Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, February 05, 2007

February 5, 2007
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. He clarified the Council would be reviewing tomorrow's meeting agenda and requested they identify their questions for staff. He added this was an attempt to keep the regular meetings efficient and enable the Council to complete the agenda items.
Councilors Hardesty, Navickas, Jackson, and Chapman were present. Hartzell arrived at 5:20 p.m. Councilor Silbiger arrived at 7 p.m.
1. Look Ahead Review.
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the items on the Council Look Ahead and noted this document is constantly in flux. She stated that some of the agenda items slated for the February 20 meeting would likely be pushed to a subsequent meeting and noted the Council is scheduled to have a study session on February 22 to discuss "Right Water, Right Use".

Ms. Bennett noted the request from Philip Lang has been placed on the Look Ahead. She explained Council received a letter from Mr. Lang expressing concern about the bricks at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival complex, suggesting that they violate City policy and the City could be liable for any injuries. She stated there is a policy that enables citizens to request agenda items, however staff does not have to honor the date requested. Mayor Morrison commented that this issue has been raised before by Mr. Lang and questioned if it could be handled administratively.

Assistant City Attorney Richard Appicello clarified the Street and Police Banner Right of Way item. Ms. Bennett added that several citizens have come forward requesting clarification regarding pole banners. She stated staff will bring forward the issues and let Council resolve this since the Municipal Code does not provide a satisfactory answer.

Mr. Appicello also clarified the Parade Permit Procedures item. He noted the City Attorney has made changes to the current procedures to reflect a recent federal case so that the City is protected against a future claim. Councilor Hardesty requested a summary of the federal case when this issue is brought forward.

Councilor Navickas requested staff provide the names of citizens who have requested items be placed on the agenda. Ms. Bennett clarified this information would be included in the staff reports.

2. Discussion of Ashland Fiber Network Five-Year Business Plan.
Informational Technology Director Joe Franell presented the AFN 5-year Business Plan to the Council. He voiced his support for the plan and noted that it would change over time. He briefly commented on the 3-year plan and stated this is the restructuring year, next year money will be expended on capital and replacement components, and year three and the years following will be looking to AFN to generate positive cash flow.

Mr. Franell reviewed each page of the plan with the Council, and noted the following highlights on each section:

Page 4: It was noted through last year there was a negative cash flow, but from this year forward AFN will make free cash flow that can be applied to the debt or whatever else the Council sees fit. It was noted the "dip" in FY2008 reflects the component replacements that need to be done. Mr. Franell clarified he will be setting money aside each year for planned replacements so that they do not have a large spike like this again.
Page 5: Comment was made questioning why the expenses for cable television and internet were not separated. Mr. Franell noted these expenses were lumped together in the previous audited numbers. Suggestion was made for the separate figures to be listed for the one year they are available.
Page 6: It was noted AFN is at 67% of plan, and are only halfway through the year. Mr. Franell noted AFN did not experience the loss of customers they had projected and noted the loyalty of the customer base. He clarified the plan assumes AFN's business partners will continue to do the good job the City has come to expect. He also noted staff meets quarterly with the ISPs and commented on the additional 15% of the market he feels the ISPs could obtain.
Page 7: Noted revenue is growing faster than expenses.
Page 8: Mr. Franell reviewed the revenue assumptions.
Page 9: Reflects revenue summary for voice over internet protocol and revenue summary for AFN internet.
Page 10: Reflects revenue summary for wireless internet and revenue summary for high speed data. Mr. Franell commented on the WiMax product and stated it is very robust and has less line of site problems than AFN Anywhere. He clarified staff will wait for the right time to deploy this item.
Page 12: Mr. Franell clarified the FY 2006 Historical column will need to be corrected and he would present the revised information to the Council by tomorrow. He also commented on the shifting of time from the AFN side to the Computer Service Department for himself and Richard Holbo and noted this is reflected under Personal Service.
Page 13: Mr. Franell noted next year he plans to replace the Cable Modem Termination System and each year following they will set aside 20% of the value of a new system, which is based on the systems five year lift span. He also clarified in two years, the WiMax product will be mature enough for deployment, however the City will wait until manufacturing has caught up with demand so that we can purchase this at a reasonable price. He stated he would not recommend being the very first one to offer this product. Comment was made noting the totals on the second chart need to be corrected.

3. Review of Regular Meeting Agenda for February 6, 2007.
Mayor Morrison explained the purpose of this item is for Council to identify questions. Councilor Hardesty stated she has questions about the Annual Budget Process, the Transient Occupancy Tax, and the Library Funding Options; Councilor Jackson stated she has a question about the Ethics Provision; and Councilor Navickas requested they discuss the study session process.

Transient Occupancy Tax
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg provided a review of the TOT staff report and Council's options. Comment was made questioning an increase to 9%. Mr. Tuneberg stated staff reviewed this option and noted this increase would generate an additional $300,000 to tourism that may be difficult to spend. It was questioned if these monies could be used on a Downtown Plan. Mr. Tuneberg stated he does not believe this would fit into the state's definition of "tourism". City Administrator Martha Bennett stated she would email the Council the actual regulations and would have them posted to the City's website as well. Comment was made questioning if the City could restructure the grant process to ensure grantees qualify for tourism dollars. Ms. Bennett stated staff has not reached the point of researching what the City would do with the extra money. She clarified staff was directed to identify possibilities and what would happen if they increased the tax. She noted staff's recommendation is that the TOT be raised by 1%.

Library Funding Options
Comment was made questioning the option for raising the Transient Occupancy Tax, since most of this money goes to tourism. Ms. Bennett noted this is why the TOT discussion comes first on the agenda and stated staff was attempting to give Council options that minimize the impacts on residents. She clarified if the double majority needed for the library funding measure does not occur, the City could consider a utility surcharge or placing the measure on the next ballot. Ms. Bennett noted they do not have the details of how a takeover from the County would work and clarified they do not need to implement the immediate solution long term. Suggestion was made for staff to include an option for re-upping and borrowing against the Food and Beverage Tax at tomorrow's meeting.

Annual Budget Process
Mr. Tuneberg noted that the long term assumptions were accepted by the Budget Committee last year. He also clarified the revenue assumption listed at the bottom on page 3 of the staff report and explained if the City stops collecting the $.175/1,000 property tax, which is being dedicated to the AFN debt repayment, the individual departments will have to absorb this cost in their budgets.

Councilor Jackson noted the sentence in Section E(4) that prohibits people serving on commissions from representing clients before any other commission and requested the Council have discussion on this at the regular meeting.

Study Session Process
Councilor Navickas expressed his concern with the process used during this study session and commented on the potential risk of losing transparency by discussing regular meeting agenda items during a study session. Mayor Morrison stated the purpose of this format is for staff to be prepared for the questions Council will ask at the regular meeting. He stated the questions that are put forth at the study session will still be part of the deliberation at the meeting. Ms. Bennett noted this process enables staff to be better prepared and will reduce the number of questions councilors ask individually of staff outside the meetings, which is less transparent.

Meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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