City lends an ear to citizen concerns
Ashland city staff and the new City Council will be ready to listen next week to what Ashland residents think the city’s priorities should be over the next couple years. They’ll attend an informal listening session from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7, in Carpenter Hall, 15 S. Pioneer St. (behind the Oregon Shakespeare Festival box office).
Attendees may arrive any time between 5:30-6:45 p.m. according to a press release.
Residents can talk to councilors and staff one-on-one about the goals they would like the city to focus on moving forward, including during the months spent shaping the next biennial budget. The two-year period covered by the budget begins July 1.
For those who cannot attend the listening session, an online survey can be found at ashland.or.us/engage under the Budget Goal Setting topic. The deadline for submitting answers to the survey is midnight Monday, Jan. 14.
City Administrator Kelly Madding said the survey is broken down into two categories: core services required by law, such as public health and safety, and “value services,” which represent the community’s values, such as mitigating climate change and aiding the homeless.
“It’s an effort to provide an opportunity to the public to convey what they think we should offer in terms of our core services and value services,” Madding said.
The survey has three questions, which ask residents to define and rank city services, including services such as fuel reduction in the watershed and affordable housing funding.
There’s also an open-ended section where citizens can leave whatever feedback they’d like.
The listening session and online survey are a part of the City Council’s goal-setting process which wraps up in February. The resulting goals will serve as a guide for the next budget cycle, 2019-2021.
Madding said the council will meet after the listening session to determine goals for the next budget. Using these goals, staff will propose ways to administer those goals and “put a price tag on those implementation measures.”
Then, the council will meet once more to approve those measures and finalize everything, which will ultimately shape the budget.
There should be multiple department heads in attendance at the listening session, but a final list hadn’t been confirmed, Madding said Monday.
The new City Councilors will arrange with the City Recorder to be sworn in on an individual basis this week. They will officially be sworn in by the listening session.
The goal discussions between staff and the council are not public. They are separate meetings from the regular business meeting.
There is only one study session and one regular meeting this month, on Monday, Jan. 14, and Tuesday, Jan. 15, respectively.