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Welcome to the La La Land!

The Ashland City Budget will soon $100 million dollars, and that doesn’t include additional employees for police and planning (add another $500,000). In addition the city will grow by the equivalent of almost 10 employees.

Just for comparison our budget for 1997-1998 totaled $65 million, and we had a population of $18,500 and 208 employees (including Parks and Recreation). Last year’s budget showed 267+ employees (an increase of 28 percent in nine years) while our citizen growth went from 18,500 to approximately 20,700, or an 11 percent growth. Our long-term plan at the end of the 2006 budget cycle projected a 2006-2007 budget of $84,434,605; a long ways from the $101.5 million now being planned.

As per a recent Daily Tidings article, meeting this budget would require raising property taxes from $5.30/$1.000 to $6.25/$1.000, or approximately $190 for a $200,000 home. Has anyone seen a $200,000 home in Ashland?

As a community in the coming November election, we will likely be asked to fund our library, a needed school bond and probably a $4.5 million fire station. Amounts for these expenditures are not finalized. However we will be able to vote on any such increases in our taxes. The Ashland Budget Committee and City Council will decide the increased property tax assessment with little citizen involvement. Unless, of course, you decide to take the time and effort to let your concerns be heard through letters, attendance at evening Budget meetings, contacting your elected council people and the Mayor.

Oh, by the way, our city government pledged at the end of the 2005 Budget meetings that they would have the AFN problem resolved before the 2006 budgetary session. Can anyone tell me what has been resolved? If you care about the direction of this City and how we maintain a cultural diversity you need to speak up. Otherwise we will have become Oregon’s “Carmel... where elite meet to eat.

Jim Moore served on the Ashland City Budget Committee for the past nine years and was chair in 2005.

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