By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Commissioners take testimony on board expansion measure

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Comments

Chris Chenoweth

Nicole, you said "Furthermore, with just three commissioners on the board, Chenoweth said, voters have the ability to drastically change the county’s political direction, with election of a single person. As an example, he cited Starrett’s election in 2014."

For the record I did not cite Starrett's election in 2014 as an example of how things can change with the changing of one Commissioner. I cited the strong move left since Commissioner Kulla was elected in 2018 both during my testimony and in the follow up question asked by Commissioner Kulla.


Lindsay Berschauer

Commissioners Olson and Kulla are fast-tracking a county ordinance to the ballot that will strip citizens' rights to ensure that all county commissioner meetings involving county business remain open to the public and will cost (by conservative estimates) at least 52% more for the BOC budget in just the first year.
I testified against this reckless ordinance, along with former Commissioner Stan Primozich and Chris Chenoweth. Former Commissioner Kathy George has also testified against this ordinance. Commissioner Mary Starrett was spot on in her opposition to this wasteful proposal that will decrease transparency and accountability in our government.
I will post a copy of my testimony and the budget summary I drafted and submitted to the Commission.

Lindsay Berschauer

Chair Olson and Commissioners Starrett and Kulla,
I’m testifying today for the second time against the county’s effort to fast-track to the ballot a measure that would add two commissioners to our Board of County Commissioners.
Commissioner Kulla, you’ve stated that you have modeled this measure off of Clackamas County’s transition from 3 to 5 commissioners, so I took the liberty of doing some research on just how much that transition has cost Clackamas County taxpayers.
A public records request provided me with every BOC and County Administrative budget dating back to 2002, well before the transition was made. I’m providing you with a copy of my summary. I’ve also confirmed these numbers with their County Finance Dept.
Here are the high points:
-The last year of 3 FTE for commissioners was 2007-08 and by 2009-10 the budgets reflected the full 5 commissioners. During those 3 budget cycles, the BOC budget alone increased by 48.56%.
-If you look at percent increase over the past 10 years for just the BOC, you will see the budget increased by 133%.
-If you look at percent increase over the past 10 years for the County Admin budget, which encompasses the BOC budget, you will see that the budget increased by 108%.
Our own County Administrator Ken has provided a high level look at the budget impact of adding two commissioners, and the initial impact constitutes a 52.73% increase to the BOC budget. That not only will eat up the entire beginning balance in that budget but also leaves a $127,000 hole that needs to be filled from somewhere.
My question to you is what budgets do you propose we take from in order to pay for more commissioners? The Sheriff’s budget? HHS? I listened to the audio tape from Tuesday and there was discussion about county employees paying more for their healthcare in the future in order to free up money to pay for this proposal. Do you think county employees should be the ones to backfill this proposal to pay for two more commissioners?

Lindsay Berschauer

I also researched Clackamas County’s Measure 3-272 and the arguments for and against it. One consistent comment was that no one knew how much it was going to cost. If they had known or been told that they would eventually be paying 133% more for their commission, my guess is the vote would have been much different.
That won’t happen this time around. Yamhill County taxpayers will be informed of the cost impact and it’s stunning to me that a majority of this commission would endorse these kinds of increases knowing that we are already dipping into our reserves to pay for budget liabilities.
Adding commissioners is not a priority. Fully funding the repairs to our jail is a priority. Making sure we have enough sheriff’s deputies is a priority. Keeping taxes as low as possible is a priority. Fully funding frontline county employees and departments who serve county residents is a priority.
I urge you to go back to the group that asked you to do this, and encourage them to go out and talk to voters and gather signatures. If taxpayers think this is a good idea, they will sign it. Fast-tracking and endorsing a measure that will have significant impacts on our budget is reckless and not the job of this commission.

Lindsay Berschauer

You can find a copy of the budget summary I drafted on my page: Lindsay Berschauer for Yamhill County Commissioner. I posted the complete report.

Chris Chenoweth

This is a key point. "I urge you to go back to the group that asked you to do this, and encourage them to go out and talk to voters and gather signatures. If taxpayers think this is a good idea, they will sign it. Fast-tracking and endorsing a measure that will have significant impacts on our budget is reckless and not the job of this commission." Since when is the role of our Commissioners to essentially become endorsement vehicles for the initiatives desired by a subset of their base in order to sidestep the initiative process?

OregonBorn

We don't need more bloated, tax payer funded management.

The money used to hire two more commissioners could be much better utilized just about anywhere.

Why stop at five? Let's hire 50 commissioners.

actionjax

Nicole is a big liberal so this is what you can expect from her. Just one or two words from a quote being changed can of course alter the meaning dramatically but this is ideologues do.

gregtompkins

This is all so stupid the liberals have really hijacked this county. I am looking to move to Aurora ASAP! Bye Bye Yamhill.

A New Generation

How interesting that the County Administrator's figures differ wildly from those presented below. As in the placement of the decimal point? (4.8% vs 48%) Currently, the sitting BOC gets a large portion of their 'budget' from skimming off the departments they oversee, as well as a 'discretionary' budget (> $100,000/per)that is overblown, so those County figures do not support the discussion here. Using just the latter would pay for two more commissioners, who just might represent a more balanced and moderate viewpoint. As to the moving of the political direction, if this were one way to do that, I'd get down on my knees and thank God! Three is a triangulated and dysfunctional number, and actually promotes the 2 vs 1 culture we've always had (need I remind you of Bunn/Johnston, George & Lewis, Springer/Primovich, et al. I believe, as per our Founding Father's House of Representatives model, that as population increases, so do your number of representatives to ensure that a growing population is truly represented. Commissioner Olson is correct in his view of letting the voters decide, and Commissioner Starrett seems very threatened by this possibility and has vowed to do all she can to defeat it. That in iteslf is very telling. Hooray Democracy!

gregtompkins

Why do we need five? Even Marion County which is much much larger than us only has 3.

Lindsay Berschauer

@ "A New Generation": I'm not sure what differs wildly? Mr. Huffer's numbers indicate that phasing in 2 additional commissioners would conservatively cost 52% more and Clackamas County's phase in was 48% more. Over the past 10 years, it's been 133% more. We can expect the same here. Government doesn't get cheaper when you grow the size of it. And I'm curious what population numbers you are using as justification for needing two additional commissioners? We are 1/4 the size of Clackamas County. We are 1/3 the size of Marion County and they have 3 commissioners too. That argument doesn't hold weight. Once the carry-over beginning balance in our BOC budget is depleted (first year), the cost of covering two more commissioners will only pull more resources from other budgets. What is telling from your comment is that you believe this will elect "more balanced and moderate viewpoints" while you question Commissioner Starrett's motivation for opposing this. This is a political issue for you, not a checkbook issue. I wonder what our checkbook voters will think of that.

Chris Chenoweth

One of the more creative arguments made by those in favor is that in order to serve our growing population we need more Commissioners. The argument presented was currently Commissioners serve approximately 33k to 34k each based on a population of approximately 100k and that by going to 5 Commissioners that would drop to approximately 20k each. Sounds good, right? Except it is completely based on a false premise. The problem is that each Commissioner represents the WHOLE COUNTY, all 100K of us. There is no breaking the county into smaller districts. No Commissioner only represents 1/3rd of the County currently and if this measure is adopted and passed they won't represent 1/5th. All 5 will each be accountable and have to represent all 100k. It is a bogus argument.

David S. Wall

Berschauer, "Commissioner Kulla, you’ve stated that you have modeled this measure off of Clackamas County’s transition from 3 to 5 commissioners, so I took the liberty of doing some research on just how much that transition has cost Clackamas County taxpayers."

When one considers to "Vote or Not to Vote" for Lindsay Berschauer note her political knowledge of "Clackamas County." Below is a small snippet of Berschauer's exploits.

https://www.clackamasdems.org/latest-misadventures-of-lindsay-berschauer/

https://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/2013/11/campaign_mailer_attack
s_clacka.html

https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2012/06/matt_wingards_potential_replac.html

David S. Wall

David S. Wall

As to Commissioner Starrett's commentary, "Starrett said she believes forwarding the measure would constitute “thumbing the nose at the voters of Yamhill County,” and vowed to fight it. She said funding items like additional deputies or jail repairs should take a higher priority, and that the expansion would be too expensive."

Since when has Commissioner Starrett concerned herself with "jail repairs" and "hiring more deputies" or even lowering property taxes? She is lobbying the legislature for [HB3383]-a pilot project for "Community based-child welfare services" located in Yamhill County and [HB 3199] to be able to give "equity" in a foreclosed property back to the property owner who defaulted on their taxes. Currently, Starrett supports turning foreclosed properties over to "Non-profit and or Public Benefit Corporations instead of allowing the public to bid on the aforementioned properties. The "Non-profit and or Public Benefit Corporations can then "flip" these properties a "market rate."

"A New Generation" said it nicely, "Three is a triangulated and dysfunctional number, and actually promotes the 2 vs 1 culture we've always had (need I remind you of Bunn/Johnston, George & Lewis, Springer/Primovich, et al."

Can you imagine Starrett and Berschauer, both YCAP Board Members having control of the County's "purse strings?" First, how is it possible a sitting Yamhill County Commissioner can be a Member of the Board of multiple "Non-profits"including YCAP? Conflicts of interest?

Starrett and Primozich's pathetic cabal was bad enough, funding one special interest group after another but, empowering the "two YCAP sisters" would open the county's treasury to all of the Non-profit corporations-"Transparency and accountability be damned!"

David S. Wall

Lindsay Berschauer

Hello David. I appreciate you posting hyper-partisan, nasty blog articles as evidence of my experience in Clackamas Cty. Perhaps readers should know the truth.
I lived in Clackamas County for about 5 years...in Wilsonville. Great town. During my time there Clackamas County voters expressed their anger in big government, big spending, and abuse of tax dollars in 3 county-wide decisions. First, county taxpayers rejected paying for the Sellwood Bridge (a bridge in Multnomah Cty) by 63%, even though the county commissioners were ready and willing to send $22 MILLION over to the project. Today, the bridge is twice as wide but still only has two lanes of capacity for motorized uses and was over-budget. Seems like county voters were wise in their decision. Second, voters demanded a county-wide vote for approval of urban renewal districts after they'd seen the use and abuse of tax dollars going to fund wealthy developers at the expense of schools, police and fire depts. That vote won despite the county commission putting a competing measure on the ballot to confuse voters. We didn't buy it. Now the commission has to ask the voters if they want to expand the use of urban renewal districts in unincorporated parts of the county. Lastly, county voters demanded a county-wide vote of approval for light rail expansion and financing after watching the commission prioritize light rail over roads. The commissioners sent $20 MILLION to Tri-Met just DAYS before the vote. A disgusting display of elitism. It cost Charlotte Lehan and Jamie Damon their positions on the commission. Did you know David, that Clack Cty voters rejected a 5 member commission in the 90's? My guess is they would have rejected it again if they knew the financial impact it would have over the past 10 years. Clackamas Cty voters are checkbook voters.

Lindsay Berschauer

David, in response to your comments about Commissioner Starrett's priorities, I am truly disgusted by your characterizations. Do you not care about the most vulnerable populations in our county? Do you not realize that Yamhill Cty has tremendous partnerships with faith-based and community coalitions to provide opportunities for families in need? Yamhill Cty is one of the most benevolent counties I've lived in. The communities around us take an active role in assisting government to meet the needs of our residents. That is how it should be. YCAP is a tremendous asset for our county. Are you anti food bank? Anti public housing? Sure seems that way. As far as her proposal to return equity to homeowners that fall on hard times and go through foreclosure...I wholeheartedly agree with her. Why on earth would the county keep equity in a home that has been foreclosed on? Why on earth would we not return that money to the homeowners that worked hard to pay down that asset but subsequently fell on hard times? That isn't the county's money. And it's not money that should be exploited for any other reason. Those experiencing foreclosure tend to be our seniors, veterans and working families that can't keep up and fall behind. I 100% agree that any equity left over after paying off taxes, fees and fines should be returned to that family and does not belong to county government. I'm a checkbook voter David. I've been a single mom for nine years and I've owned a business for six. I budget down to the penny in my household. I have since I worked 3 jobs to get through college. To imply that either Starrett or myself would be irresponsible with the county budget is laughable.

A New Generation

My, you're long winded. I'd like to see your position on your local matters, please, instead of quoting Clackamas County positions and P/E sheets. Such as, where do you stand on the Trail, Lindsay? Are you a minion of the wine gentry where you live?

A New Generation

While it seems this discussion thread has become a springboard for also ran/current political candidates, here is the stand on the Trail I was looking for, per Lindsay Berschauer:

"This is a significant win for our farmers. One of the most troubling aspects of this trail proposal is how normal farming activity (aerial spray of pesticides and herbicides) would be impacted by recreational trail users, especially if any of them experienced drift or overspray. Any occurrence would immediately halt farming activity and impact the private property rights of our farmers. Yamhill County should not be in the business of trampling on private property rights."
12:23 pm - Mon, October 21 2019

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