September 9, 1998
REGULAR MEETING BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Harris Hall Main Floor - Following HACSA
Commissioner Cornacchia presided with Commissioners Ellie Dumdi, Bobby
Green, Jr., and Peter Sorenson present. Cindy Weeldreyer was excused. County Administrator
Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
2. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Lynn Burditt, Lane County Human Rights and Affirmative Action Advisory
Committee, stated she was present to speak on domestic partner benefits. She passed out a
letter (copy in file) reporting the committee was unanimous in support of extending health
insurance benefits to Lane County's employees' domestic partners. She said the committee
gathered data, including information to determine if it was a one person issue, what
eligibility considerations are used in other areas, and the potential cost implications.
She added at the July 8, meeting, the item was discussed and County Administrator Bill Van
Vactor and Human Resource and Management Systems Director, David Suchart would obtain
additional information. She said at their August meeting, they reaffirmed the unanimous
support for the item. She said they think this is a human rights issue and the
implementation of benefits in the current manner could be viewed as creating an inequity.
She added they are conscious of concerns relating to budget considerations. She asked if
these issues were addressed today, to determine whether the measure could be addressed as
part of the 1999/2000 budget cycle.
3. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Green announced that on August 31 through September 2, he was part of a united front
delegation that went to Washington D.C. and met with Lynn Cutler of the White House staff.
He said the meeting was to assist the White House in planning a conference in October on
safe schools and youth violence. He said while they were back there, they met with Senator
Wyden and Senator Gordon Smith and the communities of Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro,
Arkansas; Pearl, Mississippi, and other areas of the country that have experienced school
violence. He said federal assistance was requested on a number of issues. He said an
expansion of the definition of FEMA funds, was being worked on because it does not include
schools, which are governmental public buildings. He said that Lynn Cutler and her staff
would explore the opportunities to broaden the definition. He added that they budget for
floods or snowstorms, but there is no budget for catastrophic events, such as Thurston. He
said that the Lane County representatives were very prepared and were the only group that
had a formalized package of requests and a package explaining what had been done since the
Cornacchia acknowledged and thanked his colleagues who participated in the gift of a
tree to his family in response to the death of his mother.
4. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS
a. UPDATE/Facilities Capital Improvement Projects (No Material).
David Suchart, Human Resource and Management Systems Director, relayed that the
manufacturer of the lifts is behind in manufacturing the stairs and will not be able to
deliver the lifts until the first part of November. He also reported that it will be
another week and a half before the roof gets delivered on the Public Service Building. He
said the Jail and Juvenile Justice Center projects are moving along. He said the
Corrections Center is a little behind schedule, but the contractor feels he will make up
the time and reach the scheduled March completion date. He added he is pleased with the
work Drake Chambers and all of the subcontractors are doing.
5. MANAGEMENT SERVICES
a. ORDER 98-9-9-1/In the Matter of Establishing the Classification and Salary
for the Diversity Analyst Position in the Management Services Department.
Suchart reported that in order to move along and expedite on the process of getting a
position to manage the Diversity Program, the County used a Personnel Analyst
Classification in order to do that. He said when he transferred Hector Rios, to be a
Personnel Analyst, they wanted to change the position and make it into a Diversity
Coordinator. He said this will help in recruiting for the position. He added the pay range
is the same as the Personnel Analyst 1 and asked the Board to support the change of a
Personnel Analyst to a Diversity Coordinator.
MOTION to approve ORDER 98-9-9-1.
Green MOVED, Dumdi SECONDED.
6. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
7. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
William Van Vactor, County Administrator, reported that this afternoon he has a meeting
with the Association of Oregon Counties and the Joint Interim Committee on public
contracting, which he will be co-chairing. He added a service that had been provided by
the County in the past was a chat room on the County's Internet home page. He said there
are not enough resources to manage the chat room due to the Year 2000 issues and the
financial system conversion. He said an administrative decision has been made to shut down
the chat room until other tasks are completed. He added there will be an emergency
planning training session in Salem on September 15 by the Oregon State Police and
Commissioner Sorenson will be attending the meeting.
