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Study Session

Minutes
Monday, October 15, 2012

MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, October 15, 2012
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

 
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:31 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
 
Councilor Voisin, Silbiger, Lemhouse, Morris, Slattery, and Chapman were present.  
 
 

1.    Look Ahead
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
 
2.     Review of the Ashland Solid Waste Rate Review Report
City Administrator Dave Kanner introduced Chris Bell, the CPA for Bell and Associates, Recology General Managers Steve DiFabion and Ed Farewell, and Recology Regional Financial Manager Tom Norris.  In 2011, Recology met with Council and requested a 23% rate increase.  Council granted an 11% increase and asked for an independent review of rates and operations.
 
For the report, Mr. Bell reviewed prior financial results and operational data from Recology, identified efficiencies, costs, and operations, and noted the City lacked a resolution with clear direction regarding solid waste collection.  If the City wanted to maintain the current system without changes, it would require a rate increase.  In the long-term, the City needed to make decisions regarding rates, garbage collection, and infrastructure.  He recommended a short-term rate increase of 7%-8% and suggested a planning process that would involve two Councilors, the City Administrator, and Recology to determine how to manage solid waste services in the future.
 
Mr. DiFabion explained Recology made two unilateral changes when they took over Ashland Sanitary.  One added an extra free leaf collection day to help keep leaves out of the storm drain system, and the second was keeping the Ashland Recycle Center opened 6 days a week instead of 5 days due to customer demand.
 
Mr. Kanner noted the franchise agreement was silent on services other than collecting garbage and recycling.  A new franchise agreement would give the City more control over operations and services.  City Attorney Dave Lohman added the current franchise agreement would end 2018.  Recology agreed there was a lack of clarity and supported developing a new franchise agreement.
 
Mr. DiFabion listed additional services provided at the Ashland Recycling Center beyond basic cardboard and co-mingled recyclables that ranged from recycling ink cartridges to pet adoption.  The core activities driving the operation were cardboard and commingled recyclables with costs going to cardboard and recycling pick-ups twice daily and funding a full time attendant 6 days a week.  There was no way of knowing whether the customers accessing the center were Ashland residents or not. The recycling center was popular with approximately 286 customers daily.
 
Recycling was free at the Transfer Station with the exception of fluorescent lighting.  The Transfer Station also provided electronics recycling at no charge with a seven items per day limit where the Ashland Recycling Center only took cell phones.
 
Council expressed an interest knowing who utilized the recycle center.  Mr. DiFabion explained monitoring customers would be difficult and require an additional staff person.  He went on to confirm a customer could have curbside recycling without garbage collection.  Ashland did not have a mandatory service level.
 
Mr. Bell noted a 7%-8% rate increase would maintain current service excluding the Recycling Center.  Retaining the Recycling Center would bring the rate increase to 23%.  Recology also needed new trucks and equipment that rates would absorb to cover costs.  One benefit regarding equipment was Recology could utilize trucks from their operations, and rebuild as needed since newer trucks were proving unreliable and expensive. 
 
An incentive for moving to a cart system was workers compensation issues in an aging workforce.  A cart system used automated trucks to pick up garbage and would increase productivity, reduce cost, and alleviate customers dragging their cans out to street level.  It would involve an initial investment but the long-term results were stable rates with increases associated to fuel costs and labor agreements and a 70%-80% increase in productivity.  Mr. DiFabion added a full cart system would eliminate one driver and truck but thought semi-automated carting might be more feasible due to Ashland’s terrain.
 
Mr. Bell addressed Table 4 – Cost of Service for Residential Waste and Recycling Collection in the report and clarified the $1.86 cost for recycling was for pick up only and occurred twice per month.  Solid waste collection was $11.62 per month and happened weekly.  Disposal for solid waste was $4.50.  He further clarified if a customer only wanted recycling collection they would pay $1.86, 15% Franchise Fee and another 10% for the margin.  Productivity for recycling collection was higher than garbage collection.  In Figure 2 – Ashland Sanitary Projected Financial Results of the report, recycling service was broken down into two elements.  Carts and cans for both commercial and residential went under Residential Service with dumpsters and containers under Commercial Service.   
 
Mr. Kanner noted the cost for yellow bag and ticket service was $8 per pick up, Recology charged $4.50 and subsequently other customers subsidized the difference.  With one out of eight residential customers using that service, it created a large subsidy.  He suggested replacing the yellow bags with small carts and requiring a minimal monthly fee.  Mr. DiFabion commented communities that separated recycling costs from garbage costs experienced a notable decrease in participation rates.  In general, Oregon blended recycling costs into garbage collection rates. 
 
Mr. Bell explained corporate overhead increased as operations streamlined and processes moved from the local level to corporate, resulting in an increase in corporate overhead and a decrease in local overhead.
 
Mr. Norris added they could keep the Recycling Center open if Recology received an 8% increase instead of 7%. 
 
Councilor Chapman left the meeting at 6:37 p.m.
 
Mr. Kanner would bring a resolution to Council regarding the rate increase before the end of the year, form a team to develop a new franchise agreement, look at service levels, automating garbage collection, eliminating yellow bag service, and possibly establishing a recycling rate. 
 
3.     Review of proposed revisions to AMC Chapter 3.08, General Personnel Policies and Employee Responsibilities
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the revisions to 3.08 included rewriting the code of ethics to make it more consistent with Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 244 State Ethics Law, adding information from Resolution (RESO) 2012-23, and changing pertinent information to provide one set of rules for elected and appointed officials, and employees. 
 
 
Staff used the definition of terms in RESO 2012-23 for definitions.  Initially they deleted the definition of management and manager but reinstated it at the suggestion of the City Attorney because it showed up later in the benefits section.  They added definitions for Temporary Employee, Seasonal Employee, Limited Duration Position, On-Call Employee, Part-time Employee, and Hourly Employee.  Under Section 3.08.010 General Personnel Policies – Purpose (A)(5) the wording changed to “Promote high morale among City employees by providing good, safe working conditions and opportunity for advancement.” In (B) (B) Scope and Coverage, staff added the following sentence:  “In the event of a conflict between these policies and a collective bargaining agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement shall prevail.”
 
Section 3.08.020 Code of Ethics (A) staff added a fourth paragraph stating:  “The provisions of ORS 244 (“Government Ethics Law”) as it currently exists or may from time to time be amended are incorporated by reference herein.  A violation of any provision of ORS 244 shall be considered a violation of this Code of Ethics.”  The majority of the language under 1. Disclosure and 2. Transactions with the City came from the current code.  Also added to 2. Transactions with the City were (3) Gifts, (4) Remuneration Contingent on City Action, (5) Disclosure of Confidential Information, (6) Representing Private Interests Before Courts or City Departments or Elected or Appointed Bodies, and (7) Incompatible Employment.
 
Language under (3) Gifts mirrored state law.  City employees could receive gifts in a calendar year $50 or less from a source with a legislative or administrative interest in the employee’s official function.  Employees could accept unlimited gifts from someone without a legislative or administrative interest.  However, elected officials and city administrators should consider anyone who lived or did business in Ashland as having a legislative or administrative interest.  Also added was language requiring a city employee to share any gifts received under $50 with other employees.  For gifts in excess of $50, the employee was required to return it to the person who gave it to them or donate it to a charitable agency.  City employees could keep small items like coffee mugs, pens, and t-shirts.  City Attorney Dave Lohman recommended further adjustments to the wording to ensure clarity.
 
For (5) Disclosure of Confidential Information, new language instructed city employees to retain confidential information.  There was no way to sanction an elected official who disclosed confidential information.  Alternately, if an elected official violated confidential information, they could incur personal liability.
 
Staff revised language under (F) Political Activity to mimic state law and reference The Hatch Act.  Under (G) Applicability of City Code of Ethics and State Ethics Law; Responsibility for Defense, staff added:  “The opinion of the City Administrator, the City Attorney, or the Mayor shall not be considered an affirmative defense if a public official is charged by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission with a violation of state Ethics Law.”
 
Mr. Lohman noted a new point that a councilor could come to the City Attorney for an opinion and have it held confidential. 
 
Section 3.08.040 General Personnel Policies and Procedures (4) added: “No individual shall be advantaged in securing and/or maintaining full-time or part-time employment or promotional opportunity as a result of nepotism, defined as an employment advantage from a familial or an intimate personal relationship with another full or part-time employee of the City.  Relatives and employees in close personal relationships may work for the city as long as the employment relationship can be insulated from actual or potential conflicts of interest in the workplace, and so long as neither relative has direct supervisory authority over the other.”
 
Language in (C) Personal Appearance and Conduct came from another section in the code and wording for (G) Residence Requirements mirrored RESO 2012-23.  Council discussed the use of “strongly encouraged” in (G) Residence Requirements with comments both supporting and opposing.  New language under (J) Selling and Peddling among Employees complied with ORS 244 State Ethics Law.
 
Section 3.08.100 Discipline and Discharge (A)(1)(2)(3) came from the current language.  Staff added procedures to Section 3.08.110 Grievance Procedures.  Section 3.08.120 Hours of Work and Outside Employment was a mix of current and added language and established guidelines for employees running late and calling in sick.  In the same section, there was new language to (B)(3) to comply with recent state law.  Staff added language in Section 3.08.130 Promotions, Demotions, and Reassignments not previously addressed in the code.  Language under Section 3.08.140 Vacation, Sick Leave and Other Leaves (A)-(J) originated from the management resolution while (K)-(P) was new.  Section 3.08.150 Termination of Employment contained new language as well.
 
Meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.
 
 
Respectfully submitted,                                
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder
 
 

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