Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Thursday, March 09, 2006

March 9, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 5:22 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Amarotico was absent.

1.  Street Condition Assessment and Financing

Interim Public Works Director Joe Strahl introduced street employees Steve Burkhalter and John Peterson.

Mr. Strahl explained that a street condition inventory had been completed and it indicated that there is a back-log of streets that are in need of repair and the condition is getting worse. He stated that the number of streets and expense related to repair is increasing. Overall there is approximately $5.3 million worth of unfunded street work in the city that needs to be addressed in order to maintain the system in a cost effective manner. The department is prepared to do what is necessary but cannot do the work without the money.

Staff recommends that a task force be appointment to work with staff to develop funding options for council's consideration.

Mr. Burkhalter gave brief explanation on how streets are evaluated and determination on the condition of the street.

Mr. Strahl explained that it is not unusual to have a back-log of streets in need of repair and due to priorities in the department, the rise of fuel costs, level of average street conditions and other factors can result in an increase in the number of back-logged streets in need of repair. He stated that basing your standard on an average may not be the way to go and he suggests concentrating on the low end of the system to make sure more streets don't fall into this category. He explained that when deteriation sets in, in sets in quickly.

Council and staff continued their discussion on various areas of the community where street repair is needed. It was suggested that street System Development Charges (SDC) be reviewed. Mr. Strahl suggested that the lower end streets be focused on as a priority and that it could be part of a capital improvement project. He stated that the city does contract out for engineering.

It was clarified that SDC's can only be used for improvement based on capacity and could not be used for maintenance. Mr. Strahl gave examples of capacity improvements. He stated that "load limiting" needs to be done with care, that there are streets that are designed to handle certain loads. One of the problems with load limiting is that the people in construction trades feel they are already paying the fair share of the cost.

Council and staff continued discussion regarding various streets with steep slopes and how drainage is important in these types of streets.

Staff suggested forming a task force consisting of staff and citizens that could bring back funding options for the council to consider. It was suggested that a sub-committee consisting of staff and council may be a better approach due to the complexity and different sources of revenue streams that may in competition for by other groups.

Finance Director Lee Tuneberg spoke regarding the various revenue streams. He also noted that it may be beneficial to have a group look at various revenue streams to evaluate whether we have our fees set appropriately. He stated that it is important to look at what else is being funded and that by having a group look at the big picture may be important, especially if it is done sooner rather than later.

It was clarified that the task force would be to explore funding options, clear expectations and have a time-line.

Mr. Tuneberg stated that due to the size of the project it will take longer to identify funding and is a multi-year project. Mr. Strahl stated that there is a need to plan now in order to plan projects.

Staff will develop a charge for the task force and may work with the SDC committee.

Council consensus was to move forward with the formation of a task force and will determine who the members of this task force will be when the charge has been developed and brought back to the council for consideration.

2.  Ethics Code

City Attorney Mike Franell presented the staff report on the concerns that have recently been expressed concerning public officials and ethics in Ashland. He sited these concerns as 1) public officials using their position for personal financial gain and 2) public official participation on issues in which the public official has a potential conflict of interest. He requested discussion from council on tightening the provisions by the City relative to public official ethics.

Mr. Franell provided several examples from various cities on what they have in regards to ethics. He stated that there are very few cities that have ethic codes, as many rely on the State's ethics guideline. He stated that the current ethic code by the City of Ashland is one of the strictest, but that it relates directly to employees not elected officials and members of Boards and Commissions. It is assumed that ethic laws for elected officials and members of Boards and Commissions are based on the State's guidelines.

Mr. Franell explained, in relationship to the acceptance of Shakespeare tickets, that the donor of Shakespeare tickets is "Shakespeare" and that the council would be in the "presence" of the donor and could then accept the tickets. He also spoke to the situation where there is a "client for hire" before the Board, Commissions or Council.

He requested guidance from council in regards to elected officials, members of Boards and Commission and the acceptance of gifts. Or, limit the "client for hire" if coming before the decision making body.

It was suggested that the current city code incorporate the elected officials, Boards and Commissions. Mr. Franell requested further guidance from council in regards to "client for hire" before the board of which they are a member. He gave examples of "client for hire" situations in order to clarify what this means. Council continued discussion on the level of participation when there is a potential conflict of interest.

Mr. Franell stated that the City of Corvallis code is clearer and better understood than our code, but is not stricter. He believes that having clear language is important, but trying to define every area that officials would be precluded would be too cumbersome. The important thing is to develop an overall policy.

Mr. Franell stated that there is a need to determine who would enforce the ethic code. He shared the models used by the City of Eugene and the City of Salem.

Staff requested direction in regards to what to include in the Charter. His recommendation is to use language currently used by the City of Gresham, where the council had direction to provide an ordinance for ethics. Further direction was requested on who these ethics should apply to and whether to tighten up the ethics in regard to "client for hire." And, how do you want to enforce the ethic procedures. Mr. Franell stated that he prefers that the City Attorney's office handle ethic complaints.

He clarified that he is seeking direction from council on how restrictive the council would want to be on restricting someone from representing a client for hire before a commission or board.

Council continued discussion in order to determine their direction on these recommendations.

Council consensus on the short statement in the charter, with consideration of adding some language that was included in the Portland code, to include elected officials and members of Boards and Commissions in the current ordinance relating to ethics, consider enforcement for ethic complaints be conducted through the City Attorney's office and to tighten up the presentations before commissions/boards where the individual is a member. Consideration of a time-frame for when an individual was a member of a commission/board should be included.

It was questioned on what the consequences would be based on ethic violations. Mr. Franell explained that if it were an employee, sanctions would be done by the supervisor. For elected officials or appointed, it could be based monetarily or actually be removed from office. He recommends that if an elected official was involved that it would be the council that should render the sanctions.

City Recorder Barbara Christensen noted that she is currently working with the State's Government Standards & Practices to offer a class on Ethics.

ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at 7:05 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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