Cornacchia announced that the Fourth Annual Employee Appreciation events are occurring
on September 15 and 16 and he was requested to find out from the Board which events they
will be attending.
b. ORAL REPORT BACK/To Extend Health Benefits to Lane County Employees' Domestic
Suchart stated he responded to a request from a previous meeting on certain questions
that Board members had with regard to the issue of domestic partner benefits. He said with
regard to the tax issue, he spoke with the benefits administrator, and was told there is a
tax implication for people who would fall under the program, if it were to be completed.
He said there was a rate for a family and one for two-parties. He added it is not as
expensive as the benefit itself, but each individual who would go under the program would
have to decide whether there was a tax benefit or whether their domestic partner was under
another benefit program. He said the IRS rules that domestic partners are not spouses, so
that part would have to be deducted and it would be taxed as part of the income. He
reported with regard to the school districts providing the benefit, indications from the
three major school districts show employees have not brought the subject up in terms of
negotiations and have no intention in the immediate future of doing same. He said in terms
of his discussions with the bargaining units, he met with all of the units except for one.
He said LCPOA and AFSCME, both were somewhat supportive of doing it, but also indifferent
and were more concerned about the cost implications with the County. He added that the
Blue Cross contract is up for negotiations next year and there will likely be increased
costs whether the County goes for domestic partner benefits or not. He said with regard to
the Administrative Professional Group and 626 (who was not represented at the meeting),
the Administrative Professionals said they were against the benefit and 626 felt the same
way. He said a representative from HACSA attended the meeting and said they were in
support of the benefit.
Sorenson stated he would like to have more information and is concerned about any
unilateral action to be taken. He said it is an appropriate subject for the bargaining
Dumdi stated her concern was the same as Sorenson, a bargaining issue as well as a
budget issue and said it is a much broader subject then just taking unilateral action. She
said it needs to be discussed in more depth. She said she thought it should be part of a
budget and bargaining unit discussion. She said it is too premature to act on this issue
Sorenson said he thought the issue should be taken back to the Human Rights and
Affirmative Action Advisory Committee. He said the people on the committee are well versed
on the difficulties of trying to get human rights protected and advocated, at the same
time they are well aware of the cost implications and difficulty of the implementing
things. He said a proposal would reconcile the problem with the committee's perceived
inequity. He said he has received a lot of commentary from people concerned that different
groups of people were being treated unfairly.
Cornacchia stated that since the last meeting all commissioners have received contact
from the public, employees and others. He said there is additional need for fact finding
and discussions with both bargaining units and the Advisory Committee and Joint Labor
Management Committee. He said there needs to be another step and that is the Board needs
to engage the public more. He said they need to hear more from the public to make their
decisions. He said this decision was as important as any land use decision and to date,
the Board has only heard from advocates of the proposal and on one side of the issue. He
said whether or not benefits should be extended is irrelevant, and this issue is of such
importance on both sides, that it should be publicly determined. He said the determination
should come after a public hearing in front of the Board. He said after a public hearing,
either the Board makes a decision itself or it becomes a ballot issue and the public of
Lane County determine whether or not these benefits are paid. He said it would be
inappropriate for the Board today to make that decision or in the near future without a
public hearing. He said he was struck by the sincerity of the arguments and the
individuals that have contacted him on both sides of the issue. He said it is a money
issue, a human rights issue and, a moral issue with all the considerations. He added the
issue needs to go beyond a mere vote but needs to be a reflective decision of who the
Board represents. He suggested that a public hearing be set on this issue for late January
or early February with the topic of the public hearing to be the issue itself and in
addition, determine if the decision should be made by five individuals, or by the public
as a whole.
Green stated he agreed this issue encompasses a lot of sub-issues. He said he believes
it is a negotiation, moral, equity and discrimination issue. He added he would support
moving this issue to February.
Dumdi stated she agreed that a public hearing would be appropriate and thought the
first or second week in February would be a good time for it to be scheduled, and having
it take place in the evening.
Cornacchia said this issue ranks up with land use matters in importance and should have
a public hearing in the evening.
Sorenson was in support of holding a public hearing in the evening. He said it gives
more opportunity for people to attend. He said what concerns him is holding a public
hearing on a concept, as opposed to a public hearing on some available information or
proposal that can be understood. He said he would like to see something specific for
people to comment on.
