Homeowners in Ashland could get thinning grants

A homeowner could get reimbursed up to $400 for the costs of thinning flammable vegetation around a home through a grant program under consideration by the Ashland City Council.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night to decide whether to accept $50,000 from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for fire fuels reduction work.

That money could fund $40,000 worth of thinning around an estimated 100 homes, with the rest used for the city of Ashland's administrative costs, according to a city staff memo to councilors.

Also Tuesday night, the council will decide whether to hire an outside recruiter at a cost of about $20,000 plus expenses to find a replacement for City Attorney Richard Appicello, who resigned earlier this month, citing health reasons.

City Administrator Martha Bennett and Ashland Human Resources Director Tina Gray are recommending against using an outside recruiter.

"We make this recommendation because we have a defined labor pool for the City Attorney position, and we believe we know how to reach potential candidates," they wrote in a memo to councilors.

"If we have a low volume of applicants, then the City Council could either extend the application period or elect to bring a recruiter in. Staff will likely need to get some outside help with the background investigation, but the cost will be significantly less than would generally be charged by a recruitment firm."

In the past, city officials often have used recruiting firms when searching for new city department heads.

Additionally on Tuesday night, a podless catalpa tree at 200 Sherman Street will be named Ashland's 2010 Tree of the Year.

For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=13520.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199.

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