Parks & Rec commissioner announces drive to seek initiative on November ballot

The logo of the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission.
May 23, 2022

APRC chair sends letter to mayor, council announcing plan; had previously asked council to put measure on May ballot

Ashland.news staff report

With the hope of stabilizing Ashland Parks &  Recreation Commission funding and reducing pressure on the of the city of Ashland’s budget, a “group of community members, including myself” will seek to put a funding initiative on the November ballot this fall, APRC Chair Rick Landt announced in a letter sent Sunday night to Mayor Julie Akins and council members, and copied to City Manager Joe Lessard and City Recorder Melissa Huhtala.

The proposed measure would transfer all food and beverage tax funds to APRC, as is occurring in the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to the letter.

Rick Landt

“We understand that if this initiative is successful, APRC would receive reduced funding from the general fund,” Landt writes in the letter, which was sent from his personal email account. “Our hope is that APRC’s overall funding will be at least to the equivalent of $1.89/$1,000 of assessed value, the current funding level. Even at that level APRC will have to make significant cuts, as we will not have the ending fund balance dollars as existed for the current biennium.”

“We understand that there are many ways to address the city’s structural budget deficit,” Landt added. “We are proposing a way that provides a partial measure of stability for APRC’s budget and also helps close the budget deficit as APRC would require less property tax dollars, reducing pressure on the general fund.”

Late last year, APRC unsuccessfully attempted to get the City Council to place a funding measure on the May primary ballot. In January, commissioners sent councilors a letter saying “we are supporting the council’s goal of a public survey and public process prior to setting priorities to align the budget and address budget gaps.”

Landt said with sending of the already-delayed survey postponed on a 3-2 vote at last week’s council meeting, he supported the community group’s decision to move forward with the initiative.

“My hope would be,” Landt says in his letter to the council, “you will consider this effort a positive step to stabilize APRC and city funding.”

Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

Update, May 23: Added that Landt’s email was sent from his personal email account, not his APRC email, and “including myself” to the quote about “a group of community members,” to clarify that Landt and the group are acting in their capacity as private citizens, not on behalf of APRC.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.


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