Cornacchia stated the crux of this involves two institutions, one is marriage and the
other is government. He said to limit the discussion to merely a proposal diminishes the
respect that one institution would be paying to another. He said he agreed with Sorenson
that there needs to be an education exercise but not try to limit or give the impression
that this is a political exercise only. He said his vote might be different if he
represented his district as opposed to just representing himself.
Dumdi said they were all valid points and added that the cost issue is important. She
said if a public hearing is held in the early part of February, there is time to collect
information for the Budget Committee.
Cornacchia said if a proposal is there, it would eliminate a lot of questions coming
from the public hearing, especially determining relationship, commitment and dependency.
He added he didn't want to see limiting the public hearing only on the proposal.
Sorenson stated he would like the Advisory Committee to give the Board a specific
proposal they believe is in the public interest that deals with perceived and actual
inequality, balancing that against the cost issues. He also agreed there is social and
moral concern in the community that has been voiced in terms of mail and phone calls to
the Board of Commissioners. He added that any public hearing on the topic would not be
limited to the precise nature of the proposal, but would be a public hearing in the sense
that each person has an opportunity to express themselves on any aspect of it. He said he
has had a lot of contact from people concerned that the Board will try to make things
fair. He also said that children of employees should be covered as well.
Cornacchia reported there was an issue raised to him about a County employee, where the
domestic partner has children from another marriage who are dependent upon that employee's
partner, but they live in another state. He said that other families and relationships
will also come into play. He said if a public hearing is announced on the issue, the
advocacy groups and people with agendas will try to pack the house. He said a lot of
people will not voice their opinions because they are afraid of public speaking, so he
cautioned if a vote is taken of who comes in that night, it is not necessarily a
representative of the community as a whole. He said the only way to find representation of
a community as a whole is through a public vote.
Green said that the County should also be looking at extending benefits to dependent
mothers, fathers and the elderly who are being taken care of by adult children. He said he
would like to see something happen statewide in this regard. He also commended the Human
Rights Commission for doing what they believed was part of their mission in bringing forth
the issue to the Board. He said he was supportive of the public hearing.
Cornacchia stated he heard consensus to hold a public hearing either the first or
second week of February, in the evening, in Harris Hall. He said it would be included, but
not limited to: 1) Should Lane County extend health care benefits to domestic partners? 2)
In what fashion should that program take? 3) How should that decision be made, by the
Board of County Commissioners or a public vote? He added contact needs to be made with the
Human Rights Advisory Committee and the Joint Labor Management Benefits Committee to
discuss and come back to the Board with some proposals on the second issue, including what
fashion the program should take. He said the purpose would be to present it at the public
hearing as a staff report to ensure there is an opportunity to have the benefit of the
information and the proposals. He added that he was assigning it to Mr. Suchart and Mr.
Van Vactor to accomplish and move it forward.
8. PUBLIC WORKS
a. ORDER 98-9-9-2/In the Matter of Entering into a Landowner Agreement with the
United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah to
Assist with Restoration and Protection of Fish and Wildlife Habitat at the Howard Buford
Recreation Area and Delegating Authority to the County Administrator to Sign a Landowner
Bob Keefer, Parks Department, presented a staff report. He said that in 1994 the Board
approved the Howard Buford Recreation Area Master Plan and within the master plan, it was
recognized that Buford Park supports native plants and wildlife habitats. He said there is
a need to manage the attributes, including western pond turtles, (including juveniles) and
also desert parsley. He added the desert parsley is a federally endangered plant that is
on the endangered plant list. He described the rest of the park as wetland prairies to dry
oak savannas and Douglas fir forests. He said it is a diverse population of plant
community and wildlife that the park supports and it is important to manage for those
attributes. He said the Friends of Buford Park has been working with the Fish and Wildlife
Service, both on the federal and state level, local botanists, OSU Extension Service and
the Department of Agriculture to look at different ways to improve habitats both for fish,
wildlife and native plants throughout the Buford Recreation Area. He said with Lane County
staff, there are no botanists or specialist in fish and wildlife habitats, so the park is
dependent upon others and other governmental agencies that want to volunteer their time to
assist them. He said the Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah have taken that role. He
said they have been able to secure funding to assist with restoration work at the park,
identifying four areas in the grant applied for: 1) native plant seed collection area that
will remove exotic plants like scotch broom and blackberry and grow native grasses in that
area; 2) western pond turtle nesting area, for the removal of exotic plants and to reseed
with grasses and low lying plants so they have an appropriate nesting area; 3) along the
Summit Trail to do work to educate the public about native plants in the Buford Recreation
Area and 4) to help restore the Bradshaw's Lomatium plant community in the park. He said
the Landowner Agreement is a three-way agreement between Lane County, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and the Friends of Buford Park. He added the main commitment for the
County is to agree over the next 10 years to restrict management to primarily fish and
wildlife habitat restoration in 10 or 15 acres of property within the 2300 acres of the
park. He said these areas are not generally used for recreational use but more in line
with habitat values. He said he is supportive of the agreement. He added there is some
money from the parks division going towards it that are budget funds and also, in-kind
Green stated that he sees a risk factor in something that lasts for ten years.
Teresa Wilson, County Counsel, said there is some risk involved because the money is
going to the Friends of Buford Park, but the County ends up having to pay if there is a
problem. She added the area involved is a small area, given the entire park, and the area
would best be used for this habitat work.
Keefer added the practicality of these properties involved in the grant being used for
anything else besides outdoor recreation or habitat is very minor.
Cornacchia stated that the word he was concerned about was "project." He said
as long as federal regulations are met for project work, he was okay with that.
Keefer stated it is only in regard to the four project areas that the work is to be
accomplished, not work outside the areas in consideration for any federal permits.
Wilson added it is just limited to the project, so it is a self-contained document.
MOTION to approve ORDER 98-9-9-3.
Dumdi MOVED, Green SECONDED.
b. ORDER 98-9-9-3/In the Matter of Appointing One Member to the Lane County Planning Commission.
Dumdi stated that she and Commissioner Weeldreyer conducted an interview for people who
had applied to fill the vacant West Lane position on the Planning Commission. She said the
slot had to be filled with someone who either lives in the West Lane area or owns property
there. She said there were two applicants, one having a change in professional duties and
the other was Del Phelps. Dumdi and Commissioner Weeldreyer thought it appropriate to
recommend his appointment to the Lane County Planning Commission representing the West
MOTION to approve ORDER 98-9-9-3.
Dumdi MOVED, Green SECONDED.
9. CONSENT CALENDAR
A. Approval of Minutes: August 26, 1998, Regular Meeting, following HACSA
August 26, 1998, Regular Meeting, 1:30 p.m.
B. Assessment and Taxation
1) ORDER 98-9-9-4/In the Matter of Refunds to Greater Oregon Properties &
David E. Carmichael, Attorney; Washington Mutual & Scott Phinney & Jack Milner,
Petitioner's Representatives and Servistar Coast to Coast & David E. Carmichael,
C. Management Services
1) ORDER 98-9-9-5/In the Matter of Authorizing the County Administrator to
Execute an Option to Purchase Agreement with M. Mozell Vaughn for the Sale of Surplus
County Owned Real Property Identified as Map No. 16-08-35-00-00400 (Across From 18186
Highway 36, Blachly).
D. Public Works
1) ORDER 98-9-9-6/In the Matter of Accepting a Deed of Land to be Used as a
Public Road Easement for County Road No. 397 (South Morningstar Road) (19-02-09).
2) ORDER 98-9-9-7/In the Matter of Accepting a Deed of Land to be Used as a
Public Road Easement for County Road No. 753 (North 31st Street) (17-02-19).
3) ORDER 98-9-9-8/In the Matter of Awarding a Contract to Pacific Recycling,
Inc. and Schnitzer Steel for Scrap Metal Recycling Services, Contract No. WM 98/99-4.
Cornacchia announced that ORDER 98-9-9-5 needed to be pulled.
MOTION to approve Consent Calendar, without ORDER 98-9-9-5.
Green MOVED, Dumdi SECONDED.
10. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
Commissioner Cornacchia recessed the meeting at 10:25 a.m.
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