The Ashland City Council has approved a two-year $202.1 million budget that keeps property tax rates flat but includes increases in water, sewer, street and storm drain charges.
The unchanged city property tax rate is almost $4.20 per $1,000 in assessed value.
The owner of a house with an assessed value of $245,000 — the median in Ashland — will pay $1,028.31 in city property taxes.
Those city taxes don't include other taxes, such as those for separate, voter-approved levies to supplement library operations in Ashland or pay for a new Fire Station No. 2.
The budget goes into effect on July 1, the same day that a 10 percent water rate increase, a 10 percent sewer rate increase, a 3 percent storm drain fee increase and a 3 percent transportation utility fee increase begin.
The semi-independent Ashland Parks and Recreation Department will no longer receive half of property tax revenue under the new budget.
Instead, property tax revenue will flow into general city coffers, with the city government then allocating money for the parks system.
Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioners, who are elected by voters, had fought the change.
Councilors Mike Morris, Dennis Slattery, Pam Marsh and Greg Lemhouse voted to adopt the two-year budget, while Councilor Rich Rosenthal — a former parks commissioner — and Councilor Carol Voisin voted against the budget, citing concerns about the funding change for the parks system.
The budget includes $175,000 annually over two years for wildfire fuels thinning work in the Ashland Watershed.
By budgeting that money and "putting some skin in the game," city officials are hopeful that they can win federal funding to help pay for years of future work in the watershed.
The budget includes almost $60,000 annually for the hiring of a code compliance officer.
Members of the Ashland Lodging Association had lobbied heavily for a code compliance officer, whose duties will include cracking down on homeowners who are illegally renting out their homes to tourists for short stays.
This is Ashland's first attempt at biennial budgeting.
The newly adopted two-year budget is up 1.8 percent over the prior two-year period of annual budgets, according to city documents.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.