Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting Agenda for May 10, 2006

Minutes
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Budget Committee Meeting

Draft Minutes

May 10, 2006  7:00pm

Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The Citizen’s Budget Committee meeting was called to order at 7:01 pm on May 10, 2006 in Council Chambers at 1175 East Main Street, Ashland Oregon.

 

ROLL CALL

Mayor Morrison was present.  Councilor Amarotico, Jackson, Silbiger, Hardesty, Hartzell, and Chapman were present.  Budget Committee members Bond, Mackris, Stebbins, Levine, Thompson, and Gregorio were present. Committee Member Everson was absent.

 

STAFF PRESENT:   LEE TUNEBERG, AMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIRECTOR

BILL MOLNAR, INTERIM COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

                                    ADAM HANKS, CODE COMPLIANCE SPECIALIST

MIKE BROOMFIELD, BUILDING OFFICIAL

BRANDON GOLDMAN, HOUSING PROGRAM SPECIALIST

RACHEL TIEGE, RECREATION SUPERINTENDENT

DON ROBERTSON, PARKS DIRECTOR

STEVE GEIS, PARKS SUPERINTENDENT

SCOTT WHITMAN, STAFF ACCOUNTANT

MARGUERITTE HICKMAN, FIRE & LIFE SAFETY CHIEF

                                    CINDY HANKS, PROJECT MANAGER

                                    BRYN MORRISON, ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Approval of minutes from previous Economic and Cultural Grant Subcommittee meeting dated:

April 05, 2006, April 06, 2006

 

Roberta Stebbins, Committee member questioned April 5, 2006 on page 1, the $1,408,705. The accurate figure is $148,705 was available for grant funds. Jackson/Thompson ms to approve the minutes as corrected. All Ayes.  

 

PUBLIC INPUT

 

None

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT               

           

Bill Molnar, Mike Broomfield, Brandon Goldman and Adam Hanks presented the Department budget. Mr. Molnar spoke to the department’s responsibilities. He explained that Planning has been operating at ¾ staffing level, and has the Development Services Manager, Assistant Planner, and Director position currently unfilled. They have recently seen large commercial and residential projects. They have been working on Council priorities, the audit of the department and land use policies. He explained that proposals have become complex in land use and on the building permit side. There are a number of zoning and building codes, demands of staff are high and this puts burden on staff to maintain compliance.

 

Mr. Molnar spoke to the Planning division. Prior to 2000-01, approx 20% of expenses were covered by revenues. They restructured in 2000-01 to the goal of 75% expenses covered by the fee structure. He pointed to the graph on 3-105. They have accomplished 80-90% of expenses being covered by revenues in the last few years. This year only 60% are expected to be covered by the current fee structure, due to lag time in land use proposals. Many projects have gotten the land use approved but have not gotten to the building permit stage.

 

He pointed to page 3-105, personal services has increased 4.5% and is attributed to step increases and health care. Materials and Services has increased 9%, mostly in internal service charges, the facilities cost for the new building and an additional license for GIS. The Capital Outlay, $1,000,000 is new, and is for the Strawberry Lane land sale and the purpose is to use it for affordable housing development. The Committee questioned where the corresponding revenue for it was. Mr. Hanks responded they have to show the appropriation to be able to spend it and confirmed the corresponding revenue is shown in the budget. Councilor Jackson added that it is restricted for housing programs.

 

Mr. Molnar spoke to the new items the Department has requested that are not in the budget. They have asked for an Associate Planner but he is not sure if this year is the appropriate time to fill this position with the Director and Development Services Manager not filled. He questioned if the Department can effectively use the position at this point and they could have a loss of efficiencies bringing too many people in at one time.  He had hoped to be at full staffing as approved last year and had implemented the audit first. The second item is $25,000 for a rental assistance survey. Mr. Goldman added that the department needs to know better what rental needs are, where assistance should be directed.

 

Councilor Chapman asked about long term planning and phase two of the downtown plan. Mr. Molnar responded that a portion of the funds for that will come from the parking permit process.  Mr. Tuneberg added that if it is determined to go forward, it would be budgeted in the General Fund.  A revenue stream would be existing from community development fees or ticketing in the downtown district, but the revenue would primarily come from general fund revenues, and the City would need to look at what wouldn’t get done to make that happen. Councilor Chapman would like that added to the parking lot list for future discussion. Mr. Molnar added that adding that project would have staff consequences, requiring a minimum of .25 FTE to appropriately manage the project. In his opinion, the update of land use ordinance would have to wait. His experience is that staff would need to be available to assist the community along the way.

