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FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: AUGUST 1, 2006
SUBJECT: VIEW RESTORATION MEDIATOR CONTRACT EXTENSION
Amend the existing agreement with the City’s View Restoration Mediator, Ms. Coleen Berg, by removing the monetary cap provision contained within the existing service agreement and extending the services agreement to June 2007.
In November 2005, the City entered into a one-year contract with the City’s View Restoration mediator, Ms. Coleen Berg, which has a monetary cap provision of $18,000, and which is set to expire in November 2006. The cap amount was based on the anticipated cost of the mediator’s services for one year. As a result of an unexpected increase in actual cases filed since November 2005 and more time spent by the mediator on each case, the $18,000 cap has been exceeded by $1,403, three months short of the contract anniversary of November 2006. In consideration that view restoration mediation services continue to be necessary and that the contract is due to expire shortly, Staff recommends that the City Council revise the City’s existing contract agreement with Ms. Berg by deleting the monetary cap and extending the revised contract to June 2007. Such an action will not require a budget adjustment as the increased costs can be absorbed in the Departments current FY06-07 budget.
On November 3, 2004, the City Council authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with Ms. Berg for professional view mediation services for one year at a cost not to exceed $14,000 for the year. On December 6, 2005, after a one-year review of the mediator’s performance, the City Council extended the mediator’s contract for one additional year (expires November 2006) and established a cap of the $18,000 per year on the mediator’s services (December 6, 2006 Staff Report attached). The purpose of establishing a cap on her services was to ensure that the mediator cost would be absorbed by the existing View Restoration Division’s budget without the need for a budget adjustment.
When Ms. Berg’s current contract was approved by the City Council in December 2005, Staff estimated the cost of the mediator services for one year to be between $9,000 and $18,000. This was based on Staff’s expectation that the mediator would perform 1-2 pre-application meetings per month, with each session and follow-up sessions requiring up to 6 hours of mediation time. Based on a billing rate of $125 per hour, the cost of the mediator per case was estimated at $750 ($750*24 cases= $18,000). As it turns out, since November 2005, Ms. Berg has performed 18 pre-application meetings and each session is requiring 8-10 hours of her time.
Notwithstanding the increased workload, the View Mediator has continued with her success in dealing with the City’s residents. Her success is largely dependent on the number of hours she devotes to helping the parties negotiate private agreements. As a result of devoting more time to each case (8- 10 hours per case), most view restoration cases are resolved at the mediation level. Only 2 of the 18 view restoration cases filed since November 2005 had to be formally resolved by the Planning Commission since (about a 90% success rate).
As a consequence of an unanticipated increase in the number of cases, and in the number of parties involved with each case, the cost of the mediator services thus far has been $19,403. The table below illustrates Staff’s expectation of the mediator’s cost in December 2005, as compared to the actual cost to date.
Anticipated vs. Actual Caseload and Cost Table:
Anticipated Actual to date
Furthermore, based on the actual number of cases received to date, Staff projects that the mediator services through November 2006 will cost approximately $7,500 (6 cases* 10 hours* $125 hourly rate). In consideration of the projected costs up to November 2006 ($7,500) plus the costs thus far, Staff estimates that the total November 2005 to November 2006 Mediator service cost to be $26,903. While this amount exceeds the cap stipulated in the contract agreement, it can be absorbed by the existing FY 06-07 View Restoration Division budget without any adjustments because expenditures for the view related City tree trimming have been less than expected. This is because as a result of the new City Tree Review application fee, the demand for new City Tree Review Permits has tapered off as expected. Consequently, there is less pressure on View Restoration Division’s budget for City tree maintenance. However, as noted above, there is a noticeable increase in the volume of cases involving privately owned foliage being handled by the Mediator and the number of hours spent on each case, which is straining the View Restoration Division’s professional services budget.
To allow the City’s View Mediator to continue her successful work, Staff is recommending that the monetary cap provision contained in the existing service agreement with Ms. Berg be removed. In addition, since Ms. Berg’s contract is set to expire in three months (November 2006) and she continues to successfully resolve view related cases, Staff is also recommending that the City Council extend the revised contract to June 2007 at the current billing rate, to coincide with the City’s current FY06-07 budget.
The following are alternatives to Staff’s recommended action:
1) Remove the monetary cap provision but not extend the contract through June 2007, thus keeping the current expiration date of November 2006, at which time costs can be reassessed or;
2) Identify any issues of concern that may require further study and direct Staff to provide additional information at a subsequent meeting.
A - Revised Mediation Services contract