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City Council (View All)

Study Session

Minutes
Wednesday, March 02, 2005

MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Wednesday, March 2, 2005 at 12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street


CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor Morrison called the Study Session to order at 12:02 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

ATTENDANCE:
Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Hearn were present.

City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, Finance Director Lee Tuneberg and City Attorney Mike Franell were also present.

1.   Policy Discussion regarding Fund Balances.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg noted that the City of Ashland established its fund balance policy in the 1990's and explained that fund balances are intended to provide assurances not only to the organization, but also to citizens that the City will maintain sufficient funds to continue operations year to year. It was explained that it is important for agencies who rely on property taxes to have a sufficient balance to carry them through the year. Although property taxes are a small percentage of the City's overall funds, it is still important to have sufficient balances in case of a downturn in predicted revenue streams.

Mr. Tuneberg explained that the City of Ashland sets its fund balances based on operational needs, and that for the most part, the fund balance is not reserved for a specific project. He noted that quite often fund balances are either inflated or reduced due to the timing of construction and financing activities. He also noted that monies that are reserved for a specific use (such as System Development Charges) are excluded from the fund balance calculation.

Mr. Tuneberg clarified that under Oregon Budget Law, the City could borrow from the fund balance if there was a catastrophe, such as a flood. He explained that about 3% of the City's operating revenue is set aside for contingency, and that this would be for any unanticipated needs that fall within the realm of reason. It was clarified that although the Finance Director does not have the authority to expend from the Contingency Fund, with Council's approval, he could transfer money from that fund.

Mr. Tuneberg noted that there would be an additional training session this year for the Budget Committee, which includes the Council and noted that much of this same information would be presented again. He also noted that Staff would be coming before the Council in the near future to suggest changes to the fund balances.

Mr. Tuneberg gave a brief overview of the attachments presented to the Council and noted the fund balance requirements for each of the individual funds. He clarified that the Oregon Budget Law does identify where organizations should have a fund balance and a contingency. He also clarified that the City of Ashland specifically tailors its fund balances based upon the activities and needs, and voiced support for the model that the City follows.

Mr. Tuneberg noted that the City had a tendency to be conservative when making their budgetary predictions. He also clarified that if the contingency funds are not needed, than they flow to the bottom line and become part of the carry forward.

2.   Council Goals
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi explained that the City had completed the goal setting sessions and that now was the time for the Council to receive clarification and notify Staff if they would like to make any changes. The Council worked through the goals one by one and made the following recommendations:

Goal #1: Revise goal to read, "Implement no-cost and low-cost strategies within the Health and Human Services Plan."
Goal #2: Council directed Staff to re-work the language of this goal.
Goal #3: Request was made for Staff to refine this goal.
Goal #4: Request was made for the second bullet point to be added to Goal #3.
Goal #5: Revise goal to read, "Complete revision of Downtown Plan."
Goal #6: Revise goal to read, "Complete Riparian Ordinance."
Goal #7: Council requested that this goal be deleted.
Goals #8 - #10:      No changes were requested.
Goal #11: Change goal to a policy directive and revise to read, "Be proactive in the planning of large undeveloped properties."
Goal #12 - #13:      No changes were requested.
Goal #14: Request was made to delete the bullet point.
Goal #15: Change goal to a policy directive and revise to read, "Develop process improvements that result in the completion of projects." It was also suggested that the last bullet point under this goal be moved to Goal #4.
Goals #16 - #20:      No changes were requested.
Goal #21: Suggestion was made to include Hersey Street.
Goals #22 - #24:      No changes were requested.
Goal #25: Remove "including upgrades to LaserFiche, GIS, utility billing software, web interface modules and more (invest in and utilize the most appropriate software to maintain, improve and enhance internal work performance thereby providing the best possible service to Ashland citizens" from the goal and add it as a bullet point for guidance.
Goal #26: Council requested that this goal be deleted.
Goals #27-#30:      No changes were requested.
Goal #31: Council request that this goal be deleted.
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3.   Hargadine Parking Structure.
Mr. Tuneberg noted the information provided in the meeting packet. He explained that the parking structure has met the targets that were established in 2001. He also clarified that the annual debt service is about $67,000 and that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival pays approximately $29,000. The remaining $37,000 comes from the usage fees that the City collects. Mr. Tuneberg stated that for the most part, the structure as it is used in Ashland is the reverse model of typical parking schemes, which normally charge for the most desirous spots and offer free parking further away. Mr. Tuneberg noted the sensitivity regarding the $1.00 fee and stated that most people in Ashland would rather risk getting a ticket than pay more than $1.00 for parking.

Council expressed support for keeping the downtown core free parking and charging in the lots.

Council questioned how often the machines malfunction. Mr. Tuneberg clarified that the machines are subject to failure from time to time, and added that the City could install more expensive machines, but then they would likely have to increase the usage fee.

Mr. Tuneberg stated that there are some things that the City could do differently, including removing the payment requirements for handicap parking spaces. It was noted that the Staff Memo contains several other ideas that could be implemented as well. Mr. Tuneberg noted that he meets with Diamond Parking weekly and monthly to discuss the performance issues regarding the machines.

Suggestion was made to keep the 4-hour parking restriction in place throughout the year.
It was noted that the parking structure is paying for itself, however the City could take steps to enhance the user experience.

ADJOURNED:   Meeting adjourned at 2:00 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder


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