Facilities Fund Used to Cover Operational and Administrative Expenses

Text of Shaun Moran’s Address to Ashland City Council February 18, 2020

As you all are now aware $1.7ml in tax-payer funds that was saved in the Facilities Fund to insure the maintenance and repair of existing city buildings like Pioneer Hall, Community Center and City Hall were siphoned off in the 2017-19 budget and used to cover operational and administrative expenses in the Central Service Fund. That money has never been repaid.

Now instead of first explaining why these funds were transferred a levy is being proposed to cover that mistake by asking tax-payers to folk over even more of their hard earned resources to fund the very repairs they already thought they funded in that 17-19 budget.

Melissa Huhtala, our city recorder, searched through hours of video from the 17-19 budget process and a (one) slide highlighting the $1.7ml transfer. Some would argue this shows the transfer wasn’t hidden and sufficiently vetted by the budget committee. Others would disagree yet a key fact that was omitted at that time was there was never any intention to repay the funds.

Instead of finding things to cut or eliminate in the budget the cash flush Facilities Fund was raided to pay administrative and operational costs in the Central Service Fund. I am not here to debate whether this constitutes the proper use of tax-payer resources is good governance or even if this is the level of transparency that our city government should aspire but I know I speak for most Ashlanders in saying that we deserve better.

It’s been easy and convenient to say PERS is 100% of the reason why Ashland is in financial trouble but anyone who has been paying attention knows that is utter nonsense and an excuse for lack of fiscal discipline and oversight.

PERS had noting to do with fact that over the last 10 years the budget nearly doubled, that our water bills are up over 160%, that no-one is ever held accountable for capital improvement project costs that sky-rocket above budgets, that forgivable loans have been used to bail out indebted city funds, that our tax rate is maxed out to the limit allowed by State law or that $1.7ml was shuffled around in the 2017-19 budget to ” keep the lights on” in the Central Service Fund.

Those things had nothing to do with PERS or even Health Care costs for that matter, but everything to do with a lack of prioritization and accountable spending. By propagating the myth that rightsizing city departments and our budget will jeopardize the level of service to our citizens is putting affordability and the sustainability of Ashland at risk.

Before you ask tax-payers to pay more tell them the truth and restore the $1.7ml to the Facilities fund

OR

You can go ahead and vote to put this on the ballot as it is but if you do, be ready to answer to tax-payers why you haven’t upheld your responsibility to be strong fiscal stewards of our money.

Thank you for your time.

Shaun Moran – Ashland

 Facilities Fund Used to Cover Operational and Administrative Expenses

 Facilities Fund Used to Cover Operational and Administrative Expenses