Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

February 20, 2007
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Navickas, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.
Councilor Hartzell/Navickas m/s to add to the agenda, items not properly noticed in the local newspaper, but noticed on the City's website. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
The minutes of the Regular Council meeting of February 6, 2007 and Continued Regular Council meeting of February 7, 2007 were approved as presented.
Mayor's Proclamation of the week of February 26 - March 4 as "Peace Corps Week" and Proclamation of the week of March 5 - 11 as "Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week 2007" were read aloud.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Rio Communications Internet Service Provider Contract Approval.
3. Liquor License Application - Wild Wines.
4. Approval of Public Contract greater than $75,000 for Municipal Audit Services.
Councilor Chapman requested Item #3 be pulled for discussion.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda Items #1, #2 and #4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

City Recorder Barbara Christensen provided an explanation of the City's liquor license approval process and stated the application for Wild Wines meets the City's criteria. Ms. Christensen clarified this business will be making their own wine and they were required to obtain a home occupation permit, although the applicant has indicated they will not have customers visiting their business location.

Councilor Chapman/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda Item # 3. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Capital Improvement Plan Program (CIP) and Long Range Financing.
Item delayed due to lack of proper notification.
Paula Sohl/283 Scenic Drive/Stated she is a member of the Ashland branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Ms. Sohl commented on: 1) keeping water services and water commons under local democratic control and stopping the commoditization of water for private profit, 2) the Mt. Ashland expansion and its affects on the water, and 3) discouraging the use of bottled water. Ms. Sohl provided refillable water bottles and a Brita water filter system to the Council.
1. Approval of Ballot Measure Language for revised City Charter and City Manager Language.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer explained that the Council has reached the point of approving the ballot measure language. She noted the packet materials include the updated explanatory statements as well as statements submitted by former City Councilor Don Laws.

John Stromberg/252 Ridge Road/Shared his concerns with the city manager amendment provision that allows council members to remove a fellow member for indirect coercion of the city manager or a candidate for the city manager position, and stated this language is extremely broad and vague.

Art Bullock/Stated the ballot measure language fails to describe the effects of the changes and therefore does not meet the Oregon requirements. Mr. Bullock submitted potential problems and remedies for the proposed charter ballot language to the Council. He commented that there is no effect of changing the current charter to align with State law, since State law already trumps City law. He also commented on the city manager amendment and stated this change gives the city administrator (renamed city manager) the power to hire and fire department heads without approval of the Mayor or Council. He stated the law requires the City tell the voters the effects of a "yes" or "no" vote and noted there are also typographical errors that need to be corrected.

Ralph Temple/150 Myer Creek Road/Briefly commented on his recent experience with the Ashland Hospital and stated the community should be proud of this facility. Mr. Temple urged the Council to remove the charter provision that allows four councilors to remove the other two. He stated this is a disastrous element to include in the City's constitution and he could not find anywhere where the Charter Review Committee discussed this. He also noted the water provision and the selling of parks lands provision and suggested these controversial provisions be placed as separate ballot measures to give voters a clean vote on every issue.

Comment was made questioning if the Council should remove Section (i) completely. City Attorney Mike Franell clarified the City Council discussed this provision at the Study Session meeting held last February. He stated this provision is included in the model charter and it is important in the city manager form of government to deter interference on the part of the Council with the manager's ability to properly manage the city department heads. He added if Council is concerned with the four out of six requirement, they could switch it to five out of six. Mr. Franell clarified the term "indirectly" used in Section (i). He stated this would apply to councilors using a third party to try to place influence on the city manager. Writing letters to the editor or submitting coercion via email would also be considered indirect coercion. Comment was made that this language was included because coercion can occur, and the purpose of this provision is provide the professional city manager some autonomy in terms of hiring or firing. Mr. Franell added if the Council decides to removes this language it would not fatally flaw the charter, but it will make the city manager's authority weaker.

Councilor Hartzell and Navickas voiced support for removing Section (i). City Administrator Martha Bennett suggested the Council could choose to remove "or administrative decisions" if they are uncomfortable with this language.

Mr. Franell commented on the water provision language listed in Chapter 12, Section 43 and clarified the wording is the same as that in the existing charter, except the term "residents" has been changed to "inhabitants". He noted the Council discussed this issue back in December and made the decision to use the term "residents".

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to accept the materials and place them on the ballot, using the question statements presented by staff and the explanatory statements presented by Don Laws, with no changes to the proposed charter, but allowing for typographical and grammatical corrections. DISCUSSION: Councilor Jackson voiced her concern that they are starting to wordsmith the document. She stated if they are going to move towards a city manager form of government she would prefer to rely on the work done by the Charter Review Committee and their study of the model charter components. She added the proposed language is clear that the administrative decision regarding personnel matters are to be handled by the city manager. Councilor Hartzell stated she is not ready to accept Mr. Laws' submission and questioned the term "franchise" in the water provision language. Mr. Franell clarified this language would prevent the City from selling off its treatment works or contracting out to a private entity to operate the City's treatment works. Councilor Hardesty commented that she could not find where the Charter Review Committee discussion Section (i) of the city manager amendment.

Councilor Hardesty/Hartzell m/s to amend the motion so that Section (i) of the City Manager amendment reads, "Neither the mayor nor a councilor may attempt directly or indirectly to coerce the manager of a candidate for the office of manager in the appointment or removal of any city employee." DISCUSSION: City Recorder Barbara Christensen requested advice from the City Attorney and stated the amendment appears to change the intent of the original motion. Mr. Franell agreed that the amendment would not be allowed since it changes the intent of the original motion. Motion died.

DISCUSSION (Cont.): Councilor Navickas stated he would not support the motion and stated he would prefer to see staff come back with something that is more of a combination of what Mr. Laws' wrote and what staff put forward. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, and Jackson, YES. Councilor Navickas, Hardesty, and Hartzell, NO. Mayor Morrison, NO. Motion failed 4-3.

Mayor Morrison explained he voted no because it included Don Laws' language and voiced support for the wording proposed by staff.

Councilor Hardesty/Hartzell m/s accept this ballot language with the exception of Don Laws' proposal and Section 35(i) should read "Neither the mayor nor a councilor may attempt directly or indirectly to coerce the manager or a candidate for the office of manager in the appointment or removal of any city employee". DISCUSSION: Councilor Hardesty clarified for staff the motion allows for changes to correct grammatical errors, as well as the removal of Section 31(b)7 to maintain consistency. Mr. Franell clarified State statute currently prohibits the selling of land that has been purchased with funds dedicated for park purposes. Councilor Silbiger voiced his concern with eliminating the penalty language in Section 35(i). Mr. Franell clarified this motion would remove the penalty language from the charter, but noted the Council could specify disciplinary action for breach of councilor duties in their Council Rules. He added generally for a rule to be effective there has to be some mechanism for enforcement. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Navickas, Hardesty, Chapman, Hartzell, and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

2. Library Short-Term Funding Discussion.
City Administrator Martha Bennett explained at their last meeting, Council discussion levying $.32/1,000 assessed property value for library operating costs and directed staff to determine where additional funds might be found. She stated staff anticipates it will cost approximately $1.2M to $1.4M annually to operate the Ashland library. The levy would generate approximately $560,000, which leaves a short fall of roughly $860,000 per year.

Ms. Bennett explained at the end of FY06, there was roughly $1M in unanticipated carry-forward in the general fund, and the City anticipates this money will still be available at the end of FY07. Ms. Bennett suggested this money could be used to support the library and recommended using half the $1M for this year and the other half for next. She stated staff is assuming the City would have to operate the library for two years before a regional solution can be formed. She stated the remainder of funds could come from a utility surcharge of approximately 1.5%, with 1% going to the library and .5% allocated to the Low Income Assistance Program.

Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg commented on how the City ended up with excess money in the ending fund balance and explained the Council has the ability to use this money for a specific project, such as this, to offset future increases, or pay for other operations. Ms. Bennett noted that some of this money was saved due to staffing shortages in some of the departments and cautioned that once department are fully staffed this reduced spending level will not continue. She voiced her support for using this money for a one-time occurrence such as this.

Mr. Tuneberg clarified $173,000 of this money came from contingencies and he provided a brief explanation of the City's Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

Comment was made voicing support for keeping the library open, but having reduced levels of service during this interim and finding out what the County is willing to contribute.

Management Analyst Ann Seltzer stated the only thing staff knows for certain is the cost of facilities and utilities. She noted staff is in the process of setting up meetings with Jackson County to discuss what it will take to keep the library open. Ms. Seltzer clarified staff's assumption is that the City will operate the library at a "bare bones" level; but stated if this is the only library in the County that is open, it will be much busier than it is now and noted the City also needs to consider a potential user fee for non-residents.

Council discussed their preferences for the library funding options. Councilor Navickas voiced his interest in maintaining the current hours and staffing at the library. He stated he does not support raising utility fees and suggested they look at other funding sources within the budget, and suggested possibly deferring capital improvement projects or using private fundraising. Councilor Silbiger voiced support for placing a measure on the ballot, even just an advisory measure, to see if the citizens support this endeavor. Councilor Jackson noted the importance of the Ashland citizens voting to support the County measure and stated the City should not place a funding measure on the ballot that is in competition with the County's measure. Councilor Chapman voiced support for placing a parallel $.66 measure on the ballot and stated the Ashland citizens would realize that if the County measure passes, the local measure would not take affect. Mayor Morrison noted if the County's $.66 measure passes, all the money might not be dedicated to the library system. Councilor Hartzell suggested the City influence the County to dedicate the $.66 to the library. She also questioned if there would be a way for the City to work with Southern Oregon University and combined the best of the two systems for less than the $1.2M figure in the event the County measure fails.

Ms. Bennett agreed that the City could make a constructive suggestion to the County and believes they will be open to the City's concern.

Councilor Navickas motion to maintain the $.32 property tax increase; look to allocating any fund balance to our libraries; and direct staff to continue to search for more alternatives for funding, including Capital Improvement Project deferment. Motion died due to lack of second.

Ms. Bennett suggested the Council direct staff to build the budget and a funding strategy for the library and bring this back to Council as part of the budget process. She clarified staff would meet with the County, contact SOU and see what they can offer, and continue to look for relationships to buy down the costs.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to direct staff to build an operating budget and funding mechanism for the libraries as part of the budget process, and include relationships with SOU and Ashland School District. DISCUSSION: Ms. Bennett clarified the purpose is to keep the Ashland Public Library open but noted staff would not have the problem solved by the April 7 closing date set by the County. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Navickas, Hardesty, Jackson, YES. Councilor Hartzell and Chapman, NO. Motion passed 4-2.

3. Decision on North Ashland Bike Path Funding.
Public Works Director Paula Brown explained this issue was originally brought before Council at their Study Session on December 4, 2006 and reported the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission issued their approval of Option 2 at their meeting held on January 18, 2007. She explained Option 2 involves terminating the funding agreement with ODOT/FHWA, repaying the approximate $90,000, and redirecting staff to proceed with looking for alternatives for the bike path. Ms. Brown reported that ODOT cannot transfer this funding package to another project at this time. She also reported that the Federal Highways Administration is a 10-year program and the City notify ODOT and FHWA that the City's wishes to repay the $90,000 at the end of the 10-year period. Ms. Brown recommended that Council accept Option 2.

Art Bullock/Spoke in support of Option 2 and stated this is a good example of the need for localization. Mr. Bullock stated there is a need in the community for this bike path and stated the path along the railroad tracks is a major and needed alternative to biking on Main Street. He stated the section between Laurel Street and Jackson Road is 60% done and recommended that the City work to finish this section.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve staff recommendation of Option #2. DISCUSSION: Councilor Jackson clarified her motion is to accept Option 2 which stops work on the current design and reimburses ODOT/FHWA the grant funds expended to date within an appropriate time frame. Ms. Brown clarified staff could put what they have set aside for this project in the bank and let it grow in anticipation of the $90,000 repayment. Councilor Hartzell request Ms. Brown contact her to discuss the significance of the County vacating Jackson Road. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

4. Mt Ashland Discussion and Follow-Up.
City Administrator Martha Bennett provided a brief report. Stated staff contacted the attorney representing Mt. Ashland Association based on their letter and asked them if they would entertain mediation. They replied that they would be open to mediation and would like to have the first of a series of mediation sessions within the next two few weeks. Ms. Bennett requested Council discuss the designation of a mediation team during an Executive Session and formalize their appointments in open session. She clarified any tentative mediation agreement would have to come back to the full council for approval in open session. Ms. Bennett stated staff would schedule an Executive Session and Special Meeting following the Study Session on Thursday, January 22.

Suzanne Frey/1042 Oak Knoll Drive/Stated she is pleased to hear the Council and Mt. Ashland Association are discussing mediation and submitted a handout into the public record. Ms. Frey stated she is a skier and supports the expansion, but is also an environmentalist and does not want to see the watershed harmed. She commented on the lease itself and the role of the City, stated the lease does not give the City much authority over the ski area and the expansion, and stated the Forest Service is the entity that is accountable and has the authority for protecting the environment. Ms. Frey briefly commented on the map attached to the 1992 agreement and encouraged the Council to read pages 30-34 of Judge Panner's opinion.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. Designate of Elected Official Liaison to ICLEI.

Councilor Chapman motion to appoint Mayor Morrison. Motion withdrawn.

Councilor Hardesty/Chapman m/s to appoint Kate Jackson. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Comment on Jackson County Ordinance on Destination Resorts.

Art Bullock/Voiced support for the letter and suggested they send a councilor, the Mayor, or the City Attorney to the hearing scheduled for tomorrow, February 23. Mr. Bullock stated the County's ordinance is not well planned or well thought out and encouraged the City to be represented at tomorrows hearing.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to authorize the Mayor to sign letter and send to Jackson County expressing the City's position on proposed amendments to Jackson County Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Ordinance. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hardesty noted there are some typographical errors that she will submit. Councilor Jackson stated she would be attending the hearing tomorrow and invited the other councilors to join her. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Jackson, Silbiger, Hartzell, Hardesty, Navickas and Chapman. Motion passed.

1. First Reading of a Resolution Titled "A Resolution Authorizing Signatures, Including Facsimile Signatures, for Banking Services on Behalf of the City of Ashland."

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2007-05. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Navickas, Hartzell, Silbiger, Hardesty, Chapman and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

2. First Reading of a Resolution Titled "A Resolution of the City of Ashland, Oregon, Declaring Official Intent to Reimburse Expenditures."
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained the proposed resolution allows the City to reimburse itself for a project that has been budgeted. He noted the Conservation Commission recommended last year that the City consider issuing bonds to fund a project to build solar energy that could be sold to the public. Mr. Tuneberg explained in order to do so, the City needs to pass this resolution which states if we go ahead with the project, and we do issue bonds to finance it, we will reimburse ourselves for any costs paid up front.

Art Bullock/Voiced support for the resolution and urged the Council to pass the resolution to move forward quickly to purchase the panels. Mr. Bullock explained there is a worldwide shortage of solar panels because: 1) the industry is not able to get the silicon they need to produce the panels, 2) there is a dramatic demand from Eastern Europe, and 3) the United States is being hit hard by the dollar devaluation and there is only one company in the U.S. making the panels.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2007-04. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Hartzell, Chapman, Navickas, Jackson and Hardesty, YES. Motion passed.

3. First Reading of a Resolution Titled "A Resolution Setting a Public Hearing with Intent to Form a Local Improvement District for Construction of Improvements to Schofield and Monte Vista Streets Consisting of Sidewalks, Curbs & Gutters, Paving, Drainage and Associated Improvements."
Public Works Director Paula Brown explained this item has been brought forward in response to a petition submitted by eight of the property owners on Schofield Street. As of today, only 39% of the property owners are in favor of the petition, however if you look at those who previously signed agreements indicating support it is 65% of the property owners, which excludes the City's property. Ms. Brown noted the Council is scheduled to discuss the overall LID process in April, and clarified this resolution would set the public hearing for the Schofield/Monte Vista LID.

Ms. Brown clarified the City does own property within the proposed assessment district and will pay as a property owner for those four lots.

Austin Brayfield/400 Monte Vista Drive/Stated there are a lot of residents in this neighborhood that are against the paving and suggested these dollars be used to fund the library instead.

Art Bullock/Stated the Council should not proceed with a public hearing for the following reasons: 1) the LID process review has not been completed, 2) the majority of the neighborhood does not support the LID, 3) the City's ownership of property within the proposed assessment means the Council is an impartial party and cannot participate in the quasi judicial hearing, 4) the language of the resolution does not meet the legal requirement and notice should be sent to all properties that will be affected by the LID, not just those that will benefit, and 5) this LID is dealing with numbers that are extremely high and one property owner will owe more than $20,000. Mr. Bullock urged the Council to not set a public hearing until these issues have been resolved.

Comment was made that this LID should be postponed until the Council has had the opportunity to discuss the LID process. Opposing comment was made that staff has been aware of this project and had it on the capital improvement plan for some time, and suggesting Council proceed with scheduling the hearing.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2007-03. DISCUSSION: City Attorney Mike Franell clarified in the past the Council has interpreted the word "affected" as those who would be issued an assessment for the LID, however Council could change their interpretation.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to amend motion to add noticing to the Sheridan Street residences. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Chapman, Jackson, Silbiger, Navickas, and Hartzell, YES. Motion passed.

Roll Call Vote on Amended Motion: Councilor Hartzell, Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman, YES. Councilor Navickas and Hardesty, NO. Motion passed 4-2.

4. 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."
Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Voiced support for the proposed ordinance, but noted he had submitted some suggested amendments to staff.

Art Bullock/Distributed to Council his suggested revisions and stated the City needs an ethics law that does the following three things: 1) keep public officials out of hot water, 2) defines a transparent and fair process to resolve ethics disputes, and 3) saves taxpayer money from needless employee lawsuits due to ambiguity in the code. Mr. Bullock stated the proposed ordinance does not accomplish any of these objectives and stated the ordinance is unconstitutional because it restricts the political rights of city employees. He stated the ordinance has no explanation of how to resolve ethics violations and voiced his concern with the special exceptions included for the City Attorney and City Administrator.

City Attorney Mike Franell provided an explanation of the amendments submitted by Mr. Swales. He stated Section E(4) of the proposed ordinance expands on the State's prohibition and prohibits an appointed official from representing a client for hire before any City board or commission. He noted elected officials were not included in this provision because councilors are already restricted by the State from representing client for hires in this manner. However, Mr. Swales correctly pointed out that city councilors are not the only elected officials in Ashland and the proposed language would not apply to the City's Parks Commissioners. Mr. Franell stated if Council wishes to extend the prohibition, the ordinance would need to be re-worded to specifically include the Parks Commissioners.

Mr. Franell commented on the State's standards for judicial conduct that applies to municipal judges and recommended the Council review the State's provision as a separate item and adopt a separate ordinance.

Councilor Navickas noted he is a designer and will have to come before the Hearings Board soon to ask for a conditional use permit. It was recommended that Councilor Navickas meet with the City Attorney about his particular situation since the law currently prohibits him from doing this.

Mr. Franell commented on the pro bono loophole identified by Mr. Swales and Mr. Swales' suggestion to add in the pro bono aspect and include a mirror of the State language of "represent or represent for hire" so that officials could not side step the prohibition by working pro bono for a client.

Remainder of discussion and decision delayed due to time constraints.

Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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