Letters to the Editor October 27

No meals tax will hurt low income families

While the voter's pamphlet only has arguments against the extension of Ashland's food and beverage tax and the ballot has no financial analysis of the economic impact to taxpayers, it is important that voters be aware of who will pay for elimination of this tax. Note a statement in the explanation in the pamphlet that mentions the possibility of raising our wastewater taxes to cover the shortfall in tax revenues that would result by ending the food and beverage tax. Without the financial analysis, voters don't know what utility taxes will be raised and by how much.

Ashland's largest industry is tourism, and it is very common for people to spend more money for everything while on vacation with little thought given to the added cost because it is a special occasion. On the other hand, the resultant higher utility taxes for local residents in a city where middle- and lower-income people are already struggling to get by will be a heavy burden. Out-of-town tourists who frequent these high-end restaurants add to the required capacity of our utilities and should pay for this usage accordingly through this tax.

The restaurant industry in Ashland has done quite well with this tax in effect for many years, but middle-class and lower-income families are struggling and leaving Ashland due to the high cost of living. Ending this tax will lead to higher taxes for our community and encourage this exodus to expand. We will continue to lose more young families to the ever-increasing cost of living in Ashland and we will become the exclusive community for the wealthy we say we want to avoid. Vote yes on extending Ashland's food and beverage tax.

David Thruston


Meals tax community dialogue thank you

Thank you to our cosponsors, The Ashland Daily Tidings, AAUW, Peace House, Associated Students of Southern Oregon University and KSKQ 94.9 FM, for supporting The League of Women Voters of Ashland's recent community dialogue event on the proposed extension to the prepared food and beverage tax. Thanks to their help, more than 50 people participated and heard former Ashland Mayor Cathy Shaw and City Councilor Greg Lemhouse speak in favor of the tax and Liquid Assets Wine Bar owner Denise Daehler and Food Director for Larks Restaurant Eva DeRosier speak in opposition.

Our Voter Services Chair, Pam Vavra, designed the format of the event to focus more on the values and criteria that shape opinions on the tax measure, rather than on the measure itself. Many participants, including key members of each campaign, reported that by focusing on values and criteria, it helped them open up and listen to other points of view, rather than hardening their own position, and they could see a similar enhanced listening occurring in others.

It will become increasingly important for citizens to discuss issues that matter in the face of anticipated resource challenges, not only locally but statewide. As we now know, there will be another special election in January 2010. The League of Women Voters of Ashland hopes to expand its role to help facilitate dialogue that can lead to consensus in addition to informing voters of the facts.

Thanks again to our cosponsors' help in making this event a success as we together strive to keep Ashland residents well informed. And remember to vote on or before Nov. 3.

Regina Ayars

President, League of Women Voters of Ashland

Meals tax is predatory

As a former resident of Ashland now living in California, I disagree with Bill Anderson's Oct. 24 guest opinion piece regarding the meals tax. Of course Californians have very little to say about the meals tax — they are used to paying a sales tax, so naturally they are going to be indifferent!

I returned to Ashland a few weeks ago and was appalled to find that the infamous and ill-conceived tax had been put on the ballot — they don't give up at city hall do they?

The tax is predatory and singles out one particular group.  This is where Mr. Anderson misses the point, especially since he is working within the teaching establishment, which has a reputation for being even handed and compassionate, etc. Everyone should be paying this heavy handed tax — everyone is using the sewer — get it, professor Anderson!

Ralph Lepre   

Long Beach, Calif.

City's 'mushroom cloud' scare tactics

The scare tactics of city officials are reminiscent of the Bush Administration leading up to the invasion of Iraq, with Cathy Shaw like Dick Cheney calling the shots behind the scenes. Don't believe them and don't fall for their scare tactic "facts," like the mushroom cloud 60 percent increase in your sewer rates. It's a cynical attempt to manipulate and frighten you into voting for their agenda. Just as there were no weapons of mass destruction, there is no crisis here and no need to raise sewer rates when the prepared food tax expires in December of 2010.

We have more than a year to explore better ways to address the budget priorities of Ashland, including trimming 1 or 2 percent of wasteful spending from Ashland's ballooning $100 million expense budget. Don't be fooled, vote no on taxing food in Ashland.

Briana Bates


Tourists already pay

In the Tidings Oct. 6 article on the meals tax ("Delis do their part"), former mayor Cathy Shaw mentioned that 350,000 people visit Ashland each year, and that "they flush toilets, take showers, get their sheets laundered and enjoy our parks." Maybe Ms. Shaw doesn't know that those tourists pay $2 million a year to the city with a 10 percent hotel/motel tax. And maybe she doesn't know that every time they flush a toilet or take a shower, the motel where they're staying or the restaurant they're visiting pays for that via their sewer bill. Tourists already contribute an extraordinary amount of money to the city's coffers, and wanting to add more through a sales tax on food is the equivalent in football of piling on. And for that, I assess Cathy Shaw a 15-yard penalty.

Marty Morlan


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