Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:31 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, Lemhouse, Voisin, and Slattery were present.  Councilor Morris arrived at 5:40 p.m.
1.     Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
2.     Discussion of Sewer Line Service Policy
Public Works Director Mike Faught corrected an error in the Council Communication that the City was responsible for maintaining sewer lines for 51 Greensprings-Oak Knoll subdivision homes when further review of the development agreement indicated it was actually 250 homes.
Staff recommended codifying the current policy requiring property owners to pay for replacement, maintenance of their sewer laterals, and whether that extended to the mainline or just the property line. The average cost was $2,500 per line and would cost the City $19,625,000 for all 250 homes in the Greensprings-Oak Knoll subdivision.  The other change was updating Ashland Municipal Code Chapter 14.08.030 to change responsibility for determining sewer system failure to “appropriate regulatory authority” instead of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  Codifying the policy made it easier to enforce and similar policies were common throughout Oregon.  Property owners would need a permit to work on their sewer line and hire a certified line inspector for any public right of way.  They would not be responsible for damage incurred by someone else.
The life cycle for a lateral was approximately 80 years.  Staff would research whether homeowners insurance covered failed sewer lines and bring a policy to Council for codification to a future meeting.
3.     Discussion of updating the Economic Development Strategy
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the next steps for the economic development strategy was following up with the Chamber of Commerce on key areas of the Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) survey.
Ron Fox, the Executive Director of Southern Oregon regional Economic Development Inc. (SOREDI) explained an enterprise zone was a State program and a local option initiated by a jurisdiction.  Ashland could request to have property added to the Jackson County zone but they did not have ecommerce overlays.  There were only 10 ecommerce overlays in Oregon. 
Basic enterprise zones were eligible businesses making eligible investments on property inside an enterprise zone like a building expansion, a new building, or fixed equipment.  Ecommerce created incentives for businesses that operated via the internet with a focus on personal property additions.  It provided an exemption on personal property and a tax credit up to 25% of the ecommerce investment against personal or corporate tax liability up to $2,000,000 utilized over a five-year period.  Ecommerce zones sunset with each enterprise zone.  However, very few communities give up their zones and apply for extensions.
The City could ask Jackson County to amend the boundary of their zone to include property within Ashland, and then pursue an effort to permit more ecommerce zones.  The standard benefit for the enterprise zone on property taxes was three years.  Extensions lasted five years with the tax liability for the new investment going back to the taxing districts at the end.
The downside to an enterprise zone was city, school or other tax districts relevant to a specific property would not receive incremental additional property tax for the first 3-5 years.  The upside was increased jobs and potential property tax.
Staff would look at potential tax lot parcels in addition to Croman Mill and come back to Council with information regarding enterprise zone designation.
Council majority did not support pursuing an urban renewal district but would consider it if a viable plan came forward in the future.
Dennis Leidall, Executive Director of Sustainable Valley Technology Group explained how his company coached and mentored new businesses for successful growth using an incubator method and other techniques.  They were interested in establishing a satellite office to start a business incubator in Ashland. 
Staff would bring back proposals to evolve the economic development strategy, and work with the Chamber of Commerce on follow up.   
4.     Discussion of whether to televise Council study sessions
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained it would be possible to do a live stream from the Siskiyou room with a non-directional microphone to hang from the ceiling at a low cost.  The most expensive option was broadcasting from the Siskiyou room. 
Council discussed preferences for broadcasting from Council Chambers and streaming online in the Siskiyou Room.  Also discussed was the quality of service issues with Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV).  Opposing comments noted televising Study Sessions would decrease productivity and increase formality.  Supporting comments stressed the need for transparency and that Council could retain informality.
Staff would work with technical experts to research available technology and options.
5.     Closing the loop follow up from the Mayor
Mayor Stromberg encouraged Council to ask questions of staff prior to meetings so they had time to research and share answers.  He went on to discuss recognizing high school students and acknowledging people who contributed to the community posthumous.  Council majority was comfortable notifying Council and the Mayor when a Councilor wanted to recognize someone and Councilors not in agreement could contact the City Administrator and the Mayor.  Per code, the City Administrator set the agenda.  City Administrator Dave Kanner supported the Mayor deciding what items went under the Special Presentations & Awards section on the agenda.  Opposing comments thought Council meetings should focus on City business and suggested recognition occur during the Mayor’s Town Hall meetings.
City Attorney Dave Lohman distributed cheat sheets to Council that explained when to use an objection to consideration of a question, point of information, point of order, and previous question.
Meeting adjourned at 7:25 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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