Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15, 2013
Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
Councilor Slattery/Rosenthal m/s to place a Study Session item for the Job Council Presentation on the agenda as XII(b). Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Mayor Stromberg announced the City was accepting applications for the new Housing and Human Services Commission along with vacancies on the Tree, Transportation, Public Arts, and Firewise Commissions, and the Band Board.
The minutes of the Study Session of September 30, 2013 and Business Meeting of October 1, 2013 were approved with an amendment to the October 1, 2013 meeting under the Consent Agenda regarding the discussion on the contract amendment for Southern Oregon Transportation Engineering.  The last sentence should reflect Councilor Lemhouse instead of Councilor Rosenthal.
Division Chief Forest Resource Chris Chambers introduced Forest Lands Commissioner Frank Betlejewski who gave a presentation on current and upcoming Forest Lands Commission projects that included Restoration III, and the Ashland Forest Plan Revision.
1.   Approval of commission minutes
2.   Approval of a liquor license application for Jordan Mackay dba Oberon’s Three-Penny Tavern
3.   Approval of a special procurement for AFR Project wildfire fuels reduction
Councilor Slattery/Voisin m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1.   Public Hearing and adoption of a resolution titled, “A resolution levying special benefit assessments in the amount of $11,235.82 for the Schofield and Monte Vista Streets Local Improvement District for improvements to Liberty Street consisting of grading, paving, and construction of sidewalks, curb, drainage improvements, and other associated improvements”, and adoption of findings.
Engineering Services Manager Scott Fleury noted minor corrections to the proposed Resolution and explained this was the last Local Improvement District (LID) under the Resolution 1999-09 method of calculation and “cap.”  Resolution 1999-09 set a maximum cap limit on the assessment per unit for LID development based on a set number and an inflationary percentage for the years following regardless of the total cost.  The City picked up the difference.  Resolution 2009-04 repealed 1999-09 and did not have a maximum cap.
Public Hearing Open: 7:17 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:17 p.m.
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s to approve Resolution #2013-35.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Voisin/Morris m/s to adopt the associated Findings.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Marsh noted minor corrections to the Findings similar to the Resolution. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2.   Public Hearing and adoption of a resolution titled, “A resolution revising rates for electric service pursuant to Ashland Municipal Code Section 14.16.030 and repealing Resolution 2012-34”
Electric/IT Director Mark Holden explained the 5.3% proposed rate increase was a result of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) rate increase as well as internal requirements.  Staff requested changing the effective date from November 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013.  BPA announced a 6.3% rate increase in power costs and a 9.3% rise in transmission rates to the City effective October 1, 2013. Fixed costs were due to the BPA power costs, transmission costs, and the increase in operations for a total of $647,000.  The 5.3% rate increase would generate $640,000 increased revenue.
Staff based the projections for how much power Ashland would consume on history and BPA based theirs on weather patterns.  What the City paid was variable while the rate was not.  Proposed rate adjustments included another 5.3% increase for 2014.  Not raising rates would allow the City to move forward on planned projects to the detriment of the Ending Fund Balance that had steadily decreased over the last 3-4 years.  Even with the increase, the Electric Department would run below the Fund Balance policy rates.  Staff based projected rate increases for 2015-2017 on the Cost of Service Study. The rates for 2015 might be 4%.
The average customer would incur a $3.63 monthly increase and would pay less than Pacific Power customers in the area would by approximately $10.  Pacific Power would have a 4.8% rate increase for 2014.
Council expressed concern raising the User Tax and wanted to establish a possible cap.  City Administrator Dave Kanner explained a cap was an option, the General Fund budget assumed an increase in User Fee revenues commensurate with the increase in the electric rate.  If Council decided to cap the User Tax, he recommended capping it in the second year of the biennium instead of the first.  Council noted the increase was not a pass through, the City was increasing taxes along the way, and the overall 24% over the next 4 years would become meaningful.  Council suggested a Study Session on the User Tax to understand how it came about and how Council could adjust it.
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg clarified the Users Tax did not include Franchise Fees.  The Franchise Fee went into the General Fund, was calculated on the total bill, and included in the rates. 
The Electric Users Tax of 25%, Franchise Fee of 10% went into the General Fund.  The 10% Franchise Fee was a total calculation on the revenues the Electric Fund received.  Staff calculated the User Tax separately.  It showed on the electric bill and went to the General Fund.
BPA Power and Transmissions came to about 2.53% and with internal increases was 2.78%.  Mr. Holden added the fixed costs were BPA Transmission and Operations.  The rate increase did not directly fund Conservation or Capital Investment.
Mr. Holden explained there were 3-4 programs sponsored by the City to offset utility costs.  The Ashland Low-income Energy Assistance Program (ALIEAP), the Senior Utility Discount, the Emergency Heat Assistance Program, and the Round Up Program.  Staff referred individuals that did not qualify for the programs to ACCESS in Medford.  During 2012, 420 people applied for ALIEAP and staff projected that number to increase to 445 by 2014.  The Senior Utility Discount Program had 137 people in 2012 potentially increasing to 142 by 2015.  The City spent $113,000 in benefits for the citizens and anticipated that amount increasing to $144,000 by 2015.  To his knowledge, staff had not discussed expanding eligibility for the programs.  In addition to the assistance programs, customers could average payment during the year through the Equal Payment Plan.
The Electric Department was bringing in new technology that was common throughout the industry, specifically a GIS system set up for Electric Systems to predict and measure outages decreasing the cost of maintenance. 
Public Hearing Open: 7:43 p.m.
Public Hearing  Closed: 7:43 p.m.
Councilor Rosenthal/Lemhouse m/s to approve Resolution #2013-34.  
DISCUSSION: Councilor Rosenthal understood the difficulty in raising rates and the need to protect the City infrastructure. Councilor Lemhouse requested Council consider looking into reducing the overall tax rate with anticipation of raising utility rates during the budget season. Councilor Voisin requested further information on Tier 2 and conservation methods.  Mr. Holden responded staff and BPA initially projected the City would cross into Tier II during 2015 but now it looked like 2016-2017. Councilor Slattery supported the motion and wanted to discuss the User Tax in the next part of the current biennium.  Councilor Morris commented in the 1980s the City went to Compact Urban Form that was supposed to reduce water, sewer, and power lines, and did not.  He wanted to know if infill was saving the City money.
Councilor Marsh would support the motion, the City was fortunate to operate its own electric utility.  It kept rates significantly lower than what others paid.  Even though rates were lower, the increase would be a stretch for people at a low-income level.  She wanted a Study Session to review the subsidy program. 
Councilor Voisin indicated the proposed 5% increase had 1.28% for conservation, and wanted it included in the Study Session discussion regarding the Electric User Tax and the Franchise Fee. 
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Lemhouse, Marsh, Voisin, Rosenthal, Slattery, and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
1.   Approval of plaza booth paint color selection
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer introduced Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandra Slattery and artist Sue Springer and provided background on the Information Booth color choices.  Ms. Springer explained from the original choices, they narrowed it down to two and received 150 responses from public input regarding the color.
Ms. Seltzer confirmed the roof needed replacing within the next 3-5 years.  Public Works Superintendent Mike Morrison was in the process of deciding whether to paint or replace the roof.  Staff was getting quotes for a copper roof and a copper-colored steel roof.  Council could decide to wait on painting until a decision regarding the roof happened. 
Councilor Lemhouse/Rosenthal m/s that the City accept the recommendation of the Committee but hold off on painting until a decision on the roof is finalized.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse wanted the Committee to review the color choice once the roof was either painted or replaced.  Councilor Rosenthal added the motion would give the Council an opportunity to consider November 4, 2013 along with other potential outcomes and provide flexibility.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2.   Proposal from OHRA and ACCESS for a Help Center for those in need in Ashland
City Administrator Dave Kanner provided the background on the process that resulted in Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA) and ACCESS collaborating on a joint proposal for the Help Center.  The biennial budget included $100,000 for this purpose, transferred from the Reserve Fund to the General Fund by the Budget Committee.  However, the net cost to the City of the proposal was $133,396.  Council could appropriate additional funds if approved. 
ACCESS Executive Director Jackie Schad and Leigh Madsen, Chair, and project liaison of OHRA addressed the following questions:
  • What would the agencies have to cut from their budget in order to reduce the City’s contribution to $100,000 over two years?  What services would be lost?
Ms. Schad explained it made sense to have a fixed site instead of mobile services that totaled $133,396.  There was little flexibility in the budget.  They did have a contingency fund of $6,000.  Without the $33,396, they would offer fewer services.  Mr. Madsen added he would report to Ms. Schad and the proposal would include a professional case manager 8 hours a month.
  • The grant solicitation requested a description of how the grantee would sustain funding beyond the initial two-year period.  What is the ACCESS/OHRA plan for doing so?
OHRA representative John Wieczorek saw the proposal as a foundational piece to build on in the future.  For funding, ACCESS/OHRA reached out to The Ford Family Foundation, the Carpenter Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, and the McKenzie River Foundation who supported the draft proposal.  OHRA was a new non-profit working on their 501c3.
  • How will the grantee leverage City funding to obtain other funding?
ACCESS/OHRA would apply for grants from the larger foundations listed above and host fundraisers to fund the Help Center.
  • How will services such as showers, laundry, storage, etc. be provided if a fixed location cannot be secured and services are offered from a van?
Mr. Madsen explained in case a fixed site did not work, they located a mobile shower service with outside hand washing facilities and washer/dryer combinations that was towable.  They envisioned this service at a church, gas station, or the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.  However, the cost would cut into funds budgeted for rent.
  • What role do ACCESS and OHRA envision for the local faith-based community, which has been the primary source of services for the at-risk and the homeless in Ashland up to this point?
OHRA Board member Fran Adams explained the Help Center would not compete or detract from the network of services offered in Ashland.  Several services offered by faith communities in Ashland had closed including the Interfaith Care Community of Ashland (ICCA) Center.  Many of the faith-based communities in Ashland were strapped for funds or their buildings were unsuited to serve as homeless shelters.  A possible option was faith agencies providing volunteers for specific services that eventually they could take on as a sub-project.  Mr. Madsen added there were several faith agencies working on issues surrounding the concept of a faith-based initiative on social justice.  The Help Center would be a good place to bring the congregations and their efforts together.
  • The proposal describes the types of metrics that would be used to measure success, but what specific outcomes do ACCESS and OHRA anticipate?
Ms. Adams read from the Project Outcomes document submitted into the record that the Help Center expected to have 1,800 people access services over the next two years.  Ms. Schad clarified the projected numbers were based on data from ACCESS.  They anticipated 75 people a month for “light-touch” services meaning someone who came in for a shower, referrals, etc. Ms. Adams continued explaining over the next two years they expected to help 120 people long-term, house 40, help 30 families avoid homelessness, assist 24 in achieving stable incomes or employment, and gain 12-community partners for the Help Center.   They also expected to raise $20,000 over the two-year period.  They projected it would start with low numbers that increased over time.  The Help Center would have a suggestion box and periodic questionnaires to gauge client satisfaction with a target of 80% satisfaction.  The Council and the Housing Commission could receive a report based on these measures every six months along with financial reports.
  • What is the timeline for getting the Help Center up to full speed?  Without a timeline, how will the City know if a planned activity is proceeding as scheduled and meeting its stated outcomes and accomplishments (if they are identified)?
Ms. Schad referred to a timeline submitted into the record that showed Scope, Location Search, Budget Preparation & Approval, Implementation, Program Development, Staff, Marketing, and outreach.  She thought it would take 30-60 days to locate a facility that met their needs.  Mr. Madsen added they had people willing to run and supervise the Help Center, had served one family already, and were in the process of helping two others. 
Council discussed the possibility of renting a smaller space, purchasing the mobile shower, and parking it at the site or another location.
Joel Sifeiner, M.D. /593 Prim Street/Shared his professional experience and thought this was an opportunity to provide a setting for undifferentiated people to differentiate.  The resource would help homeless people want to integrate into the community in positive ways.  He commended Council’s efforts noting this presented real and positive implications for homeless people to show their strengths, talents and aspects of themselves.
Dot Fisher-Smith/945 Oak Street/Expressed her personal support for the proposal and thought it was overdue.  Ashland was the wealthiest town in the area yet had fewer services for the homeless and the poor. She urged Council to give the extra money as a sign of faith.
John Fisher-Smith/945 Oak Street/Used the whiteboard to indicate a diagram that showed where the Treasury was going.  He supported the proposal and commented on a national culture skewed to profit making and not taking care of the infrastructure and the people.  He thanked Council for acting on the Help Center.  He wanted a fixed location to serve people properly and would support the center any way he could.
Ms. Schad clarified ACCESS and OHRA had discussed but not formalized a memo of understanding (MOU) between the agencies.  Mr. Madsen added that ACCESS was the funding agency since they had the infrastructure already in place.  Ms. Schad stated they would create an MOU with OHRA and the City.  As the Help Center developed, ACCESS had expectations and benchmarks individuals interested in bettering their life needed to meet.  OHRA also shared in the “hand up not a hand out” philosophy.  Alternately, there were positive and creative collaborations forming due to the new reorganization of healthcare.  Insurance would be available for a set of people currently without coverage that would provide access to mental health care. 
Councilor Lemhouse noted the majority of people accessing the Emergency Food Bank were families with homes and expressed concern services would focus on a smaller group of people who were homeless instead of the larger group of people in need.  Mr. Madsen explained having a fixed location would allow people with homes and in need easier access to the services.  ACCESS would also help OHRA focus on the larger group of people in need not just the homeless.
Ms. Schad clarified budget questions explaining the 20% fringe benefits was a portion of the benefit package.  Indirect expenses of 5% for year 1 and 10% for year two covered Human Resource Management, monthly financial reports, and central services.  Councilor Rosenthal thought the $5,000 fund raising goal in year one was low.  Ms. Schad agreed and had a professional development team working with ACCESS and OHRA to determine a fundraising strategy. 
Councilor Slattery/Voisin m/s to approve a grant award to ACCESS and Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland, in an amount not to exceed $66,500 in each year of the 2013-15 biennium, for the operation of a Help Center for those in need in Ashland, and direct staff to develop the necessary contracts and grant agreements for that purpose and further move to authorize the City Administrator to sign all such agreements and contracts. 
DISCUSSION:  Councilor Slattery explained it was important the project was successful and done right so the community supported it.  Councilor Voisin added ACCESS and OHRA had done their homework beyond her expectations.  Councilor Morris was prepared to support the original $100,000 but unsure on the additional amount needed.  Councilor Lemhouse thought it would be easier to find a fixed location if they removed shower and laundry services from the requirements.  The money saved from reduced rent could go towards purchasing the mobile shower facility, provide hotels for families in need, gas vouchers, or rent on campsites.
Councilor Rosenthal was comfortable authorizing $100,000 and thought there were opportunities for adjustments in the proposed contract and ACCESS and OHRA could raise the $16,698.  Mr. Kanner explained the easiest path was taking funds out of the General Fund Contingency.  It was not desirable to tap into the contingency this early in a biennium and suggested changing the term of the grant agreement to 18 months instead of 24 months.  The appropriation would only last through the end of the biennium.  Another option was asking the Budget Committee to appropriate another $33,000 from the Reserve Fund when it reconvened.
Councilor Marsh would support the motion and requested a draft MOU, a detailed work plan with deliverables, and requested to review the forms used to collect data, as well as a job description included in the negotiation.  Councilor Slattery wanted the program done right and funded correctly.  He also wanted an effort in fundraising to accomplish the long-term viability of the Help Center.
Councilor Lemhouse/Marsh m/s to amend the motion and remove from the grant the requirement to provide showers and laundry services at a fixed site and that prior to allocation of the grant that the awardees provide a draft MOU, a detailed work plan with deliverables, a method of reporting, a schedule of timely reporting to the City and a job description.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Lemhouse did not want the laundry and shower requirement to block efforts to rent a facility and thought they could provide shower and laundry services in other ways.  Councilor Marsh added the amendment was consistent with the evolution of the RFP (Request for Proposal).  Councilor Voisin noted the RFP stated shower and laundry services were desired not required and did not think the amendment was necessary.  She voiced concern the removal of showers and laundry services changed the terms of the agreement and might have allowed more agencies to respond and created liability.   City Attorney Dave Lohman clarified this was more of a grant than a procurement.  He did not think anyone would have a legal standing that the terms were changed and they did not get a chance to respond.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Marsh, Rosenthal, and Lemhouse, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Councilor Rosenthal/Lemhouse m/s to amend the motion to prorate the proposed contract for a duration of 18 months concluding June 30, 2015.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Rosenthal wanted the proposal fully funded based on the proposed budget.  Councilor Lemhouse thought it made sense to prorate and still provide the requested funds in a fiscally responsible manner.  Councilor Slattery commented Council had decided on the $100,000 not sure what the Help Center would actually cost and that amount turned out to be $133,396.  He was not in favor of narrowing the timeline, the fund raising alone would be challenging and thought the additional money could be found somewhere in the Budget.  Councilor Voisin would not support the motion.  When the RFP went out Council did not know the cost of services.  ACCESS and OHRA provided a realistic and conservative budget and a timeline.  She thought it was worth the risk to provide services for the neediest in the community. 
Councilor Rosenthal thought funding over the 24-month period would give the organizations more than what they had asked for.  Mr. Kanner explained the grant would be paid on a draw down basis as actual expenses incurred making whatever amount Council decided a cap.  Mayor Stromberg added removing the requirement for the showers would reduce the amount of money and he wanted to stay within the $100,000.  If he were the deciding vote, he would support the amendment.  Councilor Marsh thought Council should allocate the full $100,000 to be spent as indicated by the organizations.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Rosenthal, and Lemhouse, YES; Councilor Slattery, Voisin, and Marsh, NO.  Mayor Stromberg broke the tie with a NO vote. Motion failed 4-3.
Councilor Marsh suggested making it a two-year contract with $100,000 on a reimbursement basis so the organizations could make cuts and raise additional funds.  Mr. Kanner explained the appropriation made for this purpose was good through the end of the current biennium with left over funds re-appropriated in the next budget cycle.
Councilor Marsh/Slattery m/s to amend the motion and extend the two year contract at a total allocation maximum of $100,000 and that the contract would include a maximum expenditure of $65,000 in year one.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Marsh did not want to put a cap on how quickly the money was spent.  Mr. Kanner confirmed the amendment was a grant agreement with a term of 24 months and a grant award of $100,000. They could spend the $100,000 the first year as long as they were able to continue to deliver on the grant deliverables through the term of the grant agreement.  If they spent the entire $100,000 in the first 12 months and were unable to deliver the deliverables in the second 12 months they would be in default. Councilor Lemhouse asked if they still had money at the end of the 24 months if it would roll over.  Mr. Kanner clarified distribution occurred on a draw down basis so they could roll over any remaining funds.  They would be able to spend remaining funds set aside for grant purposes beyond the 24-month term unless there was another grant award and funds appropriated for that purpose beyond the end of that term or if Council took specific action to extend the term.  Councilor Marsh added a spending limitation of $65,000 to the first year of the contract to her amendment with Councilor Slattery’s consent.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Voisin, Marsh, Rosenthal, and Lemhouse, YES. Motion passed.
Roll Call Vote on the amended main motion: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Voisin, Marsh, Rosenthal and Lemhouse, YES.  Motion passed.
STUDY SESSION ITEM (added to agenda)
  1. Job Council Proposal Discussion

Management Analyst Adam Hanks explained the Job Council proposal had two components.  One was business outreach to interview businesses on what types of job training they needed for existing and new positions.   The other component was job seeker and unemployed worker services that entailed a satellite office in Ashland as a One-Stop Center.  Options A & B offered the same services with reduced hours for the Satellite Jobseeker Services.  Staff added an Option C that provided the business outreach piece only and would not exceed $15,000.  The Job Council was funded by the federal government and provided services to the Rogue Valley. 
Councilor Slattery had issues with business outreach federally funded for the region but not provided to Ashland and did not want to pay for something the community should have received all along.  Mr. Hanks clarified The Job Council was offering a concentrated effort at providing those services for Ashland in a shorter timeframe with more deliverables than their normal business outreach.  Funding would provide 35-40 in depth interactions with businesses and provide Jobseekers services and expertise at a City provided location.  Councilor Lemhouse suggested funding either Option A or B with a yearend assessment to determine if the money was well spent and next steps. 
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained there was a budget appropriation for economic development and the City had not identified how to spend funds in the second year of the biennium, only the first year. 
Council wanted to know how The Job Council would measure success and thought measurements should be part of the contract.  They also wanted to know how much work The Job Council had done in Ashland to date.  Council concern questioned paying for services The Job Council should have provided without payment.  Other questions wanted to know what The Job Council was currently doing for Ashland and what was keeping them from doing more.  Council wanted information about their business interface.  With only 4-8 hours a week, Council questioned if they could effectively deliver services in Ashland or would they have a way of getting people to go to their Medford office. Final questions included annual budget information and how much The Job Council spent in Ashland.
Councilor Lemhouse announced Ashland High School Homecoming events and the football team was currently undefeated and ranked third in the state.
Councilor Voisin announced the cancelation of the October 17, 2013 lecture by Cornel West due to a medical emergency in Mr. West’s family.  The lecture will be rescheduled spring 2014 and ticketholders should retain their tickets.  On October 21, 2013, training for shelter volunteers would occur at the Presbyterian Church.  On October 22, 2013, Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA) and the United Methodist Church would offer free dog vaccinations primarily for those intending to use the shelter and bring their dogs.
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                            
John Stromberg, Mayor

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