REGULAR MEETING APPROVED MINUTES
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Alan Mok (Chair), Jason Elliott and Angelo King
ORDER OF BUSINESS
1. Call to Order and Roll Call. The Operations Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m. Present: Commissioners Mok, Elliott and King.
2. Approval of Minutes of the October 20, 2010 Operations Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document: October 20, 2010 Operations Committee Corrected Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner King, second by Commissioner Elliott, the October 20, 2010 Corrected Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: Commissioners Mok, Elliott and King) Note: Ms. Fish, Commission Secretary, corrected the Approved Minutes to reflect Commissioner Angelo King as a Committee member instead of Commissioner Rahul Prakash).
3. Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. There were no members of the public present at this time.
4. Review and Approval of the Department of the Environment’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2011-2012 Draft Budget for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. (Explanatory Document: Department of the Environment Proposed Budget for FY 2011-12) Sponsor: Commissioner Alan Mok; Speaker: David Assmann, Deputy Director (Informational Report and Discussion)
Deputy Director Assmann presented and discussed a narrative of the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011-12 for the Department of the Environment’s Energy and Climate, Clean Air, Zero Waste, Toxics Reduction, Environment Now, Outreach, Green Building, Environmental Justice, and Administration programs. He discussed sources of funding, comparisons to last year’s budget, staffing levels, challenges, and funding opportunities for each program area (see explanatory document).
Commissioner Elliott inquired if there is a chance that other departments may reduce their work order amounts allocated to these program areas to meet their budget reduction requirements. Deputy Director Assmann and Mr. Salem, Budget and Finance Manager, explained that there is virtually no risk in reducing the Department’s funding because the source of funding is mostly from enterprise departments (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Department of Building Inspection) and the Commuter Benefits Program. There is a small amount from general fund departments that would be a minor part if it were lost or reduced.
Commissioner King suggested that the budget document include a report on the economic impact the Environment Now and other Department programs are having, e.g., increased diversion rates, reducing our carbon footprint. He stated his concern is that as budgetary funds start to decrease, that a report on the metrics of the economic impact and success of the program would be a way to justify funds being spent to people who may question the best use of funds, particularly when schools and health care programs are being cut.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Environment Now program is a prime example of where stimulus funding was received for the first year, and then the Department was able to integrate it into an ongoing program that created permanent employment for twenty people. Commissioner King suggested requesting a Chronicle write-up about the Department’s success with the Environment Now program. Commissioner Elliott reported that there are 150 total people that were hired through the entire new local JobsNow program, and twenty-one have been hired permanently by the Department. Deputy Director Assmann stated that he would discuss creating a story for the paper with Mr. Westlund, the Department’s Program Outreach Manager. Commissioner Elliott suggested adding an increased diversion rate number as a result of Environment Now’s work to the story if appropriate. Deputy Director Assmann reported that new diversion rate numbers are reported annually, and a new rate would be published in April that may be another percentage point or two higher and could be added to show support for the program.
Commissioner Elliott inquired whether there is a vision toward levying fines as part of the Mandatory and Composting Ordinance. Deputy Director Assmann stated that the intent of the Ordinance is to encourage building owners that didn’t have service to install service and to encourage residents to participate, not to levy fines. Commissioner Elliott inquired about the vacant position in Outreach. Deputy Director Assmann reported that is a new position to do database and web work. The database would incorporate all of the Department’s program area contacts into an existing system called SugarCRM.
Commissioner King inquired about the reference to the Toxics Reduction program’s need to diversify its funding sources. Deputy Director Assmann explained that the Toxics Reduction program is too dependent on the Impound Account for its funding. It contains programs that do not end up in the landfill, such as toxics due to air pollution, and requires funding specific to this cause. Some of this work has been done under Environmental Justice, but not as much within Toxics as it should be. Commissioner King inquired whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was providing funding for this program. Deputy Director Assmann reported that grant funding is being received from the EPA and additional funding is being sought.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the budget would be balanced once benefit costs and all other information is received in February or even after the budget has been submitted to the Mayor’s Office. Additional changes will be made based on information received until the budget is approved in June, but no major changes are anticipated.
Commissioner Elliott inquired whether employees that would be losing their jobs because funding is running out are aware of this as a condition of their employment. Deputy Director Assmann reported that most employees are permanent exempt, not Civil Service. So far, the Department has been successful in finding additional funding and not laying people off. Commissioner Elliott inquired whether all programs that have funding that terminates on a certain date could exist beyond a certain time if funding were to be secured. Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Department is always applying for more grants and funding. People are aware that they are on fixed-term projects, but so far the Department has been successful in finding new funding at the end of every grant.
Commissioner King asked if there were any state funds available to support programs. Deputy Director Assmann reported that there are two sources of funding from the state, the Department of Conservation and Used Oil funding. The Department of Conservation money is not in the budget because it has not been secured. Commissioner King inquired whether funding sources for all other programs have been secured. Deputy Director Assmann reported that all other funding sources have been confirmed, but that there may be other funding that comes in that would be added once confirmed. He explained that the overall budget is within one percent of last year’s budget.
Commissioner Mok asked what is being done about vacant positions and if consideration is being given to rehire staff employed on fixed terms. Deputy Director Assmann reported that funding exists for all vacant positions, and the Department is actively interviewing and recruiting for several positions right now. Commissioner Mok inquired how many staff have been transferred from JobsNow to full time staff. Deputy Director Assmann reported that there are twenty people in the Environment Now program. One JobsNow staff person has been hired as a full-time staff receptionist.
Commissioner King inquired whether the Impound Account shares its funding with other departments. Deputy Director Assmann stated with the Department of Public Works. Commissioner Elliott explained that the Department’s share should be protected by formula. Deputy Director Assmann stated that it does not mean that it does not get invaded. He stated that how the money is to be spent is decided during the rate process, but there is a question whether the Board of Supervisors can overrule that. Impound money does have to be used for certain purposes. Commissioner King stated that this is a good reason to show the value that these environmental programs are having to the community because some people feel that environmental programs are not as necessary as some of the other services that are going to be cut. Deputy Director Assmann stated that it is important to document the benefits from the Environment Now program because it is supported by the Impound Account.
Commissioner Elliott stated that his concern is that agencies may look at enterprise department budgets as a source of funding when it is seen that they are not being affected by budget cuts to the extent that they are. They may want to work order every climate adaptation plan, clean energy, and biofuel work that they do back to the Department of the Environment because it is something they may feel is being done on the Department’s behalf. Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Department is not receiving any general fund money and has met with all enterprise departments that funding is being received from to confirm that money is in their budgets moving forward. He explained that a good portion of the money in the budget has already been approved by the Board of Supervisors and cannot be changed.
Public Comment: Mr. David Pilpel stated that he has a concern about the accurateness of the Zero Waste program’s staff level listing in terms of classifications. He stated that it would be helpful to see the classification numbers next to staff names. Mr. Pilpel discussed the need for equity among the coordinators, assistant coordinators, and the associate assistant coordinators in terms of being paid similar wages where there is a similar career ladder. For the Outreach program, he suggested reclassifying all City Outreach positions into the 1310, 1312, and 1314 series. He stated that he does not know about the budgetary impact and how this change would protect people in the same way that it does now. Mr. Pilpel suggested providing the Commission with an overall Department organizational chart as part of the budget packet so it is seen in context with classification detail, not just staff names. On the grants program, he encouraged the finance and grants staff to deal with the numbers as opposed to program staff.
Commissioner Mok inquired about a discussion held at the previous meeting about a requirement for the Department to provide a two-year budget for this fiscal year. Deputy Director Assmann reported that it was originally thought that a two-year budget would be requested, but the Department has been asked to only do a one-year budget. There are three other departments that have to do a two-year budget. It is hard for the Department to do a two-year budget because so much of the grant money changes.
Commissioner King inquired about allocation of funding for current Department space rental and future requirements. Deputy Director Assmann reported that the current lease expires on May 31, 2012, which is within this next fiscal year. An amount of $300,000 has been budgeted in the administration budget for a move on June 1 of this fiscal year (narrative third paragraph). The budget amount was set aside on recommendation by the Department of Real Estate based on a department of this size. Space (between 22,000 and 25,000 square feet) is being sought in the Civic Center area, and there is discussion about finding other groups to join in on a proposal.
Commissioners commended the effectiveness of the narrative document and asked for its continued use. Deputy Director Assmann reported that he would include an organizational chart. Upon Motion by Commissioner King, second by Commissioner Elliott, the Draft Budget was approved for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment (AYES: Commissioners Mok, King, and Elliott).
5. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)
Commissioner King suggested that the Operations Committee track the Department move process. He asked that the Committee at the April 20, 2011 Operations Committee meeting review economic impacts achieved by Department programs. Commissioner Elliott discussed Proposition 26 limits on levying new fees based on voter approval and asked if it would affect the Department’s budget. Deputy Director Assmann explained that there is no material impact that he is aware of to Department programs, but there is an effect on the Department of Public Works for a cigarette fee that the Department of Environment did the initial work on. Commissioner King suggested that the Toxics Reduction program test McDonald’s toys for toxics.
Public Comment: Mr. Pilpel stated that that the Department has performance measure reports that are issued to the Controller’s Office that tie into the budget and the Annual Report. He suggested that this Committee review those performance measures as a way to measure economic impacts in the community.
6. Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. There was no public comment at this time.
7. Adjournment. The Commission Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 6:07 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by,
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
TEL: (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393
*Approved: April 7, 2011