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City Council


City Council Meeting Minutes

June 15, 2015

 

1.       Roll Call

Mayor Roe called the meeting to order at approximately 6:00 p.m.  Voting and Seating Order: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.  City Manager Patrick Trudgeon and City Attorney Mark Gaughan were also present.

 

2.         Pledge of Allegiance

 

3.         Approve Agenda

McGehee moved, Etten seconded approval of the agenda as presented.

 

                                                Roll Call

Ayes: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.

Nays: None.

 

4.         Public Comment

Mayor Roe called for public comment by members of the audience on any non-agenda items.

 

a.    John Kysylyczyn, 3083 Victoria Street

Mr. Kysylyczyn spoke in response to public comments made at the June 8, 2015 City Council meeting related to organized trash collection.  Mr. Kysylyczyn addressed the alleged misinformation provided as part of those comments; opining that it was unfortunate for a handful to resort to misinformation or a lack of accurate data in order to support their viewpoint.  From his perspective Mr. Kysylyczyn reviewed previously attempted legislation and subsequent adoption of the current bipartisan legislation adopted allowing a process for local government to pursue organized trash collection being mindful of the interests of all parties.

 

Mr. Kysylyczyn further addressed information provided by a citizen showing cost comparisons for the City of Maplewood, pointing out his understanding of the methodology of that survey and lack of scientific administration in those results, and therefore not accurately supporting the comparison data.  Mr. Kysylyczyn also noted information provided by the statistically accurate survey and similar responses performed in the communities of Roseville, Shoreview and Fridley, administered by Decision Resources, all showing that the public does not support organized trash collection or not having a choice in selecting their trash haulers.

 

Mr. Kysylyczyn cautioned the City Council, when information is brought forward to them, that they challenge those presenting the data to share all information accurately before the City Council comes to any conclusions on an issue.

 

Robert Westland, 210 County Road B-2 W

Mr. Westland concurred with Mr. Kysylyczyn's comments and expressed his personal concern in government interference with private property and personal rights, as he was personally experiencing with the City's code enforcement staff.  Mr. Westland questioned when the City of Roseville had begun to send out code enforcement staff to address issues on private property, such as in his back yard, opining that it had almost reached a nuisance level based on his experience.  If such a course if to be followed, Mr. Westland asked that it be done fairly and consistently, and performed citywide, not just to him personally, which he found bothersome and invasive of his private property.

 

Community Engagement Commission Interviews

Interviews were held for a vacancy on this commission with Mr. John Eichenlaub and Ms. Ebony Adedayo.

 

5.         Council Communications, Reports, and Announcements

Mayor Roe announced several upcoming events, including co-sponsorship by the Roseville Fire Department for appointments to install car seats in vehicles; volunteer opportunities involving natural resources and shoreline planting at Bennett Lake/Central Park, assistance with the Run and Roll for the Roses, a Community Playground Build at Bruce Russell Park, and helping in a variety of ways with the upcoming Rose Parade.  Mayor Roe noted additional information was available on the City's website or by calling City Hall.

 

6.         Recognitions, Donations and Communications

 

7.         Approve Minutes

 

8.            Approve Consent Agenda

 

9.            Consider Items Removed from Consent

 

10.         General Ordinances for Adoption

 

a.            Consider Amending City Code, Chapter 302 Liquor Control to Allow for Off- and On-Sale Microdistellery Sales and to Allow for Sunday Sales of Growlers

At the request of Mayor Roe, City Attorney Gaughan provided a quick summary of this revised ordinance, as first reviewed at the June 8, 2015 City Council meeting; and based on recent changes to state law from the latest legislative session.  Mr. Gaughan noted the proposed city adoption was detailed in the Request for Council Action (RCA) and draft ordinance included in the meeting materials, and dated June 15, 2015.   Mr. Gaughan noted that the intention was for local code to closely mirror state statute and referencing them as applicable for future annotation on the final version of the ordinance.  As discussed at the previous meeting, Mr. Gaughan advised that requested revisions by the City Council had been incorporated into Sections 302.02.f and l of the draft ordinance.

 

Councilmember McGehee had several questions of City Attorney Gaughan regarding taprooms/growler sales, and references to 'cocktail rooms,' and Sunday sales referred to  as the 'Bloody Mary Law,' and specifics and differences of each in accordance with this new legislation, and as previously addressed in Mr. Gaughan's letter of June 3, 2015 to the City Council, outlining those provisions and recommendations for revisions to local code.

 

Mayor Roe noted that the same entity could not have a microdistillery license and also a taproom license, but could have a taproom license as well as an off-sale, with City Attorney Gaughan affirming that there was no prohibition.  At the request of Mayor Roe, City Attorney Gaughan also addressed Sunday sales, as addressed in local ordinance Section 302.09 and also allowed under State Statute, but not required of local municipalities to specifically address unless they chose to do so.

 

Willmus moved, Etten seconded, enactment of Ordinance No. 1478 entitled, 'An Ordinance Amending Various Sections of Chapter 302: Liquor Control.'

 

Councilmember McGehee spoke in support of the motion; however, she questioned why there would be any consideration of cocktail rooms at this time since none had been requested, and which she did not support.  Councilmember McGehee expressed concern that the more alcohol sold, the more enforcement and safety issues there were.

 

Councilmember Laliberte spoke in support of the motion and revised language, noting the current excitement with this industry in surrounding communities about this option, and allowing City of Roseville entitles this option as well.  Councilmember Laliberte opined that the closing hour provision of 1:00 a.m. already in code served to address any concerns, and expressed her preference for City Code to mirror State Statute as much as possible to reduce the need to revise it with each minor change.

 

Mayor Roe noted additional provisions in existing ordinances prior to brewery taprooms coming to Roseville, and address on-sale as well and requiring that food sales were part of that for restaurants or hotels, and precluding bars which Roseville did not have per se.  By going forward with the taproom and eliminating food requirements for that category, Mayor Roe noted the reasoning at that time was to limit the type of spirits and range of products and opportunities.  Mayor Roe recognized potential irresponsibilities of drinkers with beer or spirits, while noting that local and state laws governed those situations.  Mayor Roe expressed his confidence in establishments being responsible business owners and monitoring and enforcement of public safety authorities as well.

 

                                                Roll Call

Ayes: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.

Nays: None.

 

Willmus moved, McGehee seconded, enactment of Ordinance Summary No. 1478 for publication purposes, entitled, 'An Ordinance Amending Various Sections of Chapter 302: Liquor Control.'

 

                                                Roll Call (Super Majority)

Ayes: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.

Nays: None.

 

b.            Consider Changes to City Code, Chapter 314.05: 2015 Fee Schedule

Subsequent to the previous action item, Finance Director Chris Miller noted this created two new categories, requiring a change in the current 2015 fee schedule as detailed in the RCA dated June 15, 2015.  Mr. Miller advised that the suggested fee was $750 for on-sale microdistlillery cocktail room license, consistent with the on-sale brewery taproom fee charged to microbreweries, and $300 for the off-sale microdistillery license consistent with other off-sale licenses in Roseville.

 

As noted by Mayor Roe, Mr. Miller confirmed that off-sale fees are limited by State Statute, and the proposed license fee was up to the cap for that category.

 

McGehee moved, Etten seconded, enactment of Ordinance No. 1479 (Attachment A) entitled, 'An Ordinance Amending Chapter 314.05, Fee Schedule: Revising the 2015 Fee Schedule.'

 

As requested by Councilmember Laliberte, Finance Director Miller confirmed that there were no separate Sunday license fees established for growler sales at this point other than covered exclusively for that purpose by existing licenses.

 

                                                Roll Call

Ayes: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.

Nays: None.

 

McGehee moved, Willmus seconded, enactment of Ordinance No. 1479S (Attachment B) entitled, 'Ordinance Summary Amending Chapter 314.05, Fee Schedule: Revising the 2015 Fee Schedule.'

 

                                                Roll Call (Super Majority)

Ayes: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.

Nays: None.

 

 

Recess

Mayor Roe recessed the meeting at approximately 7:03 p.m., and reconvened at approximately 7:05 p.m.

 

11.         Presentations

 

a.            Joint Meeting with Parks and Recreation Commission

Mayor Roe welcomed Commissioners to this quarterly meeting.  Present representing the Commission were Chair Jerry Stoner and Commissioners Jamie Becker-Finn, Lee Diedrick, Randall Doneen, Philip Gelbach, David Holt, Luke Heikkila, Terrance Newby, and Nancy O'Brien.

 

Chair Stoner opened discussion up with introductions and welcoming the three newly-appointed commissioners.  As detailed in the RCA, Chair Stoner briefly reviewed community outreach activities undertaken by the Commission since last meeting with the City Council. 

 

Commissioner Newby highlighted several project activity items, noting the Commission's ongoing comprehensive involvement in the Park & Recreation Renewal Program; their review of fees/users of various park buildings and operations; and the City Council-requested review of the deer population and their recommendations to address that concern.

 

Commissioner Doneen reviewed work plan items anticipated for the upcoming year, some of which had been lagging behind due to other Renewal Program activities and now needing to be addressed.  Among those issues, Commissioner Doneen addressed limited real estate and/or partnership available in SW Roseville for additional park and green space; public safety issues at Tamarack Park needing to be addressed; and natural resource restoration project needs and investment in long-term management.  Commissioner Doneen noted these activities would all require significant community involvement and more input by the Commission.

 

Commissioner Becker-Finn reviewed the status of park building operations, reporting that all buildings were now substantially completed, with the next step to track their operations and fine-tune fee schedules as applicable based on their use.

 

Commissioner Holt reported on the Commission's review of Cedarholm Golf Course operations and recommendations as detailed in Attachment A to the RCA. Commissioner Holt noted deferred maintenance issues and the bigger picture, as well as the review and report by the Finance Commission on this Enterprise Fund and Financial Summary from 2010 - 014 as provided by Finance Director Chris Miller and staff.

 

Commissioner Holt asked the City Council to consider why this continued to operate as an Enterprise Fund given other valuable assets in Park & Recreation programming that were not (e.g. ballfields) and how depreciation expenses affected funding.  Commissioner Holt noted the Commission's desire to explore the big picture for this program not currently taxpayer funded.  In reviewing surrounding communities and inner-ring suburbs such as Roseville, Commissioner Holt noted the unique and valuable asset provided by the golf course, serving to increase the City's tax base and of importance to the community as well.  Commissioner Holt asked consideration by the City Council in the possibility of bringing the golf course back into the Parks & Recreation fold versus as a standalone Enterprise Fund.

 

Commissioner Holt also thanked the City Council for increasing the frequency of these joint meetings, and expressed hope that they were also of benefit to the City Council.  Commissioner Holt noted the Commission's appreciation of the additional direction and focus they provided in their oversight of park and recreation activities and events.

 

Mayor Roe thanked Commissioners for their update, and opened discussion to individual Councilmembers.

 

Councilmember Willmus thanked the Commission for the information they offered.  In his personal consideration of the position of the skating center or golf course, Councilmember Willmus advised that he looked at them as amenities that served the entire community, holding those services and amenities on a par with emergency and public works services.  Councilmember Willmus opined that they all represented an important aspect for a healthy community. 

 

Councilmember Willmus noted his willingness to hold ongoing discussions about how to improve things, but for him personally the bottom line was that he may not consider such services as necessarily being revenue generators, but of community value.  Councilmember Willmus noted this was similar to the correlation between recreation or open space properties adding value for contiguous adjacent private properties.

 

Councilmember Willmus sought further consideration by the Commission on how to address park dedication fees for redevelopment projects that may not allow for or include available property.

 

Referencing his past service on the Parks & Recreation Commission, Councilmember Willmus noted their review of fees, and asked for an update from the Commission and fine-tune review of all fees going forward, including comparisons with other communities.

 

Commissioner Holt advised that this had been done internally by the Commission and offered to provide it to the City Council at the next joint meeting.

 

Councilmember McGehee asked Commissioner Doneen regarding properties still available in SW Roseville. 

 

Commissioner Doneen responded that, for various reasons, the Commission chose not to move forward on either of the two available properties at this time.

 

Chair Stoner concurred, noting that one parcel was more favorable than the other given its size and how it was laid out based on what could be fit on either parcel (e.g. ballfields).

 

Councilmember McGehee clarified that, when she considered a park in her area, she was not specifically considering its use as a ballfield, but green space to provide an opportunity for family activities, not necessarily organized or formal activities.  Councilmember McGehee opined that there were many such amenities available in the community.

 

Councilmember McGehee suggested the Commission's consideration of partnering with the City of Falcon Heights with their community park already in that area and providing many amenities, and already used by a majority of SW Roseville residents already.  Given the recent completion and integration of the pathway, Councilmember McGehee expressed her preference for that partnership option versus acquiring more land; and asked that the Commission think more broadly and make links with neighboring communities.

 

Councilmember McGehee asked Commissioner Becker-Finn about how a determination was made for those paying fees (e.g. civic or neighborhood groups) and private uses.  Councilmember McGehee provided a recent anecdotal example of  apparent disparities, and her understanding of the intent for building use by residents. 

 

As a newer member of the Commission, Commissioner Becker-Finn advised that she was not on board when fees were determined.

 

Chair Stoner provided the fee structure and intent for use of buildings by residents, considering use by resident groups as a loss and theoretically compensated with non-resident fees.

 

At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Commissioner O'Brien clarified that the fees depended on the function and how the event is defined - whether exclusive to a particular association or open to the public. 

 

Commissioner Stoner noted this is the general intent, and obviously each case was given consideration.

 

Commissioner Doneen noted that this had received considerable discussion by the Commission, and advised that City staff attempted to question each use or event specifically to make a judgment call as applicable.  Commissioner Doneen noted that the Commission continued to monitor fees to determine if this is the right system and how it was working, and admitted some revisions may be required going forward with more experience.

 

In light of civic and community engagement, Councilmember McGehee suggested considering specific areas, not necessarily the entire city, and those activities that should be free if open and available for the public.

 

Commissioner Becker-Finn noted that part of the issue may involve the information shared when booking an event or activity and how to define where the line is, suggesting this may need to be further clarified on the website.  Commissioner Becker-Finn asked the City Council's consideration that this is new territory, with most of the buildings only having been available for booking since April, and feedback will continue to inform the process and necessary revisions.  Based on the feedback she'd received to-date, Commissioner Becker-Finn stated most were finding the City's rental fees reasonable, given their comparison with other private facilities not offering as many amenities.

 

Councilmember McGehee requested additional information from the Commission on the formula or differential between resident and non-resident fees; with Commissioner Becker-Finn responding that it varied depending on the building itself and its capacity as well as the day of the week for the booking.

 

Specific to the golf course, Councilmember McGehee expressed her frustration in deferring maintenance (e.g. roof repairs/replacement), similar to that of fire stations and old park buildings, and the apparent common theme across the City to defer maintenance long enough that a new building was required.

 

While it may not be specific only to Park & Recreation facilities, Councilmember McGehee opined that the City had been remiss in addressing ongoing maintenance issues, thus the implementation of the asset management software program.  Councilmember McGehee spoke in support of the golf course as a nice amenity for the community, and her lack of support in selling the property, at least without further study.  Councilmember McGehee spoke in further support for continuing to have the golf course operate as an Enterprise Fund, opining that the Oval and skating center should do so as well, to provide a separate picture of their finances, making the bookkeeping aspect cleaner.  Councilmember McGehee opined that this would be another area of interest for her in defining the fee differential to address actual costs and provide a more sustainable financial footing and recommendations from the Commission on how best to get there.  Councilmember McGehee opined that the twenty-year Parks & Recreation capital improvement program (CIP) was out of line with other departments (e.g. twenty baseball fields operating without fee and allowing athletic organizations complete and priority use of those fields for the most part).  Councilmember McGehee expressed her wish that the Commission would look toward making those fields available to residents for their personal use versus their potential loss as an amenity.

 

 

Commissioner Holt took issue with Councilmember McGehee's misperception about deferring maintenance of park facilities, referencing the previous dedication of funds for maintenance through the Parks Improvement Program (PIP).  Commissioner Holt noted previous City Councils reallocating those funds to other areas of city operations; and therefore, the Parks & Recreation Department no longer had funds available for necessary maintenance.  Commissioner Holt clarified that it was not the Commission's or Department's desire for new or different styled buildings, but simply to address those deferred maintenance decisions, and grow the program back.  As mentioned in previous meetings, Commissioner Holt restated the Commission's and his personal appreciation of this City Council once again setting aside funding to maintain assets; and respectfully requested that those funds remain in place to avoid future issues.

 

In reference to previous City Council decision-making specifically related to deferred maintenance issues, Mayor Roe suggested that there were no deferrals intended to seek new facilities, but rather not enough information was provided for them to make informed decisions and with their efforts to keep tax levies low.  In the last few years, Mayor Roe opined that this City Council has made a concerted effort to keep an eye on community assets; and stated everyone at the table - the City Council and Commission - were all responsible to move those efforts forward in a positive way.  Mayor Roe stated that the goal should be to make it clear what all was involved in order to make better decisions, including long-term CIP listings and periodic updates, allowing current information on which playground, equipment, or items need replacing or repairs at any given time.

 

Councilmember McGehee expressed her hope that this would actually be accomplished, even though she found this City Council majority continuing to dig into reserves annually rather than fully funding the CIP.  Councilmember McGehee noted that the PIP suffered the same fate and expressed concern that this may occur with the CIP as well.  Councilmember McGehee expressed her interest in sustaining assets and not losing any gains already made with the decision-making of future City Councils.   

 

Councilmember Etten thanked the Commission for their report and the specific areas addressed, providing a recent anecdotal experience and teaching opportunity he and his son experienced on the boardwalk.  Councilmember Etten also noted the community service opportunities after renovations he'd participated in and the favorable comments he'd heard about improved lighting at various facilities in addition to accessibility and amenities in new bathroom facilities.

 

Councilmember Etten echoed some of the comments of Councilmember Willmus regarding park dedication fees, opining that while lot lines may not change, new density may occur, and questioned how park dedication worked into that type of redevelopment.  Councilmember Etten suggested legal counsel may need to weigh in about how and when those fees may kick in as Roseville continued to redevelop. 

 

Regarding the club house at Cedarholm Golf Course, Councilmember Etten agreed that the current building was in rough shape with continued deferral of roof maintenance on the CIP depending on the future of the facility.  However, Councilmember Etten opined it may prove another positive situation, and while the Commission reviews its future, may also prove a positive asset as a year-round facility for community use. 

 

Regarding whether or not to incorporate it in the General Fund or continue operations as a separate Enterprise Fund, Councilmember Etten recognized the cross-purposes of staff and difficulty in sorting revenue and expenses out accordingly.  Given that consideration, Councilmember Etten opined that it made sense to make that operation part of the broader community offerings versus a separate Enterprise Fund, such as License Center operations with staff dedicated specifically and only to that particular effort.

 

Councilmember Etten clarified discussion about the two parcels in SW Roseville, noting that one parcel was not actually for sale and the owner was not interested in selling, and potential acquisition of the other parcel fell through when a different offer had been received.  As a former Chair of the Commission, Councilmember Etten noted the positive advances made, particularly in the recent completion of the path along County Road B.  Councilmember Etten also clarified that there already existed a shared agreement with the City of Falcon Heights and that a positive collaboration was in place and continued to be part of the process for ongoing improvement for the SW area of Roseville.

 

Councilmember Laliberte thanked the Commission for their work to-date, recognizing it had been a busy few years for them, requiring lots of oversight for staff and the Commission on the various Renewal Program projects.  As a recent participant of one of the Playground Build projects, Councilmember Laliberte stated she highly recommended it for resident involvement. 

Councilmember Laliberte spoke in support of those areas of focus laid out by the Commission in their report, and encouraged them to continue their out-of-the-box thinking for each of those work plan initiatives, and to not limit themselves to a particular piece of land in SW Roseville but to consider all options.  Councilmember Laliberte shared the public safety concerns for Tamarack Park, opining it needed to be addressed on a number of different levels.

 

Regarding natural resource restoration, Councilmember Laliberte noted her previous forwarding of information on Buckthorn mitigation.

 

Regarding Cedarholm Golf Course, Councilmember Laliberte agreed that it was a valuable asset for the community; and expressed her interest in figuring out how to make it work and continuing as an asset for residents and non-residents alike; and her interest in hearing recommendations from the Commission.  Pending that additional information, Councilmember Laliberte advised that she had no initial thoughts on the advantages or disadvantages of it remaining an Enterprise Fund, even though she appreciated the transparency and segregation of data provided by such a funding designation and for the guidance it provided.  If the Commission recommended moving forward with course improvements or a new building, Councilmember Laliberte suggested looking into kick starter funding as part of that scenario to help solve part of the funding problem.

 

Councilmember Laliberte expressed her interest in continuing these periodic joint meetings.

 

Councilmember Laliberte encouraged the Commission to take advantage of C-TV Channel 16 as an additional opportunity to promote the golf course, skating center and park buildings; and to do a better job to highlight those amenities with that media source.

 

Councilmember Willmus expressed his disagreement with Commissioner Holt and Councilmember Etten about moving the golf course from a separate Enterprise Fund to the City's Recreation Fund.  Councilmember Willmus stated that he found segregation of an Enterprise Fund to be illuminating and providing greater detail.  Councilmember Willmus noted that the Ice Arena operated as an Enterprise Fund until construction of the Oval. 

 

Councilmember Willmus echoed the comments of Councilmember Laliberte in improving marketing for park and recreation activities and events through as many options as are possible.

 

Regarding park dedication fees, Councilmember Willmus noted the triggers under State Statute, and asked that the Commission be cognizant of that during their review.

 

Mayor Roe briefly addressed park dedication fees, and its current limited use for sustainability for infrastructure and rehabilitation efforts in the park areas, as well as statutory allowances for acquisition of or improvement of parks.  Mayor Roe advised that he had already broached this subject with staff, and suggested looking at policy recommendations to address use of the current park dedication fund and available dollars, and to determine if those funds should be segregated for the specific purpose of acquisition and improvements, as well as addressing new funding as it became available and how it should be distributed.  Mayor Roe advised that he had provided his personal recommendations to Mr. Brokke.  Mayor Roe further suggested that the Commission take this opportunity to partner with the Finance commission to look at broader financial policies to find consistency across the board and how the Parks & Recreation Endowment Fund may be improved going forward.

 

Mayor Roe noted his support of partnership opportunities, especially in SW Roseville and engagement of stakeholders.  Mayor Roe suggested the Parks & Recreation Commission consider engaging the Community Engagement Commission on those efforts and how best to accomplish them in their focus role of community engagement and a process to involve those stakeholders.  With the SE area of Roseville already successfully involved in such a focus, Mayor Roe suggested SW Roseville and Tamarack would fit into such a process as well.

 

Whether or not to retain the golf course as an Enterprise Fund or not, Mayor Roe stated he had no opinion.  However, if funding is broader than actual users and subsidized by the users of the rest of the park system, Mayor Roe noted the need to acknowledge that and determine the mechanism and allocation of those funds, and better understand and be comfortable with that process.  If the City subsidized golf course operations, Mayor Roe opined that it made sense if tax dollars were to go toward that facility, those funds could also be used for other purposes as well.

 

Regarding the golf course as an Enterprise Fund, Chair Stoner recognized and appreciated the bookkeeping compartmentalization available, which was initially very helpful.  However, Chair Stoner opined this fell apart when looking at revenue and expenses on a line by line basis, when for instance, the golf course's two FTE's worked outside the golf course and how to allocate things track their time year-round.   Chair Stoner noted this also involved equipment purchases if a truck was used across the park system, not just exclusively by the golf course and how to depreciate those dollars among multiple uses.  Chair Stoner opined that it got to the point where it became difficult to track and keep it a real Enterprise Fund as originally intended, thus creating the concerns of the Commission in continuing it as an Enterprise Fund.

 

Commissioner Holt noted that the Commission was simply beginning to explore these issues, and intended to perform further research and return to the City Council at the next joint meeting to seek their direction, if the City Council ordained that study.

 

Without disagreement, Mayor Roe noted the City Council was charging the Commission to proceed with their research and study on the golf course operation.  Mayor Roe stated he'd rather have a good understanding of how the operation was shared, similar to that outlined in other departments.

 

Chair Stoner confirmed direction to the Commission to look at the fee schedule across the board for buildings, services and programs for uniformity.

 

Mayor Roe clarified expectations for the Commission to provide a report recommending a specific written policy on resident versus non-resident fees and how those fees were based from a policy standpoint; as well as how they compared to peer communities; and whether or not continuing the golf course as an Enterprise Fund or how to accurately track accounting procedures was preferable, and pros and cons for each scenario.

 

Councilmember Laliberte asked for an update on the department's participation in and implementation of the asset management program.

 

Parks & Recreation Director Lonnie Brokke responded that the program had been implemented by the Department, with current tracking of all full-time staff, allowing balancing of staff time and helping to identify specific goals.  Mr. Brokke advised that the equipment components was loaded and tracking was just being initiated now, as well as that for buildings and parks, with replacement buildings implemented first and allowing for contractor schedules to be incorporated for maintenance and replacement items.

 

Councilmember McGehee expressed her overarching goal for sustainability versus making money; and her interest in a policy on subsidizing programming in addition to sustaining assets.

 

Councilmember Etten expressed his personal concern with the park dedication fee comments by Mayor Roe and how to divvy funds up, noting the lack of a guaranteed and ongoing funding stream, or varying at the least.  Councilmember Etten noted the fund had basically been at 'zero' the last ten years and was only now starting to become more substantial, making it hard to attribute it to the CIP when varying so greatly.

 

Mayor Roe clarified that his recommendation was not to budget incoming park dedication fees annually, but to have policies in place to make decisions in a more informed way from a stewardship viewpoint for the overall park system.  If and when funds were transferred from an acquisition, Mayor Roe noted those funds would be in the bank and a policy in place to take advantage of them, recognizing a nexus between increased park system users and faster and greater wear and tear on that system.

Mayor Roe thanked Commissioners for attending, their ongoing work and comments provided; as well as welcoming the Commission's newest members.

Recess

Mayor Roe recessed the meeting at approximately 8:15 p.m., and reconvened at approximately 8:23 p.m.  Given the time, and with no dissention from his colleagues, Mayor Roe amended the agenda to first meet with the HRA and then move to budget discussions.

 

15.         Business Items - Presentations/Discussions

 

a.            Housing & Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Strategic Planning Discussion

Mayor Roe welcomed Commissioners and thanked them for these quarterly meetings and improved communications between the two bodies.

 

Chair Dean Maschka and Commissioners Susan Elkins and Dan Wall were present, along with Councilmember/HRA member Jason Etten.  Community Development Director and Acting HRA Executive Director Paul Bilotta was also available as needed; and HRA Consultant Barbara Raye was present as a precursor to upcoming HRA strategic planning efforts.

 

Chair Maschka briefly reviewed accomplishments and programs of the HRA since the last joint meeting and as detailed in the RCA dated June 15, 2015.  Chair Maschka opined that to-date, the HRA has demonstrated novel, creative ideas and working models on which to build; and had available to it time to dig into those issues that is not readily available to the City Council.

 

However, Chair Maschka noted the current 'elephant in the room,' which he attributed to the Dale Street Project, which fortunately remained successful.  As part of the HRA's upcoming discussion at the strategic planning meeting, Chair Maschka noted the need to openly and honestly discuss what went wrong with that process, its timeline and missing metrics in performing due diligence.  Chair Maschka noted that the way the project had been removed from the HRA's auspices had been very disconcerting, and recognized that the City Council had come close to a mass resignation of acting Commissioners serving on the HRA, creating various and unfortunate communication issues and misperceptions.

 

As a result, Chair Maschka questioned what the ongoing HRA role and use of their full authority was from the perspective of the City Council, whether it should remain fully functioning or become a non-essential entity.  If the City Council was uncomfortable with the statutory authority of the HRA and levy ability, which seemed to be creating some tension, Chair Maschka suggested the City Council may wish to fill that role itself rather than second-guessing the efforts of the HRA.  By its very nature, Chair Maschka noted that the HRA filled in where the private market place didn't work.

 

Chair Maschka noted another area of concern was in the role of the HRA's Executive Director and current status as a City of Roseville employee while the HRA paid the entire salary for the position without having any say or input in assessing or reviewing performance.  Chair Maschka clarified that the HRA had no concern with the current Executive Director, but only in not having any input; and suggested creation of an HRA Executive Committee to periodically meet with the City Manager to address that role moving forward. 

 

Chair Maschka opined that the HRA had done and could continue to do a lot of good things; however the last six months and holding pattern had proven frustrating to all; and again asked the City Council's desire for the future of the HRA.

 

Councilmember Willmus sought clarification from Chair Maschka on what he meant by the 'full powers' of the HRA.

Chair Maschka stated this may involve bonding authority and/or using their full levy authority to effectively pursue the best interests of the community.  However, Chair Maschka noted budget cuts by the City Council frequently squelched those programming efforts.  Also, in clear areas where the HRA may find situations whether bonding was determined as the best option, Chair Maschka sought whether or not the City Council was comfortable with them pursuing it.

 

From his personal perspective, Councilmember Willmus opined that he felt it was the function of the elected body to take on, hold and/or own issuing of debt.

 

Specific to the Dale Street Project and Greater Minnesota Housing Corporation (GMHC) redevelopment project, Councilmember Willmus noted his personal observation at HRA meetings, and his perception of a clear lack of firm direction from the HRA on some of those issues.  Based on contractual language, actual events, and the GMHC's desire to continue with their proposed project, Councilmember Willmus noted the HRA's apparent desire to walk away from the project prematurely in his opinion.  Councilmember Willmus suggested this may not have been the entire fault of the HRA, as he didn't think they had all the information in front of them that they needed or that was subsequently provided to the City Council.  However, if the HRA felt it had been stepped on by the City Council taking over, Councilmember Willmus opined that was too bad; and stated his desire to not see the project jeopardized by issues when he observed the lack of professional leadership being provided by those under contract with the HRA.  However, Councilmember Willmus further opined that this shouldn't have occurred, and he didn't want to see the project lost as a result of those advisors not effectively facilitating and guiding the process and information.  Councilmember Willmus explained that this was why the HRA saw the City Council step in at that point to straighten out versus losing this development opportunity.

 

Chair Maschka thanked Councilmember Willmus for his more detailed explanation.

 

Mayor Roe suggested this tied into the role of the HRA and staffing its Executive Director and whether development expertise on the HRA staff could be further enhanced.  If that was needed, Mayor Roe agreed that the HRA may need to deal with it through Community Development Department staff on the City's side.

 

Chair Maschka admitted that this was an area needing further work.

 

Mayor Roe stated that he didn't have a personal problem with the HRA issuing debt, while also understanding the mechanisms and limitations of it.  Mayor Roe noted it may need to be an area of compromise between the City Council as a whole and the HRA.

 

Chair Maschka noted the need for a good working relationship between the two bodies; opining that if the City Council was opposed in general to the HRA using debt instruments it was a different issue.  However, Chair Maschka noted it was one tool to fill in a gap if and when such a situation arose.

 

Mayor Roe agreed with that role, as defined by Chair Maschka, for the HRA.

 

Councilmember McGehee agreed with the creativity of the HRA as a group; and lauded the success of the Dale Street Project in involving the community and done well.  Whether or not the City Council stepping in to salvage the project was premature or not, Councilmember McGehee opined the product remained an excellent one; and that the entire process and resulting project was to the HRA's credit, not attributable to the City Council.

 

Chair Maschka noted that the HRA was not concerned with where the credit ended up, but only with the need for better communication with and among all parties.

 

Councilmember McGehee agreed that the City Council taking those steps may not have been correct, but the HRA could take credit for the process.

