LANE COUNTY

BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING

May 8, 2003

5:15 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 4/22/04

 

Chair David Crowell presided with Scott Bartlett,  Bill Dwyer, Francisca Johnson, Bobby Green, Sr., Mary Ann Holser, Kathy Keable, Anna Morrison and Peter Sorenson present. Tom Lininger was present via telephone.  County Administrator Bill Van Vactor and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

 

Chair David Crowell called the meeting to order.

 

II. COMMITTEE BUSINESS

 

None.

 

III. DISTRICT ATTORNEY DEPARTMENT BUDGET

 

David Garnick, Senior Budget Analyst, reported the District Attorney’s budget has three different funds for a total of $6.85 million.  He noted the largest  from the general fund is over $6 million.  He said the District Attorney’s proposed budget includes a reduction of $350,000.

 

Doug Harcleroad, District Attorney, stated there are 72 employees in his department.  He reiterated that there is a reduction of $350,000, or four positions in the criminal division of the District Attorney’s office.  He noted there are 25 lawyer positions in the District Attorney’s office. He said they have 44,300 hours of lawyer time to work with 8,000 cases.  He added with the budget cuts, they would have 22 positions working 38,934 hours.  He said it would mean they would go from an average of 6 hours per case to 5.25 hours per case.

 

Morrison asked if being down one day per week impacted his staffing.

 

Harcleroad responded it did.  He added if this turns out to be something more than a four-month hiatus in the courts, his work levels would go down.  He noted many employees were using time management on Fridays when it is slower.

 

With regard to the Child Advocacy Center, Harcleroad reported the center sees about 700 children a year for interviews about sexual and physical assaults and domestic violence cases.  He stated they were out of room and the Friends of the Child Advocacy Center, Inc., a non-profit and Lane County have had a partnership since September of 1994.  He said the County has owned the building and the Friends have raised the money for operations.  He explained the Friends have developed enough resources to build a new building with 6,500 square feet near the mental health building.  He said they have a firm bid from a contractor and he has allowed them to extend the bid twice to June 15.  He said they could build the building, but he wasn’t sure about three years of stability in the operations.  He said if they can’t do that, his recommendation would be that they not build the building.

 

MOTION: to move to tentatively approve the District Attorney’s budget as presented.

 

Green MOVED, Morrison SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 9-0 (Dwyer out of the room.)

 

IV.  YOUTH SERVICES DEPARTMENT BUDGET

 

Garnick reported Youth Services’  budget has two funds, with the total budget of over $9 million.  He noted their overall budget had only gone up 3.2%.  He stated their proposed budget includes a $250,000 proposed cut for the Pathways Program for a total reduction of $486,000.

 

Lisa Smith, Youth Services, reported besides the $236,000 they had already cut and the $250,000 recommended cut, there is a $130,000 loss of federal reimbursement revenue.  She explained that the Department of Youth Services provides assessment, probation training, counseling and detention services for all youth 12 to 17 years of age, referred by local law enforcement because of criminal behavior.  She noted in the past year the juveniles were charged with 4,063 crimes.  She stated they are funded with 62% of Lane County general fund with 38% state and federal funding.  She added of that, 14% comes from time-limited activity-specific grants.  She said they believe on a balanced approach, focusing on community safety, competency development and youth accountability.  She stated from 2001  to present, they have lost 8.45 positions at  Youth Services.  She noted they are at 73.2 FTE.

 

Smith commented that the Oregon Youth Authority had a great impact on them.  She said they limited the number of youth that could be in closed custody at any given time for a county.  She noted that on March 1 their cap was 68 youth.  She added on April 1, 2003 their cap was reduced to 40.  She said it meant an immediate return of 28 youth back into the community. She noted the kids that are committed to the Oregon Youth Authority have multiple risk factors and are high risk.  She added that 75% of all probationers who come to DYS complete their case plan without commitment to the Oregon Youth Authority.

 

Smith explained the basic service funds are given to enhance basic services offered by  the juvenile department and so far in the governor’s budget it is cut by 22%.  She said the majority of the shelter was funded by these funds.  She said there is no way they can operate 14 beds.  She stated they would have to cut seven beds.

 

Smith noted that this year they were able to secure $200,000 in federal reimbursement BRS funds to help them leverage dollars.  She added they would lose a portion of that with the loss of the seven beds.

 

Smith stated they were utilizing one of the pods for court schools.  She commented that saved them $32,000 for what they were paying in rent and they have state of the art classrooms.

 

With regard to the Pathways program, Smith explained it provides for residential substance abuse services for 28 to 34 addicted adjudicated male offenders and it is funded from the Lane County general fund.  She noted they have been working with Looking Glass to decrease the length of stay.  She said in 2001 32 kids went through the Pathways Program and in 2002, 34 kids went through the program.   She noted 42 youth would be going through the Pathways Program this year.  She reported that graduates in the first year had a 78% reduction in crime, the second year there was a 70% with the third year a 60% reduction in crime.  She added these were for youth that prior to their placement, averaged eight crimes before they get into Pathways.  She  said they were able to secure $300,000 in federal reimbursement.  She noted in the past year for the two residential programs they were able to secure $500,000 for federal reimbursement.

 

Smith reported they had cut over $230,000 in order to meet the budget instructions for limiting budget growth.   She added the cuts included the elimination of the volunteer coordinator and senior program services position.  She noted the cut to Pathways of $250,000 also eliminates $130,000 in federal reimbursements and 50% of their residential drug and alcohol capacity.  She said the cuts are over $600,000.  She reported they are in the process of losing 50% of their shelter beds on the DYS campus.  She added they have lost 100% of the OYA contract shelter beds throughout the state.  She stated they have had significant reductions in state and federal revenues and anticipate further reductions and elimination of some grants.  She reported if all of their soft dollars dry up this year,  they would experience an 18% reduction in their workforce.  She said with all the reductions, the result is more dangerous youth in the community.  She stated they remain committed to maintaining community safety to the best of their ability.   

 

Holser asked if there was some way they could put support in for the Pathways Program, should there be any money.  She wanted to highlight this to bring back later in the process

 

MOTION: to move to approve the three funds for the Department of Youth Services, highlighting the possibility of bringing back the discussion of Pathways services.

 

Holser MOVED, Morrison SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 10-0.

 

VI. JUSTICE COURTS DEPARTMENT BUDGET

 

Garnick reported  that with the Justice Courts, their total budget is $2.8 million and only $1.3 million is for operations.  He added part goes to support the rural courts.  He added the vast majority of the $1.4 million is transferred over to the Sheriffs Office to support the traffic team.  He noted the proposed budget includes a $100,000 cut that results in the elimination of a full time clerical position in Oakridge and a half-time clerical position in Florence.  He added that Florence had to eliminate one position.  He explained that both rural courts would end up having a part-time Justice of the Peace and one full-time staff.

 

Cindy Cable, Justice of the Peace, Florence, explained there is a task force that has been appointed by Van Vactor to study the issues of justice courts as the current system is out of balance, with the Central Justice Court being over utilized.  She commented that the Florence materials and services were not $11,000 as reported.  She stated that was an error.  She said they have seen a decrease in law enforcement activity in their area from the Sheriff and the Oregon State Police as they went from seven full-time troopers to one and it impacts the work load of the court and that is the reason they made the cuts they did in personnel.  She added the civil caseload has doubled in the past three years.  She commented they would never break even on civil filing fees and no one expects the state court system to pay its way.  She said they had been operating the past years under the premise that the justice  courts would be self-supporting and she didn’t think it was an appropriate policy.

 

Cynthia Sinclair, Justice of the Peace, Central Lane Justice Court, reported they also had an error in their materials and services.  She added their caseload last year hit an all time high of 32,000 cases.  She said they went from having 50 small claims per year to 500 this year so far.  She added the closure of the  circuit court has impacted them.

 

MOTION: to move to tentatively approve the budget for the Justice Court Department.

 

Morrison MOVED, Green SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 8-0 (Dwyer and Lininger  out of room.)

 

VII. MANAGEMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT BUDGET

 

Anette Spickard, Budget Analyst, reported that Management Services is a multi-faceted organization that provides services to the public as  well as critical support infrastructure to all county departments and all funds.  She noted the Management Services Department has eight separate funds in its budget.  She said they provide four key services to the public,  including Deeds and Records, Elections, Animal Regulation and the Board of Property Tax Appeals.  She added they also provide services to county departments, human resources, finance and accounting, facilities maintenance and mail and bulk purchasing for office supplies.  She said they also manage the capital improvement fund that provides for infrastructure improvements across the County for different buildings and items that are not funded with bond funds.

 

Spickard noted the largest fund they have in their budget is the general fund and they were able to increase the amount of revenues coming into the general fund in the current year by 11.3% but a portion is related to the recording fees in Deeds and Records.  She added the expenditures in the general fund only rose by 6.3% and they reduced their budget by $32,000 in expenditures.  She added they reduced the spending in the general fund by another $99,000.  She noted there is money budgeted in the general road fund to provide maintenance services at Public Works.  She reported they have a special revenue and services fund  involving tax foreclosed properties that involves the collection of dedicated monies that are associated with recording fees.  She added they have an animal regulation fund that has a decrease in resources of 27% and a reduction in funding by the City of Eugene.  She noted in order to maintain a minimal level of service in this fund, they were required to draw down all of their reserves  

 

David Suchart, Management Services, stated they are not popular on the outside because they don’t provide direct services to people.  He said when he took the department over in 1995 they had no capital improvement program. He said it provides a need to the citizens because the buildings are assets.  He said the projects they are focusing on are more infrastructure programs.  He commented he was working on keeping the mental health building as a viable asset by  moving the Family Law Department into it and making sure the building is fully utilized.  He said they are going to get involved in projects next year of maintaining the infrastructure.  He noted the greatest capital need is the people who occupy the Health Department in the annex.  He commented the conditions are deplorable

 

Dan Banducci, Facilities Manager, reported they are on track with their projected budget.  He noted that energy costs are going up by four or five percent in electricity this year and another three percent in May 04.  He added that water rates would go up six to seven percent.  He reported they have taken positive steps in taking advantage of EWEB’s energy rebate program.  He noted they had upgraded all the lighting in the PSB and LCARA and parts of the Courthouse building.  He reported that in the PSB alone, EWEB projected they would save over $10,000 in electric energy.  He stated they are in the process of upgrading their maintenance process with a new software program.  He noted they keep safety, health and necessity as top priorities for purchases and to do as much work in house as possible instead of hiring contractors.  He added they use the Forest Work Camp to save money and they have been partnering with other departments.  He said the biggest impact on their operation would be a maintenance management system operating by July 1 that would allow them to better utilize existing resources without adding people.

 

Becky Koble, Finance Management, reported the County’s financial division has provided services, addressing the most basic needs of the organization in terms of processing payroll, producing vendor payments, providing oversight of financial data and providing basic treasury management and banking services.  She stated the County had contracted out in prior years to have the external auditors come in to adjust the books and prepare and produce their financial statement and to audit them.   She said they are looking into more of a strong consultant to better support strategic decision making around County finances and delivery of services.

 

Koble explained they have re-evaluated several of their core processes and have implemented a number of changes aimed at eliminating and reducing some duplication of efforts with departments.  She noted with the current staffing level and with the pending staff reductions it will be difficult for the division to continue to significantly make progress toward the goals of improving the County’s financial reporting and their services to the departments.

 

Koble stated for several years the independent auditors had been recommending in their report to the Board that the County add a staff resource dedicated to internal and external financial reporting.  She added that last year there was a position requested submitted for this new position but the Budget Committee considered and denied the request indicating their desire to wait until the new financial services manager had been hired and had an opportunity to go through and make an assessment of the financial management needs of the organization and appropriate staffing levels for the division.  She stated that an evaluation had been completed and they developed a division work plan based on the highest financial management needs for the organization.  She noted they included a new accounting professional position in the budget that would perform a variety of complex accounting functions including developing the analysis and proposing adjustments for the year end audit, preparing the County’s external financial report and providing improved internal reporting tools to better support decision making in the department.

 

Annette Newingham, County Clerk, Elections and Deeds and Records and Board of Property Tax Appeals, reported that Elections is faced with the Help America Vote Act, a federal funded bill that will require eliminating the punch card for a change to optical scan.  She said they are working to make it possible.  She added they are going to have to figure out how to do it, as it will require more space and they have maximized their space with the current punch card system.  She projected this would take place in 2005 but because of the facility issue, they would have to do that first and then make the change.  She said they would be receiving $500,000 from the federal government to cover the cost of changing to the optical scan.  She noted the biggest challenge that the elections office faces is that election law changes are forcing more steps.  She stated the Federal Act has required that they do all validation for new voters, to ask for identification that was not a requirement before..  She said it has added additional work in their office and costs.  She added they are trying to absorb the cost with the staff they have, as general fund dependent.

 

With regard to the recording,  Newingham reported they had increased the amount .She noted in 1988 they had eight full time employees and recorded over 54,000 documents.  She added that last calendar year they recorded over 102,000 documents.  She said they now have seven full time staff because of reductions that were previously done.

 

Greta Utecht, Human Resources Manager, stated the County has a strategic plan and HR has a chief resources plan that has identified three priorities:  succession planning, training for managers and supervisors and dealing with some of the higher level performance management issues in the County.  All of those priorities were identified in previous meetings.  She added they have completed the succession plan for the County and they have an ongoing supervisory and management training curriculum.  One of their major objectives for next year is to look at the whole performance evaluation system and overhaul it.  Her concern is their ability to do that may be curtailed due to other major issues.  She reported they have been operating without a labor relations manager since January and they are in engaged in discussions in attempting to achieve a one-year extension of the current contract. She noted the proposed budget is built on the assumption that they will be able to negotiate benefit concessions of  $500,000 in general fund dollars.  Her concern is that this might be difficult to do, given some bargaining units had identified no concessions on benefits.

 

Utecht explained that benefits are a major issue in Lane County.  She noted that this year they went out to bid for a new carrier and even with the competitive environment, the costs will still go up nine percent from last year.  She added if they do go with a new carrier it will create a workload for HR and finance staff as all of the employees in Lane County will have to be enrolled. She said that questions and concerns would need to be responded to.  She explained they could end up with five different plan schedules due to the different unions.  That will add to their administrative costs. She commented that PERS is a big issue because of what the proposed changes might mean.  She said based on SB 2003 provisions, employees may no longer make contributions to PERS effective January 1, 2004 and in order to provide alternatives to employees, they are going to have to create other investment opportunities for them.  She stated they had heard from 39 employees who indicated that they plan on retiring effective June 1, 2003.  She added that over the course of the past two years, their total retirement per  year had averaged 42 to 44.  She said of the 39 positions, only one-third are funded by the general fund.  She reported they had cut positions in anticipation of state cuts and that means they are processing lay offs.  She noted they have to be processed according to bargaining unit contracts or administrative procedures.  She commented they are dealing with a highly unstable employee environment and stress and sick leave claims are up.  She stated they are slated to cut a position.

 

Mike Wellington, LCARA, reported LCARA’s current fiscal year budget is $1.590,000.  He added $200,000 was acquired into the fund balance by back billing that was owed to the agency.  He noted the money was used for capital improvements including a new roof for the administrative offices, the spay and neuter clinic, new cattery and cages, new security gate and lighting.  He stated the money was a one-time revenue.  He noted that left the operational budget for LCARA at $1,390,000 for the Fiscal Year 02/03.  He reported the total proposed reductions of $262,000 for the next fiscal year entails a $167,000 reduction from the County and $95,000 reduction from the City of Eugene.   He said the impact of the reductions will eliminate the equivalent of two FTE, loss of revenue, closure of the new cattery,  and 98% of cat-related services.  He said the County field enforcement will need to be re-prioritized to a higher level of public safety only responses. He said they are looking into more programs to generate more funding and better service for customers.  He commented their web site is the second most looked at County site next to the job search site.  He said it enables customers to search for lost pets.  He added that all animal codes are available on the web and license instructions and applications can be downloaded.   

 

Wellington reported they have a growing volunteer program that has been instrumental in public education, adoptions and fund raising.  He added a task force has been formed and has been working toward key concerns of the community and the LCARA staff and recommendations will be presented to the Board for review.  He explained a new licensing vendor program is in the final stages of completion that will help generate revenue for their agency.  He said an adopt-a-kennel program has been created and is in the final stages of completion.  He added the adopt a kennel sponsorships had already paid for the entire program.  He said that fund would assist low income families spay and neuter their animals and will supplement the injured animal fund that is sponsored by the County.

 

Holser asked how LCARA was managing to serve cities that do not pay into the fund.

 

Wellington responded they have a service agreement with the incorporated cities.  He said they handle their own animal control problems.  He added they have a housing agreement with the City of Springfield for $30,000 to house their animals.  He noted the loss of $95,000 from the City of Eugene is one of the FTE plus the operation of the cattery.  He added it would reduce their revenue and licensing that they would gain from impounds and fees.

 

Bartlett asked by downsizing to 11 employees if they would be able to protect public health and safety to the degree they need to.

 

Wellington responded by going through the cuts, they are going to have to re-prioritize.  He noted their basic function is public and animal safety and health.  He said it would have an affect on their responses and what they will respond to and how fast to address the situation.

 

Bartlett asked what the Budget Committee could do to partially restore the County’s part of the cuts.

 

Wellington said they need an extra field officer.

 

Spickard explained the amount of general fund being transferred to LCARA into the budget for next fiscal year was increased by 2½%.  She noted the increase in general fund contributions to the operations and the expenses were related to the operations with the benefit increases

 

Holser was against approving the LCARA budget at this level.

 

Bartlett asked how many more employees were needed for the agency.

 

Wellington responded they needed two more field officers in the County, a cruelty neglect investigator and an educational and special events person.  He thought that this would make an impact as well as the position paying for itself.

 

MOTION:  to approve the proposed tentative budget and to highlight Animal Regulation for the purpose of  a potential add.

 

Holser MOVED, Bartlett SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 7-1 (Lininger not available, Morrison dissenting).

 

VIII. DISTIBUTION OF NEXT MEETING MATERIALS

 

Garnick passed out materials for the next meeting.  He added there would be a pre-meeting session in the Bob Straub Room.

 

IX ADJOURN

 

Chair Crowell adjourned the meeting at 8:35 p.m.

 

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary