ashland.news
July 18, 2024

Ashland won’t dive into pursuing new city manager until after the holidays

Ashland City Hall in the fall. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini
November 21, 2023

Water needs expected to increase due to increased temperatures

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

The Ashland City Council discussed forestalling the process of filling the vacant city manager’s position until January during Monday’s study session. 

“I, for one, am in no hurry to rush this process. I think establishing a pro tem seems appropriate. … It seems like we’re in good hands right now and we could kick this can down the road for a little bit,” said Councilor Eric Hanson. 

Councilor Gina DuQuenne urged council to put together a job posting and seek applicants for the open position. Councilor Paula Hyatt asked to see the process of appointing a pro tem at the soonest possible council meeting. 

Mayor Tonya Graham pointed to the upcoming holidays and the difficulty of working during that season and suggested placing an item on a January council meeting agenda to appoint a pro tem city manager and further consider the process for potentially seeking new applicants for the position. 

Acting City Manager and Deputy City Manager Sabrina Cotta asked Graham if council would like to appoint anyone as pro tem in order to have a contract available to vote on at the upcoming meeting. Graham stated that would all be “worked out” prior to the unspecified January meeting. 

Jan. 16 will be the only council meeting before the position of city manager is vacant on Feb. 1., Cotta said. Previous Ashland City Manager Joe Lessard has resigned but remains on paid leave until Jan. 31. The city charter allows council to appoint a city manager for a definite or indefinite term. 

Council also heard an update on the city’s water management and conservation plan from Public Works Director Scott Fleury and Tim Hinkle of GSI Water Solutions. 

The primary drivers of demand are population growth and climate change. Ashland’s population is projected to increase by about one thousand people every decade, Hinkle said. 

Climate change is expected to bring temperatures up to 70 degrees earlier between winter and summer and to last longer between summer and autumn — creating an increase in demand for water. The increase is almost entirely related to outdoor irrigation, he said. 

The conservation plan is focused on a water permit for 1,000 acre feet of water rights in Los Creek Reservoir. The water rights can be accessed through the Talent-Phoenix-Ashland (TAP) intertie system and Reeder Reservoir to manage demand and supply of water for Ashland. To increase resilience as the city grows, Fleury asked council to consider land use and how the city develops to decrease the demand for irrigation. 

The formal approval of the permit and the plan is anticipated in May, Hinkle said. A discussion of utility rates was postponed to a later meeting to accommodate the discussion of how to fill the open city manager position. 

Fleury also urged Ashland residents to visit ashlandsaveswater.org to learn more about how they can support the city’s water conservation efforts. 

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

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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