Sell the Imperatrice property to pay debt; Think outside the meals sales tax box; Vote to continue what works for Ashland
Sell the Imperatrice property to pay debt
I hereby refer to the Oct. 29 Tidings article "City retains rights for use of Imperatrice land."
Ashland purchased the Imperatrice property from the meals tax fund specifically for sewer treatment. It is now not being used for treating wastewater. This property has a current assessed market value of $7.6 million dollars. This land should immediately be sold, since it will never be used for its intended purpose.
When it is sold and the estimated $7.6 million are used to pay down the existing sewer loan, the loan balance remaining would be $10 million. If the current payments were unchanged, that loan would be paid off in 6.2 years, with total interest payments of $1.1 million, saving our city a staggering $3.8 million in interest! It would also end the meals tax in 2015, 15 years early! Why this has not been done is the height of fiscal irresponsibility.
Think outside the meals-sales-tax box
The 16 years that the Ashland meals sales tax has been in effect is long enough. Let's support our very talented city officials in exploring other options.
It is reported that the sewage treatment plant needs upgrades and that there is remaining debt. Has the city considered using stimulus funds to pay for these Department of Environmental Quality mandated upgrades? Certainly there is incentive to make sure that our wastewater treatment plant operates according to DEQ code. We are a community touting itself to be green and environmentally friendly, but why are we looking to put the cost on the backs of a struggling restaurant industry for 20 more years?
More than 10 years ago, the Imperatrice property was purchased and included in the debt for the wastewater treatment plant. The Imperatrice property was to be used to spray the city's partially treated sewage. This ill-conceived idea was shot down. Twenty years from now will it still be squirrel ranch?
I suggest we sell it. We could use the money to pay off part of the debt of our sewage treatment plant and to purchase viable open space to further enhance our city. We are a creative community; let's think outside the box.
Vote no and look at the other solutions.
Vote to continue what works for Ashland
In the early 1990s, Ashland had three elections to finance the open space program. The first two attempts failed. The third attempt succeeded and included potential financing for the sewage treatment plant. Prior to the election, Councillor Phil Arnold loudly and clearly said in a televised Council meeting that the full 5 percent tax would become a reality if the measure passed.
Because of the open space program, we have been able to better tolerate the growth we have been subjected to. Those against a renewal of the funding advance no plan to add to our open space system. Their advertisements indicate the program is completed, but it isn't. Opponents offer no alternatives, but few who would tear down what works do.
As we unfortunately continue to grow, we'll need additional parks, but where will the money come from? Without renewing the current funding source, we'll guarantee that residential and commercial rents will increase to make up for increased sewer rates. And what is to stop the sewer rates being even higher to buy the future park land needed? Why toss out the financial support offered by our thousands of visitors? Where is the fiscal sense in that? Please vote to continue what works.