March 16, 2010
Harris Hall Main Floor
Commissioner Bill Fleenor presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Rob Handy, Pete Sorenson and Faye Stewart present. County Administrator Jeff Spartz, County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
2. PUBLIC COMMENTS
John Byre said there is an encroachment on his property. He discussed what is being investigated on his property. He said people are falsifying documents in Lane County. He spoke with Jane Burgess. He wanted to know when he could get a response bank.
Jim Gillette, Eugene, thanked Stewart for meeting with him. He said he and Ann McLucas are working on their lawsuit. He said he gave the Board information but he said the Board hasn’t read it. He thought the Board could be fair. He didn’t know why the Board changes their mind about him. He said he would drop the case if any of the facts he has were not true.
3. COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE
Handy commented on intercollegiate sports taking place in the community. He was troubled by the values being displayed in suspensions for various football players. He indicated these are domestic violence cases and are complex. He hoped the community gets involved in moving forward and being aware of the lack of awareness with the seriousness about violence against women.
Stewart announced that the Cottage Grove High School Girls Basketball team won the state championship. He added they were in the finals against Marist.
Fleenor thought the University of Oregon should take a position so they don’t have multi-generational violence against women. With regard to Brye’s situation, he asked for a waiver of the 15 minute rule to see what they can to do help with the challenges. He noted that Oregon State Law allows a ten year period at which there is adverse possession. He stated there were three commissioners who agreed to waive the 15 minute rule.
4. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
5. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
Spartz recalled in January 2009 the Board went on record to support the Nature Conservancy’s effort to acquire 193 acres of land bordering Washburn State Park and the Siuslaw National Forest. He indicated that there is a request to send a letter supporting the grant application and he indicated that he would send the letter.
Handy asked what the latest progress was on carbon sequestration both externally and internally with the initiative.
Spartz responded that the last time the Board had a discussion he suggested a work session. He indicated that they need a policy discussion before they can proceed internally.
6. COUNTY COUNSEL
7. PERFORMANCE AUDITOR
b. REPORT BACK/Update on Public Contracting for Major Projects.
Stewart Bolinger, Performance Auditor, indicated that he will come back next week with five recommendations. He indicated that he didn’t have data and it is being reconstructed for him. He noted by the end of July the County might be ready for a cost accounting system. He indicated that there will be major internal control improvements.
Fleenor asked to look into Animal Services to perform an audit of euthanasia fluids.
Bolinger indicated that he never did the work at the Sheriff’s Department and that has to be completed. He noted that Health and Human Services have gone thought a state audit and his presence would be an interference. He said the Sheriff’s report should be completed. He added that it would now be easy to do the Animal Control audit.
Fleenor wanted confirmation of the actual number of animals euthanized. He wanted a process by which the crematorium rate will tell how many animals were euthanized. He also wanted a second process separate from a head count by staff versus a crematorium rate.
8. SHERIFF’S OFFICE
a. REPORT BACK/Status of Courthouse Security.
Tom Turner, Sheriff’s Department, distributed information on courthouse security. (Copy in file). He recalled that this was approved last September and they started working on this. He commented that they thought it would be easy but they had challenges with the labor union and it surrounded supplanting or paying less money for the same job. He said they tried to change duties and the unions weren’t interested. He indicated that they got an MOU with the labor union and it takes effect on March 2, allowing them to bring in retirees from the cities of Eugene, Springfield, OSP and the Sheriff’s Office. He said they will be sworn in as reserves and they will be armed at a reduced rate. He thought that working in collaboration with the Board of Commissioners and the Courts and the Sheriff’s Office will be the best low cost office solution.
Fleenor asked where the money originated.
Turner responded that $60,000 was allocated in September from the Board of Commissioners: $45 per hour and it pays for 1,333 hours of service. He hoped the money could be covered by reserves once they get the program going. He wanted to make the program attractive enough to carry it on into the future. He commented that it is hard to get programs and then take them away because of funding. He noted at the beginning of the fiscal year the Sheriff’s Office will contribute their $60,000 and they will have $120,000 to utilize. He said it will take all of that for two people to run 10 hours per day.
Handy asked for a commitment from the Courts for funding for two years. He wanted to see the other days addressed when people are in the lobby.
Liz Rambo, Court Administrator, explained that she had been working on this project before the County offered funding. She didn’t intend for it to have any ongoing funding from the County. She wanted to reduce the funding for the security screeners to the extent she could afford to. She said their commitment was long term. She thought that in order to affect security of a building, they need to have a professional level of Sheriff Deputies present. She thought having uniformed retirees was critical. She said her commitment was long term only for volunteers. She wasn’t convinced that she could take security to offset current sworn deputy costs.
Fleenor asked if Rambo could send a memo that could be shared with the Budget Committee, to put down what the costs are for the retirees. He wanted to see an even split of up front charges to show good faith on both sides. He wanted to see money roll into next year’s program if they don’t spend the entire amount.
9. COMMISSIONERS’ BUSINESS
a. REPORT and POSSIBLE ACTION/Southern Oregon Counties Oregon Solutions Project, Southern Oregon Clean Energy Alliance (SOCEA) and Consideration of Lane County Signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Douglas, Coos, Josephine, and Curry Counties and join SOCEA.
Stewart noted with the Oregon Counties Oregon Solutions Project, the members have started working on this. He noted commissioners from Curry, Josephine, Coos and Douglas counties are working to put together a MOU that would allow the counties to work collaboratively with the purpose of looking at clean energy projects that might be available to different counties that would provide jobs and revenue. He said when he brought this to the Board three weeks ago, there were concerns about the MOU. He indicated they added items to it. He said they have been working with Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes and Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager. He recalled an underlying concern was that the other counties have already adopted this. He asked how they could honor the concerns of the commissioners and for Lane County to be part of the effort. He said Vorhes proposed incorporating the concerns: the BCC would need to vote on any projects coming before the associate board for recommendations for projects to work on; for concerns about environmental concerns and trying to meet the environmental protections at the highest level possible. He incorporated those into a proposed board order. Stewart offered to be a representative on the Board. He added it is to be stated in the MOU that the Lane County representative must get prior approval before advancing a project and any Lane County project must meet or exceed regulatory requirements. He didn’t know if the other counties would approve what was requested by Handy. He commented that because this is only proposed for a year, he thought it was an extensive effort and would need to be a multi-year effort to propose the projects. He thought it could be added through time and if the agreement proves to be valuable, those could be things they could transition. He wanted to keep the MOU that has been approved by the other bodies for a year. He added that it doesn’t bind them financially and they have a 30 day opt out clause.
Dwyer thought most of the kinks have been worked out. He said it does what they want it to and there is the flexibility to change. He commented that it will benefit the citizens of Lane County.
Fleenor said they have a resolution that the other counties have hashed out and they are being asked to enter into a MOU. He said they have some concerns the language might not be as specific or elaborate as others may wish. He thought they could resolve this by changing the title. He said it should be a resolution. He said they could have an attachment that says they will accept it but they will put in their own attachment with additional language. He wanted to bring that back tomorrow for a vote.
Handy wanted to have an avenue for having the draft language go before the other counties.
Stewart stated that Coos, Douglas and Curry counties will not support the memorandum with changes He thought Josephine County might. He commented that it is a non-starter. He said it won’t lead to fruition. He added with the incorporated language that was acknowledged, all projects would have to be approved before this Board and if there is additional criteria, to have it vetted and included. He thought that was being met, as the Lane County Board of Commissioners have to have approval first. He thought the concerns were being met in the MOU. He wanted them as a Board to be cautious as they move forward. He thought if they pushed too hard it could affect the end results with the other counties.
Dwyer commented that there is no perfection in government. He thought the mechanism is there for them to move forward. He stated that they need to move forward as soon as possible.
Fleenor wanted to put in additional language on an attachment to a MOU. He wanted to put it on the table for reconsideration. He thought it was a good start. He said if the counties reject it, Stewart could come back and report and they could make another consideration. He said it gives them an opportunity to put their foot in the door and make carefully crafted changes.
Richardson indicated that she could use whatever language the Board wants.
Fleenor said he would accept the principles in Attachment A with additional Lane County language as Attachment B.
Stewart didn’t understand why the Board wouldn’t sign the MOU. He said it doesn’t seem like there is support to move this forward. He indicated that there is a meeting on Thursday and he will show them the proposed language. He said he was certain that other commissioners won’t go for changes in the MOU. He said that signals that Lane County will not be a member of this effort. He stated that it would be unfortunate.
Handy wanted a resolution with the adjustments. He wanted to see what Stewart and Richardson come up with. He wanted the other counties to consider what Lane County wants.
Fleenor wanted Richardson to craft a resolution based on what she understands is the direction and goal. He also wanted Richardson to work with Stewart and Handy to find an acceptable middle ground and to bring it back tomorrow on the Consent Calendar.
b. REPORT/ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.
Kevin Matthews, Eugene, gave a report on ICLEI. (Copy in file). He indicated a proposed action is a draft resolution to join the leading national organization of mainstream local government around climate change for sustainability. e commented that it is a modest but significant first step for the County. He said by joining ICLEI, the County will get access of local government and staff working on issues. He said ICLEI staff has tools to assist with climate action planning sequence. With regard to costs, he stated that membership costs are $2,000. He added that a larger direct cost for the County is the cost of work to follow through and do climate planning. He said Lane County only has to do an incremental amount of inventory work. He indicated that as a back up plan if necessary, it could be done on a volunteer or pro bono professional basis. He thought the community would want to back the commissioners so costs should not be a reason to not do climate planning.
Dwyer stated that it was good to start planning, but he was worried about the costs associated with it.
Sorenson said he would be in favor.
Richardson stated this group is larger than LRAPA. She indicated that the County would not be able to pay the entire amount with road funds, but they might be able to justify a portion.
Handy indicated that the packet didn’t go through the normal channels and he couldn’t review it or support the documentation. He thought by joining ICLEI, that it could be helpful to Lane County. He thought it could give them a jump start.
Stewart asked how much the city of Eugene has spent on this effort.
Matthews responded between $100,000 and $200,000. He indicated that it is a good benchmark to have as the next step to develop the plan. He said the step today would say that Lane County is going to move in the direction of the next step. He thought the discussion should be around the necessity for a work plan.
Stewart commented that the resolution doesn’t represent what Matthews stated.
Matthews said the difference is the series of bullet points that have no time requirements in a several year cycle. He said it is a commitment to pursue climate change planning.
Stewart was concerned that they are going to pledge to take a leadership role. He commented that everything comes with a cost and it is not free. He stated that when the County has financial concerns that joining this is not right. He said it would have been nice to have a resolution to represent what is being presented. He was led to believe that the Board was going to have a discussion about membership of all organizations and how they are going to deal with declining revenues. He thought it would be prudent to roll this matter into that conversation as to what is deliverable and what costs are going to be.
Richardson stated that she has looked at ICLEI’s website and she wouldn’t feel comfortable using road funds for membership.
Sorenson wanted a further discussion. He didn’t want this discussion to just die.
10. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
a. DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION/HR 1956.
Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, discussed the draft letter. (Copy in file). He noted there is a County Services Land Council to ensure that counties who are in fiscal distress would have a procedure available to them. He noted it is lacking in state statute. He volunteered to look at the 53 recommendations by the governor’s task force for federal payments and to identify those that might be appropriate for a county in fiscal distress. He came across recommendation 9, that the state should get behind a federal court change to collect fines, unpaid fees and restitution on federal income tax funds. He said this legislation would direct the IRS to wire money to the state court. He said this was how the federal government could help counties. He indicated there was an existing bill sponsored by Gordon Smith and another bill that is similar, HR1956. He suggested that Lane County write a letter of support that is in line with one of the recommendations from the Federal Forest Task Force Report. He added that HR1956 has over 40 co-sponsors. He said they don’t know what the evidence would be for a county in distress and what they would do to bring it out. He indicated that it has been sitting in Ways and Means for about a year.
Dwyer thought it violates the Tenth Amendment. He thought it was the beginning of a slippery slope.
Cuyler explained that this was in line with the legislative priority during the short session that was related to Justice Courts and ensuring that collections with Justice Courts fines are done as efficiently as possible. He said there is an enormous amount of money the state does not collect for outstanding fines and this bill would go a long way toward reducing the amount that goes unclaimed.
Fleenor asked if they could limit it to the state only.
Dwyer said it has to be in relation with something meaningful, not a parking ticket.
Cuyler said it would only apply where a person owes money that is past due, involving a legally enforced judicial debt.
Handy said the Board wanted a more comprehensive briefing on what is going on at the state level and how they can partner with the state. He wanted to know what the bigger strategies were for counties facing this crisis.
Stewart asked if it was a violation of the Tenth Amendment.
Richardson responded that it was not a violation of the Tenth Amendment because of the conditions that were put in place. She said there are checks and balances on whether it is a collectable debt.
Fleenor said this letter won’t move forward.
c. REPORT BACK/United Front Debrief.
Cuyler distributed a document about the United Front meetings. (Copy in file). He debriefed on what took place during the United Front.
Handy asked if they could have a process on how they as a Board could submit projects.
Cuyler said that conversation hasn’t taken place. He indicated they are going to have a debrief meeting and they will be bringing back comments and feed back from the elected officials. Both he and Spartz have been requesting at the SEL Group that there is an important story to tell with local economic development that might have future United Front projects.
Dwyer wanted to conclude the purchase of a regional park. He said they need a funding stream. He wanted a regional park that includes Buford Park and a bike path across Doris Clark and Clearwater that creates the loop that brings in the Mill Race in Springfield. He said they also asked for capital money to improve their health clinic. He thought they needed to send out a memorandum to the department heads to ask what kind of capital projects they feel they could advance to the United Front.
Handy said they have five Lane County projects and they have a story to tell. He asked how the projects get onto a list. He wanted a process where they solicit ideas from departments and the Board could weigh in on what projects they can put on as Lane County projects in the future.
Cuyler indicated that he is working on a follow-up from the trip. He hoped to report back in another year that they have been approved for projects and as soon as he knows, he will communicate that to the Board.
Sorenson thought they should have another report back in about five weeks. He thought they should discuss the structure of who is going to be involved in the United Front. He thought that LCC should be part of United Front. He commented that it builds relationships between local governments to do some work ahead of time. He also wanted a continued debriefing on this United Front trip. He wanted this to come back on April 27.
11. COMMISSIONERS’ BUSINESS
a. DISCUSSION/In the Matter of Selecting Newspapers to Publish Monthly Notice of Expenditures, Personal Property Tax Warrants, and Notices of Real Property Tax Foreclosure.
Richardson explained that the Board of Commissioners is required to select a newspaper to publish three types of notices. She indicated that one notice is a notice indicating where their expenditures are located in a newspaper of general circulation. She said a newspaper of general circulation must be published in the English language. She stated that it is for the dissemination of local or transmitted news, made up of at least four pages of at least five columns that have bona fide subscribers representing more than half the distribution of copies circulated or distribution verified by an independent circulation auditing firm and regularly published for 12 months.
Dwyer asked if both newspapers they are discussing will certify that they meet those requirements and will supply the documentation
Richardson believed they did. She indicated The Register Guard can show how many subscribers they have. She added that both The Register Guard and The Eugene Weekly have provided copies of what appears to be independent circulation auditing firm numbers. She couldn’t tell if those were independent audits, but they appeared to be. She explained what the Board has to do when there are two newspapers that meet the criteria, is to determine which is best suited to give actual notice.
Dwyer asked where their best return for the buck was between paid subscribers or cost per capita.
Richardson responded that if people are paying for a newspaper they are more likely to read it than the free newspaper. She said if that is the case then The Register Guard is getting over two times the readership than The Eugene Weekly. She noted the question they don’t have an answer to is how much is total advertising and how much publicity budget is spent on the three items they are discussing versus all of their advertising and publicity they are not discussing today. She added without the information, she couldn’t give that answer. She stated that it is up to the Board to decide which is best suited to give actual notice. She recommending using The Register Guard because when they are looking at total readership, they are getting to more people than The Eugene Weekly.
Handy said with the internet newspapers are being challenged. He said there are two newspapers in Lane County that would like Lane County’s business. He wanted to direct their staff to come back with a proposal where half of their business goes to one newspaper and half goes to the other. He said that would satisfy him and the interests of all involved.
Dwyer said it wouldn’t satisfy him. He said it wasn’t about keeping the newspaper solid, it is about notice requirements and getting the best bang for the buck and expecting someone to read it and knowing where it would be published. He was worried about the legal aspect.
Richardson said they could choose to publish in both, the issue is coming up with the additional money. She said they could do that to reach people who are not reading The Register Guard or The Eugene Weekly, but they would have to come up with additional money. She added that money is not budgeted for this year. She said there would have to be money allocated.
Sorenson commented that they are dealing with a law that is old and assumes people read newspapers. He stated The Eugene Weekly, is a newspaper that has the minimal appropriate qualifications. He said their circulation is increasing and The Register Guard’s circulation is decreasing. He said they have discretion and they should try it.
Fleenor thought this went back to the equity of fairness. He thought it was a difficult situation that they can’t exactly analyze. He said they have to give opportunity to other businesses in a fair and equitable manner. He said they have discretion and they should use it toward balancing the equation.
Dwyer commented that it is not about fairness and equity, it is about notice. He said to expect a reasonable person to look at The Eugene Weekly, for their legal notices is not real.
Spartz asked if publishing legal notices was valuable to the citizens. He said if they view it as valuable, they have to think carefully about the widest possible distribution.
Richardson noted that Assessment and Taxation paid $3,000 last year for Notice of Foreclosure and they only did it once. She said they don’t publish tax warrants. She said the only thing they could do is tell people to look at their website. She stated they are talking about $8,000 per year. She added that the rest is discretionary advertising. She indicated that she asked Anette Spickard, Assessor, if The Eugene Weekly had approached her to do the foreclosures. She said that Spickard starts talking to The Register Guard in June to publish them correctly in August. Richardson said that Spickard responded The Eugene Weekly hadn’t contacted and they don’t know if they have the capability to publish the Notice of Foreclosures. She added there will be a lot of problems for the County if they can’t publish it correctly.
Stewart said in all their efforts they tried to reach out for the H1N1 or other Working for You information and when people see The Eugene Weekly; they have an ad for different things. He wanted to know where Amber Fossen, Public Information Officer, publishes notices. He asked if The Eugene Weekly offered free public notices for the citizens. He doesn’t believe they need to make a change. He believed they are trying to reach out to everyone. He noted each publication has a different readership. He said he finds some of the ads in The Eugene Weekly, offensive. He commented it is personal choice. He recalled that as an organization they wanted to reach out to as many people as possible.
Fleenor asked if Spartz could do an analysis on how they are spending money with discretionary advertising and report back on how they can make this more of an equitable distribution.
Spickard explained that they only publish tax foreclosure notices once and they are lengthy and detailed and accuracy is important. She wanted to make sure if The Eugene Weekly is the one to publish it, that it is circulated in the rural areas because most of the properties on the list are in rural areas. She didn’t know what the County’s defense would be if someone’s property was sold and they didn’t get appropriate notice. She said her portion is $3,000 once per year. She added due to its size and the number of lines, it was a question of what it would cost. She thought it could be $15,000.With regard to the internet, she said she has to publish the foreclosures in the newspaper but she thought they could also put it on the website. She added it is not legal to use the internet yet. She added that they do have people who wait for it and read it in the newspaper.
Fleenor asked why they can’t direct people from the print media to go to their website for notice of foreclosures and jobs that appear in both newspapers.
Spickard responded that for foreclosure notices they have to have a specific date associated with when it was published, as that starts a legal clock ticking.
Spartz thought it was desirable over the long term to drive people to the website. He said it is more convenient for people who have access, but not everyone uses high speed to access the County’s website.
Fleenor asked if they could have a work session on how they can spend money in the future.
Spartz said most departments can show a justification on how they are spending money, who they are targeting and where the money is going.
Stewart stated he is concerned because this is the third time that this item has come up dealing with a cost between $3,000 and $10,000. He thought they spent that with their time and Legal Counsel time on this matter. He thought it was a waste of time. He thought the departments were doing a good job informing as many citizens as possible. He thought other newspapers would want to do court notices. He wanted to find out where staff was publishing notice.
Handy thought they needed to look at The Eugene Weekly. He wanted a board order for tomorrow for an extension for another month. He said they have received information about the discretionary and non-discretionary advertising. He wanted direction on how they can equitably distribute some of the expenses in both of the papers that qualify. He wanted a proposal for all of the figures.
Fleenor wanted to look at how they are currently advertising in HR for jobs. He thinks most people who are hired by Lane County are computer literate and get the information on line.
12. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Sorenson reported on the aspects of his trip to Washington, D.C.
Stewart announced that there is an O & C meeting on Friday in Salem. He attended a meeting on an effort to get signatures for a vote on state parks funding through lottery dollars.
13. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
14. OTHER BUSINESS
There being no further business, Commissioner Fleenor adjourned the meeting at 3:20 p.m.