MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, June 30, 2014
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Council Chair Slattery called the meeting to order at 5:32 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Morris, Voisin, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present. Mayor Stromberg and Councilor Lemhouse were absent.
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
2. Discussion of Electric User Tax and Electric Franchise Fee
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the 25% Electric User Tax (EUT) went into the General Fund. Council discussed the need to make the EUT more transparent and suggested changing the name. Staff clarified typically a tax was named after where it came from. One Council suggestion would make electric rates progressive and based on usage to reward conservation efforts. Other comments would make the EUT negotiable like property taxes.
Mr. Kanner further explained government municipalities did not pay the EUT and paid higher electric rates than users. The Cost of Service Study indicated the government municipal rate should come down 12% and the other rates increase to create a balance. Incentivizing conservation occurred in Tier 1 rates that were lower than Tier 2 rates. People who took advantage of weatherization and efficiency gain programs typically owned their homes and had the money to participate. The Cost of Service Study would provide support for lower income households by increasing and distributing the base rates through all incomes since low-income tended to use more energy.
Residential service did not pay a demand charge while other services did because they placed higher demands on the system. Residential also did not pay for the first 15-kilowatts of demand. Management Analyst Adam Hanks explained demand versus consumption, and that larger cities had conservations program for demand response.
Mr. Kanner would make it clearer in the budget process how much more money was generated in EUT when rates were raised. The Budget Committee or Council could discuss whether to earmark funds for a specific purpose. Council also wanted an outline explaining the rate increase and the impact.
Staff clarified the franchise fee was an interfund transfer from the Electric Fund to the General Fund at 10% of the gross revenue and considered the cost of doing business. Ratepayers did not pay the franchise fee directly, only the Electric Fund paid. The expense was ultimately built into the rate and not an assessment on individual ratepayers.
3. Discussion of workforce development (request of Councilor Slattery)
Councilor Slattery did not think The Job Council was the appropriate agency and explained the Workforce Training program at Rogue Community College (RCC) might suit Ashland better. Management Analyst Adam Hanks confirmed that The Job Council agreed Ashland’s workforce needs were not a good fit for their program. Mr. Hanks explained elements of RCC’s program that worked with local industries on workforce development for existing employees or employers requiring specific skill sets.
Council saw two potential directions, one was the employer driven project with RCC assessing local employers on what their needs were. The other direction was working with people wanting employment. Council was concerned regarding RCC’s focus on trade sector employment when Ashland was more tourism and healthcare based. One suggestion would have someone at the Resource Center once a week providing practical assistance on worker development skills or employment. Council suggested meeting with Lee Madsen at the Resource Center on what would be useful as well as look into the resources offered through ACCESS and possibly utilize services from RCC and ACCESS to cover more options.
Councilor Slattery would talk to Mr. Madsen. Staff would work with RCC on employment programs.
Council would discuss goal setting for a long-term strategy.
Meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder