On Monday of this week, Mayor Stromberg, Councilor Marsh and I met with representatives of Jackson County Mental Health to learn more about their plans for providing services here in Ashland. In 2016, JCMH will establish a South County service office staffed by up to 21 members of the JCMH team. This will include at least eight certified mental health workers. The County is currently trying to find suitable office space for all of these employees, but even if office space is not quickly identified, the County will begin offering mental health services in Ashland as soon as next month. Services will be provided primarily to Medicaid-eligible OHP patients, however the County can assist indigent people in signing up for OHP benefits.
On Wednesday, Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg and I attended a meeting for local city managers and finance directors in Central Point at which PERS Executive Director Steve Rodeman provided an update on the current status of PERS’ finances. Much of what he had to say was already known to us. The PERS unfunded actuarial liability grew from $8 billion to $18 billion between December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2014, primarily due to the Supreme Court decision that threw out the reforms made by the 2013 Legislature. This will mean higher employer contribution rates beginning July 1, 2017. Fortunately, the PERS practice of “collaring” rate increases means we have been able to predict for some time what our employer contribution rates are going to be in the next budget cycle. We plan to do a more in-depth update on this topic for an upcoming meeting of the budget committee.
A couple of interesting articles for you this week. First is an article from the Oregonian on changes to the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act that will affect the cannabis clubs that have been springing up around the state. (There are none in Ashland that I’m aware of.) Then there’s this article from the Portland Business Journal in which one of the largest residential solar installers in the U.S. opines that the sunsetting of the Federal Investment Tax Credit at the end of 2016 will be a good thing for the solar industry.
Last Saturday APD assisted the California Highway Patrol and Yreka officers as they pursued a sexual assault suspect from California. Our officers deployed stop sticks on I-5, causing the vehicle’s tires to slowly deflate. This led to the person coming to a stop at exit 19, where he was taken into custody without further incident.
This week the department announced its intention to launch a new program that will assist community members suffering from drug addiction. This program will facilitate placement in an appropriate treatment program, and allow them to turn in their illegal substances without facing charges. APD will be the first department in the state to initiate such a program, and the 41st in the nation.