Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, April 14, 2005

Charter Review Committee
April 14, 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 7:04 p.m. on April 14, 2005 in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Members Present: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Donald Montgomery, Carole Wheeldon, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw and Michael Riedeman.
Members Absent: None
Staff Present:
00000000000000000
Ann Seltzer, Management Analyst
Mike Reeder, Assistant Attorney
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder
Minutes of March 31, 2005 were amended to correct page 4, regarding the motion to keep the City Band in the Charter and place it under the direction of the Parks Department, Hal Cloer abstained from voting, he did not vote against it as the minutes reflected.

Hal Cloer/Don Montgomery m/s to approve the minutes of March 31st, 2005 as amended. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.

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II. PUBLIC FORUM:
Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Stated that the goal of the Ashland Constitution Dialogue group was to find out the will of the people on the Charter issues and to have this placed on the ballot. He explained the three parts to their process, which includes dialogue sessions, conversation cafes and support surveys. He noted that over 300 citizens had participated in the surveys and noted the group's website, which is ashlandconstitution.org.

Mr. Enders clarified that the Constitution Dialogue group is not affiliated with the Charter Review Committee. He encouraged any citizens who were interested in participating in the City's Charter review process to contact the Charter Review Committee directly.

Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Rd/Stated that the Committee should prepare a comprehensive list of Charter issues. Ms. Vavra suggested that the Committee post information more predominately on the City's website and suggested that they consider alternative media outlets. She also requested that the Committee consider the use of volunteers who could assist the Committee with their work.

Mr. Enders thanked Ms. Vavra for her input and stated that he would be interested in meeting with her to discuss some of her suggestions further.

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III. PUBLIC OUTREACH REPORT:
Forum De-Brief:
Ms. Wheeldon presented the information collected during the Public Forum held on April 7, 2005. She explained that 37 people, excluding the committee members and the press, attended the forum, and noted at the previous forum there were 74 attendees. Ms. Wheeldon explained that the Committee contacted each of the citizens who attended the first forum and invited them to attend the April 7th discussion. She noted that at the first forum, the group discussed all of the issues relative to the Charter, however at the April 7th forum, they only dealt with the structure of government. Ms. Wheeldon suggested that because the forum topic was more specific, this could be attributed to the smaller crowd. She noted that the Committee would continue to work on obtaining good publicity and stated that public attention would increase as the Committee got closer to making their recommendations to the Council.

Employee Survey:
Ms. Marsh presented an update on the Employee Survey. She explained that the Committee had received 46 completed surveys and were continuing to receive more. She stated that she would be providing the comments relative to the structure of government, as this issue is the discussion topic for tonight's meeting.

1. Have you ever received direction or instruction from the mayor or a member of the city council? If so, how did you feel about that input? Was it helpful or confusing? Did it reinforce or conflict with your supervisor's instruction?

Summary of Responses: 27 employees stated that they have never received direction, 16 said that they have, some noted that the feedback was received indirectly. Out of the 16 who received direction, 2 reported that the input was helpful, the remainder had negative comments.

2. How are city goals or policies communicated to you?

Summary of Responses: 25% reported that the city policies are not communicated to them. Some employees stated that they sought out this information from: department heads and supervisors, email, council material or televised meetings, the City Source publication, local newspapers, the Personnel Department, the City's website and word of mouth.

3. Do you believe that the current structure helps, hinders or has no effect upon your work?

Summary of Responses: 22 of the 46 surveys said that the structure had no effect. 9 stated that it hinders and 7 said it helped. The remainder stated that they were unsure. Ms. Marsh explained that most of the employee's comments reflected frustrations of being overwhelmed by the Council and public's requests.

Ms. Marsh stated that she would continue to update the information as more surveys are received.

Mr. Enders questioned if the employee survey could be adapted for the general public. Ms. Marsh clarified that this was possible and noted that the Committee could have a similar survey geared toward the general public posted on the City's website. Staff Liaison Ann Seltzer and Pam Marsh agreed to work on getting a similar survey posted to the City's website.

