Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weekly Update, April 26 - 30

Summer meetings. First, in past years, you have canceled not only the meeting closest to the Independence Day Holiday, but also one in August. Diana will be polling all of you in the next week or so to check on your summer plans. Depending on what we learn, we may propose to cancel one (or none!) of the two meetings in August. We will try to keep Study Sessions in the summertime to a minimum. Because we cancel that first meeting in July, the meeting on July 20 will be very important, so we probably won't pick that one!

League of Oregon Cities Policy Committee meetings. Several of you know that in the spring and summer of even numbered years, the League of Oregon cities develops an agenda to guide the League's work on issues before the upcoming State Legislature. The League forms Policy Committees around several topic areas to develop a list of possible priorities. There are nine standing committees, and each committee will recommend that the League Board and membership consider three or four major policy initiatives as a priority. (The list of standing committees can be found at The complied list will go to the League Board in the summer, and then it will go out to all 202 member cities (including Ashland) for the members to vote on the priorities. The top three or four issues selected by the members will become the League's top priorities for the 2011 Legislative session. Currently, I serve on two Policy Committees (Finance and Taxation and Community Development) and Mike Faught and Councilor Chapman serve on the Transportation Policy Committee.

The Community Development Policy Committee has finished its work for the year and has recommended four priorities. The four priorities are: 1) Giving cities the ability to set their own population forecasts for land use planning if their County either fails to do it or fails to take City issues into account. 2) Create a conflict resolution process to deal with disagreements between Cities and Counties (like Ashland has with Jackson County) over population forecasts. 3) Create a work group that would look at a wide range of issues that are affecting cities abilities to amend their urban grown boundaries (this is not a big issue for Ashland, but has been difficult for a lot of cities in Oregon). 4) Develop legislation to resolve conflicts between the Transportation Planning Rule and the Statewide Land Use Planning Goal 14 (Urbanization). This would also be beneficial to Ashland as the current regulations and case law require cities to plan for new roads (often) before adopting land use plan. It doesn't allow cities to negotiate lower or different traffic standards, and it doesn't allow cities to use transit or non-motorized transportation to off-set required road improvements. Thus, the current application of the Transportation Planning Rule is in conflict with the Urbanization Goal's focus on infill and transit friendly design.

The Finance and Taxation Committee is about 2/3 of the way through their work. At this point, this committee is working on three priorities: 1) Convening a work group (not Legislation) to craft options to reform Oregon's Property Tax system. The focus is on creating a revenue neutral change that makes a stronger connection between Real Market Value and Assessed value, increases local control, allows jurisdictions to adjust their permanent rate, is stable, and addresses issues for local governments and for schools. I will keep you posted on this priority, as it is quite important for all local governments in Oregon. 2) Protecting State Shared Revenues (Gas Tax, Liquor Tax, Cigarette Tax, and 9-1-1 Tax). Finally 3) Allowing Transient Occupancy Tax to be used for visitor-related services as well as for capital project and for tourism marketing. This is a change we have previously supported as it would allow us to fund a few of the things that are directly related to the influx of visitors we receive in the summer such as Park Patrol. This committee will finish up on May 13, and I'll let you all know if there is a change.
Mike and David can give you an update on the Transportation Committee once they have finished their work. As a side note, if any of you are interested in particular issues that cities face on the state level, let me or Ann know, and we'll get you plugged into a League Committee during the next cycle.

Another Era is Ending. Many of you know that after approximately a bizillian years (ok, so 28 years), Pat Woods, Finance Division Manager for the Customer Service Division is retiring on Friday, April 30. Responsible for Utility Billing and managing Food and Beverage, Transient Occupancy Tax, and Business License collections, Pat has been critical to ensuring the City accurately bills and collects revenue. Pat managed the City's migration, to new utility billing software, managed transitions in AFN and cable television, and dealt with water curtailment. We are losing an excellent employee with many years of institutional knowledge. Please stop by City Hall on Friday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to wish Pat well in her next adventure.

Project report. We will send an updated project report out to the listserv as soon as we get the update done. A couple key people are out with spring colds, so we will get it done as soon as we can.

Thanks for all your efforts, particularly as we work through the proposed budget. Please let me know if you have questions.


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