LANE COUNTY

BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING

May 9, 2000

5:15 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 5/1/01

 

PRESENT: Marie Bell, Verna Brown, David Crowell, Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Mary Ann Holser, Anna Morrison and Cindy Weeldreyer. Angel Jones and Peter Sorenson excused.  Also present were Bill Van Vactor, David Garnick, Tanya Heaton and Greta Utecht. Zoe Gilstrap, Recording Secretary.

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

 

Chair Marie Bell called the meeting to order.

 

II. COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

None.

 

III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

MOTION:  Approval of the April 25, 2000 Minutes.

 

Green MOVED, Brown SECONDED.  VOTE:  8-0.

 

IV. PUBLIC COMMENT

 

Brooks Fahy, P.O. Box 5446, Eugene, distributed material on cougar control.  He stated that he is the executive director of a national organization called Predator Defense Institute based out of Eugene.  Fahy said he is here today to represent the organization, which consists of over 1,000 nationally.  He said in the last few years, the kill of mountain lions has gone up dramatically.  Fahy said all of southwest Oregon is now open to cougar hunting year round. He stated that the cougar tag has been reduced from $50 to $10 causing a huge increase in hunting. Fahy remarked that several different lobbies are politically driving reports of cougar incidents in Oregon. He said ranching communities raising sheep have joined ranks with hunters to roll back Measure 18 and said they want to use whatever fear tactic they can to influence people to think that there is a problem. Fahy said as of this date there has not been one documented cougar attack in Oregon.  He said that he found out of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s record from January 1994 to May 1996, that 96.7% of all sightings and 92% of all damage complaints were unconfirmed.

 

Robert Herman, 4406 W. Amazon Drive, Eugene, stated that he has been a student of Measure 18 since it first came about and that he and Commissioner Dwyer exchanged letters at that time because he was appalled at the gutting of Measure 18.  Herman stated that he learned that cougars don’t attack people and that this is a lot of hysteria.  He said this is driven by political agendas more than it is by scientific facts.

 

Ralph McDonald, 55 Prall Lane, Eugene, stated that he is the Lane County coordinator for Protect Pets and Wildlife, an organization largely sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.  He said they are trying to put a ballot initiative on the November ballot to reduce cruel animal trapping and eliminate explosive coyote poisons.   He said Lane County voters are not in favor of animal cruelty.  He stated that Dwyer advocated for the overturn of Measure 18. 

 

Kamala Shugar, 125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene, said that she is an Assistant District Attorney in Lane County and is here to speak about the supervision of misdemeanor domestic violence cases by Parole and Probation and the funding of the Victim Advocate position at Parole and Probation.  She said that over the last couple of years, she has been a domestic violence prosecutor and has handled both misdemeanor and felony cases.  Shugar noted that misdemeanor domestic violence offenders are equally at high risk to members of the community as felony domestic violence offenders.  She stated that a simple assault in the 4th degree, which is a misdemeanor, can be something as extensive as a punch in the face that can break a nose or jaw.  She also explained that a misdemeanor domestic violence case can also be a menacing charge, which can be as serious as strangling someone and telling them that you are going to kill them. Shugar stated that supervision means that they have a probation officer looking over their shoulder at every step of their treatment.  She said many of these people are allowed or asked to return home with family and children.  Shugar stated that the domestic violence Parole and Probation advocate is only one person and doesn’t just work with the victims of people who are convicted of domestic violence crimes.  Shugar stated that this person also works with the victims of people who are on supervision for other crimes and acts as a liaison between the probation officer and the victim and between the courts and the victim and takes up where the Lane County victim services program leaves off.

 

Honorable Cynthia Carlson, 125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene, stated that she is a Lane County Circuit Judge and is here to testify in favor of the package that would keep the current level of supervising probation officers and the Victim Advocate at Parole and Probation.  She said this is an essential piece of being able to properly handle the cases that do come into court for domestic violence.  Carlson commented that she was very pleased when this resource came on line through Parole and Probation and believes they were very creative in being able to go after grant funding to provide the service for a very dangerous population. She noted that there isn’t as much success with unsupervised probation.  Carlson said that having someone looking over their shoulder and making sure that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing is crucial. 

