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What we're moving on to: *other* ballot measures that council may want to advance.
If you thought Carlisle's idea of paid council assistants was done and dealt with, you're wrong. We're talking about a ballot item to hire assistants for *every* council member, among other options.
Staff has some qs for council: How many hours would assistants work? What would you pay them? What would they do? Considerations for open records act, open meetings requirements, etc.
In order for the city to pay for assistants, with council members hiring/managing their own, would require a charter change to increase council salaries.
It gets confusing, Kathy Haddock says.
Carlisle: I don't think it's confusing at all. If staff had looked at Berkeley, you could have saved us all some time.
I'm v skeptical about Carlisle's crusading on this. She's retired.
Carlisle is suggesting that the charter be changed so that council members can supervise assistants themselves. Right now, if they're paid by the city, they answer to the city manager. Carlisle doesn't want this; she's cited confidentiality as a concern.
"This is a perfect example of what I could do if I had one (an assistant). If I had one, I could instruct him to suss it all out."
70 applications have been received for the pilot program to have one paid assistant for all of council. 10 finalists are advancing to the next round; then council will weigh in on a couple. Position will begin July 1.
Yates: I'm trying to understand what problem we're trying to solve here.
Wonders why we don't just wait for the pilot assistant.
Carlisle: "Idk if that person is shared by this many members, how much time he or she might have" to follow the whims of individual council members.
"It's just being that city's boss vs. answering to the city manager."
Yates thinks council can just wait and see how much we all use that assistant.
Nagle: For me, I'd like this person to go through my emails. If I could have someone I trust that works just for me.... I'm not having enough engagement with the residents and town, and I think that's not fair to them.
Yates: Is that a volume issue or a confidentiality issue for you?
Nagle: It's more confidentiality. There's certain things I wouldn't want...
Jones: All things being equal, I'd rather not have a day job and do this. But the voters said no to that. If I had the opp to pay someone to do work for me or get paid and do it myself, I'd rather have the latter.
"I don't think they (the voters) would support this if they don't support us doing it ourselves."

Wants to try out the one paid assistant first.
"This is a way to alleviate ppl who cannot afford to take this job" so we have a more representative council, Carlisle says. "If you're working full time, you can't do the things you ought to do."
Brockett: Assistants would be a lot of money, and your workload might only go down 10%.
Carlisle: There are many small things in the community that get lost bc we're not able to respond.
Brockett: We fall short on answering emails, but if that's the issue, let's address that as an issue rather than hiring assistants.
Young: For me, it seems like it would create more work to have an assistant. I also think that a better use of that $$ would be to give you the time to do the work instead of explain it to someone else to do it for you.
She looked up Berkeley's city council salaries: $29K. The mayor gets $46K.
"That kind of income would prob give ppl the ability to reduce their work hours to give more time." Suggests $25K.
"It comes down to, if you're going to serve on council. it's going to be service and sacrifice. Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing, idk."
Yates: I'd like to give this new model a try first.
Apparently Morzel wanted to be a nun. "I wanted to go to the convent. I went to the yurt."
Best quote of all time.
Weaver also wants to see how the sole assistant works. "I wouldn't have anyone look at my emails. I would further be concerned if we had folks reading our emails what they're going to do with the confidential memos. It would be very easy to open one and tempting not to close it."
So that one dies. We're moving onto some options for funding big city projects.
There is an expiring .15c transportation tax. OSMP is going to transfer that amount to transportation.
So a suggestion is to do a tax to replace that .15c or another amount.
Dan Burke of OSMP is going to chat about what the reductions are doing to the budget. $10M is being lost, about 30% of the budget.
"The good thing is, we knew this was all coming."
We can account for these without necessarily cutting programs.
In addition to the .15c sales tax going to transportation, a .11 dedicated tax expired in 2018(?). And then some allocations from the general fund are declining... ?
One of the biggest ways these reductions are being accommodated is in the acquisition budget. It was $5.8M in 2018. In 2020, it will be $700K.
Large projects are being "scaled back, put aside or deferred," Burke says, accounting for $6M in savings. And $2M in further savings comes from debt being paid off.
Staff reductions are being done through attrition, avoiding layoffs.
115 full-time employees. Seasonal labor in the summer doubles those numbers.
No estimates on attrition, but the dept will start first with temporary labor before it hits FTEs.
The reduced acquisition budget will not affect ongoing negotiations, Burke says. There is about $9M in carryover funds for those.
"$700K doesn't give you much, but fortunately we are buffered by having that carryover."
Carlisle: How much of the acquisition planning has been fulfilled in the past 50 yrs?
Burke: We look at it every 10 yrs. Anywhere from 7K-9K acres that would be of high interest.
"If we've got around 50K acres in our system now and we're looking at a little under 10K, we're well over 80-85% complete."
Jones: What's the $$ amount for that 7K-9K acres, if you were to guess?
Burke: Per acre costs over the last 6yrs has been about $23K/acre. But some of those were protected with conservation easements and therefore cheaper.
35-acre site with development potential is $2.5M
So at the low end, $161M to acquire acreage on the list. $500-$643M on the high end. (This is a very quick and dirty calculation. Don't take it to the bank.)
We're talking about open space funding meetings with tribal leaders.
Carlisle and Morzel question that: It should come out of the general fund, bc tribes lived on a lot more land than just open space before white ppl got here.
We're doing a straw poll on a ballot measure to extend the open space tax. Nagle and Carlisle agree with Morzel's suggestion on this. (Young might have, too, but she was behind Nagle so I didn't see her hand.)
Yates asks if council has time to do polling on possible taxes. Haggling about that now. In the OSMP survey, 90%+ supported extending the sales tax, but Yates says that was too general of a question.
We have time, Jane Brautigam says. It will cost $15-$20K and come out of the open space fund.
Jones: To me, it's pretty straightforward and with 93% support.... might not be worth it to pay for a poll.
Council seems generally supportive of doing an official survey/poll for an open space tax, and of asking for more than the .15c that is expiring.
Young did *not* vote to do the open space tax. "We voted not to do an affordable housing tax this year. I'm thinking of this in terms of other priorities."
Brockett jumps on that. If council is doing a poll, it needs to be in the context of all the city's needs. "I think we're under-funding our transportation."
He does support an open space tax, but also supports polling for other things.
Morzel pushing for all of open space's budget to be restored.
Jones: Acquisitions leveled off, so we reduced it. There's a sense we overshot
Morzel: There's more visitors, etc.
HOK, moving onto online petitions. Carr is concerned that the language in the charter adopted last year requires petition signatures to be verified to the best of the city clerk's abilities. Online petitions won't have them, so he's concerned about a legal challenge
His suggestion is a charter amendment to rectify this: It's something we can survive without, but I'm still worried.
Weaver: I think we should let sleeping dogs lie.
Brockett: It could torpedo the whole thing if it failed.
Council is just shooting down ballot measures tonight.
Another proposal: A vacant home tax. Vancouver, BC and Oakland are doing these to fund homeless services.

Can't be a property tax, Carr says, bc of state constitution. Can be an excise tax. Many exemptions in Oakland, which has set it at 1% of value.
Weaver: In favor of this, to fund homeless services or affordable housing. Concerned about moving "a little quick" to put on the ballot without exploring options.
Young: It should be a workplan item; we couldn't get it done in time.

So that's being pushed to next year. Good idea. It's not like we have an affordability crisis or anything.
But it will still be here next year, I guess. And even worse!
Now we're talking about the middle income down payment program. The current idea is to repurpose the $830K left in an existing, underused program, to secure a line of credit or a loan loss reserve fund. Would need voter OK bc it's a multi-year debt funding thing.
Yates, who came up with this program idea with Weaver, is explaining a bit to council. They're recommending doing both a line of credit and the loan loss reserve fund, which means the city would guarantee a loan and only have to pay if someone defaulted.
There may be some legal issues with that. It was discussed in a confidential memo, so I have no idea what those might be.
Jones: Why would we ask voters about both things instead of just figuring out the legal issues on option b?
Weaver: The reason to put them both forward is that one is a lot cheaper to the city. With loan loss reserve, city could do 10X as many loans, help 10X as many ppl.
"The reason to have them both authorized is if we're concerned but not terrified, we can run the one that has highest leverage. If there was a challenge and we lost, we'd be authorized to go back to the one that was most clear."
Jones: Is there any way to poll the ppl who might use the program?
Weaver: That's the point of the pilot. A poll would be difficult; you'd need to know so much about who you're surveying.
Weaver: This is a little different bc it doesn't cost voters anything. It's not a tax.
Yates: "At the end of the day, this is a pilot. A no-cost pilot. We don't know if we'll have 10 ppl or 10,000 show up. But we can't do anything" without voter approval.
Council wants to move ahead with this. (Or, at least Jones and Carlisle do, in addition to Weaver and Yates. We'll see what the others say.)
JK, No one else is weighing in. But it's moving forward.
Last ballot item for discussion: A library taxing district and funding.
Boulder Library Champions are doing this via petition. boulderlibrarychampions.org
They've be asking for a tax increase as well.
City has from June 6 (when the petition is due) to August 4 to either opt in, opt in with conditions, or opt out of the formation of the library district.
The city could establish the district itself, too, with the county, contingent on the passing of the tax measure.
If Boulder opts out, the library district would not include the city of Boulder, but then also wouldn't have any of its assets (the library buildings, materials, etc.)
It would just encompass unincorporated Boulder County.
City could decide to lease its assets to the district, via a intergovernmental agreement.
Brockett: We all know library needs more funding; the question is how to do that. The Boulder Library Champions are picking up that ball and running down the field with it. It seems clear there will be a ballot measure this fall.
Urges Boulder not to opt out, but wait to see what voters say OR form the district before voters weigh in on raising taxes. "Either is fine, but I'd advocate for letting this run its course through the voters."
Yates: I suspect if council opted out, there wouldn't be an election. I'm not saying we should, but why would you take that option off the table in responses to the voices of a few hundred ppl" who might sign the petition.
Brockett: I'd like the voters to decide that.
Yates: Only 45% of those in a recent poll said yes, they'd like to see a library district. So I'm not sure opt out is an option we should take off the table. boulderbeat.news/2019/05/04/pol…
Jones: We could let it proceed and council members could weigh in with their opinion. I'm a little bit with Brockett. I certainly don't like this process, but setting that aside, letting voters decide is the safest path here.
If we do opt out, we better put a library funding measure on the ballot.
(That was Jones, btw.)
Weaver: This process is a little bit wonky. I'm tempted to try and have a public hearing to hear from ppl about what they would like to do. This is a complicated one. We're getting a few emails, coming from one particular POV.
Concerned about equity. City taxpayers built out the capital infrastructure; how would the district pay it back?
Carlisle: The proposed amount to add to property tax is "a lot." Giving the assets away "does not make much sense to me."
It's about serving THIS community, she says. It's "altruistic" to include the outer communities (Niwot, Gunbarrel) but is it best?
Jones: I thought the point was to spread out the costs bc those communities are using it, but we're paying for it.
Morzel: We're going to be paying more while giving away tens of millions of dollars in assets that just city taxpayers have paid for.
Brockett: If we don't form a district but we give library more $$, 100% of burden will fall on city taxpayers.
Yates has concerns about the poll.
A local person (unidentified) had concerns about the methodology.
You do not allocate the unsure/unknown between the yes and no votes. Uncertain respondents almost always vote no.
Anchoring: Poll asked every respondent about higher taxes in a descending amount ($240 first, then $160, then $90) and support went up every time. That's not the way it's done, uknown local pollster said.
And lastly, local poll guy/girl said you want 60% yes-es to ensure victory at the ballot.

"We've gotten false confidence," Yates says. "I feel more blind than if we didn't have a poll at all."
Morzel agrees with Yates.
"It was the weirdest poll... I've ever seen the results reported back from."
Nagle asks if the city could lease its assets to the district for enough to recoup some value for the taxpayers.
Yes, David Gehr says, although in Colorado, municipalities typically donate those assets.
We're talking a public hearing, as has been suggested. Yates wants to add into all the polling the different funding levels returned by the survey.
Jones: A lot of library experts think districts are a good approach. I get that we don't, but we should study this.
We might have to add a special meeting for a public hearing. *sigh*
Young again calling for polling that puts funding challenges in context.
"We’ve got the library, we’ve got open space, we’ve got the library, we’ve got affordable housing. My gut says there’s likely no appetite for taxes."
Now discussing opting out of the district but having a dedicated tax for the library.

Unusually for a study session, there are a handful of ppl in the audience that I don't think are city staff. I could be wrong, though.
Adding another mill to property tax would generate $4M, Brautigam says.
Maybe a public hearing once the petition is turned in.
Young: What's the advantage of doing a poll AND a public hearing?
Jones: Not everyone is going to come to a public hearing.
Weaver: I would be *very* surprised if we get poll results by the end of July (when they need to have a hearing).
Yates: This is just our ballot measure public hearing. We normally have one in late July-early August anyway.
Jones: I think this is different bc opt out totally changes the ballot measure. It kinda turns a district into a donut.
Yates: "The question we're really asking the community is what's your tax capacity and what are your priorities?"
Jones: You can't ask ppl how much can we tax you?
Carlisle: I don't want to see any more (property taxes). We have other options.
Weaver: I want to second that. I'd think we'd look to a sales tax for this. For whatever reason, the reaction to property taxes was more negative and visceral.
Jones: Sales tax is not as stable.
Brockett: Sales tax is much more regressive. They hit lower-income ppl much harder.
Carlisle: We have a visitor base. We could take it off some of this "excess visitor funding that's coming in and putting it where our community needs it."
Jones summarizes: We want options, but we don't have consensus on what.
This is a tough one; a lot of it is going to depend on what the public wants.
Carlisle: Everyone is happy with the library. There are always visionary things we can do. If we'd heard a lot of complaints, I might feel differently.
Jones: Yeah but we need operational money for the NoBo library.
Brockett: And the Gunbarrel folks love the main library when they visit, but they would like one out there.
Carlisle: The NoBo library wouldn't need so many ppl if it hadn't grown so exponentially.
Young: The ppl gathering petitions are getting more signatures than the minuscule amount. So if they show up with thousands of signatures, that says a lot to me...
I think that's the end of this item and the meeting. Good night. See ya'll again on Thursday!

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