Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Citizens Budget Committee Meeting

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Budget Committee Meeting
October 28, 2014
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way, Ashland
Stebbins thanked council and members for appointing new budget members and congratulated the Mayor, Council and Parks Commissioners on the signing of the Ashland Parks and Recreation (AP&R) Commissions Memorandum of Understanding and submitted the following statement;
“I congratulate the mayor, council and parks commissioners on signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
You all have been very patient with my insistence that we could not move into productive discussions in the budget arena until this overarching understanding and agreement between the two governing bodies was signed.
Although it does not eliminate many of the ongoing issues, it is an important milestone. 
It acknowledges and defines unique differences relating only to Parks, thus providing us with a solid policy base agreed to by both elected bodies from which to move into a Budget Comm. Discussion.
 It eliminates the inference that because Parks is a department, directions taken should automatically be considered by other departments.  Other departments may have creative ideas worthy of consideration, but they should be presented on their own merits, not because Parks does it.
As an additional benefit, yesterday the Audit Comm. met with our auditors.  Even though the budget is biennial, the city still has an annual audit.  Although the MOU was signed after fiscal year end, it was prior to the date of the audit report, this eliminating a finding relevant to it.  In fact, Parks has no findings and will not receive a Management Letter.  That is a proud achievement and I congratulate them for it.
Roberta W. Stebbins, Chair”
Stromberg welcomed Michael Black the new Parks and Recreation Department Director.
Stromberg requested an item be added to the agenda discussing the upcoming budget timeline.
Steff Steffinger thanked Stebbins for her assistance with the MOU.
John Stromberg                       
Greg Lemhouse            
Rich Rosenthal             
Dennis Slattery
Pam Marsh                              
Mike Morris                              
David Runkel                           
Roberta Stebbins                     
Bill Heimann                             
Mary Cody                   
Garrett Furuichi
Traci Darrow
Carol Voisin
Denise Daehler
Other Attendees:
Lee Tuneberg                            Finance Director
Dave Kanner                             City Administrator
Kristy Blackman                        Administrative Assistant
Michael Black                            Parks and Recreation Director
Stefani Seffinger                       Parks and Recreation Commissioner
Mike Faught                              Public Works Director
Motion to approve the minutes of the Budget Committee meeting dated July 24, 2014 as submitted.
Discussion of biennial budget
Stromberg noted that he is no longer interested in reverting back to a yearly budget. He stated that it’s been a good off year and welcomed comments from the committee.
Slattery expressed that he would prefer to see a single year budget and that he believes that a biennial budget decreases input of the committee. He also stated that he would have like to have seen the off year utilized better.
Lemhouse noted that he favors the biennial budget and believes the group could be maximized more. He state that he liked the interim year but doesn’t believe a decision can be made after one cycle.
Marsh agreed that another cycle is needed to experience and also noted that she doesn’t believe the off year was used well.
Runkle stated he feels the committee has lost touch and he would have liked a better briefing on where the city is at. He also noted that he would like to see more periodic meetings and updates.
Cody pointed out that this is her first year and she has nothing to compare to but she would like to see more meetings.
Furuichi noted that having not gone through the biennial cycle and being used to a yearly cycle, he questioned if there would be updates to which Tuneberg responded yes that quarterly reports are presented at council meetings. Furuichi asked if there was discretion in the budget from year to year can it be used in the next year. Tuneberg answered yes. Furuichi stated that he would be in favor of both at this point.
Heimann suggested sending a link to the members for the financial reports.
Rosenthal expressed that he prefers biennial process because it saves staff time and increases productivity. He noted as a staff member can cover more ground and thinks it should continue.
Heimann stated that he thinks the biennium is a good idea because it gives staff more time to plan and allows better use of funds. Heimann noted however that he would like to see at least 2 or 3 cycles before making a solid decision.  He stated that he feels time was wasted in the off year and that the committee lacked direction. Heimann would like to see the committee think about where they can improve for the next off year.
Darrow stated that she would keep an open mind and take this as a learning experience.
Morris stated that he likes the 2 year budget but thinks that committee needs to re think the off year.
Kanner spoke on behalf of staff and acknowledged that Mark Holden and Mike Faught came to show support for the biennial budget and also that department heads are unanimous in their support for remaining with a biennial budget. Kanner reminded the committee that tax payers of the City of Ashland spend a substantial amount of money to hire staff and that being on a biennial budget frees up a lot of staff time. He pointed out that a lot of projects would not have been completed this year if the city were operating on an annual budget noting that it provides flexibility and it is also beneficial to the tax payers.
Stebbins stated that she was originally opposed to the biennial budget however believes that the new format works and there seems to have been a seamless transition and she finds no fault with the process. Stebbins noted that she would like to see the Management Discussion and Analysis sent to everyone individually. Stebbins also noted that she would like to see the meetings scheduled in advance.
Stromberg stated that he originally had wanted to revert back to the annual budget however he now believes that the biennium is very flexible and allows a good period Stromberg expressed that he would like to see the budget committee meet for 2 – 3 days in the off year and have each department update the committee to where they are at.
Slattery expressed that while he agrees that this process is most likely preferred by citizens and staff, citizen oversight is what is important and feels that this has been lost. Slattery stated that he believes that it is management’s responsibility to build a budget every year and cautioned the committee regarding moving away from citizen oversight. Stebbins asked Slattery if he thought there was a way for citizen oversight to be available with a biennial budget. Slattery answered that he does not believe so and that while the current situation works, it is something that needs to be monitored.
Marsh noted that there was no debrief after the budget was created.
Stebbins suggested holding a meeting the day after the approval of the tax rate.
Stromberg reiterated that he would like to see concrete proposals for the off year and to get council goals/policy ideas in front of the budget process.
Kanner outlined the budget timeline noting that the process will start next month
  • November – Budget process begins
  • December - Central Service Fund departments figure out their budget so that the COA can establish central service charges that are built into the operating department budgets
  • January – Operating Departments being working on their budgets and the COA make certain assumptions because it is difficult to predict certain costs at this point.
  • February – the budget committee meets to discuss and opine to the budget assumptions.
  • January – Revenue projections
  • March – Departments present budgets
  • May – approval of budget begins.
Stromberg outlined the AP&R budget process and asked Black if they would continue with the same process. Black responded that they would and Seffinger noted that AP&R have begun working on an internal strategic plan, pointing approval by November 4, 2014.
Concern was raised over the pending change with the Ashland Fiber Network and what is going to occur with Comcast incoming. It was agreed that the issue was better discussed at the study session.
Marsh reminded the group that new steps were approved in the AP&R budgeting process and would need to be taken into consideration.
Discussion of the Revenue Incentive Program for AP&R was removed at the request of the AP&R Commission and Mayor Stromberg. 
Seffinger noted that some of the items wouldn’t work for parks and would affect other areas negatively and that there needed to be more input from AP&R. Lemhouse stated that he hoped that this issue can be revisited sooner rather than later. Black responded that they will be meeting about this soon.
Stebbins requested there not be two separate budgets presented.
Black and Lemhouse stated they would like to see the budget committee meet again and make a decision on the incentive program. Marsh agreed that it should be approved and become a part of the new biennial budget. Kanner suggested and it was agreed that this should be presented to the COA/AP&R joint meeting.
Committee thanked Dennis Slattery for his service.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:15pm
Respectfully submitted
Kristy Blackman
Administrative Assistant

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