Charter Review Committee
October 21, 2004
Regular Meeting Minutes
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
I. CALL TO ORDER: Vice Chair Carole Wheeldon 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, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Donald Montgomery, Michael Riedeman and Carole Wheeldon
Member Absent: John Enders
Staff Present: Mike Franell, City Attorney
Nancy Slocum, Clerk
Minutes of the October 7, 2004 were approved unanimously with two points of clarifications.
II. PUBLIC FORUM No one spoke.
III. PRESENTATION BY DON ROBERTSON
Parks Director Don Robertson, with 22 years of experience, has worked for the City of Ashland for the last ten months. Robertson offered to give his view of Ashland Parks management with "new eyes." He described the two different models for managing parks within Oregon: cities and park districts. Within cities the parks were governed as a department or as a division within a department. Within park districts, most use a special district (e.g. school districts) with their own tax base, business plan, budget and commission or they use a service district with its own tax base, business plan, but a borrowed legal government board. Ashland is an incorporated area surrounded by a large unincorporated area that uses Ashland's parks.
Robertson said generally people want access to government and on a city level, they feel more empowered to participate. He believed the current structure as developed in 1908 served Ashland well. His current goal is to formalize the relationship and improve communication between the City Council and Parks Commission/Department.
Cloer acknowledged the controversial nature of an elected Parks Commission and noted that a special constituency existed because of the elected commission. He asked Robertson if he thought it important to retain that constituency. Robertson believed the present system allowed for all the benefits of working for a city with the autonomy of working for a district. In a typical city, a parks department budget often succumbs to fire and police needs. With a stable budget, long term planning is possible. Robertson praised the present commission as committed, diverse and functioning well as a team. He noted that the commissioners constantly challenge him on the budget and staying within their stated mission.
Marsh asked how the council oversaw the department. Robertson replied there were a number of checks and balances in place. Study sessions are scheduled. He attended the Council goal setting session and the Council Liaison attends all commission meeting. The City owns parks land and controls the overall budget, but staff and the commission decide individual line items.
Montgomery wondered if there were any disadvantages to the present system. Robertson thought not. He noted great communication and interaction at department head meetings and the efficiency of shared payroll, personnel and finance services. Montgomery asked if the advantages were related to specific personalities. Robertson said a written intergovernmental agreement would help maintain consistency.
Massie asked for other examples of Oregon cities with a similar Parks Department structure. Robertson thought only Ashland, although historically this type of structure was not uncommon. Robertson said not having a Parks Commission would probably make his job easier as he would only have one boss. However, the City Council had a very busy agenda and without the Parks Commission, they would have added work.
Committee invited Parks Commissioner Jo Anne Eggers to comment. Eggers noted that, elected or not, the question to herself was what would serve the citizens best in the long term. Montgomery asked for examples of measures of serving citizens. Eggers responded: listening, paying attention to schools, budget, empathy for those who feel disenfranchised. Ask the question: What would we do if we were elected by our grandchildren? Because of the passing of Measure 47-50, City Council had the power to redirect money from Parks. An advantage to an elected commission is public visibility.
IV. TOM SPONSLER CONTRACT AND SCOPE OF WORK
City Attorney Mike Franell noted that consultants typically charged by the hour. In Sponsler's original proposal Item 1 was complete. That proposal was amended to include preparation for Committee presentation and editing the existing charter in the style of Paul Nolte's example. The current contract is $9,560 plus travel expenses. Sponsler would likely have the revised model ready for the next meeting. The Committee would then work to decide what current provisions carry over to the model charter. Sponsler would then present his first draft to the Committee. After Committee review, he would draft the final product. Sponsler could present the final revision to the City Council or the Committee may decide to do this. Any extra work would result in an increase in the cost of the contract. Committee agreed to the above described scope of work.
Franell will review the model charter and insert current Ashland provisions as comments into the model charter. Provisions that do not neatly fit within the model charter will be inserted as comments at the end. He hoped to have it to the Committee by November 18th.
V. REVIEW DRAFT PRESENTATION TO LOCAL SERVICE GROUPS
Wheeldon referred to a draft Presentation Outline for Service Clubs and other Organizations dated October 20, 2004. She asked the committee to review and comment. She also identified 13 groups as well as city employees, city commissions and committees as possible recipients of 10 - 15 minute presentations. She asked Committee members to email other ideas. She suggested presentations begin in November and run through January. Volunteers for the speakers' bureau included Enders, Marsh and Wheeldon.
Massie suggested adding to the presentation outline that the Committee decided to use the model charter as a template.
VI. DISCUSSION OF PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT PROCESS
Wheeldon, noting the time, decided to table discussion, but asked the Committee for comments.
Riedeman suggested staff set up an email distribution list for Committee minutes and agendas. Slocum would pass the suggestion on to Seltzer.
Marsh noted that an outreach campaign to the Daily Tidings would be starting shortly.
VII. REVIEW OF COMMITTEE MEMBER RESPONSES TO TIMELINE ACTION ITEMS
Montgomery reviewed the Action Items Defined by the Timeline Subcommittee dated October 19, 2004.
Each action item included tentative Committee member assignments. It was suggested that for Action Item 4, the preparation of "white papers" for each political issue (background, pros, cons and recommendations), each issue be assigned a lead person to coordinate edits. Committee decided on a lead person. Montgomery would distribute a final version by email.
VIII. ACTION ITEMS/RECAP/ITEMS FROM COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Wheeldon asked all subcommittees to have had an exchange by next meeting. Before the November 18th meeting, she suggested each subcommittee distribute a draft white paper by email for comments by all Committee members. The Public Forum subcommittee would also give a report at the next meeting.
Franell addressed MacGraw's request to address the technical issues in passing ordinances now covered within the current charter. Franell's opinion was that as the City Council is ultimately responsible, therefore, no one should tell them what ordinances to pass. However, recommendations could be made. In addition, ordinances are not permanent. He suggested if the Committee wanted a change to be permanent, it should be left in the charter. Franell noted that Sponsler's opinion differed. Sponsler thought it was the Committee's responsibility to provide draft ordinances. Committee agreed to discuss this topic further in the near future.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.