MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
February 6, 2007
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street
|CALL TO ORDER|
Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Navickas, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.
|MAYOR'S ANNOUNCEMENT OF BOARD AND COMMISSION VACANCIES|
Mayor Morrison noted the annual appointment process is coming up and encouraged those interested in serving on any city board, commission, or committee to submit an application to the City Recorder's Office.
|APPROVAL OF MINUTES|
The minutes of the Executive Session meeting of January 16, 2007 and the Regular Council meeting of January 16, 2007 were approved as presented.
|SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS (None)|
|1.||Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.|
|2.||Confirmation of Appointment of the Police Chief.|
|3.||Approval of Public Contract for a Term Exceeding Two Years - Multifunction Business Machine Lease.|
|4.||Council Liaisons 2007.|
|5.||Appointment of Judge Pro Tem.|
|6.||Approval of a Common Boundary Line.|
|7.||Termination of Easement at 829 North Main Street.|
|8.||Acceptance of a Public Utility Easement at 150 Lithia Way.|
|9.||Internet Bandwidth Contract Approval.|
|10.||Mid-Year Financial Report: July- December 2006.|
|11.||Approval of Public Contract for Transformer Disposal Services.|
|12.||Acceptance of Deed of Dedication.|
|13.||Approval for Ashland to Continue in Lawsuit.|
|Councilor Navickas requested item #4 be pulled for clarification. Mayor Morrison clarified that according to the Chamber of Commerce bylaws, the Mayor is required to sit on the Chamber of Commerce Board.
Mayor Morrison pulled item #5 for public testimony.
Councilor Hartzell/Silbiger m/s to approve Consent Agenda Items #1-#4 and #6-13. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion approved.
Art Bullock/Spoke regarding the appointment of Judge Pro Tem. He asked the Council to consider the implications of Mr. Dresher campaigning for newly elected Judge Turner and Judge Turner's request that he be appointed as the Judge Pro Tem. He stated that it would be more appropriate to appoint a Pro Tem who was not the City's former judge. Mr. Bullock also recommended all Pro Tem Judges take the oath of office.
Mayor Morrison clarified this is his appointment, not Judge Turner's. He stated Mr. Dresher is an appropriate selection to serve as Judge Pro Tem and asked that the Council confirm his appointment. Mayor Morrison agreed the oath of office should be taken by the judge pro tem. City Attorney Mike Franell commented on the ethics issue raised by Mr. Bullock. He noted that the appointment is made by the Mayor and gave his opinion that there has been no violation of state code.
Councilor Silbiger/Chapman m/s to approve Consent Agenda Item #5. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
|1.||Request for Approval of Fee and Policy Recommendations.|
Parks and Recreation Superintendent Rachel Tiege stated as part of the 2005-06 Parks and Recreation Commission goals, a review of the fees and policies for all of the indoor and outdoor facilities was defined as part of the budget process.
The facilities included in the study were the Community Center, Pioneer Hall, The Grove, Hunter Park Senior Center, all sports fields, and Lithia Park. Ms. Tiege explained after comparing revenues and expenditures, it was determined the cost recovery on the facilities is just over 17%. She noted the Parks and Recreation Commission held several meetings to discuss this issue and all current and past facility users were invited to attend and share feedback.
The main concerns discussed by the Commission were: 1) the "grandfathered groups", which are groups defined as having free use of the facilities based on donations of the buildings to the City, and 2) the grandfathered group Ashland Community Folk Dancers, who currently pay a long term user fee and are given exclusive use of the Community Center building every Friday evening. Ms. Tiege clarified the grandfathered groups can only be "bumped" for another public event six times a year, and there are no bumping rights for private events such as weddings or private parties. She stated that during certain times of the year, there are often users that would like to use the Community Center on a Friday evening, but because of the current process that is not possible.
