March 13, 1995
LANE COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE
Commissioners' Conference Room - 5:30 p.m.
Chair Kate Jones convened the Budget Committee with commissioners Steve Cornacchia, Ellie Dumdi, Bobby Green, Sr., Jerry Rust and Cindy Weeldreyer present, along with citizen members Peter Bartel, Marie Bell, Del Phelps and Bud Stewart. Sharon Giles, Recording Secretary.
I. CALL TO ORDER AND PUBLIC COMMENT
Jones stated that the objectives for tonight's meeting are to listen to department presentations and to ask questions for information and clarification. She remarked that no decisions would be made tonight, as they would be considered after all department presentations have been made.
Rick Ormond, P.O. Box 328, Lowell, indicated that he was the office administrator for the Lane County Veterans Service Office. He stated that they have a budget of $50,000 from Lane County and $12,500 from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. Ormond stressed that compared to other counties, Lane County only spends $1.78 per veteran. He remarked that there are approximately 600 veterans per month who use the service office. Ormond emphasized the need to help widows fill out forms. He noted the expected influx of approximately 26,600 Vietnam veterans and another large group of Desert Storm veterans.
Linda Weston, 115 West 8th, Suite 190, stated that she is the Executive Director of CVALCO. She urged the Board to not consider using room tax revenue to solve its financial crisis. Weston noted that the Board made a commitment several years ago when the industry itself came forward and asked to have the rate of tax increased. She observed that if visitors decrease, income from the tax will decrease. Weston stressed that there are 4,700 people in Lane County who work in the visitor industry.
Linda Van Orden, 94073 River Road, Junction City, commented that she is a member of the Lane County Sheriff's Office Citizen Advisory Committee, was also active in tourism and has a husband who is a disabled veteran. She remarked that she is uncomfortable with agency fighting agency and urged that a way be found to fund the necessary services. Van Orden stressed that crime and the fear of crime are foremost in the minds of most of the citizens in Lane County. She urged the Board to look for additional revenue.
Saralyn Brooks, 440 North 9th, Springfield, stated that she is the Emergency Services Program Director for Lane Shelter Care. She expressed grave concerns about the cuts to the Health and Human Services part of the budget.
John Erickson, 2457 Otto Street, Springfield, indicated that he is the general manager of Red Lion in Springfield. He spoke about the Board's commitment to the industry. Erickson asked the Commissioners to stick to the agreement and follow through on its commitment. He urged the Board to go to the public and ask for support of law enforcement.
Gary Feldman, 70 West 24th, stated that he is vice president of AG Edwards & Sons and is president of CVALCO. He stressed that successful tourism equals economic vitality which equals economic prosperity for the entire community. Feldman remarked that tourism is the cleanest industry in Lane County. He urged the Board to bring forth a stand alone ballot measure for law enforcement.
JoAnne Lutz, 910 East 43rd, commented that she is a nurse and manages the New Start Program. She indicated that she was speaking in support of Lane County Public Health. Lutz stressed that cuts will decimate public health. She remarked that Public Health provides services for people "on the fringe." Lutz emphasized that if these people don't receive help, they will have more severe problems down the road.
Marian Blankenship, 490 West 4th, remarked that she is co-chair of Lane County Children First. She urged retention of all current services of Public Health as they are crucial for vulnerable, low-income children and adults. Blankenship stressed that prevention dollars save intervention dollars. She asked that the budget not be balanced on the backs of children.
II. DEPARTMENT BUDGET PRESENTATIONS
1. Health and Human Services
Rob Rockstroh, Director of Health and Human Services, remarked that he is a veteran and lives in a rural area and is not in favor of cuts for items affecting either of those areas. He distributed handouts including a Health & Human Services organizational chart, an explanation of H&HS's general fund usage over the last four fiscal years, a sheet explaining the impacts of a 2% general fund cut on H&HS for FY95-96 (at which time Rockstroh commented that Lane County is the third lowest in local dollars spent per person for public health compared to Oregon's other 35 counties), and a chart containing potential cuts for FY95-96 listed in order of priority (see material on file). With regard to funding for Veteran's Services (Priority #1), Rockstroh remarked that this contract payment belongs in County general expense as it is not a health function. He indicated that since the Springfield Clinic (Priority #2) is in the metro area, it is the easiest to lose as other services are still available via mass transit. Rockstroh continued to explain impacts of elimination of the balance of the services contained in the priority package. Cornacchia noted that Priorities 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 were items where Lane County is the only source provider. He asked for further information on Priorities 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 with regard to the total dollars remaining for these services available through state and federal "pass through" dollars. Rockstroh presented a 13-minute video highlighting public health services.
This meeting recessed at 7:08 p.m. to reconvene at 7:18 p.m.
2. Public Safety
Bob McManus, Sheriff, distributed handouts containing an organization chart, noting that the colored portions reflect Fund 24, the discretionary general fund (see material on file). He remarked that Fund 24 is the building block on which police, corrections and support services is built. McManus explained that public safety is a 24-hour-a-day business, particularly with regard to responding to 9-1-1 calls, delivery of civil papers and housing inmates. He noted that it takes 5.5 FTE to staff one post 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. McManus reminded the group that the union contract says that the last person hired shall be the first person laid off, creating a "bump" system. He noted that the security section at the jail is the most vulnerable to cutbacks as that block of employees represents the majority of new hires. McManus stressed that cutbacks of the magnitude about to be explained by his division captains (24 positions related to the 2.01% of total general fund scenario), will begin to cause the collapse of the public safety system.
Captain Eric Langford, Police Services Division, explained the current make-up of the Police Services Division. He noted that patrol sergeants review 9-1-1 calls daily to decide which calls the three or four deputies on duty each shift will be able to respond to and which do not get answered. Langford stressed that detectives cannot follow up on drug tips, etc. due to insufficient manpower. He explained that a 2.01% of general fund budget cut would result in the elimination of 11 of the 18 positions assigned to the Eugene office, which would virtually shut down two patrol shifts. Rust asked for a breakdown of reduction targets for each division, in addition to a total dollar amount at the 2.01% reduction level for police services. Noting that it would be difficult to justify the continuation of the Traffic Team when deputies were not able to respond to emergencies, Langford indicated that these positions (and their commensurate self-funding dollars) would likely be eliminated, too.
Captain Ben Sunderland, Corrections Division, indicated that the 2.01% scenario would result in the elimination of 10 positions in the jail, which would eliminate use of 80 beds.
Captain John Clague, Support Services, noted that his division provides direct service to the public relating to handgun permits, dispatch, etc. and also internal support to the organization. He reported that the 2.01% reduction would result in the elimination of three dispatchers, causing the elimination of non 9-1-1 public phone calls during other than daytime hours. Clague distributed copies of a report on possible consolidation of communications.
McManus explained that detailed final numbers would be provided after the Budget Committee makes the determination of the dollar amount of reduction to be allotted to Public Safety. Responding to Cornacchia, Langford indicated that if a decision is made to eliminate the Traffic Team, it will result in an additional deficit to the general fund of approximately $.5 million. McManus responded to Rust that 11 patrol deputies and 10 jail positions are the only place there is in the general fund to make the required reductions. There was a brief discussion regarding the use of sworn deputies versus non-sworn personnel in the jail. Bartel and Rust asked for real numbers and comparison facts related to this issue.
McManus passed over discussion of the balance of the reduction scenario figures and highlighted information on "Add Packages" being presented (see material on file) which deal with Community Policing deputies and related overtime. Clague highlighted the add package related to 2.5 FTE for concealed weapons permitting. Bartel expressed concern about the cost effectiveness of this program, asking for an accounting of its costs. David Suchart, Performance Auditor, indicated that he would give Bartel a copy of his recent audit. McManus briefly reviewed the remaining seven add packages.
McManus summarized that he was 100% in favor of the County putting forth a levy to hold all services harmless this year and also presented a draft proposal for a one-year $3,599,303 law enforcement levy. He indicated that the law enforcement levy would provide enhancement, including restorations from past budget reductions and 48 additional jail beds. McManus asked the committee to consider this levy, in addition to a County levy. Dumdi expressed concern that the media had received copies of the Sheriff's levy proposal earlier today, while the Budget Committee/Commissioners were only receiving it now. Responding to Bartel, McManus remarked that a potential differential tax rate proposal (which would allow for all county residents to pay for the civil process portion, the jail transport and the corrections components, but that the rural residents should bear the cost of rural patrol) needs more long-term planning with Lane County's partners. McManus suggested that all public safety issues be consolidated into one "umbrella" funding mechanism for FY96-97. Weeldreyer expressed concern about a scenario wherein the law enforcement levy passed, but the general levy failed. McManus explained that if the County levy didn't pass, then the enhancements in the law enforcement levy would not take place and that that money would be used for base level services for law enforcement.
McManus expressed concern about a draft proposal at the state level which would require the counties to assume responsibility for all inmates sentenced to 12 months or less. Responding to Van Vactor, McManus and Sunderland indicated that over $1 million is spent from Fund 18 for the Forest Work Camp. Van Vactor noted that an alternative proposal might be to close the Forest Work Camp and use those dollars to backfill the proposed reductions. McManus stressed the need to maintain credibility with the voters regarding the old serial levy. He noted various impacts including that municipal courts use the work camp alternative for their sentencings.
This meeting recessed at 9:00 p.m. to reconvene at 9:08 p.m.
4. District Attorney
Doug Harcleroad, District Attorney, introduced members of his department who provided presentations on conditions in their division.
Doug Mitchell, Family Law Division, described the federally mandated requirements regarding child support enforcement, observing that they are required to provide services for everyone who asks. He noted that lawyers in the office now average 1100 cases per lawyer. Mitchell stated that domestic violence abuse prevention deals with enforcing restraining orders, noting that three years ago the division prosecuted 85 restraining order violations while in 1994 there were 160 restraining orders prosecuted. Mitchell indicated that the office will collect $10 million in child support this year. He expressed concern that low staffing has caused the division to get further and further behind.
Lori Nelson, Victims Services Coordinator, indicated that their program is divided into two units: the day program for which services are mandated and defined by law and the second unit which is the 24-hour response unit in which advocates go out to hospitals and crime scenes at law enforcement or a hospital's request to provide immediate crisis intervention and support services to victims of crime. She explained that they also help prepare victims for trial, accompany victims to court and assist in counseling referrals. Nelson reported that there are over 40 volunteers within the two units.
Paul Graebner, Circuit Court trial lawyer, noted that the felony caseload has doubled since 1988, with the same number of prosecutors and half the number of investigators. He observed the numerous child homicide investigations. Graebner stressed that the heavy workload is being picked up by attorneys in their off time which is taking an unacceptable toll on their spouses/families. He indicated that the workload requires the necessity to plea bargain as many cases as possible. Graebner expressed concern that cases are often not being investigated properly due to short staffing.
Bernadette Hainley, District Court trial lawyer, dramatically described the typical trial day of a lawyer in her office. She summarized that if one attorney is cut, it will cut 750 cases out of the system and asked which ones would be chosen.
Judge Darryl Larson, District Court Judge, discussed the impact of the lack of prosecution of misdemeanors. He observed that people are critically concerned regarding public safety, including prosecution. Larson stressed that cuts will cripple the ability of the courts to respond to all cases. He noted that he worked in the District Attorney's office five years ago and knows that support staff is overwhelmed.
Harcleroad summarized that there are nine police agencies in Lane County who must go to one place, the District Attorney's office, to file their felony cases. He observed that the Eugene police provide 45% of the cases to his office. Harcleroad indicated that specific reduction cuts/targets are provided in detail in his budget document. He indicated that he started cuts in the misdemeanor area in an attempt to lesson the impact on the public. Harcleroad did not verbally present the add packages contained in his packet material. Rust expressed appreciation for the District Attorney's straightforward analysis.
5. Youth Services
This presentation was postponed to the beginning of tomorrow's session.
There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
Sharon Giles, Board Secretary