May 23, 1994
BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING
Commissioners' Conference Room - following MWSD Bdgt Cte Meeting
The Budget Committee convened with Commissioners Jerry Rust, Marie Frazier, Steve Cornacchia, Ellie Dumdi (arrived at 12:11 p.m.) and Jack Roberts present, along with citizen members Kate Jones, Peter Bartel, Marie Bell, Del Phelps and Bud Stewart. Sharon Giles, recording secretary.
1. a. Approval of Minutes of April 19
MOTION: Approval of the Minutes. Roberts MOVED, Rust SECONDED. VOTE: 9-0.
b. Approval of Action Summaries of May 5 and May 10
Bell indicated that there were some typos in these Minutes that she would discuss with Drivas later. MOTION: Approval of the Action Summaries. Phelps MOVED, Roberts SECONDED. VOTE: 9-0.
Dumdi arrived at 12:11 p.m.
2. a. Discussion/Deliberation: Reduced Base Budget
1. New Technical Adjustments: Drivas distributed a handout (see material on file), reviewing it briefly and observing that the General Fund remains $26,928 out of balance. Responding to Frazier, Drivas indicated that it is difficult to rely on the history of lapse and replied to Bartel that there is risk in each component of the options provided in the memo. MOTION: Approval of Option 1 (from handout Attachment 4), which provides for $2,000 from Commissioners Transition Expense, $15,000 from Investment Earnings and $9,928 from Lapse, to balance the General Fund. Rust MOVED, Roberts SECONDED. VOTE: 10-0.
2. Fairgrounds Request: Drivas referred to this request (see material in packet), observing that the Fair Board is asking the budget committee to create the necessary "spending authority" to finance Phase One improvements. MOTION: To provide "spending authority," if the Board of Commissioners decides to proceed with the fairgrounds improvements. Cornacchia clarified that his Motion is not necessarily committing support, but providing the opportunity for policy discussions to proceed. Cornacchia MOVED, Rust SECONDED. VOTE: 9-0-1, Bell abstaining.
b. Discussion/Deliberation: Other Issues
1. Stewart observed that the Budget Committee had restored $705,000 to the Public Safety budget, specifically for the jail. He asked about the possibility of reconsidering that dedication, and not necessarily tying the Sheriff to that one option. Roberts stressed that the Budget Committee took that action, the voters went to the polls based on that information and doing otherwise would raise concerns of credibility. Cornacchia asked the Committee what makes people think that the Budget Committee's judgment is better than the Sheriff's experience in law enforcement. Bell responded that Public Safety had followed the same prioritization procedures as all other departments and the Sheriff had reaffirmed his priorities throughout the process. Rust observed that the jail is managed by the Sheriff, but it's not just the Sheriff's jail - it also has an affect on the Courts, the District Attorney and the general public. He also expressed concern about the Sheriff's $3 million support system. Finally, Rust agreed with Roberts regarding the credibility issue. Phelps emphasized that the voters had elected a professional to manage the law enforcement system and he should be allowed to do that. Dumdi agreed, stating that it is up to each department to determine how their share of the budget is spent internally. Also responding to Cornacchia, Roberts stressed that he is elected to substitute his judgment on general policy matters, indicating that the allocation of resources between corrections and police services must be done by the Budget Committee and ultimately the Board. He emphasized again that credibility is a big issue and that an attempt was made to give the general public final answers before their ballots were cast. Frazier asked that other Budget Committee members give authority to the Sheriff to meet his needs. She commented that if the issue is beds, perhaps some additional work could be done at the work camp and provide more available beds. MOTION: To reconsider previous action that required the Sheriff to spend the reinstated $705,000 on the jail. Stewart MOVED, Frazier SECONDED. VOTE: 6-4, Bartel, Bell, Roberts and Rust dissenting.
MOTION: To give the Sheriff discretionary authority over the reinstated $705,000 to his department budget. Stewart MOVED, Frazier SECONDED. Cornacchia asked for Sheriff McManus's comments. McManus commented that things have changed as the Budget Committee has done their work. He remarked that he is elected by all the people in the County to administer Public Safety, including police services and correction services. McManus stressed that the best approach currently is one balanced between corrections and police services. He indicated that reducing three close-in resident deputies, in Junction City, Marcola and Lowell/Dexter, and restoring 80 beds back into jail services will provide that balanced approach for public safety across the county. Bartel recalled asking during a Budget Committee meeting whether it was possible to do a partial closure at the jail and being told "absolutely not." He expressed concern about "dilution of effort" and whether this approach will reinforce the voters' feelings of ambivalence. Responding to Bell's question regarding the future of a possible serial levy in the realm of rural law enforcement, Bill Van Vactor, County Administrator, stated that that is still feasible for the fall. Roberts recalled having a discussion three weeks ago with the Sheriff where he affirmed that the jail was his top priority for restoration in the budget. Roberts stressed again the issue of credibility with the voters. Phelps indicated that he wants the decision to reflect what will be best for the County in the near future. Bell stated the need to do what the Budget Committee said it would do and then work on providing a future structured plan for rural safety. Regarding Frazier's question on enhancing the bed situation at the work camp, David Garnick, Management Analyst, responded that there is approximately $241,000, dedicated to construction funds, available to add additional bed space at the work camp. McManus noted that since the implementation of the "Bridges Program," the beds at the work camp have been much closer to the existing capacity; but, he stressed that the facility is not designed as a "hard bed" facility. Observing that the decision has now been made that 1500 misdemeanor complaints in Lane County will not be prosecuted, McManus remarked that some of those individuals would have potentially been sent to the forest work camp. McManus reminded the group that there have been commitments made to the work camp community as to what type of inmate is housed there. He indicated that he was willing to revisit that issue, but noted that a more violent inmate cannot be utilized on work crews in public. VOTE: 5-5, Bartel, Bell, Jones, Roberts and Rust dissenting. (Motion fails.)
2. Bell brought up the topic of decreasing the staffing in the Commissioners' office. She asked whether wages for assistants was a legal usage of campaign funds at the commissioner level. With regard to constituent services, Van Vactor mentioned that Public Works is exploring the possibility of creating a position for this need. Roberts replied to Bell that usage of campaign funds is probably legal, but noted that large sums of money are not raised in commissioner campaigns. Cornacchia commented that the need for assistants is somewhat overstated; he observed that there is value for the rural areas, but not for the metro areas. Bell expressed concern that voters will be disillusioned if they cannot get the responses they need.
3. Bell remarked that it will be vital this coming year to look at salaries and benefits. She suggested that the Commissioners have a study done that compares, for example, county receptionist salaries with salaries for the same level of job in a private office. Bell stressed that entry level salaries in the county are very high.
4. Bell emphasized that it is time to have a serious lobbying effort with the state to attempt to give the counties the ability to recapture some of the collection fees for collecting taxes for other jurisdictions.
5. Bell suggested "dovetailing" with all the cities within the county when Lane County goes out for a serial levy or bond issue.
6. Van Vactor indicated that he had discussed with department heads this morning, in light of the election results, the possibility of a property tax measure for this September. He remarked that the general feeling is that there is a continuing need and the group would recommend that it be oriented towards basic law enforcement. Van Vactor commented that they also suggested exploring a split rate or a larger levy that would net money back to the cities that are interested in participating. He also indicated that there is some interest in exploring a utility tax. Van Vactor explained that it is critical to make a decision today on budget authority as the Budget Committee would need to approve a top limit to create the authority for a potential tax levy on the September ballot. Drivas commented that a September election would provide funds retroactively to July 1, while a November election would make funds available the following tax year. Bartel remarked that he still likes the real estate transfer tax. Cornacchia stated that he would like to at least have the opportunity to explore this issue, although he was not committing to anything specific at this point. Stewart concurred. MOTION: To provide budget authority for the September ballot for a levy amount of up to $5 million over the current for this year. Roberts MOVED, Dumdi SECONDED. Roberts stressed that it will be important to listen to feedback from the public before decisions are made a levy structure. VOTE: 9-1, Stewart dissenting.
Bartel was excused from the meeting at 1:24 p.m.
3. a. Action
MOTION: Approval of the FY 94-95 Budget with changes identified on Attachments 1, 2 and 3 (of the handout) and using Attachment 4, Option 1 to balance the General Fund. Cornacchia MOVED, Roberts SECONDED. VOTE: 9-0.
MOTION: Approval of the FY 94-95 tax levy as shown on the packet Attachment marked "Comparative Summary of Property Tax Levies and Rates," to include the Motion for the budget authority for up to $5 million on the September ballot (just passed above.) Cornacchia MOVED, Roberts SECONDED. VOTE: 9-0.
There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 1:25 p.m.
Sharon Giles, Recording Secretary
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