Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Monday, November 21, 2011


City of Ashland
November 21, 2011

Present: Commissioners Eggers, Landt, Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens

Absent: City Council Liaison Slattery

Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:09 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

Dials said every year in November the commission conducted a review of all fees and charges in the Parks system. She said fees and charges reviewed included facility rentals, Daniel Meyer Pool, the Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink, Calle Guanajuato, North Mountain Park Nature Center, Oak Knoll Golf Course, adult and youth recreation programs, the Ashland Senior Center, and special events. She said the following assumptions were used in her evaluations:

·         Every program with an associated fee or charge was reviewed
·         Expenses and revenues for each program in FY 2010-2011 were reviewed
·         Theft of $43,000 and an insurance payment of $33,000 not included in review
·         Itemization of staff time (by percentage) included for each program overseen

Dials said direct costs of materials and supplies along with most staff costs were included in the evaluation but indirect costs of staff time percentages were not included. She said she could provide those to the commission if they wished to have them and Landt expressed interest in the figures. She said the overall recovery rate average for FY 2010-2011 over all categories was 54% but if the golf course and Calle were excluded, the rate would drop to 34%. She said staff recommended only two categories for increases in FY 2011-2012: for the Calle, increase the square footage charge based on demand for space, determine how much the commission wanted to subsidize the Calle repaving project, and determine whether to implement a surcharge; and for the ice rink: increase the youth admission fee for FY 2012-2013 from $3.25 to $3.50. Dials presented as follows:

Facilities reviewed included the Ashland Community Center, Pioneer Hall, Lithia Park picnics and weddings, The Grove rentals and special event fees, Hunter Park Senior Center rentals, and ballfield and lighting rentals. Dials said expenditures in this category included 35% of the Customer Service Specialist salary, 20% of part-time staff assistance, materials and supplies, utilities, facility use fees for renovations and major repairs, lighting costs, contracted custodial services, and Parks custodial time.

Dials said about half of the $43,000 theft was revenue that would have been included in the facilities category. She said the insurance reimbursement for the theft was $33,000 but instead of being directed toward the facility revenue category the funds were placed in miscellaneous revenues. Robertson said the thefts occurred over a 2-1/2-year period, not in one fiscal year. Dials said, in terms of wedding reservations, that reservations were down as people were not utilizing the wedding package as much due to higher rates.

No increases recommended for this category.

Total Revenues: $54,521/ Total Expenditures: $137,861.18= 39.5% Recovery

Dials said the recovery rate of 36% was a 3% increase over the previous year. She said fewer people participated in the swim lesson program but the pool stayed open between 10-12 hours seven days a week and the schedule accommodated every classification of swimmer.

Total Revenues: $38,097.75/ Total Expenditures: $106,806.76= 36% Recovery

No increases recommended for this category.

Dials said revenues remained fairly steady over the previous fiscal year but expenses were up, as pods were utilized the prior year and the next year staff rented a trailer that cost more. She said the new ice rink system required a week for both setup and teardown but it was much less work than the old system.

Total Revenues: $51,541.75/ Total Expenditures: $83,455.21= 62% Recovery

Dials recommended increasing the youth skating rate from $3.25 to $3.50 in the FY 2012-2013 season.

Dials said Calle space was rented to artisans and restaurateurs at a current rate of $4 per square foot. She said expenses were incurred for trash removal, general repairs, custodial/restroom, recycling, irrigation, and landscaping along with labor for all of those areas. She said this was a self-sustaining program that currently had $26,188 saved for improvements to the Calle surface, collected over six years.

Total Revenues: $14,670/ Total Expenditures: $11,343.14= Self-sustaining program

Dials said staff received an estimate for pavers and labor of approximately $100,000. She and Dickens showed the commission sample pavers. Robertson said staff had saved for the project and already had one-quarter of the project cost. He said Calle space was utilized by Parks staff, property owners, businesses, restaurants, and artisans and the area had safety issues in the form of trip hazards. He said several accidents already occurred on the walkway and he suggested scheduling a discussion in the near future about how to pay for the project.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Rosenthal said the restaurants operated on the Calle seven days a week during the season while artisan vendors operated their market just two days a week. He said the artisans clearly paid a higher rate for use of the same space and he suggested retaining the $4 per-square-foot rate for artisans while raising the rate for restaurants (tying the restaurant rate to the CPI, an objective tool). Landt said the price charged to restaurants was not even close to market value and the premium space was the first choice for restaurant goers when the weather was good. He said he felt the commission was not collecting adequate funds for commercial use of Parks-managed land. He suggested getting closer to the market value of $7 per square foot by raising fees, perhaps incrementally, and by placing a surcharge on users of the space for Calle restoration, which he said could be eliminated once the funds were collected and the project completed. Robertson said the commission previously utilized an honor system in which they charged a per-chair rate for restaurants while charging artisans a percentage of gross sales. He said the commission later decided to implement a more equitable system and formed a subcommittee comprised of restaurateurs, artisans, and Parks staff who worked together to develop the per-square-foot system currently in place. Robertson said the City charged the same $4 per-square-foot rate for restaurants serving meals on City sidewalks. He said staff hoped to hear more discussion from commissioners at the November 28 regular meeting along with a possible motion. Landt said the proposed surcharge made sense for both groups but it could wait another year. Robertson said the new Calle surface could be laid over the existing surface to reduce labor costs and eliminate patch jobs.

