The City Charter, Municipal Code, and Accountability of Parks Commission

I have just read the petition being filed by a taxpayer/resident/voter regarding required financial statements due from the APRC to the CC that should be available to the appropriate staff and  the CC for review…… and to the public as well. There seem to be reports required that either have not been filed or released.  This kind of irregularity is very alarming and needs to be cleared up immediately. There may be legal issues that need addressing.

With a new City Manager in place and a new Interim Finance Director too, this is the kind of assessment that needs to be done in every aspect of our finances and record keeping.   CC members should never have to go without data they need to do their jobs. The public needs easy access to all information that is supposed to be in the public record, too.  It is our right!

I believe we should have an independent audit….not the usual one done annually…but one that researches and reports all finances….line by line, item by item, to the penny….by a  new professional, with no previous connection to the City.    It should track  all money coming into the City, how it has been spent, transfers between departments, “loans” that have been paid back or forgiven, etc., etc.. This kind of scrutiny is long overdue.

Given the process we are beginning to go through looking at the General Fund, absolutely no shifts in funding, especially to the APRC,  should occur until we have full disclosure of what has been happening in our city government.

I never supported the shifts the APRC has been campaigning for. Their favorite phrase is  something like at our full discretion..i.e.  no checks and balances or oversight!  Instead, I was going to recommend APRC be brought under more supervision, checks and balances, and oversight even before this  information came to light.   Now it is more important than ever to properly review and oversee the APRC, all APRC top management, especially Mr Black,  and the  Commissioners.  A Charter change should bring them into line with all the other departments……never give them the ability to have “full discretion” over anything.  Checks and balances, oversight, and requirements for transparency and full public disclosure are the foundation of a democracy and should never be weakened.

In addition there are numerous additional issues about how the Commissioners have been managing our money and our parks.  They seem to want everyone else to tighten their belts while they create a new taxing authority.  I do not support that ever.

I hope our new City Manager and Finance Director will both turn their attention to an exhaustive scrutiny of what has led us into the financial crisis we are in.  They will be supported overwhelmingly by Ashland voters.   We cannot run in the red and need information that we know is comprehensive, accurate, and trustworthy. Then we can put together a plan to put us on solid financial footing that addresses all factors.

Gwen Davies, Ashland

//inserted by Sharon