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Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Budget Session Minutes

Minutes
Wednesday, March 03, 2010

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

BUDGET SESSION
MINUTES

March 3, 2010

ATTENDANCE

Present:         Commissioners Eggers, Lewis, Noraas, Rosenthal; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Gies

Absent:       Commissioner Gardiner; City Council Liaison Jackson

CALL TO ORDER

Rosenthal called the meeting to order at 3:45 p.m. at the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

BUDGET DISCUSSION

Robertson said staff was directed to prepare draft budgets based on current dollars. He said the Parks budget was $5M and any additional expenses such as COLAs or benefits increases would need to be absorbed. He said the Finance Director suggested that Parks bring the ending fund balance up to $1.5M and increase the contingency fund from $50,000 to $100,000. Robertson distributed a document showing current and proposed Parks budgets.

Robertson talked about hiring a Volunteer Coordinator and the importance of that position in terms of pesticide reductions through volunteer labor. He said the position could be funded by re-tasking an unfilled position. He said a vacant Park Tech III position could be downgraded to a Park Tech I position and Facilities Manager tasks could be handled by a current staff member, with the position converted to a Volunteer Coordinator position with the same pay grade.

Gies reported that the Parks Division reorganization of fall 2009 was successful. He said three existing Parks staff members became supervisors of East, West, and Central divisions and one additional employee was placed in charge of facilities and outer parks. He said the new system worked better than the previous system, with the irrigation supervisor also overseeing the maintenance of Lithia Park and the hospital grounds.

Robertson said the Recreation Division would be reorganized, with all positions reevaluated, tasks shifted across the board, and duties evenly distributed among recreation staff. He suggested housing the Volunteer Coordinator position under the Parks Division as that employee would organize teams of volunteer maintenance crews within the Parks system. He said the decision could be reevaluated over time. Dials said the Volunteer Coordinator could use the Nature Center volunteer model in establishing a work system. Robertson said Nature Center staff would be freed up from organizing volunteers and handling paperwork. He said staff debated whether to make the position full-time but decided to do so and possibly partner with the city on special projects on a contract basis. He said the Volunteer Coordinator could assist in organizing volunteers for special events such as the Bike Swap and Earth Day.

When asked by a commissioner to explain why another full-time Facilities Manager was not necessary, Dials said the former manager gave two months’ notice and staff streamlined her work system well in advance of her departure. She said streamlining included eliminating free rentals, collecting deposits when reservations were booked, scheduling facility rental showings, eliminating event and wedding planning services, collecting facility rental fees before events occurred, not bumping one group to accommodate another group, and taking messages and returning calls as time allowed rather then dealing with each request immediately.

Gies reviewed the Parks Division budget and said it was a flat budget with no growth. He said the two Parks fleet mechanics would be moved to the city shop and the Volunteer Coordinator position would be added to his budget. He said the Trails Division received a $40,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Forestry for fuels reductions. He said sprays and chemicals were separated out from the Horticulture Division budget and would be tracked separately under Materials and Services. He said the biggest reduction in his budget was in the capital outlay category, which went from $70,000 to $15,000. He said the Golf Division budget did not include any capital funding and had very few changes overall.

In terms of pesticide usage, Robertson said staff looked at potential reduction areas and considered changes such as removing a fence at the YMCA Park.

Dials reviewed the Recreation Division budget. She said some funds were set aside for temporary office help during the summer to offset the loss of the Facility Manager position. She said her budget was down in the categories of Personal Services and Materials and Services.

Dials said staff would talk to the commission at the end of March about the Daniel Meyer Pool and feedback received from the public pool user meeting. She said many pool users expressed the desire to operate the pool from May through October. She reported tabulating the additional operating expenses but said she did not include those figures in the evening’s handouts. She said the current budget figures were for pool operations from mid-June through early September. Robertson said any additional pool operations would require cuts in other areas of the budget. He said each additional week of pool operations would cost approximately $350. Dials said some changes proposed by pool users could be implemented easily while others would require compromise or alterations in current practices.

Dials reviewed costs and revenues associated with school programs and said the figures did not include position costs. She said the school system’s funding change for Nature Center environmental education programs did not deter school groups from participating in the programs, indicating the importance of Nature Center programs within the community.

Robertson said the budget handouts showed estimated expenses of $20,239 over last year’s expenses. He said additional handouts and information regarding “add packages” would also be presented to the commission for consideration at the March 15 study session. He said staff was not able to create an ending fund balance of $1.5M or increase the contingency from $50,000 to $100,000 during the budget process.

Public Input

Julie Norman, 596 Helman Street, thanked the commission for setting aside $15,000 for pesticide reductions. She said staff time could be saved in not tracking the safety measures involved with pesticide applications and money could be saved by not purchasing chemicals. She reported looking into prices of non-chemical herbicides and said she was encouraged by the work of the Pesticides Subcommittee. She asked commissioners to attend the March 31 public forum on pesticides.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners spoke favorably about the creation of the Volunteer Coordinator position, stating that it would help build community and allow citizens to contribute to the welfare of the city. In response to a commissioner question about the number of positions remaining unfilled, Robertson said five full-time positions were lost over the past two years and the two departing mechanics would bring the total to seven. Robertson asked the commission to consider adding an 8/10th regular position at the golf club house to assist in providing adequate coverage. He said the position would include employee-only benefits.

STAFF REPORT

Robertson reported attending the previous evening’s council meeting at which the City of Ashland Living Wage ordinance was discussed. He said Parks had asked council to define a “12-month period” within the Living Wage ordinance and not to impose a penalty for violating the 1,040 hours (retroactive to the first hour of employment). He said council voted to make the penalty effective at the 1,041st hour and to remove the penalty clause but chose not to redefine a “12-month period.”

ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, Rosenthal adjourned the meeting at 5:22 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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