Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Joint Council-Parks Commission

Minutes
Thursday, March 12, 2009

 

Ashland City Council

Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission

Joint Meeting Draft Minutes

March 12, 2009, 5:30 pm

Civic Center, Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

 

Attendance:                City Councilors Jackson, Lemhouse, Navickas, Silbiger, and Voisin were present. Mayor Stromberg and Councilor Chapman were absent.

                        Parks Commissioners Eggers, Gardiner, Lewis, Noraas, and Rosenthal were present.

 

Staff:                           MARTHA BENNETT, CITY ADMINISTRATOR

                                    DON ROBERTSON, PARKS DIRECTOR

                                    LEE TUNEBERG, FINANCE DIRECTOR

 

I.          CALL TO ORDER

Mike Gardiner of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission called the meeting to order at 5:33 pm at Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street in Ashland, Oregon.

II.        PUBLIC INPUT

Keith Massie, 1615 Peachey Road in Ashland, spoke in support of the Food and Beverage Tax and suggested changing the allocation from 20% Parks to 30% Parks and authorizing the elected Parks Commission to spend the funds on both land acquisitions and recreational facilities. He referenced a February 2009 meeting at which Bennett suggested funding the services we need and want and said he thought city residents were interested in supporting parks and recreational facilities.

Keith Swink, 1655 Peachey Road in Ashland, said, before he moved to Ashland, that the biggest impression he had when visiting was of Lithia Park. He voiced support for keeping parks strong and thriving despite recent budget cuts.

Drew Baily, 455 N. Laurel Street in Ashland, said he was the southern Oregon representative for the Oregon Restaurant Association. He said his organization was opposed to industry specific taxes but recognized that the meals tax was generally accepted by the community as it benefited the community. He said his organization proposed, after January 2010, that the council and commission give 2.5-5% of the total meals tax funds collected back to the industry to promote culinary tourism in Ashland. He expressed hope that the proposal would result in a win-win for the city, the community, and restaurant businesses.

Denise Dahler, 96 N. Main Street in Ashland, co-owner of Liquid Assets wine bar, said the food and beverage tax was important and could be beneficial for the tourism industry. She said it took time from her schedule to collect the tax but she was not opposed to paying or collecting it. She expressed interest in seeing a portion of the revenues directed back toward the restaurant industry and suggested forming a subcommittee to help organize an event to promote the industry.

III.             PENDING TAX AND FINANCIAL ISSUES

a.      Food and Beverage Tax

Bennett said she and Robertson suggested retaining the same 5% Food and Beverage tax rate, with 80% still directed to the sewer treatment plant and 20% directed toward Parks for land acquisitions. She said Parks requested the authority to additionally use the funds for park land development. She said the sewer bond was projected to be paid off in 2013 but tax collections were flatter and she was reluctant to specify when the bond would be paid off. She said not renewing the meals tax would greatly impact businesses and the community and that sewer rates could increase by 55%. If approved, she suggested placing it on the ballot in either November 2009 or March 2010, as the tax was set to expire in December 2010.

Discussion Among Council and Commission

City Councilors and Parks Commissioners offered the following points:

§         Direct some meals tax revenues to Parks for improvements or repairs of Lithia Park, used by many tourists and community members.

§         Support for renewing the Food and Beverage Tax and of Parks using the funds for capital improvements as well as land acquisitions. Questioning of why restaurants were requesting a portion of the tax revenue when council earmarked nearly $300,000 for the Chamber of Commerce in 2009 for tourism promotion.

§         Parks possibly nearing the end of its land acquisition cycle; commission requesting the use of meals tax revenues for capital improvements.

§         Parks previously utilized meals tax revenues to purchase properties on the Open Space Plan but the acquisition period was ending. Consideration about using tax revenues to develop some of the previously acquired properties, with the goal of completing the Open Space acquisition plan.

§         Support for the meals tax renewal and for using the revenues for capital improvements of Parks lands.

§         Support for the meals tax renewal, one of the fairest taxes that allowed people (able to afford to eat out) to help pay for community amenities such as parks and recreational facilities.

§         Support for the meals tax renewal; question to Parks Director Robertson to explain the capital improvements for which the money might be directed.

Robertson said the money was currently earmarked only for acquisition of Parks land. He said the money could be used to purchase properties like the lower Clay Street property as well as riparian properties along creek banks. If allowed for capital improvement projects, he suggested building out the Ashland Creek Park as well as creating master plans for other properties previously purchased with the funds. He said the funds could also be used to repair playground equipment or the resurfacing of the Calle Guanajuato, heavily used by restaurants, tourists, artisans, and community members. He said the concrete walkway suffered from multiple utility cuts and the uneven surface posed as a safety hazards for pedestrians.

III.       PENDING TAX AND FINANCIAL ISSUES

a.      Food and Beverage Tax, cont’d.

Discussion Among Council and Commission

Bennett said the public was promised park land from those revenues but the acquired land was often left undeveloped due to restrictions on the use of the funds. She spoke of the need to invite the public to comment on this matter.

Silbiger spoke favorably of the current 80/20 split between the sewer bond and Parks and suggested allowing Parks to spend it in the most appropriate manner.

Rosenthal said he was glad to hear that the councilors supported an extension of the meals tax. He said Parks held a number of undeveloped park lands. He requested that maintenance be included as a permissible use for the meals tax revenues in light of the current cutbacks in the Parks operations budget.

Motion: Jackson moved to instruct city staff and the Parks Commission to structure a renewal of the Food and Beverage Tax. Lemhouse seconded the motion.

Voice vote—City Council: All yes

Voice vote—Parks Commission: All yes

Motion passed

b.      Split of Permanent Rate for Property Taxes for FY 2010

Bennett said that of the $4.2865 millage collected, Parks historically received $2.09. She said she and Robertson recommended maintaining the current split for FY 2009-2010.

Discussion Among Council and Commission

§         Unanimous support was heard among elected officials for a continuation of the existing split in the upcoming fiscal year.

§         Potential future levies for targeted services of both the City and Parks were discussed, with agreement for no action at this time. City and Parks agreed to continue discussions at a later date.

Motion: Silbiger moved to allocate a property tax levy rate of $2.09 for the Parks Commission in FY 2009-2010. Lemhouse seconded the motion.

Voice vote—City Council: All yes

Motion passed

c.       Discussion of Future Local Option Levies

Staff reintroduced the topic of future local option levies, stating that one of the concerns would be loss of services if a local option levy were to fail.

Discussion Among Council and Commission

§         Discussion of potential local option levies to occur at a later date, with an eye toward timing of other measures that might appear on the same ballot.

§         Concerns raised that any services placed on a local option levy might risk being eliminated should the local option levy fail.

III.       PENDING TAX AND FINANCIAL ISSUES

c. Discussion of Future Local Option Levies, cont’d.

Discussion Among Council and Commission

§         During troubled economic times, citizens often spend their time and money utilizing local parks and recreation facilities, and parks and recreation organizations are obligated to provide those services to those citizens.

d.      Discussion of Tax Coordination

Bennett spoke of the importance of coordinating with other taxing bodies (schools, county), as general obligation bonds share the same election dates and funding pools. She said it was important to show sensitivity to citizens about the taxes they pay or perceive that they pay.

Discussion Among Council and Commission

§         Importance of listening to citizens and concerns about the deepening recession

§         Further discussion about continuing the conversations after the budget season

IV.              SERVICES EXCHANGED BETWEEN CITY AND PARKS AND RECREATION

a.      Services Parks and Recreation Provides to the City

b.      Services City Provides to Parks and Recreation

Tuneberg presented a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) chart for FY 2009-2010 identifying services exchanged and paid for between the City and Parks. Items included:

§         Median strip maintenance

§         Accounting services

§         Legal services

§         Airport maintenance

§         Potential combination of mechanical services (Parks / City)

Questions from elected officials included:

§         Clarification of areas maintained by Parks

§         Designation of FY 2009-2010 as a transitional year for equipment maintenance

§         Health insurance rate pools

§         General comments about the importance of sharing resources, especially during troubled economic times

V.        DISCUSSION OF NEXT STEPS

Robertson summarized that the evening’s discussion included agreement about: moving forward with the Food and Beverage Tax renewal; ensuring the budgeting ability of Parks; continuation of long-term finances for Parks; moving forward in a quick and responsible manner.

Bennett summarized that the groups agreed to draft a Food and Beverage Tax renewal proposal and to conduct community outreach to those initially involved as well as the restaurant community. She said they also agreed to move quickly on those discussions and to talk again, after the budget process, about a potential local options levy. She said the MOU would come back to both bodies for formal adoption.

VI.       ADJOURNMENT

Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 7:00 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Susan Dyssegard, Executive Secretary

Ashland Parks and Recreation

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