FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING MARCH 18, 2014
Committee member Ms. DePledge opened the meeting at approximately 6:06 p.m. Members of the Committee in attendance were Ms. DePledge and Mr. Licht. Committee Chair Ms. Vaughn was absent and excused. Present from Council were Mr. Hoefle, Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, Mr. Evers and Council President D’Ambrosio.
In attendance from the Administration were Mayor Morley, Finance Director Slocum and Police Chief Reik.
Also in attendance were members of the public.
Ms. DePledge: In reviewing the 2014 budget if you look at page #1 there appears to have been some adjustments since our last meeting. Instead of being about $36,000 down it appears we are $53,000 in the black which is a great place to be. Mr. Slocum?
Mr. Slocum: Just so you understand how we got where we ended up – $20,000 of it is that we discovered the dereg money and the CAT tax money which we had previously been told we would not receive any more going forward. It turns out in the 2013-2014 budget that was passed they put it back in. When I talked with the State it was indicated that it only covered for stuff that was previously in existence but they did not seek too much publicity with it. For us with the Police and Fire pension it is $20,000 that we are receiving this year that we did not count on. The other part is the road levy – it is an additional $100,000 we will collect this year that we did not count on. It is a significant dollar there. With the fire equipment levy it was an additional $19,000. It was significant. The other parts that are coming – as you know we have given you the background with the AFSME agreement and with that we have taken the money we had set aside for law fees and taken that out – that is $25,000. The other thing we have done is the Fire Union is voting on their package on Thursday and we believe they will accept it – that is $35,000 there and providing they do accept it we will be distributing either Thursday or Friday the background on it and we will ask to go into Executive Session next week to discuss both contracts and have Council actually adopt both contracts at next Tuesday’s meeting. I can say with the AFSME – since it has been accepted – that there are no wage increases whatsoever in the contract.
Mr. Slocum: If you wish we could go into Executive Session now to discuss the AFSME agreement or we can wait. We are not in the position to discuss the Fire agreement although I think you will be happy with it and I believe it will save us this year roughly $35,000. There was a $60,000 swing because of those two events. We have reached agreement with the Fire Union leadership but they still have to sell it to their members just like we have to sell it to our Council. Providing they accept it we will be providing a document similar to what you received on the AFSME – all the bullet points of the differences between the current agreement and this year’s agreement which is for three years. With the Fire Agreement there will be an explanation because there was some creativity – which was not mine but the Unions as to how they wanted their dollars spent.
Ms. DePledge: Whatever they chose is resulting in a $35,000 savings to the City if it is approved.
Mr. Slocum: We will go over it all but I think you will be happy and I do believe you will approve it and I hope they will approve it.
Mayor Morley: We should know Thursday morning or afternoon. We will give you a synopsis like we did with AFSME.
Mr. Slocum: The other thing we did – I did increase the sewer fund by $200,000 which we can use to pay Willoughby if that is the way the two cities decide to go. Other than that it is pretty much the same budget. We will get through this year but we have an $800,000 carry-over that is keeping us afloat right now. We will not have that next year. We still have to settle with the Police Department – there is still more work to be done.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Great job with the budget, Mayor Morley and Mr. Slocum. If you wish and if Council wishes to I am okay with going into Executive Session to discuss the AFSME agreement.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: My only concern would be that Ms. Vaughn is not here.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I spoke with Ms. Vaughn. She has reviewed this and gave me her opinion of it but I cannot say unless we are in Executive Session.
Ms. DePledge: Contingent on the outcome of Executive Session do we want to move the budget forward?
The Committee agreed to move the budget forward, contingent on the outcome of Executive Session, to the next regular Council meeting.
Mr. Slocum: I have drafted the budget legislation that you would be voting on – this has to be adopted this month.
Ms. DePledge: I was just going to address that. We have had at least four meetings on the budget that have been open to the public. They have had plenty of opportunity to speak and address and deal with anything. I know, Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, how you feel about the three readings but this is not something that can go three readings.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I know – we are in a time crunch.
Ms. DePledge: Are there any items in here that you have concerns with or that specific residents have called you about – that they are concerned about?
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: No.
Ms. DePledge: We know that we do this every year. I would assume if there was something in the budget that a resident was concerned about that they would have shown up here sometime in January or February. I just don’t want it to be an issue with the three readings – that would be unfortunate at this point in time and we would run into all kinds of problems.
There were no further questions or comments.
Mr. Slocum: We entered into a salt contract last week. We realize there is a $12,500 limit for which are to get Council approval. However, the Mayor last week did declare an emergency as we were running out of salt. Fortunately we were able to identify Cargill as a supplier. They are one of the main suppliers in this area. They raped the hell out of us. We are paying triple to Cargill compared to what we paid for the salt we purchased from Morton Salt. We are paying $70 per ton to Cargill for 350 ton and we have actually received our first delivery. If we get hit with another storm before the end of our winter season we should have enough salt. Otherwise we would have been out of salt. We spoke with Mr. D’Ambrosio and Ms. Vaughn before hand – that we felt we had to do this. I was discussing with the Clerk today whether or not we needed to do this by motion or legislation. I will ask for Council’s approval after the fact. We felt it was something that had to be done.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: After we spoke with the Mayor and Mr. Slocum the Mayor sent an email to everyone. I do not believe there were any problems with this. I thought it was a good move. I believe prior to this Cargill was up to $100 per ton.
Mr. Slocum: It looks worse this year because of the fantastic price we got from the State. This year we paid a little over $23 per ton. A couple of years ago we were paying $54 per ton which is not too far from the $70 we are paying now. You just have to suck it in and take a deep breath this year. We entered into this contract last Wednesday and they delivered salt on Friday. Hopefully, we will not need it but if we do need it we have it. That was the decision we had to make.
Ms. DePledge: I don’t believe anyone has any issues.
Mr. Licht: I assume that means that going into next year we will need to order more – is that something that is in the budget?
Mr. Slocum: Yes, if you look we have only spent out of this year’s budget about $20,000. This will be another $23,000. We budgeted this year $125,000. If the State bid comes in high then we may need to budget more. We have money in the fund to pay for it. But, so far salt has not been a stress on our budget and I think that is due to the fact that the State bid amount was low and I hope they are able to do it again.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Is the salt budget inside the road levy money?
Mr. Slocum: No, it is part of Fund #203 Municipal Motor Vehicle. A lot of that money comes from the permissive tax we collect with your license plate – $5.00.
There were no further questions or comments.
Upon review, the Committee agreed to move this item forward to the next Council meeting.
Mrs. Quinn Hopkins: My only thought for next year is – and I don’t know how your agenda goes in getting the budget ready for discussion of items in the budget – but, is there any chance that next year we can have the budget put together by mid-February so we could have three readings?
Ms. DePledge: I would just say – we get budgets every month. We know exactly how the money is coming in and going out. The only thing we seem to do every January is to cut it. Those are things we discussed.
Mr. Licht: I am not understanding what the difference is between these public meetings we have had and doing it at Council meetings. It is the same thing. People are welcome to come here. The initial budget is out in February.
Mr. Slocum: The preliminary budget came out in late January. As opposed to other things with other legislation there are a lot of hearings that actually occur with the budget where people have the opportunity. This is not something that is slammed together at the last minute. It is refined – there is a lot of tweaking that occurs from the beginning but there is not a massive overhaul. If you compare this to where we were in the beginning – we did make significant cuts. When it first came out we were showing about a $360,000 in overages and a lot of things we originally had hoped to have fallen by the wayside. But, how things ended up here – the public has plenty of time – in my opinion – to come to voice their opinions as it relates to the budget and the process. Unfortunately, we are not like other cities that ask how they are going to spend all their money. I would not know what that is like.
Mayor Morley: I, and everyone else, have written three articles – we had one resident here for a half a meeting and Mr. Beres is here for tonight’s meeting. Our residents have more than an opportunity. I put it in my Gazette article. I know Mr. Slocum has talked to residents. If a resident wants to come in and talk to and go through the whole budget with Mr. Slocum he is willing to do that. I do not feel we are taking away from anyone. I understand your thoughts – we have had discussions on it. If we had an abundance of residents come to meetings on things that are problems in the City we would have three meetings but to have three readings just to have three readings …
Ms. DePledge: This is the third time that you have brought up the three readings issue and I have not talked to you privately at all and I do not know what your motivation is behind it but it seems you want to make sure the public has access to this information and have an opportunity for input. Well, they do. Then to continue to bring it up is almost as if you are intimating that someone is being deceitful or we are trying to slide things past the residents.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: That is not my intention at all.
Ms. DePledge: That is what it sounds like.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Okay.
Ms. DePledge: That is not anything anyone in this Administration or Council or anywhere has ever done. I just wish we could put that to rest and get back to the business of running the City effectively and efficiently and not have to continue to address this situation in meetings. I don’t know what is behind it but if there is something else behind it let me know. Put it on the record. They have plenty of opportunity to come in here and talk to anyone at any time and that has been said repeatedly. Can we put this to bed?
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I am sorry. You really are misunderstanding my intentions. I am not trying to accuse anyone by any means – in any way. That was not my intention.
Ms. DePledge: That may not be your intention – what is your intention?
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: It is an ancient rule that has been observed by governments – not only our country and every level of our government but other governments as well. And it is a good rule and enables the public to contribute. I could go into deeper detail but I am not prepared to do that right now.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I agree it is a good rule and when there have been controversial issues or anything we saw that could go either way we put things on three readings.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: That is true.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: The things we do now – they are pretty much housekeeping matters because we have not really had significant changes. The budget could be one thing. I know some cities do it. I know Wickliffe put theirs on first reading but they beat the time frame and will pass it next time. I believe there were times when we may have put our budget on three readings.
Mayor Morley: I think maybe when we did the $2 million in cuts.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: When it is something controversial or even when we get a lot of feedback from residents we have put things on three readings to see if there is any input from people. We have done it but a lot of things we have been looking at recently – nothing has been controversial.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: My concern is to do it right. I am passionate about making sure we do it right – do it according to the rules. And, not to insinuate we don’t – it has come to my attention that is an important feature that happens in City Council and various other legislative organizations. That is really the bottom line of it.
Ms. DePledge: Again, that we are doing things right. We are doing things right.
Mr. Licht: We are doing things legally. Legally we are allowed to put items into emergency readings. There is nothing illegal or nothing shady going on. It is a time sensitive thing most of the time.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: In this case especially.
Mr. Licht: I understand the point of three readings but to everyone else’s point I do not think any of these things are significant enough to require the three readings.
There were no further questions or comments.
RECOGNITION OF PUBLIC
There was no one who wished to speak.
MOTION TO ADJOURN INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Ms. DePledge asked for a Motion to adjourn into Executive Session for the purposes of discussing the Union negotiations between the City of Eastlake and Local 3058, Ohio Council 8
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME).
MOTION: Mr. Licht moved to adjourn into Executive Session in compliance with Ohio Revised Code Section 121.22, “Open Meeting Law” for the purposes of discussing the Union negotiations between the City of Eastlake and Local 3058, Ohio Council 8 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME). Mr. D’Ambrosio seconded.
ROLL CALL: Yeas unanimous.
The meeting was adjourned into Executive Session in compliance with Ohio Revised Code Section 121.22, “Open Meeting Law” for the purposes of discussing the Union negotiations between the City of Eastlake and Local 3058, Ohio Council 8 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME).
MEETING CALLED BACK TO REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
Mr. D’Ambrosio moved to adjourn back into the Regular Council Meeting portion. Mr. Evers seconded. The meeting was called back to the Regular Council Meeting with Mr. D’Ambrosio, Mr. Evers, Mr. Licht, Ms. DePledge, Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, and Mr. Hoefle in attendance.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:05 p.m.