Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, April 27, 2006

                                                                                                        Budget Committee Meeting

Minutes

April 27, 2006, 7:00pm

Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

Chairman Marty Levine called the Ashland Budget Committee meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. on April 27, 2006 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street Ashland, Oregon.

 

ROLL CALL

      

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

 

STAFF PRESENT:   GINO GRIMALDI, CITY ADMINISTRATOR

                                    LEE TUNEBERG, AMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIRECTOR

                                    KEITH WOODLEY, FIRE CHIEF

                                    MARGUERITTE HICKMAN, FIRE & LIFE SAFETY CHIEF

                                    CINDY HANKS, PROJECT MANAGER

                                    VERONICA WARD, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

 

PUBLIC INPUT

 

Jim Moore: 1217 Park Street- Mr. Moore gave words of admiration for City staff, City Council, and the Budget Committee. He shared his philosophy of the role of the Committee and Council. He explained that the Committee should ask questions and look outside of the box. He thought that zero budgeting may possibly be a way to get the City out of the box they are in now.  He spoke of quality controls and city employees need to have incentives to save money in budgets. Mr. Moore spoke about the budget history from what he has experienced.  He suggested the City look at the services they provide.  He questioned the miscellaneous service fee charge in the Recorders budget, and asked if the City charges the customer to use credit cards. He suggested not adding employees to the Police budget before the PERF report is finished. He questioned if the $900,000 in equipment that the Fire Department is asking for could be used for Forest Interface. He voiced his concern that AFN is not resolved yet and about the bond issue that will be coming in November. He feels that if the property tax rate is increased, the citizens will not pass the bond in November.

 

POLICE DEPARTMENT PRESENTATION:

 

Mike Bianca, Police Chief, Rich Walsh, Deputy Chief, and Linda Hoggatt, Administrative Services Manager presented the Police Department budget. Mr. Bianca gave an overview of the current Police budget and how they developed the Proposed Budget. He explained that the SWAT team participation with Medford was eliminated totaling $29,000 during the Departmental review between the City Administrator and the Finance Director. He spoke to the dispatch service with the City of Medford and the 10% increase this next year and the addition to the proposed budget for reimbursement to officers who get advanced degrees of $4,000. He spoke to the $12,000 that will go to the schools for the crossing guard program, $5,000 that will go to the county for the detox contribution, and spoke to the recommendation from the PERF report on the reconstruction of the Police Department.  The Police Department funds two employees with federal grant funds from forfeiture monies. He spoke to the overtime that has been previously budgeted. He had hoped that they would not use all of the monies budgeted in overtime, and would not need more if more officers were hired, but they have not been able to do so. He stated the Police Department has had difficulty fully staffing the Department and that leads to increased overtime. He spoke to the approximate $30,000 for tasers in the budget and added that he is not convinced that it is the right tool for the City to use.

 

The PERF consultation reported that the Department focuses too much in traffic enforcement and those resources and funds should be used in a different way. It was suggested to include the School Resource Officer position by reducing the funding for traffic enforcement.  Mr. Bianca stated that the Proposed Budget does not include an additional person for the School Resource Officer, but one of the current Traffic Officers will assume that assignment.  The consultants feel it is a must have program, but according to the Chief, the schools need to determine their priorities.

 

Councilor Jackson responded that the Committee did not have the detail that the Chief was referring to and that they may have    questions later regarding what he was speaking to.  Mr. Bianca responded that staff could provide the documents if needed.

The Committee questioned the target that was established by the City that the Police Department was asked to stay within. Mr. Bianca responded that there are many items within the budget that the Department does not have control over and asked for Lee Tuneberg to respond to what target the City set.  Lee Tuneberg, Administrative Services and Finance Director added that all Departments were asked to only increase materials and services 3% with the exception of the line items the Departments do not have control over, for instance fuel costs, capital outlay and internal service charges. Police exceeded the target by $29,000. He explained that Miscellaneous Charges and Fees are primarily Internal Charges. He encouraged the Committee to ask the Departments what makes up the increase.  He pointed to page 3-45 and the overall budget for the Police Department.

 

The Committee questioned the 2005 actual for Personal Services, for the same number of people, has increased approximately 20%.   Mr. Tuneberg responded that the Personal Services increases are compared in the Budget Message and the City is seeing a 6-7% increase this year, which is not uncommon from the prior year.

 

The Committee questioned the increase in dispatch and asked if the City had saved money by not doing it themselves. Mr. Bianca responded that if they measured it by growth and inflation, they have saved a little money.  It would be a huge undertaking to bring it back. The Committee questioned if they are pleased with the way it functions currently. Mr. Walsh explained one of the problems is that the City runs on the same frequency as Medford where as the Fire Department has their own frequency. They are looking into other options, possibly with Jackson County SOURCE.

 

Mr. Walsh spoke to the Department budget and how over the last few years, programs and divisions have moved within the Department. He spoke to the frequency of calls within the downtown area and the staffing and difficulty of keeping officers once they are trained. Out of 16 officers, there are 6 on probation (they are in their first year or year and a half of experience). He spoke to the additional item requested to change the master sergeant position to a lieutenant. He touched on the volunteers and the tasks and hours they put in and how much that saves the Police Department. He went over the high points for the Police Department over the past year, what accomplishments were reached and cases solved. He again said how important it would be to be able to add staff to the Police Department.  He went over what is required for major crime scenes and the requirements placed on staff.  The Department requires much space for storage of evidence and the Department has had to take out a storage unit.

 

Mr. Walsh spoke to the Support Division and about the steps being taken to better the communications for the Department.  He added that they are taking steps to eliminate the inaccessible communication spots. The Committee questioned where the equipment for this was. Mr. Walsh responded in line item 603 and it was for replacement of equipment. 911 dispatch is located in line item 604, which is a $48,000 increase.  $501,000 for Police, $35,000 for Fire, which is all in the Police Budget. The Committee questioned why the funds for the transition of the lieutenant was not in Personal Services.  Ms. Hoggatt responded that it is in contractual services because the Department would contract out to run the promotional process.

 

The Committee questioned what happened to the regional training goal from the previous year that was to be implemented. Mr. Walsh responded that there is regional training for all local Police Departments and the PERF report has recommended a new training program for new officers. The Department may train with Reno Police Department and the cost would be free for the training, but if they go through PERF, there may be a fee associated. The intention is to go to Reno for the training.

 

Mr. Walsh confirmed that the Department is still accredited; they now have to be accredited nationally, which they are in the process of. The cost of the accreditation is minimal.  The Committee questioned the reserve program. Mr. Bianca responded that some of the previous reserve officers have been hired as regular officers and now the requirements are that reserves must have the same training as regular officers.  The Accreditation program has requirements for reserves as well.  The volunteers perform administrative tasks, patrol and house checks, and currier service. The qualifications to be a reserve have increased and are difficult for the Department currently to maintain.

 

The Committee questioned the salary and wages between actual 2005 and proposed, and the excess of 14% increase with the same number of positions. Gino Grimaldi, City Administrator responded that there have been a large number of vacancies in the Department that would cause the actual figure to be less. The position profile shows what they are authorized and funded for. FY 2006 is a better estimate than FY 2005.

 

Councilor Hartzel added that Council has to review the PERF report and look at what recommendations they want to incorporate. She asked what portion they budgeted for the process to add a lieutenant. Mr. Bianca responded $7,000 for the process. The Committee questioned the possibility of dispatch going to SOURCE.  Mr. Walsh responded that they have looked at switching to SOURCE before the 5 year contract with Medford is complete.  In talking with SOURCE, it will not be able to happen this fiscal year.

 

The Committee questioned how many employees they have in the Department, other than the temps. Mr. Bianca responded there is a vacancy of a sergeant, and two officers currently. Ms. Hoggatt added in September she will be gone and a patrol officer will be gone. Mr. Walsh added that an officer will be retiring at the end of the month and a detective in the fall. The Committee questioned if the proposed budget assumed full staffing the entire year and what they expected at the end of FY 06. Mr. Bianca responded it does assume full staffing and Mr. Tuneberg added the Department has projected 98% of the adopted budget will be spent. The Committee questioned why they would spend 98% if they have vacancies. Mr. Tuneberg responded that included is the cost of advertising for filling the positions and overtime. The Committee questioned if overtime is shown in the same area as salaries and wages. Mr. Tuneberg responded it is. Mr. Tuneberg explained in 2006, the City saw increases in health care and PERS which is budgeted in Personal Services.

 

Lynn Thompson, Budget Committee member expressed her opinion of not removing the officer from the schools, and feels there is a benefit of having the influence in the schools and in our downtown area.  She thinks the priority should be on safety influences.  She also noted that problems in the downtown were issues last year and that nothing has been done to improve those points, this year they need to be a priority.  Ms. Thompson said the organization of officers needs to be evaluated and priorities need to be assessed. She is concerned that the budget increased 10% without any new positions and would like to know why.

 

Mr. Walsh responded that fuel costs are one item that has increased significantly and those are located in line item 602. Miscellaneous Charges and Fees have increased and those are Central Service Fees, Facility Use Fee and Insurance. Mr. Walsh added that he appreciates her input on her concerns with the downtown area and spoke to the Departmentís accomplishments in the last year when two people were working in the downtown area for three months. The Committee questioned why with such results, the Department is not continuing the program. Ms. Hoggatt explained that the Department wants to continue the program, but they are not able to due to staffing shortages. The Committee added that they could change priorities to move one of the traffic officers to downtown. Mr. Bianca responded that they try to balance the limited resources with what the tasks require. Mr. Walsh added the PERF report says that the amount of staff on duty at a time does not allow them to meet the community policing goals.

 

Councilor Hartzel stated the PERF report is not finalized yet. She asked Mr. Tuneberg to present costs for union contracts in the future.  Staff will provide as well as Central Service and Facilities Use Fees comparison.  Mr. Tuneberg added that staff is working to provide information requested by the Committee and will when it is available. The Central Service Fees for Police are the same as the prior year. The Facility Use Fee has changed due to the fact that the employees in Facilities are located in their own fund this year not in Central Service.  The repairs of the buildings have gone up greatly in the past two years.

 

The Committee questioned why they did not include more positions if they are not accomplishing what they need to with the current staff level. Dee Anne Everson, Committee Member offered support for the School Resource Officer and the school district does need to participate in sharing what they want.

 

Everson/Bond ms to accept budget as presented. 12 yes, Chapman apposed.

 

Mayor Morrison asked if the City tracks training hours and costs of training as opposed to on the job hours.  Mr. Tuneberg responded that each Department manages their own.  The Human Resource Department has been discussing implementing tracking of training hours City wide.

 

The Committee questioned the possibility of putting a substation downtown. Councilor Hartzel stated she is not in support of putting a substation downtown, but is open to evaluating it and asked if the cost was in the proposed budget.  Mr. Walsh responded that it is not in the budget. Ms. Hartzell asked where in the operations budget they would cut. Mr. Bianca responded they would cut the tasers. The Administrative Services Managerís current duties could be included in the Accreditation Manager duties to reduce the budget as well.

 

The Committee took at 5 minute break.

 

FIRE DEPARTMENT PRESENTATION:

 

Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Woodley opened with introductions and went over the memo that was supplied to the Committee. Mr. Woodley went over the significant changes in the budget line items.  He spoke to the vehicle maintenance and praised the City shop for the preventative maintenance they perform.  He added there is money in the budget for new digital cell phones and hand held radios.  Mr. Woodley noted the cost savings from Central Services compared to if they were forced to contract out for those same services.  They reduced training to fit in the budget preparation cap. Mr. Woodley added that they have put in for a federal grant for a Fire simulation trailer for $400,000 with a 20% match required by the City. They have some Firefighters who have not been working when a structural fire occurs and need the training. The Committee questioned the grant match.  Mr. Woodley explained that $400,000 is the total grant and the Cityís match is $40,000 per year and if they do not get the grant, the funds will not get spent. The Committee questioned if there was another opportunity in the valley that the Firefighters could receive this training. Mr. Woodley responded only in White City which is not preferred due to the employees not being available for calls.

 

Mr. Woodley spoke to the Fire and Life Safety budget which is new this year.  The previous funding was in the other two divisions before. The Emergency Medical Services Division has increased and they have proposed to increase the CERT program coordinator position from .63 to 1.0 FTE.  He mentioned the fact that Ashland has benefited greatly from CERT and that Ashland has a good community response.  He noted that Ashland is a community that suffers from floods and CERT training can help benefit the community.

 

The Committee questioned the salaries and wages for 2006 compared to 2007 in Emergency Services.  Mr. Tuneberg responded that the figure in the proposed document is not correct for 2006, it should be $975,100.

 

Mr. Woodley spoke to the dispatch services with Medford increasing. The Committee questioned the ambulance billing increase.  Mr. Woodley explained it is adjusted by the CPI-W and is cost effective to contract it out to Springfield. $43,000 was a portion of the dispatch contract. At the time the budget was prepared, Police were looking at switching providers. This portion was included incase Fire needed to fund their dispatch needs through the current provider. 

 

Mr. Woodley spoke to the new training and programs they want to include supported by FEMA grants. Ms. Hartzell questioned where the CERT position and Forest Interface Position are located and the grant funding for them. Mr. Woodley responded that the CERT position is in the EMS budget and the Forest Interface is in the Water Fund. Mr. Tuneberg responded that the Forest Interface is grant funded, while the CERT is not. The Committee questioned if the dollars were in the budget for the CERT position. Mr. Woodley responded that they are and they were able to include this in the budget because they came in below the 3% increase budget target. The Committee requested clarification on the position FTE total. Staff will provide clarification on the positions and how the increase is in the budget. The Committee asked if the CERT position could be funded out of the duplicated dispatch funds that were budgeted instead of raising the property tax rate. Mr. Woodley responded that could be done if the dispatch charges do not occur.  The bottom line of the budget will decrease if those dispatch dollars are not expended and then they would be able to fund the remaining to fund the CERT increase.

 

Ms. Thompson proposed the Police Department fund the dispatch increase and fund the CERT personnel increase out of the Fire budget, and praised the work done through the program.  Arlen Gregorio, Committee Member agreed.

 

The Committee questioned the memo provided and the staffing patterns. Mr. Woodley explained that they are just starting to follow staffing patterns and explained in the next fiscal year they will ask for three additional paramedics. They are establishing base line data to look to see if that increase is required to maintain service levels when they make that request. The Committee questioned the training hours goal chart on page 3-59 and if they are not meeting their goal, why they are cutting the training budget, and if they considered any other cuts rather than training. Ms. Hickman responded that they try to offer 20 hours of training per person per month. Some training is required and that takes precedence, and added that calls interrupt the training while staff are on duty. They are trying to eliminate having to pay overtime for training.  Mr. Woodley added that cutting staff is not an option so that leaves training to cut which was about $8,000.

 

The Committee questioned who makes the decision on the dispatch contract.  Mr. Woodley responded the decision to dissolve dispatch in the City was made by the then City Administrator, the new City Administrator Bennett may have influence on the future of the dispatch service.  At the time the budget was prepared, it was seen that it may have been possible that Police and Fire used separate dispatch services.  The estimate is $43,000 for Fire dispatch. Mr. Tuneberg added that since the final determination has not been made yet, they do not know if that is a surplus $43,000 or not. One alternative is to cut the $43,000 and that money could go towards CERT. If they cut the $43,000 and the City does incur the expense, then the Finance Director would have to come to Council and request a transfer of appropriations.  The Committee asked to clarify the amount budgeted. Mr. Tuneberg responded that if the Police Department does not change the current dispatch, then there is a duplication of $43,000. The Committee questioned if there is the possibility that Police may transfer service mid year and that funds would be expended then. Mr. Woodley responded if they did change service providers, then funds would need to be expended.

 

The Committee questioned why the City would choose to allow Police and Fire to have two separate dispatch services providers.  Mr. Tuneberg responded for performance and reliability. The Committee asked staff to provide a break out on how dispatch was budgeted for clarity. The Committee questioned the source of the dispatch number in the Fire budget and how that differed from the Police amount. Mr. Woodley was given that estimate from Medford for budgeting purposes.

 

Bond/Hartzell ms to accept the Fire and Rescue Department budget as presented.  

 

Ms. Thompson amended the motion and stated she would like to cut $20,000 from the 911 budget to fund the CERT position. Mr. Gregorio second.

 

Chariman Levine stated that the Committee would have to vote down Mr. Bondís motion and then Ms. Thompson could amend the motion.  If Mr. Bond did not agreed to the change, then he is not required to change his motion.

 

Mr. Bond repeated the original motion. Bond/Hartzell ms to approve the Fire and Rescue Department budget as presented.  Roll call vote: Bond, Everson, Hartzell, Jackson, Mackris, Morrison yes. Chapman, Gregorio, Hardesty, Levine, Stebbins, Thompson no.  Councilor Silgiber was absent for the vote.  6 yes, 6 no

 

Ms. Everson stated that in Roberts Rules of Order, the Chair only votes in the event of a tie. The Committee questioned if the Committee operates under that rule. It was discussed that the Budget Committee has never voted under that rule. The City Attorney will have to be asked on when the Chair votes.  It was mentioned that these Departmental budgets are tentative and asked staff to bring the information previously requested for further clarification.

 

Bond/Hartzell agreed to table the motion until staff can research if the Chair votes and bring back the requested CERT detail. All Ayes.  

 

Liza Christian, volunteer for the CERT program spoke on behalf of the program. She advocates for the CERT program.  She shared that the current coordinator is doing an excellent job and the coordinator position needs to be stable as a full time positon.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:32 p.m.

 

 

Respectively Submitted,

 

Bryn Morrison

Account Representative

 

 

 

 

                                          

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