MINUTES OF THE

JOINT ELECTED OFFICIALS OF

THE SPRINGFIELD CITY COUNCIL,

EUGENE CITY COUNCIL,

AND LANE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2009

APPROVED BY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 10/28/2009

 

A joint elected officials meeting with the City of Springfield, City of Eugene, and Lane County was held in the Library Meeting Room, 225 Fifth Street, Springfield, Oregon, on Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:00pm with Mayor Leiken presiding.

 

ATTENDANCE

 

Present from Springfield were Mayor Sid Leiken and Councilors Wylie, Leezer, and Simmons.  Councilors Lundberg, Ralston and Pishioneri were absent.

 

Present from Eugene were Mayor Kitty Piercy and Councilors Ortiz, Clark, Brown, Taylor, Solomon, and Pryor. Councilors Poling and Zelenka were absent.

 

Present from Lane County were Board Chair Pete Sorenson and Commissioners Dwyer, Fleenor, and Handy. Commissioner Stewart was absent.

 

Mayor Leiken opened the meeting of the Springfield City Council.

 

Mayor Piercy opened the meeting of the Eugene City Council.

 

Board Chair Sorenson opened the meeting of the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

1.                  Economic Development Report.

ugene City Manager Jon Ruiz presented this item.  At the June Joint Elected Officials (JEO) meeting, members approved the framework for a regional economic development plan that would better position our regional economy to take advantage of economic opportunities that aligned with our area’s assets and values.  The JEO Economic Development sub-committee (ED Task Force) that was formed to oversee the development of this plan worked with the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), a group composed of key stakeholders in our regional economy, to develop economic development strategies that would help define the next economy for our region.  The ED Task Force recommended that the JEO approve the economic development strategies outlined below to ensure continued and timely progress on creating a regional economic development plan.

 

The citizens of the Eugene-Springfield metro area had felt the burden of the financial crisis more so than in other counties and other states.  The decline in local jobs, coupled with an increased demand for social services, was putting a strain on city, county and state programs.  The Eugene-Springfield metro area unemployment rate in July 2009 was 12.5%, a 6 percentage point increase over the last year, which was slightly higher than the state unemployment rate of 11.9%.  The decline in the availability of local jobs has put increased pressure on social services.  The number of cases in the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for our local district had increased 18.5 percentage points over the past year.  The number of applications for low-income housing in Lane County in 2008 increased 13 percentage points compared to the previous year.  These programs were indicative that the economic crisis had significantly impacted our local economy and that the need for a regional, long-term plan was present. 

 

At the March Joint Elected Officials (JEO) meeting, members expressed interest in holding a Regional Economic Summit to coordinate a collaborative response to the current situation and formed a sub-committee (ED Task Force) for this purpose.  At the June JEO meeting, the framework for the development of a regional economic development plan was approved.  The framework for designing our next economy included the creation of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) composed of key stakeholders in our regional economy.  (Attachment A was the member list of the TAG). The TAG developed a list of strategies and tactics that they felt the region should strategically focus on to best influence the economic development of our region. 

 

The TAG developed the economic development strategies with the following JEO approved goals and principles as guidance:

 

Goal: By 2020, create 20,000 net new jobs in the chosen economic opportunity areas; reduce the local area unemployment rate to, or below, the state average; and increase the average annual wage to, or above, the state level.

 

Mr. Ruiz discussed the principles developed by those subcommittees.

 

Principles:  The principles that will guide the development of our next economy were discussed at length by the ED Task Force.

 

Healthy Living – Championing businesses and entrepreneurs that promote a healthy, safe, and clean community while enhancing, protecting, and making wise use of our natural resources.

 

Smart Growth – Encourage a culture of entrepreneurship and re-investment into our local community.

 

Be Prepared – Develop the region’s physical, social, educational, and workforce infrastructure to meet the needs of tomorrow.

 

Local Independence – Promote local businesses and entrepreneurs that lead our area to a higher level of economic independence and resilience.

 

Regional Identity – Create a stronger economic personality that celebrates our region’s attributes and values.

 

The following strategies developed by the TAG established a vision for how the governments, businesses, and community members could work together to help the Eugene-Springfield metro area achieve economic sustainability. They established a framework for decision-making for community partners within Eugene, Springfield and Lane County. The goal was to focus on several things that could be addressed. This was only one part of three for economic development. Create jobs, support existing businesses (each jurisdiction), and look forward to next few years. Mr. Ruiz discussed each of the strategies.

 

1.                  Business Retention and Expansion

Support the Growth and Development of Existing Area Businesses to Achieve Quality Job Creation.  The ED recognized the crucial role existing area businesses played in sustaining the health of the local economy and in creating job opportunities.  Efforts should be directed at supporting the operating needs of local businesses as well as meeting their needs for expansion and growth. 

Tactic 1: Coordinate public capital and finance networks within the region to facilitate business access to needed funding for continued operation and growth.

Tactic 2: Develop or strengthen peer-to-peer support networks for businesses of any type (start-up, existing, large, small, etc) for communicating regional information on financing, physical development, locating, hiring, recruiting, training.

Tactic 3: Assist businesses with site development or expansion through coordinated multi-agency review of development permits. Develop methods and policies to streamline the permitting process.

 

2.                  Entrepreneurial Infrastructure

Accelerate the Development of Entrepreneurial Infrastructure. (Defined as those facilities and services present within our region which encourage the creation of new ventures, and the growth and development of small- and medium- sized enterprises).

Tactic 1: Increase the amount of investment capital in our region by leveraging such groups as the Willamette Angel Conference (WAC), the Southern Willamette Angel Network (formerly Lane Venture Forum), the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN), and the investor relations programs led by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.

Tactic 2: Expand the partnership with University of Oregon and Oregon State University in bringing new technologies and innovations to market.

Tactic 3: Improve the region’s deal flow for investors by accelerating start-ups that are growth-ready, and providing educational opportunities for entrepreneurs to increase their skills.

 

3.                  Workforce Development

A.                 Train, attract and maintain a competitive workforce to meet the region’s current and emerging industry needs and stimulate business development.  Foster a dynamic partnership of education, industry, and workforce development to forecast, assess and meet the training needs of existing and developing businesses.

Tactic 1: Partner with local educational systems to enhance and align services to prepare local residents with work readiness skills, including basic math and literacy skills, necessary for success in all occupations.

Tactic 2: Convene industry-interests panels to design and evaluate curricula to ensure that local training programs meet industry needs.

Tactic 3: Continue to build a culture that values learning, an entrepreneurial spirit, acceptance and diversity, and creativity to continue to attract entrepreneurial and innovative talent to our region.

 

B.                 Increase the ready workforce in Lane County by expanding access to academic and occupational training for all Lane County residents, particularly lower-skilled and lower-wage workers. The ED recognized the importance of a skilled workforce for the prosperity of the region.

 

Tactic 1: Connect basic skills training programs (e.g. G.E.D. preparation and English as a Second Language) to post-secondary certificate or degree programs.

Tactic 2: Partner with industry and education to encourage investment in training opportunities for young people, such as internships and work experience opportunities.

Tactic 3: Support the local recognition of Career Readiness Certificates, a state-wide testing and credentialing initiative to enhance workforce readiness.

 

4.                  Land and Physical Infrastructure

Prepare for the Land and Physical Infrastructure, in a timely fashion, that is necessary to support Business Development and Stimulate Quality Job Creation. Strengthen the coordination between infrastructure, planning and investments, land use, and economic development goals.

Tactic 1: Inventory and evaluate underdeveloped space in an effort to assist business re-locations in a timely fashion.

Tactic 2: Integrate opportunistic economic development goals into land use and supply analyses and policies.

Tactic 3: Promote and build on the Region’s transportation, distribution and logistics advantages.

Tactic 4: Continue to work with property and business owners to expand, upgrade and construct state-of-the-art facilities.

Tactic 5: Streamline the regulatory processes to assist with site selection and development.

 

5.                  Economic Identity

Promote Awareness and Advocacy for the Region’s economic quality of life that continues to support and attract the investment and innovative and entrepreneurial talent and builds on our dynamic and diverse economic community. 

Tactic 1: Partner with local business and economic development organizations to develop and implement an on-going public relations campaign that will promote the Region's economic identity and successes, both internally and externally.

Tactic 2: Promote the Region's strong willingness and ability to mentor and coach entrepreneurs and businesses, and recognize the successes that grow from within this network. 

Tactic 3: Promote and Celebrate the Region’s creative people who find success elsewhere and find bridges for them to contribute back to our community.

Tactic 4: Promote the region’s natural and cultural resources to enhance the cultural tourism within the region.

 

 

6.                  Targeted Industries

A.                 Continue to support the development of our wealth generating sectors that have built a strong economic foundation for our community and have complemented our region’s quality of life, such as:

·                    Transportation/Manufacturing

·                    Wood Manufacturing

·                    Health Care

·                    Construction

 

B.                 Support development and growth in successful and emerging opportunity areas within the local economy:

·                    Health/Wellness

·                    Advanced Manufacturing (technologically rich, innovative manufacturing)

·                    Software

·                    CleanTech/Renewable Energy

·                    Biomedical

·                    University of Oregon / Research & Development Institutions

Tactic 1: Identify strategies to address unique site and logistical needs of existing and emerging industries.

Tactic 2: Develop associations or networks among targeted cluster businesses for innovative networking, information-sharing and to provide opportunities for business growth.

Tactic 3: Pursue opportunities to expand and recruit businesses, ideas, and entrepreneurs into our region that can enhance our existing businesses and community.

 

The next step in the development of the regional economic development plan will be an Economic Summit.  The goal for the Economic Summit will be to gather input on the tactics, or action items, for each approved economic development strategy, that will provide a framework for decision-making for our community partners.  Following the Economic Summit, elected officials and others will (a) review the input and refine the regional plan or (b) ratify the regional plan and initiate implementation to build our next economy. 

 

JEO OPTIONS

Option 1:  Approve the economic development strategies as described in this AIS and have the ED Task Force and Technical Advisory Group hold an Economic Summit in October.

Option 2:  Modify the economic development strategies and have the ED Task Force and Technical Advisory Group hold an Economic Summit in October.

 

Options 3: Decline approving any of the economic development strategies and provide new direction for the ED Task Force.

 

The ED Task Force recommended option one, which would approve the economic development strategies that created the outline of a regional economic development plan to design our area’s next economy and have the ED Task Force and Technical Advisory Group hold an Economic Summit in October.

 

Mayor Leiken said as a member of the task force, he commended staff for working with a group of people with high opinions and capturing their ideas. The task force included representation from the two cities and the county. He also thanked the members of the task force for working diligently on this. He was supportive of the goals. During his breakfast meetings with Mayor Piercy, they had been on the same page regarding these issues. He also commended Mayor Piercy.

 

Mayor Piercy said she also appreciated this work and was looking forward to the summit. She referred to Strategy #2, Entrepreneurial Infrastructure, and wanted to make sure some of that focus was on private sector small businesses and local businesses that we were trying to help grow. She would like to add some other places that the City didn’t normally network with throughout the community. Some local businesses felt like the cities were looking at larger industry more than small business. She pointed out that much of our economy was built on smaller businesses. She referred to an editorial in the paper regarding health care sectors and the need for employees in that area. We needed to take advantage of that and put our emphasis on that sector. Many businesses also fit into the green category which was the cutting edge. She referred to Strategy #4, Land and Physical Infrastructure. There was some light industrial space in Eugene that was under-utilized and she wanted to look at that opportunity.

 

Councilor Pryor said he was impressed with the work done; it was very thoughtful. This was just the beginning and being well organized at the beginning was a good way to start. He was impressed with how the task force worked collaboratively as a region. The joint elected body had given a mandate and joint staff had worked on making it happen.

 

Councilor Brown said he didn’t understand Tactic #1 under the Entrepreneurial Infrastructure strategy. He asked if it was something the elected officials could do, as it seemed to be something banks and investment groups would do.

 

Mr. Ruiz said one of the pieces was that these strategies were not strictly instigated or resolved by elected officials. Part of staff’s goal was to have a large enough stakeholders’ group from the private, public and non-profit sector that were aligned behind this. It could be any of those stakeholders leveraging that tactic.

 

Councilor Brown asked about Tactic #2 under the Entrepreneurial Infrastructure strategy.

 

Mr. Ruiz said the University of Oregon (UofO) community had a lot of opportunities for technological transfer out into the community in fields such as bio-science, nanotechnology and laboratories. The question was how the community and region could work with the universities to find out how to enable more of that to happen and create more spin-offs to start new businesses. It was a good opportunity.

 

Councilor Brown said it was a worthy goal, but he was not sure how they would do that.

 

Mr. Ruiz said if Council chose to have a summit on this later in the fall, it could include people that would have ideas on how to make some of these things happen. All of the tactics were in flux and waiting for additional feedback from the summit participants.

 

Councilor Brown said he had researched the Eugene urban renewal district and had come across a strategic plan from 1982 that included many of these same things. He asked how successful that plan had been for economic development.

 

Mayor Piercy said she hoped to hold a Willamette Angel Conference in Eugene as was held in Corvallis. Also, the business school at the UofO had expressed interest in working with the cities.

 

Commissioner Fleenor said good work from staff on this; it was a focused approach. During his community dialogues he had learned that citizens, especially small businesses, felt they were always fighting government. He wanted to take this seriously. As a small businessman, he had also felt it was a fight. The elected officials’ role was to remove the obstacles to reduce the burden on small businesses. He didn’t see that in this paper. Other than that, he felt they were right on track.

 

Councilor Clark expressed appreciation for the chance to serve as a representative on the subcommittee. He thanked the staff and task force for their hard work refining their discussions into workable opportunities. The need for elected officials to do their part to stabilize and grow the local economy was very urgent. He was looking forward to the summit. He would vote for option 1 to move things along through the process. He had some specific ideas on how to implement some of the tactics.

 

Councilor Wylie said she was grateful for the good work and good direction. She noted that when the Springfield Council visited the UofO nano-lab, she found that by sharing information they could discover projects that each was working on. The lab had grants and techniques to help one another and the cities.  The key was good relationships and communication.

 

Commissioner Dwyer thanked staff for their work. He quoted Oregon’s motto “She flies by her own wings”. He felt it was not government’s job to create private sector jobs. If the opportunity and amenities were there, development would come. He referred to partnering with the UofO Many things were utilized using public money and he was not supportive of public funds for that use. Using public money to develop a product should benefit all of the public. He was around in 1981 when the document referred to by Councilor Brown was drafted which then formed the Lane Metro Partnership. There were other tax benefits that helped at that time. He explained. He asked how far government needed to go to entice businesses to succeed. He wasn’t sure it was the government’s responsibility. He had been to the Angel Conferences and felt it all lead to who would bring in the money. Banks wanted sure returns as investors. It was good to have these discussions.

 

Commissioner Handy thanked his colleagues who worked on the committee, as well as staff for working with community members. He was excited about the work force development, and other aspects of this plan.  There was enough detail to articulate the values, but also enough flexibility for creativity. He urged the elected officials to modify and go with option 2 in order to hold the economic summit before choosing a plan. Following the input from the summit, modifications could be made if needed. He felt modifications could be made under Strategy #4, Land and Physical Infrastructure and Strategy #6, Targeted Industries. Small business was the backbone of the community, and local businesses, both small and large, needed to be given priority. They couldn’t just do business as usual. Strategy #4 was not pointing enough to the role brownsfields and density would play when talking about available lands. Many businesses could function on 5-10 acres. He referred to the targeted industries and felt the industry of Transportation/Manufacturing seemed ambiguous. He asked if that would mean to ‘build it and they would come’, or to look at integrating land use and transportation through planning. If there was an electric vehicle industry, they would need to determine where the plug-ins would be throughout the community.

 

Councilor Pryor said he had helped work on the 1982 report, and was one of the original members of the groups that became the Lane Workforce Partnership and Lane Metro Partnership. Those groups went on recruiting trips, which were a waste of time. It was not necessarily what they did, but how they did it. Many reports did have similar things in them. This was the early stage, and he didn’t feel the need to go with option 2. The information from the summit would go into the final plan regardless if they approved option 1 tonight or later. A lot had been learned about how to do things and he wanted to make sure this was done the right way. The summit would help move the group in that direction. He would support option 1 with the expectation that it would be adapted, modified and changed.

 

Councilor Leezer congratulated everyone on their hard work. She agreed with Option 2 and suggested that tourism be added. Tourism was an amazing area and she felt it should be capitalized upon.

 

Councilor Simmons complimented the group for the work done. This was similar to the document in 1982, but things had changed. The thing that was missing was the need to produce food locally and the need to ensure the food sources and production sources for the needs of the community were met. He agreed with Mayor Piercy that the small to moderate size businesses were extremely important. The fundamental house must be in order, and the fundamental needs met. The listed goals were admirable, but it needed to address the food source component.

 

Councilor Taylor agreed with the comment regarding food. If we got rid of our land that produced food, we were in trouble. The air and water were the other two basics and protecting natural areas was essential. She asked what was meant by Transportation/Manufacturing.

