Library levy might be on ballot in fall

Ashland voters likely will decide this November whether to renew a levy that allows the Ashland Branch Library to stay open full time while also funding additional employees, and extra services for kids and senior citizens.

The Ashland City Council will decide on Tuesday whether to place the levy's renewal on the November ballot.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St.

In November 2008, Ashland voters passed a levy to supplement library hours and operations. That levy is set to expire in the summer of 2013.

Renewing the levy would continue the supplemental funding until the summer of 2017.

Without the extra money, the library would be open 24 hours per week rather than 40. The levy also pays for the equivalent of three full-time employees, and library outreach programs for children, teens and seniors, according to city officials.

The levy would cost up to $0.21 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The owner of a home assessed at $241,000 — the average in Ashland this year — would pay $50.61 per year if the full $0.21 per $1,000 in assessed value is levied.

However, the city of Ashland has levied $0.19 of the possible $0.21 in the past. City officials said they will only levy the necessary amount to maintain existing services.

The $0.19 levy figure costs $45.79 this year for the owner of a home assessed at $241,000.

Assessed home values usually are lower than market values because of property tax limits approved by Oregon voters years ago.

Late on Tuesday's agenda, the council also may decide whether to place an item on the ballot that would allow citizens to express their opposition to unregulated campaign spending nationwide.

In other business Tuesday night, the council will consider adopting applicable portions of the Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving Plan.

Under the plan, some cities in the valley designated areas for growth to protect prized agricultural land. Ashland has not designated growth areas.

The public is invited on Tuesday to make comments to the council on criteria to select a new city director of Information Technology and the Electric Department. That person's job duties will include overseeing the Ashland Fiber Network, a city-run Internet service.

The council also will consider authorizing a 2 percent salary increase for city employees, including managers, who are not represented by unions.

Some unionized city workers are receiving 2 percent to 2.5 percent pay increases this year, while the city government is in continued negotiations with other unionized workers, according to a city staff memo to councilors.

The City Council also will consider changing an Ashland law that chickens must be kept at least 75 feet away from neighboring homes. That stops most residents from legally raising chickens because their lots aren't big enough.

The council could reduce the buffer distance to 20 feet, with an additional rule that chickens and coops must be kept at least 10 feet away from property lines.

For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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