City Council Special Meeting Minutes
July 18, 2013
1. Roll Call
Mayor Roe called to order a Special Meeting of the Roseville City Council at approximately 5:00 pm, and welcomed everyone. Voting and Seating Order: Willmus; Etten; McGehee; Laliberte; and Roe. Mayor Roe noted that the purpose of the meeting was to continue discussions with Department Heads and staff on their 2014 departmental budgets.
2. Approve Agenda
3. Public Comment
4. Council Communications, Reports and Announcements
5. Recognitions, Donations, Communications
7. Approve Minutes
8. Approve Consent Agenda
9. Consider Items Removed from Consent
10. General Ordinances for Adoption
12. Public Hearings
13. Budget Items
a. 2014 Department Budget Discussion
Fire Chief Tim O’Neill distributed a handout outlining his presentation. Highlights identified by Chief O’Neill included:
Health Care Reform Act
Chief O’Neill noted that his original budget requests for 2014 had significantly changed with recent legislative action delaying implementation of the Health Care Reform Act on the City and Fire Department. With its current status in limbo, Chief O’Neill advised that he had revised the priorities/necessities for 2014, providing more flexibility for the department to fall back to a more static budget, and defer some things long-term for approximately fifteen (15) months versus immediate needs, which will be a positive for the department overall.
Chief O’Neill advised that since changes have recently corrected themselves in the fire protection industry, there was even less interest than before by other departments and/or communities in moving toward shared services or departments. Therefore, while the City of Roseville’s Fire Department remained interested in pursuing those options, Chief O’Neill saw no impact to the 2014 budget.
Chief O’Neill noted that staffing a fire department was always a challenge, and given the many additional changes experienced by the Roseville department since its establishment sixty-eight (68) years ago, including movement from a volunteer to paid, on-call staff, in addition to EMS services, it continued to be challenging. Chief O’Neill advised that this was a positive and negative for the department as it continued to evolve; however, with the changing world and people becoming busier with work and family commitments, interest from people in serving as a firefighter, due to the extensive time, training and commitment required, remained difficult. As the industry continues to change, Chief O’Neill noted that it takes 2-3 years for a firefighter to receive educational certification training level, before they were able to perform the required job. Chief O’Neill reminded all that this was a part-time role, usually above and beyond their regular career or student status and required a three (3) year commitment from an individual. Chief O’Neill noted that this reduces the candidate pool for the department in the long-term, especially making it difficult to cover daytime and weekend shifts. Chief O’Neill advised that the department currently has 5-6 firefighters who take those shifts; and worried that if they moved onto full-time careers or out of the immediate area, it would have a direct impact on the Roseville Fire Department.
Chief O’Neill noted that firefighters remained the lowest paid positions in the City of Roseville, depending on their longevity and training, not serving to attract individuals in the long-term.
Emergency Medical Service (EMS)
Chief O’Neill opined that the EMS service provided to the community by the department was of huge benefit to the City over the last six (6) years since inception. Chief O’Neill reviewed the purpose of this service in providing first responder responses to stabilize a patient until Allina arrived to transport the patient. Chief O’Neill advised that the department or the City of Roseville received no revenue for this service, as billing revenue was only available for the transporter. Therefore, Chief O’Neill noted that the City provided lifesaving treatment without recouping any revenues or receiving any funding. Chief O’Neill advised that there were few ways to change that situation other than making application for MSRB to return the PSA (service area) back; which had not been terribly successful in the past. Chief O’Neill noted that he only other option was to seek a change in current legislation regarding PSA’s, with such Bills attempted over the last two (2) years seeking local control for the PSA, but never making it out of committee.
If the City Council wished to continue exploring the transport component to bring that revenue into the City, Chief O’Neill cautioned that it would be complicated concept, with a study of one (1) year or longer to determine impacts to the City of Roseville and the region. Chief O’Neill noted that there would also be significant upfront capital costs for vehicles and equipment, along with ongoing operational costs; with revenues needing to be generated to offset those costs. Chief O’Neill advised that service levels could be predicted and expressed confidence that the department could provide above-average service to the community if it was pursued.
In response to Councilmember Laliberte, Chief O’Neill advised that PSA liability cost determinations would be part of the feasibility study research.
At the request of Mayor Roe, Chief O’Neill clarified that 2013 budget listing of FTE’s for the Fire Department at six (6), with a total of sixty-three (63) firefighters currently in the department; and using a 40-hour component to determine FTE status, that represented a total of 25 FTE in the department.
Councilmember McGehee questioned whether there was any payback for the City in providing these significant training costs for a new firefighter; also questioning what prevented an individual from receiving that training and then moving on to another department. Recognizing that the City of Roseville provided EMS and firefighter training, Councilmember McGehee asked if any service commitment was required.
Chief O’Neill responded that, at this time, there was no commitment requirement or contractual obligation. Chief O’Neill noted that most of the firefighters hired within the last two (2) years came to the Roseville Fire Department for that training experience, with one of the interview questions for candidates being, “What do you know about the Roseville Fire Department. Chief O’Neill noted that it is typical for a firefighter to seek that training and education allowing them to eventually move onto a full-time career as a firefighter. Chief O’Neill advised that he had a list of those firefighters lost over the last 5-10 years; and admitted that Roseville provided a great training ground, but in 3-5 years it was typical that they would leave, creating a continual revolving door for the Roseville Department to address.
Chief O’Neill advised that the current staffing included twenty-nine (29) firefighters with less than three (3) years in training mode, a number that he was aggressively attempting to reduce. Chief O’Neill advised that the department typically hired on an annual basis; however, he advised that it was not good timing this year to pursue that hiring, but rather trying to focus on stabilizing in-house firefighters to complete their probationary status.
Chief O’Neill advised that the department continues to look at different methods for developing a contract in which the City would provide a certain amount of training, but the firefighter would then in turn commit to work for Roseville for a number of years, or reimburse the department for that training. However, Chief O’Neill advised that such a requirement only served to limit the pool of interest even more. Also, since the average candidate was on the younger side, while a contractual agreement may be good for the department, a candidate firefighter was seldom in the financial position to reimburse or pay for their training.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Chief O’Neill estimated the cost of training a firefighter during that 2-3 year period; with classes, payroll hours to get the candidate through all training, including haz mat, EMS, etc., the cost could be $10,000 or more per candidate.
Councilmember McGehee opined that, if a firefighter chose to remain with the Roseville Department, a firefighter also was eligible for a good Defined Benefit Plan in addition to wages, all for a part-time employee.
Mayor Roe clarified that new hires would not be included in the Defined Benefit Plan, but would have Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) retirement benefits.
Chief O’Neill concurred, advising that the intent of changing to PERA was as an added incentive for candidates and the ability to transfer their service credits to other public employers; otherwise if leaving before they were vested with Roseville’s Relief Association at ten (10) years, they lost those benefits.
Identifying additional costs for each firefighter, Chief O’Neill advised that the average fire turnout gear, which was custom fit, cost approximately $2,500 in addition to equipment. Chief O’Neill noted that a new firefighter was new to the City, Department and firefighting, but after that short timeframe, if they walked out the door, that experience also left with them. As the City’s older, more experienced firefighters left employment, Chief O’Neill noted that it would then leave the department with a group of 3-5 year employees, and that it would take them a long time to gather all the skills necessary to see things from an experienced and safe operating environment. Every time it was necessary to start over, Chief O’Neill opined that is created a significant impact for the department; and without that experienced and historical expertise of long-term firefighters, the department remained in a constant teaching mode.
Councilmember McGehee opined that, before adding the EMS component, there didn’t seem to be as much turnover; and expressed her concern with firefighters receiving valuable training experience in Roseville that they then applied to other jobs and departments.
Chief O’Neill advised that, over the last week, he had significantly revised his initial list of budget priorities due to the deferment of the Health Care Reform Act and implications to the Fire Department budget; originally attempting to look at financial options to best staff the Fire Department in 2014 and beyond with those added costs. Even though impacts of the Act had been alleviated for one (1) year, Chief O’Neill noted that his previous presentation included providing the City Council with a set of various options, and distributed that list as a foundation to initiate those discussions for the 2015 budget and beyond if that employer health care mandate for part-time employees is put in place. Chief O’Neill advised that he had attempted to look at paying benefits from a holistic standpoint, and had identified five (5) options that also address various ranges for stability in the department, not just funding, but stabilizing the budget long-term. With levy limits mandated for 2014, Chief O’Neill advocated for long-term stabilization of the Fire Department, noting that staffing continued to evolve and challenge that stability, necessitating a review of options for a long-range plan.
Councilmember Laliberte agreed with Chief O’Neill that health care issues needed to be addressed and prepared for long-term; along with determining the best option for stabilizing Fire Department staffing.
Mayor Roe noted the unknowns until the Act was actually implemented.
Councilmember Willmus referenced spreadsheets received earlier this week from Mayor Roe questioning if and how Fire and EMS services were allocated.
Chief O’Neill advised that Mayor Roe’s spreadsheet did not separate the two functions, but advised that the information was available and could be provided to the City Council. Since the City was already staffing the medical component, Chief O’Neill opined that it would not cost more for the City to run the EMS function other than costs for vehicles, fuel and general supplies related to the service. Chief O’Neill advised that the department had an exchange program with Allina for medications used by first responders; with the department therefore not stocking those medications or having any financial outlay for those supplies.
Mayor Roe clarified that his spreadsheets were predicated on the time studies completed in the last few years program by program; identifying the 2013 budget section accordingly and breakout for personnel, services, supplies and materials as noted.
Chief O’Neill stated that he would like to point out, in regard to wages and benefits, that the recently completed Compensation Study did not include part-time firefighters, and only included full-time Fire Department staff. If the City Council decided to implement the recommendations from the Study, Chief O’Neill asked that – and strongly advocated for – including part-time Fire Department staff in the 4.6% recommended increase. Reiterating that part-time firefighters were already the lowest paid employee group in the City of Roseville, Chief O’Neill noted the impacts it would also have in attracting/recruiting firefighters; with any increase allowing the City to be competitive with other part-time employment opportunities for candidates.
Mayor Roe recognized that Chief O’Neill had provided the cost for including part-time Fire Department staff in the Compensation Study at $33,948.
At the request of Councilmember Willmus, Chief O’Neill reviewed the pension benefits, in addition to wages, for part-time firefighters; advising that if hired pre-2010, the firefighter would be eligible under the Relief Association Pension Plan, and if hired after 2010, they would be eligible for PERA; and corresponding costs to the City for that benefit.
At the request of Councilmember Etten, Chief O’Neill confirmed that firefighters were not eligible for paid time off (PTO) or other health benefits at this time. Chief O’Neill noted that this created additional challenges for PTO and holidays, with eight (8) holidays recognized by the Department and an additional $80 over their regular part-time wage paid for staffing those holidays to encourage coverage for those holidays, but remaining a challenge to have sufficient coverage. Since part-time firefighters received no PTO to address sickness, family activities or event, or vacation, Chief O’Neill noted that they forfeited that pay.
As confirmed by Chief O’Neill, Councilmember McGehee observed that their wage was paid during training, starting at the beginning range of $9.27/hour, and after their training was complete, they moved to $13.86/hour. Councilmember McGehee further observed that with the City’s contribution to PERA during that training time as well, and the $10,000 cost for training them for a future career, with equipment and custom fit uniforms, yet not requiring a commitment from them beyond their training period, she could not see it as a bad deal and questioned Chief O’Neill’s rationale in advocating higher wages.
Chief O’Neill responded that the candidate pool suited to serve as firefighters/EMS responders was getting smaller all the time. Chief O’Neill noted that not everyone had the mental or emotional stamina to work in hazardous conditions, meet stressful medical needs in various situations or traumas, or deal with deaths in the field. Chief O’Neill opined that it took a unique individual in the first place. Chief O’Neill observed that a wage of $9/hour was comparable with that paid in the fast food industry, if not other industries, and having no stress and trauma involved.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Chief O’Neill reviewed the hiring process required: application and review, interview, offer of contingent employment, thorough background check, a full day psychological evaluation, physical agility test, and drug screening. Chief O’Neill noted that this was all before their first day of employment with the department; and advised that an average of 40% of those didn’t make it through that initial process. Given the requirements and challenges of the job, Chief O’Neill opined that it was difficult for him to compare those jobs with other jobs in the City or area at that wage level that didn’t require a considerable amount of knowledge, certifications and other components, with many of those jobs starting at even higher wages. Chief O’Neill advised that there was significant competition to hire quality people you want for firefighters due to the potential hazards faced; noting that most of those currently attracted to a firefighter position were looking at it as a long-term and full-time career.
Based on this discussion so far, Councilmember McGehee opined that the current option was not working and therefore needed revamped.
Interim City Manager Trudgeon observed that, during that training, it wasn’t just a financial burden to the City, but that the City also received services from that firefighter in training, and as they became certified, Roseville residents also received the benefit.
Councilmember Willmus requested a comparison with other municipal fire departments that are part-time based for discussions going forward.
Chief O’Neill advised that wage comparisons were readily available, with the completion of a metropolitan-wide comparison completed in May of 2013; and advised that he would immediately send an electronic copy to Councilmembers.
In an attempt to get some commitment or buy-in by the employee, Mayor Roe questioned the validity of an option that would increase the starting wage and ask the employee to reimburse the City for the cost of training that would net out.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Chief O’Neill reviewed the time commitment for part-time firefighter training to the employee: Year 1 and 2 required school attendance for one (1) night/week; to work one (1) shift/week, respond to any callbacks for larger fires and any multi-company trainings held; with new recruits putting in 800 hours annually in their first three (3) years. Upon completion of training, Chief O’Neill advised that the commitment level could shrink with the department requiring 180 hours of shift work every six (6) months, in addition to attending 30% of callbacks and multi-company training, of 400 hours per year. Chief O’Neill advised that many of the City’s current firefighters work in excess of 2,300 to 2,400 hours per year.
At this point, Chief O’Neill identified Option #2 (page 3) and providing health care, PTO and holiday benefits to those qualifying as the best method, noting that for 2014, there would only be six (6) firefighters qualifying for health care at an annual cost of $12,800 per firefighter for a total of $73,080. While he had attempted to identify both the pros and cons for each option, Chief O’Neill advised that this would offset costs of the Health Care Reform Act and serve as the first step in providing shift stability. Chief O’Neill offered to discuss any or all options over the next few months at the direction of the City Council.
Mayor Roe asked that, which Mr. Trudgeon duly noted, a tentative time be scheduled for such a discussion early in 2014, preferably in the first quarter, to further discuss all options, rather than deferring a discussion too close to the 2015 budget timing in mid-2014.
Regarding how the EMS component best fit, Chief O’Neill noted that the Department’s Strategic Plan had considered a future feasibility study for the transport component. While no funding had been identified for such a study in the 2014 budget, Chief O’Neill asked for City Council direction if they had any interest in pursuing such a study, if not tonight, as a future point of discussion if there was any interest in the study and/or in identifying a funding source.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Chief O’Neill provided an overview and estimate of projected maintenance and utility costs for the new fire station (e.g. heat, cooling, lighting, etc.); and those costs for remaining stations as well.
Mayor Roe noted that from a net cost factor, the City would continue paying for both fire station facilities for the near future at a minimum; at which point, Councilmember McGehee revised her request for specifics for the new building.
In planning for the new station and cost projections, Chief O’Neill advised that the intent was to look at the best way to provide service with the full objective to reduce or consolidate costs while increasing service to the community. Chief O’Neill concurred with Mayor Roe’s comment, noting that planning included Fire Station #2 continuing to be maintained under City control and Fire Administration located in the lower level of City Hall in the short-term.
Upon completion of the new station, Chief O’Neill advised that those activities currently housed in four (4) separate spaces would be consolidated into one building. Therefore, Chief O’Neill noted that no additional maintenance or utility funds had been requested for 2014, since all components would be new compared to existing 50-80 year old buildings; and smaller repair costs anticipated. However, Chief O’Neill estimated that there could be the potential for additional cleaning costs; with attempts being made to offset repair fund allocations to address those additional cleaning costs. Referencing the White Group report on the building, Chief O’Neill noted that at this time, he only had estimates – not actual – for utilities at the new building with geothermal components and energy efficiencies built in. Based on those estimates, Chief O’Neill advised that for the 2014 budget, utility costs had been reduced by 17% based on the White Group study; however, while being optimistic in the accuracy of those projections, Chief O’Neill cautioned that White Group study were estimates and not actual. Chief O’Neill anticipated savings for overall utility costs over the current operating budget. Chief O’Neill advised that the construction had anticipated a building with a minimum 50-year life expectancy. However, even though the facility and systems were expected to be reliable and durable, Chief O’Neill observed that the building would be operating 24/7 with 60 to 70 people coming and going. Chief O’Neill advised that the building had been built with the understanding that there was little built into the current Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) over the next twenty (20) years for replacement of building items; with those costs identified in the ten (10) year building CIP at $20,000 annually. Chief O’Neill stated that it was important for the department to do its part in recognition of the confidence and support the community had given in constructing this new facility.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Chief O’Neill confirmed that the building had separate meters for utilities other than the pump currently at the skating center for pushing water through the geothermal system.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Chief O’Neill advised that he had not yet discussed with Public Works Director Schwartz a schedule for the Fire Department’s data entry and implementation in the Asset Management software program, since he had been so involved in the construction process for the new facility. However, while not having started the process yet, Chief O’Neill anticipated it as a project over the coming winter months. Councilmember McGehee encouraged Chief O’Neill to make that a high priority.
At the request of Mayor Roe, Chief O’Neill clarified the 2013 budget numbers that included City and State property taxes for the Relief Association and including both the City contribution minus the pass-through amount.
Police Chief Rick Mathwig distributed a handout outlining his presentation. Police Lt. Erica Scheider was also present on behalf of the department.
Chief Mathwig commended Police Department personnel, noting that they chased greatness and perfection daily based on their commitment and as part of their value statement developed three (3) years ago, and provided as page 1 of the bench handout: service to the community, integrity, respect and innovation. Representing 87% of the Police Department budget, Chief Mathwig noted that Police employees were the department’s greatest asset, but also were a large extended family. Chief Mathwig used a graphic indicting the stresses felt in the department due to limited staff and resources; opining that any movement backwards would severely and negatively affect the department and their service to the community.
As previously referenced by Fire Chief O’Neill, Chief Mathwig advised that he had also prepared different budget priorities prior to the levy limits enacted by the legislature, but realized they were no longer realistic, with other issues also before the City Council.
Chief Mathwig simply asked that the department no go backwards, and therefore sought three (3) 2014 budget priorities, as detailed in the bench handout: 1) Implementation of the recently completed Compensation Study; 2) Funding for inflationary and contractual impacts to the current budget; and 3) retain the Police Department and its operating budget status quo. Chief Mathwig sincerely requested that the City Council make the implementation of the compensation study their highest priority; noting that the department had forty-four (44) employees with their own frequent compensation study; with one (1) union for Sergeants and one (1) for sworn officers. Chief Mathwig noted that through frequent comparisons with other cities, negations continued to remain on an average with unions.
Chief Mathwig noted that the increase in dispatch services for Fire and Police services with Ramsey County was a significant impact to the budget, with the majority falling into the Police budget, even though covering both Fire and Police dispatch services. Chief Mathwig reviewed the adjustment mechanism scheduled to be reversed in 2015 by Ramsey County Dispatch (with the exception of the City of White Bear Lake having their own dispatch function) to adjust funding previously borne significantly by the City of St. Paul; and incorporating an entirely new CAD system for the entire county which the County Board would fund on County taxes, with operating and future planning costs to be borne by member cities.
While Chief Mathwig reviewed the status quo budget proposed for 2014, he also provided a preview of 2015 budget priorities as detailed on page 3 of the bench handout.
In highlighting the anticipated increase in associated crime with more mass transit into Roseville and its retail areas, Chief Mathwig clarified that the department was attempting to anticipate additional service requirements, even above traffic and crash activities.
Councilmember Laliberte, as the City Council representative to the bus rapid transit (BRT) planning committee, noted her proposal to the committee that, since they move all other college students along Snelling Avenue to their college destination (e.g. Northwestern and Bethel) rather than ending the BRT route at Rosedale. However, Councilmember Laliberte advised that she was not hopeful that this would happen; noting that Metro Transit was also renegotiating their lease at Rosedale.
Mayor Roe clarified that this discussion in no way reflected the vast majority of people riding buses, but only a small element that would obviously increase as ridership increased. Mayor Roe sought to assure the public that the City Council was certainly not attempting to publically portray the majority of bus riders causing problems.
Chief Mathwig concurred, noting that majority of riders on bus route #84 were good people.
Mayor Roe noted that there was a significant need to move people north and south along Snelling Avenue; with Councilmember Laliberte also noting the main reason for the BRT was to move people from the light rail transit (LRT) connections in downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis.
In general and at the request of Councilmember Willmus, Finance Director Miller advised that, while differing to some among functions and departments, on average a 3% inflationary multiplier could be applied.
At the request of Councilmember Willmus, Chief Mathwig responded to the various transit lines running into and through Roseville, with information just received earlier that afternoon and not yet available to determine whether one line versus another more directly impacted crime areas in Roseville.
Councilmember Laliberte opined that anytime a retail facility provided an opportunity for a quick get-away, it would create a heavier crime area.
Councilmember McGehee opined that another consideration would be how the LRT crossed University Avenue and who gets on and off.
Chief Mathwig clarified that, once the BRT was implemented, Route #84 would be retracted, with more lines supplied into Roseville to handle the extra ridership, with the entire system inflated for about one (1) year.
While still seeking interest from the retail community for partnership for a commercial patrol, Chief Mathwig advised that in reality he doubt it would come forward in the City Manager-recommended 2014 budget.
Chief Mathwig advised that the department continued to have daily interactions with the New Americans Forum, and would continue to do so to the degree possible with current staff and resources.
Chief Mathwig noted the need to fund the $10,000 for overtime, based on union contract language on overtime, and use of comp time and off-shift for various duties; creating less time to make traffic stops, facilitate neighborhood interaction, etc.
At the request of Councilmember Etten, Chief Mathwig reviewed the peer cities (5 larger/5 smaller cities) used regularly by the unions in their compensation studies; with Human Resources Manager Eldona Bacon doing that research and unions doing their own research on occasion as well. Chief Mathwig advised that the cities changed depending on demographics used. Chief Mathwig reviewed current contracts, with the Sergeants Union on a three (3) year contract; and officers generally having a 1-2 year contract; and comparable cities information – available to the public – available when reviewed. At the request of Councilmember Etten, Chief Mathwig advised that the Officer’s Union contract would be up in 2014, and estimated that it negotiations would follow similarly that of the Sergeant’s and estimated at an increase of 2.5% COLA.
Mayor Roe opined that the take away for Councilmembers to consider was that collective bargaining units would most likely always be at 100% of peer cities averages versus non-union employees.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Chief Mathwig reviewed the simplistic compensation study by the unions using data from cities having their own police departments and not contracting with sheriff’s departments.
Councilmember McGehee opined that the minimal cost for the New American’s Forum didn’t seem significant given its positives; and questioned if Chief Mathwig anticipated expanding it to other groups beyond the Karen community; and questioned if it should be an annual event or more or less frequent.
Chief Mathwig responded that the Karen group were identified as the most vulnerable group in the United States and in Roseville and therefore remained of greater focus for the department. Chief Mathwig opined that many of the other groups were or could be supported through a support group of interpreters, written materials geared toward their ethnicity and meetings, with options remaining open at this time, but of interest to the department in pursuing, in particular the large Roseville population of Somali residents, even though they were not as vulnerable as the Karen residents. Chief Mathwig noted that a grant from the Roseville Foundation grant primarily funded the last Forum.
Councilmember Etten opined that, given their vulnerability, the City should continue to support focused interaction with Karen community in the 2014 budget; and asked that Interim City Manager Trudgeon incorporate it in the City Council’s work plan, which was duly noted by Mr. Trudgeon.
While the department had looked to fund an additional Community Service Officer (CS)) above the current three part-time CSO’s, with funding of $20,000 in the 2013 budget, Chief Mathwig expressed his reluctance to move that forward to the 2014 budget if needing to take funds from other department functions or activities.
Councilmember McGehee spoke in support of the department expanding beyond the Karen community to the Somali community in support of the City’s commitment to make Roseville as welcoming as possible by reaching out to all communities.
Mayor Roe noted that the Karen community remained so vulnerable based on their culture versus Somali immigrant groups seeming to be able to better integrate in to the United States, Minnesota and Roseville; opining that the focus should remain on the Karen people due to that big cultural difference and their past negative history with their own government authorities.
Councilmember Etten concurred, opining that the Somali were more established in Roseville; and referenced a recent candidate for the Planning Commission vacancy, expressing interest in getting involved in and helping his Roseville Community. Councilmember Etten strongly encouraged using him as a contact person if another Forum was scheduled; and as a great resource to tap into other resources in the Somali community.
Community Development Department
Community Development Director Patrick Trudgeon distributed a handout outlining his presentation.
As detailed in the bench handout, Mr. Trudgeon advised that the Community Development Department typically generated $1 million annually, whether considered good or bad years, with the majority of operations funded via fees. Mr. Trudgeon advised that only nuisance code enforcement efforts and staff were funded by the general levy. Mr. Trudgeon advised that he saw no major increases in the 2014 budget, remaining status quo, with many areas anticipated in the 2015 budget impact year and beyond.
In listing the Community Development Department priorities, Mr. Trudgeon stated that, without question, implementation of the compensation study was of the highest priority.
Mr. Trudgeon reviewed the status of the Rental Licensing Program, anticipated for implementation in 2014, with the Housing & Redevelopment Authority (HRA) having done additional research and comparisons with other communities, as preliminarily reported to the City Council, with a more refined program anticipated in the near future. Mr. Trudgeon advised that the intent was to begin base line multi-family rental inspections in 2014, and have the program fully operational by 2015. Mr. Trudgeon advised that the initial program costs would be mostly fee-supported. Mr. Trudgeon noted that the HRA and staff were responding to multi-family rental property owners and managers to make the program less of a negative financial impact to them; and the need to balance staff resource requirements with fees realized in future years, based on the cost of third party inspections and depending on how the buildings were classified. Mr. Trudgeon opined that there was no question that there may be a need for additional staff to field complaints, and to manage the program administratively, since there was no specific person assigned to that function at this time. Mr. Trudgeon anticipated a minor expense to facilitate that administrative staffing need in 2014, and suggested reviewing and possibly adding to the current part-time work responsibilities of the Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) or Business Enhancement Program (BEP) or a seasonal person funded by the HRA, and extending the position into the fall to get notices and baseline standard information to multi-family rental property owners; estimated at approximately $10,000 to $15,000 for 2014. Mr. Trudgeon noted that the position would need to be full-time in 2015 to gear up for additional hours and duties.
Mr. Trudgeon addressed the economic development focus under discussion for several years by the City Council, and the HRA’s involvement in conducting a business retention and expansion study over the next few months, with a workshop planned and intended as a community-led event with a consultant to facilitate discussion to better understand the needs of the business community and get their input for creation of programs, a revolving loan fund, of creation of an informal Chamber of Commerce, as well as sponsoring/hosting events supporting businesses. Mr. Trudgeon advised that this would evolve in 2014 into 2015 and would require staff support. As he had previously advocated for, Mr. Trudgeon noted the need for a full-time Economic Development person to meet those business community needs, not to attract outside businesses but how best to grow existing businesses. Mr. Trudgeon noted that there was currently few if any resources available to perform that type of outreach in the business community; advising that the Business Retention proposed for 2014 by the HRA to get started, with dedicated staff time detailed in 2014 to accomplish it.
Mr. Trudgeon noted that the Twin Lakes Redevelopment Area never went away as a priority, and depended on future discussions scheduled at an upcoming City Council meeting with property developers in that area and results of those discussions and indications for future development. Mr. Trudgeon advised that options following that initial discussion may include setting aside funding for a consultant or third party study to provide expertise for future consideration. Mr. Trudgeon advised that the Community Development Department typically maintained $10,000 for third party studies and consulting services in its annual budget; and he didn’t see this as a large budget item.
Specific to budget opportunities, Mr. Trudgeon noted that it was fortunate on the Community Development Department side that funds could be leveraged, and while $1 million was significant, the City had been able to work with the HRA in their provision of seed money, using the 2006/2007 rental registration program as a result of one of the HRA’s efforts and studies for single-family homes registered and data administered in the Community Development Department, with the current nominal fee covering that database management cost. While the HRA initially provides that seed month to implement ideas, Mr. Trudgeon noted that the costs eventually end up in the Community Development Department and advised that it was vital to continue being cognizant of funding mechanisms to support those programs and functions. With the HRA continuing to support initiating those ideas, Mr. Trudgeon suggested that it may be viable for the HRA to maintain a role in future funding for rental registration/licensing; with some things not directly impacting the levy but supported by user fees to deliver specific services.
Specific to budget challenges, Mr. Trudgeon advised that the Community Development Department was also stretched thin; noting that when staff was stretched thin, their performance was impacted and some of their functions were not done as well as if more time and energy was available. Therefore, Mr. Trudgeon advised that additional resources and staff would be beneficial for the moral of the department and their ultimate service delivery to citizens. While Mr. Trudgeon proposed that the Community Development Department budget remain static in 2014, he anticipated increases in part-time staff hours and/or new employees in the 2015 budget.
Mr. Trudgeon specifically addressed the Community Development Department organization/succession planning and promotional opportunities, depending on whether or not he pursued the City Manager position. As the current Community Development Director, Mr. Trudgeon advised that he strongly supported the City Council’s desire for incorporating economic development into the overall Community Development Department structure. However, in doing so, Mr. Trudgeon noted the importance in succession planning to build leadership from within; noting that the department was very flat at this time, with few steps for employees to progress through. Mr. Trudgeon noted that the current City Planner had been in Roseville for thirteen (13) years; and the GIS and Associate Planner positions for seven (7) years respectively; with little room for advancement or promotion. Mr. Trudgeon suggested one scenario in the overall succession planning for the department could be if a potential for promoting the Associate Planner position, upon a certain number of years and good performance, to Senior Planner; with any new planner coming in at the Associate Planner level and again working through the process until a system was built up. Mr. Trudgeon opined that this would also serve to build leaders within the organization and keep employees more interested in remaining in Roseville.
Regarding the capacity of future budgets as the City Council moved into how to properly fund the 2015 budget and beyond, Mr. Trudgeon noted the need to increase funding through finding additional options and to avoid significant impacts to the annual property tax levy. While the 2014 budget remained static with only a modest increase for inflation and personnel costs, Mr. Trudgeon advised that his intent was to plant the seed now with the City Council that future budgets should address those projected costs and applicable funding. For levy-supported code enforcement costs, Mr. Trudgeon anticipated 2 FTE’s and related vehicle, supplies and fuel estimated at $150,000, all levy-supported.
Specific to economic development-related activities (e.g. business retention), Mayor Roe questioned if it was feasible that any dollars invested in staff time could be recouped through building permits and fees, or if it would put pressure on other sources.
In response, Mr. Trudgeon advised that at this time the situation may not be able to be predicted accurately, since measuring quantity versus quality as more business was realized was not a good measure and hard to gauge. Mr. Trudgeon noted that it was fortunate that Roseville already had good quality businesses, some that have or are expanding; however, he cautioned taking that situation for granted that it would continue to happen on its own. Mr. Trudgeon opined that the City needed to be aware of and have funding sources set aside; suggesting that an Economic Development/Community Development Director position may be possible.
Mayor Roe noted that the HRA Executive Director position also fit into that puzzle.
At the request of Councilmember Laliberte, Mr. Trudgeon advised that he was not aware of any businesses moving out of Roseville due to the legislative action implementing the warehouse tax; even though the community had some warehouse uses in the community; and noted that one major warehouse use was slated to come into the Midtown Business Center.
At the request of Councilmembers Laliberte and Willmus as to whether any businesses had or planned to “go over the border” due to taxation issues; and how much square footage for warehouse/office use was currently in Roseville, City Planner Paschke advised that the information could be researched and provided to the City Council in the near future. Given any significant impacts, Councilmember Laliberte advised that her question was based on whether or not the City Council wished to weigh on in any negative impacts with legislative representatives.
Mayor Roe opined that the economic development component was important to the community, not only incentives, but retaining and allowing expansion of existing businesses, and should receive more emphasis from the City’s perspective.
Councilmember McGehee concurred with Mayor Roe; and suggested also finding out any problems existing businesses had with the City’s current policies or in general that prevented them from flourishing and enjoying their partnership with the City and in the community.
Mr. Trudgeon cautioned that local problems were under the control of the City; however, there was little impact the City had with state taxation or bigger issues.
As an example, Mayor Roe noted results of recent visits with Symantec earlier this year and their request for a crosswalk on Cleveland Avenue for their employees to access parks during their breaks and to encourage walkability and connectivity. Mayor Roe spoke in support of positive impacts available for Ramsey County and the City of Roseville to make life better for area businesses and residents.
In his role as Interim City Manager, Mr. Trudgeon distributed a handout outlining his presentation.
Mayor Roe requested, and Mr. Trudgeon duly noted, that the bench handouts be incorporated as part of the official agenda packet for tonight’s meeting, in accordance with City Council policy, including his spreadsheet breakdowns as above-referenced.
Specific to the Communication Fund revenue, Mayor Roe confirmed that the funds were made available through the current franchise agreement with Comcast, and increased 5% annually.
As she had noted at a previous meeting, Councilmember McGehee noted that her research had indicated that the Cities of Edina and St. Louis Park had 4-5 Human Resources employees respectively.
Mayor Roe advised that he had removed the Recycling component from his spreadsheets; and addressed Fire Relief Association funding under employee costs; opining that including it as a personnel cost seemed inappropriate since, unlike PERA, the information didn’t match the current budget categories at this time.
Mr. Trudgeon referenced his memorandum dated July 18, 2013, entitled, “Administration Department Reorganization,” provided as a bench handout. Mr. Trudgeon cautioned that this represented his very preliminary and initial findings and recommendations for reorganization the Administrative, Communications and Human Resources functions of the City, after receiving and considering City Council feedback and consulting with other communities related to their administrative functions. Mr. Trudgeon advised that he was attempting at this time to keep any administrative reorganization fairly cost neutral, anticipating future cost increases.
At the request of Councilmember Etten, Mr. Trudgeon clarified that the HRA was amenable to providing $30,000 from HRA funds toward a Communications Manager position, intended to also address and incorporate HRA communication needs. Mr. Trudgeon opined that it was anticipated that it would take some time to achieve overall collaboration between and among the City’s various departments and communication efforts.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Mr. Trudgeon confirmed that it was the intent that by reorganizing all City communications for all avenues currently being provided, the City could better take advantage of branding city-wide through communication programming.
In response to Councilmember McGehee’s preference, Mayor Roe opined that it may be more realistic that some communication content may be generated by specific departments, yet follow a general city-wide template and format.
Mr. Trudgeon responded affirmatively, noting that the Communications Manager would coordinate communications more formally, even though some of the department specific relationships were already established.
Specific to the Communications Specialist position, Mr. Trudgeon advised that he was not sure how much time would be required for assisting the Communications Manager, and suggested additional duties be incorporated or transferred into that position (e.g. agenda packet preparation) or other duties; and anticipated no net levy increase, totaling2 FTE’s.
Specific to increasing the existing Senior Office Assistant position from ¾ to full-time, Mr. Trudgeon advised that this would provide more consistent customer service, as well as assisting the Human Resources function until a better solution was implemented; and advised that the incremental cost for increasing hours would be need to be levy supported at this time.
At the request of Councilmember McGehee, Mr. Trudgeon was amenable to the position also being considered as a job share position; with Councilmember McGehee supporting a job share option.
Mayor Roe concurred, provided that option was properly managed to provide the preferred consistency.
Councilmember Laliberte suggested that, if the Communication Specialist had additional time for other work, she would argue that the City had the need for and could fill that time with communication efforts alone rather than filling in the time by working on agenda, with a full-time Senior Office Assistant position now allowing time to perform that agenda function.
Mr. Trudgeon concurred with Councilmember Laliberte; however, he noted his preference to provide assistance to the Human Resources function, also supporting paid or nonpaid interns at certain times of the year or project-specific.
Mayor Roe supported the intern option, specifically in the Community Development Department area as they were often more specialized offerings.
Councilmember McGehee spoke in support of using volunteers, specifically older residents previously trained in administrative jobs; with Mr. Trudgeon opining that this was always a possibility; however, he noted that this could be problematic as the City continued evolving with electronic agenda packets and materials.
Mayor Roe concurred that such an evolution would naturally be less volunteer friendly; while Mr. Trudgeon observed that it would also make the process less staff intensive.
Mayor Roe observed, specific to the Communications Manager and Specialist positions, that depending on the creation of future job descriptions and skills, those two may not be comparable to current classifications.
Mr. Trudgeon addressed his recommendation for an Assistant to the City Manager, or City Clerk position, clarifying and reiterating that he did not see this or intend that it be an Assistant City Manager Position, but offering an elevation of the current Executive Assistant position to higher level tasks and duties. Mr. Trudgeon advised that this was also predicated on the fact that some functions currently performed by Communications staff (e.g. record retention and data practices) should be shifted to a City Clerk role, and reclassified. Mr. Trudgeon advised that he wanted communications staff to focus on communications efforts; with the City Clerk/Assistant to the City Manager position provided a higher level of policy help and expertise to the City Manager, Department Heads and City Council than currently feasible. Mr. Trudgeon advised that this expansion, as detailed in his memo, would represent an expansion of current positions needing to be funded by levy dollars.
As an additional handout, Mr. Trudgeon provided a “Proposed Administration Department Reorganization Chain of Command;” and in response to Councilmember Laliberte, advised that the Senior Office Assistant would be primarily supervised by the City Manager, with no time spent supervising video production assistants.
Councilmember Willmus spoke in support of considering an option for that function to be supervised by the City’s Information Technology (IT) function or by a third party, C-TV.
Councilmember Laliberte clarified and Mr. Trudgeon confirmed that his intent would ultimately be for the Senior Office Assistant to be under the supervision only to the Assistant to the City Manager/City Clerk, and not a shared direct report of that position and the Human Resources Manager.
Councilmember McGehee spoke in opposition of one (1) person serving in the role of Assistant to the City Manager and City Clerk, opining that it was a two (2) person job, with the City Clerk needed to focus on documentation reporting to the City Manager and a Senior Office Assistant reporting to the Assistant to the City Manager. Based on her business experience, Councilmember McGehee opined that the positions would be a better mix even if divided from full-time.
Mayor Roe clarified that, by ordinance, the City Manager is the City Clerk and designates that authority as applicable. Mayor Roe further noted that the City Council should not determine the analysis of duties or responsibilities for various functions, as that was a Human Resources function.
Mr. Trudgeon noted that there were a lot of duties listed that needed further refinement from his initial analysis.
Councilmember Laliberte suggested that whether part of the 2014 budget or eventual reorganization, rather than a Senior Office Assistant position split between the Human Resources and Administrative function, she thought a part-time Human Resources Assistant may be more prudent; and if the City Clerk position was found to be too big, at least it would provide better support overall.
Mayor Roe noted that that would create more than one FTE under those two (2) positions. Recognizing that Mr. Trudgeon listed this as a future budget challenge, Mayor Roe recognized that the City Council was seeing it as a current Human Resources challenge as well.
Councilmember Willmus spoke in support of the preliminary recommendations as laid out by Mr. Trudgeon; and suggested that another consideration for the Commission Task Force may be to transfer staff liaison support for the Human Rights Commission (HRC) from administration to a more collaborative effort for staff support from emergency services personnel. Councilmember Willmus opined that this would provide more opportunity for a better connection with the HRC and outreach by emergency services personnel to under-represented members of the community.
Councilmember McGehee suggested a different option would be to combine the HRC and Civic Engagement citizen advisory opportunities under Administration as part of the face of Roseville in reaching out across the board.
Councilmember Willmus opined that he continued to see the HRC and Civic Engagement groups as two separate commissions with two (2) separate charges.
Mayor Roe clarified that the Commission Task Force would be looking at all citizen advisory commissions and their current charges, opining that whether or not there was different staffing in the future, any and all staff liaisons may be affected as well as whether or not an existing commission moved forward. Until that discussion occurred at a City Council level, Mayor Roe opined that it would be difficult to determine appropriate staff liaisons going forward.
Mr. Trudgeon thanked Councilmembers for their initial input, opining that it was helpful for him going forward and in attempting to make any net levy impacts as neutral as possible. Mr. Trudgeon advised that, given current levy limits, even though some positions may seem like great ideas, he was attempting to balance and be sensitive to the interest of the City Council and meet the needs of Departments as well. Mr. Trudgeon advised that this was only his first attempt and presented as “Interim Plan A” with any implementation probably occurring and identified as “2015 B Implementation.” If the City Council preferred something to happen immediately, Mr. Trudgeon asked that the City Council make him aware of that now rather than later.
Councilmember Etten advised that he needed to see the direct impacts and implications for each department and how transferring duties from one department to another served to assist their overall focus. Councilmember Etten noted that Communications staff needed to be regularly and directly involved with Department Heads to understand each department’s functions; and if that was proven as a positive, he could more easily support Mr. Trudgeon’s reorganization proposal.
Mr. Trudgeon noted that while the eventual goal was that the Communications Fund provided an easier answer, the administrative support functions would still require levy funding.
Councilmember Etten reiterated that if by removing communications functions from other departments it could alleviate stress from those departments and shift the overall picture positively, he could support that goal.
Mayor Roe opined that the City Clerk and Human Resources functions could also be positively impacted as well.
Councilmember Laliberte, having heard hedging in communication function descriptions and whether or not they would drive the City’s strategic vision, opined that those strategic plans were still to be generated or developed in each department. From her perspective, Councilmember Laliberte opined that this did not serve to help the departments. If the intent was to reorganization, Councilmember Laliberte supported that reorganization; however, if this was simply an attempt to remove silos and move services within the City’s internal functions, she questioned if it would prove ultimately successful across the board.
Mr. Trudgeon again thanked the City Council for their comments; reiterating that this was intended as a start in attempting to begin alleviating stress on other departments.
If the right trained person meeting the qualifications of the job description took on a different role than currently used to, Councilmember Etten opined that the change should be immediate with transition needed as people acclimate to things. Councilmember Etten noted that the recommendations represented a big change and everyone needed to be cognizant of that upfront.
Mayor Roe concurred with Mr. Trudgeon advising that communications content came from department-specific expertise, but they were in fact creating actual media; and if that function is removed, there should be opportunities to use existing levy funds by departments to focus on and perform their specific roles, or reduce work hours accordingly.
Councilmember Willmus concurred with Mayor Roe’s comments.
Councilmember Laliberte opined that, if someone new were brought in, they would be expecting to use their expertise and experience to lead communication efforts, and not just babysit the existing process. Councilmember Laliberte opined that, as part of the City Council’s levy/budget discussions, it may make the process move faster than anticipated; and as dollars are moved around and function support in different areas and resources in other areas, additional hours may be available for other functions, such as getting a department implemented with the asset management software or taking on the volunteer coordinator role.
Councilmember McGehee spoke in support of the Communications Manager position as a totally new position, needing to hit the ground running with everyone on board. Councilmember McGehee cautioned that the City was still in the City Manager Search position; and sought to ensure that the City Council didn’t set up a whiplash situation for employees and to be mindful of other changes in process or pending. Councilmember McGehee stated that she was very supportive of getting a person hired to do this job and thereby freeing up staff time; opining that she had heard from some departments that it could be a real positive for them.
Referencing Mr. Trudgeon’s question on the level of support or priority from the City Council for these initial recommendations, Councilmember Willmus opined that this type of thing was desperately needed by the organization; and offered his encouragement and support of pressing forward.
Mayor Roe concurred with Councilmember Willmus’ comments; opining that it was a high priority from his perspective; noting the need to work within levy limits as noted by Mr. Trudgeon previously. Noting that constraint, Mayor Roe opined that it may cause tougher decisions on other things, but remained a high priority for him, with anticipation that funds could be moved around to address additional resources needed to accomplish the goal.
14. Business Items (Action Items)
15. Business Items – Presentations/Discussions
16. City Manager Future Agenda Review
17. Councilmember Initiated Items for Future Meetings
Willmus moved, McGehee seconded, adjournment of the meeting at approximately 7:13 pm.
Ayes: Willmus; Etten: McGehee; Laliberte; and Roe.