3.2 million they donít have. She wanted to spend more time to figure out what they can do to improve the public safety situation and to invest in a long term solution so they donít create 84 beds and then have to lay off deputies later. She wanted to make a commitment to County employees that if they invest in their jobs, it is something they could commit to keep doing.
Handy said public safety and public health are top priorities of his in addition to the vulnerability of many families who are experiencing the tough economy. He said cuts have been made at the state of Oregon that has direct impacts on people and services in Lane County. He remains committed to prioritizing the best use of limited funds. He worked with Sheriff Burger and Captain Hooley and others. He said this is their priority and they will continue to do this every day. He said they are looking at what services they could reasonable expect to save and maintain that could be sustainable for Lane County within the context of what can be funded from the state. He said 60 percent of what they have approved so far is going to public safety. He wanted a contingency fund to fund public safety, Public Health and Human Services.
Richardson indicated that since the committee is not proposing to add 84 beds, she said it would be prudent to have a discussion about what the risks are to not add the 84 beds. She said the Budget Committee needs to consider all of the various risks involved before making this decision. She noted some risks are potential lawsuits from victims whose attacker was released from custody because they didnít adequately fund jail beds or survivors whose family members were killed because they didnít add jail beds. She stated that they should consider lawsuits from citizens who are trying to enforce various statutes that require they hold Measure 11 offenders and other offenders in custody and the cost of litigating those cases. She added there is the cost of enforcement of other statutes that allow Circuit Court Judges to send offenders to other counties and then Lane County would be billed for that amount along with the transportation costs. She indicated that wouldnít be funded and it would have to be paid. She added there is a risk of another statute that allows cities to house offenders in their own jails and then bill the County if they are being held on state charges and there is no money put away for that. She said these need to be discussed so later they would have an argument to defend the County.
Dwyer stated he was disappointed in this process. He said it was a bunch of hype. He said they talk about protecting public safety but their actions are diametrically opposed. He said it doesnít pass the smell test. He said the Open Meetings Law has never been violated, but the spirit of it has on many occasions. He said they talk about good governance but it is a cover for an oxymoron. He said good governance requires that they protect the public and spend the resources. He stated that people who think they could save the money because they might not get any more donít deserve to be in public office.
Bartlett said they could afford public safety and they could have a triggering mechanism that if the stateís forecast comes clear, they could authorize $2 million at a date certain before Christmas to open up the beds. He noted they would still be saving money for a prudent reserve, but they would be sending a signal that they would open those beds.
Fleenor commented that the discretionary immunity is a red herring in that adding 84 jail beds would not make the County more safe when they need 1200 jail beds. He said if they donít reach 1200 jail beds, the argument could be stated that they are under capacity and they will be sued if someone gets hurt or killed. He added that discretionary immunity is bogus from the point they have to do something or they will be sued. He said it is not a good rational reason for taking action today. He commented that if they buy back the 84 jail beds, those jail beds will be full within several months and they will be releasing bad guys again. He asked if they would be safer if they would be bankrupt and would have no money. He doesnít think that having a bankrupt county will serve anyone any good. He commented that they are in a depression and they donít know how bad it is going to get. He said they need to be prudent. He indicated that June 30 is an arbitrary date and there is no hurry for them to make this decision until they get all of the information.
Land stated the criminals who are going into the jail now consider Lane County a joke. She said it is demoralizing for the deputy to get the creep to the jail. She wanted to see some sort of compromise. She wanted to get budget cuts out of administration so there could be some help. She reported there is support for public safety and the joke will be on the criminals.
Kaseberg agrees the risk is serious and there could be potential lawsuits but she was told when she toured the jail that they are permitted by federal mandate that if they authorize the 84 beds they are only allowed to fill 93 percent of them and the margin provided security against lawsuits. She said there is a federal consent decree because they are only allowed to have 93 percent or 78 beds. She was willing to go along with a compromise.
Sorenson thought if they opened the 84 beds they would get 8.4 days of no releases, but after that time they would begin releasing people. He said he has to weigh that against the financial impact and the affects of the public in that period of time. He noted an issue raised is that other courts might order them to finance inmates in other counties and that figures in his decision to make sure they have a reserve to pay for that. He added that it wouldnít be prudent for them to not have any money if they are going to be facing another challenge beyond the Federal Court Consent Decree that requires them to release inmates despite the decisions they have made. He noted the injury to the public is of grave concern to the Budget Committee. He indicated in the past few months they have seen their rate of capacity based releases go up. He added that it is the federal government that bars them from using federal SRS funds for opening the Forest Work Camp. He said they are aware of the risks but they have to take them because of the dire circumstances they are faced with.
Hijmans reiterated that he made the motion to fund the opening of the jail beds. He wanted it mentioned at the beginning of every deposition that Lane County is involved in. He stated it struck him as being odd that they have been going around about reserves and opening the jail beds but the others approved $300,000 for support for commissioners and he didnít know where it came from. He doesnít see how that was consistent with the conversation about reserves and what the state would do to them. He didnít think any of the $300,000 should be spent until they know what the state will do to them. He said they have three years of stability and he demonstrated they would have four years of stability if they cut $1 million per year out of the discretionary general fund. He said they have four years of stability with the opening of the jail beds. He said they have the legislators in Washington, D.C. suggesting the strategies and what they will be laboring under to get permanent funding in SRS.
Stewart agreed with Hijmans. He said this discussion has been a concern of his. He recalled that he opted with the other Board members to enact a tax because of the fact that one day they will have multiple lawsuits they will lose in the County because they are not providing the service they are mandated to do by law. He doesnít know how they are going to defend themselves when they have reserves in the bank and they are not performing their duty. He would understand if they didnít have any reserves and didnít have any ability. He said the will have the ability and he didnít know how they would defend it. With the Federal Consent Decree, he didnít believe it is the intent that would give Lane County a free pass to release people. He believed when the Federal Court made that ruling, they had a completely full jail. He added that today they have half an operating jail. He didnít believe the consent decree applied to them. He wanted it noted that if and when they defend a lawsuit that it is made clear that he was not part of the action to not fund the jail beds.
Wilde said she will not be voting for this motion, but she has an alternative compromise that she will propose.
Handy said it has been an ongoing discussion about public safety. He said he hears Ms. Richardson, the Budget Committee members and the public. He agreed that public safety is their top priority. He said the prudent thing to do is to see what happens in the week ahead and to regroup and look at how they are going to fund what they have in the County.
Spartz said if the state makes drastic cuts, the funds that would come to the County would not come and they would be left hanging for payments. He said they would have to drastically reduce the services on short notice or backfill with reserve money.
Hijmans commented that they will never really know what the final numbers will be because of adjustments.
Garnick said they use the best information at the time and that is all they can do. He added they will have a supplemental budget to make adjustments as necessary.
MOTION: to call for the question to cut off debate.
Rose MOVED, Hijmans SECONDED.
VOTE: 8-2. (Kaseberg, Land)
VOTE TO RESTORE THE 84 BEDS TO THE BUDGET: 4-6 (Fleenor, Sorenson, Handy, Land, Kaseberg, Wilde dissenting).
MOTION: to create a public safety contingency fund of $1.5 million to be able to consider funding the COPS grant and to account for possible state cuts that were still unknown, to existing Community Corrections Services and to create a Human Services contingency fund of $500,000 to be able to fill in some of the state cuts that are unknown to Health and Human Services, in order to provide flexibility to respond to the state budget cuts with direction from the Budget Committee regarding public safety and the Human Services contingency fund.
Wilde MOVED, Handy SECONDED.
Hijmans asked why the motion wasnít included in the packets.
Kaseberg said it was a motion.
Stewart stated that he sees several of the other budget members have the sheets and he wondered why all the Budget Committee members didnít have the sheets.
Hijmans wondered why everyone didnít receive the information for the key motion.
Stewart said this wasnít good governance.
Fleenor wanted to amend that this money be taken out of the service stabilization reserve.
Wilde agreed to the amendment.
Fleenor wanted to increase the public safety contingency reserve to $1.6 million, to cover one-half year of the jail beds.
Dwyer had objections to the way he wants to do it. He said it is not appropriate to amend an amendment and not have finality.
Handy said his understanding was that what Fleenor intends to do is to amend in one amendment two parts of the motion, to change the dollar figure and suggesting that it come from the service stabilization fund. He was comfortable with that.
Hijmans stated that he will vote against whatever is being voted on. He said there is no language that triggers the language to spend it and it sets up a nebulous reserve. He was offended by not being part of the orchestrated process. He said it was disheartening.
Bartlett asked if there was anything in the motion to open the jail beds or the capacity to re-open the jail beds at any time certain in this fiscal year.
Wilde said it wasnít excluded.
Bartlett asked how it could not be excluded if they were authorizing potential funds to go for the COPS program, the human services funds and the jail beds. He asked how $1.6 million could accommodate that.
Wilde was open to amendments to the proposal. Her intention was to create a contingency fund to address some of the gaps they have been hearing about and to address the gaps they donít know about.
Dwyer did not support it. He said the process fails the smell test. He didnít know if the other Budget Committee members violated the spirit of the law and he was not planning to vote for it. He was concerned about public safety and human services. He stated that what they donít spend in reserves the Board could spend anyway they want. He said they have money in this budget. He didnít want a staff assistant and he doesnít want to spend money that is trivial when they have more important things to do.
Sorenson said they are struggling to balance the budget and it is difficult. He stated that it is sad to see the number of people starving in the community. He was in favor of both of the ideas: the contingency for public safety as well as human services. He said it separates the money out of the reserve and it is a budgetary decision. He said it was significant to take action to free it from the reserves and put it in the budget that could be spent within the fiscal year. He said if they increase the amount to $1.6 million, it would cover half a year for the expansion of the 84 beds, if they didnít use it for any other purpose. He was not interested in opening the beds if they are going to hire people and train them and then have to shut the jail down. He commented that having it in the budget as a contingency makes sense.
Land thought there could be a compromise, adding $1.6 million for jail beds and increasing $1.052 million for the resident deputy. She didnít want to hire people and fire them a few months later. She wanted a trigger to release the funds so they are not in limbo indefinitely. She said she thought the $1.052 million was for the COPS grant, but she didnít see it in the budget.
Stewart agreed with Dwyer that dedicating this is an unnecessary step and it sends a false signal to the citizens that they will actually spend public safety money. He said the Board can dip into the reserves at any time and make the decision in the future and that could be done without having to set up the reserve. It was his understanding in the previously approved portion of the budget there is money set aside if the COPS grant comes in for five deputies. He added that if they donít receive the COPS grant, that money will not be spent because it is nowhere near what it costs to have five resident deputies. He stated that they are not approving and hiring five deputies with the proposed budget, the only way it gets approved is if the federal COPS grant money comes in and they have appropriated the money. He heard they canít sustain the jail beds and that was why they arenít going to approve it. He said they watched the MuniCast and the proposed budget the County Administrator recommended is for three years of stability. He didnít see where they were going to be hiring people and laying people off. He wanted three years of stability instead of no years of stability.
Handy agreed with Dwyer that the commissioners can do what they want when they want and that is what they will do. He is supporting this proposal in that they have uncertainty about the COPS grant and how they will fund it. He is committed to figure out a way to fund it. He said when they get the information from the state they will make decisions. He is supporting this motion. He added it is his commitment to let everyone know that they will be revisiting this once the dust settles. He said they donít need to support this to do that as commissioners. He stated that he is sending the signal that they are moving forward and he will be working with everyone to make sure they make good decisions as they get good information.
Bartlett thought it was important to send the signal that when it comes to people that are violent and could harm people and should be behind bars that they should make some definitive statement that some of the people should be in the jail. He wanted to have a time certain to open the beds. He wanted a compromise and a concrete signal with a time certain to open the beds.
Hijmans recalled at the beginning of the budget deliberations they discussed stability and there was consensus for stability of three to four years. He added with Garnickís MuniCast they were able to demonstrate that the County Administratorís budget does provide three years of stability. He noted the COPS grant payment is due in the fourth year if they get. He indicated the Sheriff stated there is a 50 percent chance they could get it for one or two deputies and they have to agree to fund it in the fourth year.
Fleenor asked to clarify the original motion with the add package for the five resident deputies to be funded as of July 1, regardless whether they get the COPS grant. He indicated that money was to come out of half of the road fund and half the general fund. He said that was the money they voted on. He asked if the maker of this motion could remove the COPS reference and put in jail beds. He said the COPS grant was not the issue, they made the decision to fund the five resident deputies for one year. He said if they get the COPS grant, then they will take the money they are going to fund for a year and allocate it over four years.
Kaseberg recalled they are discussing a motion for a public safety contingency fund for $1.6 million and human services contingency fund for $500,000, with the money coming from social services.
Stewart thought on the original motion that passed, there is an item for the COPS grant hiring recovery program for resident deputies for $263,000. He asked if that bought five resident deputies.
Garnick responded that was the match requirement. He said the COPS grant pays for the wages for the deputies for the first three years and they have to pick up the fourth year cost. He added that they have to pay for the cost of the equipment and vehicle. He noted the total cost is $1,052,000. He said the $263,000 is to set aside the money.
Stewart thought they approved the five deputies no matter what happens.
Garnick responded that this would not fund five full deputies unless they get the COPS grant revenue.
Land said the $1 million that needs to go into this, (factored 50 percent to the road fund and 50 percent to the general fund) they are putting in for one year is either written wrong on the motion or there is a misunderstanding as to the dollar amount. She said they also need a date to trigger it.
Russ Burger, Sheriff, explained it would be the same cost as the fourth year, $1,052,000.
Kaseberg reported that what they reported was not the $266,000, but $1.2 million. She thought that was out of order. She thought they would need an additional motion to cover the rest.
Spartz asked if the intent of the motion was to fund the deputies regardless of receipt of the COPS grant.
Fleenor responded that was his intent. He added if they did get the COPS grants, then whatever balance is left over, they would then appropriate over the next three or four years.
Wilde withdrew her motion because there were things she considered and then the situation changed and she didnít have an opportunity to integrate some of the changes that happened tonight.
Handy withdrew the second. He echoed Dwyerís comment that their Board has the ability to fund from the reserve funds, from the contingency fund as they see fit and as they get more information. He indicated at the end of June when the state lets them know, they will have the opportunity to sort out all the pieces. He said they will soon learn about the COPS grant and they can address it in a clear way with all the best information.
MOTION: move to adjourn.
MOTION: to move that as of January 1, 2010, they authorize $1,618,787 to reinstate 84 jail beds.
Bartlett MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.
Sorenson asked if they discovered between now and the end of the calendar year that their financial situation would not allow them to do it, if the Budget Committee or the Board of Commissioners would be able to change that portion of the budget.
Garnick responded that the appropriation is granted, but they could go in and amend the amount in a supplemental budget. He explained that after approval of the budget, the Budget Committee has no statutory authority. He indicated that it would be the Board that would make that determination.
Kaseberg asked the Sheriff to share information about the state budget and the perspective on this motion.
Burger explained that the Co-Chairs budget came out yesterday from the Ways and Means Committee in Salem. He noted in the Co-Chairsí budget there are no cuts to state community corrections, but that doesnít mean there wonít be. He thought it was promising at this point that there are not any cuts. He said a concern is they could face cuts from the state of Oregon in the future and if they open jail capacity, they would have to back fill the community corrections cuts. With regard to postponing the addition of the 84 jail beds, they heard from the community that they have a real need now. He said what ends up happening if they set a date later in the year, the cost per bed goes up because they have their fixed costs that are spread out over the course of the year. He added if they open the capacity of the jail for six months, it becomes more expensive but they get additional jail capacity which they desperately need.
Handy thought it was a creative idea. He said like Dwyer said earlier, their Board at any time can take action based upon the best information before them. He said although he was supportive of the concept, it is prescriptive of the Board and he is committed to funding items they can reasonably expect to sustain. He thought it would be a travesty if they opened jail beds and a few months later closed them down. He said until they have information before them to reasonably expect to fund the needed beds, he wonít support this motion as it is too encumbering on the Board.
Dwyer thought the citizen members of the Budget Committee are important. He didnít want to put money aside to spend it later. He thought they needed to do as much as a committee as possible now and minimize what the Board does for the budget and show why they have a citizen oriented Budget Committee.
Land said there is a hope that by adding five resident deputies to be on patrol, they can prevent crimes and they could stop problems before they start. She said they have added District Attorneys to the budget to prosecute the criminals to the fullest extent of the law. She said the professionals will help curb the plea bargains that keep the Measure 11 offenders out of Lane County. She said they need a sustainable way to fund all public safety. She wanted to consider this variation, as they have some potential.
Handy supported the concept but he indicated that it is not fiscally prudent of them to make decisions in a void at this time. He said they have an obligation to have all of the best information and to analyze it as a whole and that is the many components of the public safety system that they are looking at backfilling with state cuts. He said with human suffering and human services, it is prudent for them to learn the information over the next two months and then make some informed decisions they could reasonably expect to sustain. He wanted to review this option and other options within a larger context.
Bartlett thought they could have a win-win by delaying it until January 1. He added that would give the Board and the fiscal experts in the County the ability to scrutinize it with the County Administrator. He said they will know about any negatives with the state budget and the flexibility will entirely rest with the Board to respond to any fiscal fluctuations. He thought it would give the citizen members of the Budget Committee ownership. He commented that $1.6 million is not a terrible figure, considering the total amount of the budget. He thought they could possibly experience some negative things from the state, but they donít know that yet. He said by putting it in the budget, it could always be supplemented out or modified. He thought by delaying it until January, they would be adopting a statement stating they want it and recognize the importance of it and it delays to allow maximum flexibility. He thought they should provide the leadership.
Fleenor supported this as there is sufficient flexibility for the Board of Commissioners to make whatever adjustments necessary as the state budget unfolds. He felt comfortable about the fact they have a safety valve. He was willing to have faith in the future that next year they will have a better economy and a better handle on whether the timber funding will be restored. He was willing to take a leap of faith based on a half-year commitment to start the 84 jail beds January 1. He said they should work hard to make sure the timber payments are restored and they look at alternative revenue.
Handy asked what the commitment is with this motion.
Stewart said he has tried to find a middle ground on the Board, but this is a matter he feels strongly about. He said now is the time to act. He heard from the Sheriff and Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services, on the proposed budgets by the Co-Chairs that shows a cut of $500,000. He said the concern that has been expressed is not unwarranted, but they are placing too much of a weight upon it. He urged the Budget Committee to act today in solving the public safety problems and not wait until January 1. He stated that he wonít support this.
Hijmans said he would support deputies on the street. He said if the deputies are out on the street and arrest someone, he asked what they are going to do with them. He indicated that the criminals will be let out of the jail. He said one thing that motivates the citizens members to be there is knowing for the budget process they are considered equals by the commissioners. He said the most tragic thing they could do would be to open 84 beds and then have the state take money away and they would have to close them. He thought the need had been clearly demonstrated and he felt the risk had been identified as worth taking at this point. He stated that full funding of the jail beds is a priority they should embrace at this point.
Sorenson agreed with Stewart and Handy that this doesnít open any jail beds and it is a contingency that could be changed by the Board. He supported the idea of a public safety contingency so they could address other public safety issues, but it doesnít add anything to opening the jail beds. He will be a no.
Bartlett didnít know how allocating $1.6 million to open the jail beds in six months is not taking an action. He said that was a signal to the community that they were interested in this. He said they have already voted for not passing the jail beds for the whole year. He said if they could signal to the community that as of January 1, (barring something extremely negative) why they would want to vote against it. He asked why the Budget Committee would go to their constituents to state they wouldnít open up 84 jail beds in six months. He indicated that the Sheriff said it would take time to ramp it up. He thought they should go forward with this.
Dwyer said he would not vote for this. He said he likes to make something as good as he possibly can before he votes against it. He saw this as a way for the headlines to read that they will do something they really havenít done.
Land said there is every bit of sincerity in getting this done. She said public safety is exceptionally important. She recalled the Sheriff did state that it would take ramp up time to train people. She thought it would get them started in a direction they want to end up with.
Handy wasnít interested in symbolism. He appreciated the Budget Committee members. He said that this year will preclude them as a Budget Committee from making decisions based on full information. He added that next year looks to be different in that the state will not be in the midst of their budget making process. He was interested in getting the information as soon as possible and then having them addresses the issues from there.
Hijmans asked Bartlett if he was willing to amend his motion to include the $300,000 of commissioner support services to also be cut in half and it triggers when the jail beds open.
Bartlett was in agreement. Land seconded.
Wilde asked if it was with the BCC staffing and the resource analyst or just the staffing.
Bartlett responded that it was just for the staffing.
Wilde said the staff increase is to help increase the capacity of the County Commissioners so they are available to serve the public to spend more time governing and brokering agreements and to spend less time filing and scheduling. She said this gives the County Commissioners the support they need to be accountable and responsive to the people in the community regarding the public safety contingency fund. She said staffing is an important addition to make that possible so they can focus on the real issues of governance.
Dwyer said the effect of the motion is to give an incentive for the Board to actually fund those jails in January because if they donít, they donít get the $150,000 for their help. He explained that was the nexus between the jail beds and the money.
Hijmans asked if it included all of the adds.
Bartlett said that it would include the commissionersí assistants at .5FTE, plus the jail beds, he said it is a win-win for everyone.
Handy said the maker of the motion stated that all of this was flexible and the Board may ultimately do something. He asked what was binding in this motion.
Richardson explained that it would need to be in the supplemental budget. She added that it is binding.
VOTE: 5-3 (Handy, Wilde, Sorenson dissenting) (Dwyer, Stewart abstained.) MOTION FAILED.
MOTION: to move approval of the FY 2009-2010 Permanent Tax Rate of 1.2793 per $1,000 of Assessed Value and the Juvenile Justice Center Obligation Bond Tax Levy in the amount of $2,987,441 and to move approval to allow the use of excess transient room tax dollars for operational purposes consistent with Lane Code 4.175(5) & (6) and ORS 320.350 as follows: Lane Events Center $650,000; Lane County Parks Division $348,000 and the City of Florence, Florence Events Center $28,171.
Sorenson MOVED, Handy SECONDED.
VOTE: 8-0, (Dwyer abstained.) Bartlett excused.
MOTION: to fund five Deputy Sheriffís for one year, 50 percent in the road fund and 50 percent from the general fund, regardless of the status of the COPS Grant.
Land MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.
Moody said the correction to the number given as the actual cost regardless of grant is five deputies, with an annual cost the first year of $555,885. She indicated the grant reimbursement expected is $402,335.
Rick Schulz, Sheriffís Office, explained the $555,000 is a lean figure, but it was doable because it was such a necessary add. He said normally they would figure about $140,000 per deputy and five would be about $700,000. He added that because they laid off so many deputies last year, they have cars available and costs they think they can avoid for a one year period.
Sorenson asked if it was road fund eligible because of what the officers are doing.
Richardson said if it is related to their patrol duties on the road, it could be used for road funds. She asked the Sheriff about the percentage.
Burger responded that they estimated with resident deputies it would be about 50/50; half of the time enforcing traffic laws and the other half responding to calls for service.
Handy was supportive of this vital service. He said his position is to gather all the information before them and it will happen shortly and then they will roll these things out and make good decisions based on all of the information. He said this was premature given their circumstances to make this decision right now. He said this is a very important public safety piece he supports and will support as he has the information.
Hijmans asked Handy if he was supporting the motion or the concept.
Handy said he was supporting the motion for a later time when they have the information about the federal grant application, then they can deal with the various questions about how they support this service.
Spartz assumed the intent of this is that if the motion passes and when they get the grant, they will take the appropriate amount of money and roll it forward into the future to pay for the fourth year of the grant with the supplemental budget.
VOTE: 6-2 (Handy, Wilde dissenting). (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to move adjourn and meet on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
VOTE: 3-5 MOTION FAILS.
Kaseberg asked if there was a motion to add the OSU Extension Service. She said hearing no motion, it will not be added.
MOTION: to add the Watermaster.
Fleenor MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.
Sorenson said he didnít want to give money to the State Department of Water Resources when they are a state agency and they should obtain their funding from the state. He heard from Harcleroad earlier in the evening on whether the state was cutting back the state court system and whether they would have custody referees in the jail that would be assisting the Court in determining who would be released. He thought that was in their direct financial interest at some point to think about putting money into covering the cost of those state court employees. He said it would affect the length of time it would take to get someone reviewed and they are costing the taxpayer money while they are in custody waiting. He recalled in the past they have put some limited funds in it. On a straight process basis, he wasnít in favor of providing funding to the Watermaster.
VOTE: 6-3 (Handy, Wilde, Sorenson dissenting). (Dwyer excused).
MOTION: to approve the Justice Assistant Grant supplement.
Stewart MOVED. Handy SECONDED.
Handy asked what this was about and the ramifications in this part of the budget.
Burger said within police agencies they have a requirement to maintain certification and training levels and they lost their training capacity due to budget cuts last year. He said as a result, they have a few members of the agency who are in jeopardy of losing their certification because they havenít maintained their training hours. He said it was also an officer safety issue if they donít have adequate training and it is a liability issue for the County because failure to train is an issue they always have to face. He indicated that they have taken the Justice Assistant Grant that has been increased substantially this year as part of the Federal Stimulus Package and they have added to that so they can get their training needs met and keep the Deputy Sheriffs in compliance with the certification requirements through the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. He said this item is in addition to the grant funding that is a formula grant they will receive funds for. He said it gets their training level up to where it needs to be during the next fiscal year.
Sorenson asked about the amount of the grant.
Burger said the grant is for approximately $250,000.
Richardson indicated that from a legal standpoint they would recommend this item.
Sorenson asked how many more months of stability the service stabilization reserve is giving them if they make these increasing larger adds.
Kaseberg said because they did not fund the 84 jail beds that until they reach the total amount of the jail beds they are not further dipping into the reserves than the original budget.
Burger recalled in March they ended up having to eliminate the five Resident Traffic Deputy positions. He noted there are five trained deputy sheriffs ready to go and available. He added they still have staff left over from the 67 layoffs last year who are looking for jobs. He noted for the 84 beds there is a ramp up time, but they have the ability to take existing staff as indicated from the intake center with the deputies laid off in March to get it running now.
VOTE: 8-0. (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to add the Sheriffís Office Management Analyst for $82,618.
Stewart MOVED, Hijmans, SECONDED.
Land commented that in this environment, grants and other monies available for a Management Analyst would be a revenue generating source as opposed to an expense. She strongly supported a Management Analyst in the Sheriffís Office to be able to take advantage of funds available.
Handy supported the analyst position for the BCC. He watched what had happened with the Department of Youth Services and their Management Analyst, and what it had meant to their department with evidence based practices, leveraging funding and dealing with the tough fiscal conditions they are in. He commented that as much as he has a prudent and cautious attitude about wanting to have all the information in front of him before they make decisions; he believes that as a long time businessman, you put your first two to three percent into research and development into innovation and leadership to move forward during tough times. He supports this position and he said it is another commitment to public safety.
VOTE: 8-0. (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to add Crisis Food Shelter.
Hijmans MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.
Wilde was supportive of Human Services and the Human Services Commission. She hoped they would find a creative way to restore it, but she will not vote for this motion because there will be some money coming in from the city of Springfield and some from Eugene. She wanted to leave the option open.
Sorenson wanted Steve Manelaís advice on whether to add the money.
Steve Manela, Human Services Commission, didnít think the outcome of the Budget Committeeís decision tonight would determine whether or not the city of Eugene will decide in their budget process whether or not to add back dollars they did not put in the budget. He commented that all funding toward this effort is helpful to them.
Handy said consistent with many things tonight, he said they need more information and they will have the information soon. He said the funding from the County is contingent on the city of Eugene funding their portion. He said they should address it when they have all of the information available so they can make good decisions at the appropriate time.
Stewart thought it was possible that the cities of Eugene and Springfield will add funds to the Human Services Commission. His experience is that they stipulate those funds spent inside their city limits. He thought this money could be used for the rural outreach of the communities of Cottage Grove, Oakridge, Florence and Creswell. He believed the County should step up and fund this money to help the people with their dire needs in the rural area.
VOTE: 6-3 (Fleenor, Handy, Wilde dissenting). (Dwyer excused).
MOTION: to include the reduction in the health insurance rate.
Fleenor MOVED, Land SECONDED.
VOTE: 8-0. (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to add CCF Programs.
Stewart MOVED, Hijmans SECONDED.
Stewart reported that it appears that state cuts are being proposed with Healthy Start Programs and Family Resource Centers cut heavily. He recommended placing this funding to allow CCF funds to be allocated where they believe they can get the best bang for their money and support for the communities that are getting hit.
Handy asked if this was related to the state cuts. He asked if it was one piece of many things they might be dealing with. He asked if they would lose an opportunity if they donít act on this tonight.
Stewart didnít believe they would lose the opportunity. He indicated that he has been following the cuts projected for court appointed special advocates, the Relief Nurseries and Family Resource Centers. He said they are seeing youth cuts and he thought it was important to find a way to continue to have the support system in place for the young children. Alicia Hays, Commission on Children and Families, informed him that she has been following the budget and it appears that the co-chairs are requesting that CASA and the Relief Nurseries be funded in full, but they are still recommending severe cuts to the Resource Centers and the Healthy Start Program.
Hays stated they did see the co-chairs budget. She indicated they are a system and they fund programs like Healthy Start, Relief Nurseries and CASA. She added that they have flexible funds that fund their Family Resource Centers in rural and urban areas connected to schools. She said they saw an overall 20 percent cut to Commission on Children and Families funding. She added that they took money from their flexible funds and directed it toward family resource centers and CASA, taking away their ability to do flexible funds. She thought they would see at least a 20 percent cut in their budget.
Handy wanted to look at everything within the context of all the information. He asked what would happen if they didnít act on this tonight.
Hays said they could lose half of their Healthy Start program. She said the cost going up for indirect will affect their programs and the children and families in the community on July 1.
Kaseberg was supportive of this proposal as they are losing money in the rural areas.
Sorenson was in favor of this item. He agreed if they did not take action, the department is obligated to ramp the program down by $100,000. He thought they should try to protect as many of the programs as they can.
Handy commented that in one month they will know more information and other things and then they can make comprehensive decisions. He was not prepared to vote on this item tonight.
Spartz indicated that the Board is legally constrained to finalize the Budget on June 24 and they still might not have all the information.
Richardson indicated that Children and Families might have to cut people and those notices would have to go out before June 17. She added if Hays has to cut people because of this, the notices will have to go out at the end of this month.
VOTE: 6-2 (Handy, Wilde dissenting). (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to direct Budget Staff to conduct an analysis on limiting the use of general fund discretionary dollars to those required by law or contract for the following budget lines and give that information to the Board of Commissioners for consideration and final adoption of the 09/10 Lane County Budget. The line items include business expenses and travel, outside education and travel, County training classes, training classes, training services and materials, furniture equipment and tools. These funds are to be authorized by state or federal mandate, prepaid by grant funding or existing contract, prior authorization would be required and signed by both the department head and the County Administrator and kept for the internal auditorís review on a quarterly basis, quarterly expenses will be sent to the administrator through the internal auditor for review, who will report compliance to the Board of Commissioners.
Garnick said they could do a review and report back to the Board.
Sorenson asked if the Budget Committee could make a request for a report or information so the Budget Committee will have a handle on some of the costs and make a better budget decision in subsequent years.
Spartz thought they could work on this in subsequent years.
Sorenson asked if there was a way for them to request information in the proposed budget nine months from now.
Spartz stated they would do their best to make it available for the next budget cycle.
Land said the need for this is now. She commented that there is a lot of money tied up in the expenses. She said it needs to be made available for the final adoption of the budget.
Garnick commented that it would take a lot of analysis. He said this would show up in the general fund and all other funds too. He said they could bring this back as a technical adjustment.
Richardson explained if there was a majority of the Board that needed the information, it could be requested.
Handy asked if this was significant to the County.
Land said when they combine the freeze in travel, the cut to IS budget, materials and services and the decrease of PC replacement, stretching out over five years, they would have a $1.1 million budget cut overall if they took ten percent of the travel expenses.
Spartz stated that everyone except for the Board of Commissioners has to get prior approval for any travel.
Richardson indicated that there are state laws for keeping track of travel and reimbursements. She said there is the tracking ability to determine who traveled and why. She said receipts have to be brought back in order to get reimbursed.
Hijmans asked Land why she was advocating for this and why she chose a ten percent cut. He asked her what she thought it would do to the morale of the workers of the County.
Land said the ten percent amount was a random guess. She said they donít know if they donít ask. With regard to morale, she commented that traveling for business is not entertainment, it is something to do for the job. She said the objective to look at the overall budget to see what they can cut. She said Information Services are 25 percent higher for the same FTE as other similar sized counties. She asked if they could do it better and do it for less.
Spartz explained that the reason the Information Service budget is larger because they provide services to the cities of Eugene and Springfield for joint criminal projects.
Stewart reported that over the years, Information Services has come to the Board with hefty needs to improve their capacity and safeguards for hackers and because spam is increasing. He thought the last thing they needed to consider is cutting the IS budget. He thought they should actually be adding to their budget. He commented that there was nothing in IS to find budgetwise.
Sorenson thought they should continue to look for every efficiency. He was supportive of doing that as part of the budget process. He asked what would be the appropriate role for the Budget Committee. He agreed with Land that they should always keep looking.
