1. Call to Order. The budget work session of the Council of the City of Rogers was called to order by Mayor Bunting on Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at Rogers Community Center, 21201 Memorial Drive, Rogers, MN, 55374.
Council present: Jay Bunting, Don Hall, Rick Ihli, Darren Jakel, and Maureen Stanley.
Staff present: Jeff Beahen, Police Chief; 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. 2015 Budget Workshop DiscussionAdministrator Stahmer presented a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the following points, stating it is an abbreviated form of a presentation the Council has seen in the past with updated 2014 figures:• Property tax rate comparisons; area city comparison• Property tax rate comparisons within Hennepin County• Actual tax bills in comparison to surrounding cities based on a $250,000 home and a $300,000 home• Total property tax bill including county and school district tax• Fiscal disparities impact
Finance Director Wieland provided handouts to the Council; Financial Management Plan (FMP) and levy information sheet. Wieland stated the FMP is a tool for planning; throughout the process the plan is to have a flat rate and live within the growth received in capacity and increase in taxable market value. Wieland stated on the levy information sheet, the highlighted information is not available from Hennepin County yet, however they are not huge factors in making changes to growth and capacity. Wieland then proceeded through the one page levy information sheet. Information included was tax capacity rates, tax rate based on 2.5% inflation and other factors assumed in the FMP; a 2% revenue increase and a 2.5% expenditure increase.
Stahmer stated the FMP is tracking pretty close to the flat tax rate and levy increase. Stahmer stated the tax rate by itself is meaningless unless it is being compared against something else.Stahmer discussed the goals of the 2014 goal setting session, stating police staffing was identified as number one. Stahmer stated the budget discussion can be looked at in three parts; levy increase based on uncontrollable factors (PERA, union contracts, etc.), the second tier being the additional staffing requests by the Police, and the third tier being all other staffing requests; a full-time Network Technician and full-time parks position, along with other adjustments to existing positions/staff. Stahmer stated the Fire Department staffing issues are being pushed out with changes to protocols in responding to medicals, as discussed with Chief Feist and Chief Beahen today.
Stahmer stated in Police, staff has considered the addition of two officers; only hiring one officer helps one shift, and doesn't balance things out. The FMP has the two positions scheduled for 2016. Stahmer stated there is some ability to use existing cash balances in 2015 to bridge the gap to get to 2016 when they were planned. The Council may choose to use either fund balance or other cash balance to fund mid-year hires.
Staff is asking the Council for where their comfort level is in tax rate, levy, and staffing needs.
Wieland stated the County information received is not final, and won't be finalized until the end of 2014. Wieland also asked the Council to keep in mind that every time the tax rate drops below a prior year, you then lose fiscal disparities distribution since they use prior year rate for future year distribution. Wieland stated the requested IT position is in the FMP for 2017 and not 2015.
Mayor Bunting asked Council if they would like to hear from department heads on their staffing needs and invited Chief Beahen forward to address the Council.
Chief Beahen provided a staffing considerations packet to Council and reviewed the data contained within including:• Calls for service• Part I and Part II crimes• Comparison to other departments• Other factors in determining the appropriate staffing levels• Comparisons to other cities of our size and what makes Rogers unique• Investigations
Beahen spoke on the proposed retirement of our Captain this fall and asked the Council to consider not replacing the Captain's position with a Captain, but replace it with an investigator. Beahen asked that the Council review the document. There were no questions by Council.
Chief Feist was invited forward by Mayor Bunting. Feist stated in talking with Steve and Stacy and looking at staffing plans, he would like to have Public Safety Task Force (PSTF) meetings to occur monthly and plan for 2016 and future staffing levels. Feist stated he met today with Beahen, Stahmer and Scharber, reviewed the medical calls, looked at the duplication and will be giving our department a break on the number of medical calls. Feist stated there is still a need for more paid on-call firefighters stating his goal is to have 50 on-call members by 2017; a three-year plan. Feist stated the necessary SCBA equipment is included in the budget. Feist then mentioned the MDC's going away and a possible iPad project to replace it.
Public Works Supt. Seifert then addressed the Council regarding staffing and budget needs for 2015. Seifert stated a lot of the cities on the list presented by Stahmer are fully developed and in a stable position that can absorb those costs. As we continue to grow we are expanding our service levels. Service levels provided are in direct correlation to the budget. Requests are many; especially within the parks and recreation area. There is an expectation level by the residents and we are trying to match it with a service level. Staff has been busy with capital projects. We have been building a lot of infrastructure and there are hours related to maintaining it. Seifert stated for staffing needs, the biggest area of growth is additional FTE in parks maintenance. Seifert discussed how he matrixes staff so that in the winter their primary role deals with snow removal and street maintenance. Seifert then discussed the new mechanic hire and the installation of a hoist next week and we will begin to see the efficiencies of an in-house mechanic.
Seifert then asked Council to consider the gravel maintenance program that the Township used to use stating the philosophy of Township was to correct the sub-base as a part of the general levy.
Bunting stated at this point staff needs a little bit of direction; if he reiterates correctly, staff will want some view points on what to do with tax rates and the Council's comfort level regarding increase of spending.
Stahmer stated he is looking for a gut reaction and the willingness to do anything above the baseline. What is an acceptable goal for the Council? Consensus or individual opinions helps staff when coming forward to the next work session. August 26th and September 9th will be the next two work sessions. Council will need to set the preliminary levy on September 9th, which is the maximum levy. We can always drop from that amount, but we can't go higher.
Ihli stated he would like to absorb the information before making a statement.
Hall asked for clarification between the increases in tax capacity versus the proposed increase in the levy. Wieland stated the levy can increase by 7.5% and keep the rate fairly flat; growth would allow for a 7.5% increase.
Jakel asked for clarification on what is included in the 7.5%. Wieland stated PERA, wages increases based on negotiated contracts, steps, health insurance, and overtime increases.
Bunting reiterated that no FTE increases are included in the 7.5% number which keeps a flat tax rate.
There was continued discussion on the increases not planned for; PERA, MDC changes imposed by Hennepin County, loss of LGA, etc.
Wieland commented on the 2006 tax rate being 42% forever. In anticipation of TIF 1 coming off, Council prematurely dropped the tax rate. Annexation definitely relieved some pressure and we were able to start the sinking funds.
Bunting asked if staff has calculated if we added everything that every staff member wanted. Wieland stated she is working on entering line item budgets now. Stahmer stated for every point in the tax rate the corresponding increase to the levy is $168,000. Of the wish list items, the increase would be approximately two percentage points.
Scharber stated the 7.5% levy increase assumes 2.5% increases in line item budgets, but not more than 2.5%.
Bunting talked about the small amount per month per individual tax payer that could mean an additional officer or additional parks staff that will increase those service levels. For two points, he doesn't see it as a large increase. Bunting stated we have always budgeted very conservatively and have always had some amount of excess funds. He stated he is comfortable taking from reserves for one year especially if it is budgeted for the following year.
Jakel would add that service levels will continue to grow and continue to build; adding roads, adding people, our services are going to be busier in all three departments. 10 years ago the infrastructure wasn't there like it is today. Jakel stated that staff has done a commendable job in learning to do a lot with a little. The Department Heads have had good communication with the Administrator. Jakel stated all staff can do is suggest and recommend and it is up to the Council to decide on where the increases or decreases will happen.
3. AdjournMayor Bunting adjourned the meeting at 7:13 p.m.
Stacy ScharberAssistant City Administrator/Clerk