From the Siuslaw News
06 May 2006 Edition
Rebuttal Guest Editorial

Siuslaw County Chielf Petitioner Takes A Stand

        Responding to the article; "Officials make case against new county" reporting on a presentation at the Florence Chamber of Commerce. Upon invitation, I made a full power-point presentation a month earlier though absent the extensive advance media publicity. County Administrator Vactor, a surprise guest from Eugene, stated all the Siuslaw County Presentation data would be verified for a rebuttal presentation. The data/findings for subdividing out the new county received a clean bill of health from Vactor for only the O&C value was questioned and without supportive evidence. {See SiuslawCounty.Org for details and power point presentation slides.}

        The presentation was 35 minutes; 20 on the legal steps (ho hum), 10 on revenue (property taxes only), and 5 by Commissioner Morrison (O&C and loss of voting rights). There being no questions asked after the presentation, the Chamber adjourned early.

        LEGAL spent some time on ORS 202.150 regarding compensation for ownership change of public facilities. Imagine a new complex near the boundary line of two existing counties and the line is moved "capturing" this prize. Not so fast, ORS says the new owners must compensate the original county's residents who paid the construction, maintenance, and use. The Siuslaw/Florence Area (SFA) citizens ARE the Lane County (Lane) residents who paid (directly or indirectly) for the construction, maintenance, and use of SFA located public facilities. ORS does not expect the SFA residents to twice pay for the same facilities. All that exists now, which is pitifully little since the Board of County Commissioners sold off all but a road crew yard and some parks, belongs to SFA already.

        Siuslaw County (Siuslaw) is not "changing" a county boundary; it is "creating" a new one. The County is a political subdivision of the State. The other way to create a new county is by State Legislative Act. If Oregon decides to "subdivide" Lane giving a part to two or three "siblings", it has the authority to do so. No sibling may demand compensation for public facilities outside their area just because at one time it "managed" the original whole County district.

        REVENUE chose to only focus on a minor source; the property taxes. A rebuttal strategy is to direct attention to the glass being half empty. Then hope SFA residents will not see it is not only half full but beside is a pitcher of refreshing drink capable of filling it eight times over. Numbers were provided based on mathematical and statistical matriculations. With Lane sitting on the property tax data as the official collector, why is it resorting to using estimates? Siuslaw purchased a copy of the database, pressed the "total all for" button, and displayed that SFA generates 9.8% of the property tax revenue collected for internal use by Lane. Property taxes collected comprise 16.7% of Lane's total revenue while for Siuslaw this line item is 12.1%.

        Their handout shows Siuslaw has 11.1% of Lane's property tax accounts and would need 6.6 people to man the department. It states the Oregon Department of Revenue confirms this number as within the manning range for counties the size of Siuslaw. Siuslaw used 3.2 and will revise the manpower to the 6.6 count since some will be added here and taken away from there as refinements occur.

        Siuslaw estimates manpower at 87 elected/hired workers. Lane's bureaucracy is 1530+ workers averaging $83,000/year in salary/benefits with two months time off. Siuslaw purchased the individual payroll database too. Lane paid in yearly S&B; custodian (janitors) $54,000, tire specialist (repairs flats) $69,000, vegetation coordinator (wanna guess) $100,000, and one "unclassified professional" $141,000. Siuslaw used industry standards and the City of Florence for a 38% payroll savings rather than adopting Lane's gold plated labor compensation programs.

        MORRISON provided the closing arguments touching on two points; O&C funding and voting rights. Without any handout nor sources to be verified, Morrison said O&C lands in Siuslaw were 47,000 of 270,798 for 17%. BLM pushed the totals button for Siuslaw and reported 100,700 acres for 37%. Until Morrison can document otherwise, Siuslaw will use the BLM provided facts. However, anything over 6% is pure revenue bonus for Siuslaw.

        Morrison reported Siuslaw would loose all representation on the state and national levels since voting representation of SFA would be lost in creating Siuslaw. She needs a basic lesson in civics. The state and national offices are filled by those "directly" elected by the people and not by her Board of County Commissioners. The Siuslaw News also reported her claim of lost representation.

        Morrison compared Siuslaw to Curry; why not compare it to all of Oregon's 36 counties? Siuslaw is 11th in landmass, 11th in population, 16th in population density, 13th in real estate, and 18th in per capita wealth. Comparatively, Siuslaw has more Natural, Human, Wealth, and Tax/Revenue Resources than a third of the other Counties most of which are doing just fine!

        IN CLOSING, it is up to you to sign a petition to place the question before SFA residents; "Will services be better provided by a distant bureaucratically mired Eugene/Springfield dominated management team; or by your own resident elected/hired/contracted home town team?" I have shown you the dream of the past 100 years is attainable, that this is the best time to make it happen, and now it is time for someone else to take the baton and run it into the finish. Voters want to be personally asked to sign the petition which exceeds available time and money in this project. Lane is adding a new income tax and SFA will have no voice to stop it nor to say how those new taxes will be spent. Someone, organization, or group needs to step forth before SFA faces another 100 years of Eugene/Springfield oppression without representation.

Keith Stanton, Chief Petitioner