LANE COUNTY

BUDGET COMMITTEE

April 22, 2004

5:15 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 4/14/04

 

Chair David Crowell presided with Scott Bartlett, Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Don Hampton,

Mary Ann Holser, Francisca Johnson, Kathy Keable, Anna Morrison and Peter Sorenson present.

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

Approval of Lane County Budget Committee minutes

May 6, 2003, 5:15 p.m.

May 8, 2003, 5:15 p.m.

May 13, 2003, 5:15 p.m.

May 15, 2003, 5:15 p.m.

May 20, 2003, 5:15 p.m.

 

MOTION:  to approve the minutes of the Lane County Budget Committee.

 

Green MOVED, Johnson SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 8-0 (Sorenson and Bartlett out of room).

 

III. COUNTY OVERVIEW

Review Charter and Statutes

 

Teresa Wilson, County Counsel, passed out copies of the Home Rule Chapter (copy in file).  She explained the County Charter is the County Constitution.  She said the County adopts ordinances that are County laws and they are codified in the Lane Code.  She noted the Board of County Commissioners have both legislative and administrative authority and it is the Board of Commissioners that adopt the administrative rules that apply to the County by board order, codified in the Lane Manual.  She added that Lane County had given the County Administrator authority to adopt administrative procedures. She said that applies internally to the operation of County government, but it doesn’t affect the relationship the County has with its citizens.

 

Wilson recalled that Oregon became a state in 1859 and the Oregon Constitution was amended in 1906 to permit cities to adopt home rule charters.  She said it wasn’t until 1958 that there was a similar constitutional amendment to permit counties to have Home Rule Charters.  She noted that constitution provision is Article 6, Section 10 of the Oregon Constitution.  She said the constitution goes on to prohibit the County charter from affecting judges, justices of the peace or district attorneys.  She said it further preserves the initiative and referendum power of the voters of a county.  She noted that only nine of the 36 counties in Oregon have home rule charters.  She indicated that Lane County was the first in 1962.

 

Wilson explained in a general law county, a 3-person group governs. She said they could either have a county judge and two county commissioners or three county commissioners.  She said they also have elected officials in the sheriff, clerk, treasurer, assessor and the surveyor.  She said for a home rule county, it is up to the voters.  She added the voters decide but under the constitution, the charter has to prescribe where all of the functions and duties that statutory counties have are going to happen.  She said the reason Lane County wanted a home rule charter was that it was perceived as a way to not have to get state legislative approval for any statutory change that was needed in order to effect county operations.  She said the power could be centralized with the Board of County Commissioners so that all the county departments were administered and governed by the Board or a manager form of government.  She said in Lane County, the authority is vested in the Board of Commissioners for most things except there is still an elected sheriff and assessor.  She indicated that after 1973, general law counties gained the same powers as home ruled counties.  She said there was a state statute that was adopted that presides within the governing body over matters of county concern to the fullest extent allowed by the Constitution as fully as if each particular power was listed.

 

Wilson explained that County Home Rule authority is broad.  She said Chapter 2, Section 5, states the County shall have authority over matters of county concern to the full extent granted and allowed by the laws of the United States or the same as Oregon.  She added in 1978 the Supreme Court rendered a decision that greatly restricts this broad view of home rule powers.  She said the County charter authority is pre-empted in favor of state law with respect to matters of substantive social, economic or regulatory objectives of the state.  She noted the state legislature controls a lot of substantive areas for both general law and home ruled counties.

 

Wilson noted authorities had been delegated to a variety of county departments and the commissioners were given authority to change the organization with the exception of the sheriff and the county assessor.  She said the charter makes it clear that a function performed by the sheriff or that an elected official cannot remove the assessor without either a vote of the people or agreement.

 

Wilson recalled that Ballot Measure 30 amended Article 11 of the Oregon Constitution and that provision requires the state to pay local governments for cost of the newly mandated state programs or increased levels of service but there are exceptions.  She noted whenever a new law is approved by three-fifths of each house, the new law is exempt from this requirement.  She added that any new or changed crimes or criminal sentences are exempt and new programs pursuant to federal actions are exempt.

 

Van Vactor explained that a general-purpose government is one operating at the level closest to the citizens compared to state or federal government.  He said it means that county governments are problem solvers.  He noted in 1962 Lane County consisted of nine departments and now has 14.  He said the cities envision county government to have a broad range of responsibilities and take on multiple tasks.  He said as a provider of services at the first level, county government has to solve problems.  He noted the legislature keeps adding functions.  He stated for the past two or three AOC conferences, AOC had been wrestling with what the mission of County government is.  He said AOC’s vision has been providing that county governments are the convenor to solve problems, but they are not the problem solvers.  He commented that according to citizens, government spending should be controlled and they have enacted restraints on the growth of the finances of Oregon government.  He added there has been no elimination of any of the responsibilities of functions that governments are expected to perform.

 

Wilson explained that Washington County (as part of its strategic plan,) has indicated that they cannot, because of financial constraints, be all things to all people.  She said they have set up a structure for evaluating what services it will and will not provide.

 

Dwyer commented in order for Lane County to change its purpose, they would have to change the charter and it would be the people who would have to determine what structure they want.  He said they would be continuing a general-purpose government.  He added as they face budget problems, they are less of a general-purpose government.

 

Dwyer said they provide service to the residents of Lane County who live within the incorporated areas of the county that are charted by the state to provide services for where they are not reimbursed by the taxing authority.  He said Lane County was doing the best they could to balance the budget, but what makes it difficult is finding  the money.

 

IV. MAJOR COST DRIVERS

 

Greta Utecht, Human Resources Director, gave a presentation on salaries. (Copy in file).

 

Karen Artiaco, Risk and Benefits Manager, gave a presentation on benefits.  (Copy in file).

 

Frank Forbes, Labor Employee Relations Manager, gave a presentation on employee groups. (Copy in file).

 

Dave Garnick, Senior Management Analyst, gave a report on FTE comparison.  (Copy in file).

 

V. FINANCIAL FORECAST

 

Garnick reported on the five-year general fund.  He said they spend close to what the resources are.  With regard to general fund resources, he said that taxes and assessments are almost 28per cent of the budget with fees and charges only 5.5 per cent.  He noted that federal revenue is a quarter of the budget and grants and permits are nine percent.  He added that state revenue is 14 per cent with the internal administrative charges being almost 10 per cent and the fund balance being 8.5 per cent.

 

With regard to Assessment and Taxation, Garnick said the revenue will be about $25.6 million for next year, including current and prior year taxes.  He noted that 76 per cent of the car rental tax goes to the Parks Department.  He noted it was up six percent from the current year.  He added that fees are going down.  He explained they moved Information Services Department into their own fund and they took $7 million in fees with them.  He said federal revenue is starting to drop off.  He said out of $14.5 million (or 61 per cent of federal dollars of the O & C money) another $5 million comes from the Title 2 and Title 3.  He noted the federal safety net program makes up about 80 per cent of the federal money.  He added this is the money that is at risk if Congress doesn’t renew the act.

 

Garnick indicated that state revenue is 14 per cent of the general fund or $13.5 million for next year, with 70 per cent coming from grants.  He noted the largest share comes from community corrections to pay for the SB 1145 for offenders.

 

Dwyer noted that statewide they are talking an $8 million hit as Ways and Means cut the appropriation to $17.5 million to make them whole.  He said Lane County hasn’t decided whether they would opt out of SB 1145.

 

With regard to administrative charges that are charged to all departments and funds for support services, he said the Sheriff’s Office started charging an administrative overhead through all of their functions for two years and that skewed their budget.  He said they charge indirect to Title 2 and Title 3 programs and other federal contracts.  He said it is $9.2 million for this year.

 

Garnick explained that in 1998 and 1999 the two levies were rolled into the general fund and it showed they had extra cash that they wouldn’t have had.  He said they need to have cash reserves of 10 per cent.

 

Sorenson asked what from the general fund would be retained and not spent.  He asked how much Lane County should save for Moody’s to approve Lane County’s bond rating.

 

Garnick responded it is five percent of discretionary money, and 3.5 per cent of the total general fund.  He added they assumed in the financial forecast that they would only spend about 98 per cent of the budget so there is an additional two percent for the lapse.  He noted if they make a larger cut in the budget, it would add another $2.5 million to the reserves and it would improve their bottom line.  He added as a result of the departments not filling some of their positions, they wouldn’t be accruing more lapse than they normally would and they would have a larger balance carried forward. He indicated unless they have a written policy, that Moody’s wouldn’t really believe that Lane County is committed to getting the reserves up to 10 per cent or 12 per cent.  He noted what Moody’s wanted was two months of operating revenue.  That would be 17 per cent for Lane County.

 

With regard to expenses, Garnick noted the model reflects a two percent annual COLA.  He included a 20 per cent health insurance increase for 04/05 and 15 per cent thereafter.  He said that PERS is flat for the next year but for 05/06 they think it will go up again because they hadn’t factored in the 2001-2002 losses that occurred.   He added the model assumes that they will allow for inflationary growth that has been averaging 1.9 per cent and the future years it is predicted to go to 2.8 per cent.  He said until they change the policy, they would have to continue to budget for the five percent prudent person reserve.  He said the model still assumes the passage of the Secure Rural Schools Act.  He added if that doesn’t happen that things would change significantly.

 

Garnick noted that personal services is about 60 per cent of the total budget; materials and services is about 26 per cent, with reserves 7.2 per cent (including the money they have been setting aside and spending for the extension services).

 

Sorenson asked how general fund money is received as a result from the federal forest legislation.

 

Garnick responded it is about $14.5 million for next year and it goes up $40,000 to $50,000 for the year after.  He said because the money is discretionary, it is spread across all the different departments.  He said Public Safety is proposed to receive about 65 per cent of the discretionary money for next year.

 

Garnick reported that overall the budget has grown about six per cent a year.  He said because revenues are growing slower than the expenses, in the future they would be seeing reductions.  He said the current forecast is that at a minimum they would have to do a $1.8 million reduction next year and in 05/06, they would have to reduce it by $4.5 million.  He said the direction from the Leadership Team is to do a larger reduction for 04/05 of $4.1 million so they could have some stability for the following year.

 

VI. STRATEGIC PLAN

 

Tanya Heaton, Sr. Management Analyst, reported on the update on the Strategic Plan implementation progress. (Copy in file).

 

VII. PUBLIC COMMENT

 

Diane Misar, Blue Mountain School Road, Cottage Grove, said she came to talk to the Board because she didn’t think they received her letter that 15 people wrote from the Cottage Grove social services community.  She said she had been volunteering for 15 years to make youth a priority for Cottage Grove for the last 16 years with Parent Partnership.  She noted the County had been their mentor in teen health and education services for all of those years.  She discovered that Cottage Grove had not been invited into the transition of service and budget planning on health services and that is why they wrote the letter on April 5.  She asked the Board to keep a real presence in the community.  She said the health center is being closed and they didn’t know why.  She said no one had responded to their letter.  She asked the Board to keep their office open at their current number of hours.

 

Glen Brigham, South Eugene, said he was an employee of Youth Services.  He supported Pathways.  He believed it is important to keep Pathways as part of the care that teenage boys receive.  He stated it was a necessary service to reduce juvenile crime.  He said they keep the statistics on recidivism and they are getting their money’s worth because it reduces crime.  He added it follows the best practices model as it involves families.  He indicated they have a year long after care.  He stated it was a valuable program.

 

Ann Marie Builderbach, 1188 Olive, was in support of Pathways.  She believed in keeping Pathways open for a continuum of care. She said if Pathways closes, it would have the only residential facility in Lane County for boys.  She was concerned this program wouldn’t be able to function if it got weaker.  She said if this is lost that Lane County would have lost a very valuable resource.  She asked the Board to continue to support Pathways.

 

Rob Cook, 382 Naismith, stated he is the probation officer assigned to the Florence/Mapleton area.  He indicated within the past year, the drug treatment available in Florence had disappeared.  He supported Pathways.  He said miracles happen at Pathways.  He had students who had gone through Pathways and then had gone back to school when they hadn’t been in school for years.  He encouraged the Board to keep Pathways open.  He asked what they would do if they don’t have residential treatment for the kids in the County.  

 

Sonya Wooley, 1193 Arcadia, stated she is a parent of a child that went through the Pathways program.  She said they were able to save her son.  She said it provided her son with many goals.  She said he is now going to school to get his forestry degree.  She stressed how important this program was.  She noted the expense is there but when you look at the expense of not having the program and what will happen with crime, it is tremendous.  She said Pathways is a vital program and urged the Board to keep it open.

 

James Martin, 277 Sunny View, supported Pathways.  He stated he was a past client of Pathways and has remained sober for two years.  He said it was one of the most important thing he had done in his life.  He asked what would happen if Pathways is gone.  He said it is important to the people in the community and to parents of kids who have drug and alcohol addictions.  He said it is about giving people their lives back.  He added that the youth today is the future of tomorrow.

 

Harry Brady, commented that petty crimes are unacceptable.  He said that human life should be the highest priority.  He didn’t want any future cuts for public safety.  He said they have to do something besides letting criminals go free.

 

VIII.ADJOURN

 

Chair Crowell adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary