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Politics & Government

$1.5 million in budget cuts proposed in Ashland

The Ashland Springs Hotel, located in downtown Ashland
The Ashland Springs Hotel, located in downtown Ashland

Ashland’s city manager is proposing over a million dollars in budget cuts to address a growing deficit.

In a two-day long budget meeting this week, Ashland city council members addressed a $3 million shortfall in the city’s current budget.

$1 million of that deficit already existed in the 2022-23 budget, while another $2 million came from an adjustment made by City Manager Joe Lessard, who said the city was allocating money from the food and beverage tax in ways that voters didn't originally approve.

On Tuesday, Lessard proposed $1.5 million in cuts across city departments.

One of the biggest cuts proposed is to the parks department, slashing $350,000 from its $8 million budget.

Parks and Rec commission Chair Rick Landt says these cuts, on top of previous ones, are delaying maintenance in the city’s parks.

"Unfortunately you can see it in our parks," says Landt. "Over the last few years there has been deterioration, subtly, but there’s been deterioration because there isn’t the same level of maintenance that’s going into the parks.”

Other proposed cuts include $156,000 to the finance department, $138,000 to the administration department and $62,000 to the public works department.

The city’s overall budget is around $136 million this year.

Lessard says the cuts are designed to avoid laying off full-time employees. Ashland anticipates saving $780,000 through hiring freezes in the police and fire departments, and smaller freezes within Parks and Rec, Public works and other departments.

Council members also approved a survey to be sent to Ashland residents, to help guide the city’s budget priorities.