Home » Fiscal Responsibility » Lane County – Tent City Jail

Lane County – Tent City Jail

So the hard sell begins — Lane County will have to build a “tent city” to house criminals instead of using the jail … if only those pesky citizens would pass a tax increase…

Fleenor, Chief Deputy District Attorney Alex Gardner and Florence Police Chief Maurice K. Sanders toured the Maricopa County tent city in Arizona …

Fleenor wants to bring the ideas back to Lane County to build a similar tent city. He says it’s time to seriously look at fresh, cost-effective ideas for maintaining county services, especially when federal timber payment money runs out.

Fleenor realizes it will not be an easy sell. “I think the toughest part is trying to get the trust of the citizenry to go ahead with the comprehensive rethinking of our public safety system,” he says. “Obviously with the declining revenue, we can no longer do business as usual.

Of course, the problem is Lane County Commissioners HAVE been doing business as usual, and continue their hiring millions of dollars in new management and other non-safety personnel. Why? Why have Commissioners refused to implement a hiring freeze, and then hold public safety hostage? Why Commissioners? When will you stop doing “business as usual”?

Here’s what we’ve documented since the “budget crisis” began. See for yourself at http://www.co.lane.or.us/jobs/ — the hiring continues, but County Commissioners will have to slash public safety.

Mar 27 2008

  • 207-142 PSYCHIATRIST – .5 FTE (20 hours) $52,644.80-$73,008.00
  • 208-054 ENGINEERING ASSOCIATE (Working Title: Utility Coordinator ) $40,227 – 55,765
  • 907-021 Extra Help – On-Call Juvenile Cook $10.22/hour
  • 208-047 Kennel Attendant $10.22 – $14.16/hour
  • 208-048 PLANNER $37,544 – $52,042
  • 207-136 SENIOR SYSTEM NETWORK ANALYST $49,254-$68,203
  • 208-023 Sr. Programmer & Systems Analyst $49,254 – $68,203
  • 208-045 YOUTH SERVICES EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM SUPERVISOR (Official Title: PROGRAM SUPERVISOR) $53,144 – $79,726

And so on…

Just to summarize, here’s what the county has been doing with your tax money, while claiming there’s no fat left and they’ll have to cut public safety:

Mar 13 2008

  • 207-121 MENTAL HEALTH MEDICAL OFFICER (Official Title: MANAGER) Salary: $122,117-$169,312/annually
  • 208-033 PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR (Official Title: DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR) Salary: $78,978 – $118,477 annually
  • 208-009 Sr. System Network Analyst (Working Title: PROJECT MANAGER) Salary: $49,254-$68,203/annually
  • 208-045 YOUTH SERVICES EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM SUPERVISOR (Official Title: PROGRAM SUPERVISOR) Salary: $53,144 – $79,726 annually

That’s about $350,000/year by itself.

Feb 6 2008

  • 208-014 DESIGN ENGINEER OR DESIGN ENGINEERING SUPERVISOR $56,680 – $85,030 annually
  • 207-121 MENTAL HEALTH MEDICAL OFFICER (Official Title: MANAGER) $122,117-$169,312/annually
  • 208-007 Program Manager $62,005-$92,997/annually
  • 208-009 Sr. System Network Analyst (Working Title: PROJECT MANAGER) $49,254-$68,203/annually

Another $350,000/year. As it was once said, a billion here, a billion there — pretty soon you’re talking real money!

July 11 2007

  • 207-025 LAND MANAGEMENT MANAGER $67,304 – $100,956
  • 207-068 MANAGER (Working Title:Project Management Office Manager) $64,353 – $96,530
  • 207-039 SENIOR PLANS EXAMINER $19.92 – $27.59/hour
  • 207-055 ADMINISTRATIVE ANALYST
  • 207-053 ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
  • 207-057 EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE DIRECTOR OF YOUTH SERVICES
  • 907-007 EXTRA HELP – Clerical
  • 207-029 NUISANCE ABATEMENT SPECIALIST

June 12 2007

  • 207-021 BUILDING PROGRAM MANAGER. Filled May 25, 2007.
  • 207-016 Performance Development & Diversity Coordinator. Filled May 30, 2007.
  • 207-025 LAND MANAGEMENT MANAGER. Currently conducting interviews.
  • 207-029 NUISANCE ABATEMENT SPECIALIST. Filled May 25, 2007.
  • 207-024 PROPERTY APPRAISER 3. Conducting interviews.

May 31, 2007

  • 207-044 CLINICAL SERVICES SUPERVISOR ($25-$33/hour)
  • 207-037 MHO CARE COORDINATION SPECIALIST ($19-$27/hour)
  • 207-040 PHYSICIAN ($90,000 – $125,000 /year)
  • 3 Network Programmers/analysts ($50,000 – $68,000 / year)
  • 206-146 ASSISTANT COUNTY COUNSEL (not just one, but two!)
  • Engineering Assistant and Technician
  • Executive Assistant
  • Human Resources Analysis
  • And our personal favorite: 207-029 NUISANCE ABATEMENT SPECIALIST
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3 Comments

  1. Bill Edwards says:

    This is deceptive, but maybe that’s the point.

    Of the first four positions you listed in 2008, for example, those totaling “about $350,000 by itself”, two are paid outside the general fund, the only fund over which the commissioners have discretionary control. They therefore have NOTHING to do with the county ability to fund public safety. As has been repeatedly explained, approximately 96.5% of the public health and welfare programs are funded by dedicated state and federal grants the county commissioners can not divert to public safety.

    The spending/use restrictions are similar as to road-dedicated funds, so the money used to pay the public works director, for example, can not be applied to hire a deputy sheriff or a deputy DA. Also, as bad as the public safety problem is, the county STILL has to repair bridges and roads, so when the director of Public Works, an engineer, announces his imminent retirement, I’m not surprised the county needs to replace him. Running out these lists is meaningless unless we are given data on what it actually takes to do the job, and what the appropriate salaries are. I remember reading the story about the former county administrator who is “retiring” to go to work for a law firm where he’ll be paid more money for working less. The same is true for the DA’s — they always leave the county for huge raises — so I assume county salaries are not particularly robust by comparison.

    Here’s a more instructive statistic: If the Lane County commissioners spent EVERY general fund dollar on the public safety services: (Sheriff/DA/Juvenile Corrections/Parole and Probation), it still would not be enough money to return staffing to 2001 levels — when Lane County was the worst staffed public safety system in Oregon and DEAD LAST in per-capita police officer staffing in the United States.

    Of course, the county can’t completely get rid of ELECTIONS, ASSESSMENT & TAXATION, HUMAN RESOURCES, ADMINISTRATION, INFORMATION SERVICES,etc, etc.

    Or maybe you think the county doesn’t need anybody to perform Human Resources work? Why not, every other corporation/government needs that service at some level. Lane County has already cut it’s HR department to HALF the size of the HR department for the city of Eugene, and the city and county have about the same number of employees. Don’t need Information Services? Then who will run the RIS (Regional Information System), AIRS, and the other computer systems essential to the law enforcement system and the hundreds of other state and federal-mandated records systems? Who will program for the DA and Sheriff? The county has already de-staffed most of those systems to a fraction of the county average. The county line-worker to supervisor ratio already the highest in the state at over 12 to 1 (compared with 5.5 to 1 at the city of Eugene and 7 to 1 as an Oregon government average). But Lane County will STILL have to hire computer technicians when others quit. It’s just plain stupid to use the fact that the county occasionally hires to maintain sub-minimum staffing as an argument that it has plenty of money.

    The bottom line is we’re not willing to pay taxes near the average U.S. level, so we’re not going to get law enforcement at or near the U.S. average level. We ought to just be honest about it instead of trying to blame it on the county leadership. Anybody who actually watches the budget hearings, as I did last year, will see that the county really doesn’t have the money to do better than a “D” job. When they give us an “F” instead we should complain that they’re funding the extension service, and the animal shelter instead of the few remaining public safety components.

    Anybody who wants the REAL information on the budget and hiring can get the original budget documents, indexed and tabbed, from the county. You can also get the independent audit reports, and the public safety collapse summaries. I got much of the above from the DA’s office several years ago, and it cleared a lot up.

  2. If this is the same Bill Edwards who commented on a similar article a few days ago with the same arguments, we’ll give the same rebuttal as the argument hasn’t changed, and still doesn’t explain the waste and lack of fiscal responsibility of the county — and actually is a perfect example of the lack of fiscal discipline of the county (you have to wonder when the proponents of more taxes prove the County’s lack of fiscal discipline).

    [From previous comment posting] The Health and Human Services budget for the next fiscal year is approximately $105 million, of which less that $5 million — less than 5% — is within the control of the commissioners

    If we accept your analysis as true, that still means the County can move $5 million (only 5% of one area’s budget as you say) to what the citizens continue to state as priority #1 — public safety, jail and sheriff. But they won’t — instead, they’ll hire more, and threaten to close the jail. If a sheriff’s yearly cost (salary + benefits) costs $100,000/year, just that 5% of one area could add 50 new patrol officers, and by your analysis IS within their control.

    But to directly address this new argument (which is the same as the old argument):

    Of the first four positions you listed in 2008, for example, those totaling “about $350,000 by itself”, two are paid outside the general fund, the only fund over which the commissioners have discretionary control.

    Once again if we accept your arguments as true that still accounts for only half the waste. You proved the point again by your own admission — half is waste and they refuse to do anything about it (except complain for more taxes). Why does the county refuse to implement a hiring freeze? Why not transfer this money to public safety? Nobody ever answers the real questions.

    The bottom line is we’re not willing to pay taxes near the average U.S. level, so we’re not going to get law enforcement at or near the U.S. average level. We ought to just be honest about it instead of trying to blame it on the county leadership. Anybody who actually watches the budget hearings, as I did last year, will see that the county really doesn’t have the money to do better than a “D” job.

    Attempting to shift the discussion away from the lack of fiscal responsibility to “citizens don’t pay enough taxes” or “pubic safety is underfunded compared to others” is the real deception. If 5% of the budget is under their control (by your claim), they’re still not using it wisely, and instead try to intimidate voters to pass more taxes. 5% of the budget mentioned could put about 50 more officers on patrol — and that is within their control, even if we accept your arguments. Why have they not addressed that?

    The “only 5% is under their control” argument doesn’t work. You’ve completely dodged the issue of how they’re managing what they’ve got. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little or a lot, they simply don’t prioritize services to what the people want.

    So thanks once again for proving the point — the county lacks fiscal discipline and following the citizens’ wishes for budget priorities. Public safety is #1 priority — more management isn’t.

    Nobody supporting the Commissioners ever answer the question — why do Lane County Commissioners continue to hire management and other non-public safety personnel while threatening to layoff sheriff and close the jail? Why not implement a hiring freeze?

    The bottom line is Lane County Commissioners simply refuse to prioritize public safety to #1 — a point you proved quite well (even if you didn’t intend to).

  3. What I have observed in terms of personal computer memory is that often there are features such as SDRAM, DDR and the like, that must match the specs of the motherboard. If the computer’s motherboard is pretty current while there are no main system issues, updating the memory literally will take under one hour. It’s one of several easiest computer upgrade types of procedures one can visualize. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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