Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:32 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Rosenthal, Lemhouse, Marsh, Morris, Voisin, and Slattery were present. 
1.     Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.  He explained the Jackson County Heritage District agenda item for the March 19, 2013 Council meeting should be on the April 2, 2013 agenda.  Mayor Stromberg would remove the item from the agenda during the meeting March 19, 2013.
2.     Discussion of request for time for announcements at meetings (request of Councilor Slattery)
Councilor Lemhouse thought it was beneficial for Councilors to make community based announcements during the Council meeting if time permitted.  He suggested two minutes per Councilor and the announcements could not be controversial.
Opposing comments from Council thought allowing announcements would end up being controversial and preferred the public come to Public Forum with their community announcements instead.  Other comments thought it would eventually create political controversy and was not appropriate for a Council business meeting.  Supporting comments thought it was a good opportunity to connect with the community.
Council agreed to try it for three months, have it occur at the end of the meeting, with the City Recorder using the timer to ensure Councilors did not exceed two minutes.
3.     Discussion of rules regarding engaging speakers at public forum (request of Councilor Slattery)
Councilor Slattery clarified the rules regarding questions to speakers would apply to anyone speaking on any agenda item including Public Forum.  The request was an effort to avoid creating Hearings based meetings.
Council opposition agreed with the Public Forum restriction but strongly opposed prohibiting questions on other items.  It was Councilís job was to gather as much information as possible to make informed, educated decisions, and prohibiting questions undermined that effort.  Council should use the power of asking questions in a limited way and have the Chair manage questions or discussions that started to disintegrate into something else. 
Supportive comments from Council noted past meetings where others interpreted a Councilorís questions as controversial and wanted parameters for questions.  Other concerns related to Councilors potentially using questions to run the clock out on items they opposed.  Mayor Stromberg explained a Councilor could address that circumstance through a Point of Order. 
City Attorney Dave Lohman added the issue also occurred when there was a motion on the floor during deliberation and Council called on people to speak on the topic.  This action was not permitted unless Council suspended the rules.  He suggested Council hold questions of a speaker until deliberation then move to suspend the rules and allow that individual to come forward.  The motion could include the information the Councilor was seeking and then the whole Council could decide to vote in favor or not.
Council majority was interested in allowing Councilors to ask clarifying questions during public testimony for six months then evaluate its effectiveness.  
4.     Overview of Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship funding
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the need to identify funding for maintenance work in the watershed after the fuels reduction project concluded.  Maintenance in the Watershed would make the City eligible for additional grants.
Fire Chief Karns introduced Forestry Division Chief Chris Chambers, Don Boucher, the Ashland Forest Resiliency (AFR) project manager and Siskiyou Mountains Ranger, AFR Director of Operations and Co-Director of the Lomakatsi Restoration Project Marko Bey, and Darren Borgias, the program manager, and ecologist for The Nature Conservancy. 
Division Chief Chambers explained the project started with the Healthy Forest Restoration Act in 2003 that allowed communities to participate in the Federal Land Management process.  The US Forest Service made that offer to the City and many people came together to create an alternative to the implementation plan the US Forest Service had for fuels reduction.  Eventually they approved the alternative proposal as the AFR Project.  The final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) came out in 2008.  The Record of Decision approval happened in 2009 with the Master Stewardship forming in 2010.  During that time, the Rogue River Siskiyou Forest received $26,000,000 from the Stimulus Package with $6,500,000 dedicated to AFR.
To date AFR had thinned 700 acres with byproduct going to local mills, used surface and latter fuels to reduce fire dangers on nearly 1,600 acres and conducted pile burning on 868 acres.  AFR also developed ground implementation plans for 2,900 acres.  
Each group of the partnership played distinct roles.  Mr. Boucher explained his role as the Project Manager was to ensure implementation adhered to the signed Record of Decision.
Mr. Bey explained the Lomakatsi Restoration Project handled the contracting and work force development piece of the project through the employment of harvesting and timber management using local workers, and Klamath tribe members to create 100 seasonal jobs.  Lomakatsi Restoration Project also participated in technical review, prescriptions, and a youth education program with Ashland School District. 
Mr. Borgias represented the Nature Conservancy and explained their primary role was monitoring the implementation through field data, soil collection, and water testing.  There was also an implementation review team. 
Division Chief Chambers explained the Cityís role was community engagement.  They set up several committees, and created interpretative signs in watershed.  There were instituting a program in the Ashland School District where students could study and participate in monitoring the watershed.  The Lomakatsi Restoration Project was successful providing educational programs and the City wanted to make it permanent in the Ashland School District.  AFR also offered public tours on the land and communicated through email, their website, Face Book, the citizen alert program, and the City Source newsletter.
Mr. Borgias addressed photos depicting a felled mature tree a former City Councilor opposing the project submitted and clarified it was actually a snag that needed to come down for safety purposes. 
Division Chief Chambers went on to explain the $6,500,000 stimulus funds expired September 30, 2013 and AFR would spend the entire amount by that date.  AFR was treating 3,000 acres of the 7,600 acres the project was authorized to treat.  Work on the remaining 3,500 acres would occur over the next 3-4 years.
Revenue from the byproduct sent to the mill went into a special account dedicated only for the AFR project.  AFR estimated they would have $1,000,000-$1,200,000 after September 30, 2013 for future work in the watershed.
AFR was currently looking at ways to acquire funds for maintenance through the federal government, National Forest Foundation, and City contributions.  AFR needed approximately $3,000,000-$4,000,000 over the next 3-4 years with long-term maintenance at $150,000-$175,000, possibly up to $400,000 annually.  Current treatment cost was $1,200 per acre with prescribed fire lowering that cost.  
Mayor Stromberg commented on how the government and forest services were viewing watersheds.  There were 3,400 communities getting water from US Forest Service lands.  The Forest Foundation was interested in using Ashland as a model of a town receiving water from the US Forest Service for other communities.
Meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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