1. Call to Order. The regular work session of the Council of the City of Rogers was called to order by Acting Mayor Ihli on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at Rogers Community Center, 21201 Memorial Drive, Rogers, MN, 55374.
Council present: Don Hall, Rick Ihli, and Darren Jakel.
Council excused: Jay Bunting and Maureen Stanley.
Staff present: Mike Bauer, RAC Manager; Jeff Beahen, Police Chief; Gary Buysse, Liquor Operations Manager; Sheila Cartney, Planner/Comm. Development Director; Brad Feist, Fire Chief; John Seifert, Public Works Supt.; Stacy Scharber, Assistant City Administrator; Steve Stahmer, City Administrator; Bret Weiss, City Engineer; and Lisa Wieland, Finance Director.
2. 2014 Budget Discussion
Administrator Stahmer began the discussion using the memo prepared by Finance Director Wieland which highlighted the differences between the preliminary levy and budget presented in August to the current proposed budget with a reduction of $65,270.
Stahmer handed out a worksheet illustrating preliminary levy tax rates for Hennepin County cities. Rogers is approximately 8.5% below the average tax rate. Stahmer also reviewed the percentage that Rogers is below the average if the Lake Minnetonka cities are removed from the average.
Hall asked if there are any other anticipated changes to the numbers proposed tonight. Staff stated the League's insurance rates and union contract negotiations are still an unknown factor stating we are as comfortable as we can be at this point.
Wieland proceeded through the budget documents that were distributed to Council starting with personnel services budget. Wieland explained that the supervisors and part-time salary scale is .5% below the rest of the City. The budget does use 1.5% COLA across the board on wages and health insurance.
Scharber explained the increase to the health insurance premium and the out of pocket increase to the employee.
Wieland explained the additions to the personnel services budget and the new hires being proposed for 2014. Wieland opened the meeting to questions from Council regarding staffing.
Jakel questioned the mechanic position stating it has been budgeted and not filled. Jakel questioned if expenditure line items were raised to meet the actuals in 2013 because the position was not filled.
Staff explained the line items were left at the lower rate anticipating the hire. For 2013 budget to actual, we will be over in the repairs area and under in the personnel services.
Jakel continued to discuss the mechanics position and asked if it should be kept in the budget.
Seifert stated it is the right time to make the decision. Seifert would like the opportunity this year to show the Council the justification for the position. Seifert focused on current staff having to shuffle cars, use of employee's time, and the lack of preventative maintenance which would extend the life of our equipment.
Hall stated he will buy the argument of spending employee time, but doesn't buy the argument of preventative maintenance. Hall spoke on his personal experience with the business he owns stating he employs 12 mechanics.
Stahmer asked Chief Beahen to discuss his experiences in Elk River. Beahen stated they got an additional 20,000 to 25,000 miles out of their squads with good preventative maintenance.
Beahen explained who is currently being used to service squads and the employee time spent.
Ihli questioned if staff has approached anyone locally; if we dedicate our fleet could we get a better rate?
There was continued discussion on the pros and cons of hiring a mechanic.
Hall asked how many pieces of equipment the City has. Seifert stated 100 pieces of motorized equipment that need to be serviced; 70 is rolling stock. Hall asked if one mechanic is enough.
There was additional discussion on what a mechanic can do for the City. Council asked to have it brought before them before the end of the year.
Hall explained to staff and Council the reasons for his trepidation in hiring a mechanic.
Wieland continued through the personnel services budget by department. Wieland explained the budget includes a couple grade level change recommendations built in that will be brought back to the Council before implementing. Also, any new full-time hires with benefits are brought back to the Council.
Jakel questioned the overtime budget for the police department. Staff explained what is included in the overtime budget; stating it includes when officers work grants – safe and sober being an example. Jakel stated from an employee's moral and well-being standpoint he wants to keep overtime down and stated the proposed CSO program will help with that.
Hall asked if payroll taxes and insurances are tracked as a percentage of budget. Staff stated they are not.
Wieland then explained the new law that has the city record the unfunded PERA liability within the audited financial statements starting with year 2014.
At this time, staff asked Council to review line item budgets and asked if there are any questions.
Jakel asked the comparison of 2013 sinking funds to 2014 sinking funds. Wieland stated the difference can be found on the front page of the financial management plan (FMP) and stated the change is the addition of trail sinking funds.
There was a discussion on the sinking funds. Seifert and Wieland explained how the sinking funds will be increased with MSA maintenance dollars instead of doing budget carry-overs. This led to a discussion on keeping MSA maintenance dollars separate from reconstruction dollars.
Wieland then reviewed the front page of the FMP with Council. Wieland stated staff is preparing an FMP that will show the future year tax rates with and without a park referendum.
There was discussion on the FMP.
Wieland explained the current budget is well under levy limit. The total levy shows a 5.51% increase. Wieland explained how increases in revenue and expenditures can be affected by grants that we receive and administer.
Wieland stated there will be another budget workshop to review enterprise funds and the CIP in November and prior to the first meeting in December, there will be a workshop for any last minute changes.
Jakel asked his fellow councilors if the rate feels good, or should we ask department heads to sharpen pencils. This led to a discussion on keeping stable tax rates. Wieland and Stahmer discussed how current tax rates effect future year's fiscal disparities.
Ihli asked Hall his opinion on the current rate of 40.496. Hall stated with the explanation provided of keeping a stable rate because of the impact of fiscal disparities, he said it is worth it.
Jakel stated he is fine with the rate.
Ihli stated he wants to see a 39.999 number if possible.
Hall thanked staff for their time in preparing the budget documents.
3. Discuss Potential Business Registration Certificate
Planner Cartney addressed the Council regarding the concept of creating a business registration certificate. The program would give the multiple departments a chance to see if the business meets current zoning and would give Chief Feist the opportunity to review the use from a fire standpoint; hazardous material and whether there is a need to sprinkle the building. Carney stated staff is trying to be proactive by implementing the program. Cartney suggested applying a nominal fee and it would give the business owner an opportunity to register their business, the City would receive emergency contact information, and the business would be listed on the City's website. Cartney stated staff is here to receive Council's thoughts on the program and if it should be a one-time registration or an annual process.
Staff explained the benefits of having a business register with the City and provided examples where new businesses have signed leases in buildings that were not properly zoned for the business.
Hall agrees would be a good thing but believes it should just be an added service level and not charge for the registration process.
Jakel stated he echoes the benefit and asked that it be tied into the fire inspection program. Jakel also stated there shouldn't be a fee.
Council concurred with the idea and staff was directed to proceed with developing a program.
4. Other Business
Hall moved, Jakel seconded a motion to adjourn at 6:55 p.m. Motion carried 3-0.
Assistant City Administrator/Clerk