Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 17, 2009
Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Lemhouse, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.

Mayor Stromberg announced that the City is reviewing applications for Annual Appointments and invited individuals to volunteer to the various Commissions & Committees.

The minutes of the Study Session of March 2, 2009 and Regular Council meeting of March 3, 2009 were approved as presented.


1. Does the Council accept the Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees?
2. Does the Council wish to approve a Liquor License Application from Patricia Groth dba Morningglory Restaurant at 1149 Siskiyou Blvd.?
3. Will the Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, approve a Sole Source Procurement for the acquisition of Itron Electric Meters to be purchased from General Pacific at a firm price of $61.35 each for a term of three (3) years?
4. Does the proposed budget meet the needs of the Mayor and Council for FY10?
5. Will Council approve a resolution in support of a grant application for the 2009-2011 Transportation and Growth Management Grants of $225,000, and authorize match funds not to exceed $125,000, and authorize the Mayor to sign the grant agreement?

Councilor Chapman requested that Consent Agenda item #4 be removed for discussion.

Councilor Silbiger/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1-3 and #5. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

City Administrator Martha Bennett briefly reviewed Consent Agenda item #4, which was the approval of the proposed budget for the Mayor and Council. She explained that staff was recommending the budget be held to the same standards as all other department budgets. Further explanation on public television coverage, travel and expense amounts and costs associated with facilitators was provided.

Councilor Voisin/Navickas m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #4.
DISCUSSION: Councilor Jackson voiced support for the basic budget. Councilor Lemhouse commented on the importance of limiting spending. Councilor Navickas stated the value of Council training and the benefit of interfacing with other Cities. Councilor Jackson also noted the importance of lobbying on behalf of the community. Voice Vote: Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Lemhouse, Jackson and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

1. Will Council approve the FY10 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project list, the overall FY10-15 CIP Program in concept, and the FY10 Capital Equipment Plan?
Public Works Director Mike Faught presented the proposed FY10 and FY15 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). His presentation included the CIP document containing a 6-year funding outlook for planned projects based on availability of funds and projects identified in the Master Plans.

Further information was provided on the following: Availability of Funds, Federal Stimulus funded projects, Master Plans, FY09 current year projects and highlights, FY10 CIP proposed programs by Division.  Proposed projects were identified in Transportation, Local Improvement Districts, Storm Drain, Airport, Water, Wastewater, Electric, Ashland Fiber Network (AFN)/Telecom/IT, Facilities & Parks and the Capital Equipment Purchase Plan. Included were FY10-15 CIP Plan and highlights for each of these divisions.

Mr. Faught explained projects listed in the "unfunded" category were important to keep in the plan although funding was not identified at this time. Once funding was available, the projects on the CIP would be ready to move forward. Staff would continue to look for funding sources for these projects.

Public Hearing Open: 7:50 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:50 p.m.

Councilor Jackson/Lemhouse m/s to accept staff report and approve the following three items in the Capital Improvement Program: proposed FY10 Projects for Budget purposes, FY10 Capital Equipment Plan and FY10-15 Overall CIP for planning purposes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Will Council approve the proposed increases to the Water and Wastewater utility rates effective April 20, 2009, to replace revenue shortfalls, fund operations and capital expenditures?
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report. The presentation included information on current external pressures, impacts resulting from decreased revenue streams, the forecast on operations and capital implications. Charts were provided showing the comparison of operational ending Fund balances for all divisions, with 3% revenue increases, Water and Wastewater total and ending Fund balances projected with larger adjustments.

Revenue to expense issues was noted for the Water and Wastewater Funds. The Water Fund issues included volume sales being flat going into third year, revenues flat or down despite rate increases, increase in operating costs, debt service and internal costs. The needs of the Water Fund included restoring cash balances and ability to meet obligations through rates and cost containment, system maintenance and repair or improvement to the infrastructure when financing or funds are available.

The Wastewater Fund issues included decreased Food & Beverage tax proceeds, increasing rates will help but are still insufficient to make up for tax reduction, increasing operating costs, and the cost of overhead and internal costs. The needs of the Wastewater Fund included restoration of cash balances, meeting obligations through Food & Beverage tax renewal, rates and cost containment, system maintenance and repair or improvement of the infrastructure as needed when financing or funds are available.

The challenges identified included cash balances for restricted and non-restricted funds, funding for improvements and repairs, meeting requirements, covenants and the variation of estimates by the time the Budget is presented in April. Much is dependant upon tourism and weather, reduction in sales, meeting debt service requirements and the possibility that short-term issues may remain for a year or two.

Mr. Tuneberg noted the Water fund pays $78,200 of the Technology Debt, $300,036 of the General Fund and $84,000 of the Street Fund annually.

The monthly impact of a water rate increase on an average family of four would be $3.15; the wastewater rate increase would be $3.50 for an average total impact of $6.65 per month depending on water consumption.

Staff recommended a 10% rate increase for Water and 20% for Wastewater to replace the drop in Food & Beverage tax revenue and to help restore cash reserves used to fund projects.

Mr. Tuneberg further explained base and commodity charges and noted a rate study would better determine these charges. Projections provided at the Study Session had been updated for this meeting. Mr. Tuneberg added rate increases were designed to meet operational costs and reviewed annually. Different types of bonding methods for funds were explained and the need to restore cash balances emphasized.

Public Hearing Open: 8:46 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 8:46 p.m.

City Attorney Richard Appicello clarified that each Resolution should include an effective date of April 20, 2009.

Councilor Navickas/Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2009-07 revising rates for Water Service with an effective date of April 20, 2009. DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas voiced concern with the increase adding that projects cut from the CIP will cost more in the long term. Putting debt service to enterprise funds causes the ratepayer to cover the debt through increased rates and he preferred the General Fund rely on property taxes instead of rates or fees. He supported the concept of Full Faith and Credit Bonds. City Administrator Martha Bennett explained how the City would use Full Faith and Credit Bonds. Councilor Navickas clarified the Technology Debt should be removed from the debt service utility funds. Councilor Lemhouse understood the need to pay the debt and meet obligations and wanted to assure the public that the Council and the City was doing everything possible to reduce costs. Councilor Jackson added this was a mandatory public health concern and noted past rate increases. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Lemhouse, Silbiger, Jackson, Navickas and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

Councilor Chapman/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2009-08 revising rates for Wastewater (Sewer) Service with an effective date of April 20, 2009. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Navickas, Jackson, Voisin, Lemhouse and Silbiger, YES. Motion passed.

It was noted there are programs available for Low Income Energy Assistance, Senior Citizen Discount and Heat Donation Assistance for those struggling with monthly costs. Mr. Tuneberg explained how to apply for these programs and some of the qualifications required. Director of Electric Utilities Dick Wanderschied added that funds allocated for these programs are used. It was requested that the City advertise the programs on the City website.



1. Should the Police Department apply for a grant from the United States Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing for one additional officer to engage in community policing activities and agree to maintain staffing levels?
Police Chief Terry Holderness presented the staff report and explained the grant would come from the office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) and was part of the Federal Stimulus Package. The grant would pay 100% of the cost of the officer up to $75,000 a year for three years but required a commitment for the term of the grant for the new position plus positions already established during the grant period and after the funding ended.

Councilor Lemhouse/Jackson m/s to direct the Police Department to apply for a COPS grant. DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas could not support the grant considering the present and future economy. He noted how the current commitment to maintaining the Parks and Recreation Department budget cut into other areas and would rather maintain the Fire Department, emergency services and the Planning Department. Councilor Lemhouse commented that statistics show understaffing a Police Department increases the violent crime rate and this grant would help maintain the infrastructure.

Chief Holderness explained the current Central Area Patrol Officer (CAP) position would expand from four to seven days a week and serve as back up for the day shift and swing shift overlap, respond to emergencies and participate in programs in the community and schools. The position would extend beyond the four years due to officers retiring in the near future.

Councilor Jackson sited a similar program that funded the School Resource Officer position and since the funding ended, the department has been short staffed. She thought the City should take advantage of this opportunity and supported community policing.

Councilor Navickas reiterated current budget concerns and cautioned on committing to a level of funding during this time of unstable revenue sources. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Lemhouse, Silbiger, Jackson, Voisin and Chapman, YES; Councilor Navickas, No. Motion passed 5-1.

2. Will Council Consider soliciting request for proposals for private uses for the "Imperatrice Property"?
Public Works Director Mike Faught presented the staff report that included a brief history of the property. The property was purchased using Food & Beverage Tax proceeds with the intent to apply the City's wastewater services. Concern raised during the public process resulted in the City upgrading the Wastewater Plant and improving the effluent from a Class 3 to a Class 4 at $34million.

The City entered into a lease agreement with Ron Anderson that generated $11,000 per year in revenue for the use of the property. The lease expired and never renewed although Mr. Anderson continues to use the property on the same terms. Staff was contacted by individuals interested in submitting proposals to use the property and wanted direction from the Council on a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to explore alternative uses for the land. It was recommended that any use of the property leave the City the option to apply wastewater effluent in order to address the effluent temperature issue.

Further clarification on including the property in the Master Plan was sought. Mr. Faught explained the RFP would include protecting the effluent, any water quality issues and the existing oak groves on the property.

Christopher Iverson/765 Siskiyou Boulevard/Explained he is the founder and Project Co-director of the Shambhala Eco-settlement on 466 acres of land near the Oregon border in Siskiyou County. He is interested in creating another eco-village on the Imperatrice property. The project would be sustainable and could potentially create revenues of $10-20 million with residual annual income streams of several million more. The project could be done with private money and the City would retain permanent ownership excluding the individual 2.5 acres plots purchased as homes. The Eco-Settlement Shambhala is the only one established in this bioregion. He asked the Council to extend the RFP process for the next 6-12 months and give his group the time to present their business plan.

Paul Kay/1234 Strawberry Lane/Thought this was the best time to bring forward ideas for the property and asked the Council to receive RFP's for short-term agriculture use of the land. He requested that the proposals for partial use of the property address shared use of roads and waters with Mr. Anderson for his herd and grazing patterns.

The Council discussed the benefits of comparing the City's ideas with the private sector to determine the best use of the property. Councilor Chapman read potential uses for the property from an earlier motion that included preserving the area for recreation purposes, as farmland for agricultural purposes or future energy generation.

Councilor Voisin/Navickas m/s to direct staff to draft an RFP for private use of the Imperatrice property. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

3. Is the Council interested in creating a Transferable Development Credits (TDC) Program?
City Attorney Richard Appicello presented the staff report and recommendation by staff to initiate an amendment to AMC Chapter 18 and comprehensive plan, if necessary, to create the TDC program. He explained this would help achieve Council objectives, including infill and protection of desirable undeveloped lands, such as City parklands and open space properties. He provided several examples and clarified the land use process for disposing City owned property.

City Administrator Martha Bennett stated the downside to TDC would be concerns about density and that the City might not use it not in a fair or consistent manner. Mr. Appicello was cautious about awarding density bonuses within the City boundaries and thought it was more applicable within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). He described ways to keep development consistent with the City that included establishing minimum standards in the development agreement statute, putting in a zoning district or creating a bank.

Paul Kay/1234 Strawberry Lane/Noted he has followed TDC for over 30 years and was excited to see it come to the Council. He explained the valley was 50% forested land, 30% farmland and 20% urban land. An incremental model of TDC within or outside the City limits was an important step to reconcile planning for the population to double with the next generation. TDC was an exciting opportunity but the City should be cautious as they moved forward.

Councilor Lemhouse/Jackson m/s to approve staff recommendation to create an amendment on the TDC Program. DISCUSSION: Councilor Chapman was more interested in using transferrable rights to protect farmland. Councilor Navickas did not think the TDC program was development neutral. He preferred a more comprehensive look at up zoning; TDC seemed piecemeal and he was not comfortable having City land use regulations that appeared up for grabs to less rigorous processes. Councilor Silbiger commented that parks should not be used as a bank, the City should use density already established, define what to do, when, and then codify it. The process seemed goal oriented with positive benefits if structured correctly. Mayor Stromberg thought the mechanism could be useful for the City but required real planning regarding its uses.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Jackson, Silbiger, Lemhouse and Voisin, YES; Councilor Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

1. Will the Council perform Second Reading of an ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Authorizing Execution of an Intergovernmental Agreement, the 'Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving Agreement' for the Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving Program, Providing for a Process for Participants to Implement the Adopted Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Plan"?

Mr. Appicello read the title in full.

Councilor Silbiger/Lemhouse m/s to approve Ordinance #2980. DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin requested a report from Councilor Jackson regarding the City of Jacksonville's participation in the agreement. It was relevant to Ashland because the Cities that voted for the current agreement will have to reconsider another if the City of Jacksonville was not participating. Councilor Jackson questioned the relevancy to the City and clarified that the City of Jacksonville and the Policy Committee chose their positions. The Participants Agreement would go through the amendment process if it needed to be modified. Councilor Voisin reiterated it was relevant because the City of Jacksonville had asked for changes in the plan and the Participants Agreement. Mr. Appicello stated the record was closed, any changes to the Participants Agreement based on the City of Jacksonville's participation or requesting changes would go through the land use process as an amendment. Councilor Jackson explained the City of Jacksonville's position had not changed and the Policy Committee tried to negotiate with the City of Jacksonville and did not receive a response. Mr. Appicello added if there were an amendment to the draft plan, there would be a Public Hearing.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Jackson and Lemhouse, YES; Councilor Navickas, Voisin and Chapman, NO; Mayor Stromberg, YES. Motion passed 4-3.

2. Should the Council conduct and approve the First Reading of an ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Creating the Conservation Commission and Repealing Resolution 95-19"?
Director of Electric Utilities Dick Wanderscheid explained the Council Liaison is both Chair and a voting member in the Conservation Commission. The Commission recommended by a split vote that the Council Liaison be a member only and not the Chair. Staff suggested amending the ordinance designating the Council Liaison an ex-officio member. City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified the Commission was originally created by resolution and staff was now proposing it be created by ordinance.

City Attorney Richard Appicello read the title in full.

Councilor Jackson noted the last sentence in Section 2.18.030: "At its first meeting, the commission shall elect a vice-chair...," should include "…chair and vice-chair…." and Section 2.18.010 needed language that designated a Council Liaison.

Councilor Silbiger suggested having five of the members reside within City limits would guarantee a majority.

Councilor Silbiger/Lemhouse m/s to approve first reading of "An Ordinance Creating the Conservation Commission and Repealing Resolution 95-19 with suggested amendments and place on agenda for second reading. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Jackson, Navickas, Silbiger, Lemhouse and Voisin, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.


City Administrator Martha Bennett gave a brief overview of the actions taken by the Council.


Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder

John Stromberg, Mayor


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