Agendas and Minutes

ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee
August 2, 2017
Methodist Church, 175 North Main 1:30 p.m.
Committee Members: Boldt, Dichiro, Finklea, Kenefick, Kramer, Miller, Nickels, Pearce, Richards, Shaw, Thalden
Staff: Karns, Kathol, Morrison, Seltzer, Welch
CALL TO ORDER:  Dichiro called the meeting to order.
MOTION by Kenefick, second by Pearce to approve the Minutes of the July 19, 2017 ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee meeting.  Carried unanimously.
GO BOND INFORMATION: Mark Welch, City Finance Director, presented the committee with City Hall Financing Options.   There are two funding options:
  • A General Obligation Bond: Paid from a Property Tax Levy and requires a public vote.
  • Full Faith and Credit: Pledge all unrestricted revenue sources to pay the debt service. The General Fund would not have available funds to pay for the City Hall project.
The City has two current General Obligation Property Tax Bonds:
Fire Station #1: Issued in 2005, Term ends in 2020
  • Original Principal: $2,560,000
  • Current Balance: $750,000
  • 15 Year Payback
  • Interest 3.5-5%
  • Debt Serve approximately $275,000 per year
  • 0.1142 per $1,000 assessed valuation
Fire Station #2: Issued in 2011, Term ends in 2031
  • Original Principal: $2,960,000
  • Current Balance: $2,210,000
  • 20 Year Payback
  • Interest 2-4%
  • Debt Serve approximately $200,000 per year
  • 0.0794 per $1,000 assessed valuation
Kenefick and Shaw said it would be helpful if Welch could provide the total cost for both Fire Station bonds, the potential property tax assumptions for 20 years versus 15 years, and interest amounts on an annual, 15 and a 20 year basis.  Shaw said the Library building bond retires in 2020 but the public will want to know what they are paying as taxpayers as obligations fall off.  
Finklea asked if we knew what we are spending per square foot for what propose to be building. Boldt referred to a memo from the City Council on January 17 that had a breakdown and a cost per square foot that is also available on the Ad Hoc Committee Website.  Dichiro said the first general obligation bond on the Fire Station had failed until the cost was cut in half.   Thalden wondered if there was a way to use payments from other bonds to pay for the City Hall bond.  Shaw said that you never sell money – you sell the building or the project. Shaw added that it was incumbent to find an affordable approach so that we do not price people out of the market when it comes to being able to sell it to the public.  She advised not to talk price during a campaign but it is important in the decision process. Boldt added that when the Fire Station was being promoted, the need for a higher functioning facility was discussed and not price.  Kramer believes it is incumbent upon the committee to know what the annual cost is of the two city bonds, the library bond and the school district bond so that in 2020, the public will want to know what the extra cost is. He felt the committee needed to know those numbers. If you present it to the voters as net-neutral, people will think their property taxes should be going down. Seltzer said that Ballot measure language must address the cost.
Welch said that the General Obligation Requirements are:
  • Voter approval
  • Article XI, sections 11 (8) and 11 (k) of the Oregon Constitution provide that a property tax measure submitted for approval or rejection at a May or November election may be approved by a majority of the voters voting affirmatively for the measure.
  • A property tax measure submitted at a March or September election 4 150-504-421 (Rev. 03-17) may only be approved if at least 50% of registered voters eligible to vote in the election cast a ballot and if a majority of the voters vote affirmatively for the measure. 
Shaw said we could not expect to get 50% of voters casting a ballot. Welch reviewed the potential election dates and added that anything in March or September requires a double majority vote.  Seltzer reminded the committee that whatever the committee decides, everything has to be approved by the City Council and it takes two months to be completely finalized and recorded with the County, so you have to add two months to the timeline. Kramer added that if the EOC is included, the numbers would increase. Welch presented the potential Property Tax Levy:
  • 20-year term
  • 3.5% interest
  • For each $1 million in debt:
    • 0.0268 per $1,000 assessed valuation
  • 15-year term
  • For each $1 million in debt:
    • 0.03309 per $1,000 assessed valuation
Welch then reviewed the potential Property Tax Levy for a 20-year assumption for nine of the option project costs.  It was noted that the Seismic Retrofit on the existing City Hall did not include interior improvements.
Welch then concluded his presentation with the Impact for Assessed Valuation Levels – not real market values – for a 20-year impact.
Final Ranking of the Criteria, Highest to Lowest by Vote
Rank Item Criteria Votes
1 10 Option is cost effective 29
2 7 Option provides flexibility 22
3 16 Preserves historic civic use of existing City Hall 22
4 14 Acceptable to voters 18
5 4 Retains downtown presence 12
6 2 Provides off-street parking for employees and customers 7
7 12 Provides parking that can be converted to other uses 6
8 15 Services are conveniently located 5
9 1 Provides consolidated services 4
9 3 Potential to increase public parking 4
9 9 Option is on Plaza 4
10 5 Preserves historic facade 3
11 8 Avoids legal cloud relating to current deed 2
12 6 Outside Hosler Dam inundation zone 1
12 13 Construction Impact 1
Dichiro asked the committee (1) to review the list of the criteria and ranking from the July 19 meeting and consider if there were ones that could be eliminated; and (2) is there language and wording the committee wants to revisit.  Dichiro gave an example of #2 criteria – the option provides flexibility.  She felt the option chosen should lend itself to flexibility and there may be an option that is more flexible than other options. Kenefick felt the committee needed to consider how much square footage was needed for each option and that the committee needed to keep the design in mind when viewing the options.  Dichiro said that the role of the committee is not to determine the design of the building.  Kenefick said that each option has square footage and if we do not need that square footage then it needs to be addressed.  Shaw thought flexibility had to do with the site and usage.  Kramer added that if we are only picking options and not involved in the design, or questioning assumptions that led to options that we have been given, then he did not think flexibility is in the criteria at all.  He said that you cannot cleave the design and the program of the site if you are also charged with how it should be paid for.  He perceives flexibility as inherent to the building. Whether the building has off-street parking and flexibility means something different to everyone.  Dichiro said that the flexibility criteria should be applied in a similar way as the rest of the criteria.  Kramer thought that flexibility meant it did not limit the City for the future. Kenefick added that flexibility indicated that the option has the ability to change with future business practices. Dichiro asked the committee to consider if there was an option that is not flexible because we could not do much with it, where as another option allows more flexibility – the option needs to be able to respond to future trends.  The City wants to build a second City Hall that would meet the needs of the City for the next 100 years. 
Kramer said we need to recommend a site - a building and a program that is adaptable. Looking at a recommendation for a hundred-year City Hall is what the committee wants to do. Shaw felt that quality and not just function was pertinent.  Dichiro said it was a good investment in the level of quality as opposed to putting something in that will not last long and require renovations in the future. Kathol said that the ORW report addressed civic level construction – that there are industry averages for different types of buildings.
Kramer recommended that the committee look at the bottom ranked criteria and discuss reducing some. Dichiro asked the committee if anything with less than 5 votes was eliminated, did anyone have concerns. Criteria #11 (preserves historic facade) and Criteria #12 (avoids legal cloud relating to current deed) were considered to be covered by #3 (preserves historic civic use of City Hall).  Thalden suggested eliminating all single digit options.  Finklea said it was key to know which site is most cost effective.  Kenefick said that criteria #3 could mean other civic functions were held in the building. We would have to do some retrofit and it could be expensive. He suggested inserting the word ‘current City Hall’ in criteria #3. Dichiro suggested
only keeping the double-digit rated criteria and consider retaining Criteria #6 (provides off-street parking for employees and customers) and Criteria #7 (provides parking that can be converted to other uses).
MOTION by Kramer, second by Dichiro to remove any Criteria with 4 votes or less. Carried unanimously.
It was noted that the committee did need to let the City Council know that they considered the criteria that was eliminated.
Karns added that if a project goes forward, ComDev will weigh in on parking requirements and there will be off-street parking – that was a given. The use of the building will drive that number and the codes will drive the parking requirements.
Pearce said that the City Council would want to address parking so he recommended leaving both Criteria #6 and #7.  Dichiro suggested combining Criteria #6 and #7 and Kramer agreed that we should retain a 6th Criteria that addressed parking.  Kramer said that the current City Hall does not have a parking requirement and Karns agreed.
 MOTION by Dichiro, second by Boldt to eliminate Criteria #6 and #7 and change #6 Criteria to read “Addresses parking for employees and customers.”  Carried unanimously.
MOTION by Thalden, second by Richards to eliminate Criteria #8 (services are conveniently located) Carried, with Dichiro and Pearce opposing.
Finklea said that he felt that Criteria #1 meant: is one site more challenging than another from a cost standpoint. Kramer suggested Criteria #1 (option is cost effective) have an explanatory statement that the City is spending public money wisely – not spending the least amount possible, just evaluating the criteria and spending it wisely. Seltzer said that she will add an explanatory statement with each criteria as needed and Criteria #1 explanatory statement would be: “The City is spending public dollars wisely.”  
Kenefick said the final option has to allow for change based on future business practices. Kenefick said the committee still needed to discuss the 8-9 FTEs and future business practices when we choose a final option.  He wanted to keep that issue in the discussion of options. Kramer said that Criteria #2 (option provides flexibility) needed an explanatory statement and it was agreed on: “Provide the City design and operational flexibility to meet current and future needs.”
Kramer said that Criteria #3 (preserves historic civic use of City Hall) addresses the deed issue and the civic function on the plaza. Criteria #3 was changed to read “Preserves civic use of the existing City Hall.”  Kathol said that the search for living heirs found the son of a stepson (very removed). The attorney said that should not hold the committee back – that the deed says we need to retain a town hall function on the plaza but we do not need to name what that function is. The City could file a quiet deed.  Seltzer said that the City could also decide to sell the old City Hall and cautioned not to let the deed predicate that the building will always be used as a civic function.
Dichiro said that the committee needed to come up with a recommendation that can be passed - Criteria #4 (acceptable to voters).  We need to find a solution that our community will value. Kenefick felt #4 should be left as is – if the committee has a reasonable request, the public will like the proposal. Seltzer said that the
clearer the committee is able to advocate for their position, the stronger position they will have. Pearce said the committee will use their collective experience in making a recommendation.  Shaw has experience with GO bonds and said that you are selling an investment to the voters.  It is selling preservation of history and a vibrant downtown.  You have to frame a ballot measure that makes sense to the voters.  Dichiro asked if we should revisit #4 when the committee is down to 1-2 options. Kramer thought that when the committee got to the point of evaluating Lithia Way and the Pioneer Street parking lot, that they would not be acceptable to the voters and that Criteria #4 was a viable criteria to evaluate those options.  
MOTION by Kenefick, second by Thalden to leave Criteria #4 (acceptable to voters). Carried, with Boldt opposing. 
Kenefick said that Criteria #5 (retains a downtown presence) addresses the concept of retaining a downtown presence. It was decided that further weighting of the remaining six Criteria was not necessary.
Final Ranking of the 6 Criteria, Highest to Lowest by Vote, With Explanatory Statements
Rank Item Criteria Votes
1 10 Option is cost effective
Explanatory Statement: The City is spending public dollars wisely
2 7 Option provides flexibility
Explanatory Statement: Provides the City design and operational flexibility to meet current and future needs
3 16 Preserves civic use of the existing City Hall 22
4 14 Acceptable to voters 18
5 4 Retains downtown presence 12
6 2 Addresses parking for employees/customers 7
POLICE STATION PHASE II: Karns reported that the Police Station Phase 2 had a very important element in upgrading the City’s EOC (Emergency Operation Center) capability. The Fire Chief in the City of Ashland is the emergency manager and having a viable EOC is of utmost importance.  Following 911, requirements were made on City’s and schools to manage large local and regional emergencies – deploying and ordering resources.  Karns said that in a large seismic event, you need the EOC to order and receive resources from FEMA and other emergency organizations. Without the EOC, Ashland was totally reliant on the Jackson County EOC.  We have a high functioning EOC organization in the City of Ashland that does simulations regularly. Karns said there is a long lag time to set up the EOC and the lag time for the current facility and the lag time for the new facility would be cut in half.  When we have a large seismic event here, Karns wants Ashland to be functional. Currently, our EOC is shared by the City Council and the court and it does not lend itself well for an EOC operation. Part of Police Station Phase 2 is to have a room that could quickly be set up as an EOC. Being marginally functional is huge in response to an emergency – it is the recovery phase that is where your EOC is important.  There will be some facilities in the Police Station Phase 2, but we will have a high functioning EOC.  The sophistication of EOC has increased.  Simulations that have been done are much more complex and real now and Karns thought it would take about 20 minutes to set up to EOC use with the new Police Station Phase 2.  The EOC room could be used as a training or conference room when not being used as an EOC. Thalden said we should look at spaces already here for the EOC. Shaw suggested the gym at the Grove. Seltzer said that the Grove was considered for the police and EOC but it was cost prohibitive. The EOC is an emergency operation center and it is also mission control. Seltzer said she worked for FEMA during Katrina and Rita and saw what can happen without a full functioning EOC. Communication is crucial. Karns said that Ashland wanted to be first in line for those resources available following an earthquake or other disaster.
EMAIL PROTOCOL: Dichiro said that that any communication that comes to one of the committee members has to go to all of the committee members.  If a committee member(s) receives an email or other form of communication from the public, they can send a response “thank you for your input” and then it will be sent to Seltzer and then to the whole committee.  Dichiro added that as an appointed City committee, we have to maintain public meeting law standards.  Pearce added that the committee cannot deliberate outside of a public meeting – it was best practice to error on the side of caution. Dichiro said that individual members emailing back and forth is considered deliberating. If an email or communication is received, it goes to Seltzer and it becomes part of the public record. If somebody put in a public records request, the communication would be an attachment as well as when the recommendation goes to the City Council. Kenefick wanted to get Larry Cooper’s letter into the Minutes.  It will be added to the August 16 meeting Agenda
PUBLIC INPUT: The meeting agenda items took up all of the time so public input can be sent to Seltzer.
The next meeting is August 16 at the Methodist Church Library and the Larry Cooper letter discussion and Boldt’s presentation will be added to the Agenda, as well as developing the pros and cons for each proposed option. The committee will analyze each option based on established criteria. Seltzer will send the revised list of Criteria and Options.
Dichiro adjourned the meeting at 3:33 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Shelly D. Hensarling

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