SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES
COUNCIL CHAMBERS – CITY HALL
1000 CITY CENTER CIRCLE
OCTOBER 17, 2012
THE SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING of the City of Port Orange was called to order by Mayor Allen Green at 6:34 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
Shannon Lewis, Assistant City Manager
4. Independent Audit Services RFP discussion
Mayor Green advised that this meeting was called to establish problems in order to correct them.
Margaret Roberts, City Attorney, advised that there will not be any discussion regarding personnel matters.
The City Manager provided a proposed finance organizational chart that moves the Comptroller over the accounting, purchasing, and customer service divisions. The position will function more as an Assistant Finance Director, but will still act as comptroller. Risk Management will be moved on a temporary basis to the Human Resources department, and will be expanded from insurance to include all risk management items such as safety issues for employees and contractors.
Public Utilities-Meter operations would become a part of the Public Utilities Field Operation Division. A Project Manager, which is not a permanent position, would be created. Meter technicians may also be required. Staff is still evaluating whether to have internal Staff install the new meters or contract it out. Staff is also evaluating the best fit for the project manager position (in-house employee vs. contract position).
Councilman Ford believes someone is needed that is fluent with computers, can create good records, and has GIS skills. He would like to see an internal candidate to build skills and train to be a better long-term employee.
Mr. Parker will need to bring back an administrative code change to Council to implement the changes.
Councilman Kennedy is concerned that moving an existing employee could create holes elsewhere. Mr. Parker said Roger Smith has indicated that there may be someone internally that could do the job.
Mayor Green must take field knowledge and transfer the information. He asked if the organizational changes will meet the demands and the needs. He believes there needs to be help for the field crews.
Councilman Kennedy thinks it might be better to bring someone from outside that may give a fresh look and bring a new perspective. He believes the organizational chart is acceptable.
Vice Mayor Pohlmann agrees the organizational chart is good.
Councilman Burnette asked if a deputy has been identified for Public Utilities. Mr. Parker said yes, Rick Wilson was promoted from the field. Councilman Burnette asked if the project manager position will be a full time position. Mr. Parker said it depends on the number of meters to be installed and the timeline in which they will be installed.
Mr. Parker said it will also impact the IT staff. He also advised that discussions will be held about the internal auditor; whether or not to have a contract employee or in-house employee who reports to the City Manager and City Council directly, not Finance.
Councilman Burnette said a lot of the problems relate to communication breakdowns. He asked how much of the breakdowns have been self-inflicted because of too many cuts.
Mayor Green asked if the organizational chart had been reviewed with the field crews. Mr. Parker said it was discussed with the management team but not the field crews. Mayor Green wants to be sure the field staff is included in the discussion of organizational changes.
Councilman Ford asked if the project manager would be overseeing the meter installation or actually installing the meters. Mr. Parker said it would be oversight; monitoring scheduling, computer entries, and project inspector. Councilman Ford wants to talk to the meter readers and ask what staff size would be required to meet defined criteria.
Council agreed in concept to the organizational charts provided.
Mayor Green said he spoke with Tim Harriger with Sensus today. Mr. Harrigan said he recently learned of the problem. Mayor Green said Sensus would provide 25 meters to change out with our existing non-working meters to test. Mr. Parker said we have previously sent meters back in the past, but they have asked for additional ones. City will choose the meters to send back by working with the meter reading crews. Mr. Parker said Tim Harriger was unaware of the commitment of replacement meters and partial reimbursement that had been discussed and represented to the City. Councilman Ford doesn't mind the City following through on the Sensus warranty, but said the City should diversify. He would like to have a companion program of non-Sensus meters. Mr. Parker said an agenda item for Neptune meters would be on the next agenda. Councilman Ford also asked about investigating software other than Sensus. He doesn’t want to be tied to their software.
Tony Marino, IT Director, said the touch read equipment is compatible with multiple systems. Mayor Green said if we diversify, it needs to be compatible. Mr. Marino said it will require additional investigation. Mayor Green said we need to implement a holistic program.
Councilman Kennedy asked if the Neptune meters work with our current systems. Nancy Zuber, Meter Reader Forman, said yes and said that there have been no failures so far in the three years of testing. Councilman Burnette asked about field testing. Ms. Zuber said they are field tested by the manufacturer. Once in the ground, they have to be wired into the flex net transmitter. James Bradford, Meter Reader Crew Chef, was also present and gave an overview of the meters. He said the Sensus registers are not lasting in our soils and pits. He said the registers are the weak point in the system.
Councilman Burnette asked why there are zero reads. Ms. Zuber and Mr. Bradford said that it is primarily because of the register.
Councilman Kennedy said the City needs to do what they can to move away from the problem meters.
Mr. Parker asked Stella Gurnee, Comptroller, to come up and explain the billing cycle. She showed and explained the five main components of the billing system. It starts in system maintenance, then to location maintenance, then to customer maintenance, then meter reading, then charge maintenance, and then all work together to get the bills out. She stressed that the only review they have done so far is the rate tables. Mr. Parker said he has authorized additional accounting assistance.
Councilman Kennedy asked Ms. Gurnee how much time it will take to correct. Ms. Gurnee said she hopes to have a better answer in November but it’s going to take a long time to get the new procedures in place. She said they were working with auditors to identify the risk assessment first to identify the areas to be targeted initially. She talked about the need for training.
Vice Mayor Pohlmann asked if Stella Gurnee is the only one working on the fix to the rate table. Ms. Gurnee said yes and explained that another employee has taken over her day to day tasks as comptroller.
Councilman Burnette said the City may need an on-staff internal auditor that works directly for the Manager and City Council. He believes Council should be pro-active.
Councilman Ford asked if Staff can keep notes on the things that need to be addressed. He wants details on where training is needed. He wants to know how to keep employees longer. He asked if it is a salary problem, training problem, or something else. He’d like feedback as Staff goes to make those positions more employee-friendly.
Ted Noftall asked who developed the new organizational chart. Mr. Parker said he and Staff. Mr. Noftall asked if the Sensus servers can read Neptune meters. Ms. Zuber said yes. Mr. Noftall asked how the public will be informed. Mr. Parker said he will look at placing the information on the website so it is easier to access.
Mark Schaefer asked about servers and the contract with Sensus. Mr. Marino replied that the City did not have access to the servers from Sensus for years. He is working to change that. Mr. Schaefer asked if the Sensus contract requires Sensus meters. Mr. Parker said they are looking at that now. There is a contract on hold now researching that question. Mr. Schaefer volunteered to serve on an audit and budget committee.
James Bradford, resident and employee of the City of Port Orange, said he sees growing pains from going from a town to a city. It used to be easy when it was a smaller organization. Councilman Burnette asked if there is anything the Staff knows that Council needs to know. Mr. Parker said there are personnel investigations going on now to find out the answers to that.
Mr. Parker said the audit services will be to test the complete system with a deliverable product of an analysis of the system, deficiencies, and internal control issues. Mr. Parker asked if the Council wanted to use the two envelope system and recommended using just one. Council agreed to one. Mr. Parker asked if firms currently working for the City should be excluded. Council excluded existing other than the firm working for Cypress Head so long as the City staff didn't select them. Ms. Roberts asked if the Council wanted to include price points in the RFP and they said yes. First review of RFP will be at a special meeting on October 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm; advertising will be the beginning of November with selection in December.
Mr. Parker said Dan O'Keefe's firm will be submitting a letter of engagement for the investigatory side.
Mayor Allen Green
Kenneth W. Parker, City Manager