 

Mr. Ruiz said that was partly under recognizing industry currently in the area, such as the RV industry. Part of this was to support those that had been successful, could be successful, and also encourage the emerging technology, such as electric vehicles.

 

Councilor Taylor said while at the National League of Cities convention in Massachusetts, she visited three communities that were cooperating and she commented that cooperation was excellent. She explained how they worked together to determine the most suitable site among the three cities, then shared the tax income. Oregon didn’t have tax income, but it was an example of cooperation rather than competition. Industries that were needed should be targeted, rather than those that might bring in big money. She felt the incentives provided to Hynix were an example of a poor choice. She agreed with removing impediments, but not giving incentives unless they were a benefit to the public. She was concerned that if the focus was only on growth, businesses that we wanted here would be turned away. It was important to preserve what made this a good place. She suggested everyone read the book “Better, not Bigger”. She agreed with option 2, and holding the summit first.

 

Councilor Ortiz said she felt this was very comprehensive and she was in support. She agreed mostly with the comments regarding small businesses. She referred to Tactic #2, of Strategy #1 and said she hoped the task force would look at the Latino business group. It would be a good experience for them to get involved. She appreciated that the task force looked at English as a second language as a barrier.

 

Commissioner Fleenor said the author of “Better, not Bigger” lived in Eugene. He reminded everyone that Oregon and the 18 O&C counties were going through one of the greatest financial transitions ever due to the reduction of federal timber funding. He noted the decrease thus far and the decreases yet to come. The money that would no longer be coming to Lane County would have serious and significant ramifications. The County was not only suffering from a recession, but also a transition from a resource based economy to the new economy. There were serious challenges ahead in the event the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act was not renewed to its original level. Even cutting timber would not provide nearly enough funds. The funds that were not coming to the counties were not going through to the cities.

 

Councilor Clark urged his colleagues to support option 1. This was a general outline of how to proceed to the summit without specifics. Passage of option 2 would mean the joint elected officials getting together again to give staff new direction before moving to a summit. He shared Councilor Simmons’ concerns regarding food services. He hoped the elected officials would consider option 1.

 

Commissioner Handy said this was a healthy conversation.

 

IT WAS MOVED BY COMMISSIONER HANDY WITH A SECOND BY COMMISSIONER DWYER, TO TAKE THE LANGUAGE IN OPTION ONE, ADDING THE WORD DRAFT AS THE THIRD WORD TO “APPROVE THE DRAFT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES AS DESCRIBED IN THIS AIS AND HAVE THE ED TASK FORCE AND TECHNICIAL ADVISORY GROUP HOLD AN ECONOMIC SUMMIT IN OCTOBER. THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

Commission Dwyer left the meeting (12:53 p.m.)

 

2.                  Metro Plan Work Plan Update.

 

Assistant City Manager Jeff Towery said the report in the packet was just an update. On June 1, 2009 the Joint Elected Officials (JEO) directed staff from Eugene, Springfield and Lane County to develop a Metro Plan update work program, including timeline, cost estimates and implications for specific changes to the Metro Plan as recommended by a JEO subcommittee and as further supplemented by recommendations from each jurisdiction.  The list from the JEO subcommittee included the following subjects:

 

a.                   Overarching policies that identify and address regional issues.

 

b.                  Policies that allow for individual refinement plans for Eugene and Springfield to address jurisdiction-specific issues.

c.                   Adjustments to the Metro Plan boundary and text to address jurisdictional specific issues arising in the urbanizable areas and the area outside the urban growth boundary.

 

d.                  A dispute resolution process that reflects the changes described in a-c.

 

Subsequent to the June 1 JEO meeting, staff from Springfield, Lane County and Eugene met with their respective elected officials to determine if additional issues should be included in the work program.  The Springfield City Council had no additional issues to add when this question was discussed during a July 13, 2009 work session; the Lane County Board of Commissioners added no additional issues when the matter was brought forward during an August 26, 2009 regular meeting of the Board; and the Eugene City Council met on September 9, 2009 (too late to be included in this packet).

 

Based on these final instructions from the elected officials, staff will develop a work program, including identifying the text of the Metro Plan that will be included in the analysis; evaluating if any of this work can be merged into the ongoing HB 3337 or TransPlan update work tasks; and determining what other implications to the Metro Plan may result from the changes brought about by this assignment. 

 

Staff will present the draft work plan to the JEO on December 7, 2009.

 

Councilor Ortiz said she served on this subcommittee with Councilor Clark and Commissioner Handy. Originally, there was a move to want to throw the Metro Plan out, but they were able to get to a place where they were able to address the issues.

 

3.                  Cooperative Services Report Feedback.

 

Assistant City Manager Jeff Towery said the key question on this item was what information the elected officials needed from staff to make informed decisions on the issue before them. He pointed out that although they were interconnected, at this point, this topic and the Ambulance Transport Summit (ATS) work were not combined. The ATS work would come to the elected officials in December and discussion on how the two related. As needed over next couple of months, each jurisdiction would meet at the policy and staff level as necessary to move this issue forward.

 

Springfield Fire Chief Dennis Murphy said on July 2, 2007, a landmark decision was made to provide better fire protection with the initiation of the Third Battalion. He explained how emergency crews responded to calls in the fastest response times without regards to the boundary separating the cities. That system resulted in improving the quality and quantity of resource and response without costing the cities.  This achievement sparked an interest in joint efforts to make further improvements culminating in a Cooperative Services Study which was distributed at the July 21, 2009 joint elected officials (JEO) meeting. The recommendation of the study was to merge the two departments into a new combined department serving both cities. The purpose of the merger was to save money by eliminating unnecessary duplication in support, administration and management, while continuing to improve service delivery. The fire chiefs of Eugene and Springfield supported this concept as a means to address the financial challenges facing both cities now and in the future. Today’s meeting was to determine if the councils of Springfield and Eugene wished to proceed with an implementation plan to merge the departments. If that was the case, a more detailed plan would be developed and delivered to councilors prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. A December 7 JEO meeting had been scheduled to go forward with the plan.

 

Eugene Fire Chief Randy Groves said the ATS was separate from this, however, they felt it was important to give a brief update on the ATS. Starting tomorrow night for a consecutive three weeks, a series of public forums would be held to receive feedback from the members of the collective communities to bring back to the ATS. The task force would then bring a recommendation back to the JEO group at a later time. Although the two processes were separate, there were connections, such as the work being done regarding consolidation would help with some of the overhead costs, reducing that from the ambulance transport system. They were interested in hearing the elected officials’ feedback. The consultant’s study was the why, but they now needed to hear the how.

 

Councilor Ortiz thanked staff and audience members for coming tonight. She said what she needed from Chief Groves were the outcomes of the various outreach forums in both communities. It was important to hear from everybody in the community. She felt they had been thorough and included representation and participation from all jurisdictions.

 

Councilor Simmons said he agreed. He was concerned because he didn’t have the facts of what it would cost. He gave the example of equipment repair costs each City incurred. He read that there would be initial savings, but wanted to know about savings in years five, six and so on. He discussed deficiencies in the equipment replacement funds in Springfield and asked about the replacement funds in Eugene and how those replacement costs differed. He said it was wonderful that we had already combined training and response, and we needed to share in that responsibility. He trusted both Chiefs, but would be looking over their shoulders.

 

Board Chair Sorenson asked what percentage of the population served by this unified fire force would be outside of Eugene.

 

Chief Murphy said about 35%.

 

Board Chair Sorenson asked if the taxes paid by those people would change as a result of their inclusion into a district or if taxes paid by residents in Springfield and Eugene would be affected by the merger.

 

Chief Murphy said it would cost less. There would be no effect on service on any other government in Lane County. Springfield and Eugene Fire served 35 jurisdictions in metro central Lane County and throughout the state. Those were user driven fees for contracts and that was self governance by each agency.

 

Chief Groves said it would depend on the level of governance. If this was some level of modeling a Metro Wastewater Management Commission (MWMC), there wouldn’t be any change. If a fire district was formed, it would be a level taxation.

 

Board Chair Sorenson confirmed that the current proposal was just to combine the departments but not changing the tax structure for any of the jurisdictions.

 

Chief Groves said that was correct. Staff was looking for support to go ahead and put together the specifics of what it would look like to bring the two organizations together.

 

Board Chair Sorenson asked if this would involve an amendment to the Metro Plan.

 

Chief Groves said both cities were already providing those services collectively for eight districts outside the cities. He explained. An amendment to the Metro Plan would be dependent on the level of governance selected for the new entity.

 

Chief Murphy said it would be a decision making process involving the effective governments if there was to be a change, and there was no presumption of a change.

 

Councilor Clark appreciated the leadership trying to find better ways to provide service and save money. He needed to know about service delivery. In Eugene, he asked if they would recommend changes to service delivery for Zone 3 or changes outside city limits. 

 

Chief Murphy said the presumption was stabilization of the current delivery system. Beyond that, decision making would be done by the elected bodies. They would make change wherever it made sense, but would have to go to the elected officials. This was just the beginning and the possibilities of further savings were significant. They had a long way to go and would need public forums and decision making by elected officials.

 

Chief Groves said their objective was to maintain or improve line level service of delivery. This looked at administration and cost savings in that area. He noted the number of command officers that were eligible or near eligible for retirement and that they were trying to capture those savings by doing away with redundancies. He referred to the Zone 3 question, which was an ambulance transport system issue. They would be addressing that issue at the next meeting.

 

Councilor Clark said he appreciated the work done by both departments.

 

Commissioner Handy said his work on this committee helped him understand there were short term strategies and long term strategies. Before them today was a short term strategy. He appreciated the work by his colleagues from the Eugene and Springfield City Councils. He noted the work of the other fire districts across the county and their interest, as well as the Florence hospital district. It came to his attention that the County had an immediate piece to deal with regarding deficiencies in Chapter 18 of the Lane County Code that they were in the process of addressing. Long term, they had to address the taxation issue, boundary change issue, special district or a service district issue, and the governance issues involved in those options. Looking at the service effectiveness and ambulance transport were also issues to discuss. In the short term, they were also looking at how to maximize FireMed, and show the public where the shortfalls were. Councilor Ortiz was correct that the feedback from the community was important.

 

Councilor Ortiz said when they started this conversation, her main question was what the City of Eugene needed to do to stabilize the Ambulance Transport System. She wanted to make sure that hadn’t been lost. When she talked about that, she also meant she didn’t want the quality of service to get lost. Quality needed to be there. Chief Groves agreed. Councilor Ortiz thanked Councilor Clark for bringing up Zone 3 as it needed to be discussed.

 

Mayor Piercy said she appreciated the work done on this topic. She said she would like to try this out slowly to see how it worked before getting too far. She would like to think of other small ways to move forward that included working together as two decision making governing bodies. She wanted to try to find ways to make it work on a smaller scale.

 

Mayor Leiken said it sounded like the task force thought moving forward with one Metro Plan was the way to go with some autonomy. He asked if this would need voter approval from all three jurisdictions if it went into a discussion regarding a district. Yes.

 

Mayor Leiken said he had appreciated the third battalion concept and felt it worked well. He said it was important to look at this from a governing standpoint. He had known Chief Murphy for many years and would put a lot of faith in Chief Murphy’s judgment. The concept of cooperation had been outstanding. It would be important for him to hear from the leadership of the unions. If there was any issue with the unions, he would be inclined to be unsupportive. He agreed with Councilor Simmons that the elected officials would continue to look over staff’s shoulders as that was their job. He also agreed with Councilor Ortiz that we could not lower our service delivery. He needed to know if this would save dollars and cents in the long run. They needed to know they were making decisions that were prudent, while maintaining service deliveries. He said the cooperation between the two fire departments was outstanding. He felt these were the only public agencies that this would work with and it was worth looking into.

 

Councilor Taylor asked who would be the Fire Chief and which City Manager would be making that decision.

 

Councilor Taylor asked how difficult would it be to go back if a change was made and they determined it wasn’t working.

 

Chief Groves recalled the consolidation of the Fire and Police Department in Eugene. When they deconsolidated, the most difficult part was building the staffing levels up for each department. It took about ten years to get the resources back to build up those positions. He felt they chose the wrong services to consolidate at that time, but felt these (fire departments) were the right services because they were like services. They were looking at doing more with less.

 

Chief Murphy said Chief Groves had his support as the Chief if there were a merger. It was important for continuity. He believed that Springfielder’s would also support Chief Groves. It would also take a step of faith from Eugene to support our Fire Marshal, as they would most likely be the Fire Marshal for the merged department, as would be our Training Chief. There were three key retirements or turnovers: the Fire Marshal, the Training Chief and the Chief of the department. In those three people would be cost savings and continuity.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Mayor Leiken adjourned the meeting at 1:25 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Minutes Recorder

Amy Sowa

City Recorder

 

 

 

______________________    

Sidney W. Leiken    

Mayor

 

Attest:

 

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City Recorder