APPROVED APPROVED 5/5/99
March 30, 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 Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
Green noted that item 8. b. (Y2K report by Rick Schulz) will be moved to Wednesday.
2. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Jan Wroncy, P.O. Box, 1101, Eugene, reported that she had been a member on the Advisory Committee for Vegetation Management for Lane County from 1990 to 1998. She said it is a perfect opportunity for Public Works (regarding vegetation management) to reconsider whether the County really needs to be using herbicides. She said the response by staff to the audit was inaccurate and misleading. She noted it didn't take into account the legal expenses incurred by the use of herbicides, including two lawsuits against the County. She added it didn't address the hazard of where the chemicals are stored and being transported, or any other disposal issues. She encouraged the County to reconsider the herbicide issue.
The Board accepted John Sundquist's letter into the record.
3. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
4. PUBLIC WORKS
a. REPORT BACK Road Maintenance Operations Performance Audit.
Ollie Snowden, Public Works, introduced Dick Upton, ODOT Area Manager; Don Erick, ODOT District Manager; Wendy Levy and Brad Rafish from TKW, Doug Putschler and Ed Daniels, President of Admin Professional Bargaining Unit. Snowden reported that in mid-1996, the Board of Commissioners directed them to conduct a performance audit with two objectives, to study the road maintenance operations and the effectiveness of the maintenance management system. He said a third objective to the audit was added, to look at the potential for savings through partnering, collection and consolidation between Lane County and ODOT. He said ODOT agreed to pay one-half of that portion of the audit. He said in the process of doing an RFP, they had three consultants that responded. He said one criteria the Board put on the selection was that it be an unbiased audit. He said TKW was the only one that acknowledged that they would use those governmental accounting standards. He said in November, 1997, they produced a response draft and Finance and Audit looked at the draft in late 1998. He noted the Board could accept the report without comment, accept the report and give staff direction or take it under advisement and come back under another work session.
Brad Rafish, TKW, reported that he conducted the performance audit of the Road Maintenance Department. He said the performance audit is a third-party unbiased assessment of an overall operation using governmental auditing standards. He added the report is based on information obtained during the course of the review. He noted they looked at road maintenance as an organization that provides a specific service: the maintenance of roads, bridges, vegetation and other things throughout the County. He said they interviewed a vast amount of people (over 100 within the County and ODOT) and spoke with 80 people of the Road Maintenance Department. He added they looked at extensive amounts of information, but where no information was available, they had to do some estimating or forecasting. He said they made sure they understood how Lane County performed road maintenance activities. He added they believed they maintained reasonable relationships with the individuals they worked with, but there had been disagreement with how changes should be incorporated. He said they recommend that certain vegetation services and certain sign shop services be decentralized and put out into zones. He noted the organizational structure currently being used by the County is appropriate because of its size and geography. He said they also found opportunities to decentralize some additional functions to enhance or expand what the zones do. He said by delegating responsibilities to the zones, (making zone supervisors more accountable for specific areas) it would be more beneficial to Lane County. He said the vegetation and sign shop could be handled by current people or individuals within the various zones with the assistance of people that have been currently doing the work.
Rayfish said the second issue he addressed was vegetation. He said they recommended the County take a look at the current policy to review it. He said they found it was more expensive for herbicides to be applied than it was to do vegetation management in other ways. He said an assessment based on the cost benefit of herbicide application should be done. He said they believe there may be other opportunities that were more cost-effective.
Rayfish replied to a few statements that were made within the packet. He said statements were attributed to his team members that were erroneous. He said they gave everyone an opportunity to provide input. He added recommendations were made based on factual information available to them. He said change was being recommended and it is not always easy to accept.
Snowden passed out a summary table of the Public Works responses. (Copy in file)
He said they viewed the audit as a reaffirmation of the way they were already doing business, and the comments of the auditor are located on page 20 - 23 of the audit. He said they reconfirm the zone system as the most appropriate way to disperse maintenance services in Lane County. He said they acknowledged that the roads were well maintained. He said they viewed the recommendations as a fine tuning of their operations and in general they agreed with nearly all the objectives. He added they disagreed with the solution or some of the details of the recommendations. He discussed the different audit recommendations and their responses.
Snowden commented that with herbicides, they have setback requirements or buffer zones where they don't spray within a certain distance of streams. He said they are paying close to $500,000 for weed problems. He added the work they do is hand work that includes pulling blackberries around guard rails, bridge ends and litter pick up. He said that program was initiated with the agreement of the 626 bargaining unit. He said they are restricted in what they can do with the crew.
Snowden said that travel time is key to the whole decentralization issue. He said they were attempting to decentralize the vegetation functions and they had to make assumptions on the travel time saved, and there was a disagreement on those assumptions. He said the recommendation in the audit stated that all travel time should be recorded. He said they don't agree with that, and they should record travel time from when the crews leave the reporting place to the time they get to the first job.
Dick Upton, ODOT stated there had been a change in the goals or direction that the partnering effort had taken. He said at this point ODOT agrees the operational agreement, and trying some co-location efforts. He said they are cautious in terms of consolidation and see some internal cultural issues to be a barrier. He added they are interested in pursuing partnering with Lane County and will take the lead at this point.
Don Erick, District Manager, ODOT, said partnering results in better benefits and level of services for the taxpayer. He said their perspective is that they are willing to try anything and are proactively looking. He said they had implemented a collateral agreement with the juvenile program to utilize their youth litter directed funding for youth litter pick-up with the Lane County juvenile programs. He said they also do contracting with the corrections department and provide the funding for one of the three crews on an hourly rate throughout the year. He noted under the region management of striping and lineage, they employ the County for all of their non-interstate striping on a yearly basis. He said they implemented a reciprocal agreement under an intergovernmental agreement to exchange services in the Willamette basin, on the Highway 58 corridor. He said they do things on a weekly basis in terms of sharing equipment. He said they are trying to be proactive and progressive and seeking out use of the County's services and equipment. He said for the past two years their operating budget was less than $5.2 million and the reality is the situation calls for caution on an operating level. He said the next budget for Lane County will be $5.7 million.
Green noted that he wanted to hear about consolidation and the key difficulty would be cultural.
Erick responded it is more than an cultural issue as there are significant differences in the jobs the state does vs. what Lane County Public Works employees do. He said the miles traveled, volume of traffic and operation vs. maintenance are different in performing the work. He said it is a challenging proposal for him to envision consolidating under one organization as there are different tax districts and legislation involved. He added it couldn't be done quickly, and in the long term would serve the public's interest. He suggested working more closely on an item-by-item opportunity, to draw the organization closer together.
Snowden stated he disagreed with a number of comments. He said in the report on the next to the last page, (where it looks at Lane and Clackamas County) he had a copy of the Clackamas County audit and it indicates there are 1,434 paved road miles in Clackamas County. He noted that the Clackamas County numbers were wrong. He said that Lane County has about 108 people involved with road maintenance and Clackamas County has 84 people with 1400 miles of paved road. He added that Clackamas County has 160 bridges and Lane County has 430 bridges.
Sorenson discussed the recommendation from the audit on page 44, number 4 (the use of chemicals to manage vegetation), to determine whether the program should continue to operate in its present form. He added on page 14, the Vegetation Management Advisory Committee (VMAC) developed a draft program for vegetation management in Lane County in 1990. He said although the Board approved the draft plan, it had not been finalized. He wanted to know the outcome of the review.
Rayfish responded that their approach to the spray program was basic--there were many methods to control or manage vegetation in the county. He said they evaluated the efficiency to see how the spray program was being run. He said the County had made substantial investments, had purchased a spray truck, had an inventory of chemicals on hand and had gotten licensing for nine applicators. He said they believed that spraying does control weeds. He added there were very few days where spraying was taking place. He said it was expensive to spray because the County bought a spray truck and it wasn't being utilized. He said they found that based on the policy and the use of the application (or the ability to apply) this was something the County wanted to continue to do. He said the County should revisit its methodology of controlling vegetation using herbicides.
Sorenson questioned how Lane County will comply with the federal government's limitations involving the Endangered Species Act with salmon.
Rayfish said it is a situation where the Board may want to re-evaluate the best methods for the County (considering all the circumstances that are currently occurring) as it is "environmentally conscious." He said from a cost perspective, it is cheaper to spray, but there has to be some weighing of the two situations. He said the recommendation is to revisit the policy, giving consideration to what is being done, and determine if that is the best option.
Snowden said they can come back to the Board and describe how their business affects the fish. He said they have other activities that would be worse to the fish than herbicide spraying. He said the Board had accepted the previous report and Public Works had been using it as a guide to vegetation management. He said the VMAC had been working to update the plan with the intent of coming back to the Board for formal approval.
Green noted the County could contract out for work, but not for liability. He asked the Board what they want to have measured. He said there should be performance measures around essential services. He added a cost benefit analysis should be included in the number 4 recommendation, so the Board could have a separate conversation around that. He said he agreed with the departmental responses but to take full advantage of the overtime when it is appropriate.
Weeldreyer said that at least once a quarter she goes with Dough Putschler and looks at operations that the crews are doing. She said she has a great deal of confidence on how the road maintenance supervisors manage and deploy their people and equipment. She added they do try to get the most efficiencies and reduce the travel time. Regarding using herbicides, she voiced concern about actual cost-effectiveness, how it is deployed and the impact to the natural environment. She said she wanted to separate the two, to deal with the policy issue in light of the new listings. She said ODOT should take the lead as everyone is committed to working and moving in that direction.
Upton responded that they accept the leadership role at this point.
Regarding decentralization of the sign shop and the vegetation management, Morrison agreed with the recommendations. She said herbicides could be used in such a way that they do not damage the environment, and the Board should be looking at that. She agreed with hiring a road maintenance associate, but questioned where the dollars would come from. She said she would like the Board to revisit the vegetation management policy.
Green noted the County had hired Dean Stephens, as auditor, and part of the follow-up to staff would be that he would be responsible for following up and monitoring the implementations. He said he is confident that they will get to the end product that they want. He said everyone had accepted the audit, but a number of concerns were raised about certain elements.
Van Vactor suggested that Snowden, Putschler and Godson come back in two or three weeks and describe what they think the assignments are as a result of the audit, then the Board could have a discussion on whether they agreed or disagreed.
Morrison stated the VMAC did vote to accept the recommendations of the audit by a 7 to 1 vote.
Rayfish requested that either this response or another written response to the report be prepared so they could deliver a finalized copy.
5. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS
a. ORDER 99-3-30-1 Applying for a Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant and Delegating Authority to the County Administrator to Execute Grant Documents.
Green noted that this document had gone through the Public Safety Coordinating Council and it was approved. He added he chaired the Juvenile Prevention Committee and they also supported the grant application. He said it was somewhat of a time sensitive issue as it had to be received no later than April 1. He said it would be a grant the rural communities would get.
Susan Sowards, PSCC, reported that it is a block grant, so they are assured of receiving it as federal funds that were already allocated. She added if a majority of the jurisdiction in a county area agrees to this and funds things out of their high risk youth plan, then some of the jurisdictions get additional monies. She added every jurisdiction would get at least $2,500 and all of the cities in Lane County had agreed to go together with the County and apply as a group. She noted that several of their allocations did increase. She said peer Courts are under this grant.
Sorenson asked where the match money would be coming from and if there was any way to monitor the efficiency of the peer courts.
Sowards responded that the match comes from the high risk youth dollars that are pending before the legislature. She said if it does not pass, the PSCC has requested to revisit this. She added with regard to monitoring, there are funds for administration and evaluation and LCOG would do it through PSCC, as a collaborative body of all of the different jurisdictions.
Morrison noted the important thing was the monitoring. She said the one in Florence had been monitored from the first case that came in and not once were they ever asked for their information. She said she wants to know that it is working and wants information to make sure that the monitoring piece is done properly. She added that she was concerned if the state dollars don't come through and they revisit this, if the communities have their own 10%, could they not go forward.
Sowards responded that would be something that could be done. She added that none of the larger jurisdictions got any more money because everyone went together.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 99-3-30-1.
Dwyer MOVED, Morrison SECONDED.
6. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
Will take place after the meeting.
7. COMMITTEE REPORTS
a. REPORT Legislative Standing Committee.
Dwyer requested to have HB 2638, HB 2885 and SB 617 pulled.
MOTION: to accept the balance of the Legislative Committee's report.
Dwyer MOVED, Weeldreyer SECONDED.
Morrison reported that the committee's recommendation for HB 2638 originally was to oppose it. She said she was in support of it, they decided to monitor it and keep a neutral position, and watch it and address it in the future.
Dwyer stated he had problems with it because it is not good public policy and it should be opposed.
Morrison said her concern was the $80,000 amount, the annual income that is now being mandated to generate in order for it to be stated as a farm land. She said in some cases the land will not generate $80,000, but the zoning is for that. She said they originally said they would monitor it and keep a neutral position and it proceeded through the legislature. She said it was not a high priority item.
Green and Weeldreyer stated that they supported the recommendation.
Dwyer reported that HB 2885 conflicts with staff recommendations. He said it is poor public policy and suggested to monitor it and not support it.
Sorenson stated he disagreed with the language and the amendments. He said he opposed it.
Green agreed to monitor it
Dwyer noted that with regard to SB 617, it relates to pesticides and the suggestion is to oppose it and he wants to monitor it because the sponsor is a senator from Lane County.
Sorenson stated the bill had been introduced but probably wouldn't go much further than that and suggested to monitor it. He said he is opposed to the Priority 2 recommendation.
Morrison noted that the costs for this would be substantial for the County.
Burns stated if the Board takes the position to oppose, there are strategies other than testifying at the hearing that he may participate in to prevent it from getting to a committee hearing.
Green said it would be in the Board's best interest to monitor it.
MOTION: to monitor the three remaining bills.
Dwyer MOVED, Weeldreyer SECONDED.
Dwyer reported that he took the resolution that the Board passed asking for the $20 million for the District Attorneys. He said he got good feedback on it, but no commitment. He said he also spoke with Senators Wyden and Smith with regard to an alert he received about the defunding of the community development block grant monies from $8.5 million to $5.2 million. He said he let them know that it was imperative to keep the block grants and found out it failed on a 51-49 vote. He said they need to stay on top of the grant block money.
8. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
Green noted that Van Vactor went to PERS and received a letter about offsetting funds to help offset the legal expenses. He said Judge McArthur was asking for permission to use the balance of the legal fund to deal with PERS, which is about $3,000.
Van Vactor reported that the PERS Board distributed interest earnings to help fund some of the unfunded portion for the employers. He added they had exhausted the administrative route. He said they indicated they made administrative rule changes. He added it was expensive in drafting legislation and there was potential for litigation. He recommended that the Board support the use of those funds.
b. ORAL UPDATE Y2K.
The report will take place tomorrow.
9. REVIEW ASSIGNMENTS
10. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
Commissioner Green adjourned the meeting into Executive Session.
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