CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, and Silbiger were present.
Mayor Stromberg announced vacancies on the Public Arts Commission, Transportation Commission, Tree Commission, and Firewise Commission.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Study Session of November 5, 2012 and Regular Meeting of November 6, 2012 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Ashland Community Hospital (ACH) Board Chair Doug Gentry explained Asante proposed a merger style affiliation where ACH would be part of the Asante system. ACH assets and liabilities would most likely combine and there were local governance options to maintain ACH’s unique organization. Providence proposed a multi-year management agreement that would have kept ACH separate and independent with substantial operating help but no direct relief from their debt. The board was impressed with both proposals but chose an affiliation with Asante to ensure the long-term survival of the hospital.
Asante would go through due diligence before finalizing the term sheet and letter of intent. It would take a minimum of 60 days for that process. A separate negotiation would occur between the City and Asante regarding the lease. Negotiations and due diligence were covered by a mutual confidentiality and exclusivity agreement. Once the term sheet and letter of intent were complete, ACH would come back to Council for public comment. In the interim, Asante would establish consulting resources at ACH to help with operational questions and issues.
Chair Gentry clarified the preference for an affiliation with Dignity Health was not a financial one. Both original proposals from Dignity Health and Asante were similar. Asante was a two hospital organization with almost a half billion dollars in cash reserves. What Mr. Gentry could disclose regarding local governance involved ACH having a seat at the Asante Board, and physician privileges and bylaws.
Asante would provide ACH access to capital but had more economies of scale than Dignity Health. Shared services would result in job loss or reassignments at ACH.
1. Approval of commission, committee, and board minutes
2. Approval of a public contract for utility wood pole inspections and remedial treatment
3. Resolution authorizing military flyovers for Memorial Day and Independence Day ceremonies
Councilor Voisin pulled Consent Agenda item #3 for further discussion.
Councilor Morris/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1 and #2. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Voisin voiced concern on the authorization of military flyovers due to problems it might create for veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). She also had safety concerns regarding flyovers and wanted additional citizen input.
Councilor Voisin m/s to table Consent Item #3 until the first meeting in January. Motion died for lack of a second.
Jo French/300 Kent Street/Explained there was two types of flyovers, civilian and military. The City had no control over civilian flyovers. The military did flyovers for celebrations and memorials typically on July 4th and Memorial Day. Approximately 42,000,000 people had served in the armed forces with over 1,250,000 deaths during service. The City was involved with this request because it owned the cemetery. It was difficult for Mr. French to understand attaching a stigma to an aircraft that went against the lives of the people who died helping make this country great.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #3. Voice Vote: Councilor Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
1. Adoption of a supplemental budget and a resolution creating appropriations within the FY 2012-13 budget
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained the request for $1,435,566 in appropriations would go to the following funds:
Public Hearing Open: 7:37 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:37 p.m.
Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s to approve Resolution #2012-33. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2. Public hearing to consider raising electric rates
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg recommended a 5.3% rate increase effective January 1, 2013. Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was anticipating a 7%-8% increase in wholesale power and 12%-13% for transmissions resulting in a possible 9% increase just to purchase power. Purchase power and transmission costs made up approximately 50% of annual costs that could increase rates 5%-6% in 2014. Staff also recommended a rate study that would coincide with the new 10-year Master Plan.
Councilor Lemhouse expressed concern regarding water and electric rate increases and the lack of budget preparation for these utilities. He agreed with the rate study but wanted action from study results. Director of Electric Utility and Information Technology Mark Holden was in the process of developing a scope of work for the rate study with a target completion for the end of spring 2013 for the study and the new 10-year Master Plan.
Mr. Tuneberg could not guarantee the rate study would offset annual rate increases due to BPA increases. The rate study and system plan would provide efficiency gains, show how to maintain load and demand, and look at options for what the City pays BPA. Mr. Holden added another aspect of the rate study would ensure parity against the different rate tiers.
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the City chose not to increase electric rates in fiscal years 2009 and 2011. In fiscal year 2012, the amount of debt doubled for the electric utility due to the Ashland Fiber Network (AFN). Rates were not sufficiently raised enough to cover the increased transfer to the AFN debt and attributed to the current problem the City was experiencing. AFN also created issues for other funds as well. Balancing the Electric Fund budget required raising rates. Selling the AFN system would not help because the City would retain the debt.
Mr. Tuneberg noted Southern Oregon University (SOU) was considering a cogeneration plant in the next few years that could create spikes and dips in the power they purchased from the City and result in significant impacts to the rates the City pays BPA. Mr. Holden recently met with BPA who currently projected the City would go over the high water mark 2015.
Councilor Voisin wanted conservation efforts factored into the rates with financial rewards for customers who conserved.
Mr. Tuneberg clarified if SOU went off line, it would change the high water mark and Tier 2 ceiling for the City. BPA would reset both based on demand. Alternately, if SOU came back on line, it could force a spike and create higher rates for a period. Mr. Holden added the generation SOU was anticipating would not handle their entire load.
Public Hearing Open: 8:02 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 8:02 p.m.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to approve Resolution #2012-34 and direct staff to issue requests for proposals to do an electric rate study. DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse thought Council should make a goal to address utility rate issues. The rate study would determine where the City stood regarding rates and possible changes to the tier structure. Mr. Tuneberg explained adhering to Option 4 and increasing rates 2.62% would not meet existing costs and result in even higher rate increases in the future. BPA indicated changes in wholesale power and transmission charges every two years.
Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Kyle Coroneos/583 Prim Street/Explained Saturday December 8, 2012 local musicians were celebrating the 90th birthday of Don Maddox who was the last surviving member of The Maddox Brothers and Rose, one of the most influential bands in the history of American music. He provided background on Mr. Maddox and the band’s induction into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. The band had also made Ashland their home for many years. He hoped the Mayor would declare December 8, 2012 Don Maddox Day and invited the Mayor and Council to attend the party at the Ashland Community Center Hall December 8, 2012 from 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
1. Special procurement for the purchase of Badger Water Meters
Public Works Director Mike Faught explained the Comparison of the Net Present Values of the Current Meter Reading Program document served as the cost benefit analysis. Councilor Slattery thought the document should have included maintenance issues and meter reading costs. Mr. Faught noted the new meters would reduce a month long process to one week.
Water Distribution Supervisor Steve Walker explained the new meters would emit or “bubble up” a signal every 9 seconds. Electric meters bubbled up data every 20 seconds. He was not sure there were meters that remained dormant until read.
Mr. Faught explained labor costs were one of the larger percentages of the budget. Changing the type of meters would reduce labor and the cost of the product.
Councilor Silbiger/Morris m/s the Council, acting at the local contract review board, move to approve the contract-specific special procurement for Badger water meters with Itron radio frequency reads. Voice vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Council acceptance of Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
Councilor Silbiger noted Council had not appointed the Council Liaison or the Budget Committee member to the Audit Committee this year. Additionally, the October 22, 2012 Audit Committee meeting did not have enough members present for a quorum. Councilor Slattery was absent, Guy Nutter, Roberta Stebbins, and City Recorder Barbara Christensen were present, but the City Recorder was not a voting member.
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the Audit Committee was comprised of four voting members and one non-voting member. There had been a vacancy on the Committee for a voting member for two years. At the October 22, 2012 meeting, Councilor Slattery was absent and the remaining three members proceeded unintentionally creating a quorum issue. Since the role of the Audit Committee was making recommendations, Council could accept the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) or postpone the item, allow the Audit Committee to meet as a quorum, make another motion, and schedule the CAFR to a future Council meeting.
Council decided to pull the item and place it on the agenda for the next meeting.
2. Procedure on selection of Council Position #6
City Recorder Barbara Christensen provided updates on two of the candidates. Colin Swales withdrew his application and Ms. Christensen was unable to confirm whether Kevin Bernadt was registered to vote in Oregon and lived within city limits. Council could pre-select applications, determine interviews, there were no set rules on process other than Council needed to make a decision by December 26, 2012.
Council discussed interview options and decided to vote for a candidate during the meeting instead of having an interview process. Ms. Christensen explained the voting process and distributed ballots. Council unanimously voted for Pam Marsh.
Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s the election selection of Pam Marsh to position 6 of the City Council. Voice Vote: all AYES.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Second reading, by title only, of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending AMC Chapter 3.08, General Personnel Policies, and Employee Responsibilities”
Councilor Silbiger/Voisin m/s to approve Ordinance #3078.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Voisin, Slattery, Morris, and Lemhouse, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Morris provided a brief update on the Homelessness Steering Committee (HSC). The homeless shelter added a second night on Wednesdays with training for volunteers November 27, 2012. The HSC split the Chair position between Sara Hopkins Powell and Rich Rhode. HSC tried to bring a Veterans Court to Jackson County unsuccessfully but if there were support from Ashland, they would try again, although a Veteran’s Court might be more applicable to the County because of the number of people it could serve.
Meeting adjourned at 8:49 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor