DRAFT BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING
May 11, 2021
Meeting conducted via Zoom
(Meeting recording can be watched here or by going to https://videoplayer.telvue.com/player/w9sPsSE7vna3XTN_39bs1rEXjVWF0kfP/media/641004?fullscreen=false&showtabssearch=true&autostart=true, timestamps are also noted in these minutes)
Chair Shane Hunter called the meeting to order at 3:08 p.m. via online meeting on Zoom
Michael Black, Ashland Parks and Recreation Director (Did not return after 4:38 p.m.)
Tara Kiewel, Ashland Parks and Recreation Administrative Analyst (Did not return after 4:38 p.m.)
Rick Landt, Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner (Did not return after 4:38 p.m.)
Mike Gardiner, Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner (Did not return after 4:38 p.m.)
PUBLIC FOURM (Time Stamp 00:02:20)
Written Testimony Submitted By (See attached): No discussion from the Committee.
Oral Testimony Given:
Chair Shane Hunter introduced each speaker to the Committee.
Anne Bellegia spoke to being in favor of accepting the City Managers Recommended Biennium 2021-23 budget including the part that relates to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission. She added that staff who put together these budgets understand what goes into them and that in her role as the chair of the Ashland Senior Advisory Committee this budget will benefit those age 65 plus.
Saundra Theis spoke that she also is a member of the Ashland Senior Advisory Committee and what services are needed to support seniors within the City. She also spoke to the specific needs that funding in the Ashland Parks and Recreation Budget addresses for seniors. She then added information regarding the Ashland livability report and that the budget helps to provide the link for livability in Ashland. She ended by urging the Committee to support the City Managers Recommended budget.
Leda Shapiro spoke to her astonishment on the budget process. She explained in her experience what these processes looked like. She added that the budget was presented by plugging the budget with a onetime Government stimulus not addressing the deficit. She then suggested possible cuts. She urged the Committee, Council and staff to work together to find a way to cut expenses.
PRESENTATION OF ASHLAND PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
(Time Stamp 00:12:51)
Michael Black, Ashland Parks and Recreation Director presented to the Committee regarding the funding, Commission goals, recent impacts to services, operations and projects of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission going forward (See attached).
Mayor Julie Akins asked about the acquisition of property as it is often donated to the Parks Commission and if there was an option to sell some of these parcels of land. (Time Stamp 00:25:30)
|Councilor Paula Hyatt
|Councilor Stephen Jensen
|Councilor Shaun Moran
|Councilor Gina DuQuenne (arrived late from break)
|Councilor Tonya Graham
|Councilor Stefani Seffinger
|Mayor Julie Akins
Black responded that this was something that had been done in recent years and Parks Commissioners have identified spaces that are to be sold. He added that looking at the open space plan will allow for this as the goal of every Ashland resident living within a quarter mile has almost been achieved.
Councilor Steve Jensen suggested that the Committee hold their questions regarding the presentation to the end as some of the questions may be answered further into the presentation.
Mike Gardiner, Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner spoke to the financials of Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission. He spoke to the accomplishments, additional programs, and reduction of funding to the commission.
Rick Landt, Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner spoke to Commissions support for the Food and Beverage Tax to be allocated to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission and the reduction of the property tax allocation.
The Committee then began asking questions of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission (Time Stamp 00:36:00).
Akins asked if consideration would be given to having a special park or taxing district that would bring in revenue. Black responded that this is a question that could be asked, and he thought that the commissioners are willing to make it part of the discussion going forward as they talk about a dedicated revenue source. He added that this was not to be pointed to as the only solution though.
