Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Citizens Budget Committee Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, May 14, 2015

 
Budget Committee Meeting
Minutes
May 14, 2015 6:00pm
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
 
 
 
 
CALL TO ORDER
The chair called the meeting to order at 6pm
 
 
ROLL CALL
Present:
David Runkel          
John Stromberg      
Greg Lemhouse
Rich Rosenthal (arrived at 6:04pm)
Pam Marsh                           
Mike Morris
Carol Voisin 
Stefani Seffinger
Mary Cody
Traci Darrow
Garrett Furuichi
William Gates
Pamela Lucas
Shaun Moran                      
 
 
Other Attendees:
Dave Kanner                        Budget Officer/City Administrator
Lee Tuneberg                       Finance Director
Kristy Blackman                   Administrative Assistant
 
Michael Black and Michael Gardiner from Parks and Recreation (P&R) presented amendments to the recommended budget memo.
 
*Furuichi requested an amended page 3-142*
 
Rosenthal asked if the P&R Commission approved the amendment memo and asked for clarification on the two projects outlined in the amendment that are going to be postponed. Black responded the commission had approved the memo and the two projects were the dog park on Clay St and a sidewalk on Windburn Way. He noted that the projects wouldnít be abandoned entirely and they would use the existing $75,000 to start phase one of the Clay St dog park and then would transfer $35,000 from the Daniel Meyer Pool project to fund the engineering of the sidewalk project. Gardiner noted that these decisions were made at a special meeting the previous week.
 
Voisin requested Black provide information via email.
 
Moran asked what the importance of an audit is. Black responded he has a history of doing audits and believes the best option to solve the deficiency was to use an auditor. Gardiner added that it stemmed from a conversation with the budget officer.
 
Seffinger expressed concern that it seems some projects being slowed down are safety based particularly the Lithia Way project. She also wondered if there is enough emphasis placed on how important a role P&R plays in tourism in Ashland.  Black noted that the safety project had not yet been designed and this delay would be pushing it out 12 months. 
 
APPROVAL OF MINUTES DATED:
M/S
Voisin/Marsh
 
That the minutes of the April 15/16, 2015 Economic, Cultural, Tourism & Sustainability Grants Meeting be approved as presented.
 
All Ayes
APPROVED
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM BUDGET COMMITTEE
None
 
PUBLIC INPUT
  • Rick Landt, 468 Helman St, Ashland OR 97520. Spoke regarding the Parks Comparison Study. Believes that acres per 1,000 population information would have been beneficial to the study. Believes that the Ashland parks system is a premier parks system and pointed out this costs money. Thanked committee members for their service.
 
  • Jeff Sharp, 533 Fordyce St, Ashland OR 97520
Proclaimed 7 benefits of the proposed solar park;
  • Jobs
  • Social equity
  • Prepare public works infrastructure for future technology
  • Provide plethora of educational ops for schools and
  • Provide unique opportunities for public
  • Ecologically sound community use for underutilized property
  • Establish Ashland as a leader in renewable energy
Thanked committee members for their service.
  • Hules Gretchen, 2253 Hwy 99, Ashland OR 97520
Praised Mark Holden but believes that a new Electric Director. Claims that the current director is over worked and that Ashland needs a director who appreciates the value of solar energy.
 
 
  • Bill Heimann, 647 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland OR 97520
Thanked committee members for their service and the City Council. Talked about staying at tax cap and emphasizes he thinks they should not go to the cap. He also said he would like to see more research for the solar park before moving forward by studying the last solar project that the city undertook.
 
Stromberg responded to Mr. Gretchenís statement regarding the Electric Director apologized on behalf of Mr. Gretchen and stated he believes that our staff are more than capable of their duties.
 
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (Comm Dev)                                                            
Bill Molnar, Brandon Goldman, Maria Harris & Jeremy Payne, presented the departmentís budget and a slideshow, as outlined in the proposed BN2015-2017 Budget document.
 
Questions from the Committee
Stromberg questioned the number of portable housing units existing on long term contracts asking if some of the long term contracts had been cancelled.  Goldman responded the program started in 1992 they have a 30 year term therefore in 2012 some units were removed but have not been subtracted from the chart. Approximately 6 or 7 units have exited the program.
 
Moran asked what the miscellaneous fees and charges on pg3-129 under building division were and if there were any way to itemize these so they are clearer. Molnar explained these are an increase in central service fees or interdepartmental fees.
 
Seffinger asked where Ashland is in the process of universal design which would allow seniors to age in their homes. Payne answered there are several builders who support this but the city doesnít have a specific policy or building code. Goldman noted under affordable housing regulated by the state program, accessibility is a prerequisite for use of federal funds. Payne clarified that accessibility isnít specifically addressed in relation to single family residential units as opposed to multifamily on the federal level under the Americans with Disabilities Act. .
 
Marsh asked about software package updates. Molnar answered there are basic packages the state building codes were looking at and that they have expanded their review to look at other departments but it is not in spoken for in this budget.  Payne added those programs didnít align with current needs.
 
Lemhouse commended the presentation and noted a large jump in revenue on pg3-116 and asked how this came about. Molnar answered this is Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that will be available over the biennium. Lemhouse went on to ask for clarification regarding department total by function, and the increase shown in Materials and Services from $1.399 million to $1.935 million. Molnar noted that the large jump relates to the reversal of Social Service Grants out of Comm Devís budget.
 
Voisin referred to pg3-129 and asked for clarification of permit numbers.  Molnar explained this is the Thursday over the counter permit time and noted it doesnít include new commercial construction. Voisin questioned removing people from long term planning and what the effect would be.  Molnar responded they are dedicated to 1.5 FTE for long range planning and plan to have at least 1 or maybe 1.25 FTE.
 
Gates asked where he could find the Housing needs analysis Molnar directed him to go to the Comm Dev webpage where there is a link to the housing program page.  Gates also asked about the viability of the CDBG budget. Goldman explained that some of this is prior years EFB and the expenditure to administer this is made up of 20% administration fees.
 
Morris referred to pg3-114 and asked if the Director of Community Development is no longer allocated to the Building Division. Molnar to look into this further said he wasnít sure why it has been separated out that way. Morris referred to pg3-123 line item 604, contractual services and noted the estimate and actual didnít align and asked if it would be clearer this time. Molnar noted that contractual services can go toward different technical studies and could answer specifically at that time.
 
Furuichi asked who monitors overnight Recreation Vehicle parking and if there is a ticket issued. Molnar responded this is shared by code compliance and police and that there is a ticket issued but was unsure of the amount. Furuichi referred to personnel services on pg3-116 specifically department total by function which is $3.1 million in the BN. He noted that this in an increase of 11% yet there are no increases in FTE. He asked what that line item is. Kanner answered the 11% increase BN actual estimated vs. budget and the actual figure is lower because there was a vacancy a long time. He went onto explain the increase is due to health care costs, step increase and COLAs etc.
Furuichi asked if this means the city always budgets for step 5. Kanner answered no, they budget for the incumbent in the position at the time the budget constructed.
 
Voisin referred to pg3-123 Comm Dev planning division and asked about the $8,000 amendment to the $35,000 for the last BN.  Molnar responded this was related to energy assistance loans that werenít successful which they are now reevaluating. Other part of this was grant money to move forward historic work programs.
 
Runkel asked how much longer commercial projects take and does the increase in single family homes increase the burden on staff. Payne answered this varies with each project and Molnar noted that it doesnít really affect staff time if itís a straight forward single family dwelling.
 
Moran asked if they foresee similar growth for Ashland as Medford. Molnar responded that the forecast of growth coming out for Ashland is going down which is due to natural increase in age and a drop in births.
 
Gates asked what the relative competitiveness of Ashland is compared to other municipalities for building costs. Molnar noted they are in the process of updating their system development charges. Payne noted that they are very efficient in their permit process.
 
Voisin referred to the CDBG going down and asked if there itís likely that HUD money could be withdrawn. Voisin also asked what would happen to the Housing Specialist salary if this were to happen. Goldman explained that money has been appropriated for this and noted that Ashland is in the bottom 10 in terms of population size therefore if funds were reduced, Ashland would face decreases eventually. He noted that this is a Federal decision. He added the housing program specialist would be a burden to the general fund and if CDBG went away completely they would have to look at absorbing that cost.
 
BREAK 7.46PM
CONTINUED 7.53PM
 
 
 PUBLIC WORKS                                                                                                              
Mike Faught, Scott Fluery and Mike Morrison Jnr, with the aid of a video presentation and slideshow, presented the departmentís budget as outlined in the proposed BN2015-2017 Budget document.
 
Questions from the Committee
Darrow referred to a $13 million shortfall in the current biennium. Faught explained they have a current need to bring the street system up to par and need to identify a source for this. Darrow asked if this has been an ongoing problem. Faught noted they identified $2 million per year shortfall and it has never been reconciled overtime creating that deficit.
 
Voisin referred to pg3-82 expressing concern about an increase from 62 FTE to 67 FTE and asked Faught to elaborate and justify in depth each of the added positions. Faught obliged and described each position as presented in the preceding video and as outlined in the proposed BN2015-2017 budget document.
 
Moran asked if the high level of service would be sustainable if these positions werenít added. Faught answered yes, the master plan helped them identify that without these positions it would be difficult to keep up with some projects for example water conservation efforts, streets, vehicle maintenance and this would create a need for more outside help which would require more funds in the long run.
 
Voisin asked what the difference was between the engineering tech and the project manager and if the project manager was a permanent position. Faught responded this is title adjustment to accommodate specific needs within the departments.
 
Cody questioned the increase from $2.2 million to $5.5 million for the East Nevada Street project. Faught explained when the engineers worked on this project using the Transportation System Plan they didnít take in to account the physical restrictions on site and the bridge was longer than anticipated. They have since hired a bridge contractor. At this time they are borrowing $2.2 million and will seek funds from other areas for the remainder. Faught went on to emphasize the importance of this bridge to the community. Cody referred to Independent Way and asked why they are spending $1.8 million and if the cost increase is normal. Faught explained it is an important link for south and north bound traffic for that area and that the original estimate didnít include funds for a right-of-way.
 
Rosenthal asked what percentage of the fleet maintenance time is devoted to public safety.  Morrison answered approximately 25% police and 25% fire but it depends on the needs at the time. Rosenthal went on to ask about the FTE cost of technician vs. the cost of contracting and asked what the best investment is. Morrison answered that they could potentially use outside contractors for regular oil changes at a savings, but for more specific detailed jobs they canít get that service locally. Using local businesses also warrants a need for someone to drive the vehicle to that place of business and takes up more time.
 
CODY asked if there are plans to dredge Reeder Reservoir. Faught answered no, they wonít be dredging but they have budgeted to measure the sediment level.
 
Seffinger asked if they planned on completing the TID channel piping throughout the city. Fluery noted that the proposed project goes from Starlight Place to the Terra Ave TID pump station and that is part of the next BN and will be funded through DEQ loans along with the oxidation ditch. Faught added that this project qualifies as a green project and is assisting with low interest rate loans.
 
Voisin asked for clarification on how TAP is being paid for. Faught identified that water master plan is paid for by the financial plan tied to it. Regarding TAP, the construction side of $3million is funded at 1% with $950,000 loan forgiveness. The total cost is $7 million which is made up of $4 million for construction and $3 million for system development charges (SDC). He noted that the SDC portion can be paid out of SDC funds, not out of rates. He also noted that they have an agreement with Medford for debt service of $160,000 per year for 20 years.
 
Furuichi referred to pg4-56 in the wastewater long term plan and asked for explanation relating to the $826,000 restricted capital fund deficit. Tuneberg explained that this is a result of modeling and while it appears there is a deficit, if you look at the summary, the funds are in fact there and that they have yet to identify a way to more efficiently display this in the budget.
 
Runkel asked when the tap line will would open. Faught answered August 15 and that it will run every year for a month however, this year they will turn it on for a couple months He also explained that they are anticipating using TID water by late June.
 
Cody asked if the city is doing anything to promote grey water. Julie Smitherman responded they are providing brochures etc but not currently providing incentives. Cody asked when Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Ad Hoc Advisory Committee would be ready to take a recommendation to council. Faught answered the earliest they will finish their work will be early next year. Cody went on to ask about artificial grass coming out of the street fund and how much was spent this year and how much is projected. Julie answered there is a medium projected for the front of Omars
Restaurant on Siskiyou Blvd and it will cost just under $13,000 and noted that the lawn replacement program allows artificial turf and drought tolerant plants.
 
Runkel requested volunteers to work on preparing the agenda for the meeting dated May 21, 2015. It was agreed that a meeting would be held with Kanner and Tuneberg 18 May at City Hall.
 
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30pm
 
Respectfully submitted
Kristy Blackman
Administrative Assistant
 

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