SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES
COUNCIL CHAMBERS – CITY HALL
1000 CITY CENTER CIRCLE
May 15, 2012
THE REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETING of the City of Port Orange was called to order by Mayor Allen Green at 5:29 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance
Roll Call: Present: Councilman Bob Ford
Councilman Donald Burnette
Councilman Dennis Kennedy
Vice Mayor Bob Pohlmann
Mayor Allen Green
Also Present: Kenneth W. Parker, City Manager
Margaret T. Roberts, City Attorney
Laura Tennant, City Clerk’s office
Mr. Parker mentioned the Public Works department has the largest single budget of any operating departments within the City, with the most diverse grouping of funds. He introduced Roger Smith, acting interim Public Works Director.
Mr. Smith likened the infrastructure of Public Works to cake; if you do not have a solid infrastructure the cake will collapse. He demonstrated this with actual cakes and said you want something solid for citizens while keeping the cosmetics. Public Works covers roads, drainage, sidewalks and garbage and when you have those items you need staff.
Mr. Smith gave a Power Point presentation and discussed the primary operating funds. He discussed positions that have been eliminated and hopes Council will look at investing in the people of the Public Works department. He highlighted the positions that have been lost and/or eliminated within the Public Works department, and said the department still delivers quality. He would like to add incentives to encourage employees to stay and move up the chain, and expressed concerns for losing members of his staff. He is encouraged by new hires and their willingness to work.
Mr. Smith discussed the general fund (001-4300) and indicated expenses have gone down over the years. He gave an overview of staffing and workload, and believes it is essential to invest in and maintain roadways.
Mr. Smith explained that the 301 “Gas Tax” fund, which averages $600,000, is not part of the operating budget but is being shown to give an order of magnitude. The fund includes roadway resurfacing, striping and sidewalks. Mr. Parker clarified this is for sidewalk maintenance not for new construction. The numbers are big but it is a liability if not done. Mr. Smith stated he gets calls weekly regarding people falling due to sidewalks. Mr. Parker said as cars become more fuel efficient and people drive less, the revenue source is going down.
Mr. Smith pointed out services that are provided such as mowing, edging and trimming, fertilization, herbicides, pesticides and trimming of trees, bushes and shrubs. He talked about contracting out services and keeping track of the cycles. Herbicides and pesticides are now done completely by Public Works staff. He explained items that are now done by the department that used to be contracted out. Mr. Smith discussed contracts that are monitored including street sweeping which is under the solid waste fund (410). Mr. Parker reminded Council of the frequency of street sweeping; it was cut almost in half. Mr. Smith discussed the street sweeping contract and said the solid waste fund is solid.
Mr. Smith said with the storm water drainage fund (412), costs have continued to decline. The storm water crew is the same crew that does the sidewalks.
Councilman Burnette expressed concerns for median maintenance, it is very inconsistent right now and he would like to discuss it.
Vice Mayor Pohlmann asked about the water/sewer funds. Mr. Parker said traditionally water/sewer funds are used for water/sewer purposes and it is not advisable to move it. It is more expensive to maintain.
Mayor Green said he noticed a County truck inspecting inlets and he wanted to know why. Mr. Parker said the County is responsible for the Halifax canal and they may be looking upstream to see the Halifax inlet.
Mr. Smith discussed the value of the drainage system and the costs to slipline; this is high priority.
Mr. Smith explained the vehicle maintenance fund (503) and fleet replacement fund (505). He discussed vehicle warranties and the current policy as well as mechanics and maintenance. Mr. Smith suggested switching the procurement to the purchasing department which currently falls to the fleet supervisor. Mayor Green said he thinks it is better to shorten the life of a vehicle and turn it over. Mr. Smith mentioned the possibility of switching brands to be able to use more universal instead of brand specific parts; he gave the example of a Bobcat.
Mr. Smith covered the building maintenance fund (506) and said there are no full-time positions dedicated to building maintenance. He mentioned the benefits of having a cross-trained staff. Custodial work was discussed. Mr. Parker mentioned bidding custodial work out in the past and the private contractor could not do the work to specifications which is why it was brought back in house. Mr. Smith said Chris Barnes is the fleet director and he does a great job but is stretched thin.
Mr. Smith added more emphasis on staffing levels. He did not ask for additional staff but indicated the importance of staff and possibly revisiting it in the future. He said he is thankful to be here on behalf of Public Works and is willing to stay there as long as necessary and complimented the staff on their level of professionalism and knowledge.
Councilman Kennedy pointed out that Public Works has gone through major changes. He acknowledged things are in need of repairs and said Mr. Smith’s departments are what makes the City what it is. He appreciated a budget with no new people and asked what was really needed. Mr. Smith said it may be economical or beneficial to change duties and he would like to see more people in the grounds maintenance crew. He expressed worker safety and worker burnout concerns. He said it would be beneficial to add a finance worker and to move a facility manager to full-time. Councilman Kennedy discussed outsourcing; while recognizing they cannot continue to go down without propping it back up.
Vice Mayor Pohlmann said the Public Works department does a great job and he also appreciates Mr. Smith not asking for new employees. He felt safety is a concern and they need to take precautions. He said limited monies means the need for prioritization of what needs done, and it would probably be at least two years before seeing a turnaround. He thanked those who are out there every day doing the work. He mentioned contracting out instead of hiring full-time. He commented on refinancing bonds. Mr. Parker said they have done some refinancing and have seen some savings; which has been plugged into the capital side of the house. He mentioned the storm water fund and slipline, and at some point retention ponds will need to be de-mucked. Port Orange is generally a new city, and those are the kinds of items to begin to think about in terms of renewal and replacement efforts. Mr. Parker mentioned State Legislation relating to the road system. He discussed the gasoline tax. The State Legislature may want to address how funds are being used; our city does not want auditors to say dollars have been misused.
Councilman Burnette said he is glad to hear Mr. Smith addressing items as challenges and not problems. Council needs to look at items in individual departments and how they fit in the budget as well as long-term needs.
Councilman Ford thanked Mr. Smith for the presentation. He said we are at a point of major change in the City as it transitions from small community to large community. He would like to see Council to begin visioning where they want Public Works to be in five to ten years to plan in advance. He would like a holistic view with the rest of the City. He feels there is a need for an engineering assistant and that it should be a long-term goal. He agrees with Councilman Burnette and the possibility of joining crews with the water department. He would like a rational long-term plan for maintenance of all our buildings, roadways, drainage pipe and so on. He expressed concern that this department looks steady compared to other departments and likes seeing it as an opportunity to grow. He would like a series of workshops after completion of the budgets on how to operate departments, and what is wanted for buildings and infrastructure.
Mayor Green addressed resources for emergencies and agrees moving someone from finance may be beneficial. He feels there has been a deficiency in being prepared for the future and would like to be more creative. The City has been fortunate over the last eight to nine years without a major emergency and there needs to be preparedness. Without Public Works, things do not get moved and nobody can function. Mr. Smith mentioned events in 2004 and 2009 and said he has confidence they will be able to address an event. He feels if there is a need it is for administration.
ADJOURNMENT: 6:33 p.m.
Mayor Allen Green
Kenneth W. Parker, City Manager