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Let's Play: Hold the Lane County Board of Commissioners accountable, Oct. 31 edition

The Lane County Board of Commissioners is meeting on Oct. 31; what scary things might be on the agenda in honor of Halloweeen? (The board will be meeting on Wednesdays only through early December, then they will move to Tuesdays to avoid conflict with the Eugene City Council, which is currently sharing Harris Hall, and footed part of the bill for its renovation.)

Taking a look at the agenda, it looks like "public safety funding" is going to be brought up by County Administrator Liane Richardson. The agenda doesn't provide any materials though, so we're kind of curious as to what the discussion is doing to be about.  Our guess: taxes.

Here is the full agenda, if you want the materials that are provided, follow the link here for the version on the county website.

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31,  2012 – REGULAR MEETING

(9:00 a.m.)                               (Board of Commissioners’ Conference Room)

1.      ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA

2.      #PUBLIC COMMENTS 

Expected maximum time 20 minutes:  Speakers will be taken in the order in which they sign up and will be limited to 3-minutes.  If the number wishing to testify exceeds 7 speakers, then additional speakers may be allowed if the chair determines that time permits or each speaker's time may be reduced to fit within 20 min.)

3.      COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE (2 min. limit)

4.      EMERGENCY BUSINESS

 5.      CONSENT CALENDAR

(All items listed here are considered to be routine by the Board of Commissioners and will be enacted by one motion in the form listed below.  There will be no separate discussion of these items.  If discussion is desired, that item will be removed from the Consent Calendar and will be considered separately.)

BEGINNING OF CONSENT CALENDAR * * * * (estimated 2 minutes)

A.      County Administration

1)      ORDER 12-10-31-01/ In the Matter of Award of Contract for Developmental Disabilities Remodel (David Suchart, Facilities Planning and Construction Director)

2)      ORDER 12-10-31-02/ In the Matter of Award of Contract for Remodel of Portions of the Mental Health Building (David Suchart, Facilities Planning and Construction Director)

A.      Human Resources

1)      ORDER 12-10-31-03/ In the Matter of Establishing New Salary Ranges for Physician Based Classifications. (Cindy Tofflemoyer, Sr. Human Resource Analyst)

B.      Public Works

1)      ORDER 12-10-31-04/ In the Matter of Authorizing the Sale of Surplus County Owned Real Property For $13,500 to Sally Jo Schwader (Map No. 19-03-15-40-08900, Adjacent To 675 S. 7th St., Creswell). (Jeff Turk, Property Management Officer 2)

            END OF CONSENT CALENDAR * * * *

6.      COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

A.      Announcements

B.      DISCUSSION/ Public Safety Funding (Liane Richardson, County Administrator) (estimated 30 minutes)

7.      COUNTY COUNSEL

A.      Announcements

8.      COMMISSIONERS’ BUSINESS

A.      Announcements

9.      PUBLIC WORKS

A.      ORDER 12-10-31-05/ In the Matter of Electing Whether or Not to Hear Arguments on an Appeal of Hearings Official’s Decision Upon Second Remand, Limited to Review of the Septic System Capability, for a Group Care Home (file PA 09-5314/Teen Challenge) (Jerry Kendall, Associate Planner) (estimated 15 minutes)

10.  REVIEW ASSIGNMENTS

11.  EXECUTIVE SESSION as per ORS 192.660

            (Commissioners' Conference Room)

12.  OTHER BUSINESS

*NOTE:          Next scheduled Board of Commissioners' Meeting Tuesday, November 6, 2012 and/or Wednesday, November 7, 2012

 Commissioner Pete Sorenson says  at the Oct. 24 meeting, during the commissioners' remonstrance, he criticized the fact that nothing has been done — no public meetings or work sessions — since the board last dealt with the public safety issue in August. Board Chair Sid Leiken informed him that the issues would come up this week, Oct. 31. It's slated for a 30 minute discussion.

So why do we think it's taxes? Sorenson tells us the last time the public safety issue came up, in August, he sent an email to Leiken suggesting a work session to build on all the momentum about public safety. People in Lane County were (and are) pretty upset about the July budget cuts that led to jail releases (and the end of Lane County Animal Services, but that's another story).

Nothing happened til the public safety issue came up on this week's agenda. 

Looking back at the August agendas, public safety came up back on August 1, also under Richardson's County Administration purview. But again, there are no materials attached. That's ok because the news of a possible safety levy that being discussed came out in the R-G, KMTR and elsewhere.  The county paid a pollster to study if Lane County was ready for a tax. The poll, which is on the Lane County Sheriff's website, said yes, as long as the tax was carefully crafted, sunsetted in five years and followed other considerations.

But the county decided to wait, which is why you won't be voting on it next week. You MIGHT vote on it in May, though.

But how are conservative anti-tax commissioners like Bozievich, Faye Stewart and Leiken going to tell voters to vote FOR a tax? EW's guess is that hey will probably keep the focus on "jail beds," aka making sure there's enough room in the jail for criminals and accused criminals, because that's an issue that gets a lot of media attention.

But progressive commissioner Sorenson says "basically jail-only public safety is not a solution." He points out that budgeting for more jail beds but not making room in the budget for other services that have been cut that help prevent people from going to jail or help people not go back to jail after serving time doesn't solve the public safety problem. Sorenson reminds us the October is "domestic violence awareness month" and that's one of the many social issues county budgeting can affect. He also wonders how a fair tax might be determined. 

Wondering about these things too? County Commissioner meetings are open to the public and public comment starts about 9 am in the Commissioners' Conference Room, 125 East 8th Avenue.