Robertson said Nature Center program revenues were generated from community programs, donations, school programs, and community garden plot rentals while expenses were incurred for community classes, events, community gardens, school programs, foundation donations, interpretation and exhibits, among others. He said the recovery rate was up by 3.5% over the previous year.

Total Revenues: $37,253/ Total Expenditures: $275,764= 13.5% Recovery

No increases recommended for this category.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt asked if the community garden program was subsidized and Dials said it was, with garden plot fees paying for the water. Landt said the Nature Center subsidy was huge. Dials said the Education Coordinator position was retasked, with 16% of that position now overseeing the ice rink. She said Nature Center programs were very important to the community. Lewis said the commission heavily subsidized most Parks programs, including school programs, and the school district didn’t pay for Nature Center programs provided to them. Eggers agreed and said schools historically shared costs with parks for Nature Center programs but now the kids and classrooms fundraised for their participation. Seffinger said money spent on preserving our world was vastly important to the next generation and it was ethically and morally the commission’s responsibility to take this on. Landt said the reason he brought up Nature Center subsidies was because the numbers stuck out. He said Nature Center programs cost a great deal and brought in low revenues. He asked for a more detailed breakdown for this category and staff agreed to provide it at the regular meeting.

Dials said golf course revenues were generated from green fees, power cart rentals, the driving range, monthly specials, annual passes for singles and families, clubhouse merchandise, and food and beer sales while expenses were incurred for staff time, equipment and supplies, merchandise, utilities, advertising and capital. She said total rounds of golf played in FY 2010-2011 were 16,820 and the recovery rate was up by more than 20% over the previous year. Dials suggested increasing, in FY 2012-2013, the regular and senior rates for the off-season as well as the “back nine” prices.

Total Revenues: $293,072/ Total Expenditures: $306,146= 96% Recovery

No increases recommended for this category in FY 2011-2012.

Dials said adult recreation programs included classes in languages, dance, photography, fitness, painting and drawing, tennis, and dog obedience. She said program expenditures were incurred for instructor contracts, full-time administrative staff, materials and supplies. She said classes were contracted on an individual basis, with between 60-75% of revenues directed toward instructors, but staff was continuing to decrease percentages paid to instructors and increase class fees and the recovery rate increased by 5% over the previous fiscal year.

Total Revenues: $99,393/ Total Expenditures: $103,338= 96% Recovery

No increases recommended for this category.

Dials said youth recreation programs included rafting, tennis, and field trips while program expenditures included full-time administrative staff and instructor contracts. She said youth programs were continuing to be scaled back due to a decrease in participation. She said the FY 2010-2011 recovery rate increased by 6% over the previous year.

Total Revenues: $4,481/ Total Expenditures: $10,337.50= 43% Recovery

No increases recommended for this category.

Dials said Senior Center revenues were generated from the RVCOG grant, classes and donations, and foundation donations while expenses were incurred from full- and part-time staff, materials and supplies, operating expenses, and the foundation. She said they also collected fees for use of the facility. She said the recovery rate was up by 6% over the previous year.

Total Revenues: $34,310/ Total Expenditures: $134,902= 25% Recovery

No increases recommended for this category.

Dials said special events included the Bike Swap and the 4th of July Run. She said the special events recovery rate was up by 6% over the previous year.

Total Revenues: $32,673/ Total Expenditures: $47,626= 69% Recovery

Dials said this was the final program category and she asked the commission for their feedback.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioners asked staff to provide, for the regular meeting on Monday, November 28, a sample motion for the Calle restaurant rate increase and a detailed breakdown of Nature Center expenses and revenues.

Public Input
Dean West, 1525 Oregon Avenue, representing the Ashland Soccer Club, said his organization used the North Mountain Park fields and the Senior Center. He thanked the commission for use of the facilities.

Darlene Steffani, 872 Hillview, of the AARP tax aide program, said AARP had used Pioneer Hall for years to provide free tax preparation assistance to clients. She thanked the commission for use of that facility.

Robertson said the commission worked on a draft policy for its ending fund balance and asked staff to bring the matter back for further discussion that evening. He suggested creating talking points for the commission to use when speaking with City Council members.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioners provided feedback and requested clarification on the draft policy and talking points. They agreed to table the topic to allow staff to continue working on refinements.

Robertson said commissioners Landt and Eggers met with staff to talk about scopes and timelines for annual commission goals. He said the deadlines originally proposed were aggressive in light of the fact that 90% of staff time was spent dealing with daily workloads, leaving 10% for additional projects. He said staff created draft tables depicting annual requirements adjacent to commission goals, with some goals proposed for retention in 2011-2012 and others proposed for moving to 2012-2013.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said the commission was responsible for the annual performance review of the director and it was important to have concrete, verifiable tools to measure performance. He said if the annual goals were unachievable within an established timeframe, the director was potentially being set up for failure and he did not want to see that happen. Rosenthal said he was comfortable with the revised timelines and glad to hear about efforts underway to change the director evaluation process. Lewis said the commission historically had not set annual goals but now used a complicated goal setting process.

The commission directed staff to place the goals timeline on the November 28 regular meeting agenda for further review and refinement. They discussed forming a subcommittee for the director evaluation process.

By consensus, Eggers adjourned the meeting at 9:12 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard
AshlandParksand Recreation

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