Wednesday, February 22, 2023

My 2.21.23 Meeting Summary

Last night the Council met to discuss a few significant items:

- We decided to continue to conduct hybrid format meetings, meaning that members of the public would be able to participate remotely.  This began under COVID, but as the State emergency declaration is expiring, the use of hybrid meetings is not required.  There is a cost associated with having meetings in this format as we engage with a vendor to facilitate the meeting administration, I believe the value that is added by having meetings more accessible merits the cost.

- We discussed the non-profit rental rates of Endeavor Hall.  Historically various non-profit groups would use Endeavor hall for events or meetings, but several had specific arrangements where they would get a certain discount, or have fees waived entirely.  This wasn't well documented and besides not being objective, it also added additional administrative burden to manage.  Continuing my effort to make City operations more efficient, I brought this item forward so we could formalize the rates the City charges for use of Endeavor.

We gave direction to staff to have a multi tiered billing schedule that would apply to Clayton based non-profits based on their annual gross revenues.  For those non-profits with annual revenues under $10K, they could arrange to use Endeavor at no charge up to three times per year.  For those non-profits with annual revenues between $10K and $150K, they could use Endeavor at the non-profit rate discounted 80%.  For those non-profits with annual revenues greater than $150K, they could use Endeavor at the non-profit rate discounted 50%.

One of the largest users of Endeavor is the Clayton Theater Company.  As with many arts programs, without outside support, this program would not be able to continue.  We've seen this play out in our schools where arts and specifically music programs have been cut.  This was an area where our actions have a direct impact on the viability of an arts program and the city could make a difference.  As such, I was happy to bring this forward and support formalizing the City's support going forward.

- We set a date for a Special Meeting on March 13, 2023 for a Council goal setting session.  It will be at 3:30pm and held at Hoyer Hall as well as on Zoom.  I've asked each Councilmember to bring and be prepared to discuss their top three goals so that we can discuss and prioritize them.  I've also asked our City Manager to collect and aggregate staff department goals as well as it is important be cognizant of both time and resource constraints in executing on any Council goals.  

Last year, we set three goals - a structurally sustainable budget, identification of technology and tools necessary to support city staff, and completing a compliant housing element to state HUD.  While we did meet the last item, we fell short on the first two.  

Unfortunately in the prior two years, leadership squandered time and money paying for consultants to tell us what we already know, and neglected performing the analysis necessary to assess where we could increase operational efficiency.  It is my top priority to achieve a fiscally sustainable budget and much of our activity this year will be focused around this effort.  Nothing is off the table as fiscal sustainability is required for ongoing city operations.  Right now the effort is focused on cost reduction through efficiency and elimination of unnecessary work, and revenue generation through more productive use of investments and more effective cost recovery for services.

I have also asked our City Manager to work with staff and come up with a list of what type of tools or technology that would make their work more efficient and effective.  Labor costs are only going up, and to be able to do more with less, staff will need tools to do so.  When the Council receives this information it will be evaluated to determine feasibility and prioritization.

On a go forward basis my top goal will continue to be fiscal sustainability and operational excellence.