December 2, 1998
REGULAR MEETING BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Harris Hall Main Floor - Following HACSA
Commissioner Steve Cornacchia presided with Commissioners Ellie Dumdi, Bobby Green, Sr., Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
There will be an emergency business item later in the day.
2. PUBLIC HEARINGS
a. PUBLIC HEARING AND ORDER 98-12-2-1 Amending Chapter 20 of Lane Manual to Adopt Rules Exempting Certain Contracts from Formal Competitive Bidding. Adopting Findings of Fact and Authorizing the County Administrator to Implement.
Trina Laidlaw, Assistant County Counsel, stated that two months ago the Board considered amending some competitive selection rules related to certain contracts. She added the Board had been operating under the rule that contracts over $2,500 require competitive quotes and contracts over $25,000 require competitive bids. She said the Board considered raising the limits to $5,000 and $50,000. She added the rules to date implement the Board's decision that was made a couple of months ago and represent Lane County's own exemption rules. She said prior to this date, the County has been using exemption rules that were the state's exemption rules, Lane County just adopted them by reference in the Lane Manual. She said these will become Lane County's own rules giving departments more flexibility in asking for and being able to depend on exemptions from competitive selection. She said this is a public hearing because the statute requires that when class exemptions are considered, a public hearing needs to take place where draft findings are made available. She said they also published advertisements in a trade newspaper pursuant to the statute that was done 14 days ago, and now is the time to request that the public present comment. She said the draft findings have been presented and the goal is to consider adopting the findings as part of the order and then the rules will come into effect.
Commissioner Cornacchia opened Public Hearing. With no one signed up to speak, he closed Public Hearing.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 98-12-2-1.
Dumdi MOVED, Green SECONDED.
3. PUBLIC COMMENTS
4. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Sorenson reported he received a mailing from the Census Bureau and they are seeking people in Lane County to verify location of housing units. He added the pay starts at $4.25 per hour and reimbursement for travel expenses at 32 ½ cents per mile. He said people can contact the Lane Council of Governments for any information.
Van Vactor reported that Metro Television may also want to do some public service announcements on this.
Cornacchia said with the change of the Fair Board, appointment will need to be made in January and a process needs to be set up within the next three weeks. He suggested having commissioners do a reduction-down interview process and pick four or five people to be interviewed by the Board of Commissioners. He recommended that Sorenson and Green be the two commissioners that handle that exercise
Weeldreyer gave the Board an update on where she was with the fiber project. She said a month ago she asked for authority for staff help organize a meeting with the company and cities that are on the route for the fiber company project. She said the meeting happened and a resolution was crafted. (Trading franchise fees for dark fiber.) She added all five of the cities have passed the resolution and she is asking the Board today to look at the resolution to see what has been done and what is being asked for. She said within a week, she would like to be able to send a letter requesting technical assistance from the Oregon Department of Economic Development to be able to negotiate with this company. She said this hasn't been done by rural communities and Lane County is taking a risk and stepping out. She said she functioned as a facilitator because they have no legal authority to charge right-of-way fees. She said she will have a copy of the resolution prepared and a letter for Bill Scott, head of the Economic Development Department, asking for assistance to enter into this negotiation.
Van Vactor stated he had a brief conversation with Commissioner Weeldreyer and in terms of a coordination and facilitation role, that doesn't cause concern, the County has no expertise and it is a highly technical area where expertise is required. He said it needs to be very clear that Lane County is there to convene, not as the technical advisor.
5. FAIR BOARD
a. ORDER 98-12-2-2 Authorizing Financing and Refinancing of Fairground Improvements.
b. ORDER 98-12-2-3 Amending Order No. 98-4-8-4 Regarding the Use of Undedicated Transient Room Tax Funds for Capital Improvements at the Lane County Fairgrounds to Extend the Effect Through June, 2009.
Cornacchia stated both of these Orders would be taken together.
Bob Matson, Fair Board Chair, stated the Fair Board and County Commissioners worked very closely together to modernize and enhance the fair grounds and convention facilities. He said there is consensus in the community to enhance the fair grounds as a major effort in the business of building a competent convention facility. He added efforts will be made cooperatively with the Board and have activities emphasizing youth programs and activities that are of interest to the community. He said a year ago the County Commissioners and Fair Board agreed that the fair grounds capital improvement funds for major capital would come out of the fair grounds capital improvement budget. He said the next steps are ready to be taken, to repair, modernize and expand the fair grounds are consistent with the master plan that was worked with for seven years. He added these were the mutual goals the County Commissioners and Fair Board agreed to continue.
Mike Gleason, Manager, Fairgrounds, stated the Fair Board is committed to fulfilling goals, the joint mission between the Fair Board responsibilities and the County Commissioners. He said they are interdependent and is committed to fulfilling them, and today they will focus on number 2, supporting the visitors and convention industry. He added the investments they are making will support the other two agendas directly. He said in November they had a joint meeting with the Fair Board and the County Commissioners and at that time they reviewed a document where the Fair Board reports back to the Board as to what they had spent the authorized money on, and what is planned to be spent in the future for the next year. He said it is a requirement in the original Board Order and his Board feels it is an important part of their responsibility to report back. He said the document he has been using is the Master Plan and the portion discussed today is the modernization and renovation and adding breakout rooms to the convention facility. He added it comes directly from the Master Plan, and even though they wanted to do reinvestments in the facility as much as possible with cash as opposed to debt, when they came to the major reconstruction and modernization of the convention facility, it would require them to issue debt. He said they are asking the Board in the first action to issue that debt. He said they had an opportunity to refinance previously authorized debt and save the Fair Board a substantial amount of money. He said to do that, there needed to be a negotiated sale and there were negotiations started toward that end. He said an MIA appraisal is not needed, which saves four to six months of time and $30,000. He noted the existing insurance is adequate for the new debt and there will be added savings. He said it is speculated that between $160,000 and $200,000 will accrue back to capital investments in the Fairgrounds. He said they are planning to infill the two connecting parts of the building, making the building function as one unit and add between 10 and 18 breakout rooms. (Depending on work that needs to be done with the architect and discussions with CVALCO about what makes the most sense.) He added there is a Coopers and Lybrand study about what the economic potential is if the Fairgrounds is modernized. He said they will be able to increase the impact of the room tax, with the improvements that are anticipated. He said approximately 1,000,000 people per year come through the facility and there are about 500,000 room nights utilized throughout Lane County. He added the Fairgrounds are directly connected between 16%-18% of the room nights. He said it is their anticipation that by remodeling, they will be competitive with the Boise, Tacoma, Bellevue and Spokane markets. He said the Fairgrounds will be able to compete very aggressively and CVALCO is geared up to start to sell room nights related to those improvements. He said they are moving as fast as they can to fulfill the capital improvement plan.
Gleason stated the second issue that is before the Board to do with initiating the sale. He said they were interested in not having to do the MIA appraisal because for the Fairgrounds, it is a complicated appraisal and hard to determine the value. He said they were concerned about the time frame due to the low interest rates currently, having to go through to make the bond low cost, and become bank certifiable. He said in order to do that, there can't be more than $10 million of debt levied. He said the sale would also incorporate two other pieces of debt, so they would be levying about $7 million of debt. He said if they pushed into the second year, they would compromise future debt. He said that is why they wanted to keep the appraisal from occurring, to stay in this year to do the sale. He said in the negotiations a question came up about the assets being there after 10 years and whether they would be worth a return to them. He said the Fairgrounds has a Board Order and it commits to continuing investment of the capital that goes for seven years. He said the bank wanted the board order to be the same as the bond sale. He said he spoke with Weeldreyer, Green and Sorenson about the situation and they would be amenable to discussion. He said it makes an affirmation to the bank that the Board has a continued investment in the facility and that there are assets for the life of the bond. He said the commitment of the room tax that goes into the Fair Bond Capital Fund to reinvest in those assets means that they can improve on the facilities. He said the investment in the asset is an important commitment and one thing they hope to do is make it utilized by high impact room night events.
Gleason also stated they are supporting youth and family. He said they have been able to come up with money when there were joint projects like indoor soccer or Kidsports. He added the amount being committed over and above the bond (over a ten year period) is about $1,500,000 and over a ten-year period it is not a huge amount of reinvestment. He said they anticipate it is by appropriation only and understand that every year the Fair Board has to come to the Board of Commissioners and state what has been done with the money. He said there will be two meetings plus the budget meeting where the Board will be able to re-appropriate. (Without harming the bond or the relationship.) He said the commitment reinforces their ability to negotiate and leverage $7 million against $11 million capital improvement plans that were adopted. He said they need to go out and get the money from other agencies. He said it enhances their negotiation ability and they would be in a position to make the deal on the bond.
Green recalled that the Fair Board was going to try to raise the remaining amount of money and asked what they have done thus far.
Gleason reported the first thing they did was leverage their relationship with the City of Eugene and put up $120,000 to help remodel one of the expos that is being used for a convention facility. He said they managed to get an arrangement with LTD and they invested about $200,000 in the LTD station that is out in front of the facility. He added they were able to work with the City of Eugene to have them invest about $1,000,000 in addition to County Road Funds to help repair 13th Avenue. He said the most recent negotiation was the 4H FFA Auction Committee, and they helped construct the facility that is behind the Expo 3, used for the 4 H Fair and storage. He said that building was appraised at $225,000 and they paid $110,000. He added they were able to get into the County's Economic Development Program, for visitor convention activity and the rehab project. He said they plan to use it and go to the state when they reinvest in their budget to try to get the state (through the economic development fund) to commit something to match what they did with Portland.
Green wanted to know if the Fairgrounds was getting any participation from the rural chambers of commerce on the County Fair.
Gleason stated the contacts made were through the CVALCO and Hotel Association. He said the Hotel Association has a strong rural contingency, with active participation from Florence and Cottage Grove. He said the best thing they are doing for other communities is staying away from the 70-10-10-10 split that greatly helps them. He said everyone is concerned about keeping the room tax growing because it is the most effective revenue.
Green noted in the memo notes about a reallocation or a change in admission for the fair.
Gleason responded they were told they need to step back for fiscal reasons to reevaluate the way they support the facility. He added convention centers never make a profit or break even. He said they are subsidizing the operating cost of the convention facility that is normally supported by room tax dollars with the operational capacity. He said if they are going to reevaluate the capital investment, then they have to evaluate how they are going to fulfill the mission statement. He said he doesn't know how it will come to pass, but they can't continue to invest at the same level.
Sorenson wanted to know if there was a savings by paying off the amount of the existing debt and rolling it into one.
Gleason responded there is a savings of about $150,000 to $200,000 that will accrue to the fund. He said they are anticipating about $150,000 to $200,000 in savings and about $150,000 worth of transaction costs that otherwise need to be transacted for the new instrument. He said the interest rate is about 7% for the long term instrument and 5.2% for the recent issue.
Sorenson said he is concerned about having a convention center and the ability to attract the businesses and tourists and figure out an appropriate place for that to occur. He wanted to know by this action, if the hotel industry understands that the Board is allowing $7 million to be borrowed, (paying off the $1.8 million and putting an additional $5.5 million into the facility that will be a benefit to the industry and to the community), and it is unlikely that the Board of Commissioners will slow any local government involvement and commitment of a mega convention center. He said it was a multi-year trade-off to put public resources into the facility.
Gleason stated it is a very important issue and it has been articulated both with CVALCO and the Hotel Association. He said it was done over three years. He said they would never come back to the Board without working through the issues with the agencies. He said they had to work through anticipation on the original mega system (by Coopers & Lybrand) and that came to $35 million dollars. He added there was a subsequent subcommittee led by the Springfield Economic Development Director and other people in the hotel industry. He said there were two elements of the financing that caused a stumbling block: 1) servicing debt for $35 million that would require far more room tax than could be projected and 2) to pay for the additional new $350,000 per year to operate the facilities' net operating deficit. (Both of which the Cities of Eugene and Springfield and Lane County said they would not be leveling general obligation debt or a new tax to support it.) He said the calculation brought the room tax rate up to about 14% and that was before the operating account was put on. He added that is how they got back to reinvesting in what they have and becoming competitive. He said this is the strategy for intervention for the next ten years. He said Ron Gladney, President of the Hotel Association, was given the assignment by the Hotel Association to solve this issue, he came back and said they can't finance it and if they can't go to the Board to say they would pay the lion's share, then they couldn't move forward. He said major convention centers have followed the airport routing and if that type of facility cannot be provided, the return is not possible on the equity to invest in hotels.
Gleason stated they are betting on the future. He added room tax has been one of the most recession proof income streams over the years. He said if there would be a significant drop in the room tax, they may have to take out a second mortgage or borrow money short term from some other fund. He said they anticipate they will be in a stronger financial position than they are now and they are stronger than they have been in the past. He said fair attendance has increased, and there has been added income with the ice arena. He reported the Fair Board has charged Gleason with the responsibility of building their cash reserve up to about $350,000 unencumbered cash, from year to year.
Van Vactor expressed caution that in November, Lane County took two major hits: the PERS increase amounting to $3 million dollars per year ($1.6 to the general fund) and the levy lost. He stated unless new revenue is found, the real prospect is revamping the forest work camp in less than 6 months and closing it in about 7 months and only opening the Juvenile Justice Center with the capacity of 32 beds. He added to the extent the commitments are being made, practical discretion in the future is being eliminated to not solve the problems with revenues. He said if the Board were not to continue to execute the bond, the good working relationship would become strained to a considerable extent. He said if both orders are passed, that will become policy and it would be unlikely they would become undone. He added if they do that, their hands would be tied with the legal discretion with the transfer room tax for practical purposes, and that source of money would not be available to help balance a budget. He said two years ago the Board did use a portion of the room tax to help close the budget gap.
Green said over the next ten years the Board will be tying their hands. He agrees they have a responsibility as a Board to protect their assets and to take care of it. He said the Fairgrounds couldn't be competitive in any market if there is no facility that is first class. He said in past years the Fairgrounds were not invested in and the results were known. He said his concern is over the ten year period of time any revenue above and beyond what is necessary to pay the debt causes him to be concerned because of the competing interest and priorities in the County.
Gleason said he would say to the Commissioners that he and his Board feel they are business partners and business partners don't abandon other business partners in times of need. He said he can demonstrate they have worked hard at solving the problems. He said if the leadership of the commission hadn't come to him and the Fair Board and work the issue through CVALCO on the transfer of $350,000 (to get them over the hump three budgets ago,) that the presentations from CVALCO and the Hotel Industry would have been different. He said he is committed to getting revenues and follow through, and that is part of the pledge. He said this is a joint mission about kids and families in the County and that is because they are business partners.
Dumdi stated she sees this as a piece of Lane County's economy and if there is no investment in the infrastructure and the future, it is negative for everyone. She added it is a catch 22 because there are other items of extreme importance that have high price tags with them. She said she is supportive of keeping the money where it is generated and by making the improvements, it will help the local economy.
Weeldreyer echoed the comments of Green and Dumdi. She said the matter today has been an ongoing process and there needs to be preventive investment on the front end of the community to help cover some of the expensive costs in regards to public safety. She said it is important for the credibility of Lane County government that there have been commitments made. She said they have an obligation to the citizens that count on the jobs and the increase in the jobs over time, to be able to provide for their families. She said there will be ongoing repercussions for the next 10 years for this and believes it is an investment in the community. She said she is supporting the decision because of the professional staff and the willingness on the part of the public and private sector partners to meet the needs that arise.
Sorenson stated the investment in the Fairgrounds is not only good for the Fairgrounds but for the people of Lane County. He said the shared mission of providing a place for celebrations with children and families and cultural events that are at the fair is an important thing and they wouldn't happen without the partnership with the visitor economy. He added there rarely is an opportunity to join an economic venture for the community with a perceived and identifiable social need for the community. He said there is a great risk of losing the Fairgrounds over the next 20 years because without some type of partnership between the business community and the public sector, they will be replaced by other things. He said the rollover of the lower interest rate shows insight since the bond rate is low. He added if there was any doubt about the repayment of the money, he wouldn't be making these comments. He said their business plan is solid and he is confident that the repayment of the money will come. He said his view is if the funds are not repaid out of the Fair revenues, it will force the Board into an unwise policy choice, to show legal and political authority over the Fair Board and take from them the flexibility for the operation of the Fairgrounds.
Cornacchia stated he is hearing comments made that are in general conceptual terms and not what needs to be said. He said he heard Green was not saying that he wasn't making a commitment on the current application of room tax to the Fairgrounds, he heard him discuss the additional sweep. He said this action can't be taken today if they are not making a commitment of room tax to that debt for the next ten years because the flexibility becomes political. He heard Green say making the commitment today is not a requirement of the borrowing instrument but continuing to remain committed to the $11 million dollar capital improvements program, understanding that neither the debt structure nor additional sweep will get the Board to $11 million as there is still a shortage of $4 million. He said he is supportive because of the overall condition of Lane County and its service delivery system. He said with the orders, the Board is committing to the debt and will not back off of it. He added room tax is not a panacea for the problems facing Lane County to be an effective and complete service deliverer. He said he sees this as a big picture perspective and he is willing to take the risk.
Green wanted to know the amount of dollars above and beyond what is necessary to pay the debt. He said what he was advocating for is a clarification on the budget authority and how the conversation should take place. He said he wanted the public record to show that the Board wants to avoid being labeled as less than honest and forthright. He added when they go back to the table, to have a conversation not for the dollar amount, but who actually has the budget authority on this. He said he is supportive of these orders.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 98-12-2-2.
Green MOVED, Dumdi SECONDED.
Dumdi stated she is doing this with the understanding that she has passed this commitment on to her successor.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 98-12-2-3.
Green MOVED, Dumdi SECONDED.
Commissioner Cornacchia recessed the meeting to return at 11:50 a.m.
7. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
To be held later this morning.
8. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
Van Vactor reported County government went live with the new financial system yesterday. He said there were 16 people identified that did a great job. He added many of them have been on 50-hour work weeks to get the system to go live. He said for the next month the activity will be high as everyone works with the system. He said it is satisfying to see a total team effort by everyone.
9. PUBLIC WORKS
a. DISCUSSION AND ACTION Considering Adopting Procedures for the Establishment of Speed Zones on Low Volume on Non-Hard Surface County Roads.
Ed Chastain, Public Works, stated he was asked to provide information on establishing low volume speed zoning on low volume and non-hard surface roads. He added it is his second appearance and the information he has compiled has been presented (copy in file). He said one of the most important items is the delegation of speed zoning authority from ODOT, under the assumption by their definitions that Lane County would not be able to establish a speed zone on local access roads. He reported it is Public Works' recommendation that Lane County does not implement a program like this because of additional cost, the allocation of staff time and lack of adequate enforcement for the speed zones.
Weeldreyer stated that one neighborhood--Hawk's Point--said they would pay the cost of making the signs.
Chastain reported with the Hawk's Point area, most of the road system is local access and wouldn't qualify under the delegated authority unless the Board deemed it an emergency. He added as far as them paying for the signs, they are somewhat of an issue because they need to be maintained and installed. He said a typical speed zoning investigation costs about $1,000, plus the physical signs and maintenance of those signs.
Weeldreyer questioned if a specific fund could be established within the road fund for this purpose and as petitions arrive they could be compared to the fiscal constraint.
Chastain explained how they would be implemented. He said County Counsel raised four issues: 1) if the Board wants to proceed with this matter, there are concerns about delegation of authority; 2) an appeal process and 3) issue of fees and 4) traffic calming measures.
Dumdi stated what she sees is continuing denial of an issue that is very important to a lot of people. She added she asked for problem solving, not problem creating and is not happy with the way it has been presented. She said the people of Hawk's Point would be happy to assist with the cost and if something could be done through legal counsel and Public Works, they could find a way for Hawk's Point to participate. She declared that for the department to just say no is not satisfactory.
Weeldreyer stated speeding on county roads and rural residential areas is a problem on a regular basis. She added there have not been a lot of human fatalities but there have been family pets that have been lost because of the speeding issue. She said she wants to be able to move ahead with having the authority to post signs.
Chastain reported that Oregon is a Basic Rule State, that a driver is supposed to be driving in a reasonable prudent speed for the conditions. He added there is reluctance for officers to issue citations for the violation of the basic rule because it is difficult to prove in court.
Sorenson said the Board wants to have a recommendation of how to deal with the problem and it is unacceptable to say that there are no resources to do something.
Chastain reported the way speed zones are established in Oregon is based on an engineering investigation. He said the prime factor is the speed 85% of the vehicles travel at. He added there is also accident experience, access and conditions of the road taken into account. He said it was his understanding that there wasn't a blanket speed limit that a Board can establish for County roads. He said the legal department would have to do research on that matter.
Ollie Snowden, Public Works, stated if the Board wants to, they can do it. He added they addressed cost and effectiveness and it's the effectiveness that is driving their recommendation. He said the Board is creating unrealistic expectations that things will change, there is no proof that the evidence will change people's behavior. He said it would be more effective if this is done in conjunction with a neighborhood traffic watch.
Cornacchia requested not to make a decision or give directions today, but wrap everything together into a set of directions to staff, next week.
Green declared that putting up signs does not work. He said a combination of things work, including citizens getting involved and a deputy enforcing the speeds. He stated that he is willing to vote this down today. He said the Board does have a responsibility, but expectations can't be raised without having some sort of a game plan.
Dumdi stated it was a good idea to show constituents that they are being listened to and assist them. She said this item and the traffic item should be taken together as a package.
Snowden reported the statutes say even though the County doesn't maintain access roads, it still has jurisdiction over how it is signed. He said the signing needs to be consistent. He added the County can approve installation of signs on local access roads, the County doesn't pay for them but the residents can pay for them.
Vorhes stated the County has some regulatory authority for things that go on inside the right-of-way, to avoid the creation of traffic safety problems. He said there are standards they use when they require development approval. He said a speed zone is regulated at ODOT and controlled by the Speed Control Board.
Cornacchia stated this will be taken up next week with the remainder of the presentation on traffic calming.
10. CONSENT CALENDAR
A. Approval of Minutes: November 10, 1998, Regular Meeting, following HACSA
November 10, 1998, Regular Meeting, 1:30 p.m.
B. County Counsel
1) ORDER 98-12-2-4 Amending Chapter 21 of Lane Manual to Revise and Update Provisions with Regard to Public Contracts and to Bring Into Compliance with Statutory Language.
2) ORDER 98-12-2-5 Amending Chapter 61 of Lane Manual Regarding Delegations of Authority for Settlements and Waiver of Private Attorney Conflicts of Interest.
C. Health and Human Services
1) ORDER 98-12-2-6 Appointing a Designee of the Mental Health Director to Direct a Peace Officer to Take a Mentally Ill Individual Into Custody.
D. Management Services
1) ORDER 98-12-2-7 Ratifying the Engineering Technician Addendum to the Administrative-Professional Association of Lane County Public Works, Inc. 1997-2000 Contract Agreement.
E. Public Safety
1) ORDER 98-12-2-8 Authorizing Renewal of an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Oregon Emergency Management Division.
F. Public Works
1) ORDER 98-12-2-9 Awarding a Contract to Western Power & Equipment in the Amount of $35,895 for the Purchase of One (1) New, Unused, Current Model, Articulating Pneumatic Tire Compactor, With One (1) Trade-in, Contract No. FY 98/99 FS-06.
MOTION: to approve Consent Calendar.
Dumdi MOVED, Weeldreyer SECONDED.
Weeldreyer stated there is a correction on the minutes of the Board of Commissioner Meeting for November 10, page 4, Clara Duncan is one of the three members of the Friendship Club from Cottage Grove.
11. MANAGEMENT SERVICES
ORDER 98-12-2-10 Authorizing Exceptions Regarding Eligibility for County-Paid Retiree Insurance for Tom McVea and Jim Brougher.
Craig Starr, Personnel Services, reported these were formerly 626 members, now retired. He said they had anticipated taking care of this in an agreement with the new labor contract with 626 and that has not happened. He added at this point for one of the individuals, it is becoming imperative that something be done because he has been covered under his wife's insurance and she is ready to retire and they won't have that option any longer.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 98-12-2-10.
Green MOVED, Dumdi SECONDED.
Commissioner Cornacchia recessed the meeting to Executive Session at 11:30 a.m.
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