BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
May 4, 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
Jim Gillette, Eugene, stated that he is trying to work with the Board and it hasnít been working. He doesnít want to threaten the County. He thinks the legal department and compliance department have been threatening him. He appreciated that Dwyer and Stewart agreed to give him a hearing. He noted with his fine there was no evidence that he was not in compliance when the fine started. He just didnít have the money to pay the fine at the time.
3. COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE
Dwyer stated that it has been a bad week in the Gulf Coast that will be touched by the massive oil leak. He said the public will have to pay for the cleanup. He noted the future market for gasoline is $4.00 plus per gallon and all of the oil companies will profit by this mistake and Americans will suffer. He hopes people on the Coast will recover.
Handy said he was disturbed by the events in Arizona and the anti-immigration laws. He was troubled about what was taking place and he hoped it wouldnít come to their community. He was glad they are strengthening the advancement for community rights.
Fleenor concurred with Dwyer about the Gulf Coast.
4. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
5. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
Spartz indicated that he sent an e-mail about the updated ratings that Moody had given the County . He noted the County got a slight upgrade in their rating. He reported that it didnít make any difference in the interest rate they were currently paying, but they will get better rates the next time they issue bonds. He commented that the rating agencies were underrating the quality of public debt.
b. DISCUSSION/Revolving Capital Fund.
Fleenor reported that the Board is concerned about the roof of the Conference Center. He asked how they could put on a new roof before it becomes condemned. He asked about the opportunities.
Spartz responded that Rick Reno, Fairgrounds, has done an excellent job of reducing structural costs with the operations of the Lane Events Center and the Fair. He reported that the transient room tax collected helps support the Fairgrounds, but it has been falling off due to the drop in tourism.
Reno reported that he went to the Facilities Committee yesterday and presented them with the challenges. He requested as a priority the Convention Center Roof. He indicated that it is their number one revenue producer. He added that it serves most people that come to the facilities. He said for some of the types of events it is embarrassing and it becomes a public safety issue with the amount of leakage they have had. He added at a recent Home and Garden Show they had to use six trash cans catching water during the event. He indicated that in order for them to address the issue, they had to remove some ceiling tiles. He noted there was mold and other problems and it creates a safety issue. He added that there had been some water damage to some exhibits and they had to reimburse the vendors for the damage.
Fleenor stated that the roof is a high priority and the Wheeler Building is number two. He thought if they donít do something that the building might have to be torn down.
Reno indicated that they have to worry about the structure. He noted the facility is over 30 years old and it has been maintained well and aesthetically it looks good, but they have issues that need addressing.
Stewart wanted to have a bigger picture of events at the center instead of the repair need. He was worried about the long term stability of the Events Center as a whole. He believes they are at a point where the Board needs to give more direction than just fixing a roof. He thought it was time to look at what they can do to the site to make it more of a convention expo center. He thought they could have a hotel and a year round farmers market to allow the local citizens to operate year round. He stated that the Fair is a one week event. He thought maybe the Fair could be located at a different location. He heard from Warren Wong, the past Fair Manager, that he didnít believe they could get five to ten years out of the facility and Reno agreed. He thought if they fixed the roof it doesnít put them on the road to sustainability. He indicated that they need to have conversations. He wanted to put Renoís energy and expertise on moving the Fairgrounds toward stability. He added that the Ice Rink costs $350,000 per year to operate and it is a drain on the Fairgrounds and it loses money. He commented that unless they think about financially supporting the Fairgrounds in the future, they wonít be able to do it. He stated that it is valuable for the community.
Fleenor stated that the Fairgrounds need to be run like a business. He thought as they move forward under Renoís expertise, they will look at the Fairgrounds as a stand alone profit center. He wanted to figure out how they can put some money in to get a return from their investment without using the general fund.
Reno indicated this is not a new issue about what to do with the footprint of the Fairgrounds into the future. He said it is a major revenue facility used by most people on an annual basis. He thought they needed a hotel, exhibit space and upgraded break out spaces. He said if they look at stabilizing the facilities for the impact to the community to enhance the quality of life and to create a destination point, then an investment in the Convention Center roof is justified. He thought the Wheeler Pavilion has the most promise. He noted for the Wheeler Pavilion, if they modernize the aesthetics and the kitchen, it is estimated they could receive a net of $20,000 to $30,000 per year additional in fees. He added that the catering situation is what gives them an increase in revenue. He stated that they do a good job of marketing the Fairground facilities even in its current condition. He stated that the Expo Center is in dire need of repairs and for the Ice Center they are in a process of having a report put together to either repair it or to provide safety.
Christine Moody, Budget and Finance Manager, indicated they have two options. She recalled when they sold the Port of Siuslaw they had $275,000 and it went into the industrial development fund. She said they spent $75,000 and the remaining money is in the fund. She wants legal to review it to see if the money could be used for rehab for the Convention Center. She indicated the other option could be the general fund for a loan to the Fairgrounds or into the revolving capital fund. She said the general fund is not healthy and in 10/11 they shouldnít go below ten percent as it impacts their bond rating. She said that a loan needs to be repaid and they donít know how they would repay the loan. She said they have a problem with Lane Manual and a loan receiving funds. She noted the Events Center couldnít receive a $1 million loan, they can only receive about $615,000.
Reno said assuming the Transient Room Tax doesnít continue to go down the changes they are making in their catering and concessions have the potential to cover the interest. He added that if they canít rent the main facility, they would be done.
Fleenor indicated that today was just a discussion. He wants to review this during the Budget Committee.
Dwyer indicated there was money in the Economic Development Fund to borrow for the Wheeler Pavilion. He added that it is more related to economic development than building prisons. He stated that they have to do something because the status quo is not acceptable.
David Suchart, Management Services, said an estimate was given to him of $500,000 by a set of roofers. He added that is just for the roof. He thinks the quote is higher. He indicated that he is putting out an RFP for Architectural Services to look at the whole structure of the roof. His fear is there is structural damage beyond what they are talking about and in order to get an accurate number, it needs technical support. He said he wonít have this in time for the budget process. He thought the estimate will be closer to $1 million than $500,000 for the roof and the infrastructure.
Stewart was concerned about the overall picture of the Countyís financing to be securing money out of the general fund to do this.
Handy thought fixing the roof for $500,000 was a reasonable investment. He wants options brought back. He wants to prioritize what needs to be done at the Lane Events Center. He wanted to relook at the footprint of the Fairgrounds. He also wanted to look at solar so they could defray the costs through engineering solar capacity to generate their own energy and revenue. He and Sorenson talked about having a series of town halls so they could have a broader discussion about the Fairgrounds and its future.
Fleenor said he was getting a sense that this was not ready for the Budget Committee. He thought this should be postponed until they have more data. He thought they could have more of a substantive discussion in July.
Sorenson thought they should move ahead with the roofing at the Events Center. He commented that the best time to install solar energy is when they install a new roof. He thought the Wheeler Pavilion was a good investment. He added that they need the upgrades so they can get more rental income.
Spartz asked about borrowing the money from the Solid Waste Fund. He indicated the repayment would have to be made within 24 months.
Sorenson wanted to look at other sources of funding for bonding or straight borrowing.
Fleenor wanted the Facilities Committee to continue meeting monthly.
Dwyer wanted to develop a payment stream. He thought there might be a way to defray the costs for a few years. He added that they canít continue to delay deferred maintenance or they would have to demolish the structure.
c. REPORT BACK/United Front Efforts.
Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, discussed information on United Front Efforts. (Copy in file).
d. PRESENTATION/Working for You Video, Community Health Centers of Lane County - "Living Healthy Through Healthy Living".
6. COUNTY COUNSEL
7. PERFORMANCE AUDITOR
8. ONE PAGER
a. DISCUSSION/Repeal of ďDonít Ask, Donít TellĒ Policy.
Daniel Lewis Frommherz gave a presentation on the repeal of the Donít Ask, Donít Tell Policy.
Sorenson wanted to turn this into a letter.
Frommherz wanted Handy and Richardson to work on this.
Fleenor said that Handy and Frommherz could work together to draft a letter and have it go to the agenda team.
9. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Stewart announced that Saturday will be an Opportunity Conference held by the United Way at the Faith Center. He thanked Dwyer for his discretionary funds to help contribute to this.
Handy reported that last Thursday he and Mayor Piercy were representatives at the Super ACT meeting in Salem. He noted that Lane Countyís three projects did well at the region for Connect Oregon III. He announced that on Saturday he will be attending a workshop for rail infrastructure and he will be at the Fairgrounds at the Historical Museum for an opening of a new exhibit.
Sorenson said he participated with the Applied Solutions Coalition last week in Sonoma County.
Fleenor noted the ballots have arrived. He asked if a first class stamp was appropriate.
Richardson responded that it depended as some require more than one first class stamp. He indicated that they already arranged with the Post Office to pay for the stamps so it makes it to the Elections Division.
10. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
11. OTHER BUSINESS
There being no further business, Commissioner Fleenor recessed the meeting at 11:50 a.m.