Suggestion was made for the public survey to have very well tailored questions. Additional comment was made that the Committee could post a shorter version on the immediate topic and then a more comprehensive survey a little later in the process. Suggestion was made for the Committee to also look into a blog type system.

Recap of Government Structure Alternatives:
Don Montgomery noted that he had prepared a summary of the alternatives, and submitted this to the Committee and the audience. [Document is attached to the minutes.]

Ms. Marsh clarified the three paths available to the Committee: 1) The Status Quo, where the power is vested in the Mayor, 2) The Model, where the power is with the City Council or 3) The Hybrid, which is a balance of the two.

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IV. CLARIFICATION OF PRIOR ACTION ON INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING:
Michael Riedeman explained that at a prior meeting, the issue of Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) was mentioned; however there was conflicting recollections as to what action the Committee decided to take. As a result of this confusion, Instant Run-Off Voting has been included on tonight's agenda for discussion.

Assistant Attorney Mike Reeder explained that currently, Oregon Law does not allow for instant run-off voting. He noted that the Oregon Constitution allows for it if the State chooses to do so, and noted that this was consistent with other states. He explained that the State of Oregon has taken no formal action to allow for instant run-off voting, however there is currently a bill being considered that would allow Oregon cities and counties to do so at their choosing.

The Committee questioned if the State's law changed, would the City's Charter need to specifically speak of IRV to allow it. Mr. Reeder stated that this depends on the specific language of the bill.

Suggestion was made for the Committee to do what they could to leave this option available for the City in the future. It was noted that the City Council could pass a Resolution encouraging the State legislature to pass the proposed bill. Suggestion was made for the Committee to include general language in the Charter that would be consistent with the benefits of instant run-off voting.

Ms. Seltzer noted the current language of Article 7, Section 4, and suggested that the Committee consider adding the phrase as permitted, so the section would read, "Except as this Charter provides otherwise and as the Council provides otherwise by ordinances relating to elections, the general laws of the State as permitted shall apply to the conduct of all City Elections, recounts of the returns therefrom, and contests thereof." She stated that this would give the City flexibility to implement IRV once it became legal.

Request was made for the City Attorney to determine whether the current language already allows for this type of voting.

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V. PUBLIC INPUT ON STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT & COUNCIL ELECTIONS/COMPENSATION:
The options for Council Elections and Compensation were presented by Michael Riedeman.

Council Elections Alternatives:
1. Status Quo (Charter language remains unchanged)
2. Maintain the existing system with the addition of instant voter runoff.
3. Implement a city-wide award system.
4. Implement a city-wide award system with the addition of instant voter runoff.
5. Eliminate position system in favor of city-wide at large election. Top vote getters would win council seats.

Compensation Alternatives:
1. Status Quo (Charter language remains unchanged. Each councilor would continue to receive $350 a year, the Mayor receives $500. The council and mayor would also continue to receive health benefits.)
2. Remove the election requirement from the Charter. (The compensation decision would be made by the Council instead of the voters.)
3. Implement a specific salary level in the Charter along with requirements for periodic review and/or pay increases.

It was noted that compensation information was provided to the Committee by the City's HR Manager. Ms. Wheeldon explained it would cost the City $86,000 a year to pay the council the living wage (20 hours per councilor, per week). Currently, the annual cost for just the benefit package is $73,000 a year.

It was questioned if the City was in violation of the Charter because the health benefits were established by ordinance, and therefore this compensation has not been subject to a vote by the people.

Mr. Enders suggested that the Committee add the alternative of providing no compensation for the city council or mayor.

Michael Riedeman/Carole Wheeldon m/s to add the alternative of no compensation. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Rd/Noted that she had read the statement from Cathy Beckett and stated that she believed there is software available for IRV; it is just a matter of getting it certified by the State of Oregon. She commented on the Committee's topic paper, which listed voter education as a necessity if IRV was implemented and presented a sample ballot for ice cream to explain how easy this type of voting could be. Ms. Vavra stated that the City would not need to undertake a huge voter education process and noted that information on IRV was readily available. She noted the mayoral race of 2000 and stated if IRV had been used, Alan DeBoer may not have been elected. Ms. Vavra asked that in the event where the public has requested an issue to be considered, and the Committee decides to not discuss it, that a clear statement be made to inform the public of this. Ms. Vavra clarified for the Committee that she is a member of a group of citizens who are working on getting the IRV Bill passed.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Presented the survey results collected by the Ashland Constitution Dialogue group.
1. Should the City Manager appoint department heads? 82% said No. 18% said Yes.
2. How should Ashland elect its City Council?
        By neighborhood - 41% said Yes. 59% said No.
        City wide (current system) - 57% said Yes. 43% said No.
        Combination - 48% said Yes. 52% said No.
3. Do you support term limits? 57% said Yes. 43 % said No.
4. Do you support limited government convenient powers clauses? 87% said No. 13% said Yes.
5. Do you support a limited government clause? 91% said Yes. 9% said No.

Mr. Bullock requested that the Committee allot him 20 minutes on a future agenda so that he could present his information in full. The Committee suggested that Mr. Bullock submit his information in writing so that it could be reviewed.

The Committee discussed the validity of Mr. Bullock's survey. Concerns were noted regarding the manner in which the survey was conducted and whether the data was statistically correct. Mr. Bullock stated that he stands by the survey and the information collected.

Susan Rust/42 N. Wightman/Stated that in the large city where she previously lived, it was important to move from at at-large voting process to district elections so that all voices in the community could be heard. However, in Ashland, she believes it that a ward or neighborhood system would be divisive. In regards to council compensation, Ms. Rust supported the council receiving the basic minimum wage for the hours invested. She also stated that the issue regarding benefits as compensation needed to be clarified. Ms. Rust stated that the administrative, legislative and political roles needed to be clearly separated and voiced support for the hybrid option presented by the Committee.

Jack Hardesty/575 Dogwood/Voiced support for the council receiving some sort of salary so that more citizens could be involved in city government. He stated that this would attract a wider range of candidates and suggested that the City offer each councilor a choice between the benefits package or the wages. Mr. Hardesty supported elections at large and IRV if possible. He voiced his support for a City Manager and stated that the Council should be allowed to provide input on the mayor's appointments.

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VI. RECAP & NEXT STEPS:
The Committee expressed their desire to have more public input on this issue. It was clarified that they could mix and match elements in the alternatives when making their decision noted that they hope to make their decision at the April 21st meeting. It was noted that the majority of the next meeting would be devoted to making this decision, however the Committee would set aside time for additional public input. Ms. MacGraw expressed her support for taking additional public input and suggested that the Committee follow more of a round table format.

Laurie MacGraw/Michael Riedeman m/s to change the format for next weeks meeting to be round table dialogue between the Committee and the public. DISCUSSION: Ms. Seltzer explained that this format could be accomplished in the Council Chambers by grouping the committee and citizens in circles in the audience space. Mr. Enders stated that he felt last weeks public forum accomplished this and did not see any reason to repeat it. Mr. Massie stated that he would not vote against it and noted that there is room for additional input, but also felt that the Committee had heard enough to make a decision. Mr. Montgomery stated that his decision depended on whether they had enough citizens to make it worth while. Ms. Marsh stated that this was a last stitch effort and suggested that the round table discussions be contained to a specific duration during the meeting. Voice Vote: Pam Marsh, Laurie MacGraw, Kate Culbertson, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. John Enders, Keith Massie and Carole Wheeldon, NO. Hal Cloer abstained from voting.

The Committee requested that Laurie MacGraw and Michael Riedeman establish this format for the meeting.

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VII. ITEMS FROM COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Request was made for the Assistant City Attorney to address the issue of having a quorum when making decisions at their next meeting. Ms. Marsh quoted the Committee's Operating Policies and Procedures, which states that a quorum of at least 6 committee members must be present to conduct business at any meeting and a majority of the quorum is necessary to adopt any motion. A quorum for the final report is 2/3.

Ms. Seltzer clarified that the upcoming meeting between Hal Cloer and three previously elected officials had been properly noticed and stated that she would be taking notes during this discussion. In addition, Mr. Bullock has offered to video tape the discussion.

Mr. Riedeman noted that citizens have expressed concern that the Committee will remove the citizens' water rights by taking Article 16, Section 1 out of the Charter. He suggested that the Committee review this issue at a future meeting, and stated that it was the Committee's intention of fully maintain the citizens protection of water. Consensus was reached by the Committee to discuss this issue on a future agenda. Mr. Enders stated that it was important to clarify that the Committee was making no efforts to reduce protections for water for the City of Ashland.

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VIII. ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder


STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT

ALTERNATIVES IN SUMMARY
(April 14, 2005)


 THE STATUS QUO

The present Ashland City charter provides for a voter-elected Mayor who serves as the executive officer of the City. In this structure, considerable power is vested in the Mayor, who has oversight and authority over much of the administrative functions of the City. This includes, in consultation with the Council, the hiring and dismissal authority over the City Administrator, department heads and subordinate employees. The Mayor presides over Council meetings, votes only in case of a tie vote, and has veto authority. The Mayor appoints members to committees and commissions.

Ashland has a City Administrator who is responsible to the Mayor and Council to manage the administrative functions of the City to effectively deliver services to the citizens. The City Administrator has authority to hire and dismiss subordinate employees, but not department heads.

The City Council is composed of six (6) Councilors, each elected by the citizens, to establish City policies, adopt ordinances and to guide, in concert with the Mayor, the City Administrator in implementing such policies and ordinances. The Council approves the City budget, and with a two-thirds vote, may override a mayoral veto.

 THE MODEL

This alternative is based entirely on the Model Charter for Oregon Cities, created by the League of Oregon Cities in 2002, and which gives considerable power to the Council. In this alternative, the Mayor is elected by the citizens and serves as the political head of the City government. The Mayor appoints, with consent of the Council, members to committees and commissions, presides over Council meetings, votes with the Council and has no veto authority.

This form of government provides for a City Manager who is hired (and dismissed) by the Council and who is the administrative head of the government. The Manager is responsible for all administrative functions of the City with authority to hire and dismiss all employees. Importantly, the Manager is responsible to the Council for the effective implementation of policies and ordinances established by the Council.

The Council is the legislative head of the government and much of the power in this structure is vested in the Council. The Council is composed of six (6) elected councilors and the Mayor, who is a voting member of the Council. The Council establishes policy and adopts ordinances and is responsible for the hiring, performance and, if necessary, dismissal of the City Manager, the City Attorney and Municipal Judge. The Council approves the City budget and approves the appointment of members to committees and commissions.

 THE HYBRID

The hybrid structure establishes a Mayor-Council partnership, with a sharing of power and influence in establishing policy. A team arrangement consisting of the Mayor, Council and City Manager attempts to achieve a balance of responsibilities and authorities.

The Mayor is an elected official and serves as the political head of the City government. In concert with the Council, and with citizen input, he/she develops a vision for the City. The Mayor presides over Council meetings, votes in the event of a tie and has veto authority, and with Council consent, appoints members of committees and commissions.

This structure provides for a City Manager who serves as the administrative head of the City government and is responsible to the Mayor and Council for proper administration of all City business, including City utilities and property. The City Manager carries out the policies and ordinances established by the Council, and prepares and administers the City budget.

In this structure the Council, consisting of six (6) Councilors, is the legislative head of the City government. The Council appoints (and dismisses) the City Manager and City Attorney, approves the City Budget, maintains oversight of City operations and approves Mayor-appointments to committees and commissions.


End of Document

 

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