LANE COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE

Tuesday May 5, 2009

5:15 p.m.

BCC Conference Room

APPROVED 5/14/09

 

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

 

I.            COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

The minutes of April 30 were distributed, to be voted on May 7. 

 

Kaseberg discussed when they should present the Community Survey Report.  There was a majority of the Budget Committee wanted it placed on the May 14 agenda.

 

II.         FY-08-09 SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGETS

 

Christine Moody, Senior Management Analyst, discussed the packet of supplemental budgets.  (Copy in file).

 

Sorenson was concerned that they were not reserving funds for building.  He noted they donít have a building maintenance fund.  He thought the County was doing a good job with the PC Replacement Fund and didnít know if they could do the same with capital items.

 

III.            GENERAL EXPENSE

 

Dave Garnick, Budget and Finance Manager, explained that the asked they departments to go through and give information on  what the Lane Manual requires with reserves for each funds.  He said the policy is all funds to have a five percent prudent person reserve and ten percent for the general fund.  He also discussed the association dues.

 

Fleenor wanted to include any discretionary or optional programs with dues.  He didnít think there were any other than LRAPA.  He asked if they donít fund LRAPA what would happen in its place.

 

With regard to AOC,  Kaseberg asked if they can pay for AOC base dues and not pay the forest add ons.  She also wanted to know which counties pay for the add ons.

 

Community Requests

 

Steve Dodrill, Extension Service, indicated that because of the recession, the OSU Extension Service raised $130,000 toward operations for the next fiscal year.  He added that it would take them to March 1.   He stated the worst case scenario would be that they would receive no grant money or additional resources.  He thought the only saving grace would be that some supports would move with a local option tax.  He said if they get the worst case scenario, he didnít know how the tax money would come in from March 1 to late November. He indicated that the request for $244,00 would help to pay local operating expenses.  He added that if a measure doesnít come to pass and they go onto a virtual world, they wonít move forward.  He asked for one time bridge funding.

 

Stewart indicated that the Board would fund them until November.

 

Dodrill stated that their average is $25,000 per month for operating expenses.

 

Fleenor asked what the advantage was to put this in the budget now versus having an add package.

 

Garnick respnded that it would give them certainty or they could come back with a supplemental budget process.

 

Land asked how much funding was from OSU and the Department of Agriculture.

 

Dodrill said at the state level it is between 30 and 50 percent.  He added they are looking at 50 percent of every faculty personís salary on grants.

 

Land asked what the cost was per year.

 

Dodrill responded that the cost was $1.05 million for 15 FTE.

 

Handy asked if there was any way the Extension Service wouldnít impact the general fund.

 

Dodrill said they were trying to do anything they could to keep the local people so they donít have to go with a virtual option.

 

Wilde asked when the Extension Service would need to know before they had to make adjustments or layoffs.

 

Dodrill responded that because of the state budget, notices of appointment are being prepared on a 90 day renewal.   He thought it could happen the end of May 2010.

 

Michael Mattick, Watermaster, stated that he is a state employee.  He indicated that his function is to settle water use disputes throughout the state with regard to water rights.  He added that he does stream flow management and covers Lane and Linn counties.  He noted when his department is fully funded, there are three other people who work in the northwest part of the state.  His request was to have a part-time assistant for 3 Ĺ months in the summer.  He added that the position  had been a tradition when the Watermaster position was created.  He was requesting $3,000.

 

Stewart stated that he heard that due to state budget cuts that there might not be any Watermasters.

 

Mattick said they prepared budgets with the cuts.  He thought there could be cuts in other parts of the state with the Medford office expanding.

 

PERS and PERS Bond

 

Moody reported that there are different PERS accounts.  She noted the rates for PERS employers went down, based on a couple of years ago.  She added that they anticipate it will go up.  She noted that they didnít lower the rate internally.  She indicated that they put some into the PERs bond to payable callable and the reserve is 1.1 million toward futture increases and they will review this again next year to adjust rate acacordingly, rates stayed the same for dept.

 

Fleenor was told by pers experts that lane will behind pers curve in 11/12 three3 years out.

 

Moody said if they reach the threshold of the rate collar, it could double.  She said she still needed to do future analysis and there were rates with new and old plans. 

 

Fleenor aske dout of 60 million owed in pers bond, 1.6 million is calalble.  he asked etween now and 2028 they will pay 75 million.

