MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
May 3, 2000
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson and Fine were present; Staff present included City Administrator Mike Freeman, Assistant City Administrator Greg Scoles, City Attorney Paul Nolte and Director of Community Development John McLaughlin.
ASHLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER
Police Chief Scott Fleuter explained that the Ashland Police Department and the Ashland School District formed a partnership to implement a School Resource Officer position at the High School and the Middle School approximately three years ago. He explained that a federal C.O.P.S. grant was obtained to pay for half of the position, the Police Department paid for one-quarter and the School District paid for one-quarter. He stated that the grant was for three years and that the agreement was that the Police Department and the School District would each pay for half of the position after the initial grant funding.
Fleuter further explained that the School District may be finding it financially difficult to fund their half of the position. He also reported on an analysis recently completed by a consultant on the Police Department's calls for service, numbers of Patrol Officers, and other workload measurements. It was determined that if the Police Department wanted to continue to provide the current level of service, they would have to add three new patrol positions within the next year. He noted that the city has been facing general fund shortages and they had only planned to budget for the original one half of the School Resource Officer position.
With this situation in mind, Fleuter recommended that changes be made in how service is provided to the schools. He would like to reassign the officer that is in the SRO position to patrol. He explained that he had already eliminated a management position in order to fund one of the three patrol positions recommended by the consultant. He stated that this is an opportunity to increase officer interaction with the schools and student, and emphasized that the Department would make every effort to have a number of different officers present a variety of educational programs to the High School and Middle School.
He noted the work being done on the Citizens Academy, and the expansion of the volunteer program. Stated that the volunteers will be working in the schools more, and in some cases this may improve interaction with students.
Fleuter clarified for Reid that the School District likes the idea of having officer interaction at the schools, but that the budget issues taking priority for the District include keeping a desired teacher to student ratios and even maintaining support and janitorial staffing. Fleuter noted that he had spoken to John Daggett and Julie Reynolds of the School District, and while they like the idea of keeping the officer interaction in the schools, they would like to not have to pay to fund the SRO position. Reid noted some of the issues that made the idea of a School Resource Officer seem appropriate, and emphasized how it helped to have an additional officer available outside the school year when more staff was needed during tourist season. Reid noted that she is supportive of Fleuter's plan, but that she feels there is a tradeoff in not building the same sort of relationship that comes from having a full time officer in the school.
Fleuter stated that one of the biggest advantages in having a School Resource Officer is this ability to build relationships and possibly catch the early warning signs for potential emergency situations. He emphasized however that patrol officers will maintain relationships with personnel and students at the schools in order to address these situations. Also noted that safety plans will be kept up to date and training exercises conducted frequently.
Laws agreed with Fleuter that patrol is a higher priority than the School Resource Officer, but suggested that the information presented so far, is not convincing enough that additional patrol is needed. Fleuter explained that a consultant looked at one year's worth of data on response times, uncommitted times (report writing), and self-initiated times (traffic stops). Stated that based on this study, they indicated that the Police Department is understaffed to provide optimal service levels to the community. Confirmed for Laws that the standard used as a basis is a national average. Laws expressed concern that the report is general and vague and has no supporting data. Fleuter clarified that calls are being covered, but that often, in a busy period, administrative officers need to respond to calls and officers do not have adequate time to be pro-active. Fleuter stated that citizens are not in danger, but that the Department is falling behind in keeping up with all of the demands placed on their time.
Fine noted his concern with having only two officers on duty, as when an arrest is made the prisoner needs to be transported to Medford leaving only one officer in Ashland. Fine pointed out that it is not considered safe for only one officer to respond on a domestic dispute call. Sympathized with Fleuter's concern and agreed with the priorities being expressed, and suggested that council defer to Fleuter's judgement.
Fleuter confirmed for Hanson that officers would still have a presence on campuses, and Citizen Academies could also be conducted in the schools as well. Stated that volunteers could become a greater presence in schools, and that the officers will still have their "fingers on the pulse" of what's going on. Fleuter noted that the city may later decide that the SRO position is desired again, or the school may come up with funds to reinstate the position.
Shaw stated that she doubted the likelihood of the schools finding funds, as less is coming down from the state and they are looking at cutting librarian positions. Fleuter suggested that the schools need to use available funds to pursue their mission.
DISCUSSION OF SDC CREDITS AND THE BLUE MOUNTAIN CAFÉ
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained that Systems Development Charges (SDC) are based on fixtures, impervious surface and trip generation. Explained that the policy has been that any "credits" typically run with the property, and have never been treated as a commodity or been transferable to other parcels.
McLaughlin stated that it was within the council's purview to rule differently under these circumstances, but that normally the credit would not go to a leaseholder.
McLaughlin stated that there has been one exception granted, where a property owner demolished a home in one part of the community, and transferred the SDC credits to another parcel which he also owned to allow for the relocation of an historic structure. He explained that this was a unique instance involving properties under the same ownership, and the community benefit involved with preserving a historic structure.
Fine suggested that the SDC credits be limited to the Blue Mountain and not be transferable as a commodity.
Laws suggested that the easiest solution would be to waive the SDC charges, which is within the guidelines of our current ordinance, for the business owner of Blue Mountain Café. Further explained that the philosophy behind SDCs is to pay for new growth, and since the old café will be gone and the Fire Department already exists, the relocated café will not be new growth.
McLaughlin clarified that there will be additional SDCs for the Fire Station, and normally SDCs would apply to the property. Recognized that council could waive the fees for a relocated Blue Mountain and choose to pay the additional SDCs for the Fire Station.
Reid suggested that this is not an issue yet. McLaughlin clarified that this item will need to come back to the council, as he cannot grant an SDC waiver. He agreed with Laws that the council should treat this as a waiver rather than looking at a transfer. Freeman confirmed that he would advise the tenant of the substance of today's discussion and that a number of the councilors were favorably inclined to considering a future request for SDC waiver.
Fine suggested that there be a community meeting or open house on the effluent issue. Shaw suggested that there is a public process involved already and the meeting are televised. Council discussed continuing the May 16 meeting on May 17, but noted that a full council will not be present at that time. The council recognized the need to allow adequate time for citizen input and discussion. Fine emphasized that there is a need for citizens to have the information that will be presented at the May 16 meeting before they can make educated informed comments on the issue. Hauck and Laws recognized the need for Brown to have adequate time to prepare her report for DEQ and that waiting until May 30 may be too difficult.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:44 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder