Monday, June 28, 2001- 4:00 p.m
Conference Room 113
COUNCIL MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Jon Camp, Common Chair; Jonathan Cook, Glenn Friendt, Annette McRoy, Coleen Seng, Ken Svoboda, Terry Werner;
COUNCIL MEMBERS ABSENT: None;
MAYOR WESELY: Present
COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Kathy Campbell, Ray Stevens, Bob Workman;
COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS ABSENT: Bernie Heier, Larry Hudkins
OTHERS IN ATTENDANCE:Steve Hubka, City Budget Officer and Budget Staff; Don Herz, Finance Director; Mark Bowen, Jennifer Brinkman, Mayor's Office; Don Killeen, PBC; Scott Holmes, Kathy Cook, Steve Beal, Carole Douglas, Ed Schneider, O.D., LLCHD; Jim Wevarka, Animal Control; E. McMaster, Diversion Services; Dean Settler, CMHG, Bonnie Coffey, L/L Womens Commission; Russ Shultz, Weed Control; Liz Thanel, Kent Griffith, Corrections; Kit Boesch, Human Services/Justice Council, Doug Ahlberg, Emergency Services; Janelle Soderling and Jeff Scheer of the Willard Recreational Center; Other Departmental Personnel; Joan Ray, Council Secretary; Chris Hain, Journal Star Representative.
The 2001-2002 Budget for the Following Joint County/City Agencies:
Public Building Commission
Prior to the presentations, Mr. Camp invited Mr. Steve Hubka, City Budget Officer, to come forward with some comments regarding the Budget. Mr. Hubka announced that his office had promised the City Council earlier that the list of Items that Council had been shown in May, were able to be put in the budget because of the post-increase in the occupation tax. So that information is being passed out tonight. He noted that there are a couple of the Joint-Departments with items on that list; we will be prepared to visit with you on the impact if those items are not included in their budget because the occupation tax wouldn't go through.
Another thing that Mr. Hubka wanted to point out is that when he had visited with Council Members in May, they were looking at a 5% rate. That rate had ended up close to 5.75%. That generates about 1.7 million. The City's share of this list is about 1.3 million. So, all other things being equal, in order to not do the occupation tax, you would have to keep all of those cuts that are currently in the Mayor's budget and cut all of these items listed, plus increase the property tax by 1.3% to make up that 1.7 million. So this is a road map of where that would leave you as the situation stands. With that...if you have any questions, we'll try to help.
(The Question and Answer portion of the hearings are presented here)
HEALTH DEPARTMENT - Dr. Ed Schneider, President of the Lincoln/Lancaster County Board of Health and Carol Douglas, Acting Director of the Health Department (who introduced the Health Department Staff in attendance) made the presentation
Mr. Terry Werner asked if the Department budgeted any dollars to deal with HIV prevention and education? Ms. Douglas answered that those were not City/County dollars; however, they are in the budget under grants and aides. Federal monies are also received from the Center for Disease Control for that purpose. She noted that the City/County funded portion of the Health Department budget provides the STD part of the program, which is staffed by those local funds. The State provides the medications and the costs of the tests.
Mr. Werner noted that one of the primary duties [of the Health Department] was work place safety, mentioning indoor air quality. He asked if there were some duplication of services with OSHA and perhaps other Federal Agencies in that area. Mr. Scott Holmes answered that the Lincoln Health Department does not do OSHA-type inspections at all. The vast majority of our work is with very small businesses when we do air quality work. OSHA really does not inspect at all for air quality. Air Quality is actually more of a public health issue and OSHA is truly concerned with Occupational Standards. So we go into work places where there may be a smaller business where there might be solvents, for example. We encourage businesses to use OSHA and the Nebraska Safety Council for safety issues.
Mr. Svoboda mentioned to Ms. Douglas that there was a proposed $10,200+ reduction in child care inspections. He noted that the way it was explained the other day, this was just [an elimination of the] additional steps that had been taken beyond what the State requires us to do. Are those reductions going to be noticeable in an inspection or to the general public?
Ms. Douglas responded stating that the issue is one less person coming into the home which may be preferable to those not wishing to be regulated ... Our child care providers who are looking to provide quality care will notice that. Our inspection takes a little bit different focus, focusing in on sanitation, the handling of food and we make a very concerted investigation, for instance, of firearms. It's not if we just happen to see them, but that we go into the issue of firearms storage and safety; we also check how the area for diapers is sanitized. It has a real focus on preventing injury and preventing..[inaudible]
Mr. Svoboda asked then if inspections would still be done at these mostly in-home day cares...there just wouldn't be the additional looking at the sanitation site or the firearm site; but it would be a more streamlined inspection as opposed to the more in-depth inspections that are done currently? Mr. Holmes stated that the State regulations do not provide for those things that the Health Department includes in its inspections. We do not look at child ratios or how they're working with the kids, or the other issues covered by the State. So, this has been a long term arrangement under which we've done the inspections. What we personally will be concerned about is that when we are working to prevent illness and disease, we're the ones we interact with; our staff has been trained in public health. The States' Health and Human Services staff are trained to do social work or early child-hood education. They rely on us for the health area expertise. That will be lost ...it was given to child care providers ... [inaudible]
Ms. Campbell asked about the "anticipated vacancy status" notation in the budget. She asked if some of the positions noted in the budget would be vacant and so those amounts were subtracted from the proposed budget? Ms. Douglas answered that yes...they'd done this for the last few years, noting that this is that quirk and difference between City and County Budgeting. Since 1993, they had done that. There are enough vacancies savings in our history, delays in being able to find the appropriate people for all the positions, that it is just automatic.
Ms. Campbell asked then if you filled the positions really fast, you'd be short that amount? Ms. Douglas answered that that is true and the reason it shows up in Public Health Nursing is that it is related to the Nursing shortage We have a critical and persistent shortage in that area. Ms. Campbell asked if they ever used any contracted labor? Ms. Douglas answered that they do - as much as possible. She noted that the greatest difficulty is in getting [inaudible]..our field staff. That is where we have the greatest difficulty. We contract services primarily for clinics.
Ms. Campbell noted then, that it's just a huge cost. County Board could readily identify with that because we have a huge problem at the [Lancaster] Manor and a skyrocketing cost out there, because of the contracted cost of nurses there. That's why the question.
Ms. Douglas noted that she had been appointed to the Nebraska Center for Nursing, which is to look at the State response to the shortage. It's alarming. And it's not our state only. But, we look pretty much like our State in that as the staff (in terms of nurses), we're essentially 45 and over. Ms. Campbell noted that contracted people would cost way more than what is set out in the budget. Ms. Douglas agreed.
Mr. Camp stated that he had two questions. One was regarding the $1.7 million in the 99-2000 budget jumping to $1.863 million under the Services heading. Mr. Camp asked what kind of flexibility the Health Department had in those figures. Ms. Douglas noted that these are generally laboratory services, professional/technical services. Also included in this amount, and it will be for the next three years, is the electronic data system being developed for the Health Department.
Mr. Camp's other concern was the $100,000 under Public Health. He asked if that didn't include contracted expenses such as printing, insurance, rental fees, and other miscellaneous. Can we re-adjust or reallocate within the budget? He noted that his concern is what happens with the occupation tax and how that effects you as the people up on the line. When you point out these three categories, if the occupation tax isn't passed, are you going to be able to dig back into your budget and make up for that loss? Ms. Douglas stated that the three programs that she pointed out to the Common members are the ones that are on the line
Another question Mr. Camp asked was, beyond this projected budget year, what do you see happening to the budget for the Health Department in the next two-five years? Ms. Douglas responded that she saw them continuing to scramble for soft money. Mr. Camp noted that perhaps Mr. Hubka could help here too...because over-all in the City Budget, we've got some real challenges. Ms. Douglas noted that she did not think Health Department had unusual expenditures coming up; it's essentially maintenance of efforr.
She noted that she had a question regarding nursing personnel. We will, in some categories, be able to recruit and keep without some increases, but it is not clear that that is something which is definitely going to happen. There's no use in raising if we can't [inaudible]. We don't seem to be able to get people [inaudible
Mr. Stevens asked about the revenue side of the Health Department, wondering how those numbers are derived? He was specifically looking at the County piece of that. Ms. Douglas stated that the County revenue proportion, with some exceptions, is 37% County/64% [sic] City. Mr. Stevens asked if that was based on the rate of recommendation for the Health Department? Ms. Douglas stated that that was the formula since 1983, when she started. She stated that it starts with the Mayor's recommendation then we're automatically apportioned whatever the percentage is for that area. Mr. Svoboda stated that that is part of the inter-local agreement.
Ms. Campbell asked if the City makes cuts, does that lower the County's subsidy? The answer was yes
Mr. Svoboda asked if we had reached self-supporting programs in food inspections and Animal Control. Ms. Douglas answered no - it is significantly revenue supported, but not totally revenue supported. She noted that with many of the programs, the rationale is that the piece that you're going after is the piece of protecting the Public Health. - especially in dealing with restaurants and food preparations.
The Mayor stated that, as we go through these agency budgets, his office had asked for 102% budget so there would be only a 2% increase, adding that 6% of that was identified as potential cut areas. Then our decision was to make those cuts and cover the rest with the occupation tax. These are our recommendations on what various lower priorities could be cut. Not that we'd like to cut them; hopefully, they won't be cut, but this would be what we conceive as choices [inaudible]. You can see the City and County shares identified, showing exactly how they're divided.
Dr. Schneider commented that he had been attending the Tuesday morning Directors Meetings. He noted that during the Health Department Division Chiefs meeting, he heard a spirit of cooperation and understanding for the need to meet fiscal limitations. He stated that these Health Department folks are resourceful and will do their best to meet their fiscal challenges. He noted that he had also heard heart-felt concerns about the possible fall-out at the Health Department if the occupational tax increase did not become a reality.
Mayor Wesely commented that the best opportunity for enhancement for the Health programs is with the State Health Endowment. Recent legislation that has passed should send us a gift from that source for the Health Department here to do enhanced programs. So, that's some soft money, though it is hard money, long-term. So, there is some opportunity here to do better in the near future
Mr. Friendt asked about cutting a half FTE. He asked how many FT's would remain doing the child-care inspections? It was answered that there would be one - 1.0. That position would focus almost entirely on centers and there would be responsibility under local code. We've been mandated by local code to still do inspections on child-care homes that are not licensed by the State, but are licensed under a provision of the local code.
Ms. Douglas stated that she would like to make one final statement about eliminating racial and ethnic disparities, both Health and non-health associated. As you go forward in your deliberation, she urged the Common to keep in mind that the biggest disparities are amongst those ethnic minorities who have lived with us and in this community for well over a century - some since before our ancestors came here. That is our African-American and Native-American citizens. She felt as we become more aware of the changing face of the community, we should remember that sometimes these groups are in real pain
PUBLIC BUILDING COMMISSION- Mr. Don Killeen made the presentation. Mayor Wesely asked how long the lease on the Old Police Building was with the State. Mr. Killeen indicated that it was a five-year lease, but felt it might be longer than that, noting upon questioning, that the renovations had been put in by PBC, but they are paying for it as part of the [inaudible] So, it looks like they'll co-exist with the Information Services very well
Ms. McRoy asked about the cafeteria rental, noting that it was not mentioned in the budget. Mr. Killeen responded that it was not there. Right now, PBC brought Valentinos in on a negotiated basis with the stipulation that once they got up to a certain revenue level, they would start paying rent. Unfortunately, they have not reached that level. In fact, they want to get out of their lease. And we have not allowed them to do that yet, but right now it is not a real good [inaudible]. Ms. McRoy asked if PBC did not want them out of the lease? Mr. Killeen stated that the agreement with them is if we find another operator....but we have not found another operator.
Mr. Stevens asked if the parking fund assessment is built into the other department's budgets already? Mr. Killeen answered that that was in everybody's projected rental rate....it was a dollar per square foot for these two facilities (County/City - Hall of Justice). Mr. Camp asked if that money goes into the funds shown in the budget? Mr. Killeen said no, that was to be set aside.
Mr. Friendt asked about the $325,000 for personnel expense. Mr. Killeen answered that some of that is due to adding some more personnel. He noted that as we got into these two buildings, (as last year when we went into the Hall of Justice) especially with the cleaning personnel we've had to make some adjustments. Some of that is due to pay increases, insurance increases, but mostly additional cleaning personnel. Mr. Friendt asked how many people that included and how many additional people? Mr. Killeen stated that they had deleted two maintenance staff and added five cleaning staff. Mr. Friendt asked if there was detail that could be added to that. Mr. Killeen answered that there was and he would do so.
Mr. Camp asked about the possibility of selling off the Old Federal Building? Is there anything in the budget related to that particular element? Mr. Killeen answered that because of the unknown, there was not. The budget was built around a full years operation, given the fact that we've got about 60% occupancy. So, that's projected in the budget. The State occupies, currently, the other 40%, but they're phasing back out this fall - by the end of the year. So, that's reflected in the revenue; so that building is showing a deficit as it sits right now, until that unknown is determined. If it is sold and we're not there, by mid-year if we're settled, that will greatly effect the expense side of the budget; if it doesn't, we would anticipate having some other occupancy in there that would help the revenue side of the budget
DIVERSION SERVICES - Mr. Eric McMasters, Director of Diversion Services, made the presentation.
Mr. Camp asked about the $38,000 request which seemed to be off-set by the $48,000 increased revenues from increased fees, observing that we would come out ahead. Mr. McMasters concurred, if the number of people taking the STOP program does not go down due to the increased fees. Mr. Camp asked when the last increase had occurred. Mr. McMasters noted that the last increase was in 1998. He stated that they began in 1992 with $30.00 fee. It went to $50.00 in 1998. He believed that it would be interesting to see if the $60.00 fee might not be a deterrent for some people, because money is an issue in some cases. We've always tried to equate the fee around the amount of fines; now if the fee is higher than the lower fines, we'll see how that effects things.
Mr. Svoboda asked if there had been a falling off in revenues when the STOP fines were increased previously? Mr. McMasters stated that there had been. He noted that everyone involved in the STOP program lost revenues except the Safety Council, whose revenues went up. He noted the trends index appended to the budget materials for reference. In 1999, they got $49,000; in 2000 they got $47,500 - a slight drop off. The long-term trends are shown since 1994. Mr. Svoboda asked if the number of tickets decreased would that have reflected that loss of participants in the STOP classes? Would they increase? Mr. McMasters noted that would depend on enforcement....just like any other offense. Whenever there is a traffic unit out and working, they go up; other times, they go down. The more we're out there...the more tickets will be issued. The start of school is always a big revenue producing time; the football season is a big revenue producing time.Restitution to victims on diversion cases is down, but not the bad check restitution cases. But next year, that figure will be off the wall because we had a one-time $70,000 restitution case this year that will show up in that figure for next year (an embezzlement case). Most of our growth is in City Attorney's cases. New programs were also briefly discussed and what impact those programs might have on the budget process as well as the justice system.
Mr. Svoboda asked about the mention of Crete and Saline County listed under the Diversion Class. Are we just under contract with them and we provide the service for them? Mr. McMasters answered that they register here and go to class here.
Mr. McMasters added that they did get the contract for the Diversion Program in Omaha. He noted that he has designed some risk needs and substance abuse software which is the reason they got into the Tulsa market. But he just got into a $100,000 contract for an internet version of that program which will cover most of our development costs on that. That could actually become a part of our business....a big part. So anybody in Corrections will be using these two instruments: a risk need instrument and a substance abuse instrument. We'll be done with this in September and it will pay for all the development of the program.
SPECIAL NEEDS - Mr. Dean Settle, Director of Community Mental Health Center, made the presentation. Mr. Stevens asked about the fringe benefit under personnel which was up 21.2%, wondering if there was something special in that sum? Mr. Dave Kroeker, County Budget Director, noted that there had been a 40% group insurance cost-increase, which is most likely what drove that amount up.
Mr. Settle noted that without this Special Needs program, the citizens in our community would be paying in other ways - through law enforcement, jail personnel, emergency services, crises units - without this one person making a difference in 93 lives; 93 bookings times 4-6 times per year.
Mr. Camp asked about the rental costs shown in the budget figures. Mr. Settle explained that figure is a pro-rated cost figure on the rental of space from the County-City property management. Mr. Camp noted that it was a 500% increase from previous budgets. Mr. Settle reported that they were located in the old Health Department Building behind Sun-Mart on 2200 St. Mary's. It was remodeled and they'd moved back in about five years ago. The building is starting to show a lot of wear-and-tear and a there is a lot of repair going on.
WOMEN'S COMMISSION - Ms. Bonnie Coffey, Director of the Mayor's Womens Commission, made the presentation. Ms. Coffey noted that the Womens Commission accounted for 1/16 of 1% of the total City Budget. Mr. Werner asked if she could cut it to 1/32 of 1%. Ms. Coffey commented that they had been 1/8 of 1% last year, and she was working on it - noting that progress is our most important product [Laughter]
Mr. Camp asked about the Miscellaneous Budget which in 1999 had been $446 and was now up to $3400 in the current budget and asked if there were some shifts in the budget that might account for that. Ms. Coffey noted that there was a carry-over from one year to the next and we were able to add to some things. This year a lot of the carry-over will be enough to cover the increased personnel costs that resulted from an audit of staff positions. There was an upgrade in one of the three positions from an Office Assistant III to Office Assistant V position.
Mr. Workman asked why the revenue figures for 1999-2000 budget weren't included? Mr. Hubka stated that it might be the way the columns are formatted, but stated that there is no reason it can't be done.
Mr. Werner remarked to Ms. Coffey that he had met with her a few months ago and they had discussed a focus on child care. He commented that he didn't know if Ms. Coffey was aware of the cut-backs in some of the Child Care inspections in the Health Department. He asked if she had concerns about that? Ms. Coffey responded that she had not been aware of that until the budget discussions. She noted that the Mayor had asked her to get involved in child-care issues. She explained that she co-chaired the community services implementation project, a coalition on early childhood and development. She was sure that that would be one of the things that they will be talking about. It does impact the quality of child care in our community. They only inspect those that are licensed, so we're hoping that they will continue to upgrade and maintain the quality of child-care. But, anytime you back off of inspections, it will have an impact.
Ms. Coffey continued, in answering Mr. Camp's question regarding the miscellaneous budget item, the amount did include all of the Commission's miscellaneous line-items such as audio visual supplies, badges, tags, and those kinds of things.
Ms. Campbell asked if the child-care reduction must be something that the City had discussed in its budget hearing - that's not what is on this sheet, is that correct? Mr. Svoboda responded that it had not been discussed, that this was the first time he had been aware of the issue. Mr. Hubka noted that these are included in the budget; these are line-items that would not be funded if we don't do the occupation tax. The issue that Carol Douglas was talking about is a reduction that is proposed in the Mayor's Budget.
Mr. Svoboda stated that Ms. Coffey's fiscal prudence must be commended - most of the controllable costs are going down. Ms. Coffey stated that they try. She noted that they're doing a really good job of getting Community involvement, commenting that the Lincoln Journal Staris underwriting a lot of these programs. She also stated that there is a funder for the Teen Entrepreneur program.
Mr. Glenn Friendt asked about how the programs that they have been doing focus on teen pregnancy? Ms. Coffey noted that the Womens Commission is a member of the Lincoln/Lancaster Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition and Ms. Coffey serves as it's President. She noted that the TPPC does not pick a particular way to prevent teen pregnancy. We advocate parents as being primary sexual educators of their kids. We do participate that way - because it is a coalition. Interestingly enough, an outcome of our own program has been used in a lot of areas as a teen pregnancy prevention avenue. We've discovered that the best thing we can give young women to stop teen pregnancy is self-esteem and hopes and dreams. When young women have hopes and dreams and have things to do, they're the ones who say "not me - not me". So that's what we're trying to do in a round-about way. We don't say "this is the way you need to stop teen pregnancy", but we are providing programs for those young women to see a future.
Mr. Stevens asked if the Journal Star funding was guaranteed. If that money dries up does the program go away? Ms. Coffey stated that they would find someone else to fund it. The Journal Star has committed to the entire season. They committed for part of the season for 2000-2001. They have committed the entire 2001-2002 season - a sum of $300.00 per program.