Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting

Wednesday, May 13, 2009




Budget Committee Meeting


May 13, 2009 6:00pm

Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street





The budget meeting was called to order at 6:04 pm on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 in Council Chambers at 1175 East Main Street, Ashland Oregon.




Mayor Stromberg was present.  Committee members Boenheim, Chapman, Douma, Everson, Gregorio, Heimann, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson and Voisin were present. 










Approval of minutes from previous meeting dated:


4/27/2009 Budget Committee Meeting


Everson/Heimann ms to approve the minutes.  All Ayes.




Perry Prince spoke regarding CERT.  Stated he is a volunteer with Red Cross and has been on many disasters.  He stated that it is important with large disasters for the community to be prepared.  The CERT team is probably one of the most active and well trained CERT teams.  He stated that the possibility of losing Lucy would be disastrous for the City of Ashland and the Rogue Valley.  


Eileen Polk, an Ashland resident spoke regarding CERT.  Spoke to cuts within the Fire Department.  The Fire Department has already cut voluntarily budget and 3 positions over the last 2 years.  Positions have not been filled.  She stated to consider safety in the town.  As a CERT member she feels Lucy, knows she would not like to see any further cuts in the Fire Department or in CERT.  More then 400 hundred people have gone through basic training classes.  Training is designed to assist in 911 situations.  200 members are currently active.  She stated that Lucy’s position is funded by the city the program itself is funded by grant money.  The grant money is unattainable without a fulltime position.  CERT has also organized more then 31 neighborhood programs. 




City Administrator Martha Bennett and Finance Director/Administrative Services, Lee Tuneberg spoke to the City Council Goals. 


Ms. Bennett stated that the council put their goals in 6 separate categories and there are 15 total goals (see attached).   New Goals are not in the budget, on going goals are in the budget. 


Mr. Tuneberg discussed the proposed utility bill for June 2010 through 2012 on a sample household (see attached).  He discussed what it would be with the Food and Beverage Tax renewal and without. 


Ms. Bennett gave an overview of responses from the Fire Chief (see attached).  The Committee questioned whether or not the CERT coordinator can still get a grant if only positioned at half time.  Margueritte Hickman answered that in order to maintain the grant funding someone needs to be designated to supervise the program.  Having a half time CERT coordinator would not reduce the ability to get the grant. 


Mr. Tuneberg gave an overview of the Schedule of Resources and the FY 2009-2010 Summary of Changes (see handout).


The Committee questioned which unions the City still in negotiations with.  Ms. Bennett answered the City is open with Police and Fire and IBEW Clerical Technical.  There are two contracts in the budget where employees will be receiving cost of living adjustments which are the IBEW electrical workers and the laborers union. 




Ms. Bennett and Mr. Tuneberg discussed General Fund issues.  Ms. Bennett discussed issues and options for budget committee discussions (see attached).  Ms. Bennett discussed the how much is available in revenue for the General Fund.  The maximum amount for property taxes which is $375,000, which is levying taxes 20.68 cents.  Ms. Bennett stated that there is still a portion of franchise fees that are imposed on the water and wastewater fees that go to the General Fund.  These funds could be used as a one time use, and suggested to not use the funds to restore ongoing spending.  If the firefighter positions are restored then the overtime budget would be lowered by $70,000.  Jackson distributed an analysis of tax rates for different cities (see attached).   


Ms. Bennett discussed the expenditures.  There are 3 things for restoration, the Police Clerk, 2 firefighters and the CERT coordinator.  The total of restoration cost would be $284,000 which leaves a balance of $376,000 to transfer to a special reserve fund.  The reason to do this is to stabilize the service level. 


The Committee stated that in order to restore the positions there will be a separate issue between the property tax and reserve fund. 


The Committee discussed the 3 negotiations in progress, each group gets 3.5%.  Ms. Bennett stated a recommendation that if a bargaining group gets an increase of some kind Personal Services has to accommodate the increase within their budget for personnel.


The Committee questioned property tax collections.  Mr. Tuneberg responded that the property tax collections are unique in that larger amounts of proceeds from property tax come in earlier in November and December.  When the City talked with other groups it is suspected that people are getting beat up in their investments and would rather pre pay their taxes to get the 3% discount.   


The Committee questioned what the special reserve fund would be used for in the upcoming budget year.  Ms. Bennett answered that it wouldn’t be used in the coming budget year.  It would give the Budget Committee and Council the opportunity to use it in FY 2011.  It would be good for any unexpected events in the economy. 


The Committee decided to discuss the two main issues: 


  1. Should the Committee adopt the position eliminations in Fire and Police that were incorporated it the Proposed Budget or are we going to restore them.  If the decision is to restore them how to pay for it.
  2. Should the Committee create the Reserve Fund, and if so in what amount and what limitations should be opposed on using it.


Slattery/Everson m/s to put the Police Clerk, 2 Firefighters, and CERT coordinator back in the budget.  DISCUSSION:  Slattery stated that the City’s first priority is safety and CERT is an important community activity.  Lemhouse explained that there is risk in raising taxes in recession but public safety is very important.  Voisin agrees with motion because basic safety is at stake.  Chapman stated that he would vote for the motion if he knew where the money was coming from but he will vote no if that means raising the property tax.  Silbiger spoke in favor of the motion; he stated that we won’t really know the value of CERT until the City is faced with an emergency and does not feel it can be ran with a half time coordinator.  Thompson feels that the Fire Department has not been willing to discuss the possibility of reductions in the Fire Department in the past and appreciates the opportunity to look at different options this year to make a decision. 


Heimann/Chapman m/s to amend motion to separate the CERT position out of the motion and vote on it as a separate issue.   Discussion:  Voison stated that a fulltime CERT coordinator is needed, since our National Guard is in Iraq.  Heimann stated that the purpose of the amendment is just to separate it not eliminate it. 

Roll Call Vote: Stromberg, Boenheim, Chapman, Gregorio, Heimann, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Thompson: YES, Douma, Everson, Jackson, Slattery, Voisin, NO.  Amendment to Motion Passes 9-5


Roll Call Vote on Amended Motion to put Police Clerk and 2 Firefighters back into the budget:  Voisin, Thompson, Slattery, Silbiger, Navickas, Lemhouse, Jackson, Heimann, Gregorio, Everson, Douma, Boenheim, Stromberg: YES, Chapman, NO.  Motion Passes 13-1


Heimann/Lemhouse m/s to fund CERT position fulltime.  Discussion: The Committee discussed the importance of continuing the CERT program.  If the CERT position was to go to half time the City would be receiving half the benefits of the program. 

Roll Call Vote:  Stromberg, Boenheim, Douma, Everson, Gregorio, Heimann, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson, Voisin; YES, Chapman, NO.  Motion Passes 13-1 


The Committee discussed the importance of continuing the CERT program.  If the CERT position was to go to half time the City would be receiving half the benefits of the program. 


Stromberg/Douma m/s to add $12,000 to the General Fund, for the purposes of increasing the RVTV capabilities of City government.  Discussion:  The Committee questioned staff what the RVTV budget is currently.  Ms. Bennett answered that it is proposed at $51,000.  Gregorio felt reservations about proposing this on the final night of budget process.  Lemhouse spoke to respecting the idea of having meetings televised, however will not support the motion because it was not part of the goal setting sessions or priorities.  Stromberg stated that the RVTV budget was cut without Council or Budget Committee action during last year because a source of income became no longer available, so would like to restore a quarter of the cut.  Voisin is in favor of this motion because there have been several editorials of citizens speaking up about the fact that they want more transparency from their City government.


Douma stated that watching the television programs are critical.  Thompson stated that television is not the only way for transparency.  Chapman suggested web casting the meetings.   Roll Call Vote: Stromberg, Douma, Everson, Navickas, Slattery, Voisin; YES, Boenheim, Chapman, Gregorio, Heimann, Jackson, Lemhouse, Silbiger, Thompson, NO.  Motion Fails 8-6


The Committee discussed how to pay for the restored positions.  The Committee discussed whether or not to raise property taxes or create a Reserve Fund. 


Silbiger/Jackson m/s to use property tax revenue in the amount of $214,000 to offset the restorations made which would be 11.76 cents. Discussion:  Silbiger spoke to the motion stating that this is General Fund money which is where the money to pay for the positions should come from and is the tax payer’s responsibility.  The Committee discussed if raising taxes was the best way to restore the positions.  Voisin stated that it would be overload to raise property taxes.  Boenheim stated that raising the property taxes is a compromise and is a tough decision.  Roll Call Vote:  Voisin, Douma, Chapman, Boenheim, Stromberg; NO, Everson, Gregorio, Heimann, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson, YES.  Motion Passes 9-5    


Everson/Silbiger m/s to restrict a one time use of the $215,000 from Street Fund franchise fees to place in a restricted special Reserve Fund. Discussion:  The Committee discussed the importance of a Reserve Fund.  Everson stated she made the motion to be supportive of the long term position of the City and to be supportive of the City Administrator.  The Committee questioned if the $215,000 would have any effect on the Bond rate.  Mr. Tuneberg answered it would be one element because in Bond ratings they look at your reserves and fiscal capacity.  The Budget Committee will have to decide how to spend this money next year.  Chapman stated that he would have considered taking this money to keep the firefighters but saving it for next year so it might be used doesn’t make sense.  Navickas cannot support the $215,000 shift and feels it is a regressive policy.  Roll Call Vote:  Stromberg, Boenheim, Everson, Gregorio, Jackson, Lemhouse, Silbiger, Thompson; YES, Chapman, Douma, Heimann, Navickas, Slattery, Voisin, NO.  Motion Passes 8-6


Everson/Slattery m/s to approve the Budget and convey to Council for adoption. 


Navickas/Gregorio m/s to amendment to the motion by levying the additional taxes to set aside for the special reserve fund.  Discussion: The Committee discussed whether or not to raise taxes.  Roll Call Vote:  Stromberg, Boenheim, Chapman, Douma, Everson, Heimann, Lemhouse, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson, Voisin; NO, Gregorio, Jackson, Navickas, YES.  Amendment to Motion Fails 11-3


Roll Call Vote on motion to approve the Budget and convey to Council for adoption: Stromberg, Boenheim, Douma, Everson, Gregorio, Heimann, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson, Voisin; YES, Chapman, NO.  Motion Passes 14-1. 


Slattery/Everson ms to approve the Property Tax Permanent levy rate at $4.1973/$1,000.  Discussion: None.  Roll Call Vote: Stromberg, Boenheim, Douma, Everson, Gregorio, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson; YES, Chapman, Heimann, Voisin, NO.  Motion Passes 11-3.


Everson/Slattery ms to approve Bond Levies of $399,885.  Discussion: None.  Roll Call Vote: Stromberg, Boenheim, Everson, Gregorio, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navicas, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson, Voisin; Yes, Chapman, NO, Douma, Heimann, Abstain.  Motion passes 11-1. 


Jackson/Slattery m/s to approve Local Option Library Levy at $.19/$1,000.  Discussion:  None.  Roll Call Vote:  Stromberg, Boenheim, Douma, Everson, Gregorio, Heimann, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson, Voisin; YES, Chapman, NO.  Motion Passes 13-1


The Committee discussed the wrap up meeting for 5/14/09. 




This meeting adjourned at 10:42 PM.


Respectfully Submitted,


Melissa Huhtala

Administrative Secretary


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