Ashland City Government – Some Bumpy Roads in 2023, but On the Move in 2024

Ashland City Government – Some Bumpy Roads in 2023, but On the Move in 2024


By David Runkel


Admitting there had been some “bumpy roads from time to time” over the past year, Mayor Tonya Graham last evening reviewed the city’s work and challenges during 2023 and outlined an ambitious “on the move” program for this year. 


In a “State of the City” address during the the city’s second Town Hall gathering on the Southern Oregon University campus, Graham did not go into detail on those bumpy roads except to explain the problems with the city’s utility billing system.  


The retirement or resignation of four of the five staffers, she said, left the department extremely shorthanded. As a result, numerous  customers complained about  double billing  while others said they didn’t receive their bills for months.  Additional staffers have been hired and the finance office is working to prevent problems in the future, Graham said. 


After reviewing in detail, department by department, what the city government had achieved last year, Graham said the 2024 agenda includes;


– starting work on the $55 million to $70 million new water treatment plant
– reopening Pioneer Hall and the Community Center
– helping low income residents with housing
– developing a homeless master plan
– expansion of the ambulance services and hiring five additional police officers
– continuing wildfire risk reduction forestry
– developing a transportation plan to reduce auto use
– starting improvements on North Mountain avenue
– and development of a new city website


More than 100 Ashlanders attended the open house, including many volunteers for the city, along with top city staffers and five of the six members of the City Council, missing only Bob Kaplan who is on a long scheduled trip to Galapagos Islands.


After her speech, Mayor Graham announced two winners of this year’s James M. Ragland volunteer award – Carol Carlson, founder of the Ashland Community Garden and former Conservation Commission member, and Janet Troy, current president of the Ashland Rotary Club, an active member of local AAUW and for 14 years director of the community hospital board. 


The Alan Bates Public Service Award was given to former city administrator Brian Almquist, who served in that position for 27 years.  His work on behalf of the city was detailed by former Mayor Kathy Shaw.  Since he retired in 1998, the city’s top administrative post has been filled by 13 different persons. 

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