April 19, 1994
LANE COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE
Harris Hall Main Floor - 7:00 p.m.
The Budget Committee convened with Jerry Rust, Marie Frazier, Jack Roberts, Steve Cornacchia, Ellie Dumdi, Peter Bartel (arrived 7:05 p.m.), Marie Bell and Del Phelps present. Kate Jones and Bud Stewart were excused. Staff members present included Bill Van Vactor, Margo Drivas, David Garnick and Rick Schulz. Beth McAllister, Recording Secretary.
1. ELECTION/Budget Committee Chair and Vice Chair.
Roberts nominated Kate Jones for Chair. Dumdi Seconded.
Frazier nominated Marie Bell for Vice Chair. Roberts Seconded.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES/May 3, 1993 and May 20, 1993.
MOTION: Approval. Roberts MOVED, Dumdi SECONDED.
At Roberts' suggestion, the Budget Committee introduced themselves to those in attendance.
3. PRESENTATION/Lane County FY 94-95 Budget.
Van Vactor, County Administrator, presented the "Proposed Budget" for the FY 94-95 year. Van Vactor thanked budget staff members Drivas, Garnick and Schulz for their work on preparing the budget.
Bartel arrived at 7:05.
Regarding the financial plan, Van Vactor declared that it had proven to be an accurate and valuable planning tool. Van Vactor reported that the budget had been reduced in the last three years, leading to a serious degradation in service level provided by all County departments. Continuing, he summarized revenue and management strategies and new problems encountered in the preparation of the budget. (See material on file). He noted that at this time it was staff's recommendation to increase the debt load to accommodate unforseen problems with the HVAC system in the courthouse. Highlighting positive developments, Van Vactor singled out the Parks Department's successful financial plan to gain independence from the general fund; Land Management's progress in getting off the general fund; and, most importantly, County bargaining units declining to seek a cost of living wage increase. Van Vactor declared that it has been the employees' exemplary service which has saved many important services and maintained a successful operation.
Van Vactor pointed out that none of the proposed reductions (due to the possible failure of the real estate property tax measure) are recommended, but only provided to insure a balanced budget as required by state mandate. Van Vactor thanked all department directors for their hard work in preparing the budget. Continuing, Van Vactor detailed proposed departmental reductions and their impact on service in the event of failure of the real estate transfer tax measure. (See material on file). Van Vactor declared that there are no alternatives to the proposed reductions and if they are implemented the effect will be a negative impact on the quality of life in the county. Van Vactor stated there will be no "windfall" revenue source either from O&C timber sale income or from the state legislature. Van Vactor cautioned that the County has maintained modest reserves in order to sustain its bond rating, and that nine more years of deficits will be manifest if the real estate transfer tax measure does not pass. He stated that two budgets had been prepared, one that assumes passage of the real estate transfer tax measure and one that does not.
After thanking Van Vactor for his work on the budget, Rust opened the Public Hearing.
4. PUBLIC HEARING/Lane County FY 94-95 Budget.
Doug Harcleroad, County District Attorney, stated that because of significant declines in timber revenue in recent years, Lane County government has cut 71 positions from the general fund and reduced cash reserves significantly, while employees have not received cost of living increases and have assumed additional workloads. In addition, Harcleroad noted that deferred maintenance will eventually result in additional expenses. Harcleroad noted that despite reduced revenues, Lane County's population continues to grow, thus placing more demand on services. Harcleroad emphatically voiced support for the real estate transfer tax as a modest means of raising revenue. Harcleroad urged the voters to vote pass this measure. Harcleroad asked the Budget Committee to consider all the general fund expenditures--going beyond Van Vactor's recommendations--to seek ways to route funding back into law enforcement. Harcleroad declared that for law enforcement in Lane County, "the last three years have been like the death of a thousand cuts. No one cut is fatal, but together they all spell doom."
Jim Gangle, County Assessor, urged voters to pass the real estate transfer tax. Gangle warned that if the County is out of compliance for state requirements regarding assessment, $1 million in revenue will be lost. Gangle observed that he is a rural resident of the County and has been burglarized three times; thus he appreciates the maintenance of law enforcement. He also noted that the cost of the real estate transfer tax was small when compared to savings from Ballot Measure 5.
Jim Forbes, Executive Director, Looking Glass Youth and Family Services, 72 B Centennial Loop #2, Eugene, stated that social service support from the County was vital in contributing to the safety, health and well being of children, youth and families in Lane County. Forbes expressed deep concern about the possible loss of nine beds at the detention center, stating: 1) This would send a negative message of no sanctions for misbehavior; 2) Looking Glass depends on the Department of Youth Services for backup and; 3) Children in the detention unit are there for the safety of the community and their own well being.
Dean Owens, representing the Center for Community Counseling, reported that his organization coordinates counseling for low income families and receives financial support from the County. For the sake of safety for all citizens, Owens urged passage of the real estate transfer tax.
Charlie Cole, 1245 Inglewood Avenue, Eugene, and Barbara Stoeffler, provided comment, representing Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). Cole stated that he and Ms. Stoeffler were the victims of drunk drivers. He asserted that funding cuts proposed by the budget would damage investigation and prosecution of drivers found to be intoxicated. Cole warned that if funding support for the prosecution of offenders is cut, progress made to date will be lost. Ms. Stoeffler stated that it is imperative to educate young people and the public about DUII.
Warren Lane, 205 S. 54th, #53, Springfield, pleaded for reinstatement of funds to the County Veterans Service Officer.
Wade Woolard, 4501 Franklin Blvd., Eugene, spoke in favor of continued funding to the Veterans Service Center. Woolard stated that the VFW supports the real estate transfer tax.
Susanne Boling, Box 264, Springfield, representing the Lane County Chapter of Children First for Oregon, stated that the proposed budget cuts will reduce the prenatal program serving most needy families by one-third, including the loss of the only bilingual employee in the program. Additionally, Boling indicated that staff reductions will limit the resources of the maternal child health team, leaving over 150 children and families unserved and unprotected. Boling also noted that cuts in the Skipworth Juvenile Center will release youth who are still at risk and terminate the Victim Offender Resolution program, which provides restitution to victims of juvenile offenders.
Hal Norton, 145 S. 15th #1, Springfield, rebuked the Budget Committee for past and proposed budget cuts in the Veterans Service Office.
Ray Broderick, 1375 Corvin, Eugene, stated he was a member of the Lane County Commission on Children and Families, an investigator for the District Attorney's office and a parent. Broderick stated he was addressing his comments to the voters of the county. He declared that deterrents to the abuse of children are in the proposed cuts of the budget.
Bob McManus, Sheriff, highlighted his professional and personal involvement in the community. He noted that all the services provided by the County contribute to its livability. McManus stated that the rise in violent crime is due to a weak criminal justice system which must be nurtured, along with other social services. McManus testified that he urged the County Commissioners to adopt the real estate transfer tax because it is the best source for additional funding. McManus urged voters to pass the measure.
Eliesa Ing, 2345 Warren Street, Eugene, stated she was a student at John F. Kennedy Middle School, and reported on her research into the problem of hunger among children. Ing urged support for Food for Lane County.
Tenille Himmel, 88701 Fisher, Eugene, stated she was a student at John F. Kennedy Middle School, and reported on her interview with a school nurse on the problem of hunger among children. Himmel urged support for Food for Lane County.
Andrew Gudger, 2387 Stansby Way, Eugene, stated he was a student at John F. Kennedy Middle School, and reported on how young people are working on the problem of hunger among children in the community. Gudger urged support for Food for Lane County.
Ellen Knepper, 255 Madison, Eugene, spoke in support of emergency food programs and urged the Budget Committee not to cut its funding. Knepper stated that more than 12,000 people may be denied if the proposed reduction is implemented.
Jean Phelps and Kathy Wilkes, representing the Relief Nursery, stated that their agency has 497 children on its waiting list, and provided five examples of typical cases. Phelps and Wilkes reported that loss of funding would force critical decisions in providing service to children and families.
Laurence H. Hamblen, 1882 Happy Lane #4, Eugene, introduced himself as Executive Director of Lane County Legal Service and liaison from the Human Services Provider Forum to the Intergovernmental Human Services Committee (IHSC). Hamblen stated that the Human Services Provider Forum takes the position that the human services contribution to the Intergovernmental Human Services Committee which is projected for a 30 percent cut should receive equal treatment with other major services in the county, particularly in tandem with law enforcement. Hamblen added that cutting the IHSC budget will send an adverse message to city jurisdictions which provide funding.
Glen R. Brigham, 2411 Centennial Blvd., Eugene, stated he has worked in juvenile corrections since 1970, and that due to overcrowding, juvenile felony offenders are no longer committed to higher levels of incarceration or service. Brigham reported that parole and probation officers have developed realistic case plans for the most severe offenders, but that detention must be available for youth who are a risk to the community. Brigham urged the Committee not to close nine detention beds due to budget reductions.
Joe Softich, 2612 Emerald, Eugene, stated he is the manager of the Food Box Program for Catholic Community Services and St. Alice's and urged the Budget Committee not to cut funds to human services below the levels of the last two years. Softich reported that the size and quality of the food baskets his organization provides to the needy are barely adequate to meet today's needs.
Pat O'Neil, 2986 Measner, Eugene, identified himself as a Deputy Sheriff, and reported that he hears daily concerns from citizens who are unhappy with law enforcement service. He urged the Budget Committee to seek a long term solution to revenue shortfalls.
Marian Blankenship, 2154-4 Patterson Drive, Eugene, identified herself as co-chair with the Lane County Steering Committee for Children First for Oregon. Blankenship read passages from a diversity policy statement and stated she was disturbed that cuts in funding will adversely affect children who are culturally and ethnically diverse. Blankenship urged the committee to support funding to the prenatal program in health and human services.
