Charter Review Committee
November 18, 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 7:06 p.m. on November 4, 2004 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.
Members Present: Roy Bashaw, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, John Enders, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Donald Montgomery, Michael Riedeman and Carole Wheeldon
Member Absent: Keith Massie
Staff Present: Mike Franell, City Attorney
Ann Seltzer, Management Analyst, Staff Liaison
Nancy Slocum, Clerk
Enders reported that he, Wheeldon, Bashaw, Culbertson and Montgomery attended the November 9th City Council meeting. The update was well received. Montgomery was surprised that the Council seemed to have a shorter timeframe to election in mind. Seltzer said the Council was satisfied with the Committee's timeline and hoped their enthusiasm could be sustained.
Enders noted that he would be responding to Philip Lang's letter. He also received a memo from City Recorder Barbara Christensen regarding her salary.
Cloer / Wheeldon m/s to approve the minutes of the October 21, 2004 as amended. Motion passed unanimously.
II. PUBLIC FORUM No one spoke.
III. GUEST SPEAKER MAYOR ALAN DEBOER
In his opinion the major political issue centered around changing the title of City Administrator to City Manager. He noted a loss of potential applicants under the current system. The Mayor did not favor the provision of department heads being hired and fired by the mayor. He was in favor of an elected Parks Commission as it freed up City Council time. Measure 50 put the Parks budget under control of the Budget Committee and added a level of checks and balances.
Mayor DeBoer thought commission and committee members should be appointed by the Mayor, not the City Council as it added another layer of bureaucracy and would be time consuming for the council. Currently he sends all applications to the staff liaison and chair for recommendations.
Mayor DeBoer noted that currently the City pays City Councilors $300 per year and the Mayor $500 per year plus health benefits. He proposed paying $300 / $500 per month and removing the provision for health benefits. He noted the large expense to the City and the potential personal problem it could cause if an official was not reelected.
Montgomery asked is there were advantages to the "City Administrator" form of government. Mayor DeBoer said no; department heads need one boss. When he took office her gave the authority to hire and fire to the City Administrator. He saw that as the only needed change. Cloer said the Council / Mayor model gave City Council the power to hire and fire. DeBoer did not agree with the model. He perceived a need for a CEO - the mayor.
Cloer asked DeBoer if he minded the lack of vote under the current charter. Mayor DeBoer would not change this. He noted that, practically speaking, a veto only sent an issue back to the council for reconsideration and delayed the decision for 15 days.
Riedeman asked if there would be a disadvantage to changing to seven city councilors. Mayor DeBoer said the present number works well with the mayor as tie breaker. An extra councilor would add discussion time to an already long meeting.
Enders asked Mayor DeBoer's opinion of an elected City Recorder and Judge. DeBoer thought Barbara Christensen did an excellent job. The position was complicated and required technical expertise. A disadvantage to an elected official was the chance that someone could be elected that was not qualified. The advantage to the elected position was when the Mayor or City Administrator was legally challenged, then the word of an elected official would be seen as independent as one who answers only to the voters. He noted an elected judge position had not been a problem thus far. Enders wondered if the voters would support a change in the current charter regarding this issue. DeBoer believed all change had opposition. He thought with fewer changes the ballot measure would have a better chance of passing.
Enders asked about the charter provision on salaries. Mayor DeBoer thought that it a good idea to remove the reference or at least clarify it.
Wheeldon asked Mayor DeBoer if the formation of the Charter Review Commission was tied to the desire of the Budget Committee to save money. DeBoer said no, he and others thought it was time for a review of the charter. Enders said the Budget Committee believed there was inequality regarding the Parks budget. DeBoer said the Budget Committee already had the power to change the Parks budget. MacGraw wondered about formalizing an agreement within the city charter to prevent changes. Although perhaps legal, DeBoer did not recommend it.
Marsh asked about previous attempts to combine the fire and police departments. DeBoer said the attempt was contentious between the two unions although there would be significant budget savings. He thought politically the issue would not go anywhere. Currently money is not an issue for the city.
IV. UPDATE ON SPONSLER CONTRACT
Franell reported that the $9,500 contract is currently in effect. Sponsler is up-to-date as outlined in the scope of work. Sponsler is now waiting for the political issues to be resolved so he can begin the first draft.
V. DISCUSSION OF ISSUES PRESENTATIONS (WHTE PAPERS)
Committee reviewed the suggested issue presentation schedule for the December 2nd and December 16th Charter Review meetings. Wheeldon lead the discussion on the best format for presentations, the amount of time allocated to each person and the best method of asking questions to ensure all had an opportunity for input. Enders noted the goal of the presentations would be to perfect the white papers, not deliberation. The Committee agreed the issue would be read and then each member in turn would be allowed 1-2 minutes for input or questions.
Montgomery noted the deadline for email comments of the first four white papers was November 25th.
Marsh recommended the lead person from each issue subcommittee give a short presentation. Committee agreed. Committee also agreed that the first set of Committee member comments to each issue be copied to all committee members.
Marsh was unclear if councilor salary and health benefits should be an added issue. This topic was not currently in the charter. Wheeldon suggested developing a mechanism to list and possibly discuss any miscellaneous issues at a special meeting. She recommended scheduling the meeting directly after the public forum in February.
Cloer wanted to add a provision for future periodic reviews of the charter to the list of topics.
VI. PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT UPDATE
Wheeldon scheduled presentations with the Lions, Kiwanis, Chamber Board, morning Rotary, noon Rotary, Green Party and the League of Women Voters. She asked for volunteers.
Marsh noted that Ashland High School students would serve as comment recorders for the forum. Wheeldon reported that the Stevenson Union Rogue River Room was confirmed. The white papers will be synthesized for use as handouts.
Cloer recommended the Public Involvement Subcommittee review the National Civic League's section on public involvement for other ideas.
VII. OTHER ITEMS FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Enders noted that the next month would be labor intensive for committee members.
Bashaw suggested Medford City Councilor Bill Mansfield and retired County Administrator Burk Raymond as possible speakers. He was also looking forward to hearing Lindsey Barryman after completion of her term as Mayor of Medford. Commission agreed to invite additional speakers in February.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:49 p.m.