Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting

Wednesday, May 11, 2005



Budget Committee Meeting

Draft Minutes

May 11, 2005, 7:00pm

Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street





Chairman Jim Moore called the Ashland Budget Committee meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. on May 11, 2005 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street Ashland, Oregon.




Mayor Morrison was present. Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, and Silbiger were present. Councilor Hardesty was absent.  Budget Committee members Bond, Levine, Mackris, Olsen, Thompson, and Williams were present. 



                                    LEE TUNEBERG, FINANCE DIRECTOR

                                    KEITH WOODLEY, FIRE CHIEF

                                    MARGUERITTE HICKMAN, FIRE PROTECTION OFFICER

                                    GREG CASE, EMS DIVISION CHIEF

                                    SHARON LAWS, SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR

                                    DON ROBERTSON, PARKS DIRECTOR





                                    SCOTT WHITMAN, STAFF ACCOUNTANT

                                    CINDY HANKS, PROJECT COORDINATOR

                                    BRYN MORRISON, ADMINISTRATIVE SECRETARY




            Approval of minutes from previous meetings dated:


5/2/05 Budget Committee Meeting


James Bond, Budget Committee member/Councilor Kate Jackson m/s to approve minutes as presented. All Ayes.





COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CDBG              page 3-101 to 3-108


John McLaughlin, Community Development Director, Adam Hanks, Code Compliance Specialist, and Mike Broomfield, Building Official presented the budget.  Mr. McLaughlin explained that the department budget resides in the General Fund; however the Community Development Block Grant is in its own Fund. He spoke to the services provided and the Planning Commission. He added that in the Building division on page 3-107, personal services from 2003 to 2006 shows less than a $1,000 change and is only a 1% increase over last year. This has been accomplished by having building inspectors cross trained and they had a retirement last year and restructured without refilling the position.  They also have a .2 reduction this year from conservation that is in the Electric budget.


Materials & Services shows a 13% increase and some of it is due to code change at the state level and some contractual services are contracted out to others. Mr. Broomfield spoke to the code change and that the state adopted a process to implement the code encompassing three codes across the county into one code.  Oregon has its own residential code now, called the Low Rise Residential Code. Mr. McLaughlin explained that the goal is to cover 100% of building costs through fees. He explained that they have a surplus now in revenues. Ms. Jackson asked about the retirement of the building inspector and if there has been an increase in the time needed for inspections. Mr. McLaughlin explained that building inspections are more predictable than land permits and they have not seen an increase.  Mr. Hanks added that the position was reduced in the 2005 budget.


Ms. Jackson asked what the miscellaneous charges and fees were.  Mr. Hanks responded facilities, debt service, and central service. Councilor Cate Hartzell asked if they expect it to go up large amounts each year. Mr. Hanks explained that central service is assessed city wide.  Lee Tuneberg, Finance Director added that they had to do a significant increase citywide and Engineering and Community Development make larger payments due to the new building they are in.


Mr. McLaughlin spoke to the planning division significant increase in support of planning due to workload. They are proposing two new positions: and Associate Planner and a Development Services Manger. They will have an operational audit that will look at workload and the systems in place for handling work loads. Currently they support 9 boards and commissions and staff is stretched thin. He added that Council goals are not being completed as quickly as Council would like. They have a request for proposal out now and there are specific companies that do planning department audits. Ms. Hartzell asked about the revenues projected. Mr. Hanks responded that it would be approximately $122,000 and the cost of the positions are $112,000. Ms. Hartzell asked how the Code Compliance Specialist would change.  Mr. McLaughlin explained that it will be linked with the Development Service Manager position and added that position is doing two different position responsibilities now. Mr. Moore asked if there were any performance standards to justify increase of 2 positions. Mr. McLaughlin responded the workload and demand issue.  Mr. Moore is concerned that we are adding employees faster than adding population and asked if housing specialist position has paid off. Mr. McLaughlin responded that he thinks it has and the City has increased the number of units per year. He also added that they will not be able to provide as good of service if they do not fill those positions. Ms. Hartzell pointed out that the market here reflects the people that live here, but they need to think of others that come into the community and the turnover and the kind of activity changes. She doesn’t think they can relate population to increasing employees.  She asked if they are asking for positions contingent on audit. Mr. McLaughlin believes positions are necessary and audit will show that.  If audit says they are overstaffed, they will not fill the positions.


They are proposing a fee increase to the community development fee and it operates at a 75% cost recovery. The fee is based upon value of structure and they charge .9% of valuation now, and are proposing to raise it .2% for a total of .11%. The total cost of the two positions including benefits is $112,000 and there is a $128,000 increase in personal services total. The goal is to recover the costs from the fee increase. Marty Levine, Budget Committee member asked if the  increase in the budget would be offset from the fees.  Mr. McLaughlin responded that it would. Dave Williams, Budget Committee member asked to clarify what percentage of the cost.  Mr. McLaughlin responded 100% through the fee increase. Mr. Levine asked if the 25% remainder of the costs is in the budget.  Mr. McLaughlin explained that they are not; they are charged and seen as a benefit to the public. Mr. Levine asked if they had done a study to see if non recoverables are 25%. Mr. McLaughlin responded that they have not.


Mayor John Morrison asked about the org chart and if Development Services Manager would report to both Building Official and Senior Planner.  Mr. Hanks responded that it would. Lynn Thompson, Budget Committee member asked what the over all fee was for building permits. Mr. McLaughlin responded that it depends on the size and expected construction costs. Ms. Thompson asked for the overall fee percentage. Mr. McLaughlin responded an average of 6% of construction cost and an example of a 2,000 square foot house would be $14,500 in fees. The increase would be approx $350-400. Ms. Thompson asked if there is a policy to encourage or discourage construction through level of fees. Mr. McLaughlin responded that there is not and Council has decided not to subsidize development through system development charges (SDC’s).  Ms. Thompson asked if they had seen any resistance in fees. Mr. McLaughlin responded that they had not seen resistance. Mr. Hanks added that compared to other jurisdictions, that the City is in the lower third and the fees are inline with the rest of the valley.


Mr. Williams asked what the timeline is for Council goals. Mr. McLaughlin responded that there is a two year window and they are working on setting a time frame. Mr. Williams asked if when Council establishes goals, can they estimate cost and hours needed. Mr. McLaughlin responded that they tell Council what the timeline would be with existing staff and if it is needed at a faster pace, they would possibly add a position. Ms. Jackson added that many of the goals have been in place for many years and many are not built into the budget.


Mayor Morrison left the meeting.


Ray Olsen, Budget Committee member asked what the railroad project was. Mr. McLaughlin explained that it is a transportation project to centralize the transit stop. Ms. Jackson asked to clarify what new planner position is they are asking for.  Mr. McLaughlin responded that it is an associate. They did a reorganization when the previous Associate Planner left and filled it as an Assistant Planner.


Mr. McLaughlin explained the Community Development Block Grant budget and that the amount the City will get through Hud will remain constant. He explained that they get approximately $220,000 per year, of that 20% is taken for administration, and the remainder is allocated to non profits for affordable housing.  25% goes to the housing officer, 25% to the Assistant Planner. Ms. Hartzell asked if the City did not receive the funding, if the 25% of the positions would be funded through other areas. Mr. McLaughlin responded that the remainder of the positions are funded through general fund but they would have to bring forward $44,000 from another source.


Jackson/ Williams m/s approve budget contingent on results of audit. All Ayes.

Ms. Hartzell asked to clarify.  Ms. Jackson responded that they will not fill the additional positions if the audit determines they are not needed.


Keith Woodley, Fire Chief, Margueritte Hickman, Fire Protection Officer and Greg Case, EMS Division Chief spoke to the memo presented. See attached. Mr. Woodley spoke to the proposal to restore the fire inspector position and the impact of fees, the proposals for funding options, and the workload and potential for fee increase. Ms. Hickman spoke to the specifics in memo.  Her position handles many calls regarding planning actions. She helps guide citizens to what fire requirements are. Ms. Hartzell asked if it was possible to hire a consultant. Ms. Hickman responded that the people requesting the permits could hire an architect however architects also come to the fire department for code regulations. Mr. Woodley added that the consultant or architects need from them where to position fire trucks, where to place ladders, and operational requirements only they understand.  Ms. Hartzell asked if a fee could be applied to the permit to capture cost. It is a service that has a demand and people would expect to pay for it. Ms. Hickman responded one of challenges is that it may deter people from asking questions and would cause further time on the back end. Mr. Levine asked if permits are denied. Ms. Hickman explained that they do not deny, they put a hold on it and ask to correct problems.


Ms. Jackson stated that the Budget Committee can decide if wants to add extra position and would like to put off until hears all of the budgets and make a decision then. Councilor Russ Silbiger preferred to pay for the position through fees as much as can and let the growth pay for itself. Ms. Hartzell agreed with Mr. Silbiger.


Hartzell/ Bond m/s to authorize position contingent on it is done on basis of full cost recovery. All Ayes.


Ms. Thompson stated she is concerned about all the increases in fees and thinks they should keep that in mind. Mr. Moore stated he is not willing to increase property taxes for this position.  Ms. Hartzell added she supports the position if the demand is there. If demand is gone, position should be eliminated.


PARKS                                                                      page 3-119 to 3-135


Mike Gardiner, Chairman Parks Commission, Don Robertson, Parks Director presented the budget.  Mr. Gardiner spoke to the eight goals in 2005 budget and that there is a significant budget increase in the recreation budget due to the activities that have increased for 2006. 


Mr. Gardiner shared the goals for 2006.  See attached.


Mr. Gardiner explained how they hope to have a long term agreement with schools for maintenance of the grounds but they are still in negotiations.  He spoke to personnel increases of an environmental coordinator .4 FTE and the addition of the senior program of 1.75 FTE. He spoke to the senior program moving to parks and the belief that it will strengthen services to community. He added they are looking forward to recommendations from the Charter Review Committee. Ms. Hartzell asked what they heard from the public on senior program moving and how the integrity will be maintained.  Mr. Robertson explained that they had a meeting at the senior center and both he and Rachael Teige have a long history with senior centers and are strong advocates in senior centers and programs. There is also an advisory board in place and will remain. 


Ms. Thompson stated she appreciated what they do and asked about the YAL monies being the same as the school maintenance $125,000 and if they could use it for that. Mr. Robertson responded that it is a coincidence and there are restrictions on use, it cannot go toward physical education related facilities.  


Mr. Levine asked about the $30,000 spent on the lower duck pond and if it was under budget. Mr. Robertson responded that the original budget was $70,000 for both ponds.


Mr. Bond asked about the skateboard program.  Mr. Robertson responded that they are responsible for the park and monitoring it. Mr. Bond asked about the usage level. Mr. Robertson responded that they have not done any statistical gathering of figures but it is a very well used facility. Mr. Bond asked if there was any data on accidents.  Mr. Robertson responded that there us not, and most of the accidents go unreported. Mr. Bond asked about the insurance implications. Mr. Robertson explained that they went through a review with providers, and it was determine that it is a well cared for facility and does little to impact insurance requirements.


Mr. Levine asked if the costs of the goals were evaluated.  Mr. Robertson responded in February they looked at the costs.


Ms. Hartzell would like to know how their budget is related to meals tax income and how they use some funds from the General Fund for acquisition. Mr. Gardiner responded that in the past year they have tried to establish a stream of revenue and over the next two months, they will look directly at that. Ms. Hartzell asked if there was no plan now for a large acquisition.  Mr. Robertson responded that there are no deals in place.


Ms. Thompson asked if there is money for lights on the baseball field in the budget.  Mr. Robertson responded all but 35% and that was the condition when the soccer field was set that they would be responsible for raising the first 35%, which is $35,000. He explained that the money in the budget doesn’t get spent if $35,000 doesn’t get raised. Ms. Thompson stated that she is concerned about the smaller amount of people that use the baseball field rather than soccer field and the amount they are required to raise. Mr. Bond asked for the position on maintaining the playground areas at Briscoe and Lincoln.  Mr. Robertson explained that they have maintained all school grounds and the commission feels strongly that those spaces remain for public playgrounds. Kathleen Mackris, Budget Committee member asked about status of greenway extension project. Mr. Robertson responded that they have run into snags on issues with where the creek lays. Ms. Hartzell asked if the urban forestry is maintained.  Mr. Robertson responded it is. Ms. Thompson asked about plans for an indoor pool. Mr. Robertson explained that the only public pool in the area is SOU and it needs to be done on a regional effort for the financial burden. He added that the Commission is very concerned about it and made it one of their goals. Ms. Hartzell asked what the fiscal impact is of the golf contract. Mr. Robertson responded that it previously was 22% of gross, now 18% and they have a better handle on business practices now.


Bond/Williams m/s to approve the budget as presented.  All Ayes.




The meeting was adjourned at 9:55pm.



Respectively submitted,



Bryn Morrison

Administrative Secretary




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