ashland.news
June 22, 2024

Ashland city manager steps down

Ashland City Manager Joe Lessard on the Ashland Plaza. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com
October 24, 2023

Joe Lessard submits resignation 22 months after starting 

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news 

Ashland city manager Joe Lessard has resigned.  

After one year and 10 months on the job, Lessard has resigned from his position, according to an agenda item for a special meeting of the Ashland City Council on Friday, Oct. 27, posted today on the city’s website.  

The special meeting will include an executive session on “Termination of employment,” according to meeting materials. The meeting will also include information about Lessard’s severance package agreement with the city. 

Lessard was the first regular hire to fill the city manager role after Ashland residents voted to move to a city manager form of government in the special election of May, 2020, according to a statement on the city of Ashland’s website posted at the time of his hiring in December 2021. 

As part of his compensation package, Lessard received a starting salary of $163,477 annually with a review six months after hiring, a $400 allowance for use of his personal vehicle on city business, an opening balance of 40 hours vacation and sick leave and an accrual of vacation leave at four weeks a year. 

He was also offered 80 hours of paid administrative leave annually for professional development, reimbursement of relocation expenses up to $20,000, housing assistance not to exceed $2,500 a month for six months or utilization of the city-owned Hardesty house, according to meeting materials from the special council meeting of Dec. 10, 2021, when council voted to select Lessard for the position. 

The agreement dictated 12 months severance pay for the first two years of employment. 

After an extensive interview process involving council and community stakeholders, Lessard was chosen and appraised at the time as “a visionary, goal-oriented leader with a collaborative style and approach to complex issues,” according to the city’s statement. 

His previous work experience includes multiple periods of work as an independent contractor, vice president of the firm Knudson LLC., senior vice president of Kucera companies and assistant city manager for the city of Austin for nine years. 

The special executive session is scheduled for 6 to 6:45 p.m. Friday, followed by a special business meeting regarding “Leave, Resignation and Severance Adjustment Agreement with City Manager” at 6:45 p.m. Both meetings will be in the council chamber at 1175 E. Main St.

According to Oregon public meetings law, a governing body meeting in executive session must return to public session before taking final action.

Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at morganr@ashland.news.

Oct. 24: Information added about city manager’s compensation.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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