Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, March 31, 2005

Charter Review Committee
March 31, 2005
Regular Meeting Minutes
Siskiyou Room, Community Development Building
51 Winburn Way


I.     CALL TO ORDER:
Committee Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. on March 31, 2005 in the Siskiyou Room.

00 Members Present: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Donald Montgomery and Carole Wheeldon.
Members Absent: Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw and Michael Riedeman.
Staff Present: Ann Seltzer, Management Analyst
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

Hal Cloer request the minutes of March 3rd be amended in order to clarify his statement regarding Periodic Charter Review. Mr. Cloer explained that he intended to say that if the Charter Review was done periodically, the consequences would be less. Also, regarding the Preamble Value Statement, Mr. Cloer wanted to emphasize that circumstances that require a new balancing of values change, not the values themselves.

Keith Massie/Pam Marsh m/s to approve the minutes of March 3rd, 2005 as amended. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.

Mr. Enders clarified that the order of the agenda would be altered in order to accommodate earlier public input. Ms. Wheeldon noted that this meeting was being video taped by Mr. Bullock and would be broadcast on RVTV channels 9 and 31.

II.    TOPIC DISCUSSION PRESENTATION ON CITY BAND:
Ms. Wheeldon explained that the Committee had formed four categories pertaining to the Charter issues: 1) Politically focused topics, 2) Parts of the Charter that are superceded by State Law, 3) Elements that might be better addressed through an ordinance, and 4) Items that are antiquated and need to be updated. Ms. Wheeldon clarified that at the end of this discussion, the Committee would vote on a recommendation to send to the City Council. The City Council will then be responsible for determining what will be placed on the ballot.

Mr. Montgomery explained that the Committee was looking at this issue primarily because it is unusual to have provisions for a City Band in the Charter. He clarified that the Committee had no intentions of eliminating the band.

Mr. Montgomery explained that the current Charter contains a formula that determines how much money the City Band receives each year, and noted that the Band Board and Band Director provisions were adopted by ordinance. He noted that the Band Board is responsible for the general supervision of the band, while the Band Director organizes the band, selects the musicians, appoints the officers, prepares the budget and selects the music. It was noted that the ordinance pertaining to the City Band requires that the band perform no less than 10 performances each year.

Mr. Montgomery briefly explained the City Band's budget for FY03-04, and noted that the band was allocated $56,750, however only $43,417 was spent. He noted some of the bands expenditures, which included: $3,660 to the Band Director, $2,600 for the purchase of music, $1,200 for the band shell, $29,000 for the musicians, $1,750 to RVTV and $5,100 for insurance.

Mr. Montgomery explained the suggested options regarding this issue and the consequences for each:

Alternative 1: Remove the City Band from the Charter.
If the City Band was removed from the Charter, it would need to be placed under the direction of a City Department (most likely the Parks and Recreation Department) for oversight and funding would need to be provided through a line item in the City's annual budget. The City Council would also need to establish an ordinance to continue the Band and the Band Board.

Alternative 2: Leave the City Band in the Charter without a specified funding source.
Leaving the City Band in the Charter would reinforce the City's commitment to the band, but as in Alternative 1, the annual funding would be determined during the City's budget process and would be subject to the Council's approval. The budget, accountability and organizational impacts would be the same as in Alternative 1.

Alternative 3: Leave the City Band in the Charter, but with a new and less specific funding source.
If Alternative 3 were selected, the City would need to create a new formula that would maintain sufficient funding for the band. This formula could be based on
actual expenditures and could provide for periodic increases that are based on the annual budget guidelines.

Prior to opening the Public Input session, Mr. Enders clarified that the Committee had made no decisions regarding this issue and that the Committee was open to hearing any additional suggestions the public might have.

III.   PUBLIC INPUT ON CITY BAND:
Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Proposed that the following wording be included in the City Charter to address the City Band:

00 "We the People of Ashland, Oregon value and hereby acknowledge volunteer musicians' contributions to our community through the Ashland City Band. Since 1876, Ashland City Band musicians have brought quality music to our children, our families, and our visitors. We honor that legacy. We hereby establish through our ongoing commitment, appreciation, and funding of the Ashland City Band, that the music of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall continue in Ashland. To protect and support our community's longstanding tradition of an annual series of free pubic concerts, we hereby establish that a minimum of $60,000 be included in the annual City budget for the Ashland City Band. This amount shall be adjusted annually for inflation or special costs necessary to sustain the band and its performances. These funds shall be used to provide (1) music, equipment, and supplies for the Ashland City Band and the Band Board of Directors, (2) professional-quality audio-taping and video-taping of each performance for local radio and television broadcast, with arrangements for individuals to be able to purchase their own copy for home use, (3) modest but adequate compensation for the Ashland City Band Director's duties, and (4) an honorarium to each Band performer with deep gratitude from the people of Ashland."

Virginia Westerfield/1090 S. Mountain Avenue/Expressed concern that the City Band would be downgraded by any changes to the Charter and stated "if it's not broke, don't fix it". Ms. Westerfield explained that the City Band has a reputation along the Pacific Coast and stated that the band is one of Ashland's best features. She noted that she has played in the band since she was 18 and spoke highly of the musicians and the director. Ms. Westerfield clarified that she would not be opposed to placing the band under the Parks and Recreation Department, but would be concerned if this affected their funding. She noted that not everyone can afford to attend the Shakespeare Festival, but everyone can come and see the City Band.

Harry Kannasto/1015 Park Street/Commented that the City Band was as close to a professional band as you could get and noted that most of the musicians have been in the band 35 or more years. He commented that the pay that the musicians receive in minimal and noted that when people come to Ashland for the free concerts they often dine and shop in Ashland. He noted that the summer attendance is approximately 20,000 people per season and that this is only surpasses by the Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Kannasto explained that the band has been called upon to perform at other locations, including Guanajauto, Mexico. He stated that he sees no reason to change this provision in the Charter but added that Alternative #3 would be his second choice. When asked about being overseen by the Parks Department, Mr. Kanasto stated that he saw no obvious problems with this action.

Herman Schmeling/492 Fordyce Street/Explained that his wife plays in the band and noted that not all who visit Ashland come for the Shakespeare Festival. He stated that the band is a big draw during the 4th of July and agrees with the previously mentioned statement, "if it's not broke, don't fix it".

Don Bieghler/Conductor of the Ashland City Band/Stated that he has been involved in band since 1963 and has been the conductor of the Ashland Band since 1998. Mr. Bieghler explained that he is responsible for selecting 100 different pieces of music during each season. In order to make the music selections, Mr. Bieghler stated that he asks for the musicians input and also receives requests from the public. He also noted the system he uses to keep track of the music library and stated that the band shares its music with other organizations. Mr. Bieghler explained that when there is a vacancy on the band, he sends out notices to those who participated in the previous year and if the vacancy remains, the band holds open auditions. Mr. Bieghler stated that he does not think that being under the direction of the Parks Department would be a problem as long as the band was adequately funded. When asked about the current funding, Mr. Bieghler stated that he felt that the band receives adequate funding each year and would like for the band to maintain this funding level.

Mr. Bieghler clarified for the Committee that the musicians are paid in accordance with the number of years they have served on the band. He also noted some of the improvements he requested during the budget process including: maintenance to the benches, updated lighting, and updates to the speaker system. He stated that the final budget numbers are provided to him by the Finance Director.

In regards to how to measure listener satisfaction, Mr. Bieghler stated that the attendance levels and positive comments speak to the satisfaction.

Thor Barrows/1 Skyline Drive, #3603/Stated that the quality of the City Band was exceptional and noted that many of the musicians had an extensive background in music. He stated that adequate funding was essential in order to maintain the quality of music and stated that any changes that adversely affected the band's budget would pose a problem to the bands continual success.

Michael Knox/720 Grover Street/Current Chair of the Band Board/Stated that one of the roles of the Band Board is to evaluate the Band Director. He stated that the City Band is a strong tradition in Ashland and noted that their audience base is continually growing. He stated that people vote with their feet and if the people did not like the band, they would not attend their concerts. He stated that if the Charter was changed and their funding enacted by ordinance, he would want assurance that the current amount would not decrease.

Mary Mastain/227 Granite Street/Ms. Mastain explained that the band was a city joy and wants the band to be able to continue. Ms. Mastain asked the Committee to explain why they were discussing making a change.

Ms. Wheeldon explained that when reviewing the Charter, their Charter Consultant looked for items in the Charter that might be better handled in other ways and this is how the City Band issue came to the table. Ms. Wheeldon assured Ms. Mastain that reviewing this issue does not mean that the Committee is going to change it. The City Band just happened to be one of the items that are not traditionally held in Charters and this issue warranted discussion.

John Enders closed the Public Forum at 8:28 p.m.

IV.   COMMITTEE DELIBERATION & DECISION ON FINAL RECOMMENDATION:
The Committee went around the table and discussed their potential recommendation. All of the members stated that they would like to keep the City Band in the Charter. Comment was made that retaining the City Band in the Charter would make a strong statement of the City's faith and loyalty in the band.

In regards to placing the band under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department, one comment was made that there needed to be a compelling reason for making this change, however the majority of the Committee felt that this was a good idea. Comment was made that if the band was under the Parks Department, it might be better taken care of and improvement requests would become more pertinent.

The Committee was undecided on how the funding should be determined and whether this should be included in the Charter. It was explained that the current funding of .0006 mil was tied to the property taxes, and as the assessed value of property goes up or down, so does the amount allocated to the band. One comment was made suggesting that this formula could be simplified. Another member suggested that the Committee remove all references to expenditures from the Charter and allow the elected officials to allocate funding; the Council could then dictate funding by ordinance. Another member mentioned the fairness issue and stated that the band might be getting an unfair amount of money compared to other organizations in the community. Comment was made that the Charter might not be the best place for the funding mechanism; however the Committee should obtain additional advice before making this change.

Keith Massie/Pam Marsh m/s to keep the City Band in the Charter and include the provision that the City Band is under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department. DISCUSSION: Mr. Cloer noted that he would abstain due to his uncertainty about placing the band under the Parks Department. Voice Vote: John Enders, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Donald Montgomery and Carole Wheeldon, YES. Hal Cloer abstained. Motion passed.

Carole Wheeldon/Don Montgomery m/s for the Committee to seek additional advice on the funding mechanism for the City Band. DISCUSSION: Ms. Wheeldon clarified that she would like to seek input from the City Attorney, the Finance Director and the Charter Consultant and then bring this piece back as a separate vote. Comment was made that the Committee needed to find the best way to guarantee sufficient funding for the band. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

The citizens in the audience asked if they would be notified about the funding after the Committee makes their decision. At the citizen's request, the Committee agreed to notify the Band Director and the Band Board of the outcome via email. The Committee received clarification that the Band Board and Band Director would like to be notified both when this issue is placed on an upcoming agenda and also when a decision is made.

Keith Massie left the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

V.    PUBLIC INFORMATION UPDATE:

SOU Forum
Ms. Wheeldon noted that a Public Forum on the Structure of Government was scheduled for April 7th, from 7:00-9:30 p.m. at the Redmond Room at SOU. It was explained that the Committee members would act as scribes and the Committee would identify citizens that will lead the individual break-out groups. Ms. Wheeldon also noted that a Council Study Session was scheduled for April 6th at 12 noon. The Study Session would be for informational purposes only and would provide the Council with an update of the Committee's progress.

May Meeting Time and Location
Staff Liaison Ann Seltzer noted the conflict regarding the May meeting times and locations. She explained that the Council Chambers were unavailable during the Committee's regular meeting time, so they could either hold their meetings earlier at the Council Chambers (4:30-7:00 p.m.) or keep the meetings at their regular time and hold them in the smaller conference room in the Community Development Building or at the Redmond Room at SOU. Committee discussed which option they preferred. The Committee expressed concern over holding the public input at an earlier time and a possible lack of public participation as a result. The Committee questioned if RVTV would be able to televise the meetings if they were held in the Redmond Room. A consensus was reached to ask RVTV to provide coverage at the SOU room. The meeting video could then be added to the City's website for viewing and would be played at random on the RVTV channels.

Ms. Wheeldon commented on how the Committee was going to connect with Tom Sponslor on all the other issues that meld the model charter into the Ashland Charter. She stated that the Committee would need to make sure that everything was accounted for. Suggestion was made to ask Mike and Keith to work on this issue.

Employee Survey
Pam Marsh explained that a survey had been mailed out to all City employees and the deadline for the return is next Friday. Ms. Marsh noted that so far the Committee had received approximately 25 surveys back and asked Ann Seltzer to send out an email reminder to all employees. Ms. Marsh noted that she would have the results by the Committee's next regularly scheduled meeting.

VI.   OTHER ITEMS FROM COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Hal Cloer stated that he was very uncomfortable when he hears people stating that "we know what the public thinks" without describing that part of the public that they have heard from. He stated that the Committee's job should be to find out whether a certain aspect of the city structure has a problem that could be solved by making a change to the Charter. He stated that through public input, the Committee was gaining a sense of what the public's concerns were, but that this did not necessarily validate that a certain problem or issue really exists. He expressed concern with operating on this basis and suggested that the Committee speak with the practitioners to find out what the problems really are.

John Enders stated that he did not feel that the Committee was operating solely on what they heard from the public. He stated that the Committee had spent a substantial amount of time studying the issues and were taking public input because they wanted to make sure they were not overlooking any issues or concerns.

Pam Marsh stated that the Committee had a responsibility to take the public input they receive and combine it with their own research and expert's advice.

VII.  ADJOURNED: Meeting adjourned at 9:34 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder


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