The Devil Is in the Detail: Okay, Where Is the Detail for the Ashland Budget?

The budget has no line items.  Each department lists personnel, materials and services, capital outlay, and debt services.  This is a budget in name only.  It’s too vague to be of any use.  Ashland’s budget, and the budget process, are bad jokes at best.  If you doubt this, just take a look at Medford’s budget, and see what level of detail they provide.

Specific expenditure detail begins at p. 13-3

If anyone can tell me where to find this kind of detailed reporting in Ashland, please let me know.  I’ve asked the finance director numerous times.  No answer.

To make it worse, this is the justification I received from the finance director regarding this omission:

 “We do not generate “lower level” reports for the budget process. While line items are useful for transaction tracking and financial reporting, we do not budget to that level as specific transactions may land in a slightly different accounting location. We look for trends and “by type” behavior patterns to determine if departments are meeting their financial management responsibilities and to assist them in analyzing operations for greater efficiencies and effectiveness. Management researches greater detail as needed based on specific service analysis.”

Did you follow that?  Now go change you soiled shoes.

For your amusement and horror, take a look at the latest financial update

Search as long as you like, but you still will not find any useful detail there either.

You will not find any detail regarding expenses, none.  The council doesn’t see it, the taxpayers don’t see it.

Why is there no transparency in Ashland’s finances?

Ask yourself: what is being hidden, and why?

Dean Silver, Ashland