City of Ashland Budget Committee Meeting
May 21, 2007 6:00pm
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Thompson called the Citizen’s Budget Committee Meeting to order at 6:02 pm on May 21, 2007 in Council Chambers at 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.
Mayor Morrison was present. Councilors Chapman, Hardesty, Hartzell, Jackson, Navickas and Silbiger were present. Budget Committee members Bond, Heimann, Stebbins, Everson, Levine, Gregorio, and Thompson were present.
MARTHA BENNETT, CITY ADMINISTRATOR
LEE TUNEBERG, ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES/FINANCE DIRECTOR
BRYN MORRISON, ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE
MIRANDA IWAMOTO, ACCOUNT CLERK II
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Approval of Budget Committee minutes dated: 05/02/07
Everson/Bond m/s to approve the minutes as presented. All Ayes.
Citizen’s Budget Committee member, Marty Levine, asked to be recognized as a citizen and speak during Public Input. Mr. Levine spoke about how no one wanted the library to close but that it’s premature to approve funding for something that the City may not have the power or legal authority to undertake. Mr. Levine highlighted various unanswered questions about the library and encouraged the committee to look at other options. Mr. Levine said that the committee should resist the emotional arguments and politics and reject the premature requests to throw money that the City doesn’t have at a problem that the City might not be able to solve.
Mary Ruth Wooding, 727 Park Street, Ashland, OR: Ms. Wooding reported that she has lived in Ashland for 47 years. She said that the schools should keep the libraries open this summer and would like to see the 58 cents local option levy succeed.
Josh Gordon, 945 Cedar Way, Ashland, OR: Mr. Gordon spoke about keeping the libraries open and said it should happen as soon as possible. Mr. Gordon also spoke about tourists and low income residents who need internet service along with library employees who need their jobs. He stated that the 58 cents is lower than what the community of Ashland has said they were willing to pay. Mr. Gordon wants the committee to consider as many services as possible, especially the $40,000 for access to the central system. He also said that he believes an out-of-city user fee is appropriate.
Susan Rust, 42 N. Wightman, Ashland, OR: Ms. Rust said the library situation is an embarrassment. She also said that she voted for an entire library system, and would not vote for just one library that will have poorer services than before. She said there are too many unknowns and doesn’t support passing a levy without having a well thought out plan. Ms. Rust suggested that the communities who voted in favor of the measure get together and come up with a plan.
Carolyn Peake, 500 Lakota Way, Ashland, OR: Ms. Peake reported that she worked for the Lake Oswego Public Library for 21 years, is a MLS professional librarian, former president of the Oregon Library Association and is a member of Friends of the Library. Ms. Peake said that she was deeply concerned about City funding of the library so soon after the measure failed. She said there are too many questions that must be answered before moving forward. Ms. Peake spoke about how time will allow those involved to fully address the problem and ensure future success. She also spoke about how no one was more saddened than her about the loss of jobs and that she looks forward to when the library is open again.
Francis Guilfoyle, 657 C St., Ashland, OR: Mr. Guilfoyle, a Vietnam Veteran, explained that he was at the meeting to offer himself as conduit for federal funds. He said he would be willing to work at the library and is also willing to contribute money towards City of Ashland funds.
Wendy Eppinger, 190 Walker Ave., Ashland, OR: Ms. Eppinger talked about how she wanted the library to reopen as soon as possible. Ms. Eppinger also spoke about the importance of taking the time to figure out a way to fund the library. She said she was in agreement with user fees and that library funding should be well-researched and well-planned before any action is taken.
Bill Reeves, 681 A St., Ashland, OR: Mr. Reeves said he was embarrassed by the Jackson County library situation and that County leaders should be chastised for their lack of planning. Mr. Reeves spoke about how a long-term solution needs to be found. Mr. Reeves highlighted various questions. Mr. Reeves also made a comparison between interim library funding and the Hurricane Katrina-FEMA situation, expressing that money shouldn’t be spent just because it looks like it’s doing something.
Dean Ritchie, 560 Sheridan St, Ashland, OR: Mr. Ritchie said he was a member of the library. Mr. Ritchie talked about the lack of planning which resulted in the library situation. He also said that 50% of the City of Ashland employees choose not to live in Ashland because of the taxes and that many young families cannot afford to live here because of the taxes. Mr. Ritchie said that a great deal of planning needs to be done and that the library should remain closed until the County can come up with solution.
Camille Siders, 5297 Hwy. 66, Ashland, OR: Ms. Siders, a local teacher, spoke about the importance of both reading and access to books. Ms. Siders expressed concern for children who won’t have access to books and therefore, won’t be given the chance to develop a love of reading.
Roylon Mortensen, 936 Cedar Way, Ashland, OR: Mr. Mortensen reported that he spoke with Medford City Mayor, Gary Wheeler, this morning regarding the library. Mr. Mortensen made a comparison between an ecosystem and the City. He said that, like an ecosystem, small changes will affect what will grow here and what will not. Mr. Mortensen continued to say that if we want to promote literacy and cultural values then we have to make sure the right environment is provided. Mr. Mortensen encouraged the committee to support a resolution to open the library.
Sue Lopez, P.O. Box 3134, Ashland, OR: Ms. Lopez , President of Friends of the Library, said that Ashland has voted in favor (72%) of keeping the library open. She also said that the City of Ashland is the pacesetter for the Rogue Valley. As President of the Friends of the Library, Ms. Lopez reported that they will continue to support the programs at the library and try to figure out a district. Ms. Lopez said that she supports a property tax.
Pauline Black, 974 Pinecrest Terrace, Ashland, OR: Ms. Black, a former library employee, said that she loved the library and used it all the time. Ms. Black said the library should reopen as soon as possible and about the need for kids to have access to books. Ms. Black also spoke about how Ashland is a leader and should lead the way for Jackson County.
Anne Billeter, 4999 Griffin Crk Rd., Medford, OR: Ms. Billeter said that she was a Jackson County Library Manager for 22 years. Ms. Billeter disclosed that she doesn’t have recall rights and therefore, she won’t be rehired regardless of the committee’s decision. She talked about Ashland being a leader in Jackson County. Ms. Billeter also said that she went to a Library Advisory Committee Meeting and that County officials are evaluating options. It was reported that Jackson County is trying to keep the system intact. Ms. Billeter also said that the County is going to put out an RFP to find out how much library would cost. Committee member Gregorio asked about funding a Children’s Program. Ms. Billeter said that she is opposed to focusing exclusively on children and thinks it’s important for many groups.
Kurt Kessler, B St., Ashland, OR: Mr. Kessler commended Ms. Bennett for devising two viable plans. Mr. Kessler said that he agrees that services be contracted out to the County. Mr. Kessler talked about the library situation explaining that it was a funding problem, not an administration problem. Mr. Levine clarified that those who managed the funds mismanaged the money, not the library workers.
Martha Bennett, City Administrator, and Lee Tuneberg, Administrative Services/Finance Director, gave the staff report. Ms. Bennett started to discuss the Fire Department budget and addressed the $400,000 carryover issue. Ms. Bennett stated that once the Fire Department itemized its numbers, they found that they weren’t going to save $400,000 and in fact, are going to spend 98.5% of their budget. Ms. Bennett said that this will have a significant impact on the General Fund. Ms. Bennett explained that in both Fire and Police, some of the “cut” solutions were to delay hire(s). However, Ms. Bennett said that future projections never included those positions at full-time. Ms. Bennett reported that because of these errors, expenditures for FY 2007 will exceed revenue by $81,000. Ms. Bennett said that instead of carrying forward 2.9 million into next year, it will only be 2.2 million. Ms. Bennett said that potential solutions include going back to particular departments to ask for other reductions or using the authorized 39 cents toward required fund balances instead of making additions.
Mr. Tuneberg talked about how revenue from Strawberry was less than expected this year.
Councilor Jackson inquired about the Police Department vacancies. It was reported that there are 3 vacancies right now, 1 Sergeant, 1 Lieutenant and 1 Officer but in the budget proposal it was a hiring delay of 4 positions (1 Lieutenant and 4 Corporals). It was reported that the deferral of hiring was for 6 months. Councilor Hartzell asked about the restructuring of the Police Department. It was answered that the promotion of 4 Police Officers to 4 Police Corporals is the equivalent to the Sergeants position. It was reported that the impact is negligible.
Committee member Stebbins asked about ending fund balance and the legality of it. Mr. Tuneberg reported that the City of Ashland has self-imposed ending fund balance requirements and that it is not a true legal issue.
Committee member Everson asked how many times the fund balance had been so low. It was later answered that it was 1997.
Ms. Thompson asked for clarification of “balance” and “out of balance”. Mr. Tuneberg said there are two perspectives. The first , from Oregon budget law, is that funds balance when all resources equal all requirements. The second perspective is whether or not annual revenues equal annual expenditures. Mr. Tuneberg explained that revenues don’t have to equal expenditures if there is a fund balance carryover that is larger than the target. This is because those excess funds can be used to fund operations the next year.
Ms. Stebbins asked if there was an option for Fire to raise fees and encouraged looking at new revenue streams. Councilor Hartzell said that both the state and federal government determine ambulance rates.
Navickas/Hardesty m/s that the Citizen’s Budget Committee go to Police and Fire and request more cuts to balance the General Fund.
Ms. Everson asked what the total contingency number was for the City. It was answered that it was 1.7 million.
Committee member Levine spoke about how the budget is predicated on an arbitrary allocation between Parks and the rest of the City. Mr. Levine wants to know if that allocation can be revisited considering the needs of the City. Mr. Levine also said that it is not legally required that Parks gets the 2.9 rate. Ms. Bennett told Mr. Levine that he was legally correct. Councilor Hardesty said that Parks revenue will increase this year. Ms. Thompson agrees with Mr. Levine and wants to look at the options on the table
Councilor Hartzell asked for the exact target for Police and Fire. Ms. Bennett said that they are looking for about $200,000 in cuts.
The committee continued to discuss whether or not both Fire and Police should be asked for additional cuts or if other departments should be asked. Ms. Bennett spoke about the morale issue of asking departments that are in balance to make reductions.
Everson/Hartzell m/s to call the question. All Ayes.
Vote on Main Motion: Gregorio, Hardesty, Hartzell, Morrison, and Navickas, Yes. Bond, Chapman, Everson, Heimann, Jackson, Levine, Silbiger, Stebbins, and Thompson, No. Motion failed 9 to 5.
Everson/Levine m/s to not entertain any add packages.
Councilor Hardesty clarified that it was for outstanding add packages.
Councilor Hartzell asked Ms. Bennett to recap the impacts of the motion on certain additions. Ms. Bennett listed some of the proposed additions such as the Computer Tech position, consulting services for long-range planning, portion of CERT (most was already restored), consulting services for Croman Mill Site/Railroad Property, Urban Planner, 24/7 computer support and Class/Compensation study.
Councilor Jackson said that she is going to vote no on the motion because it’s disingenuous to think that we can have increased services without paying for them. Councilor Jackson said that to get long-range planning for the City, one has to pay for it. Councilor Chapman said that he is also going to vote no on the motion. He said that Community Development Department has taken too much pain and Fire Department not enough. Councilor Chapman said that he would like to see an Urban Designer/Associate Planner added to the budget.
Councilor Hartzell inquired about the Class/Compensation study. Ms. Bennett explained that it’s important to compensate employees accordingly so that the employee will work hard and stay at his/her job. Ms. Bennett said that the study will look at the compensation and benefits of City employees and that if the committee wants to evaluate the benefit packages then the study is the place to start.
Hartzell motioned to amend main motion to include one part of the package that involves the Class/Compensation study. Motion died due to lack of 2nd.
Councilor Hardesty said she was in favor of restoring some of the Community Development-Planning Division projects but hopes that staff can begin to handle that workload.
Heimann/Levine m/s to call the question. Bond, Chapman, Everson, Heimann, Levine, Silbiger, Jackson and Stebbins, Yes. Hardesty, Thompson, Navickas, Morrison, Hartzell, and Gregorio, No. Motion failed 8 to 6.
The committee members continued to discuss whether or not to make additions to the budget, the resources needed for the different additions and the cost/benefit of such additions.
Vote on Main Motion: Bond, Everson, Gregorio, Hardesty, Hartzell, Heimann, Levine, Morrison, Silbiger, Stebbins and Thompson, Yes. Chapman, Jackson, and Navickas, No. Motion passed 11 to 3.
Chapman/Gregorio m/s that the committee implement the cost reductions totaling $109,000 proposed in the memorandum dated May 17, 2007.
The committee discussed the overtime needed for special community events.
The committee discussed whether the Fire Department should be given a chance to present different cuts.
Chapman/Gregorio m/s to amend the main motion to exclude $7000 in overtime for special community events. Motion withdrawn.
Councilor Hartzell inquired about whether or not a department head has the discretion to determine what line items to cut. It was answered that the committee approves the budget and that there is some discretion allowed, however, a department head will have to explain the choices to the committee.
Navickas/Hartzell m/s to amend the main motion to go with what the Fire Chief, Keith Woodley, has cut and additionally go to the Police Department to ask for further cuts. Motion withdrawn.
Ms. Bennett explained the impacts of the main motion on the Fire Department. It was reported that the Fire Department originally cut $43,000 from overtime and that last Thursday, the committee restored $35,000 of it. Ms. Bennett said the motion tonight would re-cut $28,000 in overtime, $17,000 in training, $27,000 for CERT, and affect the CERT FTE. Ms. Bennett said that it is a cut from the original submittal of approximately $330,000.
Councilor Hartzell asked if this motion would alleviate the need to cut anymore from the General Fund. Ms. Bennett said that regardless of what happens tonight, the committee needs to evaluate various revenue streams.
Ms. Thompson spoke about looking at cuts for different departments and the cost of Personal Services.
Vote on Main Motion w/o amendments: Bond, Chapman, Gregorio, Hardesty, Heimann, Levine, Morrison and Thompson, Yes. Everson, Hartzell, Jackson, Navickas, Silbiger and Stebbins, No. Motion passed 8 to 6.
Everson/Bond m/s approval of budget with the changes that have been passed. Motion withdrawn.
The committee discussed the tabled motion from Thursday, May 17, 2007. The tabled motion was:
Bond/Silbiger m/s to approve the staff recommendation for the Budget Committee to include a levy of 58 cents per $1000 on the September 2007 ballot and FY 2007-2008 budget.
It was reported that the motion should have included the words “up to” with regard to the 58 cents.
Bond/Everson m/s to amend the main motion to include “up to 58 cents…”.
Bond/Jackson m/s to amend the main motion to include the appointment of a broadly based citizens committee including library professionals and others to design a full-service library. Motion withdrawn.
Ms. Bennett clarified the role of the committee. Ms. Bennett said that the committee will be giving City Council the legal right to consider property taxes as a way to fund the library. It was reported that the committee sets the tax rate but that the voters will have to approve the tax.
The committee continued to discuss the library and the role of the committee.
Heimann/Thompson m/s to amend the main motion to specify that the funds be used only for the library. All Ayes.
Councilor Navickas talked about moving quickly so that the library will be reopened in a couple of months. He also spoke about increasing the amount of the levy.
The committee discussed increasing the tax rate and whether or not the budget committee would need to reconvene. It was answered that the committee should consider an increased tax rate during this current budget process.
Ms. Bennett spoke about a school option regarding the library. Ms. Bennett said that the Ashland School District is working on a plan to provide library access during the summer. Reported restrictions will be that only students can check out books and filters will be placed on internet access. The estimated cost was reported to be approximately $6000.
Councilor Chapman inquired about the duration and conditions of the levy. It was reported that City Council will have the authority to set those limits but that the Citizen’s Budget Committee can reevaluate the tax rate next year.
Chapman/Everson m/s to call the question. All Ayes.
Vote on Main Motion w/ amendments: Bond/Silbiger m/s to approve the staff recommendation for the Budget Committee to include a local option levy of up to .58000/$1000 for the library on the September 2007 ballot and FY 2007-2008 budget.
Bond, Chapman, Everson, Gregorio, Hardesty, Hartzell, Heimann, Jackson, Morrison, Navickas, Silbiger and Thompson, Yes. Levine and Stebbins, No. Motion passed 12 to 2.
Navickas motioned to increase a local option levy for the library up to .62000/$1000. Motion died due to lack of 2nd.
Hartzell/Gregorio m/s to increase the Property Tax Permanent Levy up to .01000/$1000 for this year only to provide library services in the City during the summer. Bond, Everson, Gregorio, Hardesty, Hartzell, Levine, Morrison, Navickas, Silbiger, Stebbins and Thompson, Yes. Heimann, Jackson and Chapman, No. Motion passed 11 to 3.
Navickas/Hartzell m/s to increase the tax rate by 15 cents for the interim period until a levy can be put before the voters which will then be backfilled by that levy.
Councilor Navickas said that the term backfilled meant reimburse. He also said that he would like to open the libraries open as soon as possible.
Mayor Morrison said that he was opposed to the motion stating that it wasn’t prudent. The Mayor also spoke about how the committee took steps toward providing summer reading programs for children and that now the research for the library needs to be done.
Mr. Levine asked about when the library could be reopened. Ms. Bennett reported that negotiations with the County will begin in July. It was estimated that it might be open by the middle of October.
Councilor Jackson expressed disagreement with the commingling of library operations and City funds/programs.
Morrison/Everson m/s to call the question. All Ayes.
Vote on Main Motion. Navickas, Yes. Bond, Chapman, Everson, Gregorio, Hardesty, Hartzell, Heimann, Jackson, Levine, Morrison, Silbiger, Stebbins and Thompson, No. Motion failed 13 to 1.
Everson/Bond m/s that the City of Ashland budget committee approve and convey the amended budget to council for adoption and approve taxes for the 2007-2008 fiscal year at the rate of $3.8997 per $1000 of assessed value for operating purposes and in the amount of $371,046 for payment of bond principal and interest and at the rate of 1.38000 per $1000 of assessed value as the Youth Activities local option levy and at a rate of up to .58000 per $1000 of assessed value as the Library local option levy which will go to voters in September 2007 and amend the budget in total but also in the General Fund as amended to date but including $1,005,000 for library operations if approved by City of Ashland citizens. All Ayes.
Meeting adjourned at 9:21 pm.
Account Clerk II