Minalee Saks, 510 Kingswood, Eugene, stated she is the Executive Director of Birth to Three, a task force member of the Commission on Children and Families, and a member of the Provider's Forum of Human Service Providers. Saks maintained that all human services are related and none can afford to have funding reduced. She urged passage of the real estate transfer tax.
Jayme Vasconcellos, 944 W. 5th, Eugene, stated he is the Executive Director of Centro Latinoamericano, and that it is critical to the Centro that the real estate transfer tax passes. Vasconcellos declared that the solution to crime prevention is a coordinated effort by human service agencies to have a positive affect at an early age. Vasconcellos noted that the Hispanic population has grown rapidly in the county in the last 10 years, and urged continued funding levels of Centro Latinoamericano.
Kip Leonard, 2411 Centennial, Eugene, identified himself as one of ten Circuit Court judges, and a juvenile judge in Lane County. Leonard stated that the debate over revenue should be focused on what needs to be provided in the community and not "whose ox is going to get gored by this tax." Leonard declared that the County is at the point where the services that make it livable are in jeopardy, and if funds for the Juvenile Detention Center are cut, it will collapse. Leonard urged voters to pass the real estate transfer tax.
Clint Heath, 32933 E. Lynx Hollow Road, Creswell, spoke against budget cuts in the Veterans Service Office and presented an impact letter reflecting the proposed budget. (See material on file).
Tom Slocum, 1950 Graham Drive, Eugene, congratulated the Budget Committee for its work in trying to keep the budget under control. Slocum stated he was a real estate broker and developer and had not decided on how he would vote on the real estate transfer tax. Remarking that Eugene residents already pay for law enforcement, Slocum stated that a new plan for taxing property outside of the Eugene city limits is needed. Commissioner Roberts requested that Slocum call him to talk further on his assertions. Cornacchia echoed his request.
Lori King, 2159 L Street, representing Daily Bread, an agency of Food for Lane County, stated it was important to educate voters on the importance of passing the real estate transfer tax.
Paul Gilbertson, 1312 Lincoln Street, Eugene, thanked Rust for his support of the Veterans Service Office. Gilbertson urged the Budget Committee not to cut the Veterans Service Office budget further, noting that it functions to help veterans file claims.
Don Epperson, 48 Collin Court, Eugene, urged the Budget Committee not to cut the Veterans Service Office budget further, and asserted that the office brings income into the county by helping veterans with their claims. Epperson asked the committee to consider returning the VSO budget to 1992-1993 levels.
Bob Decker, 120 W. 30th, Eugene, speaking on behalf of Clergy and Laity Concerned, and as a member of a church which participates in the Interfaith Emergency Housing Program, stated that 200 more homeless people will be denied aid if funding programs are cut.
Dave Poppe, 3093 Whitbeck, Eugene, spoke in support of the Relief Nursery. He stated he has been a police officer in Eugene for over 20 years, and that many reported cases of child abuse are not investigated because of personnel shortages. He urged passage of the real estate transfer tax to at least maintain the current level of support for the criminal justice structure. Poppe declared that education through the Relief Nursery approach is the best possibility for reducing child abuse in the community.
Merton Saling, 1510 Charnelton, Eugene, representing Oregon Fair Share, Lane County Chapter, stated his organization supported the transfer tax. He added that in his experience, not all realtors are opposed to the tax.
Carol Metzler, 550 W. 27th Avenue, Eugene, stated that she was a research scientist who conducts research on how communities can prevent the problems of youth. She testified that research shows that a wise investment in preventative programs that work save money in the long run. Metzler advocated for full funding in all programs that serve children and families.
JoAnne Lutz, 910 E. 43rd, Eugene, identified herself as a nurse manager in the prenatal clinic in the New Start program. She pleaded for full funding for prenatal services and child parenting, noting the desperate need in the community. Lutz urged passage of the real estate transfer tax.
Jeff Luke, 2834 Greentree Way, Eugene, stated he was a professor of Planning and Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon and chair of the Commission on Children and Families. Luke reported that the Commission on Children and Families voted unanimously to support the real estate transfer tax, and that if cuts occur, top priority should be given to countywide programs that deal directly with and serve children and families. Luke urged the Budget Committee, if the real estate transfer tax fails to pass, to target priorities and keep long term impacts in view. Luke testified that the investment in children and families is critical to long term impact on the community. He added that advocates of support for children and families are ready to help in any way they can.
Vernon Nichols, 129 Hayden Bridge Way, Springfield, stated he was opposed to the real estate transfer tax because it is a sales tax.
Thurmon Lanning, 91019 Hill Road, Commander Post 293, VFW, Eugene, outlined community services that the VFW provides, and stated that his organization will support the County and "hold the line" in providing service to the needy.
There being no further testimony, Rust closed the Public Hearing.
5. DISCUSSION/Budget Schedule and Process
Margo Drivas, Assistant Director, Human Resources and Management Services, reviewed budget issues and the process for forthcoming meetings. (See material on file). Drivas thanked David Garnick, Management Analyst, and Rick Schulz, Management Analyst, for their hard work in preparing the budget.
There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m.
Beth McCallister, Recording Secretary
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