Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

These Minutes are preliminary pending approval by Council
at the June 20, 2006 City Council Meeting.

June 6, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Amarotico was absent. Councilor Hardesty passed away on May 23, 2006.
The minutes of the Regular Council meeting of May 16, 2006 and Continued Council meeting of May 18, 2006 were approved as presented.
Presentation was made by Ashland High School student representatives traveling from Ashland to our Sister City of Guanajuato.

Mayor's Proclamation of June 12, 2006 as "Soroptimist International of Ashland Day" was read aloud.

Mayor announced his approval of the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.

Recognition was given to Councilor Jack Hardesty who recently passed away, new City Administrator Martha Bennett, and Interim Police Chief Ronald Goodpaster.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Public Hearing to Consider Adopting the Annual Budget.
Administrative Services & Finance Director Lee Tuneberg commented on the changes made to the budget and submitted a memo that listed the adjustments and corrections. He noted the Council needs to consider the Rogue Valley Transit District and Debt Service agenda items prior to adopting the budget. He also noted the budget has been reduced from $101.5 million to $100.2 million, and appropriations have been reduced from $80.4 million to $78.5 million.

Request was made for Staff to provide additional information regarding the City's involvement with the Regional Land Use Plan prior to any funds being expended. Mr. Tuneberg requested that Council identify any other items they want brought back for further discussion. Request was made for the additions to the General Fund to be brought before Council before funds are expended. City Administrator Martha Bennett assured Council that Staff would consult with them before moving forward on any of these projects.

Public Hearing Open: 7:34 p.m.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower Street/Suggested the City prepare a budget that better prepares for structural changes in the economy. He stated there has not been a clear explanation of what the increased property tax dollars would provide and stated the proposed budget would put the City in a vulnerable position. He urged the Council to vote against the budget, to adopt a budget at or below the current level, and to develop a clear and aggressive plan for how to reduce the debt.

Brice Brandt/280 Meadow Drive/Suggested the City sell the 900 acres across the freeway and use it to pay down the AFN debt and noted the AFN Options Committee had recommended selling AFN. He recommended the budget include a separate line item for AFN so the community can know how much it is costing.

Carmon Auble/542 Siskiyou Boulevard/Spoke regarding the AFN debt and stated it should be impermissible for the City to allow an assessment on all property owners to provide this non-essential service. He stated it is important to recognize that many citizens do not want this service and are not subscribers. He stated if the City Charter does not provide for public approval of such an assessment it should be amended to do so. He added the City Charter should prohibit City investment in business enterprises not essential to basic services and believes AFN should be sold.

Susan Rust/42 N. Wightman Street/Expressed her concern regarding the sale of the City owned land and encouraged the Council to use this as a last stitch option to fixing the budget. She also suggested the Council enter into discussions with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy for how this land might be protected in an undeveloped condition while allowing for the generation of income to the City.

Marilyn Briggs/590 Glenview Drive/Commented on setting a precedent of asking citizens to pay through a property tax increase what should come from the department's budget. She suggested that some of the projects could be accomplished at no cost to the City, such as conducting a Community Visioning charette. She voiced her support for selling the City-owned property and asked the Council to not adopt the budget as presented.

Public Hearing Closed: 7:47 p.m.

It was clarified there would be public discussion when the projects included in the budget came before Council. It was also clarified the property tax would be reviewed annually.

Mr. Tuneberg noted $525,000 in expenses was eliminated from the budget and clarified the majority of the increase was due to Capital Improvement Projects.

Suggestion was made for the Council to begin looking at the Capital Improvement budget prior to it going before the Budget Committee. Support was voiced for this suggestion and additional recommendation was made to start the budget process during August or September and possibly have a Budget Committee Study Session.

Mr. Tuneberg commented on the areas in the budget where funds were cut and noted the increase of Capital Improvement costs are beyond the City's control. He spoke regarding the adoption process and clarified the four actions that been to be taken tonight.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower Street/Spoke regarding the Nevada Local Improvement District (LID) Circuit Court decision. He stated the City illegally benefited LID property owners and most of the benefit went to the Billing Subdivision. He also stated the Public Works Director also benefited from the illegal percentages that were proposed. To remedy this situation, he suggested the Council void the Nevada LID, pause the construction, and redo the LID legally. He stated the Council had not been provided with the entire court record and claimed if any councilor had not reviewed the whole record, they must postpone adopting the Findings until they do so.

Chris Skrepitos/4424 Highway 66/Spoke regarding the reactivation of the Clear Springs Resort. He stated there are significant wetlands on the proposed site and noted the concerns regarding the use of ground water and the impact to the surrounding property owners. He stated there was a potential for this development to become a burden upon the citizenry of Ashland and asked the Council to address their concerns at the County Hearing scheduled for June 13, 2006.

Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Road/Presented "Earth Day" messages conveyed to the Jackson County Pacific Green Party by visitors to their booth at the Earth Day celebration. Ms. Vavra commented on the activities of the Pacific Green Party at the celebration and displayed a poster signed by children with their messages to City leaders. She noted City leaders were asked by the children to provide more community garden space, plant fruit and nut trees throughout the City, support local farmers, and augment bus service with weekend runs that extend to Talent and Phoenix.

Ambuja Rosen/Spoke regarding the weight of cable used by owners for tethering dogs and urged the use of lightweight cables with swivel ends. Ms. Rosen commented on the use of tangle free tethers, protection from wet ground, and how prolonged tethering of dogs could make them more vicious.

1. RVTD Contract and Route 5 Costs.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer presented the staff report and explained Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) has notified the City they will no longer be able to provide enhanced services in Ashland and their contract with the City will terminate on June 30, 2006. Ms. Seltzer stated the enhanced services are currently paid through the City's Street Improvement Fund at an annual cost of $290,000. These services include Route 5 (an Ashland-only loop), free fare in Ashland, and Valley Lift services. Due to budget shortfalls, RVTD is proposing a system-wide fare increase to $2.00 per trip, cutting Route 4 in Medford, and eliminating Valley Lift services beyond ¾ of a mile of RVTD fixed routes.

RVTD has informed the City they can continue to provide the enhanced services and free fare program in Ashland for a cost of $430,000 a year, however due to the City's budget this is not a feasible option. Staff recommends using $100,000 of currently allocated funds to implement a free fare program for eligible (low-income) Valley Lift clients and fixed route clients, and returning the remaining $192,000 to the Street Improvement Fund.

Craig Anderson and Peter Jacobson/Rogue Valley Transit District/Stated they were available for Council questions.

It was clarified that the fare in Ashland would change from no cost to $2.00 per trip, and Valley Lift would cost $4.00 per trip (Federal law permits transit to charge twice the standard fare for these services).

The RVTD representatives explained they are analyzing the best potential for a future funding source to address the long-term problems they are facing and are considering a payroll tax for transit services. Ms. Seltzer noted Ashland's current property tax includes $0.17 per $1,000 assessed for basic RVTD services (Route 10). Suggestion was made for RVTD to also consider a gas tax.

RVTD clarified for Council they do not have financial information on the 185 Valley Lift customers, however they would have no objection to providing the list of registered riders to the City as long as this does not violate the Federal Privacy Laws. It was also clarified if Valley Lift service areas were extended in Ashland beyond the ¾-mile limitation, they would need to provide equal treatment throughout the district as required by ADA standards.

Elizabeth Hallett/923 Plum Ridge Drive/Spoke on behalf of Trinity Respite Care, which is an adult day center for people with memory loss. Ms. Hallett stated that Trinity is located outside of the proposed ¾-mile Valley Lift service area and stated many of the families they work with greatly depend on these services. She stated if their clients are not able to use Valley Lift, it is likely that families will have to place the clients into permanent assisted living centers. She stated they have 35 families that require Valley Lift services and is concerned about how these changes will affect them.

Madeline Hill/857 Mountain Meadows Drive/Spoke on behalf of SkyLark Assisted Living, which is the largest assisted living group in Ashland. Ms. Hill stated 50% of their tenants are low income and stated Valley Lift is the only way many of them are able to leave the center. She noted that Trinity, SkyLark, and Mountain Meadows would not be eligible for Valley Lift services with the proposed changes, as they are more than ¾ miles away from the transit route. She suggested a task force be established to find a solution to RVTD's budget shortfall while finding a way to meet the transportation needs of Ashland's transportation impaired senior and disabled citizens.

Tracy Harding/334 Bridge Street/Stated the reduction in funds to RVTD proposed by Staff is unfortunate and hopes the entire $290,000 will remain for RVTD services. Ms. Harding offered some solutions to the problem, including establishing a payroll tax, partnering with the School District, and utilizing the tax credit offered by the Oregon Department of Energy. She noted a hearing is scheduled at the Jackson County Courthouse to discuss these changes and asked the Council to leave the money in the budget and to continue to support public transportation.

Lilliput Gillespie/855 Mountain Meadows Drive/Stated she is the Residency Service Director at Mountain Meadows and commented on the difficult situation citizens face when they lose their driver's license. She stated Valley Lift has helped residents to make this transition and urged the City to help continue this service.

Celia Moss/815 Boulder Creek Lane/Stated she is a Board Member of Mountain Meadows Owners Association and shared her concern with the Valley Lift service area limitation. She understands that budget shortfalls may require fares to be raised, but it seems unfair to remove their Valley Lift services completely.

Don Laws/968 Hillvew Drive/Clarified that he is speaking only on behalf of himself and explained his involvement with establishing the City's Senior Program and low-fare bus program. He requested Council not follow Staff's recommendation and suggested they retain the full $290,000 in the budget to be used for RVTD services.

Sharon Laws/968 Hillview Drive/Stated she is the Director of Ashland's Senior Program and expressed her concerns with the proposed changes. She stated that transportation is one the most serious needs of older and disabled citizens and stated the $4.00 Valley Lift charge each way would make it impossible for some to visit the Senior Center and get to vital medical appointments. She stated if these changes go into affect, some citizens will continue to drive longer than they should and sees a difficulty in how the City will determine who is in most need of the proposed vouchers.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower Street/Stated the proposed changes was a short term fix instead of a long-term solution. He suggested the Medford route have a drop-off site on the Plaza and stated it is not worth $2.00 per trip to travel the short routes within Ashland. He stated the proposed plan would destroy the progress that has been made in the last 10 years and suggested a range of fare structure be considered.

Comment was made agreeing that more options need to be considered; however, the Council needs to make an interim decision tonight. Support was voiced for retaining the full $290,000 in the budget for RVTD services and applying this to the solution.

Councilor Chapman suggested eliminating Route 5 and going to 30-minute pick-ups on Route 10. He voiced his support for maintaining the "Ashland Free Zone" and questioned if Route 10 could be expanded. He also noted the need to continue the Valley Lift services.

Councilor Hartzell questioned the possibility of a $1.00 fare for Route 5 and a $2.00 fare for Valley Lift services, which would offset the operating costs.

Mr. Anderson provided an explanation of the Summary of Service Cost Estimates, which was included in the packet materials and stated the total operating cost for the enhanced services is costing RVTD approximately $437,000 a year.

City Administrator Martha Bennett asked the Council to provide direction as to whether to use $192,000 of the $290,000 budgeted to pay the operating costs for Route 5. She stated the use for the remainder of the funds could be determined at a subsequent meeting.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to retain $290,000 as budgeted for the bus system and to pay $192,000 to retain Route 5 for the time being. DISCUSSION: Comment was made questioning how this decision would affect the fare rate and how to determine the best use of the remaining $100,000. Councilor Chapman voiced his opposition to the motion and stated that Route 5 is not effective. He suggested the City pay the operating costs for Route 10 and the $2.00 Valley Lift fare per rider. Comment was made that Council has not been presented with a good array of choices tonight and suggestion was made to hold a Special Meeting to come to a decision on this issue.

Councilor Jackson motioned to call for the question. Motion died due to lack of second.

DISCUSSION (cont.): Councilor Chapman further explained his suggestion and stated for $210,000 the City could retain free in-town bus service on Route 10 plus free Valley Lift service. Mr. Anderson commented on the Service Cost Estimate chart and the actual costs of providing these services. He stated if the fare structure were changed, this would affect the annual operating cost figures listed. Mayor Morrison commented on looking at the greater picture when deciding where to apply the funds. He voiced his support for holding onto to the $290,000, but does not support approving this motion at this time. Ms. Bennett stated that RVTD needs to know whether the City wishes to continue with Route 5 before the end of the fiscal year. Councilor Hartzell stated these decisions affect the lives of many people and does not feel they have been provided with adequate information to make this decision tonight. Councilor Jackson commented this interim decision to retain Route 5 would keep the system from falling apart until they make changes to it.

Council discussed whether to continue this discussion at the Study Session meeting on June 8, 2006. Staff noted this would need to be advertised as a Special Meeting and questioned whether RVTD could prepare the additional information in time for the meeting. RVTD clarified they could provide the numbers requested by the Council, but might not be able to attend the meeting.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell withdrew motion.

Mayor Morrison announced a Special Meeting would be scheduled to continue discussion of this item.

2. Raw Waterline Replacement Contract & Brown & Caldwell Engineering Services Contract Amendment Approval.
Associate Engineer Pieter Smeenk presented the staff report. He explained the lowest bidder for this project came from the same company who handled Phase 1; however, the lowest bid is still 15% above the consulting engineers estimate. Mr. Smeenk stated the shortfall is approximately $320,000 and suggested the City approve the contract for the bid amount and look towards finding cost saving changes during construction, which is what happened during Phase 1.

Administrative Services & Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained there are two approaches for dealing with this situation. He stated that part of this project was suppose to be started this year, so there will likely be a fund balance carry forward which could be the basis for a Supplemental Budget next year. Alternatively, Council could change the budget resolution set to be adopted tonight and recognize a larger fund balance that will grow the budget by $320,000. Mr. Tuneberg recommended the Council adopt the budget as presented and stated Staff could bring a Supplemental Budget before Council during the next fiscal year.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to approve the contract with R&G Excavating for the construction of the Raw Waterline Replacement Project as amended for a total cost of $2,732,490; and approve the contract amendment with Brown & Caldwell Engineering increasing the scope of the contract to include construction phase engineering services for approximately $240,000. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

3. Approval of Architect Selection and Agreement for Fire Station No. 2 Construction.
Fire Chief Keith Woodley explained in October of 2005, Staff presented to Council a proposed work plan for the reconstruction of Fire Station #2. This work plan called for architect selection in June of 2006 and Staff has issued a request for qualifications and received two responses. The citizen committee has reviewed the responses and recommend the contract be issued to Peck, Smiley & Ettlin Architects.

Mr. Woodley clarified if the voters do not approve the bond levy, the City would need to pay the $49,000 in pre-bond project development costs.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve the contract with Peck, Smiley & Ettlin Architects. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

4. Appointment of Council Position #1.
Mayor Morrison noted the City Recorder's Office had outlined a proposed schedule for filling the vacancy of Councilor Hardesty, who passed away on May 23, 2006. He recommended the Council approve a schedule for filling the vacancy and stated the voting method could be determined at a later date.

City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the proposed schedule is based on how Council has filled vacancies in the past. She noted there is no set procedure as to how the Council must proceed; they are only required to fill the vacancy within 60 days.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Expressed his sadness of the passing of Councilor Hardesty. Ms. Swales commented on his qualifications and noted he had applied to fill the vacancy last year when Chris Hearn resigned from his Council seat. He stated he is in a good position to step straight into this position, if that is the wish of the Council, and noted that he had received Councilor Hardesty's vote to fill Hearn's seat. He stated he is ready and willing to step into this position if the Council does not wish to go through the prolonged application/interview process.

Alice Hardesty/575 Dogwood Way/Stressed the importance of filling this position quickly and voiced her support for Mr. Swales filling this vacancy. She spoke to Swales' qualifications and stated he shares the same values as Councilor Hardesty did. She noted that Council has the option to proceed how they wish and that they do not have to go through a laborious process. Ms. Hardesty asked the Council to appoint Mr. Swales as a tribute to Councilor Hardesty.

Comment was made that in all fairness to the community, the Council should open the process to other candidates and not make an appointment this evening. Recommendation was made to establish a voting methodology ahead of time and determine the final procedure for interviewing the candidates.

Ms. Christensen recommended the City advertise as soon as possible so the Council will have ample time to review the applications and determine the procedure they wish to use.

Mayor Morrison stated it would not be proper to fill the vacancy tonight and spoke to having a fair and open process for filling the vacancy.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to schedule Council interviews for a Special Meeting on July 19, 2006; direct City Recorder Barbara Christensen to advertise sooner for applicants; and that Council may discuss the voting process at the next Council meeting. Voice Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Chapman and Jackson, YES. Councilor Hartzell, NO. Motion Passed 3-1.

5. Review of Initiated Measure-Amends Chapter Requiring Voter Approval of Property Transfer Tax.
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained a qualified initiated measure for the November 2006 ballot was received on May 24, 2006, and it is up to the Council to place this measure on the November ballot.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to refer initiated "Amends Municipal Charter Requiring Voter Approval of Property Transfer Tax" to the city electors. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

6. Debt Service Scenarios for the City.
Administrative Services & Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained if Council adopts the budget as presented, this issue would be resolved. At this point, a $575,000 transfer from the CIP Fund and a property tax increase of $0.175 addresses the debt service.

Council expressed desire to accept the budget as approved by the Budget Committee.

7. Adoption of Findings Regarding the Formation of the Nevada Street LID.
Delayed due to time constraints.
8. Adoption of Findings for Planning Action 2004-141 - Annexation and Zone Change for an approximately 10-acre parcel located on the east side of Clay Street, north of Ashland Street, at 380 Clay Street.
Delayed due to time constraints.
9. Purchase of Environmentally Preferred Power form BPA.
Delayed due to time constraints.
1. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution adopting the Annual Budget and making appropriations".
Mr. Tuneberg noted the recommended changes to the Annual Budget, which are listed in the spreadsheet presented to Council.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2006-11 as amended by Finance Director to a total of $78,870,845. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Hartzell, Chapman, and Jackson, YES. Motion Passed.

2. Reading in full of an ordinance titled, "An Ordinance levying taxes for the period of July 1, 2006 to and including June 30, 2007, such taxes in the sum of $9,797,262 upon all the real and personal property subject to assessment and levy within the corporate limits of the City of Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon."
Mr. Tuneberg read the ordinance aloud in full.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve first reading of Ordinance and move to second reading. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Chapman and Silbiger, YES. Motion Passed.

3. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution certifying City provides sufficient Municipal services to qualify for State subventions."

Councilor Silbiger/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2006-10. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, Jackson and Hartzell, YES. Motion Passed.

4. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution declaring the City's election to receive State revenues."

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2006-12. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Hartzell, Jackson and Chapman, YES. Motion Passed.

5. Second Reading by title only of, "An Ordinance Amending the Ashland Municipal Code relating to Business License amending Chapter 6.04 Sections 6.04.080, 6.04.090, 6.04.120 and 6.04.130."
Mr. Tuneberg clarified this amendment would generate some funding for the General Fund.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Ordinance #2926. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, Jackson and Hartzell, YES. Motion Passed.

6. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution amending Resolution 2005-46."
Delayed due to time constraints.
City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified the Council Goals discussion is scheduled for a Study Session on July 13, 2006; and the Transit Transportation and Parking Plan is also scheduled to be discussed at an upcoming meeting. Request was made for the Council to be provided with the Look Ahead schedule with their meeting packets.

Councilor Jackson announced the ceremony to officially dedicate the McGee/Neil Memorial is scheduled for June 12, 2006.

City Recorder Barbara Christensen announced there are still openings on the Planning Commission, Forest Lands Commission and Tree Commission.

Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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