MINUTES FOR THE SPECIAL MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
CALL TO ORDER
May 4, 2017
1175 E. Main Street
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 6:57 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Darrow were present.
1. Continued discussion of budget priorities for 2017-19 Biennium
Interim Finance/Administrative Services Director Bev Adams submitted a document into the record on Council Project Revenues and Council Approved Projects under Consideration
. Some Councilors wanted to do all the projects but that was not feasible or practical. Staff took Council’s top four priorities and assigned revenue sources. The Fire Department would reorganize their own budget to fund Project # 7. Deputy Fire Marshall
. The Interim City Administrator would fund Project #8. Emergency Shelter contract renewal
through his budget. Staff did not assign revenue sources to Project #5. Housing trust fund
, 6. Assistant City Administrator
, and 9. Parking Coordinator position
Revenue sources included:
- Public Safety Support
For ongoing revenue, staff determined charging a utility bill fee on the electric and water accounts were the most equitable options. Revenue #4. Marijuana tax subventions – State portion
would eventually be a viable source for the public safety fee. Once the City knew the ongoing tax amount it could reduce the utility bill fee. The state portion was restricted to law enforcement specifically.
- $.09 unassessed property tax
Staff recommended implementing this as of July 1, 2017 or no later than July 1, 2018 to prepare for future expenses that current revenues and ending fund balances could not absorb. Funds from the tax could support the CEAP position and add to the ending fund balance. In addition, it would help offset the increase in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) liability. PERS would continue to increase through 2023. The City will not have the reserves to meet these increases over the next six years. There was always the option to reduce a property tax after 2023 if it was not needed.
- Marijuana tax subventions – City Portion
Ongoing revenue is unmeasurable at this time and not in the budget.
- Marijuana tax subventions – State portion
Ongoing revenue is unmeasurable at this time and not in the budget.
- Water Franchise Fee
This restored the 2% to the initially approved water franchise fee of 8%. The rate was consistent with the wastewater franchise and in the budget.
The parking revenue and project was not included because Council indicated they did not want to do the project. Parking revenue was not tied to anything other than meeting Diamond Parking obligations. These funds were budgeted. Whether Council decided to use them on the parking plan or coordinator position was their decision.
Assistant to the City Administrator Adam Hanks explained there was just under $400,000 from a prior surcharge on parking tickets and it was no longer an ongoing revenue stream. Council had restricted the funds for parking related expenditures and could undo the restriction through a resolution. A second piece was an ongoing revenue stream that had been paying the debt service on a parking structure the City recently paid in full. Then there was the contract for Diamond Parking. Ms. Adams added the money was in the carryover of the General Fund and included in the budget. If Council wanted to use the ongoing funds, they would have to find other revenue to offset Diamond Parking expenses. Council could use the $400,000 to rebuild the reserve fund.
Interim City Administrator John Karns explained ambulance revenue was typically a little volatile. Over the past two years however, it had experienced a steady increase due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It was not a reliable revenue source because of the potential repeal of the ACA. In addition, many people did not pay their ambulance bill and it came back as an expense item to the Fire Department. It was not a true net revenue.
Ms. Adams reviewed the top four projects approved by Council:
- Police Staffing
Staff recommended using the hybrid fee format that distributed the cost between electric and water accounts.
- Rebuild Reserve Fund
Council could dedicate the City’s portion of marijuana taxes to rebuilding the reserve fund. They could cap the amount between $50,000 and $100,000. Staff recommended a Study Session in the fall to discuss tax uses and possibly re-establish the reserve fund by resolution.
- CEAP staff position
Staff recommended using the additional property tax assessment to fund this position.
- Permit staff position
Community Development could increase fees to generate $30,000, take $20,000 out of economic development, and split the $68,000 between the remaining enterprise funds.
Council comments wanted a review of the Community Development Department before adding the position. For the CEAP position, Council wanted to know if reassigning current staff duties eliminated the need to fund a new position. Some wanted to go through the budget process then determine priorities.
There was a final pitch to include funding the Housing Trust Fund as a priority through property taxes or marijuana revenues. Council majority determined funding the Housing Trust Fund was not a priority at this time.
Councilor Lemhouse left the meeting at 7:54 p.m.
Council thought the Budget Committee should be part of the discussion on raising the property taxes. Also discussed was presenting Council approved projects and recommended funding sources to the Budget Committee for consideration as long as Council had the ability to move forward with them.
Council discussed funding the five new police officer hires they approved at an earlier meeting. Some wanted to wait after they approved the budget in case other funding was available. They could propose a utility bill fee at any time if needed. Council comment suggested using the $.09 property tax to fund the CEAP position and part of the police staffing. Funding for the police officers would occur in phases allowing Council to review funding options.
Councilor Darrow/Rosenthal m/s that as the Council looked at the budget they include possibilities of projected revenues that include the possible increase in the property tax, the marijuana city tax, the marijuana state tax, the water franchise free, parking fees, other revenues that might be identified and apply them to the priorities the Council has some consensus on including police staffing, rebuilding the reserve fund, the CEAP staff position, and an ongoing revenue stream for the Housing Trust Fund. DISCUSSION
: Councilor Darrow explained there were different revenue options that warranted further discussion. Councilor Morris noted the motion left out Council Project #4. Permit staff position
and added #5. Housing Trust Fund
. He would not support item #5 without a known amount. Councilor Darrow responded her intent was the Housing Trust Fund would be part of the discussion as Council moved forward with the budget.
Councilor Slattery/Seffinger m/s to amend the motion and not include the funding stream for the Housing Trust Fund. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Slattery thought there should be funding for the Housing Trust Fund. He did not think the funding mechanism should come through the Budget Committee. It was undetermined at this point and needed development. Councilor Seffinger thought Council was looking at their priorities and identifying revenue streams. It was premature to look at how they would fund the Housing Trust Fund. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Seffinger, Slattery, and Morris, YES; Councilor Rosenthal and Darrow, NO. Motion passed 3-2.
Mayor Stromberg described Mr. Karns’ efforts to develop a plan regarding the permit staff position in Community Development. He had found a way to fund it through a modest increase to Community Development fees along with the possibility of getting $64,000 from the enterprise funds. The Mayor thought it was would be good to include it as a priority.
Councilor Rosenthal/Slattery m/s to amend the motion to include the permit staff position for consideration as a Council approved project for funding. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Rosenthal thought it was reasonable. Councilor Slattery agreed and thought it should move forward. Councilor Morris wanted an evaluation of the Community Development Department as a first attempt before raising fees.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Seffinger, Rosenthal, Slattery, and Darrow, YES. Motion passed.
Roll Call Vote on amended main motion: Councilor Darrow, Slattery, Rosenthal, Seffinger, and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:53 p.m.
Dana Smith, Assistant to the City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor