Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Thursday, September 09, 1999

September 9, 1999
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Councilor Laws called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, Wheeldon, and Fine were present. Staff present: City Administrator Freeman, Administrative Services Director Dick Wanderscheid, Assistant City Administrator Greg Scoles, Telecommunications/ Marketing Manager Ann Seltzer, Public Works Director Paula Brown, and Water Department Superintendent Mike Morrison.

Brown presented council with the draft plan and discussed the work being done in the Roca and Paradise areas, and noted that final drainage cost analysis and financing plan will incorporate elements of the OTAK report with what needs to be done in the Roca and Paradise Creek drainages.

Consultant Jim Harper of Tetra Tech/KCM noted that they had looked at the Ashland Creek storm sewer system in preparing this plan, but not the creek itself. Explained that this plan, which updates what was done in 1985, is a head start on meeting new national pollution discharge standards. Noted that the plan addresses drainage and water quality, and includes pipe systems, culverts, and creeks.

Harper explained that the city was made up of 9-10 creeks and 3-4 basins, and discussed the methodology of the study. Also noted how recommendations are shown on the map.

Noted the need for a new storm sewer system down Nutley Street to handle the new Strawberry Lane development and the need for a large storm sewer system that would address Beach Creek and Mountain Creek flooding into one overflow pipe to discharge into a water quality structure downstream before entering Bear Creek.

Consultant Mike Faha of GreenWorks suggested calling the plan The Ashland Watershed Management Plan or The Ashland Urban Natural Resources Protection Plan. Emphasized that the report represents state-of-the-art thinking in addressing more than just pipe sizing and location, and noted that the plan looks at water quality as well as flood control. Explained that this report looks at creeks holistically as part of the urban infrastructure to achieve multiple objectives: water quality improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement, and community building.

Discussed Clay Creek, looking at page 4-20, reaches CL-1 through CL-8 of the creek, noting that this section was examined through field observations or aerial photos. Noted the protection measures which have been identified here as channel stabilization, riparian enhancement and community enhancement.

Explained the community enhancement element as a city budget item wherein the city would go into neighborhoods and work with residents to clean up creeks. The city might provide materials, plants, topsoil, and equipment, while the neighborhood would provide the labor.

Reid questioned whether flooding problems were addressed. Harper explained that the study looked at capacity of structures underneath roads, and identified creek flows. Explained that creek carrying capacity could be observed by looking at bank erosion during field studies.

Reid asked about how the study observations addressed flooding that occurred at the Ashlander Apartments. It was explained that this flooding likely had to do with the failure of the culvert at the site. Suggested replacing the culvert and putting in a water quality facility to trap sediment prior to its entry into the culvert.

Discussed the driving factors behind this study, in addition to the Clean Water Act and the NPDS permit, as the stateís identification of Bear Creek as a water quality limited stream for temperature and bacteria. Also cited this study as a response to LCDC Goal 5 need to maintain buffer zones for riparian protection.

Noted other non-structural project recommendations, including the adoption of a development standard to require detention on site for water quality treatment prior to discharge and to require buffer zones. Also suggested a Watershed Userís Manual as a tool for public education.

Fine questioned the costing schemes in appendix A, noting the variation in amounts given there. Consultant explained that this appendix lists the 5 alternatives to alleviate flooding of Beach and Mountain basins. Stated that this will be expensive because of the existing development, and noted that pipe will need to be up-sized and detention provided. Discussed possible alternatives for piping and detention systems. One alternative, outlined in 5-1, was suggested as the most preferable in both construct ability and cost. This would involve going down Mountain Avenue, and discharging just downstream of the railroad tracks.

Fine inquired about funding sources. Brown stated that she would bring information back to the council on the SDCs and fees. Noted that current SDCs include a larger capital improvement than that included here, and explained that she will adjust this and other factors and bring information back to the council.

Faha discussed the need for design standards to address storm water quality. Emphasized that future development cannot take care of existing problems, and suggested that while development could heretofore take care of itself, capital improvements might be necessary to address issues with existing development.

Brown confirmed for Reid that all storm water now goes into creeks. Reid questioned how road pollutants are kept out of the creek. Brown explained that these are addressed in management practices and maintenance programs. Discussed possible measures that could be used to deal with vehicular pollutants.

Laws questioned the costs listed in Appendix A, which only covers two drainage areas. Consultants explained that Chapter 5 summarized the cost for pipe systems, and Chapter 4 covers stream restoration cost. Noted that the detailed costs are also discussed under the storm sewer systems. Confirmed that there is not presently one location listing all costs, but that a table will be prepared and distributed.

Discussed how this plan will be phased in, with the consultant noting that they have prioritized projects and looked at phasing in the different elements over twenty years.

Consultant suggested that cleaning up erosion control efforts by placing reasonable standards that developers can meet, and enforcing these standards, would go a long way toward improving water quality. Brown noted that erosion control can be dealt with immediately by contacting developers where erosion is a problem. Discussed that this could be handled through development standards and possibly an ordinance.

Administrative Services Director Dick Wanderscheid gave an update on the solar generation program. Noted that funding has been received from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and stated that firm commitments have been received by the US Post Office, Southern Oregon University, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for cost sharing, and the power generated will be sold to interested Ashland citizens at an additional cost of $4 per month. Explained that only 170 citizens would need to participate to make this program feasible. Noted that revenue will be used to pay back the cost share participantsí investments for the first twelve years, and explained that the program would then revert to a net-metered system.

Wanderscheid also noted that the Oregon Office of Energy and Avista Corporation approached the City to express an interest in solar generation, and might be willing to offer tax credits. This would mean that Avista would cover 29% of the costs. Pointed out that Bonneville Power is interested in putting in some solar generators in Ashland to feed into their Green Power program, and suggested that this would likely involve a system being put in at the Middle School, complete with an educational kiosk.

Wanderscheid explained Senate Bill 1149, which deals with the deregulation of privately owned utilities in Oregon. Emphasized that the bill clearly recognizes the difference between public and private utilities, and explained what the bill would mean for private utilities in Oregon.

Noted that franchise fees will continue, and that many cities will be going to a volumetric franchise fee, rather than revenue based charges. Also stated that there will be consumer protection standards put into place in the event that energy marketers come into the state.

Wanderscheid noted that the opening of electrical systems for municipal utilities and PUDs will be left to the discretion of local elected officials. Also explained that transition charges and stranded costs could be added to bills where systems were opened, and that if opened there would be a requirement to add a 3% public purpose charge to the bill and spend it locally. Wanderscheid pointed out that conservation spending in Ashland already exceeds this amount.

Wanderscheid explained that the city is required to establish a low-income bill paying assistance program by October of 2000. Discussed the existing low-income assistance program, and noted that the law does not give much direction. Suggested that the city would likely need to put some utility funding into this program in addition to the donations which currently fund the existing program.

Reid suggested selling blocks of energy in a manner similar to the British model, and asked that this be discussed at a later date.

Wanderscheid discussed options for franchise fees, and discussed rate-case possibilities for Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in the event that the utility was to be opened voluntarily. Suggested that the city would still be responsible for paying for lost loads if the system were opened voluntarily.

Concluded by noting that Pacific Power is challenging this bill, and confirmed for Hauck that there is no deadline for a decision to open the system.

Wanderscheid noted that the solar systems proposed would not be adequate to make the buildings housing them self-sufficient, but noted that discussion has occurred with the Fish & Wildlife Forensics Lab about giving them a solar power back-up system for their critical systems. Also noted that Home Power magazine is thinking about opening a 100%-solar office in Ashland, and that Risa Buck has a 100%-solar house on Oak Street.

Director of Electrical Utilities Pete Lovrovich discussed the BPA rate-case issue raised by Wanderscheid. Noted that he has worked with BPA, and they are proposing a status quo rate-case. Discussed the summer peak scenario found in Ashland and how it affects rates, and suggested that the likely upcoming rate increase would be no more than 1% annually. Emphasized that this is subject to change, but that everything looks very good at this time.

Lovrovich gave the council a brief update on Green Power. Noted that he had provided council with a memo from BPA on renewable energy resources. Hauck noted that in Klamath Falls, roughly a quarter of customers chose to pay more for Green Power. Lovrovich noted consumer desire that the utility be a leader in environmental programs. Stated that there is a willingness on the part of consumers to pay anywhere from 1-15% more for more environmentally sound power. Stated that he could bring further details back to council as desired. Council requested previous city survey data on citizen interest in Green Power. Lovrovich discussed approaches taken by some other Northwester utilities.

Laws noted that he was interested in getting further information, and asked that there be documentation that power sold as "green" would actually be produced in an environmentally sensitive manner. Lovrovich explained that by supporting the Green Power program, citizens would be reducing the amount of resources used to produce power used in Ashland. Emphasized that this would be clearly explained in promotional materials. Wanderscheid noted that Green Power would likely be purchased from Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and would be American Rivers-endorsed hydro-power.

Council indicated their preference that staff bring back further information on options for Green Power.

Freeman noted that the City Recorder had provided a good deal of information on the history of this policy, but noted that the policy has never been formally adopted as an ordinance or resolution. Questioned whether this policy is binding on the current council. Emphasized that the policy has not been revisited since 1991, and that he was unaware of it as it is not codified. Asked council for direction, and suggested that if council wants a policy of this type that it be brought back as a resolution.

Laws asked that this matter be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, as it is a policy matter. Noted that this was adopted in 1991, but has not been revisited or followed since.

Freeman noted that he would bring forth a draft resolution and put this item on the agenda. Hauck asked that budgeting be set aside for attending conferences and programs for groups for which the city has membership or upon which the councilors serve. Noted that there would need to be an annual review to account for cost of living.

Fine suggested that any policy needs to differentiate between personal training and city business, and further to differentiate between training that relates directly to service on the council versus training that might be of incidental, general benefit.

Laws suggested that a flexible policy is needed, but recognized that there does need to be a policy in place so that decisions are based on more than the judgement of the City Administrator.

City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the difficulty encountered with a non-codified policy being brought up by citizen inquiry. Emphasized the need of making policy documents easily located and a tracking process, such as resolutions.

It was noted that this evaluation would occur on September 23rd, and councilors were asked to return their evaluations to Fran in Administration or to the Mayor by September 17.

Freeman noted the need to discuss possible dates for the upcoming council workshop and strategic planning after the executive session.

The study session was adjourned to executive session at 1:20 p.m. The study session was reconvened at 1:43 p.m.

Laws noted that it might be possible to get a modification of the DEQ permit with regard to the .08 standard.

Brown noted that Bob Eimstad from Carollo Engineers had previously indicated that .08 was a possibility, but that the question had to do with the cost of meeting new temperature regulations.

Laws questioned the cost and effort involved to look into this and bring back a cost estimate to put the effluent back into the creek. Brown noted that the previous estimate could be refined, but that there would likely be a consultant cost of $3,000 - 5,000 to make sure that information is concise and up-to-date. Also noted that bio-solids are a separate issue that needs to be dealt with.

Freeman expressed concerns with the 30-50% rate increases necessary if effluent were returned to the creek and bio-solids dealt with on-site at level IV/tertiary treatment.

Reid noted that she believes that other alternatives could be looked at, rather than rate increases. Suggested that the food and beverage tax and SDCs are options. Emphasized that there is a need to look at alternatives.

Discussion, noting that there would be some effect on rates even if the food and beverage tax were continued.

Fine expressed concern with use of the off-site for bio-solids, and suggested that the city buy into Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority (BCVSA) and use the TAP intertie trench to provide connection for wastewater and drinking water. Brown explained that this has been discussed previously, and council previously decided to pursue other options. Fine suggested that if drinking water were not being drawn from Ashland Creek, the need to retain effluent would be eliminated. Brown pointed out that there would be a need for separate trenching, as drinking water and wastewater must be separated by some distance.

Discussed the Medford Water Commissionís interest in a redundant system for the valley, and possible alternatives from this perspective. Requested that Brown bring back costs of possible options again for further council review.

Brown noted that putting water back into the creek to meet the .08 standard is feasible, but that she would need to look further at the feasibility of meeting temperature requirements. Emphasized that returning water to the creek would not be any cheaper than it was a year ago. Stated that returning water to the creek is a policy decision, but that she can bring further information back to council if they so desire. Brown emphasized that she would need to do further research to determine the cost of meeting temperature requirements.

Reid expressed concern with continuing on course toward spray irrigation off-site, and indicated that she would prefer not to pursue this matter on appeal. Hauck questioned giving credibility to unrealistic fears by changing course now.

Laws noted his concern about the possibility of holding water behind the dam at Emigrant during a drought year and the possible effect on fish that this might have. Brown noted that there was ample information from RVCOG available on this issue, and she could look into it and get back to council.

Council consensus that Brown would bring back information that had been previously provided, with any updates addressing issues such as temperature, for further council consideration.

Reid noted that she did not approve of moving ahead with the appeal case.

The study session was adjourned at 2:13 p.m.

Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer

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