Councilor Stefani Seffinger asked about the trail system, its maintenance and who provides dog waste bags to the community. Black responded that Parks and Recreation helps with maintenance to trails in the watershed that are on City property in addition to trails that are already controlled and managed by Parks and recreation in conjunction with Ashland Fire and Rescue. Most of the work is done with volunteers he added. The trail master plan he added is also managed by Ashland Parks and Recreation which is close to 50 miles of trails. He also spoke to the mountain biking community and its reach into economic development and tourism for the City. Landt also spoke to many trails being classified as being in open space areas, which allows for lower costs. He then went on to explain that doing maintenance on these areas allows for them to be more fire ready. Black then responded that the dog waste bags are at a high cost, but itís something that the community expects. Most dog waste bags he added are provided, paid and maintained for by Ashland Parks and Recreation.
Councilor Tonya Graham asked about the priorities with the trails master plan. Black responded that there is a goal to work with Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the Rogue Valley Mountain Bikers Association to look at what trails in the area provide for recreation and how this would provide more tourism for the City. An objective he added was to look at during the master planning process trails proposed by the Rogue Valley Mountain Biker Association. Overall, he stated the master planning process ranks high.
Bob Kaplan, Committee Member asked about the impact to the Director position and the Commission during the past yearís emergency situations. He also asked about the cost recovery plan, what the scope of this was and any expectations. Black responded that they try to work as team players, as they helped to provide care and shelter. He added that in response to the pandemic they were able to, at the direction of the City, provide items like porta-potties, working with local agencies to help with meal locations and many other tasks. During the recent wildfire Parks and Recreation provided assistance related to housing as well. Black added that some expense was incurred and coded to City expenses. Tara Kiewel, Administrative Analyst noted that ongoing costs were mostly staff time as staff worked on community resources.
Fiscal impacts regarding revenue Black noted were to the loss of food and beverage tax and revenue from recreation programs. He added that outdoor spaces were used greatly during the public emergency, this made for an increase in expenses from extra maintenance needs and staff time.
Black explained that the Cost Recovery plan was to evaluate what needs higher cost recovery and what needs lower cost recovery. He explained areas that are used but incur no costs and areas that do incur some cost recovery.
Kiewel explained that Parks and Recreation had been working with a consultant and the idea was to get the true cost of services. As all staff were involved, she explained a look was also given to what costs were being subsidized. This is a project she added that is still ongoing, but the goal is to meet cost recovery goals. Black summed this up by saying that they are looking at those items that should be making money and other services that do good for the community. He also added that what is described as being a subsidy is the revenue that is set aside to provide these programs to the community, and that with the cost recovery plan, they are trying to insure that the most people are seeing the benefits.
David Runkel, Committee Member asked about the cost savings due to outsourcing. Black responded that a lot of custodial work has been contracted out and the work has been going well. Financially he went on to say money is being saved on the expenses. Runkel asked about the total number of cost savings to which Black responded he would have to get back to the Committee on such a number. Runkel then clarified that they did indeed have three full time employees doing this work prior to which Black confirmed. Runkel ending by stated that this was something that possibly the City could explore doing.
Mike Morris, Committee Member asked if there was a way to break up funds by Parks and then by recreation. Black responded that they can, as funds are separated by three different divisions. These three divisions include Senior Services, Parks, and Recreation. Morris asked if those could be seen in the future to which Black responded yes.
Akins asked about when the Japanese garden would be completed and what the cost recovery would be on this project. Additionally, she asked about the Band Shell and if after the pandemic that there would be more ideas on using it more frequently, as well as the any cost recovery. Black responded that the cost recovery on the Japanese garden will be good as there is a donor that is willing to pay most of the maintenance costs, this will make the overall recovery at 60%. Other ideas for fundraising are also being looked at he added that will hopefully bring the cost recovery higher. He also stressed that like many other parks in the City, that the park would be open and free of charge to use. Landt also added that the cost recovery for the first 10 years is 100% as there are no costs, but he acknowledges that as Black noted there would be some maintenance costs. Akins further inquired about her question regarding the bandshell, Black responded the bandshell is still a City owned location but managed by Parks. He added as the charter states the Band Shell is for the City Band, but this does not mean that the projects cannot be done at this location as it fits in the goals of the organization. He then went on to say that events at the location would be good for tourism. Adam Hanks, City Manager Pro Tem added that is similar with other locations of capital expense within the City, but it is a better fit for the management to be with Parks. Black added information on activities that already take place in the Band Shell.
Councilor Shaun Moran asked about the Food and Beverage Tax that is proposed in the budget to Parks and Recreation. His thought was that this tax could only be used for the capital projects and not general operations and asked what interpretation of this was then. In a second question Moran questioned the alarming ending fund balance in 2021-23 as it gets drawn down to almost zero and what happens to the ending fund balance when it is completely drawn down. Black responded that changes to the Food and Beverage Tax could go to Council or the voters for an amendment and discussion if the new uses of the tax fit and can be used the way proposed. He added that five years ago that this tax did change, which allowed for more room to be used for maintenance in Parks, so he believes the language would allow but that the discussion should be had to make sure the intent is correct. Hanks added that as himself, Black and Melanie Purcell, Finance Director had discussed prior that in whatever revenue streams use that they would want to be explicit in the proposed language to Council or voters and that components would be verified as to how they are spent. He added the challenges in this with what funds are unrestricted and restricted and that the future conversations would need to be had between both elected bodies on the revenue streams. He ended by adding that revenue streams would not be put forward if they did not work for both bodies.
Moran asked about how this would work in the current budget as they are asking to approve it if it would need to go to the voters. Hanks responded that this would be an actual change to the ordinance, and this can be done by Council or the voters. If it is decided on that this would go to the voters, this would likely go in May of 2022 and the proposed budget is designed this way.
Black then responded that in terms of the ending fund balance, that the goal is to not spend any money that does not need to be. He added that typically expenses are looked at with the needs that are out there but throughout the biennium the revenue sources have decreased and the ability to save money has diminished. Internal policies on hiring have also been used and positions are looked at to see if they are necessary. This policy along with a look at other costs will hopefully Black added, allow for savings to be built up. He then went on to say that recreation revenues have been very conservative over the next two years due to the uncertainty in everything. Black added that the ending fund balance can be used in some senses for emergencies like the one that is currently taking place and that using this balance allows for Parks to continue as he says help define the identity of the Citizensí of Ashland. Hanks also added that the Parks ending fund balance is different from other ending fund balances. Purcell added that Parks does not need to have an ending fund balance that has cash flows the same as the Cityís General Fund. Conversations she added have been had about focusing on the goals over the next two years particularly with finding a long term and stable funding source.
Councilor Paula Hyatt asked about the timing of the funding regarding Moranís question. She asked if the first-year funding for Parks and Recreation would still be coming from Property Tax revenues and this would mean that the May vote would inform the second year. If passed she went on to clarify this would mean the majority of the funding would come from the property tax with a small amount still left coming from Property Tax revenues that can be used on operating. Both Purcell and Black confirmed this was correct.
Jensen thanked the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission for their presentation. He spoke to the care, thought and able management of the Parks system that was presented. He also spoke to the Budget awareness of Black within the Parks and Recreation Department.
Runkel added that he thought that from the Cityís point of view that the Property Tax would not be available when the Food and Beverage Tax did not fund properly. Black stating that his understanding was that a permenant funding mechanism for Ashland Parks and Recreation that would include a percentage of the Property Tax that is lower than the percentage that they are currently receiving. This percentage he added would remain the same and the Food and Beverage Tax may ebb and flow, as it has been stable in the past. Hanks confirmed that there is not a proposal that would eliminate the property tax from Parks and that this is a matching up of the resources as discussed prior.
Councilor Gina DuQuenne asked about the ending fund balance, and if it would be possible to see this for each fund. Hunter stated that most of this is in OpenGov and Purcell stated that she would provide this in summary form.
Seffinger asked about the revenues related to allowing the use of alcohol in Parks and Recreation managed facilities and then she asked about an ending fund balance that was $400,000 that was said to not be a reserve fund. She then talked about items that Parks were doing based on the goals of the City. Black stated the addition of allowing alcohol in the parks is still under consideration by the Ashland Parks and Recreation commission. He added that the alcohol in the Parks is actually a municipal code that would have to be looked by the Commission and then a recommendation would have to be made to the City Council who ultimately would make changes to the code. If the City code was changed, the Parks and Recreation Commissioners could look at this policy and make changes.
Graham spoke to the drops in the second year and if the proposed budget was to be passed with the recommendations to look at the structural deficits, the City Council would be doing this for the rest of the General Fund while the Parks and Recreation Commission is doing this for the Parks Department. This is all she added so that changes could be made in the second year of the budget that would help with the decline in the second year of the budget. She then asked if the declines would then only happen if these recommendations were not made. Black and Purcell confirmed this with Purcell adding that ending fund balances will be drawn down and that the recommendations is an urgent conversation about a structural change to City services with a parallel conversation happing in Parks. Hanks added that within year one that the relief funds are used for revenue replacement and these will need to be qualified as losses in Transient Occupancy Tax and the food and beverage tax. He also added that the City as well reduced costs due to COVID and this allowed for the ending fund balance to be larger and stronger than projected.
Hunter thanked Parks and Recreation Staff and Commissioners. He asked any additional questions be directed to Purcell. He then put the meeting into a 10-minute break at 4:38 p.m.
PRESENTATION FROM THE TOURISM GRANTS REVIEW SUBCOMMITEE
(Time Stamp 01:39:32)
Meeting was resumed at 4:39 p.m. by Hunter.
Hunter asked Tourism Grant Subcommittee Chair and Citizensí Budget Committee Vice Chair Jim Bachman to present to the Committee on the proposed recommendation. Bachman explained that the Committee made up of three members of the Citizensí Budget Committee discussed the allocations as presented on screen and it was a unanimous vote (see attached). He gave some background stating that these grants used to include allocations for economic, cultural, and sustainably and that Council had allocated this year $80,000 with restricted funds to tourism. Bachman recommended to the Committee that this allocation be recommended to City Council.
Runkel asked if the money allocated was money that is set aside per state law for organizations that bring people in from 50 miles away. Hanks stated that this was true as it was part of the ORS limitation in addition to it requiring overnight stays and tourism promotion. He then commented on ScienceWorks and how it relates to tourism. Bachman responded that the sense from the Grants Subcommittee was that they do. Hanks added that this information is also included in a report that is due back to the subcommittee on the use of Grant Funds and can also include promotion that was made from 50 miles away.
Alphonso/Jenson m/s to move that recommended allocations be moved to the City Council for approval DISCUSSION: None; Voice Vote: All in Favor; Motion passed unanimously.
COMMITTEE DELIBERATION OF BUDGET
(Time Stamp 01:45:08)
Hunter discussed next steps with the Committee asking how they all thought best to move forward.
Runkel stated that he really appreciated the presentation of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission but asked if more information could be given regarding the City of Ashland Capital Improvement Plan, possibly a presentation with a time for questions and answers at the next meeting. The committee agreed about this presentation. DuQuenne asked if a priority list could also be presented to the Committee. Hanks responded that due to short notice Scott Fleury the Public Works Director may not be able to attend and that the plan is approved by Council, so it was not being highlighted during the budget process. What was approved has been imbedded into the proposed budget he added. He then asked what specifics the Committee is looking for as 15 minutes would not be enough time to present. DuQuenne asked if it would be possible for Hanks and Purcell to present on just the highlighted priority items within the plan. Hanks noted that some of this information had been presented to the Committee prior and that the book itself gives information on what category they are, any changes to the plan he added would be a Council decision, but they could still present. Runkel concluded that he would be interested in seeing a priority list as well. He added that even though Council has approved the budget, there are still parts of this budget that have to be approved and it would be worthwhile to have a discussion about these projects. Hanks responded that this did help with his question, as all items are expected to be completed within the next two years, but these projects will be subject to any unknowns. DuQuenne asked if this listed could be provided and Purcell responded that it had been provide but could be reformatted to show this information better.
Saladin Amery, Committee member stated that the committee is looking at approving a budget were as it has been explained from the first meeting, the General Fund is in a dire situation and that it has been explained that it needs to be cut or solutions need to be made for it. He added that the he thought that the Enterprise Funds could also go this way unless decisions are made on where items need be. As planning needs to be looked at, he questioned how the Committee could vote on a budget with such a large deficit and when the committee would start looking at what needs to be done prior to an approval of the budget. He asked for clarification on how to move forward. Hunter responded that people have brought forward ideas and thoughts on how to amend the budget, which will now need to be turned into motions in order to amend the motion or in some way back this along to Council. He advised the Committee that they could begin making motions and explained the process. Amery asked for further clarification as he had sent an email regarding suggestions and then asked about when ideas about cuts could be made. Hunter responded that these could be made at anytime and gave an example of what this motion could be adding that these ideas would be added into the package that would go to Council.
Graham followed up on the discussion regarding the CIP stating that in the recommended budget from the City Manager, there is a listing of recommendations that area already included. She then asked Runkel if there are items that are not included and if it was being asked if items are needed to identified elements that are missing or should not be funded. She wanted to be clear on this before asking staff to put more time into this. Runkel responded by looking at page 194 of the proposed budget book and Graham noted that she was on page 21 and explained what is included on these pages.
Ellen Alphonso, Committee member spoke to the specific recommendations made by Amery and how she had read an article about how budget strapped entities and budget cut strategies (see attached article). She asked the committee what strategies could be looked at and gave some examples.
Hunter explained a resolution that was passed in 2019 that stated what the essential services were and what the value-added services were.
Akins explained that she was ready to make a motion adding information on how to keep going in technology driven sector as she added it was moving very quickly and costly. As previously discussed with Hanks she explained that some options for Ashland Fiber Network were entering into a partnership or keeping the rate flat and preparing it for sale. She added at the time that Ashland Fiber Network began it was a good solution.
Akins/Hyatt m/s to move that A motion to keep AFN flat and prepare it for sale to a private entity at the discretion and guidance of City staff. DISCUSSION: Akins reiterated her comments stated prior and added that this motion had be perpetuated by a lot of things including the current budget as this would be a sizable chuck if sold in the open market. She also stated that new opportunities are being opened every day including new platforms with Google with incredible speeds. As the City begins to attract Tech employees and business, she added they are going to see what can be shown by the City for high speed and accessible internet and the City may not be able to win at this game. If sold, she went on to say, it will save the City money and it may put the City in a better position competitively, with residents not suffering due to being a competitive industry. Amery asked if a deep dive on the financials of this would be done on this as there is outstanding debt and ideas on how to package this would need to be looked at when offered out to a buyer. This would allow for the City not to incur extra costs. Akins responded that she thought City staff is poised and qualitied to do this, as well as make a positive package for sale. She added that this was worthy of looking into now, but the option could also be looked at to enter into a partnership. The can, she stated, would be worse if it kept getting kicked down the road, as expenses incur, and it becomes harder to keep up. Hyatt added that her thoughts on this were that the motion was very specific in terms of direction and she did not know if the Citizensí Budget committee could do this as it may be closer to policy. She went on to say that she is very supportive of the committee recommending that Council take a substantive review of Ashland Fiber Network, including a look at operations and long-term viability and what these changes would look like. Alphonso added that when this discussion had begun prior, that she thought the conversation had to do with accessibly as some of the larger providers want to bundle services. This made her worried, she added, for lower income citizens that it may be hard to get a larger provider to provide only internet, as this is a utility that needs to be provided to all. She then stated that she has confirmed that internet providers do provide the stand-alone services but that she would encourage that whatever privatization happens that this discussion continues as bundled services may not be financially feasible. Jensen stated that although he supports the concept of a deep dive, the mission presented to the Committee is to how this would directly affect the City Managers Recommended Budget as presented as he has not seen any figures come forward on this.
He commented that he does not know how this helps the immediate work at hand. Graham stated that she is in support of a look into AFN, as information needs to be given before a strategic decision is made. She added that she is concerned however about funding staying flat and preparing for sale when needed information has not been gathered. Graham asked Hanks if this idea had come from City staff as it had been inferred that way. Hanks responded that he did not recommend the holding flat part but understands it. He went on to say that included in the budget message is language on an investment in updating AFN infrastructure and this can take many forms. A conversation he added was had between himself and the Mayor on how this could take place, as additional investment can be looked at beyond items like debt. He added questions that need to be answered as; is there a buyer, and that as written in the budget message there is a goal to improve this infrastructure, which requires a contractual services agreement that can be worked on by City staff. He also stated other operations models that may be looked at and that is this is a conversation of Council. Speaking to the relation of the General Fund he commented that the Enterprise Funds are not in poor shape and that conversations about rate implications, as rates will go up. He added to this that wholesale energy rates across the United States had gone up by 13% and that the conversations on strategic management needs to be had. He ended by saying that unless the sale of Ashland Fiber Network exceeds the debt services cost and other costs such as those intertwined with the School District and that holding it flat could reduce the market share with no updates being made. This he stated wouldnít address anything in the General Fund, but he sees the need for this. Moran stated that the comments made were very welcomed as since he has been on the Budget Committee it has been talked about, but nothing really has happened. He also commented that he disagreed with the term deep dive and that this should be more specific to variables. He added that he supported Mayor Akins proposal and that what Hanks had stated with very accurate. Referring to the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Budgets, Moran added that the line item expenses were $2.1 million per year and this is expected to grow in the next budget year. His thought was that it would be okay to keep the expenses at the 2018-19 levels, if the goal was to sell it. He added that he had interest in knowing how best to divest Ashland Fiber Network, as this is an urgent conversation that needs to be added. Bachman added that although he fully supports the idea of recommending to Council a look at Ashland Fiber Network he believes, as with Jensenís comments, that this should be done after the biennial budget has been settled. He added that he was opposed to this motion as it conflicts with the work on the budget and it is more strategic. Seffinger asked if having a partner within Ashland Fiber Network plays into the risk of Cyber-attacks. Hanks responded that Ashland Fiber Network is different but there is some overlap such as the entrance and exit of the systems. He added that this overlap would be an element that would need to be looked at during a strategic review and ways that it can be addressed. Adding that there are issues within this he explained at DDOS attack that had occurred recently and that it may be too early to know what the Cyber Risk would be with different models. Akins withdrew the motion as stated. MOTION WITHDRAWN.
She added that she is hopeful going forward that it can be discussed that it is known what needs to be done, as this is a policy decision. Her goal, she added, was to get the temperature of the body.
Moran asked how the information in the above motion would be moved forward so it is not lost. Akins stated that this can be scheduled to be brought back to Council and direct staff on.
Bachman added that for the sake of the meeting, the biennial budget should be decided on and then recommendations be made.
Bachman/Hyatt m/s to move that A motion to accept the proposed budget with following changes: Reduce the General Fund revenues by the $100,000 per year from Marijuana taxes and $100,000 in expenditures and to increase the Housing Fund revenues by $100,000 from marijuana taxes and reduce the revenue shown in the proposed budget by that fund by removing the property sales. DISCUSSION: Bachman stated that he believed that word crisis was being over used and if it had not been for Federal funds, there is now some time to work through in a deliberative process and how the next four bienniumís will be handled or an eight year plan. Even with this, he added, that he does not see a crisis and would only do if steps were not taken during the strategic planning window as outlined in the budget document. He further stated that the work needs to be done in the coming months to remedy this and this should be looked at a manageable challenge instead of knee-jerk reactions of slashing the budget. He believes that the proposed budget is excellent and that a lot of staff time went into it to make it a workable plan to get through the first year of the biennium and that readiness needs to be made for the second year and beyond but that this is the charge for Council. Adding that he would like to draw the line between the Committee and the Council, he suggested that the Committee could make recommendations as overall he does not see making these big decisions as beneficial to the citizens of Ashland. Hyatt spoke to looking at the housing fund revenues related to it. Previously she explained citizens had come forward and indicated that the success of this fund was predicated in large part to the dedication of funds and the Committee has had a lot of conversation around the dedication of funds such as those with Parks. Speaking to what is a surplus fund, she added, that these would be greater than the $100,000 that the Marijuana taxes could offer and that even though it may be seen as choosing less, the key is that these funds are dedicated which can help with things like partnerships, matching funds and grants. She added that success from this over the past years has shown that the community is dedicated to this and she wants this to continue. She then stated that the dedicated funds over a onetime cash infusion was a better strategic decision. Hanks clarified that this amount would be per year to which Bachman confirmed. Amery then clarified if this was a motion on just the marijuana tax or if this was for the whole budget. Hunter stated that was just on the marijuana piece. Graham commented that she shares the commitment to these funds but that she is incredibly concerned about the fact that they are moving into another biennium without communications capacity. She added that she sees this as a major need for structural operations and that she hopes that this would be included in this biennium to switch out those funds in an effort to figured out in the strategical planning process, as the hope would be to make the funding less restrictive. She ended by saying that this is a complicated issue as properties take time sell but at the heart of it some fundamental parts of a functioning City are being missed practically with communications. Runkel following up on Grahams comments and asked how the sponsors of the proposal plan to fill the $200,000 hole in the general fund that is being created. Speaking to a procedural issues, David Lohman City Attorney asked about clarity to the motion stating that he had written down the budget be approved with the changes to the Marijuana taxes going to the Housing Fund. This he added is contrary to what was just said about the motion this motion is accepting the budget as proposed with that one change. He wanted everyone to be on the same page as far as the motion. Amery added that is how he understood it and Bachman stated that this was his intent. Bachman added that he wanted to come back to Hunterís point that they were just voting on the Housing Fund, but his intent was that the Committee vote on the budget with this change. Bachman also answered Runkleís question by saying that the gap would be filled with the sale of excess assets. Hanks added that this was consistent with Council and the Cityís financial polices and this is where funds would go even with Council direction. Akins spoke to her favor of retaining funds within the Housing Fund as housing has been identified by this body, Council, and the residents as a key issue that needs to be addressed. She added that although she respects Councilors Grahamís remarks regarding communication, she does not recall a communications staffer within the City even during Akins time as reporter. She ended by agreeing Ameryís point that other elements need to be talked about prior before adopting the budget and that it feels rushed. Runkel added that if talking about the whole budget, that he had another motion to make and that this may be premature to have a vote on the whole budget proposal before any discussion as there are other motions to make. He is concerned, he added, that there needs to be more discussion and asked that the motion be withdrawn, so other parts of the motion can be discussed. Bachman responded that his point in making the motion was to have the discussion and that there is not substantive talk until there is a motion on the table. He wanted, he noted, to move the process into a discussion and that he would not withdraw. Runkel responded that while this motion is on the table it limits other motions from being made, and suggested voting down the motion and allowing for further discussion. Bachman then responded that this motion could be amended, and this was just to open the deliberations. Bachman stated that as he understood it that the last motion on the table would be resolved and then the committee would work their way back to the first motion and in no way does this cut off discussion. Hunter and Akins both agreed that this was correct and a motion to amend could be made. Amery asked if he could amend the motion to discuss issues around the General Fund that need to be placed before voting on the entire budget. Hunter asked Lohman for more clarification. Lohman responded that there are two options first would be that you can make amendments to the motion that are not contradictory to the motion and do not gut the main idea. He then explained that you can make these amendments that would be voted on in the order that they are made. The second option he added is to move that to the main motion and determine if it passes or doesnít.
Hyatt/Akins m/s to move that the motion split the motion and keep the approval of the budget as one motion and the approval of the funding stream change in regards to the Housing Trust Fund and Marijuana tax as its own sperate motion and with that motion asked if the Committee could vote on the Housing Trust Fund piece. DISCUSSION: Hyatt explained that she has given her support to the Housing Fund. Akins added no further comment other than she too was going to move to amended. Moran added that he fully supports keeping the money from the Marijuana tax in the Housing Fund and that this was something that the last Budget Committee worked hard on. Lohman clarified before the substance of the motion was voted on that the motion to split the motion needed to vote on. The subjects of the two motions can then be voted on. Voice Vote: All in Favor; Motion passed unanimously; MOTION AMENDED
Akins clarified that there are two motions on the table one being the Housing Fund and the other one being the budget overall. The Committee confirmed this. Lohman added that as he understood it the goal was to take up the housing fund first. Hunter added to this that the first motion of approving the budget will be done so with the changes approved in the other motions. The Committee agreed.
Speaking to the Housing fund Morris added that he could not support the motion as it sets with $100,000 a year going to Housing Fund. He explained that this was based on both this revenue and excess property revenue going to this fund. He added that there needs to be a bigger discussion at the Council level adding that this may be the way it goes but there may be other needs that are higher. Previous Council goals put housing and homeless services at tier two as value service not essential and essential services may be cut for a value-added service he explained. He suggested that this may be a policy decision that Council needs to address. Because of this, he added, that he could not support the motion. Bachman asked Hanks to clarify if excess revenues would flow back to the General Fund and Council would make decisions on where the proceeds would go. Hanks responded that yes generally this is what takes place. He also explained that based on updated financial policies that it is not exactly this way, but Council can deviate from the policies but generally these policies are followed. He added, as the policy states that there is unrestricted funds that go into the general fund plus an amount that goes into the reserve fund which is a way to begin to build up the reserve fun. Any conversation like this would happen at the sale of the property he commented. Bachman further stated that this is not in the current budget but would be a later Council action. To which Hanks confirmed.
Morris then commented that a previous Finance Director made it clear that Ashland does not sell properties they are given away. Looking at affordable projects he added they were started on City Property that was donated, which is another way of donating to the housing fund.
Graham stated that given the other funding sources that could be brought into this biennial budget, Council action will have to be taken to have them used as unrestricted funds with the General Fund. She then spoke in support of the motion understanding there were items that would be covered and the lack of impact it would have on essential services.
Kaplan added that he may have a conflict of interest as he is on the Options for Helping Residents of Ashland board. Although he added this would more then likely not be a conflict, he wanted to make sure this was disclosed. Lohman explained that if Kaplan did not receive any financial benefit his disclosure as state would be sufficient and he could still participate and vote. Kaplan agree that he did receive any financial benefit. Bachman added that he too has a similar disclosure to make as his wife is on the Options for Helping Residents of Ashland board and the Housing and Human Services Commission and they both receive no financial benefit. Graham and Moran too added that they serve on Options for Helping Residents of Ashland Advisory Board and too receive no financial benefit.
Motion reread as, a motion to reduce the General Fund revenues by the $100,000 per year from Marijuana taxes and $100,000 in expenditures and to increase the Housing Fund revenues by $100,000 from marijuana taxes and reduce the revenue shown in the proposed budget by that fund by removing the property sales. The committee confirmed adding the detail regarding per year. Voice Vote: Yes; Hyatt, Jensen, Moran, DuQuenne, Graham, Seffinger, Akins, Alphonso, Bachman, Hunter, Kaplan, Amery, NO; Morris, Runkel, MOTION PASSES 12-2
Lohman explained what would happen with the current motion with the motion dying upon adjournment or a vote to postpone it until the next meeting.
Akins/Moran m/s to move that to postpone the current motion DISCUSSION: None; Voice Vote: All in Favor; Motion passed unanimously.
Hunter explained that the next meeting would include a small amount the CIP but that most of it would be discussion.
Bachman/Seffinger motioned/seconded the adjournment of the meeting. Discussion: None. Meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.