Grant County Court minutes from Oct. 24, 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, Judy Kerr, Jim Sproul, Katy Nelson, Reporter Rick Hanners, Frances Preston, Didgette McCracken and Pastor Wes Aasness. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Aasness.

AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to accept the agenda as presented.

ANNOUNCEMENTS. Judge Myers reported that on the 18th he met with a few people from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), including Bob Bagett and the septic inspector trainee from Harney County, and said we are going to partner with them to provide local septic inspections. Yesterday Myers traveled to La Grande for a Community Connections Northeast Oregon quarterly meeting.

9:05 am Dan Becker entered.

Tomorrow Myers will again travel to La Grande for a meeting with Rep. Walden and a representative of the Forest Service to discuss the Forest Plan Revision. Next Tuesday he will go to La Grande for a Northeast Oregon Housing Authority meeting and on Halloween has a meeting with Librarian Vicki Bond and Kathy Smith.

Commissioner Hamsher said a Veteran’s information fair was held at the Elks Club last week and helped serve dinner at the event. He will also attend the meeting with Rep. Walden tomorrow. Hamsher was able to briefly attend the hospital benefit auction as well. He will be attending a meeting on Monday at the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) regarding fire protection for private lands. Hamsher said he signed the contract amendment for the City of Prairie City sewer project this morning.

Commissioner Raschio said October has been extremely busy for him. He was able to meet with the City of John Day regarding the swimming pool project and anticipates a proposal will be presented to the county sometime in November to solicit possible support for the project. Raschio is in favor of assisting with the project. Raschio reported he has hearings scheduled for November 7th and may not be able to attend court. He will be here on November 14th to sign claims.

9:10 am Assessor David Thunell, Chief Appraiser Steve Fischer and Reporter Logan Bagett entered.

Raschio said after the election he will speak with the new commissioner elect and will either stay until the end of the term or wait until January, depending on the wishes of the new commissioner. Raschio added that he has enjoyed his work as a commissioner.

MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the October 17th minutes as amended.

COURT HEARING – REDUCED REDEMPTION PERIOD FOR TAX FORECLOSURE. Judge Myers moved to open the hearing at 9:15 am, Raschio seconded, motion passed. The property is located at 801 Bridge Street, Prairie City, OR. Hamsher said this is a double wide trailer that burnt down a few years ago and thanked the Assessor’s Office, Laurie Wright and County Counsel for the work on this. Assessor David Thunell explained the property situation and displayed pictures of the property in its current condition. Thunell advised all required notifications have been done. Raschio moved to include the photographs into the record, Myers seconded, motion passed. Thunell said this property has been unoccupied and deteriorating for years. Hamsher would like to have the risk to public safety added as a reason for the reduced redemption period. The owner of the property, Eula Waits, was injured in the fire and died a few months later. Wright advised Ron Yockim recommended publishing the signed Order in the newspaper after it is signed as another form of notification since no probate has been initiated. Hamsher said the City of Prairie has attempted to contact the daughter of Waits and has had no success. Myers offered testimony as follows:

Persons in favor of forfeiture of redemption rights: Judy Kerr is very much in favor of the forfeiture and said this is a safety issue to the public. Jim Sproul agrees this is a safety hazard and is only concerned that the statute be followed. Myers advised the court has followed the legal advice of County Counsel during this entire process. Hamsher pointed out this property was foreclosed for unpaid back taxes.

Owner of record: None.

Interested parties: None. Umpqua Bank and the Oregon Dept. of Revenue Deferral Program were noticed by certified and regular mail as required. Thunell advised once the property is auctioned the Dept. of Revenue lien would need to be paid off, but all other liens go away.

Persons opposing forfeiture: None.

MSP: Myers/Raschio – to close the hearing. The hearing was closed at 9:28 am. Raschio believes the minimum bid for the property should at least by what is owed to the state and the back taxes to the county. Hamsher expressed concern that if the cost is too high then the county would be responsible for the property.

9:30 am Undersheriff Zach Mobley and Corrections Sergeant Josh Wolf entered.

Raschio would like the county to clean the property up after taking ownership. Hamsher agreed that this might increase the value of the property. MSP: Raschio/Hamsher – that the property is in a state of waste, the property is abandoned and should be deeded to the county pursuant to ORS 312.200. Myers read Order 2018-05 to those in attendance by title. The court reviewed Order 2018-05 prepared by County Counsel determining the property is subject to waste and substantial depreciation in value and ordering the Tax Collector to deed the property to Grant County before the redemption period ends. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve Order 2018-05 and circulate for signatures and to publish the Order in the newspaper.

9:35 am Sheriff Glenn Palmer entered.

SNOW REMOVAL QUOTES. The court reviewed the snow removal quotes received and opened at the Road Department yesterday. This is for snow removal between Sumpter and Granite. The only quote received was from Columbia Basin Helicopters in the amount of $61,200. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to direct the Roadmaster to complete a final review and ensure the contractor meets all necessary requirements and to get his recommendation for award.

COUNTY CAR. The court discussed the possibility of purchasing an additional county car for employee use. The Equinox SUV purchased in February of 2017 has already had over 30,000 miles put on it and is used frequently. The Ford 500 that was purchased to supplement the SUV has had some mechanical issues and would be better served as an Airport courtesy car. One of the courtesy cars currently being used at the Airport is unreliable and breaks down frequently. Myers suggested seeking out a similar car to the Equinox, but lightly used with low mileage.

9:41 am Sharon Livingston entered.

Myers estimated the savings for mileage reimbursement is around $13,000. Hamsher agreed that the county is saving quite a bit of money by providing a county car. Raschio would like to see a county policy requiring employees to use the county car if it is available. Wright explained the new handbook will have a policy stating if a county car is available and an employee chooses to use their own they would only be reimbursed at half of the current mileage rate. She added that adoption of the policy would be up to the court. The current SUV is out frequently, on average at least 3 times per week. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to seek out a lightly used vehicle, preferably AWD of 4WD, with a cost of $20,000 or under. Kerr pointed out that when private vehicles are used the wear and tear falls on a private party. Myers believes it is more efficient to provide a couple of county cars as this saves travel funds in department budgets.

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. Undersheriff Zach Mobley presented an update to the court on the Patrol Sergeant Position. Raschio thanked Mobley for coming today and said this is a follow up discussion from when the court approved the Sergeant position. Raschio reported at the last Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) meeting he went to City County Insurance Services (CIS) recommended the court perform annual review of jail health care policies to ensure they are meeting state requirements. Mobley advised since they hired this position in July they have saved approximately $9,000 in overtime costs and although it will not eliminate all overtime it has made a substantial impact on the overtime budget. This has also allowed current deputies to be able to take time off. Mobley said they have also hired a part time Forest Patrol/SAR Coordinator Deputy, Dave Dobler. Raschio asked about the impact of having an additional Sergeant in the Jail. Mobley said this has helped because they now have a supervisor available every day and it has cut down on the amount of relief help they have had to utilize. Raschio suggested preparing something for the budget committee to show how this structure is working in the department. Mobley said they have been tracking the statistics and will be able to show the budget committee these figures. Raschio expressed concern that there are two employees of the same rank in the jail. Sheriff Palmer said they chose to go with two Sergeant Positions in the jail because of the way the job descriptions are currently placed. Palmer said both Jail Sergeants have been advised they are at the same level. Corrections Sergeant Josh Wolf advised it is working well, there are always going to be some bumps, but they work through it.

10:01 am Tammy Wheeler entered.

Wolf had provided the jail health care policy to the court and said they meet all state standards that are required with their current policy. Raschio asked if the policy had been submitted to CIS to ensure it meets their recommended best practices. Raschio’s only concern is the possible time lapse for an inmate to be seen. Hamsher would also like to see the policy sent to CIS. Palmer said Lexipol has been working on the current department policies. Lexipol is the standard for law enforcement and they have been working for months to revise the department policies. Mobley also reported the department has increased funding by doubling concealed handgun licenses as they said they would. Mobley will be meeting with Dave Nelson of CIS later this week. He advised the department’s relationship with CCS regarding mental health services is going well and CCS has been very helpful. Hamsher thanked them for the good work being done in the Sheriff’s Department. Raschio thanked Palmer for putting an emphasis on dealing with mental health issues. Myers also expressed his appreciation for the good relationship the court has with the department. Mobley obtained a radio building which is built from a shipping container from federal surplus to replace the current Long Creek building and house the Long Creek radio equipment.

10:12 am Planning Assistant Shannon Springer entered.

The assessed value of the container is $27,000 and Mobley purchased it for $1,500. There is another container available that Mobley would like the county to purchase. Mobley said this could be stored at the road department. MSP: Myers/Raschio – to approve purchase of the second storage container.

10:12 am The court took a short break. 10:17 am Mike Springer entered.

10:18 am The court returned to session.

PLANNING DEPARTMENT. Planning Assistant Shannon Springer presented two proposed road name changes to the court for the Keeney Estates Subdivision along with Resolution 18-32. The road currently known as Martin Lane would be changed to Running Buck Road and the road currently named Fayes Drive would be re-named Doe Trail Lane. Keeney Estates is east of Long Creek off of Keeney Fork Road. Springer explained some of the history of the subdivision. The Hostetter family requested the road name changes and the current property owners all agreed. Myers read a portion of Resolution 18-32 to those in attendance. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve Resolution 18-32 and circulate for signatures. Raschio asked what the fees are for changing road names. Springer advised the only cost is the cost of signs and the installation. Hamsher believes the staff time and notifications required should somehow be reimbursed. Springer said an Ordinance would need to be drafted to charge additional fees. The court requested the Planning Department work on drafting something to this effect.

10:26 am Treasurer Julie Ellison entered.

ORDER 2018-04 – PLANNING APPLICATION ZC-17-01. The court reviewed the Final Order 2018-04 prepared by Legal Counsel after the Planning Hearing on October 7th. This document was drafted from the court findings of last week. MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to approve Order 2018-04 and circulate for signatures.

PUBLIC HEALTH ADMINISTRATOR. Community Counseling Solutions Executive Director Kimberly Lindsay appeared via telephone. The court reviewed a proposed job description for the Public Health Administrator along with a Triennial Review Report from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the compliance issues found by OHA. ORS 431.418(5) requires that the local public health administrator is paid as a county employee and this was an issue that OHA identified as not in compliance. Raschio asked if this position needed to be a .1 FTE with the county. Lindsay said in other places the .1 FTE has been used, but she reviewed the job description and doesn’t believe it will take 16 hours per month. She asked Andrew Epstein from the state if a flat rate could be set instead of setting the rate as an FTE and was told yes. Myers said discussions were held about possibly having Jessica Winegar provide this service, but she is in the middle of schooling and this may be too much for her at this time. Raschio noted the current job description rates this position as an E-11 which equates to $61,476 per year. Hamsher suggested changing the job description to reflect a bachelor’s degree is preferred, but not required. Myers reported the flat rate that has been discussed was $800 per month which is $9,600 per year. Raschio expressed concern with not following the current rate placement. Myers suggested removing the E-11 scale placement from the description and paying this as a flat rate of which he feels $800 is appropriate. Hamsher asked for an estimate of when Jessica Winegar might take this responsibility over. Lindsay said she hasn’t asked Winegar about when she might take over, but rather that this might be something she would take over when she is finished with her degree. Hamsher would prefer to have this discussion with Winegar to get a time frame for when she would be available. He suggested tabling this discussion until the next meeting in order to speak with Winegar. Lindsay said there are items in the job description that Winegar has not done. Hamsher pointed out that Judge Runnels from Harney County serves as their Public Health Administrator. Discussion continued regarding the time that this position would take and the potential budgetary obligations. Myers asked Lindsay to prepare an outline of how much time she believes these duties would take along with what the cost of her time would be. Raschio said if the OHA says it has to be a certain amount of money to meet their requirements that would be helpful for his decision. Lindsay reported the state has to approve a variance because the state requirement is actually for a full time position, but variances have been granted to other counties. She said she was told by Epstein that a proposal had to be submitted to the state for the salary and she asked Epstein if $10,000 would likely be acceptable and he advised it most likely would. Lindsay also pointed out that she currently is paid at a higher rate than the County Judge and so her pay isn’t relevant to this position. She said if the county wanted to use the current pay scale that would be fine with her. Raschio asked Lindsay to approach the state with the $6,100 per year figure (which would follow the current job placement) to see if this might be acceptable. Hamsher believes reaching out to Judge Runnels to see how much time he spends as the Public Health Administrator might be helpful. MSP: Myers/Raschio – to table this discussion until the November 7th meeting. Lindsay said reaching out to Runnels is a good idea, but make sure the time spent is on the items listed in the prepared job description.

10:57 am Roadmaster Alan Hickerson entered.

The County has until December 31, 2018 to enter into compliance before the issues become findings. Raschio would like Lindsay to submit the proposed job description to OHA for review.

AOC ROAD FUND REIMBURSEMENT. The court members discussed the request and reviewed an invoice from the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) for reimbursement to the AOC Road Program Fund Special Assessment 2018 in the amount of $6,330.42. Myers said it would appear AOC has used some of the dues paid to them inappropriately in the past and AOC is now attempting to rectify this and is asking for assistance from counties. Raschio asked Roadmaster Alan Hickerson if AOC provided technical assistance to the road department. Hickerson explained the assistance that has been received from AOC regarding items such as overtime and union negotiations. Frances Preston understands that as a county we pay money to AOC but wanted to know why the county would pay for inappropriate spending of the AOC. Raschio explained the benefits of AOC membership and the services provided to the counties. He added this was inappropriate spending, but not misappropriation and AOC is putting controls into place to ensure this doesn’t occur again. Raschio said AOC humbly reached out for assistance and agreed that this situation is alarming to everyone, but is being corrected. Myers gave some examples of the assistance AOC has provided to the county in the past and believes it is important to assist AOC at this time. Hamsher isn’t sure if the public truly understands how much lobbying the AOC does on our behalf and how beneficial the organization is. Raschio pointed out being a member of this organization allows the county to have a voice it would not have on its own. Myers stated it is very important to assist the AOC at this time. Jim Sproul asked if the AOC dues were paid from the road fund. A portion of the yearly dues are paid from the road department. Sproul suggested using road funds to pay this invoice and the court members advised these funds couldn’t be used for this because road funds can’t repay road funds. Treasurer Julie Ellison said of the $23,884.13 paid last year to the AOC for dues $18,629.62 was paid from the road funds. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve payment to the AOC in the amount of $6,330.42 to be paid from the general fund dues line.

11:22 am The court took a short break. 11:25 am District Attorney Jim Carpenter, Legal Assistant Jamie McKay, Victim Assistance Director Andrea Officer and Victim Intervention Specialist Kimberly Neault entered.

*** During the break the court members signed a re-plat map approved during the court session of September 26, 2018. *** 11:33 am The court returned to session.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY. The court continued discussion about the request from the DA to fund a Deputy District Attorney position and to allow the DA to provide legal services as County Counsel in the future. District Attorney Jim Carpenter provided wage ranges to the court for what Deputy DA’s are paid in other eastern Oregon counties. The comparable wages are from Baker, Harney, Malheur, Umatilla and Union and vary from around $54,000 to $76,000 per year. The current pay scale for Grant County is $54,960 a G-9 level and $58,152 at an F-10 level. Raschio said in the past having a deputy with a small amount of experience handing serious felonies can be a disservice to the community. Raschio suggested revising the proposed job description to place it at a G-9 level for an attorney with 1 to 3 years’ experience and an F-10 placement for an attorney with over 3 years’ experience. MSP: Raschio/Myers – to approve hiring a Deputy District Attorney at a G-9 or G-10 position depending on experience. Myers said like any other position with the county there are no guarantees that this position can be funded indefinitely. Raschio wanted to clarify that he would be making an additional motion to approve matching county funds for future grant applications. Carpenter advised after losing the current grant they have been using Riccola Voigt to fill this position part-time until the end of the year and a new deputy would not be hired until January. Sharon Livingston believes affordability is important for the court to review. Raschio pointed out Carpenter is willing to act as County Counsel in order to make it possible to hire a Deputy DA. Raschio and Hamsher both thanked Carpenter for this. MSP: Raschio/Hamsher -- to approve a grant match of $5,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year to increase to $10,000 next fiscal year to assist with locating grant funding for the victim assistance program. Victim Assistance Director Andrea Officer said in the past when grants were applied for there has been a 20 or 25 percent request for grant matches (which includes in-kind services). Officer said the match funds will assist with getting grant awards because it shows county support for the program. MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to appoint Jim Carpenter as County Counsel effective January 1, 2019, with the exception of those case currently being handled by Yockim & Carollo. Carpenter would like to familiarize himself with the current cases pending and will need Yockim’s county files. Raschio said if Carpenter needs assistance of outside counsel in the future he will need to meet with the court in executive session to request the assistance.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Sproul complemented the court on retaining County Counsel locally and said this is a good thing that needed to be done. Myers believes Ron Yockim is an excellent attorney that has served the county well for many years. Raschio said Dominic Carollo is also a competent attorney, but he believes County Counsel should be local. Raschio appreciates the fact that Carpenter is willing to provide this service to the county in order to help fund the Deputy DA position.

MSP: Raschio/Hamsher – to adjourn. 11:52 am – Adjourned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Laurie Wright

Administrative Assistant

**** 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 ****

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.