URGENT ALERT: Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Special Meeting 7/28/2021

This special meeting of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission is being held primarily to discuss strategies for increasing funding for APR.

It’s obvious that APRC is going full speed ahead to do anything they can to increase their revenue, the city budget crisis be damned.  At the same time, there is absolutely NO mention or intention of decreasing their expenses, as you will see in the excerpts below , and the entire agenda packet, if you choose to read it.  Nothing could be more inappropriate at this time considering the city’s financial position.

What YOU can do is tell them that their approach is wrong.  You can tell them what YOUR priorities are regarding APR and the city budget.  NOW is a good time to do it, before the special meeting which has been called specifically to discuss ways to squeeze more money out of the budget.

They need to know that they will have to operate with reduced funding until the budget crisis has been resolved.  They need to know that they should be spending their time and energy on reducing expenses, not increasing revenue.

You will notice a sense of ENTITLEMENT in the attitude of APRC.  They seem to think that they should be exempted from reducing expenses, just as every other department in the city must.  They need to understand that they have an OBLIGATION to do their part in solving the budget crisis. They need to do more with less.  They need to STOP acquiring more properties, and FOCUS on maintaining the properties that they already control.

They need to know that a new special taxing district is NOT ACCEPTABLE and will not be condoned by the taxpayers.

You can write and have your comments included in the official record.  You can also testify via zoom if you wish.  Here are the details:

Written testimony will be accepted via email sent to sean.sullivan@ashland.or.us. Please include “Public Testimony for July 28 Regular Meeting” in the subject line. Written testimony submitted before Tuesday, July 27, 2021, 11:00 am will be made available to the Parks Commissioners before the meeting. All testimony will be included in the meetings minutes​.
 
Oral Testimony will be taken during the electronic public meeting. If you wish to provide oral testimony, send an email to sean.sullivan@ashland.or.us before Tuesday, July 27, 2021, 11:00 am. Late requests will be honored if possible. Please provide the following information: 1) make the subject line of the email July 28 Speaker Request, 2) include your name, 3) the agenda item on which you wish to speak on, 4) specify if you will be participating by computer or telephone, and 5) the name you will use if participating by computer or the telephone number you will use if participating by telephone. Staff will provide information necessary to join the meeting upon request.

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Here are a few selected quotes from the agenda packet:

“APRC funding has historically come from property taxes levied by the City. By City Charter decree, the City is to fund APRC through a portion of the funds collected from property taxes. The rate of funding has always been $2.09/$1,000 of assessed property value. This was the case until the previous Biennial Budget (2019-21) when the rate was reduced to $1.89/$1,000 of assessed property value. At the time the funding reduction took place, APRC management and elected officials were assured that this would not be permanent, and the rate would go back to $2.09 when the fiscal crises subsided.

The City is still in a fiscal crisis, and APRC was funded at $1.89 for the 21-23 Biennium, which will be four continuous years of reduced funding.”

“some of the options to consider are:
1. The proposed funding mechanism for APRC in the current budget document:
a. Dedication of all Food and Beverage Tax to APRC; and,
b. Adoption of an ordinance or resolution that dedicates a certain level of funding to APRC from the City’s collected property taxes.

2. Consider the formation of Parks District, as allowed by ORS 198 and 266.
a. Funding mechanisms and details of the process are varied for Parks Districts and I will detail those in the upcoming meeting.

3. Other options:
a. Local Parks and Recreation Levy to provide gap funding”

“With the following conditions, I recommend that the Parks Commissioners make a motion to support the change in the Food and Beverage Tax:
1. 25% of Food and Beverage Tax Remains for Major Maintenance and New Projects at the Commissioners’ Discretion
2. 73% of Food and Beverage Tax to be Used for Operation at the Commissioners’ Discretion
3. Food and Beverage Tax Must be Extended 10 Years (at least until 2040)
4. Adopt an Ordinance Dedicating a Specific Percentage of Property Tax to APRC
5. Evaluate and if possible, designate APRC as a Contracting Review Board”

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You can read the agenda at http://www.ashland.or.us/Agendas.asp?Display=Agenda&AMID=7816

You can read the agenda packet with all of the details that are currently available at
http://www.ashland.or.us/SIB/files/APRC/2021/APRC%20Commission/07_28_21_SpecialMeeting_Packet_v2.pdf

Dean Silver
Ashland

//inserted by Sharon