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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Political Theater       

The drama plays out and a new one begins      

Frebruary 17, 2015

In This Issue
Central Assessment
9-1-1 Tax
Mental Health Training
Human Services
Energy, Environment, Land Use
Word from Sponsors
TGM Grant
Emergency Management Workshop
County Government Month
NACo Leg Conference
Oregon Trails Staff Happy
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Quick Links
Capitol 2-17

Salem -  The controversy surrounding Governor John Kitzhaber and his fiance culminated Friday, February 13th with the governor submitting his resignation, effective Wednesday, February 18th at 10:00 am.  Secretary of State Kate Brown will be sworn in as Oregon's 38th governor once the resignation is official.


Needless to say, a situation like this generates a lot of attention inside and outside the Capitol.  That attention tends to distract even the most focused among us and that was certainly the case over the past week and a half.  The ramifications of the resignation, the resulting investigation into the events leading up to it, and the consequences are still unknown.  What we do know is that there will be a new governor and that there is a legislature still in the early days of a new session.  


In other words, we still have a lot of work to do and Oregon counties will continue to be at the forefront of providing vital public services with our state partners.  


2015 County College Class visits State Capitol
Central Assessment 

As reported in the last edition of Oregon Trails, reform of the method the Department of Revenue uses to assess multi-state or national corporations for property taxes (Unitary Value) has moved beyond the proposed method approved by AOC on February 9th.  It has continued to move, with the expectation that the bill on local assessment of data centers (Senate Bill 570) will be rolled into a bill that deals with other centrally assessed properties.


At this writing, the latest proposed method continues to include depreciation in its calculation of value.  An example given of new investment in Oregon by a hypothetical company with large intangible value is:

  • Investment in Oregon is $120 million.
  • Unitary Real Market Value worldwide is $100 billion.
  • Historic (original) Cost of real and tangible personal property worldwide is $10 B.
  • Depreciation of $500 M.
  • Exemption: (Unitary RMV) minus (a factor of 130% times the Historic Cost) of $87.65 B.
  • The exemption limit imposed equals 90% of the Unitary RMV, or $90 B.  The hypothetical exemption in this example does not reach the limit.
  • The capped Unitary RMV (Unitary RMV minus exemption) is $12.35 B.
  • The allocation of the company's value in Oregon is 1.2%.
  • The company's Oregon RMV is thus $148.2 M.
  • Total company tax in Oregon is $2.1 M.

As the Historic-Cost-less-Depreciation Factor grows the number of companies with tax reduction shrinks.  The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) estimates that at 100 percent the Factor gives 70 companies a tax reduction, while at 200 percent the number of such companies is 25.  The Senate Finance & Revenue Committee seems to be settling on 130 percent, which results in a property tax revenue loss of $17.3 million, a property tax shift to other properties of $2.9 million, and tax reductions to 45 centrally assessed companies.


The committee, much as county governing bodies do, is trying to locate a point in this system that will attract economic growth so that counties and local taxing districts return to a net zero in revenues from centrally assessed properties in a reasonably short period of time, and then continue to grow revenues.  Counties know that with growth comes increased demands for public services, supported by property tax resources.


Two points of concern.  First, at the Factor of 130 percent, the immediate loss of revenues to counties is nearly $3 million, not the $437,000 of the first proposed system.  Recovery of revenue to net zero could take significantly longer.  Second, the presence of depreciation is a step in calculation apart from the Unitary Real Market Value.  The current system of central assessment is the Unitary Value itself, representing the real market value of the company - tangible and intangible - today; that is, what the company would likely sell for in an arm's length transaction.  This formula searches for an exemption through the steps above, which includes another application of depreciation.  The determination of depreciation standing alone presents an arguable point, an opportunity for litigation, which is a waste of resources of the company and communities that rely on property taxes to provide critical public services communities need.  Moreover, the Department of Revenue has said that it does not have depreciation tables for the kinds of property held by centrally assessed businesses, no way to independently verify the depreciation figure given to it by the company, and no audit capability. 


At this writing, discussions continue that include treatment or some verification of the company's depreciation figure.  When the committee's final product is unveiled, it is likely that the AOC Special Operations Committee will have to be convened to give direction to AOC policy staff.


AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell is working this issue closely as you can tell.    



The Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91 (commonly referred to as the "Joint Marijuana Committee") continues to hold informational meetings.  On Monday evening, 

the Committee heard from a number of witnesses regarding local control, local taxation, 

and local opt out.  AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett testified with regard to local control and opt out.  


Mr. Bovett walked the Committee through the provisions of Measure 91 relating to those issues, which were taken nearly verbatim from the Oregon Liquor Control Act following 

the repeal of Prohibition.  Mr. Bovett pointed out some legal problems with those sections, leading him to conclude that: 

  • The purported preemption clause in Measure 91 is not really a preemption clause at all, but rather an inconsistency clause.
  • The "time, place, and manner" provision of Measure 91 is supplemental to county and city authority, not proscriptive.
  • The opt out provision of Measure 91, which tells counties and cities what to do if they receive an initiative petition to opt in or out of marijuana businesses, is not proscriptive, and counties and cities retain full authority to opt in or out of any one or more of the four classes of marijuana businesses by action of city and county governing bodies. 

Mr. Bovett conceded that his legal analysis would be challenged, and likely wind up being litigated if not clarified by the legislature this session.  Mr. Bovett urged the Committee to clean up the language, and provide for clear local authority to opt out, as exists in Colorado, for: (1) Its beneficial local control effects; (2) to avoid needless litigation; and (3) to avoid what Mr Bovett referred to as the "nuclear option" (i.e., forcing a local jurisdiction to accept a marijuana business they don't want, and driving that jurisdiction into federal court for an injunction prohibiting OLCC and OHA from issuing any marijuana business license, as being preempted by federal law). 


It was clear that a number of Committee members were not pleased with Mr. Bovett's legal analysis and suggested course of action.  It remains to be seen whether Oregon will be the first state to chart a course of severely limiting local control, and thus potentially face derailment of significant portions of Measure 91 and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA).  Mr. Bovett's PowerPoint and Written Testimony can be viewed here: 

AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett works on marijuana but accepts a cookie now and then 


9-1-1 Highlighted 

The Oregon Military Department presented its budget to the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Public Safety last week, with supported testimony from AOC and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officers.  Much of the public testimony was focused on 9-1-1 funding.


"AOC held a series of public safety summits around the state and identified adequate funding for 9-1-1 as one of its priorities this session," said AOC Public Safety Policy Manager Patrick Sieng in testimony before the committee.


For numerous sessions in a row, legislators have used interest from the 9-1-1 emergency communications fund to balance the general budget. Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland, questioned the practice of sweeping interest and had concerns that it put Oregon in jeopardy of receiving federal funds.


Senate Bill 432, which prevents those sweeps, will have a hearing this week.


AOC supports the military department's budget, especially for disaster planning and preparation to move the current 9-1-1 system to the Next Generation 9-1-1 system, which will eventually allow text to 9-1-1 and video to 9-1-1.


"It is time to move from our antiquated 9-1-1 system to the best technology available," said Mark Tennyson, 9-1-1 program director in the Office of Emergency Management, which is part of the military department.


AOC Policy Manager Patrick Sieng works on public safety issues 


Mental Health Training Key Policy Option

During AOC's public safety summits in 2014, mental health funding and training for law enforcement topped the list in addition to 9-1-1 funding and additional state assistance to district attorney offices. 


The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training rolled out its budget to the public safety budget subcommittee on Ways and Means this week, highlighting a policy option packet for mental health training.  The package would add a mental health professional who would train at the basic academy for police, corrections, and parole and probation.  Another mental health professional would be a regional trainer who would travel around the state. 


For counties facing fiscal distress, additional training resources for officers and deputies around the state will help ease the burden on travel costs and having on-staff trainers.


Much of the hearing was also focused on police training, interaction with the mentally ill, and national events that have raised questions about police accountability.  Racial profiling and the composition of the board on public safety standards and training was also discussed.  Numerous bills have also been introduced on these topics and will be discussed throughout the legislative session.


"Oregon does things differently than other states in terms of accountability," said Eriks Gabliks, Director of the department.  "We are very progressive and proactive in keeping public safety officers accountable."


AOC Policy Manager Patrick Sieng handles Public Safety issues


Human Services Notes

The Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services is beginning to hold hearings on the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) budgets. 


DHS budgets are being heard first, beginning with Adults and People with Disabilities (APD), followed by Intellectual and Development Disabilities (I/DD), Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Self-Sufficiency, and finally Child Welfare. Per the February 9th AOC Legislative Committee, we will be testifying in support of the transition to a workload funding model for I/DD. 


One issue that has arisen and is likely to get more discussion in the subcommittee this session is the decision by the Department of Labor determining that home-care workers (for elderly or disabled clients) are eligible for overtime. Currently, the State bargains with home-care workers who are paid through the APD budget, however the client who receives the services acts as the employer in terms of selecting a service provider, setting a schedule, etc. The Department of Labor has determined that the State should be considered the employer for purposes of determining overtime eligibility. For example, under current practice, a home-care worker may work for three clients, for 15 hours per week each; because the worker is not working over 40 hours for any one client/employer, they do not receive overtime compensation. Under the Department of Labor decision, the State would be considered the employer, so regardless of the number of hours spent per client, if a home-care worker works over 40 hours total in a week, they would be eligible for overtime. Similarly, they would be compensated for the travel time between clients, which they currently are not. This is likely to have an impact on the APD budget - and potentially on client services. DHS is working closely with the federal government to mitigate any negative impacts and will be working closely with the Ways and Means subcommitte to find potential solutions.


In other areas of health:

  • We are still waiting for Rep. Mitch Greenlick's, D-Portland, final version of his Public Health Modernization bill. A priority as this bill gets worked, will be to ensure that there is a space for local input and shared oversight and accountability with the State.
  • SB 71, the bill that officially dissolves Cover Oregon has passed out of committee and will be headed to the Senate floor.
  • AOC is working with a group of mental health stakeholders/advocates to consolidate the various mental health bills that have been introduced into a Mental Health Package that would, ideally, support President Courtney's proposal to invest $94 million into mental health programs.
  • A number of legislators have signed on to SB 631, which would establish a Health Care For All Oregon Board. Essentially, this is a single-payer bill that is unlikely to gain traction this session, but will be used to begin a conversation. 
AOC Policy Manager Stacy Michaelson is very busy with Health & Human Services issues


Energy, Environment & Land Use Update

Its been a couple of busy weeks in the Energy, Environment and Land Use world. A number of bills had public hearings and a few have moved on through the committee process. A few of the highlights:

  • SB 258 - Energy Facility Siting Committee bill that received mixed testimony. It is currently being worked on by the Oregon Department of Energy.
  • SB 259 - Generally received positive testimony. Both of these bills will receive an additional hearing.
  • State Lands Bills (HB 2460/HB2461/HB 2462/HB 2463) received a work session and all but HB 2463 have moved on to their third reading. The EELU Steering committee had the Department of State Lands present at their February meeting.
  • HB 2633 received its first public hearing. HB 2633 requires Land Conservation and Development Commission to adopt administrative rules to implement statewide land use planning goal related to natural hazards. While this seems like an excellent goal, there is concern about the process of going forward. The bill provides funding for the rule making but not the implementation of the program. In addition, there is no mention in the bill about the existing county Natural Hazards Mitigation Plans. Clearly, this is a bill that will require more work in the future.
  • SB 5510 - The Department of Energy started their budget discussion in front of the Natural Resources Subcommittee of Ways and Means. These presentations and public hearings will be continuing through the rest of the week.
  • SB 32 - Would create a workgroup to look at expanding natural gas service to underserviced parts of Oregon. AOC has requested a member to be on the workgroup.
  • SB 324 - The clean fuels bill had its 3rd reading on the Senate floor. The bill passed the Senate after a lengthy, at times contentious debate Tuesday afternoon on a vote of 17 to 13.  

Looking forward there are a number of important bills to be heard. HB 2633 will receive a second public hearing; SB 133, the e-permitting bill, will receive its second public hearing; and the two DEQ materials management bills will be most likely scheduled for early next week.


AOC Policy Manager Mark Nystrom deals with Energy, Environment & Land Use issues 



Last week, the AOC Legislative Committee asked all commissioners and judges to contact their legislators regarding support for a transportation package with assurances they will stand with those who vote in favor of a package.


We now know that eight legislators have begun meeting to discuss and possibly craft a bipartisan transportation package.  Those eight are Senators Beyer, Johnson, Kruse, and Whitsett; and Representatives Bentz, Davis, McKeowan, and Read.  Commissioners and judges in the districts of these legislators have been reminded of the importance of making contact with these folks.  It is critical that they know you support their efforts. 


Regardless of where you reside, if you have not yet done so, please send an individual letter to each of your legislators if possible.  You received a draft from Mike McArthur on February 14.  If you also wish to send a letter from your Board of Commissioners or County Court, that would be icing on the cake!   Please copy Mary Stern on any letters you send.


If you prefer to meet with your legislator in person, please consider joining your Road Director on February 26 at the Capitol.  Following the OACES meeting that morning, many Road Directors will be meeting with their representatives and senators to discuss the findings of the County Road Needs Study and what that means to each county. 


Thanks for your assistance on this matter of utmost importance to our county road departments and our statewide transportation system!


AOC Policy Manager Mary Stern deals with Transportation issues


And Now a Word from Some of our Sponsors



Deadline for TGM Grant Pre-Applications

March 13 is the deadline for local governments to submit pre-applications for planning grants to the Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM). Eligible applicants include cities, counties, councils of government and tribal governments.  Grants generally range from $75,000 to $200,000.


TGM grants support plans for, among other things, bicycle and pedestrian networks, streetscape designs, safe routes to school, transit improvements, downtown or Main Street improvements, mixed-use neighborhoods, complete streets, parking and travel demand management, and infill or redevelopment projects. Transportation System Plans (TSP) updates also remain eligible.


For the 2015 grant round, the TGM program is especially interested in proposals that take an innovative approach, such as: 

  • Collaboration with public health officials to boost "active transportation" (walking and bicycling) objectives;
  • Reduction of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Incorporation of innovative multi-modal analysis tools. 

Pre-applications are easy to submit: They simply call for a short paragraph describing the local issue and desired outcome. Pre-applications are not required, but by submitting pre-apps, local governments increase their prospects for getting projects funded. Pre-applicants are also put in touch with the relevant TGM staff member, who can offer guidance about the application process. Complete applications will be due June 12.


There is no deadline for the TGM's community assistance services, which include Quick Response, Code Assistance, Education and Outreach, and TSP Assessments. Through Quick Response, the TGM makes multi-disciplinary teams available to local governments to help with urgent transportation planning issues and controversies over imminent development projects. Through Code Assistance, the TGM helps communities identify and remove barriers to smart growth in local zoning and development codes. Through Education and Outreach, the TGM supports local workshops, public lectures and other forums on such topics as health and active transportation, Main Street revitalization, parking management, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, safe routes to school, and community design strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These TGM services are free to local governments.


For more information about TGM grants, click here or contact Cindy Lesmeister or 503.986.4349. For information about Quick Response, Code Assistance, or Education and Outreach, click here or contact Constance Beaumont.  


TGM is a partnership between the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development. The program's mission: to help local governments to create vibrant, livable places in which people can walk, bike, take transit or drive where they want to go.


OEM Workshop

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is pleased to announce the opening of registration for the Oregon Prepared 2015 - Oregon Emergency Management Workshop. The workshop will be held March 31 - April 2, 2015 in Sunriver, Oregon with an initial planning meeting for the Cascadia Rising 2016 exercise on Monday, March 30 and a training and exercise planning workshop (TEPW) for the entire state on Friday, April 3.


There is no fee to attend the workshop. The workshop will include breakfast and lunch all three days as well as dinner Wednesday evening. OEM will pay for four nights of lodging for three representatives from every county and tribal nation; GSA lodging rates are available for all of our other partners.


The 2015 workshop will offer four tracks with four sessions available in each track every day of the workshop. Attached you will find a schedule for your planning convenience. More details will be released regarding each session as well as the plenary speakers and topics during each meal.


Please follow this link to register. Registration will close February 10, 2015.


Please feel free to share this announcement with other partners.


Should you have any questions regarding the workshop, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Sidra Metzger-Hines

Grants Coordinator

Oregon Office of Emergency Management

3225 State Street, Rm 115

Salem, OR 97301

503-378-2911 ext. 22251


"Claimology" - A Science that Can Save Your County Money


Behavior is by far the largest contributor to claims.  Indeed, nearly all claims are rooted in behavior.  But it is not only an individual's behavior that causes claims; team behavior, organizational behavior, and societal behavior can also play significant roles. 

In the study of public entity Claimology, high risk factors and preventive factors are identified and analyzed. Read more...


AOC Member Services Manager Mckenzie Farrell can answer any question about NACo and AOC member benefits

National County Government Month


Tell Your Constituents about the Great Programs and Services Your County Provides!!!


National County Government Month (NCGM) is an annual celebration of county government held each April. This year's theme is "Counties Moving America Forward: The Keys are Transportation and Infrastructure," which is also the focus of NACo President Riki Hokama's presidential initiative. 


Start planning your NCGM activities today! To help you with that process, NACo has created a resource booklet that includes ideas and suggestions for activities you can do to raise awareness about the vital programs and services you provide to the residents of your county. 


To see the 2015 NCGM booklet,  click here.


Visit for NCGM and NACo logos and a sample proclamation.  


AOC Member Services Coordinator Mckenzie Farrell can answer any of your questions



NACo Leg Conference Coming Up 

Mark Your Calendars - National Association of Counties (NACo) 2015 Legislative Conference!  


NACO's 2015 Legislative Conference begins Saturday, February 21st and goes through Wednesday, February 25th. 


Register now and join over 2,000 elected and appointed county officials from across the county to focus on legislative issues facing county government.


For those planning to attend, please join AOC for the Oregon Reception on Saturday, February 21st from 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm at an historic Capitol Hill home that has hosted famous and not so famous political and journalistic figures and titans of the human race. 


And, on Tuesday, February 24th and Wednesday, February 25th, we'll head to Capitol Hill for meetings with Oregon's Congressional Delegation. We have appointments set with the entire Oregon Congressional Delegation.  Let's hope it doesn't snow and make life difficult.


Please contact Eric or Laura at AOC with any logistical questions.  


For further information about NACo's 2015 Legislative Conference, please contact

Gini Pingenot.

On the Road
As this edition of Oregon Trails is being produced, it is 60 degrees and sunny in Salem.  It is sunny in Washington, DC as well, but the temperature there is 28 degrees and going down.  Guess where 41 Oregon county commissioners, judges and staff are going to be latter this week.  Right.  We will send you some frozen news as it develops.  
How to complain
Please contact AOC Communications and Operations Director Laura Cleland with any concerns, suggestions, questions or comments you might have about Oregon Trails.  

Please contact AOC Communications Manager and Trivia Has-Been Eric Schmidt with any news tips and photographs you might want to see in this newsletter.
Laura Cleland & Eric Schmidt

Association of Oregon Counties



Have a great week.
The Capitol Mall looks like an antenna farm these days.  It appears the commercial news media has discovered covering state government is worth the effort.