Wednesday December 4, 2003
Downtown Athletic Club
Present: Bill Dwyer, Tony Bieda, Ollie Snowden, Doug Harcleroad, Tom Lininger, Anna Morrison, Vicki Walker, Bobby Green, Peter Sorenson, Bill Van Vactor, Jeff Kruse, Bob Ackerman, Cindy Weeldreyer, Joanne Verger, Alan Brown, Bret Freeman, Lisa Smith, Rob Rockstroh, Phil Barnhart, Terry Beyer, Bill Morrisette, and Melissa Zimmer, Recording Secretary.
Dwyer commented that Lane County and the state are in this together because they have the same constituents. He said the County is reactive and with so many things taking place it makes it difficult to plan when reacting to someone’s else decisions. He noted that AOC introduced a value-added concept to the legislative task force with graduated gross receipts. He commented he was opposed to regressive taxes. He said the state and Lane County need to work together for the common good.
Morrison noted with the cuts taking place, offenders would be back into the community. She added that the prison for Junction City is on hold until 2005. She commented that with Senate Bill 1145, Lane County never received its full cost incurred for incarceration of prisoners. She stated questions were raised in the last session about the equity as some counties were being under-funded because of methodology and Lane County was one of them. She said they have to re-examine how the funding mechanism works to make things more equitable and have funding to go along with it. She commented through Parole and Probation, they were missing an opportunity of gathering information on the DNA of prisoners. She stated because of jail overcrowding, it is hard to track serious offenders into custody.
Health and Human Services
Green passed out and discussed a document about reductions in Health and Human Services. (Copy in file.) He commented it was their best estimation as a result of the reductions. He stated that capacity had been as issue with community corrections and still remains an issue. He noted there would be $750,000 in cuts between March and July 1.
Freeman commented that the Public Safety Department is setting priorities. He noted the impacts on the residents will be significant and they won’t be able to retain the current service level. He stated they could possibly lose 14 positions if Measure 28 fails. He noted the Sheriff’s position is that he will bring things together to attempt to find a level that doesn’t just fix the problem in March, but fixes it for the next two years.
Community Economic Development
Weeldreyer explained she worked to streamline costs for the Community Development Department. She was involved with AOC on the statewide community development forum. She stated that Lane County took an active role with the Economic Development Standing Committee. She explained that in the first year, she chaired the committee and awarded $460,000 to projects that went throughout the County infrastructure in education and work force development. She added they increased the Lane Metro Partnership and increased the video lottery dollars from $70,000 to $150,000 for marketing efforts. She believed it was a way to continue to look for companies to work with existing businesses.
With regard to rural telecommunications, Weeldreyer explained the fiber optic project was an opportunity to blend business, government and education.
Revenue Options and Priorities
Sorenson noted that ten percent of the population of Oregon lives in Lane County. He said they needed to use this time as a period of reconciliation of the gray issues they are facing as a state. He suggested during the session that the Board meet with the legislative committee in the spring for an update on what is happening with the state revenue.
Sorenson commented he wanted to stretch the concept of flexibility with revenue. He didn’t want the legislators to take cigarette and beer and wine tax off the table because it is needed. He said the Board wants to make the lives of Lane County’s citizens better and they will make sure the legislators are presented with the information that is needed.
Dwyer commented that PERS needed to be fixed, but it should not impact the citizens. He said a $15 billion actuary shortfall is predicted. He asked all of the legislators what they would like to accomplish this session.
Verger commented she would fire the PERS board. She said she would make sure that everyone is at the table together for PERS. She commented there needs to be communication on this issue. She believed that government needs to be accountable and she doesn’t believe that government is accountable at the state level. She said there needs to be performance standards. With regard to economic development issues, she commented that many rural areas had suffered and they have to eliminate processes that are not fair.
Brown concurred with Verger about PERS. He noted his interest is in transportation and revenues. He hoped to be on the revenue committee. He stated there are challenges with transportation issues and in dealing with the bridge problems. He added the transportation system plays a big role in economic recovery.
Barnhart asked the Board to help with the Measure 28 campaign. He said if the constituencies understand what happens, it might pass. He thought performance was a key issue that was important for the legislators. He wanted to study general issues with the government and other department standards. He noted that PERS is an issue where they get involved. He added that health care insurance is important along with the cost of health care and paying for it. He commented that the transportation issue is another important subject and they have a $4.2 billion shortfall in repairing the state’s bridges. He stated they need to find ways of balancing the budget and they need to determine the long-term effects, even if Measure 28 passes.
Beyer wanted to work on transportation issues. She said the road maintenance issue around the state needs to be dealt with. She said that education needed stable funding. She added that health care issues are important and prescription drugs are a major problem. She said she made progress last year on prescription drugs and will continue to work on that.
Kruse stated they have to pay attention to the railway. He said they needed to make Coos Bay a good port but without trains it couldn’t happen. He said he was working on a remake of the Oregon Health Plan. He commented the plan would die unless there was a fix to it. He stated he wouldn’t stand for cuts in the human services area. He commented there was fraud with the Oregon Health Plan. He said he would be involved with PERS and in balancing the budget for this biennium. He thought the state should take back SB 1145, as there hadn’t been the savings as proposed.
Morrisette commented that unless Measure 28 passes, they wouldn’t be able to balance the budget. He thought that PERS was the number one issue. He said they have to solve that before voters will pass measures. He stated that accountability is important for all agencies. He said doing performance measures was one of the most important things for credibility in state government. He also thought that health care issues are important. He added that education and transportation for rural Oregon are key to economic development. He stated he would introduce a ballot measure for beer and wine tax that would go toward alcohol, drug and mental health treatment.
Walker explained her interests are tax reform, education, health and economic development. She commented the current tax system does not work, as there is no accountability. She stated that education funding is critical to economic development. She commented if they don’t get more jobs and start to market the community, families would disappear and if there are no children, school funding will decline.
Ackerman stated that putting the legislature with the people is important. He was concerned about PERS. He said he was looking for reduction of capital gains and stocks that could provide new investments and increase jobs.
There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson adjourned the meeting at 8:45 a.m.