The Big Picture

 

Covid, fires, and city staff shortages have affected every person in Ashland over the recent years. In an attempt to rebuild a new sense of normal we need to share resources and help lift each other up. Just like our citizens, every department in the city could use a little more help.

 

Fire and Police continue to struggle to fully staff. Our Billing Department has been rebuilding after being completely closed for months. Our Travel Ashland tourism program can use all the help it can get to lure back visitors from our region and beyond. And we only have temporary directors at Finance, Human Resources, and Community Development.

 

With all the various needs for assistance throughout town, the Parks Department is selfishly asking voters to single them out, and give them 98% of all the city Food and Beverage tax for the next 17 years. Parks already gets 25% of that money. We should be looking for ways to share the limited resources Ashland has available, not lock some into one department.

 

The timeframe of 17 years is also selfish and limiting. Giving that estimated $3 million per year exclusively to Parks for 17 years restricts our ability to be nimble with our General Fund budget. Every two years we readjust the city budget and this puts an unnecessary burden on the rest of the city. We should be trying to increase funding options, not reduce them.

 

Don’t forget that only two cities have a Restaurant Tax in the State of Oregon. We shouldn’t be so quick to assume that we want to continue it in virtual perpetuity. If all other cities have found ways to thrive without burdening local restaurant owners and their employees, Ashland certainly should be committed to reconsidering this tax on a regular basis.

 

VOTE NO on this selfish Parks ordinance and we can then work together to spread our limited resources among all departments on an as needed basis.

Jim Falkenstein