President of Council Marjorie Harlow called Council to order on December 3, 2008, at
The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance.
Mrs. McNear took roll call. Present were Council members Danbury, Diehl, Galster, Squires, Vanover, Wilson and Harlow.
The minutes of November 19, 2008 were approved with seven affirmative votes.
NOMINATIONS FOR VICE-PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL
Mr. Squires nominated Mr. Vanover and Mr. Diehl nominated Mr. Danbury.
Mr. Vanover was elected by a 4-3 vote.
Mrs. McNear stated we have several communications:
* a letter from the Government Finance Officers Association notifying us that the City has received the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Finance Report) for fiscal year ending December 31, 2007. This is the eighth year in a row for this award.
* Request from Wood & Lamping for an increase to the retainer.
* AT&T Customer Bill of Rights regarding the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio relative to things such as resolving problems and disputes, formal complaints, privacy options, repairing service, etc.
* Letter from Andrew Ciafardini, State representative in the 28th house district appointed to replace Jim Raussen
* Letter from Duke Energy asking for an increase
* Letter from State Fire Marshall Division asking for names of board members for this board
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS
ORDINANCE NO. 42-2008 DECLARING A TOTALED POLICE CRUISER AS SURPLUS PROPERTY AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR TO ADVERTISE, AUCTION AND ENTER INTO A CONTRACT FOR SALE OF SAID VEHICLE AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.
Mr. Osborn said this is a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria that was involved in an accident. The other operator was at fault. We received a settlement check from the other operators insurance company in the amount of $22,012.53 and we have retained title to the damaged vehicle. Now we are approaching you for authorization to sell the vehicle as salvage.
Ordinance 42-2008 passed with seven affirmative votes.
Mayor Webster said in putting together the budget for 2009, Mr. Osborn issued a directive to the department directors to submit a budget that was at least five percent less than what was approved for the year 2008 and to anticipate that 2010 would also result in a five percent reduction. In addition to that we asked the directors to look at their fee schedules. Some of those fees are incorporated into the budget and some others are not in the budget but wed like you to consider them.
Mr. Osborn said Greg Karle met with staff to review fees from other jurisdictions and weve asked Mr. Karle to walk us through the proposed changes.
Mr. Karle said we came up with nine policy changes and fee adjustments. Its our goal to maintain the high level of service and programming that weve had in the past. We felt the only way to continue this is to grow our membership. The economy is difficult for everyone so we wanted to minimize the impact to our residents. Our membership fees have not increased since 2000. Our guest fees have not increased since 1977. We did benchmark against other similar facilities, such as other community centers and YMCAs. Even with these changes were are still more reasonably priced than any of our neighbors. We have proposed changing our business memberships to include those who work at least 20 hours a week in Springdale, rather than 40 hours, and to increase the cap to 300 members. We propose raising the guest fee to $3.00 per person and that would give us an increase of $11,000. We would have a family rate of $10 for four people. We propose a non-resident sports fee of $25 per child. That would affect approximately 40 kids per year. For many years we have provided the use of our gym to some of the area parochial schools for gym classes, sports, etc. This fall one of those schools offered to pay a rental fee that they had paid at other facilities. Our proposal is to charge $20 an hour for the gym use. We are proposing to raise the meeting room rates $10 to a rate of $40 per week day for five hours and $50 for six hours on the weekend. We propose to raise our after hours supervisor fees to cover the cost of someone staying after hours to close up.
Mr. Karle stated we propose a $5 per family increase for pool membership. The fitness membership will increase $20. Presently membership for seniors over 62 years of age is free. The proposal is to begin charging $20 to new senior members and in 2011 start charging current senior members. We also have non-resident senior memberships that we have had for the past three years through a contract with LifeSphere. We charge those people $20 a year. LifeSphere provides $100 subsidy. As that subsidy disappears I would anticipate increasing those membership fees. The subsidy has a cap of $30,000 this year; $20,000 in 2009 and $10,000 in 2010.
Mayor Webster said it is still $100 per head but they will subsidize us for less members. On the flip side we are not getting new non-resident members.
Mr. Karle said we do not market those memberships; they are word of mouth. We do budget $32,000 a year for senior programming and we do have a full-time programmer. We have recommended allowing 100 non-resident memberships at $400 per family or $300 for a single. We want to maintain our level of services and non-residents would bear the burden of the increases.
Mayor Webster said we presented this to the Park & Recreation Commission. It would be an increase of $101,000 if we generated these and they are in the budget for next year.
Mr. Danbury asked have you looked into a debit card program for pool concessions? Mr. Karle answered we could look into that.
Mr. Vanover asked if a family is non-compliant do we have a non-renewal policy? Mr. Karle replied that is handled on a more individual basis.
Mr. Diehl asked Mr. Karle, could you elaborate on the non-residence family membership?
Mr. Karle responded I believe there is a market for it. I believe we could fill the cap we are looking for. I look for that as the largest and most significant amount of revenue that could be generated. We estimated we could bring in as much as $35,000 in additional revenue at the expense of 200 additional members to a community center. That allows us to not increase our resident memberships significantly.
Mr. Diehl said I am not in favor of that even though Im a great revenue enhancer. I hate to see this turn into the Springdale YMCA. Its one of the true benefits of living in this community.
Mr. Karle said I think we have a significant differential in what a resident and non-resident would pay. It is a substantial benefit for our residents and we want to maintain that but part of this is help us maintain our level of service and current fees for residents. That $35,000 will fund our part-time fitness staff for a year. I feel we have the capacity to handle this.
Mayor Webster said I share your concern about one of the benefits of living in the City is having an exclusive club for Springdale residents but in these economic times we need to stretch a little bit. If this doesnt work, if it overcrowds the facility, etc. we dont have to renew the memberships. If there is a bottleneck I think it would be in the exercise area, but this money funds the entire part-time fitness staff for a year. If we dont increase the revenues down the road we will have to reduce the level of service.
Mr. Osborn said we had this same concern when we introduced business memberships. We were initially concerned about people competing for exercise equipment. Weve had a maximum of 200 business memberships and weve never reached that.
Mr. Diehl said when we started the business memberships I was on the Recreation Commission and I voted for that. I thought it was a good plan at that time. How does the $400/$300 membership fee compare to the YMCA?
Mr. Karle said a YMCA membership is in the $800 to $900 a year range. Beyond that they usually have an initiation fee the first year.
Mr. Galster said I dont have a problem with raising the non-resident fees. Im more concerned about the non-residential sports fee because everyone pays the Youth Boosters $25 to play. I understand my kids are paying for their membership fee at the Community Center but normally we are bringing these children in to fill a team that allows the rest of the kids to play. For $1,000 in a year Id hate to not be able to fill out complete sports teams. If employees are non-residents where do they fall in here?
Mr. Karle responded that employees of the City of Springdale are treated the same as residents. Im not concerned about the registration fees for sports teams being a problem because our Youth Boosters have been able to keep the registration fees low compared to other communities.
Mr. Parham said the employee membership is part of their benefit package. Mr. Karle said employees can use the fitness center. They can pay for a family upgrade or to use the pool.
Council voted in favor of the fees 6-1. Mr. Diehl voted no.
Mr. Osborn said the EMS fee is another fee we have not addressed in a long time. We are behind everybody by a long way. The City also does not charge mileage. We dont plan to do that. For basic life support we charge $140 and for advanced life support we charge $400. Medicount Management recommends that we increase our rates to $400 for basic life support and $700 for advanced life support. The Medicare cap for advanced life support is $365.89 so we already charge more than the cap for ALS services. Medicare billing only accounts for 43% of our total collections. The other 57% is revenue we receive from private insurance carriers so we would see an increase of 57% increase of our ALS runs and 100% of our BLS runs by this rate change. We anticipate that this will increase our revenues next year by $130,000. When you look at what our neighbors are charging we are a whole magnitude below everyone else. We recommend that these fees be increased for 2009.
Mr. Galster asked can you explain the difference between ALS1 and ALS2?
Mr. Osborn replied ALS2 is catastrophic trauma, very severe involvement where extreme paramedic skills have to be used. We may get one or two of those a year.
Mr. Wilson asked why not charge mileage?
Mr. Osborn responded we are already proposing a big increase. Its a big step to increase the rates to the numbers recommended. Perhaps that is something we can visit in the future.
Mr. Parham said Medicare really drives the industry on EMS runs. With Medicare thats all you are going to get. You cant get anymore from other insurance companies. With insurance you have a greater opportunity to collect the $400 and $700.
Mr. Vanover said I have a problem with the mileage charge. Having only one fire station I would be penalized because I live in Heritage Hill.
Mr. Osborn replied no, they pick a central point in the City and calculate the mileage from that central point to every hospital. The fee would be a flat fee for everyone.
Mrs. Harlow said some communities charge for use of equipment on expressways.
Mr. Osborn said we have not started doing that yet. If there is an auto accident and you have to dispatch a pumper to the scene there is a movement underway to charge for that pumper. I would rather not be the groundbreaker on things like that. I would prefer to see it become more of an acceptable trend before we try to do it.
Council agreed to accept the increased EMS fees with a 7-0 vote.
Mr. Osborn said we will probably need legislation for you to amend the fees.
Mr. Osborn said the third item in your packet is for debris removal. We dont have to discuss this tonight. We have 162 runs this year that cost $165 per trip. We need to recover some of that cost.
Mayor Webster said the most important data in the letter is where you look at the revenues. We had $20,977,000 budgeted. Our estimate today is $19.5 million. Thats $1,400,000 shortfall for this year. Thats a decline in the overall economy.
Mr. Wilson said some departments could not reach the five percent cut.
Mrs. Harlow asked are we still running high numbers in animal control?
Mayor Webster responded yes, we are. We are instituting a new policy next year where you can use that service one time. After that you will have to pay. In response to Mr. Galster, Mayor Webster stated at present we dont have a limit to the number of animals that can be caught, but there is a limit to the types of animals, just rabies carrying animals.
Mr. Squires said there is a footnote saying that the testing program has been discontinued but I thought we were going to continue that on a limited basis.
Mr. Osborn said we are eliminating some tests that dont justify themselves based upon the history. Certain plate tests never come up with a problem. We will continue the program attacking those areas that create the most threat to the public but it will be done with existing personnel.
Mr. Galster said based on the economy the way it is and the cost savings we are trying to reach, I dont know that we arent putting up too much fireworks in a relatively short period of time. I think originally the fireworks package for the Taste of Springdale was to create the attraction to a new event. I think the event itself has been extremely successful and people will come up without fireworks. Im also not sure how much the buses are being used right now. I also believe the advertisements and brochures going out from the Community Center could be consolidated or put out over the internet. The fireworks are extras and I dont see as many people riding the buses.
Mayor Webster said we are taking a good look at the mailings we put out at the Community Center and we have tried to collect as many e-mail addresses as we possibly could get. That is the avenue we are going to use as much as possible going forward although we will probably continue some of the senior mailings. As far as the fireworks, Im not a fireworks person. We can eliminate them from both events. I dont ride the buses but we dont have a lot of parking and I would hate to deter people because we dont have parking.
Mr. Osborn said we had already cut back on the promotion of the 4th of July event as well as the buses.
Mr. Wilson said Mr. Osborn will be looking at the budget quarterly, if not monthly and if the revenue is not there he will be going back to the department directors and well see more cuts.
Mr. Galster said I like seeing the 4th of July fireworks. I think it is appropriate but the Taste, its a little over the top.
Mayor Webster said if we are going to eliminate them we should eliminate them from both events.
Mrs. Harlow asked is this something Parks and Recreation could look at and see if something else could be done for the 4th of July to celebrate that holiday as opposed to $14,000 in fireworks.
Mayor Webster said if we want to have an impact on those events lets do away with the fireworks.
Mrs. Harlow said between the two of them that would save $30,000 a year.
Mr. Wilson said fireworks are tradition on the 4th of July. I can see eliminating them for the Taste but everyone has them for the 4th of July. Maybe we cut it to 12.5 minutes instead of 25 minutes.
Mayor Webster asked how many 4th of July festivals dont have alcohol?
Mr. Wilson responded if I go to a function that doesnt have alcohol that doesnt bother me because I have alcohol at home should I choose to drink it. If its going to be a family event like weve changed it to be, then people come there knowing theyre not going to get the beer.
Mr. Galster said since the event was changed to a family event as opposed to what it used to be, I think a lot of people who would like to have their libations have stayed home and enjoyed the fireworks from home. A number of people werent thrilled with the change but it was needed. I think thats also the decline in some of the bus riding as well. If I were voting to eliminate them I would keep them for the 4th of July and eliminate them for the Taste.
Mr. Squires said I agree with Mr. Galster. If we are going to eliminate any, I would eliminate the Taste and keep the 4th of July fireworks. It would also send a message to the people that we are dong a pretty good job living within the budget and this economy. I like the fireworks for the 4th of July. We can eliminate both of them but one for sure.
Mr. Wilson said someone mentioned Parks and Recreation coming up with a thought. Maybe we could entrust them to look at this. If we dont have the budget Mr. Osborn or Mayor Webster will come back and tell us.
Mr. Osborn stated I think we would prefer clear direction on this from Council rather than throw it back to staff. Weve made a recommendation. Weve tried to be as generous as possible with these special events while holding down costs. We even talked internally about whether there was room for two events and we decided to save both events. We eliminated what costs we could and still have a viable event. If Council would prefer to eliminate fireworks we would prefer to hear that from you and if for only one event, which one do you want us to have the fireworks?
Mr. Diehl said people are coming to the 4th for activities. For the Taste we have businesses coming in and fireworks draw people to that event. I think we have to look at the overall affect of people coming to those events. If we see a big decrease, would there be a lot of restaurants that would not attend?
Mr. Squires said when the Finance Committee met we did not hesitate to keep them both. Id rather keep them both if one has to go Id rather it be the Taste.
Mr. Vanover said its tough but if I was going to eliminate one I would eliminate the Taste. I agree with the tradition on the fourth. I dont believe the businesses come to the Taste for the fireworks. I think they come to the Taste for the opportunity to display their wares and be part of the community.
Mayor Webster said I dont want to minimize this but we are talking about a $19 million budget and a $13,500 fireworks display. If the revenues continue to fall as they have this year and it looks like we will come in another $1.4 million short we will probably be back here recommending no fireworks. If you want to leave them both in well have a pretty good handle on our revenue stream before the Taste in September.
Mr. Danbury asked what percentage of the Taste is fireworks?
Mayor Webster replied they are about $13,500 each.
Mr. Danbury suggested eliminating the fireworks from the Taste.
Mayor Webster said if you want to take the $13,500 out for the Taste or the 4th or both, well do that.
Mrs. Harlow said most people would like the fireworks to remain on the 4th.
Mr. Wilson said I like the Mayors suggestion. Its my opinion not to cut anything out now. In three months we may have to cut something. Lets do it like this. The department has done what it was asked to do, reduce its budget by five percent. We could leave it like it is for now because Im sure Mr. Osborn will be looking at the budget monthly and quarterly.
Mr. Squires said I agree with Mr. Wilson. Thats the gist of what the committee felt. If it needs to be revised it will be revised. I can see Mr. Galsters point. In committee when we met to approve what we presented to you this evening we had the idea we could possibly do both.
Mayor Webster stated all the department directors were asked to cut their budgets five percent. Mr. Karles budget was 7.43% less than what was approved for 2008. Its more than what was asked for but it doesnt mean we cant cut it more. In addition, to the 7.43% he has also identified $101,000 in fee increases which is not taken into consideration in the computation of the 7.43% savings.
Council agreed to leave both events in the budget and make changes later if necessary.
Mr. Osborn said the Building Department did not make the five percent cut. Thats because we have actually imposed more demands on them. We have asked them to undertake the multi-family rental licensing program. In order to do that we are adding two part-time people to this department and incurring other support costs to get that program running. Bill McErlane is one of the most judicious people with money that we have in our organization.
Mr. Galster said my question is actually about waste collection. Our contract with Rumpke expires in the fall of 2009 with one alternate year option.
Mr. Osborn said we cant believe we would be better off bidding against a number that is three years old. Well pursue the option.
Mr. Osborn said Public Works is taking the deepest cut in personnel. They have three retirements. We will try to accommodate the clerical vacancy by relocating somebody who currently works for us down there or bringing that work up here and sharing it among other folks here. The Assistant Public Works Directors position will remain vacant as will the crew leader position coming up due to retirement. There are three departments that need to be protected, Police, Fire and Public Works so I expect the other departments to step up because Public Works has done their bit.
Mr. Galster said we dont have any extra grinding to do next year because of the storm, do we?
Mr. Osborn said after our mulch sits all winter, in the spring we grind it in the tub grinder to get it down to a particulate size suitable for mulch as opposed to woodchips. We will tub grind twice as much stuff next year as we do in a typical year.
Mayor Webster said Id like to call your attention to line item 52610 Other Contracts. We have $143,000 in the budget. We have a $10,000 contribution to the Chamber and a $5,000 contribution to the Springdale Chamber. You all need to be aware that my daughter is the Executive Director of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce and has been for the last five or six years. This is the second or third year that Mr. Tulloch has requested that a contribution be made to the local chamber. Since we are doing $10,000 downtown he thinks its reasonable that we do $5,000 here. If any of you have a problem with my daughter being the executive director who is hired and fired and serves at the pleasure of the Chamber Board of Directors and not the Mayor, then you should let it be known or forever hold your peace.
Mr. Galster stated I have no problem whatsoever with the work Julie has done with the Chamber. However, if my wife, daughter or son worked somewhere and I was writing an order to them I would have a problem with that, so I think there is a little conflict here.
Mr. Wilson asked do we do performance reviews? Do we have a review or tangible numbers to justify the expenditure?
Mayor Webster replied no.
Mr. Osborn said Finance Department did not make the full five percent cut. This is our smallest department. It is pretty much payroll related to two full-time people. Beyond that they buy some paper to put through the printers. Its hard to make those cuts when a department is mostly budgeted to full-time salaries it is hard to make those cuts, particularly when we have factored in a 3½% raise for all full-time people in the organization.
Mr. Galster said City Council has $25,000 for publications. I think that is something that could be looked at.
Mr. Osborn said we are moving in this direction. We are in the process of having the website for the Community Center redesigned so that its more interactive. We are expanding beyond that. We are having someone from the Recreation Department at our next Staff Meeting to discuss how we can expand this into other parts of the City. One of the challenges I gave Greg Karle was to find a way to get the information out without continuing to bulk up the City newsletter. We have expanded from eight to twelve pages and a lot of it is trying to publish everything the Rec Center wants published. I am hoping long term that we may be able to cut back to two newsletters a year and have them come out electronically. Thats not to say we would have full and immediate participation but if we put one on line and dont publish it, we could see what kind of response we get.
Mayor Webster said if there is one thing that this City does that I constantly get compliments on its the City newsletter. I think there are a lot of things in this budget that we ought to cut before we address the newsletter. We could try to cut it back to four pages but I think it is something people use and its a way for this government to communicate with the residents and I think we do a better job than any community in the area. I think we are really doing a disservice to our residents if we cut out or cut back on the newsletter.
Mrs. Harlow said when new people move into the area and they get that newsletter they are tuned in to whats going on, about getting permits, what City services are.
Mr. Galster said I agree the newsletters are extremely informative. I just think that by the time we have three from this department, three or four from the Community Center, we could combine some of these.
Mr. Osborn said the Tax Department did not meet its five percent goal either. If you look under Refunds, you will see in a $735,000 budget, $300,000 of that is money the Tax Department has to refund to taxpayers. This is not an operating cost per se. This is a cost based on the tax returns of the individuals. The cost per employee per man hour isnt affected by this. If you factor out the $300,000 they are well under five percent.
Mr. Galster said the capital budget is extremely thin. I think we ought to take a little time to let people know what those numbers are and let people know what we have cut out of the capital budget.
Mr. Osborn said this years capital budget is $4.1 million. We have tried to limit this budget to those items that are funded by State and Federal money. Of the $4.1 million, $3.2 million is coming from outside the City so we really have $900,000 in here. We had to eliminate those projects that did not have outside funding such as improvements to the east leg of Kemper Road just east of Springfield Pike, the ditch improvement at Glensprings on SR 4 and major repairs to the gabion walls in Chamberlain Park that failed. Instead we budgeted for minor repairs to keep them from getting worse. Longer term, we have not budgeted any future capital projects that require local match because we have to anticipate that we will have to continue to make very hard decisions about reducing our costs. The first thing that goes in situations like this is capital expenses. You try to postpone them the best you can. Thats not to say we wont see a lot of activity next year. We will still see projects in 2009 and 2010 but those are projects that were in the pipeline for four or five years. Beyond that we have one or two projects that are in the budget but other long term projects where we had not applied for funding yet have been dropped. Our infrastructure is in darn good shape. One caution I would make is that the street program has been cut back to $400,000. Im not sure that over the course of a five-year period that $400,000 a year is going to be enough to keep the streets at the level they are right now.
Mayor Webster said I think Mr. Osborn did a marvelous job of leveraging our money at a 4-1 ratio. A City of our size is spending $900,000 of our money in capital improvements out of a $19 million budget.
Mr. Wilson said it was not the intent of the Finance Committee to rush you through this budget or to have you rubber stamp it. We appreciate as a committee the comments that have been made. It shows that youve done your homework.
Mr. Osborn stated at your next meeting we will bring in a supplemental appropriation for 2008 to balance out departments and line items for current year expenses. We will bring in a temporary appropriation ordinance for 2009 in order to get us through the first meeting of the year. At the first meeting of 2009 we will bring this budget back in as an appropriation ordinance.
Mr. Squires said there will be no reduction in staff. We will take care of that with attrition.
Mayor Webster said there will be a reduction but it will be through attrition. At this point we do not project laying off any of our workforce in 2009.
Mr. Osborn said even in this budget we have eliminated some part-time people and have cuts hours for others. That will probably still continue into 2009 but full-time people are being reduced through attrition.
OLD BUSINESS - none
Mayor Webster requested resolutions reappointing Kevin Ketring and Rita Hart to new terms on the Board of Health.
Mr. Osborn said Im sure you have all had the opportunity to try to negotiate the temporary ramps on I-275. Weve received quite a number of complaints about that and we have been in direct contact with ODOT. Weve expressed in our strongest terms those same complaints made by the members of the public who called us. We solicited from them some numbers for people to call in the event they want to talk to someone from ODOT because its really not our project. I asked Don Shvegzda and Jeff Agricola to drive those ramps and try to come up with some ideas to try to mitigate the impact. In fairness this is not a static situation. Those ramps are going to be moved back and forth as they change construction areas. I think we all have to appreciate that there is a limit to what ODOT can do and still get the project built.
Mrs. McNear said Id like to have that phone number because that westbound entrance ramp is a death trap.
Mrs. McNear said Wood & Lamping is requesting an increase in compensation for legal services starting January 1st.
Mr. Osborn said CDS has also submitted a similar proposal. Mr. Shvegzda is meeting with Mr. Parham to go over the numbers and I would anticipate there would be a recommendation at the next meeting.
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Board of Health - December 11, 2008
Planning Commission - December 9
Board of Zoning Appeals - December 16
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
Employee pay rate - December 17
Final appropriation and transfer ordinance - December 17
Temporary appropriation - December 17
Agreement with ODOT for SR4 north of Glensprings December 17
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
Increased charges for EMS run - December 17
Board of Health reappointments - December 17
Increases for Wood & Lamping and CDS - December 17
Council adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Marjorie Harlow, President of Council