COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE
May 3, 2011
Vice Chair Scott Bartlett presided with Budget Committee members present: Jay Bozievich, Rob Handy, Denis Hijmans, Sid Leiken, Ashley Miller, Pete Sorenson, Faye Stewart, Herb Vloedman and Rose Wilde. County Administrator Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER
Scott Bartlett called the meeting to order.
II. COMMITTEE BUSINESS
Election of Chair
MOTION: to nominate Scott Bartlett as Chair.
Sorenson MOVED, Hijmans SECONDED.
Election of Vice Chair
MOTION: to nominate Denis Hijmans as Vice Chair.
Stewart MOVED. Bartlett SECONDED.
MOTION: to nominate Rose Wilde as Vice Chair.
Handy MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.
Approval of Minutes
May 11, 2010
May 13, 2010
May 20, 2010
October 6, 2010
MOTION: to approve the minutes of May 11, 2010, May 13, 2010, May 2010 and October 6, 2010.
Wilde MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.
III. BUDGET MESSAGE
Richardson gave her 2011/2012 Budget Message.
Sorenson asked if the Budget Committee can add revenue into the budget by eliminating the tax giveaways previously decided by the Board.
Richardson responded that the Budget Committee can make recommendations to the Board to make changes that would allow additional revenue to come in. She stated they would have to go through a process with Legal, Budget and Finance to determine whether or not they can make it work.
Moody cautioned that the Board of Commissioners cannot increase the budget more than ten percent for any one fund from the time the budget is approved.
Hijmans asked how relationships have changed over the past six months in areas of mutual trust that has evolved, leading to more of a success with Richardsonís assumptions.
Richardson explained that all of the labor unions have been willing to sit down and talk with her and Madilyn Zike, Human Resources Director. She added they had honest and exciting conversations. She indicated that they are willing to take chances to share ideas that they wouldnít have been able to share before. She said they trust them as much as they are going to trust an administration. She noted they are further along than they have been in the past. She was hopeful that they were going to achieve significant cost savings. She stated they are working to find what works best for the County and their employees. She was excited as to where they are going.
Wilde asked what Richardson anticipated with the federal government funding.
Richardson said they donít know what is going to happen at the state or federal level. She indicated there are additional cuts taking place that are outside of the general fund. She added that some of those may impact what is taking place in the general fund.
Leiken believed that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Symantec Second Phase and Franz Bakery all come off the five year Enterprise Zone and now come onto the books. He asked if that assumption was correct.
Stewart commented that even if they get the Secure Rural School payments the way it was projected, they would still be in a path to make reductions. He added that the road fund will still have to change.
Handy asked where the road fund of $2.75 million, could be applied in the County.
Richardson explained that there is a state statute that states Lane and Douglas Counties can transfer road fund monies for patrol services only. She added it is set to sunset in 2014 and there is legislation that might move the sunset provision out. She noted patrol services are the only current exception.
Moody added that the state statue refers only to funds received through the SRS legislation or timber harvests, so it does not apply to all monies within the road fund.
IV. BUDGET OVERVIEW
Christine Moody, Budget and Financial Planning Manager, gave the budget overview. (Copy on the internet).
V. PROPERTY TAX OVERVIEW
Anette Spickard, Assessor, gave a property tax overview. (Copy in file).
Spickard said in response to Leikenís question about their large Enterprise Zone accounts, Royal Caribbean is already out of the program, they were only in for three years and not for five years. She noted that Symantec is paying taxes. She added that Symantec is the number eighth taxpayer in the County even though they are receiving some Enterprise Zone redemptions.
Handy asked if there were any policy options available to the Budget Committee.
Spickard said the responsibility for valuing the properties now lies with the Department of Revenue and they do the appraisals and sends the County the information to place on the tax roll. She noted there is an option under the statutes that say that a County can elect to take back responsibilities for valuing all of the large industrial properties but they would have to hire more staff to do that. She added that would be 450 large specialized properties they donít have the in-house capacity to take on right now. She noted that none of the counties have done that yet.
Handy asked what they could do for farm and forest deferral.
Spickard explained with farm and forest deferrals, the law is clear that they are in an EFU zone. She added that if they get disqualified from that program, there is a ten year back tax penalty, but it sits on the account, they are not able to collect the tax. She said they have properties sitting with tax liabilities owing but they wonít be able to collect it until the property is in such a condition it could never be returned to farm use. She added that even if they put an effort into disqualifying people from the farm program, their ability to collect it is limited by state law. She indicated there are bills pending in the legislature around making it easier to qualify for farm use special assessment without having to farm. She said it is driven by the state legislature.
VI. ROAD FUND OVERVIEW
Tanya Heaton, Public Works, gave a presentation on the road fund overview. (Copy on the Internet).
Handy asked what the supervisors and managers were doing to help with the deficit. He wanted an analysis brought back with analyst positions and if they could cut those in half, so they could address the shortfall next year.
Heaton said she could bring back an analysis of what is classified as an Engineering Analyst. She recalled it was part of the Fox Lawson study and she didnít know if all Engineering Analysts were in engineering.
Wilde asked what they could do to reduce spending in the long run for the years FY 13/14. She asked if they would be doing less.
Heaton said in 11/12 they have $7 million of timber receipts. She said in 12/13 they have 50 percent of the timber cut and it drops significantly. She added at that point they will have used all of their fund balance. She stated they wonít have anything left in the reserves for operations at the end of 12/13. She noted when looking at 13/14, it assumes they make no changes. She said they canít end 12/13 being $2 million short so there will changes that will have to be made. She stated in Oregon they canít fund operations on debt.
With regard to Handyís concern about Engineer Analysts, Stewart indicated that the County provides services for the city of Eugene and other areas so they have become their own enterprise fund. He said the Board in past years took on an aggressive Capital Improvement Program and they spent down the reserves. He said since he became a commissioner, there were three engineering teams and they are now down to one. He noted over time they have reduced their expenses. He thought they would be in a preservation and maintenance type mode, not having the ability to fund capital improvement projects unless they are successful with grants or state funding.
VII. PUBLIC HEARING ON THE FY 2011/2012 BUDGET
Shonna Butler, Eugene, spoke on behalf of Commission on Children and Families. She said they are dedicated to the safety and well being for children, youth and families in Lane County. She commented that during this time of difficulty they will hear many individuals testify as to the compelling reasons why funding should not be reduced or eliminated from programs that provide a safety net for the most vulnerable members of society. She said children who have enriched childcare and pre-school experiences arrive at school more ready to succeed. She said strong families make communities. She stated that funding prevention today assures public safety in the future. She said the Board needs to invest in strategies for child abuse. She indicated the estimated immediate costs associated for child abuse and neglect to individual states on an annual basis can range over $500 million in medical mental health, child welfare and judicial costs. She said the Board needs to invest in early childhood prevention.
Rich Cook, Eugene, stated he is a member of the Lane County Commission on Children and Families. He said they have so many needs that they are in a dire situation. He said there is no way to fund or support all the needs they have. He said they have to support some of the prevention programs and they have to support early intervention, treatment and public safety. He said they also have to support jobs. He said if they donít have a talented effective labor force, they will have more difficulty attracting and maintaining jobs. He said they need to focus on economic development and people being ready and able to take the jobs now and over the long term.
Galen Phipps, Eugene, was present on behalf of Shelter Care to discuss the Human Services funding recommendations. He said they resulted in a two year process that engaged the full community. He said a lack of funding through the Human Services Commission will lead service gaps in the community. He added the community well being is at risk when they no longer will be able to provide safe shelter for families. He said Shelter Care is concerned about the loss of emergency shelter units who serve families with children who are homeless. He noted the Human Services Commission eliminated over $300,000 in funding for emergency shelter units for a family housing program. He said the demand for the units is growing and high unemployment rate and the lack of affordable housing means many households are at risk of homelessness or find themselves homeless. He said stable housing is the foundation on how people base their lives. He said for the community to thrive, they must find a way to help neighbors who struggle with basic needs for housing. He said the Human Services Commission has expended investment in strategies that help promote a healthy community. He said there is no simple answer with the budget difficulties. He asked the Budget Committee to prioritize services that protect the hardest hit in the economic downturn.
David Rosenblatt, recommended that the VMAC committee be retained. He said they advise the Board of Commissioners on management of roadside vegetation. He indicated that Lane County is the only county in Oregon that does not spray its roadsides. He added they are responsible for 1, 400 miles of roads. He noted the roads are maintained by mechanical methods form tractors to weed eaters and it is the only county in the country that does not spray its roads every year. He wanted to approach the BPA as they have $150 million over the next 15 years for money. He thought because of the no spray status, Lane County could be a pilot project for the entire country for maintaining roads without chemicals. He asked that the committee be retained.
Doug Bales, Eugene, said he is the Project Manager for the Egan Warming Center. He thanked the Board for giving them the $30,000 for the past two years to get the program off the ground. He indicated there are over 450 volunteers providing over 45,000 volunteer hours and 4,500 beds on cold nights and over 9,000 meals. He asked the Board to fund them for another few years and become part of the community. He said the leverage for the $30,000 has given them cooperation from other agencies.
Antenor Bekrios, NAACP, asked that they raise fees for solid waste. He said if they raise it by 86 cents it would take care of the shortfall of the budget of the Human Services Commission.
Jerry Smith, Eugene, said he is a retired social worker working for the First Christian Church helping the homeless. He said there is not enough resources for homeless people and what is coming down the pike are unconscionable cuts the state will have to make. He asked the Board to send a resolution to the state to stop giving away all the tax breaks they are giving. He said they need the money spent on schools, human services and public safety. He noted most homeless people are disabled who were dropped by the state in 2005. He added that people who are mentally ill are not accepted at the Mission because it is too much for them to take on. He hoped the Budget Committee could find some way to fund the Egan Warming Center.
Bob Richards, Buckley Center, recalled that three years ago all the funding for the Sobering Station and part of the Detox Unit was cut. He noted a revenue exchange with the city of Eugene and Lane County occurred and they were able to fund it for two more years. He indicated that ended last year and the County found enough funding to continue it for one more year. He commented that a train wreck could occur if the funding is not restored. He noted that it is not in the Countyís budget but has been set aside as an option . He said if the funding doesnít continue, that on June 30 he has no option but to direct that the Sobering Station be closed and cut back the detoxification services. He added that it will be adding about 5,000 admissions they have per year to the streets. He hoped funding will be found to restore the services. He noted in the interim they will lose valuable employees. He indicated the cities of Eugene and Springfield are concerned and are willing to discuss this with Lane County to find a solution where they could continue the services. He commented that without the services, the impact on Eugene will be traumatic.
Henry Dizney, Eugene, spoke on behalf of the Egan Warming Center. He stated that he is a volunteer. He has been impressed with the volunteer leadership. He asked the Budget Committee what the cost would be if they didnít fund the program.
Sue Reynes. Eugene, discussed different homeless people. She commented that they can humanize homeless people but she asked what it would cost if they couldnít afford to fund these people.
Melissa Mona, Eugene, Vice Chair Human Rights Commission, spoke as an Egan Warming Center volunteer. She commented that it took one personís death to bring everyone together to decide that treatment like this was unacceptable. She thought the County should step up with the $30,000. She stated it was a smart model and it is collaboration from government, non-profit and the private sector. She hoped the Budget Committee reconsiders the $30,000 for the Egan Warming Center.
Ruth Duemler, Eugene, commented that human services are begging for support. She supports the Egan Warming Center. She added that other services deserve attention. She stated they need legislation to get jobs and housing so they donít have homeless on the street.
Ron McMullin, Eugene, supported the Egan Warming Center and $30,000 to be reinstated to maintain the support for the Egan Warming Center. He said the center is a safety net. He wants to get people out of being homeless but they canít forget the people who are homeless.
Joella Ewing, Eugene, supported the Egan Warming Center. She noted the cost was $3.50 per guest per night for the nights that were open the past winter. She asked where else could the County get this bang for their buck. She thought it makes up in a small way for 1,000 people who were cut from important programs.
Sabena Stark, Eugene, stated she is a member of the Egan Warming Center. She indicated that she has met many homeless that were served. She stated that she sees homeless young people and it is increasing in seniors and disabled who are sleeping on the street. She commented that over the past three years there has been an improvement with the organization. She indicated that there is cooperation among agencies and the warming center is a cooperative effort. She stated they are saving lives every winter. She asked the Budget Committee to include the $30,000 request. She thought it was a bargain for the services. She commented that there is nowhere else for homeless people to go.
Katharine Hunt, Eugene, spoke on behalf of the Egan Warming Center. She commented that this is a justice issue. She stated that everyone has the right to shelter and a home. She asked the Budget Committee to continue to care for neighbors by providing the budget request by St. Vincent de Paul.
Made Marcoe, Eugene, Assistant Manager for St. Vincent de Paul, said he knew Thomas Egan. He thought this was an important project and a good investment. He commented that a safe community is where there is a safe homeless community. He indicated there are a lot of mental health issues and this allows them to monitor them. He added if there is a public health outbreak, they can see it and they can get the different agencies to network.
Merlin Hough, LRAPA, commented that the partnership by the County is critical in meeting air quality health standards. He added that it is important for health and economic development He and for businesses who want to build here. He indicated that they have been successful. He noted they have met air quality standards on schedule and for the past five years they have had the best air quality on record. He noted to reduce costs, the LRAPA Board has frozen dues requests to local partners. He indicated that they have dropped personnel from 23 FTE in 2008 to 19.3 FTE in the current budget. He added there has been a 17 percent reduction over the last four years. He noted that local dues are a small part of the overall budget, but it is critical and they use the funds to leverage other funds. He asked for the Budget Committee to restore the funding from the Public Works budget.
Marsha Shankman, Eugene, urged the Board to fund the Egan Warming Center. She stated that she has been volunteering since 2008. She said people have been giving their time and effort. She stated that it has been a collaborative effort. She urged the Board to fund this small amount of money.
Marion Malcolm, Eugene, recalled on January 26, 2009 she came before the Human Services Commission representing the Planning Committee that was then developing what became the Egan Warming Center project. She said they brought forward a call to action and it stated the community has an obligation to protect the most vulnerable residents during weather conditions that pose an immediate danger to the life and the health of unsheltered people. She said that led to the initial funding by the County for the Egan Warming Center. She stated the modest amount of money has been cut, but the obligation has been unchanged. She urged the Budget Committee to restore the $30,000 in funding for the Egan Warming Center administered by St. Vincent de Paul. She stated that this has been a program that saves lives. She commented that she didnít know how the Budget Committee could spend the money more effectively than that. She indicated that they couldnít have done it without St. Vincent de Paul and they played an essential role.
Susan Jacobson Hopkins, Eugene, said she worked at the Downtown Center. She talked about homeless people. She said they must acknowledge their pain. She stated that the Egan Center is on the front line of homelessness. She commented that the economy has always been bad in Eugene but she had never seen it this bad. She stated that if the Budget Committee doesnít fund this $30,000 that homeless will starve and die and it will be the Budget Committeeís fault.
Handy noted at the Humans Services Commission meeting today they heard testimony about how to address some of the gaps. He said they need to step up for the Egan Warming Center and for human and social services. He said it is about, children, Veterans, the communities of color and people who are vulnerable. He asked how they are going to help people. He asked Richardson and Manela to come back to them with the solid waste hauling fee and give them options to close the gap they have in the funding situations. He said the city of Eugene is looking at a community benefit fee and Lane County needs to step up and do its part to work with Springfield and the city of Eugene. He wanted the agenda team to put it on the Board of Commissionersí agenda with a parallel process in this budget cycle so they have certainty to build this into their budgets and deal with all the funding gaps. He said they can get this done.
Sorenson thought the Egan Warming Center should be funded. He said it is within their budget authority to recommend to the Board of Commissioners to work on proposals like using waste management fees.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.