1. Call to Order. The budget workshop session of the Council of the City of Rogers was called to order by Mayor Grimm on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rogers Community Room, 21201 Memorial Drive, Rogers, MN, 55374.
Council present: Mayor Grimm and Jamie Davis, Jay Bunting, Rob Bell, and Steve Rauenhorst.
Staff present: Gary Buysse, Liquor Manager; Stacy Doboszenski, Assistant City Administrator/Clerk; Brad Feist, Fire Chief; Jeff Luther, Police Chief; John Seifert, Public Works Supt.; and Steve Stahmer, City Administrator.
2. Presentation of budget reduction options
Stahmer explained the Finance Directors absence with a scheduled vacation and suggested having budget work sessions prior to all upcoming Council meetings.
Stahmer stated, as previously discussed at past budget workshops and directed by Council, staff is identifying further cost savings. Stahmer stated the recommendations and options considered are for implementation sooner rather than later, to realize budget savings in 2010. Stahmer stated that staff has been working under the general direction of the Council of not having a tax increase. To date, all modifications have not impacted staff.
At the end of last year, staff and council looked at cutting positions to structurally balance budget moving forward. Tonight, we will be discussing specific positions and whether or not they should be reduced or eliminated.
Stahmer then spoke on MVHC cuts in 2009 and 2010. In looking at the liquor fund, staff proposed increasing the annual transfer by $50k; a recommended one-time $100k transfer.
Stahmer then focused on the personnel options first stating these are not easy things to discuss as they involve people’s jobs and livelihoods. Some people are more impacted than others. Almost regardless of what reductions take place, there will be service level impacts. Lowering staffing level in any area will have some impact. Stahmer then reviewed the following positions:
• Engineering Tech IV position - Revenue to be collected on the position is not there
• Second position, may have the most direct impact in the community the residents can see, CSO/Code Enforcement Officer position; a dual role. Code enforcement needs to be accomplished. Stahmer then provided a brief history of how code enforcement used to be handled. If elimination of the position occurred, then keep the function in-house. Police Reserves could be used for the CSO piece, but not the Code enforcement piece. Prior to the resignation of the Planner, the thought was to have the planner do the code enforcement.
• Payroll/AP – peak workloads would dictate more hours on given weeks, additional hours may be necessary during audit, etc. Position remains a benefited half-time position.
• City Planner – would be recommendation to contract a planner with net savings of $60k includes $20k to do just basic city planning work. Hours beyond the general office hours and small projects would be billed through to the developer. Moving toward an annexation that involves work in the land use area will become more difficult. One other option would be to hire a planner and give the position code enforcement responsibilities.
• Final piece in budget reduction is supporting the Public Works department. Stahmer explained the history of Brant Lander’s position not being filled and Patti taking on a variety of other tasks. The department has been working with a temporary service; considered a short-term fix. Staff is proposing the Community Room Coordinator/Admin. Assistant 32 hour per week position with full-time benefits would be added 8 hours to a 40 hour per week position. The position will still work on community room items and keep that service to the community but giving public works some dedicated time per week.
Davis questioned any issues with union regarding this. Stahmer stated the job is not changing and there are no issues after speaking with labor attorney.
Stahmer recommend all options be implemented as soon as possible.
During the regular meeting, staff recommends the positions to be modified for Council action; positions to be eliminated should be put on the next regular meeting agenda.
3. Public Works Reorganization
Stahmer stated there are three positions within Public Works to be revised/created/and eliminated with a near zero impact to the budget pending negotiations with the union based on salary grades. Taking the existing parks supervisor position and splitting it into two functions and have a parks lead worker and a street/storm lead worker. Maintenance Worker II revised to a Maintenance Worker III; this change is less substantive than the other two.
Bunting stated he approached Steve before the end of June regarding getting comparative data from other cities. He stated he made it very clear he was looking for communities in the area, what the departments are, what the job titles are, between other towns and our own to see if they have some best practices that anyone can implement; what are other cities doing with two people that we are doing with three. Bunting stated Council may be able to make a legitimate reduction with that data. How does it impact the shareholders in the community? Bunting stated Council needs to make the smartest reductions we can that have the biggest bang for the buck with the least impact on citizens and business owners. Bunting stated he was hoping to have some of this information available; stating the information makes us look like a very bloated city. Bunting commented on the large and strong police department – not wanting to change that but in order to do an apples to apples comparison with other cities, then remove the police department and compare departments individually. How can we do what we are doing smarter and more cost effective. At this point, willing to talk about some things about the two resignations and until the information is received, and will table any move to eliminate any positions tonight.
Stahmer stated the information being requested relies on other cities responding to us. There was discussion between Bunting and Stahmer and Bunting stated this is so important to him that he will have his employees do it.
Stahmer stated we cannot force other cities to give us the information.
Bunting stated he is willing to wait if it takes an extra week or two.
Stahmer stated some cities will respond and some may not. We were able to get information provided tonight from all but one city that didn’t respond. In trying to get at the position descriptions may get us close without knowing what is being contracted out and what is done internally. Stahmer stated you may be talking about a full-blown management study.
Bunting commented on the information provided in the packet and stated it is dangerous information to have out there.
Davis commented on the information provided stating they want to see the size of the departments.
There was discussion among Council on what information to obtain, how many cities to obtain it from and how quickly it can be obtained.
Stahmer stated staff may have other options to find that information.
Chief Luther specifically discussed the police department in St. Anthony.
Bunting stated, with the Mayor’s indulgence and with the two major changes (resignations), he wants to only discuss the positions of planning and police since it has given us the opportunity for immediate cost savings.
Grimm stated he wants to add to Bunting’s comments that he finds it hard to believe that other cities will not provide this information. Grimm asked what we are actually asking for.
Bunting stated he wants to know how many people are employed within a department and at minimum job titles and what services they are outsourcing.
Davis commented on the regular agenda item 7.07 (filling vacant police position) as an action item on the agenda – public safety is an area he is not messing with. If the chief feels the need for the position, then he supports the recommendation. Davis also commented on holding off on replacing the planner and use a consultant as needed and use that cost savings.
Bunting stated then that is the place to start.
Grimm also stated he has no desire to hire a planner.
Rauenhorst agreed with contracting out the planning work and stated before 2011, we– need to look at the position again.
Bell concurred; until the Hassan merger moves ahead, then it does make sense to hold off.
Grimm questioned what the $20k for contract planner would cover. Stahmer explained the general services it would provide.
Council’s consensus is to contract out for planning services.
Stahmer stated staff recommends not doing a full-blown RFP process. Currently working with HKGI that could provide a minimum amount of service, however the primary planner there is billed at $120 per hour. Stahmer stated he knows of a couple planners he would recommend from similar firms to HKGI. Stahmer stated this is not a huge hurry and existing staff will work as needed.
Stahmer then went through the worksheet provided and explained the following lines specifically:
• Line 11 reduction of .7%
• Line 12 is the unallotment.
• This budget does not show use of fund balance – structurally balance the budget.
• Line 14 excess rate tax increments – additional increment above and beyond the frozen value. Friday afternoon, we received notice on this year’s increment. It will come in $100k higher than anticipated. This means there is an additional $100k in 2010 budget. Staff would recommend rather than using the $100k liquor one-time transfer, wait to use that until 2011 and use the excess increment to balance
• Line 40 $575,400 includes every single staff reduction in this recommendation. If that doesn’t happen, for every dollar you will either use some amount of fund balance or increase the tax levy to off-set dollar for dollar.
• Line 41 expenses decreasing by $150K – even after inflation would be considered.
• $76,152 if all salaries are kept at a zero % cost of living adjustment
• Line 49 levy goes down under this scenario
• Line 51 shows unallotment levy
• Line 72 is the key to the entire page – total net levy to taxpayers increases by $30k, less than 1%....far under levy limits because of the amount of cuts and additional monies coming in.
Stahmer stated staff is still working on gathering parcel by parcel data or example data from Hennepin County. He stated he was fairly certain we can have that for the next meeting. There is the potential if you are only talking about a 1.5 to 2% increase, and because the industrial values decreased at a smaller percent than residential, industrial properties would pick up the majority of a levy increase. Under the proposed worksheet, the tax rate is 40.67%.
Stahmer reiterated under the regular Council agenda, staff is recommending the public works reorganization as a better delivery service and the additional eight hours to the Community Room Coordinator/Admin. Assistant position, and to put off until July 28th any position elimination or reduction.
Grimm questioned the public works reorganization asking if it cuts a position.
Seifert explained the transfer of duties to other positions.
Grimm discussed Council’s actions last year in regard to the use of general fund reserves. He stated he would like to see what it would cost to including the extra $100k increment and the $100k from liquor fund and what would be needed from general fund reserves without eliminating any positions.
Stahmer asked if they are willing to see a levy increase or do they want it to remain flat?
Davis stated to do both. Start with a zero tax levy increase and work up from there.
Bunting stated he wants to keep the amount steady per household, not necessarily the rate. If raising the rate by 2% leaves the amount the house pays the same. Davis that is what the property analysis would add.
Davis also requested calendar year 2012 be added as a column on the worksheet.
Council then discussed the sharing of positions with the Township; primarily the Code Enforcement Officer. Bunting stated the Town Board would like to have him one or two days per week. Chief Luther stated they are already receiving the service. Bunting stated Hassan needs to be charged for the service.
Grimm questioned why the City is doing anything for Hassan for free.
There were multiple discussions happening at this time. Davis stated he would like to see what use of fund balance would do to the worksheet and questioned what it would do to the bond rating.
Grimm stated the capital plan is a joke.
Bell stated he wants to make sure as we move forward the city has a good policy and set of standards in place if we do eliminate positions and what it does to the actual employees involved. How long benefits continue, payroll, etc. Stahmer stated there is a combination of union policies and contracts in place; we can’t do less than what is called for in the contract or less than policy, but could do more.
Rauenhorst stated Council was willing to make the hard choices last year, stating we knew last year we were at a structural difference. Rauenhorst stated he will talk about the public works reorganization at the next meeting.
Mayor Grimm asked Chief Luther how soon he would like to hire the police position.
Chief Luther stated he would like to hire as soon as possible and explained the number of positions he is currently down and the timeline before a new officer is on the street on their own, stating it would be March of 2010 if hired now.
There was discussion on the COPS grant and if the money could be used to hire this officer. Chief Luther stated the decisions are not made until mid-September, and that money could not be used if we hired the officer now; the money would be used for new hires after January 1st.
Chief Luther continued to discuss the long work schedules he has taken on along with his staff.
Bunting stated the promise he made is two officers on at all times.
3. Adjourn. There being no further business, motion by Rauenhorst, seconded by Bunting to adjourn. Motion carried 5-0. The meeting was adjourned at 6:45 p.m.
Assistant City Administrator/Clerk