November 14, 1994

9:00 a.m.

Morse Ranch


PRESENT:  Chair Jerry Rust, Commissioner Jack Roberts, Commissioner Steve Cornacchia, Commissioner Ellie Dumdi, and Commissioner Marie Frazier.


Staff Present:  Commissioner-Elect Cindy Weeldreyer, Bill Van Vactor, Teresa Wilson, Rob Rockstroh, Jim Gangle, David Suchart, John Goodson, Arlene Marshall, Chuck Ryer, Bill Hoyt, Margo Drivas, George Russell, Bob McManus, Doug Harcleroad, Chuck Forster and Jerry Pierce, Recording Secretary.


Also present:  Frank Nearing


It was agreed to compress the meeting into three hours.


The following item was taken out of order.




Margo Drivas provided copies of the November version of the Fin Plan (included in Board file).  The 95/96 $2.5 million projected deficit is smaller for two reasons: the beginning cash balance was $148,000 more than projected; and the employer rate on PERS was less than anticipated.  She discussed the summary of reductions and the two percent COLA built in next year.


Van Vactor noted the total number of employees appears to be up because of grants and other factors and suggested formatting this information to reflect the actual layoffs.




Commissioner Rust discussed the two elements of the Customer Service report: serving our customers, and public relations and communications.  He said the subcommittee has met about six times.  He asked that the four departments which already provide active training provide him with any available material on that subject.


Rust said the media relations aspect was focusing on better public relations releases, customer services, and news releases on a year-round basis.  He said he would like to have $50,000 built into the budget and billed against all the departments, to either contract for services or to train internally.


Commissioner Dumdi suggested getting good news about Lane County out to the public through newspaper publications.  Harcleroad said he was interested in providing a report from his office.  Sheriff McManus said Marion County provides a report twice yearly.  Commissioner Roberts suggested we define the objective and suggested that printing news about Lane County could be viewed as self-serving and was skeptical that it would change public attitude.


Commissioner Rust suggested doing an information piece that provides hours the dumps are open, hours documents can be recorded, how to contact the District Attorney and that type of information.


There was a discussion on how the possibility of passage of Measure 8 would affect employee morale and customer service.  Commissioner Roberts said employees should be made aware of the fact that Measure 8 went down in Lane County by a large measure.


There was a discussion on Measure 8 affecting represented employees and non-represented employees at different times.


Van Vactor asked if the Commissioners were in favor of a plan that would continue PERS pick-up for non-represented employees for six months.  Commissioners Rust, Roberts, Frazier and Dumdi were in favor.  Commissioner Cornacchia agreed he was willing to look at it.


Items 3 and 4 were taken together.








County Administration - Bill Van Vactor


Van Vactor said County Administration is not doing well.  There are different people working at the front desk and Commissioner Frazier is allowing the use of some of her budget to help provide coverage.  A half-time employee in the Document Resource Center resigned and will not be replaced.  Marcia Morgan's position will not be filled.  Van Vactor said with a ten percent cut, County Administration would look pretty much the way it looks now.


Human Resources and Management Services - George Russell


Russell said there are some real pressure points within the department, that Closing Deeds and Records and Elections down two days a week really is not working and confuses the public.


In Animal Regulation, Russell stated there is the question of whether the County or the City should be dealing with the issues surrounding cats.


Russell said there are real pressure points in Finance, Budget and Personnel.  He said one Personnel Analyst is leaving and the workload is already far behind.


Russell stressed there are some areas that cannot be cut any further, such as deferred maintenance.  He said his department would have to look at areas where cuts have already been made and that cutting hours and closing doors may be the only option left, even though it increases risks in all areas.


County Counsel - Teresa Wilson


Wilson indicated legal services would be impacted, maybe dramatically, and that some departments may opt to hire outside counsel in some cases because of the waiting time.  She said any cut would have to come from personnel, either bodies or a little bit from each employee.  She said the Fair Labor Standards Act is going to be a critical issue.  Commissioner Roberts suggested it was a fair statement to say that there really was nothing left to cut in County Counsel and Wilson agreed.


JTPA - Chuck Forster


Forster said this has been the scariest two years of his career although right now, his department was fine.  He noted that they were one of the departments paying for County legal services and that while he felt County Counsel was doing a great job, he did consider outside counsel when things were backed up two to four weeks.


District Attorney - Doug Harcleroad


Harcleroad said there is more major crime than ever and violent crimes are on the rise.  He said they are relying on extra help to answer the phones and it sometimes rings 10 or 12 times.  He noted that customer service in family law was being depersonalized, and that complaints and comments on rudeness are rising.


He said David Suchart is looking at implementing different systems and better ways of doing the job. 


Harcleroad acknowledged that the department was having to bargain felonies into misdemeanors, misdemeanors into infractions, and that prosecution of misdemeanors is at risk.  He indicated the present felony cases are more serious, that there is more domestic violence, and that the victim advocate program is at risk.


Harcleroad stressed that Measure 11 will definitely have an impact.  He observed that a manslaughter charge will go from 16 or 18 months to a minimum of 75 months and will force trials.


Van Vactor noted that in one California County where 95 percent of the cases settled and 5 percent went to trial, those figures are now reversed because defendants have nothing to lose by forcing their cases to trial.


Assessment and Taxation - Jim Gangle


Gangle talked about a 12 percent cut, with 2.5 residential appraisers and 2 FTE taken out of commercial appraisers.  He said there is one clerical position they could cut.  He emphasized that the cuts would have an impact on interaction with the public.


Gangle discussed compliance issues and taking a run at the Department of Revenue.


Gangle talked about changes in benefits and proposed grants for cartography.  He talked about cooperating with Eugene and Springfield on mapping formats and working with companies to provide information to title companies, but said that will require computer equipment.  He said his push was on more computing and automation.


