State of the City 2014

STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS BY MAYOR STROMBERG
City Administrator Dave Kanner provided the first part of the State of the City address and shared the following. 
 
Ashland City government means:
 
  • that when you turn on the tap, clean water comes out;
  • when you flush the toilet, your waste is carried away to be treated properly;
  • your car does not break axles in potholes;
  • when you flip the switch, the electricity comes on;
  • police keep a watchful eye on the City and respond if you are the victim of a crime;
  • firefighters who are trained emergency medical technicians respond every day to people in crisis; and
  • our parks and trails provide free, world-class enjoyment.
 
These things do not happen by magic.  They happen by virtue of the hard day-to-day work of 250 City of Ashland employees, who, through their dedication and diligence, provide the services that create the foundation for the extraordinary quality of life we enjoy in Ashland.  Our last citizen satisfaction survey, presented to you roughly a year ago, found that 89% of respondents rated our employees good or excellent for responsiveness, 87% good or excellent for job knowledge and 86% good or excellent for courtesy, numbers that are much above national benchmarks and comparator communities.  Those are numbers we hope to build on in the year ahead as we roll out a new program of customer service standards for City employees aimed at maintaining and improving those numbers.
 
The staff’s work program is rooted in the goals and objectives adopted by the City Council and the Parks Commission.  Those goals are:
 
  • Public safety and other city agencies, along with the community, collaborate effectively to ensure security for all and improve overall livability.
  • Collaborate with the community to ensure safe, cost-effective, and sustainable public services, facilities, and utilities to meet the urgent, immediate, and future needs of Ashland.
  • Anticipate and identify opportunities to provide for the physical, social, economic, and environmental health of the community.
  • Provide high quality and effective delivery of the full spectrum of city service and governance in a transparent, accessible, and fiscally responsible manner.
  • Maintain and expand park, recreational, and educational opportunities; provide high quality, efficient and safe services with positive experiences for guests, and other participants while maintaining community participation in the decision-making processes and protecting the environment.
And so, among other things, our 25 sworn police officers patrolled the 6.6 square miles of the City, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our 26 firefighters respond to more than 3,300 calls for service annually, our Public Works crews maintain 101 miles of streets, 93 miles of storm sewers and 130 miles of water lines and 110 miles of sewer lines.  We treated more than one billion gallons of potable water and 738 million gallons of sewage.  We swept 3,200 cubic yards of debris off City streets and painted more than 340,000 feet of centerlines, fog lines, curbs, and crosswalks.  Our Electric Crews maintain 12,000 service connections, 1,800 streetlights, 2,000 electrical transformers and 3,500 poles and our utility billing office processed more than 125,000 utility bills.  The Community Development Department processed over 1,100 building permits and more than 400 planning or zoning actions in addition to handling 21,000 phone calls.
 
The Parks Department maintains 642 acres of parks and 26 miles of trails.  On top of all of this day-to-day work, 2013 was a very productive year for the City of Ashland:
 
  • Reconstructed and dedicated our new plaza in downtown Ashland.  At the same time, we refurbished and re-planted the planter boxes downtown.
  • The City took several important steps toward helping the most vulnerable members of our community; establishing a weekly winter shelter in a City building – now a twice-weekly shelter – and providing a $100,000 grant to ACCESS and OHRA to create a help center for those in need, including the homeless.
  • Citizen survey
  • Council goals
  • Transportation Systems Plan
  • Major Progress on the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project
  • Completed an affiliation agreement between Asante and Ashland Community Hospital
  • Completed nearly 100% of the funded projects in our fiscal year ’13 capital improvements plan
  • Realignment of Hersey/Wimer and Road Diet
  • Self-insurance
  • Re-financed debt on AFN bonds; savings of $1.7 million
  • Rec’d a grant for construction of Ashland Creek Park
  • Facilities Energy Audit
  • Fire Department hosted “Ashland is Ready” event
  • Open City Hall
  • New solid waste franchise agreement
  • Opened new fire station and newly remodeled police station
  • Parks Dept. reconstructed the Enders shelter and built the cover on the ice rink.
In the interest of time, I have only scratched the surface of what your City government provides every day and what we accomplished in 2013.  I know I speak for all City employees when I say it is an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Ashland and we look forward to an even more productive year in 2014.
 
Mayor Stromberg shared the following values and reasons he ran for Mayor:
 
  • Making democracy work
  • Decisions based on sustainability
  • The amateur Directors – people elected without experience running a municipality
 
The City was addressing the following projects:
 
  • AFR Funding
  • Fire Adapted Community
  • Ashland Community Hospital transition to Asante
  • The new Housing and Human Services Commission and their task of conducting the Social Service Grant study as well as a survey of needs and available resources in Ashland
  • Winter Shelter facilities partnered by the City and two congregations
  • Road Diet Experiment/Wimer-Hersey realignment
  • Downtown Parking and Multi-modal Circulation Committee
  • Help Center
  • The Planning Portfolio: Unified Land Use Ordinance; Normal Avenue Neighborhood; Croman Mill site
  • Nevada Street Bridge
  • Open City Hall
  • Plastic Bags policy
  • Parks & Recreation Dedicated Funding transition and the Memo of Understanding
  • Revised  Council Rules; changes in liaison/Commission Chair roles
 
External Influences:
 
  • GMOs and protecting organic farming, gardening, and seed production
  • Gun Control
  • Pacific Connector Pipeline and the impact from fracking
  • Lemelson Places of Invention project and their  intention to study Jackson County
  • The “All The Way” play created through the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was now going to Broadway
  • You Have Options Sexual Assault Reporting Program is a campaign Ashland initiated in 2013 and one the US Military was currently researching for their own use
 
Leadership Changes:
 
  • Cynthia Rider – new executive director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
  • Sheila Clough – new executive director of the Asante Ashland Community Hospital
  • Jay Hummel – new school superintendent for Ashland School District

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