ashland.news
June 21, 2024

Mayor answers questions about water rate hikes, deer attacks

Ashland Mayor Tonya Graham, in gray jacket at microphone, listens to a question from the audience at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Ashland on Thursday in Wesley Hall at the First United Methodist Church. Ashland.news photo by Morgan Rothborne
January 28, 2024

Rotarians also asked about move to make city recorder a staff, rather than elected, post

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

When Ashland Mayor Tonya Graham reprised large parts of her State of the City address she delivered the night before during a city town hall meeting to the Rotary Club of Ashland on Thursday, club members took advantage of the question and answer session to query the mayor on a variety of city issues, including making the city recorder a staff position instead of an elected office, and anticipated increases in water rates. 

Former city Administrator Dave Kanner, one of dozens of members and guests gathered in Wesley Hall at First United Methodist Church, posed two questions to the mayor. First Kanner asked for confirmation if the city is considering a charter amendment to make the city recorder an appointed position. When the mayor confirmed the potential change would be placed before voters, Kanner turned to his fellow Rotarians and urged them to vote in favor when the change comes to the ballot in May.

Kanner then turned to asking about a potential rise in water rates for Ashland residents of roughly 60% from 2023 to 2028. Graham described these projections as the “worst case scenario.” 

“If we have to cover all of the costs of upgrading various elements of our water system, including our new water treatment facility, this is what it would look like if we just simply spread it across all of our rate classes the way we typically would,” she said.

Former Ashland City Administrator Dave Kanner, at left, asks a question of current Mayor Tonya Graham (not visible) during Thursday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Ashland in Weshley Hall at the First United Methodist Church. Ashland.news photo by Morgan Rothborne

Graham stated this projection not only doesn’t include grant funding the city is pursuing, but City Council have directed city staff to create alternative progressive models for covering the costs of upgrades without impacting already struggling Ashland residents. 

“We know that utility rates have a disproportionate impact on those who are already struggling financially,” she said. 

Robert Good accepted the microphone to ask the mayor about the threat of attacking deer. 

“One of my staff this morning was attacked by a large deer. Literally, she was hit, her dog was thrown. I was attacked by a deer three times last summer. This is something I used to hear about and think it was a myth. It’s not. Do we have any conversation, any plan, about the deer in Ashland?” Good said. 

Graham acknowledged that this question was a “tough one,” due to jurisdictional issues with the Department of Fish & Wildlife. The city would need better reports of the frequency of attacks to “have the conversation we need to have” with the ODFW, she said. Graham reminded attendees the city has a map-based reporting site to track wildlife encounters within the city. 

Reporting on the site includes options for aggressive deer or destructive deer, according to the  page. 

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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