Ms. Tiege listed the following recommendations, which were approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission:
Ms. Tiege noted that the packets materials included the proposed rates and clarified certain areas of Lithia Park are reservable sites. Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson clarified the facilities focused on at this time were the structures owned by the City. He stated the City golf course and clubhouse are owned by the Parks Department and are handled separately. He added that a review of the golf daily rates and annual pass rates were completed last year and adjustments were made accordingly.
Public Hearing Open: 7:18 p.m.
Jan Waitt/147 Manzanita Street/Stated the Ashland Folk Dancers are one of the groups that make Ashland a unique and interesting place to live and visit. She stated they attract regular dancers from a wide area, occasionally offer workshops, and dance nights that draw people from an even wider segment of the community. Ms. Waitt stated that folk dancing is a tourist attraction and explained that volunteers do all the programming and teaching. She stated the Folk Dancers have danced in the Community Center every Friday night for 35 years and stated this is a tradition they want to keep going.
Mary Cretney/1500 Left Ford Humbug Creek Road, Applegate/Stated she comes to Ashland every Friday night to folk dance and spoke to the value of dancing in the Community Center. Ms. Cretney stated the Community Center has a wonderful floor for dancing, it is the right size for their group, and provides acoustics that work well with their equipment. She stated the Community Center has a warm atmosphere that draws visitors in and having their events in the Community Center provides a needed consistency.
Matt Ross/207 ½ North Pine Road, Phoenix/Commented on the problems with being "bumped." He stated moving to Pioneer Hall has worked fine as long as they post a sign, but moving further out would mean complete invisibility. Mr. Ross stated moving locations requires a change in advertising and extensive phone contact to alert regular attendees and this doesn't take into account the irregular people who attend. He stated being bumped tends to lower their attendance and stated the floor of Pioneer Hall is much harder to dance on and reduces participation. He stated moving their equipment can also be difficult and asked the Council for their continued support.
Arthur Clemons/175 California Street/Commented on the policy that was adopted 20 years ago which recognizes their need for continuity but also provides flexibility to the Parks Department to bump them for special events. He voiced his concern with being bumped for private events and stated that giving priority to a private or a commercial event violates the spirit in which these properties were originally acquired.
Brent Thompson/582 Allison Street/Agreed with the previous speakers and stated moving the group to another location would weaken it, if not destroy it. He recommended they come to an agreement in the spirit of what was decided 20 years ago and noted the group can already be moved up to six times a year and asked that the Council continue this policy.
Joyce Epstein/1094 Linda Avenue/Submitted written comments into the record stating the Folk Dancers should be allowed to remain at the Community Center.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:34 p.m.
Rachel Tiege and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Joanne Eggers were made available for Council questions.
Ms. Tiege stated that staff did meet with the Folk Dancers to reach a compromise; however, the Folk Dancers did not want to cooperate with the Parks Department since the agreement is between them and the City.
Comment was made questioning if Transient Occupancy Tax funds could be made available to the Folk Dancers if they are actively promoting tourism. Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg noted that the Council is scheduled to discuss the state's definition of tourism later tonight. He added if the Folk Dancers are drawing people from more than 50 miles away or are staying overnight in Ashland, this could qualify as an expenditure of TOT revenues.
Ms. Eggers commented on the Parks and Recreation Commission's dilemma on needing to recoup some of the money spend on the facilities, but also understanding the Folk Dancers need for consistency. She stated a suggestion was put forth to offer the group The Grove facility, but the Folk Dancers want to stay at the Community Center.
Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to adopt the recommendations from Parks and Recreation Commission on the fees and policy schedule. DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas stated the Community Center was a gift and stated the City should do everything they can to protect the Folk Dancers use of this space.
Councilor Navickas motioned to amend motion to allocate Transient Occupancy Tax funds to compensate the Folk Dancers for their use of that space. Motion died due to lack of second.
DISCUSSION (Cont.): Councilor Jackson voiced her support for the motion and encouraged the Parks and Recreation Department and the Folk Dancers to continue to work towards a compromise. Councilor Hartzell commented on some of the frustration felt by the other groups in the community that there is a monopoly of the Friday night use of the Community Center. She recommended some give and take between Parks and the Folk Dancers. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Hardesty, Chapman, and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Brent Thompson/582 Allison Street/Stated he is President of Friends of Jackson County and commented on the article published in the Daily Tidings titled "LUBA ruling puts County's rural use zoning bid on hold". Mr. Thompson gave a brief history of this issue and noted the Jackson County Planning Commission's recommendation of a 20-acre minimum sized partition has been cut down to a 10-acre minimum. Mr. Thompson requested the City stay involved with this issue and noted the need for water inventories.
John Jory/188 Sunnyview Street/Suggested that Ashland require restaurants and other food service establishments to prominently post a rating of the Jackson County Health Department inspections. Mr. Jory noted other cities that do this and stated food related problems have become a nationwide issue. Mr. Jory recommended that a law be passed that mandates restaurant health inspection reports to be given to the City Administrator and that an "A", "B", or "C" rating be posted in the window of the establishment.
Philip Lang/758 B Street/Commented on the City Attorney as a resource, not a decision maker or a "yes man". Mr. Lang suggested the Council not use the new City Attorney as an enforcer, but to enlighten and inform the Council's choices and decisions. Mr. Lang also commented on the irritation, boredom and dismissiveness he witnessed at the last council meeting and suggested they work on having a more positive and productive, issues-oriented process in the future.
Art Bullock/Spoke regarding the new Study Session process and voiced his concerns with discussing the council agenda the day before the meeting.
Mayor Morrison responded to Mr. Bullock's concerns and clarified Council publicly announced their questions at the Study Session and enabled staff to be prepared for the regular meeting. He stated the goal if efficiency and stated this was an attempt to correct the recent trend of Council not completing the items on their meeting agenda. Mayor Morrison stated this process was a step in the right direction and noted the Council will continue to refine the process.
Susan Fuller/Central Point/Commented on the anti-tethering ordinance and noted her involvement with purebred dogs. Ms. Fuller expressed her concern with the effect this ordinance would have and noted there are already state regulations to this effect. She stated when done correctly, tethering does not have an adverse affect on dogs and requested the Council vote against the anti-tethering ordinance.
Linda Watson/Allocated her time to Kathy Ettinger.
Kathy Ettinger/1584 Jasmine Avenue, Medford/Noted she had submitted the Cornell University Tethering Study to the Council. Ms. Ettinger gave an example of a law that worked well for Monroe County, Florida and stated that this bill spells out what a proper tethering method is. She suggested this law would be easier to enforce than the California tethering bill and stated she strongly opposes the California bill. Ms. Ettinger claimed the writer of the Ashland anti-tethering ordinance was a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United Stated (HSUS) and stated the goals of these organizations are to eliminate human contact with animals. She stated the individuals who spoke against the proposed ordinance at the January 2 public hearing were dog fanciers, not dog breeders, and clarified both of the Virginia tethering bills were defeated.
Mary Anne Peterson/Jacksonville/Allocated her time to Barbara Roone.
Barbara Roone/Medford/Stated she is a member of the American Whippet Club and noted she is the Whippet rescue and placement representative for Southern Oregon. She stated that in 12 years she has been contacted only three times, which speaks to the responsible dog breeders in Southern Oregon. Ms. Roone commented on the activities of the Southern Oregon Kennel Club and stated across the United States, PETA and HSUS are attempting to curb the ability for people to have and enjoy the comfort of animals. She stated the Rogue Valley does not need further laws governing the interaction between animals and owners and recommended better enforcement of the laws already in existence. Ms. Roone encouraged the Council to vote 'No' on the tethering proposal.
Mary Anderson/Stated she is not a breeder but supports animal welfare and people's rights. Ms. Anderson claimed some individuals take isolated examples of animal abuse and insinuate this is how all pet owners treat their animals. She stated that according to a study done by Cornell University, there was a slight difference in behavior of tethered or penned dogs and explained penned dogs were more prone to pace, jump and bark, while tethered dogs typically spend their time laying down and sleeping. Ms. Anderson stated a tethering ordinance would cause much hardship, not just on the pet owners, but especially on the City of Ashland trying to enforce it, and stated that education would do more to protect animal welfare.
Ambuja Rosen/Stated she is not a member of any animal group and clarified the reference to the Southern Oregon Breeding Club was an error. Ms. Rosen recommended the tethering law include a provision that between November 1 and March 1, and anytime the temperature falls below 50°, unheated doghouses and other animal shelters shall have clean, dry bedding. She stated elderly and arthritic animals often get stiff, painful joints from the cold and recommended the bedding be quick drying and non-absorbent.
Michael Dawkins/646 E. Main Street/Commented on his family ties to Mt. Ashland and noted the devastating flood that occurred in 1964. Mr. Dawkins commented on the ruts and dirt he observed after this flood, but noted the trees had diverted the water as it flowed down the hill. He stated that Mt. Ashland has an ill-conceived plan to chop down the trees so that there would be a direct flow down to the Middle Fork. Mr. Dawkins stated the ski area is a great amenity for all of Southern Oregon, but it is also Ashland's water.
Councilor Hartzell requested the issue regarding noticing of health inspections be added to the agenda under 'Other Business from Council Members' if time permits.
|1.||Approval of City Charter Ballot Measure.|
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer requested Council review the ballot measure language and give their final approval for the language on the May 2007 ballot. Ms. Seltzer noted the following corrections to the revised charter:
Comment was made questioning if there is room in the explanatory statement to include reference to the distinctive aspects of Ashland that have been retained in the revised Charter. City Attorney Mike Franell clarified the explanatory statements are limited to 500 words. Ms. Seltzer stated staff would make some edits to the statement and bring it back for final review and approval.
Councilor Jackson suggested the following change to the revised charter explanatory statement: Second page, first paragraph, "The council decided that the form of government question should be referred to the voters, and that the other two should not be changed."
Councilor Hartzell suggested the explanatory statement focus on the serious issues that came up during the review. She stated the substance appears to be missing and recommended the language include what has changed in the revised charter and what has remained and why. Mayor Morrison agreed that the language is not as succinct as it could be. Councilor Hartzell formally requested that staff go back and revise the explanatory statement so it less tells a story about the committee, and focuses more on what the voters are being asked to approve and how it is different from the existing charter.
Art Bullock/Stated throughout the charter process there have been many changes in the powers of City government that have been shortchanged in the public explanation. He gave his opinion that the ballot title, ballot language, and explanatory statement are inappropriate. Mr. Bullock recommended the language specifically state what powers the City will have that it does not have now. He recommended the ballot language be changed so that the people understand exactly what they are voting on.
City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified staff would revise the explanatory statements to reflect more of the substance and less of the process. She recommended the Council review the materials prior to their next meeting and submit any concerns that are editorial in nature to staff prior to the meeting.
It was noted that the document also needed to be proofread for typographical errors. Staff was requested to provide the language a little more in advance so there is adequate time for review by the council.
Councilor Hartzell suggested a final correction and recommended the question for the city manager item be revised to read "...Mayor as chief executive officer to City Administrator/Manager as chief executive officer..."
|2.||Discussion of Transient Occupancy Tax Use.|
City Administer Martha Bennett noted she had emailed the Council the state statutes that apply and provided a brief history of the state law. She noted the compromise that took place in 2003, which was where the City retained the current proportion of money it was collecting. She added the preemption only applies to increases in the tax and stated it creates a significant disincentive to increase the tax unless it can be easily dedicated to tourism.
Ms. Bennett clarified the activities under 7(a-d) are more extensive than the City applied them back when it did the split. She stated more activities are done locally, particularly by the Chamber of Commerce that would qualify under 7(a).
Mayor Morrison noted the options presented to the Council.
Councilor Navickas noted the higher tax rates in Medford and Portland and suggesting raising the tax could generate revenue that could be put towards sustaining the library.
Councilor Hartzell voiced support for a 1% increase and suggested the City look at refining the granting system. She stated minor adjustments could be made so the City attracts grants specifically for tourism related activities that qualify under the state's definition.
Councilor Hardesty stated Portland, San Francisco and Seattle all have higher tax rates than Ashland and noted many of Ashland's visitors come from these areas. She suggested the visitors would not oppose a small increase and suggested the City consider holding an annual arts or poetry festival for use of the funds.
Councilor Hardesty/Navickas m/s for the City of Ashland to raise the Transient Occupancy Tax to 9%. DISCUSSION: Councilor Silbiger clarified this would actually increase the tax to 10%, since the state taxes an additional 1%. City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified if the motion passes, staff will schedule a public hearing and bring back a resolution for adoption. Mayor Morrison noted the need for a strategy on how the extra monies would be used. Councilor Silbiger voiced his concerns and noted that the Council had previously discussed not being as dependent on tourism. Councilor Navickas stated if they do not increase the TOT, it will place more pressure on property taxes and rates and fees when they look at funding the library. Councilor Jackson shared her concerns and noted this increase would only generate $130,000 that could be used towards to library. She noted the initial reason this issue came up was because the resolution is expiring and stated she is not ready to make a decision on whether to raise the tax at this time. Mayor Morrison agreed that the motion may be premature and suggested Council direct staff to come back with a revised resolution.
Councilor Chapman requested that a revised motion not include a specific percentage.
Councilor Hardesty/Navickas m/s for Council to consider raising the Transient Occupancy Tax and to have a discussion of this within the next two months.
Councilor Navickas/Hartzell m/s to amend motion to include Council consider other staff recommendations related to reallocating funds. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Jackson, Hartzell, Silbiger, Chapman, Hardesty and Navickas, YES. Motion passed.
Roll Call Vote on Amended Motion: Councilor Jackson, Hartzell, Silbiger, Chapman, Hardesty and Navickas, YES. Motion passed.
|3.||Discussion of Interim Library Funding Options.|
City Administrator Martha Bennett stated at the last meeting, Council directed staff to investigate how the City might potentially put a measure on the May ballot so that the City could generate revenue to keep the Ashland public library open, in the event the County doesn't find additional funding. Ms. Bennett noted the options presented to Council and clarified using Food & Beverage Tax dollars would not be an efficient use of funds since doing this would incur $1.3M in interest. She also clarified that staff did look at a sales tax option; however, this is a regressive tax and would likely mobilize substantial community opposition.
Ms. Bennett reminded the Council that there is a portion of the City's eligible property tax that has not been levied. She stated this amount, which is $.32/1,000 of assessed value, would generate $560,000 a year. She stated this would not require a double majority but recommended obtaining community consensus before levying this amount. She added there are a substantial amount of details that would need to be worked out with the County before the City could take over the library.
Drew Bailey/455 N Laurel Street/Stated he is the Southern Oregon representative for the Oregon Lodging and Oregon Restaurant Association. Mr. Bailey encouraged the Council to not consider an extension or increase in the Food & Beverage Tax or room tax. He also voiced his opposition to any redirection of room tax dollars that does not promote tourism. He stated restaurant and lodging facilities pay their share for services to the community and placing more of a burden on this industry is not fair. Mr. Bailey encouraged the City to have dialogue with these business owners and recommended they find a more broad based approach.
Robert Horton/1911 Crestview Drive/Voiced his concern with the City's "go it alone" approach as well as the level of service that will be provided. He stated the City would need to be clear what the community will be paying for and recommended a sunset provision in the event the County steps in. Mr. Horton stated it would be a mistake to place this burden on the property tax payers and warned that the voters may not accept this.
Ann Magill/77 Manzanita Street, #1/Stated she is a school librarian and volunteer at the Medford and Ashland libraries. Ms. Magill noted the importance on public libraries to students and commented that people passing through town also stop to visit the library. She urged the City to support a countywide levy rather than separating from the County's system.
Ron Roth/6950 Old Hwy 99S/Voiced support of the City stepping in to keep the library open and stated there is strong support in this community for the library. Mr. Roth suggested the property tax funds could be used as a stopgap and voiced his support for the imposition of a 1% income tax. He commented on the option to borrow from the meals tax and stated this is not a good idea.
Catherine Shaw/886 Oak Street/Stated the County has decided to place a $.66/1,000 property tax measure on the May ballot. She stated the City would have an inferior system if it had to "go it alone" and warned that placing a City option on the May ballot could become a competing measure to the County's solution. Ms. Shaw added that the City should have something ready in case the County's measure does not pass. She voiced her support for using the remainder of the allowable property tax and stated that the remainder of the funds could be made up by an electric utility fee.
It was clarified that option two on the Options Chart should read 7-9% rather than 7-8%.
Councilor Silbiger noted the importance for voters to get an opportunity to vote on this issue and stated he would not support anything at this point without voter approval. Councilor Navickas stated the voters have already given a mandate on this issue and noted it was supported by 70% at the last election.
Councilor Navickas/Hartzell m/s to maximize the tax base and to pursue other options for funding to compensate the difference.
Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to extend the meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
DISCUSSION: Councilor Hardesty voiced concern with raising utility fees to obtain the remainder of the funds. Councilor Jackson voiced support for utilizing the available property tax, but stated she is not willing to commit to the $.32 levy without knowing the budget impacts. Councilor Hartzell noted utilizing the $.32 levy would leave a difference of $5M for the City. Ms. Bennett clarified the City can levy the $.32/1,000 without voter approval. Mayor Morrison stated that it needs to be made clear that this is a stopgap solution and the priority should be to save the countywide system. Councilor Navickas noted the possibility of obtaining private contributions if the City goes it alone. Ms. Bennett noted the City could also consider charging a fee for out of town library users. Councilor Hartzell stated she would not support a surcharge and voiced support for finding the remainder of the funding in the City's budget. Councilor Silbiger voiced his concern with not knowing where the rest of the funding would come from. Recommendation was made for Council to ask staff to return in a few weeks with information on where the remainder of the money could come from in the budget.
Councilor Hartzell/Navickas m/s to amend motion to ask staff to return in two weeks with alternatives for gaining additional monies in addition to the $.32/1000. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Jackson, Navickas, Chapman, Hartzell and Silbiger, YES.
Roll Call Vote on Amended Motion: Councilor Hardesty, Navickas, Hartzell and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Chapman and Jackson, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
|4.||Discussion of Annual Budget Process and Calendar.|
Item delayed due to time constraints.
|NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS|
Item delayed due to time constraints.
|2.||Ashland Fiber Network Five-Year Business Plan.|
|Item delayed due to time constraints.|
|ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS|
|1.||First Reading of a Resolution Titled "A Resolution of the City of Ashland Authorizing an Interim Bond Financing Loan From the Special Public Works Fund By Entering into a Loan Contract with the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department for the Jefferson and Washington Street Improvements Project Number B06003."|
Adminsitrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report and noted this is the interim step that is needed to move forward.
City Attorney Mike Franell clarified the City has asked for a full title report on the property to find out what, if anything, is against the property. Additionally, the City has asked for an appraisal of the property. Mr. Franell clarified the papers do need to be signed in order to have the opportunity to receive the loan, however they are not required to accept the money at this time.
Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2007-02. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Navickas, Silbiger, Chapman and Hardesty, YES. Motion passed.
|2.||First Reading by title only of an Ordinance Titled "An Ordinance Amending AMC 3.08.020 To Apply Ethics Provisions to Employees, Appointed Officials and Elected Officials."|
Item delayed due to time contraints.
|OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS (None)|
Meeting was continued to Wednesday, February 7 at 1:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor