Parks moves to drop Pioneer Hall lease, share communications officer with city

Pioneer Hall on Winburn Way in Ashland in February. Drew Fleming photo
July 14, 2022

APRC commissioners approve package of $350,000 in cuts to send to City Council for review

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

Sharing a communications person currently on its staff with the city was added to a list of budget cuts unanimously approved by Ashland Parks & Recreation Commissioners at their regular meeting Wednesday.

The recommendation was part of 10% in cuts from a more than $3.5 million Parks budget recommended by commissioners after City Manager Joe Lessard directed department heads and the Parks commission to bring down the more than $3 million structural budget deficit. Sharing the communication role between the city and parks is intended to allow parks to keep more seasonal employees on staff.

Black said he didn’t present the proposal regarding the communication position at the July 6 study session because, at the time, he was still unclear of the status of the concept.

“We hadn’t even agreed to allow this change to take place,” said Michael Black, director of APRC. “I have met with Sabrina (Cotta) down at the city — Rachel (Dials) and I both have — and we feel like this is a pilot (temporary) program that we can go forward with for at least a year.”

The city will pay half of the salary for the communication role from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), Black said.

Black said after the year is over, Parks and the city will want to reevaluate jointly utilizing the communication position.

Parks also is recommending dropping its Pioneer Hall lease from the city of Ashland, which costs about $18,000 per year.

“It doesn’t seem feasible to continue to operate this building at a loss,” Black said. “Materials and services in both Parks and Recreation will be reduced as well. In personnel, we’ve got some significant reductions, and as I stated beforehand, the only way to get to this $350,000 without completely wiping out materials and services is to look at personnel.”

A full-time parks technician position ($45,000) is also recommended for elimination. Putting Black on furlough to save $11,000 is also among the cuts.

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

July 15 update: Michael Black’s title corrected to say director, not executive director.

July 18 update: The $350,000 in cuts to Parks are final with the unanimous approval by Parks commissioners, and will not go to Ashland City Council for final consideration as previously reported.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

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