Colorado Division of Wildlife Information Technologies Chief Robert Lloyd will begin working in Ashland as head of AFN on March 15.

The Ashland City Council confirmed Mayor John Stromberg's pick for a new Ashland Fiber Network leader on Tuesday night.

Colorado Division of Wildlife Information Technologies Chief Robert Lloyd will begin working in Ashland as head of AFN on March 15. He will take on the job title of city of Ashland information technology director. In addition to heading AFN, the city-owned Internet service, he will be in charge of the city government's internal computer and technology systems.

Longtime AFN employee Michael Ainsworth has been working as 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.

Lloyd faces significant challenges as the head of AFN.

Launched in the late 1990s, AFN amassed $15.5 million in debt. AFN's financial health improved enough during the past several years that it began contributing toward its annual debt payments — but not enough to cover the full payments.

This fiscal year, AFN is paying $350,000 on a debt payment of $1.43 million.

To make up for the rest, the city paid money that could have been used to lower residents' electric bills, raised property taxes and cut funding for other city departments.

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