MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, August 15, 2011
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Silbiger, Lemhouse, Chapman, Voisin, and Morris were present. Councilor Slattery arrived at 5:55 p.m.
1. Look Ahead Review
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
2. Does Council have questions about the use of electronic packets?
City Recorder Barbara Christensen and Council discussed how the electronic agenda packets were working using iPads and PC/Notebooks. Council experienced some difficulty opening and scrolling through large documents, internet browser crashes and searching PDF documents. Some had problems using the touch keypad while others liked it better than a standard keyboard. One thought the Drop Box was cumbersome and did not use it.
Positives included screen resolution, viewing landscape and portrait page layouts except when there was a mixture of both in the document. Council liked the portability, pinch zoom and flicking through pages.
Suggestions included creating an agenda page on the website without the side bar navigation and putting the Drop Box online. Ms. Christensen would create a report for Council regarding their discussion.
3. Does Council have questions about the need for electric rate increases, to become effective November 20, 2011?
Interim Assistant City Administrator Lee Tuneberg confirmed a 4% increase with the User Tax would result in a 5% rate increase. Staff budgeted for a 6% rate increase based on preliminary information that indicated a 14% increase from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) that would total an 18% increase over the next 3 years. However, BPA lowered that percentage from 14% to 11.6% creating a larger carry forward from the City’s prior budget year. The 4% increase in the current fiscal year would include a 5% increase the following two years. Since BPA’s fiscal year began in January, the 4% rate increase would take place for nine months of the City’s current fiscal year.
Additionally, contributing to the higher Ending Fund Balance were vacated positions in the City, Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) not initiated, and employees who retired early due to a possible PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) Bill.
In general, Council supported a 4% rate increase, purchasing the substation and did not think staff should change the discount program. Staff noted a 4% increase would result in approximately $2.50 more on monthly electric bills based on 750-kilowatt daily use.
Mr. Tuneberg explained Transmission Supply Costs were separate in the budget and totaled $900,000 per year. Supply was the power the City purchased for use. Transmission was what the City paid in order to use different lines for the load. Current delivery charge costs for the Mountain Avenue Substation was $175,000.
The Senior/Disabled Program and the Ashland Low Income Energy Assistance Program (ALIEAP) were already in the budget. The Senior/Disabled Program ran year round and fund differences came out of the Ending Fund Balance. The City set aside a specific percentage of funds to meet the ALIEAP requirement. The City also received credits from overall purchases from BPA.
CVO Electrical Systems assisted in the negotiations for the Mountain Avenue Substation. They determined the asset was worth 20-30 years and would help purchase low growth power in the future. Comparisons on maintenance and anticipated delivery charge increases showed the City could save $900,000-$2,800,000 over the next 20 years. BPA was in the process of selling their substations to eliminate maintenance and time spent on negotiations.
Council supported advertising a rate increase of 4% to start the rate discussion.
Mr. Tuneberg addressed the last two power outages Ashland experienced and explained how the Electric Department and PacifiCorp created a temporary fix until PacifiCorp completed work on the Talent Substation.
Meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder