Grant County Court minutes from Dec. 19, 2018:
Pursuant to notice made to the newspaper of general circulation throughout Grant County, the radio station, county website, and e-mail distribution list, a regular meeting of the County Court was held at the County Courthouse in Canyon City, OR.
9:00 am -- Call to Order. Present were Judge Scott W. Myers, Commissioners Jim Hamsher and Rob Raschio, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Frances Preston, Katy Nelson, Jim Sproul, Sharon Livingston, Reporter Rick Hanners, Dave Traylor, and Pastor Wes Aasness. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Aasness.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #79-81.
CORRECTION TO NOVEMBER 28th MINUTES. On page three of the November 28th minutes there was discussion regarding wolves and a wolf kill in Logan Valley. Judge Myers asked that this be corrected to reflect it was an injury to a calf caused by a wolf and not a wolf kill.
CORRECTION TO DECEMBER 12th MINUTES. On page four of the December 12th minutes the grants for Victims Assistance were incorrectly identified. The correct identification should be “Officer said the VAWA grant was extended until the end of December 2018, but after that funding would have stopped. Officer wrote to the OVW grant monitor and reported the county court funding that was previously approved was why the additional grant funding of $42,120 was approved.”
AGENDA. MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to accept the agenda with the addition of review of a budget resolution as Item J.
9:02 am Judy Kerr entered.
Commissioner Raschio pointed out the CASA funding request was supposed to be on the agenda today. Judge Myers advised he did not have time to determine a funding source with the Treasurer and so this will need to be on a future agenda. Commissioner Hamsher suggested approving the funding request now pending a funding source. Raschio said the Treasurer has indicated it could be approved now and she could create a budget resolution later.
9:05 am Commissioner-elect Sam Palmer entered.
CASA FUNDING REQUEST. The court discussed different options for funding sources. MSP: Hamsher/Raschio -- to approve funding to CASA in the amount of $6,750 once a funding source is located.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Judge Myers attended a Forest Service meeting regarding the Ragged Ruby project on December 12th and on the 13th went to a Mental Health Advisory Committee meeting.
9:08 am Reporter Logan Bagett entered.
Myers and Commissioner-elect Sam Palmer discussed the Public Health Administrator position with the Oregon Health Authority by telephone on December 14th. On the 17th Myers met with the Undersheriff, Treasurer and Economic Development Director to get clarification on the available Title III funding for forest patrol and search and rescue. December 18th Myers conducted a performance evaluation of the Emergency Management Coordinator and yesterday evening he went to a digital network board meeting. Tomorrow Myers will be sworn in for his next term because he will be gone on Friday. Friday at 11:30 am the other elected positions will be sworn in by Judge Cramer and all will take office officially on January 7th. County offices will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. December 27th Myer will conduct a performance evaluation for the Librarian and will perform a wedding on December 31st.
Commissioner Hamsher called T-Mobile a few times to attempt to get additional information on cell tower locations and coverage area. Hamsher has also been speaking with several residents regarding how the Forest Plan Revision meetings have been going. He has also talked with Commissioner Mark Owens from Harney County about the same issues. On Friday the Stockgrowers will be holding a presentation on wolves and the impact they are having in our area.
Commissioner Raschio said he spoke with Kathy Smartt from DHS regarding the foster care issues in the county. Raschio received an email from Smartt who had talked with Chris Phillips (Regional DHS Manager) indicating the number of children in foster care has not doubled in Grant County (the numbers have actually dropped significantly) and differential response has never been conducted here. Raschio just wanted to make sure this was on the court record. Raschio advised after his 6 months on the court he believes there are more areas of agreement with the people of Grant County than disagreement. He said we share common goals such as economic development, retaining our population and opportunities to further develop our economy.
9:18 am Angie Jones entered.
Raschio wished to remind everyone that at the end of the day we all need to come together to implement change in our community. Raschio thanked Myers and Hamsher for allowing him the opportunity to serve on the court. He also advised he believes in our public officials and the work they are trying to do in the county. Raschio thanked the public and especially those in attendance who have given him a lot of ideas and input.
Judge Myers recited the State Attorney General’s Sample Script to Announce the Start of Executive Session.
EXECUTIVE SESSION. 9:22 am - The court members met in executive session pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(e) to conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to negotiate real property transactions. Judge Myers recited the State Attorney General’s Sample Script to Announce the Start of Executive Session. Present were Judge Myers, Commissioner Raschio, Commissioner Hamsher, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Reporter Logan Bagett and Reporter Rick Hanners. The court left executive session at 9:38 am. The court returned to regular session at 9:39 pm. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to decline the offer to purchase a portion of the property on South Humbolt.
9:39 am Elaine Smith and Shaun Robertson entered.
MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Hamsher-- to approve the December 12th minutes as presented.
PROPOSED WATER RESOURCE COMMITTEE. The court members discussed the creation of a water resource committee. Myers advised there have been discussions held with legal counsel and the court needs to discuss the number of members and criteria for membership. Myers suggested 5 to 7 members and having representatives from the ranching and farming communities along with 3 at large members. Myers believes this will be an advisory committee to the court and not a decision making body. He said the court has been advised by legal counsel to not re-implement the riparian committee that was in place in the 90’s. Hamsher said he has talked with Shaun Robertson and asked for his suggestion for the number of members. Robertson stated it depends on what the committee ends up being, whether it is an ad hoc committee or becomes a district. Robertson said there have been 4 or 5 people working on this so far. Hamsher suggested having those who have been working on this so far bring recommendations to the court for the formation. Myers questioned if a natural resource committee were formed in the future would this committee be a part of that or work with a natural resource committee. Robertson believes the concept for this might fall under the larger natural resource committee at some point in the future.
9:46 am Clerk Brenda Percy, Assessor David Thunell and Deputy Clerk Brooke Griffith entered.
9:47 am Treasurer Julie Ellison entered.
Raschio would like to see someone on this committee from one of the municipal water districts. Discussion followed about different ideas for membership. Robertson expressed his belief that diversity is good on a committee for different ideas and outlook. Robertson’s goal is to make whatever decision the court makes work and sees this as a grass roots group of local citizens. MSP: Hamsher/Myers -- to appoint volunteers after review of the list of those who have been working on this and ask that they bring ideas to the court for the formation of the committee. Frances Preston would like to see 3 or 4 people on the committee and public outreach for professional credentials for membership on the committee. Preston is concerned with potential conflict of interest. Myers said this is why the court requested a list of the people who have been working on this and has the same concerns. Raschio wants to ensure all communities are adequately represented.
FACILITY REPAIRS. Commissioner Raschio wanted to talk about courtroom window replacement for the three courtrooms in the courthouse. Raschio said Judge Cramer has been talking about courtroom security and that there is a pool of money to window replacement in courtrooms. Raschio suggested this discussion could be held at the next court security meeting and wanted to bring this to the courts attention. Myers is a member of the court security committee. Myers reported there is also legislative funding available for building improvements and we may qualify for assistance for roof repair of the courthouse. Raschio asked when the last time an evaluation was done on all county buildings for necessary repairs. Myers reported approximately 2 or 3 years ago City County Insurance (CIS) evaluated the county facilities and he is aware of the condition of most of the facilities.
TRAVEL POLICY. The current travel policy for employees was discussed by the court. Myers said the current travel policy was revised in 2016. Raschio expressed his understanding that employees are being required to reimburse travel expenses that are audited regularly. Myers said when employees go over the meal allowance, lose receipts or over tip they are required to reimburse the county. Raschio believes if employees are gone on county business for a full day they should receive a per diem amount of $51 instead of the way the reimbursement policy is currently done. He also feels the mileage rate should be the same as the current IRS rate. Raschio thinks per diem should just be paid to employees at a flat rate. Clerk Brenda Percy believes when employees travel out of town for the meeting their lunch should be paid for. Hamsher said there are ways to do this by setting amounts for each meal. He also believes paying a flat per diem rate would simplify book keeping for employees. Percy advised most of the employees are very well versed with the current policy requirements and the current process runs smoothly. Raschio said if a meal is provided at a meeting then it would be unethical for an employee to request a per diem. He also said if an employee were caught doing this they would be subject to discipline. Percy expressed her opinion that this would be hard to monitor and would actually increase the workload of the Deputy Clerk. Raschio explained a form would be used where employees would check off the meals they purchased after returning from training. Judy Kerr believes the current policy is cumbersome and believes this can be much simpler. Myers pointed out the department that follows current policy has stated they believe the process is streamlined and working. Myers expressed concern about accountability and that the current system works well. He also suggested this should be a discussion held during the budget process. MSF: Myers/Hamsher -- to retain the current county travel policy. Treasurer Julie Ellison said even with the current mileage rate she calculated it out and it is more than enough to cover gas cost and vehicle maintenance. Preston agrees with Raschio and thinks this is a much more trustworthy and accountable way to handle per diem. Percy said as a taxpayer she wants to know that employees are being compensated, but not making money on travel. Raschio agrees this decision should not be made in the middle of a budget cycle, but does feel a per diem policy would be much more efficient and should be looked at in the future. Myers voted yes, Raschio voted no and would prefer the per diem policy be changed, Hamsher would like to amend the motion. MSP: Hamsher/Myers – to have this discussion again closer to budget time.
PUBLIC HEARING – MARIJUANA TAX REVENUE ORDINANCE 2018-06. MSP: Myers/Raschio to open the hearing at 10:34 am. Ordinance No. 2018-06 – In the Matter of Adopting a Tax on the Retail Sales of Marijuana Items within Unincorporated Grant County. Myers explained this Ordinance allows the county to collect tax revenue pursuant to state law. Raschio thanked Ellison for catching this and reminding the court that a tax needed to be put into place. Raschio said because the money from this tax will be paid in cash it will first go to the Tax Collector for counting and then to the Treasurer for a second count.
10:38 am Roadmaster Alan Hickerson and Office Manager Kathy Gillam entered.
Myers read Ordinance 2018-06 title and summarized the first page. Myers advised this Ordinance will be passed as an emergency. Myers offered public testimony. Raschio pointed out Haley Olson who owns the only dispensary in the county has been pushing for the court to enact this tax and wished to thank her on the record.
Opposed: None received.
In-Favor: None received.
MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to adopt Ordinance 2018-06 as an emergency and circulate for signatures.
MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to close the public hearing.
ROAD DEPARTMENT. Roadmaster Alan Hickerson advised the court that Western States did not have any more blades available. Hickerson requested authorization to purchase and install a back-up furnace system for the main office building at the Road Department. Hickerson explained they have had numerous repairs completed on the current heating system at the department (3 furnaces in the ceiling), but none have sustained a reliable heat source for the winter and have never worked correctly. Local contractors have recommended solutions to the issue. Hickerson requested quotes from True Value Hardware and Ed Staub & Sons. Only True Value responded with a quote of $5,344. MSP: Hamsher/Raschio -- to approve the purchase and installation of the heating system from True Value in the amount of $5,344 to be paid from the road department capital outlay fund.
10:48 am Economic Development Director Sally Bartlett entered.
10:52 am Haley Olson entered.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Economic Development Director Sally Bartlett updated the court on Title III funding. Initiating Projects for the May 2018 Title III Funding: Bartlett explained the authorized uses of the Title III funding: 1) to carry out activities of the Firewise Communities program; 2) to reimburse for search and rescue and other emergency services, including firefighting and law enforcement patrols; 3) to cover training costs and equipment purchases directly related to emergency services described in paragraph (2); and to develop and carry out community wildfire protection plans. The amount of funding for this initiation is $81,486.79. Bartlett explained the projects proposed for each category and summarized the total amounts recommended: 1) Firewise Communities Program: $2,000; 2) Search & Rescue and Emergency Services: $75,000; 3) Community Wildfire Protection Plan: $4,486.79. The 45 day public comment period for the above projects will be published in the County’s newspaper of record, the Blue Mountain Eagle, will be announced on KJDY radio and posted on the County’s website immediately after this initiation is recorded as approved by the Grant County Court minutes. MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to approve the initiation of Title III funding in the amount of $81,486.79 as recommended by Sally Bartlett.
INVESTMENT POLICY. Raschio asked the court to continue working on the investment policy with the Treasurer to allow investments in the State Intermediate Pool. Raschio believes this was already authorized and now the current paperwork just needs to be put into place.
PUBLIC HEALTH ADMINSTRATOR. Myers said he and Commissioner-elect Palmer held a telephonic conference with the Oregon Health Authority regarding Palmer being the Public Health Administrator for Grant County. Raschio asked if this would be like a committee appointment. Myers said this would a court appointment and if it is discovered that it is too much work or overwhelming for Palmer then it can be revisited and a stipend could also be paid for this service. MSP: Myers/Raschio – to appoint Sam Palmer as the Public Health Administrator effective on January 7th, 2019 when he takes office. Preston said Palmer is a unique individual for this position and thinks a stipend should be paid for this service. Sproul also believes a stipend should be offered to whoever takes this position. Raschio said these discussions have been held with Palmer and will be determined. Raschio also suggested providing office space for the commissioners to utilize. Myers said this could be accommodated and Hamsher thinks this would be nice. Palmer advised it will be an honor to serve as the Public Health Administrator and he would like to do this as part of his commission duties and leaves it up to the court to decide if a stipend should be paid. Preston would like the motion revised to allow for a stipend if Palmer decides this is something he might find necessary in the future. Myers expressed no comment to this. Raschio said this may take a lot of time, or it may take little time and he isn’t comfortable making this decision at his last meeting.
11:13 am The court took a short break. 11:19 am The court returned to session.
SHARON LIVINGSTON. Sharon Livingston shared an article with the court from Range magazine along with a copy of the Western Livestock Journal. Livingston said every legislature in Washington, DC receives Range magazine, whether or not they read it. Livingston asked for court assistance with what she believes will put the economy of the county back on track. Livingston reported she is a firm believer in the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and she no longer says she is from Oregon, but rather from Eastern Oregon. Livingston read a quote from Range magazine and from the Declaration of Independence to those in attendance. Livingston summarized her family history in the area and declared the Malheur National Forest is the crown jewel of our region.
