A Tale of Two Cities, Part III
“The City uses a 10-year model to analyze projected expenditures and revenues,” the Klamath Falls 2017-2018 budget states, and “We determined that focusing efforts on distinctive areas would have a greater return than scattering our focus across the entire community.”
In other words, Klamath Falls looks to the future and sets priorities. These are the first steps Ashland should take to eliminate the projected $2.5-million deficit in its 2017-2019 budget.
In prioritizing, Ashland should take a hard look at Oak Knoll Golf Course, with projected expenditures of $1,163,100. Total rounds played were 16,619 in 2016, down from 17,859 in 2015. Oak Knoll lost $240,000 in 2017, and cumulative losses from 2005-2017 were $1.7 million.
Let’s look, then, at the entire Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, which has 37.25 full-time employees (FTE) in comparison with Klamath Falls’s Parks Division, which employs 13.60 FTE. Ashland “manages 767 acres of parks forest land and 48 miles of city trails/trail routes,” according to the current budget.
Klamath Falls claims approximately 700 acres of park land. “These areas include mini, neighborhood and regional parks; and special use areas, such as boating facilities, sports fields; Linkville Pioneer Cemetery, and Ella Redkey Pool. Parks also manages natural open spaces, remnant forest land, street trees, roadway medians landscapes, and provides maintenance support to Kiger Stadium,” the 2017-2018 budget states.
Ashland Parks and Rec’s 2017-2019 budget is $18,541,185. Klamath Falls’s is $3,172,975 (including the pool), a third of Ashland’s biennial budget.
Aside from the department director, Ashland Parks and Rec employs an executive secretary, an administrative assistant, a promotions coordinator, a parks superintendent, a senior program manager (a position now vacant), a recreation superintendent, another executive secretary, a western division supervisor, a forestry, trails, outer parks supervisor, a golf course superintendent, and a recreation manager. Klamath Falls employs a parks manager, a pool manager, a parks supervisor, and a pool assistant manager. The other employees are maintenance workers and lifeguards for the Ella Redkey Pool, an outdoor pool which is geothermally heated and open year-round.
Ashland has budgeted $8,338,144 for salaries and benefits, Klamath Falls $769,550. That is a stunning one-fifth of Ashland’s personal services per annum.
“But Mom,” my daughter objected when I compared the two cities’ parks systems, “Ashland has Lithia Park.” Indeed. Is Lithia Park really worth the salaries and benefits of 12 Parks and Rec administrators?
Looked at in another light, should Ashland residents continue to pay $86 a month for base fees, usage fees, and surcharges on their utility bills before they have received a drop of water or a kilowatt of electricity—as a recent Daily Tidings letter by Susan Wilson states?