By Colleen Roberts
The Jackson County Commissioners convened Wednesday morning to a packed house; citizens gathered to address the commissioners on a variety of budget concerns. The Commissioners listened to the citizens for hours, and finally deliberated over the comments, the four recommendations of the Administrator, and the recommendation of the Budget Committee. They unanimously agreed to pro-rate and temporarily fund seven agencies for six months, and reduce the funding to four departments addressing the financial shortfall. The list of departments on a six-month pro-rated budget is:
OSU Extension and Research, Wildlife Services officer, Communication service and marketing, Rogue Valley Television contract, Rogue Valley Council of Governments, Public Health department and Veteran’s Services
The departments receiving reductions in funding totaling $700,000: Library, Code Enforcement (development services), Health and Human Services Partners and the Sheriff’s department.
Danny Jordan, County Administrator emphasized the fact that approximately $850,000 is generated with the jail space rental, and additional rentals are forecast to the general fund to the tune of $2 – $3 Million/year. The newly generated revenue offsets the cut to the Sheriff’s department.
Jordan identified County cuts in staff in his presentation. They were: 4.75 (positions) Information Technology, 21.65 Sheriff’s Dept., 2 Assessor’s Office, 2 Surveyor’s Office, 3 District Attorney’s Office, 2 Administrator’s Office, 10.75 Community Justice Dept. and 5 Roads and Parks Dept.
Health and Human Services was the only department to add staff with increased contract revenue from the state; nine FTE’s were added.
Many references were made for the need of a new source of revenue. SB 822, a PERS Reform Bill is a potential for such a source, and commissioners are calculating the use of some of this new revenue in the budget considerations. This Senate Bill is on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his signature. Another new source of revenue is a proposed surcharge on every home, apartment, and business in Jackson County. The commissioners are seeking to survey the citizens of Jackson County, and if there is support they will refer the surcharge ordinance to the voters in November 2013.
Finally, the commissioners moved on to the agenda for other business items. Several expenditures were passed with multiple year contracts as if there were no financial worries in the county budget. A three-year contract for custodial services was approved for $900,000 annually with Pathway Enterprises, Inc.
Farrell and Associates Insurance Claims Services, Inc. was awarded a contract to manage a variety of liability claims brought against the County: an expense of $54,888. Todd Mills Construction, LLC will repair the asphalt in front of the Mace Building at the Jackson County Expo for the cost of $31,700. The Expo was given a conditional three-month budget to operate in the recent budget proposal.
A grant of $119,570 was accepted from the state for pregnant women needing the specific case management services from a program “Healthy Start”.
Finally, the County contracted with Roots and Wings Child Development Inc., (dba Roots and Wings Community Preschool) to lease a vacant 5038-sq. ft. building at the airport. They will be “permanent tenants” for a base rent of $100/month (2 cents/sq.ft.) or a percentage of their gross receipts on a sliding scale.