Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, April 20, 2015

City of Ashland
April 20, 2015

Present: Commissioners Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendents Dials and Dickens; City Attorney Lohman; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
Absent:   Commissioner Gardiner; City Council Liaison, Mayor Stromberg

Vice / Acting Chair Landt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at The Grove, 1195 E. Main Street.
There was none.
Landt added Item #1 Discussion of Email/Junk Mail and Item #2 Discussion of Availability of Parks Bathrooms to the Agenda.
Item #1 Discussion of Email/Junk Mail
Black noted increased computer security of incoming items resulting in more data being sent to spam or junk mail folders. He asked Commissioners to check their spam or junk mail folders periodically in order to retrieve legitimate information sent erroneously to the folders. He stated that the City of Ashland IT Department was reviewing the filter for a possible fix.

Item #2 Discussion of Availability of Parks Bathrooms
Shaw stated that early morning walkers sometimes needed restroom facilities, only to find them occasionally locked. Dickens replied that all restroom locks were in the process of being retrofitted with new locks with automatic timers. Once completed, this would allow for early access in the spring and summer months. He noted that the new locks would decrease staff time used for opening and closing facilities and would be programmable for special events or other activities held outside of regular restroom hours. 

Landt asked for clarification about the schedule for the opening and closing hours of bathroom doors once the locks were retrofitted.  Dickens said restroom hours were not yet set but would be flexible and could be programmed separately.  He noted that currently restrooms were opened and closed by staff – who also cleaned the facilities while on site.

Shaw suggested opening the most heavily used facilities early. He recommended the dog park as a priority because of the number of people who walk their dogs early before work, as well as other more heavily used parks.       

Item #3 Budget Process Update
Black explained that each City Department was asked to decrease projected budgets to balance against revenues from the General Fund. He stated that Parks was asked to lower their budget by $240,000. He detailed the items selected for adjustments as follows: Vacation Payouts decreased by $3,000. Black stated that further scrutiny determined that the adjusted figure was closer to the actual payouts of the previous year. Facility Use decreased by $30,000 as there would no longer be a fee for using The Grove. He stated that costs would be added back into the budget when the Parks office moved to The Grove, but it would be accounted for with a staff add package.  Fuel costs were decreased by $50,000 due to changes in the cost of fuel. The line-item for Temporary Employees was decreased by $50,000, a slight increase over the prior year.  Black noted that Professional Services would be decreased by $25,000 – a significant number for both operations and recreation. Urban Tree Services decreased by $5,000, with a cost savings provided by the addition of an arborist on staff. Black commented that Professional Services were typically accounted for within a project.

Black talked about the proposed request for additional staffing, noting that the Project Manager was accounted for but the Trails Tech I would most likely not be recommended by the Budget Officer. Finally, the roving Park Tech I might be approved with funding from savings due to reduced mowing of the median strips. Landt suggested that Black display the graph documenting increased park acreage juxtaposed with the current staffing shortfall.

There followed discussion about the budget cuts in comparison to other departments, the outdated calculation of $2.09 per $1,000 in tax increment financing that provided the benchmark for projecting the budget, and ways to bankroll proposed additional staff. Black noted that the position of Project Manager would be funded 100% through the capital project fund or CIP.           

It was agreed that Black would focus on the proposed staff add packages, the proposed staffing increase and the artificial turf project for Siskiyou Blvd. median strips when in talks with the Budget Officer.     

Superintendent Dials reported that the Annual Bike Swap on Saturday, April 18, was another successful event, with approximately 50 volunteers, an estimated 400 people attending, and 300 pieces of equipment sold. Less people attended than in previous years and equipment numbers were down slightly, but logistically things went well. 

Superintendent Dickens highlighted the opening celebration for Ashland Creek Park. He stated that the free opening event was slated for May 20, 2015, from 11:30 – 1:30 p.m. Invitations were completed and ready to post. The second Oregon Parks and Recreation Grant reimbursement of $127,000 would be sent upon receipt of photos. [This concluded an OPRD grant totaling $309,000 for Ashland Creek Park construction.] Dickens detailed the tasks yet to be completed prior to the opening celebration, noting that the park would be ready by May 20, weather permitting.   

Landt suggested seeding grass for the project, in the fall, with an educational piece about ways to conserve water in a time of drought. Black expressed a concern about erosion and dust. He noted that smaller portions of the park would remain as natural habitat. Dickens stated that he would rather reduce the watering schedule at an established park in order to complete the new park before weeds become entrenched.     
Shaw commented that the concept of green neighborhood parks might encourage less intensive landscaping at home, as a conservation effort.  
Further discussion focused on water conservation, irrigation methods and the Talent Irrigation District’s schedule.  

Black announced that there would be a hearing in Council Chambers on Wednesday, April 22, at 5:00 p.m. regarding the route for a scenic bikeway along Highway 66 and beyond. He stated that the bikeway would be marketed as an intense ride that was not appropriate for families.

City Attorney Lohman introduced State and City rules regarding conflicts of interest and gifts. He stated that it was the responsibility of Commissioners to adhere to both sets of rules.

Lohman noted that the State had mandated that public servants could not use their position to obtain anything of value, including services. He emphasized that Commissioners must conduct public business without personal gain, nor could there be special consideration to any person: no promises of employment, no compensation or benefits for a private interest. Public officials were bound by privacy restrictions not to disclose private or confidential information.     
He quoted municipal code regarding gifts as follows: “No public official shall solicit or accept gifts, favors, services, compensation, retainers, or promises of future employment from a source with a legislative or administrative interest in the performance of his/her official duties or in anticipation of official action to be taken by the public official…”

Lohman explained that gifts of below $50 in value were not considered compensation unless given by someone with an economic interest in affecting the outcome of a vote. He recommended declining any gift, including meals, with a cumulative value of over $50 per year as a general principle. Lohman examined situations such as attending a conference, sharing meals, going to special events, and other situations that could potentially lead to a conflict. He also reviewed exceptions to the rules; for example, receipt of unsolicited gifts under $25. Publications related to official duties were most likely exempt.

There followed a question and answer time reviewing various situations that might become a conflict. Lohman explained the difference between disclosure and recusal, with examples of when to take those actions. He noted that his role was to advise and provide mitigation or support as needed. 

Lohman talked briefly about maintaining the separation between policy-making and administration. He reviewed public meetings/records rules and their application. He talked about permissible or non-permissible electronic communications, especially about the potential for serial emails that could be construed as official business. 
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:36 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Manuel, Assistant

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