Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Special Study Session

Wednesday, July 21, 1999

July 21, 1999

Council Chairperson Laws called the meeting to order at 12:08 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Wheeldon, Hanson and Fine were present. Staff present included: City Administrator Mike Freeman, Director of Community Development John McLaughlin, Public Works Director Paula Brown, Mike Morris, Ann Seltzer, Fire Chief Keith Woodley and Dick Wanderscheid.

Update on the Talent, Ashland, Phoenix (TAP) Intertie and Related Water Master Plan Implementation Process. Public Works Director Paula Brown presented update on TAP project and the progress of renegotiating the 1966 TID water use agreement.

Brown explained that the design for the TAP Intertie Project is now 50% complete and noted the decision to purchase property for the pumping stations. Noted that the alignment is generally along Hwy 99 and things are going well. Explained that everything so far is within the $1,220,000 estimate for Ashland’s portion of the construction costs. Stated that the shared extension of 7,500 lineal feet will lower the costs of bringing a separate line to Ashland in the future. Explained that Ashland is being asked to participate in continuing to up size the line at an approximate shared cost of $450,000 or 25% of the extended line.

Brown explained that the cost represented to the City of Ashland is 25% which is the proportional share between the City of Phoenix to Talent of the TAP Project. Confirmed that there has been discussion to defer payment on incremental charges over a number of years and that the city is only obligated to the 25% as agreed.

Brown noted the complications on renegotiating the 1966 TID Water Use Agreement and how there seems to be various opinions from different organizations involved. Brown explained to council the role of Talent Irrigation District (TID) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the difficulty involved in determining the early water rights. Explained that Ashland is asking for a determination on the type of water rights and prefers they be specified as domestic or M&I so that there is no question regarding use of the water.

Brown noted a question brought up by the Medford Water Commission on, what if the City of Talent decides not to use its water rights. Stated that Talent has not made a final decision as to how much water they will need for their new water treatment plant.

Brown requested clarification on the direction of use for the Imperatrice Property. Noted that there were thoughts of using a portion of the irrigation rights, currently assigned to the Imperatrice property, to irrigate City owned parks. Also, that there had been discussion of using this water for in-stream beneficial use as a water trust in Bear Creek in low flow times, which is typically at times when the irrigation season is over. Stated that this is still being discussed with TID and the State Water Master and would require BOR approval. Brown stated that a formal letter would be written requesting a clear understanding and definition on the use of this water.

Councilor Laws voiced his understanding of the original decision made by council. He understood that the option taken, in regards to water, was made on the basis that by doing spray irrigation, we would obtain land that had water rights. This then could be used to replace the water that was being taken out of Bear Creek. Commented that the decision to not take the Medford option, was to retain water on this end of the valley. That replacement water could be obtained through spray irrigation and water rights from the Imperatice Property. Stated that the assumption has been, is that we would obtain replacement water. Explained that if you improve the quality of water, but decrease the quantity of water, you will do just as much damage to fish or more, than if you maintain the quality, but decrease the quantity. Laws stated that if we are unable to get replacement water, we will end up spending $23,000,000 to accomplish nothing. Stated that he believed the councils priority is with replacement water for Bear Creek.

Council discussed and considered how irrigating the new North Mountain Sports Park would fit into the whole picture of placing water into Bear Creek.

Council discussion of the importance in supporting communities that are trying to change the .08 phosphorus level with DEQ, which would only help our community.

Brown provided and requested that the Mayor sign a letter regarding M&I storage allocation to Lost Creek-Elk Creek Projects in Rogue River Basin. Council agreed, that in the Mayor’s absence, Councilor Laws as acting chairperson could sign the letter.

Brown clarified for council that she would continue with trying to secure the water rights and reallocation on water use of the TID agreement.

Discussion of the City’s Economic Development policies.
City Administrator Mike Freeman noted the council communication previously handed out to begin discussion on how to update the city’s economic development policies. Explained that the goal is meant to revise the economic strategy section of the comprehensive plan and that there is a lot of up front work to analyze what is in the comprehensive plan now. Would like to look at how things have changed since this document was developed and adopted, along with what the interests of the council and community may be at this time. After this is completed, a formal recommendation would be presented to council and drafting would begin. Freeman explained that the request is to determine direction as to what the goals and outcome should look like if policy goals are being met.

Community Development Director John McLaughlin confirmed for council that it has been close to nine years since the plan has been updated. Councilor Reid noted how the current Ashland Fiber Network is not addressed in the Comprehensive Plan in regards to Economic Plan and adjustments could be done to reflect current projects.

McLaughlin explained that the City’s comprehensive plan outlines the City’s policies and strategy regarding economic development and that there is some questions about this policy meeting the existing Council’s expectations.

It was suggested that representatives from the high-tech sector and the distribution sector be included in discussion groups. Councilor Laws stated that it was important that council retain control of a couple of the policies that preclude any planning. Commented that one of the policies of council, is that we do not subsidize any business or industry. And, that a second policy is, that we demand a high standard in terms of environmental impact upon the community. Laws believes that within these policies we could work to simplify the type of information and regulations and make them clearer.

Freeman explained that the issues noted by Councilor Laws wouldn’t be what was being addressed, but that it would be more of the specifics that are in the comprehensive plan sections regarding goals and direction.

Councilor Fine suggested that the group be asked to discuss strategy rather than policy, as policy is clearly councils prevue. Councilor Reid noted her concern of putting individuals in a position of feeling empowered. Council discussion regarding level of perimeters as to what the charge of the committee would be and that to do this would make it easier for council in accepting recommendations of committee.

Freeman suggested that staff draft out what the charge of this committee would be and bring it back to the council for approval and clear direction. Councilor Reid suggested that a representative of at-home small business also be a part of the discussion group. Freeman explained that the decision and discussion as to who will be part of the discussion group will come back to council for direction at the next council meeting.

Councilor Wheeldon would like clarified what we currently have available and allow it to be showcased for the community and businesses. Felt that this would provide a way for the community to see what currently exists before any changes are made.

Discussion of Proposed Process for Downtown Plan update.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin presented update on Downtown Plan. Noted the past and current downtown planning efforts of 1964, 1966, 1988 and 1999. Explained the key changes involved in these plans.

Noted the success of the downtown planning and how new lots were built to address parking problem, that there were plaza pedestrian improvements, alley connections, street tree/sidewalk enhancements, and street furniture/amenities. Noted the encouragement of outdoor seating, reinvestment of businesses and best commercial space.

McLaughlin explained the next steps and the work that needs to be done. Commented that the Chamber of Commerce had completed a survey from downtown business owners and the survey showed that businesses do not offer employee incentives for alternative transportation to downtown. Noted that parking is a seasonal problem and that the following is some steps that will be taken. Parking: 1) parking inventory; 2) occupancy study; 3) other cities’ experiences; 4) employee incentives; 5) financial realities; noted that most recent session conducted by City Aspen and how helpful that this was and 6) possibility of Park and Ride.

Pedestrian Environment: 1) street crossings and the safety issues surrounding crossings; 2) alleys and links to other areas; 3) traffic speeds; and 4) aesthetics. Council discussion regarding scheduling of discussion on transit needs and that a meeting was scheduled for August 3, 1999 prior to the council meeting at 6 o’clock. Councilor Reid noted that the study session minutes had not indicated that auto use around school would not be considered.

Transit and Bikes: 1) improved bike parking; 2) improved bike route; 3) improved transit stops; and 4) question of additional transit service.

Deliveries: 1) limited hours; 2) limited locations; 3) maintain current practices; 4) safety impacts; and 5) business impacts. McLaughlin that there will be a variety of individuals involved in determination of these steps.

McLaughlin explained that the time line for the steps beginning in the Summer of 1999 is as followed: 1) continue inventory work (intern/staff); 2) continue coordination with Chamber Parking Committee; 3) continue research on other cities’ efforts; and 4) begin coordination with Ashland Downtown Development Association (ADDA). Noted that there has been discussion to create dialogue with the Downtown Business Association.

Time line for Fall 1999 is as follows: 1) public involvement to establish downtown contacts, prioritize topics, and schedule city-wide involvement sessions. Noted the success in having block captains.

Time line for early Winter 1999, is as follows: 1) prepare draft plan with public review throughout winter 1999/2000 and revisions/updates for Spring 2000.

Confirmed that the intent is to adopt this plan by Summer 2000 and that the planning action for the Calle will be incorporated when the design is complete.

Discussion of Draft Budget Committee Charge and Process for FY 2000-2001.
City Administrator Mike Freeman began discussion with council regarding the charge to develop the role and process for the Budget Committee. Stated that Councilors Hauck and Fine helped with the proposed draft being presented to council.

Councilor Reid questioned the inclusion of the Park Commission with the City Council when there is only one budget. Pointed out that there are no Park Commissioners on the Budget Committee. Reid understands that there are no lay persons that work with the Commissioners when putting together the Parks & Recreation Budget. Councilor Hauck explained that the Park Commission does develop the budget that is presented to the full Budget Committee.

Councilor Fine suggested that, because state law requires there to be an equal number of councilors and non-council members on the Budget Committee, that one member of the Park Commission be appointed to the Budget Committee as a public member to assure continuity. Fine stated that the key point being made, is to give a statement to new Budget Committee members what their role is. That it needs to be made clear for new members, the setting of policy is the prevue of city council and that the charge of the Budget Committee is to assure that the policies and priorities of the council, secondarily the Park Commission, are being effected and efficient in the most economic way.

Freeman explained that the Parks & Recreation Department was not initially considered when first drafting the proposal and that it was included when the Director of Parks & Recreation brought it to his attention. Agreed that the council is a policy making board, as is the Park Commission and that there should be some sense that they are the policy makers.

Councilor Reid pointed out that there is no performance review of the Parks & Recreation Department and to her knowledge the Park Department does not use a review process. Reid stated that the draft, which includes the Park Commission, requests review of performance of departments. Believes that there is no way of knowing that this has ever occurred, or ever will occur. Councilor Fine stated that questions regarding justification of how money is spent was asked of the Parks Director, by Budget Committee members this past budget season and is a review of performance.

Councilor Wheeldon interpreted the Park Commission as being different than a department and that the Park Commission works with the Parks Department to formulate their budget. Within this process, the commission is determining the policy and strategic goals of budget that fit to the goals of that department. When this is completed, it is then presented to the Budget Committee for approval. Wheeldon felt that the oversight regarding the Parks Department is appropriate, but that there were issues that came up regarding the parks budget this past year. Because of this, she believes there will be changes as the oversight doesn’t seem to be happening.

Councilor Reid feels that there has been some gaps in the past few years in budgeting from the Parks Department. Felt that it is very difficult for our Budget Committee to look at, when it is presented in total. It is the understanding of Councilor Reid, that the Parks Department does not review their management and that there is no process to evaluate their management.

Councilor Laws agreed that there has been loose review of the Parks Department activity in the past by the Park Commission and believes that this is changing for the following reasons: 1) the Park Commission no longer has the budget that it wants and will start to feel the pressure of limited resources; and 2) Park Commission will naturally become more efficient and concerned about performance. Laws commented on the terrific Parks & Recreation program in the city and believes the commission will internally improve the review process. Laws would like to require through the budget process, that the Parks Department use the same strategic goal process as the other city departments.

Councilor Fine commented that the Park Commission have currently completed a job description for the Parks Director and they will also begin yearly performance reviews of the Director.

Councilor Reid pointed out that she was not trying to say anything bad about the Parks Department and that she fully supports the Parks Department. Councilor Fine felt that the proposed charge will help to accomplish the objective which has been suggested. Fine stated that if it were put on paper, that this is the charge of the Budget Committee and that the Parks Department would be reviewed as any other department, the Parks Department will have to prepare their budget in a manner that would allow it to be reviewed in that fashion.

Councilor Wheeldon requested that there be a greater distinction between the fact that there is a decision making body which determines policy and that based on that policy, the budget committee determines not if that is policy, but that carrying out of that policy is efficient in terms of using resources. Felt that there is confusion between policy making and determining resource allocation. Councilor Hauck stated that the internal performance measurement system is the process that will be developed in the budget document to help clarify performance standards. Wheeldon felt that what is missing in the budget process, is the tools to objectively review.

Fine pointed out suggestion of entire budget committee to meet once for a overview, then two distinct sub-committees operate at different hours and different days to allow members to attend both sub-committees. Explained that one sub-committee would deal with the Social Services, CDBG and Economic Development. The second sub-committee would deal with the Central Services, General Fund and Enterprise Funds. City Administrator Freeman clarified that Social Services/CDBG is one entity. Fine further explained the scheduling of sub-committee and entire budget committee meetings.

Councilor Wheeldon commented on the number of meetings being scheduled and felt that there should be a minimum number of meetings that a budget committee member should attend. Discussion on how presentations for departments are submitted to the Budget Committee and the amount of time. Wheeldon feels it is important that the Budget Committee understand what is being presented and Councilor Reid commented on the importance of the audience understanding what is being presented.

Council consensus, including current suggestions made, that proposal is acceptable and will be brought back to council with suggested changes at next council meeting for adoption.

Councilor Reid questioned a quote from the background information sheet provided to council at the previous council meeting regarding Fire Station #1. Fire Chief Woodley clarified that the quote was from a document that the Urban Planning and Associates developed as part of a fire station efficient study. Woodley offered a copy of the report to Councilor Reid.

Councilor Wheeldon reminded council of her intent to provide a guest editorial with staff and that there has recently been a number of good editorials regarding the issues. Noted that additional information is being provided by the City Administrator regarding this issue and that this information should be sent to the Tribune along with the Ashland Tidings. Councilor Laws reminded council and staff that it is a good idea to respond and use the press in providing good information.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:08 p.m.

Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer

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