Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Continued Meeting

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

These Minutes are preliminary pending approval by Council
at the August 7, 2007 City Council Meeting.

July 18, 2007
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the continued meeting to order at 12:30 p.m.

Councilors Navickas, Silbiger, Hardesty, Jackson and Chapman were present. Councilor Hartzell arrived at 12:48 p.m.

Pam Vavra/457 C Street/Voiced her appreciation to the council for filing the Library Measure prior to the deadline of July 19, 2007 with the County. She noted that a group has formed called "Committee to Open Ashland Library" and provided contact information. She also indicated that they were soliciting individuals to endorse their argument in the county pamphlet.
1. City Attorney Recruitment Process Update.
Human Resource Manager Tina Gray sought direction from the council in choosing a firm from one of the five firms that had submitted proposals for the recruitment of City Attorney and the salary range for this position.

Mayor and council noted their preference for Bobbi Peckham & McKenney for the recruitment of the City Attorney process.

Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to hire the Peckhan & McKenney firm to conduct the City Attorney recruitment and approve the salary range as proposed by staff. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Denise Tschann/659 Fordyce/Spoke regarding how the City and Pacific Railroad is proposing to take 118 square feet of less than her 1,000 square foot yard to put a sidewalk in. She indicated that she had previously sent the council a power point presentation that showed how much land this actually is. She stated that it brings the city easement within 4½ feet of her picture window of her house. She stated that the proposed sidewalk would raised so that pedestrians feet would be even with her picture window and enable individuals to step from the railing onto her house roof. She stated that this is not acceptable and is concerned that people will access her roof and injuries may occur. Ms. Tschann felt that there were excuses made on how the standards were being enforced. She also noted that the City planners put her property on the TID (Talent Irrigation District) easement and that TID stated that her house is sitting on an active TID easement, which is illegal. She did indicate that she is working with city staff to have this easement given up.

Mayor indicated that he would look into this matter and contact Ms. Tschann on this matter.

2. Prioritize Desired Library Services.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer informed the council on the process that staff has taken to meet with county staff to draft mutually acceptable intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that will detail what the city desires and what the county is willing to provide in order to open and operate the Ashland public library. She clarified that the IGA would need to be approved by both the city council and the county commissioners.

Ms. Seltzer stated that the county has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to contract with a private entity to provide library services. The RFP asks for two separate proposals 1) Operate the library countywide and 2) Operate individual municipal libraries. She indicated that more would be known after August 6.

Staff is asking council for direction related to the IGA's three points 1) prioritize what supplemental services might be desired; 2) identify other issues to resolve through IGA and 3) determine if city should continue seeking IGA if county determines to privatize library services.

Staff is also recommending that council create and appoint a citizen advisory ad-hoc committee to review and evaluate the services that the library will provide in the short-term, identify and recognize the delivery of future services and to be responsible for receiving community input concerning the Ashland public library. In the long-term, this group would work in conjunction with regional and municipal groups to identify long-term library funding options and library governance options. In addition, this group would serve as a liaison with the county library advisory group.

Pam Vavra/457 C Street/Voiced appreciation to city staff for the recommended priorities as presented. She shared that a group of library supporters were meeting weekly at Peace House. She suggested that staff continue to work with this group to receive and weigh the options that have come out of this group when considering the prioritizing of library services to be considered by council. She voiced her appreciation of the recommendation for a citizen ad-hoc committee and suggested that to include in the contract negotiations an early review that may provide flexibility with the contract based on the findings of the library ad-hoc committee.

Councilor Hartzell arrived at 12:48 p.m.

Ms. Vavra specifically suggested that when considering the amount for purchasing new materials, that staffing be included in this amount. In addition, she suggested that there are a number of items that are already paid for that should be available at no cost, omit items associated with increase use which could be covered by the user fee and in regards to privatization suggested that there be an "opt-out" clause or a requirement by the city on any significant changes to the county's plan for operating the library.

City Administrator Martha Bennett explained that the city would need to have an IGA even if the county privatizes, what it will affect is who hires the staff. The city would need to have a contract because the county owns everything in the building.

