October 5, 2006, 7:00 pm
Civic Center Council Chambers,
The meeting was called to order by Councilor Alex Amarotico at 7:02 pm on October 5, 2006 in the Civic Center Council Chambers,
City Councilors Amarotico, Hardesty, and Hartzellwere present. Mayor Morrison, Councilors Chapman, Jackson and Silbiger were absent.
School Board Members Amrhein, Alexander, Marr, Parker, and Patton were present.
Parks Commissioners Amarotico, Eggers, Gardiner, Lewis and Rosenthal were present.
Staff: Martha Bennett, City Administrator
Mike Franell, City Attorney
Don Robertson, Parks and Recreation Director
Juli Di Chiro, School Superintendent
INTRODUCTION AND AGENDA REVIEW
Mr. Amarotico proposed that we postpone the mass transit and workforce housing until a later date as all the members of those committees are not present. All agreed.
Councilor Hartzell requested that we also give the school board time to give information on the upcoming school bond. All agreed.
It was decided that, due to the late delivery, the minutes from the May 25, 2006 meeting will be approved at the next meeting.
Melissa Mitchell-Hooge/ gave her thanks for the efforts this group has made on the improvement of the school parks. She gave to each group a large thank you note from Save Our Schools and Playgrounds, which had been signed by some of the children and families who use the playgrounds.
EFFECT OF EUGENE LEVY RULING ON ASHLAND LEVY AND PROPOSED APPROACH TO ENSURING ASHLAND RESPONDS TO COURT RULING
Mike Franell gave an overview of the Eugene levy decision, as well as the differences between that levy and the City of Ashland’s levy. In brief; the Eugene levy, which was based on the Ashland levy, was challenged by a tax payer in the tax court. The tax court ruled against the Eugene levy. In doing so the tax court determined that the state statute which allocated to the local government a 10 million dollar cap was unconstitutional. Once the tax court made this determination the City of Ashland joined with the City of Eugene and a school district out of the City of Portland in appealing this decision to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the tax court’s decision. This does not mean the levy itself is invalid, but the portion of the levy which is used for education services now has to fall under the 5 million dollar cap for education services.
Juli Di Chiro reminded the group they have been discussing long-range maintenance of all public school grounds in Ashland - both those which are being used as parks and those which are currently open schools. Julie thought this would be a good opportunity to work on both school grounds maintenance and making the levy comply with the court’s decision.
The other difference between the Eugene levy and the Ashland levy is that Ashland Schools have a contract with the City Parks and Recreation Department, and that contract can be amended at any time without approval of the voters. Juli recommended the contract be changed. The current contract is for approximately $139,000 to Parks for maintenance of Briscoe and Lincoln as well as for some programs for youth. It was recommended that there be an increase in the amount of money going to Parks they can take on more of the over-all school grounds maintenance. Additionally, Parks could increase funding towards current Parks programs for Youth (such as Nature Center Programs). We currently don’t know what that exact increase amount might be, as more research from the County Assessor’s office is necessary.
Juli stated that the change in the current Parks/School Board contract will mean less money to the School District. However, Juli and all those on the committee working on this proposal believe the School District can work within the lower budget without too much effect on programs. Juli stated this contract change would show a good faith effort on the part of the City and School Board to look at the effect of the Supreme Court decision, remedy the possible new illegalities and still stay within the spirit of the original will of the voters. This good faith effort should prevent any court from deciding against us, should the levy be challenged in the next year. This also alleviates some of the difficulty the School District has with grounds maintenance.
Discussion was had regarding the effect on staffing in the Parks Department, Don Robertson stated if they were to take over this contract for the last half of this fiscal year and for all of next year they would add temporary, part-time workers. If, however, they could get a guarantee that Parks would be maintaining the School Grounds on a longer-term basis they could hire permanent, full-time workers. He did not want Parks to hire permanent people with the possibility of having to release them in 18 months.
It was confirmed, until the current levy sunsets in June of 2008, the taxes would still be collected the same as they currently are, the change we are talking about is in how those collected monies are spent.
Each group will get this item on their agendas prior to December 1, 2006, so the School District can cancel the current school maintenance contract with the County and can start the new contract with Parks at the mid-point in the fiscal year.
Moved to next meeting.
WORKFORCE/AFFORDABLE HOUSING AS IT RELATES TO ALL THREE GROUPS
Moved to next meeting.
COMMENTS REGARDING BOND MEASURE
Election will be November 7th. Ballots will be mailed October 20th.
Bond committee has been meeting for over a year. They hired an architectural consultant to review all school facilities. The committee reviewed those recommendations, did research, open houses and reached consensus with the school board as to what the highest priority needs are and this resulted in what is currently on the ballot for November.
The bond is a renewal of a bond which will expire June of 2007. The new bond will be for 46.8 million, starting July of 2007. It is based on $2 per $1000 of asset value.
The reason for the bond is that many of the school buildings are reaching the “end of their life”. All the facilities need to be upgraded in order to reduce or stabilize the ever-increasing cost of maintenance of these facilities.
Components of the bond:
· Add infrastructure on all facilities including; upgrades on heating, air-conditioning, and roofs, repair of drainage issues, and improvements in parking/drop-off areas.
· Remodeling the back of the high school, which is the gym facility with music classrooms and adding a scene shop for the new theater.
· Rebuild Bellview Elementary. The cost of remodeling versus rebuilding is so close the committee decided rebuilding and making the facility a “green” building and LEED certified was the better option.
· Add a new facility at Helman to alleviate the cramped combination of cafeteria, gym, and stage currently in use.
· Expansion of library facilities at Walker Elementary.
DISCUSSION OF NEXT STEPS
Each group will put the Parks/School Board contract on their agenda, prior to December.
Staff was requested to set up times which will work for all next year so we don’t do the calendar shuffle. Meeting months should be: January, April, July, and October.
Staff was requested to pull list of items for discussion from first meeting so it can be on the agenda for the first meeting of next year.
ITEMS FOR THE NEXT AGENDA
· Mass Transportation
· Workforce/affordable housing
· List of items for discussion – created at first meeting on June 28, 2005.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:16 pm.
Diana R. Shiplet