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Council backs bump in tax to support buses

Ashland residents could benefit from avoiding cuts in bus service supplied by Rogue Valley Transportation District, the Ashland City Council agreed at its meeting Tuesday in voting to formally support a ballot measure that levy an additional tax of 13 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for five years. 

The district currently taxes 17.72 cents per $1,000, or $26.58 per year on a house valued at $150,000.

If voters approve the levy, the amount collected by RVTD would increase to $46.08 on a $150,000 house, or $19.50 more per year.

The new levy would bring in an additional $1.69 million to district coffers each year.

Without the extra funding, RVTD could be in danger of losing $400,000 of almost $2.5 million in matching federal dollars.

The levy would support continued service on Saturdays and from 6 to 9 p.m. It also would add new routes.

"We have senior citizens who rely on this service extensions," said RVTD Board Chair Connie Skillman at Tuesday's meeting. "It really becomes a quality of life issue."

The vote on the resolution was 4-2. 

The vote passed with Councilors Dennis Slattery and Greg Lemhouse opposing the resolution. While they opposed the resolution, both expressed support for the ballot measure itself.

"We can, and should, support the ballot measure personally, but I don't think it's appropriate to endorse the measure as a council," Lemhouse said.