March 7, 1997
LANE COUNTY LEADERSHIP TEAM MEETING
Commissioners' Conference Room - 10:00 a.m.
PRESENT: Commissioners Ellie Dumdi, Steve Cornacchia, Bobby Green, Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer; Teresa Wilson; Bill Van Vactor; Benett Wilson; David Suchart; Doug Harcleroad; Jim Gangle; John Goodson; Rob Rockstroh; Chris Todis; Bill Hoyt; Steve Carmichle; Pat Rogers; John Clague for Sheriff Clements; and staff members Rick Schultz; David Garnick and Tanya Heaton.
I. UPDATE ON PROCESS
Commissioner Weeldreyer turned the meeting over to Bill Van Vactor for an update on the current budget process. Van Vactor described the process the Management Team had used to arrive at the recommendation they were presenting today to the Board of Commissioners. He said the department directors and the budget staff had put together a service information sheet process for all programs that could be impacted by BM 47, including some items that were available as a resource for assistance in helping solve this problem. VanVactor publicly expressed his thanks for the tremendous amount of work done by the departments in a very quick period of time.
He said they then created service categories, addressing a policy directive from the Board to try to have the reduction packages presented within the same service categories; Public Safety, Public Services, and Support Services. The department directors of the appropriate service area then met and had a process whereby all of the service information sheets had a card that identified that particular service and placed them in high, medium or low categories.
He said at the same time they also began working with the budget committee and had wrapped up a presentation of all the service information sheets. The next step would be to present next Tuesday evening, the same recommendations they are presenting to the BCC today.
He said on March 18 there would be a public hearing and the goal would be to have a policy direction or general guidelines from the budget committee on March 20.
II. EXISTING REVENUE CHOICES
Van Vactor then reviewed the Management Team's discussions about the feasibility of re-directing certain revenues and he provided a memorandum (in file) concerning three pots of on-going money; video lottery, car rental tax and transient room tax.
He said Lane County has gone through some analysis in terms of using video lottery proceeds for law enforcement in certain portions of the County to aide the overall economic development activities of the county and had funded a deputy district attorney and a deputy sheriff with those funds. The Management Team thought it was appropriate to recommend re-directing an additional $300,000 to that type of Public Safety use as is consistent with BM 47.
He then discussed the car rental tax. He pointed out that that money had been instrumental under the Parks 2000 Plan to build a base for the parks division. He said the Management Team was recommending $300,000 which represents approximately 15% of the overall parks budget. He said Bob Keefer provided information as to what that impact would be and that would be distributed Tuesday night at the budget committee.
He said the third source of revenue is the transient room tax and the Management Team's recommendation is a 20% re-direction to Public Safety of those portions which are discretionary.
He said at any time the cuts seem to be excessive the Board could go back at and look at those funds and discuss shifting or changing the uses. Teresa Wilson discussed the possibility of legal ramifications of those changes.
VanVactor said they also looked at one time only revenues which total $926,000. He said there are some transient room tax funds which have not been expended which are in the cash balance and they are identified as available.
He said the second category is approximately $250,000 from the Blue Cross rebate which is coming back to Lane County because of underutilization.
VanVactor said the final area is the general fund cash balance from FY 95/96 and in total, that's 1.2 million.
He also discussed termination costs and said it may be necessary to lay off 1.5 FTE for each 1.0 FTE laid off because of costs involved in loosing senior employees. He said the recommendation was to use $700,000 from the general fund cash balance to help cover some of those costs.
III. MANAGEMENT TEAM RECOMMENDATION
David Garnick provided a chart (in file) showing a total of $65.2 million in overall services, $40 million of which is the discretionary portion. He said the Management Team recommended using a $5.5 million figure and he discussed how they had provided a prioritized list. He said they had identified services up to the $3.1 million level that they believe are probably going to be cut under any circumstances and they are not prioritized. He said between $3.1 million and $8.5 million, the services are prioritized. He said everything above $8.5 million are services which we don't think need to be cut under any circumstance and considered the "keep" level. He said if we decide to redirect $1 million revenue, then the target for reduction would be $4.5 million. If $2 million is redirected, then the cuts would be reduced to $3.5 million.
In response to a question from Commissioner Cornacchia about the Management Team's expectation from today's meeting, Van Vactor said it was to provide information and that the same information would be going to the budget committee Tuesday evening for the same presentation. He said if there was more information the board wanted, to please identify that and to voice any concerns or questions they have.
There was some discussion regarding prioritizing public safety services within the language of Ballot Measure 47. Van Vactor said the Management Team had had lengthy discussions around that but had not reached consensus and were prepared to continue those discussions.
Van Vactor said the Management Team spent a day trying to blend together the three different service categories with the language of Ballot Measure 47 key in their minds, and it was extremely difficult. He said support services managers got together after looking at the overall prioritization and realized that this really was not making a lot of sense in terms of where they had placed some priorities, and that they were not going to be clearly identifying the true impact of the reductions if vital public safety services were compared with essential support services. He said they then met with the Management Team and explained their concern and produced the list of reductions that they thought they could live with and survive as a support service entity. He said we are a $326,000,000 plus corporation, and support services have tremendous obligations in terms of financial records, personnel, payroll, legal services, and a whole host of information services. He said those duties and commitments will go on in spite of BM 47. He said in terms of both state law and our charter, the ultimate responsibility falls on the Board of County Commissioners. He said they developed a reduction list they felt they could implement and survive next year at a bare bones level.
Van Vactor explained there was not unanimous consensus regarding support services. He also said he would encourage commissioners to call department directors if they had any specific questions.
Tanya Heaton distributed information sheets (in file) and explained the three different sections. She said the section entitled "Keep" were items the Management Team wanted to keep at any level of cuts, and those items were not prioritized. She said the next section was prioritized, and the section entitled "Cut" were those items the Management Team recommended be cut. Heaton said the section entitled "Prioritized" is the section the Management Team spent extensive time trying to prioritize and she explained how the shaded areas showed different levels of cuts depending on the final dollar amount to be reduced.
There was a discussion on mandated services. Teresa Wilson said there were lots of things that start to push the question of what is the level at which we perform a legal mandate, or not perform, and the risks in doing that. She said if the Board would like her to look at that question, she could.
Jim Gangle explained that it looks as though with Ballot Measure 47 the movement by the legislature is away from some things that we've been required to do in the past. He said the reappraisal piece particularly is one they are already looking at significantly reducing by about 20%.
Commissioner Cornacchia talked about his unwillingness to cut Public Safety and keep redundant or unnecessary services in Assessment and Taxation. He said he believed it is time this year to take a stand against that and that he was disappointed in this prioritization.
Commissioner Dumdi said in light of Ballot Measure 47, it is time for the state to accept responsibility for some of the things that they have passed down to the counties and to negotiate some of those issues at the state level. She said Assessment and Taxation is one, court costs are another.
Commissioner Green said he appreciated the hard work that had been done putting this information together. He wondered if a person from the outside were to look at this, what these numbers would say about Lane County, or the government that's in charge here. He said he was sensing that we're moving from general purpose government, and if that's the case, he would like to engage in the conversation some time of exactly what this says about Lane County and what we no longer do. He said we should be able to tell our story effectively loud and clear because the public may be able to understand not having a deputy but they may not understand not having the support services. He said whatever choice we make won't be easy.
Commissioner Sorenson thanked the members of the Management Team who participated in making this recommendation. He said his district, his city and his county had all voted against Ballot Measure 47 and he said one of the things we need to do in terms of leadership is to take some responsibility for solving this problem instead of always asking other people to help solve our problems. He said one solution would be to rank these programs, stick with existing revenue and whack them off at the level of the revenue that we have. He said he would like to hear a discussion of other things we could do. He talked about fees in the Land Management department and of being aggressive about specific services that people want and are willing to pay for independent of their property tax. He said we will have to decide whether we're going to just take it and implement a mandate put on this county and our citizens by people outside of our county or whether we're going to do something besides repeat rhetoric that the voters have passed Measure 47. He said that if we want to be leaders, we're going to have to stand up for the public sector and the value of a strong public sector in this society.
VanVactor said Lane County is going to be making a presentation to the AOC Legislative Committee Monday morning . He said whether we like it or not, we're state government, and for some reason somebody is forgetting about that in Salem. He said the other thing that is particularly frustrating is that as an organization we really worked hard last March and last May to provide some financial stability. He said we went out in May with Levy A and told the voters what they would get for their money and within just a few months the certainty and the level of public safety services that our citizens went out and approved and voted for, has been taken away by Ballot Measure 47. He said all 36 counties are different with different histories, and different funding sources.
Commissioner Green asked if we had ever submitted a bill to the state for services rendered. He said it could be done symbolically, just to get their attention .
Commissioner Dumdi said that counties and cities are looked at by the state legislature as special interest groups but they are not. She said they do the business of the state at the local level and we have got to get that message across. She agreed with Commissioner Green that Lane County should bill the State.
Steve Carmichael said Lane County as a whole did not pass Ballot Measure 47 and they did pass the Public Safety levy which had not only public safety but general government in it. He said Lane County also passed the Juvenile Justice Center bond levy. He said he did not believe the voting record of Lane County citizens opted for the kind of choices Ballot Measure 47 was imposing. He said these are not options anybody in this county wants. He said we need to create a document that will describe in a very simple form what is at risk and the kinds of choices that are going to have to be made. He said people don't understand what's on here and that we have a responsibility to get this information out to people who can make a difference, our own voters and the legislature.
The meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.
Jerry Pierce, Recording Secretary
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