Utility bill hike
Chatting over yesterday’s newly arrived utility bill, a friend’s assertion that Ashland utility bills had nearly doubled during the past decade seemed exaggerated. So, I looked back at my own bills for the period 2008 to 2010, which averaged $1,003 annually.
Ten years later, my household is the same size and utility usage changed little if any. However, for the period 2016 to 2018, conservatively estimating the remainder of 2018, I’m averaging over $1,800 per year. This is an 80 percent increase compared with a 17 percent increase in my pension over the same time period — and a 15 percent decrease in my Avista bill! Why this astronomical increase in city charges in a largely flat economy with a low rate of inflation?
Our tourism dilemma
Ashland tourism and the revenues it generated this summer will certainly be much lower than projected, which leaves the city with a big problem. The budget statement clearly shows how our city is dependent on, yet vulnerable to tourism.
Nearly 28 percent of all the collected city tax revenue used to balance our budget comes from the transient occupancy tax (taxes on lodging) and the food and beverage tax. These revenue streams are essential components of our balanced budget.
According to Daily Tidings reports, OSF lost over $2 million in revenues this season, along with many people describing downtown Ashland as a ghost town when the smoke peaks. In the 2017-2019 adopted budget, on pages 1-3, it’s stated that “Ashland is host to over 400,000 visitors per year, creating an unusual and additional burden on city resources.” Without a calculation methodology description, one could infer a number of things. Among these is that 400,000 may likely reflect total OSF ticket sales, not necessarily individual visitors to Ashland who purchase multiple tickets. What’s troubling is that these “data” were used by our city to justify the hiring of four additional police last year.
When the numbers are in, let’s hope our elected officials change their attitude toward irresponsible spending and adopt policies that prioritize the funding of essential city goals. Let’s hope they avoid the path of raising utility bills and increasing taxes, surcharges and fees to make up the revenue shortfalls that are sure to appear in the city coffers this year.
Time for change
Join me in voting for Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Consider her values-based focus on “accountability,” “standing up to bullies,” “health care for everybody” and more — jamiefororegon.com. Walden has squandered power as a committee chair on health care issues by linking hands with Trump to lead a failing effort to replace the ACA with Trumpcare. No surprise that Walden has currently received more campaign money from pharmaceutical companies than any other of the 435 House members. See Mail Tribune, June 24.
Congressional District 2 needs a candidate who will work for us, not for the drug companies or for Trump. Jackson County residents deserve a congressperson who will meet with all of us, not just with country-club friends. It’s been over 500 days since Walden has appeared in person at a town hall in CD2. Stand up for accountability and stand up to bullies. Send McLeod-Skinnner to Washington, D.C.
Brenda B. Gould
A deafening silence
Have you noticed that Republican candidates and incumbents don’t object to caged children, blatant nepotism, ignorance or the rape of America? Me neither. And now they say they will rob us of our Medicare and Social Security so they can pay for their $1.5 trillion billionaire giveaway deficit. (Goodbye house, hello shopping cart!)
And which of them are fighting against the poisons being put back in our water and food? The silence from Republicans at all levels is deafening as they march in lock step under a greed-driven banner of ignorance, lies, corruption, racism and hate.
When did the Republican Party morph into such a virulently destructive and evil force? Why don’t any of them speak up for decency and life on earth?
For that matter, why won’t they speak with constituents and why do they refuse to attend crucial forums? And … where in the heck is Walden?
Orange spray-painted rings on the trees marked the ones to be saved. They were few and far between. All of the rest would be logged, resulting in a loss of 80 percent to 90 percent canopy cover.
This weekend I toured four BLM Griffin Half Moon timber units in the Howard Prairie region. These areas will be removed and replanted with dense plantations for commercially valuable species. I was appalled to hear that science-based research states that this practice significantly increases fire severity and the canopy removal endangers habitat for species like the great gray owl.
Have we not learned to look at the whole picture rather than the short-range money goal? It reminds me of the great Dust Bowl created by over-farming. We need to be stewards of all creatures and maintain diversity for survival of all.