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Editorial: Tsunami warning

The City Council has embarked on another foray into serving the city’s growing senior population — this time not involving the Senior Center or the Parks and Recreation department. So far, there are more questions than answers, but they are worth asking. Seniors now make up almost half of Ashland’s population, and the city's percentage of residents over 50 exceeds the county's and the U.S. as a whole, according to Councilor Jackie Bachman. That’s reason enough to focus on the challenges facing this “senior tsunami.” But the city just emerged from a bruising battle over the future of its Senior Center. Won’t expanding that program meet the need? Apparently not, judging from the discussion at Monday night’s City Council study session. The emphasis seemed to be on the most senior members of that population — such as women over 80, a third of whom live alone. The city also is planning to increase the Senior Center budget, and raise fees to add to the police force, among other expenses. Where will the money come from for expanded services to the most vulnerable seniors? City Attorney Dave Lohman suggested that if a new committee were formed that was not a formal ad hoc panel, it could be “more flexible,” wouldn’t have to post meeting notices and could “gather more information from the public.” That sounds backwards to us. Limiting public notice sounds like a way to collect less input, not more. This discussion is just beginning. Stay tuned, and look for ways to get involved.