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City releases proposed biennial budget for 2015-17

Ashland City Administrator Dave Kanner has released his proposed City budget for the 2015-17 biennium. Click here for a fully copy of the proposed budget
The total proposed biennial budget is $237,459,140, an increase of $35,181,839 or 17.4% over the amended BN 2013-15 budget. The increase is due primarily to increased capital projects spending in Public Works (Water and Waste Water)
Of particular note is a proposal in this budget to increase the City’s general tax levy to the maximum tax rate allowed by law and dedicate the money to the Ashland Forest Resiliency project. The City’s maximum tax rate is $4.29 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The City has, ever since its permanent tax rate was created by the passage of Measure 50 in 1997, charged at least 8.92 cents less than its allowed maximum. Charging the maximum tax rate raises an additional $205,000 annually for the General Fund, which is budgeted in the Fire Department’s Forest Division budget for fuels reduction maintenance work in the watershed. Should the Council identify an alternate funding source for this work (such as a utility billing surcharge, which will be discussed at the Council meeting on May 5th), the City retains the option of not imposing the full permanent tax rate.
In his budget message, Kanner describes the City’s fiscal condition as “very good.”  However he notes there are a number of looming issues that are cause for concern.
“Some of these issues stem from the 2014 drought, which now threatens to extend into 2015 and which has impacted City resources in unanticipated ways,” says Kanner. “For instance, the drought reduced water revenues and associated water franchise fees. The warm winter weather depressed electric revenue and associate electric utility tax revenue.”
However, the continued strength of Ashland’s visitor-based economy has had very positive impacts on the budget, he notes. 
Budget Committee deliberations will begin on Thursday, May 7, at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers. Public input on the budget is accepted at all Budget Committee meetings. Click here for the Budget Committee calendar.

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