Budget Member Questions BN2017-2019

Below are the questions submitted by the Tuesday, May 30, 2017, deadline from members of the Citizens' Budget Committee regarding the draft 2017-2019 Biennial Budget.


Chair David Runkel:
1) The proposed 2017-19 general fund budget is balanced as a result of a nearly $500,000 increase in water and electric franchise fees, which are payments by these utilities to the general fund.  The budget also includes $400,000 in additional parking fees and fines and another nearly $500,000 in fire and rescue charges. 
 
What other new or increased tax rates, fees or charges are built into the budget as proposed?
 
Please provide details on the current year Charges for Services and the proposed budget,  Page 1-22 and Page 3-2 under Charges for Services, for 2027-19 which grows from $112,685,650 to $122,206,928? 
 
2) Does the city’s contract with Bonneville Power allow, and if so to what degree, the income from electric use charges to be used for non-utility purposes?  Is there federal law or regulations on this subject?
 
3) What are the city’s bad debt experiences, which appears to be growing?  Various pages in the misc. charges and fees document.
 
4) Is the Airport Master Plan, Pages 58 and 86, $300,000 or $150,000?  What is the goal?
 
5) Why is the Police Department contracting with Charter for Cable TV, Pages 48 and 75?
 
Sal Amery
Fire & Rescue annualized costs please

1) What is the cost of running the ambulance service on its own? (please breakdown the FTE’s required per shift, per truck per night, amount of overtime, etc) [Page 2-47]1) 
  • What is the cost of running the fire department on its own? (please breakdown the FTE’s required per shift, per truck per night, amount of overtime, etc)
  • What if any overlap are there between the two? (i.e., what if any savings does the city make assuming the two are run as they are currently, keeping in mind that each has its own licensing requirements and FTE needs per night, per truck, etc)
  • What is the net revenue/cost of running the ambulance service to the city on its own, taking into consideration the revenues generated from the service?
  • What is the net revenues of the ambulance service? (actual collected funds please, if there is a portion that is billed but not collected what is that amount and how can the city recognize these funds and what is the likelihood of that occurring?)
  • What would be the savings if any, reductions in FTE, cost of space, truck leases etc, if the ambulance service was not part of the cities cost
  • How would these savings, if any affect the running of the fire department, regarding FTE, space, support etc
  • A question was asked of the fire department regarding the need for additional FTE’s and whether or not the overtime funds would once again be used as a back door way of hiring additional staff. No clear answer was given. I would personally feel better if we could have this on the table if additional staff is necessary, now rather than later, could you please clarify?
 
2) AFN I have heard a few different numbers regarding AFN and would like your clarification [Page 2-19]
  • Operational cost of AFN, FTE, space, hardware, etc, per year?
  • Revenue generated by end of 7th quarter and what the projections are as of today for the full period, annualized?
  • What additional costs, marketing, 3rd party studies etc are budgeted for, if any?
  • What is the breakeven number of household contracts required, at what rate, to pay for the operational cost of AFN as of today, ex past debt?
  • What is the above assumption, to include the debt service of ($409k), I understand to be AFN’s commitment per year? If this is incorrect, what is their share and what if any principal is included in this payment?
  • What is the overall debt outstanding due to past AFN expenditure, I have heard figures ranging from $9mm to $12mm?
  • What is the interest due on this debt and which parties are sharing in its burden?
  • What is the expected time line to pay this debt off, at what amount of interest paid during this time period? (cash number please)
 
3) Health Care Plan Cost [Page 1-7]
  • What impact, if any, is the current arrangement of rolling the loan amount of $525k have on the funds ability to build critical mass and why?
  • Why is the figure on page 1-7 ($525k) different to the amount on page 3-51 ($650k)
  • If there is a monetary negative impact on the fund to roll the $525k in and out of the fund, as is the current form, what other options can we have, from a legal and regulatory perspective, such as a term forgiveness of say 3 or 5 years before the funds come for deliberation again, does the city have?
  • What can the city do to reduce the overall impact of the health insurance costs, as bringing it internal was supposed to save money, not cost the city more than it was spending before? How much would we save if we went to 3rd parties to get health insurance?
 
4) E. Navada Bridge [Page 1-10]
  • Budgeted costs of $6,494,400 are assumed for this project, with expected grants of $3mm, where is the remainder coming from?
  • What is the expectation that this project will come on budget, taking into consideration the % of previous projects coming in on target and time?
  • What was the transportations commissions’ opinion on this project?
  • What was the citizen’s vote on this project?
  • What if any impact does this bridge have on reducing the congestion in the town, and what study was done to show this?
  • What other studies were done to motivate the building of this bridge?
  • If the bridge is not built, what can be done with the funds?
 
5) Reserve Fund
  • What is the current size of any reserve fund, broken down by department to include any restrictions of each fund?
  • What amount of funds are to be reserved to any fund for the next Biennium, to include any restrictions? (I’m assuming when these funds are set up, they are done so with the most amount of latitude possible to allow for future changes in the cities planning and development?
  • What is the expected projects around which the city has set up reserve funds and planned ahead?
 
6) Markets and future planning
  • What studies, if any, has the city done to study the impact of recessionary market events and the impact on the city of Ashland? (a 10% or 20% correction to the stock market, a drop in tourism due to recessionary forces, reduction to city revenues of x%, etc) Can you please share with the budget committee
  • What matrix does the city use when looking at past years performance to study the efficiency of departments, how they could do better, what they could change or add to to help future years be more productive while spending less? (such as on CIP projects, what % of projects are finished on time and on budget, what % go over time and budget, and by what amount, where are the shortfalls, etc)
  • How can we share this information with the budget committee to help better understand what was done in the previous years when monies were allocated, and what will change in the coming years to better address any hurdles or shortfalls in performance?
 
 
Garrett Furuichi
 
Item Page  
Questions
 
 
General Questions from Citizens
 
1 1-9 What are property tax assumptions? Shows taxes at $4.3888, Motion approves $4.2865?
2   -- What were the final Actual Salaries of all Ashland City employees what retired between 2012 and 2017?
3   -- CIP rates and fees, where do they come from?  Do we pay them now or are they levied on us once the project is authorized.  Do citizens have a vote?
4   -- What is a Transportation SDC and where do I find it in the budget?  Water SDC? What is the source?
5   -- Central Services fund has a $1.667 million “Operating Transfer In” and significant increase in Administrative Services.  Has this been explained to you?
6   -- Restricted funds do not appear, over stating Unappropriated Ending Fund Balance.  Where are they, please see page 4-10in BN15-17.
7   -- Working capital carry forward dropping into large negative territory, with projections of huge tax, fines, etc. I’d like to see practical realistic future projection.
8   -- Looking at cash reserves the funds appear to go negative driven by expenses, it would be prudent to start dealing with this problem now. What is the plan?
9   -- What is the present value of the fully loaded compensation for one Full Time equivalent?
10 1-21 What is the cause of increase in Administration from $2.4 million to $20.6 in BN17-19?
11 1-21 Same Question for Administrative Services and Administrative Services – Non Operating?
12 1-21 Public works is on a tear increasing from $22.1 million to $116.6 Million? Is this all capital projects, can the city separate Operations from Capital Projects?
13 1-22 How and why do we see an increase in fine and forfeitures? From $410k to $857?
14   -- Is there a Bond debt ceiling?
 
Summary
 
15 1-3 Any position reclassifications? Why?
16 1-6 CLEP no FTE not in budget how to pay for expense?
17 1-7 PERS, only states the change what is the total PERS expense? Forecast?
18 1-7 Forgivable loan? What is the impact on General Fund Balance?
19 1-8 The City does not generate $23.9 million and the current ad valorem tax is not $4.3888 to the General Fund.
Current authorized is $10,649,903 (Table 4a SAL, prepared 10/3/2016)
If 95% is realized = $10,117,407 or $20,234,814
Shortfall of $3,665,186
What is impact on Fund Balance? With Restricted Funds?
20  
 
1-8
Revenues please explain forecast and budget increases BN17-19?
Please see page 3-5
Property taxes increase $1.7 million  - 9.02%
Electrical User tax increase $592,471 - 9.9%
Franchises increase $713,690 – 11.22%
Hotel/motel increase $651,090 – 12.4%
Where is food and beverage?
Fire and Rescue increase $480,650
21 1-22 Charges for service increase to $122 million please provide forecast spreadsheet?
22 1-24 BN17-19 projected $1.1 million in uncollected, why so high?
23 1-27 Why new wastewater debt of $1.8 million after voter approved reallocation of F&B?
 
Administration
 
24 2-3 BN 15 - 17   Approved budget is $18,749,461 we approved $16,427,260
Personnel Service increased $100,200, please provide details?
Material and Supplies increased $2,221,898 please provide details?
25 2-3 Where are resources?  Please see any Program section for BN15-17. No resources by program.
26 2-3 BN 17 - 19 Additional expenses over BN15-17 please explain.
            a. PS increase $90,998 = 5.1%, any position changes?
            b. MS increase another $1,805,835 = 12.15%
27 2-3 In 4 years the budget has increased at a very aggressive rate, what is reason?          
PS Budget increase $191,198 = 5.1%
            b.         MS $4,027,721 = 31.87%
28 2-7 Metrics for Economic Development, pgs. 2 – 7
What are contracted service for?
What are the accomplishments?
29 2-7 Source of RVTV funding – where do I find it?
30 2-8 Parking Program – Resources?
31 2-11 Contractual Service going from $75K to $180,000 –
32 2-2 Any vacancies or position reclassifications?
33 2-3 Which programs are general fund?
34 2-3 Which programs are Central Series Fund?
35 2-13 Total Resources – $357,437 – Total cost $944,095.  Impact of transfer to County court system?
36 2-15 How many FTE’s? Vacancies? Contractual Services - $300,000 ?
37 2-16 Resources? How many FTE’s? Vacancies?  Performance Metrics?
 
Administrative Services
 
38 2-24 Any vacancies or reclassifications? What was FTE classification comparison BN15-17 to BN17-19?
39 2-25 What are the resources? Not shown by program. please refer to BN15-17 page 3-36
40   How much did the Central Services fund increase between BN15-17 and BN17-19?
41 2-25 What is included in Capital Outlay, no details present, total of $2,571,545?
42 2-25 Is the $500,000 Financial Software package included? Please provide details.
43 2-25 Any Tyler Munis purchase cost above the $213,489 licensing fees?
44 2-25 Parks increase from $9,560,000 to $10,601,000 at 10.8 percent increase, what is this for?
 
Information Technology
 
46 2-19 What are the program resources? How much in Central Service Charges? How much revenue?
47 2-23 Where is AFN in this budget?
48 2-23 Where is AFN debt service?
49 2-23 With Debt Service how much surplus revenue is generated?
50 2-23 605 Contractual Services is over $1 million per year.  What is the detail?
 
Police Department
 
51 2-40 What are the resources?
  From Attachment Showing 37.25Ftes
2015-17 budget for personal services = $9,861K
2017-19 budget=$11,167K  a 13% increase. This is not as significant as it should be given they are adding 5 people.  either earlier budget is too high (check against actual which I do not have) or budget for this biennium is too low.  Given PERS, health care and 5 guys it should be more.
Misc. charges and fees ($1.6M) are high but there are no contractual services $. Why?
602 rental repair and maintenance is way down $221 K projected vs. $613 last budget and $528k actual, preiously.
 
 
Fire and Rescue
 
52 2-45 What are the resources?
  From Attachment Questions:
 
17-19 budget is missing:        
Where are comparative performance metrics?
Did the Department achieve the metrics in BN15-17?
No revenue sources – where is the detail of resources?
Where is detail on personnel Services? Budget represents $338,945 per FTE? this is for biennium not per year. Only $169M/yr.
Is there built in overtime?  How much? Enough to fund 3 FTE mid-cycle.
Where is actual revenues and expenditures for 15-17?
How can you make decisions without this information?
 
Comments:
            Goal of 5 minutes - 80 percent of time, 2013 was 49%
            Last BN $4.1 million from EMS billing. Do not see actual nor budget.
Total expenditures increased $3.4 million in 6 year.  Need detail.
Last BN 3 FTEs were hired mid-cycle, Dept. states they need 3 more.
Fringe accounts for 63 percent of Salaries.
 
 Hope you have some new actual numbers. A lot of these points ask about actuals. I don't have anything since 6/30/16.
 
Question regarding callouts?  When and for what?  I believe, but don’t know that most calls are for EMT service.  Given these are for "old People" they may be grouped more.  There was comment made about having another organization perform ambulance service. Status?
Request for training facility is understandable but , to my mind , overreach. Economic justification missing. Inconvenient  sure but...
Back to added personnel. The headcount table does not include the requested 3 firemen but the identified department requests do, and the budget amounts suggest that those men are hidden in there.  I don't understand why they don't come out and put them in the fte count ---- open and transparent.
Misc. charges and fees are large numbers - what are they?  approx. $3M for biennium.
 
     
 
Public Works
 
53 2-102 What are the resources?
     
 
Recreation and Parks
 
54 2-119 What are the resources?
    Will provide tonite
 
Community Development
 
55   Why are we putting in new systems if there is not cost savings? What will be the impact on personnel?
     
Additional questions from Citizens Receive over the weekend
 
Health insurance Fund
56   What’s up with internal loan covering self insurance?  That $500,000 should have been built into the budget? What happens if loan is not made?
57 1-27 Wastewater increase of debt $1.8 million?
 
 
Below: Example of a proposed PW  Project needing reconciliation
E. Nevada Bridge Project  str#2012-28

 
1998 TSP
 Ped/Bike Bridge                 Total: $1,198,000.00
 
OCT/2012 TSP
Ped/Bike/Vehicle Bridge    Total: $2,261,000.00
 
11/25/13 Grant Application
Ped/Bike/Vehicle Bridge    Total: $1,961,600.00
 
2015-2017 Budget PW CIP 
Ped/Bike/Vehicle Bridge    Total: $5,481,000.00
 
2017-2019
Budget PW CIP
Ped/Bike/Vehicle Bridge    Total: $6,494,400.00  
               
Where is the Scope Reconciliation?? 
2013-2015.   + $4.5 Million
2015-2017.   + $1.0 Million
 
 
Chamber of Commerce
 
It appears the City is considering entering into contracts with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce (Page 2-7), totaling $210,230. What are those services for?   How are the services evaluated for success, compliance, and effectiveness? Has the Chamber received these contracts in previous years? If so, how long?
 
The Ashland Chamber of Commerce also receives grants from the City for the Visitor’s Convention Bureau in the amount of $431,239 each year or $862,478 for the biennium from TOT funds?  What are these services for?   The Chamber also receives Economic Development money, presumably for surveys such as the Business Retention and Expansion evaluation.

These total over a million dollars for the biennium. Are there other funds going to the Chamber? After reading Ashland Chamber of Commerce Visitor & Convention Bureau Report for 2014-15 and 2013-14, I am unsure of the achievements for 2014-15 VCB grant. The reports are more than 30 pages about what the Chamber, in general, has achieved over many years and it is unclear what the VCB has accomplished for the particular grant period of the grant.
 
It appears the majority of grant was for the Visitor Convention Bureau so I would think it would be very easy to provide the number of conventions, providing such detail as the number of conventions, people staying overnight, etc.
 
Considering the amount of money, I would hope that the Chamber would be agreeable in providing more detailed, concise expenditure reports that describe how funds were spent and accomplishments/goals met each specific grant period, starting in 2014-15.
 
It has been suggested that the Ashland Chamber be included in the annual audit, in light of prevailing monetary amounts and a city councilor and the Director of the Chamber being married.


Shuan Moran
 
AFN: (3-44)
1) Can the full budget committee get a copy of the latest AFN marketing plan?
2) The 7th quarterly financial report shows that AFN will likely miss the FY 2015-2017 expected budget target by $300,000 (charge for services). What are the measurable steps being taken to insure theses same mistakes are not repeated in the 2017-2019 budget?
3) Considering the precarious financial condition of AFN when the new “AFN AD-HOC OMMITTEE” is set up is it possible to have at least 1 citizen member of the Budget Committee assigned/selected to this new committee?
4) Please explain on Page (1-27) the $9.1ml in debt refinancing for AFN; is that the total outstanding debt of AFN? What % of the principal is paid off each year in the $409,000 debt service payment?
5) What is the status of the “forgivable loan” dependent on future AFN revenues/profitability, given to AFN in 2015?

Public Works (1-10)
1) Please explain the metrics used in Public Works to evaluate performance of a CIP project? Looking at the 2015-2017 budget how many projects came in 1) on budget, 2) under budget       3) over budget, based on the originally assumed budget forecasts (before any additional appropriations) were added?

Debt Service (1-27)
1) New debt issuance for projects is highlight to be nearly $20ml in the 2017-2019 budget. Please outline specifically what the funds from the debt issuance will be used to fund?

Health Benefits Fund (1-7)
1) What are some other funding options instead of forgiving the $525,000 loan outlined in the Health Benefits Fund?


Mary Cody
 
1) In March, the Mayor prepared a memo entitled 2017-19 Budget Add-ins & Funding Resources- Draft that laid out 28-possible additions to the budget. It appears several of the projects, such as Assistant to the City Administrator (1 FTE) and Emergency Shelter contract were incorporated to the 2017-19 budget. What other, if any, of the 28 possible additions, Downtown Streets, City Employee Preparedness, etc., have been incorporated in the 2017-19 budget document?  What are the funding sources for each project?
 
2) What is the funding source for the three newest firemen? It was revealed during the May 18 Budget Hearing that the three new firemen were hired using overtime in 2016?  Were PERS and healthcare also paid out of overtime in 2016?
 
How are those same three recently hired firemen being paid out of this budget for the 2017-19 biennium? Does that include PERS and healthcare?   What is the source of funds?
 
This will be the first time the citizens on the Budget Committee will be voting on funding the three new firemen, correct?
 
3) Under Police, Personnel Services (page 2-40) shows an increase from 2015-17 of $1.3 million for 2017-19. How much is attributed to police officers? Considering there are only 28 officers what are the salary increases for the police officers for each year?
 
Does the salary quoted for the proposed five additional police officers reflect the new salary/benefits?
 
What is the complete, projected monetary ramifications of hiring five police officers, including increased workload on the court system especially considering more staff time is spent on those who are mentally challenged?  Also, what are the additional costs of hiring legal and support staff to handle an anticipated increased workload? Will this translate into more FTEs in future biennium?
 
What are the implications of the court collecting fewer fines because people are unable to pay? To make up for the loss in revenue will the City increase traffic fines, placing the burden of generating compensatory revenue on those who can generally afford to pay fines?
 
4) What is the cost of Talent, Ashland, and Phoenix pipeline to date?  How much more is needed to complete this project, including SDC to Medford?
 
This cost is far more expensive than the original TAP emergency, of $2.2 million. What is the reason for the added expense for the project?  When will the city inform its citizens of the direction or purpose of this project?
 
What will be the cost per gallon for TAP compared to cost per gallon for our reservoir water?
 
What is the purpose of a new $15 million dollar water plant when the city recently invested this much money for a pipeline?
 

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