MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
December 16, 2003 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn were present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of December 2, 2003 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor's Proclamation of January 10, 2004 as "Christmas Tree Recycle Day in Ashland" was read aloud by Councilor Hartzell.
Paula Brown, Lynn Parlette, Dale Peters, and Kevin Flynn made a presentation to City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, acknowledging him for his patriotic support and allowing employees to participate in the Naval Reserve and National Guard. Recognition was also given to Rick Walsh.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Jim Green to the Traffic Safety Commission for term to expire April 30, 2005.
3. Termination of a Road Easement in Strawberry Meadows Subdivision.
4. Request from the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. for Funding to Preserve Irrigation Rights to Water.
Councilor Morrison requested that item #4 be pulled for discussion.
Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1, #2 and #3. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
Councilor Morrison wanted to know if RBWUCI had made any modified requests.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi stated he had spoken with Mr. Holtey and discussed his rational for recommending a deny to the request. RBWUCI is still requesting $15,000, however any contribution the City seemed fair, would be appreciated, such as a pro-rated figure based on the City's usage.
Councilor Hartzell/Morrison m/s to approve Staff's recommendation for Consent Agenda item #4. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
1. Public Hearing and Adoption of the Action Plan for the One Year Use of Community Development Block Grant Funds for Program Year 2004.
Assistant Planner Brandon Goldman stated he was before the council to present an Action Plan that delineates which projects the City will undertake with the use of the CDBG funds for 2004. The proposed allocation and projects are:
$362,000 to RVCDC for the creation of 8-10 affordable housing
$13,800 to RVCDC for public facility improvements within the Siskiyou and Faith Street right of way
$285,000 to ACLT for the acquisition and rehabilitation of a duplex located at 264 Grant Street
$16,841 to the City of Ashland for accessibility improvements to the Pioneer Hall restrooms
and CDBG Administration would exhaust the remainder of the funds ($51,200)
Goldman stated that each year the City goes through an RFP process to allocate the funds, and then puts forth and action plan as to how those funds are distributed.
Councilor Hartzell asked about the possibility of advancing the proceeds from the Strawberry Lane property to the CDBG fund.
Goldman stated that he and HUD were aware of this possibility, but because no formal action has taken place yet, it is not included in this Action Plan. He added that they would be able to modify the Action Plan later in the year if necessary.
Councilor Hartzell requested that a copy of this Plan be provided to the Budget Committee.
Public Hearing Open: 7:19 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:19 p.m.
Goldman clarified that 60 days prior to the conclusion of each program year; the City produces a Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report for HUD, which lists the goals and the actions taken. In addition, the report lists all of the actions the City has taken to meet the goal, not just those that utilize the CDBG funds.
Goldman stated Goal 12 addresses economic activities. He also explained the City has adopted a living wage, which addresses poverty. Goldman noted if there are any other measures the Council feels should be included, he can add them to the Plan.
He further explained that the Home Ownership Program is a loan program available through Access, Inc., which assists qualified first time homebuyers and renters. Goldman noted this program would be advertised in the upcoming January City Source.
Comment was made that accessory residential housing is mixed and not just affordable housing. Goldman explained that an accessory residential unit couldn't be greater than 50% of the primary house. All are under 1000 sq. ft., and many are as small as 500 sq. ft. As a result, the rent for these units is much less than the market rate of a full size house.
Inquiry regarding public comment was made and Goldman stated that it in the 5 years he has worked for the City, they have not received public comment during the Action Plan public hearings. He did note that comments were received during the RFP process, but many citizens have the incorrect impression that the process is completed at this stage, and therefore do not come forward.
Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve adoption of Action Plan for the One Year Use of Community Development Block Grant Funds for Program Year 2004. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
2. Public Hearing and first reading by title only of "An Ordinance Withdrawing
an Annexed Area from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 (Russ Dale Annexation,
250 Clay Street)."
City Attorney Paul Nolte explained this is a three-phase process. The land use phase was approved by the Council in February 2003. The second phase is the actual annexation by resolution of the Council, and the third phase involves the withdrawal of the area including a public hearing and adoption of the ordinance. Nolte stated that the property owners have consented to the annexation, and there is no one residing on the property.
Public Hearing Open: 7:28 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:28 p.m.
Councilor Morrison/Hearn m/s to approve first reading of the Ordinance and move to second reading. Roll Call Vote: Amarotico, Hearn, Laws, Morrison, Hartzell and Jackson, YES. Motion Passed.
PUBLIC FORUM (None)
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Request for Waiver or Reduction in SDC's and Building Permit Fees for new Car Wash Building at 2371 Ashland Street. Ken Khosroabadi.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained that he and City Administrator Gino Grimaldi had met with the property owners, and explained the rational for the fees. Mr. Khosroabadi had stated that he was not going to attend tonights meeting, and although he was still concerned with the costs, he was not going to protest the fees.
Councilor Laws/Hartzell m/s to deny request. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
2. Status Report on The Grove.
Management Analysist Ann Seltzer reported that Community Works notified the City earlier this fall that they could no longer continue to provide services for under served youth at The Grove. Since then, Staff has been contemplating different types of uses for the building. Seltzer stated that the community has voiced strong support that this location continue to be used for under served youth. Seltzer explained that staff is recommending that an Ad Hoc Committee be appointed to identify the needs of the community, and bring options and a recommendation back to the Council in January. In addition, Staff is recommending that the City look into buying out the 25% HUD investment to remove the HUD requirement, and therefore allowing greater flexibility of programs and services that could be offered.
Seltzer explained there are two main funding mechanisms that could be utilized
to buy out HUD investment:
1) Use a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Strawberry Lane Property.
2) Borrow the funds from a non-restricted fund for a capital loan. (However, law requires that an interfund loan be re-paid within 5 years.)
Mayor DeBoer stated he would like to get the facility open as soon as possible. City Administrator Gino Grimaldi stated the quickest way would be to buy out the HUD investment.
Councilor Hearn questioned which should come first: the formation of a committee or the buy out of the HUD investment. It was clarified that the Mayor has the authority to appoint the committee.
Councilor Hartzell stated she has not heard of a coherent proposal for how the building could be used that would meet the need for which it was originally established within the HUD requirements. She suggested acting on the two recommendations separately.
Councilor Laws stated he would prefer to use the funds from the Strawberry Lane property, rather than to borrow from other funds. Laws also mentioned the high cost of maintaining and providing utilities to the building, and questioned who would be paying for these after the buy out.
City Attorney Paul Nolte explained for the council, that if the HUD grant that was given to the City is not being used for it's intended purpose, than the grant funds have to be paid back. Nolte also explained that it is not the original $250,000 amount that is to be paid back, but that the cost is determined on the value of the building at the time it is removed from the program.
Goldman further clarified that the buy out amount will be 25% of the buildings current value. If the property has gone down in value, than the HUD allocation would be less than the original $250,000 investment. However if the property value has gone up, the cost will be more than $250,000.
Councilor Jackson stated the City should start the process of assessing the value of the property, and determine what the actual cost will be, as well as establish a committee that will study how to make use of the building for youth services.
Councilor Hartzell noted that if the City obtains full ownership of the building, they will not have to pay the $3000 rent listed, just the utilities and maintenance.
Seltzer explained for council that she had been in contact with the Jackson County Assessor's Office, who has informed her of a couple of different approaches, including a comparison assessment based on facilities that offer similar services.
Councilor Hartzell suggested possibly relocating the Senior Center to the The Grove, which falls under the HUD regulations, and using the current Senior Center for youth programs.
Gino Grimaldi explained moving the seniors could create concerns within the neighborhood, and would involve additional staff and costs.
Councilor Hartzell/Morrison m/s for Staff to proceed with Option #1, Option #2, and Funding Mechanism Option 1. DISCUSSION: Jackson stated she would prefer to not make a decision on the funding mechanism until Staff knows how much money is involved for the buy out. Morrison stated he would like to ear mark the Strawberry Lane line of funding right now, knowing that they will have to borrow the money in some fashion. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
3. Acceptance of Audit Committee Report dated November 17, 2003 and the
June 30, 2003 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the report from the Audit Committee. Tuneberg stated each year they are required to be audited and prepare an annual report. The auditors found that this report fairly reports the condition of the city, is relatively easy to read, and contains no material changes or errors. Tuneberg noted improvements and additions that had been made to the format of this year's report. Tuneberg explained the auditors found two reportable conditions: 1) an insufficient segregation of duties in the Courts Division, and 2) drawbacks within the utility billing software.
Councilor Laws spoke on the Audit Committee's mention of the ambulance service; stating he had not heard any criticism of the service, and was concerned about raising doubts with nothing to base them on.
Tuneberg stated the question was regarding establishing appropriate rates, and ensuring billing practices are where they should be.
In regards to the Ski Ashland Funds, Tuneberg explained that as part of the conversion to GASBS 34, they have changed their presentation and removed inappropriate information, and this was the basis of the discussion.
Councilor Morrison/Jackson m/s to accept Audit Committee Report. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
4. Approval for the Oregon Department of Transportation's Intent to Designate
a portion of Main Street and Lithia Way as a Special Transportation
Public Works Director Paula Brown explained that the Oregon Department of Transportation had approached Ashland with the opportunity to designate a segment of road from Lithia Way at E. Main, and Main Street from Siskiyou north to Maple Street as a Special Transportation Area. Brown explained this would benefit the City by allowing them to do improvements that would not normally be allowed on a state highway system, and could also provide additional funding. Brown stated that she could not find a downside to this opportunity.
Councilor Morrison stated Wimer Street is an area to look at as well; noting it is one of the more dangerous intersections.
Councilor Laws/Amarotico m/s to approve the designation of Main Street and Lithia Way as a Special Transportation Area. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. First reading by title only of "An Ordinance Amending Various Provisions of the Ashland Food and Beverage Tax in Ashland Municipal Code Chapter 4.34."
Assistant City Attorney Mike Franell explained that due to a recent review of the provisions of the Food and Beverage Tax, Staff is proposing the following amendments to make collection of the tax more efficient:
1) allow period specific payments of the tax retroactive to January 1, 2003
2) provide that all penalties collected will be received in the Central Services Fund for the purpose of funding collection and enforcement of the tax
3) change the refund claim filing period from three years to one year
Franell stated they could be looking at $8,000-$10,000 to be collected from the penalties and deposited into the Central Services Fund.
Ron Roth/6950 Old Hwy 99/ Roth noted that he is a delinquent operator, and stated he is generally in favor of the ordinance, with the exception on adding a hardship clause. Roth explained there needs to be some discretion within the ordinance. Roth stated this is a step in the right direction, but would like to see City Staff look a little deeper into other parts of the ordinance. Roth read aloud the ordinance, which states that the Food and Beverage Taxes will be used for sewage treatment. Roth continued to explain that the taxes paid to the WWTP have been transferred to the Ashland Fiber Network through interfund loans, and feels this is a serious issue the City needs to address. Roth volunteered to be apart of an Ad Hoc Committee to analyze the ordinance, and craft something that is "Ashland like".
City Attorney Paul Nolte stated that the collected funds will be used for the sewer plant, and that interfund loans are permitted and are paid back on an annual bases with interest.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained the City has spent over 33 million dollars on the wastewater plant, and noted that 13 million was directly from the Food and Beverage Tax collected.
Councilor Morrison asked about Section 4, which is being repealed, and asked if the elimination could put the City in jeopardy. Franell stated the allocation of the funds is set forth in Section 4.34.20, and therefore they can eliminate Section 4.34.150.
Tuneberg stated that changing the penalty from 10% to 5% would do nothing to the methodology. He explained this would lessen the funds coming into the City, which would be used to fund the work that is done to collect. Tuneberg also questioned if minimizing the penalty would make it easier for those to not pay the tax.
Nolte explained to the council that the City can only recoup court fees, which is minimal compared to what was expended.
Councilor Morrison stated it was an excellent idea to use a portion of the funds for educational purposes.
Councilor Amarotico stated he was concerned with the interest and where the money for the penalties goes.
Franell explained Section 4.34.60a and 4.34.60b explains the penalty provisions, and that the interest is separate.
Councilor Amarotico explained how the ordinance appears to state the interest will be deposited into the Central Service Fund, and not go towards the wastewater treatment plant.
Nolte stated that interest is not part of the penalty provisions, and that Staff can make the wording clearer if the Council desires.
Franell explained they could revise this section to read "all sums collected pursuant to paragraphs A, B, and C of this subsection."
Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve first reading of the ordinance with the noted modification to Section 4.34.060, and move to second reading. Roll Call Vote: Laws, Jackson, Hartzell, Morrison, Hearn and Amarotico, YES. Motion Passed.
2. Reading by title only of "A Resolution adopting Health and Dependent
Care Components of the City's Personal Choice Flexible Spending Account Program
and Authorization for City Administrator to sign Personal Choice
Human Resources Manager Tina Gray explained that this is a "win-win" for the City and its' employees. Gray stated the program has already paid for itself, and the City is now able to expand the offerings to it's employees, while providing additional saving to the City through payroll tax.
Councilor Hearn/Amarotico m/s to approve Resolution #2003-39. Roll Call Vote: Hearn, Morrison, Jackson, Hartzell, Amarotico and Laws, YES. Motion Passed.
Councilor Laws stated that administrative employees and union members are required to pay 5% for their benefits, and asked why the council members did not have to do the same.
Gray explained the council members get so little for their time commitment, and stated the benefit package is part of the offering.
Laws stated he does not agree, and feels the councilors should have to pay 5%, instead of having the taxpayers pay for the councilors benefits.
Councilor Morrison noted that the council members have the option not to participate in the benefits program, as he does.
3. Reading by title only of "A Resolution of the City of Ashland Annexing a Contiguous Area to the City of Ashland, Oregon, and Providing for an Effective Date. " (Russ Dale Annexation, 250 Clay Street).
Councilor Jackson/Morrison m/s to approve Resolution #2003-40. Roll Call Vote: Hartzell, Jackson, Laws, Morrison, Hearn and Amarotico, YES. Motion Passed.
4. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Transferring Appropriations
within the 2003-2004 Budget."
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained that upon request from Jackson County, Staff is proposing that the City transfer $5,000 from the General Fund for emergency support to the Jackson County Sobering Unit in Medford. Tuneberg stated the City obtains a benefit from this service.
Councilor Hartzell/Morrison m/s to approve Resolution #2003-41. Roll Call Vote: Amarotico, Morrison, Laws, Jackson, Hearn and Hartzell, YES. Motion Passed.
5. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Adopting a Supplemental Budget
Establishing Appropriations within the 2003-2004 Budget."
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained that the changes are not greater than 10%, and therefore Staff is presenting the attached Supplemental Budget Resolution for approval. The recommended adjustments include:
$39,660 to the General Fund
$2,500 to the Electric Fund
$50,000 to the Telecommunications Fund (donation from the Cow Creek Tribe, which will be used for AFN operations)
Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2003-42. Roll Call Vote: Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Hearn, Morrison and Jackson, YES. Motion Passed.
3. Reading by title only of "A Resolution dedicating property for Open
Space Park Purposes pursuant to Article XIXA, Section 2, of the City Charter
(Liberty Street Property).
City Attorney Paul Nolte stated this requires the dedication of open space property and the approval of the land partition plat. Nolte explained half of the property is owned by a private owner, and the other half will be dedicated for park purposes.
Councilor Hartzell/Morrison m/s to approve Resolution #2003-43. Roll Call Vote: Jackson, Morrison, Hearn, Hartzell, Amarotico and Laws, YES. Motion Passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
1. City Council Resolution regarding Proposed Changes to Requirements for New and Expanding Major Industry in the Medford-Ashland Air Quality Maintenance Area.
Councilor Laws stated the DEQ, acting under guidelines from EPA, is making a decision on the level of particulates to set in the Rogue Valley. DEQ has set up an advisory committee to put forth advice and suggestions. There has been no consensus among the committee on the DEQ options, and the debate has now been opened to the general public.
Laws explained that for many years, particulates in the Rogue Valley were very high, and it was determined that the EPA standards were being violated. Rogue Valley set up a program involving the DEQ and local government to address the problem, and as a result the levels are now well below the standard set by the EPA. However, as the valley continues to grow, particulates are going to increase again, and DEQ is now working on a new set of standards. DEQ has recommended an incremental increase to the standard each year to allow for growth and expansion in the valley.
The advisory committee has agreed with the DEQ's recommendation 11-9, however many citizens are opposed to raising the levels so much. Laws explained another suggestion was to allow the levels to continue to grow until it reached 10% below the EPA standards, and at that point activities which were causing the particulates would be decreased. Laws stated he recommends adopting the proposed resolution, which indicates that the Council and City of Ashland are opposed to any increases beyond what they are now.
Councilor Hartzell expressed concern about the public's perception of the City's participation, and suggests submitting a letter along with the approved resolution, which would strongly voice the City's position.
Councilor Morrison noted the transportation ramifications, and the small potential for interference of the City's Regional Transportation Plan, which could result in a lack of funding. Morrison noted the comment period deadline has been moved to the end of January, and suggests gaining more information before passing the resolution.
Mayor DeBoer noted that 85% of PM10s comes from other than industry. Mayor supports keeping the levels where they are.
Laws stated a third option could be to oppose any increase in the particulates created by industry.
Councilor Jackson stated she favors staying with Option 1, which is the stricter approach.
Councilor Morrison stated the plan needs to move ahead, however he is concerned with the one component that would change the industrial requirements. Morrison stated he feels they need a more clearly articulated resolution or letter to addresses this issue.
Councilor Laws stated that DEQ is in the process of writing the rule, and the deadline may be within the next few months (possibly May). Laws noted the comments should be submitted soon.
Council Hartzell stated she was comfortable with submitting a letter, as long as it carried as much weight as a resolution.
Council agreed to continue this discussion, and decided this would be addressed again at the next council meeting in January.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:57 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
Alan DeBoer, Mayor
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