Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, June 04, 2007

June 4, 2007
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Council Chair Silbiger called the Study Session to order at 5:25 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Hardesty, Hartzell, Navickas, Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman were present. Mayor Morrison arrived at 5:40 p.m.
1. Look Ahead Review.
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the items on the Look Ahead document. She stated in two weeks the Council will have a Study Session to discuss the water, wastewater, transportation and storm drain rate increases, as well as the Council Goal Setting planning. Ms. Bennett noted the McDonald Property Appeal has been postponed until July. She also explained the Council will hold a Special Meeting on June 27, 2007 where the Council will need to make a decision on whether to place an item on the ballot for the library funding, and there will also be some supplemental budget changes that will need to be taken care of. Ms. Bennett clarified that she had spoken with the Chamber of Commerce regarding acceptable dates for a Study Session and suggested June 25, July 2, or the week of August 13.

Comment was made expressing interest in having a fuller discussion on the library issues. Ms. Bennett noted the County is in the process of creating a baseline contract and stated discussions with the County regarding additional services may be hampered until they have completed this document. She added that staff could provide some preliminary information during the interim.

Support was voiced for having a discussion on the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Economic Development as soon as possible. Ms. Bennett clarified an increase in the TOT would not require a vote by the citizens, but voiced concern with whether it was realistic for the Council to have this discussion in July. She commented on staff's workload and clarified the other major issues Council is scheduled to discuss during their July meeting.

Suggestion was made to postpone the update on the PERF Report so that Council could discuss the TOT and Economic Development at their July meeting. Comment was made questioning if Council could discuss the TOT and Economic Development at the same time they meet with the Chamber. Ms. Bennett stated she does not believe the Council can come to a consensus on this issue in one meeting and stated this will involve a public process and may take several months. Comment was made questioning if the Council could at least begin their discussion on this issue at the July 17 meeting.

Comment was made that the Council has been waiting to discuss the PERF Report for some time and that the TOT issue is not as pressing since an increase would not be implemented until February or March of next year.

Suggestion was made for the Council to hold a special Study Session towards the end of July to discuss economic development.

2. Discussion of Long Range Planning.
Community Developer Director David Stalheim provided a presentation on the City of Ashland Planning Program. A copy of the presentation, which addressed the following items, was submitted to the Council:

Current list of long range plans and special projects,
The seven priority areas listed in the Zucker Report and what staff is doing to addresses those items,
The Siegel Report,
Planning Commission's short term "mud bucket" items,
Director observations, and
Key recommendations and the recommended work plan.

Mr. Stalheim questioned if there are specific items Council would like to have a more detailed discussion on.

Comment was made expressing concern that the Council was not involved in identifying the priorities and requesting Council priorities be included in the work plan. Mr. Stalheim clarified this is why staff has brought this item before Council and requested Council identify any priorities so that he can pass them along to the Planning Commission.

Comment was made suggesting Council further discuss the possibility of a hearings officer.

Mayor Morrison noted that the Zucker and Siegel priorities were developed before Mr. Stalheim arrived and questioned Mr. Stalheim if he is comfortable with these priorities. Mr. Stalheim explained these priorities have not driven his work plan and gave his opinion that not enough time was spent on some of the issues. He also commented that it is difficult for an outside consulting firm to determine what is best for a specific organization. Mr. Stalheim clarified why he avoided using the term "visioning" in his presentation and stated a City visioning process is a much larger task and would include other departments and issues.

Comment was made expressing concern regarding the Planning Commission's "mud bucket" items and suggestion was made for the Council to make some long range planning decisions before some of these items are addressed. Mr. Stalheim clarified that the Council has the authority to identify different priorities for the Planning Commission.

It was noted that several councilors have prepared lists of the items they feel are important. Mr. Stalheim encouraged the councilors to submit their lists to staff and stated he would compile the list of items and bring this back for Council to prioritize.

3. Discussion of RVTD Funding and Priorities.
Public Works Director Paula Brown introduced representatives Paige West and Julie Brown with Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) and Alan Hudson with Rogue Valley Council of Government. Ms. Brown briefly reviewed the staff report and stated staff's recommendation is for the City to "hold the line" with the RVTD contract and work towards determining Ashland's needs.

Paige West noted that bus schedules are now posted at all of the individual kiosks in Ashland.

Ms. Brown commented on why she believes ridership as dropped and stated that the rise in fees and the longer route times may have had an affected the ridership levels.

Ms. Brown noted staff's recommendation to hire a transit planning consultant and clarified this would cost $75,000 to $80,000. Comment was made questioning if other jurisdictions were intending to hire a consult, and if so, perhaps Ashland could share the consulting costs with another city.

Julie Brown addressed the Council and clarified RVTD's screening process used for TransLink clients. She stated the process could be refined and noted they are looking at hiring someone on contract to do the screening instead of using local physicians. She also commented on Valley Lift and clarified if Ashland were to provide its own transit service the City would be required to comply with the ADA requirements for para-service.

Paige West commented on her work with the MPO and stated she has a draft copy of the updated plan. Ms. West explained they have met with City Administrators throughout the valley and will be conducting a review and making sure there are several stakeholders reviewing the plan. She also noted there will be a public participation process and this process will not be completed before September. Ms. West noted they have four service scenarios and are asking each jurisdiction to prioritize their needs. She briefly commented on the option of each City to support a route that circulates within their own jurisdiction (such as Route 5 in Ashland) and RVTD would handle the financing for the main route.

Mayor Morrison voiced his support for staff's recommendation to continue to support RVTD at the current level, at least until they have seen the long range plan.

Mr. Alan Hudson provided a review of RVTD's financial situation and budget. He explained that next years budget is tight and they do not have a lot of "wiggle room". Mr. Hudson noted that RVTD has only limited resources available and stated their primary funding comes from federal grants. He commented that RVTD's primary costs are personnel, supplies and materials (including fuel), and the contracted services for para-transit.

4. Review of Regular Meeting Agenda for June 5, 2007.

Request for Sewer Service to Commercial Property Located Outside the City Limits at 2995 Hwy 66

Public Works Director Paula Brown provided an explanation of the situation at 2995 Highway 66. She stated the owner has had the tanks checked twice and no leaks were found, but the system is not operating correctly. Ms. Brown stated that staff is recommending the owner be allowed to connect to the City's system since it is close to the City facilities and there is a possibility that water ways could be affected.

Comment was made that is the responsibility of the owner to correct this situation, not the City. Ms. Brown clarified there is no cost to the City and the owner will pay all of the installation costs as well as a higher sewer rate if the connection is approved. She also clarified the Council could decide to limit the owners to the same number of fixtures as they have now.

Award of Contract in Excess of $75,000 - North Main Pump Station

Comment was made questioning how many of the City's other contracts are going over bid and what is the cause. It was also questioned why this wasn't brought before the Budget Committee. Ms. Brown clarified the bidding process was done at the same time the Budget Committee was completing its process and staff believed the estimate would hold. She clarified the North Main Pump Station is located in difficult area to work in and stated this contract in and of itself is unique.

Request was made for staff to provide information on where the additional funds will come from, what gets traded off, and what they would have to delay.

Croman Master Planning

Comment was made questioning if Crandall & Arambula would be available for this project. City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified how the grant program works and clarified staff has indicated their preference to work with Crandall & Arambula.

Certified Local Government Grant

Comment was made questioning the impact on the Planning staff. Community Development Director David Stalheim clarified this should have no impact on staff.

Summer Library Services

City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified this item is specific to the summer programs only. She clarified the Intergovernmental Agreement would be with either the Ashland School District or Jackson County, and stated if Council decides to go with the schools option, they will need to negotiate the services. She clarified staff will need Council to provide direction on what they want to pay for.

Meeting adjourned at 7:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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