minhead.gif (11357 bytes)APPROVED APPROVED 2/9/00

March 11, 1999
Commissioners' Conference Room - 9:00-11:00 a.m.

PRESENT:  Commissioners Bobby Green, Bill Dwyer, Anna Morrison, Peter Sorenson, Cindy Weeldreyer; Bill Van Vactor, Steve Carmichael, Jan Clements (arrived at 10:30), Chuck Forster, Jim Gangle, John Goodson, Doug Harcleroad, Gary Ingram, Rob Rockstroh, Pat Rogers (arrived at 10:30), David Suchart, Teresa Wilson, Paul White, David Garnick, Tanya Heaton, Mike Moskovitz and Rick Schulz. Zoe Gilstrap, Recording Secretary.


Green opened the meeting.

Bill Van Vactor, County Administrator, stated that they need to revisit the financial plan and review optional scenarios if they are to restore two years of financial stability to Lane County. He said there should be general discussion today about the future direction of the County. Van Vactor explained that the Finplan shows that because of a carryover from last year, Lane County can absorb PERS in 00/01. Doug Harcleroad, District Attorney, noted that according to a Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) memo, there are several options for making up the increase in later years and asked if that would help with reaching two years of financial stability. Van Vactor responded that they can buy stability but operating costs would go up significantly in two years. He noted that they do have the numbers from PERS as far as deferring the increase for two years and then buying it down but they have not completed that analysis. Van Vactor stated that although he disputes the amount, it does seem prudent to pay the debt and hold costs down.

Sorenson stated that there should be more reduction in FY 99-00. Responding to Sorenson, Jim Gangle, Tax Assessor, stated that he has talked to the Department of Revenue for the status of the A&T funding bill, and said the fee may go down from $20 to $15. He said the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) is pushing for $15 but he believes it will come out of the House with an increase in documents and at least $10 which will just about double the revenue for A&T. Gangle said the second issue would be timing with the earliest being either January or July of 2000. He commented that he does not want to assume that it will happen. Regarding the District Attorney, Harcleroad stated that Attorney General Hardy Myers is recommending a $20 million increase with 70% going to the GF and 30% to enhance the DA’s office. Responding to Sorenson, David Garnick, Senior Management Analyst, stated that these assumptions are not in the Finplan.

Garnick reviewed the five scenarios (see material on file). He stated that the best approach is to reduce the COLAS and inflation.

Sorenson stated that he wants all departments to show what their budgets would look like if funding was at 80%. Van Vactor explained that Lane County’s history shows that the organization is familiar with reductions. He said that 80% of a budget is personnel and that is where departments would have to look. Van Vactor noted that County Administration would need to eliminate a minimum of two positions. He stressed that Lane County is already suffering organizational stress. Sorenson said he would still like to request this as a scenario. He emphasized that he wants to distinguish this exercise from the across-the-board reductions that they have done in the past. Van Vactor said that in order to get there, departments would have to do a reduction in employees, which results in very low morale. He stressed that the organization could not weather a significant exercise at this time because it is a person-by-person activity. Harcleroad agreed, stating that during these exercises, he sits down with each of the employees to let them know that they are on the list and recovery from that takes a long time. He stated that it is a very punishing event. Dwyer concurred with Sorenson, stating that he would like to see this because he believes it will be beneficial to him as an exercise. He said they can use the other 20% as an add back package. Rob Rockstroh, Director, Health and Human Services, stated that this was a very ineffective exercise and would result in stupid management. He said the Board could not understand his department and it is complicated for those outside the general fund. Garnick said this process emphasized the need for a strategic plan because this exercise will show only what is important to each department director. He suggested that they do the planning before this exercise. Gary Ingram, Director, Information Services, echoed Van Vactor’s feelings on what this will do to department morale. He said to get through year 2000, they have positions they will probably lose with this reduction and that if he loses any critical positions, the year 2000 is done; they could not make half of the applications compliant.

Green stated that with all the talent around this table, he cannot believe that they cannot come up with the best budget option to keep this County running. Morrison stated that she is supporting the legislature. She said she does not believe everyone will jump ship for another job if they are asked to perform this exercise. She stated that she has concerns and wants to look at cost effectiveness in such areas as Public Works, the Sheriff’s Office and Vegetation Management. She said she is not opposed to cutting people but there are areas that they can look at to create savings. Morrison stated that she does not believe in shifting money from line items in a budget. She said she wants tighter controls about how much money is spent and how hours are spent, noting that the number of hours spent in meetings is ludicrous. She stressed the need to look closely at how Lane County money is spent.

