Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting Minutes

Thursday, June 09, 2005

These Minutes are preliminary pending approval by Committee.

Charter Review Committee
June 9, 2005
Regular Meeting
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

Committee Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee meeting or order at 7:05 p.m. on June 9, 2005 in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Members Present: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Pam Marsh, Laurie MacGraw, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman.
Members Absent: Keith Massie and Carole Wheeldon.
Staff Present: Ann Seltzer, Staff Liaison
Mike Franell, City Attorney
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

Two corrections were made to the minutes of June 2, 2005:
Page #1) Correct motion approving May 19th minutes to read "Don Montgomery abstained from voting due to his absence…"
Page #2) Correct last sentence under the first paragraph to read "…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."

Kate Culbertson/Pam Marsh m/s approve the minutes of June 2, 2005 as amended. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Spoke regarding the issue of current charter deletions. Mr. Bullock stated that many of the important sections of the current charter have not been discussed, yet are being deleted, and stated that the voters will want to know why. He stated that it did not seem reasonable for the committee to recommend deleting any section that has not been discussed and voted on. Mr. Bullock stated that some of the provisions in the model charter would have profound implications and stated that minor changes in wording to the current charter could have huge unanticipated results. Mr. Bullock suggested that 1) delete nothing from the current charter that was not discussed and voted on, 2) propose nothing new that was not discussed and voted on, and 3) recommend specific amendments that were discussed and voted on rather than a totally new charter.

Kindler Stout/130 Orange Ave/Spoke regarding IRV and stated that many citizens are very interested in this. In regards to the water supply, Mr. Stout noted that a lot of the senior citizens have been studying this issue and are very concerned that the City keep control over the water supply. He recommended that that the committee retain the language in the charter in regards to this.

Susan Rust/42 N. Wightman/Thanked the committee for their work and stated that the process has been good and open. Ms. Rust expressed her support for the way the issues were prioritized by the committee and suggested that a glossary of terms be prepared for citizens. She also expressed her support for the council embarking on a robust campaign.

Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Rd/Stated that when candidates are elected with as little as 31% of the votes, you have to wonder if these individuals really represent the majority of the community. Ms. Vavra stated that resistance to preference voting methods, such as IRV, come only from those who fear that it will prevent their ability to win elections by splitting the popular vote. Those who argue that it is too complicated for voters to understand or too costly to implement, are either misinformed, misguided, or do not favor conducting elections in this democratic process.

The committee deliberated the periodic charter review issue. Several comments were made supporting review but it was questioned if a particular date should be set or if it should be done on an as needed basis. Statement was made that the elected officials should determine when it is appropriate to undertake the review process. Opinion was expressed that the longer you wait, the more difficult it is. Additional comment was made that unless a date for the review is set, it will not get done.

Pam Marsh/Don Montgomery m/s to insert into the Charter language that requires the City Council to convene a Citizens Review Committee at minimum every ten years. DISCUSSION: Concern was expressed that once a review committee is formed, they will find something to fix. Comment was made that any proposed amendments would still need to follow the democratic process and be agreed upon by the voters. It was questioned whether they should consider the elections years when setting the review date. Statement was made that the Council could ask that it be looked at any time, but they should not wait longer than 10 years before conducting another review. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Pam Marsh, Laurie MacGraw, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. Motion passed unanimously.

IV. COMMITTEE DELIBERATION & VOTE: Funding Language for City Band
It was noted that the committee had already agreed to include the City Band in the charter and the committee discussed whether the funding language should be removed. Comment was made that it has been the committee's goal to remove dollar amounts from the charter. Suggestion was made for this to be dealt with in a similar fashion as the Parks and Recreation issue. It was questioned how to remove it from the charter and still guarantee a sufficient level of funding. Suggestion was made to include language that reflects the citizen's regard for the band. Comment was made that the retention of the band provision in the charter reflects its importance to the community. Support was voiced for the Citizen's Budget Committee to make the decision for the band's funding, however they should be encouraged to maintain an adequate level of funding.

Don Bieghler/916 Black Oak Dr, Medford/Band Director/Stated that it was important for the band to continue with a sufficient level of funding. He stated that in previous years he has submitted statements to the City's Finance Director, but has not had to go before the Budget Committee. In regards to the band's budget, Mr. Bieghler questioned the provision for maintenance and stated that he does not have access to these funds. He commented that without knowing all of the facts, he did not have an opinion as to whether the Budget Committee should be responsible for determining the funding each year.

Support was voiced for treating the band funds the same as the Parks; leave it in the hands of the City Council and the Budget Committee, but make a recommendation that they preserve the band's funding.

Kate Culbertson/Pam Marsh m/s to remove from the Charter references to the funding stream supporting the band and leave the funding in the hands of the Citizens' Budget Committee and City Council; and along with that recommendation, send to the Council a statement noting that the preservation of the band's funding is integral to its success and recommend that the Council consider implementing an ordinance addressing the band's funding. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Pam Marsh, Laurie MacGraw, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. Motion passed unanimously.

V. COMMITTEE DELIBERATION & VOTE: Language Related to Water Rights
The current language in the Charter was read aloud:
"Section 1. Public Utilities - Water Works. The City of Ashland, a municipal corporation, shall have the power to provide the residents of said City with such services as water, sewer, electric power, public transportation and such other public utilities as the people desire by majority vote; and to exact and collect compensation from the users of such public utility; provided, however, that any and all water and water works and water rights now owned or which may hereafter be acquired by said City, for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants thereof with water shall never be rented, sold or otherwise disposed of; nor shall the City ever grant any franchise to any person or corporation for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of said City with water."

City Attorney Mike Franell stated that he was concerned with the current language, noting the Council's goal of economic development, and stated that the current language could be used to prohibit growth. Mr. Franell stated that the current language which states "inhabitants" could be construed to prohibit the City from providing water to businesses that lie within the City limits. If the committee decides to retain this provision, Mr. Franell suggested that they make an amendment to clarify that the intent is not to prohibit the sale of water to businesses within the City. He added that if they were concerned (for example about a water bottling plant moving to Ashland) they could include a prohibition that the City cannot sell water to be resold. Mr. Franell clarified for the committee if the intent of this section was to prevent the sale of water for a use other than Ashland, there could be language inserted that makes this clear.

The committee discussed Mr. Franell's suggestion and deliberated on this issue.

Kate Culbertson/Pam Marsh m/s to retain the current language with the addendum mentioned by City Attorney Mike Franell. DISCUSSION:
Mr. Franell read aloud his suggested language, "…however that any and all water, water works and water rights now owned or which may hereafter be acquired by said City for the purpose of supplying inhabitants or any business or corporation located within the City for their business purposes therein with water shall never be rented, sold or otherwise disposed of…".
It was noted that the intent of this amendment was to retain the current provision, but allow businesses located within the City limits to be provided with water as well.
Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, Pam Marsh, Laurie MacGraw, Don Montgomery and Michael Riedeman, YES. Motion passed unanimously.

City Attorney Mike Franell stated that the current charter language allows for the top three vote getters to be awarded council seats, but does not provide for a majority election, which would initiate IRV. He explained that the burden of conducting elections and counting votes lies with the County. If the City were to adopt IRV, the state would challenge IRV and the City would likely end up in court. If the courts ruled that the City could adopt IRV, Ashland would have to administer its own elections and it would be at the community's expense.

Mr. Franell stated that the voting methodology should be a decision of the citizens of Ashland, and should not be left to the Council. He added that if the citizens wished to change the voting methodology, they could use the initiative process provided by the Oregon Constitution.

Mr. Franell also noted a potential problem with majority voting and stated that this would cause problems in the event that one councilor vacated his seat prior to the end of their term, in which case at the next election, they could have four vacant seats at one election.

John Enders/Pam Marsh m/s to not make a recommendation on instant run-off voting, but include in the committee's report to the Council the thoughtful input received from the citizens. DISCUSSION: Support was expressed for IRV, but unfortunately, it does not seem that the committee has much choice at this time. Suggestion was made for the committee to send their report to the State Legislature. Comment was made that further study into this issue was necessary. Suggestion was made for the committee's report to make note of the community support for IRV. Comment was made expressing trust in the City's initiative process. Roll Call Vote: John Enders, Hal Cloer, Laurie MacGraw, Pam Marsh and Don Montgomery, YES. Michael Riedeman, NO. Motion passed 7-1.

Michael Riedeman motion for the committee to recommend that the Council form an Election Review Committee to study the election systems in Ashland. Motion dies due to lack of second.

Mr. Enders noted the agenda items for the next two meetings.
Laurie MacGraw submitted her draft report to the committee.

Concern was expressed as to whether the committee would receive the draft reports in time to have meaningful discussion at their next scheduled meeting. Comment was made that if the draft reports were not ready until June 16th, it may be necessary to have one extra meeting before they take a final vote. Suggestion was made that the committee could meet on June 23rd if they need to.

It was noted that the June 16th meeting will be for reviewing the draft reports. It was questioned if the committee would have a quorum if they needed to meet on June 23rd.
X. ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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