March 27, 2017

The Okanogan County Board of Commissioners met in Regular session on March 27, 2017, with Commissioner Branch, Commissioner Andy Hover, and Laleña Johns, Clerk of the Board present. Commissioner Jim DeTro away attending personal business.

Commissioners convened the board at 9:00 am.

George Thornton member of the public taking notes. 9:00 a.m.

Briefing Among Commissioners & Possible Line Item Versus Bottom Line Budget Discussion
Cari Hall, Leah McCormack, Josh Thomson

Commissioner Hover asked what the issues were with changing from a line item budget versus a bottom line budget. Ms. Hall stated she would need at least a couple days to input but it is doable. It would need to be done by resolution of the board.

Ms. McCormack stated there were several departments that went into the negative which really drove the previous board to lock down the line items so the departments would be more inclined to address and look at their budgets more during the year to be in the positive. The last two years, Ms. Hall stated payroll completely stopped because there were several departments that did not have enough bottom line to pay their payroll which stops everyone’s payroll from going through. The Auditor had to scramble to get supplementals and budget adjustments up to the board in order for payroll to continue. It was very frustrating from a budgeting management point of view. Commissioner Branch stated that was because their bottom line went over, yes, replied Ms. Hall. Commissioner Hover asked if the departments were responsible for keeping their budget in the black, yes, they are. Ms. McCormack stated they are not 100% in favor of a line item budget but they do not wish to be stressed. The line item budgeting was to encourage the departments to meet more often with the commissioners. Invite the departments to the finance committee meeting every month. We need to sit down and talk more regularly with them. What is hard is when they only supply a small amount in their budget amendment rather than providing for the whole year. Ms. McCormack explained the vehicle replacement line, for departments who really depend on their vehicles to do their job, is one area that should not be using current expense reserve to buy their cars. Ms. Hall stated there was discussion previously that there is more time spent to process the line item budgeting the difference is that with bottom line budgeting was 150 resolutions versus 450 resolutions for line item. Commissioner Hover stated some vendors are not being paid timely because of the process. Ms. Hall reminded that we only process two AP per month so that could generate frustration from vendors.

The commissioners discussed department heads coming to the Finance committee meetings every month to go over all the county department budgets together. This would provide everyone with the time they are requesting to be part of the process at the ground level in a routine way. Commissioner Hover stated his idea for providing department with a lump sum of money for them to budget how they wish is one way he would like to explore. Give the departments time to evaluate their lines to submit. Ms. McCormack stated the only thing is Salaries and Benefits would not be adjustable. Look at the budget and communicate with the departments the concerns as we see them. Commissioner Branch explained communication is what we need to explore the trends for revenue. Revenue projections are based on previous years and knowledge of the situation.

Engineer Thomson stated the Secure Rural Schools funding, is Federal Forest based revenue and Public works only receives $70,000 out of the $450,000 or more that we should be getting. Commissioner Hover stated there is over a $350,000 deficit impacting us. Commissioner Branch stated he would like to show and say exactly where the deficits are happening and showing the trends can often help people understand what services those dollars are based on and what could go away due to the deficit. Ms. Hall explained by RCW she is to provide the budget o commissioners by August. There should be a discussion regarding grant revenue and how expenditures from those grants must be replenished timely. Commissioner Hover suggested budgeting for the revenue but do not budget for the expenditure until the revenue is realized. Some grants are reimbursable grants so that would not work for some departments. Some departments are billing the grant quarterly rather than monthly and that is a burden on the Current Expense. When we are doing line item budgeting it is a cash flow issue if those grants are not billed monthly. Commissioner Hover asked if those departments are apprised of this. It is a practice that should begin so the county is not put in a hardship and to keep the cash flow going.

Commissioner Branch commented on whether the grants provide administration dollars for the county or departments. Commissioner Hover explained in terms of bottom line the cons were that lines were in the negative affecting payroll, under budgeting and asking for supplements, so for him he would like to take the concerns to the different departments and have a discussion about that. Ms. McCormack stated they are also under budgeting their revenues. So that would need to be discussed and trends analyzed. If revenues are under budgeted that could cost a person their job as well as over budgeted expenditures. Commissioner Branch asked if everyone should be looking at that. A power point presentation can often leave a picture in people’s mind of the situation. Ms. Hall stated if that is something the commissioners would like to see let her know. MS. McCormack stated June is when we know the most about our budget and can see the trends. One other point of concern is about the Million Dollar loan is that departments will ask for their wish list that may not be reasonable. The need to understand that we cannot go into the new year owing a million dollars. Just because it is in the budget doesn’t mean we have the cash to pay for it. Commissioner Hover stated we must work as a team not a dictatorship. We must discuss together and ask the hard questions for a mutual resolve. Commissioner Branch stated if we have visual we can use it when we go to the legislators to show where their decisions are affecting us. When there is a power point visual people hear and see it and it helps the point stick in their minds.

Ms. McCormack explained the Ad Valorem also affects the current expense such as the Developmental Disabilities Veterans and Mental Health so keep in mind those impacts. Ms., McCormack stated the Solid Waste Closure funds are being invested in longer term investments so more revenue is generated. Commissioners discussed that some departments have very small operating budgets. Ms. Hall explained that communication is so important but there are some that do not take advantage of it when it is opened up. She appreciates the discussion about trust and follow up. Commissioner Hover stated one thing to remember is when departments come and ask about where the funds can come from there should be some discussion beforehand with the department and those involved in order to discuss where to move around the money. Commissioners discussed vehicle reserve funds being used to supplement the current expense reserve when departments are discussing where funds come from for under budgeted budgets. Being transparent with what we are doing with our money, then other departments become more aware and the public does too.

Engineer Thomson provided some background of the revised Prospectus Tonasket Bridge South Hwy 97 project and asked the board to approve.

Motion Revised Prospectus Tonasket Bridge South Hwy 97
Commissioner Hover moved to authorize the vice chairman Chris Branch to sign the Prospectus Tonasket Bridge South Hwy 97 project in the total amount of $2,162,200. Motion was seconded, all were in favor, motion carried.

Review Consent Agenda

Update Veterans Board – Eric Fritts, Dale White, Mike Stewart etc…
Mr. Fritts provided the board with highlights. (attached) Chelan County recently hired a new VSO. Mr. Fritts stated he will train him and he will have an onsite visit to the Tonasket Office. He is not accredited at this point. Grant County is in the process of hiring for their VSO and Mr. Fritts will be involved with training him too.

Mr. Fritts explained recidivism offenders and provided some data to show the two types he is dealing with. AS of March 840 vets in the hospital which is up 13 and were new. Compensation claims were up in March which is way up from previous months.

Veterans Courts has been a topic of discussion with Karl Sloan and drug court. He has a formal meeting with Mr. Sloan on whether a veterans courts would be viable. It doesn’t not appear it would be as the numbers have gone down significantly as shown on the data provided. The grant is not a renewing grant and is based on need, so if the numbers are going down it would not be likely funded.

Mr. White explained in veteran’s courts and how that process is followed by veterans and provided to reduce jail time.

Mr. Stewart explained some issues with the Veterans Contract between the Tonasket Hospital and the VA and where he stood on it. There is nothing that can be done as the VA is on its course. Commissioner Branch asked where the lack of communication happened.

The legalities of how the travel vouchers were discussed. Commissioner Hover stated the board wished to ensure the travel vouchers are being approved appropriately. All department head travel vouchers are pre-approved by the commissioners before the auditor can process for payment. Commissioner Hover stated he wants to ensure the process is followed and is efficient for the Veterans.

Mr. Fritts explained the process for approving the Veterans Board travel vouchers. The President, Mr. White, approves the attendance roster for every meeting as well as approves each Board members claim for expenses. Those approvals are submitted to the auditor’s office for payment. No commissioner is involved with the preapproval for the claims for travel prior to the commissioners approving the overall county voucher totals. The process for commissioner preapproval on the travel claims stopped happening due to efficiency.

Mr. Stewart explained a member of the reservation is in the process of obtaining a letter of intent and letter of indorsement from the council to represent the tribe on the veteran’s board. His name is Arnold Cleveland.

Mr. White explained the training costs are paid for by the other Counties when Mr. Fritts trains their county VSO. But if he wasn’t willing to train them for those counties they would not have a Veteran’s program.

Mr. White explained the title to the Van has been hard to get a hold of. The VA currently holds the title to the van. However, the hospital insured the van and did all the maintenance on the van so a letter is needed from the hospital is supposed to be sent to the Utilization officer who then takes it off the list and then the title is sent to us.

Motion - Voucher Approval - Commissioners
Vouchers certified and audited by the Auditing Officer as required by RCW 42.24.080 and those expense reimbursement claims certified as required by RCW 42.24.090 have been recorded on a list, and made available to the Board. As of this date, the Board did vote, by unanimous vote, to approve the CE vouchers in the amount of $1,350,319.93. Warrant numbers as cited on the attached blanket voucher list. Motion seconded and carried.

Motion Public Health Vouchers
Commissioner Hover moved to approve the Public Health Vouchers in the amount of $9551.39 for future approval by the Board of Health. Motion was seconded, all were in favor, motion carried.

Possible Quarterly Update Tonasket Veterans VA Clinic- Tosha Tibs etc…

Discussion WA ST. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Elk Herds-& ATV-Jim Brown Scott Fitkin Biologist
Jim Brown introduced himself and stated this meeting was precipitated by another meeting about elk herds. The commissioners had been receiving some feedback about the herds and so he committed to the cattlemen that he would be here to discuss elk management. Commissioner Hover and Branch appreciated the chance to discuss this.

Ellen Gallagher, Scott Fitkin wild life biologist.

Commissioner Hover discussed concerns expressed earlier this year that were interested in the elk management policies for the northern part of the county. The group discussed to him at that time their concern with the elk in their alfalfa fields. Commissioner Hover is a hunter and hasn’t hunted elk in this county for a long time. There were ideas presented to him on how the conflict would be resolved so wanted to hear from WDFW on their position on the north part of the county. Mr. Brown stated the specific elk plan management was introduced and a public process started in 2012 to actually look at how they were managing elk in the north county.

Mr. Fitkin explained there are 8 elk herd plans and historically NE elk herd and started changing it to Selkirk elk management herd. Selkirk herd plan covered the edge of the 204 Okanogan county.

Commissioner Hover asked about elk on the reservation lands. He explained it is not part of the Selkirk herd. Canadians have been managing elk herds in their area. The plan identifies a geographical area. The Selkirk herd plan was finished in 2012 with a proposal to increase elk in Okanogan County eastern and Colville’s had asked for considerable harvesting. Petition was received in support of more elk in Okanogan County. As the Selkirk plan was being refined they considered increasing the elk in the area. He discussed the harvesting differences being considered so the herds would shift to increasing populations. They had lots of ideas in the planning process with multiple outreach and public review and directed towards hunters. They do try to reach other groups with some success. There were three public meetings regarding the Selkirk herd in 2012 which included a large geographical area. They had public support in certain forums. The Selkirk plan does include Okanogan with some bull season. Since then they started changing their regulations to make hunting seasons focused on modern fire arms, and needs for archery and muzzle hunting. Commissioner Hover asked about the public outreach in Okanogan County was there anyone opposed to it that thought they would suffer. He said it was mostly hunters who attended that meeting. In Wenatchee he heard from those farmers who had problems and agriculture destruction. Commissioner Hover stated alfalfa is a crop too and those plants can be stunted and issues happen when grazed too low. Matt? The goal is not to grow damage so they do have technical assistance for elk in the hay.

Mr. Brown stated there are some Colville tribal representation here today as they do tie into their program, Roger Freelander. Commissioner Hover stated that is good. Ellen explained she has been here for three years and have heard from three families with elk issues regarding hay stacks. You can kill one elk but it won’t stop them from doing anything. Recommend hazing techniques but they can damage fences when scared off or get hit by a car. Damage tags can be used too but there is one land owner who was concerned about liability issues. She doesn’t think everyone is ever satisfied. They do not have fencing materials to even give people. Commissioner Hover stated the subject of land owner tags did come up but landowners were selling those. Commissioner Hover asked what the tools are that can be used to help pay for the damage or stop the damage. Mr. Brown stated compensation for damage is set out in rules and there are requirements with one being that the lands be open for public hunting and commercial crop damage over $10,000. Mr. Brown was not sure and would need to check on that. Enforcement is his former gig. He will look at that but before he thought the $10,000 was the ceiling and it could be flipped or something he will find out. Commissioner Hover stated $10,000 is a lot of hay. Mr. Brown stated he hasn’t had much hay crop damage claims compared to the many commercial fruit damage claims. Commissioner Hover asked about the Oak Creek feeding station put in. Matt? Replied that at one time there were not many elk in the Washington because of commercial hunting so many of the elk were reintroduced. IN Yakima area there isn’t much wintering grounds there so those areas with elk feeding programs so in order to keep the herds viable they created feeding stations. Scott stated there is winter range in the north half of the county. Commissioner Branch asked about forest service allotments compensations and loss of range land. Under the current statutes there is no compensation for fencing damage to the grazing allotments. Commissioner Branch asked about the over grazing of those areas and asked if the Elk plays a role in diminishing the graze forage. Have there been assessments in those areas and they do take in to account those areas. The same things that make the forest healthy are also good for cattle and elk. Matt stated last year there were 10 elk killed and the numbers for harvest has generally been bulls. If the elk numbers are impacting the range they could institute harvests to balance that. If there are too many elk they do have mechanisms and tools to control that to reduce those herds. Commissioner Hover asked what the management goals are for the Selkirk herd and strategy. Matt said they could develop a unique plan for this area as there are different problems. But it seems they are consistent with what is happening in eastern Washington. Right now they manage towards numbers of animals.

The goal for population in the northern Selkirk is 1500. He doesn’t know specifically, but also doesn’t know exactly how many there actually are. Eventually they hope to get to that point, but right now the numbers are estimated based on how many were shot. Surveys are expensive and something they have not done specially for elk yet. Freelander stated over time elk learned not to go to areas where they were hunted heavily.

Damage cooperative agreements between people and WDFW allows for damage compensation. Ellen stated you would still have to allow public hunting on your property sell access to your property.

Freelander has a target of 2500 elk and what they do differently is that they do intensive vegetation management and interact with Forest Service to increase forage overall and does not think it is where it should be. The fires have affected the conditions. Vegetation manipulation would help out. The winter range buck brush really starts to grow. This would be part of the solution. Commissioner Hover asked how many elk are seen on Mr. Kinney’s private property off Hwy 20 near Wauconda and they see around 45 head. The elk congregate in their field and hay alone they are not able to harvest costs them around $5,000 per year. The pasture damage is hard to assess. How would anyone like to be charged $5,000 extra tax per year they do not want to open their land to the public there is a weed problem, fire problem and they feel as the game department manage their lands, but how are they managing the herd what does that mean regulate the hunting season. They are not being managed like cattle are managed they do not respect the fences, highway or anything. Commissioner Hover stated Mr. Brown came here to listen to the problems in order to try and figure out what the resolution is. Mr. Brown stated he has had staff deal with issues in that area and there is a unique holding there with dry land farming and is a magnet for elk. What can be done about it? Mr. Brown stated they are limited in many ways in terms of damage compensation and one thing in law is that the land must be open for hunting. He had spoken to the tribe about shared interests to remove targeted animals in other areas and opportunities to remove deer for tribal activities. That is an example of working cooperatively with the tribe.

Mr. Kinney explained the numbers in his situation that have increased since 2010 and is hearing that WDFW is saying they just are not there yet. Due to the elk their pocket book has taken on the full burden with these elk in their area. Commissioner Hover stated the Kinney’s are not the only family affected by the elk in this way. Trying to find the compensation portion and the fact they cannot be compensated because they are not opening their land up to hunting. Mr. Brown explained that much of the revenue comes from the hunting permits that allows the ranchers to be compensated. Commissioner Branch explained the options of the tribe would certainly be worth trying. Mr. Kinney stated it could be tried in June because that is when their crop is being harvested but they come at night not during the day to feed on their fields. Mr. Freelander said it would depend on the conditions. Mr. Brown discussed spotlighting issues in this specific situation.

Ellen stated the master hunter programs has been looked down on by Okanogan County residents. It goes back to strangers hunting on your property dogs being protective etc.. Matt stated historically that one bad apple can ruin it for everybody. Mr. Brown stated the master hunters program is done by a drawing from all state residents to put in for the master hunters drawing. It can be over sold as a tool and it is hard to make that successful in this type of situation.

The Kinney’s would like to be able to take care of the situation. But they do need something specific and suggested the WDFW come and meet with them one on one to figure it out. Commissioner Branch would like to be invited to any meeting with the Keane’s should one be arranged. Mr. Brown did not see a problem with that. Commissioner Branch is interested in obtaining better knowledge of the situation and how it is handled.

Mr. Brown appreciated the open dialogue and recognizes this is the start to a better path to the land owners. Commissioner Hover stated ATV issues were also on the agenda and at some point the county would like to hear the agency’s thoughts on ATV and the damages that have been caused because as the county develops plans to open more roads up they would like to know. Mr. Brown replied they are willing to work to discuss their concerns, but currently the department doesn’t have a mission statement on ATV’s. He explained there should be plans in place when they come in and see a track has been created over a weekend. He experienced that one set of tracks attracts another set of tracks. He doesn’t want to overstate the facts either as it has been site specific because it has not been a huge problem but he would like to mitigate those future issues up front.

Update - Planning – Perry Huston
Albert Lin, Dan Higbee, George Thornton member of the public taking notes.

Director Huston and the board discussed OCC 20 in terms of the water issues.
Subdivisions and planned development provisions for water was discussed. Commissioner Branch explained his thoughts on exempt wells providing the water and requirements in 58.17 if it was not addressed then to provide an exempt well to each lot. Director Huston will go through the plats themselves to see what the consistency was at that time. The plats are mostly short plats. He will do some more research and come back to the board with what he finds.

Voluntary Stewardship Program was discussed. Director Huston stated an agreement will be presented at a later date for a speaker agreement.

Joint Aquatic Resource Permit application JARPA
Director Huston explained the idea behind JARPA that allows all the permitting agencies work together and it worked well and as year went by other agencies wanted their own period. In recent history permits were issued by us but the ordinary high water mark was not where they believed it to be by the corp. Previously the Army corps and F&W met about the JARPA and last week a permit was issued before everyone else had signed off. Commissioner Hover stated he would prefer we not issue our permit until the rest of the permits are signed off. He can go on site and check the work but that has not been embraced by past commissioners, explained Director Huston. Commissioner Hover believes there will be a check and balance before the Planning department has to issue. Commissioner Branch stated wetland edges have different rules, there are processes used with conditions and it was his feeling that we not issue our permit until others have weighed in.

Commissioners discussed the Whistler Canyon trail parking lot configuration.

Director Huston explained a group would like to form a Lake Management District in the Lake Osoyoos area under RCW 36.61. The ballots would be mailed out and is not on the regular ballot. Commissioner Branch discussed a possible wider discussion type of meeting prior to a resolution. A public hearing is required, Director Huston reminded.