MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
CALL TO ORDER
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
September 19, 2001 - 12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
Council Chair Reid called the meeting to order at 12:00p.m.
Mayor DeBoer was absent.
Councilors present: Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Morrison, and Hearn. Hanson was absent.
Staff present: City Administrator Greg Scoles, Public Works Director Paula Brown, and Community Development Director John McLaughlin.
1. City Emergency Management Operations Overview
Fire Chief Keith Woodley presented an overview of the City Emergency Management Operations Plan and noted that the plan is available on the city website as well as in hard copy form in selected city offices and in the Emergency Command Center. The Plan's organizational framework dovetails with the one used by Jackson County, as well as FDMA and other emergency organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Military Department. The Mayor and Council are charged with the responsibility for the well being of the community and so serve as a policy group and a link with the community in communicating government response and policy. Woodlet noted that there are three positions, Information Officer, Safety Officer, and Liaison Officer, who facilitate direct communication flow between outside agencies and the decision-making apparatus within the city. The Liaison officer interfaces with the University, the School District, the hospital, and Jackson County Emergency Management. This helps with an organized and orchestrated release of unified and accurate information to the public. Woodlet briefly outlined the function of the Emergency Command Center and noted that previously the Emergency Command Center was located in the Police Department and for future needs will be located in the Council Chambers.
Woodley explained that information will be available on the City website as well in printed form and that evacuation plans can be modified according to specific emergencies. In the event of an emergency, information would be available to the public via TV, radio, and loud speakers.
Woodley explained that the Plan consists of generic responses based on actual emergencies -- conventional wisdom based on the best intelligence available and noted that there are monthly updates and each section of the Plan is reviewed once per year. City Administrator Scoles clarified the interaction between the council, himself, and Incident Commander. He emphasized the importance of clarity on information and avoidance of mis communication. Police Chief Scott Fleeter reiterated that communication is the key and that each emergency is dealt with on a case by case basis.
2. Mobile Data Computer Grant
Police Chief Scott Fleuter presented an overview of a Mobile Data Computer Grant, which, if granted, will provide 75% of the funding needed to put computers in police vehicles. The Mobile Computer system will enhance communications and enable officers to be more productive in the field. A decision on approval of the grant is expected by the end of this month.
Fleuter explained that efficiency, safety, and timesaving, on the part of officers, dispatch, and clerks, are the main benefits of this system and that the grant covers a two-year process for equipment, maintenance, and training. He explained that after this period, there will be direct support costs associated with the program. He noted that the Ashland Police Department will be able to piggyback on the infrastructure the Medford Police Department which is already in place. Reid commented that this system would result in long term savings on time, as well as enhancing the safety of the officers.
Medford Deputy Chief Ron Morris spoke briefly about the Medford Police Department's Mobile Data system. He explained that this system is efficient, would free up officer time, and reduces air traffic time. Laws commented that an additional 1/4 time person would be required to maintain the system and questioned what the associated cost would be.
Director of Computer Services Richard Holbo explained the budget process involved and the expected long term savings. Fleuter clarified for the council that other grants are available, and that if this one is not awarded to the city, the Mobile Data Communications system would be phased in over time.
Scoles commented that the best way to look at this is in anticipating annual costs and then equating that with expected benefits and savings. Morris commented that the City of Medford applies for various grants and receives $54,000 to $79,000 each year. Laws noted that grants can never be predicted and should not be planned on. Hartzell questioned if money should be put into people or technology. Holbo commented that technology is inevitable and that hopefully he could take the grant money and build a system that everyone could use, not just the police department.
Hearn commented on not being left behind in technology. Hartzell expressed concern about the capital investment required, both initially, and on an ongoing basis. She also questioned how this system might impact the community. Morrison noted the importance of a more detailed cost/benefit study. Reid stated she is in favor of implementing this system and that if the grant does not come through, that the council budget for the computer system. Laws noted his support of the system and the increase of productivity it would provide.
Meeting was adjourned at 1:25 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Jan Brunelle, Assistant to the City Recorder