Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, March 05, 2007

March 5, 2007
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Council Chair Silbiger called the Study Session to order at 5:20 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Hardesty, Navickas, Jackson, Silbiger, and Chapman were present. Councilor Hartzell arrived at 5:25 p.m. Mayor Morrison was absent.
1. Look Ahead Review.
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the items on the Look Ahead and noted this document is constantly changing. She noted the Green Fleet and Mayor/Council Budget will be presented at the March 19 Study Session; and the March 20 Council Meeting with include the year end reports from Rogue Valley Council of Governments and Access Inc., appointments to the ODOT Citizen Advisory Committee, the restaurant grading system, a report from Community Development Director David Stalheim on priorities and the Zucker Report work, expansion of sewer service to Willow Winds, and a resolution setting the date for the final assessment of the Nevada Street LID.
2. Discussion of a Proposed Bear Creek TMDL.
Public Works Director Paula Brown introduced Bill Meyers with the Department of Environmental Quality. Ms. Brown noted the three primary impacts of the TMDL for Ashland are: 1) temperature limitations for the wastewater treatment plant, 2) non-point source bacteria in Ashland Creek, and 3) sediment to Reeder Reservoir.

Mr. Meyers provided a presentation to the Council on the Bear Creek Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and its impacts on Ashland. The following are the key points from his presentation:

Current data indicates over 300 miles of creeks within the Bear Creek Watershed do not meet the water quality standards.
In Ashland, the focus is temperature, bacteria, and sedimentation.
The temperature standards that apply are 18 Celsius from May 16 to October 14, and 13 Celsius from October 15 to May 15.
The temperature issues for Ashland include: 1) increasing riparian shade, 2) the treatment plant discharge temperatures are too high during the summer months, and 3) developing a water quality implementation plan.
The implementation plan should include detail methods to prevent bacteria loading in local creeks.
The sedimentation standard that applies is "no significant increased delivery of sediment to Reeder Reservoir above that which would occur naturally is allowed".
The Bear Creek TMDL process is currently at the 60 day public comment period, which ends Friday, March 9, 2007.
The City will be required to submit their implementation plan within 18 months after the EPA approves the TMDL.

Mr. Meyers noted that it is difficult to pin point the exact sources of bacteria in the watershed. He commented that the TMDL is a shared responsibility and noted the other jurisdictions in the Bear Creek Watershed are either in the process of writing plans, will need to write plans, or have already submitted plans.

Councilor Navickas noted the Montgomery Study and briefly noted his concerns with the Ski Area's treatment plant.

Ms. Brown clarified that staff provided initial comments during the internal review period and, pending Council discussion, had not planned on submitting additional comments.

3. Discussion of Proposed Electric Rate Increase & BPA Surcharge Elimination.
Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid provided a brief history on why the City has a BPA surcharge. He noted staff had previously recommended that the electric rates be raised, however after review, staff is now recommending no change be made to the electric rates or the BPA surcharge for this fiscal year.

Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg submitted an Electric Fund spreadsheet to the Council and commented on the assumptions that were used. He noted they are meeting the target fund balance for this fund and will come close to meeting the revenue stream as long as customers continue to consume energy as normal. Mr. Tuneberg noted the general fund already has a higher amount than the target and it is not necessary to raise rates to benefit the electric fund.

Mr. Wanderscheid commented on the three mechanisms BPA might utilize during the next three year period if they need more revenue, which include a CRAC, a NFB Charge, or an Emergency Fish Surcharge. He stated that with all three mechanisms, the City would have advance warning and would have time adjust rates or spending practices if need be.

Mr. Wanderscheid stated that staff would continue to analyze numbers and stated he is optimistic that the City can postpone raising rates for another year or two.

4. Review of Regular Meeting Agenda for March 6, 2007.
City Administrator Martha Bennett asked each councilor to identify which agenda items they have questions on, and to list those questions for staff so that they can be prepared to provide answers at tomorrow night's meeting.

Councilor Hartzell stated she has questions regarding the Charter situation, Councilor Navickas stated he has questions on the Transient Occupancy Tax and the Capital Improvement Plan, and Councilor Chapman noted he has a question about the Open Burning Ordinance.

City Charter Language
Assistant City Attorney Richard Appicello noted staff had received a ballot title challenge that was filed in Circuit Court. He explained the Court will review the language for compliance and noted the Judge could decide to write his own version of the language. He clarified the City will be summoned to court within the next day or two and this should not have an impact with the timing of the measure.

City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified if the Council decided to change the language that was adopted at their last meeting, there would not be sufficient time to re-notice and have the language placed on the May ballot.

Open Burning Ordinance
Councilor Chapman requested staff clarify at tomorrow's meeting where the inaccessible acres mentioned in the staff memo are located.

Transient Occupancy Tax
Councilor Navickas requested clarification on the minimum amount that is required to be spent on tourism. City Administrator Martha Bennett directed the Council to the TOT Grant Allocation Worksheet and the Economic and Cultural Grant Allocation information included in their packet materials. She clarified $218,000 is the minimum amount needed to be spent on tourism and $22,500 of that amount needs to be spent by the other grantees.

Comment was made that it would be helpful for the Council to know what other communities have done to allocate these monies.

Capital Improvement Plan
Councilor Navickas questioned if the PMS STP/MPO transportation projects could be consolidated. Public Works Director Paula Brown clarified the City could aggregate the funds to one and reapply on the second project. She added this could be done fairly easily for the A and B Street projects.

Meeting adjourned at 7:00p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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