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Commission Board Meeting on Wed, July 11, 2018 - 4:00 PM

Meeting Agenda: 


4:00 p.m.

-Proclamation for “Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority Day, July 12” – Shannon Oury

(1) (a) Consider approval of Commission Orders; and
(b) Consider approval of acquisition of permanent easement for drainage structure replacements, Project No. 2017-60 (Kevin Sontag);
(c) Consent Agenda approval of resolution establishing 35 mph speed limit; E 2100 Road from Route 458 (N 1000 Rd) to N 1300 Road (Keith Browning);
(d) Approve City/County Cooperation Agreement to appoint Dr. Caleb Trent, M.S. as Medical Director for the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department. (Jill Jolicoeur); and
(e) Consent Agenda approval of construction contract for Project No. 2018-06, Mill, patch and overlay portions of Route 438 (Keith Browning).

(2) Approve agreement with Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to lease approximately 8-10 permanent supportive housing units planned for construction on a portion of the mental health campus. (Jill Jolicoeur)

(3) Preliminary discussion about future behavioral health initiatives – No backup

(4) (a) Consider approval of Accounts Payable (if necessary)  
 (b) Appointments  
 -Board of Zoning Appeals (1) positions 10/17
 -Building Code of Appeals Board (2) positions 12/16
 -Community Corrections Advisory Board (1) position 
 -JAAA Advisory Council (2) position
 -JAAA Board of Directors (1) position
 (c)  Public Comment
 (d) Miscellaneous
(5)  Adjourn

Related Document(s): 
Meeting Location: 
County Courthouse
Street Address: 
1100 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Meeting Minutes: 

July 11, 2018

Thellman called the regular meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 with all members present.

Thellman read and moved to approve a proclamation declaring July 12, 2018 as “Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority Day” in Douglas County. Motion was seconded by Gaughan and carried 3-0.

Thellman moved approval of the following Consent Agenda:
►  Commission Order Nos. 18-033 and 18-034 on file in the office the County Clerk);
►  Acquisition of permanent easement for drainage structure replacements for Project No. 2017-60 with: The Anne J. Rhoades Trust dated September 21, 2006, a Revocable Living Trust, Anne J. Rhoades, Trustee, Shawnee Mission, KS, 6505 Sagamore Rd, Shawnee Mission, KS, Tract no. 1; and Michael William Price and Joseph Starr Price, 13302 W 73rd Street, Shawnee, KS, Tract No. 2;
► Resolution 18-17 establishing a 35 mph speed limit on E2100 Road from Route 458 (N 1000 Road) to N 1300 Road; 
► A City/County Cooperation Agreement appointing Dr. Caleb Trent, M.D. as Medical Director for the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department;
► Contract to Sunflower Paving Inc. in the amount of $565,292.45 for Project No. 2018-06, pavement rehabilitation on portions of Route 458, and authorization for the Public Works Director to approve change orders up to 5% of the contract amount.

Motion was seconded by Gaughan and carried 3-0.

The Board considered the approval of an agreement with the LDCHA to lease approximately 8-10 permanent supportive housing units planned for construction on a portion of the mental health campus. Jill Jolicoeur, Assistant to the County Administrator, presented the item.

On March 7, 2018 the Board of County Commissioners approved a joint resolution with the City of Lawrence granting an exception to Section III of the Lawrence Douglas County Housing Authority (LDCHA) by authorizing a resolution that permits LDCHA to purchase property on the proposed mental health campus where 8-10 units of permanent supportive housing are planned, which would be deeded to Douglas County care of LDCHA. The Commission subsequently approved a real estate contract with Bert Nash for the sale of property adjacent to property owned by Douglas County for  the development of the proposed mental health campus on April 18, 2018. The transfer of this property from Bert Nash supports the planned construction of 8-10 permanent supportive housing which will be administered by LDCHA following construction.

Programming and services are anticipated to be provided by Bert Nash and other community health providers for residents of the permanent supportive housing units. In an effort to proceed with the permanent supportive housing project, referred to as Tier 3 in past conversations, and seek the appropriate authorizations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the lease agreement must be approved by Douglas County and LDCHA. This is a long-term lease with an initial term of 30 years, which can be renewed in successive terms for up to 80 years.

Jolicoeur added the Tier 3 housing has to go through HUD approval which make this the lead project. However, she feels it is imperative we work on both the Tier 2 and Tier 3 projects together once Tier 3 is approved. There could be significant cost efficiencies doing both projects close to the same time. That case was made to the Affordable Housing Committee last Monday. It is important for the funding that has been approved for the Tier 2 housing for Bert Nash stay in place as proposed so we can continue to work on site planning and design so we are ready to move as soon as possible with both projects together.

Thellman opened the item for public comment. No comment was received.

Thellman moved to approve the agreement with the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to lease 8-10 permanent supportive housing units planned for construction on a portion of the planned mental health campus.  Motion was seconded by Derusseau and carried 3-0.

After approval: Matthew Faulks, Bert Nash, gave a short update on the status of the Tier 2 housing plan. The Tier 2 process was initiated by Bert Nash applying for affordable housing dollars last fall to construct this facility, a 12-bed transitional housing program that allows people who are homeless with mental health issues a transitional stay up to 12 months while their providers work on other permanent housing options. The City has agreed to grant $495,000 for the construction of that program provisional on our ability to secure other funding to complete the project. The design is larger than what the $495,000 will pay for. Monday he received an extension from the City to October 31 to finalize the release of funds. This project is the result of many people and agencies working together to address the housing issue in our community. The County tentatively agreed to provide additional financial assistance in addition to the City’s money allowing us to move forward with the extension. We are in a good position to apply for Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) grant funds and some other options.

The Board opened a preliminary public discussion on future behavioral health initiatives.

Thellman stated no decisions would be made at this meeting but it is important to start the conversation because we don’t have a lot time if we want to go to an election in November.

Craig Weinaug, County Administrator, stated in order for the Board to call an election in November to authorize a revenue source for mental health initiatives, they would need to have a decision by the first Wednesday in September (September 5) to call for an election. But to prepare a ballot for the election, the prep work would have to be made in August. So essentially the Commission has 3-4 weeks. Weinaug identified the following three funding options that could be used to determine a ballot question for future mental health projects:
• Approve 4.3 mills in additional property tax authority to provide the $5.75 million needed to retire debt for the campus and pay for expanded behavioral health programs for the size of the campus proposed in Proposition 1.
• Approve a half-cent sales tax under the same statute authority used in Proposition 1. The estimated tax would provide $9.8 million annually. (The original proposed was $5.7 million for the mental health portion on Proposition 1). The County would have excess funds that would need an identified funding source.
• Approve a quarter-cent sales tax through a state statute as identified by Wichita attorney Mary Carson, hired by Justice Matters, which was brought to the County’s attention. The estimated tax would provide $4.9 million annually. This would generate about $800,000 less revenue than what was proposed for the mental health campus under Proposition 1. The Commission would have to downsize the behavioral health initiative proposed in May. Or, the Commission could use the same statute for a half-cent sales tax which would produce $9.8 million and up scope the size of the mental health proposal. (This option was not identified by County Administration for the past election because it is tied only to health care funding and could not be used for jail expansion.)

Weinaug stated if the Commission wants to place an item on the November ballot, they would have to choose one of the options above.

Gaughan asked if the Commission chooses a November election under each alternative when would the first dollar of revenue be available to use. Weinaug stated if the Commission went with the property tax funding, money would not be available until January 2020. With the sales tax option, revenue would be available a few months after the election assuming it passed. You would not have to wait for budget approval.

Derusseau asked if the County would have to share a portion of the sales tax (if passed) with the City of Lawrence. Weinaug stated “no.” With the provision on a medical clinic if the City of Lawrence had ever levied a tax for a medical purpose then the revenue would need to be shared. We know no such tax has been levied for the City of Lawrence, but we are not sure about Baldwin City and Eudora.

Gaughan asked for clarification that no existing City/County tax that funds a portion of the Public Health Building applies this tax levy. Weinaug stated that is correct. That tax is shared amongst the cities with the City of Lawrence getting 66% of it, the smaller cities share less than a percent and the County receives 33%. That type of tax would not work in this situation because the share would not be sufficient.

Gaughan asked if the bond, interest payments, and operational expenses would be allowed under the three options. Weinaug said the County would need authorization to exceed the tax lid and to issue debt for the capital portion of the project. Bond Council confirmed we could put both authorizations in the same ballot question to authorize both debt and exceed the budget lid law for a mental health purpose.

Thellman said one of the things you’ve been researching is that mental health services does fall under “medical purposes.” She asked if we are sure this is a valid option that can pay for a brick and mortar facility for a behavioral health campus specifically for mental health. Weinaug replied “yes” he is confident. Thellman asked if that includes mental health, behavioral health, drug use disorder treatment and the whole nine yards. Weinaug responded the core legislation that was first passed did not mention mental health facilities. The amendment to that legislature that is in a supplement to the statute has expanded the language to include mental health facilities and operating costs thereof. The Bond Council also believes the tax can cover peer support on suicide and a number of other things that do not have to do with the operation of the facility. Weinaug stated that is as sure as he can be with three attorneys working 36 hours on this new option. He should be able to give a more confident answer in the next few weeks.

Thellman opened the item for public comment.

John Magnuson, 435 Maine, asked if we can on a single ballot ask for both a property tax lid increase and a sunsetting sales tax so we can take advantage of the rapid funding action that a sales tax would provide but shift to a less aggressive tax structure for the long-term funding initiative. Weinaug responded that is a question we need to research.

Chelsy Larson, 1414 Connecticut Street, asked if it is possible to do a quarter-cent sales tax and rather than scale the project down, look to other funding sources to make up the difference, like partner funding or grant money. Thellman responded there could be a quarter-cent sales tax and a mill increase or some other permanent funding which would probably be through property tax. We have a good chance at being a community that could pull in some grant dollars. We already have for some projects with grants underway.

Gaughan added when talking about grant dollars, we have to make sure we are clearly talking about one time funds vs. ongoing operational costs and the proposed financing of the original proposal was 20 years at $750,000 a year. When we look at one-time dollars in terms of brick and mortar or launching the initial phase of a pilot program or supporting the expanding of an existing program its vital that we maintain the full commitment to the operating costs of these projects if we undertake the building of them.

Dickie Heckler, 1217 Prospect Avenue, said he likes this new concept of a sales tax opportunity, which is a reverse of his earlier position. The project will support local employment which makes the tax like an investment in the community. He doesn’t like the idea of tying property taxes to the project because it will delay the project. He also doesn’t want the project put at risk because of a decline in property values. Heckler added he supports a half-cent sales tax because he doesn’t want to see the County downgrade a good program.

Eileen Smith, Lawrence resident, stated she is concerned about the large amount of high end building construction going on in Douglas County when we should be more concerned with building affordable housing.

Charlie Ross, 2000 E 19th Street, said he is not as concerned about the details of the project but rather he wants to make sure the plan becomes real. With money for mental health being reduced, he feels we should plan to do more even than what is proposed. He asked the Board to please scale the project up.

Judy Pope, 1295 N 873 Road, thanked the Commission for considering a mental health project. She told the Board if you can get this on the November ballot, she feels the Commission would be heroes to Douglas County.

Ron Wilson, 627 N 750 Road, asked how the budget cuts listed in the Journal World are connected with the public health initiative. He asked why we are cutting agencies and wanting to build something else. He prefers the mental health initiative be funded through a sales tax rather than property taxes.

Thellman closed public comment.

Thellman said this is the first of several conversation but we only have a few weeks to make decisions if we are going to place an initiative on the November ballot. There is a lot to take in and some research to do on the new quarter-cent option.

Gaughan stated we need to make sure we can finance construction and make sure the 94 County sales tax and City portion does not impact this initiative. He also wants to verify the wording in the statute that refers to “non-existent language.” He would like to meet with Bob Tryanski, Behavioral Health Coordinator and suggested maybe we do that during a County Commission meeting along with other staff affected.

Thellman wants confirmation that the quarter-cent option does not require us to go back to legislature. She also stated when talking to members of the community she is hearing a preference of a sales tax funding as opposed to increasing property taxes. She is considering if the community is willing to support a half-cent sales tax, the County could devote additional funding to mental health support for children. There was some support such as the WRAP program and crisis beds for youth, but no support for childhood intervention or trauma informed services. The earlier you catch kids in their lives with issues, the better off they are and the better off the community is. Thellman said she has been thinking about what we could do with a half-cent sales tax if the community felt generous enough to support it. The additional funding could be devoted to mental health/behavioral health/substance abuse/suicide/juvenile justice, and things that help that portion of the community where we didn’t have space under the original proposition to consider. Thellman stated she is torn because now we have an unexpected opportunity with a quarter-cent sales tax option if it is a viable option.  We now have more to work with and lots to think about. This is a lot to learn in a hurry. There is no process for a citizen petition to force an election in November. We do acknowledge that the petition process is not part of this conversation. But we do have a county commission wanting to give full consideration to a ballot in November so we have some serious options to think about and research in a hurry in order to make a good decision.

Thellman suggested adding another public comment session to the Commission meeting next week, July 18 at 6:00 p.m. No action was taken.

Thellman moved to approve payroll in the amounts of $245,100.97 paid on 07/05/18, and $4,912,837.34 to be paid on 07/12/18. Motion was seconded by Gaughan and carried 3-0.

Thellman moved to appoint Mike Delaney to the Heritage Conservation Council for a three-year term to expire 05/31/21 replacing Michael Arp. Motion was seconded by Gaughan and carried 3-0.

Ron Wilson, 627 N 750 Road, stated he has made complaints to the County but has not received a response. He said he received an email from the County Commission stating they were willing to meet to address any questions he has but to date he has not made an appointment to meet.

Matthew Faulk, 1003 Lawrence Avenue, said when the Commissioners consider between a quarter-cent and half-cent sales tax, please consider the flexibility of funds for future use to be used for more than just what falls under the hospital umbrella such as affordable housing. 

Bob Tryanski, Behavioral Health Coordinator, suggested looking at the categories of services and projects we’ve talked about. A big piece of this plan is to deal with prevention programs. He asked if that fits with the requirements of the statute as well as supported housing, and housing outside of campus. These are all things we need to define.

Gene Dorsey, 2038 Emerald Drive, said he would prefer to see the project scaled up as opposed to scaled down. He proposed the half-cent be used for mental health initiatives. He believes there will be community support.

Melinda Henderson, Lawrence resident, said she is unsure what we are going to do about the human rights issues and civil rights issues for the people incarcerated at the jail, and the staff that works there if we utilize a full half-cent sales tax. The City is totally out of control with their use of sales tax because they are not under the restrictions that the County is. Henderson said she is irritated that there was so much push back on a sales tax for mental health and jail when so many people were pushing for a sales tax for affordable housing last fall during the city election. The last thing we want to do is use property taxes to fund the mental health center or even the jail. The issues regarding the jail are not going to go away. She asked the Commission to please consider the possible future use of a sales tax and thanked the Board for having their priorities straight when having to cut from the budget.
Thellman moved to adjourn the meeting. Motion was seconded by Derusseau and carried 3-0.

____________________________  ____________________________
 Nancy Thellman, Chair                      Michelle Derusseau, Vice-Chair
 ___________________________  _____________________________  
Jamie Shew, County Clerk                Mike Gaughan, Member