1. Call to Order. The workshop session of the Council of the City of Rogers was called to order by Acting Mayor Davis on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rogers Community Room, 21201 Memorial Drive, Rogers, MN, 55374.
Council present: Rob Bell, Jay Bunting, Jamie Davis, and Steve Rauenhorst.
Council excused: Jason Grimm.
Staff present: Gary Buysse, Liquor Operations Manager; Jeff Carson, City Attorney; Stacy Doboszenski, Assistant City Administrator/Clerk; Brad Feist, Fire Chief; Jeff Luther, Police Chief; John Seifert, Public Works Supt., Steve Stahmer, City Administrator; Lisa Wieland, Finance Director; and Bret Weiss, City Engineer.
2. Fire Contract Renewals and fire Relief Pension Contribution for 2011
Administrator Stahmer addressed the Council on an informal discussion regarding the fire contract renewals and the Fire Relief Association Pension Contribution for 2011. Stahmer stated if any changes were to be made in the fire contracts with neighboring communities, 2012 would be the better year to do that given new debt service with the acquisition of a new truck. Staff recommendation is to keep the fire contracts consistent for 2011. The letters are drafted and ready to be mailed waiting for any questions from the Council.
Council did not have questions.
The Fire Relief Association form was distributed to Council illustrating the required City contribution being $34,509; an increase over 2010. Doboszenski informed the Council the form requires the Clerk’s signature and needs to be submitted by August 1st.
Gregg Heikkinen introduced himself to the Council and asked if they had any questions.
Councilmember Bunting asked what total active member liabilities includes and the reason for the percentage increase for total active members. Heikkinen provided an explanation on the active member liabilities and the vesting of the membership. Bunting asked if fire fighters have been added. Staff explained that no new members have been added; topped at 35 members.
Bunting questioned if the liability will continue to increase if all members remain active. Staff stated yes. There was a discussion on the liabilities.
Heikkinen stated a better funding ratio would minimize the surprises on the City’s required contributions.
No further discussion.
3. Police Department Staffing Discussion
Administrator Stahmer started the discussion with Council stating he and Chief Luther collaborated on the memo and tried to come up with a comprehensive approach to the staffing needs of the department. Stahmer stated the intent of bringing the Sergeant position to this meeting, instead of the last meeting, was to look at the staffing needs in a more comprehensive manner. Stahmer stated what it boils down to what is discussed is the matrix of additional costs and/or cost savings. Stahmer reviewed the cost matrix with the Council.
Luther addressed the Council about the most recent armed robbery of Super America. Luther stated he is not happy with the performance received from Hennepin County on the investigation side. Luther stated he has stressed to his officers to do as much of the investigations they possibly can; asking them to do more up-front work. Luther stressed how busy the department is.
Luther asked Council if there are any specific questions he can answer for the Council.
Stahmer stated he wanted to stress for both the Council and the public in general when discussing public safety, nobody should feel that the question of cost for public safety needs to be apologized for; questioning costs does not mean anti-public safety.
Luther stated one of the areas that he and Stahmer disagree is that he (Luther) is looking at it from a standpoint of what is needed for today; not what is needed when the annexation occurs. Luther stated he disagrees that the ones hired today counting toward the ones required for annexation. Luther stated over the last two years he cannot believe the growth in the number of calls/activity.
Bell stated he has learned that Hennepin County does not have a lot of responsibility to the city and asked the Chief if that is across the board to other communities as well/ other cities that have their own police force. Luther stated we cannot compare apples to apples when talking about other communities. Luther spoke on what is mandated for the County to provide; primarily jail.
Bell is questioning if the City has any recourse to apply pressure to Hennepin County to provide more service. Luther stated the County is applying their resources in the inner-city.
Bell stated he also doesn’t want to come at this from the point of view of where costs can be cut to continue; but would like to see a tiered breakdown of what could be cut; for example, unlocking cars. Bell questioned if it is feasible to come up with a structure like that.
Luther discussed the function/job responsibilities of the code enforcement officer. Luther addressed the time it takes to handle a call and provided an example.
Davis stated an item he would like to have a discussion about is code enforcement; if he would have to decide between another officer on the street and code enforcement, he would definitely add another officer instead of code enforcement. Davis mentioned the cadet program and community service instead of code enforcement; at some point in this process we need to make a decision and would like to have an additional officer instead of code enforcement. Davis commented on the number of signs he sees and is torn if the position is adding value.
Rauenhorst agreed with Davis on the elimination of code enforcement and the addition of a cadet or community service officer program.
Luther stated that one thing the code enforcement officer does is noxious weeds, long grass; the aesthetic qualities of why people are attracted to Rogers.
Rauenhorst stated reserve officers could handle code enforcement.
Bunting stated that he is absolutely against any type of officer doing code enforcement.
There was a discussion between Rauenhorst and Bunting regarding the code enforcement officer position.
Bell asked how Rauenhorst knows we are not seeing results. Bell stated the code enforcement role is a very important thing for the City.
Rauenhorst continued to discuss his opinion of the position of code enforcement.
Bunting asked if he is talking about performance.
Rauenhorst stated this is not about performance. Bunting stated if it is a performance issue, then it needs to be addressed with Chief Luther.
Davis asked for a copy of what the code enforcement officer has done. Rauenhorst stated we cannot discuss performance in an open meeting; it is the discussion for a closed meeting.
Stahmer discussed using reserve officers instead of code enforcement officers; stating other communities do not use reserve officers for code enforcement function. Stahmer also reminded the Council of the position being split 50/50 between code enforcement and community service officer position. Stahmer stated the code enforcement function is a function that the City would not want to let go.
Bell is open to the idea of the responsibilities of code enforcement being handled by other staff.
Council continued to discuss the responsibilities of the position. Bell stated he wants to see the cost savings for the elimination of the position and asked for criteria to be established on what makes the position successful. Bell stated in his mind the code enforcement position is doing the things it was intended to do. Bell stated not everything can be black and white; there needs to be latitude.
Luther addressed the Council on the items the code enforcement officer is doing. Luther stressed the idea is to be realistic and the guidelines have been given. Luther stated he will take the responsibility if there is a part of the job that isn’t getting done.
Stahmer addressed the Council stating Luther is looking at the department from a needs standpoint and he is looking at a cost standpoint compared to the resources available and realizing some of the items may be costly.
Stahmer stated the items listed in the matrix as current needs; annexation aside, the cost is about $185,000 per year after the first year. An additional three officers is approximately $225,000.
Davis asked if code enforcement is a full-time job in and of itself. Luther stated it is not a full-time position. Davis suggested making it a part-time position and bringing in other part-time community service officers.
Luther stated he has pulled CAD reports and discussed some of the activities of the code enforcement officer.
Davis asked how other cities comparable in size handle traffic control for schools. Luther stated most cities break-out the function. Davis asked if it is a fair statement that we are paying more for a code enforcement officer than what a CSO officer would be paid for sitting at traffic stops, waiting for tow trucks, etc. Davis stated when looking at it from a financial standpoint then it does make sense to look at it as a part-time position and backfilling with community service officers. If cut to a part-time position, what would the benefit savings be? Davis asked Luther to provide that information.
Rauenhorst stated if we still had a planner, it would be an ideal spot for code enforcement to take from the police department and put it to the planner. Rauenhorst stated more importantly, the Council needs to act on the sergeant promotion. Rauenhorst asked if the Chief has a buyer for the canine. Luther stated he has several buyers interested in the dog.
Bell asked how much the dog has been used in the last six months. Luther stated the dog has not been used at all. There was a discussion on the dog being used as a narcotics dog.
Davis asked at what point do you retire the dog and take it out of active police work and make it a family pet. Luther stated the dog is a good narcotics dog that has won awards; we just haven’t been able to use him in a way that he should be used.
Bell stated he is for dis-banning the canine unit.
Rauenhorst asked if we are in agreement of eliminating the canine and offsetting the cost for the sergeant promotion.
Bell stated he wants to hear more about the sergeant promotion. Council is in agreement of eliminating the canine.
Bell asked for a brief recap of the sergeant promotion piece. Luther provided an explanation on his needs for a third supervisor. Luther believes there is a strong need for supervision to correct behaviors.
Bell asked what it means to the pool of regular officers. Luther stated he would rather have the Council focus on the request for an investigator position instead of backfilling the sergeant promotion. Luther addressed the needs of other departments and the work being 24/7 for the police department.
Bell asked how we go about making sure our existing pool has people qualified for a sergeant or investigator. Luther stated part of his job as Chief is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all his employees, their education, their experience, other positions they have held in other departments. Luther stated it would be an informed selection process that also needs the interest of the employees. Solicit the interest from the officers and have a selection process.
Stahmer stated one of the things we were going to talk about is the process.
Bell asked to go through a normal process for selecting the promoted officer.
4. 2011 budget Discussion
Stahmer recommended to go past 7:00 p.m., possibly 7:15 p.m. to discuss the budget. Stahmer stated in his memo he provided background on the 2010 budget and levy. Stahmer then discussed the memo he provided to Council. Stahmer reviewed the known 2011 budget parameters and variables with Council:
• State-imposed levy limits still in place for 2011 (expiring for Pay 2012 levy, if not extended by the legislature).
• As in 2010, the City will lose 100% of its “certified” Market Value Homestead Credit reimbursement from the State ($86K).
• Debt levy increase of $83,000 related to 2010 Equipment Certificate.
• Estimated reduction in existing Tax Capacity of 8% to 10%. This figure is an estimate and can change throughout the budget process, making specific projections regarding tax rate, etc., difficult.
• Use of the additional $100,000 liquor transfer not recommended/sustainable.
• Use of General Fund reserves/fund balance needed to balance the budget.
• Potential substantial increase in fund balance up to $260,000 due to excess rate TIF received in 2010 (subject to property tax court petitions).
• No expansion of services and no staffing/service level changes outside of potential Police Department staffing needs in anticipation of 2012 annexation, as determined appropriate by Council.
Stahmer discussed potential liabilities with tax petitions being held in court and cautioned the Council on using the full $260,000 additional excess Tax Increment received in 2010.
Stahmer reviewed the 7/23/2010 copy of the Financial Management Plan (FMP) with the Council.
Stahmer asked what the goals of the Council will be going forward. Stahmer stated department heads are currently working on worksheets with data through June 2010.
Rauenhorst would like to see the impact of additional hires for the police department; impacts of one, two, and three officers.
Finance Director Wieland referred Council to page nine of the Financial Management Plan and focused their direction to line 26; Wegner replacement.
Rauenhorst stated he would like to see the additional officers in the financial management plan.
Stahmer stated the excess rate TIF of $260,000 is not added into the FMP worksheet.
Wieland discussed permanent expenditure streams versus non-permanent revenue streams.
Stahmer stated the 2% inflation is a broad brush across the financial management plan; some departments may come below and some above.
Davis asked what salary assumptions are. Staff stated zero.
The assumption was if the Council is comfortable moving forward with the sergeant promotion, that it is discussed at the regular meeting under the agenda item.
Bunting moved, Rauenhorst seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:00 p.m. Motion carried 4-0.
Assistant City Administrator/Clerk