September 15, 2009

1:30 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 9/20/2009


Commissioner Pete Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy and Faye Stewart present.  County Administrator Jeff Spartz, County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.




a. DISCUSSION/Port of Coos Bay Port/Railways.


Jeffrey Bishop, Port of Coos Bay, gave a power point presentation on the Port of Coos Bay and the restoration of the Coos Bay rail link. (Copy in file). 


Fleenor said they have to make sure that as they work on this, they are all moving forward in the best way for the public and identifying some of the challenges and obstacles they can address to make sure the public is well served.


Handy asked about passenger rail.


Bishop said the challenges are in the safety standards.  He said the safety standards for freight rail are considerably less than the safety standards for passenger rail.  He said their estimate for passenger rail is about $300 million dollars.   He added they could look at passenger rail that is not the entire length of the system.  He said when they get past the actual investment and infrastructure then they have to look at the operation side to see if they would have enough passengers and whether it would work.


Stewart was supportive of the project because it could generate economic development.


Sorenson asked about the impact of opening the railroad. He asked when oil prices rise if trucking becomes less advantageous to businesses and if rail is more popular.


Bishop commented that cost is a factor and rail is more efficient than trucks.  He added that for products that are not time sensitive, rail is more economical


Dwyer wasnít optimistic.  He commented that the cost of deferred maintenance is unbelievable.  He didnít see this as being economically feasible.  He didnít think the payload on the rail could cover the continued maintenance of the line into the future.  He said without the full bundle of rights, he didnít think they could win out.  He recommended not investigating until Southern Pacific relinquishes those rights.


Fleenor concurred with Dwyer.  He commented that it would cost $63 million to get the railroad purchased and operational.  He said the money is coming from taxpayers.  He asked if that money was the best possible use under the circumstances.  He said Lane County has a lot of miles of railroad track and he asked what Lane County would get out of it.


Bishop thought there was a potential for an upside.  He thought there could be generated taxes in the future.


Sorenson asked them to keep in touch to let Lane County know how they are doing.




a. Announcements


Spartz reported that they were notified by their bond rating advisor that they received an A1 rating for their next bond issue.  He indicated that it was a good rating and they also reaffirmed the AAA rating on previous debt issues.  He thought it indicated that they were not over burdening the tax base with debt, but it shows that County government is being operated within the available resources and in the view of the rating agency, they are not engaging in activities that in the future will jeopardize their bond rating.  He indicated that it is a solid reaffirmation that the County Board is giving proper direction to manage both current and future budgets.


Spartz gave a follow-up with regard to the Census Bureau. He said a question came up asking how the Census Bureau is going to handle Post Office boxes.  .  He indicated what the Census Bureau intends to do is visit addresses they have in their master address file if they donít get a response.  He said they might not be willing to do enough follow up visits.  He commented that if the Census Bureau is going to be prudent, they need to do three follow-up visits.  He thought the Board should express that concern to the local Census officials to make sure that everyone in the County is counted.


Handy asked Spartz about the situation at DYS and the Oregon Youth Authority.


Spartz indicated that he would report back tomorrow.


Handy asked Spartz if he could draft a letter to the Census Bureau about the determined plan that will need to happen.


b. Commissioners Photographs


Amber Fossen, Public Information Officer, reported that she was looking to update the website, as there are dated photos of the commissioners.  She wanted to take new commissioner pictures.




a. Announcements




Handy recalled there was a question whether the Board had passed a board order about the citizen based ballot measures.  He asked Richardson what she thought.


Richardson said there were discussions by the Board about how they wished to handle citizen based tax measures.  She prepared another draft change to the Good Governance board order that reflected the discussion and deliberation, but it hadnít been brought to the Board.  She added the Good Governance board order currently has nothing about tax measures.


Sorenson reported the Extension Service advocates have been in to talk with the Assessor about using the initiative process to start a funding practice for Extension.  He said Anette Spickard, Assessor, has told them that the important distinction for an initiative is that initiative power under Oregonís Constitution is not applicable to the judicial function of deciding cases or administering government, it is only a power to legislate or pass legislative changes.  He thought the Extension advocates will be coming back asking to enact an ordinance designating money from their current budget to be funded.  He added that they would ask to place a ballot measure for a five year funding package that would go into the line item for Extension.


Richardson indicated that Extension spoke with Annette Newingham from Elections. 




a. Announcements


Stewart Bolinger, Performance Auditor, indicated he was in the process of getting a report of the credit score for the major delinquent payments.  He thought they should see a correlation if they have a collection problem from people not having the means to pay and any exceptions.  He said if they find someone with a high credit score who has not paid, they would have a better basis for focusing where their efforts have been.  He indicated that they have not been looking at the credit scores relative to balances due as a basis for acting on their collection efforts.  He said if they have one success, it could net them a few thousand dollars.  He commented that thanks to Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, there is a possibility they may have an existing right to use the stateís collectionís abilities to withhold fines that are due from people who would otherwise get refunds from the state on their taxes.




Fleenor announced that he was having a community dialogue in Junction City on Thursday at the Moose Lodge.


Stewart reported that Lane County has been a part of a second endowment from the Association of O & C Counties that comes due November 1.  He indicated there are funds that will be returned to the County.  He thought the amount was $226,000.  He noted there was a letter sent to Senator Wyden in response to the wilderness that is recommended to be formed.  He said the letter does not support the action, but he wanted to make it clear that in the past whenever the was land taken out of the land base from the O & C counties, that it would be replaced with public domain lands elsewhere so there was a no net loss.  He stated that was important to the O &  C counties because if the land base gets taken away, it changes the formula of the payments that each county receives.  He thought it could mean a negative loss in revenue in the future in how they received their funds for the O & C counties.  He said they wanted to be held whole as an organization.  He indicated that he will be asking for approval to send a second letter in response to the wilderness, stating a trust could be formed and money be given to O & C Counties in exchange for land.  He attended the AOC meeting in Salem.  He noted at their legislative meeting they had a good presentation from the legislative fiscal officer Paul Warner on the budget and the revenue projects.  He said he will distribute the slide show for the Board.  He said the AOC Board recommended passing onto the annual meeting the budget that shows there will be no increases in the general membership fees for dues, but there would be a slight increase in the public lands dues.  He announced the AOC Conference will take place from November 17 to November 19 in Portland.


Handy noted the federal stimulus funds for extending unemployment benefits are running out.  He noted Brad Rusow and Local 626 came up with an idea as part of their negotiation that their full-time members would be asked to give $100 each to Food for Lane County as part of the new contract.  He reported that a check was given to Food for Lane County in the amount of $13,000.  He announced that September 19 is the Great Oregon Fall Beach Clean up on the Oregon Coast.


Sorenson reported that Governor Kulongoski has proclaimed September 15 through October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month.  Sorenson said he would pursue a proclamation similar to the state proclamation.  He noted that two-thirds of Oregonís corporations doing business in Oregon pay just $10 per year in Oregonís corporate minimum income tax.  He added that it was established in 1931.  He indicated that there is an effort to stop the roll back. He reported the impact to Lane County government is substantial, with a $700 million statewide package.


12. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660









There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting at 2:55 p.m.



Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary