Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

 MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING

ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL

March 16, 2010

Council Chambers

1175 E. Main Street

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

Council Chair David Chapman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

 

ROLL CALL

Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Jackson and Silbiger were present.  Councilor Lemhouse and Mayor Stromberg were absent.

 

MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENTS

City Recorder Barbara Christensen announced vacancies for the annual appointments for Commission and Committee members. The deadline for applications was March 19, 2010. 

 

Council Chair Chapman noted an article in the March 14, 2010 Medford Mail Tribune on the assistance efforts for the return of the 41st Brigade Combat Team of the Oregon National Guard (1/186).

 

SHOULD THE COUNCIL APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS?

The Study Session minutes of March 1, 2010, Executive Session of March 2, 2010 and Regular Meeting of March 2, 2010 were approved as presented.

 

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS

Council Chair Chapman introduced Rob Lloyd as the new IT Director and read a brief biography.

 

CONSENT AGENDA  

1.   Does Council wish to approve the minutes of the Boards, Commissions, and Committees?

2.   Does Council wish to confirm the Mayor's appointment of Carol Davis to the Public Arts Commission with a term to expire April 30, 2011?

3.   Does Council wish to approve a Liquor License Application from Patricia Volk dba Chateaulin at 50 E Main Street?

4.   Will Council approve the attached resolution establishing traffic control and regulation for Will Dodge Way from Pioneer to First Street and repealing Resolution No. 90-51?

5.   Does Council have questions about the Mayor's committee member selection for the Ashland Water Advisory Committee (AWAC) for the Water Master Plan update?

 

Councilor Voisin requested Consent Agenda item #5 be pulled for discussion.

 

Councilor Navickas/Voisin m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1-#4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

 

Public Works Director Mike Faught explained that staff had recommended the Mayor appoint Councilor Jackson as Council liaison.  Councilor Voisin expressed interest in being a co-liaison.  Council discussed whether to retain a member on the committee who lived outside city limits.

 

Councilor Silbiger/Jackson m/s to approve the committee member selections with the exception of Ron Roth and add Councilor Voisin as co-liaison.  Voice Vote: Councilor Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES; Councilor Navickas and Voisin, NO. Motion passed 3-2.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

1.   Will Council increase Water Utility Rates 8% and add a potable water irrigation surcharge during summer months and increase Wastewater Rates 9% with a combined, average monthly impact (excluding irrigation) on a single family residence of $4.92 per month?

Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained both funds were struggling due to lower sales, higher treatment costs and Capital Improvements and the steps staff took to minimize the need for increases.  Staff proposed staggering the increases with Water adjustments effective May 1, 2010 and Wastewater rates June 1, 2010.  The proposed summer irrigation surcharge would affect households exceeding 3,600 cubic feet (cf) (27,000 gallons) of water per month and result in a 30% increase for the next unit(s) used. 

 

Staff clarified sewer rates were determined on winter water consumption and influenced by water efficient devices. The formula used for the calculations needed review.  The City uses a consumption driven system and a rate structure review should encompass lower income subsidies and cover fixed costs.  Not having a high rate base created less of an impact on lower income families and residents could lower water bills through conservation where increasing base charges would not affect bills with water conservation efforts.  

 

Mr. Tuneberg explained currently Electric, Water and Wastewater pay 10% in Franchise Fees.  The full 10% from Electric and 8% of Water and Wastewater goes into the General Fund with the remaining 2% going to the Street Fund.  During the budget process, there was a decision to set those funds aside in a separate reserve for the coming years.  Staff will research information on the Franchise Fees charged for private utilities.  

 

Public Works Director Mike Faught explained the irrigation surcharge targeted residential only and was based on a 100 gallons of water per resident in a 2.5 person household.  A residence that size would require 7,500 gallons of water monthly for domestic use leaving the remainder for irrigation or other purposes.  The surcharge would affect approximately 500 residential customers who tend to go over the 3,600(cf) allotments and represent 6.5% of the entire system.

 

Conservation Water Specialist Robbin Pearce further explained staff efforts regarding water allocation for gardening use versus landscape use.  Initial raw data indicates a household will need an additional 25% to the monthly 3,600(cf) allotment for vegetable gardening.  Actual amounts would fluctuate depending on garden size and water efficiency.  The surcharge would provide an extra allocation of water for residents growing food on their property if they exceed the 3,600(cf).   

