City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
May 18, 2015
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller; Director Black; Superintendents Dials and Dickens; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard and Assistant Manuel
Absent: Commissioner Shaw; City Council Liaison - Mayor Stromberg
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Study Session – April 20, 2015
MOTION: Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.
Joint Meeting with City Council – April 27, 2015
MOTION: Lewis moved to approve the minutes as presented. Landt seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.
Regular Meeting – April 27, 2015
MOTION: Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Miller seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.
Ron Roth of 6950 Old Hwy 99 South in Ashland was called forward.
Speaking on behalf of the Jackson County Housing Authority, Roth discussed an alternative to the proposed second Dog Park on lower Clay Street. He highlighted the original land transaction, stating that the property was part of a 2008 land swap between the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission (APRC) and the property owner. APRC compensated the seller by exchanging the lower Clay Street property for land closer to Ashland’s downtown, along with a cash settlement.
Mr. Roth detailed possible uses for the development of the Clay Street property, acknowledging APRC’s interest in converting the property to a soccer field or a second dog park. He stated that in his opinion, the R2 rated property was too valuable an asset to use for those purposes. Roth asked the Commission to consider selling the property to the Housing Authority or, alternatively, purchasing a larger property in the Croman Mill area for public development.
Mr. Roth talked about the potential for the Clay Street acreage, stating that the Housing Authority would be grateful for a larger parcel for additional affordable housing. He said replacing the Clay Street property for a larger piece in an area with little or no public open space could spur APRC development in an underserved area.
Roth challenged the Commission to ask the question “What if?” when considering land acquisitions. He recommended looking at the “bigger picture” and voiced that a second dog park would not be the highest and best use for the property. He asked the Commission to consider his proposal as a way to provide additional benefits for the citizens of Ashland.
ADDITIONS AND SUBTRACTIONS TO THE AGENDA
There were none.
Black opened the discussion by explaining APRC’s cost-of-living policy. He said the APRC utilized the CPI-West average over a 12-month annual period—from March to March. While the cost-of-living from March 2014 to March 2015 averaged a negative .6%, the current two-year employee agreement established an approved range between 1-5% for each year based on CPI-W. Given those guidelines, the cost-of-living for eligible employees would default to 1% for eligible employees.
- Parks Cost-of-Living Discussion and Approval
Black asked the Commission to ratify the 1% COLA increase for implementation on July 1, 2015—the beginning of the new fiscal year. He said the COLA increase was included in the proposed budget.
Discussion Among the Commissioners
Discussion focused on the ungainliness of budgeting for a biennium, when COLA adjustments were implemented annually.
Landt expressed a concern that the COLA average could fluctuate substantially, creating the potential for a funding imbalance in the second year of a biennium budget. He stated that in a worst-case scenario, the cost-of-living-adjustment could increase without corresponding revenue, thereby causing a budgetary deficit. He noted that the COLA policy was developed when the APRC budget was an annual budget. He suggested that it might be appropriate to consider changing the policy to coincide with the biennium budgeting process.
Black explained that when costs of living rose, taxes increased as well, providing revenues to meet COLA obligations. He noted that the entitlements were the result of a negotiated contract agreement on behalf of eligible employees.
Landt suggested further review of the current policy and the idea of converting COLA implementation to match the budgetary biennium timeframe. He highlighted APRC’s practice of calculating benefits reflecting marketplace valuation, noting the value of a fiscally conservative approach.
Gardiner stated that a COLA policy review would be scheduled for future consideration.
MOTION: Landt moved to approve an annual 1% COLA increase for all eligible APRC staff. Miller seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.
Landt reiterated that the motion ratified a 1% COLA increase for the upcoming biennium. He noted that the current policy had not been altered nor a new policy established.
Black began by explaining the connection between Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects and the role of revenue bonds as a source of funding. He itemized ongoing and future projects, discussing various funding sources for each project. He clarified funding sources for current priorities such as providing for sidewalks along Winburn Way, financing a feasibility study for a new pool and others. Black stated that although the dollars for CIP projects had not changed, some sources of funding for the projects were exchanged. For example, F&B funds were dedicated funds intended to pay for APRC land acquisitions, while critical infrastructure projects like The Grove would be financed with unrestricted funds such as the ending fund balance (EFB).
Black reiterated that the total CIP Budget was $3,817,045. Of that, $1,550,045 would be financed by issuing a Revenue Bond. Current plans for the Garfield Park Splashpad ($550,000) and land acquisitions ($1,000,045) would be financed via bonding.
Black noted that the bidding process would begin for a project manager. The project manager would be tasked with planning the projects slated for completion during the upcoming biennium. Responsibilities would include assigning project timelines and supervising project completion dates. Black stated that the intent would be to complete the Oak Knoll Golf Course cart path prior to the next golfing season. The Grove remodel could also begin shortly after the beginning of the new fiscal year. The Winburn Way sidewalk project would be designed and shovel-ready until a source of funding could be identified.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt highlighted the planned $1,662,385 for land acquisitions, noting that $600,000 in cash was already earmarked for that purpose. A $1 million bond was proposed to finance current projects. Landt suggested that it might be more fiscally responsible to identify desirable properties for purchase prior to bonding. He stated that in his opinion, the $500,000 slated for Garfield Park should be the first project pursued, because debt for the project could be retired within 12 months. Bonding for new projects would coincide with final payments for the Clay Street property, freeing up additional funds for future projects and thereby limiting debt financing. Black agreed, stating that the plan would be to use the $550,000 first and then bond for the remaining financing at a future date.
Black explained that the best interest rates and lowest administrative costs for municipal bonds were based upon the dollar amount; the larger the bond, the smaller the expense. Municipal Revenue Bonds were typically used for public infrastructure such as roads and sewer projects, with repayment typically generated when the project was completed. Black explained that APRC’s sources of repayment were already in place.
Black stated that APRC should be able to partner with Public Works to get the most advantageous rates. He noted that the sewer projects would sunset when the F&B tax expired, a constraint that applied to APRC as well.
Black presented illustrations depicting three bonding scenarios.
Scenario #1 represented current APRC indebtedness, consisting of one Revenue Bond originally slated for repair of the Butler-Perozzi Fountain and an internal loan for the Clay Street property. Repayment of the Butler-Perozzi financing would remain approximately $41,000 per year, ending in the year 2028. Two annual payments were said to remain for the Clay Street property, for a total of $310,000. Black explained that bonding for Garfield Park could begin in 2017. The combined debt would then be repaid at approximately $80,000 per year, to year 2031. Black explained that the retirement of the bond in 2031 would coincide with final year of revenue from F&B tax monies. Black noted that although the F&B tax funding could be renewed at that time, revenue from that source could not be factored in for any new debt. Black stated that the illustrations presented were predicated upon bonding rates and terms that were set for the existing Revenue Bond – factors that could change substantially. Under Scenario #1, all APRC indebtedness would be retired by 2031.
There followed a brief discussion about the first year payment of $41,000. In response to a question by Landt, Black said the initial payment had not been accounted for and the budget would need to be adjusted accordingly. Landt questioned the timing of bonding for Garfield Park. Sources of repayment other than F&B funds were identified. Lewis highlighted past discussion about the advisability of leveraging 100% of the F&B funds for debt servicing. He called for further discussion to determine reserves.
Black noted that all scenarios were hypothetical and designed to assist with development of suitable strategies for future projects. Scenario #1 depicted the current repayment schedule combined with debt repayment for Garfield Park.
In Scenario #2, debt servicing included outlays for Garfield Park and two others – Winburn Way and the new Dog Park proposed for lower Clay Street. Indebtedness would be approximately $1 million, with a combined repayment schedule of approximately $120,000 per year, beginning in the upcoming biennium. With this scenario, projects could be funded sooner. Additional projects could be completed depending upon cash flow and the economic outlook.
Scenario #3 depicted a debt repayment strategy for all known projects within the CIP. Bonding of approximately $2 million for 15 years would result in payments of approximately $175,000 per year, in addition to the Butler-Perozzi Fountain bond payments. Black noted that payments would extend beyond 2031 and additional sources of repayment would need to be identified at that time.
Black said the Commission would review the options when it became time to work on the Garfield Park project and a bonding recommendation would be made then. Gardiner commented that the issue at hand was the timing for the Garfield Park Splashpad project.
Landt noted that the longer term Scenario # 3 accounted for less than half of the F&B funds. He stated that the existing CIP did not include funding for the Butler-Perozzi Fountain repairs.
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Superintendent Dials said the Ashland Creek Park grand opening celebration would be held on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Assistance with the free BBQ lunch would be provided by the Ashland Lions Club. Also offered would be live music from the Brothers Reed, children’s activities including sidewalk chalk and seed balls, and a quarter-mile park walk. Speeches from dignitaries spanning 12:15 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. would be followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30.
Parking would be available at Ashland Christian Fellowship. Ashland Police and Public Works volunteers would be on hand to ensure safety at the street crossing.
Dials thanked APRC staff and the Ashland Creek Park Committee for putting the program together.
Dickens noted that the grass was beginning to grow, walkways were clear, irrigation was installed and finishing touches nearly completed.
Gardiner asked if event attendees would have access to community garden areas. Dials stated that tours of the gardens would be available, with docents answering questions and explaining individual gardens.
Black noted that the final meeting of the Ashland Budget Hearing Committee was scheduled for Thursday, May 21, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. The Committee would finalize recommendations for all departmental budgets at that time. Black indicated that there might be additional questions about the APRC budget but he anticipated a recommendation to approve. The City of Ashland budget would then be presented to Ashland City Council for a final vote of approval.
UPCOMING MEETING DATES
Study Session: June 15, 2015 @ The Grove, 1195 E. Main Street - 7:00 p.m.
Regular Meeting: June 22, 2015 @ Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street - 7:00 p.m.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
Betsy Manuel, Assistant
Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission