Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:32 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Rosenthal, Morris, Marsh, Voisin, Lemhouse, and Seffinger were present.
1.   Public Input  
Zach Brombacher/1370 Tolman Creek Road/Lived on Tolman Creek Road for 40-50 years and reported on two issues.  The first involved the intersection at the Bellview Elementary School.  The intersection was dangerous.  He suggested the City put in a stop light.   The other issue was storm water drainage on Hamilton Creek.  Infill in that area was increasing the amount storm water that drained onto his property and his neighbors.  They could no longer use 75-feet of land on either side of the creek.  This was not fair to local landowners.  Now a developer was planning an eight-house subdivision that would result in even more drainage onto his property.  He asked the City to look into the situation and consider adding a drainage pipe to alleviate the issue. 
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Congratulated Council on the Climate Energy Action Plan.  He addressed the recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory report and noted inconsistencies and that his document on the subject was not included in the request for proposal.   
2.   Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
3.   Continued discussion of street maintenance and funding needs
Public Works Director Mike Faught introduced Utility Technician Steve Burkhalter from the Streets Division, and Public Works Superintendent Mike Morrison.  Mr. Morrison provided a video showing various road conditions, the use of the pavement condition index (PCI) to grade city streets, a falling weight deflectometer to determine conditions below the surface, and repair recommendations for specific streets.
Mr. Burkhalter explained the Streets Division milled a street down to its structural integrity then would overlay the road accordingly.  They based repair on the age of a road, traffic load, and traffic flow design.  The Streets Division prioritized roads by traffic loads.  Arterials were first, and then collectors based on traffic volumes.  The goal was preventing them from falling into reconstruction that was very expensive.
Mr. Faught noted asphalt had a 20-year life and they tried to overlay at year 15 for general arterials and collectors.  They could extend residential streets with slurry seal.  The Street Division performed structural testing on the arterials and collectors and only visual rating for residential roads.
Staff explained there was $10,500,000 for arterial collector and collector streets.  There was $3,000,000 for the East Nevada project and $3,000,000 for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP).  Additionally, there was $19,700,000 for unfunded roads.  City Administrator Dave Kanner added the initial $10,500,000 pavement project needed to occur within the next five years to prevent more of the arterial and collector streets from falling into the failure category.  Residential overlays could extend over a longer period.  The City needed to raise $19,700,000 over a period of decades.
Mr. Burkhalter clarified deflection testing was random and did not include the full length of a road.  There was also a difference with the type of testing.  Project level testing tested every 100 feet for design.  On the collectors, they tested every 300 feet.
Mr. Faught further explained the five-year CIP plan.  The East Nevada Street was $3,000,000, the new Independence Road was $1,200,000, and the rest were sidewalk projects.  The $10,500,000 pavement project would bring the roads indicated up to an adequate level and prevent the potential of reconstructs.
Mr. Kanner addressed funding and possibly using the Food and Beverage (F&B) tax to pay for street improvements.  Currently F&B tax went towards the Wastewater Treatment Plant debt until 2022.  The City refinanced the Wastewater Treatment Plant debt and it would slowly decline until paid off in 2022.  While this was happening, the F&B tax revenue was increasing creating a gap no longer needed for the treatment plant debt.  Based on the past, staff was comfortable forecasting this was the trajectory.  Mr. Kanner proposed applying the gap no longer needed for wastewater debt to street maintenance primarily the $10,500,000 pavement maintenance program.  The amount for 2017 would be approximately $679,000.  The City would incur new debt for other wastewater treatment projects, but the cost of the debt service for those projects was built into wastewater rates anticipated in the Wastewater Master Plan.  By 2022, the gap in F&B tax would be $1,350,000.  Mr. Kanner proposed amending the ordinance to increase the Parks and Recreation Department’s portion of F&B tax to 25% to help their equipment replacement fund.  He thought the City could fund the $10,500,000 pavement program using F&B tax and possibly a slight increase over time to the transportation utility fee.  In 2023, the debt service for the Wastewater Treatment Plan would end.  There was an opportunity at that point to start banking F&B tax for the other $19,700,000 projects.  If Council agreed, he would bring an ordinance back that reallocated F&B tax dollars.  Staff was still factoring details.  He talked to focus groups and people in general supported using those dollars for street repair.  This did not require deferring changes to the F&B tax to voters.
Staff would look into the percentage of traffic volume tourists added to wear on the streets.  Mr. Kanner clarified the City could not defuse debt until the last two years due to the recent refinance.  The debt at this point was $9,000,000 to $10,000,000 on the treatment plant.  The F&B tax would sunset 2030.
Mr. Kanner had some hesitation funding capital improvement projects with F&B tax and wanted to see if the City received a grant for the East Nevada project before committing to borrowing money.  The one thing that needed to happen right away was borrowing the $10,500,000 to do the pavement maintenance project.  The rest did not need to happen immediately.  Mr. Faught noted they had the internal capacity to manage the project but it would be a challenge.
Mr. Kanner clarified the financial projections indicated the City could cover the debt service on wastewater treatment projects or upgrades with operating cash.  Financial projections noted substantial growth in the Waste Water Fund Balance even with new debt service.  The fund balance was larger than needed.
Mr. Burkhalter explained with the exception of three overlays in 2009, the Streets Division had not done any overlays for 15-20 years.  Currently 65% of the entire street network was 20 years or older.  Within the next five years, it would increase to 75%.  Mr. Faught clarified the East Nevada project and new Independent Way Street were high priorities regarding connectivity.  Council could bump the projects and use those funds for street repair if they wanted.
Hansford Consulting advised the City to bond in phases, possibly every 2-3 years. 
Mr. Kanner proposed moving away from a fixed percentage of allocating this money for wastewater debt and street maintenance and go to a “cost plus” model.  The City could allocate the dollar amount needed from F&B tax for wastewater debt, add a small percentage to continue building the reserve and the wastewater fund, and put the remaining balance towards street improvements.
Council discussed concerns reallocating funds to street maintenance, and having a public discussion during a regular Council meeting about putting it out to the voters.
Mayor Stromberg spoke to someone at the Visitor Convention Bureau (VCB) who stated that Ashland received 300,000 visitors a year.
Council directed staff to bring the matter back to a regular Council meeting and explain the rationale for raising the Parks and Recreation Department percentage to 25%.
4.   Discussion of Citizen Planning Advisory Committee
Councilor Voisin wanted Council to consider reactivating the Citizen Planning Advisory Committee (CPAC) for a trial period of two years and explained why.
Councilor Rosenthal left the meeting at 6:43 p.m.
Council did not support reactivating CPAC and directed staff to bring an ordinance to a future Council meeting to repeal Ashland Municipal Code Chapter 2.27 and transfer Committee Citizen Involvement (CCI) responsibilities to the Planning Commission.
Meeting adjourned at 6:58 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                                                                                          
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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