 

Mr. Tuneberg noted he would have a response for refinancing the loan with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) within 90 days. 

 

Public Hearing open: 7:46 p.m.

 

Ron Roth/6950 Old Hwy 99 South/Thought Council should not approve the irrigation surcharge and instead use Talent Irrigation District (TID) water earlier.  Using TID sooner last year would have eliminated the need for water curtailment.  He referred to the “other projects” listed as expense in the Water Budget and wanted to know what they were and whether they were necessary.

 

Tom Marr/955 N Mountain Avenue/Expressed his frustration with the rate increase.  It was impossible to grow food crops using only City water because rates were so high.  There are times on his utility bill where he pays more in fees than services.  He suggested using the rates in effect 10 years before and not raising rates higher than the cost of Social Security.

 

Khosro Khosraolucdi/2371 Ashland Street/Disagreed with the rate increases and explained he operates two car wash facilities within the City.  Even with a water recycle system he pays tremendous amounts on his water and power bills.  He has not raised his prices in three years and questioned why the City cannot work within a more limited budget when everyone else was. He suggested the City privatize or hire qualified people to run it. The community is suffering.  If the rate increase is for administrative costs, it should be stopped.  If it is for repairs, he wanted to know the details since he was paying for them.

 

Babaek Khosraolucdi/2371 Ashland Street/Explained cost of living raises were not occurring nationwide but thought one was being implemented in the proposed rate increase.   The proposal was punishing people for being conservative.  The community conserved water only to be charged an additional 8%-10%.  He felt the rate increases went against the purpose of conservation. 

 

Public Hearing closed: 8:02 p.m.

 

Staff clarified that the “other projects” expense referred to during Public Testimony were associated with Capital Improvement Projects (CIP).  The report also included next years’ negotiated 5% increase for the Laborers Union, 0% for Management and Confidential Employees and the estimated 8% increase in the healthcare plan.

 

Councilor Navickas/Voisin m/s to approve the Water Service Rate Resolution at a 7% increase and reduce the Franchise Fee by 1% to the General Fund.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Navickas explained the current tax structure forced the City to create regressive taxes.  Addressing this through franchise fees will begin to counter that affect.   Councilor Voisin was concerned the City was driving the middle class out of Ashland through rate increases.  She understood the increase was needed but thought there must be other ways to deal with the situation.  Councilor Silbiger noted the decrease to the General Fund would create a property tax increase and reminded Council on the decision made last year to break up the rate increase over two years.  The costs involved were real.  Conservation efforts work well for conserving water but always cost more, the benefit is in not having to build a larger plant to cover increased water use in the future.  Councilor Jackson reiterated the costs were real and the rate increase was not enough to cover them.  Councilor Chapman would not support the motion or the irrigation surcharge and thought the City should sell more water through TID instead.  Councilor Voisin felt the process the rates were based on was flawed and the City needed to address the problem.  Councilor Jackson agreed the rate structure needed reworking but that would not happen this year and there was a budget need.  Councilor Navickas thought the motion was a good compromise.  Voice Vote: Councilor Navickas and Voisin, YES; Councilor Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman, NO. Motion failed 2-3.

 

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2010-07 (Water Service Rate) as presented by staff. 

 

Councilor Navickas/Voisin m/s to amend the motion to allocate ½ percent of Franchise Fees toward low-income subsidies.  DISCUSSION:  Mr. Tuneberg explained the City did not have a low-income program for water service and staff would develop program details if one were established.  Voice Vote: Councilor Navickas and Voisin, YES; Councilor Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman, NO. Motion failed 2-3.

 

Councilor Chapman/Voisin m/s to amend motion to eliminate the irrigation surcharge (Section 3). DISCUSSION:  Councilor Chapman did not think the surcharge was effective and the focus should be conservation through public education.  Councilor Navickas was sympathetic to those wanting to garden but using treated drinking water to grow vegetables was not the most sustainable means for producing food and TID water was highly regulated.  Councilor Silbiger suggested giving discounts based on Agricultural Best Practices. Councilor Jackson reminded Council the surcharge would affect 6% of the community.  Voice Vote: Councilor Chapman and Voisin, YES; Councilor Navickas, Jackson and Silbiger, NO. Motion failed 2-3.

 

Voice Vote on original motion: Councilor Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman, YES; Councilor Navickas and Voisin, NO; Motion passed 3-2.

 

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2010-08 (Wastewater Rates) as presented by staff.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Jackson acknowledged the concern regarding the rate increases and how staff provided a minimum to attempt to cover shortages in operating costs and the Ending Fund Balance by postponing projects.  Councilor Navickas would not support the increases without low-income subsidies or moving excessive franchise fees to the General Fund.  Councilor Voisin would not support the increase either, the City would be reducing the interest payment on the DEQ loan by approximately $135,000 and that should help reduce the rate increase to 5%.  Councilor Chapman was not comfortable with the rate increase and hoped the changes staff makes will avoid increases in the future.  Voice Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman, YES; Councilor Navickas and Voisin, NO; Motion passed 3-2.

 

2.   Will Council grant the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) a variance to the City noise ordinance that will allow work on Interstate 5 on and near Exit 14?

City Engineer Jim Olson presented the staff report and explained the project would address areas of structural failings in the bridge at Exit 14 and operational defects the interchange currently experiences.  During peak periods, the interchange has a failed Level of Service (LOS).  The project will widen the existing bridge and lower I-5 lanes underneath to accommodate the newly required 18 feet of clearance, signalize the interchanges with Ashland Street, and provide bicycle and pedestrian facilities along with aesthetic improvements.  Due to the volume of traffic on I-5, ODOT’s requirement to conduct lane closures at night from 7:00pm to 9:00am conflicts with the City’s decibel standards.  The project will take two years with an estimated 8-week impact to the Ashland Noise Variance.  Council options include strictly granting a variance to ODOT to the noise standards or adopt it with specific requirements.  The only dwelling within 1,000 of the project site was on Clover Lane.  Mr. Olson confirmed State ordinances take precedence over Municipal ordinances.

 

Public Hearing open: 8:53 p.m.

 

Khosro Khosraolucdi/2371 Ashland Street/Explained he owned the Texaco gas station at Exit 14.  He voiced support for the improvements as well as concern on the impact the two-year project will have on businesses located near the site. 

 

Public Hearing closed: 8:55 p.m.

 

Karen Tatman, a Sub-Consultant to ODOT from Quincy Engineering and Joe Thomas, the ODOT Project Manager confirmed nothing restricted the contractor from working during weekend nights but it was unlikely to happen due to overtime pay and budget constraints.  They went on to explain the construction timeline and how there would be 3 weeks of nighttime work during July 2010, three weeks November 2010 and two nights in June or July 2011 when both ramps will be closed one night each.  ODOT’s outreach efforts to local businesses and the public were listed and described.   

 

Mr. Thomas expressed concern regarding the City’s specification on installing temporary or portable acoustic barriers around stationary construction noise surfaces.  Staff clarified that requirement would not apply to this project.

 

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to grant ODOT a variance to the City noise ordinance for a period of approximately eight 8 weeks with the proposed staff conditions including the contractor shall notify all adjacent businesses.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Jackson noted previous violations from ODOT regarding the noise variance.  City Attorney Richard Appicello explained it was a violation of Chapter 9 in the City code and would consist of a citation up to a $500 fine for each violation.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

 

PUBLIC FORUM - None

 

 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS - None

 

NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS

1.   Will Council review plans for the Exit 14 interchange reconstruction and provide direction to City and ODOT staff for recommended changes?

Karen Tatman, a Sub-Consultant to ODOT from Quincy Engineering gave a presentation that included:

·         OTIA III Bridge Delivery Program

·         Aesthetics

·         Aesthetic Treatments

·         Fence Detail

·         Architect’s Rendering

·         Sidewalk View

·         Irrigation System

·         Seeds and plants

·         Irrigation System

·         Water Usage

·         Roadway/Bridge Width

·         Striping Plan

·         Southbound Ramp Intersection

Ms. Tatman explained the State Traffic Engineer agreed with the recommendation to move the eastbound bike lane to the shoulder and install a bike signal but did not support a bike signal on the westbound side since there was plenty of site distance and safe movement.  Art Anderson, the ODOT Area Manager further explained the westbound side would have a drop lane where the eastbound had an add lane.  In this type of interchange, the westbound side afforded safe operational movement and therefore did not need added measures.

 

·         Bicycle Signal in Portland

Ms. Tatman described how bicycle detection loops in the pavement would sense bicycles and activate the bike signal.  Activation will cause an all red phase where vehicles stop while bicycles move through the intersection.

 

·         Interstate 5

·         I-5 Ramps

·         Traffic Signals – Ramps

·         Upcoming Public Involvement

·         Public Involvement

·         Construction Schedule

 

Council discussed alternative striping options with staff, concerns on not having a bike signal for the westbound bike lane and issues with lane and turn design.  Mr. Anderson suggested staff draft a letter to the State Traffic Engineer regarding the westbound bike signal.    

 

Councilor Jackson/Navickas m/s to support ODOT’s proposed Exit 14 adding a bike signal in the eastbound direction and to write a letter to the State Traffic Engineer requesting a bike signal in the westbound direction.  Voice Vote:  Councilor Navickas, Jackson, Silbiger and Voisin, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

 

2.   Does Council want to intervene on the side of the Forest Service in the lawsuit challenging the record of decision for the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project?

Council Chair Chapman introduced Donna Mickley, the new Siskiyou Mountains District Ranger.  Councilor Navickas noted a conflict of interest regarding the topic and asked Council to excuse him from the discussion.

 

Councilor Silbiger/Voisin m/s to excuse Councilor Navickas due to a conflict of interest. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

 

Councilor Navickas left the room at 10:12 p.m.

 

City Administrator Martha Bennett explained if Council chose to intervene in the lawsuit and the City lost, they would litigate over legal fees.  City Attorney Richard Appicello further explained scenarios where the City might incur fees.

 

Council discussed what the impacts might be if the City intervened, noted the only issue with the project was in the roadless areas and suggested sending a letter showing the City’s continued support for the Ashland Forest Resiliency project. 

 

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to send a letter to the Forest Service that the City continues to strongly support the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project.  Voice Vote: Councilor Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 3-1.

 

Councilor Navickas returned to meeting at 10:22 p.m.

 

ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS

1.   Should Council approve Second Reading of an ordinance that amends the Living Wage ordinance clarifying that the City does not require retroactive payments?

 

Councilor Voisin/Navickas m/s Direct staff to develop language that an employee’s accumulation of hours continued as long as they are an employee and exempt people 18 years old and younger.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Jackson asked what the impact of introducing an age related exemption was. City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified the intent was not applying the Living Wage to people working summer jobs as part of their High School program.  The impact will increase the wage and the cost to the employer and may result in not hiring people with prior experience.  Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson expressed concern how the motion would affect Park Patrol.  Councilor Silbiger suggested contacting other contractors including non-profits that may be affected by the change.  Voice Vote: Councilor Navickas and Voisin, YES; Councilor Silbiger, Chapman and Jackson, NO. Motion failed 2-3.

 

Mr. Appicello read the ordinance title aloud, noted the following change - former Section 1 which included the text “…calendar year with at least a three-month break in service…,” deleting “…12 month period…” was removed in its entirety and the Sections were renumbered [former Section 2 became Section 1].

 

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Ordinance #3008.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Jackson and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Voisin and Navickas, NO. Motion passed 3-2.

 

2.   Should Council approve First Reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 9 concerning weed abatement and move the ordinance on to Second Reading?

Delayed due to time constraints.

 

 

3.   Should Council approve First Reading of an ordinance adding a uniform violation abatement procedure to the Ashland Municipal Code and move the ordinance on to Second Reading?

Delayed due to time constraints.

 

4.   Should Council approve First Reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 13 to add provisions concerning Advanced Financing of Public Improvements and move the ordinance on to Second Reading?

Delayed due to time constraints.

 

5.   Should Council approve the First Reading of an ordinance amending AMC Chapter 11.24.020 relating to the storage of personal and recreational vehicles and move the ordinance on to Second Reading?

Delayed due to time constraints.

           

OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS

1.   Discussion of implementation of compensation and classification study.

 

ADJOURNMENT

Meeting was adjourned at 10.30 p.m.

 

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder 
David Chapman, Council Chair  

 

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