Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting

Monday, April 30, 2007

Budget Committee Meeting
April 30, 2007 7:00pm
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
Chairman Thompson called the Citizenís Budget Committee Meeting to order at 7:01 pm.
Mayor Morrison was present.  Councilors Hardesty, Chapman, Navickas, and Jackson were present.  Budget Committee members Heimann, Bond, Gregorio, Levine, Everson, Stebbins and Thompson were present.

Approval of minutes from previous Budget Committee meetings dated:
4/11 and 4/12/07 Economic and Cultural Development Grant Presentations.
Bond/Everson ms to accept grant presentations as presented.  All Ayes.
4/19/07 Budget Committee Meeting
Heimann/Hardesty ms to accept the minutes as presented. All Ayes.
Jack Opgenorth from the Aquatics Foundation of Southern Oregon spoke about the closing of the SOU pool.  Mr. Opgenorth said that the foundation may be looking for the City to provide year round swimming if SOU is closed.  Mr. Opgenorth commented that the Daniel Meyer Pool would be the choice even though itís not a competitive pool.  He also explained that the foundation promotes aquatics and how important swimming is to the community.  Mr. Opgenorth said the foundation does raise money and is putting that toward SOU at present.
Martha Bennett, City Administrator and Lee Tuneberg, Administrative Services Director, started the meeting with a discussion about how to deal with questions that come up during the budget process.  Unresolved issues should be written on the easel.  At the end of the process, there will be time to review what is written on the easel.  Mr. Tuneberg also explained that the Fire information in question is being worked on and will be provided as soon as possible.
PARKS AND RECREATION                      PAGE 3-127 through 3-143    
Parks Director, Don Robertson, and Chair of Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission, Joann Eggers, presented the Ashland Parks and Recreation budget.  Ms. Eggers explained that they typically begin the budget process by focusing on the current yearís goals.  Ms. Eggers listed the goals for FY 08 as park development for the North Main Scenic Property and Ashland Creek Property, make Oak Knoll Golf Course self-sustained, redevelop Darex Ice Rink, help find a solution for community swimming facilities, develop additional community gardens and create a Recreation Master Plan.  Ms. Eggers added that some of the ongoing goals from the previous year will be re-evaluated to determine if they should be continued or not.  These ongoing goals include creating a new department logo, staff succession planning, evaluation of energy consumption and the removal of non-native vegetation.
Ms. Eggers continued by discussing the structure of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department (see attached handout).  The departmentís 5 divisions include Parks, Recreation, Youth Activity Levy (YAL), Golf, and Parks Capital Improvement.  The Parks division is the largest division and provides the maintenance/operation of the parks.  The Recreation division provides the program elements of the department. 
Ms. Eggers explained that the next step of the budget process is to review the revenue and expense projections.  She explained that last yearís Citizenís Budget Committee encouraged the commission to start looking for additional revenues instead of relying on tax money.  Due to that advice, the major accomplishments of FY 07 include adjustment of various fees.  The Parks division increased the annual golf passes from $700 to $1000.  The revenue generated from renting out facilities was also adjusted so that Ashland Parks and Recreation Department (APR) would receive 30% cost recovery instead of 17%.  APR also implemented operational fee charges for Calle Guanajuato.  Other accomplishments include approving an Intergovernmental Maintenance Agreement with the Ashland School District, adding new Lithia Park playground equipment and building a playground at North Mountain Park.       
Ms. Eggers said that a graph was included to show performance records for Forestry, Trails and Natural Resources (see attached handout).  APR has an entire crew dedicated year round to the removal of noxious weeds, fire prevention, and trail maintenance.  Ms. Eggers also stated that the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has adopted a Trail Master Plan.
A graph was also included for the Darex Family Ice Rink (see attached handout) that displays the number of paid admissions, number of employees and accidents per season.  Ms. Eggers spoke about how an oak tree fell on the ice rink last season and therefore, will operate without a roof this coming year.  Ms. Eggers stated that they will submit grant requests to replace the roof for the following year.  The department is also looking for cooling coils to be built into the parking lot instead of using coiled mats.  Coiled mats require more water and also become misshapen each time they are laid down.  Mr. Robertson stated that grants will be sought for these coils and that the parking lot will have to be repaved.  Mr. Robertson also said that the commission did set aside $50,000 in its capital fund to entice contributions or a possible grant match. 
Committee member Levine asked about the increase in the number of employees vs. the decrease in the number of admissions.  Mr. Robertson answered that the number of admissions is dependent upon the weather and that warm weather may close the rink earlier than expected.  The number of employees was increased for safety reasons so that they could have ďmore eyes on rinkĒ, for tighter cash control and better customer service.  Mr. Levine also asked about ice rink expenses vs. revenues.  Rachel Teige, Recreation Superintendent, stated that revenues and expenses broke even for the last 2.5 years with the exception of the staff time devoted to putting the rink together and taking it down.  Mr. Robertson added that fees have been adjusted over the years and that more ice time was allotted to programs with a higher rate of return.    
Committee member Heimann inquired about how many of Calle Guanajuato merchants are from Ashland.  Mr. Robertson replied that each merchant is a member of Lithia Artisans Guild.  He also stated that the merchants are from the Rogue Valley.
Ms. Eggers continued by talking about the budget over time (see graph on page 4 of handout).  Graph depicts operational budget for APR and does not include 2.5 million YAL or $331,000 Capital Improvement Fund.  Ms. Eggers stated that the YAL will expire after next year.  Ms. Eggers broke down the 5.6 million budget:
$144,000 Senior Center
$327,000 Nature Center
$  99,000 Community Centers
$222,000 Recreation Programs
$257,000 Recreation Admin.
$422,000 Golf Course
$161,000 CAP. CSO, Park Patrol
$217,000 Maintenance of Airport, Blvds, Plaza, Hospital
$393,000 Insurance, Facility Use
$  35,000 Contingencies
$3,390,000 Parks Maintenance & Operations
Ms. Eggers reported that the department targets spending up to 95% annually, but typically spends 91% of their budget.  Ms. Eggers explained that they do not spend 100% because the department spends to accomplish their goals on projects and improvements.  She stated that it is not fiscally wise to spend money just because itís budgeted nor is it fiscally wise not to budget to full capacity of anticipated expenses. Ms. Eggers went on to explain that money is sometimes left over because projects are not completed by June 30th, there is turnover in the department or projects had greater than anticipated cost.  Committee member Everson asked why if the department typically spends 91% why they budget 95%.  Mr. Robertson answered that demand may be greater than what they anticipate, therefore adding costs to budget.
Ms. Eggers called attention to future projections which show APR going red in 2010.  This is based on 100% expenditures of budgeted funds with the exception of Materials & Services (only 95%).  Ms. Eggers stated that the reality is that they are not negative nor have they been negative, however APR is looking into the future.  Ms. Eggers expressed her thanks for the assistance provided by Mr. Tuneberg and his staff. 
Mayor Morrison left at 7:36 pm
Ms. Eggers reported that the significant proposed budget changes include adding the new position of Promotions Coordinator (1.0 FTE) and also adding 2 Park Workers (see attached handout).  The responsibilities of the Promotions Coordinator include the development of fliers, creating brochures and activity guides, maintaining the webpage, and providing weekly press releases. APR has reduced the contract services line item for promotions by $30,000.  The net impact will be $40,000 because the position will cost $70,000 (salary & benefits) with $30,000 savings.  Mr. Robertson stated that the additional position will improve customer service and therefore, will most likely increase revenue.  The position will also assist with improved departmental communication.  Mr. Robertson stated that the projected revenues are not represented in this yearís proposed budget.  Councilor Jackson asked if it was appropriate for staff to monitor webpage instead of Computer Services.  Mr. Robertson answered that different staff have different responsibilities within APR and each of those individuals knows their division the best. Therefore, the person who knows his/her division best can provide the timeliest information and that timely information directly affects customer service and satisfaction.
APR also proposed adding 2 Park Workers due to the Intergovernmental Maintenance Agreement. Mr. Robertson recapped the events leading up to the new maintenance agreement.  Mr. Robertson stated that over that past few years, the Ashland School District outsourced maintenance instead of using the Parks division.  This helped the school district cut costs but also decreased the perceived level of service/standards.  The school district and the Parks division then entered into discussions about how to reduce costs but retain Parksí standards.  Under this new agreement, the parameters do not include certain services, (i.e., lines for practice fields) and some people are unhappy.
Committee member Everson asked why the APR budget is jumping $433,000 as opposed to all the other budgets which are staying flat.  Mr. Robertson said the School District Maintenance Agreement is one of the main reasons because itís creating $150,000 in revenue, and the promotion coordinator position will have a net cost of $40,000, increases in property tax and slight increases in fees.  Mr. Levine asked if all of the $433,000 will be offset by revenues.  The answer was yes.     
Committee member Stebbins called attention to the current yearís Materials & Services number being less than budgeted.  Mr. Robertson explained that the budget fluctuates depending on the demand for certain services, classes, or projects.  He stated that the budget will also fluctuate for variables such as vandalism.
The committee asked about the tax rate transferred to APR.  Mr. Tuneberg answered it was 2.09.  Mr. Robertson elaborated that it was 2.09 for every $1000 of assessed value and that this revenue was included in the proposed budget.  Mr. Robertson also stated that as property taxes increase so do cost of living standards.  APR used a 5% COLA in its proposed budget.
Committee member Thompson inquired about the ending fund balance.  It was answered that the ending fund balance rolls over and becomes the beginning fund balance for the next year.  Ms. Thompson also asked how to take money away from APR.  The answer was to increase fees and charges paid to the City of Ashland or reduce percentage from 2.09 to something else.  It was reported that the budget committee sets the City of Ashland tax rate
Councilor Navickas asked about the impact of increasing fees and whether or not there were scholarships available.  Mr. Robertson replied that theyíve never turned down scholarships for those who have asked for them.   APR is willing to work with those who need assistance.  The goal of increasing fees was to recover 30% of the current cost instead of 17%.
Councilor Navickas also asked about the large police budget included.  Mr. Robertson stated that paying for CAP, CSO, and Park Patrol is a long term agreement with City of Ashland.  APR pays 100% for CAP and Park Patrol, only 50% for CSO.
Mr. Robertson emphasized that APR is beginning to look long term and are realizing that they have to start looking for ways to increase or maintain revenue without the support of property taxes.  Ms. Eggers stated that the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has examined the meeting point of where revenues cross expenditures and they are focusing on how to combat it. 
The committee asked if there are any vacancies in the department.  The answer was no and that at this point there are no retirements either.  However, Mr. Robertson can foresee 30% turnover in next few years due to retirements. 
Ms. Eggers reported on the challenges for FY 08 (see attached handout).  The challenges include finding a solution for the SOU pool, long term funding for capital projects, the operation of Darex Ice Rink without a roof and preparing for the last year of the YAL.
Councilor Jackson requested a copy of the budget numbers provided on Mr. Robertsonís easel as they relate to bar graph (page 4 of attached handout).
Everson/Bond ms to approve Ashland Parks and Recreation budget as presented.
Councilor Navickas was opposed.  He stated that he didnít think it was appropriate to fund public safety via the APR budget.
Ms. Everson stated that she was also opposed because the budget seemed inflated.
The committee discussed the option of reducing the budget by a certain percentage.  Mr. Robertson stated that if presented with a request to decrease by a certain percentage then APR would propose to shift a higher amount into the contingency fund.  Ms. Everson replied that the inflexibility of the APR budget was bothersome to her.  Mr. Levine continued by discussing whether or not APR should be entitled to the 2.09 that has been standard in previous years.  The committee asked how many dollars would be reduced if the budget was cut by 5%.  Mr. Tuneberg replied that 5% would be about $88,500.
Everson/Heimann amended ms to approve Ashland Parks and Recreation proposed budget with a tax decrease from 2.09 to 2.04.
Discussion of the amended motion followed.  Councilor Hardesty expressed concern over deciding a rate decrease before knowing how it would affect programs and fees.  Mr. Levine encouraged committee to look at big picture of budget throughout the City before determining where the money is best spent.  Mr. Heimann encouraged the idea of future discussions about the tax rate citing the lack of discussion in previous years. 
Mr. Robertson stated that they would provide options for what to cut from the budget but that the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has final say.
Councilor Navickas expressed concern over the fee increases and the time devoted to asking City Council for approval of those fee increases or other additions. 
Ms. Bennett told committee that it may be reasonable to ask APR to cut 5% and find out where that 5% would be cut.  Ms. Bennett expressed to the committee that the tax rate shouldnít be decided right now, and to focus on services not money at this moment. 
Mr. Levine expressed concern over property tax increases on the community.  Ms. Eggers encouraged the committee to remember the history of the parks in Ashland and their importance to the community.
Councilor Jackson reminded the committee about the findings of the Charter Review Committee.  According to Councilor Jackson, the Charter Review Committee determined that the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission should remain a separately elected body and that the community feels very strongly about its parks.  Councilor Jackson added that the APR budget appears to be the place to look for monies since they donít seem to use all of it.
Ms. Everson rescinded her previous motion.
Hardesty/Gregorio ms to tentatively accept the Ashland Parks and Recreation budget with an exception that the department look at alternatives which may include bringing back to the committee the proposed budget with as much as 5% cuts with an emphasis on capital outlay expenditures.  Bond, Chapman, Gregorio, Hardesty, Jackson, Stebbins and Thompson yes.  Everson, Navickas, Heimann and Levine opposed.  Motion passed 7 to 4.
Ms. Everson requested that all discussions take place during meeting instead of during the break.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CDBG      PAGE  3-109 through 3-116
Community Development Director, David Stalheim, and Building Official, Mike Broomfield presented the Community Development budget.  Mr. Stalheim started with the major responsibilities of the Community Development Department (see attached handout).  The responsibilities include long range planning, housing programs, building inspection and Fire & Life Safety Plan review.  Mr. Stalheim continued with the structure of department which is made up of two divisions (Planning and Building) plus the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG).  CDBG is a federal program.  Mr. Stalheim listed the major accomplishments in FY 06-07 as hiring a new director, completing an organizational analysis of the Planning division and expanding the Master Permit Program.
Mr. Stalheim summarized Planning permit activity (see table on page 3 of handout). Planning permit applications have declined this year.  Mr. Stalheim explained that Type I permits are those that do not require public hearing, Type II require public hearings and Type III are legislative amendments such as zoning and urban growth.  It was pointed out that the table only depicts the first 8 months of the year.
Mr. Stalheim also provided the committee with a table summarizing Building permit activity.  Like the Planning permits, the Building permits are also decreasing.  However, Mr. Stalhiem pointed out that the number of permits will jump up now because itís the building season.
Mr. Stalheim spoke about the budget over time (see attached handout).  The 2008 proposed budget is flat over 2007 amended.  Mr. Stalhiem reported that the reason itís flat is because of costs that are not within their control.  Mr. Stalheim also spoke about the CDBG budget over time.  This budget fluctuates because itís a fund balance managed by itself.  If the funds arenít spent in one year then they are re-allocated into the next year.  Mr. Stalheim reported that they have approximately $15,000 from last year that they are reappropriating for the 2008 budget.
Mr. Stalheim reported that 67% of the 2008 Planning budget and 58% of the 2008 Building budget will be spent on Personal Services.
The Community Development presentation included a Permit Revenue vs. Expenditures graph (see page 5 of attached handout).  The Council goal for Building was 100% fee recovery, however the actual was about 50%.  The Council goal for Planning was 75% fee recovery and the actual was approximately 40%.
Mr. Stalheim went on to explain the significant budget changes (see attached handout).  The Building division was cut by 5% which will be a reduction of .4 FTE in Building Inspectors.  This will amount to a $42,000 cut.  The Planning division was cut by over 10% which results in the elimination of the Associate Planner position which amounts to $95,000.  Professional services for Master Planning will also be cut which reduces the budget by $80,000.
The potential service impacts of the cuts on the Building division were reported as (see attached handout) the reduction of over-the-counter permit day (Thursday), decreased pre-application telephone conferences, potential loss of same day re-inspection services, increased plan review time and reduced frequency of inspections.  Mr. Stalheim indicated that same day inspections provide good customer service and allow work/projects to proceed in a timely manner.  The service impacts for the Planning division include a longer time to implement the Long Range Planning Program, limited ability to respond to any new Planning Commission or City Council issues, no professional service money and therefore fewer professional service projects.  There would also be a longer response time for citizen questions.
Mr. Stalheim followed with the proposed add request package.  The ďaddsĒ include the services of a Long Range Planning professional.  This professional would support existing staff on the Long Range Planning Program.  This position would cost $125,000.  The next ďaddĒ is to restore the Building Inspectors to 1.0 FTE.  This would cost $42,000.  Mr. Stalheim explained that Mr. Broomfield has been working on creating new revenue to offset this $42,000.  The new revenue would be a State Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for state planning services and inspections for Coquille.  The next ďaddsĒ are to restore the Master Planning Services and Associate Planner position.  Mr. Stalheim clarified that after analyzing the needs of the division, he determined that this Associate Planner should really be more of an Urban Designer.
Mr. Stalheim recapped the revenue choices before the committee. The Building division choices include the Coquille IGA to offset the Building Inspectors.  This is estimated to bring in $58,000.  The division is looking into a change in valuation (how much to charge per square foot) from the national method to the real cost of construction in this area.  This is estimated to increase permit revenue by $40,000.  Mr. Stalheim also said they could increase the Master Permitting Program for an additional $20,000 and then evaluate the fees for other services.  Mr. Stalheim reported that the department is looking into increasing development fees for the Planning division.  The department is also going to review the appeal and hearing fees.  However, Mr. Stalheim stated that he didnít think different appeal and hearing fees would make a large impact on the budget.
Councilor Jackson inquired about planning applications and whether or not they generate revenue if the building permits arenít issued. Mr. Stalheim explained that every building permit has a community development fee associated with it and a portion of that community development fee supports the Planning division.  Planning revenue is generated from land use permit fees and building permit applications.  Mr. Stalheim said that the community development portion is approximately 1.1% of the building permit fee.  Mr. Stalheim also said that revenue is generated from the planning permit applications (Type I and Type II) but not for building permits if the project is not followed through.
Mr. Broomfield clarified that the department isnít working for ďfreeĒ until they get the building permit.  He explained that when a complete application comes in it is reviewed.  The plan review and the building permit are based on the valuation of the project.  The plan review fee is 65% of the permit fee.  A deposit is taken from the applicant based on the valuation and the assumed plan review fee.  However, part of the plan review process is to determine the actual fee because the complexity of the building needs to be taken into account.
Mr. Stalheim followed up with the challenges of FY 08 (see attached handout).  The challenges include code changes, implementing rental needs analysis, and completing a fair housing analysis.
Councilor Jackson stated for the record that last year the Citizenís Budget Committee increased funding for additional positions and consulting fees for more comprehensive planning, especially for long range planning.  Councilor Jackson stated that there is a need for the revision of the downtown plan and other city planning.  Ms. Thompson said that she remembered raising taxes to pay for staff.  Ms. Thompson asked what happened to money that was levied for this year.  It was reported that the funding was used to fund other operations.   Ms. Thompson also inquired about a $1,000,000 capital expenditure for land. Mr. Stalheim reported that it is the Strawberry property that the City is selling and itís being carried over from last year. Council will evaluate bids in the future. Mr. Stalheim explained that it shown as both a revenue and an expense because the money will be put into a housing fund.
Councilor Chapman asked if Housing Specialist position is paid by a grant. Mr. Stalheim answered that 25% is paid by CDBG. Councilor Chapman asked if it would be possible to have housing only 25% of the time and/or any possible shared jobs.  Councilor Chapman also inquired about sharing inspections with the county.  Mr. Stalheim explained that the Planning staff has a full workload. Mr. Stalheim also indicated that the intention of the Coquille IGA is to keep Building staff working 100% of the time.  Mr. Broomfield stated that the City already has an IGA with the state. The Building division currently helps with the stateís pre-fab program.  Mr. Broomfield explained that the state needs the help and has experience working with the City of Ashland. The work would begin in June and be completed here.  The state will have the plans sent (at the stateís expense) from Coquille to Ashland instead of from Coquille to Salem.  Ms. Thompson asked where the $58,000 number came from.  Mr. Broomfield answered that there will be an average of 60 plans per month, anticipate 2 hours per review for a total of 4 months. This would reduce layoffs and keep Building Inspectors at status quo.
Committee member Gregorio asked about only spending $43,000 for contracted services in Planning.  Mr. Stalheim explained that amount represents the continuation of existing contracts and does not include any new services.  Mr. Gregorio asked if it was realistic to assume that the division wonít incur new contract services.   Mr. Stalheim said he would have to go to Council to identify the need.  Mr. Stalheim also said that if the $125,000 for Long Range Planning Program was added then they could have a very good Long Range Planning Program.
Councilor Navickas asked how application fees compare with other communities. Mr. Stalheim answered that Planning fees are unknown but Building fees are the same statewide. Mr. Broomfield said that Building fees are set by administrative rule, and that increases have been applied for and received by surrounding communities. The City of Ashland increased electrical and mechanical fees a few years ago.  Mr. Broomfield explained that increasing fees requires a state audit of the department and public hearing by state in this area.  Mr. Broomfield stated that the current fees are mid-range for this region.
Councilor Hardesty asked about housing and how the Housing Specialist participates in developing goals.  Mr. Stalheim said he is working with the Planning Commission on work plan goals and that he wants to make sure there isnít a disconnect between functions in the department. He said that itís important for the Housing Specialist to work with the Long Range Planning Program and that the Specialist is currently helping to implement that program.
Bond/Everson ms to accept the Community Development budget as presented.
Councilor Jackson stated that she would like to restore the Urban Designer/ Associate Planner position because that positionís area of expertise will be long range planning.
Councilor Navickas would like to look at increasing fees for development.
Councilor Hardesty asked about smaller communities having larger fees.  Mr. Broomfield said that Central Point has higher structural fees and that Medford is about same.   Councilor Hardesty agreed that the department should look into increasing fees.  Mr. Broomfield replied that the department can apply for fee increases, but reminded the committee that the state controls the fees.  A public hearing will need to be conducted and the State of Oregon Building Codes Division makes the decision.
All Ayes.
Meeting adjourned at 10:03 pm.
Respectfully Submitted,
Miranda Iwamoto
Account Clerk II

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