BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

JOINT COUNTY/CITY ROAD FINANCE MEETING

April 28, 2004

6:00 p.m.

Lane Community College, Workforce Training Center, Bldg. 19

APPROVED 11/3/04

 

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

 

Others Present:Gordon Zimmerman, City of Oakridge, Kevin Urban, City of Oakridge, Chuck Spies, City of Lowell, David Renshaw, City of Junction City, Ric Ingham, City of Veneta, Tim Brooker, City of Veneta, Ron Hanson, City of Creswell, Alan Bennett, City of Creswell, Mike Kelly, City of Springfield, Anne Ballew, City of Springfield, Gary Williams, Cottage Grove, Sid Leiken, City of Springfield, Jim Torrey, City of Eugene, Ollie Snowden, Lane County, Rodger Bennett, City of Florence, David Braley, City of Florence, John Thiel, City of Coburg, Mike Hudson, City of Coburg, Betty Taylor, City of Eugene, Rob Ward, Dunes City, Robert Petersdorf, Dunes City, Diana Tonkin, Westfir, Dennis Taylor, City of Eugene, Jim Johnson, City of Creswell.

 

1. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

 

2. OPENING REMARKS

 

a. City responses to November 25th Road Finance Meeting. Exhibits A Ė D.

 

Green recalled a request at the last meeting to have the cities respond to questions that were submitted by Ollie Snowden, Lane County Public Works Director.He indicated they received responses from the Cities of Eugene, Creswell, West Fir and Springfield.He commented that they, as a Board, reviewed what they could reasonably do.He indicated they wouldnít be able to resolve everyoneís needs at this point in time, given Lane Countyís own needs and the uncertainty around the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools Self-Determination Act.He said Lane County would be willing to make a commitment for the next three years.

 

Snowden indicated what the Board was proposing was a short-term proposal.He said once they have resolution of the County payments legislation, they would be able to discuss consolidation of services.

 

3. COUNTY/CITY ROAD PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS

 

a. Proposal: Continuation of program at current funding levels ($2.5 million per year) for three years, or until resolution of Federal County Payments reauthorization, whichever comes first.See Exhibit E for current distributions.

 

Snowden explained the Boardís proposal is to continue this program at the current level for three years, until the County payments legislation is reauthorized.

 

4. OTIA III COUNTY PASS-THROUGH FUNDING

 

a. Proposal: Distribution of actual County OM&P revenues from OTIA III for three years or until resolution of County Payments legislation, whichever comes first.See Exhibit F for estimated distributions.

 

Snowden explained that the County would take the OTIA III money that would be coming to Lane County for operations, maintenance and preservation.He added this was different than the money they would get for bridge replacement.He said the Transportation Commission (based on need) will allocate the bridge replacement money and Lane County has five bridges that need replacing.He noted that ODOT estimated there would be incremental money estimated to be about $600,000 for this current year and $1.4 million for the next fiscal year that will come to Lane County for operation, maintenance and preservation.

 

Snowden indicated that Exhibit F (copy in file) summarized what the consensus was the last time they met.He thought they would have the base payment that is proportionate to $35,000 each city receives and the remainder of the money would not be distributed by miles but by an average of miles and population per city.He noted what the Board has agreed to do is pass through the actual revenue they receive.He said the proposal was that the cities would get a check in July and January and that check would reflect the OTIA money that the County had received for the previous six months.He indicated he would come back to the Board with a board order for this proposal.

 

Brooker asked where the population data was coming from.

 

Snowden responded it came from the Portland State estimates.He said the mileage comes from the mileage report turned into ODOT each year.

 

5. ROAD MAINTENANCE EFFICIENCY AND CONSOLIDATION AUDIT

 

a. Proposal: Acceptance of continued C/CRP and OTIA III pass-through payments are contingent on cities participation in--and support for--the conclusions of an independent audit of road maintenance operations by a consultant hired by the County.

 

Snowden noted the Board proposed that the receipt of the first two short-term monies are contingent upon the willingness of the cities to participate in an internal third party audit that looked at road maintenance services and how they are delivered and identifying any potential efficiencies that might be gained through partnering or partial consolidation of road maintenance services.

 

Snowden indicated he and Commissioner Green met with Curt Corey fromEugene Public Works, and Corey thought there was some skepticism that Lane County as a local government is as efficient as they can be at delivering maintenance services.Corey noted more than one person suggested that when they review this, they donít set their sights too low and look at consolidation of one agency delivering road maintenance services.Snowden said if they do this, he didnít expect to see any examples of gross inefficiencies.He believed they currently offer sufficient service. He didnít think there would be enough money to solve all of the problems everyone has.He said if they move forward and the County payments legislation is not renewed, this audit would set the stage to increase the Countyís credibility to go to the voters to ask for a tax increase or vehicle registration fee.

 

Torrey commented he didnít know what the audit would show.He said that doing the audit would show to the public they are willing to find efficiencies.He added as long as they are willing to do that, they set themselves up to be more positively viewed in the eyes of the public and that is what they should be striving for.

 

Snowden said he met with a consultant who had done studies like this and the information from the consultant was the cost would be under $50,000 for an executive level look at efficiencies and consolidations.He said he would be going back to the Board later in May with a proposed scope of work and the level of detail that the Board wants. He noted if they do a high level view, he anticipated something under $50,000.He added if they want to get into more detail with specific types of road maintenance activities it could be around $100,000.He noted the Board discussed this and they would be willing to pick up the direct cost out of County road funds.He said they would need city staffhelp.

 

Green said the only request the Board would make would be for the cities to participate in getting the County the information.

 

Zimmerman indicated that the City of Oakridge would participate.

 

Green suggested when Snowden comes back to the Board that questions needed to be answered as a way to get started.He said they shouldnít initiate the document without having some feedback.

 

Ballew indicated that Springfield would collaborate and provide information.She added if they could show a way to do it less expensively then she would like to do it.

 

Torrey noted that Lane County, the City of Eugene and the City of Springfield have large transportation departments, but the smaller communities have a tougher time with this type of work.He asked if there was an opportunity to provide assistance to smaller communities so they can get involved. He commented to make this work, everyone has to come together.

 

Van Vactor indicated that the cities with city managers have a Regional Managers Meeting where they discuss common issues on the agenda and LCOG coordinates that.He noted they used to have an e-mail system where they sent out the charts on the possibility of how the OTIA money would be split.He thought the public works directors could set up an e-mail system to the cities.

 

Morrison commented the biggest issue for efficiencies was the cost of engineering.She noted that in some areas the engineering costs are higher.She said they need to find out if there really is an issue with those efficiencies.

 

Braley indicated that the City of Florence would participate.

 

6. FEDERAL EARMARK MATCH

 

a. Proposal: The County will consider requests at its May 5th CIP hearing to provide the local match on selected federal earmark or state STIP projects.Funds must come from projects in the first two years of the County CIP, unallocated County Community Development Roads program or C/CRP or OTIA III pass-through funding. Candidate projects for deletion from the County CIP are shown in Exhibit G.

 

Snowden indicated that the Board has received a number of requests to provide match money for capital improvement projects that would come from either new federal legislation or ODOT money.He said the Board had talked with the City of Coburg about providing a match for the Coburg I-5 interchange reconstruction of around $2.5 million He added that the City of Eugene expressed interest in additional match money for the federal courthouse project which was included in the house version of the Transportation Act as a federally earmarked project.He thought it would be a match of about $1.3 million for the City of Eugene.He said the Board agreed to consider responding to those requests at its May 5 CIP hearing. He indicated the Board has asked if the cities would like to have match monies provided by the County. He noted Exhibit G were projects currently funded by the County. (Copy in file).

 

Snowden recalled at the Roads Advisory Committee public hearing at the CIP in February, Eugene representatives asked that the County cancel the Irving Road overpass and use that money to provide a federal match.He noted the Roads Advisory Committee agreed to cancel that project, but failed to recommend allocating money for the federal courthouse.They recommended $2.5 million for the Coburg I-5 project.He indicated they are having a difficult time finding the money used from ODOT for federal legislation.He noted the Coburg I-5 was not an earmarked project.He said they are trying to get OTIA III money.

 

Dwyer said the project needs to show up on the list.He was committed to make that work.

 

With regard to Exhibit F, OTIA III county pass through funding, Morrison wanted to see the Public Works staff possibly develop other reasonable alternative methods of granting the OTIA III county partnership money to small cities who proportionately need more for their roads.She wanted the alternatives to come to the Board for review.

 

Van Vactor said they arrived at a formula to try and balance population and road miles.He didnít think they could do anything in the next few weeks that would be meaningful to the budget process.

 

Johnson said he believed there were some small cities that were more in need than others.He suggested using the road fund money per capita as a measure.He said they should see if there are easy alternatives for small cities that have trouble raising money for roads.

 

Snowden commented that that was difficult to quantify so that everyone agreed on it.He said it should be revenue per capita.

 

Green thought they could return with different strategies on additional funding.He wanted to flag this and bring it back to the Board.

 

Van Vactor noted the city managers meet quarterly and if a city wanted to work on a formula, they could have a chance of bringing it to the Board.

 

Brooker commented that it was important for the City of Veneta that they have an opportunity to find other ways to disseminate some of the money, especially their needs in a rural area that may or may not be part of the Metro Plan.

 

Green wanted to know what they could do for partnerships with cities that hadnít expended their funds.

 

7. COUNTY GENERAL FUND

 

a. Proposal: Discuss and deliberate the Countyís General Fund needs; consider potential for further discussion regarding future collaboration.

 

Van Vactor said they wanted to make sure all of the city partners in Lane County were aware of the financial circumstances and the budget reductions that will be enacted.With regard to the reduction, he thought the cities might be able to help.He noted that Lane County has tried to increase its property tax revenue but for the past four years the voters have not approved it.He said the Board of Commissioners made a decision in December that they would not go to the voters to seek any property tax increase in 2004.He said the net effect is that the County discretionary general fund will need to be reduced $1.4 million.He said the Board directed them to prepare a budget with $4.6 million in reductions so that approximately $500,000 would be available for restoration in the areas that have the largest reduction. He noted the net effect is they have the proposed budget with the reductions.

 

Van Vactor reported the appraisal staff inspected and appraised new construction at $281 million.He said that position is slated for termination at the end of the budget and there will be little new construction added to the rol1.He said the net effect is that the revenue to the cities will not grow, as the new value should be added to the roll.He noted that Lane Countyís tax rate ranked 35 out of 36 at $1.27 among all of the taxing districts.He said because they are capped at $10.00, their benefit is only $1.27 and it doesnít net out for them to fund the appraiser when they have to make reductions.He noted that cities have higher taxing rates and it might be in the citiesí financial interest to assist Lane County in that portion of the Assessment and Taxation Department or other services like appeals.

 

Van Vactor noted the tax rate is permanent due to Measures 5, 47 and 50.He said with the current situation there is no way out except for special operating levies.He commented it is hard to run Lane County on a $1.27.†† He noted in 1980 there were 1,765 employees and currently they have 1,530 employees with another 49.5 scheduled for elimination.He commented that cities will be impacted by the reductions and they hope the cities could assist them.He asked if there was interest in working together to fund an appraiser to maintain the new construction getting on the roll.He added several cities operate Municipal Courts.He thought it would be possible for cities to adopt the state criminal code and prosecute a greater number of misdemeanors, which would otherwise not be prosecuted in July.

 

Brooker indicated that the City of Veneta would be willing to participate in making sure there is an assessor for new construction.He added they had a discussion about taking on additional municipal crimes for their court that would not be adjudicated through the County.He noted they had already started in the process to make it happen and would work with the County to make efficiencies happen.

 

Leiken noted they were already handling items in their Municipal Court.He said they need to continue to work toward getting out of this downturn.He said they had already turned their back on the timber industry.He asked what they could do to be proactive to bring industry back that would solve a large amount of what they are suffering budget wise.He hoped to plan for the long term. He thought the more opportunity and economic development to the area; the better off they would be in the long term.

 

Rodger Bennett said he couldnít speak for the mayor and city councilors from Florence, but he thought they would be eager to collaborate with the County and participate.

 

Alan Bennett said that Creswell would be interested in participating for the assessor.He indicated it was possible that all the city managers that will be together on May 11 could come up with a proposal together.

 

Dwyer thought there could be a surcharge for all of the municipalities for the types of crimes they handle at every court level and have that be dedicated to prosecution.He thought that could give the District Attorney a source of revenue that he doesnít have presently and the people being charged with crimes are the ones who are picking up the costs.He commented the population of Lane County is growing and their costs are growing at 17% and their revenues are capped at a percent increase at the same time the state is withdrawing its support.He said they need to all work together.

 

Torrey commented they all have problems.His major concern is building credibility with the public when they are looking to combine services.He was afraid if they didnít do a good job of educating the public they could shift money from the city to the county and the public would say there was really no problem.He was willing to participate in discussions and to work to solve the problems, but if they are not going to bring the public into the arena, the public doesnít know what they are talking about.He said if they solve the problem too quickly, the public would think they were just kidding.He said he was prepared to participate as long as they did it openly and honestly in front of the public, only if they educate the public first.

 

With regard to the assessor position, Kelly stated City of Springfield staff would be in favor.He said they had a model that was successful when efficiencies were consolidated in the eighties.

 

Sorenson commented the County is in bad shape due to the catastrophic reduction in state funding.He noted they have to get rid of the rhetoric that they could do more with less. He said he was ready to put something on the ballot if the citizens come forth with a project.

 

Taylor suggested looking at things in the public safety prevention area as they are interrelated.He thought to focus on one solution for one year wouldnít necessarily be a good solution.He said they are trying to come up with an analysis for the impacts through the Municipal Court system.He wanted to work through this but he didnít think they would find a solution in a month.

 

Johnson commented there was nothing discussed about the future of revenues increasing at three percent and expenses at six percent.He thought the small cities in the County would be willing to help the County.He asked where the leadership was with a long-term solution and where the solution would come from.

 

Hudson reported that Coburg adopted state codes and they prosecute all misdemeanor crimes within the city.He commented that the city loses money significantly because they are paying for the attorneys to prosecute the case and a defense attorney and other associated things.He said they are planning to continue.He noted reductions in the Countyís law enforcement have specific dollar costs to all the cities.He said if the small communities were able to take the costs and reinvest them back into the County for a lesser amount, they would save the money and so would the County.With regard to revenue sharing, he said Coburg is one of the smallest by population.He said they were still willing to have discussions and participate in revenue sharing.He said they would work with the Board as it is in their best interest to do so.He thought it would be reasonable for all of the small cities to proportionately share some of the expense to bring on the appraiser.

 

Williams said Cottage Grove was open to exploring all of the concepts that were discussed.He noted there was caution and skepticism but his council is eager to be a team player within reason.He thought the voters should come to the elected officials to change things.He thought it was unsound thinking to force any ballot measure through the voters.

 

Dwyer said they need to structure ways to take care of their own problems.He said they need to have someone defend the Assessorís value on appeal.He said whenever they assess a value and someone doesnít like it and they want to appeal it, they donít have the staff.He said they lose.He said they need to figure out a way to pro-rate the person doing the appeal so it relates to the work they are doing. He commented for planning that Coburg is part of the Metropolitan Area Planning Committee because the federal government stated when communities reach a certain mass in the urban areas that all of the cities in a certain mile perimeter have to be part of metropolitan planning and Coburg is part of the planning process.He wanted to bring Coburg into the Metro Plan.He wanted to have the city councils also include Coburg as part of the Metro Wastewater system to solve the problems that relate to capacity.

 

Green was encouraged as there was a willingness to engage the County in discussion about needs.†† He commented that Lane County has a role as the governing body. He said they share the same constituencies.He agreed that no one was paying attention to Lane County except the governing bodies.He thought they should look at things they can do.He wanted to participate and lead a participation.He said they should engage in a long-term solution that will talk about opportunities.He said they could do something together.He indicated the voters told Lane County to live within its means and that is what they are doing now.He said they need help.He thought Van Vactor could work with Jim Gangle, County Assessor around the appraisal piece with more information and what could be done with it.

 

8. NEXT STEPS/CLOSING REMARKS

 

Betty Taylor commented that cooperation was good with all the cities.She suggested possibly having a registration vehicle fee for road maintenance from the cities.She thought the cities should come up with something comparable.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Green adjourned the meeting at 7:35 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary