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Letters, May 30

Action needed on Ashland budget

The coronavirus pandemic necessitates immediate revision of Ashland’s current budget because city tax revenues will be much reduced for some time. Likely, a number of our businesses will not survive the pandemic and fewer tourists will be patronizing our remaining theaters, inns, restaurants and shops.

Ashland’s current 2019/2021 budgeted expenses of $305 million are up 56% from the $196 million for 2013/2015 and would increase our debt from $29 million to $71 million during this two-year cycle alone. Our population remains flat. Expenses, excluding the Electrical Department, are $6,800 per capita. (Medford’s are 33% lower at $4,540 per capita). Major budget cuts, not counter-productive increased taxes, depleted reserves, or increased debt (which would impair funding of future essential services) are now urgently needed.

The council could set an overall target for annual expense reduction, perhaps $10 million to 15 million, to offset reduced revenues. Next, you could allocate firm reduction targets to each of the largest departments or those with the largest increases in recent years. Reduce head counts. Cut salaries to bring compensation into line with the private sector. Freeze other salaries. Shelve non-essential capital expenditure plans.

Sound fiscal management requires immediate action.

David J. Carey

Ashland

Climate change is a crisis, too

The ability of humanity to respond to the pandemic, a health crisis of huge magnitude, has been impressive. Despite the unfortunate intrusion of politics into the response, most people are showing that they care about others, that they are willing to make sacrifices to keep themselves and others out of harm’s way.

My questions are: Will living through this pandemic result in any lessons learned about the fragility of our existence on this planet? Will people respond like they have in this crisis to another crisis that too is wreaking havoc on life, health and economic well-being, that of global warming and climate chaos?

Both crises involve tremendous suffering, hardship, uncertainty and sometimes death. Both span the globe with disregard for borders, race, religion, and political opinions. Both call on us to make different choices in our daily lives in order to give family and community a future.

Perhaps this is why an April survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that concerns about climate change surprisingly haven’t decreased during the pandemic and in some cases have increased. Let’s hope that the level of concern continues to grow and that we address global warming for the crisis that it is.

Communicate your concerns to family, friends and elected officials at all levels of government. Be a part of the many solutions to climate change by joining local, state or national climate change organizations.

Sherrill Rinehart

Ashland

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