ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.
City Council: Mayor DeBoer and Councilor Amarotico, Jackson, Morrison and Laws. Councilor Hartzell arrived at 12:15 p.m. Councilor Hearn was absent.
Staff: City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, Communication Manager Ann Seltzer.
1. Report/Update from Rogue Valley Community Public
Communication Manager Ann Seltzer introduced Pete Belcastro from the Rogue Valley Community Public Television (RVCT). Belcastro gave a brief history on the inception of RVCT and its relationship with the City. He spoke on the following:
· Public Access (for citizens of Ashland)
· Education (SOU Academic Program)
· Government Access (for City of Ashland; Schools; and Parks)
Belcastro reported that RVCT has completed 371 live government meetings, 161 live studio call-in programs, 24 remote/special productions, staff equivalent 4.75 FTE, 20 SOU student assistants, $371,000 operating budget and that Ashland contributes 24% of the budget. He presented charts on channel programming, Ashland government use, and the percentage of programs for Channels 9 and 30.
Public Access TV Services provides programming and playback, a Community Producer Certification Program, and public outreach. He stated that Programming and Playback on Channel 31 is the public's channel and there is no charge for playback. He provided charts on community access for Channel 31 and programming.
Producer Certification Program is a 10-week training class limited to 16-20 and is similar to the SOU academic program. 416 Ashland students have graduated from this program.
Public Access Outreach provides access to the electronic media for non-profit groups and other issues of community interest at no cost.
He explained that there are live internet streaming for Channels 9, 30 and 31 (Project A) and that the video center is now open to provide video-on-demand for Ashland.
Also, RVCT is building a new television Center, transitioning to digital DVD playback, reserving a AFN-only channel, providing City Council improvements to the Council Chamber, increasing the use of internet video-on-demand and connecting tri-county cable systems.
Belcastro noted that any controversial videos are played after 10 p.m. and that there is a process for screening videos submitted for play. He stated that the University is self-insured for the protection of the SOU students. Discussion regarding offering programs for younger students due to the program cuts in the Ashland School District.
Belcastro explained that the channel capacity for the AFN-only channel, which has not been activated at this time, could be anything that we want it to be. He shared his belief that local access channels should only carry local information and not to subscribe to outside programs. He explained the difference between Charter and AFN subscribers. He further explained how the franchise agreement works between themselves, Charter, and the City and how peg fees are handled.
He stated that there is a contract between RVCT and the City and that there is no set ending period.
Tim Bewley explained that they had been asked to begin looking at the design and technical needs for the Council Chambers and will report back to the City Administrator. There was brief discussion regarding the needs for Council and public and a suggestion was made to bring in specialists to help with the design.
Bewley explained that "peg fees" are a revenue stream dedicated to peg access. The cable provider is the only one to collect this. Belcastro explained that there is no required number of services required by the agreement between RVTV and the City. The contract is open-ended in many ways.
It was noted that this community is a leader in the number of public meetings broadcast, and there is room to do more. The more commission meetings that can be taped the better, as there will be audio/video record for anyone to access via the internet.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi noted the interest in expanding use of RVTV and explained that staff will spend a little time looking at how we are using it and come back in a couple of months with some proposals on how we might do things a little differently. It was suggested that a comparison chart be given to the Council.
2. Citizen Survey Options
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi explained that they did not get a lot of feedback and suggested that this indicates the survey did not have a clear focus and perhaps, over time, the purpose of the survey has become vague. He suggested two alternatives.
1.) National Citizen Survey - Administered by mail and offers the advantage of being able to compare survey results with survey results from other cities. It lacks the ability to fine tune and customize the survey to the City of Ashland and lack of ability to add more than 3 policy issue questions.
2.) Ashland baseline survey with proposed modifications for 2003. This is a revision of the surveys we have done in the past. It could be made shorter which will reduce costs. Open-ended questions have been eliminated and other questions have been grouped in a more logical order. Other fine-tuning could be done.
Grimaldi stated that at this point that staff would need direction from the Council on this issue.
Council discussed who could conduct the survey, and the process of surveying. It was noted that in order for a survey to be accurate it must be random, and stratification does not guarantee randomness.
It was noted that SOU could do it, but not until this fall, though the Council could guide the process and it would be tailored to the City's needs and it would be an opportunity for the students to learn. It was felt that the results would be better and there would be cost savings. DeBoer volunteered to work with SOU in doing the survey.
The National Citizen Survey understands the process and levels out inconsistencies. It was suggested that we could ask the National Resource what the cost would be to administer the Ashland survey. The difficulty of crafting a good questionnaire was noted. It was pointed out that a professional company survey would have already overcome many of the obstacles to obtaining accurate survey results, and the City should use the very best methodology available. The ability of the National Survey to measure performance and community issues was questioned.
The pros and cons of telephone surveys vs. mail surveys were discussed. The importance of being able to compare results with past year's results was noted.
It was suggested that the various groups who would like to do the survey for Ashland give presentations and that Staff brings back additional information to the Council in written form. It was suggested that the Council first be interviewed on what they would like to learn from the community.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
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