February 8, 2000
JOINT MEETING WITH LANE COUNTY
CITY MAYORS AND
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Lane County Fairgrounds, Meeting Room #4 - 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Commissioner Peter Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Anna Morrison and Cindy Weeldreyer present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
Bob Sisson, City of Cottage Grove; Bob Petersdorf, Dunes City; Rob Ward, Dunes City; Jim Johnson, City of Eugene; Jim Torrey, City of Eugene; Ken Lanfear, City of Florence; Alan Burns, City of Florence; David Renshaw, City of Junction City; Pam McClintock, City of Junction City; Al Peroutka, City of Springfield; Len Goodwin, City of Springfield; Maureen Weathers, City of Springfield; Fred Simmons, City of Springfield, Jan Wellman, City of Veneta, Tim Brooker, City of Veneta, Jerry Shambeck, City of Veneta; John Goodson, Lane County; Ollie Snowden, Lane County; Bob Pirrie, ODOT; Ron Hanson, City of Creswell; Ed McClusky, City of Creswell.
2. COUNTY/CITY ROAD PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS
A. County Road Fund Financial Plan Briefing.
Ollie Snowden, Public Works, reported that, in 1996 because of declining timber receipts and no gas tax increases, the Board of Commissioners developed the Road Fund Financial Plan. He said there were elements they used to set direction on road fund expenditures. He noted the Board determined that in times of declining revenue, the operation, maintenance and preservation of County roads was to receive the highest priority for funding. He added the Board set a goal to fund those activities from the state highway fund transfer, but it had not taken place. He noted the expenditures are normally $20 million to $22 million per year and the state highway transfers are only $13 million or $14 million. He reported that the timber receipts the County gets from the harvest on national timber lands was used for modernization projects, revenue sharing, economic development and assisted housing. He noted in 1998, the operating budget took a five per cent cut and without additional revenue in the future, the Countys modernization program will decline and staff would be reduced accordingly. He stated that this year it is the Boards intent to keep the road partnership funding at $2.5 million through the end of the owl guarantee from Congress. He reported the Fiscal Year 03/04 will be the end of the owl guarantee and after that Lane County will revert to a payment based on the actual harvest. He noted this past fiscal year if Lane County had been paid on the actual harvest, Lane County would have received $5.3 million and in 95/96 that amount would have been $3.4 million.
Snowden noted that for the County funds, Lane Countys share is based on the proportion of registered vehicles in Lane County vs. registered vehicles statewide. He added that percentage had decreased one-half per cent per year for the last ten years.
Snowden reported that capital expense is too difficult to forecast. He noted the Road Fund Financial Plan assumes a continuation in the existing level of service that the County is now providing with its road system, but if there is not the timber money some of the projects in fiscal 01/02 may not go to contract when they are expected. He added that money for the community development fund may not be spent. He said once the County gets to 04/05 and the timber receipts owl guarantee goes away, there will be a major drop in funding that will not be able to be replaced. He explained that House Bill 2389 (that was passed out of Congress last year) would change the projected forecast of timber receipts, extending the timber guarantees for seven years, to County fiscal 07. He said the stabilized amount would be $18.7 million. He added in the first five years, it will be about a $26 million increase over the money that is expected under the current owl guarantee. He noted the other is Senate Bill 1608. He added it has some of the similar provisions that HB 2389 does, but there are some differences. He said that 1608 would give the County less money because of the funding distribution, but Lane County would still receive $17.5 million. He added it makes the owl guarantee permanent and would be treated more like an entitlement and would go a long way in stabilizing the County road fund.
Sorenson asked about the relevance of the legislatures passage of a gas tax increase.
Snowden responded the state legislature increased the gas tax this year and changed the method of truck taxation from a weight-mile based system to a registration and diesel fuel system. He noted it had been referred by AAA and will be on the ballot as Measure 82 in May. He said if that passes (when it is fully implemented) the County would get $3.5 million more per year than what Lane County is currently receiving. He added that legislation allows each county commission to establish a local option registration fee of $10 per year and Lane County in 1998 had 300,000 registered vehicles. He said that Lane County could receive another $3 million in road fund revenue that would be available to Lane County.
B. Federal Timber Legislation Briefing.
Van Vactor reported that 1999 was a busy year with federal forest fund stabilization. He noted that Lane County gets 25% of discretionary general fund from O & C timber revenue that is equally critical. He noted that HB 2389 has passed the Congress on November 3, 1999 and Senators Wyden and Craig have put together a compromise legislation, Senate Bill 1608, that is similar to HB 2389. He thanked De Fazio who was critical in getting HB 2389 moving. He noted the administration has placed funding for this legislation in the Presidents proposed budget. He said currently there are negotiations between members of Congress and the administration. He requested the help of the cities to get either HB 2389, SB 1608, or a reasonable compromise passed by Congress. He added citizens of Lane County have been beneficiaries of the partnership with the national forest and O & C and if the cities were willing, letters of support would be helpful.
Snowden reiterated the affect of the timber legislation as more significant than the passage of Measure 82 for the County. He noted in Fiscal 03/04, if Measure 82 passes, the County will get about $17 million per year from the gas tax. He added in full implementation, Measure 82 would give the County $3.5 million more per year than Lane County would otherwise get. He noted if HB 2389 is made law, the County will get $12 million more per year than relying on funding tied to the actual harvest.
Mayor Jim Torrey, City of Eugene, said the monies need to be taken to shore up the existing road basis. He was not interested in dragging this out over a number of years. He said it needs to be maintained and he is prepared to lobby as hard as possible. He said that $2.5 million will not break the bank and hopes the County can come up with the $2.5 million. He asked what would happen in the future if the legislation or state gas tax is not passed. He added he did not want County revenues kept in reserve for the needs of the County road system. He suggested working together to get a positive solution in Washington, D.C.
Dwyer agreed with continuing the money as long as possible, but said it does not need to be a blank check. He said Lane County is shrinking and there needs to be a discussion on how to protect the citizens from what government may see as a benefit to them. He declared it is the Boards responsibility to protect those citizens.
Fred Simmons, City of Springfield, said everyone is a County resident and a strategy needs to be determined to meet the needs of all the people. He suggested pursuing the program as it is but resolving some of the issues of the Urban Transition Agreement. He said it was the Boards charge to make sure the funds are available for this year and then work with the state for resolution in the future.
Mayor Alan Burns, City of Florence, echoed what Torrey said and supported this at the County level.
Weeldreyer acknowledged the importance of the Countys funds to the cities for their Public Works budgets and to maintain existing infrastructure. She said they think if the elected officials were to work harder and more efficiently Lane County would be able to maintain the road system. She supported continuing the payment to the cities for the next fiscal year. She added the Board needs a united front to educate citizens on what the Countys needs are on road transportation. She supported working with the federal legislation, working to support an increase with the state gas tax.
Green echoed what had been said. He said it didnt sound like there was support for the County to keep the road partnership money to take care of County roads. He suggested drafting a letter to Senator Wyden supporting his efforts and if every city did that, it would strengthen the United Front effort in Washington D.C. He recommended, when receiving the partnership dollars, that Cottage Grove recognize the County for the road maintenance that was performed and to state the project was performed with Lane County road fund dollars. He added it was a way of identifying how the County is being a partner. He suggested to join together around the United Front to see if legislation can get passed and if not, having another discussion about taking care of the overall system of Lane County.
3. AREA COMMISSION ON TRANSPORTATION (ACT)
Bob Pirrie, Area Manager, ODOT, gave an overview of the slide that had closed Highway 101. He noted they are trying to get an hour opening in the morning and afternoon for tourist traffic. He said there was a meeting last night in Yachats and people are suffering financially. He added it is an ancient slide zone and it continues to happen. He noted tomorrow night at the Florence City Council there will be a presentation about the slide.
Pirrie noted the Area Commission on Transportation involves communities in an advisory capacity to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC). He added that seven of these area commissions have formed throughout the state and they have provided updates to the OTC priority listings of projects within their geographic area and there is a number of goals that was started by OTC. He discussed the stated goals and noted that seven exist throughout the state and most are a collaboration between several counties, involving up to 38 members who sit in a consensus pattern at a table. He noted that it is an input to the statewide transportation implementation program (STIP) and that is where the money is. He said there are five primary areas within the STIP where the money is allocated: modernization, preservation, bridge, safety and operations. He stated an ACT is formed with the objective of collaborative process, communicating policy to the OTC (looking at prioritization) and working intermodal transportation systems.
B. Board of Commissioners Direction to Have Lane County Public Works be the Lead Staff, January 26, 2000.
Sorenson noted this topic was taken up at the January 26, 2000 meeting and the Board discussed having Lane County and Lane County Public Works staff be the lead staff for a possible ACT. He added that Ollie Snowden is investigating that possibility.
C. Recap of LCOG discussion of January 27, 2000.
Weeldreyer reported there was a discussion and Lane County presented its position that the Board of Commissioners expressed interest for Lane County Public Works to be the lead agency to create an ACT. She added there was interest among LCOG board members to have more time to think about it and defer the bulk of the discussion to tonights meeting.
Morrison concurred with Weeldreyer. She commented that she spoke with people who had concerns about the need for an ACT.
George Kloeppel, Executive Director, LCOG, reported the LCOG Board of Directors has the same interest that the Board of Commissioners has in contemplating an ACT. He noted the primary purpose and advantage of the ACT is communication between the Oregon Transportation Commission, the department and the local community. He asked whether an ACT would serve the interests of the broad community in Lane County. He said it would improve Lane Countys relationship and level of acceptance of the commission to the needs that exist in Lane County. He noted the LCOG board wanted more time to determine what type of body made the most sense to facilitate that type of communication. He said there was a sense that there had to be some measure of representation of the interests of the cities, private sector and other providers of transportation services other than just surface roads. He noted that an issue that did not get any attention was who would take the lead in providing staff.
D. Listening Session - Comments from Cities on Proposal that Lane County staff the Commission and Recommendation on the Commission Membership.
Sorenson said the effort of the Oregon Transportation Commission inviting the formation of these groups is a way to break down some of the barriers between the policy makers at the local level and OTC level. He said it was a major improvement.
Mayor Maureen Weathers, City of Springfield, reported that it was the Springfield City Councils position that it was a good idea to cooperate in setting priorities. She added their council was concerned that a whole entity would be created to streamline a process that is already done. She reported the council thought staff shouldnt be from any one agency, and a better way to set priorities would be a disinterested third party determining allocations.
Simmons said it was consensus of the Springfield City Council to have LCOG be the active agency in the process, as it gives everyone at the table an opportunity to participate as much as they do with the LCOG Board already. He said it provides a vehicle where everyone feels they have an ownership.
Burns supported Lane County taking the lead in the ACT. On road funds, he said everyone is a county resident and the City of Florence is giving support as part of Lane County.
Rob Ward, Dunes City, said it was a good idea working with ODOT in lobbying for funds. He said that Lane County could receive a higher percentage of the funds if it was more organized as a County. He said he was reluctant to create a new body and LCOG makes sense as the leading body.
Sorenson noted that the state is providing staff money to form an ACT.
Weeldreyer commented that she sees the value of regional cooperation not just for service roads systems, but all modes of transportation. She said if a new entity needs to be created, she would rather expand an existing group than have the same people come back to form a group for a separate agency to staff. She added if this is a way of bringing additional revenues to Lane County, Lane County should be the agency that gets the agreement with ODOT to create and staff this ACT. She noted the expertise of the County is in roads, but there are other components that go into transportation besides the surface road system. She added there are a number of airports in Lane County and it is an area for economic and community development that had not been tapped for tourism and natural resource visitors. She said it would be a way of a broader group allowing LCOG staff to move forward in that direction. She suggested using the LCOG Board Meeting schedule and structure it so there is not another meeting, just bring more people to the table to discuss transportation.
Tim Brooker, Veneta, agreed with Weeldreyer on not wanting another level of bureaucracy between Lane County and ODOT. He noted on the LCOG Board of Directors there is a consensus of communities around the County, and would be the perfect forum for the ACT because it allows all communities to contribute. He agreed with making it part of the LCOG meeting.
Pirrie stated there was no directive that an ACT has to be formed. He said it was an initiative by the area and there is a system where they meet at the region once a year to look at the STIP priorities to go through the process. He added the ACT has in addition to elected officials, tribal officials, port officials, airports, and commercial businesses that are encouraged to participate in an area commission. He said there is no pressure to form an ACT, the initial charter is granted as a provision charter for the first year, so it is an opportunity to see how it works and then a group could revise their charter.
Sorenson said there are also health issues connected to mobile sources. He said that the cities are all fine with LCOG as being the lead agency.
Torrey stated it will be a benefit to have an organization and agreed with Weathers that it should be independent, as it would put undue pressure on Lane County.
Morrison noted that if the LCOG Board becomes the ACT, then the MPC will have no existence around transportation issues.
Pirrie assumed that the MPC would still look at the projects inside the metro area and those projects would be reviewed by the area commission.
Morrison stated the LCOG Board would be prioritizing projects across the system.
Pirrie noted that an ACT looks at the projects that are area-wide and the total inside the region. He noted the projects would be put into the four year STIP and ODOT would be the primary body that carried it through.
Dwyer said its not in the Countys best interest to enter into the ACT unless the County is the lead agency.
Pirrie suggested having Sorenson, the cities of Springfield and Eugene, the LTD and LCOG Board and Susan Brody from the OTC discuss the OTCs perspective, and the vision.
Weeldreyer stated if the County was the agency that administered this ACT, that there would still be the requirement for all cities and stakeholders to be represented.
Sorenson added that this might give Lane County an opportunity to look for alternatives.
4. OTHER ISSUES
There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson adjourned the meeting at 8:45 p.m.
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