MINUTES FOR THE CITY COUNCIL/PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION AD HOC COMMITTEE MEETING August 19, 2012 Parks Office 340 S. Pioneer Street
Chair Councilor Marsh called the meeting to order at 4:03 p.m. in the Parks Office.
Councilors Rosenthal and Voisin, Parks Commissioners Seffinger and Landt were present. Staff included Parks & Recreation Director Don Robertson and Accounting Manager Cindy Hanks.
Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the August 9, 2013 meeting were approved as presented.
Committee reviewed and found consensus for the amended draft documents – administrative responsibilities, budget process and communication options.
Discussion on Budget Issues
Councilor Voisin proceeded with questions regarding the 2013 budget process. How Parks is identified in the budget, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Ashland and the Parks & Recreation, separate Employee Identification Number (EIN) for payroll and separate audits. She felt that Parks & Recreation has been recognized as a separate entity and that all factors indicate that Parks is a quasi-judicial independent entity. She requested explanation on why Parks is now under the General Fund when prior to current budget the budget for the Parks was clearer and with purpose. She requested that staff determine if there is any State law that would provide for making changes from a Special Fund with a “purpose.”
Accounting Manager Cindy Hanks explained that it was an error, caught be staff and verified by State Law that there should not have been a Special Revenue Fund for Parks. The municipal auditors do not review the budget, but only review to determine if the City is compliant with State Law. It was agreed that questions from the committee for staff would be put in writing and staff would respond and provide to all committee members. Staff shared the history of accounting type changes over the years between Parks and City, which were motivated by changes in staff and for better efficiency reasons.
Committee discussed the possibility of creating a separate revenue fund and understood that it would be for future use. Staff was requested to provide information on the possibility of presenting a special funding, levying of taxes to the voters.
Ending Fund Balance Issue
Committee discussed the current Ending Fund Balance (EFB) of $587,000 plus $50,000 contingency funds. Discussion on what happens with EFB at end of biennium budget year and if there was any possibility for the Parks Commission to have access to funds during the current budget cycle. It was clarified that the Park Foundation funds could not be used as it is funded by private funds. The possibility of moving funds to a Special Reserve Fund was discussed and the committee agreed that they would recommend that the Park Commission discuss this in order to protect these funds for Park use. It was understood that it is the Council’s decision on how to manage the EFB but it would be good for the Park Commission to provide a recommendation, which could be considered by the Council when making the decision. Committee members Marsh/Landt m/s that the ad hoc committee recommends the Ending Fund Balance of approximately $587,000 be dedicated for park purposes through a Special Reserve Fund with outcome to be determined by the Park Commission. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that the Park Commission would determine the purpose and the Park Commission recommendation would be addressed at the upcoming joint Council/Parks meeting. It was determined that the auditors may need to determine if a transfer of Ending Fund Balance could be done within current budget cycle. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Chair Marsh shared that she hoped the Park Commission would consider spending any funds on how make more funds. That they consider investing in projects that may create new revenue streams.
Potential Budget Incentives
Committee discussed way to build incentives in order to create new revenue streams where the funds would remain in the Parks budget. Suggestions included programs that are entrepreneur and support themselves; review of fees for programs, designate fee recovery as baseline and anything higher would remain in Parks budget, analysis of services based on the needs of the community.
Discussion continued on how to balance the need for services without compromising the core value of the Park Commission. It was suggested that creating a way for allowing incentives would allow for creative and increase financial options. Concern that it was important not to disenfranchise what is currently being done and that it may be worthwhile to explore. Members continued to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed policy and whether it should be considered citywide rather than just for Parks. It was pointed out that Parks is not a business and staff is not trained in marketing of products, that the City experienced this through Ashland Fiber Network, and was not successful.
Park Director Don Robertson explained to the committee how revenue is determined for budget purposes and that they are very conservative when budgeting. He gave some examples on how funds from a new program could stay in the Parks budget and did not feel it would be a negative to consider the discussed policy incentive. He felt that increasing revenue should be rewarded and that funds should not be placed in the General Fund or Parks operating fund.
Committee considered allowing Parks to begin this type of program and after a trial period, it could be evaluated to see if it could be used citywide. It was noted that city departments operate by a master plan that sets service levels and budget is set through this process.
Committee member Landt left at 5:07 p.m.
Chair Marsh and member Rosenthal will work with Director Robertson to put together a creative, potential policy that encompasses the discussion of the committee and bring back to the committee for discussion and review.
Public Input JoAnne Eggers/221 Granite Street/Voiced concern that there is no change in the traditional Parks funding method until there is a dependable dedicated revenue stream.
Cindy Dion/Requested that the percentage of funds for Parks are restored to prior percentage and that a dedicated revenue stream be determined in order to provide a established revenue stream.
Next meeting will be on September 4 at 4 p.m. in the Parks Office. Staff will look at meeting dates in October to set the Joint Council/Parks Meeting.
Meeting was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.
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