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March 2, 2021 City Manager's Report
Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2021

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March 2, 2021
The City Manager’s Report showcases current events facing the City externally and internally since the last Council meeting, while highlighting City accomplishments. 
 

Business Oregon Announces Commercial Rent Relief Grants to Help Small Businesses Behind on Lease Payments
  
Business Oregon has a new program to provide financial assistance to small businesses (100 or fewer employees) and commercial landlords impacted by the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program provides grants to building owners to cover outstanding lease payments from small business tenants that are behind on rent due to COVID-19. The grants can go up to $100,000 per each business tenant lease, but not more than $3 million for each landlord. The landlord must agree not to evict the tenant for six months and waive any rights to collect outstanding penalties or interest, or enforce eviction clauses related to the delinquent lease payments between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. 
  
The program will open for applications on Monday, March 8 for two weeks. Both the business tenant and property owner will need to participate in the application process and sign the grant agreement, but the initial application needs to be completed by the landlord. 
  
For more information, go to Business Oregon's webpage.

Draft Land Use Amendment – Duplexes on Residential Zoned Lots 
 
The Planning Commission reviewed draft amendments to allow duplexes in the residential zones at their February 23, 2021 study session meeting. The Oregon State Legislature passed House Bill 2001 in the 2019 legislative session which requires “medium” cities such as Ashland to amend codes by June 30, 2021 to allow duplexes on residentially zoned lots that allow the development of detached single-family homes.

The Land Conservation and Development Commission  (LCDC) adopted the administrative rules for implementing House Bill 2001 in August 2020 and the Planning Commission subsequently held study sessions on October 13, 2020, December 23, 2020 and the most recent meeting on February 23, 2021. Next steps will be a developer roundtable and advisory commission meetings in March and April and another Planning Commission study session on April 27, 2021. The item is scheduled for a public hearing and first reading at the City Council on June 1, 2021 and second reading on June 15, 2021.

Rate Modeling for the Water and Wastewater Enterprise Funds

Public Works and the Finance Division are currently coordinating a rate study with a financial consultant to update rate modeling forecasts for the water and wastewater enterprise funds. This rate model forecast will account for operational (staffing & maintenance) and capital needs within the forecast period. The analysis of wastewater rates in conjunction with the pre-payment of the wastewater debt will allow Council to fully understand impacts to the fund if any and provide an avenue to move forward with finalizing an update to the Food and Beverage Ordinance.

Staff expects a first draft for review by the end of March and a second refined draft incorporating comments by the middle of April. The updated Storm Water and Drainage Master Plan has a new financial plan with associated rate recommendations contained within the document for the planning period. The rate implications and associated Council discussion and deliberation is schedule for May. Outcomes of the Council deliberation regarding rates will need to be accounted for in the budget process.
 

Looking Ahead
This is a draft of the next Council meetings agenda and is subject to change.
 
March 15 - Study Session
  • Discussion of Proposed Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Code
March 16 - Business Meeting
  • Proclamation for Arbor Week 
  • Annual Presentation by the Tree Commission 
  • COVID-19 Emergency Declaration 
  • Approval of a Professional Services Contract for Design Services for East Main Park
  • Gun Club Lease Compliance
  • Residential Uses in Commercial Building Space
  • Approval of a Professional Services Contract for Improvements to the Community Center and Pioneer Hall 
  • City Manager Profile and Selection Process 
  • Business Assistance Program Options Discussion
  • First Reading of Municipal Audit Commission Ordinance 
For the full look ahead and descriptions of each item, go to ashland.or.us/lookahead.

This month's edition of the City Source includes an article on City services and financial funds, information on the COVID-19 pandemic, how to reduce your wildfire risk, the Adapt Your Home campaign focusing on consumption, the 4th of July run logo design contest, how to become CERT trained, events, and the City Calendar for April.

Go to ashland.or.us/citysource for the latest and past editions. 

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