Empty seats on Ashland commissions

The Ashland Tree Commission canceled its regular monthly meeting Thursday night for the simple reason that the group didn't have enough members to attend.

Due to a series of resignations, the seven-member committee has only three members remaining; four are required to hold a public meeting.

Amy Anderson, the city staff liaison to the tree commission, said they have increased advertising and lobbied friends to attract new members.

The tree commission is not alone. The Ashland Forest Lands Commission is short two members, and a third commissioner stayed an additional meeting to ensure the group could still attract a quorum until the group can be reconstituted.

"We haven't had much luck as of yet," said Ashland Fire Chief Keith Woodley, a staff liaison to the forest lands commission. "Hopefully we will get some interested parties who want to donate their time."

Including vacancies in the tree and forest lands commissions, there are 12 vacancies on various city committees.

Mayor John Morrison said the vacancies don't constitute a crisis.

"I don't think we have a problem right now," he said. "The rule of thumb is anything less than 4 percent unemployment is considered full employment."

According to the city's Web site, 19 commissions and committees exist. There are 105 members of these commissions, not including a few that don't list membership totals. Out of 105 members, there is roughly an 11 percent vacancy rate.

Nevertheless, he said the "spate of vacancies" is normal.

"It's cyclic," Morrison said, noting that often people resign because either they are moving or they became busier in their personal lives. "I haven't heard from anyone who has been upset at the process."

Morrison said he received a new batch of commission applications last week, which should result in increased membership.

"I've had six or seven applications come in recently and I've interviewed four or five people over last couple of days," he said. "You may want to hold off on your story."

One of the people he interviewed, Morrison will recommend for a seat on the tree commission. Even though the commission will be short three members, he said, "They will be able to do business."

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