Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Continued Meeting

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

September 7, 2005
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the Continued Council Meeting to order at 12:15 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Hardesty was absent.
1. Designation of Voting Delegate for NLC Meeting.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi explained that the National League of Cities (NLC) is a national organization that the City of Ashland belongs to and questioned if any of the councilors were interested in attending their annual meeting scheduled for December 6-10, 2005 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mr. Grimaldi noted that this organization provides education to elected and appointed officials and represents cities in Washington, DC. He also noted that the City has funds set aside if any of the councilors are interested in attending.

Councilor Silbiger expressed his interest in attending the NLC Meeting.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to designate Councilor Russ Silbiger as the voting delegate for the NLC Meeting in December. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Continued discussion on Reading by Title only of "A Resolution re Authorizing a Cable Television Rate Increase in the Telecommunications Fund and Surcharge on Electric Accounts."
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg noted that he had presented an abbreviated presentation of this issue at last nights meeting, and elaborated on the information presented in the Council Memo. Mr. Tuneberg submitted a Comparison Table of the four options to the Council and pointed out that the Memo contained charts that display a range of impacts as well as an explanation of how Staff arrived at the $738,000 figure. He noted that any rate increases would have an impact on daily operations as well as customer counts.

Mr. Tuneberg listed the four options presented to the Council:

Option #1: Do not change rates or establish a surcharge until January 1, 2006.
Option #2:
Establish a surcharge effective October 1 on electric accounts of $3 per month in FY 05-06 with the $500,000 transfer and a $7 charge per month in FY 06-07, or set the surcharge at $5 for both years with the $500,000 transfer.
Option #3: Raise AFN cable tv rates for existing tiers an intermediate amount (15%) with the $5 surcharge.
Option #4: Raise AFN cable tv rates for existing tiers 25% to "market" with $5 surcharge.

Mr. Tuneberg noted that a tailored Option 4 had been presented by Councilor Silbiger, and noted that Staff had looked into this option, which would entail an increase in rates sooner, and the implementation of a surcharge sooner, but would not require a transfer from the Electric Fund.

Support was voiced for Councilor Silbiger's option, and it was noted that it would be preferable to postpone the increase in cable tv rates until January, as to not hit the marketing season for SOU. Interest was expressed as to whether there was any way for the surcharge to not impact low-income families. Mr. Tuneberg mentioned the possibility of the surcharge being based on a percentage of usage rather than a flat rate, but pointed out that some of the people they intended to help might be adversely impacted by this method. Mr. Tuneberg stated that Staff would want to look closely at this possibility before making a recommendation.

Opposition was voiced to utilizing the transfer from the Electric Fund, and it was commented that this could be viewed as a hidden subsidy. Mr. Tuneberg disagreed with the language "hidden" and stated that throughout the budget process and rate increase discussions these funds were talked about very openly as being a subsidy.

It was questioned if there would be a negative impact by not implementing the rate increase until January. Mr. Tuneberg stated that because they are openly discussing this rate increase, it would likely have an impact on the market and affect the decisions of some of their customers. He added that it would be beneficial if the City was able to change their product between now and January to make the increase more palatable. Comment was made pointing out that the surcharge might need to be raised by $.25 in order to make up for not implementing the rate increase until January.

Mr. Tuneberg commented on improving the line-up of the cable tv programming and stated that there has been considerable discussion as to what could be done, however Staff has not approached the AFN Programming Committee with significant changes. It was noted that the AFN Options Committee could possibly recommend changes as well. Mr. Tuneberg explained that any significant changes in the line-up or product line would need to be brought before the Council by November in order to have the changes effective by the time of the rate increase in January. He added that any significant policy changes to the service would need to be laid out very well before they are presented to the Council.

It was commented that the AFN Programming Committee has approved a number of channels that could be added fairly quickly. Mr. Tuneberg concurred, but noted that significant overall changes would take a little more time, and stated that some of the large things they are considering are policy changes.

Comment was made suggesting that some action to improve the service be taken prior to the release of the AFN Options Committee report. Mr. Tuneberg clarified that Staff and the AFN Programming Committee were currently looking at better line-ups, however a significant roll out would require further discussions.

Councilor Silbiger/Jackson m/s to adopt an AFN surcharge of $7.50 per month staring in 30 days and adopt the cable rate increases shown today as Option 4 starting January 1st, 2006. DISCUSSION: Comment was made questioning if it was a possibility to provide basic service to all those who paid the surcharge. Mr. Tuneberg clarified that this would be difficult to determine, and stated that further discussion would need to be had before implementing such a policy.

Councilor Chapman/Jackson called for the question. Voice Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Councilor Amarotico, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

Roll Call Vote on Original Motion: Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Jackson, YES. Councilor Amarotico, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

1. Comments regarding Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development proposed changes to State transportation goals and rules.
Councilor Chapman briefly noted that recent changes to the proposed modification of the State transportation goals and rules has made it less crucial for the Council to discuss this issue at today's meeting, and it was suggested that the Council address this issue at a later time. Suggestion was made for Councilor Chapman and Mayor Morrison to prepare a letter to the State regarding this issue.
ADJOURNMENT:  Meeting adjourned at 1:05 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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