Letters to the editor

Permittingpanhandling was bad decision

No amount of marketing done by the Chamber of Commerce or any business in Ashland will counteract the damage done by the Ashland City Council when they voted to lift the ban on panhandling in our parks.

Their decision will directly affect the livability of our town for the locals and the desirability of our town in the eyes of the tourists.

Lifting the panhandling ban and the probability of increasing the tourism tax.....is the Council trying to drive all of Ashland out of business?

Deana Lynn

Library committee concerned over funding issue

At this time last year, the Ashland Public Library closed due to lack of operating funds. No books, no storytime, no databases, no meeting rooms.

Fortunately, the library re-opened in October 2007 with temporary (one-year) funding from the federal government that the County spread over three years, and with a temporary (two-year) levy in Ashland to provide funding for additional hours and staff.

The Ashland levy permitted the City to levy up to 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Yet, the City Council vowed to assess only what was needed.

Since the County provided funds to operate the library part-time, only 25 cents (per $1,000 assessed value) was actually levied the first year.

Temporary funding is just that. Ashland's levy is set to expire in 2009; and Jackson County funding for libraries beyond 2010 is not evident.

Our committee, the Ashland Citizens' Library Advisory Committee (CLAC) was established (in part) to help secure a more permanent funding source and governance structure for the Ashland Public Library.

Over the past few months, we have studied a variety of funding and governance options, and have consulted with numerous experts and other communities. And, while we are determined to find a permanent solution as soon as possible; we do not see a way to accomplish it before current temporary funding expires.

To prevent another interruption or reduction in service, the CLAC recommends that City Council request voter approval in November to extend the current levy for another four years.

Should the council decide to do that, it will need to specify the tax rate. That decision is slated for May.

We wish to share with the community our study of the information that led to this recommendation, and hear what voters think of it.

Citizen input regarding the value of library, particularly its impact on education, economic interests, and quality of life, is also needed to help inform the council's decision.

The CLAC encourages the public to participate in the decision-making pertaining to this topic in any of four ways:

1) Come chat informally with committee members during an open house at the Ashland Public Library on Wednesday, April 23, anytime between noon and 5 p.m.

2) Attend or view a special televised CLAC meeting later that evening (7 p.m.) in the council chambers. The meeting is being convened for the express purpose of reporting our recommendation to the public and receiving formal testimony.

3) Submit comments via e-mail to: library-advisory@list.ashland.or.us.

4) Submit written comments to the suggestion box at the library.

We appreciate the opportunity to serve the community and to represent citizens regarding library matters. We hope everyone will participate in this process, and look forward to hearing from all.

Maureen Battistella, Sue Burkholder, David Churchman, Peter Gibb, Chuck Keil, Pam Vavra (chair)

Ashland CLAC Members

Council should rethink lodging tax increase

Faced with the choice between first doing no harm or let's try something, the council is flirting with the latter in considering a lodging tax increase. In a tourist town, such an increase has an automatic deleterious effect that should only be considered if off-setting gains can be guaranteed.

Citing the dollar amounts neighboring towns spend tells us nothing about what Ashland needs to do.&

Asking a disparate group of nonprofits to provide that economic offset in the off-season seems a dubious proposition. It's doubtful that several of the nonprofits asking for the money to conduct the sort of activities over a sufficient duration to justify the risk.

If government is going to use its taxing power to make small, family-owned businesses assume some of the risks inherent in nonprofits, then it needs to be demonstrated &

not hoped &

that the risks are justified.

John Gaffey

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