 

The Committee asked to clarify the current staffing level in regards to Code Compliance.  Mr. Molnar explained that currently they have the Director and the Development Services Manager open, which Adam Hanks has been assuming the responsibilities of.  A temporary employee has been added to assist in Code Compliance this year but by the end of the fiscal year, will not longer be needed. He explained that last year an Associate Planner position was approved and Assistant Derek Severson was promoted. The second candidate was hired as the Assistant and will start in two weeks.

 

The Committee asked to clarify the Housing Program Specialist position and where it is funded.  Mr. Goldman explained that $40,000 per year is funded by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)(.25 FTE) and the remainder is through the General Fund (.75 FTE). Councilor Hartzell thought the program was supposed to be 1.4 FTE. Mr. Molnar explained that roughly 1.4 FTE includes office staff help as well. Mr. Goldman added that the program will continue to need assistance from Planning as well as the Legal Department.

 

The Committee asked to clarify if the Associate Planner funds are included in the budget. Mr. Molnar responded that they are not. The Committee questioned if the Department had looked into contracting out for assistance. Mr. Molnar responded that they have thought about it.  If Council determines that there is a need for achieving long range planning of a project, they would have to come back and ask for additional funding. He explained that they base their budget on the priorities in City Council goal setting. Councilor Jackson added that the budget does not include the downtown plan, because others goals were given a higher priority.

 

The Committee asked staff to clarify the changes in positions recently.  Staff will provide detail.

 

The Committee asked why revenues had decreased. Mr. Molnar explained that is due to the timing of when projects go from the land use approval to the building permit stage. He added that revenue has just come in from issuing the building permit for the Forensics lab. The Committee asked staff to clarify the fees for each process. Mr. Molnar responded that first is the land use, then building permit process, then the Community Development fee is charged. Councilor Hardesty asked if they would be able to do the downtown plan if they contracted it out. Mr. Molnar responded they would. Ms. Hartzell asked if they would provide where they would be able to cut to fund the study.

 

The Committee questioned if the 75% revenue goal is still in effect and if there was anything that could be done to flatten out the timing and predict better where the revenues would fall. Mr. Molnar responded that the 75% is still a goal, but the way the process is set up, is unable to be controlled. The Committee commented that some projects have failed recently and asked if the process was the reason. Mr. Molnar explained that some projects start  the process and then are not able to be completed within the required time period, then they have to ask for extensions.  Some are not allowed to be completed because of determinations by the City. He added there is still considerable redevelopment potential in town. Mayor Morrison suggested Council should look at the fee structure and charge according to the amount of work that gets completed.

 

Mike Broomfield spoke to the Building division budget. He added that they now have a full service fire life safety program and provide every service the City can provide for inspections. Their goal is to provide the maximum service without impacting the general fund. He spoke to the services they provide following the land use process. He spoke to the amount of time they spend on non revenue generating projects. The City was reviewed recently by the Department of Justice and received approval for being compliant for ADA, which was a significant cost to the City.

 

He spoke that the City provides a presence on many state boards and has recently adopted many new codes. He added that many electric installations are outsourced now and the inspectors must make sure they adhere within compliance of the City codes.  The City used to see more single family homes, and now see more connected housing and mixed use buildings, which are more complicated for code compliance.

 

The Committee questioned the divisions ability to respond to increased demands.  Mr. Broomfield responded that they do contract out for specific needs and this is budgeted regularly at $35,000, and in some years they have over expended depending on the timing of projects. They prefer to budget for a full team of experts in staff. They have eliminated professional services because they have staff to do it.

 

Mr. Broomfield explained that when a project comes in, it gets evaluated  then charges are based on that valuation. The Committee questioned if departments are being charged to upgrade the Council Chambers.  Mr. Tuneberg responded that they are if they use the facility and it is budgeted for $300,000.

 

Mr. Goldman spoke to the CDBG and that it is a federal program. The City of Ashland receives a direct allocation from the government which is expected to be $213,509 in FY 2007, down 10% from the current year. He spoke to many projects that have been completed, through Ashland Community Land Trust and ICCA, which funded a housing coordinator. In Ashland, those funds are designated to go to affordable housing.  Last year they modified the CDBG budget year to correspond to the fiscal year rather than calendar year of accounting to more accurately account for the funds.  Mr. Chapman asked what percentage of Brandon’s time is in CDBG and why CDBG doesn’t pay Central Service Fees. Mr. Goldman responded .25 and those funds are federally regulated to benefit low income people. Mr. Hanks added it is not in the Central Service Fund. The Committee asked if they expect those funds to continue to reduce 10% each year. Mr. Goldman responded they do.

 

Bond/Morrison ms to accept the budget as presented.  All Ayes.

 

The Committee took a break for 5 minutes at 8:20.

 

PARKS AND RECREATION

 

Rich Rosenthal, Chairman of Parks Commission presented the budget.  He spoke to the budget process within the Commission. He mentioned that staff discussed revenue projections through the process. He spoke to the Commission goals:

  • Develop and implement a 5 year CIP and marketing plan for Oak Knoll Golf Course
  • Continue the process of development at North Main Park property and Vogel park property. Implement a process of facility planning as new properties are purchased
  • Address the upper duck pond water quality issues
  • Review current parks and recreation facilities and evaluate all uses of land. Identify any changes in land for resource protection, enhancement, and use change
  • Continue the development of a comprehensive approach toward the environmental maintenance standards and practices
  • Update the Open Space Plan to identify properties that are no longer attainable or have bee retained
  • Evaluate Nature Center Staffing structure and recommend changes as needed
  • Develop a succession plan for staff. Identify future staffing needs; implement in house training programs.

 

He spoke to the accomplishments in the current year and that demand and participation in recreation has increased. He spoke to the activities in The Grove and that they have tried to keep the focus on teen groups and multicultural activities. He believes the Senior program being under Parks is an excellent match.  He spoke to the activity guide and how it improves program awareness.

 

He spoke to the projected $650,000 ending fund balance for next year, which supports operation between when the year starts and when taxes are collected. He spoke to the Darex ice rink that is in need of repair and they would like to raise $150,000 to put tubes in the parking lot for FY 2008.

 

He spoke to the Parks 2005-06 amended budget compared to the 2006-07 proposed has decreased 1.6%. He pointed to the Youth Activities Levy and that it is a direct pass through of funds to the school district. He spoke to details of the budget and $1.5 million in expenses are beyond their control. Mr. Rosenthal spoke to the Oak Knoll Golf Course and the competition to maintain and update it. He added that if revenue at the course increased, the obligation to the golf pro would increase.  He spoke to temporary employee wages that are budgeted.

 

Mr. Robertson spoke to the increase in operations, in program activities, to ensure continued success within the Recreation budget. They have budgeted for contracted instructors and contracted designers for the activities brochures. The Committee questioned how Parks measures the success of the programs. Mr. Robertson responded that they ask the participants in classes to review the instructors and have done some formal surveys and they usually break even on costs. Some classes have had to be canceled in the past due to lack of registration.  They budget the revenue on the conservative side to accommodate fluctuations in attendance.

 

The Committee and staff discussed the grounds maintenance of the schools and that it is not included in the budget. The school district and Parks Commission are still in negotiations for the grounds maintenance which would be approximately $126,000. Mr. Robertson explained that it would cost approximately $28,000 to maintain Briscoe and Lincoln and that the Parks Division could absorb it as part of the budget. The Committee questioned if the YAL funds could be used for grounds maintenance. Mr. Robertson explained that it is a contractual obligation between the City and the school district.  Mr. Levine added that the original ordinance stated that a portion of the levy be used for non school related needs, and that is the portion that Parks retains.  Mr. Robertson added that it may be possible to use a portion of the YAL but only on athletic fields or playgrounds.

 

Mr. Rosenthal spoke to the Commissions concern with long term funding available and the need to reevaluate fees, funding sources, and SDC’s.  He explained that SDC’s are tied to new growth and Parks does not have reimbursement SDC’s at this time and are looking at developing them. Mr. Robertson added that Parks utilizes the development SDC’s and it can only go toward new development and is very restrictive. He explained if the City expanded into the Urban Growth Boundary, they could use 100% SDC to build parks because it would all be new growth.  Reimbursement SDC’s takes into account investments made into the parks system.  It is tied to growth and allows them to replace playground equipment and upgrade ball parks for example. He explained that they would like to make a fund to account for reimbursement SDC’s and they will need professional help to do that. They will put and in for an RFP and hope to have the new SDC reimbursement by next year.

 

The Committee questioned the decrease on page 3-123 in contractual services. Steve Gies, Parks Superintendent explained that the accounting staff was previously located in that line item and now is reflected accurately in central services in. Mr. Robertson spoke to the development of succession of staff planning. They have many staff that are coming up to retirement.  They will then reevaluate the staffing structure. Ms. Hartzell asked if the Parks Commission goals could be put in the adopted budget.

 

Mr. Robertson spoke to the future ending fund balances in the long term section. He added it may take a few years to turn around and improve. The Committee questioned the declines in swim attendance. Mr. Robertson explained that the standards have changed on the pass rate and they are using certified instructors now. He explained that there is a higher satisfaction rate now.  Mr. Rosenthal explained the history of the golf course and that revenues have stayed stable due to an increase in fees. Mr. Morrison asked about the maintenance of the golf course. Mr. Rosenthal responded that one of his recommendations will be improvement in the maintenance which would improve marketability.

 

Bond/Amarotico ms accept the budget as presented. All Ayes.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

 

 

Respectively Submitted,

 

Bryn Morrison

Account Representative

 

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