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Bringing back the heat!

The September 16, 2015 Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance and approval of the minutes of the September 9, 2015 meeting.

During Citizen Participation on the Agenda items there were no comments or questions from the public.

Agenda item 1) Under the Assessor’s Department a Tax “Correction for Tyco Properties, the result of an appeal made to the Tax Court, Dept. of Revenue, by Representative David Carmichael. Case #15-0094, Stipulation, resulting in the reduction of value for tax account R23123, for years 2012-13 and 2013-15. Refund plus interest: $26,577.07. Roger Hartman, County Assessor explained the refund on the property owned in Drain, Oregon. The Refund was approved unanimously without discussion.
Agenda item 2) Parks Department-PULLED- Grant Application Resolution to apply for an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department grant. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s County Opportunity Grant program is available to county parks that offer overnight camping. Douglas County Parks is proposing to replace the bathroom/shower facility at Windy Cove B Campground. This grant application for $120,000.00 will fund approximately 45% of the project. The County’s match obligation of $155,000.00 will be a combination of in-kind demolition, site preparation work and cash generated from the sale of surplus parks property. Commissioner Morgan announced that the scheduled agenda item was withdrawn; “We’re not going to take this one up because the documents aren’t ready.” No explanation was offered as to what documents were not prepared for the scheduled agenda item, why they were not available, or if the grant application would come back at a later time.  

Agenda item 3) Public Works- An Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Douglas County and Oregon Department of Transportation. The agreement involved an “exchange of $68,612.34 of the County’s Federal Aid Surface Transportation Program allocation for $64,495.60 in state funds for the County’s match for preliminary engineering on the Old Highway 99N: Winchester Bridge to Pleasant Avenue project.” Public Works Director Robb Paul explained that exchanging the federal dollars for state dollars costs the county 6% (a loss of $4,116.74) which allows the county to avoid NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] requirements. Commissioner Boice moved to approve the agreement, Commissioner Freeman seconded the motion, Chair Morgan then said “just by way of comment I’d like to say that this is a longstanding practice on the part of the Oregon Department of Transportation to help local jurisdictions with their compliance. This takes a whole raft of federal regulations off the table and makes projects much more doable in terms of the cost and the administration on this level.” The IGA was approved unanimously.    

Agenda item 4) Public Works- IGA between Douglas County and Oregon Department of Transportation for preliminary engineering of the Old Highway 99N Winchester Bridge to Pleasant Avenue project. Estimated cost: $628,000.00. Project will be funded with $563,504.00 of County’s Federal-Aid Surface Transportation Program allocation and $64,496.00 of County funds. Public Works Director Robb Paul explained that this IGA “takes that $64-65,000 that we just exchanged in state money and applies it back to the federal money to do a design for the portion of Hwy 99 from the south end of the Winchester Bridge to Pleasant Street, which is in front of the Log Cabin Grocery.” This allows the road widening and sidewalks which are along Hwy 99 up to the Log Cabin Grocery from the south. Commissioner Freeman moved for the IGA, Commissioner Boice seconded the motion, under discussion Freeman said “So, thank you for bringing this forward and I absolutely understand the complexity of what you just described; it’s just one of those things about government that is frustrating to me. This- over half a million dollars- $620,000 is simply to engineer and study this project. It doesn’t put in a pipe, it doesn’t pave a road it doesn’t stripe a line and we’ve become so complicated on how we do things, and again this is going to be a federally funded project, so we have to follow this criteria, but people wonder why the cost of things are so high and this just a great example of that.” Robb Paul “Ya”. Commissioner Boice added “Just the way that this process works, just for comment sake, for the public who might be watching, there’s a perception that you pay your tax dollars locally and the county government does all these things but this is a great example of all of the different funding streams that we get above and beyond our property tax base, that come from the federal and the state governments with all these strings attached and regulations that we have to follow and these are hoops that we have to jump through in order to take some federal funding and turn it into state funding so we can use it for match dollars for grants from the feds in order to get this project done. It’s extremely complicated, it seems very unnecessary at times, but again regulations that we have to follow and again I appreciate you doing this work but it seems a little cumbersome but it’s necessary, I get that, at least at this point and I appreciate you doing the work on it.” Chair Morgan added “And just by way of comment I want to just agree with my colleagues that the cost that’s added to any project that we do, and it doesn’t matter really what policy arena it’s in, whether it’s in health care or in public works or anything at all, all of the funding that we receive comes with strings attached to it.” Morgan then went into a lengthy discussion of the commissioners budget presentations they gave around the county, which she said they’re still doing. She then repeated the strings that come attached to various funding sources, from healthcare to Galesville Dam, that they have to comply with or they don’t get the money. She said this is a project that is worth it though. The motion passed unanimously.
Agenda item 5) Public Works-A Board Order to purchase new vehicles. Public Works received quotations from three vendors under the State pricing agreement for the purchase of two new Ford Transit Wagons with two ADA stations. The State of Oregon and Douglas County Public Works determined the Best Value bidder for the items to be procured. Douglas County will be reimbursed by Oregon Department of Transportation grant funds for the items, which will be registered to two special transportation service providers. Total Cost: $118,656.00. Robb Paul explained; “Ya, this is more federal dollars coming to us from grant with lots of restrictions on it. This is what we asked for replacement of two vans for the Dial-A Ride program. One van will be given to Mercy [Hospital]…the other van will be for the City of Winston for their operation.” Paul went on to state that the vans are purchased through ODOT; “Then ODOT turns around and pays us through a transportation grant to reimburse the money for these vans.” [It is not clear since Paul said “this is more federal dollars” how ODOT ends up paying for this.] Paul then told the commissioners how the bid selection process works. Commissioner Boice moved for the agreement, Commissioner Freeman seconded the motion. Chair Morgan said “Let me just by way of comment say that Dial-A Ride has been an incredibly successful program in Douglas County. We have a lot of small towns that are far apart from each other and a lot of geographic area. And Dial-A-Ride has a central dispatch that the police department of the City of Sutherlin runs for the system and individuals all around the county have an 800 number they can dial in to and actually say where- when they need a Dial-A-Ride to come pick them up, where they need to be taken to, and these are things like medical appointments, shopping, those kinds of things and then when they need to be taken back to their residence. And so the Dial-A-Ride software will actually set up a route for the Dial-A Ride drivers, who are volunteers, and they can go around and pick these people up, take them to the places they need to go and take them home again.” She said it’s open first to seniors and disabled volunteers and then to others on a first come first served basis and the riders can pay by donation. The Order to purchase the vehicles was passed unanimously.  

Agenda item 6) Citizen Participation. John Clark from Winston addressed the Board. He referenced comments from the previous week’s meeting and turned in what he described as “packets” supporting his previous testimony. The packet contents he described as a contract between Coos County and Jordan Cove Energy from 2007. For the next 4 minutes approximately he explained the contract to the commissioners. He then turned in another packet to the commissioners dealing with some maps and history of McNabb Creek Road, a staging area for the pipeline project. He mentioned that the contractor has not approached anyone on the road to discuss impacts. He mentioned that former Commissioner Mike Winters lives on McNabb Creek Rd. Clark spent the next eight minutes talking about the impacts on the road from the staging area. Some back and forth then ensued between Freeman and Clark discussing the confusion on the roads described. Freeman apologized, apparently to Morgan, for addressing Clark. Morgan said it was okay, then she too addressed Clark expressing her own confusion. Morgan asked Clark if he had spoken to Williams Pipeline. Clark said lots of times. He said they have been discussing this since 2006. Clark said what he wants from the commissioners is “I need the dimensions of that pipe, I need to know what the length of that pipe is, what the weight of that pipe is, and how many pieces of pipe are going to be on the transport”. Morgan interjected “that’s why I think that we can put you in touch with the people at Williams that have that information that would probably be very valuable, and we’ll do that.” Clark said “it seems to me that that should be of interest to you because they are going to be using county roads.” Morgan asked if there were others to give public testimony. There were no others.          

Agenda item 7) Commissioner Comments. Boice declined to offer any comments. Freeman thanked Clark for coming forward. He reminded Clark that he is looking for, as a commissioner, any point at which the county could get involved. He reminded Clark that this is not a county project. Clark asked if he could add something. Morgan allowed him to come back to the podium to address the commission. He said his presentation was at least in part due to a letter from Planning Director Keith Cubic. He also stated that any misinformation is coming from the applicant not the respondents. Freeman then talked about Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference in Portland, where he was a keynote panelist. Freeman said it was a positive conference. He said the State of Oregon is responsible for purchasing healthcare for one million Oregonians. Morgan thanked Freeman for being part of that. Morgan then thanked Clark for bringing pipeline issues forward again. She then expressed her frustration at getting between the pipeline builders and those who don’t want it. She said the county has no jurisdiction. She said the land use process has been closed and they have no way to open it up again. Morgan then said that they must stay within “the regulatory framework that we took an oath of office to maintain.” She encouraged a direct dialogue between opponents and the pipeline officials. She asked Clark to “help us get out of the middle of this”. Morgan then commented on 9-11. She referenced the moving ceremonies held in Douglas County, including one held at Mercy featuring a steel beam from the World Trade Center. Another ceremony was held at VFW Post 2468.

The next commissioner meeting will take place September 30, 2015, at 9:00 am in Rm. 216 of the D.C. Courthouse. We encourage the public to attend and participate.

There are 4,938 people who have viewed the commissioner meetings online since they were reinstituted.

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