White City is a city by almost all measures. It has schools, grocery stores, fast food joints, banks, gas stations, parks, subdivisions, all the trappings of a city. It even has "City" in its name.
But it is not a city; rather it is an unincorporated urban area, where residents are mostly after-thoughts to the officials who nominally watch over their welfare.
Measure 15-114 would change that by incorporating nearly 2,200 acres and creating a municipality of more than 8,500 people. The new city would take over such functions as land-use planning, overseeing new development and dealing with road issues. Police services and fire services would remain in the hands of the Jacksons County Sheriff's Department and Fire District No. 3, respectively.
Obtaining city status also would provide access to federal and state funding for such things as park improvements and highway funding. Residents would not be obligated to go hat in hand to the county Board of Commissioners, who have to dole out services and funding to the entire county and are unable to truly focus their efforts on White City.
Creating a city would also create a five-member City Council. Ten citizens who live within the proposed city's boundaries have put their names up for election, a vote that will also be on the Nov. 6 vote by mail ballot, although the results would be moot if the incorporation does not pass. It should be reassuring to those with doubts that several candidates also have concerns and have put themselves up for election to ensure that if incorporation is approved, they will be there to keep tight reins on the government.
There also is a fairness issue involved in the vote. Because White City is an urban area and has urban issues, all county residents — people from Prospect to Ashland — are asked to help fund their services. White City residents should be willing to stand on their own and pay their own way.
Cityhood is not free. The measure would allow the city to levy an annual tax of $1.45 per $1,000 assessed value on properties within the boundaries. That would amount to $145 a year for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000. Remember that homes are assessed at less than 60 percent of their appraised value, so the owner of a home appraised at $100,000 would pay taxes closer to $85 annually.
Like any urban area, White City has its issues. But unlike the vast majority of urban areas, White City does not have local representation dedicated to serving its residents exclusively.
Measure 15-114 would change that. We encourage White City voters to approve it.
Ashland residents have held on to the increasingly passé idea of investing and supporting valuable community services. We encourage them to continue with that "outdated" way of thinking by once again supporting a levy to bolster services at the Ashland library.
Measure 15-113 would renew a 2008-approved levy of 21 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value that allows the Ashland branch library to be open 40 hours a week instead of the 24 hours common at other county-owned libraries. The four-year levy, which would also augment other library services, would raise about $440,000 in 2014 and increase in increments to about $480,000 by 2017.
The owner of a typical Ashland home assessed at $241,000 would pay $50.61 per year or just over $4 a month.
Jackson County voters in 2000 approved a $39 million bond measure to build or remodel 15 county library branches, including Ashland's. But because of budget cuts the libraries are open each week for periods ranging from eight hours in Butte Falls to 24 hours at the main library in Medford. Oh, yes, and then there's Ashland's branch library, open 40 hours a week.
Ashland is a college town, a theater town and a town that supports education and lifelong learning. Its school system, despite shrinking enrollment, always ranks near the top in state testing, the result of the support and investment made by local residents. The belief that knowledge is important permeates who the community is and what its priorities are.
Let's hope Ashlanders remain stuck in the past and continue to support the services that help make Ashland what it is. Vote yes on Measure 15-113.