Public Works projects not only have to be great ideas, they need to be essential great ideas.
With the latest update of the Water Mater Plan released on Monday Jan 6th, it has become clear that water demand and population estimates expected by 2040 for Ashland are substantially below the 2012 Water Master Plan estimates used to justify why we need a new $40 million water treatment plant. Funding this new plant has been the primary reason water rates have climbed 160% since Mayor Stromberg took office in 2009.
Some seismic upgrades, fire-proofing, prudent fire mitigation, road improvements, and flood prevention work may certainly be needed but it is highly unlikely these improvements to our present 7.5 million gallon/day plant would come anywhere near the $40+ million for a new plant demanded by Public Works. To supplement any extra water demand, I asked that council review what could be achieved through re-engaging the TAP Waterline for access to drinkable water. Citizens to date have already invested at least $13 million in the TAP project.
Public Works needs to present a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to the city council, Budget Committee and citizens that compares the cost of a new plant to the cost of updating and maintaining our present plant for the next 20-30 years. Find my presentation to the City Council on Tuesday January 7th on the youtube link https://youtu.be/bAD1pOKKVIY
Shaun Moran, Ashland Citizens Budget Committee