Youth Services - Chuck Ryer


Ryer observed that total juvenile crime was actually down with a sharp drop in petty thefts, but that violent crime has tripled.  Ryer questioned Measure 11's impact, stating that the 15-year-old age provision was badly drafted and it isn't known yet if it is a jurisdiction bill or a waiver bill.


Ryer said a ten percent cut would mean the same thing it meant last year:  15 detention beds, with the remaining 21 completely devoted to juveniles who had committed violent crimes.


Health and Human Services - Rob Rockstroh


Rockstroh said his budget was complicated, with a $35-$36 million cash flow and that Oregon budget law and cost accounting are very complex.  He said the department has over 30 programs and more than 85 revenue sources.  He said grants may be an opportunity to backfill but one of the problems is getting someone to write grants.


Rockstroh emphasized that his budget has very little impact on the general fund and that they are 75 percent contracted out.  He indicated he wanted to work with Margo and Bill to possibly mitigate some of the budget impacts.


Public Works - John Goodson


Goodson said that 90 percent of his department's general fund money is in Land Management and that that division is currently in transition.  He remarked that the only areas in which to look at reductions are things very difficult to do without.  He said periodic review is already difficult with existing staff.


Public Safety - Bob McManus


McManus said that they had received 73,000 calls last year and are already over that figure this year.  He said civil papers are up 30 percent and private processors won't serve them because it's either not cost effective or it's dangerous.

McManus explained that their department is using a citizen self-reporting form which simply provides a case number for insurance purposes for burglaries in a garage or outbuilding, or on minor burglaries in a business; and for internal theft or fraud cases.  McManus stated that, if it's inside the City, it gets handled through the police; and if it's in the county, that basically the County can deal with the murder and rape cases.


On the best day, McManus noted, there are three deputy sheriffs on patrol, and sometimes two.  He indicated that there are six resident deputies now and that the Oakridge deputy goes as far as Pleasant Hill. 


He said there is no proactive law enforcement.  He stressed that current staff levels subject employees to danger and that someone is going to get hurt or killed.  He said the City of Eugene can send three cars on a domestic violence call; whereas the County can send only one deputy.  Oregon's average is 1.3 deputies per thousand served and Lane County's is .3 per thousand served.  He said there is a long waiting period to put people in or out of jail with sometimes a two-and-one-half hour wait.  He said that swing and graveyard shifts can have one deputy for 80 inmates, which is dangerous; and that from January though September, 97 percent hard bed space was used, including CCC, forest work camp and jail.


McManus remarked that with a ten percent reduction there would be less officers on the street and there may not even be 24-hour patrol, and half the jail would be running.


Regional Information Systems - Bill Hoyt


Hoyt said the department is spread thin and is at risk and if there are any major problems with computer operations, they can't get the work through.  He explained that there is only one person on a shift now where there used to be two or three, and that the LAN has expanded and is more error prone.  He said he could not give specific reductions at this time but stated the choices are down to cutting staff, cutting hours, looking at retirement and reducing clerical support.




Van Vactor asked that the Board give a direction on either looking at revenue options or looking at reduction plans.


Commissioner Cornacchia stated that whatever the direction was, the important thing was to be able to work together.  Commissioner Roberts was in favor of looking at property tax as a revenue option.  Commissioners Rust, Dumdi and Frazier all were in favor of looking at revenue options.  Commissioner-Elect Weeldreyer said she would be in favor of looking at revenues but only after a popular vote.  She indicated she was interested in looking at a different model for prioritizing and in having departments submit plans early in the fiscal year.  She also suggested early input from the budget committee and the public. 

Commissioner Rust said he would not be interested in a law enforcement only levy with no backfill for general purpose government. 


Commissioner Dumdi stated she was interested in a differential rate with law enforcement having its own base.


Commissioner Frazier supported looking at revenue and setting priorities and stated law enforcement services should not continue to be used as a political football but should be totally off the general fund.


Commissioner Roberts recommended a different rate for law enforcement or county-wide and rebate back to cities.  He stated that law enforcement sells best and suggested moving law enforcement off the general fund.  He said leaving the other departments to hang was unacceptable.


Commissioner-Elect Weeldreyer said the East Lane folks are saying "they just don't get it do they?  No tax raises.  No new revenue."  She said she could not support a raise in taxes without taking it to a popular vote first.


Teresa Wilson said the County could put different amounts on one levy, one vote - $X this area, $Y this area.


Commissioner Rust said there was a consensus for one or two of the property tax options that had been presented and again cautioned against any appearance of threatening the public.


Commissioner-Elect Weeldreyer stated she would like to explore a process successfully used at LCC which allowed departments to roll over savings into their M&S budgets.


There was a discussion about filling Commissioner Roberts' position and it was agreed to replicate the process used when John Ball left and was replaced by Commissioner Roberts.




Commissioner Dumdi felt a longer period of time would be required to educate the public on a bond levy.


Commissioner Cornacchia said he did not believe the County could get a favorable reaction from the public and although he agreed to not campaign against anything the Board decided to do, he said he was hesitant to work on anything for the ballot soon. 


Commissioner Rust said a law enforcement only levy loses voters and he could not in good conscience work on it.


There was a discussion on doing a public opinion survey and what the product was they hoped would come from that.  It was agreed to do a survey and to frame questions such as:  a five-year levy versus a three-year levy versus a one-year levy; what do you think?   What about law enforcement only?  How do you feel?  What would you be willing to support?  What are you willing to pay for?  It was agreed to include questions in the survey about the bonded indebtedness issues.


Van Vactor said the County value statement was a loose end and needed to be back out to employees.


There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.





Jerry Pierce, Recording Secretary