Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Continued Meeting

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

February 7, 2007
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the continued meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Navickas, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Hartzell arrived at 1:08 p.m.
1. Federal Appropriations.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer presented the staff report and noted the challenge of receiving the request forms so close to the deadline. City Administrator Martha Bennett commented on the community partnerships for these high priority projects and stated there is no downside to submitting the same projects as last year.

Councilor Hardesty suggested the Workforce Housing request is rewritten so it is targeted towards another "pot" of money, such as construction, which may be easier to acquire.

Councilor Chapman questioned if it is appropriate to ask for funding for the railroad property clean up. Ms. Bennett stated that staff has not had the opportunity to cost out this project, but it could be placed on the list for next year.

Ms. Seltzer noted the praise Ashland has received by our congressional delegation and stated they have used the Ashland United Front as an example of a community working together with multiple agencies toward common goals. She added another reason to submit the appropriation requests is to maintain continuity and to strengthen that bond.

Councilor Navickas commented on the request for the Forest Resiliency Project and voiced his concerns with requesting these funds. He stated this project defines timber extraction as fire management and stated the City should not contribute to the continued abuse of policies by the Federal Government in our watershed and on public land.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to submit the four projects used last year. DISCUSSION: The four projects are the following: 1) Land Purchase for Construction of Workforce Housing, 2) Railroad Crossing Safety Improvements, 3) Ashland Watershed Forest Resiliency Project, and 4) Evidence Based Research for High Risk Youth. Councilor Hardesty restated her suggestion to rewrite the Housing request to better the City's chances of receiving funding.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to amend motion to include rewriting any of the proposals. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hardesty questioned if Councilor Navickas would support the Forest Resiliency Project request if it were rewritten. Councilor Navickas stated there are funds allocated for the Forest Service to move forward with the NEPA and does not feel we need to contribute to this, as it is not in the City's best interest. It was requested that the federal appropriation information come to the Council earlier in the future so that they are given more time to refine the requests. Ms. Bennett clarified that City staff contacted congressional staff early in the process and were not told until last week that they would be accepting earmarks. Councilor Navickas stated he would not support the motion because it includes the Forest Resiliency Project and he believes it is the responsibility of the Forest Service to fund this work in the watershed. He added he does not support the City being involved with this heavy-handed extraction project. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Hardesty, Jackson, Chapman, Hartzell, YES. Councilor Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Roll Call Vote on Amended Motion: Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, Hardesty, Jackson and Hartzell, YES. Councilor Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

1. Discussion of Annual Budget Process and Calendar.
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg requested Council give direction as to which budget calendar to propose to the Budget Committee and requested they discuss the assumptions. He noted the information contained in the packet materials and gave examples of the different ways the budget process has occurred.

Mr. Tuneberg stated staff has proposed two budget calendars, and explained the Budget Committee could meet on Saturdays, or meet at night each week throughout the process. He noted the Council Chambers is a highly utilized room and staff is finding it increasingly difficult to have access to the Chambers for night meetings.

Council briefly discussed their preferences and consensus was reached to not have Saturday meetings. Mayor Morrison suggested the meetings start at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Mr. Tuneberg stated staff would restrict the meetings to three hours and staff would accommodate an earlier start time when possible.

Suggestion was made for the Committee to have a debriefing and brainstorming session at the end of the process while it is still fresh in the member's minds. Mr. Tuneberg voiced his support for this suggestion.

Mr. Tuneberg requested Council discuss the assumptions and guidelines listed in the staff memo. He questioned if Council preferred to cap revenues or cap expenses and provided an explanation of these two ways to create the budget.

Mr. Tuneberg provided an explanation of how the City departments go about developing their budgets. He stated each department has different challenges in creating their budgets. If there is no good industry information such as with fuel than an assumption is used. It was also noted that there is an evaluation process to evaluate those assumptions.

Councilor Silbiger commented that the biggest problem during last year's budget process was the way the "parking lot" items were handled. Councilor Hartzell commented on the need to have clear performance levels. City Administrator Martha Bennett agreed that the departments need to be better at provided the information in terms of service levels and stated that outcomes measure would held.

Statement was made that Council needs to decide whether they want staff to return with a budget that is based on last years budget, plus x%, or whether they prefer staff prepare a budget that maintains a certain level of service.

John Stromberg/252 Ridge Road and Randall Hopkins/735 S. Mountain Avenue/Mr. Stromberg voiced his support for the work done by staff and the proposal; however he voiced confusion over staff's claim that the budget could not be based on both revenue assumptions and expense assumptions. He stated doing both is a feasible way to approach the budget and it would put the Budget Committee in a much more efficient process. Mr. Hopkins noted there is a provision in staff's assumptions that the baseline is prioritized for public health and safety.

Councilor Hardesty voiced support for the baseline approach, however warned that this may raise taxes in order to avoid a cut in services. She stated this approach allows the Budget Committee to determine what is really needed and what the City can do without.

Councilor Navickas noted the importance of bringing up the library issue in this discussion. He voiced his support for budget tightening and stated he does not want library to be funded through rate and fee increases.

Support was voiced for accepting staff's assumptions. Comment was made noting the tension that can arise between staff and the Council/Budget Committee and that they should approach this process with the highest regard for each other.

Councilor Navickas/Jackson m/s to accept the baseline budget proposal that looks at revenue tightening and to move with the night meeting budget calendar. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Hardesty, Jackson, Navickas, Chapman and Silbiger, YES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hartzell left the meeting at 2:25 p.m.

2. Ashland Fiber Network Five-Year Business Plan.
Information Technology Director Joe Franell provided a revised AFN 5-year business plan and reviewed the following revisions that were made:

1) Corrected 2006 Historical Data and the trend line listed on Page 4,
2) The expenses are now broken out by product line,
3) Corrected Fiscal Year 2006 data listed on Page 12, and also added two lines to the bottom of this page,
4) Added the projected contributions to the debt, and
5) Corrected the totalling of capital listed on Page 13.

Mr. Franell clarified the expense detail listed on Page 12 and clarified the drop in personnel that was seen on the previous spreadsheet was adjusted by the correction to the FY2006 data.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to accept the AFN 5-year business plan. DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas clarified that the plan would shift certain costs from AFN into other funds and wanted the public to be aware of this; however, he voiced support for the overall projections. City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified Mr. Franell has proposed this as part of the business plan; however the shifting has not taken place yet and will be discussed during the upcoming budget process. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Hardesty, Navickas, Jackson and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hartzell was absent. Motion passed.

Mayor Morrison noted the topic brought forward by Mr. Jory would be addressed at a future council meeting.
1. First Reading by title only of an Ordinance Titled "An Ordinance Amending AMC 3.08.020 To Apply Ethics Provisions to Employees, Appointed Officials and Elected Officials."
Item delayed due to time contraints.
Meeting adjourned at 2:45 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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