Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, March 03, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Councilors Hardesty, Silbiger, Chapman, Navickas, and Hartzell were present. Councilor Jackson was absent.
1. Look Ahead Review.
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the items on the Council Look Ahead.
2. Review of Regular Meeting Agenda for March 4, 2008.

FY09 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
Councilor Hardesty requested staff provide information on the relationship of FY09 CIP projects to rate increases. She clarified she would like to know which projects would require the biggest rate increases and suggested they might use this information to prioritize the projects.

City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified there are other factors besides the CIP projects that will affect rates and expressed concern with Council making decisions about rates when they have not looked at the bigger picture. City Engineer Paula Brown indicated that not a lot has changed since the CIP was presented last year and clarified that these are not discretionary projects. Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg agreed and stated these are things that need to be done and the City must find a way to finance these projects. Ms. Bennett warned the Council that they could only set policies and would not be permitted to bind future Councils in regards to appropriations.

Councilor Hartzell voiced support for Councilor Hardesty's request and stated it was valid to look at how CIP projects affect rate increases. Staff indicated they work on gathering this information for Council.

Enclose Existing Covered Storage Building
Councilor Hardesty noted the significant cost difference between the two bids staff received and questioned if it would be beneficial to solicit more bids. Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid indicated he does not feel if they went back out for bids it would result in a significant savings. He added there is sufficient funding in the budget to cover the costs.

Ordinance Governing the Planning Commission
Councilor Navickas noted he had submitted an email outlining a proposal for limited de novo hearings and questioned if this was a possibility. Council and staff briefly discussed whether this question could be addressed during this Study Session. City Attorney Richard Appicello clarified this is a land use proceeding and recommended this not be discussed tonight. Ms. Bennett added that staff has reviewed the process suggested by Councilor Navickas and would be prepared to discuss this matter at tomorrow nights meeting.

Comment was made questioning if a Special Meeting would be needed to deal with this item. Ms. Bennett indicated she does not feel a Special Meeting is necessary and clarified if needed Council could continue this issue to their next Study Session and Regular Meeting.

Other Business from Council Members/Reports from Council Liaisons
Councilor Chapman indicated he would like to provide an update on the Bear Creek Greenway Committee if time permits.

3. Does the City Council wish to schedule a formal public hearing to consider an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax Rate? What additional amount does the Council wish to consider? How would the City use the revenue generated by the proposed increase?
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report and background information. He noted two public forums were held to obtain feedback from the stakeholders and their responses are included in the packet materials. Mr. Tuneberg stated at this point staff needs direction on whether Council wishes to schedule a public hearing to consider a rate increase, what amount they would like to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax rate to, and how the City would use the additional revenue.

Management Analyst Ann Seltzer explained staff knew that they would need to start with the stakeholders, and now that this is complete, Council needs to provide direction to help staff frame the issue for the general public. She stated staff could hold additional public forums for the community, but Council needs to make some decisions before they do this. City Administrator Martha Bennett noted that there was some skepticism expressed at the stakeholder forums, but no one was vehemently opposed.

Councilor Hardesty noted she had submitted a memo outlining her questions about the TOT. Staff provided the following responses to Councilor Hardesty's questions:

Need for research data on whether or not visitors decide to go to a destination based on local taxes. Ms. Seltzer indicated she had submitted an email to the League of Oregon Cities and would also check with the Oregon Tourism Commission.
The table on Estimated Revenue Generated from a TOT increase states that the balance is likely to be used for Economic Development. I didn't think that had been decided yet. Mr. Tuneberg agreed and stated this has not yet been decided.
Is there any way to estimate how much tourists cost the City each year? Mr. Tuneberg stated they might be able to come up with some direct costs for special events (such as the 4th of July), but it would be difficult to allocate these costs and the numbers they could provide would not be comprehensive.
Could there be a less costly way to create a convention center or space for less than $4 million? Ms. Bennett stated this could probably not be done for less than $4 million and clarified a feasibility study would need to be completed before they undertake a project like this.
Option of purchasing land for additional parking. Shouldn't this wait for the downtown plan? Ms. Bennett stated purchasing land for additional parking was just an idea for Council to discuss.

Council shared their opinions on whether to move forward with scheduling a public hearing and whether they are interested in raising the TOT. Councilor Silbiger voiced opposition to holding a public hearing at this time and suggested they begin by identifying the needs and what they would like to achieve. Councilor Navickas expressed interest in creating an outdoor public space and voiced his opposition to a convention center. Councilor Chapman stated he is also not in support of a public hearing and stated the Council needs to determine what they would do with the money. He added that deciding on how much money they would need and what to raise the TOT should come later. Councilor Hartzell stated she is also not ready to hold a public hearing and expressed interest in using the money for economic development.

Mayor Morrison acknowledged that the Council is not interested in holding a public hearing at this time, and suggested Council begin by identifying what rate increase they would be interested in. Council briefly discussed and agreed that they are not supportive of a 3% increase. Council consensus was to consider a 1% - 2% increase in the TOT. Suggestion was made that it might be helpful for Council to submit their ideas on how the money could be used and for staff to compile a worksheet. Additional suggestion was made for the Chamber of Commerce to prioritize their "wish list". Mayor Morrison indicated that Council needs to identify the needs first, and then determine if this money is something that would help address those needs.

Councilor Hartzell suggested the Economic Development Plan be completed first and stated this plan would identify how the money could be used. Councilor Hardesty voiced support for the money being used to boost shoulder season activities. Councilor Navickas restated his interest in a new public space downtown that could be used for street performers or an outdoor market.

Ms. Bennett summarized Council's discussion and stated staff would bring back a scenario of what a 2% increase would look like. She noted most of the conversation tonight regarding the 70% relates to promotions, events or festivals. She indicated staff would assume that most of this revenue would go to the Chamber of Commerce and staff would work with them and have the Chamber submit a plan. She added that staff would also consider additional granting. Regarding the 30%, staff would assume that this would be put towards economic development for the first 1 years and after that it would be used for promotion of that strategy. Ms. Bennett stated staff would focus primarily on the 2% rate increase, but would also provide a sense of what could happen with a 1% increase. She indicated staff would return with this information and obtain Council's feedback. Council could then determine if they are ready to move to a public hearing.

4. Does the proposed plan from staff incorporate the steps and timing Council feels appropriate for the Fiscal Stability council goal?
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report. He explained Council adopted Fiscal Stability as a priority goal and proposed the following steps and timeline to accomplish this:

1) January - February 2008: Identify the internal resources (appropriations and staff) available to support the goal. It was noted this would impact proposed changes in the budget.
2) March - June 2008: Develop a solicitation process to perform this goal and provide additional support not available within the City.
3) July - August 2008: Create a timeline for gathering input from stakeholders and identifying deliverables.
4) September - November 2008: Perform the work including evaluation of existing and the development of new measures, benchmarks, and systems for monitoring.
5) December 2008: Report on work to date to Council and subsequent revisions to the project.
6) January - March 2008: Implementation, staff training and incorporation into City budget, operational and reporting process.
7) April - June 2009: Complete integration into the FY 2009-2010 budget process.

Mr. Tuneberg explained that staff is recommending using an outside consultant to help guide the City through this process, which could cost approximately $100,000. He stated this project would also need a tremendous amount of staff time and it may be necessary to add staff to his department.

Council briefly shared their views on what they are looking for in regards to financial stability. Comment was made questioning what other communities and doing and how they are dealing with financial pressure. Mr. Tuneberg explained that everyone seems to be struggling with infrastructure, especially streets. He noted some of the options other communities are using are fees on utility bills and gas taxes.

Councilor Navickas voiced support for the additional staffing needed in the Finance Department, but expressed concern with hiring a consultant to make policy decisions. Councilor Hartzell voiced support for the steps outlined by staff and acknowledged the need for additional Finance staff. Councilor Hardesty voiced support for someone from the outside to come and assist with this project. She commented on a possible project officer, and questioned if there was a way to take some of the burden off of the Finance staff. Mr. Tuneberg clarified that his staff would have to generate the numbers and provide them to the consultant. He added that he is recommending a full time person be added to his department to assist with this project.

Ms. Bennett explained that the variations they have seen in the last few years indicates they need to do some planning and clarified the Finance Department would be submitting an "add package" during the budget process. Request was made for the Budget Committee to be provided the information from this meeting. It was also suggested they be invited to tomorrow nights meeting for the CIP Discussion.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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