 

Moody said the payments were set anticipated 4 percent growth in permenat operating.  She said they have had less than one percent gross and it causes the percentage the County has to pay to go up.  She said by doing this it increases the PERS bond rate.  She added that they tried to create stability but it is harder because as the County shrinks, the rate goes up.

 

Sorenson asked what the present value was they owe on PERS liability

 

Moody said she would get the information.

 

Land asked if it was legal to borrow money to pay over the collar for PERS.

 

Moody said they were underfunded and took out a bond for PERS.

 

Kaseberg asked the question with where the County stands now, how long should they plan for SRS one time money to last. 

 

Fleenor commented that the overall principle is with risk analysis and risk mangement.  with a target for a landing date, how tolerant is the Budget Committee to uncerntainy.  He commented that the things they saw in the past are no longer necessarily applicable.  He recalled that recently the SRS funds came to an end in 2006 with an extension of one year and then they had no SRS for nine months.  He said they cut down to level one services with a difficult exercise necessitated by the federal government renigging on a 100 year contract.  He added the federal government came through again in fall 2008.  He said they received money in reserve and the SRS continuation is ramping down 90 percent/90 percent/90 percent 40 percent, with the County being weined off the funds.  He stated that they are getting different stories whether they are going to get renewal funding.  He asked how much faith they had in the federal government reauthorizing the funding for more years and at what level.  He noted the fourth year will be about $16 million.  He added if the WOPR funding kicks in, they would get forest revenue in lieu of timber payments and it would be between $2 million to $16 million.

 

Land commented that allocating the entire County budget was an amazing process.  She noted that there wasnít one department that doesnít have a valid service.  She added that the employees are king, generous and hard working people.  She commented that the community is suffering, sacrificing and doing things for their own survival.  She said that as a committee member she wants to be senstivie to the taxpayers who are doing everything to cut back on their own personal lifestyles to maintain paying taxes.  She wanted to see SRS money to last for five years, focusing on the core services and to provide for the citizens by keeping them safe.  She also wanted the homeless and at-risk taken care of.  She added that for all other things, they need to weigh in as a committee, recognizing the state will be having difficulties.  She wanted to be as fiscally conservative as possible to do as much good for as many people as they can.

 

Bartlett thought they should adopt a middle path.  He focuses on animal control  He said they need some intervention.  He commented that crime is on the upsurge.  He said they need officers.  He didnít know how the jails would impact the long haul.  He recalled Obama said he would work on Secure Rural Schools.  He thought they would get some reauthorization.  He said they have always found a way.  He wanted a middle way to ramp up some of the jail capacity if they are clear that it is necessary and to address some of the valid and verifyable public safety issues.

 

Sorenson wanted to see options and the impact of the five year budget on the muni cast.  He wanted to modify that as they learn about state budget reductions.  He wanted to be mindful of the needs and where the greatest need is.  He commented that some people have no where else to turn but to programs they have.  He wanted to see funds invested in programs that have a proven track record that is working so they are focused on the greatest need and the programs that deliver the biggest bang for their buck.  He said they need to focus on how to help people in this cruicial time and stablize the funding they have for the long time.  He wanted four or five years of stable funding.

 

Wilde said there are human services needs through various programs.  She didnít want to underestimate the importance of dollars when peopleís basic needs are not being met.  She said she worked in human services and it is not a good idea to rebuild or invest more in services unless thy have a sustainable funding source for them.  She added that if they make cuts, they should try to keep them to the degree they can.  She wanted to look at the financial details for a ramp down at a less steep of an angle than SRS to make them last longer and giving the County Board of Commissioners time to build the case with the community about the services they want to be giving.

 

Handy said it is important for public health, pub safety and humans services are intact to provide a wide variety of services.  He said it is important for people who are the most challenged during these times that they have a system in place.  He stated that it is important to live w ithin their means.  He has a commitment to his constituehnts that they County has the ability tomange their resources and how effective each program is. He said they want to evaluate research with what are the best evidence best practices and cost avoidance.  He commented that fear based responses work against good research and change.  He also said they canít lose sight of economic development to turn around the economy.  He thought with SRS funds they should live within their means and looking to June 2013 to extend the funds.

 

Hijmans stated the issue is sustainability.