Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

February 21, 2006
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, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Hartzell arrived at 8:54 p.m.
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of February 7, 2006 and Special Meeting of February 9, 2006 were approved as presented.
Proclamation of Peace Corps Week February 27 - March 5, 2006 was read aloud.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Liquor License Application - Double Deuce Sandwiches.
3. Liquor License Application - Cozmic Pizza.
Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. Planning Action 2004 -141 - Annexation and Zone Change (Jackson County Rural Residential RR-5 to City of Ashland Low Density Multi-Family R-2) for an approximately 10-acre parcel located on the east side of Clay Street, north of Ashland Street, at 380 Clay Street.
Mayor Morrison read aloud the Public Hearing procedure for Land Use Hearings.

Public Hearing Open: Mayor Morrison called the public hearing open at 7:05 p.m. He announced that the applicants had requested an extension and that the public hearing would be continued to the March 21, 2006 Council meeting.

2. Crowson Property - Withdrawal from Rural Fire Protection District #5.
City Attorney Mike Franell explained to the Council that this is a public hearing pursuant to Oregon Revised Statute 222.524 to consider any objections to withdrawing the parcel from Fire District #5. He gave a brief background summary where he reminded Council of their approval of this annexation at their July 19, 2005 meeting. He noted that the annexation had conditions placed upon it to complete certain tasks, which are still pending. He explained that this public hearing was scheduled in order to complete the annexation and withdrawal through a single ordinance.

Public Hearing Open: 7:10 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:10 p.m.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to direct staff to prepare an ordinance withdrawing the property located at 593 Crowson Road from the Jackson County Rural Fire Protection District #5 upon its annexation to the City. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

Ambuja Rosen/Spoke regarding tethering of dogs and requested that the Council adopt an ordinance.

Jose Reyes/701 Western Avenue #339/Gave his time to Randy Jones and submitted written comments into the record regarding establishing a winter moratorium on utility shut-offs.

Randy Jones/995 Siskiyou Blvd/Spoke on behalf of Jackson County Fuel Committee regarding a resolution for adoption by the Council to establish a winter moratorium on utility shut-offs. (Written comments submitted into the record)

Lisa March/696 Liberty/Spoke regarding the Jackson County Fuel Committee and a request to adopt a winter moratorium on utility shut-offs in Ashland.

Mayor Morrison noted the importance of this topic and invited any to come and speak to him in order to bring this forward for the Council's consideration.

Leah Ireland/228 Nutley/Spoke against the City selling Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) and her concern of it being run by someone other than the City.

Albert Pepe/1321 Clay Street/Spoke regarding Land Use issues in general and the future use of lands. He stated that we cannot wait for the future to develop a sustainable community and proposed looking at land located within the City to provide future food sources for the community. He also noted the over ruling of Measure 37 and stated that this was the worst thing that could happen to our State.

Bill Savard/Submitted into the record written comments regarding a winter moratorium on utility shut-offs in Ashland.

1. Appointment to Budget Committee.
Council discussed and voted by open ballot on the appointment of the following applications received for the Budget Committee for a term to end December 31, 2008: Bruce Barnes, Arlen Gregorio, Dennis Slattery, Roberta Stebbins, Michael Hays, Philip Lang, Mary Wooding and Thomas Gaffey.

Voting by Councilors: Chapman voted for Arlen Gregorio and Roberta Stebbins; Silbiger voted for Arlen Gregorio and Roberta Stebbins; Jackson voted for Bruce Barnes and Roberta Stebbins; Mayor Morrison voted for Arlen Gregorio and Dennis Slattery; Amarotico voted for Dennis Slattery and Roberta Stebbins and Hardesty voted for Arlen Gregorio and Philip Lang.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to appoint Arlen Gregorio and Roberta Stebbins to the Budget Committee for a term to expire December 31, 2008. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

Public Forum cont.
Dot Fisher Smith/945 Oak Street/Stated that March 20th marks the anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq and stated that Peace House is planning a community event to hear what individuals have to say about it on March 18. The intention is to provide a safe place where all voices could be heard and they would like to have an all day peace presence in the Plaza to listen to all voices for peace.
2. AFN Report - July 1 to December 31, 2005.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report, which is the first financial report for fiscal year 2005-06. He explained that this was an update and report on the connections to date. He included financial narratives which indicated cash flow comparison, a budget in brief which reflected operational revenues and expenditures, operational revenues to expenses comparison, recap of cable customers, cable counts by fiscal year, a chart on cable television reasons for disconnection to date and cable modem connections.
3. Discuss Allocation of Unused Transient Occupancy Tax Grant Monies.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report on the requested discussion on the Resolution that provides allocation of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). He explained that the Resolution does not address what to do if the Budget Committee does not approve awards totaling the amount required or if a grantee returns unused amounts.

Mr. Tuneberg explained that there have been instances in the past where this has happened and that there is a net total of $53,031 remaining in the General Fund. He stated that there was only one year where more grant monies were expended than budgeted, with most years resulting with an unused portion.

Staff has requested clarification on the following: 1)Can the Budget Committee choose to not allocate the entire budgeted amount per the resolution, and 2)What happens to unallocated amounts or to granted amounts returned by the recipient.

Councilor Silbiger stated that if the Budget Committee does not allocate all of the monies in a particular year, it is good fiscal responsibility; and the resolution does provide for monies to be allocated back to the fund if they are not allocated. He stated that the Budget Committee should have the option to not spend all the monies if they choose. Concern was raised if there was no criteria set as standards for not allocating.

Comment was made that as long as the Council has the flexibility to award these monies to Economic and Cultural Development projects and it remains compliant with State tourism expenditure requirements, this would be acceptable. It was clarified that it could be either awarded by the Council or re-budgeted and carried over into the next year. Mr. Tuneberg clarified the percentage method used when calculating allocation.

Staff offered to amend Resolution if necessary, but was satisfied with the policy direction by the Council.

4. Request to Negotiate New Franchise - Charter Communications.
City Attorney Mike Franell presented the staff report and background information on the request from Charter Communications to renew their franchise agreement. He explained that the City could elect through a formal renewal process or an informal process. Staff has proceeded with an informal process where a decision to grant or deny the franchise could be made after the public has been given adequate opportunity to comment. Mr. Franell listed the areas that the public could comment on, and stated that the public comment period was advertised to afford written comments of which none was received. He explained that after all public comments were received and evaluated; a new franchise agreement with Charter Communications would be negotiated and brought back to the Council for adoption.

Mr. Franell stated that the Council could offer an additional period for accepting comments if they desire. Council did not move forward on this offer. It was pointed out that the City does not have control over what Charter Communications pays and that it is based on a percentage set by Federal Rules. Mr. Franell clarified that the cable modem service is not considered cable television service and is not subject to city franchise requirements.

5. Food and Beverage Tax and Transient Occupancy Tax Collection.
City Attorney Mike Franell presented the staff report on the method of collecting Food & Beverage (F&B) sales tax and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and the amount of staff time that it involves. He stated that there are 74 business in Ashland that file TOT reports and 144 businesses that file F&B reports.

Under the current process, the Legal Department has had to file suit 13 times against businesses that were delinquent. He explained that the Legal Department does not follow through with judgments, which has resulted in three or four businesses that have several thousand dollars of outstanding judgments and he offered ways in which this problem could be approached.

Mr. Franell reported that the provisions for TOT & F&B collections are found in AMC Chapter 4.24 and Chapter 4.34, which provide for the City to charge an operator with a violation and prosecute them. He explained that staff could continue to conduct their collection methods in the same manner, but the downside of this is when a business fails or files a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Staff could also, under the direction of the Council, be more aggressive in collection of the judgments granted. He gave examples on how this could happen.

Rather than filing suit, another option would be to turn the debt over to a collection agency after reasonable efforts have been taken to contact the business owner. If this were to happen, staff recommends that our ordinance be amended to provide for the addition of the collection agency fee as provided in ORS 697.105 to the debt owning. Mr. Franell explained that the delinquency notices would be amended to include that if not paid, the debt would be turned over to a collection agency. He stated that the advantage to this method is that it would substantially reduce the Legal Department's time spent in collection efforts, but the disadvantage is that it would substantially increase the amounts owed by the businesses that are already having difficulty paying their taxes.

Mr. Franell explained that additional enforcement options could be added to our ordinance and make it a requirement of our business licenses that the business stay current on its tax obligations to the City. A provision to the business licenses would allow the City to deny the business license renewal and require the business to discontinue its operations if there is an outstanding judgment against the business for taxes due to the City. The disadvantage would be that it could shut down businesses.

Mr. Tuneberg stated that businesses are working on a sooner than later schedule and if left too long the businesses just get further behind. Mayor Morrison clarified that this is a misappropriation of funds and that the City has been too lenient on businesses that are not paying these taxes. He voiced his support for turning these accounts over to a collection agency and tying it to the City business license. It was also noted that this would be a fair way to work with all business owners.

Council showed consensus on being more aggressive for collection methods, but that to use the business license tie as a last resort. Discussion was held on the amount of staff time that would be involved if the method of revoking business licenses were used.

Staff will bring back a report based on the Council's discussion for further consideration.

6. Oregon Economic Development Grant/Loan Application for Jefferson Street Continuation.
Interim Public Works Director Joe Strahl presented the staff report on the proposal to annex a parcel contiguous to City limits along an unimproved section of Jefferson Street. He explained that annexation and development of this parcel would require the completion of Jefferson Street to full City standards to supply infrastructure and that the improvements to Jefferson Street would be recognized as a suitable project of Oregon Economic and Community Development Division (OECDD) monies.

He stated that the Engineering Division had compiled the necessary improvements needed to complete the Jefferson Street connection and that the cost is estimated at $900,000. Mr. Strahl explained that the connectivity of this section increases the access for all Washington and Jefferson Street residents and creates a more straightforward transportation route to Ashland Street and the I-5 corridor. Building the continuation of Jefferson Street would open up the area for further development of manufacturing and light industrial businesses in Ashland, which increases employment opportunities for the community.

Staff recommends the further submission of the application to OECDD and that Brammo draft an agreement between the City and Brammo Motorsports fully guaranteeing the road improvement costs. In addition, the agreement should assume that the City would not be responsible for any infrastructure costs associated with this project.

CEO of Brammo Motorsports Craig Bramscher explained that his business has recently grown and is continuing to purchase small businesses. Because of this, additional space is needed in order to conduct business under this growth. He stated that his desire is to keep his business and employees in Ashland and interest by the community has been positive and demand has been proven. Mr. Strahl explained that if the grant were successful it would pay for public facilities; all other expenses would be Brammo Motorsports responsibility.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s for staff to proceed with filing the OECDD grant/loan application for the continuation of Jefferson Street. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Authorizing Signatures, Including Facsimile Signatures, for Banking Services on Behalf of the City of Ashland".
Councilor Amarotico/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2006-02. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Jackson, Silbiger, Amarotico and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.
New Business cont.
7. Emergency Water Supply.
Interim Public Works Director Joe Strahl presented the staff report on a Mutual Aid agreement with the City of Talent. Mr. Strahl explained that the agreement would alleviate concerns associated with a disruption of water service in either city by providing an alternate source of supply through a shortened Talent/Ashland/Phoenix (TAP) line in an emergency. He spoke to the Council on a backup water supply that would not be subject to the concerns raised.

Mr. Strahl explained the background on the TAP water line, which currently terminates at the north end of the City of Talent. The extension of the TAP line would result in an alternate source of a potable water supply for Ashland. However, the expense of connecting to the TAP line could be delayed if the City of Ashland develops a mutual aid agreement with the City of Talent. Such an agreement would allow Ashland to connect to the Talent water system at the south end of Talent, and postpone the construction of the TAP line along Highway 99 through Talent. Both Ashland and Talent's emergency water needs could be met through this connection. Mr. Strahl explained that Ashland is more likely to require water from Talent due to emergency circumstances associated with the location of the water treatment plant and the City's limited water source.

Mr. Stahl explained that a preliminary plan had been developed to accomplish this connection to the Talent system. It would involve building elements that would be required for future connection and the plan would involve only the construction of items that would eventually be needed for the completion of the TAP line. It is estimated that the emergency connection would cost $60,000 in this fiscal year and approximately $2.5-$3.0 million in later years.

The current project schedule is included in the Capital Improvements Plan and identifies the funding sources. He explained that $150,000 is budgeted in this year's fiscal year for TAP and that there are sufficient unused appropriations to cover this change with some engineering work deferred to next year.

Mr. Strahl emphasized the importance of addressing an alternate source of water supply and noted the many possible natural occurrences which could result in disruption of water service. He reminded Council that the City has committed to constructing the TAP line in the future and that the Council Goals have emphasized the importance of preparing for emergencies. He stated that from Talent's perspective, this matter is critical as it relates to improvement plans in the City of Talent. He explained that the City of Talent has plans to reconstruct the areas where it would be necessary to connect to Talent's system and that it would be cost effective to perform the work at that time. The City of Talent has offered an Emergency Supply agreement but the costs would be born by the City of Ashland.

He clarified that the City is being asked to commit to $60,000 for this project and that nothing is a "throw-away" as all facilities would be needed when the TAP line is completed in the future. He noted that this would also enable the City to postpone the connection to the TAP line in the future if found necessary.

Councilor Hartzell arrived at 8:54 p.m.

Mr. Strahl reported that Talent's water supply is more secure but that there is always the possibility for something to go wrong with their system.

Councilor Jackson commented on the importance of having the connection and stated that this would be the right move for the City.

Mr. Strahl explained that there has already been a preliminary design and that the construction would begin in 2008-09 and completed in 2009.

Councilor Hartzell voiced concern with conservation efforts and with the City not following the Master Plan. Mr. Strahl clarified that through this emergency services agreement and a connection, it would provide for emergency needs should an emergency occurrence happen, and that the City would have the ability to meet the emergency obligations for the community. This proposal keeps conservation on the table because it does not provide an additional source of water, but an emergency source of water. He clarified that the water resource comes from the Medford Water Commission.

Mr. Strahl explained that there are plans in place to protect the water plant but there is nothing that can be done if there is a catastrophic occurrence. The cost on the use of the water if used would be worked out in the Emergency Services Agreement. He reiterated that the City of Talent is willing to be a good neighbor and is willing to work out an agreement with the City of Ashland.

He clarified that when water is used in an emergency, water rights are not usually considered. It was suggested that use of water rights could be worked out in the agreement in the event of a drought. This agreement would have to be a mutual agreement so that in an emergency drought, both cities would be in a curtailment situation.

Councilor Jackson/ m/s to direct Public Works to complete preliminary design and cost estimates for the shortened TAP line. Voice Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

1. Request from Councilor Hartzell to discuss Federal lobbying efforts known as the "United Front."
Councilor Hartzell gave a brief description of the United Front and suggested that the Council become more involved in the process and allow an opportunity for citizens to provide input.

Councilor Jackson shared her experience with the United Front and provided a brief history. She noted the five funding requests that were made last year, and stated that two of them had been approved. In total, the City has received close to $5 million from their two trips to Washington D.C. Councilor Jackson clarified that the United Front has set its priorities based on the Council Goals, and voiced her support for the Council participating more in the process.

City Administrator Gino Grimaldi clarified that Mayor Morrison and possibly one member of staff would be going back this year, and noted that this issue would be further discussed at the March 7th Council Meeting. He stated that there is an advantage for a staff person attending and noted that there is quite a bit of follow-up work to be done between the staff members of Congress and our staff after the requests are made. He also clarified that the funding for this trip comes from the travel budget.

Support was voiced for the United Front efforts as well as establishing a more formalized process.

Councilor Chapman commented on the Global Warming Task Forces created by the three western governors and their suggestions on how to mitigate global warming. He explained that one of the suggestions was to unify the three states and adopt the California Emission Standards. The DEQ has a temporary rule now in place and is taking input until March 3rd to make it a permanent rule. Chapman stated that he would be submitting comments on this issue and asked if the Council would like him to also draft a statement on behalf of the City.

Support was voiced for Councilor Chapman commenting on this issue and it was suggested that he draft a statement and circulate it to the councilors for their signatures. City Attorney Mike Franell clarified that it would not constitute a vote if each councilor signed their name to the letter individually. Alternate suggestion was made for Chapman to submit his letter to the Mayor, who could sign it on behalf of the Council.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to ask Councilor Chapman to produce the letter and ask the Mayor to sign it on behalf of the Council. Roll Call Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

Councilor Chapman also noted that he intends on providing comments to the EPA in regards to their new proposal. He stated that he would be presenting his input on March 8th, 2006 in San Francisco and would submit his presentation to the Council for their review ahead of time.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:48 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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