 

Cheryl O’Neil, 24307 High Pass Road, Eugene, stated that she works at the Domestic Violence Clinic at Legal Aid and is also a Women’s Space advocate. O’Neil stated that they routinely need to get stalking orders for women even after they have already gotten restraining orders.  She explained that although they already have protection of the restraining order, they still need to go back into court to get the additional protection of stalking orders because this behavior is so difficult to control.  O’Neil also noted the importance of the Victim’s Advocate position.

 

Stan Thomas, P.O. Box 1261, Roseburg, stated that he is the Southwest District Supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Program.  He said that he has an office in Roseburg and that in addition to Lane County, he supervises Coos, Curry, Josephine, Lake, Klamath and Deschutes counties.  Thomas referred to a comment made about them trying to solicit business to kill cougar and stated that business comes their way very rapidly.  He noted that Jackson County approached him because of all the cougar problems in the urban area. Thomas said police shot and killed a cougar within the city limits of Medford the other day. Thomas stated that his people are not harsh people and work closely with the State Police, Sheriff’s Department and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and work in the same way as a fire department does; when there is a problem they are called and they respond.  Thomas noted that there are a lot a false reports filed but said they are there to check them. Thomas stated that they don’t run around using fear tactics because there are enough real incidents.

 

Cleve Dumdi, 29535 Dane Lane, Junction City, stated that he is here to talk about predator control from an economic standpoint.  He said he brought some young people with him tonight, one of whom just graduated from Oregon State.  He noted that they are interested in the sheep business and said some are already losing lambs to coyotes.  Dumdi stated that having only one wildlife specialist in the area is like trying to put out a forest fire out with a fire hose.  He said the young people should have the opportunity to get into the livestock business but that aren’t able to pasture certain areas because the coyotes are killing so many lambs.  Dumdi stressed the need for young people to get into the livestock and forestry business and said he would like to see them succeed.

 

Eric Freepons, 93545 Dorsey Lane, Junction City, stated that he farms 550 acres.  He said that upon graduating, he and his wife will raise cattle and sheep but said he will not put lambs on 340 of his 550 acres because he will lose them.  Freepons stated that trappers provide a service to him and protect his land.  He said he relies on state forestry for geese problems. 

 

Arnold Ryland, 83869 Hwy 101, Florence, Offhighway Vehicle Allocation Committee, stated that he is an advocate for responsible use of off-road vehicles. He noted the conflict over the use of such vehicles in the Oregon Dunes about ten years ago.  He said it was primarily because of noise and trespassers.  Ryland said the laws were there to stop this but that the Forest Service was not enforcing them.  He said they weren’t enforcing them because if they wrote tickets, they had to appear in federal court in Eugene or the ticket didn’t mean anything.  Ryland said there were many complaints from neighbors about off-road vehicles so he approached the Board about paying for a deputy sheriff’s salary to enforce the laws.  He said they have been paying that salary and it has been a very successful program, noting that some of the worse complainers came up and thanked him for promoting this. Ryland said they are still paying his salary, $80,000, which covers his full base salary and some additional.  He said it is a benefit to the community to have a full-time officer available and that the Sheriff can use him any time he needs him for other things.  Ryland noted that money from tickets goes right into the general fund.  He explained that the money comes from refunded fuel tax that they get back to spend on off-road purposes.  He said they have shortfalls in budget or it would have been funded in full. 

 

Ken Kentch, 88336 Collard Lake Road, Florence, he talked about the dune patrol officer allocation committee.  He said that he and several other local citizens wrote letters of support to the ATV Allocation Committee. He said while he and other homeowners not only support the dunes patrol officer in the Dunes National Recreation Area, but also depend on this position for a wide-open dunal area.  He said the area is made up of privately held property, county and federal public lands and stated that riders often leave the approved area and go onto private land. Kentch stated that most of the riders are local but some are tourists. He said riders are neglectful of home and wildlife and are often intoxicated.  Kentch said the vehicles get oil and gas into the lakes, which are a water supply.  He said that he is asking for this funding because there is no one else to call.

 

Morrison submitted a written comment on the Dunes patrol from Edwin Becker for the record (see material on file).

 

John Buchanan, 1405 Yew Street, Florence, said he protects 120 square miles with eight fire stations. Buchanan said they respond to medical emergencies in the dunes once or twice a weekend but noted that their calls are going down due to sheriff patrol. He said it will be very bad news if they lose patrol because he thinks calls will start increasing which may result in a move to close dunes to ATV thereby decreasing tourism.  Buchanan praised Deputy Boggs. 

 

Michael Garvin, 5550 Franklin Blvd., Eugene, stated that he is a forest contractor and has traveled around the northwest a bit.  He commented that sheep ranchers need to be aware that trapping is not a solution in dealing with populations of coyotes since it tends to take out the coyotes in the pack who act as breeding restrictors on the rest of the pack.  Garvin stated that you then wind up with a larger population of coyotes.  He noted that people that herd sheep do well with Great Pyrenees and other guard animals.  He said trapping is indiscriminate and that many people have lost pets in traps.

 

V. WILDLIFE CONTROL SERVICES

 

Stan Thomas, Southwest District Supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Program, stated that because animals reproduce, they must be controlled.  He said that they are trying to come up with a contraceptive.  Thomas noted that most cougars being shot now are being shot close to homes. 

 

Heaton reviewed the material.  Brown stated that she originally did not want this coming out of video lottery funds but has since discovered there is money in reserve. She said that she will change her vote.

 

Dwyer said the agriculture business is a business and needs to be viable.  He said that it is a matter of economics and stated that this is an appropriate use of the money. 

 

Motion:  To approval the $4,000 addition out of video lottery funds. 

Dwyer MOVED, Brown SECONDED.  Holser stated that she would like to see another approach rather than just shooting the animals and hopes they continue to look at population control. Vote:  8-0.

 

VI. ELECTED OFFICIALS COMPENSATION

 

Van Vactor stated that after the Elected Officials Compensation Board met and made their proposal, he received an e-mail from Judy Fitzgerald, President of AFSCME, who said she was disappointed that she had not received notice of that meeting.  Van Vactor stated that he told her he would let her know when the Budget Committee was going to discuss this item.  He said he let her know the three nights the Budget Committee was meeting, noting that she picked up a copy of the proposed order today.  Van Vactor stated that she is not here tonight to speak and suggested that they may want to wait until May 11 to vote on this item.  There was agreement to put the decision off until Thursday. 

 

Suchart reviewed the Elected Officials Compensation Board proposed salary increases (see material on file).

 

Van Vactor noted that when the Board of County Commissioners created the Justice Courts, they created the traffic team at the same time and that part of the proposal to the Board included creating a half-time Courts Administrator in the office of County Administration.  He explained that they wanted this position because there are a lot of administrative, budget and personnel actions that need to be processed.  Van Vactor stated that the Board did not approve the creation of that position and that, over time, Garnick picked up some of the duties but that the management of the offices and the day-to-day supervision fell on the justice court judges.  Van Vactor noted that at present, when compensation is evaluated, one of the key factors in the compensation system that rewards points and, therefore, compensation is supervisory authority.  He said the justices clearly have supervisory authority and that that wasn’t part of the analysis back when the position was originally created.  Suchart concurred and added that years ago they were considered four-fifths.  He said they have increased their workloads and are working full-time.

 

Van Vactor introduced the judges: Bernadette Weih, Oakridge Justice Court; Cindy Cable, Florence Justice Court; and Cynthia Sinclair, Central Lane Justice Court.  The justices gave a brief explanation of their duties and the types of cases they hear, noting that they are on call 24 hours a day/seven days a week.

 

Morrison noted that the justice courts are out of balance due to the new allocation system in the Sheriff’s Office and by adding on these salary increases, and asked how much out of balance are they and how will that be reconciled.

 

Garnick replied that it would come from the general fund.  He said that as a result of the additional allocation of the $430,000 of direct department costs, the system is going to be out of balance by about $368,000, which will be covered by the general fund.  Garnick said the general fund has covered this before but in a different form.  He explained that that part was never included in the equation because of the way the accounting was done so this is not actually a brand new cost that is suddenly arising. Cable noted that it costs money to run a civil court and that they can’t make up that money with civil fees.

 

Weeldreyer asked how much time is spent with administrative duties as opposed to trying cases.  Cable noted that she is typically in court every day except Tuesday when she does the paperwork.  Sinclair stated that she is on the bench from 8:30-5:00 but noted that she has an office supervisor.  Weih said her court has the lowest caseload but that about 20% of her time is administrative.  Weeldreyer asked about having a court administrator for the three courts.  Van Vactor replied that they haven’t done that analysis because they are adequately handling the volume and would still have the same revenue so it wouldn’t affect anything.  He noted that because the justices are paid less than the assistants are, the total cost would be more.  Morrison asked about increasing filing fees.  Cable stated that fees are in statute set by the state.

 

Linda Morrison, Administrative Services Manager, Health and Human Services, offered to call Fitzgerald regarding this issue and whether or not to postpone deliberation until Thursday night.

 

Recessed at 7:15 p.m.  Reconvened at 7:20 p.m.

 

Linda Morrison stated that she was able to reach Fitzgerald and relayed the following message: Fitzgerald stated that she does support the increase for the elected officials but would like the Budget Committee to consider the fact that AFSCME believes that compensation for elected officials should be awarded in the same manner of other employees and since AFSCME was turned down for a market study, they may want to consider that.

 

Garnick commented that the ORS citation that states that the Budget Committee has to approve the salary increases for the elected officials before it goes to the Board of Commissioners is included in tonight’s packet.  Heaton provided a summary of the effect of an increase and Utecht distributed material showing how many classifications receive compensation above the commissioners (see material on file).  Van Vactor stated that the Lane County Charter has a prohibition that only allows commissioner increases the next year after the general election and that is why there is significant language about when the COLAs would apply. Terry Wilson, County Counsel, stated that the proposed increase for the Board of Commissioners would increase their salaries to $60,000 effective January 1, 2000.  She said the Commissioners’ salary increase is not retroactive. Wilson commented, however, that there is a retroactive element for the Justices of the Peace, for the Sheriff, for the Assessor and for the District Attorney's supplement.

 

Bell said that she could not in good conscience vote to increase salaries and will vote no except for the Justices of the Peace increase who have not had a raise since 1990. She recognized the good work of everyone but said there is a shortfall and people are being laid off. Bell stated that if there is federal money, she will come back and vote for the increases. Brown talked about the Board increases and referred to their last increase.  She said the compensation committee is proposing an 18% increase plus COLAs. Brown said that she could not find a rational reason for the increase except for perhaps a county comparison, which is like comparing apples to oranges.  She said she couldn’t support it. 

 

MOTION:  To approve the increase for the Justices of the Peace.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Bell SECONDED.  Brown asked if he would amend this to go along with what staff has recommended.  Dwyer stated that as long as it goes along with the unions.

 

Van Vactor said he and Suchart were trying to follow what the prior compensation board had recommended and base an increase for the elected officials at whatever COLA is granted AFSCME and to make up for those that didn’t get them with the exception of the Justices of the Peace.

 

Van Vactor summarized the motion: commissioners receive 2% raise on January 1, 2001, the other elected officials all receive a 2% increase retroactive to July 1, 1999 and thereafter the elected officials all get the COLAs granted AFSCME for the next two years and the Justices of the Peace will get the 2% increase retroactive to July 1, 1999 and then their salary will go to $43,609 retroactive to July 1, 1999.

 

Wilson clarified that for the elected officials, except the commissioners, there would be a COLA for whatever is granted AFSCME in year 2000, 2001 and 2002.  She said that because of the charter limitation, the commissioners’ COLA recommendation is for 2001 and 2002.

 

Dwyer said that he would amend his motion.

 

MOTION: To approve the staff recommendation of a 2% increase for the Board of Commissioners, Sheriff, Assessor and District Attorney; the Board increase not to take affect until January 1, 2001 while the Sheriff, Assessor and District Attorney 2% increases to be retroactive to July 1, 1999; all elected officials to receive any COLAs granted AFSCME employees for 2001 and 2002, if any; and the Justices of the Peace salary increased to $43,609 retroactive to July 1, 1999 and 2% COLA retroactive to July 1, 1999. 

 

Green stated that he could not approve a raise when they are coming to the cliff.  He said they could revisit this issue if federal funding changes.  He suggested utilizing the funds ($357,000) to grant COLAs to employees of the organization and then hold the line for another year. Weeldreyer said she would support this motion.  Holser said she will probably abstain.  She said commissioners have no personal clerical help and stressed the level of responsibility of the commissioners.  She said they deserve exactly what the compensation board has recommended because they have a tremendous job.  Brown stated that she will abstain and hopes money will be found.  She said she is abstaining on the principle that they are not recognizing the responsibility of the commissioners.  Morrison said she agrees with and appreciates Bell’s comments.  She stated that she does not see how the compensation board could justify this especially after what has happened with the levies.

 

VOTE:  6-1 Bell dissenting, Holser abstaining.

 

MOTION: Utilize the carryover of $357,000 for COLAs.

 

Green MOVED.  Morrison SECONDED.  Van Vactor stated that they should hear from the departments.  Bell said she will vote against the motion, stating that she wants to look at Parole and Probation and the Dunes Patrol.  Brown said she would be interested in hearing everyone's proposals but that she is leaning in Green’s direction. Holser said this is their opportunity to talk about the budget in a little more detail.  Crowell said he would be leaning strongly in support of Green’s motion but he is also interested in the Dunes Patrol.  Dwyer said he could support it also but thinks it is important for people watching to have a chance for input. Green withdrew his motion.

 

VII. REVIEW OF GENERAL FUND ADDITIONS

 

Support Services

 

The additions on the Requested Budget Additions Committee Worksheet were briefly discussed (see material on file).

 

General Expense – Tanya Heaton, Management Analyst, stated that there are two requests: one from the Water Master requesting an office specialist position, and an additional request that the Board moved to the Budget Committee this morning for use of video lottery dollars for fiber optics.  Regarding the fiber optics request, Weeldreyer said this request fits better than most current uses of video lottery in that it is going to address not only economic and community development but also education. She said this $21,232 request is Lane County’s portion of the funding.  Weeldreyer said this is a one-time request.

 

Board of County Commissioners and County Administration – Heaton explained that 2% reductions were developed and included in the proposed budget.  She said reductions will affect the way business is done but are reachable and sustainable.  She briefly reviewed the additions, noting that four are in the proposed budget: a financial report to the citizens; the commissioner salary increase (which was changed by the Budget Committee); a PC for the Intergovernmental Relations Manager position and replacement funds for laptops; and the Census project for our share of the redistricting that was done by LCOG.

 

County Counsel- Teresa Wilson, County Counsel, stated that there are two reductions:  work-study funds towards a law clerk, and $2,300 in M&S.  She said there is also a $5,000 reduction of law clerk money, which was not accepted, noting that there will be a law clerk for the summer. Wilson stated that the add request to provide funds for a law clerk during the school year was not accepted.

 

Information Services – Gary Ingram, Director, Information Services, stated that there are two reductions: one for the overtime for Y2K, and one for the cost of having a consultant come in to address database administration support.  He also discussed the mix of packages including RIS and the county share of those costs.  Ingram noted that there is a need for a back-up system to replace the old system, which is about ten years old.  He stated that they have no way of managing network and need a technology fund within RIS and IS.

 

Management Services – David Suchart, Director, Management Services, reviewed his additions, stating that the administrative analyst, which is funded half by Health and Human Services is to deal with the PeopleSoft upgrades that occur every six months.  He also discussed the Maintenance and Custodian positions, noting that Youth Services is contributing to those positions.  He stated that the voters' pamphlet request is a placeholder as is the request for an Animal Welfare Officer while they are in negotiations with Springfield and Eugene.

 

Public Services

 

Assessment and Taxation – Jim Gangle, Tax Assessor, stated that there were two reductions.  He said that one was for extra help for the computer conversion.  Gangle explained that there is an addition for two appraisers to handle two different functions.  He noted that he also receives a state grant that helps cover his budget. 

 

Health & Human Services – Rob Rockstroh, Director of Health and Human Services, reviewed his reductions list, noting that the medical examiner and public health nurse reductions were not taken. He said the public health communicable disease reduction was just for the general fund portion needed to make the budget balance in light of the changes to the indirect and PERS costs.

 

Rockstroh explained that the Communicable Disease Community Service Worker support person is a Senior Office Assistant reduction from full-time to .7 FTE.  He said the sex offender piece is a very small reduction. Rockstroh reviewed the technical adjustment (see material on file) and add back.

 

Public Safety

 

Youth Services – Steve Carmichael, Director of Youth Services, discussed his additions.  He talked about the need for more security, noting increasing incidents with adults out of control in court.  Carmichael stated that the other additions are for three items that were in the last levy that dealt with capacity including opening a second pod, shelter beds and beds for girls.

 

District Attorney- Doug Harcleroad, District Attorney, stated that he has no additions.  He said the reduction is for a criminal prosecution extra help position.  Harcleroad said he will leave unfilled positions open and hire cheaper extra help.  He noted that the Office Assistant One position would result in a layoff of a person.  Harcleroad commented that there is also a reduction in overtime for clerical staff and investigators. He distributed material outlining a reduction alternative scenario, which will reduce the materials and services budget in order to keep the OA position.

 

Justice Courts – This add is for training money that would rotate between courts. It has been included in the budget.

 

Sheriff’s Office – Sheriff Jan Clements stated that they had a no growth budget even though they could grow 1%.  He said that in order to balance the budget to the allowed growth budget, he needed to make necessary cuts. Clements discussed his reduction requests (see material on file). Morrison asked for an actual list of line items.  Rick Schulz, Chief Financial Officer, said he would provide the line item information they used when they made their decisions.  Clements distributed more material to illustrate growth of their expenses (see material on file).  Schulz explained that costs went up 19.9%, noting that benefit costs have increased substantially.  He also said that Senate Bill 1145 has proven to be very expensive.

 

Regarding the INET detective, Clements said he is cutting this only because he has no where else to cut.  Clements introduced Lieutenant Pete Kerns, Eugene Police Department, to discuss INET.  Kerns stated that the history of meth labs in Lane County goes back 50 years.  He said in the last few years, they have gone to lengths to work with businesses that provide materials that could be used for meth labs.  Kerns stated that in 1998, they found 80 meth labs in Lane County, which is a fraction of the undetected meth labs.   He noted that another growing problem is the heroin trade.  Kerns said they are ineffective in pursuing professional heroin trackers due to spending their time on meth labs.  He said if INET loses Lane County as a partner, the INET board would have to have discussions about how to do business in the county without representation of Lane County plus the elimination of 10% of the unit.

 

Clements stated that if the Forest Work Camp is not going to be fully operated and allowed to deteriorate, then they ought to get out now.  He said he would like a sinking fund for capital assets throughout the County. Dwyer said there should be a modest measure to include some capital improvement. Weeldreyer commented that constituents consistently tell her that public safety should be Lane County's number one funding priority and should not be required to make cuts.  She said that she would rather look at other things in the general fund. 

 

Garnick distributed material showing the general fund 2% reduction exercise. Van Vactor stated that the 2% COLA is in the finplan but is not in the budget.  Garnick explained that if a COLA is in the budget, the funding needs to be shown. He explained that there is money in cash carryover but using that would only result in an increase in the deficit.  

 

VIII. NEXT MEETING

 

Thursday, May 11, 2000

Board of Commissioners’ Conference Room

 

IX. ADJOURN

 

There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 10:32 p.m.

 

Zoe Gilstrap, Recording Secretary

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