Sept. 20, 2022
You may have heard about City budget problems, as well as other problems within City Hall (high-level staff members leaving, insurance rate hikes, etc). Within the past year or so, the City Council seems to have singled out Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission (APRC) as the answer to all their perceived budget problems, and as a result have cut APRC’s budget by over $1M. Additionally, the City Manager and City Council have now placed two measures on the November ballot that will substantially weaken and potentially dismember APRC.
Preserve Our Parks (POP), a political action committee is actively seeking support for APRC. A recent needs assessment shows how fundamental our outdoor spaces, recreation programs and senior services are to Ashland’s livability, equity, and quality of life for all ages.
There is another path for removing APRC from competing with other city services for funding (such as police and fire) — APRC has proposed providing a stable funding base out of the Food & Beverage tax monies and then seeking voter approval of a Parks district in line with the City Charter. This proposal was put before the City Council and they refused to enter into discussion around it. Instead, they hastily crafted two ill-considered ballot measures with no allowance for vigorous citizen discussion and in advance of the results of the citizen survey.
You are urged to vote NO on both of these measures.
Measure 15-210 would move management of the Parks Director from elected Park & Recreation Commissioners to an unelected City Manager. This would create confusion and conflict as the City Charter still gives “management and control” of parks to APRC Commissioners. But if measure 15-210 passed, the Parks Director and staff would be under the direction of the City Manager, who reports to the City Council.. The Parks Director would be in the untenable position of having two bosses, ostensibly directed by APRC Commissioners, but would be hired, fired, and paid by the City Manager.
Measure 15-211 would allow 73% of food and beverage tax revenue to go to the City’s General Fund to be used for virtually anything that the City Manager recommends to City Council. APRC Commissioners have supported directing 73% of F&B revenue to APRC operating expenses, (replacing property taxes dollar for dollar) and reducing the amount of monies needing to be transferred from the General Fund to APRC’s budget. APRC Commissioners believe this to be a wiser use of the F&B revenues that the voters originally approved to support parks.
Additionally, you are urged to contact SOAC to show your support for APRC by :
- Lawn Sign: Can POP place a lawn sign in your yard urging the NO vote?
- Donations: Please send a donation to POP, 943 B Street, Ashland, OR 97520
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org