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Council to pick new councilor, discuss school purchase

The Ashland City Council will decide on a new councilor to replace Greg Lemhouse and vote on the purchase of Briscoe School at its business meeting Tuesday.

Jackie Bachman, George Kramer and Tonya Graham were selected as finalists to replace Lemhouse, who resigned in February to avoid potential conflicts with his new job as a lobbyist on statewide issues and to spend time with family.

The new councilor will serve until the November election. The four remaining councilors will make the choice, with the option that Mayor John Stromberg could cast the deciding vote if there is a tie.

The council will also decide on the timeline to replace Councilor Traci Darrow, who resigned earlier this month because she’s moving just outside city limits.

A real estate transaction to obtain Briscoe School is also on the agenda this week. The council postponed its decision at the last meeting due to some missing information, according to the city attorney.

The transaction involves Ashland School District, the city of Ashland and the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission, according to staff report. The acquisition would include an existing playground and activities field that could turn into park land and a roughly 38,000-square-foot building that could provide an opportunity for additional housing in the city.

Staff will present a purchase agreement to the council Tuesday.

The council will also have a public hearing and vote on a proposal of a 20-lot subdivision in the North Mountain Avenue area. The project, previously approved by the Planning Commission, proposes to build a mix of housing types, including townhouses, single family homes with garages and detached units, each with an option to add an accessory unit and affordable units.

At its study session Monday, the council will get a financial update of its fiscal second quarter which will focus on general fund. According to the staff report, taxes have matched or exceeded projections, while expenditures in general fund is just less than 1 percent below budget. All departments — except debt services, insurance fund and health benefit fund — are within budget for the second quarter, staff report reads.

“The Debt Service and Insurance Funds are due to timing of payments,” the report reads, adding that staff is working to evaluate the health benefit fund for long-term solutions.

Staff will also include a presentation, explaining the erroneous projections in the budget that were recently confirmed to have inflated estimated deficits in future biennial budgets.

Also, the Public Works Department will give a capital improvement plan update at the meeting — a report that citizen budget committee members said they are interested to see.

The Monday meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.; the Tuesday meeting starts at 7 p.m. Both meetings are at the Council Chambers at 1175 E. Main St. and will be broadcast on RVTV.

—Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.