ASHLAND, Ore. — 6.3 million dollars, that’s how much the city of Ashland has lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But how to tackle this revenue shortfall is still up for debate.
“We have some financial kind of sustainability and long term modeling that we need to do… to ensure that we don’t reach anything near a level of financial collapse,” said Interim City Administrator Adam Hanks.
Hanks says the estimated dollar figure combines losses from two of Ashland’s revenue streams: the lodging tax and food and beverage tax.
He is proposing budget cuts to four of Ashland’s departments: fire, police, community development and parks to cover lodging tax losses.
Hanks says the department will have to make some tough cuts.
“Reduction in hours of existing staff, layoffs, furloughs, early retirement, not filling existing and open positions, all of those things,” said Hanks.
Hanks says that will ease some of the city’s financial losses by next fiscal year. However, Ashland resident Shaun Moran says that’s not enough.
“We’ve been spending beyond what is really is affordable for many, many years now and this Covid-19 crisis has really brought this to the forefront,” said Shaun Moran, Ashland resident.
Moran is a member of the local advocacy group, “Ashland Citizens for Economic Sustainability” otherwise known as “ACES.”
The group says Hanks proposal is a band-aid solution to a structural deficit that could be over 10 million dollars.
“A deficit the city is going to have to cover which is not going to go away. These are big, systemic issues that need to be addressed,” said Moran.
Moran wants other funding options to be explored, but understands a more permanent solution isn’t easy.
“I get it, but I think we’re at a tipping point that if we don’t, it’s going to mean Ashland is going to have a lot of trouble going forward,” said Moran.
No vote will be taken at the work session meeting.
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