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Medford accumulates its cash in some unusual ways

Medford Public Works is in the business of streets, sewers, and ... cattle ranching?

The Medford City Council on Thursday is scheduled to approve a cattle-grazing permit for 330 city-owned acres adjacent to the regional water reclamation plant on Kirtland Road near Antelope Road. If the council approves the permit, Medford will receive annual payments of $3,400 in cash and $3,200 in fence repair and materials from local rancher Terry Jackson.

"We're trying to be innovative here," said Finance Director Alison Chan. She said the city also hires out its vehicle maintenance shop to other agencies as a source of income.

Besides cattle grazing and acting as landlord for several houses to make ends meet, the city hopes a prize-winning Oregon Lottery ticket that was seized by police will help beef up its budget.

Cory Crebbin, public works director, said cattle have grazed on the Kirtland Road site before. Using the land for agricultural purposes also allows the city to spread 650 tons of sewage sludge on it every year. The treatment plant generates about 1,800 tons of sludge per year, all of which would otherwise have to be hauled to the landfill.

In its landlord mode, the city took in $14,000 in fiscal year 2005-2006 from rental properties, said Chan. Medford acquired the buildings in the late 1990s as part of a project to realign Springbrook Road at Delta Waters Road.

The project was bumped when residents of Lone Pine Road asked that their street improvements take priority. The city has been renting the houses on the corner of Springbrook and Delta Waters since the project was postponed.

The homes will be rented until they're removed for the Springbrook project, which is one of many road improvements scheduled for completion between 2009 and 2013.

Meanwhile, the city is waiting to learn whether it has really won the Oregon Lottery. Chan said Medford could receive $20,000 annually for 20 years from a fraudulently purchased million-dollar-winning Oregon Lottery ticket seized by police as evidence.

Christina Elizabeth Goodenow, of White City, won the prize in 2005 after buying lottery tickets with her dead mother-in-law's credit card. She's awaiting trial on charges of criminal forfeiture, and the prize has been frozen by prosecutors.

Medford Deputy Police Chief Tim George said that from the Oregon Lottery's standpoint, whoever has the ticket is the winner. He said if the city gets to keep the money, most of it would go to the general fund.

Only a portion could be used for law enforcement purposes, he said.

"We're holding that money in an account," said George. "The courts will have to make a determination about who the proceeds will go to."

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail mlanders@mailtribune.com.