March 14, 1995
LANE COUNTY BUDGET COMMITTEE
Commissioners' Conference Room - 5:30 p.m.
Chair Kate Jones convened the Budget Committee with commissioners Ellie Dumdi, Bobby Green, Sr., Jerry Rust and Cindy Weeldreyer present, along with citizen members Peter Bartel, Marie Bell, Del Phelps and Bud Stewart. Steve Cornacchia was home ill and viewed the meeting via Cable Channel 11. Sharon Giles, recording secretary.
I. CALL TO ORDER AND PUBLIC COMMENT
Denis Hijmans, 85181 Winding Way, Pleasant Hill, stated that he is a member of Eugene-Springfield Gang Prevention Partnership and that he would like to focus on the current state of affairs at Youth Services, specifically security. He stressed that he is appalled at conditions at Skipworth. Hijmans remarked that there is no ability to search visitors and full contacts visits are allowed with only minimal supervision possible. He proposed that consideration be given to metal detectors and Court security measures as soon as possible.
Todd Cooley, 604 Wimbledon Court, indicated that he operates the Roadway Inn in Springfield. He stated that smaller facilities such as his are not always heard from. Cooley stressed that CVALCO generates a lot of business and expressed concern that if room tax funds are repositioned, success for his business will be extremely difficult. He reminded the group of the Board's commitment two years ago.
Rene Pace, 2727 Gateway, Springfield, stated that she is an assistant service representative at the Lane County Veterans Service Office. She distributed information outlining the Service Office's budget. Pace remarked that with a cut to $27,500, one service representative and a .5 secretary position would be cut. She stressed that would only allow the office to give out forms and not allow them to counsel veterans. Pace indicated that the office sees 600 veterans per month. She emphasized the need to fight for veterans' benefits.
Tish Fouquet, 844 N. Cloverleaf Loop, Springfield, remarked that she is a veteran and an assistant service officer. She stressed the need to counsel veterans on the benefits available. Fouquet noted that some veterans are illiterate with limited education.
Nancy Leyson, 670 Woodcrest Drive, Springfield, commented that she is a medical social worker. She stated that she makes home visits to veterans and that they are often not able to access benefits themselves as they may be disabled, sight or hearing impaired or shut-in. Leyson stressed the need for representatives to come into their home and help them with forms.
Lawrence Hamblen, 1882 Happy Lane, stated that he is the Executive Director of Legal Aid and was speaking on behalf of the Providers' Forum. He indicated that the service providers are very concerned about the budget. Hamblen encouraged the group to consider careful crafting of a levy. He stated that the system providers would like to see cuts taken equally, in balance, so as not to upset the system by cutting off one section. Hamblen stated that departments are interconnected and should take cuts similarly. He expressed concern that the homeless are not being served adequately.
Susanne Boling, P.O. Box 264, Springfield, indicated that she is co-chair of the Lane County Chapter of Children First for Oregon. She stressed that statistics prove that intervention and prevention save money in the long run. Boling indicated that her organization has expressed interest in working with Lane County in the creation and finalization of a levy to keep the necessary base services.
II. DEPARTMENT BUDGET PRESENTATIONS
1. YOUTH SERVICES
Steve Carmichael, Director of Youth Services, used overhead projection to explain the "Balanced Approach" to dealing with youth offenders which includes community protection, competency development and accountability. He explained that Measure 11 mandates that the most serious juvenile offenders will move into the adult system, but will come back to the juvenile system to serve part of their sentence. Carmichael remarked that if this had been in place last year, 75 juveniles would have been sent into the adult system and returned to the juvenile system, at least temporarily. He provided statistics which state that in 1988 the juvenile violent crimes against persons amounted to 294, while in 1994 the figure was 589. Carmichael attributed the increase to gangs, guns, television violence, family breakdown and drugs. He noted that while violent crime has been increasing, Youth Services staff has been decreasing, and while increased beds have been provided for the adult population, beds for juveniles have decreased.
Carmichael presented the department's budget reduction choices as related to intake, detention and probation (see material on file), observing that his reluctant preference would be for cuts in detention to maintain an active probation component. He presented scenarios involving a sample of the types of juvenile offenders who would be released from detention if nine beds are eliminated. Finally, he presented an add package for $135,000 to increase early intervention and diversion.
Judge Kip Leonard expressed concern that the same at-risk people are being seen by Health and Human Services, Youth Services, Public Safety and the District Attorney. He stressed that something has to be done about the "inventory." Leonard emphasized that intervention should begin at very early ages when children are first identified as "at risk." He noted that Youth Services already isn't able to deal with misdemeanants. Leonard stated that Youth Services does not have the "hammer" to enforce probation.
Responding to Rust, Carmichael stated that he had not put together an add package related to the securities issue mentioned by Hijmans. Carmichael and Leonard confirmed Hijmans' comments, observing that violence happens in family crisis situations. Rust suggested that Carmichael put together some type of modest add package as soon as possible. Responding to Bartel's questions regarding staffing/servicing a new facility, Carmichael remarked that it could be included in a serial levy for law enforcement and that the block grant process would be explored. Chuck Ryer, Assistant Youth Services Director, stressed that there are not many options other than a new facility as the old facility cannot be retrofit.
2. ASSESSMENT AND TAXATION
Bill Van Vactor, County Administrator, reviewed the compliance which must be met in Assessment and Taxation in order to maintain the $1 million annual grant.
Jim Gangle, Assessor, reviewed his memorandum regarding the $211,349 in reductions that he is proposing this year, noting that this can be accomplished through the use of accelerated appraisal methods, more efficient use of resources and the completion of some compliance projects (see material on file). He stressed that the department has "pushed the envelope" in terms of compliance. Gangle indicated his willingness to help with a levy undertaking.
This meeting recessed at 7:00 p.m. to reconvene at 7:12 p.m.
3. PUBLIC WORKS
Rick Schulz, Management Analyst, introduced this item, stating that the Financial Plan model already takes into account the assumption that Land Management will reduce their general fund use by $157,000 over FY94-95. He indicated that for FY95-96, the department has to absorb their inflation and reduce by $157,000, which equates to about a $350,000 set of reductions. Schulz stressed than any add backs would increase the $2.5 million deficit. He later stated that what is assumed is that Land Management will only use $107,000 worth of general fund.
Ben Wilson, Land Management Manager, distributed a handout detailing the proposed budget for planning, building, administration and compliance which would leave the division dependent on the general fund for approximately $450,000. Van Vactor explained that it is about time to start the state-mandated periodic review which will require a minimum of 1.5 FTE. Wilson reviewed proposed cuts (see page 2 of Wilson's handout) and explained their potential impacts. These reductions totaled $351,387. Wilson proposed fee increases to make up revenue/reductions balances (see page 4 of Wilson's handout).
Responding to Green, Wilson indicated that the analysis for the fee increase numbers was based on how much time it takes to perform the various functions and competitiveness with other jurisdictions. Green suggested the possibility of independent analysis. Phelps remarked that the fee increases are actually low compared to the city of Florence. He suggested rearranging the fees with the potential of becoming zero dependent on the general fund sooner. Bartel stated that he is in favor of the fee increases, but noted that the community will demand a good product to justify the fees. Van Vactor observed that the backlog has diminished over the last six months and complaints have decreased dramatically. Responding to Dumdi, Wilson stated that the increased fee level is comparable to Eugene and Springfield, and less than many other counties. Responding to Bell, Wilson indicated that the increase amounts to approximately 1.9% of the building costs, adding $210 to the basic permit fee. Weeldreyer stated that she had received a petition in opposition to the fee increases. She remarked that public perception is that it takes forever to get a permit from Lane County. Weeldreyer stressed that she wants benchmarks set before she will vote for any increases. She expressed concern that the fee increases will hit the rural area harder. Dumdi commented that she is supportive of the fee increases as developers are willing to pay more for good service. Weeldreyer received clarification that the Budget Committee must either make cuts in the division or approve revenue increases, or a combination of both.
4. GENERAL EXPENSE
Schulz explained that the total budget for this fiscal year for the Intergovernmental Human Services Fund payment is $335,308. He noted that the Leadership Team had suggested the possibility of a reduction of $50,000 from that amount. Steve Manela indicated that the reduction will not reduce emergency food or shelter. He stated that it would reduce support to the volunteer coordinator and services related to substance abuse treatment (which now has potential for some funding under the Oregon Health Plan). Manela reported that the Intergovernmental Human Services Partnership was looking at a new method to finance their services, negotiating with the cities of Eugene and Springfield to provide a percentage (one percent) of their general fund for human services.
5. HUMAN RESOURCES AND MANAGEMENT SERVICES
George Russell, Director of Human Resources and Management Services, reviewed the diverse organizational chart for that department. He commented that the department cannot sustain any additional cuts, noting that they are only responding now to critical situations on a day-to-day basis. Russell expressed concern about the lack of preventive maintenance. He stressed that additional cuts will mean looking at the elimination of a service. Russell indicated that there must be restorations to the elections funding as the system cannot run efficiently with 80% staffing. Russell introduced members of his department who explained various aspects of their division and related potential cuts for their area (see material on file).
Randy Green explained the reallocation of funds, within funds, to meet the 2% and 5% reduction levels in the finance operation.
Gary Ingram explained the function of computer services and the impact of the 10% scenario.
Cheryl McCawley explained the function of personnel services and the impact of the 15% reduction.
Jack Miller distributed a handout related to facilities maintenance and explained the 15% impact.
Annette Newingham reported on the function of elections, deeds and records and the Board of Equalization and detailed the impacts of the 15% cut. A discussion followed on the effects of last year's decision to close deeds and records operations to the public for two days per week. Van Vactor noted that there is legislation in the works in Salem to prevent such closures. He encouraged restoration of the elections and deeds and records functions to a full time operation. Responding to Phelps, Russell explained that marriage fees are statutorily set, but that clerks could stop performing ceremonies.
Randy Covey and Roxanne Marshall reviewed past cuts and explained the function of animal regulation. They detailed the impacts of potential cuts this year. Responding to Bell, Marshall explained the recent license canvassing data. Covey indicated that the project is being met with positive public response. Russell stressed that for animal regulation to succeed in getting off the general fund, the Board needs a stronger commitment to licensing which will increase revenue. He also observed the need for strict enforcement of the code. Russell emphasized that the Board needs to decide if it really wants an animal regulation program; and if so, the Board needs to support it and if not, it needs to do away with it.
Russell indicated that a full report on the review of elections issues would be held in April. He remarked that restoration will not insure effective and efficient elections every time. Russell stated that he would probably be bringing forward a recommendation for an increase in staffing in elections as Lane County is staffed less than any elections office in the state.
Responding to Green's question regarding privatization of animal regulation, Russell indicated that he would be responding during his response to the management audit.
III. DEVELOP LIST OF REDUCTION PACKAGES FOR FY95-96 PROPOSED BUDGET
This discussion will be carried over to the March 15 meeting.
Van Vactor indicated that budget staff would make a preliminary list of "easier" choices to begin the discussion with.
There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
Sharon Giles, Board Secretary
*NOTE: Attached to these minutes were copies of a computer print-out detailing individual committee members' choices related to the various scenarios. Also attached was a March 24 memorandum summarizing and explaining the actions taken at this meeting.