BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING
June 8, 2004
Following BCC Work Session
Commissioners Conference Room
Commissioner Bobby Green, Sr., presided with Budget Committee members Scott Bartlett, David Crowell, Bill Dwyer, Don Hampton, Kathy Keable, Anna Morrison and Peter Sorenson present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson, Senior Budget Analyst Dave Garnick and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. Debrief on Budget Process.
Crowell passed out an agenda. (Copy in file.) He thought this was a time to take a more aggressive role to improve the budget process to make it more satisfying.
Sorenson noted with the pre-budget committee, that the citizen orientation sessions were useful because of the length of service of the members on the Budget Committee. He thought orientation meetings for new budget members were a good idea. With regard to the budget document, he commented that over the years they had made incremental improvements. He asked that if they keep adding more things, if there was something they could delete that they requested to be added in. He said the fact that the materials that are brought in on Tuesday for consideration on Thursday were fine. He thought the process was fluid and the timeliness of getting the materials earlier didn't matter. He thought having it distributed before the next meeting was sufficient.
Dwyer agreed with number 1 to 5. He thought it was good to have pre-meeting sessions for new committee members. He thought the starting time was okay. He didn't want to have more short meetings, but rather have the meetings run longer. With regard to department presentations, he found some to be offensive. He thought they were captive audiences where the departments were utilizing officials at the state level. He commented these were the same people that were cutting money from Lane County and asking that Lane County spend more of its own money. He said departments were spending their time in presentations lobbying the Budget Committee. He commented that the presentations take up much of their time and it doesn't give them any more money. He thought the committee deliberations went well. He commented that they needed to give the Sheriff's Office steady funding and to possibly take them out of the general fund.
Green commented that high energy foods were provided for the meals and that was important because it kept the committee going. He wanted to know if the process worked for the people who came to speak to the Board. He asked how it worked for the citizens on the Budget Committee. With regard to department presentations, he thought they had more PowerPoint presentations than they had in the past. He thought the technology was good. He didn't think the Budget Committee did a good job in asking questions relative to the Strategic Plan and how those decisions were made. He thought the Attorney General's speech was eloquent but it didn't offer any help in support for any solutions. He agreed with items 1 to 5. He commented that when departments are making presentations, the committee needs to give respect and pay attention. He thought they were doing the best job they could with the information given. He thought the process of the budget session was improved. He suggested having a different style of public hearing prior to sessions, where they take it out of a Lane County facility and possibly go around the community. He agreed the public safety budget is critical and if they don't form a district, things could get worse. He wanted to know what options they had
Hampton agreed with the first four bullets. He thought the question and answer time is the time for people who wanted to have a whole departmental presentation be offered the chance. He wanted departmental presentations to include the impact of proposed budget cuts so they could weigh what was happening in the Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office and Health and Human Services. He thought the departmental presentations took up too much time and he didn't think they heard enough public testimony. He thought there should have been public comment for every budget meeting. He didn't think they have an understanding of what the Strategic Plan is and whether it is still a relevant document.
Morrison thought the department presentations could have been done beforehand. She commented the Board should know what is taking place in the departments. She added that would give them more time to delve into the different issues and why the departments made the decisions. She never attended a question-and-answer session since it started. She thought the overall budget document improved from when she started on the budget process. She added the budget summary was a good way for the public to understand what is taking place. She wanted fewer meetings with a shorter time frame. She thought the meetings could be simplified but wasn't sure how to do it with the current makeup of the Budget Committee. She thought the public testimony was run better and has saved a lot of time. With regard to deliberations, she wanted to review what they were doing to become more effective regarding the dollars they are spending. She thought the Sheriff and District Attorney did a good job in getting the message out to a broad group of people.
With regard to the community request process, Morrison said they tried to be neutral but in reality for people to come in and request money from the outside (when they can't provide the basic services they have), she wondered how productive it was for everyone going through it. She said if there were money to give out she would be supportive of that process, but if they are having financial problems it shouldn't be offered.
Sorenson suggested having a budget briefing in October with the assumption of the budget laid out. He thought the time frame for the budget meetings was a good idea. He thought the meeting should go through without breaks. He thought Crowell did a good job in running the meeting. With regard to meeting length, he thought they should have fewer meetings that last longer. With regard to departmental presentations, he suggested that next year they try presentations by the analysts instead of department directors, with analysts giving shorter presentations. He thought the community request process was a good idea. He thought there should be public comment in the early phase of the budget before deliberation. He said they should reserve the last Tuesday and Thursday for the deliberation process. He thought they should allocate the presentation based upon minutes-per-dollars expended in general fund. He suggested the Board and Budget Committee have a briefing after staff has put everything together.
Keable commented that this was an eye opener as a citizen to see the whole process. She said what helped her was the budget presentation and tours of departments. She thought if they were doing more detailed presentations at the 3:00 p.m. meetings, it would be more efficient for people in the departments. She thought fewer meetings lasting longer would be preferable instead of more meetings. She felt uncomfortable at the end because she didn't know all of the consequences of some of the cuts. She thought they should have the briefings earlier in the year to set the parameters of where they are going so they could get more of an idea of what the priorities are.
Crowell agreed that the Budget Committee should get involved earlier in the process. He noted in prior years when cuts weren't as onerous, the Budget Committee was given extra money and they weren't making difficult choices. He said to come in on April 20, as a citizen member, their backs were against the wall with no good choices and a lot of work that had to be done. He wanted the Board to come up with a process that everyone could buy into so when they get into crunch time in May, their backs aren't up against the wall.
Bartlett thought the budget staff did a good job with the pre-briefing. He relied on Mary Ann Holser to microanalyze. He was looking for the bottom line. He wanted to know what happened when the services go away. He stated they never really had a discussion about the Strategic Plan. He was not uncomfortable with nine percent as an initial amount for the cuts. He agreed with Hampton that it would be helpful to have an opportunity to analyze the impacts of departmental recommendations. He said he felt pressured with the politicization on the part of the Sheriff and the District Attorney. He thought it was patronizing and a waste of time when Attorney General Hardy Meyers spoke. He commented that some of the PowerPoint presentations were helpful. He thought the meetings that went late were taxing. He did want breaks. He suggested having a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday meeting at the end when they deliberate. He thought it was chaotic at the end. He relied on the commissioners at the end. He thought they should review the Strategic Plan modifications to see how it would relate to the budget.
Dwyer commented that the Board needed to be more strategic when the state cuts their revenue. He thought they should fund the budget through January to see where the legislature is going to go with the restorations so they wouldn't have to tap the general fund.
Bartlett commented that County government is well run and each of the Board is skilled and he appreciated the respect the Board gave the citizen members.
Crowell commented they should continue with citizen orientation sessions. He noted the pre-meeting sessions were not well-attended and thought the cost benefit wasn't there. He thought if they used that time for department presentations it might be looking at freeing up time at the Budget Committee meetings. He agreed that the analysts could give the department presentations so it gives a different perspective and shortens the time they spend. He stated the tougher the decisions, the more time they need to deliberate and if that meant cutting down on the department presentations, then that is what they would have to do.
Dwyer didn't think that traveling out into the community would be beneficial. He thought it would deprive citizens from viewing the meetings because they are webcast live and archived, unless they could have the process follow them. He thought the value would be outweighed by the inconvenience at the rural sites.
Green suggested visiting the rural areas. He said if they don't see any value in visiting the communities, he asked how the public would respond to it. He commented that public service was important to him. He said if they ignore the ability to have a conversation with the general public, the County would lose and not get support by the public.
Morrison was interested in the department's view of how they would change the budget process.
Dwyer agreed to communicate with the people. He thought they needed to have a truncated version of the budget and the Board should spend time with different service groups to give the public the idea of what the problems are.
Green suggested since this is an evolving process, they should meet with the Leadership Team about the budget routinely instead of doing something at the last minute to help to get to a decision.
There being no further business, Commission Green recessed the meeting into Executive Session at 11:15 a.m.
Melissa Zimmer, Recording Secretary