MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
April 5, 2000
Council Chambers, 1175 E Main
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 12:04 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Wheeldon and Fine were present. Staff present included City Administrator Mike Freeman, Assistant City Administrator Greg Scoles, Electric Utility Director Pete Lovrovich, Director of Administrative Services Dick Wanderscheid, Public Works Director Paula Brown, Finance Director Jill Turner and Assistant Fire Chief Dave Peterson.
DISCUSSION REGARDING THE EAST MAIN/SISKIYOU INTERSECTION
Public Works Director Paula Brown explained to council that this intersection has many different aspects to it, due to the amount of traffic, traffic flow, weaving and lane changes, and pedestrian impacts. She explained that the Traffic Safety Commission reviewed this intersection and has received a grant from ODOT to explore some conceptual options. She stated that the final decision for design will depend on the impacts of the new library and fire station and that staff is proceeding with the consultant's "Option 2."
Brown presented a visual map for council and explained that Option 2 helps to shorten the pedestrian crossings on E. Main Street and on Gresham, will more closely align Gresham and E. Main at a desirable "T-Intersection," it closes the existing pass-through at the Fire Station and moves it further south, it provides better pedestrian crossing at Lithia Way, realigns the travel lanes on Siskiyou, and it potentially allows for parking in front of the new Library. Brown also explained that the bus stop in front of the Library will be moved. Council discussed different design options in regard to traffic safety and pedestrian safety relative to sidewalk placement.
Council suggested that Brown bring back options for council to review in regards to crosswalk placements.
DISCUSSION REGARDING THE LIVING WAGE ORDINANCE
Rich Rohde and Susie Aufderheide spoke regarding what they feel is a significant issue in the City of Ashland. Gave a brief overview on why they believe a Living Wage ordinance is important for the city to adopt. Information was provided to council in a handout that included what other cities have adopted with similar ordinances, and a draft ordinance.
Councilor Reid noted that in St. Paul, Minnesota the city ties in their grant funding requests to those businesses that follow a Living Wage ordinance. Rohde explained that this is the direction that most cities are taking in order to encourage the Living Wage concept.
Rohde stated that a report had been released addressing the "rich-poor gap" and that it was strongly felt in the Ashland community. He noted that the rate of poverty in Jackson County continues to rise and that Ashland is above the average in the county. Rohde stated that we need a sensible way to move toward a Living Wage economy.
Aufderheide suggested that the medical industry be approached first to participate in the Living Wage program. She shared that she is a single mother with six children and that she has never earned a living wage in Ashland. She commented on the importance of retaining the character of the community, which means making it possible for current residents to remain in the community.
Rohde explained that if the city should consider taking on the proposed ordinance, it would be joining three other cities in the State of Oregon. He clarified that it is his understanding that the prevailing wage requirements are only an average of job position and classifications and that union contract wages would be excluded from the Living Wage ordinance.
Rohde stated that this ordinance would apply to city workers, city subcontractors and economic development grant recipients. Council discussed their interest in adding entities that use city lands or buildings to be included in the Living Wage ordinance. Rohde noted that he has a report from other cities that provide information on how this ordinance has worked in their city and he will pass this on to staff to distribute to council for their information. He explained that the Living Wage ordinance is a good way to stimulate the local economy.
Rohde requested that the process begin toward adopting this ordinance and that council place the ordinance on the agenda for a public hearing. Laws agreed that this is a moral issue and noted that the proposed ordinance is far more comprehensive than what other cities have adopted. He stated that we need to know the significance of costs to the city in adopting this ordinance. Aufderheide agreed to provide council with additional information that is available on how contracting service costs have been effected by this ordinance. Wheeldon requested that a list of profiles of communities that have this ordinance be provided to council for their review.
Freeman stated that he would like to look further into whether the current prevailing wage requirements already meet the needs that the proposed ordinance is trying to address. Shaw briefly commented on the city setting an example of encouraging the Living Wage, but stressed the importance of determining the costs and effects of this ordinance.
Rohde reported that their committee has focused their presentations in the health care field and that they are approaching cities along with the county. He stated that he will begin to gather the additional information requested by council and give to staff. Fine requested that this topic be added to the "Future Items" of the Look Ahead.
GREEN POWER PROPOSAL
Director of Electric Utility Pete Lovrovich brought forward options for Green Power. He reported that the Electric Department finalized a cost of service study in 1998 that showed stable finances through 2003 with no rate increases. He explained that during the current budget process, the long-term financial plan for the Electric Department was updated and several changes have taken place since the completion of the cost of service study.
Current options are as follows:
1. Purchase 1Mw of green power in FY 2000-2001 with a 1.7% rate increase in 2000-2001 and a 5.3% rate increase in FY 2001-2002.
2. Purchase 1Mw of green power in FY 2001-2002 with a 7% rate increase in FY 2001-2002.
3. Don't purchase 1Mw of green power with a 5.3% rate increase in 2001-2002.
Freeman explained that BPA will pass along power and transmission rate increases expected to total $315,000 that is equal to a 4% rate increase and that the expected sales figures from the cost of service study have not been realized. He explained that there has been close to a 1½ % reduction in sales, due mainly to weather conditions.
Shaw voiced her concern that if rates are increased now, the community will perceive this as a direct result of the Ashland Fiber Network (AFN).
Fine suggested that another option be considered that would allow customers the option to pay for green power at a premium rate, rather than all customers paying for the purchase of green power.
Wanderscheid explained that unless you can subscribe for less than 1Mw of green power, you will need to have a large number of customers interested in using and paying for 1Mw of green power. Reid stated that she believes there is a base of customers in the community that would support green power and that the city's stand on conservation speaks for itself and that there is a need to participate.
Laws noted that this proposal is in direct conflict with lowering the cost of living in this community as was just discussed in the earlier presentation.
Reid questioned having lowered rates at the previous study, as the city should have foreseen the potential for revenue being affected by the weather and kept rates stable to save for this eventuality.
Fine suggested that interested customers agree to pay higher rates for green power up front to support the program.
Shaw agreed with Reid, and suggested that green power will not succeed without a certain level of support from cities. Suggested that if the city has the opportunity to support a green power option it should do so.
Wanderscheid noted that the rate case still needs to be completed, and noted that the green power purchase may qualify the city for a conservation discount. Emphasized that rates are uncertain at this point, but that Bonneville has given assurances that the purchase of green power would qualify the city for a discount.
Fine suggested sending out contracts for customers to sign indicating their willingness to support the program.
Reid suggested that this would be confusing after customers financial support was just sought for solar power. Suggested that it is within the council's purview to vote for an increase to support green power for the good of the community. Shaw agreed that the decision to add green power to the mix is a decision to be made by council.
Laws suggested that this be placed on the council agenda for further discussion and public comment. Fine concurred. Freeman stated that this is a timely issue given the budget process and suggested that a decision needs to be made soon. Shaw asked that this be placed on the next agenda.
CITY COUNCIL AGENDAS
City Administrator Freeman requested clarification on how council would like council agendas prepared. He explained that his philosophy has been that if a single councilor requests an item on the agenda that has not been seen by other councilors, he requests that it be brought up as "Other Business from Council" during the meeting.
Fine stated that he believes there are mandatory terms in the municipal code or charter requiring the Administrator to place an item on the agenda if requested by a single citizen. Confirmed that it is up to the Administrator to determine the meeting date for which agenda items are to be scheduled.
Shaw questioned placement of some items under "Special Presentations and Awards." Suggested that this had improved since Freeman began serving as City Administrator.
Laws stated his belief that the Administrator is to serve the role of balancing the agendas, and suggested that if a councilor makes a request the item should be placed on the next agenda unless there is a specific reason not to do so.
Wheeldon stated that there may need to be a more detailed look at the Look Ahead during meetings. Explained her belief that people have difficulty paying attention during the "Other Business" portion of the agenda near the end of the meeting, and stated that she may make requests of the Administrator to ensure items are on the agenda and get proper attention.
Shaw stated that she does not believe that it is required that the Administrator place items on the agenda at the request of citizens, as citizens always have "Public Forum" as an avenue to bring items before the council. Discussed the use of the "Public Forum" for discussion of items outside the jurisdiction of council. The City Recorder clarified that the municipal code requires submitting a request to be placed on the agenda in writing, by a deadline set by the Administrator, and that the Administrator, at the discretion of council, can determine whether items are to be placed on the agenda.
Shaw emphasized the need to get information to the Mayor and Council prior to the meeting to give them the opportunity to read and digest the information. Emphasized that fax machines and e-mail are acceptable formats to communicate information prior to the meetings. Laws emphasized that written materials prepared by staff should be included in the packets whenever possible.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer