ashland.news
May 26, 2024

Viewpoint: Measure 15-214 is a blank check to a Parks Commission with a terrible track record on spending

The Ashland Parks and Recreation office in Lithia Park. Bob Palermini photo
April 22, 2023

The food and beverage tax measure would leave decisions on use of revenue up to the whims of the APRC

By George Kramer

Measure 15-214 is purposefully confusing and I expect that the people behind it want you to think it will go to parks maintenance.

The current food and beverage tax, set to expire in in 2030, provides 25% for capital improvements to parks, which Ashland Parks and Recreation uses to pay the debt on properties that it has purchased. The other 73% goes to the city, to repair roads, with 2% for admin.

This measure will change the equation so that the 73% goes to Parks for anything they want to spend it on, including maintenance, which sounds, as it is supposed, like a good thing. The other 25% (and the admin) stays as it is now.

What proponents don’t want you to notice is that while the 73% can be spent on maintenance, it doesn’t have to be. How they spend would be entirely up to the whim of the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission.

They also don’t want you to notice that the measure would extend the food and beverage tax for another decade, to 2040.

Several things jump out. First, the extension of a decade is probably so that parks can use the unrestricted proceeds of the food and beverage tax to borrow money so they can build a new $10 million swimming pool, to replace the Daniel Meyer Pool, which they have failed to maintain to the point they claim it can’t be fixed. A new pool might be a good idea, but they should be upfront about it (they aren’t) and borrowing money for a new pool does nothing to address all the deferred maintenance the parks need.

Secondarily, somebody still has to pay for road repair, and all fingers point to the city increasing the street fee on the utility tax to recapture any money it shifts to Parks from the food and beverage tax. Everyone’s utility bills goes up, hurting folks who already struggle with high city utility taxes and fees.

Mostly, 15-214 is a blank check to the Parks Commission, that they are selling to the public as “support the parks.” APRC has a terrible track record with spending. Their budget increased over 10% during COVID! Giving them additional money without restriction and extending a targeted tax for another decade doesn’t make sense to me, especially right now, when the city itself is facing budget issues.

We need to have a much larger discussion about whether or not the food and beverage tax still makes sense with the tourist industry in flux, and we need to have better decision making at the Parks Commission before we give them any additional money. Parks is hoping that people who love parks will just vote to support this shift, and the increased costs down the road can be dealt with by somebody else.

A “no” vote leaves the tax as it is, going to roads and expiring in 2030. The city can use those funds as they were intended, to repair the streets, without raising our utility rates. And if we need a pool, or more funding, we can have a community discussion about that between now and 2030.

I will be voting “no.” I encourage you to do the same.

George Kramer has lived in and worked to better Ashland for four decades.

Ashland.news welcomes Viewpoint submissions of 500-700 words. Viewpoints may be emailed to betling@ashland.news or submitted through the “Article Submission Form” link at the bottom right corner of the home page. Please include your name and city of residence with your Viewpoint (which will be published) and, in case we have a question, your contact information (which won’t be published unless you say it’s OK).

Picture of Jim

Jim


Related Posts...

Viewpoint: Hope and dread and the presidential election

Michael O’Looney: We are all exhausted just thinking about another four years of Trumpian strife and self-glorification or another four years of seeing a faltering though well-intentioned, elderly statesman who simply may no longer have the energy or vision to guide the nation through the perilous times ahead.

Read More »

Writers on the Range: War comes to my small town

Talent councilor Jason Clark: “People all over the world want a negotiated solution that provides peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. More military aid just provokes more resistance and makes a negotiated solution harder to achieve.”

Read More »

Latest posts

Let’s talk: Collaborative conversation coaching order of the first Law Day

Local high school students relished their deep dive into navigating some of the thorniest political issues of our time at the first-ever Southern Oregon Law Day on Thursday at Southern Oregon University. The half-day event, held at Stevenson Union on the SOU campus, featured a number of experts in their respective fields, as well as opening remarks by Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, and closing remarks by Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland.

Read More >

OSF veteran depicts an actor’s haunting life in new novel

“Harriman’s Ghost” tells side-by-side stories of the life of the fictional Ben Harriman, a revered film and television star, and Janet Cooper, ghost writer of Harriman’s official biography. In “Harriman’s Ghost,” she is goaded into writing another book that unveils the truth about the actor’s troubled life.

Read More >

‘Beautiful Music in the Park’ returns Saturday for its next season

True to its name, the nonprofit organization Beautiful Music in the Park will bring, well, beautiful music to Lithia Park again this year, the second season for the program founded by longtime park cello busker Daniel Sperry, starting Saturday, May 25. The piano quintet “Friends of Flare” is set to play from 11 a.m. to noon on the small field past the lower duck pond, affectionately nicknamed the “cello lawn” after Sperry’s frequent busks.

Read More >

Explore More...

Let’s talk: Collaborative conversation coaching order of the first Law Day

Local high school students relished their deep dive into navigating some of the thorniest political issues of our time at the first-ever Southern Oregon Law Day on Thursday at Southern Oregon University. The half-day event, held at Stevenson Union on the SOU campus, featured a number of experts in their respective fields, as well as opening remarks by Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, and closing remarks by Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland.

Read More>

OSF veteran depicts an actor’s haunting life in new novel

“Harriman’s Ghost” tells side-by-side stories of the life of the fictional Ben Harriman, a revered film and television star, and Janet Cooper, ghost writer of Harriman’s official biography. In “Harriman’s Ghost,” she is goaded into writing another book that unveils the truth about the actor’s troubled life.

Read More>
Daniel Sperry quintet at Lithia Park

‘Beautiful Music in the Park’ returns Saturday for its next season

True to its name, the nonprofit organization Beautiful Music in the Park will bring, well, beautiful music to Lithia Park again this year, the second season for the program founded by longtime park cello busker Daniel Sperry, starting Saturday, May 25. The piano quintet “Friends of Flare” is set to play from 11 a.m. to noon on the small field past the lower duck pond, affectionately nicknamed the “cello lawn” after Sperry’s frequent busks.

Read More>
ashland.news logo

Subscribe to the newsletter and get local news sent directly to your inbox.

(It’s free)

Don't Miss Our Top Stories

Get our newsletter delivered to your inbox three times a week.
It’s FREE and you can cancel anytime.