The council needs to see what comes from the RFP that the county issues and to then review at that time if the "opt-out" clause is necessary. Council discussed the service priority, user fees, cost recovery for room use and the ad-hoc library committee. Clarification was made that the committee would not be involved in the negotiations of the IGA but would be involved in the operations aspect.

Council voiced their concern with privatization and out-sourcing. Staff clarified that "outsourcing" would not be for private libraries but would be operated by a private company. Ms. Bennett stated that this may not be an issue and that staff was trying to determine how the council felt about this issue and that there was nothing "concrete" at this point.

Councilor Hartzell requested staff to review the language of proposed ballot measure on the library levy to determine if there is requirement that the city spend the money in consort with the county. She indicated her desire to part of the ad-hoc committee.

Staff clarified who would be subject to the user fee, what the over-due book cost included and if the proposed committee's duties could include examining the possibility of going into a district long-term.

Councilor Hartzell noted the importance of selecting individuals who have not necessarily been supportive of the library proposal, that the committee should be a mix and that one meeting every 3 months may be too little initially.

Councilor Silbiger cautioned against spending too much for new materials and advised taking advantage of the internet access. In regards to out-sourcing, he voiced concern with the city putting negative aspects in the IGA as he felt this was a short-term fix and should be separate from what the county decides to do permanently. He stated that if the city wants to run its own library it would be a "slippery slope" and should be a completely separate discussion outside the proposed 2-year plan. He felt this should be considered an interim plan and a long-term solution should be a separate issue.

Councilor Navickas voiced support for an option where the city could do both the interim plan and a long-term plan.

Ms. Bennett advised the council that they are "not there yet" and that the county will not meet with the city until they get the results of the RFP. She understood that there is a consensus by the council against out-sourcing but that they would need to wait to discuss further with the county. Staff would be bringing this back to the council for further discussion in several weeks.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s that staff proceed with advertising for the Library Ad Hoc Committee along the lines of the draft presented. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

3. Adoption of 2007 City Council Goals.
Councilor Hartzell voiced her appreciation of staff for bringing this to a level of completion. She does not believe that there is anything in the top votes, other than the visioning-plan that staff has not already begun to work on and is in the adopted budget. Having made this statement, she does not believe that what the council did was prioritize. Shed felt that by getting top votes is nothing more than a "straw vote" and that an intelligent prioritization needed to be fully discussed by the council. She encouraged council to schedule a study session to discuss and acknowledge the prioritization and implementation of these goals. Ms. Hartzell also clarified that she did not place the Riparian Ordinance on the goal list as she thought it has been on the goal list for the past six or seven years and is frustrated on what where they are with this goal and that it is moving too slowly on the priority list.

Councilor Navickas voiced his support on the group of goals and does not feel that there is a need to prioritize and he feels they all have equal priority. He voiced his concern with the prioritization of the citywide transportation strategy and felt that the downtown plan process is more important as being more housing/pedestrian oriented. He felt that transportation has always been prioritized and how this exploits cities. He requested that the Downtown Plan be moved into the top goal group.

Councilor Hardesty voiced her support with outcome of goal list but voiced her concern with how things are going to fit together and that if the visioning is included in the top group that it should encompass other goals. She stated that goals #2 and #5 are independent and should be initiated soon but that the transportation plan, workforce-housing plan and others are related and dependent upon the visioning process. She suggested that council discuss how to integrate "time wise" and use the Downtown Plan as part of the visioning.

Councilor Silbiger agreed that some of these goals are independent and that the visioning leads into the transportation plan. He felt the council could realistically consider the Group A goals and that these should be the ones that are identified by what departments would be responsible. He is comfortable with accepting the Goal A goals as the councils goals and to leave the Group B goals for the next 1 ½ years. The council should be conservative in the number of goals they adopt and they should consider quality over quantity.

Councilor Jackson voiced support with the Group A goals and noted the votes in both groups. She stated that visioning is first and that it leads to everything else and she does not consider the others as part of visioning. Visioning needs to be more broad and open-ended rather than focusing on the Downtown Plan. She endorses the Group A goals and suggests that staff come back with work plans as has been presented.

Councilor Hartzell was not sure how goals were placed in each of the groups and advocated that the council not let goals fall away. She noted the following goals she would like to see moved forward 1) Railroad property and 2) Employee Assistant Housing. She indicated that the Fire Departments are "heavy" on the goals associated with them.

Councilor Hardesty stated that council should be flexible about the visioning because if it is a community visioning and citizens are involved there may be goals in the other groups that are brought forward. Councilor Jackson did feel that the council was being flexible and that the purpose of prioritizing is to give guidance to staff.

City Administrator Martha Bennett explained that if departments have to choose the list allows departments to make decision on what to choose first and that this is not a stop work order on any other projects. Councilor Jackson recommended that the goals be adopted and to allow staff to begin work on the plan.

Mayor summarized the discussion to add the Riparian study to Group A, add the top three Group B goals to Group A for ten goals.

Councilor Navickas/Hardesty m/s to adopt goals, add Riparian Ordinance to the given list and move the top four goals moved into Group A. DISCUSSION: Hardesty explained that workforce housing has come up several times in the past and if this is put into retention strategy, it makes it only three goals instead of four. Navickas also suggested that this could be rolled into the Affordable Housing goal. Ms Bennett asked that council not direct staff how to do it at this point and Navickas clarified that his motion was to keep it at ten goals.

Councilor Hardesty voiced her support for including the Downtown Plan, as she believes this follows the visioning process and this goal is very important to her. Councilor Navickas agreed that the Downtown Plan is closely associated with visioning. Councilor Silbiger does not support this argument and noted that this goal received only two votes at the goal session, and that if it leads into the Downtown Plan that would be okay but it would also be okay if it does not. He felt that there are a lot more areas in this town that have equal or greater concern economically and he supports the top 10 goals that were presented as the official goals. Councilor Jackson voiced her objection to placing the Downtown Plan in the goals because it predetermines what is important about updating the municipal code. That there are many more acres available for redevelopment for both housing and economic use at the other commercial areas in town. That if there are jobs created other than tourist jobs; they will be outside the downtown area. Councilor Hartzell voiced her support of this goal, as it is a long-term goal.

Roll Call Vote: Navickas, Hardesty and Hartzell, YES; Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman, NO; Mayor YES. Motion passed. 4-3.

Councilor Hartzell left at 1:35 p.m.

Ralph Temple/Spoke on behalf of the Souther Oregon Coalition specifically on behalf of the Southern Oregon University Media Collective, Rogue Valley Unitarians Citizens for Peace and Justice, Ashland Elders, Ashland, Ashland Committee on Police and Safety and the Southern Oregon Chapter of the ACLU. He stated that these groups had advocated to the council and their proposal had been accepted to make the selection of the City Attorney an open and participatory process. They are now disturbed and dismayed that the council in Executive Session made the decision to abort this process. He noted a letter that was sent to the Mayor and Council which called upon them to take corrective steps including giving the pubilc an explanation on why they aborted the process. He asked that as the council moves forward on this that they keep the public involved and to formalize the process so that this is done in the future with any key city positions.

He added personal comments where he recognized the time and effort that councilors put into making decisions that are before them.

Mayor indicated that he would respond to Mr. Temple in writing.

Art Bullock/Stated that selection process for hiring the City Attorney is a special case because there is a need to hire someone that has an Oregon State Bar License which is a limited field. He does not believe that this is a case where a "head hunter" needs to be hired and noted the cost saving benefit if it were done in-house. He stated that the proposed salary increase is not warranted and that evidence shows with the most recent process that there were candidates interested in the position at the current salary. He stated that decisions made in Executive Sessions are illegal and he asked that decisions be made in public as the law requires.

4. Continued Discussion on Follow-up of Mt. Ashland issues.
Mayor noted that the council had discussed in Executive Session the action to approve contracting up to $50,000 for litigation and a proposal by Councilor Chapman in regards to a strategy involving the Special Use Permit (SUP). He noted that council had not had time to complete this discussion last night and Councilor Chapman had requested that this be continued today.

Councilor Navickas voiced his concern that this was not listed as an agenda item, there was no public notice of this discussion and he does not feel this is appropriate to discuss this without notifying the public. Mayor clarified that it is common practice of the council to discuss items brought forward and that this meeting is a continued meeting from last night. That this item is on the agenda for discussion.

Councilor Chapman felt that there needed to be more discussion on how to resolve the city's conflict with Mt. Ashland. He noted that at the June 27 meeting the council began discussion on the next steps for Mt. Ashland and council shared their long-term strategies. He stated that at that meeting he brought up the possiblity of transferring the SUP to Mt. Ashland. At the most recent Study Session he had stated that in order to resolve the issues with the Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Team that the city require an agreement with Mt. Ashland. After giving this some thought, he thought this was inadequate and that it really takes all three parties (City of Ashland, Mt. Ashland and US Forest Service) to sit down and decide what to do. He feels that it is seriously time to consider a transfer with Mt. Ashland to achieve all that the city has been working toward.

Councilor Chapman/Silbiger m/s to authorize our City Administrator to represent the City to negotiate with Mt. Ashalnd Association and US Forest Service contractual agreements to transfer the Special Use Permit from the City of Ashland to Mt. Ashland Association. As our representative, she shall have the ability to seek legal, financial, technical or environmental advice at her discretion. The contract, approved by MAA, will return to the full council for final approval. This process should begin immediately.

Our objectives are: 1) Obtain a final agreement on the QA/QC technical team and its authority, 2) Obtain a USFS agreement to re-evaluate restoration and adjust the bonding requirement, 3) Review/Update MOU with USFS on watershed protection interests, 4) Form a MOU between the City and MAA on watershed protection interests, 5) Form an agreement with MAA to hold each other harmless with respect to the past and 6) Transfer the SUP and dissolve the lease agreement between the City of Ashland and MAA.

DISCUSSION: Councilor Hardesty stated that she does not believe that this can be done. That it may be an interesting and worthy discussion but due to time contraints, not being prepared to discuss and no public notice it is not appropriate to do this now. Councilor Navickas agrees and believes that this is far-fetched and that the reason Mt. Ashland wants the city to give up the SUP is so to give up the directive. He believes that this maintains some of the directive and Mt. Ashland will continue to say the same things by not cooperating with a QA/QC team. That this is far-fetched and inappropriate to bring this up in this manner.

Councilor Silbiger noted a newspaper article on the Mt. Ashland litigation issues and where neither side was willing to budge. He stated that the city is stuck in the middle between two sides that refuse to budge on an issue and it is costing the city time and thousand and thousands of dollars. That the two sides involved have one advantage in that the money being spent is not their money. He stated that the proposed motion is the first thing he has seen that may get the city out of this and he is tired of being in the middle of this issue as there is give on either side.

Councilor Jackson stated that she has spoken several times on these same notions since beginning discussion on this subject in Executive Sessions because of pending litigation. She felt that it is worth a try to get the city out of the middle and spending tax payers dollars where no one else is willing to negotiate. She felt that there will be opportunity to discuss many more details than what is listed in the motion. That this is a good start and a that it is time for the city to change their attitude when looking for a solution.

Councilor Navickas appealed to Mayor in terms of civic process and not to allow a vote at this time due to absence of a councilor and no public notice. He felt that this will result in incredible anxiety and antagonism within the environmental community. He supports bringing this back when there is a full council and a properly noticed meeting. He asked that this be voted down. He stated that this is not only about getting the city out of a lawsuit but protecting our watershed as a whole and protecting our city from unnecessary liability.

Mayor explained that although it is ideal to have a full council when making decisions there has been many times when decisions are made without a full council. He gave several examples of when this has happened. He clarified that public notice was given as part of this meeting which included follow-up discussion on Mt. Ashland issues. He stated that what is being proposed is not "giving anything away" but is something that everyone has been looking for which is a strategy which could yield win-win situations rather than continuing to spend taxpayers money and keep the city at odds. He felt that this offers an opportunity to protect our watershed by coming to an agreement which is formally written out, agreed upon and legally bound to, which the city does not have currently. He voiced his strong position of protecting our watershed, source of water and expecting MAA to operate in an economically responsible fashion. He is looking for ways to ensure this and if MAA is not willing to bargain in good faith, the city only ends up where they currently are and have lost nothing. He stated that any agreement with MAA with have to come before the council and if the City Administrator detects that MAA is unwilling to discuss issue than this will be reported back to the council. He does not see where there is great risk or downside but sees potential for an upside and a number of steps protecting the city along the way. He does not agree that because there is not a full council present makes it impossible to move forward on the decision.

Ms. Bennett stated that she could not comment on the substance as the substance is a policy decision but did anticipate the question from MAA on why they should negotiate with the City Administrator and she can speak on behalf of the council. She stated that she can negotiate but not sure if she could deliver four votes of the council. Mayor advised the council that is in favor of this proposal that they should consider the position they are placing the City Administrator.

Assistant City Attorney Richard Appecillo clarified that there is no requirement to have a public hearing or to take public input. Council is allowed to add items to the agenda, that they could consider voting to add this item to the agenda or not. Direction was made that council proceed with proposed motion. Mayor acknowledged that there may be harsh feelings involved by moving forward with the proposed motion. He asked if the council should consider the urgency of this issue and if they should wait until there is a full council to make a decision.

Councilor Hardesty acknowledged that her role in the decision making for the Glen Street issue was a mistake and doing things with an incomplete council is political and that this would be a mistake too. She is not opposed to further discussion but she objects to doing it now.

Councilor Chapman explained that he had been trying to discuss this since February and that this was placed on the agenda for the June 27 meeting. That this issues has been previously introduced and discussed. He stated that he would rather have a full council, but he did not realize that discussion was going to take place on goal setting. He is aware of how Councilor Hartzell would vote and does not believe it would make any difference in the outcome.

Councilor Hardesty stated that it is not a matter of knowing how a councilor would vote but that a councilor is not allowed to speak and that the public is not being allowed to speak..

Councilor Chapman voiced his confidence that City Administrator could do the negotiating as she is well aware of how all parties feel about this issue.

Councilor Navickas stated that council should be very careful in doings this and that there is an established hierarchy within the Forest Service on leases and land management policies. He explained that the Forest Service owns the property and gives to the Special Use holder who has the most authority and then that is given to a sub-leasee. That the SUP holder is the most powerful individual within that hiarchy and if the city gives this up, unless the contract is so strong, he doubts that it will result in anything. His position is that the city has a strong case as long as they hold the SUP. That it is not just about this project but about long-term problems. As the SUP holder the city would have the power and leveraged to place on the MAA to address problems. He stated that the past there has been a neglible city government who has looked the other way over gross abuses. If we have a responsible city government that is willing to go up there, look at the problems and put pressure on MAA to address these problems as the SUP hold the city has this power.

Councilor Jackson objected to the term "giving it up" and re-read aloud the objectives of the proposed motion. Stated that the council is not closing doors but looking at things in a different angle in order to make some progress.

Councilor Navickas stated that the Forest Commission is already working on updating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Forest Service which is included in the motion. He felt that this is a broad motion with a lot of possibilities and changes it. Given that he has just received this proposed motion he has not had time to understand what it is about and that it should have staff review before being put before the council.

Roll Call Vote: Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman, YES; Navickas and Hardesty, NO. Motion passed 3-2.

1. Renewal of Cooperative Marketing Agreement with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation for the Sale of Green Tags.
City Administrator Martha Bennett explained that the city has an agreement with Bonneville Environmental Foundation to market green tags and in exchange, the city gets $1 per green tag. This contract renews this arrangement with one change, which is that the city does not get the $1 if the green tag is sold to a non-profit or government agency. Staff is requesting approval to renew this agreement.

Councilor Jackson stated that this is a program that the city has been involved in since its inception. It has been used as awareness tool to give people an opportunity to learn more about the energy situation and to invest in less impact means.

Councilor Hardesty left the meeting at 2:15 p.m.
Councilor Navickas left the meeting at 2:16 p.m.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve renewal of cooperative marketing agreement with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation with the change regarding the $1 refund not applying to bulk governmental purchases. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Meeting was adjourned at 2:17 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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