Prior to the council meeting last night the council had a discussion where it appears they preliminarily agreed to give $150,000 to Overture, fund Madison Metro fuel, fund police and some discussion about police overtime, concerns about a social worker for the municipal court, a cost of living increase for non-profits and maybe more funding for the Emerging Opportunities program. This was only a discussion. We will see the amendments for Board of Estimates on Monday and nothing is final yet, but here is the discussion.
The council had a discussion at 5:00 prior to the council meeting. The microphone system was not working and it was hard to hear at times. With no microphones, there is no recording of the meeting as far as I know and I didn’t see any other reporters there.
Chris Schmidt starts out the “Committee of the Whole” of the council so they can have a discussion about the budget. He asks if people want to discuss anything besides Overture, Madison Metro, Police Overtime?
Mark Clear asks if they are talking about amendments or items they want to discuss? Schmidt says that it is about items to discuss. Clear says he is interested in the police information and Lt. positions.
OVERTURE – ADD $150,000
Schmidt says that Overture was funded at $1.45M, last year it was $1.75M, and they have $600K of space before they reach the levy limit, that is what they have possible to add to the budget. He says there is an amendment at Board of Estimates to add $150,000.
Larry Palm says that he supports 150,000 at Board of Estimates, he thinks it is reasonable. We get close and it is a little scaled back.
Sue Ellingson wants to know how much taxes will go up if we add $679,000 to get to the levy limit.
Dave Schmiedicke, the Finance Director says that $250,000 of that amount is levy, and other is cost reduction or revenues, if they levy to max, it will add another 1/100h of a mill, or $3.79 on average family home.
Schmidt says it is $350,000 more compared to executive budget.
Shiva Bidar-Sielaff simply says “yes”. (Meaning she supports the money for the Overture)
Lisa Subeck says yes, if this is the amount will we avoid debate.
Scott Resnick also says “yes”. He then says that it deserves more detail. He has been in been in conversations that have gone back and forth over 4 months trying to find a number the mayor’s office and Overture can live with, this was the number they talked to the Overture about, they feel like with the reduction they can maintain current services,
John Strasser asks what number they are talking about. They say $1.6M.
Clear says we are not fulfilling our commitment we made in 2010, he is not saying they can do anything, but it is worth noting.
Anita Weier asks what the number is, they repeat again for her $1.6M.
Omnibus or not?
Clear asks if this session will craft an omnibus amendment. Schmidt says no, he doesn’t sense the need for it, last year there was a conflict and that is why there was omnibus amendment. They just wanted a discussion about what amendments might look like, so they will not trip all over themselves. Clear thinks there should be an omnibus amendment, he says two amendments will reduce spending so it is worth considering.
Schmidt says there are different ways to handle that.
Actual measurements for the contract?
Denise DeMarb says that they need to spend time with the contract and have actual measures put into it.
Ledell Zellers agrees that they should have some better measures in there.
Bidar-Sielaff says that the first year they did not have specific numbers, but after that they were supposed to meet a threshold, that was supposed to go to staff and that process needs to happen by June of every year there should be a contract in place – I couldn’t hear the rest.
Resnick says that it came up in the conversation with the mayors office and he thinks that they agree that they talked about what would it would take for annual reports, he doesn’t think that is an addition to a budget amendment.
Palm says that BOE hasn’t met yet and we are talking about an amendment that hasn’t happened, as a BOE member he thinks some of this will be resolved at BOE, the records person for the police department might not go anywhere at BOE and the council should have a bigger discussion about that, there is some real vital discussions that happen that we don’t want to let slide way.
Subeck says it might be a good time to discuss amendments that have agreement and figure out who will introduce it and who wants to cosponsor.
Schmidt says that he is going to submit the $150K, and he thought this conversation would happen after BOE.
Lauren Cnare says something about Overture that I didn’t hear.
Joe Clausius says they promised $2M and they are headed in the right direction, he supports it.
Mo Cheeks says that he appreciates DeMarb bringing the contract forward, who would be negotiating the contract?
Bidar-Sielaff says that it is staff, department staff, the funding is under Community Development, and city attorney and x staff are responsible, also two alders were involved in the first conversations, she thought it was something that happened with staff and the mayor and the final version comes to council to approve.
Clear says that they do it in December, after Overture knows what they are working with, it has never been discussed.
Resnick says that the contract has been the same and he doesn’t think they reopened the discussions.
Cheeks asks if negotiation happens in BOE.
Resnick says they need Mike here, he doesn’t think anyone made any comments at BOE in the past.
Clear says the council doesn’t usually get involved. They don’t negotiate contracts but many have an interest and he isn’t sure who the point person is, Anne Zellhofer, but she will just do what we tell her, the annual contract is governed by 2010 structural agreement that governs what can be discussed in the annual contract.
Schmiedicke says that the structural agreement lays out some agreement, he also notes that the Overture has a different fiscal year and they haven’t seen the financial statements, they haven’t seen a full year of financials to see if they are in compliance with the structural agreement yet, that may lead to further discussion.
Matt Phair says it is a good compromise and likes the discussion about the contract and he is more concerned about if we are scaling back and what is the floor level for funding for the Overture.
Clear asks if they wants a show of hands, Schmidt says no.
Schmidt says there is a gap in the budget due to service changes and the fuel cost numbers came in and it took out a big chunk of the gap, leaving around $91,000. We can do it with levy authority or rate changes and route changes, he did put in an amendment to patch the hole entirely, being on the Transit and Parking Commission it is hard to tweak service and rate structure, but it gets progressively harder every time we do that.
Ellingson asks about the fuel not as bad, the gap was $292,000?
Schmiedicke says it was $292,000 was not there to fully fund the $3/gallon gap, there is $150,000 of surplus in the fleet fuel budget, there is saving there that can be moved to metro, $142,000 difference and the numbers are not locked in yet. Where the current prices are is $3.10.
Ellingson asks about the amendment, what is it.
Schmidt says they take the savings, plus levy to avoid service changes, $142,000 on the levy. Schmidt says this is why he wants to talk about this here.
Cnare asks about the changes to the bus system if they are working, or is it too early to make assessments, could service changes make up a little? Staff says it is way too early to determine that. There are some rountes they are not seeing much ridership and they anticipate them taking a little while to ramp up.
Clear clarifies – service cuts and rate changes seem counterproductive to take away changes they just added, and he knows there are needs out there for additional services and another bus. Clear says he supports that.
Subeck says she suspects they will be supporting adding extra things, are there any reductions or cutting to make way for adding things, she is trying to do the math and they are close to the levy limit.
Schmidt says it would have been better to do this after Board of Estimates.
Bidar-Sielaff sbs says that she hopes they don’t go all the way to the levy limit.
Schmidt says the question is if they should just give them overtime and let them decide where to use it or use it for downtown.
Resnick says we know there are structural deficiencies downtown of 4 hours a night on busy nights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and that they will spend the money, but the preventative measures, the extra officers for game day are important. Police will likely have comments on funding central, but he will let police do that.
Shiva Bidar Sielaff says if we are doing it year after year then it is part of the base funding, and she thinks overtime trends without special issues, that is the way they have to budget, in her day job she knows that they will have overtime and it should be part of the base, then they decide where to allocate it, it is an operational issue, it could be Southwest side for three weekends, or armed robberies on the west side for two weekends, and that is a decision the police should make, we should say here is the pot of money, we are not saying not to go over $50K, we want them to spend it where they think it is best.
Subeck says the Southwest safety initiative wasn’t intended to go year after year and in her mind it still isn’t but we haven’t reached time to get rid of it yet, they have taken steps but not solved them, it is different downtown where police need more people during special events, Southwest is proactive initiatives where officers ride the bus, after school time, she says that she thinks it was supposed to be short term, but it is more than one year, it will be a a few years before it runs its course where they have done what they need to do to eliminate problems.
Phair agrees that was the intent, yes it was more of an initiative, they just need to be careful and make sure the proactive methods are happening and so far so good. He says it was also time spent working with landlords, issues they can problem solve together.
Weier asks about overtime only being for downtown and Southwest or is it for the city.
Phair says plans were to address hours and that is how downtown did it as well, they also have overtime all over the city – but this is the debate, perhaps they should just include it with the rest of the overtime.
Clear talks about the Lt. for open records and the information management specialist
Schmidt says that since BOE the police lowered their cost from $57 to $38K for MIS II, he did amendments for those as well, Lt. was 15K, the other one was starting 1st and the other started mid-year which is cost neutral because of a grant.
Phair says that this is a tool to help current initiatives (didn’t hear what).
Cheeks agrees, but says this isn’t adding support for records requests to be faster, it still will take 8 weeks – this will just keep it from getting slower, not make it faster.
Phair says that we will need to add another one down the road.
They move on to the Emerging Opportunities Program, Schmidt says that municipal court judge talked about additional money and they need to understand what he was asking for and some options have arisen, he is clear that spirit of the law is that the fees stay with municipal court and should not be taken. Over time he expects that bonus to be decrease as costs increase and at some point they will be back on the levy. Alder Verveer suggested social worker could be contracted out, for 2015 and beyond we probably need a better plan. On the emerging opportunities, there are to amendment to either add $8K or 108K.
Bidar-Sielaff says that they introduced an ordinance change to make it a program and an official committee to recommend the funding, she thinks that $200K isn’t enough, the idea was that there would be 2 funding processes that fast track and that would only be $100K and given the huge response and quality of applications that is very little and a lot of work for $100K, so she wants to support $200K twice a year, but she understanding where they are, she signed up for $108K more, she thinks it is innovative way to get funding quickly and it’s like police overtime where nonprofits try to respond to needs over time. Regarding Judge Koval she is cognizant about using the funding for things related to municipal court, she is skeptical of the social worker proposal, it is not an easy thing to hire someone who will know the services, you need a community social worker in the community that knows multiple sources. She doesn’t want to send it to specific agency, she says they also have to cut, one of her ideas was to look at what already funding in community services and maybe Judge Koval isn’t already aware of and many are related to the people he sees in municipal court and maybe they can relate that money to free up community services funding for Emerging Opportunities Programs.
Schmidt says $91K is off levy, $159K left it will generate. (He is talking about an increase in municipal court fees of $10 that the state is likely going to pass.
Resnick says he thought it was a program not a fund, he thought it was one time money with one time revenues, that is what he thought.
Subeck shaking her head.
Resnick asks about the extra 100K, why not just go through the current list – he says that might support CDBG instead.
Palm says that there seems to be a lot of need, if we lose funding that is one time funding that seems to be an issue, we need to pay attention to that for next year.
Subeck says that when she thinks of the Emerging Opportunities Program she thinks of funds not to seed a program that will keep going, but to fill a gap, it become necessary because funding is a two year cycle and by doing this twice a year we have an opportunity to address things that crop up. Ex. girl fights in the neighborhood, that is the type of thing we are funding, and opportunities to fund something innovative, fund it and see how it works, hate to change it, the one time funding is 2013 but resolution called for ongoing funding.
Subeck says on the social worker, she agrees that you can’t throw a social worker in court but that you need to build relationships, what about contracting with JFF or someone else who would work with referrals to connect people. It could be done at court or just make referrals, better than working in isolation, they would already have on-going relationships, she does see the value of social work.
Cnare says that when they first started talking about Emerging Opportunity Programs, we thought there would be money to go into it but if it is 8K she supports it. If it is $108K she says the b list is still out there and she would like the money to go to them.
Phair says the Emerging Opportunities Program is different and it is a policy question, do we want it in programs that are established or new Emerging Opportunities Program that takes chances.
Ellingson says the extra money is not something O’Keefe asked for, he asked for the b list for $99K and living wage of $110K, so not asking for $8K or 108K.
Phair says that the 8K is to get it to 200K.
Weier says she is asking 21K for 2 part time bus cleaners, there are 208 buses, 2 cleaners, they have a vacuum system but that leaves gum on the floor, etc that they have to clean up – she thinks it would improve quality of life for bus riders if they cleaned the buses more than 2 times a year.
Palm says that library has a request for additional maintenance people, for larger central library and expanded libraries, Verveer and him are working on proposal to add one person, he says that is logical that after talking about maintaining facilitates that we hire people to do that.
DeMarb asks if they are going into other things now.
Cnare asks how many amendments have been submitted already.
Schmiedicke says 15 or 16 – there is a little bit of overlap
Ahrens says he has an amendment to fund COLA increase for the contracted employees for community development. He talks about wage compression and other issues, these are people at the bottom of the scale and will be low at any circumstances, this is a .20 wage increase for those individuals.
And that seemed to be it.
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