MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
September 20, 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 announced vacancies on the Forest Lands, Historic, Housing, Planning, Public Arts, and Tree Commissions, and the Audit Committee.
Sam Allen/Jeff Allen/223 East Brook Way/Thanked the Council for making the solar project at Helman Elementary School possible. They provided history on the 5.17-kilowatt solar panels installed on the roof of the new library at the school. The school collaborated with the City, the PTA, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Various foundations and parents raised $8,000, the City contributed over $10,000 and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Bonneville Power Administration funded $15,000 to make it possible. The system will produce enough power for three classrooms, and there will be a touch screen kiosk in the library for educational purposes. The Solar 4R Schools website www.solar4rschools.org will show how much power the school produces in real time. Ashland based True South Solar installed the system.
SHOULD THE COUNCIL APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS?
City Attorney Dave Lohman proposed Council approve a clarifying amendment to the September 6, 2011 minutes concerning one portion of the presentation on the Comprehensive Water Master Plan. Staff’s statement regarding the City's ability to sell water to Talent and Phoenix to help cover Ashland's infrastructure costs needed additional clarification. Following the first full paragraph on page 3 of the minutes, he recommended adding the following: “The sale of water outside city limits is subject to certain Charter restrictions that would have to be satisfied. Sales to property owners outside the City have occurred numerous times in the past, in reliance on an interpretation of the Charter provided in Resolution 1997-27."
Councilor Chapman/Voisin m/s to approve the August 30, 2011 Special Meeting minutes and the September 6, 2011 Regular Meeting minutes with the recommended amendment. Voice Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin and Chapman, YES; Councilor Silbiger, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS - None
1. Will Council approve the minutes of City Boards, Commissions, and Committees?
2. Will Council approve three grant applications to fund future Public Works and Parks and Recreation Department projects and programs?
3. Will Council accept the update on Council Goals as presented?
4. Does Council wish to confirm the Mayor’s appointment of James Berge to the Forest Lands Commission with a term to expire April 30, 2012?
5. Does Council wish to confirm the Mayor’s addition of membership to the Public Arts Commission for a Student Liaison?
6. Will Council approve a 12-month lease for property at 5 Water Street located at the corner of “B” and Water Streets?
7. Will Council approve an agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation to fund the Walker Avenue Safe Routes to School project under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program?
8. Should Council authorize an agreement with The Waters Consulting Group, Inc. for professional recruitment services at a bid price of $21,500 plus direct reimbursement of expenses?
Councilor Silbiger pulled both sets of the Planning Commission minutes of August 23, 2011 under Consent Agenda item #1 and Councilor Slattery pulled Consent Agenda item #5 for further discussion.
Councilor Slattery/Voisin m/s to approve remaining items on the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Silbiger noted the Planning Commission meetings of August 23, 2011 lacked a full quorum and would not approve the minutes.
City Administrator Martha Bennett explained several Commissions had student liaisons. Mayor Stromberg added the Mayor could create student liaison positions on a commission if there were interest. Once created, the Student Senate approved a student to apply for the position. Student liaisons were non-voting members.
Ms. Bennett would contact the Planning Commission on what constituted a quorum.
Councilor Silbiger/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #5. Voice Vote. All AYES. Motion Passed.
Councilor Slattery/Lemhouse m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #1. Voice Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin and Chapman, YES; Councilor Silbiger, NO.
Motion passed 5-1.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
1. Will Council raise electric rates by 4% effective October 20, 2011 to address an increase in wholesale power rates from Bonneville Power Administration?
Interim Assistant City Administrator Lee Tuneberg based the proposed 4% rate increase effective October 1, 2011 on a 9.5% rate increase from the Bonneville Power Association (BPA) for wholesale power. The $495,000 increase was $500,000 more than the previous year. The 4% rate increase would have subsequent increases of approximately 2.62% for Fiscal Years 2012-2013 and 2013-1014 and equaled the $500,000. Raising rates 2% each year would not generate enough income to stay above the minimum Ending Fund Balance. The increase would cover electricity costs for purchase only. The City would absorb operating costs through reserves and vacant positions in the City.
He went on to describe the process used to avoid turning off power to customers for non-payment. Assistance programs like the Senior and Disabled Discount programs and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) were budgeted and donations from other sources were not.
Public Hearing Opened: 7:26
Public speaker Kenneth Wainwright requested 5 minutes instead of 3.
Councilor Voisin motioned to extend the speaker’s time. Motion died for lack of a second.
Kenneth Wainwright/CO 995 Siskiyou/Spoke on behalf of the Jackson County Fuel Committee that addressed the lack of energy resources and fought for people to have access to heat and power. Currently there were 46,000,000 living at or below the poverty line, with Oregon one of the most impoverished States in union. It was unconscionable for policy makers to raise the rates for heat and power. He provided statistics from the past year on households requesting assistance from ACCESS in the first week of January that ranged up to 56,000 in the valley. Less than one in ten received assistance. He asked Council to reject the rate increase and enact a winter moratorium from November 1 to March 31 on all electricity shut offs and eliminate reconnect fees for households with incomes below 200% of the poverty line. He also thought the article in the paper regarding the rate increase the day before the meeting was the only noticing that occurred and was not sufficient for people to exercise their right to public testimony.
Council and staff explained agendas were available on the City website www.ashland.or.us the Thursday before each meeting along with a display ad in the newspaper. Additionally, the Look Ahead listed future agenda items and was on the website and updated every other week. The rate increase was on the Look Ahead since July.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:34 p.m.
Councilor Silbiger/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2001-29. DISCUSSION: Councilor Silbiger commented the City had no control over the increase since BPA set the price. The 4% increase raised the amount needed and the Electric Department would absorb the associated costs. Councilor Lemhouse would not support the motion. He thought unexpected revenues like the $125,000 from the Chitwood sale should go to the Electric, Water, and Street Funds to help offset rate issues and shortcomings. Councilor Slattery supported the 4% rate. He was not in favor of taking funds from specific City services to pay for another. Each service needed to stand on its own. In addition, the City should double their efforts to help low-income individuals. Councilor Voisin would vote against the motion. The money the City was currently raising for the transformer purchase should go to subsidizing utility rates instead. She wanted a rate study conducted that would establish progressive rates with a basic rate that increased with customer use. Councilor Chapman clarified the City was purchasing the transformer to save money in the future and reduce rates. The 4% rate increase was the best compromise and he would support the motion. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Morris, Slattery, and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, and Voisin, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
The Mayor, Council, and staff discussed Mr. Wainwright’s testimony and suggestions. Staff would forward LIEAP income qualifications for energy assistance. Council requested periodic reports on shut offs as the winter season progressed and would use the information to determine next steps.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to direct staff to bring forward a status report of the program going into the winter months. DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse could not support a plan without first knowing the actual situation. Voice Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse and Voisin, YES; Councilor Silbiger and Chapman, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
Emery Way/753 Siskiyou Boulevard/Explained several groups were initiating a boycott of Mt. Ashland Association, their main sponsors and donators. He appealed to Council to join the boycott. People could not afford to do nothing when something as vital as natural resources were at stake. Council needed to take a position on the matter one way or the other, if not as a Council, then as individuals.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Whom will Council designate as the voting delegate and alternate delegate for the annual League of Oregon Cities membership meeting, occurring on October 1, 2011?
Councilor Slattery/Morris m/s designating Councilor Silbiger as the voting delegate and Councilor Chapman as the alternate voting delegate. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, and Chapman, YES; Councilor Silbiger, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS (None)
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
1. Report from Council Silbiger on Ashland Community Hospital.
Councilor Silbiger met with the Executive Committee who provided the Corporate Member Role & Rights he submitted into the record. Ashland Community Hospital (ACH) hired a consultant who was creating a package of assets ACH owned. The consultant would also receive proposals from interested hospitals. Additionally, they were developing a public communication plan. Councilor Voisin suggested having public input prior to the final presentation.
City Administrator Martha Bennett explained there was an inconsistency in the by-laws that stated Council could appoint whomever they wanted and another bylaw that said Council could not appoint an elected official. City Attorney Dave Lohman further explained Council had the authority to appoint a liaison that did not have to be a Council member. If Council wanted to appoint another Councilor then the articles of incorporation would need to change with approval by both the Council and the ACH Board.
Ms. Bennett referenced Mr. Wainwright’s public testimony and shared how citizens could subscribe on the City website to receive notification emails when the agenda posted online. In addition, the public could access City information through Twitter and Face Book pages.
Interim Assistant City Administrator Lee Tuneberg provided details on the four power outages that occurred since May. A control board malfunction caused the first power outage in May. California Oregon Power Company (Copco) blackouts resulted in two power outages in July. The recent outage occurred when an animal made contact with components.
Meeting adjourned at 8:19 p.m.
Dana Smith, Assistant to the City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor