Ashland discusses potential ballot measures

·2 min read

Jun. 15—Two proposed ballot measures, introduced during the Ashland City Council special business meeting Tuesday, would alter the Ashland city charter and use of the food and beverage tax.

The ballot measure to alter the city charter proposes bringing all city employees, including parks and recreation employees, under the authority of the city manager's office. Both measures were introduced by City Manager Joe Lessard.

Currently, the city charter exempts City Council appointed positions or elected officials, as well as employees of the Parks and Recreation Commission from the city manager's authority. Parks and recreation employees, under the current city charter, work entirely under the authority of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The proposed ballot measure would bring parks and recreation employees — along with all other city employees — under the city manager's authority, preserving exceptions only for City Council-appointed positions and elected officials, such as parks and recreation commissioners.

The second proposed ballot measure would amend the city's food and beverage tax ordinance to authorize its use for police, fire and rescue, wildfire prevention, city parks, open space and trails, recreation and senior services and emergency event housing purposes.

The current tax ordinance has been in and out of council business meetings for the past six weeks as a discussion revolved around interpretation of the ordinance. Previously used for parks and recreation funding, the ordinance — as Lessard legally interprets it — is permissible only for use in parks and recreation capital improvement projects, thus requiring a ballot measure to alter its use.

Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, some individuals from the Ashland Parks Foundation and other Ashland citizens have drafted a ballot measure delegating the entirety of the food and beverage tax ordinance to fund parks, a measure awaiting approval of language from the city attorney and will then take the form of a petition awaiting the requisite number of signatures to be on the November ballot.

This story will be updated.