Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Parks, Finance, Community Development

Minutes
Monday, May 07, 2001

BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEE MINUTES

Parks, Finance, Community Development

Minutes

May 7, 2001, 3:00pm

City Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

ROLL CALL

Present: Howard Braham, Cate Hartzell, Marty Levine, Jim Moore, Russ Silbiger, Regina Stepahin, David Williams

Absent: Alan DeBoer, David Fine

Staff: Greg Scoles, Lee Tuneberg, Ken Mickelsen, John McLaughlin, Karen Huckins, Kirsten Bakke

CALL TO ORDER

Williams called the meeting to order at 3:05pm.

Williams asked for Public input. There was none.

PRESENTATIONS

Parks and Recreation - page 3-93

Ken Mickelsen began the presentation by saying that they were faced with same issues as the City, with health costs and retirement. Each year their department is looking at ways to increase efficiency. Last year committee's discussions about performance measures and standards led to their incorporating some of these this year. He highlighted some of the functions of these measures. The Parks and Recreation fund is comprised of 3 divisions: Parks, Recreation and Golf.

Golf Division - page 3-104

Mickelsen presented an overview for this division saying that there were no significant budget changes. He then described performance measurements used.

Moore asked about the $50,000 loss in golf last year. Mickelsen said that was a carryover from each year that they draw on. Levine said not breaking even. There was a discussion that whether they break even or not should be included in their performance measures.

Recreation Division - page 3-100

Mickelsen outlined division goals and said that there were no significant budget changes. The key areas of focus were performance measures. The Aquatic program was meeting or exceeding its established target. This division will remain constant in the coming years. Silbiger asked about the attendance of swimmers dropping. Mickelsen said the opening of the YMCA pool was a major factor in low attendance, but that it would level out in time. Also, the ice-skating rink is competing with Medford new ice-skating facility, but the rink breaks even with direct operational expenses. Moore concerned that there were hidden costs like the set up and take down of the rink. Laws agreed that we need to look at those indirect costs. Williams explained that the incremental expense of operating the rink is being amortized by the price of admission. Mickelsen said usually they look at direct costs.

Park Division - page 3-94

Overview of significant budget changes. Material and services increased by $110,000. Some of that related to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), requirements for facilities compliance. Capital outlay decreased by 35%. And recently they received a $100,000 bequest. The Commission has not yet determined how the bequest money will be used. Mickelsen said they recently applied for a $60,000 grant to complete a new trail from the North Mountain Park to the Pacific Crest Trail. Levine asked about classification of expenditures. Tuneberg said treating grants as a program. Laws said it would be clearer if it was classified as Grant Funded Projects. Mickelsen again referred to page 3-94 focusing on goals including the continued development of North Mountain Park by next year. In working with the City they have obtained water rights out of Bear Creek and installing a pumping station at Bear Creek. Creating a substantial reduction in the use of potable water, which benefits citizens. He talked about water improvements to duck ponds in Lithia Park, resurfacing tennis courts and play surfaces, and a recommendation to remodel or replace Lithia park restroom bringing it current with ADA requirements. Moore asked about the GASB34 ruling. Levine said it stands for Government Accounting Standards Board. Mickelsen said in order to be in compliance they have to do a complete fixed assets analysis. Levine said that the latest pronouncements bring government standards more in line with for profit entities.

Mickelsen went on to discuss the update of the Open Space Park Plan and acquisition program. Hartzell asked about the budget implications. Mickelsen said if citizens say they want to continue they need to look at what are the resources and costs to maintain. Williams asked about an article in the December 1999 Tribune which said that Ashland had reached a parks standard of 35 acres per 1000 people, and 15 acres per 1000 was more of a standard. Mickelsen said every community sets their own standards. Williams concerned that the community knows what it means in terms of costs to them. Mickelsen said that their goal is to have a dialog with the citizens regarding the Open Space Park Plan. Laws said that the Siskiyou Mountain Park distorts that because it was originally purchased for preservation. Williams said he was curious how we compare with Grants Pass or other cities. Silbiger said he would like to see a projection of cost to develop, and incremental cost to maintain the land per year.

Moore suggested that outside people look at performance standards to give us a better idea where we might save money. There was a discussion about the accounting system producing reports to compare performance standards.

Mickelsen talked about the Performance Measures on page 3-97.

Questions

Williams asked about duplication on maintenance. Scoles said the council has a specific Strategic Plan Priority in which the objective is better coordinate work and reduce operational redundancy. Scoles read the priority from page 1-16. The City Council and Parks Commission should analyze how to better coordinate work and to analyze possible areas to reduce operational redundancy and increase financial efficiency.

Silbiger asked if the Parks Department was collaborating with Walker Elementary School to build an ADA accessible park. Mickelsen said they have a contract with the School District to develop all 5 of the elementary school playgrounds. They are currently working on Walker. Walker decided that they wanted to make their playground totally ADA accessible which is a substantial investment. ADA accessible playgrounds are at different levels, and funding for this additional level of accessibility is not in the budget.

There was a discussion about the Cemetery Fund being a closed fund, and contracting with parks to maintain it.

Levine concerned by precedent set by specific donations from sectors of the public for specific items. Hartzell said this was a policy issue for council to develop criteria.

Silbiger asked about the $1,785,000 in the supplemental budget. Mickelsen said the entire amount was for the Calle project.

There was a discussion about the 5-year capital improvement plan.

Laws motioned to recommend the Parks budget as proposed to the Full Budget Committee, including the approval of the Capital Improvements budget as it pertains to the Parks Department. Williams seconded. ALL AYES. None opposed. Motion passed. Levine abstained from the vote as it was a conflict of interest.

Finance - page 3-15

Lee Tuneberg began the presentation for the Finance Department explaining the acronym GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association). He described the current focus of documenting procedures, identifying costs, defining solutions, implementing changes and tracking to see improvement. Using that to develop baselines for performance and also benchmarks for comparison. On page 3-15 he referred to the changes in the Finance Department organizational chart. Two positions to fill internally balancing out work load, taking on new tasks and projects. Such as the Management Information System (Eden software), which is part of the CIP. We are still implementing cells, updating to a Windows release of Inforum Gold, and these goals and projects deal with fixed assets and improvements in payroll. On page 3-16 he referred to the Strategic Plans Goals for the Department. He explained about the Significant Budget Changes in the reorganization making the transition from temporary help and overtime by taking two .75 FTE employees and making them fulltime to help with cross training backup. On page 3-16 in the right column at the bottom, he spoke of increased capital costs and debt service for the capital costs. He described 3 divisions of the Finance Department as: Accounting, Customer Information Services, and Purchasing.

Hartzell asked if the Parks pay central service fees. Tuneberg said yes.

He referred to the changes in the Insurance Fund and the Non-operating Divisions. On page 3-19 he referred to SDC parks open space moneys set aside from the food and beverage tax. Also, Budgeted $67,000 for affordable housing. He referred to pages 3-20 and 3-21, talking about the Capital Improvements in the Municipal Building Division, which is the Library, the Hillah, the OSF parking area, and the fire stations. He went on to talk about the Debt Services, Central Services, Personal Services, and the Insurance Services Fund,

Questions

Silbiger asked about the contract database. Tuneberg said the database that we manage is on Excel where we track contracts and insurance with purchase orders for meeting purchasing requirements and for reporting to the Audit Committee. Silbiger asked how that was going. Tuneberg explained that it was being maintained but that he would like to see a better way of tracking it rather than taking everything off of Excel. As part of the reorganization we are making it a larger responsibility for the Purchasing Coordinator and the Accounts Payable, rather than some of the accounting staff.

Silbiger asked about the increased capital costs for remodeling Hillah. Tuneberg said that the Hillah was budgeted at $1,451,000. On page 2-6 in the CIP section $1,451,000 in this budget and $481,000 in the next fiscal year.

Hartzell asked about the additional staff positions.

Tuneberg said to be filled internally by existing staff. Scoles said it was like promotions.

Williams motioned to recommend the Finance Department's budget as it was presented to the Full Budget Committee, including the approval of the Capital Improvements budget as it pertains to the Finance Department. Levine seconded. ALL AYES. None opposed. Motion passed.

Tuneberg asked if they wanted to include the items on the list of the memorandum dated April 27th, on the Budget Considerations. Scoles said that it is directly related to the question that Hartzell asked about staff, and it would be appropriate to address the memo in the motion.

Williams amended the motion to include the restructuring of the Finance Department from 13.5 FTE to 14.0 FTE as per the memo stating the Budget Considerations. Levine seconded. ALL AYES. None opposed. Motion passed.

Community Development - page 3-73

John McLaughlin presented for Community Development, beginning with an overview of the Department stating that it was comprised of 3 divisions: Building, Planning, and CDBG. On page 3-75 he described the overall department budget of $1.9 million with the 3 divisions together. He went on to explain that the Planning Division was 55% fee based and that was up 20% from past years. Initiated a new fee schedule that went into place in January of this year.

Planning Division - page 3-78

The $340,000 planning budget not covered by fees, which are long range planning, downtown plans and services used community wide. McLaughlin spoke of projected baseline of $760,000, and proposed budget of $764,000. Most of this division's resources are in the staff and projects. They did some adjusting and shifts to cut down .25 FTE a secretarial position in planning. The Materials and Services are down $7,000 from baseline. Looking at a $5,000 neighborhood grant program and $5,000 for an urban forestry program. Requesting a new fulltime Urban Forester position to work with the public on tree planting programs, grant development, celebrations and activities for Arbor Day, and transitioning into wildlife protection. This position would also work with utilities and include developing a permit process. A similar size city that has this position is the City of LaGrande. The proposed fulltime position would earn $55,000 a year.

Hartzell clarified that this position was not currently included in budget. Scoles said that this position was also included in the 4/27/01 memorandum on budget considerations. Scoles said the full impact to fund this position would be on the Property Tax General Fund. Hartzell asked if this position would alleviate some of what code enforcement is doing now. McLaughlin said that it would handle some specific issues within Code Enforcement like project tracking and tree protection. Moore clarified that they were asking for 2 additional employees, one in the Planning Division and one in the Building Division.

Silbiger asked about projected revenues for permit process with trees. Mac explained in that terms of the Residential Program it would be a very low fee, a development fee would be higher.

Levine asked about the position developing grants. Mac said yes. Moore asked if the Forester would be doing anything in the watershed. Mac said the Urban Forester position would be looking at trees within the urban environment, although it could be utilized for the watershed, the expertise was more in dealing with parking lots and street trees. Levine asked who is doing this job currently. Mac said that most of them are not being done. The Tree Commission is doing a portion of it, and part of it is contracted out to parks. Laws asked if we pay parks a commission for that. Mac said it was a volunteer service.

Hartzell asked if there was a request for this subcommittee to make decision for a recommendation regarding this position. Tuneberg said we're asking you to consider that in response to the Strategic Plans and consider adding it to the budget itself. Scoles clarified that the Strategic Plan identified this issue but not this position. Laws said not unusual to consider optional packages that are presented to the subcommittee, but we have rarely done it in Ashland. Scoles said potential ways of funding this position other than property tax are additional fees in other areas, or the carryover. But that's a one time fix if you talk about carryover, because the proposal they've made is not for a onetime program its for a multi year program, so its likely to be property tax related, so you need to consider that in your recommendation.

Building Division - page 3- 77

This division is 100% fee based, with a fee increase update that will increase the values 25%, which will in turn increase the revenues about 15% in the way the tables work.

Levine asked if the 100% included the Central Services charges. Mac said yes that the entire annual budget was covered through revenues and they adjust expenditures based on revenues.

The proposed budget is substantially greater than baseline. The main reason for that is they are looking at adding a new position for a Building Inspector. Currently we are utilizing a temporary Building Inspector on a fulltime basis because of the activity they've had. They are proposing to include funds to cover the temporary Inspector costs in this coming budget year. The $629,000 figure includes that money being allocated into a temporary position. The expectation is that the activity level and fee increase will cover this position. The request is to move this position from temporary into fulltime.

Williams asked about the number of permits. McLaughlin replied that permits are about double the number of single family homes and commercial activity is up as well. Laws said he wasn't sure why this was a separate item since it was already included in the budget. Scoles said the money is included in the budget but the position is not included in the budget as a permanent position. Hartzell asked what the difference between a temporary employee and a fulltime employee is if you are also talking about a benefit package. McLaughlin said it would cost $70,000 to keep position of temporary or permanent. Tuneberg said it is a little higher for a fulltime employee over a temporary. The $70,000 covers a fulltime employee. Laws clarified that whether or not it should be temporary or permanent is based on whether or not we think the need is going to continue, and that's a staff judgement.

CDBG - page 3- 79

This division is 100% covered by HUD funds, as the City is an entitlement community. This coming year they will get $230,000 in Block Grant Funds, $149,500 is allocated to grants, $46,000 into administration, $23,000 into sidewalk construction, $11,500 into ADA improvements on public property.

Questions

Williams suggested voting on the Urban Forester question and then recommending the budget. Hartzell suggested that if it was possible to not bring the position on at fulltime. Moore said it would be better if the position included the water shed. Scoles said one possibility would be to fund in a partial year half the requested amount, as they develop a program we'd have a better idea of what to recommend. Since they're not ready to hire a position. Levine questioned whether it was a fulltime job. Laws suggested that they include in appropriation for this money, increase contingency for that amount and ask for that the position be developed and then brought to the Council for approval. Williams said regardless of what we do here it can be brought up again at the Full Budget Committee.

Hartzell motioned to include up to $27,500 in the contingency budget for implementation of forestry position. Laws said seconded.

Tuneberg said to maintain the budget it would reduce the Contingency by that amount, unless we identify how we can offset that. We either reduce the contingency or add resources to that equivalent that is why we mentioned it could wind up being taxes or this first year could be partially funded by the carry forward. Laws said not to pass a motion at all and allow the Council to take it from the Contingency later if they decide.

Hartzell respectfully withdrew her motion. Williams seconded. Stepahin clarified that they were recommending the designation as fulltime rather than temporary for the Building Inspector at $70,000 but not addressing the Forester. Williams said at this point they were recommending to the Full Budget Committee the Community Development budget as presented. Levine added with the one stipulation that the temporary allocation be made permanent. Hartzell clarified no capital improvement in this budget. All in favor. ALL AYES. None opposed. Motion passed.

ADJOURNMENT

Levine motioned to adjourn the meeting. ALL AYES. None opposed. Motion passed. Meeting ended at 5:05pm.

Respectfully submitted by Kirsten Bakke, Administrative Assistant

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