LANE COUNTY ACHIEVES ITS BEST CREDIT RATING EVER as a result of five years of excellent leadership in financial management. by Pat Farr

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

STARTING SIX YEARS AGO Lane County Board of Commissioners has overseen continuing excellence in financial management

 

On Wednesday July 17 I received this message about Lane County’s continuing improvement in financial management that has resulted in its second credit rating upgrade:

“Dear Pat:

“Citing “prudent, proactive leadership,” Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Lane County’s credit rating from Aa2 to Aa1, which is the second highest rating it provides.
 
“This latest upgrade is a result of diligent efforts over several years to create structurally balanced budgets, lower debt, manage benefit costs and increase reserves.

“In addition to financial stewardship of taxpayer resources, Lane County has also stabilized and increased service levels in several critical areas, including public health, safety and infrastructure.

“Moody’s highlighted Lane County’s “strong finances, prudent management and low debt” as strengths that led to its decision to upgrade the County’s rating. In its credit analysis, released on July 15, 2019, Moody’s stated that Lane County’s “five year operating history was unusually strong for 2014-2018” due to prudent financial management. It also noted: “The fiscal 2020 budget marks the third consecutive budget without draws on reserves to support operations, and did not include layoffs or service reductions” and “employee healthcare benefit costs remain in-check for the fourth consecutive year.”

“This decision is particularly notable given the fact that Lane County receives the third lowest per capita local revenue among the 36 counties in Oregon. Our focus is to make sound financial decisions with our limited resources by proactively managing expenses and investing in services that improve lives in Lane County.

“In 2017, Moody’s upgraded Lane County’s credit rating from Aa3 to Aa2. Additionally, independent financial auditor Moss Adams, LLP has rated Lane County as a low-risk auditee for several years in a row. In 2016, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office removed Lane County from a list of high-risk counties in regard to its financial health due to the County’s efforts to create long-term financial stability.”

Initiative process in Lane County needs to be reviewed and fixed, but not today. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
Board of Lane County Commissioners, Faye Stewart, Pat Farr, Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Pete Sorenson

Board of Lane County Commissioners, Faye Stewart, Pat Farr, Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Pete Sorenson

Today, August 31, 2016, Lane County faces the possibility of two lawsuits– one: if the commissioners change the current process for gathering signatures and filing for a voter initiative and, two:  if commissioners don’t change the current process for gathering signatures and filing for a voter initiative.  Hmm.  Looks like courts will likely be involved whatever action or inaction the commissioners engage in.

Clearly, with hours of public testimony and volumes of written testimony and drafts of law suites already heard and seen, Lane County Board of Commissioners (BCC) need to take time to take a close look at the current process that allows–in fact, encourages (as it should)–voters to gather signatures and file for an initiative.  But, with limited time actually spent in study of how the system works in the Lane County Charter and Code and how it fits into the system prescribed in the Oregon Constitution, now is not the time to make decisions on any changes.

Much work needs to be done, and much more public involvement in the process needs to be charted.  With three current initiatives in process any fast decisions on the part of the BCC would at least have the appearance of targeting specific initiatives and not addressing the system and process.

An article in today’s Register Guard (click here) partially covers the limited debate that BCC has had.

Three initiatives are currently in process.  Two lawsuits have been thrown into the melee.

Much more to come.

Lane Board Job Performance Trend in Eugene

Friday, May 27th, 2016

The Lane County Board of Commissioners’ job performance trend in Eugene can be seen here.

Countywide Lane Board Job Performance Trend

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

How would you rate the job Lane County Board of Commissioners is doing?

For complete poll results, click here.

An impromptu panelist at National Association of Black Counties. by Pat Farr

Friday, March 7th, 2014

 

Heavy snow in Washington DC gave me an unexpected opportunity

Heavy snow in Washington DC gave me an unexpected opportunity

 

I attended the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington DC March 1-5 2014.

National Association of Black Counties (NABCO) is a broadly-membered confederation of county officials across the country.

I have been speaking with former Lane County Commissioner Bobby Green responding to his criticism of the lack of diversity in applicants that our recent search for County Administrator produced.  While the national search Lane County conducted produced the best qualified county administrator with impeccable credentials and references (see story here) I have taken former Commissioner Green’s concerns very seriously.  I regarded the meetings of NABCO at the Legislative Conference as an opportunity to find ways to diversify future searches by the Board of Commissioners or by the County Administrator.

I have not been disappointed by contacts that  I have made in Washington this past week.

On March 3, Monday, it snowed heavily in Washington DC.  My first agenda item at the conference was to attend the 9 am meeting of NABCO.  It was a panel discussion with a large group of students from the Washington area to address questions about involvement in public service and address health issue education, particularly surrounding sexually transmitted diseases.

When I entered the room only two people were there, the NABCO administrator and another young woman.  I asked if I had the wrong room, and they told me that I was in the right place but the start of the meeting was delayed because the panelists and the audience had been held up by the blizzard.

It worked out ok for me though.  The second woman in the room was Paige Hendrix, assistant to Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith.  Commissioner Smith and Ms. Hendrix are both deeply involved in the diversity efforts of Multnomah County.  While we waited for the panelists and students to arrive Ms. Hendrix and I engaged in a 45-minute discussion about recruiting qualified applicants from communities of color.

She gave me a host of contacts and set the stage for a discussion between Commissioner Smith and I later in the conference covering the subject.

Toward the end of our discussion the group of students arrived and filed into the meeting room.  There were a hundred or so.

As it turns out the entire group of panelists had not yet arrived, so I was asked to sit in on the panel to respond to questions about public service.  I was honored to do so.  The students were very attentive and eager to learn.

While it wasn’t the way I had planned to spend time at the conference it turned out to be a fantastic opportunity for me to not only pass along knowledge but to gain insights into how I can become more effective in my elective roles.

We spent the morning discussing avenues high school and college students could prepare themselves for work in public policy or elective office.  It was pleasing to me to see tomorrow’s leaders listening and learning.