Vote, and vote with confidence

Jack Hardesty would be pleased with his fellow councilors. Before his death, Hardesty sipped a glass of red wine and voiced his frustration during his first term as an Ashland city councilor.




"We just don't get anything done," he said.




This space has often been used to share this lament on a variety of different topics seemingly browbeaten into ambiguity. Too often the search for consensus has been used to disguise a failure to lead. Contentious opposition in the city makes it a certainty that killing an idea is far easier than birthing one into reality.




But on an issue that many would say is the single most important one that our area has had to face in recent years &

the historic closure of 15 libraries throughout the Valley &

Ashland's city council, its mayor and its staff have performed with confidence and clarity. They got a whole lot done on this one.




The council set a clear goal early on and stuck with it. In fact, Mayor John Morrison stated the city's goal the day after the last failed election. A closed library would not be acceptable, he promised. Based on overwhelming city support for two failed library levies, the council determined to use its own levy to reopen our local library, to dedicate the funds for only that purpose, and to use sufficient funds to meet a minimum of 40 hours a week of operations.




Throughout the ever-changing process of county decision-making, federal budgeting and local fundraising, the council remained true to its clear and original goal. They refined the levy several times and continued to make clear what was needed to meet the objective at hand.




Now the property tax levy, once written for up to .58 per $1,000 of assessed value, is clearly established at .20 per $1,000 for the first year and .25 for the second. The money will go specifically to the expense of operating the library for a minimum of 40 operating hours each week &

the county funding solution will only provide for 24 hours a week &

and perhaps some augmentation of library resources.




Ashland's libary will be the only one in the Valley to maintain a standard of service on par with the service provided before the historic closure of April 6.




We lobbied for a more creative, long-term solution than another tax hike. But time for that remains over the next two years. Ensuring long-term stable funding for the library is just beginning. But before us now is a reasonable option for Ashland, one that voters can support.




Two things need to happen for something to get done here. Voters need to vote yes, and enough voters (50 percent of registered voters in the city) must weigh in for the levy to become law. The council has done its part. Voters must now do ours.




And we'll see you at the celebration when the Ashland Public Library again reopens its doors.

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