BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

December 10, 2003

9:00 a.m.

(Commissioners' Conference Room)

APPROVED 2/10/04

 

Commissioner Peter Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Don Hampton and Anna Morrison present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA

 

None.

 

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Mike Newcomer, 82289 Rattlesnake Road, Dexter, stated he represented the 4H Program. He noted the fairgrounds are the only place they could have the 4H Fair in Lane County as one group. He said if the Board was to sell the fairgrounds it would split up the club. He commented that 4H is a good program for youth as it gives a sense of accomplishment. He thought selling the fairgrounds was a bad idea. He stated if the fairgrounds are gone the fair would still happen but it would not benefit the community.

 

Tamara Mosier, 90972 S. Coleman, Coburg, said she has been in 4H for eight years and she had gained leadership and community service. She said she is the president her club. She added she had been given the opportunity to go to the state and national level to meet other people. She said without the 4H Fair they would not have had the experiences they had.

 

Stephanie Land, 2705 E. 43, Eugene, thanked the Board in letting the 2003 Youth Fair go forward. She stated it was a wonderful event. She said the 4H Horse Project includes hundreds of Lane County students who work diligently throughout the year to have an opportunity to demonstrate their skills. She noted the changes that were made to the livestock facility and horse barn were wonderful.

 

Cindy Land, 2705 E. 43, Eugene, commented the fairgrounds had been a gathering place for the community since the early 1900ís. She said the fair is one of the largest events that Lane County has. She added the 4H Club has their youth fair at the fairgrounds and it is an opportunity for 700 kids to participate. She thought if the Board got an incredible offer for the fairgrounds property they should go for the money but look at replacing and making better the fairgrounds facilities. She commented that the new management had been wonderful in listening to the needs of kids. She appreciated the focused approach to the fairgrounds.

 

Christen Okray, 323 S. 22nd, Cottage Grove, stated with regard to the compliance of the Cottage Grove Speedway that six violations had not been addressed for a total loss of $10,000. She commented that Lane County has a $7 million shortfall and they are not in a position to make deals with lawbreakers. She said the speedway has been breaking laws for years. She said if Land Management doesnít work on getting those fees that there would be a loss of credibility across the board. She added that fees and fines should be administered consistently and it was inappropriate for Land Management to avoid them. She asked the Board to do something.

 

Robert Emmons, 40093 Little Fall Creek Road, stated that Jeff Towery, Land Management had decided to collect a small portion of what the County is owed by the Leach brothers for infractions to the Cottage Grove Speedway. He added Towery said he decided to refund over $2,000 collected from the Leaches. He said after considerable research, deliberation and discussion by the Land Management Task Force, it was determined that Land Management had routinely not been collecting the permit fees and fines it was due. He noted the task force unanimously recommended that due fees and fines be assessed and collected and it recommended that fees and fines be administered consistently. He thought Towery demonstrated bias and set a bad impression.

 

Norm Maxwell, 79550 Fire Road, Lorane, said something needed to be done with the Land Management Division.

 

Martin Kilmer, 1245 E. Adams, Cottage Grove, stated there was another issue connected with the Cottage Grove Speedway, the issue of the Countyís decision being remanded back from LUBA. He said no one is doing anything about it. He said they are bound to operate under the Countyís decision. He commented no one knows what the Countyís decision is. He said the remand needed to be dealt with. He was opposed to Lane County returning fines.

 

Lauri Segel, 120 W. Broadway, supported the previous speakers about the lack of compliance on the speedway issue. She asked how the County could expect other compliance issues to be carried out when deals are being made.

 

David Hinkley, 1350 Lawrence, Eugene, stated the Jefferson Westside Neighbors supports the County having the fair on the existing fairgrounds. He noted in 1995 the Fair Board commissioned a report to look at moving the fairgrounds. He said there was a survey of other fairs that had moved and most took a hit at the gate that took five to ten years to recover. He thought there was a crisis coming for the fairgrounds.

 

3. EMERGENCY BUSINESS

 

None.

 

4. COMMISSIONERS' REMONSTRANCE

 

Sorenson indicated it was Human Rights Day. He noted that Tyco was moving its company from Oregon to Mexico and as many as 300 jobs were affected by the decision.

 

5. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

 

a. Announcements

 

Van Vactor said the Agenda Team wanted the Board to review the list they prepared last year of all of the different programs and have the Board members individually come up with their proposed recommendation of reductions. He said they would have to make about $4 million in reductions. He wanted to see where the Board is in agreement to work on the deficit. He said they would present it to the Leadership Team. He noted the list was prepared last year under different criteria than they were proposing for this year.

 

Sorenson noted the Board spent time discussing how the Board was going to address the anticipated budget dilemma. He said they are sending a message to County Administration that they are not going to build into the budget the assumption that the Board is going out to the public, asking them to pay more in taxes.

 

Sorenson said the Board decided to give the feedback to the Management Team. He said that they would be putting together the budget for consideration by the public budget committee. He said they might have to make a $7 million cut. He said they would ask the commissioners to come up with their own list of how they would allocate the various funds of the County government with emphasis on the general fund and a $4 million reduction in the general fund. He wanted involvement with the Budget Committee members, advisory councils and the bargaining units.

Dwyer thought the Budget Committee and labor representatives should be represented. He didnít think advisory councils should be invited, as there could be too many people.

 

Hampton commented for this to function in a timely fashion that the Budget Committee could be observers.

 

Sorenson encouraged participation over time. He said the purpose is to talk to the department directors about the proposed budget. He said it wouldnít work unless they get direction from the Board.

 

Van Vactor noted the Strategic Plan would take a proportional reduction. He said they would look at direct services. He noted that last year they tried to match reductions to where they were happening with the direct services. He said they have to figure out where the reductions will be with support services.

 

6. CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

 

a. ORDER 03-12-10-1/In the Matter of Authorizing the County Administrator to Sign a Grant Application to the Oregon Commission on Children and Families for an Initial Planning Year for $12,000 and Four Subsequent Years at Up to $125,000 Per Year to Increase Positive Youth Development Activities and Collaborations in Lane County.

 

Alicia Hays, Children and Families, asked for the Boardís authorization of a grant application to the State Commission on Children and Families. She noted it is for money coming from the federal government for a planning grant on positive youth development.

 

Galen Phipps, Looking Glass, explained that 11 counties in the state are eligible to apply for dollars and one of the requirements is that the counties have to have a federally funded runaway and homeless youth program in those counties. He asked the Board to vote affirmatively in this matter.

 

Sarafina Clark, Children and Families, said the grant builds on existing activities on supporting youth development. She noted only one pilot project is awarded out of 11 applicants.

 

Morrison stated she wasnít opposed to applying for this grant.

Dwyer supported applying for the grant. He hoped that Children and Families would report on the grant and what it is supposed to do.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 03-12-10-1.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Green SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

7. MANAGEMENT SERVICES

 

a. ORDER 03-12-10-2/In the Matter of Providing a Status Report Regarding the Work of the Vacancy Review Committee, and Requesting Direction as to its Future Scope.

 

Greta Utecht, Management Services, explained that Option 1 would mean the committee would continue on, but only those positions that are funded before the general fund would have to come before the committee. She noted that every hiring manager who wanted to fill vacancies continued to fill out the vacancy review checklist because it is of value. She added only general fund positions would come before the Board. She said all jobs would come before the Vacancy Review Committee because if the committeeís role is monitoring process improvement and reorganization strategies, then they would want to look at all positions, not just general fund positions. She added the Vacancy Review Committee could be discontinued but a checklist would be continued.

 

MOTION: to move Option 2 of ORDER 03-12-10-2.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Morrison SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

8. CONSENT CALENDAR

 

A. Approval of Minutes:

November 21, 2003, Special Meeting, 4:30 p.m.

November 25, 2003. Work Session, 9:00 a.m.

November 25, 2003, Joint County/City Road Finance Meeting, 6:00 p.m.

 

B. Health and Human Services

 

1) ORDER 03-12-10-3/In the Matter of Delegating Authority to the County Administrator to Execute Agreements with PeaceHealth Oregon Region; Mercy Medical Center; Rogue Valley Medical Center and Providence Health Systems for Inpatient Psychiatric Services as Part of the LaneCare Provider Panel for the Period October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004.

 

C. Public Works

 

1) ORDER 03-12-10-4/In the Matter of Approving the Amended By-Laws of the Lane County Parks Advisory Committee.

 

Dwyer asked to pull item C. 1).

 

MOTION: to approve the balance of the Consent Calendar.

 

Morrison MOVED, Hampton SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

Dwyer opposed the by-law change. He didnít want the old board member to pick who the new chair was going to be. He said it was a matter of principle.

