New pool, no new taxes in the work for Ashland

ASHLAND, Ore.– The City of Ashland could see resurfaced tennis courts, new pickleball courts and a rebuilt Daniel Meyer Pool taking place as soon as next year.

Ashland City Council approved a nearly $3 million revenue bond measure Tuesday night that will go towards helping fund the projects for the parks and recreation department.

The parks department took a different approach to find funding this time without having to put any extra burden on taxpayers. The city allocates 25 percent of the food and beverage tax to the parks and recreation department. Staff says a low-ball estimate puts that funding at around $750,000 annually. The plan is to use those funds to pay for the bond.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mike Gardiner says over the next 10 years, the plan is to pay $300,000 annually. However, using the funds won’t be a burden on the rest projects the department is still paying off. Gardiner says of anticipated annual food and beverage tax funds, the department is currently set up to utilize 68 percent of it. The rest is saved for other projects or emergency measures.

With the addition of $300,000 every year though, Gardiner says they don’t foresee any major problems with funding so long as they remain diligent about their finances.

“If things were to stay as they are we would continue to have funds available for future capital improvement projects as well as paying off these debts,” he said.

Recreation Manager Lonny Flora says at this point the department, like the rest of the city, is being mindful of how they use taxpayer funds especially in light of the budget crisis the city faces.

“We have to be very creative in our financing and how we go about getting things done because we are obligated to take care of the taxpayer dollar.”

Flora says all three projects are still in the conceptual phase but with these funds now approved they can start moving ahead with plans to open up bidding very soon. The department couldn’t give an exact timeline but they hope to have them all completed within the next year.

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