Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Charter Review Committee
October 7, 2004
Regular Meeting Minutes
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

I. CALL TO ORDER: Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. on October 7, 2004 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.

Members Present: Roy Bashaw, Hal Cloer, John Enders, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Donald Montgomery, Michael Riedeman and Carole Wheeldon

Member Absent: Kate Culbertson

Staff Present: Nancy Slocum, Clerk

Minutes of the September 15, 2004 were approved unanimously with two spelling corrections.

II. PUBLIC FORUM: No one spoke. Enders reminded television audience that they can stay informed by attending meetings and reviewing the City website that included previous meeting minutes.
Former City Attorney, Paul Nolte, provided the Committee with a redlined version of the current city charter. Provisions that were lined through he eliminated as outmoded, antiquated, obsolete or superseded. He believed such elimination should create little or no controversy. Matters outlined in the single line box consisted of text that could be eliminated, but merit some explanation and analysis. Matters contained in a double-lined box consisted of text that Nolte considered politically sensitive and merit discussion above and beyond a legal analysis. Nolte reviewed his recommendations with the Committee.

Massie asked Nolte if he had an opinion on specific dates within the charter. Nolte noted dates were convenient, but not required.

Wheeldon wondered what the process would be for provisions that served better as an ordinance. Nolte said one option would be a provision that stated if the revised charter is passed, then specific ordinances would go into effect. Some Committee members wanted to see ordinances written, passed and adopted if the revised charter passed. Massie agreed that citizens may feel more comfortable.

Nolte noted that the 1970 Charter did not contain clear, concise language that lended itself to interpretation. There was no record of the authors' intent. In comparison, the model charter consisted of concise language with an available history of intent.

Nolte noted the intent of Article III, Section 3 (elected officials salary) was probably to protect salaries if one did not agree with a specific elected official. As the City Attorney, he did not check the salary formula for accuracy.

Enders asked Nolte if he thought the City Recorder position should be elected. Nolte thought not, since duties are described under state law. He believed the Judge position could remain elected, however, other cities appointed Judges with seemingly no problems. He acknowledged the sensitivity of the issue. Massie wondered if citizens would likely be in favor of the change if they knew the existing elected officials would be appointed. Nolte believed Ashland's parks were great because the Parks Commission is elected and receives excellent funding, but believed the commission did not need to be elected. He thought the mayor could appoint them, as are all other commissions.

Nolte recommended changing the charter to a City Manager form of government. Riedeman, noting Cathy Shaw's comments, asked if he agreed that the mayor sets the tone. Nolte said both the Mayor and City Council set the tone and have the ability to put pressure on the City Administrator. Bashaw noted that the Model Charter said the City Manager could be terminated by a city council at any time. Nolte agreed, but noted City Managers have employment contracts stating they must be paid. Montgomery asked the difference between a City Manger and a City Administrator. In Nolte's opinion a City Manager had total control over staff; a City Administrator must work with the City Council. Enders asked why the authors chose a strong Mayor form of government. Nolte did not know, but was sure there were some advantages.

Wheeldon asked Nolte his opinion on using the Model Charter versus amending the existing charter. Nolte recommended identifying provisions unique to Ashland in the current charter and then incorporating them into the Model Charter.

Enders noted that some cities added a provision where all annexations need to be put to a vote.

Wheeldon referred to a memo to the Charter Review Committee dated September 28, 2004 from the Public Info/Timeline subcommittee (Montgomery, Wheeldon and Marsh). The timeline was drafted based on a hypothetical September 2005 election. Wheeldon asked the Committee for comments on the timeline as well as where each member might volunteer. Also presented was a draft "Talking Points" that could serve as an outline for future public presentations. It included Ashland City Charter Facts and Ashland City Charter Frequently Asked Questions.

Wheeldon noted the importance of the decision to either amend the existing charter or use the Model Charter as a baseline. Enders agreed noting that Tom Sponsler's recommendation and was to use the Model Charter. As Sponsler's scope of work was based on this, the committee needed to decide before offering him a contract.

Massie noted that both Nolte and Sponsler recommended using the Model Charter as a starting point and he agreed. Montgomery and Marsh agreed. Cloer agreed, but said adding unique provisions would be difficult. Bashaw noted that with so many potential amendments to the existing charter, he was concerned about the "single issue" rule. Bashaw recommended including an elected Parks Commission and the City Bans as individual attachments to the Model Charter. MacGraw agreed with using the Model Charter, but noted the potential red flag issue of bringing ordinances to the City Council before the election. Wheeldon though this issue would need to be discussed separately.

Cloer clarified that the model charter discussed was the League of Oregon Cities' model charter. He also wanted the opportunity to refer to the informative commentary discussions in the National Civic League's model charter.

MOTION: Marsh / MacGraw m/s to have the Charter Review Committee proceed using the League of Oregon Cities model charter.

VOTE: Motion passed unanimously.

Massie asked staff to request that when Sponsler is hired as consultant, he use Nolte's format to go through the existing charter. Massie would like to compare the two. Slocum would ask Seltzer to forward a copy of Nolte's review to Sponsler.

Wheeldon noted that future committee discussions would include the ordinance process, annexations and the potential involvement of City employees in the public participation process.

Enders noted the Committee's accepted the timeline in concept knowing it would be continually modified.

MacGraw requested City Attorney Mike Franell address the technical issue of ordinances at a future meeting. She also wanted to hear Sponsler's experience on passing ordinances previously covered within city charter

Cloer wondered when it would be useful to discuss the Committee's progress with the City Council. Enders volunteered to address the Council anytime decided on by the Committee.

Marsh reviewed a list of political issues that would deserve special consideration in future deliberations. They included: Mayor-manager structure/roles/relationship; Mayoral veto/ability to vote on council issues; election of the city recorder; election of the municipal judge; election/powers of the Parks Commission and related issues regarding the organization of the Parks Department; election of city council by positions; city band and; city council term limits. Other political issues added to the list by the Committee included: separate fire and police departments; annexations; periodic review of the charter; elected official compensation; number of council members; election/powers of the Planning Commission; and; the county road tax.

Marsh also recommended the Committee develop a list of provisions that should be included in the charter that is not presently.

Marsh suggested subcommittees research and bring back recommendations on the following: 1) Mayor veto/ability to vote; 2) the Parks Commission and Parks Department; 3) election of the City Recorder and Judge and their compensation; 4) City Council issues listed above; 5) City Band and the cemetery. Marsh suggested subcommittees bring back their findings December 2nd.

Montgomery discussed the important need for a division of labor. Other subcommittees needed included: 1) Preparation of educational presentations; 2) scheduling presentations with service clubs including volunteers for the speakers bureau; 3) writing a brochure based on fact sheet and a page on political issues; and 4) preparation for future public forums. Montgomery said he would email the Committee more detail on each subcommittee and asked the Committee to email their willingness to serve on specific subcommittees by next Thursday, October 14th.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

John Enders, Chair

Respectfully Submitted,
Nancy Slocum, Clerk

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