Mayor John Stromberg announced on Thursday that he has picked Robert Lloyd of Westminster, Colo. to become the new head of the Ashland Fiber Network.

Mayor John Stromberg announced on Thursday that he has picked Robert Lloyd of Westminster, Colo. to become the new head of the Ashland Fiber Network.

As information technology director for the city of Ashland, Lloyd would also be charged with managing the city government's internal computer and technology systems.

His appointment by the mayor must be confirmed by the Ashland City Council, which will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St.

If the council confirms Stromberg's choice, Lloyd would start working in Ashland in March, city officials said.

Stromberg said on Thursday that Lloyd has agreed to accept the job.

"We have been without an IT Director for a number of months, and I am convinced that it was worth the wait to get the right person with the right skills and someone who will fit with staff and the community," Stromberg said. "Rob is that person."

Long-time AFN employee Michael Ainsworth has been working as the information technology director since the departure of Joe Franell, who served in the post from 2006 to 2008. Ainsworth did not apply for the job.

"Mike Ainsworth has been a dedicated interim IT director," Stromberg said. "I am grateful to Mike and the entire IT Department for all their work these past months. Our community is fortunate to have capable staff working on our behalf."

Lloyd is the chief of information technologies for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. He has worked for the state of Colorado for almost five years, according to city of Ashland officials.

Lloyd previously worked as the e-government, budget and information technology planning manager for the city of Colorado Springs.

City of Ashland officials said he brings a wide range of skills, including strategic planning, management and financial administration.

City Administrator Martha Bennett said that during the search and interview process with city officials and community members, it was evident that Lloyd has excellent communication skills and is an analytical leader with lots of energy.

"I'm delighted to have been offered the position and I am eager to get started," Lloyd said. "My family and I are excited about living in Ashland and becoming a part of the community."

Lloyd faces significant challenges as the new leader for AFN, the city-owned Internet service.

Launched in the late 1990s, AFN amassed a $15.5 million debt. In the last several years, AFN's financial picture improved enough that it began contributing toward its annual debt payments. But its contributions have never been enough to cover the payments.

This fiscal year, AFN is paying $350,000 toward a debt payment of $1.43 million. To make up the rest, the city paid money that could have been used to lower customers' electric bills, increased property taxes and cut budgets for other city departments — a move that contributed to city staff lay-offs.

Unlike most people in government, Lloyd works in an agency that relies on sales to fund much of its budget.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife brings in about $70 million from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses to help cover its $116 million budget, Lloyd said in an interview earlier this month when he was one of five finalists for the city of Ashland information technology director position.

Lloyd said at that time that Ashlanders need to decide whether AFN is a public good that should be subsidized, or whether it's an enterprise that should earn enough money to pay its own way.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.