Ashland City Council affirms Parks Commission authority

The Ashland City Council has unanimously approved a resolution stating it has no intention of taking over Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission responsibilities.

The resolution also reaffirms the Parks Commission's authority to hire the parks director.

The council and commission have had a rocky relationship over the past several months.

During this year's budgeting process, the Ashland Citizens' Budget Committee and council ended the practice of giving the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department half of city property tax revenue.

Instead, the city will receive property taxes, and then give money to the parks department.

The parks department had its own taxing authority for a century, but that ended in the 1990s when Oregon voters approved property tax measures that ended many independent taxing authorities.

Until this year, the city and parks department had maintained a "gentlemen's agreement" to give the department approximately half of city property taxes.

The resolution affirming the Parks Commission's ability to choose a parks director and the council's disavowal that it wants to take over commission responsibilities was drafted by Councilor Dennis Slattery.

Councilors approved it Tuesday night.

Councilor Pam Marsh said the resolution brought forward by Slattery was an effort to clear the air because of the council and Parks Commission's recent period of contention.

"This says we intend to move forward together," Marsh said.

Parks Commissioners had fought the budgeting changes.

City and parks officials now have an ad hoc committee that is exploring stable funding options for the parks department.

Parks Commissioner Stefani Seffinger, who has been active in trying to build bridges between the commission and council, said the resolution will help create a sense of trust between the two elected bodies.

"We all love our community and we want it to work well," Seffinger said.

— Vickie Aldous

Read more in the Daily Tidings on Thursday.

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