MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
CALL TO ORDER
May 17, 2016
1175 E. Main Street
Council Chair Rosenthal called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Seffinger, and Marsh were present. Mayor Stromberg and Councilor Lemhouse were absent.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Study Session of May 2, 2016 and Business Meeting of May 3, 2016 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
The Mayor’s proclamation of May 16 – 22, 2016 as American Craft Beer Week was read aloud.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the role of the Council Chair and that the Chair could vote and participate in discussion and debate.
Councilor Voisin requested that the Health Care Resolution be sooner on the agenda. Council consensus moved item XII to follow the Consent Agenda.
Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator Alison Lerch and Wildfire Mitigation Commission Chair Victoria Sturtevant presented the annual Wildfire Mitigation Commission report.
Chair Sturtevant read the Commission’s statement and shared the history of the commission. Ms. Lerch added that Ashland is one of the most active Firewise communities in the State. She noted that Firewise Cleanup Day happened on April 30, 2016 and was very successful. She went on to explain the National Fire Adapted Communities Network and that Ashland was a model for that network. The Commission would host a Fire Adapted Communities exchange in June 21-23, 2016. Wildfire Mitigation Commission was also working on recovery, readiness, and evacuation and the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). They are working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) and ongoing projects with the Forest Commission. The Commission was working with Fire District 5 on creating the first joint Firewise community.
Cole Barnes/450 Wightman Street/
Stated that he is a student at Southern Oregon University and presented information he had obtained on stigmatization and the homelessness community.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/
Spoke on global warming, big business participation in remedying the issue, and what other countries were doing, and the advancement of solar power. The Obama administration was suing Exxon for its role covering up knowledge in the 1960s and 1970s that carbon fuels would heat up the planet.
1. Minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2. Ambulance Operator’s License renewal
Councilor Seffinger/Morris m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
- Approval of a Resolution titled, “A resolution of the City of Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon, to submit to Ashland electors at the November 8, 2016 General Election an advisory question on instructing the 2017 Oregon Legislature to create a transparent public process to design a system that provides timely access to affordable comprehensive health care for all Oregon residents, ensures choice of provider, has effective cost controls, equitable access, and a focus on preventative care”
Councilor Voisin explained that healthcare for all of Oregon was about seeing healthcare as a human right. This is a grassroots, non-profit organization working for an equitable and affordable, comprehensive, high quality, publicly funded, universal healthcare system serving everyone in Oregon and the nation. They wanted healthcare based on patient needs rather than profits. Healthcare that focused on prevention and effective treatment and improved medical outcomes.
Wes Brain/298 Garfield Street/
Read from a document submitted into the record written by Dr. Patrick Honsinger.
Dr. Paul Fisher/505 Ashland Street/
Read from a document he submitted into the record supporting the resolution.
Councilor Marsh confirmed the resolution urged the legislature to take action on a study currently in process and but that no one knew what the outcome would be. It was important to represent what was in the resolution when talking to citizens.
Dr. Sandra Coyner/1160 Fern Street/
She explained that putting
this on the ballot was part of a larger plan from Healthcare for all Oregon. Single payer was the best way to achieve the specific objectives laid out in the legislature. She noted language Mayor Stromberg had suggested then spoke to single payer and submitted a document into the record.
Council had not seen the suggested language proposed by the Mayor. Dr. Coyner noted a few words changes recommended by the Mayor. Councilor Marsh questioned that if the objective was educating the public, would it be more effective to go out and gather signatures as opposed to having Council approve adding it to the ballot. Dr. Coyner responded the motivation for the local initiative at this time was to reach the legislature.
Councilor Voisin/ Marsh m/s to approve the resolution titled, “A resolution of the City of Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon, to submit to Ashland electors at the November 8, 2016 General Election an advisory question on instructing the 2017 Oregon Legislature to create a transparent public process to design a system that provides timely access to affordable comprehensive health care for all Oregon residents, ensures choice of provider, has effective cost controls, equitable access, and a focus on preventative care.” DISCUSSION:
Councilor Voisin explained Healthcare for all Oregon needs the City of Ashland to take part in a grass roots movement that would bring healthcare to the attention and consciousness of many. Councilor Marsh wanted the Mayor to address any language changes he suggested and Council did not have those changes. She was also concerned how it would be communicated to the community. The resolution was about a study re-enforcing the legislature to move forward on healthcare. It was not about single payer. Councilor Seffinger supported the idea of the resolution but was concerned on what the ruling would be in the study and preferred to wait until Council was able to hear the proposed language changes by the Mayor. Another concern was whether it would apply to mental health issues. Councilor Voisin did not believe the Mayor made any substantive changes to the resolution and urged the Council to move forward.
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the process to place the measure on the ballot. The earliest date to bring a measure to the County was July 21, 2016 for the November election. The deadline was September 8, 2016.
Councilor Marsh suggested delaying a decision on the specific language and reconvene when the Mayor was present. Councilor Morris understood the reason for the change. His concern was whether Council should put something on the ballot as an advisory issue and setting a precedent. He preferred that it to go through the initiative process with signatures. Chair Rosenthal supported the title of the resolution. He noted that Councilor Lemhouse was absent as well. He agreed on delaying the decision until the Mayor and Councilor Lemhouse were present. Councilor Voisin responded to Councilor Morris’ comments and explained there were many other city councils sending the resolution as an advisory resolution to the state legislature. She thought it was too late to go out and get signatures at this time. Waiting to make a decision when the Mayor and Councilor Lemhouse were present delayed the process and Council had not done that in the past. Councilor Seffinger clarified Council had delayed decisions in the past until there was a full council. She supported the resolution but still had concerns with the wording and that it did not include mental health.
Councilor Marsh/Morris m/s postpone the item to the June 7, 2016 Council meeting.
Councilor Marsh stated it was a critical issue and wanted to ensure the language was specific and clear. Councilor Morris agreed. Councilor Seffinger felt more comfortable voting on the resolution in June. Chair Rosenthal noted the Mayor had comments on the language and did not think it would delay the eventual outcome to place it on the ballot for citizens to vote. Councilor Voisin raised a point of order and explained there was a person in the audience who had the language the Mayor proposed and suggested having them share it with Council.
Chair Rosenthal over ruled the point of order. He understood the point Councilor Voisin was making and thought it would be appropriate for the Mayor to discuss the language he proposed to Council.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Marsh, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
1. Public hearing and approval of resolutions titled, “A resolution adopting a transportation utility fee schedule pursuant to Ashland Municipal Code Section 4.26 and repealing Resolution 2015-12”
Public Works Director Mike Faught and Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report. Mr. Faught explained that the Council adopted the Water Cost of Service (COS) and that staff was recommending implementation of the COS through rates. Part of this was a redistribution of costs and included two separate base fees billed as one. All potable irrigation customer rates are a flat-based fee year round. Talent Irrigation Ditch (TID) metered rates decreased from .55 per cubic foot to .22. TID non-metered rates increased from $173 per year to $183. The study recommended an overall rate increase of 8% across the board. However, the redistribution made the increase 5% for residential.
The Wastewater Master Plan recommended a 10% increase for sewer rates. Due to higher Food and Beverage tax revenues staff suggested an 8% rate increase instead. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) also approved a 1% loan to the City for wastewater projects. Staff proposed a 2% inflationary only rate increase for the Transportation Utility fee and a 2.7% inflationary increase for Storm Water.
City Administrator addressed the sewage rate increase and explained there was not enough money in Food and Beverage tax revenues to eliminate the need for an increase. The goal was to bank enough money in the wastewater fund to pay for predicted debt service on new capital projects over the next 9-10 years. By the end of this year, the City will put more than $1,500,000 in Food and Beverage tax into the wastewater fund that is not required to pay the current debt service. That will allow the City to scale back on the forecast rate increases. He explained why the City could not double the payment to end the debt service earlier. When the City refinanced in 2010, it received such a favorable interest rate it forfeited the right for an early call on the debt. The last payment on this debt service would happen fiscal year 2022.
Council questioned why churches and places of worship were exempt from the transportation utility fee. Mr. Tuneberg explained this was a decision made by Council at the time of implementation. Council comment thought this went against separation of church and state. The exemption appeared to be a subsidy. Councilor Voisin raised a point of order that this discussion was off topic. This was a decision made by a prior city council and thought it would be better to discuss at goal setting. Chair Rosenthal sustained the point of order. Council could make a motion during the discussion or later on the topic.
Mr. Tuneberg clarified storm drain and transportation were both in the street fund. Transportation was doing better than the storm drain. It was a goal to split storm drain into its own fund and the study would help separate them. However at this point the revenue stream for storm drain covered the operating costs only and there was no money to cover debt service or capital improvements.
Mr. Faught explained differences in water rates with other cities and that the water rate increase was based on the master plan that included capital improvement projects, and operational needs. Mr. Kanner added some customer classes will see rate increases and others will not. Overall, it was an 8% increase in water revenues. Mr. Faught went on to explain what would happen if Council did not approve the rate increases.
Public Hearing Open: 8:27 p.m.
Ron Roth/6950 Hwy 99 South/
Equated the increases to putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound and referred to the Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) debt. He provided history on funding the AFN debt and payment. There was no dedicated funding to pay the debt and suggested a serial levy that would raise approximately $1,000,000 per year over what the City had now. He thought the community would support the levy.
Public Hearing Closed: 8:32 p.m.
Councilor Marsh/Morris m/s to approve Resolution #2016-06 adopting transportation utility fee.
Councilor Marsh thought the need was clear to cover the costs of doing at least the minimal that was happening with the increase. Councilor Morris agreed. Chair Rosenthal supported the fee adjustment. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Marsh, Voisin, Seffinger, Morris, and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
Ms. Christensen researched the church exemption in the transportation utility fee. It was added in 1999 but nothing in the record indicated why.
“A resolution adopting a storm drain utility fee schedule pursuant to Ashland Municipal Code Section 4.27.050 and repealing Resolution 2015-11”
Councilor Morris/Marsh m/s to approve Resolution #2016-07 adopting storm drain utility fee.
Councilor Morris noted this was similar to the transportation fee where the City was unable to keep up with the maintenance and there were new system upgrades.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Marsh, Rosenthal, Seffinger, and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
“A resolution revising rates for water service pursuant to Ashland Municipal Code Section 14.04.030 and repealing Resolution 2015-09”
Councilor Seffinger/Marsh m/s to approve Resolution #2016-09 revising rates for water service.
Councilor Seffinger thought the rate revision was reasonable and fair. Councilor Marsh added the Cost of Service study reduced the parameters of the increase. She noted a typo in the resolution regarding effective date that should read 2016 instead of 2015. Chair Rosenthal commented although the resolution stated an 8% increase residents would get a 5% increase. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Seffinger, Marsh, Voisin, Rosenthal, and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
“A resolution revising rates for wastewater (sewer) service pursuant to Ashland Municipal Code Section 14.08.035 and repealing Resolution 2015-10”
Councilor Seffinger/Marsh m/s to approve Resolution #2016-08 adopting wastewater (sewer) service rates. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Marsh explained this was the basic work of the community, the wastewater system was expensive, and this would help the operational costs. Councilor Rosenthal added the alternative in raising fees would result in increased costs and necessitate even higher rates in the future.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Marsh, Morris, Voisin, and Seffinger, YES. Motion passed.
Councilor Marsh/Seffinger m/s for staff to bring back change to transportation utility fee schedule that provided suggested rates for churches and places of worship. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Marsh thought it was dangerous to have an exemption for churches and it seemed inappropriate. Councilor Seffinger agreed adding in some ways it was an issue of separation of church and state. Councilor Voisin commented Council did not know the reason why it became an exemption and assumed staff would bring information back as to the reasons. Ms. Christensen would forward the 1999 Council Packet information to Council. She reiterated there was no discussion regarding the exemption in the minutes. Chair Rosenthal was interested in hearing the rationale as well. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Marsh, Morris, Voisin and Seffinger, YES. Motion passed.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Request from the Public Art Commission for approval of mural concepts on Calle Guanajuato
Public Arts Commission vice Chair Sandra Friend explained Kathryn and Barry Thalden proposed bringing an artist from Guanajuato Mexico to paint the mural on the west wall of the Sesame Kitchen at the entrance to Calle Guanajuato. The Public Arts Commission (PAC) reviewed and approved an artistic concept from Guanajuato artist Loreta who later forwarded a revised concept. The Thaldens and Parks and Recreation staff met with the manager of the Lithia Artisans Guild to address scheduling the painting. Both the Historic Commission and Community Development Director Bill Molnar reviewed and approved the project. However, the proposed change to a historic building downtown triggered a Type 1 site review process that required a planning action fee of $1,012 for this project. Since this was a significant donation from the Thaldens, the PAC requested Council waive the planning fee. In order to meet the mural deadline of July 4, 2016, the artist needed to begin work prior to Councils first meeting in June.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the waiver was awkward. There was a resolution that set the fees and the resolution did not give Council authority to waive the fees. That would have to be done by another resolution. It also may set a precedent and suggested Council take funds from another source to pay for the fee. City Administrator Dave Kanner added staff would be bringing Council a proposal to remove public art process from Chapter 18 Land Use of the Ashland Municipal Code and move it to Chapter 2.17 Public Art Commission. As part of that proposal staff was recommending removing the planning fees associated with public art.
Barry & Kathryn Thalden/550 Ashland Loop Road/
Traveled to Guanajuato and interviewed artists and found Loreta. They revealed the revised concept, described the approval process, and the general excitement regarding the project.
Betzabe “Mina” Turner/199 Almeda Street/President of Ashland Amigo Club/
Explained Ashland and Guanajuato had been Sister Cities for 47 years. She shared annual events occurring June and July involving both cities, the student exchange program between Southern Oregon University and University of Guanajuato, and the cultural exchange between the two cities.
Councilor Seffinger/Marsh m/s to approve both mural concepts and defer the final selection to the Public Art Commission. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Seffinger commended all the commissions for working on the project and their efforts. Both mural concepts were beautiful. Councilor Marsh shared her daily enjoyment of viewing the mural at the Ashland Food Bank and this mural at the Calle Guanajuato will create a wonderful sense of place enjoyed by generations. She expressed her gratitude to the Thaldens and commissions. Councilor Voisin thanked the Thaldens for contributing richness and depth to the community. She appreciated them going through the process. Councilor Morris thought it was a great addition to that section of town. Chair Rosenthal agreed with all Council comment.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Morris, Seffinger, Marsh, and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
Mr. Kanner suggested if Council wanted the City to cover the cost of the planning fee they could direct staff to pay the fee through a budget transfer or amendment from the money set aside for the downtown beautification projects.
Councilor Marsh/Morris m/s to request staff to use monies from the downtown beautification budget to take care of the costs involved with the site and design review. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Morris, Seffinger, Marsh, and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
2. Adoption of 2016 Ashland Forest Plan
Forest Lands Commission Chair Frank Betlejewski and Commissioner John Williams provided the report on the 2016 Ashland Forest Plan. Chair Betlejewski explained low intensity fires that burn along the ground consumer brush and small trees leaving larger trees intact. It improved the health of the mature trees and prevented fires that are more destructive in the future. A presentation the included:
- Township 39 South, Range 1 East, Section 32 – White Rabbit Trail Parcel – Change in Forest Conditions from 1939 to 2004
- Objective – Improve on the 1992 Ashland Forest Plan
- GIS – http//gis.ashland.or.us/2016afp/
- Monitoring – 206 Permanent Monitoring Plots – 2016 Inventory Prescribed Burn Monitoring
- Pre-Burn (6-7/2007)
- Post-Burn (1/2014)
- Post-burn (7/2015)
- 2016 AFP Primary Contributors
- Ashland Forest Lands Commission
- Ashland City Staff
- Marty Main (SWS)
- Primary Objectives 1992 & 2016
- Protection and promotion of the City’s water supply
- Maintenance and promotion of forest health
- Reduce risk of catastrophic fire
- Maintaining recreational opportunities
- Continuing community engagement
- Going Forward - The Forest Plan will help
Joseph Kauth/1 Corral Lane #13/
- The City continue to promote best practices
- Community engagement
Appreciated the presentation and spoke on the service forests provide. He addressed wetlands in the Normal Neighborhood Plan area that he believed was protected due to Fairy shrimp habitation. He suggested planting rhododendrons as an insulated buffer for the surrounding natural areas. Rhododendrons would hold the temperature of the area and were possibly fire resistant.
Councilor Seffinger/Marsh m/s to approve the 2016 Ashland Forest Plan and authorize the Forest Lands Commission and staff to implement policies, actions, and recommendations therein.
Councilor Seffinger worked with the Commission over the past five years and commented it was one of the most exciting and educational experiences she had. She thanked the Commission for their efforts and thought the document would protect the watershed, the forests, and wild life. Councilor Marsh thought it was a phenomenal document and a wonderful record of the past that could be shared with other communities. Councilor Voisin added the document showed an evolution of change through the community and staff. Councilor Morris noted the amount of knowledge and that it was a wonderful document. Chair Rosenthal explained this was a document generated by Ashland citizens for Ashland and was a priceless piece of work. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Morris, Seffinger, Marsh and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Seffinger announced that May was “Older Americans” month and recognized Ashland’s senior volunteers. She recognized the Senior Center and Ashland at Home. She thanked senior citizens.
Councilor Marsh announced the pending results of measures for Rogue Community College and Rogue Valley Transit District had passed.
City Administrator Dave Kanner noted a close encounter a resident had with a bear and spoke on efforts the City had made to warn and educate the public regarding bears. He went on to announce Ashland was sponsoring the SOREDI annual dinner. There would be a table for sponsors. Interested councilors should contact Diana Shiplet no later than June 15, 2016.
Chair Rosenthal announced the climate energy plan was hosting an open house May 24, 2016 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Ashland Armory. Two other open houses would occur later during the year.
ADJOURNMENT OF BUSINESS MEETING
Meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder Rich Rosenthal, Council Chair