MINUTES OF THE MEDFORD CITY COUNCIL GOAL SETTING SESSION
January 30, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 6:03 p.m. at Veranda Park, 1641 Veranda Park Drive, Medford, with the following members and staff present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Daniel Bunn, Eli Matthews, Chris Corcoran, Tim Jackle, Dick Gordon, John Michaels.
Councilmembers Karen Blair and Bob Strosser were absent.
City Manager Eric Swanson; Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke, Deputy City Attorney Lori Cooper, City Recorder Glenda Wilson.
Mayor Wheeler called the meeting to order and introduced Eric Swanson, City Manager.
Eric Swanson, City Manager, thanked everyone for attending and provided an overview of the agenda. He requested that transportation issues be discussed first, as a courtesy to Al Densmore. Mr. Swanson introduced Mr. Densmore.
Mr. Densmore thanked the Council for allowing him to serve as the Council’s representative on transportation issues. He provided some background on transportation issues in Medford and how they affect the economy. It is his belief that with the proper use of transportation dollars, together with the public’s willingness to invest, we can improve the economy. We will need to create a system that functions for all aspects of transportation that incorporate the city, county, state and federal government.
There will be several key points throughout the year for funding decisions. Mr. Densmore will need City Council direction.
The first funding opportunity is through the Connect Oregon Process. We have a grant application to do the next phase of the Larson Creek Greenway. This could be important along Barnett, which cannot be widened for bicycle lanes.
In March, the Rogue Valley MPO Policy Committee will pass on approximately 13 applications from all of the jurisdictions. There are four projects which the staff is recommending: Barnett Road adaptive signal project, extension of Columbus, the segment from Hillcrest to McAndrews on Foothill Road, and the Springbrook Road completion project. This will be decided in May. The Transportation Committee looks to the Council for direction on which projects to move forward.
The next issue will be in September, when the Map 21 entire Federal Transportation Funding Mechanism expires. By the end of September, Congress must act on a new plan for financing transportation. Usually, during this time, they will consider projects for completion through Tiger Grants.
Mr. Densmore suggested the Council work with SmithWest, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), and the Chamber to assist in determining our key federal priorities and their funding.
At the end of this year, we will be talking about the next round of state funding which will be decided by ACT for 2016 through 2018.
Mr. Swanson has requested an update on the study the region office is doing on the Foothills. Mr. Densmore advised that the Transportation Commission decided to allocate approximately $4 million from state funds to conduct a study that would lead to a type of environmental impact statement, which could lead to construction projects for the viaduct itself or whether or not there will be some alternatives, like the Foothill Corridor to consider.
The Transportation Commission is looking for “ready” projects in the event that federal funds become available. This means, they will be looking for projects that are ready to be considered for funding.
Mr. Densmore advises that Columbia River Crossing issue will affect us whether it is built or not. If the bonding authority expires, the federal money will go somewhere else. However, there were state resources that were set aside for that program. There will be competition on how to use those monies. We need to be organized to obtain funding.
Councilmember Michaels questioned which projects should be applied for and the reasoning for those projects. Mr. Densmore advised that although we are in short-funding times, we should advocate for those projects that need to be completed to keep our region viable in the future. We should have a plan in place for each of the projects and be prepared in the event that funding becomes available. He suggested projects such as the Foothill Corridor, North Phoenix Road, or the whole alternative corridor project which will cost about $200 million. Although the South Interchange project, which started at $30 million, ended up around $100 million, it was an example of a nationally-significant project that would not be hard to defend.
Mr. Swanson reminded the Council that Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are good for only about four to five years.
Mayor Wheeler asked about any possible ramifications from Josephine County’s statement that they would like to create their own Area Commission on Transportation (ACT). Mr. Densmore assumes that that the Commission would prefer to have a regional focus.
Councilmember Bunn asked what the City Council should be doing now to prepare for federal funding for a project like Foothill. Mr. Densmore believes that the Cory Crebbin and staff can help facilitate discussions with ODOT, the County, SmithWest, and other partners to determine the best strategy for us to employ. We will probably need to have funding from multiple sources.
Mr. Swanson advises that after the EIS is complete, multiple committees will most likely be formed. The study should include all different agencies.
After some discussion about projects, funding and procedure, Council decided to hold a study session on this topic to determine which projects the Council should pursue and which they would like Mr. Densmore to present to the Commission in March.
Strategic Plan Revisions:
Mr. Swanson outlined the strategic plan revisions. The proposed revision came about as a joint effort from City staff and the public. We received 72 responders and 236 responses to our SurveyMonkey questions. From November through January, the Department Heads reviewed the plan. The City has completed eleven Action Plan items. The City was also able to address 83 action items and added 41 new actions to the plan. Mr. Swanson noted he believes the plan serves as a report card to the public. It shows our goals and accomplishments.
Ms. Wilson began the slideshow review of the strategic plan and explained that no goals were changed, with the exception of the addition of Goal #16. She outlined how, where and why certain revisions were made.
Councilmember Corcoran asked whether the emergency management coordinator was involved in the seismic retrofit in Section 1.2.a. Mr. Swanson advised that the building department oversaw the seismic retrofit. Mr. Masterman is organizing a group of staff that will oversee emergency management. Mr. Reising should bring Mr. Masterman up to speed on the issue, if he hasn’t already done so. Councilmember Michaels noted he would like to see an update of what needs to be done, resources, a game plan, etc. as soon as possible from Mr. Masterman.
Mr. Swanson advised that when we recruited for the emergency management position, Mr. Masterman was asked to provide a 90 day plan. We are monitoring that and we can report back to the Council regarding some of the items. Councilmember Bunn suggested that we should bring this forward as a study session topic.
Councilmember Corcoran asked about Police and Fire in Section 1.3.c and whether or not they needed additional assistance with fireworks, based on last year’s issues. Police Chief George outlined their new plan for increasing education and schools and in the public.
Police Chief George outlined that Todd Sales, Lilia Caballero and himself, as part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, are traveling to Eugene tomorrow to speak to their journalism class to increase neighborhood watch participation, especially in Latino communities.
Mr. Swanson reminded the Council that the Sustainable Cities group will be at the Carnegie Building in Medford on January 31 to review some of their architectural concepts for the fire station. Mr. Swanson thanked Jim Huber and Bill Hoke for coordinating the effort.
Police Chief George spoke about the revision of 1.5.d. (He added more specific plan regarding drugs in the school district.) The Police Department will now provide a free drug testing kit for parents who suspect their children are on drugs.
Councilmember Michaels requested specification on Section 1.6.b. Police Chief George advised that because of their ability to hire an additional analyst, the Police Department can get a better feel for their workload and work distribution. The analyst will work to oversee how we distribute our current workload.
Mr. Swanson noted that he had posed a question to all City staff regarding what they were most proud of. He spoke of the responses our office received from staff about working for the City. We have areas to improve, but the comments received indicate that staff is happy working with the citizens.
Councilmember Michaels asked about whether we could save costs by handling our own police lab work.
Police Chief George advised that there is one state criminal lab. The reduction in state funding has increased the time for processing. Our Police Department has hired internal staff to do some the prep work to make our processing move faster. It would probably be cost-prohibitive for us to take on all of the criminal lab activities.
Councilmember Bunn asked whether if the Emergency Operations Center will be moved to a new facility.
Although it is under consideration with the development of the new Police Headquarters, there is currently a center at the Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon (dispatch) facility and a backup at the Sheriff’s station on Vilas Road.
Councilmember Bunn questioned if the City will have Citizen’s Emergency Response Team program by the end of the year. Mr. Hoke advised that was the goal.
Ms. Wilson advised that the City Manager’s Office was unable to fill the AmeriCorps grant position. The recent applicant had to withdraw.
Councilmember Gordon requested an update on 5.1.b. He asked for a revision of the completion date to 2014 from 2015. Mr. Crebbin advised that the date was set at 2015, because of the rate of progress on the Transportation System Plan (TSP) revisions. Councilmember Gordon would like to move forward without waiting for the TSP to be completed, because the TSP continues to be delayed. The issue may be brought forward to a study session.
Councilmember Gordon requested some examples of the accomplishments outlined in Section 5.1.e. He also expressed his concern that the City should support and use local businesses, when possible.
Regarding Section 6.2.c, Councilmember Michaels asked what the City is doing to infill inside City limits as opposed to looking at the outskirts of the City. Councilmember Jackle noted that with Internal Study Areas, one of the problems is that we don’t have neighborhood planning. We need to soften the effect of what is being revealed. He recommended something like the Southeast Plan.
Councilmember Michaels spoke about when Louise Dix was here and how she tried to bring neighborhoods together. He indicated that he hasn’t seen anything like that since. Councilmember Jackle believes we should start with a plan for the neighborhood before the General Land Use Plan map improvements are made. Ms. Wilson advised that next year the staff would most likely report the accomplishments in this area.
Mr. Sjothun reported that Parks & Recreation has opened six new parks in the last nine years.
Mr. Crebbin advised that will have spent about $7 million on sidewalks in response to Councilmember Corcoran’s concerns about Section 9.5b.
Mr. Densmore questioned where the high-priority school sidewalk areas are. Mr. Crebbin advised that he had spreadsheets of them and that they were scored based on Council’s criteria and input from the school principals.
City Council asked Mr. Crebbin multiple questions about how sidewalk repairs were reported and handled. The Council also discussed options for homeowners for financing or helping low-income homeowners for sidewalk repairs.
Councilmember Bunn asked why we are eliminating the action item for the review of the Nollan and Dolan analysis in 10.1.b. Deputy City Attorney Lori Cooper advised that the Legal Department does this on a regular basis and therefore it does not need to be included in the plan.
Councilmembers discussed Section 12.4.d regarding the wage and benefit level in the City and whether or not they are sustainable in the long run. It was decided that this topic would be further discussed in a study session.
Mayor Wheeler called for a ten minute break.
Meeting reconvened with same persons present.
Mr. Huber outlined section 14.5.d as a revamping of the Citizens Involvement Element of the Comprehensive Plan. The existing plan is approximately 30 years old and includes reference to the Citizen’s Planning Advisory Committee which Council has since directed to be deleted. In addition, he noted that the Element does not reflect the use of new technology for outreach efforts.
Councilmember Gordon requested an explanation regarding what “the most qualified” means in Section 15.2.d. Mr. Snyder explained that as we conduct recruitment, we get a pool of employees. The employees do not have to meet a minimum standard, but we can find the applicants that are most qualified. Councilmember Corcoran questioned the terminology “in the shortest amount of time”. Mr. Snyder explained that this means, that an applicant may need less training.
Councilmember Bunn asked whether this would affect compensation. Councilmember Corcoran asked whether there is defined scoring in the recruitment, or is it subjective. Mr. Snyder responded that the City tries to build job descriptions based on the attributes needed to do the work of the position.
Council discussed 15.2.d. language. It should be clear, but not open to an interpretation that is not exactly what Council is seeking.
Councilmember Michaels suggested that Council should draft a list for the Planning Department to outline what projects we should move forward with and the costs.
Coordination with Federal, State and Local Agencies:
Ms. Cooper provided an update on the coordination with Federal, State and Local Agencies. She also summarized a recent memo from City Attorney John Huttl, which outlined the activities to date regarding coordination with Coquille/Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Future Study Session Topics:
Councilmembers discussed potential items for future study sessions.
Meeting adjourned at 9:03 p.m.