Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting Minutes

Minutes
Thursday, June 02, 2005


Charter Review Committee
June 2, 2005
Regular Meeting
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

I. CALL TO ORDER:
Committee Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee to order at 7:10 p.m. on June 2, 2005 in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
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Members Present: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman.
Members Absent: None
Staff Present: Ann Seltzer, Staff Liaison
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

Laurie MacGraw/Pam Marsh m/s to approve the minutes of May 19, 2005 as presented. Voice Vote: all AYES (Don Montgomery abstained due to his absence at the May 19th meeting). Motion passed.

Mr. Enders commented on a suggestion made at the last meeting to require that the municipal judge and city recorder reside within the Ashland School District. He suggested the need for a legal opinion before making such a recommendation. Mr. Massie stated that he would request clarification from the City Attorney.

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II. PUBLIC FORUM:
Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Noted the history of the Ashland Constitution Group. Mr. Bullock stated that this was a grass roots effort that began in January 2005 and that this group was not sponsored by the City. Mr. Bullock stated the goal of the organization was to find the will of the people and put that on the ballot. To date, the group has had ten dialogue sessions and their next meeting is scheduled for June 5th from 1-4 p.m. at the Ashland Library. The group also holds evening conversations each Monday at the Three Rivers Restaurant. Mr. Bullock spoke regarding the groups findings and stated that 73% of the people surveyed were opposed to the city manager appointing the city recorder position and 94% were opposed to the city manager appointing the judge. With respect to the parks commissioners, 94% were opposed to the mayor choosing the commissioners, 74% were opposed to the Council choosing the commissioners and 81% voiced support for the voters to continue to select the parks commissioners. Mr. Bullock explained the accountability ladder and stated that the primary concerns voiced by the citizens pertained to the accountability and openness of these positions. He stated that the voters preferred direct accountability and stated that more power given to staff resulted in a lack of decision power of the voters. He stated that had been no clear problem statement given with the current system and stated that a centralizing of power would not solve the problems.
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III. COMMITTEE DELIBERATION & VOTE: Parks and Recreation
The Committee deliberated on the Parks and Recreation issue, which included whether the commissioners should continue to be elected, who the Parks director should report to and how this department should be funded.

The Committee members took turns voicing their opinions and concerns regarding these issues. Mr. Montgomery stated that the commissioners hold a great deal of power and responsibility and noted that there is no required experience necessary to become a commissioner. He suggested possibly having two commissioners appointed and two elected; those who were appointed would have the necessary qualifications and those who were elected could learn as they go. He stated that the present arrangement has some weaknesses and questioned whether this department should be placed under the direction of the city manager. Mr. Montgomery stated that he would like to see some mechanism so that some experience is required for the commissioners. In terms of organization, he stated that he did not believe the Parks Department would suffer from being under the city manager and having the director be a department head, which would be consistent with the committee's rational for recommending a city manager.

Several members voiced their support for Alternative 1, which states:
"Leave reference to the Parks and Recreation Department in the Charter. Combine Articles 19 (Parks Commission) and 22 (Recreation Commission) and streamline language. Budget: Remove the funding formula as it is obsolete. Continue to fund Parks and Recreation as an autonomous department of the City. Accountability: Retain the elected Parks Commissioners and Director under their supervision."

Kate Culbertson/Pam Marsh m/s to accept Alternative 1. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that this would remove the financial formula from the charter and the Parks Director would continue to report to the Commission. Concern was expressed that eventually the parks funding could suffer and suggestion was made to implement some type of safeguard to protect against this. Support was voiced for Alternative 3, which states that an ordinance would be established to formalize the parks funding levels. It was suggested that the parks budget could possibly be tied to the growth index so that their budget would grow with the rest of the City's budget. In regards to the qualification requirements mentioned earlier, statement was made that the Parks Director is the one that should be the expert and the one commissioners look to for guidance; much like the relationship between the Council and the City Administrator. Support was voiced for Alternative 1 and removing the parks budget from the Charter. Additional support was voiced for this department to not be under the control of the City Administrator. Suggestion was made for the Committee to ask the Council to consider an ordinance that would formalize the parks funding. Comment was made that the Committee could include this suggestion in their final report to the Council. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie and Michael Riedeman, YES. Don Montgomery, NO. Motion passed 8-1.

Carole Wheeldon/Laurie MacGraw m/s for the recommendation to the Council include a reference stating that the preservation of the Parks & Recreation budget is an integral part of its success. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. Keith Massie, NO. Motion passed 8-1.

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IV. COMMITTEE DELIBERATION & VOTE:

Election and Compensation of Council
It was clarified that the committee had already voted on the election component and the committee began their deliberation of the compensation issue. Comment was made that compared to other cities, Ashland provides its councilors with a pretty good benefits package. Suggestion was made that the stipend and benefits package should be somehow tied together. It was noted that approximately $10,000 is spent each year on each elected official. Support was voiced for implementing a system similar to Eugene, which pays each councilor a certain amount each month and they can they use that money to buy into their City's benefit program.

The four alternatives for this issue were read aloud:

Alternative 1 - Status quo. Charter language remains unchanged.
Alternative 2 - Remove the election requirement from the charter.
Alternative 3
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- Implement a specific salary-level in the charter along with requirements for periodic review and/or pay increases.
Alternative 4 - No compensation.

It was noted that if the compensation were removed from the Charter, an ordinance would need to be established. Comment was made expressing support for the councilors to receive the same benefits as the city employees. Suggestion was made for them to pay the same 5% required to be paid be employees, and it was noted that this amount was approximately the same as their yearly stipend. Support was voiced for not removing the councilor's health benefits. Comment was made that it is appropriate to pay for the councilor's benefits but not necessarily their entire family as well.

Keith Massie/Carole Wheeldon m/s for each councilor to be paid a monthly stipend of $500 per month and the mayor receive a monthly stipend of $700 per month; they would then have the option of using that stipend to buy into the City's medical benefits program. DISCUSSION: Opposition was voiced to paying each councilor a monthly salary. Comment was made that the compensation should not be included in the Charter at all. Statement was made that the councilors should not have to suffer financially by sitting on the council and support was voiced for the current system. Staff Liaison Ann Seltzer noted the memo dated April 21, 2005 from City Attorney Mike Franell, and stated that there is nothing in the Charter that guarantees or authorizes the councilor's health benefits and stated that if the committee felt this was important, they should consider including specific language in the Charter. Roll Call Vote: Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson and Keith Massie, YES. John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh and Don Montgomery, NO. (Michael Riedeman abstained due to his application for the vacant council seat) Motion failed 5-3.

Pam Marsh/Don Montgomery m/s to accept Alternative 2. DISCUSSION: Statement was made that this would retain the stipend at the current level but would remove the election requirement. Concern was voiced in regards to the council setting their own salaries. It was noted that the decision to provide the council with benefits was never subject to any public review. Comment was made that if the compensation was removed from the charter, it would have to be set by ordinance and the process adopting an ordinance requires the Council to hold a public hearing. Suggestion was made for the recommendation to the council to include some of the concerns that have been expressed in regards to the council setting their own salary and how the benefits package was established without public involvement. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie and Don Montgomery, YES. (Michael Riedeman abstained due to his application for the vacant council seat) Motion passed unanimously.

Election and Compensation of municipal judge and city recorder/Review of duties associated with judge and recorder
Ms. Wheeldon noted the short amount of time remaining in the meeting, and suggested that the committee not make a formal recommendation on the municipal judge and city recorder issue. It was suggested that the committee recommend to the council that they form a task group or committee that would evaluate the alternatives and the implications further. Support was voiced for requiring the municipal judge to reside within the Ashland School District. Comment was made that more research needed to be done into the option of separating the recorder and treasury duties. Statement was made that the committee's recommendation should lay out their discussions and explain why they believe more research needs to be done. Comment was made expressing support for the status quo and leaving it up to the council to determine whether they want to establish an additional committee. Statement was made that there have been no compelling arguments that would indicate that the council needed to investigate this further. Support was voiced for the committee to vote on this issue and statement was made opposing a recommendation for the council to hold off on making a decision to form a separate committee. Support was voiced for removing the compensation from the charter and leaving it to the budget committee. Comment was made that the committee had done a good job of breaking this issue open, however they had not adequately addressed all of the implications. Statement was made that it makes sense for more research to be done in regards to splitting up the functions of the city recorder. Additional support was voiced for further exploration into this issue.

Carole Wheeldon/Hal Cloer m/s for the committee to recommend to the council that they appoint a task force or committee to study the issues of the city recorder and municipal judge in additional depth and make a recommendation to the council. Roll Call Vote: Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Pam Marsh, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. John Enders, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw and Keith Massie, NO. Motion passed 5-4.

Keith Massie/Kate Culbertson m/s for the city recorder and municipal judge be required to be residents of the Ashland School District. DISCUSSION: Comment was made that the legal implications of this motion needed to be evaluated. Roll Call Vote: Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Keith Massie and Michael Riedeman, YES. John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh and Don Montgomery, NO. Motion failed 5-4.

John Enders/Pam Marsh m/s to accept Alternative 1 for the city recorder and judge and require the municipal judge to be a resident of the City of Ashland and remove compensation issues for both the recorder and the judge and leave it to the budget committee; any other related issues such as the overlapping responsibilities of the recorder and treasurer would be left to the task force. DISCUSSION: Mr. Enders requested to amend his motion by removing the reference to the residency requirement. He clarified that this would remove the residency requirement for both the recorder and judge, which would basically be Alternative 1 for both. It was questioned if this should be two separate motions because it is addressing two positions. Mr. Enders stated that he was prepared to move ahead with both issues at this time and stated that they had not come up with any serious problems except for the compensation issue and residency issue in which he would like to consider in a separate motion. Concern was again expressed with addressing both issues in the same motion. Mr. Enders requested to amend his motion to handle these issues separately:

John Enders/Pam Marsh m/s to accept Alternative 1 for the City Recorder position. DISCUSSION: Mr. Enders noted that he intended to propose a similar motion for the municipal judge. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. Motion passed unanimously.

John Enders/Michael Riedeman m/s to accept Alternative 1 for the municipal judge position and recommend to the City Council to remove reference to salary from the charter, and amend Alternative 1 to include a recommendation to City Council that they review compensation issues regarding the municipal judge. DISCUSSION: Mr. Enders noted his concerns with the judge's salary and voiced his support for the council and the budget committee to review this issue. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. Motion passed unanimously.

Keith Massie m/s for the municipal judge to be an active member of the Oregon Bar Association. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that Article 13, Section 3 already states that the judge is required to be a member of the Oregon Bar. Massie withdrew his motion.

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V. DISCUSS TIMELINE: Final Report writing and Voting
Ms. Wheeldon noted that the committee would be presenting their recommendations to the Council at their July 19th meeting. It was questioned if any of the committee members had experience with creating a power point presentation. Staff Liaison Ann Seltzer suggested that the committee focus on the content and what information they would like on each slide. She stated that staff would assist the committee in preparing the actual power point presentation.

In regards to voting by proxy at the final meeting, Mr. Enders voiced his support for any member who would not be able to attend to communicate with the chair how they would be voting.

It was noted that the remainder of the committee's meetings would be held in the Council Chambers and Ms. Seltzer stated that should with speak with RVTV to ensure that the June 30th meeting would be televised.

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VI. NEXT STEPS:
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VII. ITEMS FROM COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
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VIII. ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder


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