APPROVED Approved 7/28/99
June 15, 1999
WORK SESSION - BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Commissioners' Conference Room - 9:00 a.m.
Commissioner Bobby Green, Sr. presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Anna Morrison, Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Zoe Gilstrap were also present.
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
Green announced that Health and Human Services item W.9.b. on tomorrows agenda would be taken today.
2. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Barbara Reynolds, 83125 Siltcoos Station Road, Westlake, stated that she is here today to discuss the Munz property. She noted that this property is adjacent to hers. Reynolds stated that the Munz property is littered with several undriveable vehicles, hundreds of tires and mountains of trash and she has been dealing with this problem for six years. Reynolds said that she has gone through the code compliance process, noting that the property was liened in December 1997 for $14,000. Reynolds stressed that the compliance officers have done their jobs to the extent they could and yet, nothing happens. Reynolds commented that she has valuable timber on her property and worries because Munz has illegal bonfires during the summer. She said all they are asking is for it to be cleaned up.
Gail Marklin, 30549 Camas Swale Road, Creswell, stated that she lives down a long county lane and at the foot of this lane is a half acre parcel that is surrounded by cars and debris. She said the building was built without permits and has no sanitation with often five to six people living in the one-room building. Marklin stated that because there is no sanitation they go to the bathroom all around the property resulting in a very powerful odor. She said the people that live there are very scary. Marklin noted that the compliance officers are doing what they can and have slapped $100,000 worth of liens on the property. She said that all the glass in the windows of the house and cars has been broken leaving heavy pieces of glass everywhere. Marklin also noted that with all the broken cars and glass, animals or kids can be injured or killed. She said the latest group of people have moved out and this is the first time she feels that she can safely walk down to her own mailbox. She questioned why she should have to live like this and why this situation is permitted to continue.
3. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
4. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
Executive Session will be held later in the morning.
5. PUBLIC WORKS
DISCUSSION Land Use Compliance Program.
John Cole, Manager, Land Management, stated that there are two categories of problems: one is a relatively minor problem such as an individual junk car, nuisance vegetation or an otherwise responsible person being slow in getting their trash to the transfer station; the second includes properties similar to those discussed in public comment. Cole stated that the mission of the Compliance Program is to first view the property owner as a resident of Lane County and to achieve compliance and not seek punishment. He explained the process (see material on file). Cole stated that the Compliance Office could do a better job in moving more quickly from the initial letters to actually issuing a fine. He said this would result in faster compliance in the smaller cases but would create additional fines and liens around Lane County. Cole stated that he has found that when a property owner lets it get to the point that there are liens assessed, chances are that the normal legal process doesnt mean much to them. He stated that in order for those properties to be cleaned up, somebody other than the current owner would need to do it. Cole said that currently, they can lien property but the Board must decide whether or not to foreclose. Cole explained that oftentimes when these properties have liabilities associated with them, cleanup exceeds the appraised value of the property. He suggested using a part of the permit fees for the compliance program to help create a fund for cleanup. Cole also stated that they do have the ability to asses a $300 investigation fee for projects started without building permits or land use approval, noting that they have not been aggressive in collecting these fees. He said it seems clear for them to be effective, they are going to need more money for the costs of foreclosure and clean up for a sheriffs sale.
Ted Richter, Compliance Officer, stated that they are following the process but that the last step needs to be taken, which is foreclosure. He said that unless Lane County follows through with foreclosure or auctioning, this problem will not end. Richter also noted that due to the amount of staff and hours, there must be prioritization. He asked if the Board wanted them to go after the worst cases and, if so, would the Commissioners then take that last step of foreclosure, or if they should instead spend equal time going after all violations including overgrown weeds and individual vehicles.
Responding to Green, Jane Burgess, Compliance Officer, stated that over half of these cases have criminal activity involving families and children.
Dwyer stated that they need to make an effort to let people know that this will not be tolerated. He said repeated violations need to be pursued with action and that, whatever the cost, Lane County needs to make this a priority. Dwyer stated that the Board needs to find a mechanism to create a pot of money to go forward in the future.
Morrison said she finds it not only frustrating but a mockery that ordinances are not being enforced. She said that because this involves illegal activities, child welfare and land use compliance agencies should be working together. Morrison stated that if Lane County is not going to clean up these properties, then a Land Use Compliance Program is not necessary.
Green noted that there are only two compliance officers for the whole county. He said he would like to pursue properties with criminal activities.
Weeldreyer agreed that they should expend resources on the worst offenses. She suggested developing a triage of priorities for the officers. Weeldreyer said they should continue with first sending a letter of warning but then step up the process. She stated that the Board should empower the compliance department to foreclose on the worst offenders. Weeldreyer said the message needs to get out that the Lane County Board of Commissioners is now getting serious about the problem.
Green agreed that the Board needs to support the Compliance Officers.
Dwyer suggested that they take fifty cents per load from the existing dump fee and create a special fund to have the resources to clean these properties. He said the fee could sunset when the resources reach a sufficient level to adequately address these issues.
Cole stated that the Compliance Program is funded from an interdepartmental transfer from the Solid Waste fund with the remainder picked up through development fees in rural Lane County.
Sorenson asked how much money would be required to foreclose and clean up on all the properties listed in the memo within the next fiscal year and maintain an equivalent amount of money into the future for overall compliance. He also asked how much of a fee increase would be necessary if they were rigorous about funding violations in the land use code for overall compliance.
Cole stated that he could not answer that question and recommended that they prioritize the properties on the list and take them incrementally. He said that if they realize any return on a foreclosure that money could be put into a fund so that they will be in a better position to address other properties.
Sorenson stated that he did not want to base enforcement upon the equity of the property and said that is why having money going in from fees, fines and solid waste would give them the money to address all of these properties simultaneously. He requested a cost analysis of cleaning up all of these violations and having a fund to sustain compliance, stressing the importance of having an early intervention program.
Green stated that the Board is directing the Compliance Office to become more aggressive. He said the Commissioners will need to take the phone calls from constituents complaining about this enforcement. Green also asked that Cole provide a cost analysis regarding fees from Solid Waste.
Marc Kardell, Assistant County Counsel, said he has worked closely with Public Works to get appraisals. He said that because each property is different, they would need to be looked at individually because the cost of cleanup may be much higher than it would sell for at a Sheriffs sale. Kardell said that subject to resources and Board direction, they should look at doing more than one at a time and put any proceeds from a sale into a pot of money for future properties. He noted that the Sheriffs Office, when seizing vehicles, often goes for one where there is money is rather than old wrecked cars because from their experience with the seizure and forfeiture process it makes economical sense.
Dwyer stated that they should not equate the value of a piece of land with whether or not there should be enforcement. He said that was the wrong approach and he had no desire to take these properties. He suggested a revenue bond based on his suggestion of taking fifty cents from the existing dump fee, which would provide the resources to get rid of this problem now.
Weeldreyer stated that the Board needs to look at sustainability over time so that they dont just enforce it in little spurts and then have the problem creep up again.
Green concurred that the Board wants sustainability. He said to send this back to Finance and Audit with a cost analysis and then come back to Board with a recommendation on how to fund this over a long period of time.
ORDER 99-6-15-1/In the Matter of Amending Chapter 60 of Lane Manual to Add a New Long-Range Planning Surcharge Fee Provision for the Department of Public Works, Land Management Division (LM 60.850(9)) Effective July 1, 1999.
Cole reviewed his memo (see material on file). He explained that due to the impact of PERS, in order to continue to conduct long-range planning activities at current levels and not rely on general fund, he is proposing to add this 5% long-range planning surcharge on all development permits. Cole said this surcharge would amount to approximately $125 for each home built in rural Lane County. He noted that this item has gone to the Finance and Audit Committee, which recommended approval.
Responding to Green, Kent Howe, Planning Director, stated that there are two major areas of planning: Lane Countys involvement in metropolitan area general planning with Eugene and Springfield; and, a periodic review of the rural comprehensive plan. Howe said their lack of involvement over the past several years shows in proposals coming forward in metro planning, noting that the Board wants to ensure Lane County representation in those meetings. In addition, he said the periodic review of the rural comprehensive plan is mandated by state law and may result in some aspect of non-compliance if they do not participate. Howe said the positive side is that this is the primary area for the potential and opportunity to do some real planning for the County and unincorporated communities and how to develop over the next twenty years.
Sorenson asked if application of this fee is the first step toward a system development charge (SDC) where part of cost of development fee is used to pay for other costs not specific to that particular development.
Kent said this proposal is actually dedicating a funding stream to a particular purpose in planning.
Cole said the surcharge approach is more equitable to smaller homeowners because a small project is charged at a lower amount rather than a flat fee. He explained that someone adding an addition to his home will pay a smaller fee than a person building a new home.
Dwyer said his opposition to setting something specific like this in perpetuity is the assumption that it is going to be there forever, which takes away the budget choice of policy makers.
Green said it has been difficult to put anything into perpetuity because there is a budget exercise that Lane County goes through each year.
Morrison addressed her file note, stating that there has been a history of problems getting permits from Lane County. She said there was an increase in the overall building permit fees across the board a few years ago and there was an agreement that that increase was to expedite that process. Morrison stated she still questions whether that has happened. She said in the future she would like to have correct numbers in the monthly summaries from the building department. Morrison said she is having a problem adding a surcharge when people are not getting what the Board has already directed.
Cole said he is proud of the improvements that Land Management has made in their turn around time. He said last month showed an average of 22 days for single family permits. Regarding Morrisons concerns, Cole stated that he would provide accurate details of those monthly reports.
Weeldreyer asked if this fee would bring them closer to being an enterprise fund. Cole stated that it would, and this issue will be included in the overall strategic planning process. Heaton remarked there are some video lottery funds still flowing into Land Management. Weeldreyer stated that she supports the idea of an enterprise fund because Lane County needs to have a role in long range planning and metro planning. She noted that fees have gone up significantly since the amount of general fund dollars to Land Management has been reduced.
MOTION: Approval of Order.
Weeldreyer MOVED, Green SECONDED.
Responding to Dwyer, Heaton noted that this issue was discussed by the Budget Committee who directed John Cole to bring this to the Finance and Audit Committee with an increase.
VOTE: 4-0. Morrison dissenting.
Recessed at 10:35 a.m. to reconvene at 10:45.
6. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
b. DISCUSSION Adopting the 1999-2000 Lane County Budget, Making Appropriations and Levying Taxes.
Tanya Heaton, Management Analyst, reviewed the agenda cover memo, specifically the policy issues and contract list (see material on file). She noted that because the accounting system is new, there have been problems getting consistent numbers regarding FTE.
Dwyer asked about the $25,000 cash carryover in the District Attorneys budget. Heaton explained that the $25,000 has been removed and that the DA was not asking to carry that over. She noted that this was an oversight on her part and would be corrected in the cover memo.
Heaton explained that by approving the contract list now, these contracts would not come before the Board. Morrison asked if the contracts that show no respondents will come before the Board when and if they receive any responses. Heaton explained that they would not if they were less than $50,000.
Van Vactor noted that the Board could pull any contracts off this list if they would like to see them for approval.
Morrison stated that she wanted the West Lane Family Resource and both Siuslaw Womens Center contracts to come before the Board. Van Vactor said he will have each of these brought as an agenda item for discussion. Heaton said she will remove them from the order coming back tomorrow.
Heaton noted that there have been no changes in dues and memberships since the Budget Committee process.
Heaton stated that this will come back as an order tomorrow for approval, noting that she will remove the three contracts and change the language regarding the District Attorneys cash carryover in the cover memo.
This item was moved from Wednesdays agenda.
7. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
c. ORDER 99-6-16-6 Amending Chapter 60 of Lane Manual to Revise Certain Health and Human Services Fees (LM 60.840) Effective July 1, 1999.
Linda Morrison, Administrative Services Manager, reviewed this item, noting that she and Steve Lauch, Parole and Probation Manager, came up with this proposal after reviewing other counties and their fees. She said that Lauch did try to make up the $300,000 shortfall by making cuts. Morrison stated that the Domestic Violence program is not funded by any other source.
Responding to Dwyer, Lauch stated that they collect from approximately 20-25% of the offenders. He said they could be more aggressive in sanctions. Lauch stated that he hopes to add a work program as alternative sanctions for those who cannot afford to pay, noting that they do have the ability by statute to reduce, defer or eliminate the balance. Dwyer would like statistics on how many cases they waive. Dwyer said it appears that 25% will pay and 75% will go to collections or the Department of Revenue after supervision is completed. Lauch explained that the Department of Revenue is aggressive about collection after supervision.
Linda Morrison said they are adding an accounting clerk for collections who would also work with offenders to help balance their budgets, make payments and manage money. She said they should be able to increase collections while helping offenders.
Lauch explained that offenders on supervision have other responsibilities such as restitution, court order fees and assessments. He said the first priority is restitution to victims and encouraging offenders to respond to their obligation to victims. He reiterated that the Senior Accounting Clerk position will also work with non-compliant offenders and will be helpful in getting a better sense about those who are not able to pay and can be deferred. Responding to Morrison, Lauch stated that the program is attempting to integrate resources with other agencies for collection.
Weeldreyer stated that the intent of these fees is to deal with domestic violence and she supported this increase. She said Morrison and Lauch surveyed other counties and other programs and found that Lane County fees were lower than other counties.
MOTION Approval of the Order.
Weeldreyer MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED. VOTE: 5-0.
8. REVIEW ASSIGNMENTS
Not reviewed today.
9. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
There being no further business, this meeting was adjourned at 11:25 p.m.
Zoe Gilstrap, Recording Secretary
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