July 18, 1994
LEADERSHIP TEAM MEETING
Commissioners' Conference Room - 9:00 a.m.
Chair Jerry Rust presided with Ellie Dumdi, Jack Roberts and Steve Cornacchia present. Commissioner Frazier was excused. Representing the Leadership Team were: Wes Brustad, Jim Gangle, John Goodson, Doug Harcleroad, Bill Hoyt, Bob McManus, Rob Rockstroh, George Russell, Bill Van Vactor, Teresa Wilson. Jerry Pierce, Recording Secretary.
1. DISCUSSION/Diversity Implementation Task Force.
a. Committee make-up.
Van Vactor said applications had been submitted and appointments were being considered. An initial meeting will be held as soon as possible. Commissioner Rust will be the Board member on the task force and he encouraged department managers to participate.
b. Diversity training options.
George Russell discussed his memorandum entitled Thoughts on Diversity Implementation in which he had tried to recapture the recommendations approved by the Board and identify issues that remain current.
He recommended once the task force was established, that the County Administrator develop a clear charge to the task force regarding its role and establish reasonable timelines for its work. If there were initiatives the Leadership Team felt were impractical or unreasonable at this time, he asked that those be identified for the task force. He suggested an initial training session with the Leadership Team in September or October, perhaps including the task force. He said if a cultural shift is to happen in an organization, the leadership must be committed to it, understand it, and accept that that is the direction it wants to go.
Russell shared some incidents that have come to his attention recently. He stated he has had at least six reports from people complaining about racist and sexist behavior and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (LM 2.385 - 2.386 on Diversity Policy is attached to his memorandum.) Russell agreed that training and awareness will not change the attitudes of some people, but believes that the vast majority want to learn and are willing to change in terms of human relations.
Van Vactor said Russell's examples pointed out the need for training at the leadership level and throughout the organization. He talked about establishing a core training curriculum for County employees to establish a common understanding as to certain things about Lane County as an organization.
Commissioner Roberts agreed, but continued to caution the need to look at the total costs, including training time. He also questioned the need for training to let people know they should not be saying the types of things that had been reported to Mr. Russell. He said employees know they shouldn't say it; what they don't know is if they're going to get away with saying it.
c. General guidelines and expectations.
Commissioner Cornacchia discussed management responsibility for what occurs in the workplace and advocated strong and immediate discipline for employees who violate discrimination policies.
There was a discussion on changing the disciplinary practices of the County and working with the unions on those issues. Russell said the unions would not argue to defend the behavior, but would rightfully argue that employees are entitled to due process. He also said the task force will be asked to develop criteria to hold people accountable.
There was an agreement that the County needs to sharpen its available disciplinary tools and develop a standard of what is acceptable to Lane County.
Commissioner Cornacchia expressed his concern about statements saying, "now that we've talked the talk, are we ready to walk the talk." He felt that comment was typically used discussing intent or surrounding terms of hypocrisy or duplicity and felt it was inappropriate for the County to be placed in that position while having to deal with the issue of resources.
d. Meeting schedules and time frames.
Commissioner Rust said Van Vactor and Russell will put a package together for a one or two day intensive session in September or October. They will also put something together for the first meeting of the task force regarding time commitments.
2. DISCUSSION/Customer Service - Customer Relations Plan.
Chairman Rust said in every area of County government, there is a big gap between reality and perception and felt the County was not doing a good job telling people who we are, what we do, and why we do it. His proposal provided an outline of some elements he thought might be included. Some of the suggestions were a speaker's bureau, public service announcements, a newsletter listing County departments and services, phone numbers that are helpful in getting citizens the kinds of services they need and are paying for, re-designing the logo, and developing a one-stop permit center.
Commissioner Dumdi felt a very important message to get out was an explanation of how the County was funded and where those monies go.
Rob Rockstroh suggested the County should be getting credit for its share in the non-profit agencies. Commissioner Roberts cautioned there was a risk in creating the incorrect impression that we're collecting tax dollars and then distributing that money among charitable groups.
Roberts related two incidents which had been brought to his attention involving County employees and pointed out that how we deal with one another also impacts the morale and attitude of employees.
Jim Gangle said Assessment and Taxation provides a lot of information through approximately 70,000 phone calls each year and that it was important to find better ways to collect and provide information.
Van Vactor said department heads would compile a list of volunteers to look at customer service ideas and come up with 2 or 3 initiatives for implementation this fall.
3. DISCUSSION/Fiscal Planning.
a. Financial plan.
Margo Drivas presented a revised financial plan with the hard numbers from FY 93/94 and highlighted changes that had been made since the Budget Committee's approval. She said they had tried to include in next year some of the decisions made in the current year that are clearly "one-time-onlys." She said the bottom line is that the County, at the beginning of this year, had managed the $2.4 million problem, and was going to be facing a $1.9 million in 95/96. She stated after the Budget Committee, that had gone up to about $2.6 million, and after the Board's final decisions, it was now closing in on $2.7 million. She explained some of the factors contributing to that.
Commissioner Cornacchia suggested the 19.9 position reduction not appearing in the 94/95 adopted budget gave the impression there were no personnel reductions this year. Van Vactor agreed there needs to be a better way to express reductions.
Van Vactor stated that even if the County used every dime of reserves and lapse, there will still be a $1.1 million reduction necessary next year and the County needs to be thinking about that when implementing this year's budget. He said now was the time for thoughts on what the County should be doing in preparation of FY 95/96.
b. Preliminary discussions, thoughts on FY 95-96 Budget.
Commissioner Rust was in favor of developing a worst-case budget by fall and contemplating something next May as a revenue issue. Commissioner Roberts said he liked the idea of doing a most likely scenario forecast but cautioned the need to be careful of what to call it since the term "worst case scenario" sounded like something the Board doesn't expect to happen. He said the County needs to be inviting people to come up with creative ideas. There was a discussion regarding the serial levy expiring June 30, 1996.
Van Vactor expressed concern about creating an environment with poor employee morale for nine months of a fiscal year. Commissioner Roberts agreed that was a good point but didn't see any other way to appropriately address the fiscal dilemma that the County is facing unless the Board finds out now what those cuts are likely to be.
Commissioner Rust suggested there may be advantages in making decisions later as more information becomes available. There was further discussion on the value of starting the process now when the numbers were likely to change significantly.
Commissioner Dumdi suggested looking for creative ways to make linkages with schools.
Russell said he'd like more discussion on what there is to be learned from the recent process; if it was worthwhile and if there's an alternative way to do it. He expressed frustration with making service cuts and then immediately trying to find ways to mitigate those cuts. He said he'd like some clarity in terms of what's going to go away, and if it's going to go away, is it going to be gone?
Commissioner Roberts said balancing the budget is the County's constitutional requirement, and to do that, the County makes meaningful cuts in services, finds ways to mitigate the impact on the public and expects employees to work with the Board to do that. He stated the goal ought to be how to best work with the public to meet the needs they have and still generate the savings needed.
Van Vactor suggested if the process were started earlier the dynamics should also be done differently. He suggested once the alternatives are arrayed at the different reduction levels, the Board meet as a group and select from those alternatives so that the proposed budget more closely reflects the Board's choices. He also raised a policy question of the appropriate time to involve citizen members of the Budget Committee.
Commissioner Dumdi said a tremendous amount of credibility was lost with the voters this last time and that there needs to be consistency. There was a discussion on ways of presenting the budget issues to the public.
Carmichael said the County needs to focus on the revenue side rather than looking at cuts.
There was further discussion on preparing information for the public that shows what a levy or tax base or some form of revenue would buy. There was also further discussion about the uncertainty of what would happen with the legislature.
Since there was no consensus for beginning budget discussions any sooner than September, Chairman Rust deferred it until then.
4. PRESENTATION/Certificates of Appreciation from AOC.
Chairman Rust presented a letter from Robert Cantine, Executive Director of Association of Oregon Counties, with awards for "extraordinary efforts and invaluable contributions during the preceding legislative session." The recipients of the awards were Craig Starr, Bob Keefer, Jim Gangle and Jack Roberts.
5. Other Business As Needed.
There being no other business, the meeting adjourned at 11:15.
Jerry Pierce, Recording Secretary
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