COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE
May 10, 2011
Board of Commissioners Conference Room
Chair Scott Bartlett presided with Budget Committee members present: Jay Bozievich, Rob Handy, Denis Hijmans, Sid Leiken, Ashley Miller, Peter Sorenson, Faye Stewart, Herb Vloedman and Rose Wilde. County Administrator Liane Richardson, Budget and Financial Planning Manager Christine Moody and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. CALL MEETING TO ORDER
Scott Bartlett called the meeting to order.
II. COMMITTEE BUSINESS
Shari Higgins, Management Analyst, distributed Thursday’s agenda and two sets of minutes to be approved on Thursday. She also distributed responses to questions that were previously submitted.
III. ASSESSMENT & TAXATION
Anette Spickard, Assessor, gave an update on Assessment and Taxation’s proposed budget for 2011/2012 and the reductions. (Copy on Internet)
Vloedman asked which four counties were looking at contracting with Lane County for services.
Spickard responded that the four counties are Lake, Wheeler, Gilham and Crook. She said they are intergovernmental agreements with no ending dates. She said they could mutually decide to end the contract.
Wilde asked if there was an estimate on the loss or potential gain through delinquency of personal property accounts.
Spickard said if there is a business that has business personal property and they have not been paying taxes, their collection to enforce the payment is limited to recording a warrant in Deeds and Records against the property, but they can’t foreclose on it like real property. She noted the law allows in small counties for the Assessor to go out with the Sheriff to the business and seize property and auction the sale. She stated that Lane County doesn’t operate in that manner.
Wilde asked why there were performance measures on farm deferral and not on other programs.
Spickard said they have multiple programs they are administering in their department. She noted the most common questions they get from the Budget Committee are around farm and forest programs. She added that is where they have been putting dedicated effort in reviewing the accounts and disqualifying accounts if they don’t meet the requirements.
Wilde asked if the County was precluded from asking other jurisdictions with help for costs of administering tax collections.
Spickard said they discussed it at the legislature at the last session in 2009 and there was interest initially in addressing how counties were going to pay for their state mandated functions with the loss of the SRS money. She said there was a bill introduced in the legislature that came out of Jackson County for each taxing district to help pay for Assessment and Taxation. She said it was a proposal to set aside a percentage and it would go to the counties to help pay for operations. She said it met with huge resistance and it didn’t go anywhere. She said it was opposed by the cities and school districts. She stated it would have to be a state law, applying to everyone equally.
Handy asked how they could add value to the tax roll. He asked if there was information about what other counties are thinking about to add value for funding of Assessment and Taxation.
Spickard noted that from time to time there is a related committee at the Association of Oregon Counties where they discuss this issue and idea. She added the Assessors and Tax Collectors have their own group where they discuss information to try to craft solutions. She hadn’t heard the discussion about having the tax districts pay for Assessment and Taxation for some time.
Stewart noted that AOC does have a revenue committee and they track bills that pertain to cost savings for the counties and generating more revenue. He recalled in the past they supported a bill from AOC that was similar to Jackson’s County but it fell apart. He didn’t believe that this year AOC sponsored bills related to this issue. He noted it is a recommendation out of a task force that was formed under Representative Nathan’s bill looking for ways to help counties fill the gaps in the SRS funding. He noted this was a recommendation to get approved in the future.
Spickard commented that the effort to develop a new funding mechanism to support Assessment and Taxation operations (and not have the County being the only one paying for it) is going to be something that will take an effort to get passed.
IV. SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Tom Turner, Sheriff, gave a presentation on their structure and budget. (Copy on the Internet).
Sorenson asked how far in advance employees would have to be told about their positions being cut at the Jail.
Turner explained there are three separate categories for contractual language. He said they have AFSCME, LCPOA and the Non-Reps. He said the process for the contracted employees is different. He said they want to try to implement this by October 1 of the next fiscal year. He indicated they have one RFP at the Jail ready to go and they have to start the process. He said they want to make sure they recognize the value the employees have to the organization and they have to decide as an organization if it is a cost savings or not. He said sometimes vendors provide claims they can’t back up. He said they will follow the contractual obligations of LCPOA and AFSCME.
Leiken said there are areas classified as Lane County but they are closer to the city. He asked if the Sheriff’s Office had partnerships with cities that could take some of the pressures off of Lane County.
Turner reported that in every jurisdiction they have a mutual aid agreement. He indicated if they can’t go to an emergency call, the Oregon State Police or whoever is closest would go. He said the difficulty comes when jurisdictions are asking where the money is coming from for the call. He said for the emergency calls mutual aid agreements are in place, but for routine calls for service, the jurisdiction is concerned who is going to pay for the service.
Leiken asked if they could put forth a public safety annexation agreement with those jurisdictions so there are no more conversations on where the money is coming from. He wanted to alleviate the pressures on Lane County where it makes no sense to make a call for service that is urban but not within the city boundaries.
Turner commented that it always comes down to dollars. He said the issue is who is going to go out for the call or to become a liability if there is a shooting. He said it has to deal with a jurisdiction, their money, their issue, their people, and their tax collection. He said they wouldn’t get any push back from the law enforcement agencies themselves; it will be the entity that runs the organization.
Stewart stated that this was not a normal budget process at all levels of the budget. He was concerned about the cost savings factored into Budget 1 for medical and food savings because there is no absolute assurance that they would recover from the cuts. He said they will be facing cuts and some of the jurisdictional partners don’t want to see cuts in areas of the department because it affects their impacts. He recalled when they cut jail beds they faced detrimental impacts to the community. He wanted to hold the line with the jail beds, but then he said there needed to be cuts elsewhere. He said as a rural commissioner he knows that rural Lane County pays 35 percent of the property tax into the general fund and they receive about 25 percent of the public safety services from the general fund. He is concerned that they have to cut patrol completely or do something for services in unincorporated Lane County. He commented that it would be difficult to represent that fact to his citizens. He said as they move forward to balance the budget, there will be huge impacts to citizens that everyone need to be aware of.
Hijmans asked with regard to Marine Patrol, if the Sheriff’s Office could live without the $79,000 out of the general fund or if it was for water rescue.
Bill Thompson, Sheriff’s Office, responded that the agreement is with the Marine Board for every county in Oregon. He added that there is an 80/20 split. He indicated the 20 percent they put up (or $79,000) is a piece of the program. He said if they remove the $79,000, they would still be responsible for the other 80 percent.
Wilde asked what the impact is if they were to go to a higher number of capacities of jail beds not funded. She asked if they violated the consent decree.
Thompson stated they would be violating federal law.
Bozievich asked about the tribes and the Tribal Police and whether they had mutual response with them. He said the Tribal Police were looking to get law enforcement capabilities outside of their property. He asked if that could be helpful
Turner responded that there are only three officers on that force. He stated for the Lane County Sheriff’s Department it would not be a significant increase. He said once the Tribal Police are on their own property, they are treated as full police officers with full police authority. He said the state treats them different outside of the sovereign authority. He indicated there are political issues for the Sheriff’s Office and for the state police. He said he is working with the Chief at Three Rivers because the Chief is able to go from casino to casino and he can move around better than other police departments. He thought that could be beneficial to the Sheriff’s Department. He recently approved the three Tribal Police to have handguns outside of the sovereign territory.
Bozievich asked how much of the Secure Rural School funding was available out of the road funds that they haven’t used this year. He asked if this was a change in the budget on what the impact would be on Public Works to make up for the 2 FTE they are eliminating. He asked how much of the $8.9 million of patrol expenses could be made up and possibly transferred to the District Attorney’s office to pick up one of the District Attorney’s they are losing due to property crimes. He commented that they are being decimated on law enforcement.
Turner indicated that he would come back with that information.
Bozievich said the Coast Guard Reserve in the area is active and they want to help with the safety function on their waterways in Lane County. He said they were looking for cooperation in help at their headquarters.
V. DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Alex Gardner, District Attorney, and Loralee McKee, Family Law gave presentations on the District Attorney’s office. (Copy on Internet)
Sorenson asked how Option 1 of the Budget would affect the District Attorney’s office.
Gardner said if they are unsuccessful in securing any of the savings on which Richardson relied, then any savings they fail to achieve will lead to more lost positions. He indicated that they will come out of the Criminal Division out of property crimes because they are at a minimum threshold for everything else.
Stewart asked what the dollar figure would be on future cuts for the loss of 4 FTE from the Community Correction funds.
Gardner said they should be conservative and careful not to over state the potential damage. He said it is over four dollars for each dollar saved. He said if the other counties change in unexpected ways, it will change the balance. He noted that could reduce what Lane County gets. He was confident it will cost at least two dollars per year for every dollar they cut. He added that it could be as much as $4.50 to $5.00 per year for every dollar they cut.
Hijmans asked why they are cutting positions.
Richardson responded that they have nowhere else to cut.
Hijmans didn’t think it was a cut if they were receiving two dollars for every dollar spent.
Richardson indicated that the money comes in future years and it gets spread out, and not just to public safety.
VI. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Rob Rockstroh, Health and Human Services, gave a presentation on his department. (Copy in file).
Miller asked about the Buckley House and the Sobering Station. She asked if there were other services that would be closed.
Rockstroh responded that these are alternative choices and they have to make the least worst impact. He thinks there are multiple options.
Sorenson asked why Rockstroh was focusing on Option 2. He asked if they couldn’t achieve the reductions assumed in Option 1.
Rockstroh believed that AFSCME would have to come to the table and have a deal by July 1 and he didn’t believe that would happen. He thought there were multiple options. He said because of the process it could possibly stretch to December. He said if they do furloughs, it is assumed it is a short term issue. He thought they have to start cutting now. He noted there are political considerations as well. He stated that he believed the other unions were willing to negotiate if AFSCME negotiates. He hoped they could put furloughs off until January to allow time for negotiations.
VII. YOUTH SERVICES
Roland Hoskins, Acting Youth Services Director, gave a presentation on the Department of Youth Services. (Copy in file).
Bozievich stated that he doesn’t want to get to Option 2. He commented that Pathways is a program that is not duplicated any place else in the community and if they lose it they won’t be able to recoup the program. He asked if they would have to go to Option 2 to achieve the savings that are in the budget around labor.
Hoskins said they have to honor the process. He said it was not fair to project too much. He commented that the negotiations are going to be tough. He recalled that negotiations were difficult last time and some of the savings they got last time were significant. He thought they could save money. He said they need to let Helen do her job with negotiations.
VIII. BUDGET COMMITTEE QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION
Scott stated that he and Stewart will not be present on Thursday.
Sorenson asked what the revenue assumptions were.
Moody indicated that most of the budget was balanced on expense assumptions.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.