Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, April 15, 2019


Monday, April 15, 2019
Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 PM.
Councilors’ Slattery, Akins, Seffinger, Rosenthal and Jensen were present.
  1. Public Input (15 minutes, maximum)
Bill Shanor – Ashland – Spoke regarding the canal.  He spoke regarding real costs to fix the canal.  He spoke that there are risks with the pipe and there is no environmental statement submitted.  He spoke that at the last meeting Gwen Davies felt offended when she spoke to the Council.  He spoke that she deserves an apology and that she will never come back to speak again.
Huelz Gutcheon – Ashland – Spoke that Ashland used to be a place where you can leave your bike outside without a lock.  Now everyone locks their bikes and wonders why.  He questioned if is because we have grown or because thieves in town.
  1. Presentation in Reference to a New Jail by Sheriff Sickler
Sheriff Sickler and Chief O’Meara presented Council with a PowerPoint regarding a new jail project.  Asking for Council to put a Resolution on a future agenda to support the project (see attached). 
Items discussed were:
  • Jail overcrowding.
  • Grand Jury reports state the need for a new facility.
  • Population growth.
  • Release inmates and per capita correlation.
  • Property analysis.
  • Proposed site map and design.
  • Project estimated cost.
  • Housing units and land size.
  • Number of beds in the facility.
  • Space Summary.
  • 214 thousand square foot building
  • Best practices to run jail.
  • Mental Health classifications and rehab classifications.
  • Staffing model.  Current Staff is 80 FTE and will go to 105 FTE.
  • Strategic hire staffing.
  • Time to complete the project is estimated 4 years.  
  • Medical costs at the jail.
  • Funding mechanism.  Proposing adding an 83.53 cent/1,000 of assessed value of property taxes. Also, some of the funding will come from reserves at the County. 
  • For average home owner the increased cost would be $156.96 per year.
  • Construction costs vs operating costs.
Council discussed the size of the facility and ways to work on the mental health and addiction issues. 
Rosenthal spoke that more public relation efforts need to happen instead of just putting an item on the ballot.   
Commissioner Bob Stosser explained that the problems with the current jail is the ability to stabilize people before they are released and back on the streets to do the same thing again.  He spoke that they want to have the ability to keep them longer and get them help. He spoke to the importance of best practices.  He spoke that currently they are doing a disservice to the community and now it is up to the people.  He spoke that this could be a 50-year facility and can be expanded if needed with the proposed design.  
  1. Electric Department Budget Presentation
Budget Committee Members Paula Hyatt, Pamela Lucas, Shaun Moran and David Runkel, Jim Bachman and Mike Morris were in attendance.
Electric Director Thomas McBartlett presented a PowerPoint presentation (see attached).
Items discussed were:
  • Operating expenses.
  • Sources of income.
  • Accomplishments: Received national recognition for excellence in Reliability from APPA for the 3rd time in 4 years.
  • Fund Goals.
  • Future challenges: BPA rate increases every few years.
  • Performance measures. 
The Committee discussed personnel and rate increases.  Moran questioned if there is a way to not have rate increases and to cut materials and supplies.  Mr. McBartlett answered that by cutting materials and supplies it would affect efficiencies with maintenance and inspection times. 
Assistance programs were discussed. 
Rosenthal questioned how common it is for a City to own its own Electric Utility.  Mr. McBartlett answered not common approximately only 11 members of Oregon Municipalities.
Mr. McBartlett went over cost comparisons to neighboring cities.  He explained that Ashland is lower on an average user. 
Assistant to the City Administrator Adam Hanks presented a PowerPoint presentation on Energy Conservation (see attached).
Items discussed were:
  • Program overview.
  • Incentive programs.
  • Solar accounts being highest per capita in the State.
  • Expansion of Net Metering.
  • Online Energy Audit Tool.
  • Goals.
  • EV Solar.
Morris questioned if there is an option to buy back EV Solar.  Hanks answered yes.  He spoke that there are 3 different versions of the solar program. 
EV charging locations were discussed.
  1. Ashland Fiber Network Budget Presentation – Due to time constraints this item was moved to a future meeting date.
  1. Administrative Services (Insurance/Equipment)
Administrative Services Director Mark Welch presented a PowerPoint Presentation (see attached). 

Items discussed were:
  • Personnel.
  • Accomplishments: new Budget Process, implemented OpenGov, transferred the City from self-funded insurance to CIS avoiding a 1.5 million in healthcare cost.
  • Goals: Continue to improve communication with the City’s financial records, technology advancements and enhance the publics ability to access and pay utility bills online.
  • Challenges: Ensure internal controls are in place with fewer employees and reduce cost of credit card fees paid by the City.
  • Performance Measures.
Rosenthal questioned why the City pays credit card fees.  Welch answered that this is just something the City has always done.   Rosenthal suggested the City look into changing this. 
  1. Recorder
City Recorder Melissa Huhtala presented a PowerPoint Presentation (see attached). 
Items discussed were:
  • Job duties and City Recorder and Elections Officer.
  • Accomplishments.
  • Goals: Scanning all backdated documents, Implement conduit lien program, update public record request policy.
  • Challenges: Outdated equipment and programs.
Council gave consensus to continue the Study Session until 7:30 PM. 
Seffinger left at 7:00 PM.
  1. CIP
Public Works Director Paula Brown gave an overview of the CIP.  Due to computer issues the PowerPoint was not updated but the CIP was in the packet (see attached). 
Items discussed were:
  • Timeline.
  • Parks looking into doing a Master Planning effort
  • 2 year appropriating budget for valid projects.
  • Where money comes from for each project listed.
  • Contracts will come back to Council for approval.  
The Study Session was adjourned at 7:30 PM
Respectfully submitted by:
City Recorder Melissa Huhtala
Mayor Stromberg
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you need special assistance to participate in this meeting, please contact the City Administrator's office at (541) 488-6002 (TTY phone number 1-800-735-2900).  Notification 72 hours prior to the meeting will enable the City to make reasonable arrangements to ensure accessibility to the meeting (28 CFR 35.102-35.104 ADA Title I).

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