Letter at length, October 27

New tax proposal: Ashland fiber tax

OK, I've heard just about enough arguing from both sides about the meals tax and, as usual, it looks as if nobody's thinking outside the "(sand) box" but yours truly.

As Grandpa always said, if a problem can't be solved by writing down two or three points on a large piece of paper in finger paint, well fuggettaboutit! So join me in a short walk down "Logic Lane."

Point No. 1: Deep down we all want to soak those tourists because:

A) They either got fabulously rich by getting hired in the early days at Microsoft and getting all those stock options by being "executive dog walker to Mr. Gates;"

B) They got in on the ground floor of the incredible sauerkraut, Vegan Cat Food, or Mr. Chia Head multi-level marketing booms;

C) Admit it, you don't like the way they dress either: "L.L. Bean meets Mr. Luau."

Point No. 2: OK, let's do simple "¦Yes, this town has a sewage problem because we are overflowing with people, citizens and tourists alike, on extremely high fiber diets. If I see one more lunch special at the Co-op that features yams, kale and heirloom Anasazi beans, I'm gonna stand out in the parking lot and give away little boxes of Gummi Bears to anyone I see exiting the store with a hot food container and a vial of Beano.

Which brings me to my really fair solution. I propose a new tax: the Ashland fiber tax, which is a 20 percent tax on all foods that contain more than 10 grams of fiber per serving. Funds from this new tax will be used for our sewage plant upgrades and any excess funds will be 100 percent devoted to creating special walking trails for the "fiber impaired" that will feature Porta-Potties at 150-yard intervals. The Medford Mail Tribune will run a lead story titled: "Our Porta-Potties — why Are they suddenly empty?" Restaurant owners in Jacksonville and Medford are gonna be soooooo jealous when they see all those big busloads of "fiber freaks" drive straight through their towns on their way to Ashland to chow down, pay that new fiber tax, and then hit those new hiking trails. So the new tax is fair and kind of libertarian in that it taxes those who are using our "services" the most.

Point No. 3: I want Mayor John Stromberg to declare that each and every Friday in Ashland be known as "White Bagel Friday." Our citizens will be encouraged to practice "conscious fiber reduction." If people have trouble sticking with the program, they will be directed to a new support group called the Ashland Fiber Network that won't cost the city a dime. Well, see you on the trail "¦

Doug Munro


Meals tax is a 20-year sentence

There is something about the meals tax debate I don't get. Why is there a rush to judgment? The meals tax doesn't sunset for another year. Why not have Southern Oregon University have some of their business students perform an unbiased study to see just what the actual economic ramifications are? We have time. The college does this all the time. After all, there is another opportunity in May to revisit this issue and the May vote won't cost the Ashland citizens $10,000 as it has this time. I have heard it argued that the issue would get lost among the other ballot votes, but this seems weak to me. We have multiple votes all the time. It would give us the time to look at other alternatives and perhaps find a solution that would not be so divisive. Hopefully, we could all find a win-win scenario that would benefit both the city and the restaurants, which are owned by hard-working folks who donate to a variety of great causes. They employ a lot of people.

There needs to be careful thought given to the health of one of our mainstream industries during these difficult economic times. It seems to me, under the general economic conditions, we should not be chasing away any business whatsoever. What we are losing? Are people choosing other cities to do their business and taking their lodging business with them? Again why hurry. Why not get it right? Why not have a survey done? During recent election campaigns, we heard promises to support the Ashland business sector. Those running said they wanted to keep the town economically viable.

For years, we have worked hard to attract new business to town. The city and Chamber of Commerce both have called for economic development. Before deciding this issue, why not create a task force to examine ways in which the hospitality industry could partner with the city to raise needed funding? In business, it often takes needed investment in order to generate added revenues. How much stronger would our workforce be?

Get a proper survey to see just what true financial impact the sales tax on meals has upon our city to both visitors and locals alike. How much more could we develop the economy that is already in place? Surely there has got to be a better way? We've worked together before. Can't we find a way to work together so all of us can prosper? Can't we come together to create a better way? What are the ramifications to voting no? It would give us the needed time to explore all the possibilities. And what is the other alternative? The restaurants will have to serve a 20-year sentence with no reprieve.

Drew Gibbs


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