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October 28, 1997
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS' WORK SESSION
Commissioners' Conference Room - 10:00 a.m.

 Chair Cindy Weeldreyer presided with Steve Cornacchia, Ellie Dumdi and Bobby Green, Sr. Peter Sorenson, absent. Zoe Gilstrap, Recording Secretary.

1. PUBLIC COMMENTS

None.

2. PUBLIC SAFETY

a. ORDER 97-10-28-1/In the Matter of The Formation of the McKenzie/Mohawk Sheriff’s Law Enforcement District for the McKenzie and Mohawk River Valleys.

Sheriff Jan Clements introduced Captain Dan Hueval and Ernie Loy from the Sheriff’s Department, Ken Jones, the attorney under contract to assist with the formation of the district, and Gary Darnielle, LCOG Senior Planner.

Clements stated that there is an insufficient level of law enforcement service in the unincorporated areas of Lane County, giving a brief overview of this issue (see material on file).

Hueval explained that a Board of County Commissioners’ work session last spring resulted in the County agreeing to contract with an attorney to help with the legal process of forming a special law enforcement district and that, at that time, they selected Ken Jones. He stated that he, Clements, Jones and Darnielle met on a regular basis with Dumdi, Weeldreyer, Jim Gangle, Tax Assessor, and Rick Lindholm, Consultant, also attending when possible. Hueval noted that they looked at the whole County to define a manageable, geographical area that also appeared to provide the necessary economic base to fund a meaningful level of enhanced service and that had a reasonable chance of being successful. He said that in looking at past voting records, particularly from levy election voter turnouts, it appeared that the McKenzie River Corridor provided the best turnout and direct voter support. He noted that the Mohawk area is currently unserved although it has a history of having resident deputies. Hueval stated that they have been making presentations to the community throughout September and October.

Clements referred to public input response, noting that this process consisted of seven or more meetings, speaking to neighborhood watch groups, the Chamber of Commerce and service clubs. He stated that through the course of that time, there were questions about how secure the base level of funding was and said there was a definite interest in the level of law enforcement. He said they posed three options to the citizens to serve as discussion points. Clements remarked that they found that there were a few people that supported a very aggressive level of law enforcement which was the most expensive package, a substantial number that supported a lower level and a majority who supported a moderate level which is the option that they went with. Clements commented that there were few people (in terms of their survey), who were undecided, with three or four people adamantly opposed. He declared that the majority of the feedback was very positive. Clements stated that their last meeting was held after they settled on the package and was at the neighborhood association in the Upper McKenzie community with more than 85 people present, noting that the feedback was responsive and supportive of this concept.

Weeldreyer noted that one area quite often in question was the Cougar Reservoir area and hot springs. She said people questioned whether this area would be covered in this law enforcement district and noted that Clements indicated that this could be tailored to meet the needs of the people in the district.

Clements remarked that after they settled on the package, they invited rural fire chiefs, board members, neighborhood watch presidents, a current deputy and a former resident deputy as well as a former resident deputy who is currently a sergeant. He stated that they debated issues back and forth and said it went between four and five deputies with a sergeant and support person. Clements commented that they decided to err on the side of being conservative and set the rate at four deputies, a sergeant and a support person.

Loy stated that they looked at the availability of trying to put a deputy in the district 24 hours a day; however, he remarked that there is a considerable driving distance with no actual connection between the upper end of the Mohawk Valley and the McKenzie River area and the idea of putting a single deputy to cover that district would not provide a true service to the entire district. Loy said they looked at what days of the week and periods of the day have the highest call loads and the possibility of trying to put overlapping deputies on during those time periods. He noted that this would result in reduced response times and distances. Loy remarked that this type of scheduling would not result in 24-hour coverage but would provide better coverage during the peak periods. He said they also discussed response to property crimes, something they do not currently do, and the ability to provide a plainclothes investigator for certain periods, if that is what the people want. Loy said they are envisioning a very flexible schedule that allows them to respond to the changing needs of the district.

Cornacchia asked if these deputies will be involved with traffic control.

Loy stated that would depend upon the residents. He said if people decide they wanted to have increased traffic enforcement for a set period of time, they could respond to that, however, they would not dedicate someone to traffic enforcement all the time.

Clements noted that, based on feedback from the community, this is not their interest.

Cornacchia stated that Lane County has a traffic team that is deployed based upon need and it would be his expectation that this team would be used.

Hueval said the focus of this district is to respond to crime that is not being responded to now.