 

Councilmember McGehee noted the many successes of the HRA, including the Neighborhood and Business Enhancement Programs, Rental Registration and Inspection processes and limited complaints heard given the number of multi-family units initially receiving poor grades.

 

In terms of the HRA's bonding authority, Councilmember McGehee stated she would not be opposed, but would prefer good communication with the City Council to authorize such bonding at a specific dollar amount.  Councilmember McGehee opined that the HRA had been extremely fiscally responsible to-date, and given all the budgets she reviewed, appreciated the HRA's budget above all, and clear identification for each program they undertook.  Councilmember McGehee opined that the City Council did not have the collective experience or time to do the projects initiated by the HRA, and assured that the HRA served to fill that gap for the City Council beyond simply in an advisory capacity. 

 

Given her familiarity with and appreciation for the way the HRA handled the Dale Street project and community involvement, Councilmember McGehee expressed her support of the proposed Old Highway 8 project.

 

Chair Maschka noted that the HRA had identified numerous sites throughout the community, and with little land left for development, it was the goal of the HRA to get what the city most desired and what was most amenable to those surrounding neighborhoods.

 

Councilmember Laliberte agreed that the Dale Street exercise had been phenomenal, and agreed with Councilmember Willmus in the possibility of having lost all that good work or have it done for naught toward the end of the efforts.  Councilmember Laliberte expressed her interest in the HRA exploring consistencies with escrow funds to ensure future efforts are sufficiently covered.

 

Chair Maschka agreed, advising that this was among his top priorities for discussion by the HRA in its strategic planning, that of escrow funds, and the need to establish a different market for profit and not-for-profit projects, including addressing timeline and other metrics of such a development process.

 

Councilmember Laliberte agreed with the timeline point, noting identified milestones and whether they were met or not was a good idea.  Councilmember Laliberte expressed her interest in hearing more from the HRA about those programs being utilized and allotted resources; and those needing to be done differently or those that should be sunset.

 

Chair Maschka advised that was also part of discussion items for the strategic planning discussion; noting the annual Home & Garden Fair may be one that goes away given the considerable amount of staff time and effort expended compared to results.

 

Commissioner Elkins agreed with Chair Maschka on the future of the Home & Garden Fair.

 

Councilmember Laliberte concurred with that statement, noting programming duplication was available from other areas of government, and wherever else those duplications were found, the funds could be used elsewhere. 

 

Councilmember Laliberte stated her full support for the HRA and its ability to define what was needed in their Executive Director and matching skill sets accordingly.  While not saying that doesn't already exist, Councilmember Laliberte agreed that the HRA should be able to annually review that position to set their strategic priorities; and supported their need to evaluate experience, licensing and skill set as well as weighing on that staffing several times each year and have their input factored into the review process for that staff person.

 

With Chair Maschka admitting his lack of knowledge on what employment agreements may be involved, Mayor Roe encouraged Chair Maschka's consultation with City Manager Trudgeon moving forward

 

While recognizing there were legalities involved for employment issues, Councilmember Laliberte opined there should be nothing to prevent the HRA from contracting that position as well; and however they decided to proceed, offered her full support to the HRA in those efforts.

 

As with the HRA's involvement in the SE Roseville issues, for which she was grateful, Councilmember Laliberte noted the need for the involvement of many departments and commissions to address the many aspects involved.

 

Mayor Roe concurred, noting the need to assistance from outside agencies and partners as well.

 

Chair Maschka concurred, noting his recent observation of one such situation, where there were no play things or vacant land available for kids to play at all; and agreed that the ability for collaboration to resolve some of those issues was incredible.

 

As she had spoken to in the past, Councilmember Laliberte noted her concerns that the current Zoning Code provided many HDR zoned areas that seemed to serve as a catch all, while those may be more appropriate for MDR or other type of development, such as Owasso Terrace, Owasso Heights, and Owasso Point.  Councilmember Laliberte suggested some of those past developers who created those areas with strong associations may not be aware that they'd be more than welcome to pursue similar projects in Roseville, and suggested the HRA and staff sort those areas out and let developers know.

 

Chair Maschka concurred.

 

While the City of Roseville remained vibrant and strong from corner to corner, Councilmember Laliberte opined there may be some areas of vacancies (e.g. former ICO corner or the 'soon-to-be-opening' Burger King site) that may require HRA input and advise about how to pressure that redevelopment or seek answers accordingly on the best future use of those vacant areas.  While recognizing that the City may not own property, Councilmember Laliberte suggested it may be able to push owners in a certain direction.

 

Specific to the hotel study pending presentation at tomorrow night's HRA meeting, Chair Maschka advised that in his preliminary discussions with Roseville Visitor's Association Julie Wearn, there were unique things happening to address problem properties, whether through direct City purchase or not, as well as other solutions to consider.

 

Councilmember Laliberte noted that the Living Smarter Home & Garden Fair was also on her list as needing evaluation and thanked Chair Maschka for considering its future.  Councilmember Laliberte questioned the considerable staff hours for something that should by now be boiler plate.  If the big draw is for presentations and workshops, Councilmember Laliberte noted the HRA was already doing more of that in other areas, and suggested evaluation of those compared to this one-time event, as well as evaluating whose time and the value of that staff time being devoted to those efforts compared to using it in other areas.

 

In the HRA's redevelopment efforts, Councilmember Laliberte spoke in support of the HRA working with developers to re-envision current warehouse uses to other opportunities.

 

Chair Maschka responded that a lot of work toward that effort had already been done, but it should prove an easy fix to coordinate those efforts further.

 

As a member of the HRA and City Council, Councilmember Etten opined it was really important for the HRA and City Council to work together.  Councilmember Etten opined that otherwise the functionality and service to residents was destroyed; and suggested stepping back from the perception of having gloves on in the ring.

 

Chair Maschka clarified that he had not intended his concerns to come across that way.

 

To restate his position and concerns, Councilmember Etten opined that the only way to proceed was to have the City Council and HRA work together.  Councilmember Etten recognized that the HRA had separate funds targeted at areas beyond those of the City Council, and agreed with Councilmember McGehee that the HRA was doing super-important work, with more needing to be done based on their unique abilities. 

 

Councilmember Etten opined that, before using the HRA's bonding authority, more legal information was needed; and he expressed his agreement with Councilmember Etten that any such bond issues would come to the City Council for approval similar to that of the HRA levy.  Councilmember Etten opined that this provided a reasonable movement between the work of the HRA and reception by the City Council.

 

Chair Maschka noted bonding authority would be intended to address blighted properties and for economic development opportunities as per his understanding from the HRA's legal counsel.  Chair Maschka clarified that it was not intended for any tricky deals, but simply as another tool to provide a solution for a number of outstanding problems in the community.

 

Councilmember Etten agreed with the need to address the HRA's role in who was serving as its Executive Director; and to better define the lines for hiring and the review process, admitting that the current arrangement was an odd set up, which all apparently agreed with.  Since the role of the HRA has evolved, Councilmember Etten suggested it was now time to make sure the Executive Director role was clearly defined and that relationship remained strong.

 

Regarding the comments about HDR renovation, Councilmember Etten noted that the HRA's 2015 budget may be sufficient to reallocate some of those dollars on new initiatives for the HRA.  Councilmember Etten noted that the HRA already had a preliminary discussion on that issue nine months ago, and continued to flesh it out given the need to bank funds for specific purposes.  Councilmember Etten noted the need for the 2016 budget to repurpose funds or cut the levy depending on the decisions made by the full HRA body. 

 

Councilmember Etten agreed with the comments made by Councilmember Laliberte as to efforts by the HRA on SE Roseville issues, and thanked her for recognizing those efforts.

