Medford City Council Study Session
August 28, 2014
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 Tim Jackle, Bob Strosser, Dick Gordon, Eli Matthews, Daniel Bunn and John Michaels.
1. Pawnbroker & Secondhand Dealers Ordinance: Police Chief Tim George noted that the Council has previously received a presentation on this issue and had requested some revisions based on conversations with stakeholders. Chief George noted that they did meet with the stakeholders and are now presenting the revised ordinance. He introduced Det. Brent Mak and CSO Tom Haney who have been working on the LeadsOnline software which assists in tracking down stolen property.
Det. Mak addressed the Council and spoke to the work done in meeting with stakeholders, he noted that the business owners requested that Police share lists of reported stolen property and Police have been doing that since February. He noted that this has provided some positive results and that lists are sent out 2--3 times a week.
Det. Mak provided noted that since January 545 stolen items have been reported and 443 have been recovered. He noted that of the items recovered, 382 were from the LeadsOnline. He then provided an overview of the proposed revisions to the Medford Code:
MC 8.130 and 8.145 – Retention time changed increased to 15 days.
MC 8.115 – Electronic reporting time extended to “within 24 hours.”
MC 8.150 – Change to “Chief of Police or his designee”
MC 8.105(3) Removal of “rare coins, silver coins and gold coins” from the list of property to be reported.
MC 8.170 – Add requirement of digital photograph for all purchased property.
Council concurred to have this brought forward in a public hearing.
2. Utility Billing Report - Lorraine Peterson addressed the Council and provided a report on the first year of the City billing of the utility fees. She spoke to the financial results, enhanced services and issues that were discovered and are being addressed. She spoke to collection efforts and addressed the late fee.
She noted that the Utility billing is sent to 25,000 customers and the operating cost for the City doing the bulling for FY 13/14 was $544,250. She noted had the City stayed with the Water Commission billing of utilities, the cost was projected to be $625,990. She reviewed the revenue for each of the utility and fees billed and noted that there has been an increase in revenue for all of them. However, she noted that this could, in some fees, be a result of the change in methodology.
Ms. Peterson provided an overview of the customer enhancements and issues that have been addressed in the last year.
Ms. Peterson then addressed the issue of the amount of outstanding receivables. Since the City does not have the ability to turn off a service as a means of collecting payments, the City has $576,305 in over 90 day outstanding receivables. The City is working with a collection agency, but has not been impressed with the results. Staff is recommending that the City investigate the implementation of a “fix-it” ticket for those customers who have the over 90 day debts. This is in conjunction with the ability for the City to place any outstanding sewer and penalties as a tax lien on the Jackson County property tax. She noted that it would take a Medford Code amendment to allow the tax lien process.
Councilmembers discussed utilization of the business license process as a possible means of encouraging payment. Ms. Chan noted that the “fix-it” ticket has worked well in assisting the collection of outstanding transient lodging tax payments.
Council requested staff bring back the proposal for a public meeting.
Ms. Peterson then addressed the issues that have come forward regarding the late fee. She noted that the late fee is intended to cover the costs of collections and reviewed the current number of late fees and amounts owed. Staff is recommending that the late fee be lowered to $5.00.
Council supported the revision to the late fee as recommended by staff.
3. Foreclosure Procedure: Alison Chan Finance Director addressed the Council and provided an overview of how liens on property are incurred. Ms. Wilson described the different kinds of nuisances and Ms. Chan noted there are 94 current liens that total $114,458. She is requesting Council consideration of moving forward with foreclosure proceedings on 39 of the oldest liens.
Council discussed concerns of foreclosure on liens that impact property owners who do not have the ability to make the payments, such as those on a fixed income. Staff noted that most of the liens are for foreclosed or vacant properties. Council directed staff to proceed in reviewing the cases and bringing forward a recommendation for proceeding with the foreclosures
Meeting adjourned at 1:15 p.m.