Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Budget Committee Meeting

Monday, April 23, 2012

Minutes for the Citizen Budget Committee Meeting

April 23, 2012
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 East Main Street
The Citizens Budget Committee meeting was called to order at 6:02 pm.
Mayor John Stromberg, Committee Members David Chapman, Douglas Gentry, William Heimann, Chuck Keil, Michael Morris, David Runkel, Russ Silbiger, Dennis Slattery, Denise Daehler, Roberta Stebbins, Carol Voisin and Lynn Thompson and Greg Lemhouse were present.
Committee member Renkel/Chapman m/s to approve June 21, 2011 minutes as amended: Commissioner Runkel stated that the committee specifically stated that grant recipients need to include a line in their materials that states “this program is funded in part through the City of Ashland’s lodging and meals tax revenue”. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Keith Masey/1615 Peachey/Noted he is on the Ashland school board although he is not there representing the school board. He spoke to the importance and value of hiring another police officer to be .30 FTE as a School Resource Officer/.70 FTE downtown. He stated that there are a lot of things that a SRO can do that an administrator cannot do and feels it would be a huge benefit. There have been situations in the past that school administrators cannot handle when the students are off campus and he supports the hiring of a part time SRO.
City Recorder  Barbara Christensen presented the City Recorder Budget. Ms. Christensen did not do a slide presentation and offered to answer any questions that the committee had for her. Discussion was held regarding the committees desire to see more quantifiable goals. One of the goals Ms. Christensen said she would like to accomplish during her term is to try to have all records scanned that have not previously been scanned into Laser Fiche, an electronic document scanning program. She stated that once the items are scanned in they are archived and accessible directly to the public. This helps to limit public records requests and helps the city be more energy efficient. She also plans to go to each of the commissions with the legal department and do some training on public law, ethics etc. Electronic documents began being scanned in 1995. Her goal is to go back since they have records all the way back to the 1800’s. Discussion was held regarding whether Ms. Christensen sets goals and monitors benchmarks for the city’s investment instrument. She stated that she follows the investment policy set by the council. The investment strategy is guided by the policy. On a monthly basis I turn in a report to the accounting department and then it is listed in the quarterly report which is sent to council. The investment policy is reviewed on an annual basis. The investment results are available but it isn’t necessarily published on the website. She also noted that the investments she handles are short term investments.
Deputy Chief of Police Cory Falls presented the Police Budget; Chief Holderness was unable to be there to present. He noted that they were generally able to give back a percentage of the budget but due to the Grubb’s homicide they were over budget for this past year. He stated that overall most goals were met last year.
There are three goals that were identified that were not met:
  • Crime rate increased 22.4%. Theft from vehicles/bikes saw largest increase. In order to try to mitigate the problem they are looking to improve crime analysis to map out and identify trends, repeat offenders etc. In addition some offenders have figured out that if they commit petty crimes the jail won’t hold them. It is a revolving door for petty crime offenders.
  • Increase of incidents of disorder in the downtown area. If they got an additional officer they would add them as an additional cap officer downtown to provide 7 day coverage. They would use the officer as a dual role, School Resource Officer. This is a long term solution. The short term solution is to increase park patrol hours.
  • The time that it takes to complete investigations within the detective unit has gone up. There are more investigations each year. Crime is up in the city but violent crime is also up in the valley as a whole. Within the valley major crimes are handled as a team through the Major Crime Investigation Unit. It is important to keep that relationship going as The Ashland Police department saw the benefits of that during the investigation of the Grubb’s homicide.
Some of the key issues that they have identified within the department are as follows:
  • The increased cost of fuel is effecting the department
  • Replace the in car camera systems that are worn out and wearing down. This will be done as existing cameras wear out to achieve maximum use.
  • Dispatch has increased by 6.24% this year due to the residual effects of the consolidation and still having some contractual obligations
  • Remodeling the police station, which is a capital improvement, but they are planning for some kind of impact on the general fund.
  • Maintain part 1 clearance rate
  • Maintain staffing levels and response to emergency calls
  • Increase awareness of sexual assault. This year they held their 2nd annual sexual assault symposium.
There was a discussion as to why the Police department hadn’t already began recruiting and filled the vacant position once Council approved the position during the 2012 Budget year. Deputy Falls stated they were under the impression that they needed to wait until it was funded in this year’s budget but once approved they would begin recruiting right away. He also stated that it could take up to a year to fully train that person.
Discussion was held as to whether or not there ever a point when the Ashland Police department starts billing the other agency during a Major Assault Death Investigation case and vice versa. Deputy Falls stated that there usually isn’t. There is a cooperative policing agreement which states you can lose a detective for up to 3 days and typically it doesn’t go beyond that. He also stated that the city of Ashland was very fortunate during the Grubbs homicide investigation when police agencies around the state lent their service for weeks without billing the department.
Deputy Falls pointed out the following efforts the Police department is making to be more environmentally friendly:
  • All detectives’ drive hybrids
  • GPS system in cars
  • Crime mapping will help dispatch the closest officer
  • Remodeling the police station will make it more energy efficient
  • Researching The Brammo Company for electric motorcycles
  • Looking at how the electronics are set up in the patrol cars
Fire Chief John Karns presented the Fire Department Budget. He showed the various duties and responsibilities of the Fire department (see attached slides). He also showed the Fire operations, Emergency Medical, Fire and Life Safety and Forest Resources division outcomes for 2012.
Fire Operations:
  • Call volume went up 12% 3523 responses
  • Average response time went from 4.7 minutes to 5.3 minutes
  • Did not meet response time goal of responding to 80% of calls in less than 5 minutes
  • Constructed a new Command Vehicle
  • Applied for and successfully received several Grants to fund large projects
  • Delivered 72 hour kits and trained employees on Emergency Preparedness
  • Business Continuity Training
  • Citizen Alert Opt-In
Emergency Medical:
  • City response time goal was not met but County goal was met
  • Improved the FireMed program with an air option
  • Renegotiated FireMed contract
  • Placed a new ambulance in service
  • Worked with Medical Director to address a number of medication shortages
Fire and Life Safety:
  • Less than 100% of weed abatement inspections were completed due seasonal employee
  • 12 Map Your Neighborhoods completed
  • Over 250 Fire and Life safety inspections
  • CERT trained it’s 500th volunteer
  • 3 fires investigated involving criminal activity
  • School fire safety education postponed
  • Target hazard inspections not being conducted
Forest Resources Division
  • 1350 Acres treated for watershed protection
  • Agreement with ODF for expansion of Wildfire Hazard Zone
  • Awarded PERC grant for City and privately owned forest lands
  • Started Ashland Trails Master Plan
  • Conducted wildlife tactical training for local resources
  • Conducted 48 public outreach and education events
  • Established defensible space at 340 homes
  • Renegotiated watershed patrol agreement
  • Formed Firewise Commission
  • Conducted training for landscapers and nursery staff
  • Completed certification of 7 Firewise Communities
Chief Kerns also spoke to the Trends and Challenges for the Fire department and the Add packages were presented.
Discussion was held on the Fire and Life Safety plan checks. It was noted that prior to 2008 the goal of 90% of the safety plan checks in under 5 days was met because they had both a Fire Marshall and a Fire Inspector. In 2009 and 2010 that goal was not met but in 2011 they got closer to meeting that goal due to a reprioritization within the department. 
Discussion was held regarding the Add Packages. The Ashland Fire department currently has a 7/9 staffing model, 2/3 of the time they are at 7 staff members on duty. The city of Ashland’s callbacks for last year were high. Over time, the amount of callbacks has steadily increased. If staffing was increased the amount of callbacks would be lessened. If the staffing were increased to 8/9 beginning on all 3 shifts July 1st, 2012, that would cost approximately $146, 280. If it was tiered increasing 1 staff member on each shift beginning with July 1st, 2012, January 1st, 2013 & ending with June 30th, 2013 it would cost approximately $73,140. It was noted that the staffing levels do affect the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) insurance rating. The Add Package for the Forest Division would be a promotion to Division Manager. The clerical add package would increase the current .75 FTE to 1.0 to increase coverage and customer service. It was also noted that the Fire department will be requesting an increase in ambulance fees in October. If that increase is passed by Jackson County, that could mean a potential increase in revenue of $34,000.
Recess 7:58 PM-Councilman Slattery left/Called to order 8:05 PM
Community Development Director Bill Molnar, Senior Planner Brandon Goldman, Building Official Michael Grubbs presented the Community Development Budget presentation (see attached slides). Community Development consists of the following program areas, Long Range Planning, Current Planning, Housing Program, Building Safety and Code Compliance.
Long Range Planning highlights for the year (completion goal 12-18 mos., avg. completion 10 1/2 mos.):
  • Regional Plan adopted by the board of commissioners
  • Updated buildable lands inventory
  • Managed infrastructure financing study
  • Updated FEMA flood maps and made code amendments
  • Updated historic design standards
  • Pedestrian Placement project
  • Green codes
Current Planning highlights for the year:
  • Permit activity is projected to increase to 369 permits for FY 2012
  • Walk in activity is increasing
  • Responsive Application processing goals met
Housing Program highlights for the year:
  • 10% of new units are available to low income households
  • Provide services that benefit low-income and homeless populations
Building Safety highlights for the year:
  • Gradual upswing in Building Permit Activity
  • 3-week plan review and approval goal
Code Compliance highlights for the year:
  • Respond to complaints within an acceptable timeframe goal
Mr. Molnar addressed the Trends for FY 2013, which includes: a strong interest in green building practices, harvesting water/use of gray water and a demand for web based services (submit and review plans online).
Mr. Molnar went over what they see coming in FY 2013:
  • Electronic Plan Review (new free of charge plan review system)
  • Normal Area Plan (Road map 100 acres outside city limits)
  • Complete Code Update (simplified land use codes)
  • Housing Needs analysis

Discussion was held on why the personnel services increased. The increase was due to Cost of Living Adjustments, class comp. adjustments and step increases.
Discussion was held regarding why the permit fee revenues are continuing to decline year after year. Mr. Molnar explained that fees are not going to cover all the expenses. Prior to 2000 the fees collected only covered about 10% of the expenses. Since 20000 that has gone up to about 50-60% taking some of the pressure off the General Fund.
Mr. Kanner pointed out that they had just received a seven figure check from SOU to cover the planning and building fees for SOU’s new project. That revenue is going to cover approximately 60-70% of the planning department’s expenses for the year. Due to that, they are recommending an Add Package to restore both building inspectors to 1.0 FTE from .80 FTE, which is about a 40K increase and feel the Community Development department owes it to the SOU project to have building inspectors readily available during that project.
Councilor Voison left at 8:36 PM.
There was concern voiced by the committee over the Community Development department being too conservative on the revenue estimates which constrains the expense estimates.
Thompson/Heimann m/s to adjourn. Discussion: Push Administrative Services and Administration to April 26th, 2012 budget meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Tami De Mille-Campos
Administrative Assistant

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