City Council to consider public funding for art

The City Council will consider whether to adopt a new ordinance that would set a process for choosing public art and create funding sources for art.

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

The ordinance includes a process to acquire and remove public art, a method to choose a selection panel to evaluate public art proposals, selection criteria for art, a review process for the city to accept gifts and donations and a process for placing public art on private property.

There would also be three funding sources. A part of the city's hotel tax, one-half of 1 percent of the cost of qualifying city building projects and a commercial development fee off one-tenth of 1 percent of the cost of the development would be put in a Public Art Account.

Earlier this month, the City Council decided not to direct city staff to draft a change that large-scale developments have to include public art or pay into an art account. Councilors cited an already heavy workload on planning staff.

Considerations about the workload on city staff could play a role in another issue coming before the council Tuesday night.

A coalition of labor, religious and student groups is asking the council to adopt rules to help ensure that city uniforms worn by firefighters, police officers and other city workers don't come from sweatshops.

The coalition is asking for the formation of a citizens' committee to help create a sweatshop-free purchasing policy.

Ashland Finance Director Lee Tuneberg, the city's purchasing agent, would have to help with the committee's meetings and another city staff person would have to prepare minutes of the meetings.

The cost to the city of complying with a sweatshop-free policy is unknown.

Buying from sweatshop-free sources would typically only increase the cost of a $30 item of clothing to $30.60 because labor makes up such a small fraction of clothing costs, advocates said.

Joining a consortium that would monitor factories could cost the city about 1 percent of its budget for clothing, advocates estimated.

City departments may already be buying from non-sweatshop sources, according to a preliminary review by city staff.

In other business, the City Council is scheduled to:

  • hold a public hearing about adopting a consistent building permit fee methodology;
  • continue its review of an appeal of construction of a residential unit above a garage at 960 Harmony Lane;
  • at the request of the Oregon Department of Transportation, consider whether to appoint an Aesthetic Advisory Committee for bridge improvements at Exit 14 and Exit 19 on Interstate 5;
  • and makes changes to the city's policies involving Local Improvement Districts, including that 60 percent rather than 50 percent of neighbors must support the LID.

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

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or

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