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Budget Concerns 2016

 

Latest update from Friends October 2016

 

October 15, 2016

Dear Members:

Here’s an update on the Board of Commissioners’ continuing efforts to use timber sales to pay for the county’s budget deficit and for operations and maintenance of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park, Douglas County’s largest park. This park is the only park in the system with its own isolated budget.

In June Susan Morgan demanded that Friends and OET either pay the county back the county’s $26,000 shortfall or the county would ‘close, log or sell the park, and frankly logging is on the table.’ See below to read the letter to members about that June meeting and Friends’ recommendations to solve the county’s fiscal mismanagement of the Park.

When Friends met with Commissioner Boice and Parks Director Rocky Houston in August, that $26,000 deficit had shrunken to $20,000. 

The Parks Advisory Board’s September 2016 agenda included a timber management concept authored by Paul Beck of the Douglas Timber Operators, which Boice and Houston were ready to present.  There was overwhelming testimony in opposition to logging the park to pay for the county’s budget shortfall and operations and maintenance of the Park. 
See http://www.co.douglas.or.us/parks/minutes/2016-09-15_Minutes.pdf

Friends board members met with Boice and Houston on October 6th.  At that meeting, Boice indicated his hope for respectful communication and collaboration as the county honors the 2014 agreement between Friends of Mildred Kanipe and the County.  He reiterated the County Government’s need for revenues to ‘pay back the general fund’ for the budget deficit, talked about Friends’ taking over the ownership of the Park, and expressed frustration over the public’s opposition to the “Park Management Direction” before the concept was presented. 

Friends made the recommendation that the PAB agenda be reformatted: Public participation on agenda items occurs after the agenda item is presented and before the agenda item is acted upon. 

The October 2016 PAB agenda has that suggested format:  First, the public will hear agenda item information; then there will be public testimony on agenda items; then action on the agenda items.   The reformatted agenda will debut on Thursday, October 20.  

Boice and Houston will be presenting a timber management concept for the Park at the PAB meeting on Thursday, October 20.  The timber management concept was prepared by Paul Beck of the Douglas Timber Operators.

A copy of the timber management plan is available at:  http://www.co.douglas.or.us/parks/minutes/Agenda.pdf


Commissioner Boice agreed with Friends that Mr. Beck's ideas, as well as all other ideas, would not be acted upon or adopted by the Parks Advisory Board. Rather they will be discussed in the Master Planning process with robust public involvement.


IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO ATTEND THIS MEETING.  There will also be discussion on the Master Plan for the Park.  Commissioner Boice agrees that one of the County’s commitments in the 2014 Agreement between Friends and the County is to create a Master Plan for Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park.

We need your support to insure that the all Stakeholders drive this Master Plan process and discussions and/or decisions about Park management are fully analyzed by all Stakeholders. Every step of the Master Planning process needs to be fully vetted by the Public and have broad Public participation and support. 

 

Remember to buy your Mildred Kanipe Park Parking Permit.  You have access to all parks, but the funds go to Kanipe Park.  http://www.co.douglas.or.us/parks/

THURSDAY . OCTOBER 20, 2016 . ROOM 216 . COURTHOUSE . JACKSON STREET . ROSEBURG. 

 

 

Sept 2016

 

Yesterday's (Sept 15) Park Advisory Board (PAB) meeting showed how much the Mildred Kanipe Park is loved.  The room was full and there were many folks who stood up to speak about the park. The support shown on social media has been phenomenal.  We cannot thank you enough for standing behind this park and letting the county know how important this jewel is to Douglas County.  

The PAB took no action on the issue of logging Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park.  This issue will be on the October 20, 2016 PAB agenda....if at all possible, please plan on attending!

Again, we want to express our thanks to everyone of you whether you wrote comments to the county, signed the petition on line or were fortunate enough to be able to attend yesterday's meeting.  THANK YOU!

Agenda documents - includes Proposed Park Management Plan.
Karen Roberson's Comments
Landa Bailey's Comments
Deb Gray's Comments

 

Letter to Rocky Houston Sept 13, 2016

 

Re: Proposed Annual Pass Program Changes and Proposed Mildred Kanipe Management Direction

Dear Director Houston:

Following is the response of the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park Association (Friends) to the proposed Annual Pass Program Changes and proposed Mildred Kanipe Management Direction which are included with the Agenda for the Thursday, September 15, 2016 Parks Advisory Committee meeting in Courthouse Conference Room 310.

No Opportunity for Public Review or Comment
Friends and the public were not aware of County proposals until 1 week prior to PAB meeting when the meeting agenda was sent out. There has been no prior public input or discussion on these proposals. This lack of notice and public process is not acceptable and negatively impacts public trust in the County and the County Parks Department.

Breach of County Agreement for Management of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park
The County proposals are in breach of the Contract signed by County in 2014. A copy of the agreement is attached [See link below].
County residents and businesses raised $65,000 of outside funding for construction of a new campground with the expectation there would be no future logging of the park. The County Agreement affects hundreds of Stakeholders. Stakeholders include Grantors, businesses, civic groups, municipalities, and individuals. One year after the campground was built the County is already making proposals that are in breach of the agreement.

Short-Term Funding Issues
Kanipe Park is the only park of the 50+ parks in Douglas County that has been singled out and required to have a separate budget. Kanipe Park is the only park in Douglas County that cannot share in the General Park Pass revenue that pays the operation expenses for all of the other Parks in Douglas County. This has placed Kanipe Park in an unfair situation. The County has doubled the annual expenses at Kanipe Park in the last 3 years and then appears to have violated budget law last year by overspending the approved budget. A copy of the budget is attached. The County also over-estimated the initial startup revenue from the new campground. Now the County has proposed logging to cover these escalated expenses and revenue shortfalls.

Comply with Conditions of Mildred’s Will
A condition of Paragraph 7 of the 2014 Agreement with the County is that the County “will give due consideration to the intent and spirit set forth in the Mildred Kanipe Last Will and Testament dated February 18, 1981”.
We have attached a letter from the law firm that wrote the Last Will and Testament for Mildred. The letter was in response to County’s “Proposed Park Management Plan” in 2005 and addressed to Assistant Douglas County Counsel.
There has been much speculation about Mildred Kanipe’s intentions in her will, including a discussion in the recent proposal by the new Parks Director. However the 2005 letter from the law firm that wrote the will clearly identifies the intent of the will, including the condition that if the County could not operate and maintain the Park without logging then the Park would be sold, with money from the sale being donated to a non-profit agency. A direct quote from the law firm is “Therefore speculation about whether Mildred Kanipe was an environmentalist or a pragmatist is ultimately irrelevant. She was willing that the property be sold outright if the County was unable or disinclined to operate and maintain it as a Park” (without logging to cover operations and maintenance expenses).

Options for Funding
There are many County residents, businesses, civic groups, and municipalities that believe there are other ways to fund the Park than logging. The opposition is not to logging in general, but specifically to logging the Park. The existing stands of trees at the Park are one of the Park’s major attractions. Kanipe Park is an important component of future economic development for North Douglas County. Leaving the existing timber on the Park has a higher long-term value for Douglas County than logging the Park.

Paragraph 8 of the agreement states “County agrees to partner with all other interested stakeholders in applying for grants and exploring other funding sources for ongoing maintenance, capital improvements, and other major projects in the Park”. This has not occurred. Instead the County Parks Department is now proposing a funding plan that includes logging with no input or discussion from interested Stakeholders.

There are viable options for funding other than logging, including shared revenue from the General Parking Passes, reducing expenses at the Park, and keeping the campground open year-round. Attached is a letter from the Friends to the County dated June 26, 2016 concerning budget issues and potential solutions.

These and other funding options need to be fully evaluated with public input or the County is in breach of the agreement. Paragraph 4 of the agreement states that “The County agrees that any future logging to meet park expenses will occur only after other options have been reasonably CONSIDERED and PURSUED”.

Importance of Park to Economic Development of North Douglas County
The Oakland Economic Development and the City Council of Oakland have passed resolutions urging the County to collaborate on working to increase income and reduce expenses at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park without the need to log, sell or close the Park.

Lack of Recognition, Respect and Appreciation for Partnering and Volunteer Efforts at the Park
Some of the efforts that the Friends have made at the Park during the last 10 years are summarized in the attached letter dated June 26, 2016, and include raising $100,000 in funding for the Park, saving outbuildings at the Park such as the English Settlement School and the Underwood barn, and thousands of hours of volunteer efforts. At a time with County budget concerns, the County should be supporting and recognizing the efforts of volunteers. However, instead the County is proceeding with actions that will discourage future volunteer work and create bad will with the public. The proposed actions are short-sighted and the negative publicity generated will ripple down throughout entire Parks Department and into other County operations. In the long-term, volunteer organizations can help to generate more revenue than logging the Park, through the support of alternate revenue such as parking passes, grant applications, volunteer work, holding special events, and recruiting additional park usage. Increased use of the Park will lead to additional revenue through the sale of more parking passes and more campground usage.

Requested Actions By PAB Members
A summary of action items we are requesting from the PAB include:

1) Table the actions proposed by the Parks Director until after a Master Plan for Kanipe Park can be developed. Development of the Master Plan for Kanipe Park is included in Paragraph 8 of the 2014 agreement signed by the County. The Master Plan will address both short and long-term issues of the Park including cost estimates and options for Park funding. The Master Plan is to be prepared by a Consultant per the agreement, and will provide an opportunity for public process and help insure that all viable options for Park funding have been considered. The Friends have offered to pay for the Master Plan. Until after the Master Plan is complete, we believe the County will be in breach of Paragraph 4 of the agreement if the County proceeds with a plan that that includes logging.

2) Don’t allow park access to Kanipe Park with General Park passes as proposed by the Parks Director unless there is shared revenue from the General Park passes. Otherwise this proposal reduces revenue for Kanipe Park and will only further compromise the solvency of this Park.

3) Have public discussion on a single Parking Pass for all County Parks with shared revenue for Operations and Maintenance for all County Parks, including Kanipe Park. Fees from the General Park Pass is generating more revenue than anticipated and could cover the operation and maintenance expenses at Kanipe Park.

4) Eliminate the separate budget fund for Mildred Kanipe Park. A separate budget for Kanipe is NOT mandated by the General Judgement that dissolved the trust. The only reason the separate budget fund was created was for the County to track revenue generated from logging timber on Park. There are other ways to track this revenue if logging occurs. We will provide a legal opinion that supports that a separate budget fund is not required.

5) Reduce O&M expenses for Kanipe Park to a level consistent with historic expenditures. O&M expenses have more than doubled over the 2012 level, the level that the County represented in documents to the Circuit Court and the Attorney General’s office when the trust for the Park was dissolved.

 

Yours Truly,
John Robertson Chair, The Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park Association, Inc.

Attachments:
1. Agreement Between Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park Association and Douglas County, Dated January 29, 2014
2. Letter from Law Firm that Prepared Last Will and Testament for Mildred, dated February 9, 2005, Concerning Issues with County Plan to Log the Park
3. Copy of Budget for Park
4. June 26, 2016 Letter to County, outlining budget options and past accomplishments of Friends
Additional Documentation:
5. Resolution from Oakland Economic Development
6. Resolution from Oakland City Council
7. Letter from Duchess Sanctuary
8. Judgement dissolving Mildred’s Trust
9. Original County Campground Budget represented at the time of the Agreement between Stakeholders and County 10. Mildred Kanipe’s Last Will and Testament
11. June 19, 2016 News Review Article “Fees generate money for parks system”
12. May 28, 2014 letter from Friends to Parks Director Gary Groth addressing budget concerns for the Park
13. June 16, 2014 letter from Friends to County Commissioners addressing budget concerns for the Park

 

 

** Update Park Budget Issues, August 2016 **

 

The representatives from the Friends met with Commissioner Boice and new Parks Director Rocky  Houston on Monday, August 22 as a follow up to the June meeting where they announced the shortfall in the budget for Mildred Kanipe Park and asked us to figure out how to pay it back.

On Monday it was confirmed that Commissioner Boice will be the new liaison and that he appears to agree with the last liaison on most issues related to the management of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park. 

We are committed to working in partnership with the county to find reasonable solutions to the the budget deficit of $20,000 (updated amount at the August 22 meeting) without logging at the park.

We welcome the new parks director and are looking forward to his collaborative approach to managing our parks. We also understand he will need some time to adjust to the new job.  

July Update...

 

Hello friends..

We promised updates to you on the request for funds by Susan Morgan to cover the recent budget short fall for Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park. When we met, Susan indicated Commissioner Tim Freeman would be taking on the parks liaison duties. We then communicated by letter to Tim Freeman some important information we believe is missing in the recent media reports and the Board of Commissioners meetings. Subsequently, we heard the liaison duties may be switched to Chris Boice instead.

A subsequent meeting is planned for Monday, August 15, 2016 at 9:00 am with the new Parks Director, Rocky Houston, (who will be bringing his experience as Trails Coordinator from the Oregon State Parks Department) and the Parks Department / BOC Liaison. 

Thank-you for your continued support, interest and use of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park. We are so blessed to have this gem in North Douglas County.

 The Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park, Inc