Show up — Vote yes on 15-214
By Stephen Jensen
They think that the Ashland voters are dupes. Their campaign suggests that Ashland voters are easily fooled. Loud and clear, with their “no” campaign on the food and beverage Ballot Measure 15-214, they offer up an Orwellian, cynical and dishonest campaign that should be an affront to every Ashland voter.
They did properly register their PAC with the secretary of state, cleverly adopting the title, “Save Our Parks.” However, within that filing, in the section titled “Nature of Committee,” they unambiguously state: “Opposition to increased funding for Ashland Parks and Recreation Department.” The next step in their crafty campaign was to design a gaudy red sign with the slogan “Save Our Parks. Vote No on 15-214.”
Clever, if you are running a silly middle school student body election. Insulting if you hope to convince Ashland voters.
And currently they are pelting Ashland voters with a barrage of misinformation, partial facts, outright untruths and wildly speculative financial projections.
Please consider several facts that fly in the face of this patently juvenile campaign of disinformation.
The food and beverage tax (approximately $2 million), while originally designed to help fund Ashland’s paving program, is not currently used for paving Ashland streets. A much more reliable and adequate method now uses franchise fees and gas tax money to do so, per Scott Fleury, director of Public Works. Thus, the hand-wringing over street conditions connected to the food and beverage tax is pants-on-fire false.
The City Council by and large controls the Ashland Parks budget, and this food and beverage tax ballot measure, if approved by voters, would fill only about one-third of the typical Ashland Parks budget requirements. It certainly would not increase the Ashland Parks budget, as erroneously claimed by opponents.
Currently, the food and beverage tax is legally locked up and can only be used exclusively for Ashland Parks capital improvement projects. It cannot even be used for parks maintenance, operations or equipment.
A “no” vote does not free up this money for any other use. It is $2 million that remains locked up, requiring the City Council to use other money in the general fund to backfill the Ashland Parks budget — money that could and should remain in the general fund to help fund essential fire, police and public safety requirements.
Approval of this measure simply dedicates the food and beverage tax to a specific and vital purpose in our town: maintenance and operation of our valued park system. It removes outdated and unnecessary encumbrances with a clean and clear allocation of public money. The extension to the year 2040 allows for proper planning and long-term budget alignment.
The “no” campaign has attempted to confuse and disrespect voters and, in doing so, tear down community support for our 131-year-old park system, which is one of the hallmarks of our town.
And to those voters who may be unhappy with the condition of the golf course or vandalism in the park’s restrooms or swimming pool hours or trash pickup, using this ballot measure to vent your frustration toward Ashland Parks is not an effective use of your vote.
Join our community and help celebrate and support our parks.
Ashland voters are not dupes. We are not hayseeds. Neither are we easily fooled. Show up. Vote yes on 15-214.
Stephen Jensen is a former Ashland city councilor.
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