Teresa Wilson, County Counsel, said one thing is apparent and that is the current workload of staff is phenomenal. She said the question that they are asking is should they buy time with this Finplan and then start the strategic planning process. Mike Gleason, Fair Board Director, suggested talking about what types of data they need to begin a policy discussion about strategic planning and then get a small group together with some of the Commissioners to discuss short-term possibilities such as rolling PERS out two years. He said this would buy time while they work on a long-term strategic plan. Sorenson suggested that the Board adopt a scenario and then have the Budget Committee decide what to do with the small amount of money that is available and keep this year as a learning process. He said that they could let the Budget Committee know that the Board has adopted a budget that gives the Budget Committee members a little wiggle room and then in return they could get on with a strategic process for the next budget process. Gleason and Weeldreyer agreed that they should keep this year as simple as possible and then have the committee work on a plan for next year. Gangle stated that the Board has an opportunity to move toward a strategic document that would allow long-term plans and commitments to determine the direction of the future and would establish a policy plan so that they would not have to focus on short term, one-year plans. Van Vactor reminded them that the Future Focus Task Force (FFTF) recommended this and money is budgeted. Rockstroh stated that he wants the plan to include evaluations and to make changes incrementally. He stressed a more planned process that includes evaluations. Green said he supports this. Van Vactor stated that his preference is Scenario 5, noting that most of the department managers agreed, with the exception of the Sheriff, who prefers a cut exercise and reallocation of resources. Tanya Heaton, Management Analyst, suggested that they do a minimal budget process by telling committee members that they have prepared a status quo process. She said that they could complete this process in a couple of budget meetings and then spend the remainder of the time working on the beginnings on a strategic plan.

There was agreement to Heaton’s suggestion by the Board. Green said that for the strategic plan, he would start with a mission statement. Dwyer said he wants policy around the practice of moving money from line items and the "spend it or lose it" attitude that occurs at the end of the fiscal year. Van Vactor noted that springtime begins the process of movement of that money or lapse. He said if the Board requests that this issue be brought before them, he will do that.

John Goodson, Director, Public Works, stated that he is supportive of scenario 5, a minimal budget process and strategic planning, but cautioned about the amount of time needed for planning. He said eliminating the COLA could be an issue with keeping or retaining employees. Regarding capital projects, he said they either need to be paid now or later and later will cost more.

Captain Tom Brett, Sheriff’s Office, stated that he also agrees with scenario 5 -- a minimal budget process and strategic planning -- but said they cannot anemically staff programs.

David Suchart, Director of Management Services, said he concurs but warned that he will be surprised if the Board follows through. He stated that there has been a lot of effort on this before, but each time they lose courage to follow through. Suchart said people have heard this same speech over and over again and challenged them to be consistent and see it through.

Steve Carmichael, Director of Youth Services, said he likes the idea of a strategic plan but does not think there is much flexibility left as far as cuts or reductions. He stated that he supports scenario 5 and a minimal budget process. He noted that by keeping inflation to zero, they are actually making a cut.

Chuck Forester, Workforce Partnership Executive Director, stated that although he does not have any general fund, he agreed with an incremental approach. He suggested keeping the strategic process as simple as possible and recommended hiring someone to move the strategic planning along. He said scenario 5 is fine but by reducing COLA it may be difficult to recruit employees, noting that the change to 14 steps has reduced people’s interest in working here.

Paul White, Director, Regional Information Services, said Y2K is an overriding concern. He said he does not like scenario 5 because it is moving the problem forward. He stated that he does not have extra time to put into the planning process. He noted that they have recruitment problems given current salary structure and 14 steps.

Mike Moskovitz, Public Information Officer, referred to the FFTF and said they really need to follow through and do the strategic plan.

Jan Clements, Sheriff, said he is concerned about recruitment, and noted the need to be cautious about a tight market. He said to be careful about reduction.

Arlene Marshall, Management Services Coordinator, agreed with scenario 5 and beginning the strategic process. She said they have possible facilitators for the process.

Green suggested that they contract for the services and look outside. He stated that there is also a need for development of a smart team, a small team to work on a realistic, trackable plan to include an internal connection such as two commissioners and two budget team members.

Heaton suggested pooling money from unfilled positions to add to the $50,000 already budgeted for a plan. She summarized that the result of this morning is to do a minimal budget process with no reductions or add packages, that the proposed budget will be presented to the Budget Committee with Board support and that there may be just one or two presentations. She said M&S will go back to zero because of the reduction in inflation.

Harcleroad said if there are no adds, grants will end. Clements asked about coming before the Board with adds, stating that he wants access either to the Budget Committee or to the Board directly. Gleason said there could be discussion at the Board level. Sorenson stated that the Board is aware of the significance of state, federal and private dollars used to augment and expand services through grants. He said he would talk to Heaton about how to keep the door open when there is opportunity for a match. Garnick acknowledged that departments would still need to bring things forward to the Board. Harcleroad said the playing field needs to be equal about who brings adds to the Board. Dwyer agreed, but saife if there is no money and they want to bring an add package to the Board, they will need to identify who they will be taking the money from. Green said not to bring adds to the Budget Committee, which will mean the Board will be hearing them on a case-by-case basis. There was agreement that there could be Board access but not on the consent calendar. Weeldreyer agreed with having adds come before the Board but said she does not want to see citizens suffer if services cannot be supplied. Morrison agreed that there will be no adds.

There was consensus for a status quo budget, a brief budget process and access to the Board for managers with additions. The agenda team will discuss how to get the strategic plan off and running. Sorenson stated that budget members should be able to retain the right to ask questions and will be able to contact departments. Per Weeldreyer’s request, Green will work with Arlene Marshall regarding goals, and encouraged everyone to plan for another leadership team meeting.

There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 11:13 a.m.


Zoe Gilstrap
Recording Secretary

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