11:26 am Planning Director Hilary McNary and Planning Assistant Shannon Springer entered.
Livingston discussed the problems she sees within the national forest and problems created by faceless bureaucrats. In her opinion the time is right to write a letter about our concerns and issues. She requested a letter from the court be sent to President Trump, Secretary of the Interior Zinke, Secretary of Agriculture Perdue, Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, Representative Walden and Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa regarding the economic, agricultural and other issues we are facing. Hamsher agreed with all of the points Livingston brought up including educating our children about our natural resources. Palmer stated for the first time in 25 years he is optimistic that now is a time the federal government will listen. Palmer spoke about the different officials and elected officials he has met with and believes he may get a short meeting with President Trump. Elaine Smith believes citizens need to know what their rights are and not just believe what they are told. Smith said it is time for us to claim those rights. Livingston passionately emphasized that the Malheur National Forest belongs to Grant County, not the other way around. MSP: Hamsher/Raschio – for the court to begin drafting a letter to the officials Livingston requested and to sign it at the next court meeting. Dave Traylor said Livingston speaks for numerous citizens and believes the court needs to work towards coordination. Traylor thanked Raschio for his service on the court and his ability to be open minded. Hamsher said during his conversation with Commissioner Owens coordination was discussed along with working with other counties to remain united.
PUBLIC HEARING – ROAD NAMING FEE ORDINANCE 2018-05. MSP: Myers/Raschio – to open the public hearing. The hearing opened at 11:52 am. Ordinance No. 2018-05 – An Ordinance Establishing a Fee for Road Naming in Accordance with Provisions in County Ordinance 92-03 and Declaring an Emergency. Planning Director Hilary McNary reported there are certain situations in which the Planning Department must name roads and it was brought up that this service should probably have costs associated with it. McNary read the title of Ordinance No. 2018-05 and explained the reason for declaring an emergency was so it could take effect immediately. Hamsher commended McNary and Springer for putting this ordinance together. McNary said the fees for the ordinance are based upon estimated staff time, equipment depreciation and actual costs such as publication in the newspaper. Myers offered public testimony.
In-Favor: None offered.
Sproul asked if this would pertain to all lands within the county or just private roads. Planning Assistant Shannon Springer said it would apply to all roads.
Opposed: None received.
Neutral: None received.
MSP: Hamsher/Raschio -- to adopt Ordinance 2018-05 as an emergency and circulate for signatures. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to close the public hearing.
RESOLUTION 18-40. Treasurer Julie Ellison had prepared budget Resolution 18-40 to transfer $2,500 from Sheriff’s Patrol material and services to personnel services. Myers read the resolution to those in attendance. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve Resolution 18-40 and circulate for signatures.
AOC MEMBERSHIP DUES. The court reviewed the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) Invoice for membership dues for 2019. The dues total $24,312.93 and are described as: AOC General Fund $5,944.45; Public Land Fund $10,145.95; Video Lottery Defense Fund $195.80; Federal Land Management Subcommittee $7,531.03; Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) Alliance $233; and Veterans Fund $262.70. The general fund and public lands fund are required for AOC membership, all the others are voluntary. Myers believes the AOC membership is invaluable to our county. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to authorize payment of the AOC dues for 2019 in the amount of $24,312.93. Hamsher wanted the public to know the AOC does important lobbying for counties around the state and in his opinion membership is very beneficial. Raschio believes the AOC dues allow our county to have a voice at the federal level. Myers encouraged Palmer to serve on as many AOC committees as he can.
PUBLIC COMMENT. Livingston thanked the court for the support in installing the Purple Heart signs in the county. Preston advised she attended meetings for the Forest Plan Revision and was embarrassed that our court members were only in attendance at the meeting in John Day. Preston was advised by a lady who attended that she was there representing Eastern Oregon Counties and said we should be giving this group money. Myers stated Grant County is a member of the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and the Eastern Oregon Communities Association (EOCA) and pays dues to both entities. Hamsher reported at the AOC conference there were meetings held regarding talking points and scheduling to have representatives at each meeting. Sproul thanked Raschio for his work on the court and said he has brought civility to the court. Sproul believes the court will face numerous issues moving forward including coordination with the Forest Service. Preston stated the most dynamic moment of the Forest Plan Revision meeting was when the regional foresters went into a room and when they returned they declared coordination. Raschio wished Palmer good luck in moving forward.
MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to adjourn the meeting. 12:18 pm Adjourned.
**** Please note the court minutes are a summary of the court proceedings. An audio recording of each court session is available, after approval of the minutes, by contacting Laurie Wright at 541-575-0059 or email@example.com ****