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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

 

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
STUDY SESSION
MINUTES
September 13, 2011

ATTENDANCE
Present: Commissioners Eggers, Landt, Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent: City Council Liaison Slattery

CALL TO ORDER
Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

GREEN TEAM REPORT
Eggers welcomed City of Ashland Energy Conservation Analyst Robbin Pearce and invited her to speak to the commission.

Pearce said the City’s voluntary Green Business program encouraged energy conservation within Ashland organizations. She said the City’s team consisted of representatives for business energy conservation, residential energy conservation, waste management, DEQ, and natural gas. She said Parks was fortunate in having its own team that included Brenda Hammers, Rachel Dials, and Linda Chesney. She said she met with them and learned of their plan to visit all Parks worksites and implement energy conservation measures. She said the Nature Center at North Mountain Park was a green business and staff at that location had been trained in using special software for tracking, a requirement of the program.

Pearce said she understood a blower door test was conducted at the Parks office in 2009 and the problems resolved but she recommended having another test done to see if there were any residual issues or concerns. She recommended installing light sensors in shops and buildings so lights turned off with no activity. She said the department implemented many conservation measures but did not brag enough about them and she encouraged department staff to include relevant brags and tips in newsletters and on websites.

Pearce said the department’s irrigation system, while state-of-the-art, was already dated and she recommended implementing upgrades. She said the Conservation Division could help fund the upgrades as they wished to access the data. She said North Mountain Park had an online weather station and she wanted that information to be made available to the public.

Pearce said the Parks team was working on combining storage and recycling efforts in all work areas and were reviewing existing trash recycling processes and ways to improve. She recommended reducing plastic consumption and eliminating plastic water bottles. She reviewed all other departmental efforts in conservation, including toxic reductions, transportation, and education, and urged the commission to ask the departmental team for quarterly conservation updates. She said she would not need to report back to the commission until the department was ready for additional conservation certifications.

Robertson said the City’s Green Team previously recommended repairing ducts at the Parks office and the work was completed and made a difference in terms of the building’s heating and cooling efficiency and effectiveness.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Lewis asked if there was another entity in the Green Business program of the same size and scope as Parks. Pearce said the City of Ashland was the only entity in that category and the Green Team was reviewing City departments one by one. Lewis said the commission’s decision to use the upper duck pond for irrigating Lithia Park was a great one. Eggers suggested having an RVTV piece featuring “tips and brags” of the department’s team and efforts toward conservation. Dials said the Parks team gave conservation updates to Parks staff at quarterly Safety Committee meetings.

The commission thanked Pearce and the Parks team for their efforts.

 [Landt  arrived at 7:40 p.m.]

CIP PROJECTS DISCUSSION
Robertson said the ending fund balance for the previous fiscal year was larger than expected. He said City policy required the retention of a minimum 25% in revenues for ending fund balance and, for Parks, that equated to $1.3M. He said the funds covered departmental payroll and operations from July 1 through the end of October and a lack of funds would require the department to borrow from other fund categories or from the City. He said the original projected ending fund balance was $1.4M and, in January 2011, Parks staff projected an ending balance of $1.99M but the actual ending balance was $2.2M. He said the department spent 98% of allowed expenditures but came in at 105% for revenues, representing an overall surplus of $900,000 over City policy requirement for ending fund balance. He said the unexpected overage resulted primarily from the county’s miscalculation on tax revenues.

Robertson said the Parks Capital Improvement Budget was a separate budget that contained just two categories: equipment and improvements. He said the Parks mechanic shop was moved to the City shop and the Parks equipment replacement schedule converted to theirs in the previous fiscal year. He said the traditional Parks strategy for fleet items was to use them into the ground but that was not the City’s system. He said without a supplemental budget this year the Parks spending authority was $50,000 for equipment and $20,000 for improvements. He expressed interest in creating a supplemental budget before the current City Administrator left her position at the end of October. He said the commission had three placement options for the additional funds:

·        Approximately $100,000 into the General Reserve Fund

·        Some into the Parks Capital Improvement Budget

·        Some into the Parks CIP

Robertson suggested creating a Parks policy for ending fund balance and approaching the City with the draft policy and a plan for the surplus funds. He said Parks implemented austerity measures which were reflected in the larger-than-expected ending fund balance. He said the department relied exclusively on its property tax rate of $2.09 while the City had other revenue streams besides property taxes. He said there were many deferred maintenance projects needing attention such as new tennis court lights and cracked or crumbling pavement throughout the system. Commissioners agreed that the older parks were in need of infrastructure upgrades. Eggers asked if a list could be created of all parks needing maintenance improvements and staff agreed to create the list.

Robertson provided the commission with a revised list of CIP projects based on feedback received at the August 22 meeting. He said three projects were designated as “completed,” including tennis court lights, Oak Knoll irrigation, and Bluebird Park stairs, as the funds had been encumbered, and staff also created an “Unfunded” column per the commission’s request. He said the “Unfunded” column indicated the commission’s or community’s interest in a certain project despite a lack in funding. He said staff showed a consistent planning percentage of 10% for development projects like the Lithia Park master plan and upper and lower Clay Street parks. He said the remaining items on the list were projects for FY 13 (beginning July 1, 2012). He asked the commission if they were comfortable with the dollar amounts listed and if they wanted to go out for a grant for Ashland Creek Park.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said the CIP projects totaled $14M but the commission had $8M in revenues to spend over the six years. He suggested showing $6M in “Unfunded” to better align projects with dollars. He also suggested purchasing properties on the Open Space Plan as he said this was an ideal time for such purchases. He spoke of several desirable properties on the OS Plan along with several others not listed. Eggers and Lewis agreed it was a good time to acquire property but suggested conducting a minimal review of the OS Plan before discussing property acquisitions. Rosenthal spoke favorably about moving forward with the Calle resurfacing project, a project that had been on the list for years but not completed.

At the commission’s request, Robertson said he would move to “Unfunded” the Sherwood Park restrooms, softball lights at North Mountain Park, multi-generational recreation center, artificial turf field, and the Lithia Park shop / yard relocation. He said “Dog Park Acquisition” would be combined with “Parks and Open Space Acquisitions.”

For the next commission meeting, Robertson said staff would bring the revised list of CIP projects, a list of deferred maintenance projects, and a draft policy for ending fund balance based on the evening’s discussion, with the policy sent electronically in advance.

ADJOURNMENT
By consensus, Eggers adjourned the meeting at 9:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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