BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
REGULAR MEETING
June 8, 2010
9:00 a.m.
Harris Hall Main Floor
APPROVED 6/23/2010

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

1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA

Item 5 c. is pulled to be rescheduled at a later time.

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

Gary Jensen, Junction City, said his issue is on a piece of property that had been previously discussed. He distributed updated information. (Copy in file). He said that Public Works had sent him a final notice. He said it is over a situation where Public Works came in and dug a 60 foot ditch through the center of his property without consent. He spoke with Arno Nelson, Public Works, and Nelson agreed a ditch had been dug for the replacement of a pipe. Jensen said he owns both sides of the road. Jensen said he didn’t have money for a driveway permit. He said he received a letter about a facilities permit. He said he has tried to talk with County Counsel and can’t get through. He wanted to find out without acting as his own legal representative how to get through to the legal department to get some information.

3. COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE

Richardson recalled when Jensen’s call came in she referred it to Marc Kardell in her office to handle. She sat in on the call. She said Kardell spent about an hour talking to Jensen about his issues. She added they sent him down to Land Management and they have spent several hours talking to him. She reported that he then submitted a written document to them. She reviewed it.  She added that what Jensen wants is legal advice and they told him they can’t provide legal advice. She indicated that he wanted the County to do a survey for him and he was told the County doesn’t do private surveys for individuals. She indicated that at this point Jensen needs to get his own attorney for legal advice or he needs a surveyor. She added that they have provided all of the documents that he had requested and there are no more documents to give to him. She told him he was provided with everything and they cannot talk to him anymore.

Sorenson indicated that the Board received a letter about a NACo prescription discount card program. He wanted to know if this topic could be reviewed.

Fleenor thought they should investigate this item. He thought they should have a work session to discuss the pros and cons.

Spartz recalled that the issue was discussed before. He noted there appears to be certain issues.  He said the state of Oregon wants competitive bidding and this is card is different.

Richardson said besides the fact this was not done through competitive selection, they currently have contracts with other companies to provide pharmacy services and they would be violating those contracts by entering into the NACo contract. She added that those people could sue the County because they already have a contract with the County. She said they submitted a proposal to get to the same spot by running a competitive program or a process first. She said Trina Laidlaw, Assistant County Counsel, can discuss this further as she has prepared several memos on the subject.

Handy reported that he went to an education event on the McKenzie River about water quality issues.

4. EMERGENCY BUSINESS

Fleenor stated that they need an order for a proxy for the NACo meeting.

MOTION: to allow who will be going to the NACo conference to be the proxy.

Sorenson recommended dividing votes equally among commissioners.

Dwyer MOVED, Handy SECONDED.

VOTE:  4-0.

This will be a board order on the Consent Calendar tomorrow.

5. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

a. Announcements

None.

b. REPORT BACK/Justice Courts.

Spartz reported that Lane County has three Justice Courts that handle misdemeanor and other citations. e added that they have one judge to staff each court. e noted that Justice Sinclair from Central Justice Court will be retiring July 1 and it gives the Board opportunity to consider alternatives. e said the vacancy to be filled will be by a gubernatorial appointment. e said the Board has the opportunity to determine the number of districts. e said that administration is proposing the Board review several alternatives for reorganization of the Justice Courts. e noted the “no alternative” is to leave the situation the way it is and ask the governor to appoint a new justice to the vacancy. e thought it could be done in a month. e said that wouldn’t get to the opportunity to improve work flow and reduce costs. e noted alternative 2a would be to merge the Florence Court with the Springfield Court and have one full time justice presiding. e said there are opportunities to reduce expenses and to improve work flow in the operation. e noted alternative 2b would be to merge Oakridge Court with the Springfield Court and have a full time justice managing those two courts. e said alternative 3 would be to merge all three districts into one and have a single justice assisted by as many pro tems as needed. e noted the final proposal would be that as future judges are elected, the Board considers a requirement that any justice in the future needs to be admitted to the Oregon Bar. e said since these are courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction that they look at a more modern model. e indicated that Justice Carl said he would consider becoming a full-time Justice managing Springfield and Oakridge courts.

Cary Carl, Justice, Oakridge, reported that he reviewed the recommendations and he endorses Alternative 2b. He said in going back over his records, the issue is reviewed by regularity. He recalled in 1993 a task force was appointed and Jim Johnson did a report in 2006. He said they are addressing the issues of managing the Court in 2010. He commented that alternative 3 is unworkable. He said the County is so large and to have one Judge circuit riding would be difficult. He added that it would be hard  to hire someone who would be willing to do it. He thought by making the requirement that the Judge be a member of any bar and by compensating accordingly, they would attract a good level of a potential judge.

Dwyer commented that it costs more to hire a layer than a layman and they have a different view. He didn’t see a problem with having lay people serve as Justices of the Peace. He liked the current model.

Spartz stated that they had a meeting toward the end of May. He thinks there will  be better organization and work flow if Oakridge and Springfield merged with a full-time judge. He thought it would give the opportunity to work on work flow issues and to provide for a better thorough court system. He commented that the court systems have reached complexity where he would rather have someone with basic legal training than someone who hasn’t.

Sorenson asked if the Board could enact a requirement on an elected position.

Richardson responded that at the time they form a new district, they then can make the requirement that the position needs to be a lawyer.  

Sorenson asked what the concerns were from a fiscal impact in adopting 2b.

Christine Moody, Budget and Finance Manager, responded the main savings would be the Justice of the Peace salary. She indicated that  they would only be paying for one judge. 

Handy asked if Spartz had anyone in mind with regard to the next steps.

Spartz reported that Stewart Bolinger, Performance Auditor, is planning on retiring on August 1.  Spartz indicated that Bolinger has prior experience in collections, which is a major issue for the Justice Court system and he has spent issues looking at the Justice Court . Spartz proposed hiring him on a short term consulting agreement and have him spend time looking at all of the work flow. He added that Bolinger could make recommendations and then implementing the ones that are best to implement. He thought they should accelerate the efforts of scanning documents so they don’t move paper, they move elements and they are easier to track. He thought it would be a step forward to getting them the most efficient court operation they can. He added this is linked to the Sheriff’s Traffic Team. He commented that Lane County has a bad record with fatalities on the highway and being able to put more Sheriff’s Deputies on the highway will have a better effect.

Moody noted in the Budget for 2010/2011 they have reduced the vacant position. She said there are no additional costs, the items were already budgeted.

Handy thought 2b could be an interim step. He wasn’t giving up on moving toward option 3 at some point. He thought they could do that when they have another judge retire.

Lori Green, President AFSCME, recalled on May 26 she was part of a discussion that reached the recommendations. She indicated their interest is staffing levels and work flows. She indicated there are options to increase efficiencies and use video conferencing to cuts costs of justices commuting if they are looking at 2a and 2b. She said their staff is interested in participating in the process. With regard to whether the justice should be an attorney, she thought the liability to the County would be reduced if there is a member of the bar sitting on the bench and she thinks it should become a factor.

Jim Steiner, Counsel Staff Rep, AFSCME, said they looked at this. He supports option 2b. He said they like the idea for the next couple of years for an attorney as a Justice of the Peace because of the past history they have had. He said they could hold attorneys liable and it would be easier with employee issues if the person was an attorney.

Fleenor recalled that 18 months ago they found there were $18 million of receivables that were not collected over 20 years and it was a wake up call that something needed to be done to improve the efficiency of collections. He indicated there were other circumstances that have led them to a recent retirement and it is allowing them to review their situation. He thought this was a first step. He said they don’t have the necessary details to make an informed decision today. He thought they should look at a spreadsheet that looks at the three alternatives or more. He wanted a flow chart on how they would like to structure the Justice of the Peace program and put that to the test to last year’s collections and cost of operations to have a quantifiable process. He said they can’t quantify if the justices should be members of the bar. He thinks they should be citizens or attorneys, but the citizens should have the right to be a Justice of the Peace.

Spartz is proposing to acquire the data and evaluation of the work flow in August. He said that Richardson has had discussions with the governor’s office about the governor being patient on the appointment of a vacancy. He can’t guaranty how long the governor is willing to let the seat be vacant before the governor makes an appointment. He said if the board wants a thorough analysis, he recommended making a formal request to the governor as to why he should delay making the decision.

Fleenor wanted to know the limitations of the Justice Pro Tem. He asked who determines the number of pro tems and what their qualifications are. He thought they could skew the organization’s efficiency.

Richardson said each Justice of the Peace has found their own pro tems. She noted in the beginning of each year at the first Board meeting in January the Board is asked to approve the list of pro tem judges for each district. She added that each justice is a pro tem for the other and they have some additional people. She said they have not been lawyers but the requirement is that they have to live in the district of the jurisdiction they are being appointed as pro tem. She explained that pro tems cannot be relied on regularly, they are there when necessary to fill a vacancy.

Dwyer thought that rent of $50,000 per year in Oakridge is excessive. He thought video conferencing is important for people living in outlying areas. He said if they are going to keep an office in Oakridge, they need to find a suitable place they can afford.  He wanted to see what it would cost to hire an attorney. He thought it was important to have the citizens have the opportunity and know all the costs. He wasn’t prepared to make a decision now. He thinks they need to send a letter to the governor in light of the economy and resignation to reorganize the system and ask him to wait for 90 days.

MOTION: to send a letter to the governor.

Dwyer MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.

Spartz thought it might take longer than 90 days. He thought they should ask the governor to give them 120 days.

Sorenson asked how the current Justices of the Peace would agree with this.

Carl said he was happy with the arrangement.

Fleenor asked if the citizens were adequately being served under the circumstances.

Richardson said Judge Cable is doing work in Springfield and Karen McCauley is doing pro tem work.

Moody indicated they can change the budget at any time. She noted after July 1 Justice Sinclair will be retired and they will save money. She was concerned about appointing the pro tems and not having anyone to do the work.

Dwyer amended his motion to have the letter include 120 days.

Sorenson amended his seconded.

Dwyer wanted it stated in the letter that they have a resignation and an economic situation. He thought they could turn the challenge into an opportunity while  they do an analysis and ask that the governor withholds the appointment for 120 days. He recommended checking with AOC for pay structures throughout the state and for those who are attorneys.

Fleenor wanted in a check in every 30 days for a report back on the status. He wanted Spartz to bring spreadsheets as to who will be in charge of what aspects of the program.

VOTE: 4-0.

c. PRESENTATION/Working for You Video, MLK Center : “Opportunities for Success.” (PULLED)

6. COUNTY COUNSEL

a. Announcements

None.

7. PERFORMANCE AUDITOR

a. Announcements

None.

8. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660

None.

There being no further business, Commissioner Fleenor recessed the meeting at 10:40 a.m. 

Melissa Zimmer
Recording Secretary