Ashland’s BN 2021-23 budget must reflect the realities of the current economy, and the wants and needs of its citizens. After at least ten years of rising property taxes and utility rates and fees, it is time to focus on reducing expenses.
In the past ten years, the fixed fees on my utility bill have increased 59%, water rates have increased 82%, and electric rates have increased about 40% [see attached]. Property taxes are at the statutory maximum.
In the most recent election, and with the bond issue, the voters made a clear choice for fiscal restraint. Council and The Budget Committee need to respect that choice.
The City has many fixed expenses that cannot be avoided. The city has infrastructure that must be maintained. Those must be budgeted.
The current CIP contains many projects that are not necessary to maintain the quality of life desired by Ashland residents. The current CIP contains many errors, redundancies, and inexplicable line items that cannot be justified. The current CIP contains many projects that have been carried forward for years without renewed consideration. The current CIP was not presented to Council in time for them to consider the contents. Thus, council approved it without having adequately evaluated the projects therein.
The budget must, therefore, not be based upon the CIP that was delivered to council.
This is not a time to be expanding revenues. The estimated total fund balances for June 30, 2021 is $51,065,976. There is no need to hastily increase revenues at this time. The prudent approach would be to maintain revenues at the current level.
Council must be given the time to consider any new expenditures BEFORE they are included in the budget.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dean Silver, Ashland