Garnick said if the Budget Committee wanted to make the request, budget staff would follow up. He said because of the timing they would have to make the information available to the Board on June 17 and at that time the Board could determine if the concerns were legitimate or if all the questions were answered and no adjustments were necessary.
Sorenson asked if there could be a report or recommendation to the Budget Committee on travel and how other organizations do their travel and computer services.
Garnick indicated that he could share the same information at the next Budget Committee meeting. He added to do an ongoing analysis would be asking departments to take on an additional work load that would be difficult to manage. He noted that most services are cut back to a skeleton crew. He said the Board controls the purse strings about how much money could be spent to do those things. He noted that they have been reducing their materials and services down to bare bones to maintain staff.
Land asked if they were charging Lane Countyís partners a sufficient amount to prevent excess overhead to be sent to the various other departments.
Garnick said there is a form in place for the Regional Information System and other services that Eugene, Springfield and LCOG buy. He added that until they get off the mainframe, they are not able to come up with a new formula. He said as a result of some COLAís granted to the IS Department for their staff, the city of Eugene stated they wouldnít pay Lane County any additional funds. He noted that IS is already having to absorb a nine percent increase.
MOTION: to find ten percent of cuts out of the Information Service budget.
Land MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.
Handy commented that there is a view where the County is cut to the bone and people are working hard. He said it is true, but he appreciated Landís fresh perspective in challenging their assumptions that given the stress staff goes under, the assumptions might need updating. He wanted a report that they can direct Land to do whatever she has been doing, looking into the questions that come onto the table and when they get a preliminary report, they could have the auditor take this on as part of his work plan.
Spartz explained that if they cut Information Services, the County will end up with equipment that will not run the new Microsoft 7 system and it could leave the County stranded. He said the expense is making everything work together.
Sorenson thought it had a good intent, but he didnít support it. He said they need to be responding to public and Budget Committee questions that are broader than what a particular line item is. He favored making an inquiry. He said at some point the Board should discuss this in the future.
Hijmans was interested in what the Board would discover over time.
Garnick explained that a ten percent reduction for IS, including AIRS would be about $1.9 million. He added that it would be a substantial cut.
Land withdrew her motion. Fleenor withdrew his second.
Sorenson reiterated that the Budget Committee approved the first motion, adding items in subsequent motions. He said they approved the listed motions on page 5. He asked if they should approve the whole budget.
Kaseberg responded that at the bottom of page 3 a) and b), there were increasing reserves. She asked if they needed to take action.
Moody recalled they had items in other funds.
Kaseberg stated that Sheriffís Office number 1 had been completed; Public Works, decrease reserves for COPS and NACo dues have been completed; ending Metropolitan Partnership and putting $100,000 into Economic Development.
MOTION: to approve the policy and line item to reduce the health insurance amount in all funds of $1,140,137.
Sorenson MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.
VOTE: 8-0. (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
Stewart requested to maintain their membership in Council of Forest Trust Lands dues to protect their rights.
Stewart MOVED, Fleenor SECONDED.
Sorenson supported the motion. He asked if this was a Public Works item and what the connection was between Public Works and the Council of Forest Trust Land counties.
Garnick recalled that in the past they have always paid for it out of the road funds.
Richardson didnít know the history.
Sorenson asked if they could move the $3,000 from the general fund.
Stewart agreed to the amendment. Fleenor SECONDED.
Handy said if this has been funded through the road fund, he wanted to continue it with road fund and not have it impact the general fund.
Richardson said they could take it out of general fund and then she would review what the prior rationale was and they could do a technical adjustment.
VOTE: 8-0. (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to decrease revenue expenses for health insurance premiums.
Sorenson MOVED, Handy SECONDED.
VOTE: 8-0. (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to insert into the budget an omission from the District Attorneyís office.
Hijmans MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.
VOTE: 8-0. (Dwyer, Bartlett excused).
MOTION: to move approval of the entire FY 2009/2010 budget with all adjustments approved by the Budget Committee.
Fleenor MOVED, Wilde SECONDED.
Sorenson explained that this was $2,737,000 under the County Administratorís proposed budget. He added that opening the jail beds would be $3.2 million. He said with a slight amount of dipping into the service stabilization reserve, the Board of Commissioners (when the Board determines the signals are right with fees, taxes and federal and state funds, baring any other problems in the fiscal year) would be able to open the beds. He added that this is a prudent budget because they are bracing for either federal, state or local fee reductions that are indicated in the budget document.
Handy said there are long term changes they need to make across the community. He said there is need. He stated they hear it and they get it and they are being prudent and cautious. He wants to make sure they can do what they can with economic development to help relocalize the economy and to get people working and to work with the most vulnerable citizens.
VOTE: 6-2 (Stewart, Hijmans). (Dwyer Bartlett excused).
There being no further business, Chair Alice Kaseberg adjourned the meeting at 11:40 p.m.