MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
August 2, 2000
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Council Chairperson Steve Hauck called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Wheeldon and Fine were present. Staff present included City Administrator Greg Scoles, Public Works Director Paula Brown.
DISCUSSION OF POSSIBLE MODIFICATIONS TO MAYOR AND COUNCIL WEB PAGES
City Administrator Greg Scoles presented proposed modifications to the Mayor and Council web pages. He noted it is possible to allow for periodic updates for council members upon each web page. He requested council enter into discussion regarding issues related to such web pages.
Scoles outlined Administrative Policies relating to the use of the Cityís internet web site, including standards for posting, Government Standards of Practice, and ethics violations regarding discrimination and management of content. Issues to be addressed include: personal web sites with business links (does this constitute the promotion of private business with City support?), equal time given to candidates (incumbent members are given a stage for self-promotion not available to other candidates), and overall control of content (non-city web sites could be abused and potential problems associated with these links). He went on to state the web site is intended to provide public information about city services, council actions, city activities, or policies, and to promote a positive image for the entire community.
Council engaged in a discussion regarding the ethics of providing personal information. Such information could be interpreted as promoting personal gain. Laws thinks councilor pages should remain as simple biographies without links to personal web sites. Further, he thinks editorials could be seen as propaganda, and rather than opening the possibility for problems, it would be better not to allow them at all. He suggests editorials could be on another type of City page.
Fine stated he thinks council should have the option of placing statements on their web sites in relationship to current issues. These statements could be used to explain the councilorís position and provide background on how decisions were made. Newspapers offer limited resources for this purpose, whereas web pages could give a longer-lasting opportunity for discussion. Regarding candidates for office, Fine suggested offering space on the web site. Barbara Christensen, City Recorder and Elections Officer, stated this would be illegal as the City cannot promote candidates. However, it is possible to post the information from the forms filed by each new candidate, as this is public information.
Wheeldon noted public debate should not occur on a web site, but rather personal dialogue should be encouraged to develop a dynamic within the council. A council member could be left out of the loop if discussion is done only on web sites, causing estrangement among the board.
Reid noted some people choose not to engage in electronic link-up. Should an editorial debate ensue on-line, those members would be left out. She questioned whether an on-line debate would be viewed by a large portion of the community, suggesting traditional means might better be utilized. However, if a debate were to take place on-line, it should be within a public forum web page. Finally, she stated links to personal web sites might offer problems depending on other links associated with the page. She is concerned about links to businesses, especially those who do not carry business licenses.
Hauck stated, according to research conducted three years ago, 70% of the public has internet access. He sees the web site as a valuable tool for communication. It would offer an opportunity for outlining work a councilor may be engaged in through a committee. A general discussion of whether or not all the committees have web pages ensued, including the appropriateness of posting council project updates on those sites rather than personal pages.
Council discussed the pros and cons of providing additional information on individual web sites and identifying who would access this information. Discussion continued on whether this could be viewed as an additional way of providing pubic information. In conclusion, each councilor made the following comments: Laws suggested each councilor identify questions and provide alternatives for discussion at a future council meeting. Reid stated that if she is expected to update her own page, she would require staff support. Wheeldon agreed with Reid, noting some councilors may have limitations with accessing the internet. She also felt updates to commission web sites were more important than personal sites. Fine had nothing to add. Hauck stated he does not see a problem with links to personal pages.
UPDATE ON THE WASTEWATER EFFLUENT AND BIOSOLIDS PROJECT
Public Works Director Paula Brown presented a synopsis of the Wastewater Effluent and Biosolids Project. She noted the old facilities are either gone or rebuilt, and the plant is operating with the new observation ditch. The up-lift quality is now much better than before.
Brown explained that the Carollo contract was amended to include pilot testing of two different types of membrane filtration units. One type pushes the water through membrane filaments, while the other is submerged in a tank and strains the water through its membranes. Both seem to result in near drinking water quality.
Brown stated the issue of biosolid residue still remains. Currently biosolids are being trucked to the landfill for disposal. There are three possible options for the future: pump the Class B effluent up the hill for storage and treatment, whereby altering it to a Class A state and allowing for disposal on the hill; processing the effluent to a Class A state and disposing of it on-site; and utilizing Clearwater Technologies (CT). Brown stated she has not had the time to evaluate the report submitted by CT.
Brown stated she needs to know if the council has decided the option of using the hillside is not desirable. She needs to negotiate deadlines with the DEQ. She also cautioned council on making a decision based on short-term solutions. She stressed that ideas presented to the council by staff should have a twenty-year solution incorporated into the proposal.
Reid noted court proceedings in another Oregon city regarding the use of a hillside for disposal. She wants to avoid possible litigation in the future. Laws questioned the economics of the alternatives for discharge of biosolids. Two options include continued dumping at the landfill and spreading biosolids on the hillside. He questioned what possible litigation hold-ups could cost during dispute. He noted his fruitless attempts at communicating with CT. He wants to hear more from them. Brown urged council again to look for a long-term solution, noting CTís plan for disposal is the same currently used by the city -- landfill. Wheeldon stated she wants to see a report from Public Works, including economic figures. Fine questioned why CT could not supply a report to the city engineer for a professional evaluation before being brought to the council.
Brian Thompson, founder of CT, provided a proposal to supply sludge treatment and disposal services to the City of Ashland. He gave background to the beginning of CT, including criteria he required: an indoor facility, small in size to maintain light-industrial standards, and odor-free. The desired end product was a Class A fertilizer without heat or pasteurization. Currently two technologies exist: belt press and centrifuge. Grants Pass is putting in a centrifuge. He chose to take another direction in order to produce a drier product.
Byproduct currently being processed by CT is dumped at the landfill, but once production has increased it can be turned in to a Class A fertilizer. Wheeldon asked what type of process he is using if it is neither belt press nor centrifuge. He stated it is called an autovac, and indicated it would be shown in the video tape. The autovac was originally used in production of beer in order to strain out hops, etc. In the last ten years, this technology has been used by cities in the east for biosolid processing. Fine asked if there are any other plants of this type in Oregon where the city engineer could take a tour. Thompson said the Portland area is building a plant, and he does not know of any other west of Illinois. Wheeldon asked why Grants Pass turned down CTís proposal. Thompson stated Grants Pass has a program called Joe Green, which mixes biosolids and green waste to produce fertilizers. The end product produced by CT is too dry for their needs.
Councilor Wheeldon excused herself from the meeting at 1:32 p.m. Laws asked about any guarantees the City would have should something happen to CT. Thompson stated the contract could be written in such a way as to protect the City, including bonding. Fine asked about the proposal handed out earlier, where it states if the City of Ashland wants a performance bond, it is expected to pay for it. Thompson answered this expense was not figured into the original numbers, however traditionally they run 1% of the total, approximately $833 per month. Fine asked if this includes picking up the Cityís expenses should it need to buy out CT. Thompson answered the million dollars would cover the plant, plus some. Fine stated he feels leery because when the City contracts for hardware, it expects some sort of guarantee should the equipment not work. Thompson stated this is what the bond is for. Laws stated the council would need to know the process works before a contract is signed. Fine agreed, especially in a situation dealing with municipal sewage and this technology. Councilor Fine excused himself at 1:42 p.m. The video tape was presented outlining CTís autovac system.
The proposal to the council noted CTís request from the DEQ for a letter outlining their abilities. In addition, it stated CT uses a dewatering process producing sludge free of all but cell moisture, a 70% solid and 30% water mix. The length of the contract would be five years with a five-year renewability or twenty years with cost of living index increase. The proposal requested the City clarify any concerns they may have regarding risks. The proposal stated CT is planning a new facility in the Medford area, which would decrease the annual cost of trucking. Currently, a $7,000,000 liability insurance policy is carried. CT requests a discussion of how large a bond the City would expect. CT has not been informed of the Cityís interest in fertilizer production, however it would be fairly inexpensive to begin to process a Class A grade fertilizer. CT cautioned the City regarding complications for producing fertilizer from municipal sludge. Finally, the proposal stated CT "can provide a sound environmental solution."
After the viewing of the video tape, the floor was opened for pubic comment. General comments included concerns for ever-changing technology, economic issues, and questions regarding gallons of sludge versus solid after processing. Thompson stated 15,000 - 20,000 gallons of 6% sludge produces a 5-yard dump truck of solid.
Brown stated the City system is currently producing a 1% biosolid, not the 3% biosolid required by the CT system. She stated CT is creating a product similar to the City, but through a different medium. The City is moving a one to two dump truck load to the landfill every day. If the council decides to use CT, dewatering to 3% would require extra processing. Plus, there is no storage space for sludge waiting for pick up by CT, and there is no loading area for a CT truck to do the actual pick-up. These issues need to be addressed. Brown asked for time to gather the statistics needed for a more thorough evaluation.
Reid asked what percentage the City is putting into the belt press. Brown stated a 1% solution is put through the belt press, resulting in a 10-15% solid biosolid. Reid asked what CTís process produces, and Thompson stated it would be a 70% solid content. Laws suggested research should be conducted to determine how much would be produced by CT with the 1% solid sludge.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder