Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Special Meeting

Thursday, December 01, 2005

December 1, 2005
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilors Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.

1.    Discussion of Charter Committee Recommendations

Mayor Morrison suggested that Council focus on how to move this matter ahead. He noted the substantial time and public input already invested in this process and requested that the Council keep this in mind as they deliberate. Mayor Morrison presented the following options for proceeding:

- 1) Instruct the consultant Tom Sponslor to draft a charter in the model format that contains all of the recommendations brought forward by the Charter Review Committee.
2) Instruct the consultant Tom Sponslor to draft a charter in the model format that contains selected recommendations brought forward by the Charter Review Committee. The Council will utilize the motion making process and vote on which items to include.
3) Instruct the consultant Tom Sponslor to draft a charter in the model format that contains all of the recommendations brought forward by the Charter Review Committee, with the exception of Recommendations #1, #2, and #4, which relate to the form of government. These three recommendations will by omitted from the draft charter and drafted as separate measures.

Support was voiced for following Option 3 presented by the Mayor. Suggestion was made for the Council to discuss the 'housekeeping' recommendations in addition to the key recommendations presented by the committee prior to instructing the consultant to prepare the draft. Request was made for the Council to proceed by working through the chart of items to be changed, which is listed on page 11 of the Charter Review Committee's report. Following this discussion, Council could address the ten key recommendations. Opposition was voiced to starting with the housekeeping items and opposing request was made for Council to begin by deliberating the key recommendations.

Charter Review Committee Chair Carole Wheeldon stated that there is merit in discussing the housekeeping items, it is just up to the Council where to insert this discussion into their process. She cited the language regarding the hospital as an example of one of the items on the housekeeping chart that will need to be clarified by the Council.

Council agreed to discuss the items listed on the chart, with the exception of the items recommended for removal because they are superseded by state law.

- Article IX, Dillon's Rule:
City Attorney Mike Franell cited examples of powers that are granted to the Council through the broad powers grant and explained why it is not necessary to list specific powers in the charter. Council agreed to remove Article IX as suggested.
Article XIV, Chief of Police:
It was explained that the current charter requires the police chief to be present at Council meetings. If the Council wishes to continue this policy, the recommendation is to implement this policy by ordinance. Suggestion was made for a police officer to be present instead of the police chief. Consensus was reached to have a police officer present at Council meetings and to remove this language from the draft charter. City Administrator Gino Grimaldi clarified that an ordinance was not necessary to implement this policy.
Article XV, Section 2, Court Reports:
Council agreed to remove this language as suggested, since this action is not being performed.
Article XV, Section 4, Jury:
The recommendation is to retain this language. Mr. Franell explained that if this section was removed, it would fall under the state statute which prescribes a twelve person jury. Given the size of Ashland and the additional costs that would be accrued by having a twelve person jury, the recommendation is to retain the existing charter language and keep the jury at six. Council agreed to retain this language as recommended by the Charter Review Committee.
Article XVI, Section 1, Public Utilities:
Request was made for this item to be discussed along with the key recommendations.
Article XVI, Section 4, Repeal of Previously-Enacted Provisions:
Mr. Franell explained that the Secretary of State sets the record retention rules and that all city charters are permanent retention documents. This recommendation would remove the list of previous charter amendments from the document; however all of this information will continue to be available through the City Recorder's Office. Council agreed to follow the committee's recommendation and remove this section.
Article XVII, Hospital:
Mr. Franell clarified that with the exception of Section 1, this Article is covered by state statute. He explained that Section 1 authorizes the City to operate a hospital, but does not require them to do so. He stated that a potential challenge may arise if this language is retained, and explained that the City may have to defend why the hospital is listed while other establishments like the golf course or airport are not. Mr. Franell suggested that Article XVII be removed completely from the charter. Mr. Franell clarified that if this language is removed, the City would still be able to reestablish ownership if the hospital failed. He added that there are certain items in the charter, such as the City Band, that should be looked at in a different light. He stated that the Band is a unique characteristic of Ashland and has a long term history of being in the charter. And unlike the hospital, he noted that there are no provisions under the state statute that provides for a City Band. Request was made for Mr. Franell to look into this issue and provide additional feedback to the Council.

Council agreed to begin deliberation of the ten key recommendations presented by the Charter Review Committee. Suggestion was made for the Council to first decide which recommendations they agree with and which need more discussion.

- Recommendation #1: Council agreed that further discussion was necessary.
Recommendation #2: Council agreed that further discussion was necessary.
Recommendation #3: The Mayor should continue to appoint members of city commissions and committees, subject to council approval.
Council voiced support for this recommendation and agreed to incorporate it into the draft charter.
Recommendation #4: Council agreed that further discussion was necessary.
Recommendation #5: The city recorder should continue to be elected by the voters. However, charter language that dictates compensation should be removed; responsibility for salary issues would be assigned to the Citizen's Budget Committee. In addition, the city council should appoint a task force or committee to study the issues of the city recorder in additional depth.
Support was voiced for accepting the first part of the recommendation; however it was questioned if a task force was necessary. Ms. Wheeldon explained that this portion of the recommendation had less to do with the specific charter language and more to do with the fact that there are very few elected city recorders in Oregon. Council agreed to accept part 'a' of the recommendation and to consult with Tom Sponslor regarding the request for additional study.
Recommendation #6: The municipal judge should continue to be elected by the voters. However, charter language that dictates compensation should be removed; responsibility for salary issues would be assigned to the Citizen's Budget Committee. In addition, the city council should appoint a task force or committee to study the issues of the and municipal judge in additional depth.
Council agreed to accept the first part of the recommendation and to consult with Tom Sponslor regarding the request for additional study.
Recommendation #7: Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission should continue to be elected by city voters, and the Parks Department should continue to be administered as an autonomous entity independent of the rest of the city government. However, existing charter language should be streamlined to combine the Parks Commission and the Recreation Commission. Finally, charter language that dictates the department's formula should be removed from the charter; the Parks and Recreation budget should be determined via the annual city budget process.
Council questioned what would happen if the budget formula was removed and Measure 50 were overturned. Mr. Franell explained that should this situation arise, this matter would have to go back to the voters, even if the charter language was retained. Support was voiced for including this recommendation in the draft charter. Opinion was voiced that the Parks & Recreation commissioners should be appointed instead of elected, however the voters would likely not pass such a change. Comment was made expressing faith that the Budget Committee will provide adequate funding to the commission. Council agreed to accept the recommendation and incorporate it into the draft charter.
Recommendation #8: The Ashland City Band should be retained in the charter; however, funding language should be removed and budget issues delegated to the Citizen's Budget Committee. The committee recommends that the band be placed under the authority of the City Parks and Recreations Department.
Council agreed with this recommendation, but requested that Staff consult with the Parks & Recreation Department to make sure they are fine with the Band being placed under their authority and to report back if there are any issues.
Recommendation #9: Charter language that requires voter approval of all increases in council salaries should be eliminated; salary levels should be established via a city ordinance.
Mr. Franell explained that the majority of Oregon cities set salaries by ordinance; however some specify an effective date of the January following the election. Council expressed support for this recommendation and requested that Mr. Franell work with the consultant to draft the language.
Recommendation #10: The city council should convene a citizen-based Charter Review Committee at least every ten years.
The Charter Review Committee members provided a brief explanation of why it was a value to look at the charter every ten years, and noted that this does not require that any changes be made, just that it be reviewed. Council agreed to incorporate this recommendation into the draft charter.

Council began deliberation of the recommendations identified for additional discussion.

Recommendation #1: The City of Ashland should be governed by a partnership between the elected mayor (the political leader), a city manager (the administrative leader), and the council (the legislative body). Elected officials are charged with responsibility for developing policy; the city manager should implement that policy. The manager's administrative powers should be expanded to include staff supervision (hiring, firing, general accountability).

Concern was expressed regarding the word "partnership". It was clarified that this was the language of the recommendation and the charter language would not be exactly the same. Comment was made questioning where the 'break point' was for the city manager. Concern was expressed that the City would experience higher turnover if all of the responsibility for department heads lied with the city manager. Ms. Wheeldon explained that there would be no reason to remove the city manager if it was a department head that was causing the problem. She explained that the Council is not involved in the day to day operations of the City and it was a lot to ask this volunteer body to supervise all of the department heads. Instead, this responsibility should be left to the city manager; however Ms. Wheeldon stressed the importance of the relationship between the council and the city manager.

Support was voiced for the committee's recommendation citing that the current charter language is very vague and is lacking a clear line of authority. Additional support was voiced for the city manager to handle the hiring and firing of their subordinates. Mayor Morrison commented that the issue seems to be whether the mayor and council should be allowed to hire and fire department heads or whether this responsibility should be handled by the city manager, and voiced his support for allowing the voters to make this determination. Comment was made that it would be beneficial to have the language clear; however it really depends on the people in these two positions.

Council agreed to place this recommendation before the voters as a separate ballot title.

Recommendation #2: The Ashland mayor should vote on all issues before the council; at the same time, that mayor's veto power should be eliminated.

Ms. Wheeldon explained that the committee put forward this recommendation to provide a balance to Recommendation #1. She suggested that this item could be included with the ballot title for Recommendation #1.

Support was voiced for retaining the current structure and suggestion was made to not include this on the ballot. Comment was made that this might confuse things if it was placed on the ballot and agreed that the current structure should be retained.

Councilor Chapman/Hardesty m/s to not accept Recommendation #2. Voice Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Councilor Jackson, NO. Motion Passed 5-1.

Mr. Franell clarified that this motion would not prohibit Council from readdressing this issue during the public hearings.

Recommendation #4: The current position system for selecting council members should be eliminated in favor of citywide, at-large elections in which the top three vote getters win the council seats at time of issue.

Comment was made supporting four council seats elected by district with two selected at large; however it was noted that the voters would likely not pass this.

Mr. Franell clarified that the system for electing council needs to be addressed in the charter; however the charter language can state that the council will adopt on ordinance setting the election process.

It was questioned how this recommendation would affect the campaign finance issue and comment was made that this could allow for someone to 'buy' a council seat. Opinion was voiced that it is better when the citizens can focus on two or three people rather than a big pool of candidates. Comment was made that the recommended system could allow for the three candidates with the most recognized names to be elected. Support was voiced for the City's current system which provides for diversity on the council and allows for candidates without name recognition to gain a seat.

Mayor Morrison stated that there are pros and cons to both sides of this issue and asked about the public input the Charter Review Committee received. Committee member Hal Cloer provided his opinion that a head to head contest makes it easier for voters to understand the candidates and it generates better media coverage. Council commented that a head to head contest would have more focus on the issues whereas a pool could be more of a popularity contest or who has the most money to spend on their campaign.

Suggestion was made to omit this recommendation from the draft charter, but to take public input on this issue to determine if there is public support for the recommended change.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to pull Recommendation #4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Mayor Morrison provided a recap of the meeting. He noted that the Council agreed to follow Option #3, which instructs the consultant to prepare a draft that incorporates the Charter Review Committee's recommendations, with the exception of Recommendation #1, which will be drafted as a separate ballot title.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Noted his previous request for Council to respond to the four different citizens groups. Mr. Bullock voiced his frustration that there was no public forum listed on the agenda and commented on the disconnect with the process. He stated that simplifying the charter would result in a huge power shift from the voters. Mr. Bullock noted the 'ashland-ized' draft charter posted on the City's website and encouraged Council to compare this simplified charter against the current charter and look at what is being taken away.

Mayor Morrison noted that it was announced at the Study Session and at the beginning of this meeting that Council would be taking public testimony. He offered to meet with Mr. Bullock and stated that it was not their intent to restrict citizen input.

Mr. Franell clarified that the 'ashland-ized' draft charter listed on the website was an example and is not what will be placed before the voters. He noted the work of the Charter Review Committee to determine which provisions of the original charter should be carried forward and stated that quite a bit will be added back to what is posted now.

Suggestion was made to hold one more meeting before Council discusses the draft, during which public input could be taken and the citizens groups would be given the opportunity to present their proposals. Opposing comment was made that most of the councilors have already reviewed the citizen proposals and an additional meeting prior to the public hearing was not necessary.

Support was voiced for addressing the ethics issue and to consult with Mr. Sponslor regarding the inclusion of this language in the draft charter. It was also noted that the Council would be addressing the water provision issue at the upcoming meeting.

Mayor Morrison suggested that the council give the idea of an additional meeting more thought and determine if such a meeting is necessary and where it would fit into their timeline.

Mr. Grimaldi clarified that the December 14th meeting with Mr. Sponslor should be viewed as a resource opportunity and it was noted that public notice would be given for this meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 9:55 p.m.

April Lucas, Assistant to the City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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