MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, January 14, 2013
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Rosenthal, Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, and Marsh were present.
1. Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
2. Review of the criteria for banking services
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the City currently had a 5-year banking services contract with Bank of America that entailed three years with two one-year extensions. Council and staff agreed to review banking services criteria at the end of three-year contract period. There was a difference between investments and banking services and the City had a complex banking system. The Request for Proposal (RFP) was comprehensive and during the previous RFP process, the City received six proposals with the contract going to Bank of America. RFP’s went out to every bank in the community but not all responded. Credit unions were not included in the RFP process. Currently, credit unions were working with the State to create a co-operative for investment purposes that would allow them to work with city governments. They were close for investments but not banking services.
Ms. Christensen recommended retaining the Bank of America contract one more year. The Utilities department was going through a complex utility billing conversion that integrated into the merchant services contract with Bank of America. She suggested waiting until April 2013 to see what happened with credit unions, revaluate, and determine whether to go for an RFP the following year.
Some citizens had issues with Bank of America as a large corporation and their ethical conduct at higher levels. She recommended the City adopt a responsible banking resolution that the City of Portland passed. The resolution maximized competition for banking services to create local participation, identified banks committed to local lending programs and small business loans. She went on to explain the City used Bank of America as a “pass through” account depositing enough money to cover expenses each day with remaining dollars going into the Local Government Investment Pool.
Her reluctance to take RFP’s did not mean the City should not pursue an RFP process. At the end of the three-year contract, Bank of America could make changes to the City’s contract and she did not want the City to accept a contract different from what was already in place. The RFP process took three months with a contract required by June. Ms. Christensen did not need an approval from Council to pursue an RFP for banking services.
Councilor Voisin wanted to add criteria that included community investment practices, small business loan programs, mortgage practices, and ethical practices. City Attorney Dave Lohman explained Council could require a local preference in the RFP and provide a 5% boost to a local provider who had a similar contract to an applicant from out of state. However, the contracts needed to be comparable and the requirement well defined. Ms. Christensen clarified the criteria required a branch within the city.
Ms. Christensen would forward a copy of the City of Portland’s banking resolution to Council. The deadline for deciding whether to do an RFP was mid February. When the next RFP process occurred, she would incorporate citizen input and information received from various discussions into the new RFP.
3. Discussion of Lithia Artisan’s Market request to expand their space to the downtown Plaza (request of Councilor Lemhouse)
Councilor Lemhouse explained the Lithia Artisan Market of Ashland (LAMA) contacted him last fall about selling in the Plaza. LAMA submitted a plan into the record that proposed selling goods two Sundays a month utilizing a portion of the Plaza and nine parking spaces for a set trial period. Councilor Lemhouse wanted input from Council regarding their support level of the proposal, and having LAMA either bypass or go through the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process.
Council consensus agreed LAMA should go through the CUP process. They liked the plan overall but had concerns losing nine parking spaces and the competitive affect it might have on the surrounding businesses but were open and interested in discussing the matter further.
City Administrator Dave Kanner noted private parcels located downtown that LAMA might be able to utilize and gave the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot as an example. He was not sure of the permitting process involved.
4. Discussion of next steps regarding a resource center (Request of Councilor Voisin)
Councilor Voisin addressed the lack of responses from the Request for Proposal (RFP) that went out for a Resource Center and wanted the Homelessness Steering Committees (HSC) to contact recipients and find out why they did not respond. Councilor Slattery explained the Salvation Army determined it would cost them an additional $150,000 in addition to the $50,000 the City offered, to run a resource center and could not justify the expenditure in their current funding structure. Councilor Morris added the HSC had wanted more control over the RFP and offering $50,000 for two years then having the group be self-sufficient was a big financial cut.
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the RFP went to United Way who in turn sent it to a list of agencies he submitted into the record that included non United Way agencies Maslow, St. Vincent De Paul, and Hearts with a Mission who received emailed RFPs from staff. Very few were resource center focused agencies. Councilor Slattery added the Salvation Army did not think there was a big enough market in Ashland to justify the expense and suggested somehow linking with their operations in Medford.
Council discussed options and decided Housing Specialist Linda Reid would contact organizations capable of providing resource center services, to find out what they needed in the RFP that would prompt a response, possibly contact DeeAnn Everson who works with United Way for additional input, and find different ways to achieve resource center goals.
Meeting adjourned at 6:40 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder