Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Budget Committee Meeting
May 6, 2010 6:00pm
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

The meeting was called to order at 6:03
Mayor Stromberg was present.  Committee members Baldwin, Chapman, Everson, Lemhouse, Runkel, Silbiger, Slattery, Thompson and Voisin were present.  Committee members Douma, Jackson and Navickas were absent
Director of Community Development Bill Molnar was joined with Senior Planner Brandon Goldman to present the Community Development budget presentation.  Mr. Molnar explained the structure of the Community Development department which consists of two divisions; Building and Safety Division and the Planning Division.  Building and safety is responsible for plan review, permit approval and inspection program.  The Planning Division has four program areas which are current planning, long range or advanced planning, code compliance, and housing program.  Mr. Molnar discussed the Budget Over Time for Community Development Department, Planning Division and the Building Safety Division (see slide). 
Mr. Molnar discussed the work coming in FY 2011 (see slide).  There is continued work on the Croman Master Plan, Public Infrastructure Funding Strategy, Homeless Needs Study & Actions, Update Historic District Design Standards, Normal Avenue Neighborhood Plan, and Collaborate on Transportation System Plan.  The Department will also be working on regional planning participation.  Another Council goal is to continue to evaluate the development review process.
Mr. Molnar went over performance drivers for all programs (see slides).   Under current planning desired outcomes are based on council goals to improve clarity through the development process.   In the Long Range Planning the Departments goal is to strive for 75% of long range plans to be completed in 12-18 months.  Some have had extended timelines.  The longer some of the projects go the diversity of input tends to be reduced.  At the end of the process the Department will look at ways to improve for future.
Mr. Goldman discussed the Housing Program performance drivers (see slide).  The council values and personal well being are the main focuses for this program.  The Committee questioned where the money comes from for these projects.  Mr. Goldman answered that the projects were covered by land trade.  Currently all the projects that are undertaken with the housing program are largely financed by community development block grants and then the recipients of the grants get either private financing or seek other funding in order to make the projects come together. 
Mr. Molnar spoke to code compliance performance drivers.  With staff reduction and removing the code compliance officer code compliance was decentralized to some degree.  Public safety and potential hazard issues are the primary importance in the code compliance program, as well as response time.
Mr. Molnar discussed the Building Safety performance drivers (see slide).  Recently there have been some concerns of things not picking up and there is no structural inspector on duty on Mondayís.  Without the structural inspector it is harder to deliver the training and outreach to individuals.  The Building Safety Divisions overall goal is to look at the percentage of plan reviews that can be completed and fee totals within a three week period.  It is important to provide inspection services in 24 hour period.
Mr. Molnar went over the performance to budget (see slide).  He stated that over all the budget presented is based on staffing levels needed to successfully execute all five program areas.  The Primary mission is to complete Council Goals related to long range planning matters that affect the Cityís quality of life and to improve responsiveness in development review as well as permitting operations.
The Significant budget changes for FY 2010 were discussed (see slide).  The Department did not fill office clerk position vacated by retirement.  The Department reduced cost of materials and services.  There were significant reductions in professional services.  Citizens could notice decreased responsiveness, especially if development activity increases.
Mr. Molnar discussed how the department will be preparing for FY 2010 (see slide).  The department will evaluate contracting additional building plan review and inspections services.  Mr. Molnar stated that there will be a reduction of service or performance in key program areas such as long range planning, code compliance, housing and/or a reduction in business hours.  There has been little growth in Commercial Development due to less activity in lending.  If construction increases rather then hiring an additional inspector the department would evaluate intergovernmental agreements and use those. Additional budget concerns could cause a decrease in personnel. 
The Committee questioned the Contractual Services.  Mr. Molnar stated that contractual services that were cut were primarily in the Planning Division.  The Department has a small contractual service budget in the building division and using some of the building contractual service money a few hours a week for the Medford building official to supplement the department right now.   Ms. Bennett stated that the Department is trying to maintain certifications in full service programs. 
The Committee questioned what the implications would be if the Community Development Department hands over some responsibilities to the County.  Mr. Molnar answered that the inspections arenít quite as responsive as a local department would be. 
The Committee questioned if the Community Development Department has tried assessing what critical mass is and what tradeoffs will end up if some skills are cut and transferred responsibility to Jackson County.  Mr. Molnar stated that this is a difficult situation to determine because in terms of the Building Division and Local Building Services the Department provides there will not be a way to function to go below where the Department is at now.     
Mr. Molnar presented the Conservation Division budget.  Ms. Bennett stated that the City is in the process in deciding what to do in the Electric Department and what to do with the Conservation Program partially because the Council has two goals related to Conservation.  Mr. Molnar is the manager supervising the Conservation staff but the funds and positions are left organizationally in Electric and Water until everything gets organized. 
Mr. Molnar stated the history of energy and water and the work the Conservation Division sees
for 2011(see slides).  There are a number of Council Goals one is develop and integrate the Water Master Plan, second is to implement a public information and technical assistance campaign that encourages summer time conservation and last is to develop a strategy to use conservation and local renewable sources to meet Tier 2 power demands.
Chief Holderness presented the Police Departments budget.  Chief Holderness spoke to the Budget over Time (see slide).  Over the years there hasnít been a lot of change in the Police Departments budget. The Department is about $100,000 less than last year due to an internal transfer having to do with the cost of consolidating dispatch. 
Chief Holderness went over the work the Police Department sees coming for FY 2011(see slide). There will be an implementation of Global Positioning System (GPS) system in all marked units.  This will help to improve response time.  The Police Department will also look at an implementation of electronic citation system, it will reduce the amount of time it takes an officer to write a citation and it automatically downloads the information to the system.  The last thing the Police Department will be working on is regionalizing investigation of high-tech and internet related crimes.  None of the listed projects will come out of the General Fund; all of it will come out of forfeiture funds. 
Chief Holderness went over the Police Departments performance drivers (see slides).  As far as emergency response the Department will be able to maintain or improve on response time.  The Police Department is hoping to maintain 26 officers and increase patrol staffing to a minimum of 3 sworn officers at all times.   With the GPS system response time will decrease.  Chief Holderness went over the performance drivers for basic needs public health and welfare.  When dealing with crime investigations the Police Departments goal is to complete 90% of property crime investigations in 60 days or less and persons crimes investigations in 30 days or less.  Crimes against persons are prioritized in front of property crimes. 
Chief Holderness discussed central area patrol (see slide).  Central area patrol is a way to support economic health in addition to basic needs of the Community.  There have been 150 or fewer incidents related to public disorder in the downtown area since a year and a half ago and 75 or fewer reported theft or vandalism crimes in the downtown area.  The Police Departments goal is to keep the incidents where they are at or reduce it.
Chief Holderness went over the Records Unit and the CSO (see slides).  The priority for the CSO is 100% of subpoenas to be served in time to meet court requirements, to maintain 90% of graffiti abated within 72 hours and 90% of code complaints addressed within two weeks. 
Chief Holderness discussed the performance to budget (see slide).  With the budget as proposed the Police Department should be able to meet or exceed all desired outcomes.  Over the last two years the Department has seen substantial reductions in overtime costs because the Department is now running close to full staffing.  There has also been a decrease in costs for the 3/12 schedule, and reduced overtime in Court. 
The significant budget changes from FY 2010 were discussed (see slide).  The Police Department expected to see between $60,000 and $100,000 savings from the consolidation dispatch.  The Police Department will see about a $200,000 reduction to the budget and the Fire Department will see an increase of about $100,000 to their budget.  There was a little increase in personnel related costs covered by savings from dispatch consolidation and reduction in materials and services budget. 
Chief Holderness discussed how the Police Department plans to prepare for FY 2012 (see slide).  The Department may revert back to minimum staffing of two officers on duty between 3:00 AM and 10:00 AM.  The next thing would be to reduce civilian staffing and cut additional services such as abandoned vehicles, contact station coverage and graffiti abatement.  The Department will continue to reduce materials and services consistent with loss of personnel and reduce investigation unit from four sworn officers to three. 
The Committee questioned if the Police Department plans on reapplying for Cops Grants this year.  Chief Holderness answered yes they will be applying in early June.  The opportunity is there but the probability of receiving a grant is pretty small.  The Committee questioned the use of volunteers.  Chief Holderness answered that the volunteers are exceptional and is ran essentially by a volunteer.  The volunteers handle vacation checks; assist on all special events and record entry. 
Chief Karns was joined with Chris Chambers Forest Resource Specialist to present the Fire Department budget.  Ashland Fire and Rescue (AFR) currently employ 32.4 FTE and deliver services based on two fire stations.  The Fire Department responds to about 3200 calls a year and also operates within a number of mutual and automatic aid agreements with local and regional fire service partners.  There are four basic areas: Operations, EMS Medical, Fire and Life Safety and Forest Resource. 
Chief Karns discussed the Ashland Fire and Rescue budget history (see slide).   The Fire Department has stayed consistent in managing budget over the years.  There were some personnel changes in 2008 which was due to a retirements and unfunded one firefighter position.  In the 2011 proposed budget there will be an increase due to change in dispatch. 
Mr. Chambers spoke to the Forest Interface Division Budget History (see slide).  The Forest Interface Division is funded out of the Water Fund.  Throughout recent history of this division the funding has gone up and down quite a bit based on grant programs primarily.  There has been a heavy component of external funding in addition to what has been taken from the Water Fund and that will grow exponentially in projected FY 2012 due to a large uptake in funding from the Forest Service through the Forest Resiliency Project. 
Chief Karns spoke to the work and challenges scene coming in 2011 (see slide).  The Fire Department will continue to meet emergency performance measures.  The Fire Department will also put forth efforts to replace Fire Station #2, complete mobile Emergency Medical Service (EMS) reporting systems, transition to the Emergency Communication of Southern Oregon (ECSO) Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), complete promotional and entry-level exams and complete implementation of fire inspection program.  Chief Karns stated that a big priority for the Fire Department is to fully implement the Ashland Forest Resiliency (AFR) projectís Record of Decision (ROD).  The Firewise Communities program is something the Department will be implementing (see attachment) it is a nationwide multi-agency program that attempts to reach passed the fire service to ensure fire safe interfaces.  Emergency communications will be looked at and an implementation of a CPR program. 
Chief Karns discussed the Performance Drivers (see slides) Fire Operations Division drivers are to respond to all emergencies within 5 minutes 80% of the time in the most cost effective manner.  Emergency Medical Services Division drivers are to respond to all medical emergencies in Ashland within 5 minutes 80% of the time as well as meeting ASA standards.   The Performance Measures for Fire and life safety Division are to complete inspections in half of the businesses and multi-family dwellings in Ashland annually.  The Fire Department would also like to get a complete vegetation management for the interface that talks about all aspects of vegetation.
Mr. Chambers spoke to the Forest Resource Division performance drivers (see slide).  The main goal is participation in the AFR project which is very important to the Community and securing the safety of the Cityís watershed. 
Chief Karns discussed performance to budget (see slide).  Items that drive the Fire Departments budget is staffing at levels that can maintain response time and service levels.  Training opportunities will be utilized.  The EMS reporting system will improve efficiency, patient care and data extraction.  
Chief Karns went over slides that showed response time standards and EMS reporting.  Up until this passed year there has been an increase in response request.  When the Fire Department is at minimum staffing which is about 67% of the time only 2 people are out at station 2.  In 2009 the number of requests dropped possibly due to charging for service calls the non-transport EMS calls.  EMS Reporting is an electronic remote base system which helps ensure proper treatment protocol.  The new EMS reporting system will save 33-5-% of time required for reporting.
Chief Karns spoke to the significant budget changes from FY 2010 (see slide).  Recently the Department implemented a single tier EMS billing. The Department has increased Firemed revenues by 32%, implemented fire inspection fees for service which ranges $32-$196 per inspection.  The Fire Department will be implementing a cost recovery program.  A firefighter vacancy will maintain until early 2011, outside training has been minimized, and the cost for firefighters training CERT members has been moved under grants as opposed to paying for it out of the firefighter overtime.  Child safety seat program has been reinstituted and is 80% grant funded. 
Chief Karns discussed preparing for FY 2012 (see slide) Evaluate the intergovernmental agreements with Jackson Fire District #5.  The Fire Department will be looking at a number of grant opportunities.  The fire department plan review fees may be increased. 
The Committee questioned where the hose replacement is in the budget.  Ms. Bennett answered that it will be in the form of an add package.  If the Council decides to go ahead with the add package it is suggested that Council be very specific in where the money goes.  It is suggested that the money will go in a sinking fund and should only be used for equipment replacements.  If the Fire Department gets grants for turnouts the money can be used for other replacement for other fire equipment replacements. 
The Committee questioned the use of volunteers in the Fire Department currently and for future.  Chief Karns stated that there are two primary areas to utilize volunteers.  Volunteers could be used for the fire prevention program.  There is a long range plan for staffing and it includes using volunteers.  Volunteers have to be careful as to where they are plugged in.  Paramedic volunteers are hard to come by.  The long range plan includes have 6 volunteers by having 2 on each shift. 
The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 pm
Respectfully Submitted,
Melissa Huhtala
Administrative Secretary

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