MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, October 19, 2015
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Council Chair Marsh called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Seffinger, Rosenthal, Voisin, and Lemhouse were present. Mayor Stromberg and Councilor Morris were absent.
1. Public Input
Kathleen Hering/236 North Mountain/Attended the Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN) “Our Critical Climate; Trends, Impacts & Solutions – a Rogue Basin Summit” and noted a talk given by Environmental Lawyer and University Professor Mary Wood. She read from a document submitted into the record requesting Council start each meeting with the traditional Masai greeting, “How are the children,” and be aware of how current decisions affect the future. She also requested Council charge the Climate and Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee to provide immediate recommendations to start decreasing greenhouse emissions. According to Professor Wood, the human race had less than five years to change the current trajectory of global warming. She also asked Council to involve the “first peoples” of the community who lived in balance with the land for thousands of years and ask for their assistance in restoring that balance.
Council Chair Marsh also heard Professor Wood’s talk and commented it was powerful, frightening, and inspiring.
2. Introduction of Recology Ashland General Manager, Gary Blake
Council Chair Marsh introduced Gary Blake, the new General Manager at Recology. Mr. Blake shared his expertise, experience, and looked forward to making a difference in the community and working with the City.
3. Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner review items on the Look Ahead.
4. Reeder Reservoir Water Quality Issues
Public Works Director Mike Faught explained due to the severity of the drought, the City needed to change the way they managed Reeder Reservoir to ensure sufficient water supply in late fall. Currently demand was at 3.5 million gallons a day (mgd).
Dr. Jacob Kann from Aquatic Ecosystem Sciences worked with the City studying Reeder Reservoir and water quality issues since 2007. The watershed was intact with a naturally high concentration of phosphorus in the East and West Forks with low nitrogen. Every year beginning in June, cyanobacteria grew in the forms of Aphanizomenon and Anabaena. Aphanizaomenon affected the taste and odor of water and was not a public health issue. The state had a protocol the City followed that monitored for toxins routinely.
Due to its depth, as the Reservoir warmed in the spring and summer, it created a water column stratification consisting of three distinct layers. When the water cooled in the fall, the colder water became dense and sank causing the Reservoir to mix eliminating stratification until the following spring. Drawing down the Reservoir ran the risk of getting into a low dissolved oxygen zone where hydrogen sulfite and other compounds had settled and the ph and alkalinity made it difficult to treat the water at the Water Treatment Plant. Another risk of drawing down was reaching the high nitrogen zone and the potential for toxic algae to form and grow. The standard drawdown curve did not work well during severe drought.
Silt did not affect the inflow of water but did change the depth of the reservoir. The City did bathometric mapping of the bottom of the Reservoir approximately every six years.
The City could research systems that would constantly churn the reservoir. The new Water Master Plan would address managing algae in the Reservoir using a modeling component that would provide different management systems and outcomes. The City treated the taste and odor issues using Hydrogen Peroxide when it started to build up at the surface and needed to look at long-term solutions in the Reservoir regarding water quality and levels. Another option was looking at the Water Treatment Plant to address taste and odor issues. Applying Alum into the Reservoir was a potential treatment for algae. Oxygenation and mixing in the Reservoir was also an option.
Mr. Faught clarified the only water that went into Reeder Reservoir came from the East and West Forks then piped to the Water Treatment Plant. Talent Irrigation District (TID) and Talent Ashland Phoenix Intertie (TAP) water went directly to the Water Treatment Plant.
5. Discussion of financial software replacement
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the software company Tyler would no longer support EDEN, the financial software the City currently used. Tyler was offering EDEN customers an opportunity to purchase MUNIS at a deep discount. There was money in the budget and replacing the financial software was a priority.
Councilor Marsh suggested having the Budget Committee review the conversion from EDEN to MUNIS. Mr. Kanner noted the Budget Committee did not typically review supplemental budgets. They were the Council’s purview. It was at the Council’s discretion whether to involve the Budget Committee. There was a time element regarding the offer that would expire January 1, 2016.
Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg further explained they had anticipated having to replace the financial software in three years. However, the potential for savings in switching to MUNIS prompted them to bring it to Council.
The new software would enhance online payment services and provide better reporting to City departments along with operational efficiencies. Senior Planner Brandon Goldman added the new system would automate the building permits process eliminating paperwork and an office visit. Additionally, inspection reports from the field could be immediately uploaded for customer review. Customer Service Manager Bryn Morrison noted the online customer profile for utility billing would be enhanced and businesses could pay Food and Beverage Tax and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) online instead of over the phone. Ms. Morrison went on to explain difficulties customers and staff encountered during the transition to Springbrook software systems and the knowledge gained from that experience.
Mr. Tuneberg addressed potential security issues and explained security would be better than what the City currently had. The City adhered to identify theft programs. The risk was the amount of work for the conversion and migration. He explained why Springbrook was the best choice for the City at the time although it was a tier two product.
Annual licensing cost for MUNIS was $95,000 and less than EDEN and Springbrook’s annual license costs combined. Mr. Tuneberg had not looked at other financial software systems but had reviewed the City of Hillsboro who researched five different software packages.
Mr. Kanner noted how difficult financial software conversions were and how expensive. It would be easier to migrate with the current provider.
Council discussed forwarding the option to the Budget Committee. Opposing comments thought this was scope creep. Supplemental budgets were at the Council level of policymaking. Council majority agreed to send it to the Budget Committee as an informational only item and include the rationale for the decision and examples of the benefits. Council supported staff moving forward with the offer by Tyler and preparing a supplemental budget for a future Council meeting.
6. Upgrade of Council Chamber video and audio equipment
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the money for the upgrade was available and he did not see a reason to wait any longer. The City Recorder had suggested moving the recording equipment used for the minutes into the backroom with the other equipment.
Councilor Marsh wanted a standing podium for public input added to room as well. Mr. Kanner thought the upgrade would occur spring of 2016. Council supported moving forward with the upgrade and moving the Recorder’s recording equipment to the back room.
Mr. Kanner went on to provide an update on the air quality monitor. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not want to discuss location until the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the US Forest Service and BLM had signed their agreement.
If approved, the air quality monitor would go on the roof of Fire Station 1 who would assume biweekly cleaning duties and ensure the monitor and computer worked. DEQ would come to Ashland every three months to check on the system. Air quality information would link to the DEQ website. It would cost the City very little.
Meeting adjourned at 6:56 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder