Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Citizen's Budget Committee Meeting

Wednesday, May 01, 2013



Budget Committee Meeting
May 1, 2013 6:00pm
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
The Budget Committee was called to order at 6:00.
Everson, Heimann, Keil, Morris, Rosenthal, Runkel, Slattery, Stromberg, Thompson Voisin and Stebbins were present. Daehler arrived at 6:06 and Lemhouse arrived at 8:02.
Stebbins spoke to the procedure for public input. The committee welcomed DeeAnne Everson back to the Budget Committee.
Stebbins spoke to a few procedural items. She reminded that a quorum for the committee is 8 to pass a motion. She stated the definition of calling the question is “any member who wishes to force an end to debate must first obtain the floor by being duly recognized to speak by the chair, and must then move the Previous Question. Such a motion must be seconded, and then adopted by a two-thirds vote, or by unanimous consent. It is not in order to interrupt a speaker with cries of “Question” or “Call the Question,” and even if no one is speaking, it is still necessary to seek recognition.”
April 19, 2012 Budget Committee Meeting
April 23, 2012 Budget Committee Meeting
April 26, 2012 Budget Committee Meeting
May 1, 2012 Budget Committee Meeting
February 21, 2013 Budget Committee Kick-Off Meeting
Everson/Slattery m/s to approve the minutes. All Ayes. Minutes approved as presented.
Tuneberg spoke to the updated calendar with the Fire department back to 5/8/13.
Marilyn Briggs, 590 Glenview Drive Ashland. She spoke to her support of original Parks funding and she would like for it to remain the same as the old Gentleman’s agreement.
Cindy Dion, 897 Hillview Ashland. Read a letter (submitted copy for record) she had written regarding Parks funding.
Lija Appleberry, 704 Willow St. Ashland. She agrees with the previous public input. She doesn’t agree with the process of the change and with the exclusion of any public input. She is disappointed in the changes proposed and the potential absorption of the Parks department.
Jim Lewis 640 A St. Ashland. He was elected to the Parks Commission in 2000. He thanked Don Robertson & Rachel Dials for their work. He feels it is a well run department. He feels like the intent of the Charter was to buffer it from Council politics. There needs to be more discussion and debate between Parks and the City. He said it is a major policy change and that the citizens needed to have more input on the change.
Abi Maghamfar, 451 N. Main St. Ashland. President of the Ashland Lodging Association. He supports the addition of the code enforcement officer position. One reason that he feels the position is important is for the unlicensed vacation rentals in the city. It is estimated that there are over 100 unlicensed vacation rentals, he said approximately 100K in tax revenue is lost per year. He feels that the revenue gained by the licensed vacation rental owners would more than pay for the position itself.
JoAnne Eggers, 221 Granite St. Ashland. Thanked the Ad Hoc committee & the Parks Commission for all their efforts. She feels like more time is needed to come up with the proper funding method. She stated that the budget is very complex and there needs to be a more stable source of funding which cannot be taken away from parks.
Ellen Campbell, 120 Gresham St. Ashland. Ashland Lodging Association member. She noted that there is a decline in legal occupancy but not a decrease in people coming into town & an increase in illegal lodging. She feels it is in the City’s best interest to budget for a Code Compliance Officer. The Lodging Association stands on Enforcement, Education & Encouragement (help educate those that would like to become compliant).   
Vanston Shaw, 180 Lithia Way #208 Ashland. A few months ago the City announced a hiring freeze for all vacant positions but now there are positions being proposed. He suggests that no new positions be added until the hiring freeze is lifted and the PERS issue is resolved.
Lois Van Aken, 140 Central Ave. Ashland. She is in support of the Code Enforcement Officer being added.
BUDGET MESSAGE                        
Kanner spoke to the budget document and the work in progress. He spoke to the various performance measures within the document; outcome measures, output measures, benchmark measures and yes/no measures relating to the City goals. He had encouraged departments to be creative and to tell the story to the citizens of Ashland. It is important to tell what is being bought with the tax dollars. The proposed budget is a balanced budget. There are quite a few add packages being proposed; most of the add packages proposed are in response to the City goals. The budget assumes increases in fees and charges. There is a correction to the budget message “9% increase in net revenues in the water & wastewater funds. In order to achieve that it requires a 10% increase in those fees”. He strongly recommends that the City increase the City’s permanent tax rate to fund wildfire mitigation. He stated that the City’s budget is in relatively good shape.
PERS- The City is facing a 31% increase in PERS expenses. However, if the PERS investments continue to do well it could mitigate expenses in the next biennium. The PERS board would reconvene if there are any changes. He distributed a PERS SLGRP handout which shows potential PERS rates. If Senate Bill 822 is signed into law he would like to see the excess PERS savings rolled into a PERS reserve fund for the use in a following biennium.      
Parks- The budget includes fully funding Parks. It includes $587,000 for critical maintenance projects. The major change in this budget is that Parks revenue will come from a payment from the General fund which will no longer require an unappropriated fund balance. Parks will get the money that they actually need to operate and the General Fund receives the property tax revenues that would otherwise be tied up in the unappropriated ending fund balance. This provides a stabile long term funding solution for the City of Ashland as a whole.
Self Insurance- The City is converting to a self insured benefits plan in the biennium. Without this conversion to self insurance the increase would have been about 10%. The savings from converting to self insurance helps to offset the PERS increase. There is a newly created fund in the Administrative Services Fund. The charges to each department are on a flat per Full Time Employee (FTE) basis which makes the personnel costs more predictable during turnover. There is no net affect on the City by making this change.
The budget includes a 2% Cost of Living Increase (COLA) for the Management/Confidential group and a 1.5% COLA increase for Parks.
Slattery asked about why Parks thinks the change of funding isn’t good for them. Kanner spoke to the fact that it frees up the unappropriated ending fund balance that is required under the old agreement and it forces a necessary discussion to be had to determine what the best way to fund Parks and the City going forward is.
Stebbins talked about the add packages and how they are included in the budget whereas before they weren’t directly built into the budget. She is disappointed in the way that the add packages are included in the budget. She spoke to the Reserve fund and the use of the term “reserve”. Stebbins inquired about the Assistant City Administrator. Kanner explained that the position for the Assistant City Administrator isn’t being filled at this time but remains as a placeholder and will be discussed during the Administration presentation. The Management Analyst position was moved out of Finance to Administration to handle some of the large projects.
Thompson spoke to having 3 large concerns:
*The depletion of the Reserve Fund. When the fund was established it was rationalized as being used for an emergency only.
*The ending fund balances (EFB), particularly in the General Fund. She is unsure why the EFB will be so short of the target at the end of the biennium.
*Rate increases in excess of 10 million dollars in the biennium. Council has traditionally been conservative.
Tuneberg explained that the tax rate for each year are set at the same time and then levied by the Council each year. He spoke to the public hearing process.
Discussion was had regarding the dissatisfaction f the add packages being included in the budget figures.
Terry Holdreness, Chief of Police                                          
Holderness stated that the department’s budget is a current service level budget. The budget does not build in contingencies for unplanned events. It does include minor & major planned events. There is an increase in Park patrol and additional patrol in the downtown area as well as a cadet position. By increasing the dedicated officers in the downtown it frees up the officers from the other areas of the town. There was a $21,000 increase in cost for vehicle maintenance.
Rosenthal asked what the difference in mileage equates to by replacing the vehicles every 3 years rather than 4 years. Chief Holderness explained that it’s not only about the miles on the car but it’s more about the total hours on the engine. The police car is their mobile office and a majority of the time the car is running in order to keep the mobile data computers running etc.
Stef Seffinger, Chair of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission & Rachel Dials, Recreation Superintendent.
Seffinger stated how proud they are of this year’s accomplishments. The elected Parks Commission is committed to protecting the incredible parks system. She said they believe that the budget being presented will provide sufficient funds for operations of parks over the next two years. They are however concerned about future Parks funding per the City Council approved budget plan. She stated that the City Council and Parks Commission members are working together under an Ad Hoc Committee to address long-term funding solution for Parks, which will allow Parks to continue providing a key component to the city’s livability and economic stability. She thanked the citizens of Ashland for their support of Parks.
Dials said that many people think of Lithia Park when hearing about the Ashland Parks and Recreation. Lithia Park has been described as the “crown jewel” of Ashland. She read a few of the comments left on Trip Advisor. Of the 285 reviews, 237 rated their experience as excellent, 42 as very good and six as average. She stated that Ashland has been proactive in its funding for parks and has had the public support to protect them. She said that many parks and recreation departments around the country are slashing and cutting programs, services, closing restrooms and entire parks because they can’t afford to provide basic services. As a community, we should feel proud of what we have.
Overview of successes in FY 13
  • The Daniel Meyer Pool Shade
  • Lower Duck Pond Bridge
  • Garfield Park Basketball Court
  • Garfield Park Parking Lot
  • Garfield Park Playground
  • Hunter Park Parking Lot
  • Hunter Park Sidewalks
  • Hunter Park Tennis Courts
  • Oak Knoll Golf Course Green #7 & #8
  • Oak Knoll Golf Course Parking Lot
  • Oak Knoll Golf Course Replacement of Bridge on #4
  • Nature Center Addition
  • Railroad Park Basketball Court
  • YMCA Parking Lot.
Other completed projects in this fiscal year include:
  • An upgrade to the Central Irrigation System, a requirement based on Federal Communications Comission regulations;
  • Implementation of a new Youth Conservation Corps utilizing high school students as volunteers in parks;
  • Partnering  with AFR to refurbish and install nine watershed bulletin boards at four trailheads;
  • Installing 22 new mutt mitt stations;
  • Partnering with Recology Ashland Sanitary to construct a new recycling area pad with a tile mosaic at North Mountain Park to encourage and educate about recycling;
  • Rebuilding trails and the cribbing system along Clay Creek in Oredson Todd Woods.
Dials stated that they couldn’t have accomplished these projects without the help of volunteers. They logged over 12,000 volunteer hours in FY 12, which is equivalent to almost 6 FT staff.
There are also some projects that have yet to be completed. Those projects include: 
  • Butler-Perozzi Fountain
  • Calle Guanajuato.
  • Enders Shelter & Atkinson Bridge in Lithia Park
  • Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink. 
Goals and Objectives
At the beginning of the budget process this year, the Parks and Recreation Commission was asked by the Mayor and Council to participate in the goal setting process. The Parks and Recreation Commission created its own goal for inclusion with council goals. The Parks goal is:  “Maintain and expand park, recreational, and educational opportunities; provide high quality, efficient and safe services with positive experiences for guests and other participants while maintaining community participation in the decision-making processes and protecting the environment.” The commission was also asked to look at the council goals and offer ways our department contributes toward those goals.
Public Safety Goal: Public safety and other city agencies, along with the community, collaborate effectively to ensure security for all and improve overall livability. An objective of that goal is:
  • mitigate fire hazards in the urban interface.
Community Quality of Life Goal: Anticipate and identify opportunities to provide for the physical, social, economic, and environmental health of the community. An objective of that goal is:
  • provide opportunities for those who are struggling to thrive and not just survive in Ashland.
Another objective of the Quality of Life goal is to analyze the impacts of increased preservation of historic buildings in Ashland parks.
Municipal Infrastructure.  Collaborate with the community to ensure safe, cost-effective and sustainable public services, facilities and utilities to meet the urgent, immediate and future needs of Ashland. Objectives of this goal include:
  •  Promote conservation as a long-term strategy to protect the environment and public utility needs.
  • Parks and Recreation provides tips for living more sustainably through education at the Nature Center and on the “Green Living” page included in our program guides.  This slide features a picture of an interpretive display inside the Nature Center that demonstrates ways of living more sustainably.
  • The Nature Center also has a self-guided brochure with countless examples to inform and inspire people about ways they can help the environment.
  • Parks also has a “green team” that meets quarterly to evaluate all practices throughout the department and ensure the implementation of sensible environmental considerations.
Organization and Governance Goal. Provide high quality and effective delivery of the full spectrum of City service and governance in a transparent, accessible and fiscally responsible manner. An objective of that goal is:
  • Examine and improve communication tools used to communicate with the public.
Proposed Budget
The proposed Parks and Recreation operations and capital budget was approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission on April 22nd. Funds for the proposed budget will be transferred from the General Fund to the Parks and Recreation Fund which represents a significant change in the 100-plus-year history of funding for Ashland Parks and Recreation. Revenues generated through fees and charges will remain within the department. The Parks ending fund balance will be reduced to 12.5%, with the City guaranteeing any additional funds needed to prevent disruption of services.
Other changes to the budget include:
  • Switching to a self-insurance program.
  • A decrease in Materials and Services (600). This is due to the non-transfer in FY 12-13 of $263,000 into the City of Ashland General Fund.
  • An increase in Capital Outlay (700) as a result of moving the Parks CIP and critical maintenance projects into the Parks budget where historically they were housed in the Public Works budget.
  • An increase in the Park Patrol budget to step up enforcement levels within parks.
Some of the projects staff will accomplish in the next biennium include:
  • Replacement of the Garfield Park water play feature
  • Replacement of solar panels and mechanical pool equipment at the Daniel Meyer Pool
  • Critical maintenance and upgrades to the Ashland Senior Center building
  • Replacement of various park restrooms throughout the system
  • Replacement of playground equipment at Hunter Park
  • And, of course, the resurfacing of the Calle Guanajuato by the end of winter 2014.
Slattery asked if the Parks officials support the Parks budget. Robertson stated that what they do not support is the Ending Fund balance being eliminated.
Rosenthal talked about the 2nd Ad Hoc committee meeting that was held on April 30th. There was a unanimous vote on the following motion “the Ad Hoc Committee proposes to the Citizen Budget Committee that a new Park Reserve Fund be created with the purpose of these funds to be used for repair, restoration and improvements to Lithia Park.  That the current proposed Ending Fund Balance of $750,000 is a “zero” balance and that this amount of $750,000 be the amount budgeted in the 2013-15 Budget for the Parks Reserve Fund”.
Rosenthal stated that it’s a little too late to rework the Parks funding methodology.  If needed, there is a way to harness those funds if they are in a reserve fund.
Lemhouse/Keil m/s that any recommendations made by the ad hoc meeting be taken up on the May 22nd, 2013 agenda. Discussion: Slattery hopes that the motion wasn’t to cut off any questions. The Parks Commission will be meeting and discussing this at the 5/20 meeting. Roll Call: All Ayes. Motion Passed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:48 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Tami De Mille-Campos
Administrative Assistant

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