Board Discusses Cost Recovery and Organizational Restructuring at Mini Budget Retreat
Updated May 6 at 4:30 p.m.: This version clarifies the recipient of fees for development-related work associated with water and sewer service.
The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners discussed cost recovery for development-related tasks and a proposal for restructuring the organization during a mini budgetary planning retreat this week.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board is conducting virtual retreats during its monthly work sessions. During Monday’s retreat, the mayor and commissioners also discussed changes to draft definitions of the town’s values and a schedule for discussion post-adoption of a strategic plan being developed to align the town’s resources with priorities.
A proposed budget package will be available in May. The budget public hearing and work session will be May 24, with a work session June 7 if needed. The board will consider adoption June 14. This past Monday’s meeting can be viewed on the town’s YouTube channel.
The board discussed options for cost recovery of development-related work associated with water and sewer service. An analysis of fees that utility systems in the area charge developers or singular redevelopment efforts for these services shows Hillsborough’s fees are much lower, with no charge for many services. Through a color-coded table in the agenda packet, staff showed the current fee charged, if any, and the resources required to complete the task. Of the 23 services listed, staff recommends developing cost recovery for 14, with 10 of those highly recommended. An additional 7 tasks are earmarked for potential cost recovery.
The mayor and commissioners were in agreement that staff should recover costs for development-related tasks as recommended by staff. Commissioner Matt Hughes said consultation time with the town attorney also should be taken into account as the town must pay the attorney on an hourly basis. He noted annexation reviews might need a legal review as well. The utilities director said she would work on developing a cost recovery plan that is justifiable and fair.
The board received a proposal for restructuring the organization that would reduce the number of employees who report directly to the town manager, provide an opportunity for staff to learn the planning aspects of the planning director’s job before she retires in about two years, and bring several divisions that provide critical, quality-of-life services under one department.
Under the current proposal, the planning and public works departments would become divisions under a community services department that also would oversee public space and sustainability and stormwater and environmental services. Three positions would be reclassified to take on more duties, and the vacant public works director and fire marshal positions would be eliminated. To allow for planning mentorship and added sustainability work, a planning technician position would be unfrozen and a facilities coordinator would be added. The latter would free supervisors from managing the maintenance of facilities.
Additionally, the Administration Department would be restructured and renamed Administrative Services, overseeing budget, human resources, public information and possibly fleet maintenance as it also provides support across the organization and works heavily with budget and safety and risk management staff. Three positions would be reclassified to take on more duties, and the vacant human resources director/town clerk position would be eliminated. A management analyst position would be added that could take on equity and inclusion work.
The proposal is expected to be position neutral and relatively cost neutral. The board expressed support for the plan. Mayor Jenn Weaver asked that thought be given to how sustainability ties in with transportation and to make sure the person succeeding the planning director understands the transportation process, even though the town’s role in the funding pool for transportation projects is small.
The mayor presented revisions to two of the draft values initially brought before the board in February as part of the strategic plan being developed:
- Vibrancy definition — To be inclusive of all abilities, the revision adds: “The community can find ways to participate and connect from both inside and outside their homes.” It also deletes a phrase about activity being visible and frequent since the ways to be involved in a community might not always be visible.
- Forward thinking definition — The revision adds sustainability by noting decisions are made that can persist over generations for a “sustainable Hillsborough” and noting the need to be resilient to “climate change” and unforeseen events.
Commissioners expressed approval of the changes. Hughes suggested a change to the equity and inclusion definition: replacing the word “genders” with “gender identification” to include people who might identify with no gender. The mayor said she would make the change.
The board also discussed and expressed approval for a proposed semi-annual schedule for discussing the multi-year strategic plan once adopted:
- Fall — Update of the previous year’s accomplishments, results of any performance measures, and opportunity for feedback and check-in on any mid-year budget requests if needed.
- Spring — Discussion of proposed additions to the plan for the upcoming fiscal year and any adjustments resulting from the fall discussion.
In other business at Monday’s work session, the board approved purchasing and displaying flags for Pride Month in June. The board first declared June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2019. Hughes, who made the proposal, said the flags would be a visible sign of inclusivity in Hillsborough and estimated about 30 flags would be needed, costing about $1,600 with poles and taxes.