Green said it would be helpful if their office could provide documentation of calls for service that would warrant the formation of this district as well as to provide any documented public comment. He asked about a cooperative agreement with the Oregon State Police to support Lane County presence in this district.

Clements stated that the cooperative agreement has already been established. He explained that there is presently one resident trooper and that Lane County and the Oregon State Police work together, as well as offsetting when appropriate, to provide some level of additional coverage. He said he will be having discussions with the state police to ensure their continued level of service and that they will continue to respond with Lane County on a co-deployed basis from the main office.

Responding to Green regarding indirect costs, Clements remarked that there is not a great deal of clarity on this issue, however, he said there is an appreciation on the part of the people regarding costs. He stated that they need to be able to articulate precisely what the department overhead is, as well as to explain the County indirect process, noting that this education will be an objective throughout the campaign.

Dumdi stated that special districts have been discussed for many years, noting that rural residents want better law enforcement activity and have a desire to apply for that protection as opposed to having the urban area impose it on them.

Weeldreyer stated that the citizens want assurances from the Board that they are not going to undermine the base level of support that exists now and are concerned that future boards would not be bound to that obligation. She stated that it would helpful if the Board made a commitment indicating that they are creating this with an intent to address future boards. Weeldreyer stressed that the success of this first district is going to determine how successfully it can be replicated for future districts.

Teresa Wilson, County Counsel, stated that as this goes through the Boundary Commission, there is an opportunity for the County and a representative of the proposed district to negotiate on the agreement that if this district is formed the issue of intent needs to be addressed. She said that she and Jones have talked about a variety of ways to demonstrate that there is an intent and philosophy for an enhanced level of service while recognizing that no one knows what will happen when the O&C guarantee is no longer a factor. Wilson stated that from the County perspective, there has to be some flexibility but from the district perspective, there has to be some guarantee that this is an enhanced level. She said this is something that still needs to be firmed up.

Weeldreyer stated that in past deficits, they have held harmless certain programs.

Cornacchia expressed concern with this suggestion, questioning how priorities are set. He stressed that the Board needs to be honest and address the upcoming deficit, noting that there are no promises with a deficit.

Clements stated that there is an appreciation by the voters that this Board cannot legally bind a subsequent board.

Jones said people are afraid the County will decide that since they will have enhanced law enforcement, they won’t need the basic level of service. He noted that, while they have their enhanced services, they would still get what they pay for in their tax base, whatever that may be. Jones clarified that the ratio says the same.

Green stated that the basic level services should always be subject to the current budget and always on the table.

Jones stated that in developing a time line, they started with the May election date, went back to the filing deadline date and added two weeks for Board action from the Boundary Commission and then backed up 120 days which is the maximum amount allowed by statute for the Boundary Commission to take action, putting them at a drop dead date of October 30. He noted that the Boundary Commission has said that if Lane County provides everything they need, they are not going to need the entire 120 days to take action. Jones noted that the Metro Plan and Urban Growth Boundary are not consistent, stating that they need a resolution allowing a special district be formed in this area. He stated that Springfield has that resolution set for November 3 and Eugene has it set for November 10. Jones remarked that the Boundary Commission will accept filing any time after they receive those resolutions. He said the Board has ten days from the date of the effective date on the order to file with the Boundary Commission. Jones commented that the City of Eugene has asked that the Board provide something that indicates that Lane County wants to do this and to request that they act on the resolution. He noted that resolutions and background material have been provided to both cities. He remarked that the only time a new district with a permanent tax rate can be formed is during the May and November elections of even-numbered years. Jones said that makes the May election the only opportunity until November. He stated that November would put Lane County an entire year behind as far as levying taxes.

Bill Van Vactor, County Administrator, asked about the status of the Boundary Commission and if they were current with the appropriate members.

Darnielle responded that there is a functioning body.

Green asked Clements about a fall-back option in case the election fails in May and requested that he provide that some time in the near future.

Van Vactor acknowledged and thanked the Department of Public Safety for their hard work to get this proposal before the Board in a timely fashion.

Wilson stated that there are two choices in adopting the order, explaining that this will have to be filed within 10 days after the order is adopted and the cities provide the resolutions. She said this can be accomplished by either making an effective date on the order of November 3 or by postponing action today and adopting the order next week.

MOTION: Approval of the Order with an amendment to add a delayed effective date of November 3, 1997.

Dumdi MOVED, Weeldreyer SECONDED. VOTE: 4-0 (Sorenson absent).

3. EMERGENCY BUSINESS

None.

There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 10:55 a.m.

 

Zoe Gilstrap, Recording Secretary

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