MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
CALL TO ORDER
February 16, 2016
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, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
Mayor Stromberg announced the City was accepting applications for annual appointments to the various Commissions and Committees. The deadline for applications was March 18, 2016.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Study Session of February 1, 2016, and the Executive Session of February 1, 2016 were approved as presented. The Business Meeting of February 2, 2016 was approved with the following amendments: page 3 should note that Mark Weir is not the Chair of the Conservation Commission and page 5, the last paragraph under DISCUSSION: should read “would” instead of “could.”
Councilor Rosenthal also commented in the discussion from the last meeting regarding the Plastic Bag Ban, Paddington Station chose not to enforce the paper bag fee in the City ordinance.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Commission Chair Dr. Joe Graff and staff liaison Scott Fleury provided the annual presentation of the Transportation Commission. The Commission was looking into improving pedestrian crossings on North Main Street between Maple Street and Laurel Street, a four way stop on Siskiyou Boulevard and Tolman Creek Road, various transit options, converting Grandview to a shared road and general parking and speeding issues. Mr. Fleury clarified Rogue Valley Transit District (RVTV) participated on the Transportation Commission as an ex-officio member.
Corin Elmore/288 Morton Street/
Spoke regarding his home that was flooded with sewage October 28, 2015 and shared the displacement and emotional strife it had caused his family. He hoped his house would be restored.
Darrel Jarvis/125 2nd Street/
Spoke as the attorney representing Corin Elmore and his family regarding the sewage overflow at their house October 28, 2015. They did a formal claim with the City and clarified that his clients wanted the City to pay out of pocket expenses associated with the sewer overflow in the total amount of $457,000. Damage cap limits the City had on tort claims did not pertain to this issue.
Caroline Shaffer/288 Morton Street/
Read from a document submitted into the record describing the emotional toll the sewage overflow had on their family and commented on the City’s response.
Federico Behncke/288 Morton Street/
Explained his house was flooded with thousands of gallons of raw sewage and that it took City personnel three and a half hours to respond. He questioned this lapse in response and protocol. The event crushed the family financially and destroyed priceless family heirlooms.
Bill Skillman/635 Oak Knoll Drive/
Stated his support for the Shaffer family regarding the sewage overflow. He did not understand why the incident was in litigation. The City was responsible and this incident should not need litigation. He asked the City to do what was right.
Ethan Elmore/288 Morton Street/
Read a letter his sister wrote that described the pain of having to leave the home she grew up in due to the sewage overflow. It caused her to live apart from her family and now financially affected which college she would attend.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/
Twenty years before infill was cutting edge and good. Now it caused problems with carbons, higher water rates, more danger in the streets, and possibly ruining the planet. Twenty years in the future, infill would cause starvation, and misery. The science was out there, he was not making this up.
Kasson Joseph Kauth/1 Corral #13/
Explained this was the second year of invasive noxious weeds. Everyone in the Rogue Valley needed to take care of these noxious weed species. They were dangerous. Noxious weeds included poison hemlock and puncture vine. He described how they hurt people and animals. There were also bands of aggressive developers in the Rogue Valley from California that would spread drought and needed to be addressed.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the legal framework the City Council had to operate under concerning the sewage backup at 288 Morton Street. The state of Oregon had a statute that placed a ceiling on the liability a local government could pay for damage to property called the Oregon Tort Claims Act (OTCA). The OTCA limited a City’s liability for a tort to $112,000 per claimant. The Legislature established a cap to keep taxpayers from having to bear the expense of guaranteeing fail-safe city systems and services.
Due to the cap, no insurer would provide coverage for claims beyond what the statute set. Because of the OTCA and other laws, the City Council could not reimburse someone for tort damages in excess of the statutory ceiling. The Ashland City Charter set limits on those powers in Article 16, Section 2, “The City’s immunity of liability for torts shall be as determined by State law.”
Insurers acted independently from the insured party and told those they insured not to become involved in the claims process. Insurance contracts contained clauses that required client cooperation, staying out of the way of the claims process to keep it objective and free of political pressures or interpersonal partiality.
Attorneys always tell their clients threatened with litigation to avoid communications with prospective plaintiffs. This is to avoid inaccurate statements or something said with an unintended meaning that could be overdramatized at trial. It also prevented people who had no personal knowledge of the incident or the factors involved from being called as witness for the other side at depositions or trial.
The sewer backup at the Shaffer’s home, their distress, and anger were obviously heartfelt and wholly understandable. Mr. Lohman could share very little about the incident. As far as the City could tell, it resulted from a brick that got into the sewer line, probably from an old brick-lined manhole. Whether the brick inadvertently dislodged during the replacement of an old manhole upstream of the Shaffer’s house two weeks prior or just fell at some time from another aging brick-lined manhole without having been disturbed has not and probably could not be determined. Calls for assistance were not clear. According to the attorney for Ms. Shaffer, she discovered the problem at approximately 4:30 p.m. on October 28, 2015. The City employee on call for dealing with wastewater collection problems first learned of the problem at 6:18 p.m. picked up a Jet/Vac truck and stopped the flow of sewage into the home by 7:40 p.m.
On the day after the incident, City Public Works staff contacted Ms. Shaffer and advised her of the cause of the backup. The morning after the incident, City Risk Management staff also talked to Ms. Shaffer about the claims process. The City also submitted a claim to its insurer CIS that day and requested immediate expedition. CIS contacted Ms. Shaffer the day after the incident and met with her and her attorney at the house to inspect damages. Within seven days, Ms. Shaffer received an advance payment of $25,000 from CIS. Within sixty days of the incident, CIS made the maximum offer allowed under the OTCA for property damage to the co-owners of 288 Morton Street.
There would be more to say about the incident in the future. In the meantime, Mr. Lohman strongly advised Council to refrain from making any comments about the matter.
1. Minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2. Appointment of Sharon Harris to the Housing & Human Services Commission
3. Biennium 2016-2017 Second Quarterly Financial Report
4. Ratification of labor contract with the Ashland Firefighters Association, IAFF Local #1269
5. Climate and Energy Action Plan – consultant services contract
6. Liquor license application for Charles Shalda dba Ashland Hills Inn
Councilor Rosenthal pulled Consent Agenda item #3 and Councilor Voisin pulled item #5 for discussion.
Administrative Services/Finance Director Lee Tuneberg addressed the Biennium Second Quarterly Report and explained the telecommunications fund had not paid towards the debt service due to timing of construction on projects or work on projects approved in the budget document. As of this time, no monies were transferred. City Administrator Dave Kanner added they budgeted on the telecommunications fund on the assumption they would change the AFN rate structure effective January 1, 2016 and anticipated lower revenues in the first quarter than in the subsequent three quarters reflected in the financial report. The new rate structure should increase cash flow in AFN. Mr. Tuneberg addressed accessing the contingency funds and explained normally there was not a need to transfer from a contingency fund until later in the budget period.
Management Analyst Adam Hanks addressed the Climate and Energy Action Plan consultant services contract and explained the budget for the project with Cascadia was $120,000. The bid came in at $129,000. The plan was pay the $9,000 out of energy conservation funds.
Councilor Rosenthal/Morris m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. Continued discussion of water rate options
Public Works Director Mike Faught introduced Catherine Hansford of Hansford Economic Consulting (HEC) who provided a presentation on water cost of service and rates that included:
Purpose of the Study
- Make sure sufficient there was money to operate the water system
- Make sure that allocated costs were allocated equitably for all customer classes
- Establish an appropriate rate schedule through 2022
- Provide incentive for water conservation
- Not a Water Master Plan Update
Ms. Hansford provided follow-up from the council discussion at the November 16, 2015 Study Session on the draft study. The following are points made from the power point presentation that is included with the agenda packet.
- Flat Charges – Costs allocated to a Customer Charge (per account) & Service Charge (per meter) – Goal is only one charge on bill:
$23.50 $25.44 ($13.75 Service & $11.74 Customer)
Potable Water System - First Year (2016) impacts:
Changes to the Nov. 10, 2015 Draft Study - Per Council direction
- Residential – 5% increase in bills
- Institutional – most bills decrease
- Commercial – bills for smaller meters decrease; larger bills for large meters
- Irrigation – increase during summer and winter if no usage
(Nov 16 study session)
- Re-allocation of costs from the non-potable (TID) system to the potable system and having a $250 per acre cap for unmetered TID customers
City staff changes
- Clarify who Municipal customers are
- Compare Residential potable water and non-potable water (TID) typical annual bills
- Demonstrate impact of rate changes on large water users
- Define what is included in the base rates and examine the impact of not adopting the proposed new customer charge
TID Cost of Service
Current Rates (2015)
- Revision of SRF loan terms and removal of $1.375 million of CIP from the 2022 timeframe
Calculated Rates (2015)
- Unmetered $170.01 per acre
- Metered $0.0055 per cu. Ft.
Proposed Rates (2016)
- Unmetered $202.97 per acre
- Metered $0.0022 per cu. ft.
- Unmetered $183.11 per acre
- Metered $0.0022 per cu. ft.
Rates would gradually increase from $170.01 to $248.59 Fiscal Year 2-021-22.
Non-Potable Water Cost Share – FY 2015/16 Cost
Since Nov. Draft Study – Shifted $90,490 to the potable water system
City Maintenance Costs - Total Cost: $41,174 TID Share: 73% TID Cost: $30,070
Clarification of Municipal Customer
Impacts to Large Water Users – Annual Bill
Current Rates New Rates Difference % Change
- Governmental users of the potable water system (included in the Institutional customer category).
- Previously the term was used to describe both the governmental users and all city potable water users leading the reader to erroneously conclude that Municipal referred only to City water accounts.
Base Rate Structure
- City Parks $190,200 $225,800 $35,600 19%
- SOU $289,500 $261,700 -$12,900 4%
- School Dist. $124,500 $147,600 $23,100 19%
- Large Commercial $54,200 $62,700 $8,500 16%
- More equitable (true to cost-of-service) to allocate customer costs to each account regardless of number of meters. These costs are a function of number of customers, not potential to use the water system.
- More equitable to allocate the meters and services & capacity costs per meter (by meter size) because the water system is sized to meet potential demand from the meters/services.
- Goal would be to combine the two charges into one base charge on customer bills
- If all base costs were allocated by meter size (as current), larger customers with several meters would see an even larger increase in water bills.
The base rate paid for a portion of the operational costs. The capacity piece was split between base and usage. Water rates covered usage. They allocated every line item into a customer charge, capacity charge and a usage charge. Proposed rates would come to Council in May or early June.
The City received a 1% loan for the emergency Talent Ashland Phoenix (TAP) Intertie instead of other projects. IFA staff was able to secure 2.14% on a larger loan for the water plant that would include $750,000 in loan forgiveness.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Recommendation from the Public Art Commission for Ashland entry signs
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer explained entry signs were one of the projects recommended by the Downtown Beautification Committee and approved by Council. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) had tentatively approved the design concept and was waiting for final approval and construction drawings. Power was available for the sign at the north entrance to town by the railroad trestle. The Electric Department estimated it would cost approximately $2,000 to pull conduit, purchase, and install light fixtures at that location. There was power near the southern sign location of Tolman Creek Road and at the Exit 14 location but would require some work and more resources. The approved budget for the project was $24,000 and did not include the lighting.
Margaret Garrington, chair of the Public Art Commission (PAC) explained the Commission worked with the designer and two members of the Downtown Beautification Committee to develop a sign concept. She described the process the Commission used that resulted in selecting Eric Warren, the creative director with Rogue Design Group. Chair Garrington went on to explain the process involved designing the signs that were displayed for public comment during the February 5, 2016 First Friday Artwalk at the Ashland Art Center. They also had design images posted on the City website. There was not enough money in the budget for lighting.
Mr. Warren added that the PAC requested the signs be creative, unique, quirky, playful, artful, contemporary, sculptural, well crafted, and communicate a sense of place. The Commission unanimously chose the graphic designs before Council. He described the signs and specified the criteria the designs met. They would bolt the letters on the sign through steel with reinforced gaskets. Removing the letters would be difficult. The mixed use of font met the criteria for fun, quirky and contemporary. Some people would see the font as inaccurate, crazy, and unbalanced. One of the options he presented was in all capital letters but the group rejected it as too corporate.
Ms. Seltzer addressed whether the signage should match the City of Ashland’s logo. That was the logo for Ashland city government and inappropriate to use it to represent the community.
Chair Garrington further explained why the group decided against adding the word “Welcome” to the signs. They wanted the signs to announce to the viewer they had arrived. Alternately, the word “Welcome” was outdated in terms of current signage. Ms. Seltzer added the group thought it was important the signage designated Ashland for the people who lived here and visitors. The signs would range from 5-feet to 7-feet tall.
George Kramer/386 Laurel Street/
Sent a letter to Council regarding the design. He hoped Council had read the 70 plus comments from people that attended the one general public meeting on the signs. All of whom talked about the serial killer font and their concern from teachers how it made the community seem illiterate. Entry or Welcome signs were geared for tourists because tourism was paying for the signs. He referred to issues he had with the Gateway art project process and noted he had the same issues with the entry signs. He thought the public arts program excluded the public. The public did not provide feedback on the final designs and thought the public should have had ten or twenty variations to consider. Council needed to fix this. Public input should have occurred before it reached Council.
Councilor Rosenthal asked Mr. Kramer if he had the opportunity to attend any of the public meetings associated with the entry signs. Mr. Kramer explained he was unable to attend a meeting at 8:30 a.m. on a Friday. He first heard about the entry signs when it was announced in the paper. He missed the First Friday Artwalk viewing. If he were in charge of fixing the situation, he would direct the Public Arts Commission to do a better job of public engagement before they made a decision between a few choices. He would also have an evening meeting.
Councilor Lemhouse/Seffinger m/s to approve recommendation of the Public Arts Commission for the entry signs to Ashland. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Lemhouse thanked the Public Arts Commission for their efforts on the project and Mr. Warren for his design concept. He understood the comments made by Mr. Kramer but thought every meeting was public and publicized. Councilor Seffinger commended the PAC and Mr. Warren. The signs combined a sense of place and history with the materials used as well as a contemporary look. She would like to see lighting on all three signs.
Councilor Marsh/Seffinger m/s to amend motion to allocate $5,000 from unallocated TOT money to provide lighting to two of the approved signs. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Marsh liked the signs and thought they would make a great impression on people coming into Ashland. Councilor Rosenthal agreed with Councilor Marsh. Councilor Morris noted lighting added another layer of maintenance and wanted a lighting system that lit the signs well and was durable. He was not sure if $5,000 was enough. Ms. Seltzer clarified she was working with the Electric Department on lighting fixtures that would work, and required low maintenance. Councilor Voisin thought lighting should have been included in the original costs and would not approve additional funds for the signs. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Seffinger, Marsh, Lemhouse, Morris, and Rosenthal, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Continued discussion on amended motion:
Councilor Rosenthal thanked the Public Arts Commission on the execution of the public art acquisition policy. He knew it was not popular with everyone but they had followed the instruction manual, had five public meetings, and people could have provided the Commission with input about the project on many occasions. Councilor Voisin commented there was more than one person concerned about the public arts process and she would not support the proposal until there were changes to that process. She had received many emails regarding the font on the signs from people upset with the lettering. She did not like the lettering and thought it sent the wrong message. She did not understand what arrival meant versus welcome. She would not support the motion. Councilor Rosenthal raised a point of clarification and asked how many emails Councilor Voisin had received from people complaining about the lettering. Councilor Voisin thought 20-25 emails and four phone calls. Councilor Rosenthal had not received any emails regarding the lettering. Councilor Lemhouse asked Councilor Voisin to forward the emails to Council.
Councilor Seffinger spoke to several people from various areas in Ashland who enjoyed the quirkiness and how it reflected parts of Ashland. Councilor Morris thought the signs fit well. His concern with the lettering was that he hoped it was stainless steel and not aluminum. The other concern was the size and placement for the sign by Belleview School. He liked the design of the signs and the materials used. He would support the motion. Mr. Warren clarified the models were not to scale. Councilor Lemhouse explained the PAC had met at the times they were allocated to meet, 8:30 a.m. on Fridays once a month. These meetings were noticed and open to the public. The PAC went out of their way to engage the public during the First Friday Artwalk and used their own time for that event. He did not care for the typography but there were 20,000 people in town and he was trying to honor and respect the people on the Commission and their expertise. He felt that the entire package was best for Ashland. Mayor Stromberg thought the PAC did a great job and liked the result. Roll Call Vote on amended motion: Councilor Seffinger, Marsh, Lemhouse, Morris, and Rosenthal, YES, Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Ms. Seltzer added they were hoping to have the signs built and installed by May.
2. Council initiation of a zone change from R-2 (low-density multi-family) to C-1 (commercial) for the property located at 150 Pioneer Street
Mayor Stromberg had talked with Mr. Potocki who had a City parking lot built next to his R-2 zone property. The Planning Director at that time said the City would rezone his property as C-1. Twenty years had passed and nothing had happened. If Council approved this change, it would go to the Planning Commission for their recommendation.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained there was always a chance of issues rezoning a property but did not think there were any negative ramifications regarding 150 Pioneer Street. He recommended C-1 zoning because that was the adjacent commercial zoning and thought the property would be conforming. Councilor Rosenthal asked if this was an appropriate time to consider changing the zoning for Pioneer Hall and the Community Center. Mr. Molnar responded staff could evaluate the properties.
Councilor Voisin raised a point of order and questioned why Council was discussing two properties not on the agenda. Mayor Stromberg explained Councilor Rosenthal was considering making an amendment to add the Winburn Way properties to the proposal since they all pertained to zone changes to C-1.
Councilor Voisin/Morris m/s to approve the initiation of a Type III planning action, zone change, for the property located at 150 Pioneer Street and direct Community Development staff to complete, file and process the land use application. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Voisin thanked the Mayor for bringing the issue forward. The request was a win-win for the City and Mr. Potocki. Councilor Morris also thought it was a good idea that should have occurred years before. Staff should evaluate the Winburn properties separately. Councilor Marsh supported the motion. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Rosenthal, Marsh, Lemhouse, Seffinger, and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Second reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance establishing a tax on the sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products in the City of Ashland and referring said tax to the voters of Ashland in the November 8, 2016 general election”
Councilor Marsh/Lemhouse m/s to approve Ordinance #3121. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Marsh explained the state was allowing a 3% tax and it should go before the voters. Councilor Voisin raised a point of clarification on when the state tax began, how it was reduced and when the City’s tax would begin. City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the state had a current tax of 25% on the sales of recreational marijuana. The tax did not apply to medical marijuana. The tax would reduce to 17% January 1, 2017. If the voters enacted a 3% tax, it would be applied to the 17% state tax, not on top of the 25% tax. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Marsh, Lemhouse, Morris, Seffinger, and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
2. First reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Chapter 10/68.400 and 11.08 and replacing Chapters 11.24, 11.28, 11.32, 11.34 and 11.36 with new Chapter 11.26 to update and unify parking regulations and to authorize City Council to establish presumptive parking violation fines by resolution” and move to second reading.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the ordinance was a “housekeeping” measure that would consolidate separate ordinances on parking regulations, restricted parking areas, abandoned, stored, or impounded vehicles into one ordinance easier to understand and enforce. Changes included clarifying the Council had the authority to set presumptive fines for parking violations by resolution. He noted a correction to page 2 of the Council Communication, first paragraph. The Council would also set penalties along with the presumptive fines set by resolution. Another change concerned vehicles with their engines left running. The old ordinance allowed trucks under 12,000 gross vehicle weight and buses with the carrying capacity of 15 passengers or less to have an exemption that was currently no longer necessary. Page 18 of 21 discussed the penalties for parking violations would read that a presumptive fine for a parking violation under this section would be imposed unless the court found reasonable grounds for increasing or reducing the fine. Also on page 18, the point of multiple penalties unpaid could result in booting or towing. In the past, the limit was $250 and was now $150.
Mr. Lohman would research the language in 11.26.050 Abandoned Vehicles
regarding abandoned vehicles on public or private property and the definition of abandoned vehicles.
He clarified 11.26.090 Buses or Taxis
provided taxies an exemption from the general rule. If the City had a taxi stand, they could park there for an indefinite period. The City no longer had taxi stands and this was an empty exemption. A taxi could not park in a commercial area unless they were picking up or dropping off passengers. The language implied a taxi could park in a residential area while waiting for calls.
In 11.26.120 Penalties, Immobilizers Installation, Towing, Warning Letter, Show cause, and Warrants (2)(c)
mailing a notice by certified mail was an alternative for notification. In the event the address was a post office box or no one was present to sign, the City could post notice directly on the vehicle.
Deputy Chief Warren Hensman explained the Police Department did experience some obstruction issues described in 11.26.040 Obstructing Enforcement
but not an abundance. Administrative Services/Finance Director Lee Tuneberg added it was not an issue with the Diamond Parking attendants either. People who threw out their tickets or did not respond received a letter and the fine increased.
Councilor Lemhouse/Marsh m/s to approve first reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An Ordinance Amending Chapters 10.68.400 and 11.08 and Replacing Chapters 11.24, 11.28, 11.32, 11.34 and 11.36 with New Chapter 11.26 to Update and Unify Parking Regulations and to Authorize City Council to Establish Presumptive Parking Violation Fines by Resolution with the changes proposed tonight prior to second reading and move the ordinance on to second reading. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Lemhouse appreciated the effort that went into streamlining the ordinances into one. Councilor Marsh agreed.
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s to amend 11.26.040 Obstructing Enforcement and add “(3) No one persons shall intentionally act in a manner that prevents or attempts to prevent a person from officially performing lawful duties to enforce provisions under AMC Chapter 11.26 or refuse to obey a lawful order of such official person enforcing provisions under AMC Chapter 11.26.” DISCUSSION:
Councilor Voisin heard that students issuing tickets had experienced rough treatment in terms of language and threatening behavior. Enforcement would consist of the individual encountering the behavior to call the police or their Diamond Parking supervisor who would issue a verbal warning. Councilor Lemhouse thought the amendment was problematic. People had the right to say whatever they wanted for the most part and used previous discussions regarding behavior downtown. He questioned legality and enforcement. Mr. Lohman clarified the language in the amendment referred to acting in a manner that prevented or attempted to prevent the official from performing their lawful duties. Councilor Lemhouse noted Councilor Voisin spoke to language as the issue. Mr. Lohman explained that aggressive language did not fall within the terms of the proposed amendment. Councilor Voisin further clarified the students were encountering aggressive behavior that prevented them from doing their job. Councilor Lemhouse thought the amendment required further discussion. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Seffinger, Voisin, Rosenthal, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, Marsh, and Morris, NO. Mayor Stromberg broke the tie with a YES vote. Motion passed 4-3.
Councilor Lemhouse raised a point of clarification. He had a concern that the amendment gave someone who was not a sworn officer the ability to give a lawful order to another and that a citizen could be charged with disobeying the lawful order of a non-sworn person.
Continued discussion on amended motion:
Councilor Morris would not support the motion as amended. Councilor Lemhouse would not support the motion as amended either. The amendment treated a civilian as a law enforcement officer and stated another civilian with ambiguous language could be guilty of obstructing them. The justification for the amendment seemed based on hearsay and invalidated the entire ordinance.
Mr. Lohman clarified that he had provided the proposed language to Councilor Voisin. The language came from a statute concerning police officers and this was an error on staff’s part not Councilor Voisin. Councilor Lemhouse raised a point of clarification and wanted to know why Council was not informed of the amendment prior to the meeting so they had time to consider the language and intent. Mr. Lohman responded he had worked on the proposed language earlier in the afternoon and had only shared it with Councilor Voisin moments before the meeting began. He agreed with Councilor Lemhouse that the last clause that referred to obeying a lawful order of such official person did not belong in the amendment. Councilor Marsh commented Council could make changes at second reading. She would support the motion. When it came back, Council would discuss this particular language in the amendment. Roll Call Vote amended motion: Councilor Seffinger, Voisin, Rosenthal, and Marsh, YES; Councilor Lemhouse and Morris, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
3. Approval of a resolution titled, “A resolution of the City Council establishing a fee for appeals of administrative decisions.”
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the resolution came from a Council discussion in January 2015 about potential code updates. The code had a $150 fee for anyone wanting to appeal an administrative decision. The fee created an unreasonable barrier to someone wanting to pursue a redress of grievances. The code did contain language regarding appeal fees that suggested the fee may be adjusted by resolution of Council. Staff would look into updating the code later and wanted to address the appeal fee via resolution. The resolution would drop the appeal fee to zero if the appeal was made directly to the City Administrator and the appellant waived their right to a written or mechanical record of the appeal hearing. If they appealed to the City Administrator and wanted the mechanical or written record, the fee would be $50. The code would also provide for hearings to be heard by a hearings officer other than the City Administrator by an outside party not affiliated with the City and hired by the City attorney. In that case, the fee would be $150 or actual costs. Appeals were rare. Most of them were resolved informally without moving to a formal process.
Mr. Kanner thought a person could record a hearing themselves and create their own mechanical record. He addressed the first bullet under Section 1 regarding the $50 fee for an appeal heard by the City Administrator or an outside party not affiliated by the City. The circumstances where the City would request an outside party were limited. One would be a situation where the City Administrator had a personal conflict of interest. The City would want a written or mechanical record if an outside party heard the appeal. It also limited the potential of frivolous appeals that cost the City money to process.
If an appellant lost an appeal, they paid the full cost. Mr. Kanner would find out if the City waived the appeal fee if an appellant prevailed. City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained appeals initially came through her office and she arranged the appeal process with the City Administrator. The most recent appeals were difficult for the appellant to pay the fee. Currently, the code specified the $150 fee was non-refundable.
Council was not comfortable charging an appellant in a situation where the City requested an outside hearings officer due to a conflict of interest with the City Administrator. Staff would work on the language and bring the resolution back to a future Council meeting.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Lemhouse thanked the volunteers that helped search for community member Todd Ragsdale who unfortunately lost his life in the Ashland Watershed. It was a tragic and untimely loss. The outpouring of support from the community to assist the search was impressive and moving. It was inspiring to see the community come together in such a way. Councilor Lemhouse expressed condolences to the family and wished his best for them.
Councilor Voisin announced February 23, 2016 the sixth free vet clinic would occur in the Methodist Church parking lot from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
City Administrator Dave Kanner distributed the Look Ahead, discussed items with Council, and noted a Budget Committee meeting would occur that week.
Councilor Seffinger added the search for Mr. Ragsdale prompted the Forestlands Commission to develop cohesive names for all of the trails.
Councilor Lemhouse requested a Study Session agenda item of a report on how the winter shelter worked this year and wanted to include the Parks Department in the discussion. Councilor Rosenthal requested the Study Session item for the April 4, 2016 meeting move to the Council meeting the following night. Councilor Voisin would send a concern she had to Mr. Kanner that she did not want to discuss in public.
ADJOURNMENT OF BUSINESS MEETING
Meeting adjourned at 10:22 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor