MINUTES OF STUDY SESSION
Monday, September 19, 2016
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Rosenthal and Marsh were present. Councilor Lemhouse arrived at 5:55 p.m. Councilor Seffinger was absent.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Spoke regarding the need for energy audits and upgraded energy audits. He explained that energy would be less expensive if upgraded.
Discussion of modifications to emergency shelter resolution (request of Mayor Stromberg)
Volunteer community members that included Heidi Parker, Sharon Harris and John Wieczorek joined in the discussion regarding modifications to the emergency shelter.
It was noted that agreement had been made on increasing the number of individuals using the shelter and that there would be exceptions to ratio of male and female volunteers. The only issues remaining involved allowing dogs into the shelter.
Parks & Recreation Director Michael Black stated that having dogs in Pioneer Hall was not a problem but that the floor of The Grove could be damaged if dogs were allowed. He stated that the use of The Grove would be limited and that plastic on the floor would be required.
Discussion on the difference between the current processes for volunteers managing shelters versus the need for volunteers to manage the emergency shelter brought out many challenges. It was determined that City Emergency Response Team (CERT) members are trained primarily for “disaster response events” and not for the emergency shelter need. It was suggested that staff explore the option of paying the current city minimum hourly rate for individuals to manage the emergency shelter. It was also suggested that a floor size vinyl covering, be purchased to cover the floor of The Grove.
Councilor Lemhouse arrived at 5:55 p.m.
After further discussion it was determined that staff would explore providing a vinyl cover for The Grove; providing more advanced notice (24 hours) for decision on opening the emergency shelter and contracting with a non-profit organization for managing the emergency shelter.
Discussion of Ashland Police Department staffing needs
Police Chief Tighe O’Meara provided the staff report and noted his appreciation to the council for their support of the Police Department. He stated that the department has currently 28 full-time staff and shared the difficulty on hiring staff due to the length of time it takes to get them onboard. He explained that his department would like to get back on track with their regional partnerships. He noted the difficulties the department was having due to the lack of officers and their reliance on their partnerships. He explained that it is their responsibility to provide coverage in our own city, although they greatly appreciate the assistance they get from the other agencies. He pointed out that other agencies have different ways of operating and training that may not always be a good match for our community.
Councilor Marsh left at 6:23 p.m.
Chief O’Meara provided statistical information that indicated the department was understaffed and that the objective was to meet the needs of the community. He explained that all numbers of calls and cases were increasing but not the staff that is needed to handle this increase. He stated that it was important that five new officers be hired as quickly as possible and believed that this could be done in a biennial budget.
Chief O’Meara noted that the Emergency Communication of Southern Oregon (ECSO) was considering a funding change that would involve creating a Special District. Staff was examining budget implications and revenue sources. Examples of these may include a Public Safety Serial Levy, Utility Bill Surcharge and the possibility of the Special District.
Discussion was made on the difficulty on hiring new officers and the possibility of re-introducing the Reserve Officer program. Chief O’Meara stated that he was confident that there are good candidates to be found. He also clarified that Community Policing requires additional staffing and more time spent on calls by officers.
Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed the Look Ahead and noted that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would be conducting a public information meeting on the railroad property November 14. He also noted that staff was bringing forward an ordinance for consideration on the use of water outside the city limits.
Mayor Stromberg noted that he intended to bring forward discussion on the possibility of an Ad-Hoc committee to explore the creation of a commission on aging.
Meeting was adjourned at 6:51 p.m.