 

Regarding the role of and expectations for the HRA, Mayor Roe opined it didn't make sense to have the City Council serve in that role, as clearly recognized with the time constraints already in play with tonight's agenda items and lack of sufficient time for in-depth consideration.  Mayor Roe opined that having separate boards beyond the City Council is of value to the community.  Mayor Roe threw back a challenge to the HRA to engage more in the process and perhaps increase the frequency of their meetings if that was the answer, or whatever was needed.  Mayor Roe stated that he had high expectations of the HRA, noting the excellence of those serving on the HRA and their areas of expertise and skill set brought to those efforts.  Mayor Roe noted the rental registration process and subsequent program, as facilitated by Ms. Barbara Raye, as a civilian on the committee, and the fantastic results that came from that HRA effort.  Mayor Roe noted the HRA had a history of taking on serious and complex problems and issues, and resolving them.  Mayor Roe noted most of the work of the HRA as a group required in-depth work, and suggested part of the Authority's future decision-making needed to be consideration of how they're interacting with programs and processes, and taking ownership of them and allowing sufficient time, energy and effort to be or remain fully engaged.

 

Chair Maschka noted the need to address those issues as part of their strategic planning.

 

Using the City of Brooklyn Center and their purchase of a hotel for redevelopment as regional headquarters for the FBI was a good example of positive problem solving, with the HRA's ability to serve as a standalone group but tied to the City's overall economic development plan.

 

Chair Maschka agreed, noting the Roseville Visitors Association also had that ability to tie in as well.

 

Commissioner Elkins expressed her excitement with the upcoming HRA strategic planning, and her hopes to further expand on ideas, particularly with mixed housing and affordable senior housing options as applicable.

 

Commissioner Wall gave credit to Chair Maschka for not mincing words in addressing misperceptions about relationship issues between the City Council and HRA.  Commissioner Wall expressed his disappointment that the HRA had not been able to hold their strategic planning before this joint meeting, opining that he thought the HRA may end up looking significantly different than it currently is.  Commissioner Wall stated his anticipation that the HRA would come out as stronger, more cohesive and do a better job understanding its statutory powers to achieve end results.  While it may prove challenging, Commissioner Wall agreed with Mayor Roe about the need to consider meeting frequency or format and vary schedules as projects come up.  Commissioner Wall expressed hope that the upcoming strategic planning session would result in the HRA coming out with a sense of the challenges before it but not backing down from them; and as stated by Councilmember Laliberte letting developers know that Roseville is open for business and redefining the City's past bad reputation in working with developers.  While recognizing that development involves some risk, Commissioner Wall opined that the key was to know how to allocate that risk, including that of the HRA.  However, if sufficient risk/benefit analyses were done, Commissioner Wall opined that good decisions would result more often than not.

 

Commissioner Wall expressed interest in learning what other HRA's are doing in the state and in other states, county HRA's, and improvements that area possible based on their experience within stator frameworks.  Commissioner Wall opined that the HRA was a good and dedicated group of individuals.

 

Mayor Roe suggested reviewing Economic Development Authorities as well given their similarities

 

Speaking on behalf of the City Council, Mayor Roe invited the HRA to come back before them to report on their strategic planning session even before the next quarterly meeting if they chose to do so.

 

Commissioner Wall recognized the benefit of having a Councilmember serving on the HRA to provide that perspective as well.

 

Consultant Barbara Raye introduced herself and explained her presence tonight as under contract with the HRA to facilitate their upcoming strategic planning session.  Ms. Raye recognized specific initiatives from the City Council's strategic planning session and how they may fit with the HRA's role within that plan, and as a stakeholder group.  Ms. Raye sought any additional input toward that purpose.

 

Councilmember McGehee suggested considering any future housing development be required to provide at least 20% affordable housing; and not segregated by building, but included in each and every building.

 

Mayor Roe noted his uncertainty with the 20% figure, opining that other numbers may make more sense as demonstrated historically and as Chair Maschka noted based on long-term data.

 

Councilmember McGhee expressed her personal support of the HRA, opining that they had functioned very well, and had no criticisms of the body.

 

Chair Maschka clarified that criticism was not the intention of this discussion, but recognition by all parties that as some issues came up, there had been an obvious break down in communications.

 

Councilmember McGehee offered her continued support, opining that it was her understanding that the communication breakdown had occurred only with the HRA itself; and expressed her confidence in the continued cohesive nature of the HRA and work with Community Development Director Bilotta and City Manager Trudgeon to resolve any employee issues there may be without any further perceived separation between the HRA and City Council.

 

If the HRA decided it needed more development expertise, Mayor Roe encouraged the HRA to include those funds for a specialist in economic development or other such expertise as indicated.  Mayor Roe offered to consider whether the HRA funded such a position in its entirety or shared those costs with the City Council for future reference as it considered upcoming opportunities.  As long as the HRA's already fairly substantial levy was leveraged for the overall benefit of the community, Mayor Roe offered his ongoing support of their efforts.

 

During his tenure both on the HRA and subsequently on the City Council, Councilmember Willmus opined that it had always seemed like two separate bodies, with the HRA's role in redevelopment not fully realized and focus more toward residential and housing issues.  Councilmember Willmus opined that there was an HRA role on the commercial side was well that had not yet been fully explored by the HRA, including opportunities within Twin Lakes and SE Roseville.  Councilmember Willmus asked that the HRA keep that side of the slate open as well.

 

Commissioner Wall expressed his interest in looking carefully at the HRA's budget allocation, noting the small part the current budget had for commercial and/or industrial redevelopment.  Commissioner Wall expressed his goal to utilize more of those dollars to foster head of household jobs and bringing the City's tax base into balance to take some of the burden off residential taxpayers, while providing benefit to businesses and maintaining a good place in which to do business.

 

Mayor Roe noted the key purpose in redevelopment was to increase the overall value of the community's residential and commercial properties, allowing the ability to pay for desired amenities and spreading that burden.

 

Councilmember Laliberte asked the HRA to look at available funds and how to reallocate them (e.g. commercial versus housing) and expressed her openness to hearing the willingness of the HRA to consider doing things differently.  Councilmember Laliberte expressed appreciation for this meeting; and from her observations in watching HRA meetings, recognized their frustration, rightly so, in the lack of clarity in where the HRA wanted to go and where the City Council wanted the HRA to go.  Councilmember Laliberte also encouraged the HRA to return after their strategic planning session to report their results to the City Council.

 

Councilmember Laliberte also appreciated Commissioner Wall's observations about the bad reputation of developers with the City of Roseville based on their past experience.  However, Councilmember Laliberte also noted potential misperceptions of housing developers who may consider the City as fully developed and having moved on, and the possibility that they may have also had a negative experience.  Councilmember Laliberte asked the HRA to address those issues and clear up those perceptions.

 

Ms. Raye noted her review of the City Council's past meeting as they continued to flesh out their strategic planning document; noting it would prove helpful to the HRA.

 

Mayor Roe noted it remained a work-in-progress, especially those strategic initiatives.

 

Councilmember Etten expressed his appreciation for comments about the HRA meeting more often; and his interest in the strategic planning process with Ms. Raye and within regular HRA meetings, to define a process when more information was needed or the process would require additional time to flesh out, as it related to the HRA's priority sheet.  From his personal perspective, Councilmember Etten expressed his highest priorities were SE Roseville and redevelopment; and offered his support in working with the HRA and City Council in achieving addressing and potentially resolving these important issues.

 

From his experience as a Chairperson and a process that worked well for him, Mayor Roe encouraged the HRA Chair to have frequent interaction with the Executive Director on a regular and more informal basis outside the meeting format, providing important dialogue both ways.

 

Mayor Roe thanked Chair Maschka and Commissioners, anticipating their return.

 

Ms. Raye advised that she had taken copious notes of tonight's discussion, and looked forward to more detail moving forward.

 

Councilmember Willmus thanked Chair Maschka for his candid approach to tonight's discussion.

 

12          Public Hearings

 

13.         Budget Items

 

b.            City Council Budget Goal & Priorities

Finance Director Chris Miller briefly summarized tonight's request and supporting documentation as detailed in the RCA dated June 15, 2015; as the next step in the budget process following individual department summaries.  Mr. Miller asked for general direction from individual Councilmembers and the City Council as a hole, defining their budget goals and priorities to inform the creation of the City Manager recommended budget.

 

City Manager Trudgeon noted further refinement throughout the process following the initial budget presentation in July and subsequent discussions and more defined assumptions as the year progressed.

 

At the request of Mayor Roe, Finance Director Miller advised that he found nothing substantive from the recent legislative session that would significantly change funding for municipalities.

 

Mayor Roe addressed the most recent Ramsey County Assessor's report (RCA, page 2) expected the City's overall tax base to grow at approximately 1.4%, and projected zero percent change for most single-family residential properties within the median; with some potential shift toward the commercial side.

 

Use of Cash Reserves

Mayor Roe asked for individual Councilmember input regarding use of reserves for CIP and/or operational needs.

 

Councilmember Etten stated he felt reserves should not be used for ongoing costs, but only for specific, one time issues.  Councilmember Etten opined that using reserves for new staff positions proved problematic long-term.  Councilmember Etten further opined that the status of reserve targets was fine now, but if their use continued annually, it would put the City in a hard position to work out of.

 

Councilmember McGehee agreed with Councilmember Etten, opining that she had never been a proponent of using reserves, since the City Council had a history of not paying them back.  Councilmember McGehee further opined that she did not support using reserves for operational costs; and expressed her comfort level with the cash reserve level for 2015, but did not want to dip much below the 40% target, with 35% the absolute bottom she would consider, based on the recommendations of the State Auditor.

 

In general, Councilmember Laliberte spoke in support of using reserves as had been done in recent years, since they were taxpayer monies collected for specific purpose, and she could see no reason to hoard those funds.  However, as stated by Councilmember Etten, Councilmember Laliberte agreed that she was not a fan of using them to fund something beyond a one-time expense or single year purposes.  Since new positions were ongoing expenses, Councilmember Laliberte stated her lack of support in using reserves for that purpose.  As far as repaying reserves, Councilmember Laliberte stated she did not necessarily feel the need to do so, since they were there to be used.

 

Councilmember Willmus agreed with the comments of Councilmember Laliberte, opining that he found the City's reserve funds to be healthy and well within their target range.  Regarding State Auditor guidelines, Councilmember Willmus noted their recommendation was to retain 5-6 months operating reserves in the General Fund, and noted that many communities fund everything through their General Fund, while the City has 25 plus funds.  When looking at it under those circumstances and in totality, Councilmember Willmus opined that the City's reserves were quite healthy. 

 

Addressing the disclaimer of Finance Director Miller (RCA, page 4), that as the budget increases the reserve target numbers will trend down, Councilmember Willmus opined that while this was the case between 2013 and 2014, it was difficult for the City Council to make an informed decision at this point in the process (e.g. COLA, reserves, and new positions) when the full picture had yet to be determined.  Of greater importance to him, Councilmember Willmus sought more information on the carry forward from last year, and how to plug that into the upcoming budget and how that necessary information entered into the conversation going forward.

 

 

Speaking in general, Mayor Roe stated his preference to use reserves if needed, while also looking to other  funding sourcesfirst including property taxes and fees before using reserves.  Moving to the end of the process and increasing discomfort with projected levy increases or fee increases, Mayor Roe noted the movement toward using reserves for one-time expenses to address particular issues and with the understanding that they won't be repaid.  Mayor Roe advised that he didn't anticipate use of reserves as part of the City Manager's recommended budget at the beginning of the process, while it may come up later.

 

If the intent was not to pay back reserves, Councilmember McGehee asked that the City Council make themselves clear; and since a giant piece of the picture was the CIP that had a huge levy impact based on the commitment made, she considered it to be an important part of the discussion process at the front end versus later in the process.

 

Mayor Roe agreed that made sense; and as the process was standardized, staff would address that from their perspective, and address unknown staff needs early on.

 

Finance Director cautioned the City Council that the Finance Commission was still reviewing the CIP, at the City Council's directive; and while having preliminary data, it was still in process and he was unsure if ramping up that timetable would allow sufficient time for them to complete their work.  Mr. Miller noted that there were still large components to work through, and if the City Council wanted that complete review, it probably and realistically would not be available before August.

 

Mayor Roe recognized that timetable, and suggested the work could begin earlier in the process for subsequent budgets.

 

Finance Director Miller noted part of the issue was the timetable or staff to provide information to the Finance Commission as the year progressed.  While the 20-year CIP was adopted through 2034, Mr. Miller noted the handicap of not knowing the 2016 CIP, including the addition of park & recreation needs and facilities that needed to be part of the recommendations, with a projected increase to the levy for just those  purposes of $210,000.

 

Preliminary Tax Levy Amount: Decrease, No Change, or Increase

Councilmember Laliberte expressed her personal preference for no levy increase, which had been her consistent theme.  While recognizing the need to get the CIP funding adequately on track, Councilmember Laliberte opined it would be her preference to factor that in early enough to accommodate that dollar amount versus adding it on to the end numbers.

 

Councilmember Etten expressed his interest in shooting for near inflation, with the exception of the capital pieces needed for investment to make up for past deferrals.  Councilmember Etten expressed his preference for ongoing budgets to be held at a reasonable level long-term and tackling challenges in an honest, straightforward way.  With the park and recreation request for several years being $160,000 annually, whether directed entirely to CIP or not, Councilmember Etten noted the importance for him in putting any new levy dollars toward that.

 

Trending toward 2016, and with the $3.5 million wish list submitted by departments, Councilmember McGehee recognized that it was a large number, with a variety of funding options available.  Councilmember McGehee stated that, at this point, she had no specific levy amount; but continued to feel strongly about some things and large things that could affect the budget rather than simply muddling along at the status quo for another year. 

 

At the request of Councilmember Willmus, Finance Director Miller clarified that the CPI trending at 1% was measured for a one year period from April through April.

 

Mayor Roe concurred with Councilmember Etten on the tax levy generally based on inflation excluding  CIP funded items.  In addition to considering it by the CIP only as Councilmember Willmus referenced, Mayor Roe noted that potential for a 1.4% growth with no impact to the City's median homeowner as previously discussed.  If the levy grew by that amount, Mayor Roe noted it would have little if any impact to residential taxpayers; and could at least serve as a starting point, again excluding CIP funding.

 

Employee Costs (COLA and Healthcare Contribution (as part of and a significant cost in providing government services)

As she'd asked previously, Councilmember Laliberte noted her request for alternatives to funding single coverage at 100%.  Based on her experience working in the healthcare industry, Councilmember Laliberte noted that she had participated with an independent study group gathering information from public and private entities related to healthcare and other benefits and employee packages.  Having just received that initial information, which Councilmember Laliberte offered to share, provided segmented data from other public entities, including cities and counties; and provided through wellness and benefit surveys from human resource groups.

 

City Manager Trudgeon advised that a better sense would be available over the next few months as it was determined how the entire financial package was structured.  While he anticipated some impact, Mr. Trudgeon also noted it would affect other things that may be on the wish list.

 

Councilmember Laliberte noted her need for additional information in the original rationale for funding 100% of single coverage.

 

Councilmember Laliberte noted that the Public Works and Finance Departments had provided other options for entry level positions; and asked that other departments perform similar analyses and reconfigure how more entry level positions could be made available to allow managers more flexibility in addressing their work loads.

 

City Manager Trudgeon responded that this was typically addressed by interns; and in the Public Works Department had resulted from hiring a front desk position at a lower grade than in the past.  Mr. Trudgeon noted that consideration also was needed to recognize that total costs also involved benefits, not just wages.

 

City Manager Trudgeon advised that, while some areas may not be as apparent, he and management staff would look into other areas as well.

 

From his limited examples, Councilmember Etten opined that maintaining 100% of single coverage was a pretty common practice; and when desiring to hire quality staff, it was still less expensive to offer single coverage versus family coverage; and expressed his concern in dropping that as an option.  While hoping the projected employee healthcare increase of 10%  could be successfully negotiated lower than that, Councilmember Etten offered his support of a COLA increase for employees.

 

Councilmember McGehee agreed with Councilmember Etten, opining it was important to offer that single benefit at the entry level.  Councilmember McGehee stated her preference for maintaining healthcare benefits as currently done unless overwhelming evidence was provided that the system was way out of sync.  Councilmember McGehee offered her support of an employee COL in line with that negotiated by unions on a consistent basis.

 

At the request of Mayor Roe, City Manager Trudgeon advised that all bargaining unit contracts, with the exception of the firefighter contract (which does not yet exist), were up in 2016; with several bargaining units settled at 2%.  Mr. Trudgeon advised that he anticipated addressing this issue at a Closed Session on July 6, 2015 for City Council review and direction.

 

Based on his observations and considering peer cities, CPI and other factors, Mayor Roe noted he was not seeing 3.5% Cola; and based on his experience in the private sector, and his participation in single coverage, he was not aware that they paid 100%.  Mayor Roe opined that this indicated that there must be other models out there, and his preference to review those models to make sure the current City of Roseville benefit structure still made sense.

 

With concurrence of his colleagues, Councilmember Etten clarified that single coverage was not free, since those employees also had to pay deductibles, co-pays, etc.

 

Throughout the whole process,  Mayor Roe expressed confidence in the City's Employee Benefit Committee and their past work and ability to get buy-in from staff on changes coming forward, an important and well-appreciated part of  the process and signifying the value of the City's employees.

 

Recognizing that the City spent considerable time last year in developing the COLA formula, Councilmember Laliberte asked that it not be reinvented annually.

 

Councilmember Willmus noted that there was a significant difference in the timeframe for those calculations, which could vary from one quarter to another.

 

Mayor Roe noted final calculations would be based on a twelve-month cycle.

 

New Personnel

From a broad and general viewpoint, Councilmember Willmus advised that one factor in his consideration of any new position, not only for the 2016 budget, would be long-term impacts.  Councilmember Willmus noted the expansion of FTE's over the last five years, and 10 year FTE history as provided by Finance Director Miller in his financial report; and asked that this be a cognizant part of future considerations.

 

Within either the levy supported or non-levy supported positions, Councilmember Etten stated he would look to reduce the number of proposed FTE's.  Councilmember Etten agreed with Councilmember Willmus, that it has to be paid for long-term and therefore would look to limit those new positions.

 

Councilmember McGehee stated she would be less concerned with those new positions not on the tax supported side; as long as funding was available going forward.  Councilmember McGehee noted staff's rationale in requesting each position; and therefore, was inclined to go along with their suggestion.  However, Councilmember McGehee stated she was not as inclined to approve additional positions that would increase property taxes.

 

Mayor Roe agreed that where positions were paid by fees or other revenue (e.g. IT and License Center), he could support them, even though he would like to have a better understanding through more background information beyond theory for license center revenues.  Recognizing that most IT positions would be funded through JPA's, Mayor Roe asked for a more clear understanding of city responsibilities to make sure of the entire source of funding or additional property tax dollars required.  Mayor Roe advised that he was not opposed to using tax levy dollars for important and necessary positions, and if needed to perform the job adequately.  However, Mayor Roe noted the need to make the case for any changes in FTE to those paying those salaries.

 

Based on what she had heard during Department Head presentations, and her understanding of the requests, Councilmember McGehee stated she would be unwilling to support creating any of the new tax supported positions, barring receipt of further information.

 

Mayor Roe noted his understanding of Councilmember McGehee's initial comments specific to this discussion.

 

From a historical perspective, and recognizing that good presentations were usually made and rationale supporting new positions and their need, Councilmember Laliberte asked whether there could be any review at the City Council level about positions automatically filled when vacant to ensure Department Heads and Administration were continually assessing structures and teams. 

 

City Manager Trudgeon responded that whenever a position became vacant, the structure and position were always part of the review process.  As noted by the recent restructuring in the Public Works Department, Mr. Trudgeon noted that may not always create a dollar change, but a different structure depending on the particular positions itself and needs of the department.  At the request of Councilmember Laliberte, Mr. Trudgeon confirmed that before asking for any new position, staff automatically reviewed offsets to take advantage of strategic opportunities going forward and as available through attrition and other means not always predictable.

 

Councilmember Laliberte spoke in support of continual contingency and succession planning.

 

While unable to predict future openings, Councilmember Willmus opined it would be beneficial to see 2015 budgeted position dollars that came open or positions that remained unfilled, and any dollar amounts that could be plugged into the 2016 budget.

 

Mayor Roe noted that those would be part of the carry forward provided by staff.

 

Councilmember McGehee opined staff had been prudent in filing or not filling positions as applicable.

 

Mayor Roe noted it was different for smaller versus larger departments.

 

Programs/Service Levels / Bid Ideas from Individual Councilmembers

Using the leaf pick-up program as an example, Councilmember Willmus expressed his interest in hearing during Department Head presentations any areas where a change of service level of dropping a program may be indicated, or similar situations for annual review.  Councilmember Willmus suggested a more open discussion by Department Heads with Councilmembers on those items.  Councilmember Willmus referenced the most recent community survey question about current service levels, and responses not supporting increases, which was a change from past surveys, requiring more detailed review.

 

Councilmember McGehee recognized that was a change; however, suggested drilling down further in subsequent surveys to determine what was behind that response.  Councilmember McGehee noted the need for more specificity.  In terms of services, Councilmember McGehee noted the request had also been for increased pathways and increased pathway and street repairs; and suggested the need to get to the core of that requested increase in service.  Councilmember McGehee suggested there may be ways to address that through making better use of contractors on a short-term basis rather than tying up City staff or requiring them to wear so many hats.

 

Councilmember Laliberte agreed with Councilmember Willmus in her desire to hear from Department Heads about underutilized programs or big expenses requiring re-evaluation or reassessment whether critical or not.  Councilmember Laliberte opined that any input the City Council could receive similar to that most recently received from the Public Works Department would be greatly appreciated.  As far as drilling down further on survey questions, Councilmember Laliberte opined that, in some cases, those residents having lived in Roseville for a long time may not be willing to pay more for services, or not be able to do so.

 

Given the context over the last few years, Mayor Roe opined it would be interesting to see if that answer changes in the 2016 community survey.

 

Motion to Extend Meeting Curfew

At 10:00 p.m., Willmus moved, Etten seconded, extending the meeting curfew for an additional ten minutes.

Roll Call

Ayes: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.

Nays: None.

As a potential wish list consideration, Councilmember McGehee noted that some communities where taxes continued to increase stripping the resource of some residents, those cities had initiated their own reverse mortgage process for those wishing to stay in their homes at a fixed, low rate.

 

Councilmember Etten agreed with Councilmember Laliberte in looking to Department Heads, beyond line by line issues since there was so much beyond the context of the City Council to be considered, but for them to come forward with ideas to restructure and keep budgets status quo.  Councilmember Etten noted what a difference that made; and thus the need for hiring Department Heads.  As expressed tonight, Councilmember Etten noted there was no appetite for a huge levy increase.

 

While the Department Heads consider that, Mayor Roe suggested they provide feedback to the City Council on plusses and minuses that created for their specific areas of operation as they had documented last year.

 

Councilmember Etten concurred that was a fair request.

 

Councilmember McGehee suggested another consideration be the elimination of the local SWAT Team, with those monies available to use elsewhere, and services available from Ramsey County.  Councilmember McGehee suggested Department Heads bring their ideas forward to provide evidence of their review of services and their conclusions based on their viewpoint.

 

As touched on by Mayor Roe earlier tonight, Councilmember Willmus requested a periodic review of JPA rates for IT and other services; and a review of whether dollars allocated are being formulated accurately and in the manner understood by the City Council during their budget process.

 

14.         Business Items (Action Items)

 

15.         Business Items - Presentations/Discussions

 

16.         City Manager Future Agenda Review

City Manager Trudgeon briefly summarized upcoming meeting agendas.

 

17.         Councilmember-Initiated Items for Future Meetings

Councilmember Willmus noted his e-mail provided to Councilmembers last week requesting consideration for reviewing current high density residential-zoned (HDR) properties along Old Highway 8 and potential changes to Zoning Code and/or amendment to the Comprehensive Plan moving toward medium density residential (MDR).


 

 

18.         Adjourn

Etten moved, Laliberte seconded, adjournment of the meeting at approximately 10:08 p.m.

                                                Roll Call

Ayes: Willmus, Laliberte, Etten, McGehee, and Roe.

Nays: None.