There is a lot of misinformation going around about measure 15-214, and it’s causing confusion for many people. There is no reason for anyone to be confused. You simply have to refer to the source documents: the current ordinance, and the proposed ordinance.
Here are the facts (italics are mine).
Regarding uses, the current ordinance states:
C.1. Twenty-five percent (25%) shall be paid into a parks account for purposes of acquisition,planning,development,repair and rehabilitation of City parks per adopted plans of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission.
C.4. Any taxes collected by the City under this chapter and not used as described in subsections4. 020C. 334. 1-shall be paid into the Street Fund and used for street maintenance and reconstruction.
C.5. Beginning in fiscal year 2023, the council may,through the statutory budget process,appropriate taxes under this chapter as follows:
a. Not less than twenty-five percent (25%) for the acquisition,planning, development,repair and rehabilitation of City parks.
b. Not less than an amount necessary to pay for debt service on any borrowing for street repair and rehabilitation per the City of Ashland Pavement Management Program.
Regarding uses, the proposed ordinance states:
C.1. Not less than twenty-five percent (25%) for capital expenses, including
acquisition, planning, development, repair and rehabilitation.
C.2 Up to seventy-three percent (73%) for operations and maintenance and the uses
of subsection 3.C.1 above.
It’s really very clear.
The new ordinance ADDS the words “capital expenses” and removes the words “of City Parks”. That means that “recreation” is implicitly ADDED.
The new ordinance clearly states, when you take C.1 and C.2. together that the full 98% can be used for “for capital expenses, including acquisition, planning, development, repair and rehabilitation AND “for operations and maintenance and the uses of subsection 3.C.1 above”.
In other words, APRC can use the full 98% for anything it wants, capital expenditures, maintenance, the whole enchilada.
No wonder APRC favors this change. It gives them ALL of the FBT (98%) AND it gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want with it.
Now what will they do with that money? That of course is speculative. But if you’ve followed APRC for the past several years, you will know that they have made it clear that they are lusting after land acquisition for trails, and to rebuild our community pool with a $10.2M extravaganza.
You also know that APR has neglected the maintenance of our parks and facilities for years. APR has always been appropriated sufficient funds to perform maintenance, but instead it has concentrated on new projects, at the expense of our current parks and rec system.
If you’ve followed APRC for the past few years, you will realize that they originally were requesting the FBT as a “guaranteed and stable” funding source, so that they could realize their goals. Recently, however, they’ve stated that they want the FBT because it is NOT stable, as if they were being altruistic, as if they were helping the streets fund become more stable.
What is clear from that is that they don’t care if it’s stable or not, they just want it, because it will give them more flexibility with a slightly unstable but guaranteed amount to use for whatever purposes they choose. Keep in mind that even in the depths of covid, the FBT fared much better than anyone expected, never dropping below $2M/year since 2009.
This is clearly an attempt to circumvent the council regarding funding. APR likes to say that they have complete control over their funding once it has been appropriated. That is correct. If they get 98% of the FBT, they will have a (more or less) guaranteed fund of $2-3M or more to use as they please, without council oversight.
And of course, the proponents of this measure neglect to mention that it will extend the current FBT for an additional TEN years, a total of SEVENTEEN years from now.
This ordinance will tie the hands of future councils to manage our city’s finances. From an accounting standpoint, it is irresponsible.
Given the state of our city finances, and our extensive infrastructure needs, it makes no sense to dedicate this kind of unrestricted funding to APR.
This is not a time to be investing in more APR facilities that they will not be able to afford to maintain. This will lead to a further degradation of our beautiful parks. Thus the name: SAVE OUR PARKS.
It is time for APR to recognize that they have a responsibility to ALL of the taxpayers, and not just a few special interests and their perceived self-interest.
So there is no reason to be confused, unless you listen to the proponents of this measure who say one thing and then the opposite, who throw up straw men, whose arguments make no sense.
Don’t listen to the obfuscations, don’t be distracted. Think for yourself. It really is NOT that complicated.
It’s your money, your choice, your vote. Vote NO on 15-214.
For even more information visit the website: saveourparks-ashland.org