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Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Charter Review Committee
March 3, 2005
Regular Meeting Minutes
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

I.   CALL TO ORDER: Committee Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. on March 3, 2005 in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

00 Members Present: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Donald Montgomery, Michael Riedeman and Carole Wheeldon.
Members Absent: None
Staff Present:
Mike Franell, City Attorney
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

Carole Wheeldon/Hal Cloer m/s to approve the minutes of February 17, 2005 as submitted. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

Elizabeth Austin/272 Greenbriar Place/Noted Ashland's rich heritage and the amazing people who live here. Ms. Austin stated that the City needed a Charter that "aims high and digs deep" and she spoke against developing a "cookie-cutter Charter". Ms. Austin urged the Committee to revise the Charter based on community values and asked them to make citizen involvement a top priority.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Asked the Committee to consider adding 4 extra public forums to their schedule. Mr. Bullock explained that without due public involvement, the Committee would end up with proposals that lack voter support. Mr. Bullock presented his forum schedule and noted there were a number of issues that would combine nicely together. Mr. Bullock proposed schedule included:
April 7th - City Manager
May 5th - Planning and Parks Dept./Commissioners
June 2nd - Electing City Council
July 7th - City Recorder and Municipal Judge
August 4th - Code of Ethics/City Band/Fire & Police.

Mr. Enders stated that the Committee would consider Mr. Bullocks suggestions.

Lindsay Berryman stated that she was the Mayor of Medford for the past 6 years. Ms. Berryman explained that the purpose of public service was to provide fair government and effective management. She explained that when she became Mayor, she implemented a system for evaluating their City Manager. She also stressed the importance of having a Community Vision, although she suggested that the Vision Statement not be included in the Charter because values tend to change.

Ms. Berryman stated that a Mayor should only be allowed to vote if there is a tie and noted that some City Manager's tend to lead through intimidation. Ms. Berryman clarified that the City Council could determine whether the City Manager has the authority to hire or fire at will, and stated the Council could require that the Manager have a valid case for terminating a City employee.

Ms. Berryman clarified that to establish their City Manager evaluation process, the City of Medford hired a consultant, formed focus groups and adopted an ordinance. She added that it was difficult to develop their strategic plan and integrate it with the City's budget.

Ms. Berryman voiced her support for the Mayor having a strong role in the appointments to Committees and Commissions. She added that the Mayor is the person responsible for establishing the tone and direction of the City and therefore should have a hand in selecting the persons who will carry out that vision.

Burke Raymond stated that the primary purpose of local government was to provide services and that which services to provide was a policy decision that should be made by the elected officials of the community. Mr. Raymond noted the difference between effectiveness and efficiency and stressed that services needed to be delivered in an effective manner. He stated that in his opinion, a City Manager is the best person to manage the effectiveness of the delivery of services.

Mr. Raymond explained the four primary types of local government:

1) Weak Mayor/Strong Council
Mr. Raymond explained that this was the first type of government used and stated that it still exists today in some communities. In this form of government the Council operates through committees and as a result, there is very low accountability.

2) Strong Mayor/Weak Council
Mr. Raymond explained that this type of government is used in some of the larger cities and is growing in popularity because citizens feels there is more political responsiveness. In this form, the Mayor appoints everyone from the department heads to the committee members. All of the personnel report to the Mayor and the Mayor then reports to the Council. The primary functions of the Council are to approve the budget and deal with land use issues. Accountability is high in this form, because everyone knows that the Mayor is running the organization, however there is no assurance that the elected Mayor will know how to do the job.

3) Commission
Mr. Raymond noted that Portland, Oregon uses this form of government, although they are one of the few large cities who use it. In this form, the Mayor allocates the various city departments to each of the councilors and the councilors then run that department. Accountability in this form is high, however there are often problems of "log rolling" at the council table.

4) Council/Manager
In this form of government, the Council appoints a qualified professional to perform the day to day operations. The City Manager does not pick the services that the city offers, but is responsible for ensuring that the services are carried out as outlined by the Council. If the City Manager does not perform, they can be fired by the City Council. Mr. Raymond noted that the average tenure for a City Manager is 6-7 years.

Mr. Raymond stated that in his experience, the hiring of department heads was always the City Manager's responsibility, however when he was City Manager he would ask the City Council to sit in during the final stages of the interview process.

Mr. Raymond expressed his support for the Council/Manager form of government and clarified that in this form it is important for the Council and City Manager to work together. He explained that individual councilors should not go directly to the department heads if they have an issue, but should work through the City Manager, and likewise the City Manager needed to deal with the Council as a whole. He also commented that in this form of government, the City Manager works for the Council, not the other way around.

Mr. Raymond stated that the judicial system should be kept separate and felt that the municipal judge should remain an elected position. However he does not support electing the City Recorder or department heads, stating that elected persons do not have to be loyal to the organization, only the voters who elected them.

In terms of Council compensation, Mr. Raymond agreed that there should be a modest compensation, but noted that in his experience money was not a factor for persons running for office, instead their key motivation was wanting to give back to their community.

Review Proposed Timeline / Discuss Additional Proposed Meetings
Ms. Wheeldon clarified that the Committee had previously agreed that 7-9:30 p.m. was the preferred time to meet.

Mr. Enders stated that now was the appropriate time for the Committee to remove any of the new issues from discussion.

Keith Massie stated that the Periodic Charter Review and the Pay/Health Benefits for Council/Mayor could be potential Charter material. He also suggested that the City Band remain in the Charter and that it be removed from further consideration.

Michael Riedeman agreed that the Committee should discuss the Periodic Charter Review and Pay/Health Benefits and suggested that the Committee also discuss Instant Run-Off Elections, Voting for the Top Three Vote Getters, Mixed Wards and discuss adding a Preamble to the Charter.

It was noted that the Committee had previously reached a consensus to remove the Fire/Police, Annexation, and Term Limit issues from their list of discussion items.

Suggestion was made to take a majority vote on whether to remove new items from discussion. Comment was made that the Committee needed to start paring down their list, not adding to it.

Some opposition was voiced regarding taking a vote at this point in the process.

Periodic Charter Review

Comment was made that there is no need to schedule a review, if there is enough dissatisfaction the citizens will request that the Charter be changed. Opposing comment was made that if the Charter was reviewed every so often, it would not require the formation of a committee and would not be such a time consuming process.

Keith Massie left the meeting at 8:45 p.m.

Carole Wheeldon/Laurie MacGraw m/s to include the Periodic Charter Revision to the list of discussion topics. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

Pay Compensation for Mayor/Council
City Attorney Mike Franell noted that it is common to have a mechanism for establishing pay in the City Charter. He noted that there is currently a mechanism for compensation in Ashland's current Charter; Article 3, Section 3, and noted that the current Charter requires that any salary change other than the City Recorder's be subject to a vote by the people.

The Committee noted that the Council compensation had remained the same since 1974, which is $300 a year plus health benefits. Mr. Franell noted that the provision for health benefits was not in the Charter, but was adopted through an Ordinance.

Suggestion was made that the compensation not be included in the Charter and this issue would be best addressed through an Ordinance.

Carole Wheeldon/Laurie MacGraw m/s include the issue of Council compensation to the list of discussion topics. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

Instant Run-Off Elections, Top Three Vote Getters, Mixed Wards
Mr. Franell stated that instant run-off elections were not necessary in Ashland because we do not require a majority vote.

Carole Wheeldon / Pam Marsh m/s to have all three election issues included on the list of discussion topics and that they be discussed as one issue. DISCUSSION: Comment was made that there has been no indication that there is a problem with the City's current election process. Other Committee members disagreed. It was noted that several citizens at the public forum asked that this issue be addressed.

Carole Wheeldon/Pam Marsh m/s to amend this issue to address only how council members are elected. Voice Vote: Pam Marsh, Donald Montgomery, Michael Riedeman, Carole Wheeldon, Kate Culbertson, YES. John Enders, Hal Cloer and Laurie MacGraw, NO. Motion passed 5-3.

Preamble value statement
Michael Riedeman motion to include a community value statement or preamble in the Charter. Motion dies due to lack of a second.

Comment was made that values change over time and the appropriateness of including them in the Charter was questioned. Suggestion was made to indicate in the Charter that the elected officials are the ones responsible for the long term visioning.

Carole Wheeldon suggested that they use the last sentence of the Community Values statement as their preamble. Ms. Wheeldon read the sentence aloud and the Committee agreed that this would make a nice preamble and agreed to leave this on the table and see if they have citizen approval.

It was noted that several Committee members would not be able to attend the March 17th meeting. Suggestion was made for the Committee to work through subcommittees through the month of March to develop the discussion templates.

The Committee discussed who would work on each template issue with the Public Outreach Subcommittee and agreed that Don Montgomery and Hal Cloer would work on the Government Structure topic, John Enders would work on the City Recorder and Municipal Judge topic, Keith Massie would work on the Periodic Charter Review topic, and Michael Riedeman would work on the Pay/Health Benefits and Council Election topics.

The Committee discussed when they would be able to meet with the Public Outreach Committee. Ms. Wheeldon stated she would put together a schedule and email it to the Committee.

Carole Wheeldon/Michael Riedeman m/s to cancel the meeting on March 17th. DISCUSSION: It was noted that there would not be a quorum at the March 17th meeting. Voice Vote: All YES. Motion passed.

Kate Culbertson submitted information on the City Band.

The Committee discussed if they should move ahead with the additionally scheduled meetings. Although a few Committee members stated that they would not be able to attend the additional meetings, there was a consensus that the Committee did not want to extend their timeline.

Carole Wheeldon/Hal Cloer m/s to adopt the new meeting timeline. Voice Vote: Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Donald Montgomery, John Enders and Carole Wheeldon, YES. Michael Riedeman, NO. Motion passed 7-1.


VI.  ADJOURNED: Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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