BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
April 8, 2003
Commissioners' Conference Room
Commissioner Peter Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Tom Lininger and Anna Morrison present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
2. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Paul Biondi, 615 38th Place, Florence, thanked the Board for getting the word out for Blues for Hues. He said the event was a success. He noted they gave over $20,000 to St. Vincent de Paul. He stated that radio station KRVM is closing. He said it is the true last voice in Eugene. He noted the Board were great for Blues for Hues and helped for other events. He asked the Board to save the radio station and keep it a voice in Eugene.
Dwyer thanked him for his efforts for Blues for Hues. He said KRVM does a wonderful service but the County is limited in what they do and he had no knowledge where there could be outreach to help KRVM. He said they should seek grants.
Mona Lindstromberg, 87140 Territorial Road, Veneta, stated she attended all of the Land Management Task Force sessions. She said in addition to possible reorganization and funding solutions missing from the Land Management Task Force Report are management logistic problems that were in the audit. She noted the task force agreed on long range planning to the health and well being of Lane County residents and their environment. She stated the task force needs to practice greater efficiency that would result in cost savings, generate additional revenue and assess the long-term benefits of spending money to make money. She suggested they look at staff reorganization. She thought it would be a better use of the County financial resources to consolidate top managerial positions, thereby providing more support for planners to do the work. She suggested forming a subcommittee of task force members to review the matters. She agreed about adding 3.3 FTE to Land Management. With regard to the funding options listed in the report, she recommended a systems development charge into the fee schedule where applicable. She asked legal counsel to review increasing recording fees. She hoped the County would develop a GIS program even though it might reassess the role of LCOG. She requested the Board support these changes.
Robert Emmons, 42093 Little Fall Creek Road, stated he attended almost all of the Land Management Task Force Meetings. He said they have to call attention to uninvestigated Lane Code compliance violations. He said the program has two compliance officers serving all of Lane County. He noted the program is complaint driven only. He stated the Land Management Task Force recommended that the program be administered in "an aggressive manner and self-initiate as well as complaint driven." He urged the Board to adopt the fee increases included in the report. He encouraged the Board to add two positions, as two compliance officers are not large enough to cover Lane County. He noted while voluntary compliance is an admirable goal, it is unrealistic and there are chronic abusers. He thought an effective program would adopt language that would indicate violations of serious matters with unacceptable consequences. He also encouraged the Board to adopt a compliance surcharge on building permits and that waste management funds be used to cover compliance related garbage problems.
Norm Maxwell, 79550 Fire Road, Lorane, was supportive of the recommendations on the lot line adjustments.
Lauri Segel, 120 W. Broadway, commented that Land Management is severely understaffed and that long range planning is needed for the health and welfare of the general public. She added the task force members also agreed that this is the time to address the legal mechanism for the processing of lot line adjustments and fees for permits. She noted the County was doing a poor job in assessing fines and fees even though they are applicable.
Stuart Mulford, 350 Pearl St., Eugene, spoke on behalf of Buford Park. He said he has been a volunteer worker for over ten years. He said in the past year he had put in 150 volunteer hours. He was concerned about the proposed fee at Mt. Pisgah. He asked the Board to avoid fees at the park. He commented if they do impose a fee, the action should include a provision that they review the first summerís experience with the fee.
Roxy Cuellar, Home Builders, 2050 Laura St., Springfield, commented there are limited revenue sources. She encouraged the Board to find out what types of revenue sources were available. She noted that SDCís were not available and in terms of planning and permits, an SDC is not an option. She noted with fees for developers and builders that state law limits to actually charges for the cost of processing.
3. COMMISSIONERS' REMONSTRANCE
4. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660
5. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION
6. PUBLIC WORKS
a. REPORT/Receiving a Report and Recommendations from the Land Management Task Force.
Greta Utecht, Management Services, commented that the group worked together well, giving a variety of opinions and positions on the task force. She noted they had to work hard on the recommendations for consensus. She said what came out was the need for more resources.
Jeff Towery, Land Management, explained they discussed the long range planning in detail. He noted they wanted direction on the extension of the long range planning programming, specifically the staffing level. He said if the Board supported this they would bring back different funding scenarios. He added they wanted to identify a more stable long-term funding source. He noted recommendations 4 and 5 from the task force are the areas that would best identify some of the long-range opportunities. With regard to customer service issues, the E-government project funded by video lottery was important to the task force. He said it would be their intent to submit that project as a candidate for funds from video lottery dollars.
Ollie Snowden, Public Works, stated that one of the outcomes of the task force was the work that Kay Blackburn, Internal Auditor, did in analyzing the Land Management budget. He said she identified which expenses each program incurred and which revenue was available to fund each program. He said some of the budget stress in Land Management is caused by the service they provide to non-paying customers. He explained approximately 4.5 positions in Land Management are devoted (within the course of the year) to providing service to non-paying customers. He said it was being subsidized by other sources. He said the task force was trying to find ways to either reduce the amount of counter service provided to non-paying customers by making information on line available or identify a funding source to help pay for this. He said the task force looked into increasing the use of the research fee provided in Lane Manual. He said what the task force recommended not doing was adding a surcharge for non-paying customers or increasing recording fees. He stated they would look for ways to provide information to customers without having to increase the amount of staff time at the counter.
Sorenson asked what the source of the funds would be to hire additional staff for long range planning.
Snowden separated the long range planning staff from the short range planning. He said by and large the development planning was to be covered by permit fees. He added they have customers who are not permit customers but they are asking for service from the county and that is an unfunded need. He said they could possibly use video lottery funds as an interim revenue source for the additional 3.1 planners who would be devoted to long range planning. He commented that wouldnít work unless they could identify a long-term stable funding source. He said that goes back to recommendation 3 and 4 on page 3 that looked at increasing recording fees for plats and subdivisions and looking at legislative changes to either allow long range planning as a legitimate use of the existing recordings fees or an increase in the $10 cap on the recording of documents.
Dwyer said there should be kiosks in Land Management devoted to land planning so people could help themselves. He thought a research fee should only apply if a question canít be answered by available information. He thought that type of program could qualify for some grants. He suggested organizing this is in a more efficient manner.
Snowden hoped they could have a one-time grant from video lottery funds that would build kiosks to improve e-government presence.
Lininger concurred that Land Management needs more staff for long range planning. He said they have to make it happen. He explained the criteria for video lottery would be job creation and workforce readiness. He noted that long range planning didnít meet any of the criteria. He said if they donít have long range planning, they would have problems in the future. He asked if Lane Countyís commitment of money to other entities to do planning needs to be reviewed. He commented if they donít come up with a way to hire to 3 FTE, then they should direct budget to come with different scenarios. He wanted to make this a priority. He stated Lane Countyís failure to fund the processing of permits is costing them money in the long run. He concurred with the recommendations of the report. He wanted more money for staff.
Towery explained with the long range planning program, they will need $200,000 in addition to what they have now to fund the three new positions. He noted the growth in their planning surcharge resulting from the rate increase would generate a portion of that. He said they were looking at $150,000 to $170,000 of additional revenue to fill out the program. He commented that without knowing if there is board support for the concept it would be hard expanding a long range-planning program. He wondered if it was wise to use their resources to come up with formal funding.
Morrison didnít think it was necessary that they hire the full 3 FTEís at this time until they figure out what Lane County would be required to do from the stateís perspective. She wanted to see what the additional revenues would be with the recording of the plats and subdivisions and the Corners Fund. She said that could tell them how close they could be to adding one person. She was concerned about giving money to planning when there are tremendous mental and public health needs.
Sorenson asked Snowden if the Board could get information on the amount of money that could be used in the Land Management Division from Title III federal funds, Waste Management, Corners Fund, the surcharge to offset the non-paying customers, the research fee and the plat and subdivision recording. He noted the pressure on the general fund would be so severe that it is not a good planning exercise for them to use. He added Land Management doesnít generate enough infractions to be self-supporting. He didnít think Lane County was doing enough to ensure compliance with land use laws and thought there should be a way to get money into the compliance program.
Snowden commented that some of the funding sources have restrictions on their use. He said he could come back with more detail given the assumptions that they could put it into long-range planning. With regard to compliance, he said they have to start with a philosophy statement and the priorities that are attached to the packet. He noted those were crafted around their existing program. He added if the Board disagrees with how they are running the program, then it needs to be reflected in the philosophy statement.
Lininger stated because of limited code enforcement resources, there would be times when all code violations could not be given the same level of attention and some might receive no attention at all. He feared that lax enforcement doesnít give enough weight to the law-abiding citizens. He noted there had been past funding from economic development funding video lottery for LCOG and for in-house land use planning. He said the amount of money they were willing to spend last year in the strategic fund was $900,000. He noted this year the fund is $300,000. He commented in the coming year there is $140,000 set aside for Land Management for the West Lane County Rural Comprehensive Plan. He suggested finding a way to fund long range planning.
Dwyer wanted to develop a program more in line with what they get paid to do. He stated people shouldnít spend time at the counter for things they could look up themselves. He said if they are going to take a more aggressive approach, they need to take the policy that if the law is not obeyed, they would be pursued by counsel. He suggested utilizing the waste management fund to clean up some of the sites.
Green commented that long range planning had been a long-term problem with Lane County. He said they have customers who have paid fees and others who have not. He said a substantial amount of Land Management customers are not paying money. He asked how they should subsidize for customers who do not pay. He asked if the Board was committed to long range planning and if that is true, they have to make sure the resources should be just as committed. He supported the kiosk and if more information is needed, it should be paid for. He suggested examining Title III funds. He said they should use a formula to determine fees.
With regard to Title III, Morrison thought it was a Catch 22 because of how they leveraged Title III money in order to get the Forest Work Camp up to where it is and the increased cost in benefits. She commented they had been as creative as they could with Title III dollars.
Sorenson commented the recommendation to fund long range planning is good. He said with regard to the Title II, Title III split, it is a discretionary decision of the County and they could increase the amount of money they put into Title III eligible projects. He suggested combining the administration of Land Management and Waste Management as a cost savings opportunity. He thought there was a relationship between land use compliance and people who are dumping garbage. He suggested increasing the use of people other than planners to provide information at the counter. He wanted to see staff work on whether there are efficiencies to save positions at the service delivery level by changing the organizational chart of the department.
Lininger commented there was money set aside for open space acquisitions. He thought that money could be freed up for long range planning. He requested that information be reported back within three weeks.
Towery reported the compliance and policy statement that the Board adopts would drive the rest of the decisions around compliance. He suggested a work session dedicated to compliance philosophies and policy. He noted a suggestion by the Land Management Task Force is that they have language in Lane Manual that allows sanitation fees in a compliance case. He said they could pursue that if that is what the Board wants. With regard to the revenue, he said the task force thought there should be more of a progressive fee schedule for planning to sign off for building permits and for complex plans amendments. He noted there was language in the fee increase that addresses those issues.
With regard to fuel break permits, Towery noted it is where the Land Management Division currently receives Title III funding and people who are paying for those permits are being subsidized by the Title III revenue that the County had allocated to that program. He said it would require a fee increase of 125%. He said if the Board wanted to eliminate the subsidy that exists, it would generate another $50,000 to $60,000, freeing up Title III revenue for allocation to another program. He said that is an option in the staff report for fee increases. With regard to lot line adjustments, he noted a detailed proposal came before the board about dealing with legal lot verifications and property line adjustments. He said the potential of pursuing the action before the Board a few years ago would be a reworking to address the issues. He noted the task force tried to identify a system whereby lot line adjustments and legal lot determinations would be classified as land use decisions and would require notice in certain circumstances. He said there would be a requirement to change language to accommodate that direction.
Sorenson said they would schedule additional time in four weeks to get more Title III information.
Snowden commented the Board had a list of funding sources for long range planning. He added the Board also wanted to look at using Waste Management funds for clean up and clean up restoration and compliance. He said he would come back with a report on that.
Morrison suggested waiting until after the budget was approved to discuss this matter.
Dwyer stated they had to analyze making Waste Management part of compliance as an overall picture. He said there was a legitimate fund they could use for clean up to help recover costs. He suggested moving forward with the things they have the ability to settle.
Green suggested the agenda team work with staff, bringing this back in a series of work sessions.
Sorenson stated the first work session should be on revenue options.
7. MANAGEMENT SERVICES
a. ORDER 03-4-8-1/In the Matter of Adjusting the Salary Range for the Labor and Employee Relations Manager in the Management Services Department.
Greta Utecht, Management Services, explained this is a request to adjust the salary for the Labor and Employee Relations Manager from a current range 42 to a range 45 or a five percent increase. She said the last two times they had hired a Labor and Employee Relations Manager, they had to be hired at the top step of the range. She said the most recent Labor and Employee Relations Manager will not be returning and she is ready to post the position. She noted there is a number of candidates she wanted to pursue but being able to attract people at the current salary would not be feasible. She added the duties of this position had increased over the past three years.
Green supported this.
Lininger supports this proposal but hoped there would be more proposals to raise managerís salaries.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 03-4-8-1.
Morrison MOVED, Green SECONDED.
b. ORDER 03-4-8-2/In the Matter of Providing an Early Retirement Incentive to Employees Qualified for County-Paid Retirement Health Insurance.
Utecht reported there is an early retirement incentive in the Lane Manual that allows those employees who qualify for County paid retirement health benefits to self-pay the premiums until they reach age 55, if they had been able to retire under PERS prior to that. She noted the PERS early retirement guideline is that you have to serve 25 years in public safety or 30 years for a general service employee. She said there are several employees who have completed the requirements before reaching age 55. She noted this was a proposal to allow the County to pay for three years of self-pay period. She said there are ten County employees who meet the requirements who would take advantage of this program to retire. She added that most who are in this category are at the top of their step and had been in their position for a long time. She said the department would be able to use the vacancy to reorganize, reclassify it downward, or leave it vacant to save dollars or hire someone at a lower level. She explained if the County decided to do this, it would be for three years. The break even point is if the position were filled immediately at four steps below where the retired person left, the payback period would be at the same three year point.
Utecht noted the department directors met and they had a split of opinion, in the decision to bring this to the Board.
Dwyer commented to create a way to induce retirement is one thing but he didnít want to hire back the same people on contract. He wanted a caveat that the people who do take this are not eligible for contract help. He thought this could create another position at a lower level that would help the economy.
Morrison was concerned that the way insurance costs are constantly changing; this could end up costing the County more.
Utecht noted she factored the cost at an increase of 15% per cent per year. She commented the concerns were around the need to re-hire a new person at four steps lower. She said they were concerned about finding quality people. She said the limitations on this going until December 31 is good because there are good people looking for jobs due to the economy.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 03-4-8-2.
Green MOVED, Morrison SECONDED.
Dwyer was not in support of the motion. He said they have to look at the negative impact of hiring retirees because some are double and triple dipping.
Green was in favor because it should be an incentive.
Sorenson asked if they could change it to an option that was more equitable to the employer side and the employee.
Utecht explained that currently the County pays an aggregate amount of $700 per month for each employeeís medical package. She added when someone retires, they only pay for the employee, not the family. She said if someone leaves earlier, the County would save about 50% of the cost of the medical benefits.
VOTE: 1-4 (Lininger, Morrison, Dwyer, Sorenson dissenting) MOTION FAILS
c. ORDER 03-4-8-3/In the Matter of Creating the Classifications and Salary Ranges for Senior Public Works Analyst, Public Works Analyst, and Public Works Administrative Assistant.
Jan Wilbur, Management Services, explained this was to address whether Lane County should re-title certain positions in public works in an effort to eliminate some of the overlap between the Admin Pro and the AFSCME positions. She said re-titling these three classifications would help them differentiate the positions in the system.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 03-4-8-3.
Morrison MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.
8. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Lininger announced a meeting of a traffic safety task force.
Morrison noted that a Mr. Malcolm on River Road wanted to have a further discussion of the assessments regarding the improvement project. She was not supportive of re-visiting this item but she was willing to bring it up today to see if there was any interest regarding re-visiting the assessments.
9. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson adjourned the meeting at 11:45 a.m.