MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
September 6, 2011
1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, Silbiger, and Chapman were present.
Mayor Stromberg noted the recent passing of Ralph Temple, described his passion for Civil Rights and honored him with a moment of silence.
He went on to announce vacancies on the Housing, Historic, Forest Lands, Planning, Conservation, and Tree Commissions, and the Audit Committee.
SHOULD THE COUNCIL APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS?
The minutes of the Study Session of August 15, 2011, Executive Session of August 16, 2011 and Regular Meeting of August 16, 2011 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
The Mayor’s proclamation regarding September 7, 2011 as Spay and Neuter Day was read aloud.
Recognition of Ashland Little League All-star teams was delayed.
1. Will Council approve the minutes of City Boards, Commissions, and Committees?
2. Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, approve the request for approval of a Special Procurement to use an alternative contracting approach (solicitation process) for asphalt patching services?
3. Will Council authorize staff to apply for a Technical Assistance grant from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development to revise the land use ordinance to implement the Council goal to improve the land use process?
4. Will Council approve a request for a one-time co-sponsorship of the Monster Dash, for the sole purpose of hanging a banner across E. Main Street?
5. Will Council approve connection to the City’s sewer system of an existing commercial building located at 2925 Highway 66, which is outside the city limits?
Councilor Lemhouse requested that Consent Agenda item #5 be pulled for discussion. Councilor Morris requested that Consent Agenda item #3 be pulled for discussion.
Councilor Slattery/Morris m/s to approve Consent Agenda Items #1, 2 and 4. Voice Vote: all AYES.
Engineering Services Manager Jim Olson explained the sewer system connection at 2925 Highway 66 was close to Mill Creek and any spill or overflow would make its way to the creek via the storm drain or surface flows. Additionally the City charged double for sewer service outside city limits. Requests to connect the City sewer system occurred 1-2 times a year. Councilor Chapman suggested AMC 14.08.030 (D) be updated to reflect current practice.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #5. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained if the City did not receive the Technical Assistance grant for the Council goal to improve the land use process, staff would shift resources to accomplish the goal over the long-term.
Councilor Morris/Lemhouse m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #3. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
Dr. Aaron Corbet/423 North Main Street/Explained he was a physicist and a member of the Scientific Panel Investigating Nine-Eleven (SPINE) and explained the panels background. He asked Council to take a symbolic stand on reopening the 9-11 investigation with a focus on establishing the physical facts as opposed to speculations about Arab involvement and to pass this recommendation on to Oregon Representatives. Council did not have to agree with his conclusions but hoped they would recognize the 9-11 Commission did not examine the issue thoroughly.
1. Does Council have questions or input regarding the direction and progress of the Water Conservation and Reuse Study and Comprehensive Water Master Plan?
Associate Engineer Pieter Smeenk and Rich Whitley from Carollo Engineers provided information on redundancy supply. The Ashland Water Advisory Committee (AWAC) agreed on four goals regarding water conservation and reuse:
· Adequacy of Supply
· Redundancy of Supply
· Reliability of Supply
· Environmental Responsibility of Supply
Ashland would need a new raw water supply by 2038 and a new treated water supply by 2018. The Committee recommended two redundancy proposals. The first was constructing a water back treatment plant outside of Ashland Canyon. The 2.5 million gallons would provide minimum indoor use and fire protection during emergencies. To offset current shortage for water supply storage, the plan would combine it with the proposed Crowson 2 Reservoir that could serve as clear water when it was time to replace the old treatment plant. Additionally, the City could utilize it for redundant supply when the Talent Irrigation District (TID) was seasonally not available. The cost for that proposal was approximately $13,100,000.
The second proposal was a Partial TAP Intertie that would go to Creel Road instead of Culver Road and have a pump station that operated during emergencies. AWAC combined this with another proposal to add two filters at the Water Treatment Plant to achieve additional treatment capacity by 2018. To make up for the remaining storage capacity, AWAC recommended a 3 million gallon reservoir.
Ashland currently held a water right for 1.5 million gallons a day for six months through the Talent Ashland Phoenix Pipeline (TAP). Ashland could increase the gallon amount to 3 million per day but only for three months. There was a plan to acquire more water rights but AWAC concluded Ashland would not need that volume until 2060.
Another idea was selling water to Talent and Phoenix from November to April instead of them purchasing water from Medford. Ashland’s production costs were significantly lower than Medford. The Charter had prohibitions regarding selling water but the City routinely sold water outside of the City limits and Resolution 1997-27 addressed the issue.
Next steps for AWAC included public meetings September 28, 2011 to review the Capital Improvement Plan (CAP) project list and in October to review the final impacts of the decided list. In December, AWAC would come to Council for input regarding the proposals that included which one benefited the billing cycle, water usage, and cost to residents.
The Committee decided not to pursue effluent because the cost was higher than the alternatives but did not preclude utilizing the water for irrigation in the future. Reuse of effluent was cost effective when there was a large customer base nearby and currently TID provided that level of service.
2. Does the Council wish to eliminate the subsidy of RVTD fares within Ashland on December 31, 2011 and replace it by expanding the current bus pass subsidy program, creating a new 50% subsidy for employees of Ashland businesses and subsidizing a local private shuttle service focused on hotels and motels?
City Attorney David Lohman disclosed he was the prior attorney for RVTD. He did not think there was any direct conflict of interest but offered to withdraw from the discussion per Council direction. Julie Brown Executive Director of RVTD waived any potential conflict of interest.
Public Works Director Mike Faught explained the Fare Reduction Program went into effect in 2009 based on the premise increased frequency would increase ridership. That effort included reinstating Route 5, a 50% fare reduction and a pass subsidy for low-income riders that actually resulted in decreased ridership overtime.
The City spent $176,000 in 2009 and $239,000 in 2010. This current fiscal year allocated $272,000 but without the Betsy Grant, the allocation was $202,000. Staff worked with RVTD to bring back the free fare program but the City could not afford the $700,000 annual cost. The second option to extend service at night and over the weekend was also expensive. Staff was reviewing long term through the Transportation System Plan (TSP) but in the short term recommended three options.
The first option would extend the current contract to December 31, 2011 end the reduced fare program and increase free fare for low-income riders at an estimate of $50,000. The second recommendation was a 50% subsidy for Ashland businesses at an estimated cost of $20,000. The third was subsidizing a private shuttle within Ashland for tourists.
Of the current programs, the high school fixed route experienced the highest use and second was the senior fixed route passes.
Southern Oregon University (SOU) would pay more for transit if the service included extended hours and weekends. In the past, SOU subsidized bus passes.
Ms. Brown explained ridership increased when gas prices went up but decreased as the recession progressed and people lost their jobs. If the City was interested in continuing a subsidy program, she suggested the one used in 2003 where it was free to the rider. She added SOU discontinued their pass program at that time because it was free within Ashland. She recommended further discussion on solutions and making a decision in October.
RVTD Senior Planner Paige Townsend explained RVTD conducted triennial passenger surveys based on ridership for each route.
Mardy Carson/455 B Street/Expressed her appreciation on Council effort to maintain a vibrant community. Tourism fueled Ashland’s economy and that often depended on people who worked for minimum wage as service providers. Some of these workers could not afford cars. She was grateful for what RVTD provided but thought the City should look at adding night runs, service on the weekends and focus on who needed to get back and forth.
Council supported extending the fare subsidy program until year-end. There was concern regarding the subsidy and the City’s economic health in relation to the Street and Water Funds. Additional concerns were staff workload managing a new bus pass program and subsidizing tourists. One suggestion was subsidizing the senior fixed rate and moving the balance into the Street Fund. Other suggestions for the October Study Session with RVTD included looking at what the City might get from slightly increasing funding, developing comprehensive measurements, and impact projections on changing the fare from $1 to $2.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to extend the current $1 fare subsidy program to December 31, 2011. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Does Council wish to adopt a policy setting evaluation criteria for the refund of Community Development and Engineering Fees when an Ashland property owner’s primary residence is substantially damaged or destroyed by an emergency which was beyond the control of and without fault by the property owner and which could not have been prevented by the property owner’s exercise of reasonable diligence?
Community Development Bill Molnar recommended a refund instead of a waiver because the waiver would impede the building permit process. A refund would also give staff the time to verify insurance. The declaration of emergency ratified by the Council would apply to larger emergencies but Council would have the ability to review a past event and apply it to the definition of emergency under the municipal code.
City Administrator Martha Bennett did not think the waiver was good public policy. It subsidized people who lacked sufficient insurance coverage on their private residences. Councilor Lemhouse thought it was good policy because one of City governments’ responsibilities was to help protect citizens. Ms. Bennett referenced the fee structure policy that stated the City will recover a certain amount of actual cost with certain activities and that was the basis for the fee.
Majority of Council did not think the fee waiver policy was necessary. They could waive fees on a case-by-case basis.
Councilor Lemhouse to direct staff to prepare a resolution establishing eligibility for obtaining reimbursement of Community Development and Engineering Fees consistent with the criteria suggested in the September 6, 2011 Council Communication on the waiver of such fees. Motion died due to lack of second.
Councilor Silbiger/Chapman m/s that Council take no action on the Fee Waiver Resolution. Voice Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Voisin, Silbiger and Chapman, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
2. Does Council wish to direct staff to sell or solicit proposals for the development of affordable housing for two City owned properties?
City Administrator Martha Bennett provided the financial history on the Chitwood and Clay Street properties. Housing Program Specialist Linda Reid explained there were approximately 200 affordable housing units that consisted of subsidized housing and units, project-based vouchers, below market units and affordable ownership units. All the subsidized and low-cost units were rented with waiting lists.
Regina Ayars/199 Hillcrest/Explained how the low-income provider for the Chitwood had withdrawn from the project and no other low-income providers were interested in developing the property at this time. The proceeds from the sale of Chitwood to the Parks and Recreation Department should go into the Housing Trust Fund. She supported the staff recommendation to land bank the Clay street property with an annual re-evaluation of options. With the loss of five affordable housing units from Chitwood, it was important to allocate Clay Street property for low-income housing.
Councilor Slattery/Silbiger m/s to direct staff to negotiate the transfer of the Chitwood land area (0.32 acres) originally designated for affordable housing development to the City of Ashland Parks Commission for parks purposes in exchange for $125,059 which shall be dedicated to the Housing Trust Fund. DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse supported the transfer of Chitwood parcel and wanted to use the $125,059 for the Water and Street Funds. Councilor Chapman agreed. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Voisin and Slattery, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, Chapman and Morris, NO. Mayor Stromberg broke the tie with a yes vote. Motion passed 4-3.
Councilor Silbiger/Lemhouse m/s to take no action on the lower Clay Street property at this time with the intent to re-evaluate the City’s options upon significant changes in the housing and lending markets. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
3. Does Council wish to direct staff to prepare an ordinance modifying the quorum requirements for meetings of certain City-appointed advisory boards and commissions currently set forth in AMC 2.10.040 as part of the City’s Uniform Policies and Operating Procedures for Advisory Commissions and Boards?
City Attorney David Lohman explained when Council passed the uniform procedures for commission and boards the definition of a quorum was greater than half a commission’s regular members but did not define members. His legal opinion on the definition of greater than half pertained to the sitting members only, not the full number of authorized members or vacancies.
Councilor Silbiger/Slattery m/s to direct staff to prepare a draft ordinance substituting approximately the following language: “Unless otherwise ordained, a meeting quorum shall consist of more than one half of the total number of authorized voting members of the body.” DISCUSSION: Councilor Silbiger explained prior to the 2010 changes, a quorum had a specific number. Council changed the language but did not intend to change quorum requirements. Councilor Morris thought the Planning Commission had to have a majority vote of authorized members to make recommendations to Council. City Administrator Martha Bennett confirmed Council changed the quorum rules to reflect that but in 2010 changed them back because the Planning Commission was having difficulty making a quorum. Councilor Slattery was uncomfortable with the exception and asked for further clarification. Councilor Silbiger explained the Tree Commission was the only commission that did not have a stated number of members. The Commission could have five members but if there were seven people interested, it was allowable. The quorum rule of half still applied.
Councilor Chapman/Slattery m/s to amend the motion to fix the Planning Commission along the same lines of the motion. DISCUSSION: Councilor Silbiger explained the amendment should be a separate motion.
Councilor Chapman withdrew the motion with Councilor Slattery’s consent.
Voice Vote on main motion: all AYES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS (None)
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
1. Does Council wish to provide staff direction to investigate possible changes to the City’s listserv?
Council discussed what worked and did not work with the listserv. They supported citizens having the ability to email them directly as well as having a public forum to debate City issues. Staff would work on a way for citizens to send email to the Council that was transparent and available to the public in a monthly archive and establish a separate public forum.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor