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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Study Session

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Medford City Council Study Session
August 29, 2013
The meeting was called to order at noon in the Medford Room, City Hall, 411 W. 8th Street, Medford with the following members present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Chris Corcoran, Dick Gordon, Eli Matthews, Bob Strosser, John Michaels (*left as noted) and Karen Blair.
Councilmember Daniel Bunn was absent.
1.  Electronic Message Board Signs:  Jim Huber, Planning Director provided an overview of the sign code which permits electronic signs in the City.  He provided background on the history of how the code has developed over time to address the new technology.  He provided information on the number of existing signs in Medford and their locations. 
He reviewed the benefits and issues of concern with the use of electronic signs.  Some benefits of the electronic signs include the signs being used for public announcements such as amber alerts, traffic announcements and recently the smoke health hazards.  He noted that as they replaced static signs it may result in less overall signage due to the ability to advertise more in the same space with rotating messages.
Mr. Huber addressed concerns with the electronic signs.  He cited several studies done regarding the distractions of electronic signs.  Most of the studies concluded that drivers look more often at and spend longer time looking at electronic signs.
Mr. Huber reviewed how other communities utilize and what regulations they have to manage electronic signs.  He reviewed the inconsistencies that exist in the current code language. 
Mr. Huber presented potential options for Council discussion including banning of the signs, limiting the size and location; address the rate of image change, messages displays, and transition methods between messages.
Mr. Huber noted the remaining issue is how to address the request by People’s Bank for a Medford Code text amendment to allow consideration of their sign request as a Conditional Use Permit. 
Councilmembers discussed the options and expressed initial concern with changing the Medford Code as this could affect other areas of the City.  Craig Stone, CSA Planning representing People’s Bank was invited to address the Council.  He noted that a zone change of the dog park property to allow for their sign would not be the easiest way to address this issue.  The code change will simply allow for the submission of a Conditional Use Permit which would then be decided upon on a case by case basis.
Councilmembers requested staff bring forward the code amendment to allow for a Conditional Use Permit process.
Council discussed the need to still pursue a zone change on the dog park property and staff was directed to investigate this process further.
Council discussed the need to amend the Medford Code regarding electronic signs to address the movement of the sign displays, distances between signs and brightness controls.
2.  Boards & Commission Code Amendments:  Glenda Wilson, Assistant to the City Manager reviewed changes proposed from various boards and commissions.  Council directed staff to bring forward code amendments.
Ms. Wilson reported on the ethics training provided to all boards and commission members during the last six months.  She noted that in the future it is suggested that 1-2 sessions be offered and that new board and commission appointees be required to attend a session.  Council concurred.
Mr. Swanson noted that Council President Gordon has requested a change to the order of the Council agendas to move Council business up in the agenda.  A code amendment will be coming forward to address this issue as well.
*Councilmember John Michaels left the meeting.
3.  Leave Sellback:  Alison Chan, Finance Director addressed the Council and provided information regarding the leave sellback category, which includes several subgroups - holiday pay, compensatory time pay, and vacation time.  She explained that compensatory time is earned and may be paid at time earned or banked for later use.  It is required to be paid to the employee.
She reviewed the advantages of the sellback which include addressing coverage issues without hiring additional personnel if employees take all earned time off, especially in the safety departments.  She noted that management employees accrue more vacation leave which is an incentive for promotions, this groups average longevity is greater and the need to have management employees available to do the work.
To address this issue in the future, leave payback will be budgeted within each department for the most part.  However, Ms. Chan noted that it is often difficult to predict retirements and resignations which greatly affect the amount of funding that will need to be budgeted.
Mr. Swanson noted that this issue is approximately 2% of the overall payroll costs and the greater issue that is affecting sustainability in personnel services is PERS.  This issue needs to be fixed at the legislative level.
Meeting adjourned at 1:35 p.m.

Glenda Wilson, City Recorder

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