Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday, March 31, 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, Hartzell and Jackson were present.
1. Look Ahead Review.
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the items on the Council Look Ahead and noted the upcoming Study Session on April 14th would be held in the Siskiyou Room. She requested Council provide direction as to whether they wish to hold a Council Meeting the week of the 4th of July, and suggested they may want to cancel an August meeting instead.

Councilor Hartzell indicated her interest in moving the Railroad Property Discussion forward. She noted the $80,000 that has been set aside and expressed concern that this money might go away. Ms. Bennett clarified staff has budgeted some funding for consulting fees in the proposed Community Development budget, but it has not been earmarked for specific projects. She noted there are two other major projects staff is working on and indicated they do not have the resources to move three major projects forward at the same time.

2. Review of Regular Meeting Agenda for April 1, 2008.

Sale of City Owned Property on Westwood Street
Mr. Olson clarified the proposed deed restriction reflects the modifications from the previous deed restriction.

Liquor License Application from Michael Rozenfeld
City Recorder Barbara Christensen commented on the City's liquor license approval process and stated one of the approval criteria is whether the location complies with the City's land use requirements. She stated this individual has been operating a restaurant and serving alcohol; however, it was determined that staff never approved a restaurant use for this location. Community Development Director Bill Molnar indicated the property is located in an Employment Zone, which would allow for this use, but the individual will have to go through the land use process.

Fee Increase for the Ashland Community Center, Pioneer Hall, and The Grove
Ms. Bennett clarified the Parks & Recreation Commission has already raised the rates for Parks programs, services, and facilities. The item before Council is approval of the increase for the three City-owned facilities.

Rate Increase by Ashland Sanitary and Recycling
Councilor Hartzell questioned if the Council would be permitted to have any kind of negotiation with the franchisee about the rate increase and requested the City Attorney provide an answer at tomorrow nights meeting.

Public Works Director Selection Process
Human Resource Director Tina Gray clarified staff received an update from the City's recruiter and noted there are 10 qualified candidates that are being reviewed. Ms. Bennett clarified staff would need direction from Council as to whether they want televised interviews.

Emergency Ordinances
City Attorney Richard Appicello clarified these are being brought forward as emergency ordinances in order to protect the City from potential litigation. He commented on the provisions of the solicitation ordinance and the penalties for violating the ordinance. Mr. Appicello clarified a school is a not-for-profit organization and would be exempt from these requirements, he also clarified the ordinance does not apply to phone or email solicitation.

Councilor Hartzell questioned how this ordinance would apply to a business and residence if they are co-located. Mr. Appicello clarified this ordinance would apply to the part of the structure occupied as a residence. Councilor Hartzell also questioned how this ordinance would affect political candidates going door to door, if the materials they distribute includes information on where donations could be made. She requested Mr. Appicello look into this and respond at tomorrow nights meeting.

Mr. Appicello clarified it is his understanding that postal workers would be exempt from these provisions, but stated he would double-check and report back tomorrow.

Councilor Hartzell stated the proposed ordinance appears to put "no solicitation" on equal footing with "no trespassing", and questioned if there was a way to better distinguish the penalties for these actions.

3. Does the Council have comments or questions to be directed towards Brown & Caldwell, the authors of the Reeder Reservoir Study?
Bob Willis with Brown & Caldwell provided a summary of the Reeder Reservoir Study. He stated the dam and reservoir are in very good condition, but commented on the sediment and algae issues. He indicated a large amount of the 10-foot thick sediment that extends out from the dam was caused by major storms. He stated if the City were to have another major event like the '97 flood, it may become necessary to remove the sediment, but at this point he does not feel this is necessary and noted the significant costs that would be involved. Mr. Willis also commented on the algae problem and noted the streams that feed the reservoir contain high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen, which help the algae to grow. Mr. Willis noted the recommendations in the Council Communication that would address this problem and provided an explanation of how water circulation devises could be used to disturb the algae's lifecycle.

Mr. Willis clarified the recommendation to conduct a more intense monitoring of the streams, and stated at this time he can not answer whether there is a way to control the phosphorous levels before it gets to the reservoir. He noted that other than sediment from large storms, the reservoir is a high quality water source. He stated the problem is with the algae, but is confident they can address this by disturbing their environment with the SolarBee circulators.

Mr. Willis clarified his recommendation to not remove the sediment at this time. He stated it would be very expensive to do so and recommended they wait until it really needs to be done.

Mr. Willis noted the recommendations listed in the Council Communication are prioritized. He also commented briefly on the benefits of cleaning out the sediment from the inlet streams.

4. Does the proposed budget meet the needs of the Mayor and Council for FY09?
City Administrator Martha Bennett stated the intent of bringing this item forward was to ensure Council had the opportunity to review their budget before it was finalized. She explained that both the City's General Fund and Central Service Fund are down, and stated expenses are growing faster than revenue. She stated staff has been trying to find ways to cut expenses and noted she has asked all departments to reduce their travel and training budgets. Ms. Bennett stated the proposed Council budget is based on actual figures from FY07 and projected year-end estimates for FY08.

Ms. Bennett explained in the past, staff budgeted for full family benefits for the entire Council, however the proposed budget provides for the actual medical benefits for the three councilor members not up for re-election in November, and full family benefits for the four positions up for election. She also explained that staff is suggesting a slight cut back in the Council's travel and training budget. She noted that if Council increases their budget, they would have to decrease Central Services somewhere else.

Council expressed approval of the proposed Council budget.

5. Does the proposed Community Visioning plan from staff incorporate the steps and timing Council feels appropriate for this goal?
City Administrator Martha Bennett commented on staff's recommendation to combine the Community Visioning and Economic Development goals. She stated if Council chooses to separate these out, staff would recommend that they not do them at the same time. Ms. Bennett noted that additional staffing would be needed to accomplish these two goals and noted the recommendation to utilize graduate student assistance (RARE Program).

Management Analyst Ann Seltzer stated the common denominator for the two goals is two-fold. First, they need to determine what they want (public meetings, data gathering); then, they would move on to the development of the strategic action plan. Ms. Seltzer stated this second step is where the bulk of the work would come from. Ms. Seltzer commented on the research she completed and how other cities have completed these tasks. She noted the documents and plans she received from other Oregon cities, and stated the draft plan provides a realistic way of achieving the City's goals.

Council discussed their preferences on whether these two goals should be combined. Councilor Silbiger expressed his reservations about combining the two, and recommended they get started on an economic strategy right away and not wait for a visioning plan. Councilor Navickas stated he does not oppose combining the goals, but voiced support for a faster visioning process so that they can get to the "nuts and bolts" of a strategic plan. He also voiced his support for the hiring of a staff position, rather than hiring an outside consultant. Councilor Hardesty voiced her support for the emphasis to be on the plan and the implementation.

Ms. Bennett briefly commented on how some of the elements of the two goals work together.

Councilor Hartzell noted her desire to deeply engage the community without sacrificing efficiency. She also commented on the possibility of increasing the TOT and using this to respond to the immediate needs of economic development.

Mayor Morrison commented that the 2-year timeframe is much longer than he would like to take. Ms Bennett noted the need allow enough time for public involvement. She stated that 24 months might be too long, but does not feel they can get this done in 1 year.

Ms. Bennett clarified staff needs direction on what kind of "add package" they should prepare for the budget. She also noted Council could discuss this item further at their next Study Session meeting.

Councilor Chapman stated that visioning has not been a high priority for him and voiced his opposition to spending 2 years on this project. Councilor Hartzell suggested the possible use of a Council subcommittee to work with staff and come back with options that are different from what is proposed. Councilor Navickas suggested a timeframe of 4-months upfront for staff and then 1-year to develop the vision. Councilor Hartzell commented that there may be some language issues that are getting in their way. Mayor Morrison agreed and acknowledged the need to fine tune what was brought forward by staff.

Ms. Bennett summarized the discussion and stated staff would move forward with Option 2 for budgeting purposes and Council would have the opportunity to discuss this further at the next Study Session.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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