Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting Minutes

Minutes
Thursday, May 19, 2005

Charter Review Committee
May 19, 2005
Regular Meeting Minutes
Redmond Room, Southern Oregon University

I. CALL TO ORDER:
Committee Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. on May 19, 2005 in the Redmond Room at Southern Oregon University.
Members Present: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie and Michael Riedeman.
Members Absent: Kate Culbertson and Don Montgomery.
Staff Present: April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder
Mike Franell, City Attorney

Carole Wheeldon/Laurie MacGraw m/s to approve the minutes of May 12, 2005 as presented. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

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II. PUBLIC FORUM:
Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Restated his request that the minutes of May 5th be corrected in regards to his remarks taken during Public Forum. Mr. Bullock commented on the issue of the city recorder and municipal judge. In regards to the city recorder, he stated that the independence of this position was a valued asset and stated that changing it to an appointed position would take away the independence which provides for a checks and balance. In regards to the municipal judge, Mr. Bullock spoke regarding the possibility that citations could be handled by the Justice of the Peace Court instead. He stated that this option would require citizens to drive all the way to Central Point to have their violations resolved. Mr. Bullock expressed his concern that this position might become appointed instead of elected, especially if the person who did the appointing was an unelected person in the executive branch. He stated that if the judge was appointed, this could change the dynamic of community justice.

Mr. Enders clarified that tonight's meeting agenda differed from what was posted on the City's website and clarified that the Committee would only be taking public input on the Parks and Recreation issue at this meeting.

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III. DISCUSSION OF TIMELINE AND REPORT WRITING:
Carole Wheeldon spoke regarding the Committee's opportunity to participate in two RVTV broadcasts on May 25th and June 6th. The forums would be hosted by Tim Bewley and would provide the Committee an opportunity to talk about the issues and explain their work. Ms. Wheeldon requested that the members check their schedules and respond to her as to who would like to participate. She noted that she would be participating in the forum scheduled for May 25th and John Enders would do the one scheduled for June 6th. She added that they were hoping to have 3 members present for each taping.

Ms. Wheeldon noted that the Committee currently has three more meetings scheduled before they submit their recommendations to the City Council. She proposed that on June 2nd, the Committee deliberate and come to a decision on council compensation, the Municipal Judge/City Recorder and Parks and Recreation issues. Then on June 9th, discuss the periodic charter review and additional topics (which would include IRV) and spend the remainder of their time working on the reconciliation of mark-ups. She noted that Kate Culbertson and Keith Massie had agreed to work on how to handle the items that are antiquated or superseded by state law, and questioned if Hal Cloer would also like to participate in this task. Ms. Wheeldon stated that a second group would work on the summary write up, which would include the issues the Committee identified and their recommendations for what should be included in the Charter. A third group would be made up of Pam Marsh, Don Montgomery and herself and would prepare an outline of the next steps, which would include items that need additional research before a recommendation can be made.

It was noted that the Committee would need to provide their final recommendations and report to Staff approximately one week prior to the Council meeting so that it can be included in the meeting materials. Ms. Wheeldon questioned which members would want to be involved in the Council presentation.

The Committee agreed on the three groups identified by Ms. Wheeldon and the tasks assigned to each. It was clarified that the city band topic would be deliberated on during the June 9th meeting.

The Committee discussed the proposed timeline. It was questioned if they could have their draft reports prepared by June 9th so they would not be walking in cold for the June 16th meeting. Suggestion was made for the Committee to hold one more meeting to finalize what will be presented to the City Council.

It was stated that the Committee could make their final approval on June 30th, in which they would be working from a final draft. Committee discussed if everyone would be able to attend this final meeting and whether they wanted to consider the idea of allowing a member to cast a vote if they are not able to attend. Comment was made asking for sufficient time to review the draft and make recommendations. Ms. Wheeldon stated on the June 16th, they could review the draft, then the following week the members could suggest modifications, so by June 23rd a final draft could be circulated. She stated that by the final meeting, the content would have already been determined and it would just be a matter of deciding how things are placed. Keith Massie noted that he would not be able to attend the final meeting, and stated that as long as he was able to review the draft and provide input, he was comfortable with not being able to participate in the final vote.

The Committee reached a consensus to follow the discussed timeline, with a final vote on June 30th.

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IV. DISCUSSION OF FUTURE COMMITMENT BY COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Ms. Wheeldon questioned whether any of the Committee members wanted to continue their involvement in this process past the final meeting on June 30th. She clarified that the City would likely need to hold a special election to vote on the Charter and stated that this would happen sometime before November 2006. She clarified that they were no longer shooting for a November 2005 election.

Comment was made that the citizen phase of this process was coming to a close and it was time for the City Council to take the lead and decide how they would like to proceed. It was stated that the Council would conceivably request the Committee's input as to how they reached their decisions. Concern was expressed that issues passed by a split vote would weaken the Committee's recommendation. Comment was made expressing concern that the committee would need to go before the council and defend their recommendations. It was suggested that the Committee present a three part conclusion to the Council: first, present the general housekeeping actions; second, present the Committee's recommendations; and third, present the items that need additional research or might warrant the formation of a new committee. It was stated that this format might make it less overwhelming for the Council.

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V. PUBLIC INPUT: Parks and Recreation Department
The Committee moved into the roundtable discussion format.

City Attorney Mike Franell commented on permissive language in the Charter regarding IRV. He stated that he had reservations about including permissive language because the authority for determining the methodology would then fall to the Council. He stated that it would best for the election method to be decided by the people and spelled out in specific language in the Charter. Mr. Franell clarified that if permissive language was adopted, the Council would have the ability to change the voting method without taking it to the voters.

Comment was made that there would be potential costs associated with implementing IRV, and support was given for the Committee to not make a recommendation as this issue warranted additional study.

Laurie MacGraw opened the roundtable discussion and noted her experience with the Parks and Recreation Commission. Ms. MacGraw stated that she was on the commission for approximately 10 years and noted some of the various projects she was apart of. She clarified that the City of Ashland has a Parks and Recreation Department, and this department is overseen by an elected commission. She noted that one of the antiquated items in the Charter was that the Parks Commission and Recreation Commission are listed as separate entities.

Ms. MacGraw stated that the discussion tonight should focus on:

1) Should the Parks and Recreation Commission continue to be elected or be appointed by the City Council?
2) Should the Director of Parks and Recreation continue to be supervised by the elected commission or be under the supervision of the City Manager?

Comments made during the roundtable discussion included:

There is not a thing in the world wrong with the current system; it works very well.
Parks and Rec. have so much business to take care of and respond to the public about, it is a benefit to have an elected commission that supervises the director.
The level of commitment by the commissioners is stronger as a result of them having to go through the election process.
The Parks & Rec. Department is the most powerful agency in the City and many of their activities are shrouded in secrecy. Concern was expressed that there are competing uses in the City, including that between open space and affordable housing land.
Suggestion was made for the City to form an Affordable Housing Commission that would operate similarly to the Parks Commission.
The Budget Committee simply "rubberstamps" the Parks budget.
The Parks Commission budget is based on the Parks Commissions plan; it is not created solely by the director.
Comment was made that during the last election the Parks commissioners ran unopposed.
Statement was made that there are two ways to look at this: people are either happy with the people who are on the commission or citizens are uninterested in running.
Support was expressed for leaving things as they are in the Charter. If the provisions for Parks were removed from the Charter, they would have a difficult time competing with the other needs of the City.
The only way to guarantee funding is to put it in the Charter. The difficulty in this is that these figures can quickly become antiquated.
Based on the historical evidence, the Parks budget is going up faster than the cost of living. No other department has had such drastic increases and the Committee should set a limit.
Land is a resource and this resource will need to be tapped into in order to accomplish the Council's goals for parks and affordable housing.
Political support has been developed for parks, but that the same level of support is still lacking for affordable housing and economic development.
Support was expressed for not including any financial elements in the Charter and leaving this to the budget process.
Suggestion was made to consider an elected Housing Commission as a way to establish the political following that is needed to accomplish the Council's goals. Statement was made that having the Parks & Rec. Commission elected is a statement of Ashland's values, and maybe that same statement needs to be made regarding affordable housing.
The difference is that parks are for everyone, while affordable housing benefits someone else.
Statement was made noting that the Parks and Recreation meetings are open to the public and citizens are able to go before the commission and ask them where they stand and why they made certain decisions. Additional comment was made that open space funds have already been allocated for upcoming projects, and in terms of the budget, a lot of the big percentage increase is due to carryover that has been held for contingency.
Comment was made that the Parks Department has taken on additional duties that they previously were not responsible for, such as Senior Services.
The Committee needs to be careful to not create an "octopus" with the Parks Department, in respect to them having too many jobs and responsibilities.
Statement was made that currently, the Parks Department takes care of every single blade of public grass in the City.
Part of the reason for Parks taking ownership of the Senior Center was due to their possession of the building and this was forced on them by the Council.
Comment was made expressing reluctance to changing the current system. Ashland is a gorgeous place to live because of the all of the work done by this department, but it is also because the citizens dedicate many of their dollars to parks.
Ashland is lucky to have all of its horticultural work performed by the Parks Department; they have such a talented staff.
Support was expressed for the Parks Department and Commission, but concern was voiced about too much money being spent on parks. Comment was made that when you have automatic budget increases, you automatically build in a lot of waste. Suggestion was made for the budget aspect to be handled by the Budget Committee.

VI. ITEMS FROM COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Keith Massie spoke regarding the issue regarding the residency of the City Recorder and Judge and suggested that the Committee consider changing the requirement so that the person who held this position would have to live within the Ashland School District. Doing so would include areas that are not an expensive as those within the City limits and would increase the potential pool of candidates.

Request was made for the Committee to determine how other cities with similar populations handle council compensation.

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

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder


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