Partisan swing margins in recent Lane County contests can be seen here.
Recent Lane County Commissioner vote percentages can be seen here.
The Lane County Board of Commissioners’ job performance trend in Eugene can be seen here.
How would you rate the job Lane County Board of Commissioners is doing?
For complete poll results, click here.
Pat Farr’s vote percentages from 2012 and 2016 can be seen here.
Lane County Commissioners will address serious public saferty needs when we pass the 2016-2017 budget this year.
After passing the Sheriff’s levy in 2013, voters were promised rigorous standards in keeping dangerous criminals off the streets. We have exceeded the promises made to the voters, while responsibly managing taxpayer resources. The levy was approved to fund a minimum of 255 local adult jail beds and additional services for youth offenders. Currently, there are 317 local jail beds – exceeding the minimum promised by 62 beds, with an additional five to open in 2016.
The additional local jail beds funded by the levy have reduced capacity-based releases (CBRs) by 65 percent and eliminated the pre-trial release of violent, Measure 11 offenders.
Lane County Commissioners will now consider reducing the existing levy rate and continuing to operate the jail more efficiently than anyone thought possible.
Reasons for the proposed levy rate reduction:
- Lane County property tax revenue and state corrections funding have increased more than anticipated.
- The County has provided $6.5 million more General Fund support for the jail than anticipated. This is due to unanticipated Secure Rural Schools payments for two additional years following the passage of the levy. (The Secure Rural Schools program has since ended.)
- The hiring process at the jail to fill levy-funded positions has taken longer than anticipated, saving money.
Sheriff Byron Trapp shared that “our community put great faith in us when they approved the levy. We want to show them that we are being responsible with their money and continuing to provide the services we promised. Every dollar counts to our residents and families.”
Additional public safety needs will be addressed:
At the Budget Committee meeting on May 2, County administrator Steve Mokrohisky and Sheriff Byron Trapp outlined plans to address the burgeoning needs in behavioral health, including mental illness and substance abuse.
In addition to keeping more sentenced violent criminals behind bars, the Commission will consider using general fund dollars to add three full-time mental health specialists and an additional parole and probation officer to the jail staff to ensure that people suffering from behavioral health disorders will receive adequate treatment and complete their sentences while reducing their likelihood of returning to courts and jail.
Treating behavioral health needs, including substance abuse, will create a path to reducing crime and helping affected men and women enjoy more productive and satisfying lives.
Behavioral health often begins with treatment for addictions. At the ribbon-cutting grand opening of the Serenity Lane Campus in Lane County, I am standing with Leann–who will be an intern at the new facility, helping men and women overcome addictions to alcohol and other drugs. Behavioral health and physical health are inseparable. Lane County Government operates six Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s) that team with private and nonprofit centers to provide physical and behavioral health in the same facilities.
Six years ago, in 2010, a prior board of Lane County Commissioners cut funding for rural Sheriff’s Deputy patrol to 16 hours per day–leaving Lane County residents and visitors without on-duty patrol response for eight hours every day.
During my first year of office the current Board of Commissioners restored funding for 24-hour patrol in the 2013-14 fiscal year and the Sheriff’s Office initiated recruitment, hiring and training immediately following the return of funding.
The process of hiring and training a new deputy takes more than 12 months, including written and physical testing, a rigorous interview, in-depth background check, medical and psychological examinations, 16 weeks of academy training and 15 weeks of field training.
Sheriff Byron Trapp explained, “Returning to 24-hour patrol means that we can respond more quickly to life-threatening, in-progress calls rather than calling in off-duty staff, which can create significant delays in service.”
Lane County has high standards for its deputies and the Sheriff has rebuilt a very talented and dedicated team focused on providing Lane County with quality public safety services.
As a County operation, Fleet is a significant fuel consumer and greenhouse gas emission producer. Over the past 15 years, Fleet has tested numerous methods for both reducing fuel consumption and reducing emissions.
1. Renewable diesel pilot project. In conjunction with our partners at EWEB, the City of Eugene and City of Portland, Lane County started a renewable diesel pilot project in the Fall of 2015. This was the first wide-spread adoption of renewable diesel in Oregon. To date, this pilot program has been a complete success with no negative impacts noted due to use of renewable diesel and has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of over 65% for diesel powered equipment. Using a regular gallon of diesel fuel (ultra-low Sulphur diesel) emits more than 30 pounds of greenhouse gases into the air. Using a gallon of renewable diesel emits fewer than 10. Renewable diesel is much easier on vehicle engines and diesel particulate filters and is expected to reduce maintenance costs and equipment down-time. Renewable diesel background. Renewable diesel is a broad class of fuels derived from biomass feed stocks including oils or animal fats that is processed in the same fashion as traditional petroleum based diesel. Renewable diesel offers several benefits over biodiesel including reduced waste and by-products, higher energy density and improved cold flow properties. Renewable diesel can be used exactly like petroleum diesel with no special logistics or blending limitations. Renewable diesel has major benefits over petroleum and biodiesel in areas of greenhouse gas emission and air pollution reductions as well as reduced equipment maintenance. Known obstacles to renewable diesel use. The technical results of renewable diesel use have been outstanding with no known negative impacts. The major obstacles in widespread adoption of the fuel are supply chain and economic issues. Currently, the renewable diesel used in Oregon is shipped from Southeast Asia to California (where the fuel is widely used) and then barged to Portland and trucked to end-users. As demand for BCC Report Climate Change Agenda Memo 03 08 16 (5).docxPage 5 of 6 renewable diesel increases this supply chain will be severely limiting. Current prices for renewable diesel are less than B20 biodiesel and if this pricing parity is maintained then renewable diesel will be economically feasible for wide-spread adoption.
2. Hybrid vehicle technology. Beginning in the early 2000s, Lane County Fleet has been purchasing hybrid vehicles such as Toyota Prius and Ford C-Max. Initially these vehicles cost significantly more than standard vehicles and even when gas prices were high, economically they were more expensive for County operations than more traditional technology. More recently, the cost for these vehicles is more in line with standard equipment and they are equitable in terms of economic function while being far superior in terms of emissions and consumption.
3. Charging Stations. Electric charging stations were installed at Fleet and the Customer Service Center and have been functioning routinely for the past three years. It is envisioned that additional charging stations be installed at the Public Service Building (PSB) as well, but there is currently no funding source or formal plan to implement this step.
4. Other fuel alternatives. County forklifts are powered with propane, lowering emissions and running the equipment more economically. Alternative fuels continue to be explored by staff for opportunities to both reduce County impact on the environment and to reduce costs. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has been used in municipal fleets in many areas in the US and its use is growing; however, after significant research, it is not yet feasible for Lane County. The initial infrastructure capital expenditures for CNG would cost in excess of $2 million and there is no current funding for these capital costs. This would include siting and installation of tanks, manifolds, and distribution assemblies. Fleet maintenance facilities would need major retrofitting to accommodate this lighter than air fuel. For example, all electrical installations would need to be replaced with explosionproof or vapor-proof installations (every switch, outlet, light, and control panel). Tools used for maintenance would need to be replaced with tools less likely to cause sparks such as rubberized or brass. Additionally, Fleet would need to begin purchasing vehicles that can use CNG. An additional limiting factor is that County Waste Management and Road vehicles operate in a distributed environment across the County and there are no available distribution facilities in Florence or Oakridge, for example. Biodiesel and Ethanol. County fleet vehicles are all compatible with biodiesel (e.g. B20) and ultra-low sulphur diesel. Additionally, many older pieces of County equipment have been retro-fitted with particulate traps to reduce emissions. While the costs for the retrofits have often been subsidized through grants and special programs, ongoing maintenance costs have increased due to the traps. County gasoline powered vehicles all run on E10 ethanol blends (mandated by the State). While the County has some flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on higher percent blends of ethanol, availability of the fuel is extremely limited within the County. Additionally, the fuel itself is less efficient leading to less power and higher consumption rates.
5. Facility Retrofits. Numerous facilities have gone through major remodels and less ambitious retrofits. For example, the Data Center in the PSB went through a major remodel. This was designed not only to improve the functionality of this major information infrastructure, but also to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Additionally, particularly in the PSB but also other County facilities, lighting controls and lamps have been retrofitted with more energy efficient technology. Staff believes that the County should experience a reduction in energy costs around $60,000 as compared to costs two years ago.
Lane County continues to be a leader in exploring reliable, sustainable and well-researched alternatives for combining efficient and effective government with responsible stewardship of its natural resources.
Lane County Government is becoming more efficient, open and effective. After the newly-created position of Lane County Performance Auditor was filled by Shanda Miller a Temporary Internal Audit Committee was commissioned to help Ms. Miller create a work plan. The temporary committee also helped form a three-year strategic plan and a prioritized list of opportunities for avoiding risk and making Lane County Government more efficient.
The temporary committee has completed its work ahead of schedule and Ms. Miller is moving forward with the next phase of the job: implementation of the work plan and priorities.
I chaired the temporary committee. The other voting members were: Commissioner Sid Leiken, Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp, County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky and Budget Committee Chair Denis Hijmans. A permanent committee will now be formed and will include two County Commissioners and three non-elected members with expertise in accounting, auditing and/or general operational management.
The Temporary Internal Audit Committee has been assigned to be the candidate review committee for the permanent Performance Audit Committee. There is currently a meeting scheduled for March 14 2016 to review, deliberate and recommend candidates to the Board of County Commissioners.
The fiscal year 2015-16 Work Plan for the office of the Auditor will include:
1. Implementation of a Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline
2. Financial Indicators Audit: Fieldwork is complete and the first draft of the audit report has been written. We anticipate the draft report will be submitted to department management and staff by the end of February. Staff and management will give feedback and comments on the draft report and the final audit report is scheduled to be finished by the end of March.
3. Behavioral Health Audit: Behavioral Health, including mental health and substance abuse issues, has been identified as the highest priority for full audit. The audit will begin in early March. Ms. Miller has two interns lined up to assist on this large project.
The work plan of the Performance Auditor is designed to give the public a clearer insight into how Lane County Government operates and to identify areas of risk and opportunity to create a more efficient and responsive Government.
The temporary committee worked for a year in conjunction with Lane County Counsel and Human Resources to create a work plan and strategic priorities that fit the charge of the office. Reports will be regularly provided to outline the progress of the plan and priorities.