Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Special Meeting

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

June 28, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 5:20 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Amarotico, Hartzell, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Jackson was absent.
1. Contract Amendment for the FERC Part 12 Inspection Engineering Services for Hosler Dam.
Councilor Amarotico/Silbiger m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
1. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Amending the Pay Schedule for Management and Confidential Employees for Fiscal Year 2006-2007".
Human Resource Director Tina Gray presented the staff report and explained staff's recommendation to increase the salaries of non-represented employees by 4%. Ms. Gray commented on the reasons behind this recommendation, including: 1) the CPI is on an upward trend, 2) two bargaining units are scheduled for a 4% adjustment and one other has received 7% since last July, 3) this would allow the City to offer competitive salaries for recruitment purposes, and 4) competitive wages assist with the retention and development of existing employees, help to cultivate staff talents, and keep morale high.

Ms. Gray clarified she was responsible for drafting the proposed resolution and noted the only change from the initially proposed resolution is a change to the elected officials' salary. She commented on bargaining and explained that Ashland tries to keep it's salaries within the average of cities with comparable populations.

Council questioned the fiscal impact of the proposed resolution. Adminstrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained the 4% proposed increase would equal approximately $169,000. Council was directed to the appendix for a list of the employees who receive the administrative leave benefit. Ms. Gray explained this group does not have the benefit of collective bargaining and stated that time off was a major issue for these employees. She stated that due to their work load, they often are not able to take time off. Councilor Hartzell expressed her concern with these employees utilizing their administrative or vacation leave instead of sick leave and then cashing out their sick leave. Mr. Tuneberg explained the provision for these employees to have untaken leave paid off at 30%. The indirect impact is roughly $15,000 if all of these employees were to cash out their leave rather than take the time off. He explained many of these employees put in well over 40 hours a week but do not receive overtime pay and noted the need to recognise the hours the managers are putting in as compared to the hourly paid employees.

Ms. Gray explained the desire to keep the non-represented employees up to par with the union employees' benefits and compensation. Mr. Tuneberg pointed out the accrual limitations for vacation and sick leave.

Ms. Gray commented on Section 14.2 of the Resolution Clarifying Conditions for Management and Confidential Employees. Council expressed concern with the City Administrator having the authority to amend the salary schedule. Ms. Gray clarified the intent of this section was to clarify and capture the current practice. She stated this language provides the City Administrator authority to recognise outstanding work or employees who have taken on additional responsibilities. City Attorney Mike Franell stated the Council has the authority to set the salary schedule, however this section provides the City Administrator the ability to make adjustments on an individual basis. Council expressed concern with the authority shifting from the Council to the City Administrator and questioned whether this is a policy change.

City Administrator Martha Bennett explained there are circumstances where it makes sense to adjust the salary to meet recruitment needs without having to return for Council approval. She stated she would not create a new schedule but may need to move someone up to the next step. She stated this is intended to deal with case by case situations and not whole scale revisions.

Concern was expressed that the proposed resolution is not clear as to which situations this is intended to regulate and request was made for staff to return with alternate language options for Section 14.2. Ms. Bennett confirmed staff would bring back revised language of Section 14.2 in the Resolution Clarifying Certain Conditions of Employment for Management and Confidential Employees.

Councilor Amarotico/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2006-15. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hartzell, NO. Motion Passed 3-1.

2. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution of the City of Ashland Clarifying Certain Conditions of Employment for Management and Confidential Employees by Repealing Resolution No. 2004- 23, which Repealed Resolution 2002-23."
Councilor Amarotico/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2006-16. DISCUSSION: Ms. Bennett clarified staff would return with revised language for Section 14.2 as requested. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion Passed 4-0.
1. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Adopting a Supplemental Budget Establishing Appropriations Within the 2005-2006 Budget".
Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report and explained the resolution would recognize interest revenue received in the Cemetery Trust Fund. Mr. Tuneberg clarified the interest earned in the Cemetery Fund is transferred back to the General Fund each year.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to approve Resolution #2006-18. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion Passed 4-0.

2. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Transferring Appropriations within the 2005-2006 Budget".
Mr. Tuneberg explained the transfer of appropriations is needed in the Street and Telecommunications funds to adjust for changes in costs during the year that occurred after the 2005-2006 budget was adopted.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2006-17. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion Passed 4-0.

1. Bear Decision.
City Attorney Mike Franell explained over the past few weeks a bear (or bears) have been sighted over 24 times. He stated recent sightings have been witnessed in broad daylight in heavily populated areas and stated the bear does not seem to be afraid of people. Mr. Franell noted the letter from Mr. Mike Jewett, which is included in the packet materials. He stated it is only a matter of time before there is a bad encounter with the bear and explained how staff is assembling an address list of houses in the vicinity of recent sightings and how staff will be sending out a notice explaining the situation, how citizens can reduce attractors and what to do if they encounter the bear.

Mr. Franell noted the Council's options listed in the Council Communication. He requested they declare the bear a threat to human safety, per the definition in ORS 498.166, and provide direction as to how staff should proceed.

Councilor Amarotico commented on Mr. Jewett's letter and questioned the claim of the bear no longer fearing humans. He voiced his support for public education and to look into where the City has placed its trash receptacles.

Councilor Hartzell questioned the legal responsibility of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) in this situation. Mr. Franell explained ODFW has advised the City unless the bear attacks someone or a pet, they cannot step in and remove the bear. ODFW feels the bear has become a nuisance and it does not have an appropriate weariness of humans; however, they do not support relocation in this instance. Mr. Franell noted the state statute has criteria on when a bear becomes a threat and stated the City has a responsibility to take appropriate steps. He explained the appropriate action could be to educate the citizens and eliminate the attractors, however this is a resource issue and staff needs direction from Council as to how much is appropriate to spend on this endeavor.

Mr. Franell explained at least two different bears have been sighted. One bear was sighted eating a deer, however it is a small cinnamon colored bear that is most sighted and is the one that may end up causing the City problems.

Councilor Amarotico noted he contacted Wildlife Images and was informed they would not be able to take the bear. Staff clarified they have not yet spoken with Wildlife Safari for possible relocation.

JoAnne Eggers/221 Granite Street/Does not support a preemptive strike against the bear and voiced the need for citizens and visitors to be made aware of this situation.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower Street/Recommended the City start with education on food attractors rather than targeting one bear that has shown no aggression toward humans or pets.

Paul Kay/1234 Strawberry Lane/Shared his experience with bears near his property and stated we cannot ignore our responsibility for taking care of what attracts the bear. He commented on the practice of cleaning garbage bins to deter the bears and voiced his support for education.

Mr. Franell requested Council provide direction on the allocation of resources and a basic outline of the plan they would like to have in place. Council discussed this issue and commented on public education, citizen and visitor awareness, the possibility of relocation, asking the Police Department to track the bear, and whether the bear has become a threat to human safety.

Ms. Bennett summarized Council's discussion and clarified:
1) Staff will continue the public education effort on bear attractors and how to handle an encounter.
2) Staff will look into the possibility of relocating the bear and report back at the next Council Meeting.
3) In the short term, if the bear poses an actual physical risk to someone, it is acceptable to kill the bear.
4) In the long term, the City will continue to address public education and look into additional equipment (bear proof trash bins, etc.)

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to authorize staff to spend additional money for extra staff over the Fourth of July weekend to ensure safety and clean-up of garbage; to come back to Council with an appropriate budget for possible relocation of this particular bear and an education and awareness campaign; and further that the Mayor prepare and send a letter to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife urging their involvement in this problem. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed 4-0.

1. RVTD Discussion.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer presented the staff report and noted Council's previous decision to eliminate Route #5 and devote $290,000 to buying down the fare on Route #10 as low as possible. She noted the Council's actions following that decision, which included requesting additional information from RVTD and Council's request to pursue a lower fixed fare on Route #10 than the $.75 proposed by RVTD. Ms. Seltzer provided an explanation of the spreadsheet included in the packet materials and noted the meeting that took place on June 23 between RVTD and City staff, Mayor Morrison, and Councilors Silbiger and Chapman.

Ms. Seltzer stated that reducing the fares to $.50 for fixed route service and $1.00 for Valley Lift Service is within the $290,000 budget, assuming ridership drops 20%, and requested Council's direction to prepare a contract with RVTD based on these rates. She noted the City would be billed quarterly for actual charges based on ridership and stated staff would be monitoring this closely. She stated the drop in ridership is the unknown element, however the proposed fare structure would cost the City $273,000 which leaves some funding left over in case the drop in ridership is not a full 20%.

Madeline Hill/857 Mountain Meadows Drive/Spoke for Celia Moss and SkyLark Assisted Living. Ms. Hill commented on the -mile radius limitation of Valley Lift Service and requested a task force be formed to find a solution to this problem.

Elizabeth Hallett/923 Plum Ridge Drive/Stated the families of Trinity Respite Care will be heavily impacted by not having the Valley Lift Services available to them and reminded the Council the need for this type of service will only increase in this community.

Claire Collins/482 Lori Lane/Commented on the transportation system used in the City of Aspen, Colorado. She suggested pass systems at different fares for students and elderly citizens and the possible use of school buses for transit needs. Ms. Lane suggested the City implement its own bus program and voiced her support for the formation of a task force.

Sasha Lithman/232 Grant Street/Noted his mother depends on the Valley Lift Services and requested clarification on the fare schedule being proposed.

Council clarified the Valley Lift fare would be $1.00 each ride ($2.00 round trip) within Ashland, and $4.00 each way to Medford.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower Street/Encouraged the Council to buy time on a three month basis in order for the whole community to receive the numbers and come to an informed decision on this issue. He stated Council's actions are an in the box decision and sets the stage to reverse the progress made over the last 10 years. *Mr. Bullock's complete written testimony was submitted into the public record.

Councilor Silbiger/Hartzell m/s to direct staff to prepare a one year enhanced service contract with RVTD for a fixed rate of $.50 and $1.00 for Valley Lift to be billed quarterly. DISCUSSION: City Attorney Mike Franell clarified that state law preempts our local option and explained cities that have a population over 10,000 are not allowed to pursue withdrawal from the transportation district. Councilor Hartzell requested staff look into the City's rights under this transportation district and provide an update to the Council. Given the situation, she stated the City needs to be looking at all options. Council discussed whether the contract should be for a 6-month or 1-year term. Support was voiced for the one year term as long as the termination clause remained in the contract. Council shared their thoughts on the decision to eliminate of Route #5. Mayor Morrison stated the Council must make a decision on this issue; however they can begin to explore the other options and form a task force to bring in citizen input. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Councilor Amarotico, NO. Motion Passed 3-1.

Ms. Seltzer commented on the discussions she has had with RVTD and noted RVTD's intent to place a payroll tax on the November ballot.

Council continued to discuss their concerns with RVTD. It was questioned if the Council should submit a statement of concern to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments or the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Councilor Silbiger left the meeting at 8:00 p.m.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s for Staff to work with the Mayor to draft a letter that describes what Council has done, requests that a task force be put together and make some suggestions on who Council believes is appropriate, including the E.R.T, and that it expresses their intent and interest to participate as active players. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 3-0.

Meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

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

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