Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Thursday, September 14, 2006

These Minutes are preliminary pending approval by Council
at the October 3, 2006 City Council Meeting.

September 14, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the Study Session to order at 5:15 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilors Silbiger, Amarotico, Hardesty, Jackson and Chapman were present. Councilor Hartzell arrived at 5:22 p.m.

1. Discussion of Maintenance of School Grounds.
City Administrator Martha Bennett explained the issue regarding the Ashland schools ground maintenance. She stated a subcommittee of the Parks & Recreation Commission, Ashland School District and the City Council have met and resolved the short term issue regarding the maintenance of Briscoe and Lincoln Elementary. She requested Council discuss whether they would be willing to participate financially in the long term maintenance of these two school grounds, as well as the long term maintenance of all of the school grounds. Ms. Bennett noted the City has participated with the maintenance of school property in the past, and noted the financial history information included in the packet materials. Ms. Bennett requested Council discuss this issue and provide staff with direction.

Juli DiChiro with the Ashland School District addressed the Council. She clarified their legal department has advised levy funds would not be an appropriate use for any of the landscaped areas and that these funds could only be used for the fields that are being used for recreation.

Parks & Recreation Director Don Robertson provided an estimate of $150,000 per year for the City's Parks & Recreation Department to maintain all of the schools grounds. He clarified this includes the maintenance of Lincoln and Briscoe Elementary, which are no longer occupied by the School District.

Ms. DiChiro clarified the Willow Winds school grounds are open to the public; the playground is used by the community and the grounds are used for camps and hiking purposes.

Mr. Robertson commented on the Parks & Recreation budget and stated they do not have individual budgets for each of the City parks. He explained the Parks & Recreation Commission view their tax responsibilities to be limited to what those City taxes are specifically collected for. He stated the school properties owned by the school are viewed by the Commission as being outside the scope of their financial responsibility.

Ms. Bennett clarified the Council made a commitment at the end of May to discuss whether the City wanted to be involved financially and the discussion came under the context of the Lincoln and Briscoe issue. She stated it was not clear at that time whether the Council's commitment was just to these two schools or all of the school properties. She stated if Lincoln and Briscoe are providing a neighborhood park function, it would logically follow that the other schools are doing the same even though they are occupied by the School District.

Ms. DiChiro clarified all of the school parks are utilized by the general public and that each has their own draw.

Council discussed whether the City should financially contribute to the school grounds maintenance and where the additional funds would come from. Comment was made that if the grounds at Lincoln and Briscoe Elementary are being used primarily as neighborhood parks the City should be paying for the upkeep. Comment was made that $150,000 taken from the City's general fund is too much and suggestion was made that this should be balanced within the Parks Department budget. Statement was made suggesting a smaller portion of the $150,000 figure be appropriated for Lincoln, Briscoe, Hellman and Bellview and for the City to focus on these as strategic neighborhood parks rather than spend $150,000 to maintain all of the school grounds. Suggestion was made for the Parks & Recreation Department and Ashland School Board to share the costs of the maintenance 50/50. Support was voiced for the Parks & Recreation Commission and Ashland School Board to review their budgets and see how this can be funded.

Ms. DiChiro explained the subcommittee has met several times and the Parks & Recreation Commission has already completed an evaluation of their budget. The Parks & Recreation Commission have determined they do not have the additional money in their budget to support the maintenance costs. Ms. DiChiro explained the Ashland School District currently pays $90,000 for the maintenance of all of the school grounds with the exception of Briscoe and Lincoln and they are willing to put forward this same amount to addresses this issue.

Comment was made that the City accrues value from the schools and they should find a way to assist in some way from the City's budget.

Ms. DiChiro clarified the subcommittee did discuss the possibility of the Parks Department purchasing the playground properties outright; however they could not come to an agreement on the value of the property and there was reluctance by some of the School Board members to let go of this property.

Ms. Bennett commented on the issues with Ballot Measure 50 and stated because the Parks & Recreation Department receives 100% of their income from property taxes, they will be limited by assessed value growth and will have financial difficulty in the future. Ms. Bennett questioned whether the Council would be open to the possibility of allocating funds to the Parks Department for the maintenance of some or all of these grounds.

Heidi Parker/344 Bridge Street/Ashland School Board Member/Stated this discussion has been going on for over a year and noted the joint Resolution that was adopted last November. The Resolution proclaimed "the School Board, Parks Commission and City Council shall preserve the playgrounds and playing fields at all the current Ashland School District facilities, including Briscoe and Lincoln as open spaces..." and "...all three elected boards will work together to coordinate funding". Ms. Parker stated these areas are City parks and the grounds are used extensively. She stated any kind of assistance the City could offer would be a tremendous help.

Ms. Bennett clarified staff would ask the Parks & Recreation Department as part of the budget process to cost this out with a concept in mind that the School District will be able to contribute approximately $90,000. She stated they would treat this as a budget package that can be submitted to Council and will ask that the trade-offs be identified as part of this request. She added staff would bring forward as part of that proposal any appropriate suggestions.

2. Proposed Council Operating Procedures.
City Administrator Martha Bennett submitted to the Council "Possible Topics for inclusion in Council Rules" and Ashland Municipal Code 2.04, Rules of the City Council. She recommended the Council implement a similar process used for the Council discussion of City Boards, Commissions and Committees for this issue and suggested they form a subcommittee to handle the in-depth discussion.

Ms. Bennett reviewed the topics listed on the "Possible Topics for inclusion in Council Rules". She stated these are the Council's rules and what goes into the rules needs to come from Council. Even thought staff has provided a draft and given them ideas, she stated the Council needs to be comfortable with the rules.

Ms. Bennett suggested the Council Rules elaborate on the following subjects and requested direction as to how staff should proceed.

• Setting the Agenda - • Rules for Quasi Judicial Land Use Public Hearings
• Executive Sessions • Study Sessions
• Council Packets • Requests of Staff
• Clear and Simple Proceedings • Conduct with Staff
• City Attorney as Parliamentarian • Representing City Positions/Personal Positions
• Explain Rational for Each Vote • State & Federal Lobbying
• Order & Decorum • Committees, Commissions & Boards (CCBs)
• Keep Discussion Moving • Conduct with CCBs
• Explain Public Forum • Operating Policies for CCBs
• Recesses & Adjournments • No Extensive Editing of Ordinances During the Meeting
• Council Expenses

Council commented on the items suggested for inclusion in the Council Rules. Comment was made that what has been prepared by staff was a good starting point for discussion and support was voiced for forming a subcommittee. Councilor Hardesty voiced her concerns and stated many of the suggestions are subjective. She questioned the two-hour rule for staff time, the necessity of the order and decorum item, and the keep discussion moving item.

In regards to the two-hour rule, Ms. Bennett clarified there needs to be a level of agreement amongst the councilors as to how they will work with each other and with staff. She stated she has received a number of concerns and complaints about how requests from council members are handled and stated it is important they establish some guidelines.

Councilor Hartzell voiced her concerns with the way this issue was approached and expressed interest in participating in the subcommittee.

Support was voiced by several councilors for moving forward with the subcommittee. Councilor Silbiger suggested since half the councilors are currently involved with the CCB subcommittee, the remaining three (Councilors Hardesty, Amarotico and Silbiger) could participate on the Council Rules subcommittee. Councilor Hartzell stated she would prefer to work on the Council Rules subcommittee instead. Mayor Morrison voiced his support for the subcommittee. He stated the councilors who are not on that committee could still share their concerns and ideas with that group and monitor the progress. He commented on having trust in their colleagues and noted the Council Rules would come back to the entire Council.

Councilor Chapman left the meeting at 6:46 p.m.

Council consensus was to form a subcommittee with Councilors Hardesty, Amarotico and Silbiger. Councilor Hartzell voiced her opposition to this arrangement.

Meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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