 

Merle Botge, Chair, Lane County Parks Advisory Committee, stated the Board could delete that portion of the proposal. She asked the Board to approve the other portions so the dates they meet match what is stated in the Bylaws.

 

Dwyer stated he had no problem with the rest of the proposal.

 

Botge wanted to keep Article 5, Sections 1, 2 and 3. She said she would change the date of the regular meeting and would authorize the committee to determine the dates of its own meetings.

 

Wilson suggested accepting all of the changes proposed except for Article 3, Section 2.

 

MOTION: to approve all the changes proposed except for Article 3, Section 2 for ORDER 03-12-10-4.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Hampton SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

9. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

a. REPORT AND DISCUSSION/Fair Board.

 

1) Fair Board Finances.

 

2) Future of the Fairgrounds.

 

Charles Warren, Fair Board, was concerned about rumors on the financial condition and the future of the fairgrounds. With regard to their financial situation, he said someone tried to depict the fairgrounds as being in a financial crisis. He said if they have a financial crisis, then it was news to the Fair Board.

 

He said they do have concerns as they have faced economic challenges. He said Warren Wong and staff had reduced staff from 32 to 21 people. He added they prioritized their food, beverage, and landscaping and froze their cost of living increases. He said they would break even or be in the black again this year. He noted they are one of the few fairgrounds in the entire nation that doesnít require operating subsidies. He noted the revenue for the fair this year fell short by ten percent. He added they have an ice rink that is underperforming. He said they are confident between the Fair Board and staff they could continue to meet the financial challenges in the future. He said even if subsidies are required at some point in time, the Board of Commissioners had already taken steps to meet the situation with the reserve they set up last year.

Warren Wong, Fairgrounds, discussed his handout. (Copy in file). He explained the Fair Board has had a long-standing goal of financial stability. He noted every month the financial report is reviewed. He added they also provide the Fair Board with financial measures on a quarterly basis that gives the Board a handle on what the financial status of the Fair Board is. He noted the Fair Board meets annually with the auditor (Jones & Roth). He reiterated there was no financial crisis. He said had there been, he would have gone to the Fair Board and they would have gone to the Board of Commissioners. He said the financial situation has not changed in the last three years in terms of its structure. He noted that management and the Fair Board were aware of the situation when he came on board three years ago.. He talked to the external auditor and Bill Van Vactor about their situation. He noted they had developed and implemented strategies to mitigate what he identified as a problem.

 

Wong explained that some of the assumptions that were in place include the Fair Board continuing as a public entity. He said that means they will continue to operate the facility with public employees and they are a department of Lane County. With regard to financial stability, he said that was the predominant goal of the Fair Board. He added their mission is to provide a venue for citizens and visitors to Lane County for fairs and festivals. He commented that it is a trade show facility and they have over 120 events throughout the year. He said they provide a facility for many events that can go nowhere else in Lane County. He added there are also sports events that are held there. He said they are classified as an enterprise fund so that revenues would cover expenditures. He said the County Fair that takes place in August is the event that subsidizes the fairgrounds the rest of the fiscal year.

 

With regard to Schedule A (copy in file) Wong explained it showed a ten-year period based on auditor numbers. He said for the budget that ended on June 30, they lost a couple hundred dollars. He noted the year before they made a profit. He said in the past, revenues covered expenses. He said he wanted to create more activities and greater attendance. He said when they do that they create more revenue and net profit. He said simultaneously there were significant increases in things like utilities, the cost of insurance, PERS and health insurance. He added there was an attempt to do some reinvestment in the capital facilities (infrastructure or equipment) because of the condition that some of things were in. He noted in the early 90ís the cash balance was running between $300,000 and $650,000. He added in the mid-nineties the cash was being dissipated; partly caused by the operating losses, part by the start up costs of new ventures and some of the money being used for capital reinvestment. He said during that period they saw the loss of net free revenue from the rental unit on Jefferson Street and the stabling of animals during the year. He commented their revenue streams are not systematic each month. He said there is a big infusion in August with the County Fair and the trade show facilities are maximized from September through May. He noted that June and July were down months. He added that expenditures donít follow a pattern. He said as the cash reserve was depleted, the Fair Board began to use as cash deferred revenue. He said when they use the deferred revenue cash; they use an operating line of credit. He noted the Fair Board had used an operating line of credit in the past and repaid it when the revenue came in. He said this year they hit $150,000 and that would be repaid over the next few months.

Wong indicated when he started in 2001 and identified the financial situation, he developed a work plan that the Board approved. He said they looked at all of the rates and admissions they charged to increase them as much as they could. He said the difficulty is that they do have competition for rates. He commented that part of the setting of the rates to do with the quality of the facility they are renting. He said that the Lane County Fairgrounds is not a Class A facility, but Class B. He added it is not a conference center; it is a trade show space and on the competitive market that is what they get to charge.

 

Wong stated that on the expense side he cut permanent staff by one-third. He had energy conservation projects, re-engineered work and outsourced various services that were formally performed internally. He added that every expense they pay is similar to what the private sector pays. He noted two major expenses are PERS and health insurance. He said as a government agency, they are paying public sector benefits to employees.

 

Wong said the fairgrounds have a comparative disadvantage where they budget $318,000 for PERS and health insurance for the 31 FTE. He said the comparative disadvantage is around $240,000 per year. He said for the Fair Board to break even, they have to earn $140,000 in revenue because of the comparative disadvantages.

 

Wong recalled in 2002, the Board passed an order that committed the excess transient room tax to the Fair Board. He said that money is used for capital reinvestment. He said they had been able to work on storm water projects and the re-roofing of the convention center. He added the money is also used to pay debt service on energy conservation projects and for equipment purchase. He said the money maintains the capital to a usable condition. He said it doesnít address the obsolescence issue. He added this past June, the Board passed another board order that expanded the use of the transient room tax to allow them to repay the planetarium loan. He noted the Board allowed some of the excess transient room tax to be set aside ($125,000 per year) in a rainy day account. He said they are in the process of setting that aside. He said they would have to tap into that because the last fairís actuals were not up to budget.

 

Wong discussed the financial forecast. (Copy in file). He thought there would be more events and higher attendance but it will add to the bottom line. He noted they have the commitment of the excess transient room tax to FY 07. He said the board order calls for a review in FY 06 at which time the Board would have to make a decision on whether to re-up that. He said that is critical to maintaining the viability of the fairgrounds. He thought a significant reinvestment in the infrastructure would have to take place at the fairgrounds. He noted the buildings are technologically obsolete. He thought an operation contribution for some other major intervention would have to take place. He said they would look into marginally increasing revenues by looking at ways to conserve expenses, to continue to outsource part of the fairgrounds. He said they could turn the facility over to a private contractor. He noted that there are many companies across the country that do that.

 

Wong indicated the direction he has from the Fair Board is to continue at looking at increasing revenues and containing the expenses. He added that the Fair Board and management are aware of what the situation is; that there is no financial crisis but there is a structural problem that needs some intervention.

 

Charles Warren, Fair Board, said they might need some operating contribution in the future. He said they donít foresee that if they needed an operating subsidy it would exceed $125,000, which they are putting yearly in reserve.

 

Wong stated that under no circumstances would he recommend that general fund money be used for the fairgrounds. He said the general fund is off the table. He noted the transient room tax that the Fair Board gets is restricted to the capital budget and what the Board had allowed for other uses. He said after they pay off the planetarium loan and establish a rainy day account and pay the debt service on the energy conservation loans and the purchase of two major pieces of equipment, there is about $300,000 remaining for capital. He said given the resources that are available, that is enough to keep them going. He said he was satisfied with the money they were receiving.

 

Warren said they think they could survive with this amount, but any reduction would be serious for them.

 

Bob Zagorin, Fair Board, stated he represents CVALCO. He summarized a letter from Kari Westlund. He reported that they had 26 events that had 57,000 non-local attendees. He said it accounted for 16,000 room nights on an annual basis, bringing in over $5 million. He added none of that included the Lane County Fair. He believed that a regional economic strategy that focuses on the visitor industry could be the way to generate a lot of room tax revenue as well as other taxes. He noted that Albany, Newport and Seaside are investing in their convention and business facilities and they are becoming a more significant competition for Eugene. He asked the Board to review the car rental tax

 

Warren said the Board knows that they have an obligation to preserve and protect the fairgrounds for the use and benefit for the people of Lane County. He said the Fair Board members appreciate what a special and unique facility it is. He said the Fair Board was adamantly opposed to selling any or all of the Lane County Fairgrounds. He said they couldnít sell a portion of the fairgrounds for enough money to be able to replace the facilities and continue to provide the same benefits and services to the people of Lane County. He commented they didnít think selling any portion of the fairgrounds was a viable option. He said if they sell a portion of the fairgrounds, they would have to eliminate important activities that take place at the fair. He said the revenue and appeal would be reduced and then they would have a financial crisis. He added if they sell part of the fairgrounds they would be in jeopardy of losing the logging conference, the 4H Fair and other activities that require the entire grounds and there is no other place in the county that they could hold their events. He hoped the Board of Commissioners would take the fairgrounds off the market.

 

Dwyer stated he was never in favor of selling the fairgrounds. He said the fairgrounds had never been on the market.

 

Green supported not selling the fairgrounds. He said if they donít do something different, they would continue to have missed opportunities. He commented they have a Class B facility and are trying to participate in the A League. He said they have to think differently about how they market themselves by adding more infrastructure and address issues about capacity.

 

Warren noted they donít compete for Class A events currently but it is there to be had if they had a better facility.

 

Zagorin said they are looking for leadership from the County on regional tourism strategy.

 

Hampton asked with their current facilities if they are capturing all of the events.

 

Wong said they are getting trade shows and they take less space. He said they are missing out on conferences where people come for large lecture rooms and multiple breakout rooms. He added because of the transportation system, people go where the rooms are and if Lane County had something to offer they could be in the competition.

 

Hampton asked if there was enough money to do the technological updates as part of the regular building maintenance.

 

Wong said he had been concentrating on fundamental things like keeping the roof from leaking He commented that by upgrading the Wheeler Pavilion, there could be holiday parties and they could have three times the events they currently have.

 

Hampton asked who would determine what type of center they want.

Wong responded it is up to the Board of Commissioners. He said that all of those issues would come together as the regional summit convenes and follow up takes place. He said the voters of Lane County would make the ultimate decision.

 

Zagorin commented that some believe the first step is to have consensus behind a regional economical development strategy that focuses on the visitor industry. He said they are going to talk about developing the strategy and where they go from there. He said they might look at facilities and what they need to do. He thought there would be some type of public/private partnership. He added they need better air service.

 

With regard to the attendance at the fair, Morrison asked if there was a way they track between urban and rural.

 

Wong stated they do have some of that data.

 

Morrison wanted to see the number of fairground participants between urban and rural.

 

Sorenson reiterated that the Board of Commissioners heard the issues and problems but they are in the normal course of business. He stated there is no crisis at the Lane County Fair. He said there had been a positive cash flow over the past 11 years. He said the Board of Commissioners is committed to providing motel room tax revenue to the Lane County Fair as it is in the public interest to have events there. He said they were willing to put the motel tax into the fair. He added that the Board of Commissioners would stick to a long held policy of not providing any property tax revenue from the property tax payers of Lane County into the fair. He said the Board of Commissioners rejected the offer to sell the fairgrounds and it is not for sale.

 

10. YOUTH SERVICES

 

a. ORDER 03-12-10-5/In the Matter of Renaming the Centennial Education Center (Court School) to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Education Center.

 

Lisa Smith, Department of Youth Services, explained that Court School was a new partnership to come up with something better. She noted the school started in 1997 that was originally a partnership between Lane Community College and the Department of Youth Services. She said it serves delinquent youth who are referred to the Department of Youth Services who are expelled or suspended from school. She noted they are now through Lane ESD and they provide education and special education services, and LCC continues to provide GED services. She indicated with the video lottery funds that the Department of Youth Services receives, they provide workforce development, job skills and life skills programming. She explained what came out last year during their studies of government was that they wanted to change the name of the Court School because it was representative of the direction they were going in. She said the students wanted to define more what a court school represents for them and they recommended changing the name to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Education Center.

 

MOTION: to approve ORDER 03-12-10-5.

 

Green MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Dwyer stated he was pleased to be able to support the name change.

 

Hampton commented that it was a learning experience for everyone.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

11. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

None.

 

12. EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660

 

To take place after the meeting.

 

13. OTHER BUSINESS

 

Sorenson noted the Board is setting a meeting with the Lane County Leadership Team. He said they wanted to seek a Board-initiated ballot measure, but they wanted to balance the budget with existing revenues. He said they are asking the Board to identify $4 million in savings or direct cuts across the general fund.

 

Tanya Heaton, Management Analyst, stated she updated the format they used last year with the services information sheets. She noted the departments within the general fund provided a service information sheet on each service they provided. She added there were several rounds of reductions that had been incorporated onto the sheet, titled Reductions Taken in FY 2003/04.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting at 12:00 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary