Also from Monday night at Board of Estimates.
1. Add funding for 1.0 FTE Plumber position. (not funded $73K)
2. Increase funding for seasonal employees and overtime for park maintenance and bus stop snow removal. Snow removal is in. (partial funded $13K, $33M not funded)
3. Add funding for partial year operation of the two new splash parks. ($11K funded)
1. Creation of a new Landscape Architect position within Parks Planning and Development . This position is funded by an increase in billings to Capital projects . The position will allow Parks to move forward with the 2014 Capital Budget as requested . This position will be heavily involved in the Playground and Accessibility Improvements project and will focus on design and neighborhood input .
2. Creation of a new 0.75 FTE Recreation Services Assistant (Park Ranger) position . This permanent part – time position is funded from a combination of disc golf, dog park, and lake access revenues . The park ranger program is the primary front line customer service team for Madison Parks and adding another permanent position will allow for improved coverage across the year .
3. An additional $13,570 from Metro Transit to pay for bus stop snow removal done by Parks crews .
4. Funding for the operations for two new splash parks to open mid – season 2014 .
5. An additional $35,000 from the Perpetual Care Fund for cemetery maintenance .
Eric Knepp the Assistant Parks Director says that the budget has 2 additional positions, 1.75 FTEs that they are really excited about, that are funded off the levy. One from proceeds from capital projects, speicifally looking at the playground projects as submitted by BOE and has quite a healthy level and significant clip that includes neighborhood input that they are trying to better engage neighborhoods more than in the past. It also includes a .75 permanent part-time park ranger that will expand that program by about 50% for permanent staff. Funding for a partial year to open the two splash parks and then continuation of other funding.
Larry Palm asks about the budget for Warner Park, there is a $75,000 decrease but he understands the director is going to full time and that should be a higher amount there, what is that from?
Knepp says the decrease in Warner is not service or hour changes, one of the maintenance mechanics has been budgeted and base dout of there but is part of he facilities core group that includes plumbers and electricians and they are in the general maintenance budget, they service that building. Kelly Wilson is the employee, he works with them.
Palm asks if it is just a re-allocation.
Knepp says yes and it should increase the productivity because we will have the right person for the job. No change in services or staffing levels there.
Scott Resnick asks where the two new splash parks are or is that yet to be determined.
Knepp says they are very much determined. Reindahl Park on E. Washington and Elver Park on the Southwest side.
Denise DeMarb asks about adding positions in capital projects, the landscape architect in particular, will this be beyond 2014, is this standard procedure.
Dave Schmiedicke says that they do have positions, in Engineering and Parks for example when there are on-going capital projects. Where we do charge the cost of positions against the capital budget, the Mayor may be able to go into more detail in how that is being done.
Knepp says his is an increase in billings to capital, obviously any employee will have hours in a year where they don’t work on capital project but in total, because of our capital budget growth, there are just more projects and it is just bigger so there is more billings to their projects and a cost savings over paying a consultant.
Mayor Paul Soglin says two things go into the thinking. The first is this is an opportunity to avoid paying a consultant, keep the costs down and build the institutional knowledge. Secondly we have to ask the question and get an affirmative action about if this is something that will continue for a number of years because of the long term capital improvment program and when the answers are yes in those instances then we can make a decision like this.
Joe Clausius asks about the item for the splash parks, are they doing preliminary surveying and escavaing this fall?
Knepp says they did some preliminary work in terms of soil testing, it wouldn’t make any sense for them to cut yet this fall, but there is a project plan that the landscape architects and planning development manager assure them that they can meet an open date next year between July 1 and August 15th next year. Just hope it is not a spring like this year.
Clausius asks about the .75 position for park ranger- he says he has one isolated neighborhood park on the edge of the city limits and the residents are essentially turning it in to a dog park there and I know you have been playing cat and mouse, would another position keep some coverage on these more isolated areas.
Knepp says they are not open any more hours, just trying to get more coverage and doubling up when there is high demand. They have been hearing from the alders that in the farther reaches of the city they don’t see park rangers and they will try to reach them with this.
Ledell Zellers asks about the park ranger and if they try to visit all the parks, Period Garden Park has a private citizen that has been funding private security to visit the park every night because of the level of drug use that had been in the park. Even tho it is small and in the central city, is that one that would be on your radar for visiting.
Knepp says it could be, they have rangers on til 10:30 or 11:00. They could look into helping in that regard, he suspects that is a 2am problem, but they can add it to the list, they drive right by there, that is a route adjustment issue.
Zellers says that it is hard to see you have to walk in there to see.
Mayor asks if it is a city park.
Zellers says yes.
Mayor asks if they took it over?
Zellers says yes, a long time ago.
Shiva Bidar-Sielaff asks about the $11,000 for Goodman Pool.
Knepp says it is for partial year funding for the splash parks. He says he probably didn’t communicate well in the supplemental about that, but the Goodman Pool is a bottom line, no levy. Knepp says that they need to work on it, internally they view it as aquatics but they are presented differently here, because of the focus on the pool, but the pool itself is a no levy budget.
Bidar-Sielaff says maybe they need to make an amendment. Knepp says or an errata.
David Ahrens asks about interagency billings on page 107. Knepp says that is some interdepartmental billings within the city, and some fees that parks charges and some contributions to the revenues. Not all our fees go there, some go to the general fund like the shelter reservation fees, most of these are the permits, lake access, disc golf, dog park permits. The majority of the shelter reservation fees are general fund. The details are in the supplement.
Ahrens says that the billings have gone up and maybe the cost of services has gone up daramatically, but billings have gone up about 13%, is that the permit fees? Knepp says that the difference between 2012 and 2014 is that 2012 has low actual billings to capital, 2014 has an increase, and also things like the disc golf fees are new and the foundation has a city employee reimbursed by the foundation and that is a revenue that wasn’t there two years ago. He says some new things and incremental changes, no new fees, he could walk through the list.
Mike Verveer asks about the additional seaonsal capacity beyond snow removal in the supplemental request 2, can you explain what that is.
Knepp says mostly mowing, new median construction. They are running into a alot on the west side, Pleasant View Rd has miles of medians. So, we’ll do the best we can.
Verveer asks if there is any change in seasonal staffing compared to what we have this year? Knepp says not in terms of total dollars, they look at it in hours, there is a modest increase, they felt that some of them might help, but some of it is construction related, some of them might not be there next year.
Veveer asks about Mall Councourse seasonals, are they the same. Knepp says yes.
Verveer asks about the increases in park fees on the parks agenda, he assumes that goes to pay for the new park ranger, can you explain the increase in fees, when were they last increased, is this an annual increase. Knepp says that the parks commission has authority over raising the fees, it is an annual process and this weeks agenda does have some of those fees. The reason not all are on there is because the parks commission wants to study some of the event fees and maybe change the structure. The fee increases are 2 – 5% for shelter reservations, there is modest increase there, but the golf fees, cemetery fees, Olbrich and Goodman Pool fees will go in November or December this year, that is for competitive reasons, we don’t want to put our fees out until we have to.
Verveer asks about what the timeline is for the event fees, is that something the park commission has scheduled a discussion on because it was something he was seriously considering a budget amendment to this year. Knepp says that the Long Range Planning Committee is taking that up later this month, those event fees we have to have by the NOvember meeting to adopt. He says that some of the fees you are talking about the Parks Commission doesn’t have authority over. Verveer says that the ones he is talking about are the ones set by ordinance, the parks commission has jursidiction over, like a class B picnic permit, for example. Is the work plan to look at those items that look at the Mall Concourse events. Knepp says it is largely the parks events, but they have the same nexus and his understanding of Verveer’s position is that those fees are very low in terms of impact and cost to the city. Verveer says especially the mall maintenance staff.
Clausius says that he is on the committee taking this up and they should have something in place by the first of the year, he thinks that is realistic.
Marsha Rummel asks about the Emerging Opportunities Fund and the fact that we are allowing kids to work in the parks and she is wondering if that is in the hourly budget or how they are trying to do that. Knepp says not in the hourly budget, they are interested in those types of programs, they do a lot of that, the work they do with youth engagement is mostly Russ Hefty’s work in the conservation areas, and through community development where they fund people from Operation Fresh Start.
Rummel says that at some point we are going to lose a lot of tress and Operating Fresh Start has skills to be had in that area. She also asks about planning for parks, is there a schedule of how you are reviewing Parks Master Plans and how do we influence that schedule. Knepp says the best way to influence the schedule is to let staff know, there is no automatic schedule, 260 parks, 170 – 180 are something you would plan, green space on Mineral Point Rd is a wooded lot and you would probably not plan that. We need to review those, the move to get neighborhood input around play grounds drives towards that, they are nto static they need to change over time and there is no formal roadmap, but as they build the capacity, they will be able to do more and more of that work over time. Rummel says we are all being provincial so she would ask that you put in your notes that Orton Park needs a master plan, there are conflicts that have arisen about how to replace the trees that have died.
Anita Weier says that master plans were prepared a while ago and mainly without public input but she was told that if they wanted to change anything it would be a long, long process, is that true? Knepp says it depends upon how you define long. He says Briski has set the standard with staff that these kind of processes must have, need to have to be successful clearly articulated and broad public input component, it is true that it hasn’t always been the case, but that is why some of those conflicts are there. He knows a number of folks can speak to those, as far as long, a master plan that currently not work being done, like James Madison has some work going on and that might be done in 6 months, but if you don’t have one on the list, then that means something has to get bumped. Knepp says it is amazing why there were only two landscape architects on staff for years. A long time, 6 months to a year.
Lisa Subeck asks about snow removal at the bus stops, what is the break down in overtime, will you be able to do all the bus stops needed based on an average snowfall. Knepp says based on the number of bus stops parks is committed to in prior years, yes.
Knepp says that it is a continuation of operations from the current current year, the one change is a change from a comp group 19 to comp group 18 employee and it brings them under the same rules as everyone else and it was always our goal to get there.
Mayor asks about the controversy over the change in the management of the pro shop, were the financial benefits realized and did we see any indication of loss of play because of dissatisfaction about this arrangement. Knepp says the financial benefits have mostly materialized, mostly because no one expect April to be as wet as it was, we lost 45 days of playing days at the start of the year. We still expect the reserves generated will at or exceed the average for the last 12 years, which puts them over $200,000 they are hoping to get over 1/4 million. No real loss in play, leagues we lost one, but picked up a few, round are up generally across the board, Yahara was a little shakier because there were some wet parts of the year.
Weier asks about the reduction in salary. Knepp says that it due to an anticipated retirement. Weier asks about the golf clubhouse supervisor at 80%, is that sufficient then? Knepp says 80% is full time 80% of the year, they feel comfortable with that model.
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