Grant County Court minutes from Jan. 25, 2017:
8:40 am – EXECUTIVE SESSION. The court held an executive session under ORS 192.660(2)(e) to conduct deliberations with person you have designated to negotiate real property transactions. The court left executive session at 8:55 am and no motions were made.
9:00 am -- Call to Order. Present were Judge Scott W. Myers, Commissioners Jim Hamsher and Boyd Britton, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Representative Cliff Bentz, Jim Spell, Katie Nelson, Sarah Russ, Doug Ferguson, Gail Beverlin, Judy Schuette, Dan Becker, Frances Preston, Jim Sproul, Ted Williams, Gordon Larsen, Judy Kerr, and Pastor Al Altnow. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Altnow.
AGENDA. Judge Myers explained there was a mistake on his and his staff’s part and Representative Bentz should have been on the agenda for this morning. Agenda items have been moved around to facilitate the presentation of Rep. Bentz.
REPRESENTATIVE CLIFF BENTZ. Bentz explained two issues to the court including the budget shortfall and the proposed transportation package.
9:04 am Reporter Logan Bagett, Burke O’Brien & Sally Bartlett entered.
Bentz discussed the proposed gas tax and the low carbon fuel standard law that is now in effect. He said he voted against the new law, but he was outvoted. Bentz explained the issues with reducing carbon intensity in gasoline and the problems in following the law. Bentz said the estimates are that gas prices will increase by $.04 to $.18 cents per gallon, but he believes it will be much higher. Bentz talked about how the bridges and city roads in our state are declining and that in the future our highways will begin to as well. Bentz believes those in favor of the carbon law don’t care if the gas prices rise because their goal is to get people to drive less. Bentz plans on introducing bills to raise money for infrastructure and asked the court what they would like him to do.
9:13 am Clerk Brenda Percy entered.
Bentz expressed concern over the deteriorating roads in our local cities and cited Seneca as an example. Bentz asked if the court and those in attendance want him to go to Salem and try to get additional funding for transportation and he said this will mean an increase in taxes. The current gas tax in Oregon is $.30 cents per gallon along with $.18 cents per gallon in federal tax. If a person drives 12,ooo miles per year and gets 21 mpg the annual cost to this person is $153 for the gas tax. Bentz explained there are currently 14 senators and representatives tasked with putting together a transportation package. Bentz discussed the issues with future gas costs due to the carbon law and attempting to find funding.
9:22 am Zach Williams entered.
Judge Myers asked if spending cuts were being looked at in other areas. Bentz talked about the different things happening right now at the state level to locate potential wasteful spending. One example is the audit being conducted on the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Commissioner Hamsher asked if anyone had looked into possibly requiring registration for bicycles since they also use the highways. Bentz said he has looked at a fee when bicycles are purchased, but discovered the cost of setting up the program would cost as much as the fees collected. Bentz explained how portions of the bill he is proposing will adjust registration fees based on the mileage and type of vehicle. Bentz also believes bicycle issues will be discussed. Bentz said $.01 cent in gas tax raises 28 million dollars per year, but to fix our transportation problems in the state will take billions. Bentz discussed the possibility of a bond to help with transportation funding. Bentz said Grant County is in much better financial shape than the other 4 counties he represents in that the county has been careful with funding received and has a substantial reserve in the road department budget. Commissioner Britton asked what the average cost of gasoline is now and Bentz said it is around $2.50 per gallon including taxes. Britton suggested putting an index in the budget that adjusts depending on the cost of fuel. Britton asked if Bentz was familiar with what AOC is proposing. Bentz stated it is a good idea and told the audience what the proposal is. President Trump’s administration is working on a transportation package and Bentz urged the court to create a list of county needs for infrastructure and send it to Congressman Walden. If the gas tax is increased the county would receive $.03 cents per gallon purchased.
10:09 am The court took a short recess. 10:12 am The court returned to session.
10:12 am King Williams, Reporter Rylan Boggs, VA Director Andrea Officer and Deputy District Attorney Mara Houck entered.
VICTIM ASSISTANCE. Victim Assistance Director Andrea Officer requested court permission to solicit grant funding for fiscal year 2017-2019. This would be to reapply for the Child Abuse Multidisciplinary Team Grant (CAMI) and the last award received was approximately $45,000. MSP: Britton/Hamsher -- to authorize Officer to apply for the CAMI Grant and upon Judge Myers approval to authorize him to sign it.
FMAG GRANT. Economic Development Coordinator requested court approval to submit the FMAG Grant. This grant is around $400,000 and will be used for flood mitigation of which the county must match 25% in kind. The grant application is due on Friday, January 27th. Bartlett added Doug Ferguson and Ted Williams have been extremely helpful to her. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve submission of the FMAG Grant and authorize Judge Myers to sign it on Friday.
10:26 am Treasurer Julie Ellison entered.
COLA INCREASE. Treasurer Julie Ellison presented a request to the court to approve a 1% cost of living adjustment for employee salaries for fiscal year 2017-2018. Ellison explained how she calculated the COLA increase. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve a 1% COLA increase employee salaries county wide for FY 2017-2018.
10:30 am Greg Close entered.
MORROW CO. PARKS. Morrow Co. Parks Manager Greg Close provided an update to the court regarding the OHV Park. Myers explained the OHV Park is partially in Grant County and is shared between Grant and Morrow County. Approximately 2000 acres are in Grant Co. Close gave the court members a hand out showing different areas in the park and projects they have completed. Close said the grazing lease they had last year went very well and the cattle stayed up high and were not around streams very much. The park hosts a spike only elk hunt each year for Morrow County and Grant County youth and last year three elk were harvested. Burke O’Brien explained how the hunt works.
10:41 am Rob Raschio entered.
The park received an award this year from Oregon State Parks & Recreation acknowledging the work they have completed. Close said he worked on the ponds on the property to ensure they are aerated and good for the fish. The ponds are stocked with fish each year. O’Brien explained Morrow and Grant County have a memorandum of understanding regarding management of the OHV Park. There is a separate grazing permit for the property in Grant County and the property in Morrow County and the fees charged for the grazing permits pay the property taxes to each county. Close invited those in attendance to visit the park.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton reported he was unable to attend a SEACT meeting earlier this week held via telephone in which a lot of issues Rep. Bentz brought up today were discussed. Britton participated in a Western Governor’s meeting last Monday and Tuesday regarding timber management and grazing issues.
Judge Myers chaired a Mental Health Advisory Board meeting last Thursday, went to a Heritage Foundation meeting on Friday at the Outpost and donated his 10th gallon of blood on Monday. Yesterday Myers went to Baker City for a Community Connections meeting and then attended an Educational Forum at Grant Union in the evening.
Commissioner Hamsher met with the Road Master last Wednesday to discuss any potential difficulties with staging a piece of equipment near the Inland Bridge and then went to lunch at the senior center. Hamsher went to the Fairgrounds to see Mindy Winegar last week to discuss the need for a new tractor. On Monday he talked with Sally Bartlett to obtain more information on the FMAG Grant.
MINUTES. MSP: Britton/Myers-- to approve the January 18th minutes as amended.
S&C ELECTRIC CONTRACT. The court reviewed and signed the contract with S&C Electric for electrical installation for the PA System and Reader Boards at the Fairgrounds. The court had previously awarded this contract to S&C pending approval of the contract from the USDA. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the contract with S&C Electric and circulate for signatures.
TROXELL COMMUNICATIONS CONTRACT. The court reviewed and signed the contract with Troxell Communications for installation of the PA System at the Fairgrounds. The court had previously awarded this contract to Troxell pending approval of the contract from the USDA. MSP: Myers/Hamsher-- to approve the contract with Troxell Communications and circulate for signatures.
ASSESSOR’S OFFICE POSITION. Assessor David Thunell sent a request to the court to approve changing the full time Department Specialist position to a regular half time Department Assistant position. This is a clerical position in the assessor’s office. Laurie Wright explained this position will save money for the department and the assessor does not feel he needs a full time position. MSP: Myer/Britton -- to approve the position change from full time Department Specialist to half time Department Assistant.
NEW COUNTY VEHICLE. The court reviewed quotes received from state procurement dealerships for a new county vehicle. Myers explained a new vehicle was budgeted for in last year’s budget in the amount of $35,000 and the vehicles being looked at are all wheel drive SUV’s in the $26,000 to $28,000 range. Hamsher pointed out one of the dealerships quoted a Silver Ford Edge currently in stock for basically the same amount as ordering one. If a vehicle is ordered it will take 90-120 days to be delivered. Britton would like to see additional quotes from dealerships closer to Grant County. Hamsher suggested putting this off until next week to obtain additional quotes and he will check with Grant County Automotive to see if they are able to do warranty work on Fords. The court agreed to put this discussion off until next week.
L-BUILDING SUITES 1 & 2. Judge Myers advised those in attendance that Community Counseling Solutions will be expanding the services they offer and have expressed interest in leasing suites 1 & 2 at the L-Building from the county. Myers said he attended a Mental Health Advisory Board meeting last Tuesday and had a discussion with Thad Labhart about CCS needing additional room. Labhart told Myers they are going to be adding additional staff and are completely filling the current building. Britton believes the remodel should go forward on this and the rooms should be rented. Myers said Labhart believes CCS will assist financially with the remodel costs. The court agreed by consensus to move forward with this project.
PUBLIC COMMENT. Judy Kerr asked on the status for the voice booster for the courtroom. Myers said he and Wright have been researching different systems and hopes to have something in place soon.
11:25 am VSO Jeff Wilcox entered.
Jim Sproul asked about capacity of the pavilion at the Fairgrounds and Myers said it is 999. Veteran Services Officer Jeff Wilcox reported he has been doing a lot of outreach and he has been impressed with all of the assistance he has received from the government in our area. Wilcox said he knows reaching out to government isn’t always a popular idea, but he is bi-partisan and will do whatever he can to benefit our veterans. Wilcox would like people to present ideas to him for veteran outreach and suggested possibly holding a Veteran’s Appreciation Dinner. Rob Raschio said at the last Mental Health Advisory meeting the discussion was held about providing additional services to veterans.
11:33 am -- Adjourned