MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
February 4, 2003 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn were present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of January 21, 2002 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor DeBoer presented a Retirement Plaque to Don Saurman of Ashland Fire & Rescue.
Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
Liquor License Application from Don Kleary dba Irish Pub, 137 E. Main Street.
Ashland Sanitary & Recycling Services Solid Waste Recovery and Green Waste Program.
Adoption of Findings for Planning Action 2001-117, Approving an Annexation of Five Acres at 250 Clay Street: Russell E. Dale, Applicant.
Item 4 was pulled from the Consent Agenda at Councilor Amarotico's request.
Councilor Morrison/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda items 1-3. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Morrison/Hartzell m/s to allow Councilor Amarotico to abstain from voting on item #4. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Morrison/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #4. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
Marilee Jenkinson/144 North Second Street/Commented on the City of Tacoma's passage of a resolution regarding United States foreign policy in Iraq, and urged the City of Ashland pass the same.
Bill Eckart/939 Valley View Road/Spoke about the Ashland Community Land Trust, noting that it is an opportunity for Ashland to have, in a sustainable fashion, housing that is affordable forever.
Joaquin Saloma/593 Crowson/Was prepared to speak regarding the camping ordinance but gave up his time to the Lower Pines speakers.
Nancy Richardson/93 California Street/Spoke regarding the Lower Pines issue and affordable housing.
Selene Aiken/446 Helman Street/Requested that the resolution regarding the Patriot Act be placed on the next Council agenda for consideration. She noted effects the Patriot Act has already had on Southern Oregon University (SOU) students.
John Almaguer/663 Normal Avenue/Speaking as an Immigration Attorney, he requested that the resolution regarding Patriot Act be placed on the next Council agenda for consideration as the issue is of local concern.
Jill Brazier/1565 Siskiyou Boulevard/Read aloud her statement regarding affordable housing and the sense of community found among the people who live in the Pines.
Gracie Rainbow O'Brien/547 Clay Street /Read aloud a quote from George Orwell.
Suzi Aufderheide/321 North Mountain/Co-chair of Oregon Action, asked that the Council support a letter to the owners of the Lower Pines which asks that the owners enter into mediation with the residents.
Kim Blackwolf/145 Central Avenue/Spoke in favor of hiring a Housing Coordinator and asked that the Council help move the issue forward.
Mayor DeBoer explained that the resolution regarding the Patriot Act would be on the next council agenda.
Councilor Hartzell/Morrison to place a discussion about the Lower Pines on the agenda. DISCUSSION: It was commented that in order to be fair to both sides of the issue the discussion should be put on the next agenda. Hartzell explained that her intention was to allow informal comments. Voice Vote: Hartzell and Morrison, YES; Laws, Amarotico, Jackson and Hearn, NO. Motion denied.
1. Presentation for the Funding of the Parks, Trails and Open Space Plan.
Parks Commissioner JoAnne Eggers presented the following recommendations to the Council:
That a ballot measure be presented to the voters at the first opportunity in 2003 to reallocate the percentage of the food and beverage tax as follows: 40% to Parks, Trails, Open Space, and 60% to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The current allocation is 20% Parks, Trails, Open Space and 80% WWTP.
To increase Parks SDCs based on increasing land prices.
To pursue donations, grants and private public partnerships along with other creative funding strategies.
It was noted that the price of land has gone up so much that current funding levels are inadequate.
It was noted that the Charter requires a vote of the people on any rate/tax change regarding Parks and Open Space. City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the costs associated with putting measures on the ballot, estimating between $4,000 and $12,000 depending on if Ashland had the sole measure on the ballot or if other entities also had measures on the ballot.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained that the present tax structure generates $1.6 million per year with $317,000 going to Open Space and the rest going to debt service on the WWTP. The current allocation does not cover the WWTP debt service, and the reallocation of funding would translate into a 15% increase in sewer rates.
Guy Nutter/1037 Pinecrest Terrace/Feared that the proposed measure would be defeated due to the increase in the sewer rates that would be required. He suggested increasing the Meals tax from 5% to 6% with the extra 1% going to Trails and Open Space acquisition, and extending the time frame to 2010 or 2015. He favored putting the burden on visitors to the community.
Lew Nash/88 Baum Street/Representative of the Ashland Woodlands & Trails Association supported funding parks and trails acquisition.
Council discussed the issue and the following points were raised:
And additional $60,000 per year could potentially be realized through an increase in SDCs and that the SDC Committee is willing to look into the issue.
Some people see an increase in the sewer tax in order to pay for parks as a problem.
Shifting allocations commits the Council to other actions they must take the credit or blame for.
The economy is not strong and people are voting down anything that resembles a tax.
The commitment of Ashland citizens to Parks, Trails, and Open Space is strong.
Increasing the Meals tax would infuriate the local food and beverage industry.
If the Council passes plans and then fails to refer methods of funding those plans to the voters, then the Council is wasting its time.
Acquiring Open Space is an asset investment, which could be recouped with profit in the future.
Councilors Hearn/Amarotico m/s to approve Parks & Recreation recommendation for funding. DISCUSSSION: It was noted that a direct approach might be better, and that the Council has an obligation to be forthright in what they are asking for. Voice Vote: Amarotico and Hearn, YES; Laws, Hartzell, Jackson and Morrison, NO. Motion denied 4-2.
Councilors Laws/Amarotico m/s to direct staff to put together a report, that would come back to Council, to increase the Meals Tax 1% dedicated to the Open Space Plan, and which includes items #2 and #3 of the recommendation. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that Staff will come back with a recommendation and public input could be taken at that time. It was noted that the deadline to get a measure on the May ballot was March 20. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
2. Review of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Signal Project on Highway 99 (N. Main Street / Lithia Way) at the intersection of Helman, Pioneer and 2nd Streets.
Public Works Director Paula Brown gave an overview of the project. Five new technology signal lights will be installed on Highway 99 at the intersections of Helman, Pioneer, and 2nd Streets. Curb bump-outs are included, as well as pedestrian countdown timers, and pedestrian safety will be increased. The construction cost is around $800,000.00, with all funds coming from ODOT - the City has no funds put in to this project.
Councilors Laws/Hearn m/s to give Public Works Director Paula Brown, City Engineer Jim Olson, and the Traffic Safety Commission a, "hip hip hurrah." Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
3. Approval of Oregon Public Works Emergency Response Cooperative Assistance Agreement.
Public Works Director Paula Brown explained that is brought to Council for formal adoption and to amend the City's Emergency Management Plan
Councilors Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve the Oregon Public Works Emergency Response Cooperative Assistance Agreement and amend the City's Emergency Management Plan to include this mutual aid agreement and requirements to request reciprocal emergency aid. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
4. Project "Round Up" Proposal.
Electric & Telecommunications Director Dick Wanderscheid explained that this program would allow customers to voluntarily have their electric bill rounded up to the nearest dollar. The funds generated by this would be solely devoted to bill paying assistance for low-income customers. He suggested implementing the program using an "opt-in" method, and estimated that if 3,000 customers participated, $18,000 in additional revenue could be generated for the program. Funds generated in this way could also be used to assist in water and sewer payments for low-income customers. This "opt-in" would be presented to customers in a "bill-stuffer."
Councilors Morrison/Hearn m/s to approve Staff recommendation using the "opt in" method. DISCUSSION: It was suggested that Staff explore offering "rounding-up" to the nearest $5 as well. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
5. Ashland Fiber Network Quarterly Report.
Electric & Telecommunications Director Dick Wanderscheid reported that we are exceeding targets for CATV, Internet, and Bulk CATV connections while high-speed data is lagging. We are being impacted by the dot.com recession. Because of exceeding some projections we have been able to manage expenses. Revenue is down, but so are expenses so we are ahead of our Business Plan. 300-400 customers still not served by AFN, with the bulk of those in small, scattered pockets. Also, the bleeding of capital dollars is about to go away because construction is almost complete. People in Ashland enjoy better rates than neighboring communities.
He will be approaching the Council with a rate increase in the near future which will generate and additional $15,000 in revenue per month. High-speed data rates would not be raised.
It was suggested that a third-party assessment of AFN be done. Wanderscheid responded that any input would be useful and he had no objections. His preference would be to pull the advisory committee back together, as they are free, up to speed, and more knowledgeable about the market and the plan than an outside consultant would be. Paid consultants would impact expenses.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Presentation regarding upcoming Youth Activities Levy.
Julie DiChiro School Superintendent, and Amy Amrhein, Vice-Chair of School Board, explained that the School Board, on February 10th, would take formal action on a recommendation for the length of the levy and the amount. The results would be brought to the Council at their next meeting. She reviewed the history of the levy, noting that it presently generates $1.7 million dollars, which goes to a wide variety of activities in all schools, including PE and music in the elementary schools. Passage of the levy will require a double majority vote.
2. Adoption of Housing Needs Analysis and Housing Action Plan; and Authority to proceed with hiring of a Full-time Housing Coordinator.
Interim City Administrator Brian Almquist reported that Councilor Hartzell is requesting that the Housing Action Plan be adopted at this meeting, and that Staff be directed to proceed with the hiring of a full-time Housing Coordinator position as soon as possible. There is a sufficient appropriation to proceed with hiring. Estimated full-year costs for 2003-04 is $80,400 ($63,100 for salary and benefits, and $17,300 for materials and services costs). If a full-time secretary were deemed necessary, the additional cost would be $41,400 ($38,100 for salary and benefits, and $3,300 for materials and services). The position will be a "regular" position.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin noted that cleaning up and revising the Action Plan had not been done yet, but the Council could adopt the plan and have modifications brought back at a later time. He noted that Community Development clerical staff is working overtime already and that if the Housing person needed secretarial support it would not be available. He clarified that the position would support the Housing Commission.
It was commented that the Housing person could be responsible for his or her own clerical needs. Almquist clarified that he wanted Council to be aware, long term, that this may be a pressure at budget time.
It was clarified that the Housing Action Plan would be brought back to Council in May.
Councilor Hartzell/Hearn m/s to extend meeting past 10 p.m. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Nancy Richardson/93 California Street/Took issue with the budget for the Housing staff position, stating that people who work in the non-profit affordable housing realm are used to doing their own secretarial work so secretarial support should not be included in the budget. She felt the City has a great lack of sustainable thinking when it comes to budgeting.
Jennifer Henderson/321 Clay Street/Urged the Council to pass the Housing Action Plan and fund the Housing Coordinator position. Felt that the proposed budget for the position has been inflated.
Mayor DeBoer proposed that instead of hiring another City employee that a $50,000 donation is given to the Ashland Community Land Trust (ACLT) for the purpose of hiring an executive director. He stated concern with "government creep" and the escalating costs involved in adding City staff. Jackson felt it critical that the City has its own employee to do this work. Hartzell commented that ACLT felt that this position is more needed in the within the City.
Councilors Hartzell/Laws m/s to direct staff to proceed with hiring a full-time Housing Program Specialist as soon as possible, and that the Housing Action Plan be brought back to us for consideration in May or June. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that this does not approve the Plan but brings it back for consideration. It was suggested that the Council focus on what we want and get for the money - the expectation of performance and results. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
3. Quarterly Update on Parking Structure: October - December 2002.
Councilors Laws/Morrison m/s to accept the report. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
4. Quarterly Financial Report.
Financial Director Lee Tuneberg reported that things are well this year and projects are being completed.
Councilors Hartzell/Morrison m/s to accept the Quarterly Financial Report. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Authorizing Outdoor Burning under Certain Conditions between March and October, 2003."
Councilor Laws, Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2003-01. Roll Call Vote: Amarotico, Hearn, Laws, Jackson, Hartzell and Morrison, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
Mayor DeBoer gave a reminder of the Council Study Session on February 5th, noting that he would not be present at the session.
Councilors Hartzell/Laws m/s consideration of resolution regarding Patriot Act be put on the agenda for February 18th, 2003. DISCUSSION: City Attorney Paul Nolte explained that given the short amount of time, he would not be able to give the issue comprehensive study and reporting. It was asked that the report focus on what it says a city employee must do, should do, or can do, that is different than what they can do now, and the legalities involved. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
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