February 21, 1995
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS' WORK SESSION
Commissioners' Conference Room - 9:00 a.m.
Vice Chair Cindy Weeldreyer presided with Steve Cornacchia, Bobby Green, Sr. and Jerry Rust present. Ellie Dumdi excused. Sharon Giles, Recording Secretary.
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
One item of Emergency Business was identified.
2. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Bill Mason, 1803 West 34th Avenue, remarked that he is in favor of opening Willamette Street, but is disturbed about the high price tag ($1.5 million) being mentioned by the City. He indicated that the work can be done for substantially less money ($131,000). Mason distributed handouts outlining his position (see material on file). He remarked that the County's road funds are necessary for regular street maintenance. Mason stated that if the City wants additional funding for the Willamette project, they should form an assessment district. Responding to Cornacchia, Mason indicated that he would submit the detailed breakdown of comparison figures as requested.
3. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
To be held at approximately 10:40 a.m.
4. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS
a. ORAL REPORT/Elections Issues.
David Suchart, Performance Auditor, indicated that he would be presenting a preliminary report today, with the final planned for April. He made comments on the following:
Staffing - Suchart remarked that the Secretary of State had recommended that this be the first area to review. He noted the high dependence on temporary staffing statewide, with limited permanent staff to supervise them. Suchart stressed that the manual system is not the most effective way to run an election.
Computer System - Suchart commented that a "client server" computer system is in place now which has allowed for a number of improvements to be made in how elections can be conducted. He indicated that some implementation has been delayed by problems with the system contractor, which has affected the ability to manage the controls of the system. He also indicated that temporary employees need to be trained in changes being done on the system. Suchart remarked that written procedures for conducting elections are now in place. He summarized that legislation currently in process would allow for better controls.
Controls - Suchart stated that the Elections Division currently has a good set of controls for managing the elections through the time ballots are counted. He indicated that managing the staffing problems and problems with the implementation of the new computer system has diverted the manager from managing the system in a way she would like to. Suchart indicated that after the computer system is completely on board, and if there are legislative changes, management will become easier.
Rust expressed concern that neither Jim Seaberry or Neal Hyatt had been contacted ahead of time regarding this meeting. He also expressed ongoing concern about the missing ballots and asked what systems are in place to prevent that from happening again. He suggested a simplistic solution involving each chair for the 153 precincts totaling the number of voters for the day and that total would be matched against the figure arrived at after all of the ballots have been counted. Suchart replied that polling place elections have workers who work 16-hour days twice a year. He indicated that most chairs, after a grueling day, are not able to keep track of exact totals of paper ballots. Suchart indicated that the control process for reconciliation has been evolving because of the implementation of the new computer system. He stressed that there are problems of some nature in almost every county in Oregon and that the Secretary of State is not overly concerned with Lane County's situation except for the pressures of media coverage.
Rust asked that the report back in April contain specifics on the exact nature of the controls in place, how fail safe the controls are and why the controls didn't "kick in" during the last round. Green asked that Suchart also report on the level of staffing in Elections over the last five years. Responding to Cornacchia, Suchart indicated that the April report would provide a complete list of concerns and remedies. Cornacchia asked for a report on staffing at similar counties, particularly temporary versus permanent employees. Responding to Rust's earlier comments, Cornacchia indicated that his recollection of the Seaberry/Hyatt offer was that they had not been invited to participate in a review. George Russell, Director of Human Resources and Management Services, stated that he intends to propose some restoration of staffing in Elections as part of the budget process.
Annette Newingham, Chief Deputy County Clerk, reviewed her February 17 memorandum regarding SB 319 which would require that Primary and General elections be held by mail (see material on file). She outlined the arguments in support which included cost savings, efficiency/ accuracy, increased voter participation and timeliness of election results. Newingham also highlighted concerns, including voter fraud, campaigning and tradition. She summarized that a 1996 primary and general election by mail would present a total cost savings of $250,000. Newingham asked for Board support of the issue. Cornacchia expressed concern that this bill mandates elections by mail instead of allowing counties any opportunity to make their own decision. He indicated he could support this legislation, with a caveat for local discretion (substituting "may" for "shall").
MOTION: To endorse the Clerk's proposal. Rust MOVED, Green SECONDED. VOTE: 2-2, Cornacchia and Weeldreyer dissenting. Cornacchia stated that he would offer support of the bill with a recommendation from Lane County that the language be modified to "may" conduct. Rust remarked that he could support that. Responding to Green, Newingham reported that this approach would be a good step, as she had not previously been able to speak positively on this issue before. Cornacchia stressed that the message should be that Lane County believes vote by mail brings substantial cost savings, but that mail elections should not be mandated and should be left to local control. Rust offered a FRIENDLY AMENDMENT to incorporate Cornacchia's caveat. The Second (Green) concurred. VOTE: 4-0.
b. REPORT/External Financial Audit RFP.
Suchart reviewed his agenda memorandum regarding rotation of external auditors (see material on file). He noted that his first recommendation indicates that he would like for Coopers and Lybrand to be allowed to bid as a new bidder on the contract along with everyone else. He stated that if they were given permission to bid, Coopers and Lybrand would be asked how they would accommodate the concerns regarding fresh looks at the County's financial systems. There was consensus to allow Coopers and Lybrand to rebid. With regard to including the Fair Board under one audit contract, Wes Brustad, Fair Manager, presented some concerns after which there was Board consensus to keep the Fair Board audit separate from Lane County's audit. Suchart agreed with County Counsel's file note, so the issue of extending the contract term from three years to five years was moot, with contracts to remain for three year periods. With regard to the fourth issue, Green agreed to help with the interview of audit firms.
5. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
To be held later today.
The following item was taken out of order.
9. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
a. ORDER 95-2-21-1/In the Matter of Authorizing the County Administrator to Sign the Final Application Document for a Public Safety Community Policing Grant.
MOTION: Approval of the Order. Rust MOVED, Green SECONDED. VOTE: 4-0.
Teresa Wilson, County Counsel, informed the Board of a legislative impact that might affect this particular item. She reported that the bill before the legislature to reduce traffic fines would have the effect of reducing the revenue produced by the Traffic Team, which is one potential source of the match for the grant discussed above.
Cornacchia indicated that he would be discussing his concern tomorrow about the system which allows a department to overspend its budget by not getting in enough resource, without any alteration throughout the course of the year, causing the general fund to have to make up that difference. Van Vactor recommended that a referral be made to Finance and Audit on the issue of an incentive program as a component of budgeting.
6. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
Van Vactor discussed Lane County's dues proposal to LCOG and the fact that it had not passed at their January 26 meeting. He indicated that Dumdi would not be present at their February 23 meeting and asked that Green, as alternate, attend and reinforce the County's desire for a 3-year "ratchet down" plan to reduce Lane County's dues. Weeldreyer explained that the Executive Committee had indicated that if Lane County were to get a $6,000 "break", then that amount would be redistributed among the other members of the LCOG Board. She indicated that the issue was then tabled to allow members to go back and discuss this matter with their respective jurisdictions. Cornacchia expressed concern about paying dues to LCOG and then having to pay individually for services. He suggested "holding the line" or "ratcheting down."
3. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Green indicated that he would be leaving Saturday to attend the United Front in Washington D.C. and would be returning March 1.
Weeldreyer remarked that she had read a draft of the City Club study of Lane County and was looking forward to a full Board discussion of the report.
There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 10:33 a.m. to convene into Executive Session at 10:45 a.m.
Sharon Giles, Board Secretary