MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, August 3, 2015
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:33 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Morris, Marsh, Rosenthal, Voisin, and Seffinger were present. Councilor Lemhouse was absent.
Mayor Stromberg moved agenda item #4 Discussion of City water sources before agenda item #3.
1. Public Input
Julian Hamer/491 Tucker Street/Requested the Ashland Water Advisory ad-Hoc Committee (AWAC) of 2008 be superseded by a Water Commission to address water treatment, supply issues and long-term policy oversight on water, and consider strategies to the drought the area was facing. Discussion could include Talent Irrigation District (TID), and the Talent Ashland Phoenix (TAP) water sources. The Ashland City Comprehensive Plan promoted irrigation water for gardening and lawn watering and expanded to mitigate the wastage of potable water. He asked the City to revisit the existing water policy from the prospective of enduring drought conditions. Furthermore, the City needed to establish specific metrics for TID curtailment that included simultaneous water restrictions throughout the City so the entire community collectively shared the burden.
Rich Miller/507 Tucker Street/Was one of the 86 households that had TID service turned off this year and last year. He noted comments made during the June 16, 2015 Council meeting that Ordinance 2188 authorized the City to use TID in water short years. He accessed the Comprehensive Plan on the City website and read references regarding TID under Energy, Air and Water, Conservation item 7(C), (D), and (E) on page 33 and in Chapter 11 on page 68, Council Policies and thought Ordinance 2188 was out of compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. He went on to explain how turning off TID to the 86 households did not comply with the Comprehensive Plan either.
Sherrill Rinehart/448 Tucker Street/This year began a new era regarding water due to the implementation of TAP. Last year the choice to use TID for drinking water and potable water for landscape was driven by the fact that Reeder Reservoir was the only back up. The Ashland water policy needed updating. The City should maximize the capacity of Reeder Reservoir by dredging not only the smaller forks but also the back of the dam and conduct another bathometric study. The practice now and in the past was keeping the reservoir as full as possible throughout the summer and was no longer necessary with TAP as a backup.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/During the July 20, 2015 Study Session, he had shared the energy signature for greenhouse gas and energy was one third house, one third car, and one third for factories. In addition, everyone learned that greenhouse gas numbers were a guess because it was difficult to measure it accurately. He described a formula that resulted in 200,000 tons of Co2 that included a 13% margin for error due to having to guess some estimates. Ashland needed a greenhouse gas inventory in order to establish a baseline to reduce uses by 2020-2050.
Louise Shawkat/870 Cambridge Street/Submitted a flyer into the record about an upcoming event called Community Conversations on Transportation Present and Future: Access, Transit, Infrastructure. The event would happen Thursday, August 6, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Medford Public Library. She hoped the Transportation Commission Chair, Co-Chair, Council Liaison, and the Public Works Director would attend the event.
David Hoffman 344 Scenic Drive/Addressed the Normal Avenue annexation and questioned the basis used to determine whether the City was ready for the annexation of 94 acres. A report from 2011 that dealt with growth recommended expansion and seemed to be the major source behind the decision. The data was old and did not include the two years of drought Ashland was experiencing and did not include water needs and usage. He thought the City was trying to get ahead of developers and establish ground rules before land developers dictated them.
Mayor Stromberg noted the City had scheduled an update of the Water Master Plan and many of the issues addressed in Public Forum the City and Council would discuss during that review.
2. Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
3. Discussion of City water sources
Mayor Stromberg explained the agenda item was an attempt to re-discuss a decision Council made regarding Talent Irrigation District (TID) water use during the June 16, 2015 Council meeting. He read excerpts from the minutes where Council voted 4-2 in favor of Option 1 that directed staff to use TID water to supplement the water supply before using TAP water. He went on to read an email response from Councilor Voisin to City Administrator Dave Kanner that indicated the discussion would study the water sources and how the City would use them as the drought progressed. As the Chair, the Mayor thought this was reopening the discussion and decision Council made June 16, 2015. A Councilor could reopen a decision by making a motion for reconsideration at the next Council meeting. The motion had to come from a member who had voted with the majority. Alternately, a Councilor could make a motion to add an agenda item to a Council meeting requesting Council to reconsider or reopen a subject.
Councilor Voisin clarified it was not her intent to revisit the June 16, 2015 decision and referenced a document she sent the Mayor earlier that outlined water demand and sources. Mayor Stromberg agreed on some of the issues Councilor Voisin had indicated but the manner in which the item was placed on the agenda gave him no choice but to pull it from the agenda.
Councilor Voisin raised a point of order stating a Councilor could put an item on a Study Session and there were several people present wanting to hear about water sources. Mayor Stromberg reiterated he was pulling the item off the agenda because it belonged on regular Council meeting as a request to re-discuss the Councilís June 16, 2015 decision regarding the drought.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the Mayor was ruling the topic was out of order because it concerned a prior action by the Council that was not currently pending. Councilor Voisin was making a point of order on the basis that any Councilor could add an item to a Study Session agenda. The Mayor could sustain the point of order, overrule the point or order, or submit the question to the Council for a decision and debate. The Mayor could make a ruling and Councilor Voisin could appeal the ruling. The Mayor could also directly submit the question to Council for a decision on the point of order. Based on the information Mr. Lohman knew, he would recommend that it was a prior action the Council took that is not now pending.
Mayor Stromberg over ruled the point of order and would submit it to the Council for a decision.
Public Works Director Mike Faught responded to Councilor Seffinger on whether the City would turn Talent Irrigation District (TID) water back on during the month long test of the Talent Ashland Phoenix (TAP) line and explained if there was an opportunity and supply was at an acceptable level, the City would.
Councilor Marsh added when Council had discussed TID at an earlier meeting they noted the need to discuss water sources and issues at a future meeting. That discussion needed to happen in conjunction with the update of the new Water Master Plan over the course of the next year. At that time, the City would have another year of data on drought conditions. This was not the right time. Council had already made decisions regarding this year.
Councilor Voisin thought the Mayor misinterpreted her intention to discuss water sources and demand and that discussion needed to happen during a Study Session.
Councilor Rosenthal agreed the water policy and allocation strategy needed revising. He referenced Councilor Voisinís email and thought it should go before a business meeting. Council Morris agreed with Councilor Rosenthal. He supported having a larger discussion on water source and supply as well.
Mayor Stromberg asked for a vote from Council on whether to discuss Councilor Voisinís agenda item at the meeting. Voice Vote: Councilor Voisin, YES; Councilor Morris, Rosenthal, Marsh, and Seffinger, NO. Motion failed 4-1.
Councilor Voisin would contact Mr. Kanner on adding the agenda item to a regular meeting.
4. Discussion of mission and future of Ashland Fire and Rescue
Mayor Stromberg explained Ashland Fire and Rescue (AF&R) performed 15-20 functions. Three of which were central and major uses of resources. The first two were firefighting, and emergency medical assistance that often overlapped and created gaps in service. People were called in for overtime to cover potential gaps. Fire Chief John Karns explained they had two levels for overtime, short-term call back and mandatory callback. Most of the time, they did not get people to come in from callbacks. Battalion Chief EMT-P David Shepherd further explained of the 27 personnel, three lived locally and actively participated in callbacks within minutes. Employees outside of Ashland could take 15 minutes or more to respond. Chief Karns noted the station received simultaneous calls 2-7 times a day. The nature of the call determined a callback.
Councilor Voisin raised a point of order and questioned whether the Mayor would finish his presentation and Council could start asking questions.
Mayor Stromberg continued and explained the third function was medical transport. Chief Karns noted AF&R transported approximately 1,700 patients with 1,300-1,400 emergent. AF&R had the option to decline transfers. Jackson County Health and Human Services established district boundaries. AF&R was responsible for an area that went from the California border to the top of Talent and mile marker 22 on Highway 66. When the Mt. Ashland Ski Resort was open for skiing AF&R responded to an average of one call per day with occasional calls off-season. Battalion Chief Shepherd explained AF&R covered all calls and requested assistance from Mercy Flights if they were out of resources. Emergency calls to Mt. Ashland Ski Resort could take 3-4 hours. In general, AF&R prioritized emergencies if they occurred simultaneously. If the department were out of people to respond to an emergency, they would contact Mercy Flights for assistance. Call load had increased dramatically since 2009. Trip and fall calls had also significantly increased.
One possibility to meet increased service demands was hiring more staff but in general, the Council and Budget Committee had not supported a significant increase to AF&R. Councilor Rosenthal did not remember the question of additional staffing put forward to Council. There may have been an add-package that was not recommended. Council needed to consider staffing considerations early in the budget process, not on the last night of the budget deliberations. Correction to minutes made 8-18-2015.
Chief Karns addressed overtime pay versus hiring additional firefighters and explained the department paid for a staffing position and not an actual person. They used an 8-9 staffing window and when they went to 7-9, overtime increased to accommodate time off for employees. Overtime pay and new employee salary, depending on where that individual was in the pay scale was similar.
AF&R was looking into acquiring funds for a trip and fall prevention program that would consist of evaluating the home environment for someone who had tripped or fallen and was interested in mitigating the potential of it happening again. AF&R would send paramedics because often a new prescription created a drug conflict and caused someone to trip or fall. Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) at times had funding that could help support the program. The Fire Department would identify the need, RVCOG would provide funding if available, and a consultant would handle implementation.
AF&R would most likely bill close to $2,000,000 for transport this year. Once Medicare, Medicaid, and FireMed write-downs, bad debt non-collection and transportation costs as part of EMS were removed, the net resulted in $275,000.
Chief Karns conducted a study on population and services provided and noted ICMA recommended 5.7 on duty personnel per 10,000 population for an average level of service. He preferred to have 11 career people on duty backed by a student program. Currently Ashland was four per 10,000. Starting a student program would cost approximately $140,000-$160,000. A little more than one full time firefighter.
Mayor Stromberg noted AF&R would have to make up the $275,000 if they stopped providing medical transport services. Calls for service were increasing. AF&R could identify and possibly drop other services to offset the higher demand.
Councilor Voisin raised a point of order regarding the length of the meeting and the executive session following. Mayor Stromberg responded they were almost finished and continued the presentation.
Another option for AF&R was merging with Fire District 5. Chief Karns explained this was a current trend in fire service and suspected the Rogue Valley would eventually have a north and south end Fire County. Several issues would need resolution prior to merging. A professional would analyze impact. There were three ways to make the change. One would entail merging with Fire District 5. The second would have District 5 contract AF&R for services. The third would eliminate both departments and start a new special district.
City Administrator Dave Kanner noted the City Charter complicated a merger because Article 13 stated that the City shall maintain its own fire department.
Mayor Stromberg would check in with each Councilor individually on whether they wanted to pursue a merger or not.
Meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder