A Tale of Two Cities, Part II — Ashland and Klamath Falls (Originally Posted 2018)

A Tale of Two Cities, Part II

What should we, as Ashland citizens, do to correct the projected $2.5-million shortfall in the 2017-2019 Ashland budget? As a beginning, let’s analyze the budgets of the city’s departments and compare them with their counterparts in Klamath Falls. Let’s start with the Public Works Department, Ashland’s largest with 68 full-time employees.

Public Works administration employs 16.5 people in Ashland, as opposed to three in Klamath Falls.

Street operations are comparable in both cities, with 10 employees in Klamath Falls and 6.15 full-time employees (FTE) in Ashland plus four temporary workers and a supervisor.

Water distribution and treatment functions also are similar, with 13 FTE and two supervisors in Ashland and 13.83 FTE in Klamath Falls. The wastewater collection and treatment and stormwater divisions in Ashland have 11.85 employees plus two supervisors and Klamath Falls 15.67.

Ashland has a fleet and building maintenance supervisor and 8.5 FTE, plus two employees devoted to the three cemeteries. Klamath Falls has 10 maintenance workers, two employees devoted to fleet maintenance, and one who deals with off-street parking. In addition, Klamath Falls has seven FTE maintaining the airport, which serves Portland and is home to the Air National Guard 173rd Fighter Wing.

So in summary, Klamath Falls has 71.5 public works employees to Ashland’s 68. What, then, is the difference? Ashland has 16.5 public works administrators (including two administrative staff) to Klamath Falls’s three. These are, besides the director, an administrative supervisor, an operations superintendent, an engineering services manager, an engineering services project manager, a water resource technician, two employees devoted to water conservation, and four employees devoted to engineering, inspection, and traffic safety. There also are 2.5 employees in the GIS Division. Two positions are labeled “administrative staff.”

Ashland’s Public Works budget for the biennium is $106,161,200, or $53,080,600 per annum. Klamath Falls’s Public Works budget for 2017-2018 is $32,718,550, or more than twenty million dollars under Ashland’s.

Ashland’s Public Works Personal Services (wages and benefits) is listed as $14,779,336, or $7,389,668 per annum. Klamath Falls’s is $6,780,050. Airport operations wages and benefits, however, are $715,425, an expense Ashland doesn’t have. Subtracting that from Klamath Falls’s Public Works wages and benefits brings the comparable figure to $6,064,625, or more than $1.2 million less than Ashland’s. Double that (for the biennium), and you could (almost) wipe out the deficit projected by Ashland Director of Administrative Services and Finance Mark Welch.

This, from only one department top-heavy with administrators.

As Welch remarked at a Citizens’ Budget Committee study session March 19, “There will be challenges in the general fund. We’re still showing a $2.5-million deficit going forward.”

Addie Greene, Ashland

Watch for Part III.