Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting

Thursday, May 14, 2009





Budget Committee Meeting


May 14, 2009 6:00 PM

Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street





The Citizen’s Budget Committee meeting was called to order at 6:03 pm May 14, 2009 in Council Chambers at 1175 East Main Street, Ashland Oregon.




Mayor Stromberg was present.  Committee members Chapman, Douma, Everson, Heimann, Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, Thompson, and Voisin were present.  Boenheim, Gregorio and Slattery were absent.






Lemhouse stated it was rewarding experience to be on the Budget Committee and  appreciated the hard work of the staff this year.  He suggested that next year Subcommittees for grant meetings should be the entire Committee in order to save getting into situations like this year.  (lemhouse left at 6:05)




Mr. Tuneberg discussed the Schedule of Resources, the revisions made from May 13, 2009, and the FY 2009-10 Summary of Changes (see attached). 


The Committee discussed how to format the meeting. 


The Committee discussed whether or not the study sessions were useful.  Some felt that the study sessions were very useful.  By having the study sessions it left plenty of time for discussion in the regular budget meetings.  The meetings were helpful in the budget process.  The Committee stated that some presentations were more effective then others.  The Committee agreed that Parks and Public Safety study sessions were very useful.  


Ms. Bennett discussed ways to improve the study sessions.  She stated that during the study sessions there was not a lot of discussion and was hoping that more dialogue would have taken place.  The Committee suggested that it would be great to have more information to be able to make decisions and what questions to ask.  For example what issues each department is dealing with. 


The Committee stated that the assumptions and budget instructions are something that should be focused on so the Committee and figure out options.  Ms. Bennett stated that Council would like to be the ones that define the instructions.  She stated the budget will be based on assumptions.    


Ms. Bennett stated her concern about the front process; instructions to staff need to be clear at the beginning and not late in the process otherwise conflicts may arise.


The Committee discussed the Council and Budget Committee responsibilities.


Ms. Bennett stated that the Budget process is an 8 month process and would like to know if the Committee would like to keep doing the study session meetings.  The Committee stated that the meetings were difficult to attend due to weather and holiday season.  The Committee stated that the meetings were useful but feels it is the Councils responsibility to deal with the Parks issue.  The Committee would like to look at resources and find a way to shorten the 8 month long budget process. 


The Committee stated the study sessions helped because the departments told the Committee what they do and it left more time to deliberate.   


Some felt having study sessions got redundant.  It was effective in helping the budget committee members to see the realities the Council face but hope there is a way to consolidate it. 


The Committee discussed the PowerPoint presentations.  Some felt that PowerPoint’s were a waste of time.  Departments should be able to tell the story of what it is they are doing and what the key issues are without having to use a PowerPoint. Ms. Bennett stated that the PowerPoint’s are a way to share the numbers with people who are watching at home.  Suggestions were made to shorten the presentations.   


The Committee stated that the PowerPoint presentations and various items did not need to be printed out.  It seems like a waste of paper, others like to refer back to the packets.  Ms. Bennett stated that if the Committee would like electronic forms of various items that it can be done by contacting Melissa Huhtala prior to the meeting.  Mr. Tuneberg stated that it is consumptive, however, it is difficult trying to accommodate for all learning styles for departments, committee members, and citizens. 


Ms. Bennett questioned the few who thought the presentations were better this year.  The Committee responded that the presentations seemed much more focused on information that was important, more informative, and shorter.


The Committee discussed the matrix analysis.  The Committee stated the matrix analysis started out in the right direction.   The matrix became unclear of how to prioritize.  The matrix should only have one primary.  For example the primary reason we need drinking water is to live.  The Committee stated that it was a good tool and is still an evolving process. 


The Committee questioned whether or not the Budget Committee or Council should be debating priorities.  It was decided that Council should debate the priorities. 


The Committee stated outcome base performance data would be great to have.  Ms. Bennett stated that outcome base performance data is very expensive.  For example the City has 10-14 actual structure fires a year; the problem is you cannot tell you how bad the fires will actually be.  There are too many variables that come into play and do not have that kind of data. 


The Committee questioned if there was a previous stage in the analysis with more possible alternative reductions.  Ms. Bennett answered that the Budget instructions were to take the same cut in every department in the general fund that was taken in December.  The issue with Fire is they have trimmed in the last 2 years to the point where they only have essential training and they need to buy equipment to comply with federal standards.  The Fire Department was not able to cut the 3% without making additional reductions in FTE. 


The Committee continued to discuss the budget process.  The Committee felt that in the presentations questions were asked too soon in future the presentation should be finished before questions are asked that way it won’t derail the process. 


The Committee stated it would be beneficial for the Committee to prepare for questioning before meetings. 


The Committee discussed the importance of having Council Goals.  The Committee stated that having a visioning process would be helpful.


The Committee and Staff thanked each other for all the hard work put into the process this year. 





This meeting adjourned at 8:11 PM.


Respectfully Submitted,




Melissa Huhtala








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