MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
August 15, 2000
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m., in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Laws, Hauck, Hanson, Wheeldon and Fine were present. Councilor Reid was absent.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Councilor Wheeldon requested a copy of Resolution #97-51 as noted by Eric Navickas in the August 1, 2000 minutes. The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of August 1, 2000 were approved as amended on page 3, paragraph 4, to indicate Mayor Shaw’s comments rather than Councilor Wheeldon, regarding the Bicycle Commission’s urging to take a stand against one-way streets.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor Shaw presented a plaque to Larry "Murph" Murphy, commemorating his fifteen years of service to the City without utilizing his sick leave. She noted his qualities as an employee and co-worker, including his unprecedented dedication to the City.
Councilor Wheeldon requested the letter from the Forest Commission be placed on the agenda for discussion. Mayor Shaw and council indicated consent for placement on the agenda under New Business.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Keri Green to the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission for term to expire April 30, 2001.
Councilors Hauck/Laws m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
PUBLIC FORUM (None)
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Council meeting Look Ahead (Information only)
2. Discussion of Draft Social and Human Services Element of the Strategic Plan
Councilor Hauck explained that the presentation tonight is for discussion only and would be placed on a future agenda for adoption if council desires. Hauck introduced three representatives from the Ad Hoc committee: Cate Hartzell, Budget Committee Chair; Sharon Shreiber, CERVS; and Peg Crowley, Community Health Center.
Hartzell, Shreiber, and Crowley presented an outline of the Strategic Plan for Social and Human Services. The ability to understand the needs of the community and to gain information through presentations is addressed by these issues. Working to get budget committee members up to speed, understanding what the money is for, is an important goal. This plan will not further burden taxpayers as not all programs are funded by the City. The committee made a commitment to look at the roles Social and Human Services provided on a long and short-term basis. It was noted that the people benefitting by this plan are not simply transient, but are those living in the City and in need of medical or monetary assistance. In order to develop the plan, other community’s programs were evaluated. The committee recommends forming a City of Ashland Foundation allowing citizens who care about the livelihood of the community to contribute. In addition, it is recommended the city allocates fifteen percent of categorical CDBG resources for the direct support of qualifying safety net services.
Fine suggested that where language is mandatory, rather than aspirational, the verbs be changed. He warned against making promises the City could not keep. Siting the CDBG Block Grant allocation of 15%, he suggested that an ordinance or resolution is the better place for making mandatory requirements for providing monetary support.
Hauck explained the plan is a restatement of a current adopted City Council resolution from 1986. In addition, 15% is the largest allowable amount under the CDBG block grant process, and has been regularly taken each year for social service funding. Fine asked if the document could then state that as a City, we have a commitment through a specific resolution to provide a certain service. He felt this would make clear that this is a strategic plan, and that the City does not budget money through plans, but rather through ordinances and resolutions. Hauck agreed the statement would clarify this issue. Crowley explained that this was meant to be a working document for newcomers to the community, outlining the working environment of Ashland.
Hanson requested an example of how this document would be helpful to individuals. Crowley explained the information is provided on the Web and offers referrals for city-funded and other programs available to community members. Once someone has entered into the program, other needs could be identified and referrals made. Hauck stated this document is meant to be a collaborative work between organizations.
Laws agreed the language is too powerful and that the Mission Statement implies too strongly of a commitment. He feels line two should be amended to read, ". . . the City of Ashland will strive to provide resources and services to help meet basic human needs." Hauck stated this language was not written by the committee, but was taken from the current Strategic Plan. Laws further suggested removing the word "self-actualized" from paragraph one of the Overview and Philosophy. Laws requested discussion on what he felt was an important point. The word "non-duplicative" comes up many times and he feels there may be times when a different approach is necessary. This maintains a certain amount of freedom for the City and allows for discretionary allocations of resources. In addition, Laws had the following suggestions:
Goal #1: (1-2) he feels the nonprofit community should provide this service for itself, and questioned what it would cost for the City to provide this service; (1-3) suggested changing the word "assure" to "assist with" (1-4) questioned the City’s power over tax policy of real estate; and (1-6) is concerned over the number of foundations already searching for donations. Laws suggested that more money could be raised through individual organizations rather than one large foundation and questioned the direct conflict with United Way.
Goal #2 (2-3) Laws commented this could tie the City to existing agencies who are not doing their job as adequately as would be desired. He would like the City to maintain a certain level of freedom for allocation.
Goal #3 (3-2) Laws’ would like to see the whole City budget moved toward a performance-based budget and noted that it may be easier to other areas first before committing to social services.
Wheeldon questioned how close this document is to the budget granting process. Hartzell explained that the document centralizes the information, making it clearer process, and gets the City involved in the collaborative process. The agency is given more consistency and framework for working with the budget committee. Regarding the United Way, she explained they are very targeted for outcomes, whereas this plan allows for more creativity in granting funds.
Wheeldon wanted an understanding of how close the City is to these activities, as well as a time line for implementation. She needs a better understanding of the social service process. She asked for clarification of specific resolutions or ordinances as noted in the document in regard to funding.
Mayor recapped councils’ points of discussion. She agreed with Laws in his concern about the words used ensuring the City’s ability to provide specific services. Supporting tracking percentages is an important and effective tool for agencies to request funding. Shaw noted Goal #2 (2-1) regarding the guarantee of a specific amount of money. Shaw noted the Sizemore Document and a 2:1 favor ability of voters, which may result in closing of smaller local governments.
Council engaged in a general discussion of the historic passage of ordinances in regard to the amount of funding. It was agreed that setting a percentage allows for the increase or decrease of the budget for the funding of social service programs. A request was made for a revised draft, including an electronic copy, for further council discussion at a future meeting.
3. Discussion regarding the Living Wage Ordinance
Rich Rhode, Carole Bonney and William Mansfield of Oregon Action presented the Living Wage Ordinance draft. Rhode explained that the request is made on behalf of the low-income families, specifically the 14% poverty-level community members. Oregon Action is advocating community land trusts, employer partnerships for career ladders, mentoring programs that move people from welfare to work, partnerships to help small businesses, and other ways for people to use their energy to develop living-wage job opportunities. Fundamentally, the group feels the Living Wage Ordinance would offer the City the opportunity to be a model employer, showing others the benefit of efficiency, more productivity and less absenteeism.
Rhode noted that the City of Portland is updating their Living Wage Ordinance on August 23, 2000. They plan to vote on a wage of $9.50, but many groups are advocating $10.36. Nearly fifty cities have adopted Living Wage Ordinances, most recently is San Francisco.
Mansfield stated that the proposed ordinance requires the City of Ashland and its contractors, subcontractors, and grantees to pay a living wage. Initially the minimum wage was intended to be a living wage, but with inflation the minimum wage is considerably lower. To his best estimation, the living wage should be $10, with a one-dollar fringe benefit. The group does not want to see the ordinance rise or fall based on a specific dollar amount. The group believes it is not civilized for a society to not pay a living wage. He explained the ordinance addresses employee wages for those working under a particular contract, subcontract or draft. Exceptions are temporary or seasonal workers. Questions have been raised regarding increased costs to the City in order to enforce the ordinance. The group’s charge is to bring forth information rather than speculation from other cities as to the associated costs. Those subject to this ordinance must report to the City semiannually. Another exception is the collective bargaining agreement. The group has spoken with the Chamber of Commerce, and they are concerned this ordinance would make the City noncompetitive. Many other cities already have these types of ordinances and noncompetitiveness has not become a concern.
Bonney asked the council to direct staff to further develop the draft ordinance, and to set public hearings in September, in order to move ahead. Shaw asked how this would effect agencies to which the City gives money on an annual basis. Mansfield stated these agencies would be effected by this ordinance.
Wheeldon asked how other cities came to develop their ordinances. Rhode explained considerable drafting and thought was done, and support of city council was important for the development. Community response took place through public hearings.
Fine suggested Oregon Action search out other groups and discuss the draft before bringing it to the council. This allows for a draft with a general consensus of local organizations. Rhode stated they would be willing to meet with other groups, but would like to focus on setting a public hearing, in order to allow community members to tell their story. He stressed the group’s desire to move this forward to the hearing stage, in order to allow ordinary citizens to make their feelings known, and not just leave the discussion to business. Mansfield noted there may never be a complete consensus.
Laws urged Oregon Action to meet with the groups most likely effected by the ordinance. He voiced his concern regarding the limits. Other city’s ordinances are very specific, whereas the draft is less defined. He wants to know the impact of this type of ordinance and the costs related before moving forward. Rhode stated the public hearing would give this information. Laws disagreed, stating hard research is required. Shaw agreed, stating the ordinance gives a broad scope of possibilities. She suggested crafting a plan, which covers everything, and could be scaled down to meet the needs of the community. She believes the best body to do that work is the council. It may be determined that the only people the council wants to cover under this ordinance are city employees. Laws reiterated his desire to know the involved costs before making a determination.
Hauck stated an analysis would be difficult without an actual concrete proposal. He suggested using the draft as a proposal, to get an analysis from staff and the agencies effected, and then take the outcome to a public hearing.
Scoles stated the problem is, that this is such a far-reaching proposal, with no limits. In some cities, there are caps allowing for exemptions for smaller grantees. Of all the city positions, only three regular employees are paid below $11, and only one position is paid $10.15 per hour. Shaw stated it is as important to look at what problems may be solved as making a clear statement for living wages. She suggested rather than looking at a broad scope, the council could look at city positions first and then develop a time line for review of other organizations.
Laws asked Scoles to clarify the number of contracts the city currently holds. Scoles gave an approximate number of more than 36, ranging from a few hundreds dollars to millions. Mansfield noted there is a definition of contracts, allowing for the addition or elimination of different kinds of contracts.
Rhode noted that there is a fair amount of research regarding outcomes in other cities. Oregon Action would like to provide this information to help in the process of moving this forward. Scoles suggested having a more concrete plan before bringing it to a public forum.
Wheeldon stated she wants to talk with three other cities who have already gone through this process in order to discuss the process. She feels data needs to be gathered and hypothetical situations discussed. Scoles explained one or fewer city employees would be effected under this draft ordinance. Wheeldon stated it does not seem as though the problem of earning a living wage exists for city employees. Scoles stated there is no way to know, at this point, how contractors or grantees would be effected. Council engaged in a discussion of contractors, grantees, contract amounts, and possible exemptions. Fine suggested while data is being gathered, information should also be gathered for those using city property at no cost, including the hospital, Ski Ashland, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Rick Nagel/290 N Main/Chamber of Commerce President and local business owner. Commended all those working on the Living Wage proposal. Nagel wants to go on record to show his opposition to the living wage proposal as he does not believe it is in the best interest of the community. If enacted, the door would be open to affect all employers, not just those contracting with the city. Costs to the city would rise, falling on the taxpayer’s shoulders. The economic effect would be disastrous. In order to cover expenses, businesses would have to raise prices, which would send residents to other areas for shopping. He has also heard businesses say they will relocate if the city makes a minimum wage law. He urges the Council to leave economic policy making to the federal and state government.
Shaw stressed that the council is not considering a broad living wage ordinance. This ordinance is about the city paying a living wage to its workers, and requiring those contracting with the city to pay their employees a living wage. Local businesses will not be effected by this ordinance.
Laws stated that the benefit of this ordinance is to show Ashland as a model for living wage employment. He is concerned about limiting available contractors to the city should it mandate how companies work with their employees.
Hauck noted contractor and subcontractor employees would only be effected when they are working on a contracted job for the city. At all other times, employees would be paid whatever was agreed upon between the employee and the contractor or subcontractor. Mansfield stated the city does not have the authority to enact wage requirements on private businesses.
Rhode stated Oregon Action needs direction from the council as to where they should go now, including a time line. Shaw suggested council and staff move forward with research, placing a threshold of $10,000 on contracts for grantees. Fine stated council needs time to digest the information before setting a public comment. He suggests accomplishing this project within the calendar year. Shaw suggested looking toward the first meeting in October, and moving on if all entities are willing and able.
4. Discussion of the City’s Bi-annual Citizen Attitude Survey
Wanderscheid suggested eliminating questions 24-28, and either adding five questions more or running a shorter survey. At this time, the survey instrument needs to be finalized. It will be sent out in September with results available in October. He asked the council for directions to continue.
Fine remembered the last survey and the suggestions that were made for future instruments. He asked if Wanderscheid had reviewed the minutes from this meeting, of which, Wanderscheid had not but would do so.
Laws agreed with Wanderscheid on the elimination of questions 24-28. He recommended questions four and five are separated as the first may influence the second. In addition, questions 17 and 18 should be reversed in order for a more accurate response.
Wheeldon asked if a Request for Proposal (RFP) had been done and Wanderscheid confirmed that it was, based on a three-year contract. Wheeldon suggested replacing questions 24-28 with transit questions to help direct future plans. Laws voiced concern with asking transit questions as intentions, rather than reality, which may guide answers. Shaw stated the city already knows how many people are taking the bus, what it needs to know, are why more people are not using city transit.
Shaw questioned number 14, as she wants to know if residents are feeling safe in the city now. Hauck suggested asking for information about current practices, as they are more valuable than hypothetical situations.
Fine suggested the better use of the survey is not how to change people, but how residents would like to change city government. He suggested asking residents the following: 1. Where is city government lacking; 2. Would you be willing to pay more for a greater range or quality of services from the city; and 3. Which city fee, tax, or charge do you find most objectionable?
Wheeldon stated she wants to see transit questions on the survey. She thinks the council is under the impressions that by making city transit cheap and short, people will get on the bus, but she is not convinced that this is the situation. She wonders if the deterrent has to be so great for people to ride city transit and asking transit questions may garner the answers.
Wanderscheid asked if the council is willing to drop questions 29 and 30. Council engaged in a general discussion of the questions, and agreed to drop number 30. Laws suggested splitting question 29 into two questions: how many times do you ride the bus and how many times do others in your household ride the bus? Wanderscheid stated he would work on the survey and bring back a revised edition.
5. Council approval of direct fiber line to Qwest point of presence
Councilors Laws/Hauck m/s to approve the recommendation. Voice vote: all Ayes. Motion passed
6. Forest Commission Letter
Wheeldon reminded council that the Forest Commission had requested that their review of the Forest Service proposal be considered equally with the Ad Hoc committee. However, the proposal from the Forest Land Commission has not been forthcoming for review. She also asked Mayor Shaw to extend an invitation to members of the Forest Land Commission to join the Ad Hoc Committee if they so choose. Finally, she informed the council of a presentation on the Watershed Protection Plan by the Ad Hoc committee on August 17, at Pioneer Hall at 7:00 p.m.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS (None)
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
Shaw updated the council on the humps on Oak Street. One of them has been changed from the rubber bumps to the lower/wider asphalt bumps. Public Works Director Paula Brown stated the replacement of the other bumps have been put off, as Traffic Safety has asked the city to wait another month, before changing the rest of them. Laws stated the Traffic Commission has been looking to receive favorable responses from the community before turning the rest over. Brown stated that there have been very favorable responses to the new bumps. Laws stated the new asphalt bumps cost $1,600 each, whereas the rubber temporary bumps were considerably more expensive.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:41 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer