Monthly Archives: April 2003

93264017

AFN numbers continue to cause concern 5/5/2003

Early AFN plans had predicted the network would start making a profit by the 2003-2004 fiscal year, but a series of missed projections capsized those expectations. A follow-up plan then projected a positive income by 2006-2007. Budget committee members and city staff had expressed faith at the time that the lower expectations would easily be met.

———

Ashland schools comfortable with their own budget planning

By Amber Fossen Ashland Daily Tidings

Ashland school district officials were not caught off guard by the Oregon Legislature’s proposed 2003-05 budget.

The proposed state budget released Thursday allocates $4.83 billion of the $10.6 billion state spending plan to aid schools. ASD officials – going the conservative route – projected state support at a little more than $4.5 billion, budgeting $18.5 million for the 2003-04 school year.

The legislative budget proposal is $220 million less than what Gov. Ted Kulongoski sought for state support to public education.

According to Ashland School Board Vice-Chair Amy Amrhein, the district chose to be conservative based on past experiences.

“We don’t want to go through another year where we have to keep cutting as we go,” Amrhein said. “We built our budget assuming the worst case -$4.5 billion – and we still think the co-chairs’ budget is optimistic and we’re just going to hold to what we’re doing. We think we’re being fiscally responsible and we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

To meet next year’s $18.5 million proposed ASD budget, nearly five full-time equivalent positions were approved for reduction at Monday night’s school board meeting. Total savings amount to $198,000 for the district.

The district’s 2003-04 budget stands at $1 million less than the projected operating budget for this school year, according to school officials.

ASD Business Manager Loren Luman said if the state projections hold, there may be the capacity to increase the district’s budget.

“At this point we have the capacity in this budget for some change because we were planning for the worst-case scenario,” Luman said. “At a point, anytime during this budgeting process, either with the (Budget) Committee or the (school) board, we can project upward.”

Luman said with another revenue forecast due out May 15, it would be too soon to tell if any of the recent staff reductions would be reconsidered.

“I know there are some positions we’d like to have back,” he said, adding the decision to reinstate staff would be made by recommendations from the Budget Committee with the final decision left to the school board.

The Budget Committee will have its first meeting to discuss the budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004 beginning at 7 p.m. Monday in the District Board Room, 885 Siskiyou Blvd.

Higher education will also feel the effects of the proposed spending plan. Approximately $75 million will be reduced from the Oregon University System’s budget if the proposed budget stands, which is a concern, according to Ron Bolstad, SOU vice president for administration and finance.

“This system has taken an $88 million cut in this 2001-03 biennium,” Bolstad said. The projected cut “is of concern to me,” he said.

Bolstad said the impact to SOU has not been calculated but the university will continue to hold internal budget discussions guided by ongoing strategic planning discussions which involve the campus community.

The $4.83 billion proposed budget for education could be subject to change. Legislators hope to increase the state budget by another $162 million if the Public Employee Retirement System reform is implemented this session.

However, on May 15 legislators will get an updated revenue forecast from state economists who say predictions on expected income could drop by more than $100 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

93264017

AFN numbers continue to cause concern 5/5/2003

Early AFN plans had predicted the network would start making a profit by the 2003-2004 fiscal year, but a series of missed projections capsized those expectations. A follow-up plan then projected a positive income by 2006-2007. Budget committee members and city staff had expressed faith at the time that the lower expectations would easily be met.

———

Ashland schools comfortable with their own budget planning

By Amber Fossen Ashland Daily Tidings

Ashland school district officials were not caught off guard by the Oregon Legislature’s proposed 2003-05 budget.

The proposed state budget released Thursday allocates $4.83 billion of the $10.6 billion state spending plan to aid schools. ASD officials – going the conservative route – projected state support at a little more than $4.5 billion, budgeting $18.5 million for the 2003-04 school year.

The legislative budget proposal is $220 million less than what Gov. Ted Kulongoski sought for state support to public education.

According to Ashland School Board Vice-Chair Amy Amrhein, the district chose to be conservative based on past experiences.

“We don’t want to go through another year where we have to keep cutting as we go,” Amrhein said. “We built our budget assuming the worst case -$4.5 billion – and we still think the co-chairs’ budget is optimistic and we’re just going to hold to what we’re doing. We think we’re being fiscally responsible and we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

To meet next year’s $18.5 million proposed ASD budget, nearly five full-time equivalent positions were approved for reduction at Monday night’s school board meeting. Total savings amount to $198,000 for the district.

The district’s 2003-04 budget stands at $1 million less than the projected operating budget for this school year, according to school officials.

ASD Business Manager Loren Luman said if the state projections hold, there may be the capacity to increase the district’s budget.

“At this point we have the capacity in this budget for some change because we were planning for the worst-case scenario,” Luman said. “At a point, anytime during this budgeting process, either with the (Budget) Committee or the (school) board, we can project upward.”

Luman said with another revenue forecast due out May 15, it would be too soon to tell if any of the recent staff reductions would be reconsidered.

“I know there are some positions we’d like to have back,” he said, adding the decision to reinstate staff would be made by recommendations from the Budget Committee with the final decision left to the school board.

The Budget Committee will have its first meeting to discuss the budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004 beginning at 7 p.m. Monday in the District Board Room, 885 Siskiyou Blvd.

Higher education will also feel the effects of the proposed spending plan. Approximately $75 million will be reduced from the Oregon University System’s budget if the proposed budget stands, which is a concern, according to Ron Bolstad, SOU vice president for administration and finance.

“This system has taken an $88 million cut in this 2001-03 biennium,” Bolstad said. The projected cut “is of concern to me,” he said.

Bolstad said the impact to SOU has not been calculated but the university will continue to hold internal budget discussions guided by ongoing strategic planning discussions which involve the campus community.

The $4.83 billion proposed budget for education could be subject to change. Legislators hope to increase the state budget by another $162 million if the Public Employee Retirement System reform is implemented this session.

However, on May 15 legislators will get an updated revenue forecast from state economists who say predictions on expected income could drop by more than $100 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

93263994

ASD panel crunches numbers

By Amber Fossen Ashland Daily Tidings

Ashland School District Budget Committee members will meet for the first time Monday night over the proposed 2003-04 school budget.

Committee members will each receive a copy of the drafted budget for review before its final adoption by the board no later than June 30. The budget stands at $18.5 million for next school year, although it may be subject to change depending on a number of factors including state funding, teacher contract negotiations, the pass or failure of the Youth Activities Levy, insurance costs and changes to the Public Employee Retirement System.

According to Superintendent Juli Di Chiro, the projected budget -although based on a conservative estimate of $4.5 billion in state funding for schools – will remain where it is for the time being.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski released a revised $11 billion budget proposal Friday for the 2003-05 budget biennium, outlining $4.9 billion in state support to local schools.

“We don’t know what they’re (legislators) going to settle on and none of these numbers will mean anything until they’re settled upon,” Di Chiro said.

“With all of those unknowns, I still think that where we stand with our budget right now is where we need to stay until some of those things get resolved.”

The Budget Committee – which includes members Howard Braham, Jill Turner, John Schleining, Andy Dungan and Carol Davis – was appointed by the school board to review and recommend changes to the budget draft. The proposed budget is for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

School officials said there will be several upcoming dates that will impact the budget committee’s process. The current proposed budget calls for freezing district staff salaries but negotiations with unions will not be complete until mid-May which may alter the budget draft.

Other considerations include, insurance rates, the levy’s passage or failure to be determined in the May 20 election, plus decisions regarding alterations to PERS which should be released at the conclusion of the legislative session in June.

Braham said the first step is to see the budget and the committee will go from there.

“In trying to figure out can we do this, can we do that, we have to see what the budget is before we can take the next step,” Braham said.

Members will receive their copy of the proposed budget Monday. The agenda calls for a general overview of the committee’s charge and the scheduling of subsequent meetings. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m., in the District Board Room, 885 Siskiyou Blvd.

93263994

ASD panel crunches numbers

By Amber Fossen Ashland Daily Tidings

Ashland School District Budget Committee members will meet for the first time Monday night over the proposed 2003-04 school budget.

Committee members will each receive a copy of the drafted budget for review before its final adoption by the board no later than June 30. The budget stands at $18.5 million for next school year, although it may be subject to change depending on a number of factors including state funding, teacher contract negotiations, the pass or failure of the Youth Activities Levy, insurance costs and changes to the Public Employee Retirement System.

According to Superintendent Juli Di Chiro, the projected budget -although based on a conservative estimate of $4.5 billion in state funding for schools – will remain where it is for the time being.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski released a revised $11 billion budget proposal Friday for the 2003-05 budget biennium, outlining $4.9 billion in state support to local schools.

“We don’t know what they’re (legislators) going to settle on and none of these numbers will mean anything until they’re settled upon,” Di Chiro said.

“With all of those unknowns, I still think that where we stand with our budget right now is where we need to stay until some of those things get resolved.”

The Budget Committee – which includes members Howard Braham, Jill Turner, John Schleining, Andy Dungan and Carol Davis – was appointed by the school board to review and recommend changes to the budget draft. The proposed budget is for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

School officials said there will be several upcoming dates that will impact the budget committee’s process. The current proposed budget calls for freezing district staff salaries but negotiations with unions will not be complete until mid-May which may alter the budget draft.

Other considerations include, insurance rates, the levy’s passage or failure to be determined in the May 20 election, plus decisions regarding alterations to PERS which should be released at the conclusion of the legislative session in June.

Braham said the first step is to see the budget and the committee will go from there.

“In trying to figure out can we do this, can we do that, we have to see what the budget is before we can take the next step,” Braham said.

Members will receive their copy of the proposed budget Monday. The agenda calls for a general overview of the committee’s charge and the scheduling of subsequent meetings. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m., in the District Board Room, 885 Siskiyou Blvd.

93263848

Millions aimed at high schools (Wednesday, 4/23/2003, The Oregonian )
http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/front_page/105109891351420.xml?oregonian?fpfp

Two of the biggest private foundations in the Northwest will pour $25 million into high schools in Oregon to try to spur innovation, close the achievement gap and increase the graduation rate.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle and the Meyer Memorial Trust of Oregon will announce today the five-year grant that will develop 30 small high school settings from scratch or in existing schools. The Gates Foundation, established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, will contribute $15 million. The Meyer Trust, the legacy of Oregon retail giant Fred Meyer, will kick in $10 million.

“This is a tremendous first for Oregon, and particularly for high schools,” said Gene Evans of the Oregon Department of Education. The money represents the largest single private grant ever given to K-12 education in Oregon.

The grant will target schools with high concentrations of low-income students and students of color. Tom Vander Ark, director of Gates Foundation education programs, said at least 25 high schools across the state meet that criteria, not just in Portland.

“This is going to prove to be a cost-effective economic development strategy for Oregon,” Vander Ark said. “I think the best thing you can do for the economy is to improve schools.”

The project will target existing high schools of 800 students or more, but also will be open to parents, teachers or others who want to establish new schools, such as charters. Those schools ideally will have no more than 400 students, Vander Ark said, but added that the criteria are flexible and are still being developed.

Vander Ark, former superintendent of Federal Way schools in suburban Seattle, said achievement in U.S. high schools is abysmal compared with other countries.

“The vast majority of American kids aren’t getting what they need and what they deserve from high school,” he said.

The Gates Foundation, with $32 billion in assets, is the biggest private foundation in the United States. Two years ago, it began focusing its education efforts exclusively on restructuring U.S. high schools, making them smaller and more personalized.

Gates has funded school reform projects in 35 states, many in Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area. Vander Ark said he has been talking to education leaders in Portland for three years, looking for the right opportunity to get a project started.

At the same time, the Meyer trust, which has made more than $75 million in educational grants across the state, was looking for a way to help close the achievement gap between white and minority students in Oregon schools and to attack Oregon’s high dropout rate.

Doug Stamm, Meyer’s executive director, said he and a project officer spent nine months researching how best to close the achievement gap in Oregon. As part of their work, they looked at the Gates Foundation’s work in creating small schools, and they surveyed 50 school superintendents in Oregon.

“Forty-eight of the 50 said if we could make the biggest impact in Oregon, it would be to bring along the state’s small school initiative,” Stamm said. A handful of Oregon school districts have received federal money to create small learning communities.

Six months ago, Vander Ark and Stamm began talking and decided to pool their efforts. The Gates Foundation’s initial interest in Portland was expanded to cover the Meyer trust’s interest in a project that would help the entire state. The Oregon Small Schools Initiative was created.

The foundations chose E3 — Employers for Education Excellence — as the agency that will administer the project. E3 started six years ago as an arm of the Oregon Business Council and has fostered school-business partnerships around the state but has recently concentrated on encouraging communitywide involvement to improve public schools.

Stamm and Vander Ark said having a business-based organization involved in the project was important to its success. They also cited E3’s statewide contacts as a plus.

Rene Leger, E3 executive director, said a project director and a small staff will be hired soon. Each staff member will work with three or four schools to develop the restructuring proposals, he said. E3 will fine-tune criteria for the school grants and will distribute multiyear grants next spring.

The plan is to break 18 to 20 large schools into small ones, and create eight to 10 new small schools. Vander Ark said the schools don’t have to be traditional public schools — they could be charter schools.

But Vander Ark said the schools will likely have a series of common characteristics. They will be highly focused in their mission, unlike large, comprehensive high schools that offer something for everyone. They will expect all students to prepare for college or for training that will lead to a well-paid job. They will provide the opportunity for close personal relationships between students and teachers. And they will provide time for teachers to work together to improve their skills.

He said the money will be used to train teachers and administrators, not to replace teachers who are being laid off as districts cut their budgets this year.

The project will have clear criteria for measuring progress, including graduation rates, attendance, test scores and college enrollment rates, he said. The success of the projects will be evaluated by outside agencies.

On the Web: http://www.gatesfoundation.org; http://www.mmt.org; http://www.e3oregon.org

Steven Carter: 503-221-8521; stevencarter@news.oregonian.com

93263848

Millions aimed at high schools (Wednesday, 4/23/2003, The Oregonian )
http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/front_page/105109891351420.xml?oregonian?fpfp

Two of the biggest private foundations in the Northwest will pour $25 million into high schools in Oregon to try to spur innovation, close the achievement gap and increase the graduation rate.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle and the Meyer Memorial Trust of Oregon will announce today the five-year grant that will develop 30 small high school settings from scratch or in existing schools. The Gates Foundation, established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, will contribute $15 million. The Meyer Trust, the legacy of Oregon retail giant Fred Meyer, will kick in $10 million.

“This is a tremendous first for Oregon, and particularly for high schools,” said Gene Evans of the Oregon Department of Education. The money represents the largest single private grant ever given to K-12 education in Oregon.

The grant will target schools with high concentrations of low-income students and students of color. Tom Vander Ark, director of Gates Foundation education programs, said at least 25 high schools across the state meet that criteria, not just in Portland.

“This is going to prove to be a cost-effective economic development strategy for Oregon,” Vander Ark said. “I think the best thing you can do for the economy is to improve schools.”

The project will target existing high schools of 800 students or more, but also will be open to parents, teachers or others who want to establish new schools, such as charters. Those schools ideally will have no more than 400 students, Vander Ark said, but added that the criteria are flexible and are still being developed.

Vander Ark, former superintendent of Federal Way schools in suburban Seattle, said achievement in U.S. high schools is abysmal compared with other countries.

“The vast majority of American kids aren’t getting what they need and what they deserve from high school,” he said.

The Gates Foundation, with $32 billion in assets, is the biggest private foundation in the United States. Two years ago, it began focusing its education efforts exclusively on restructuring U.S. high schools, making them smaller and more personalized.

Gates has funded school reform projects in 35 states, many in Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area. Vander Ark said he has been talking to education leaders in Portland for three years, looking for the right opportunity to get a project started.

At the same time, the Meyer trust, which has made more than $75 million in educational grants across the state, was looking for a way to help close the achievement gap between white and minority students in Oregon schools and to attack Oregon’s high dropout rate.

Doug Stamm, Meyer’s executive director, said he and a project officer spent nine months researching how best to close the achievement gap in Oregon. As part of their work, they looked at the Gates Foundation’s work in creating small schools, and they surveyed 50 school superintendents in Oregon.

“Forty-eight of the 50 said if we could make the biggest impact in Oregon, it would be to bring along the state’s small school initiative,” Stamm said. A handful of Oregon school districts have received federal money to create small learning communities.

Six months ago, Vander Ark and Stamm began talking and decided to pool their efforts. The Gates Foundation’s initial interest in Portland was expanded to cover the Meyer trust’s interest in a project that would help the entire state. The Oregon Small Schools Initiative was created.

The foundations chose E3 — Employers for Education Excellence — as the agency that will administer the project. E3 started six years ago as an arm of the Oregon Business Council and has fostered school-business partnerships around the state but has recently concentrated on encouraging communitywide involvement to improve public schools.

Stamm and Vander Ark said having a business-based organization involved in the project was important to its success. They also cited E3’s statewide contacts as a plus.

Rene Leger, E3 executive director, said a project director and a small staff will be hired soon. Each staff member will work with three or four schools to develop the restructuring proposals, he said. E3 will fine-tune criteria for the school grants and will distribute multiyear grants next spring.

The plan is to break 18 to 20 large schools into small ones, and create eight to 10 new small schools. Vander Ark said the schools don’t have to be traditional public schools — they could be charter schools.

But Vander Ark said the schools will likely have a series of common characteristics. They will be highly focused in their mission, unlike large, comprehensive high schools that offer something for everyone. They will expect all students to prepare for college or for training that will lead to a well-paid job. They will provide the opportunity for close personal relationships between students and teachers. And they will provide time for teachers to work together to improve their skills.

He said the money will be used to train teachers and administrators, not to replace teachers who are being laid off as districts cut their budgets this year.

The project will have clear criteria for measuring progress, including graduation rates, attendance, test scores and college enrollment rates, he said. The success of the projects will be evaluated by outside agencies.

On the Web: http://www.gatesfoundation.org; http://www.mmt.org; http://www.e3oregon.org

Steven Carter: 503-221-8521; stevencarter@news.oregonian.com

Ashland vs. the Poor

Jason Houk, 25.04.2003 01:20

Ashland Oregon is a community that prides itself on its diversity. This tolerance does not include financial diversity however. In the battle of Ashland vs the poor, it is the poor that lose every time.
Ashland, Oregon is a community that prides itself on its diversity. This tolerance does not include financial diversity however. In the battle of Ashland vs the poor, it is the poor that lose every time. The community has a goal to encourage low-income housing and outreach but despite this commitment, very little has been done to address the problems. (1) In some cases, Ashland had passed Draconian laws directed against the homeless, an example being the ban on camping within the city.

In the heart of Southern Oregon is thriving, economically diverse region that is struggling to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. In Ashland, tourism constitutes a critical part of the local economy. As home of the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the city attracts nearly 125,000 visitors each year. Still, while tourism does provide the city with regular revenues, it does not provide many new opportunities for employment. In July 2001, it was noted that 43% of Ashland households were below the median income. In Ashland real family-wage jobs are the exception and only guaranteed for the city employees.

Local and State government have failed to properly fund and prepare local services for current economic crisis. During the nation’s economic slump, the region witnessed a drop in resources and funding for the social service agencies that provide emergency services such as food and shelter; services for victims of abuse and neglect; alcohol and drug treatment services; physical or mental health care; and legal or public safety services. With rapidly declining government funding the needs of local agencies will only get worse. (2)

Ashland’s revenue plan subsidizes property owners and businesses at the expense of the rest of the community. Unlike most cities in the U.S.., the City of Ashland owns its own utilities. With control of these resources, Ashland has institutes a highly regressive tax system that unfairly burdens students, renters and those with low income. These households are subsidizing department transfers, salaries and pet projects. The Electric Users Tax and the Food and Beverage Tax and two examples of taxes that burden lower incomes.

Ashland’s revenue is primarily collected from fees paid for services. (3) Charges for services account for 60% of anticipated revenues. This year, expected fee increases include a 3 percent increase for cable TV fees, a 5 percent increase for water fees, 6 percent increases for transportation and storm drain utility fees, a 7.5 percent increase in electric rates, a 10 percent increase in building fees and a 30 percent increase in the city’s electric surcharge. (4) These fees are used to finance many projects and employee wages. Many positions were transferred to departments just so their paychecks can come from the Electric Dept. budget. (5)

Despite the huge raises in property values, property taxes account for 8% of the current revenue and will drop further with approval of the 2004. Ashland’s build-friendly government encourages unsustainable growth and development. There is little respect for traditional neighborhoods or historic buildings if it interferes with the developer’s wants. Ashland is a community that has plenty of available housing for upper income people and virtually nothing available for lower income people. Ashland has plans for creating an affordable housing trust fund, but has not provided the initiative for a viable plan, or the financing to make a viable plan work. (6)

Ashland’s community-developed assets are used as tools for bringing in revenue. Not for community enhancement or development. For example, Ashland built it’s fiber-optic ring with an initial focus on improving the efficiency of city utilities. The local government is among the most “wired” in the nation. Unfortunately the lack of any long term planning and oversight has allowed AFN’s budget to balloon beyond economic feasibility. (7) Information knowledge, expertise and technology is currently concentrated among the developers and adapters who already have the financial means and people resources to access and use them. Competition has been squeezed out of most city contracts and projects thanks to the cozy relationship between AFN and local vendors. (8) AFN’s profit motivation hinders the research and development of new tools. (9) Despite a commitment to providing the network for community service, AFN fails to get technology and support to those who can use it most. As it currently stands AFN’s current business plan focusing primarily on revenue generation and little emphasis placed on creating quality content or usability. Furthermore, AFN has yet to finance the support staff, education and outreach programs that allows the community greater access. (10)

Ashland City Administrator Gino Grimaldi calls the proposed 2003-2004 budget a “take-a-deep-breath-type budget…” For Ashland’s struggling poor, its a take your breath away budget. Ashland has a grand opportunity to lay the foundations for a prosperous and secure future for all. Real sustainable economic growth and security will come from expanding economic security to all parts of society. Unless we take steps to assure that Ashland is a community for the less affluent as well as the more affluent population, this town will lose its sense of community and inclusion. This may even mean living up to our own stated values. Our quality of life is directly related to our ability to assure that all of Ashland’s residents can continue to live here.(11) Support transferring some funds to the needy is a good start. (12) The city must provide more help to community groups and non-profit organizations and address the issues where need is greatest. Reduce the tax burden of regressive taxes and insure that economic and educational resources are available to those who can most benefit from them.

FOOTNOTES

1) Having poor people on the books allows Ashland to receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ashland has included low-income housing as a priority in 2001-2002 Strategic Priorities Plan and also in the 2000-2004 CDBG Consolidated Plan.

2) Long term effects of the housing problem: * Loss of families * Dwindling school enrollments * Reduction of Budget * Loss of skilled employees * Loss of tax base * Increased traffic/commuters

Hard times weigh on essential services – April 19, 2003
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2003/0419/local/stories/07local.htm

3) According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, the poorest Oregonians are paying the highest percentage of their income in taxes. Ashland’s revenue is primarily collected from fees paid for services.
Charges for services account for 60% of Ashland’s evenues. –

Ashland 2002-2003 Total Budget – $91,775,514
Utility Fees $20,630,980 Non-Utility Fees 10,217,375 Utility User Tax $2,075,000

4) If the 2003-2004 budget is approved as proposed, residents will see a slight drop in the property tax rate, which is estimated for 2004 at $5.34 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Source: Ashland spends down reserves
 http://www.dailytidings.com/2003/news0422/042203n2.shtml

5) The Electric User Fee is being used to fund projects beyond the scope of reason. Funding of Public Works, Conservation and Administration personnel comes from electric rates.

Source: Electric/Telecommunications/Computer/AFN genda – April 25, 2002
 http://www.ashland.or.us/PrintContentView.aspID=772&Agenda=True

6) HUD gives CDBG $225,000 for programs focusing on low income housing. No one really knows what to do with this money, it has been allocated for sidewalk projects and other urban renewal programs

In July 2001, the council approved $30,000 for the city’s housing commission to hire a consultant for a housing opportunity study. The Ashland Community Land Trust received $15,000 to fund Resource Assistance
for Rural Environment (RARE) graduate intern from the University of Oregon for support work.

When the issue came up again in December 2001, the city authorizes the hiring of a consultant to devise a plan for adoption in early 2002. In 2002 the issue was again put on hold.

7) AFN monthly operating expenses have dramatically jumped. We should see a reduction in operating costs now that the last of the cable is in place. In actuality, the budget has skyrocketed. In recent months the electric department have transferred more personnel and city assets over to their department. Electric dept. now finances staff for Conservation,
Public Works, Administration and Police Services Furthermore, AFN’s 15-year debt plan insures that Electric dept. will have lots of funds to manipulate.

8) Relationship is to close between AFN and the primary benefactors of the network. – Project A is enjoying a privileged position as the primary contractor of AFN projects. This is a position that they don’t want to see changed.

Ashland will pay Project A and its vendors over $40,000 just for upgrading the administrations network’s operating system. Ashland should investigate the true benefits and limitations of their software investments

Also, the City has placed a moratorium on the number of AFN providers, thus stifling competition and creating an environment that limits benefits to local users. (CDBG page 133)

9) For most businesses in the Rogue Valley, AFN is expensive and undervalued. There is no incentive and very little support for traditional businesses that want to use the Network to increase sales. Furthermore, high tech businesses have been squeezed out of most city contracts and projects thanks to the cozy relationship between AFN and Project A Despite a commitment to Community Service AFN fails to get technology to those who can use it most. Economic growth does not help the poor. Economic growths wont cure everything. It won’t turn low-skilled workers into engineers or technicians, mend broken homes or
eradicate crime. It is in the field of Education that AFN fails the most. Most educators don’t have the training and skill to take advantage of network. Also AFN has failed to provide the support and tools that were promised.

10) Lack of Innovation and Long-Term Vision – AFN has not established any new innovations or revenue sources beyond local subscriptions. The financial plan does not even see a profit for 15 years, and even then the
profit margin is a measly 1.5 million a year. It it obvious that AFN management lacks the vision to make AFN profitable beyond their subscription goals. Pay-Per-View Purchases make up 50% of the monthly revenue stream AFN Programming now offers six pornography channels adult titles which make up roughly one-third of the monthly pay-per-view purchases, It is crucial for AFN to increase the number of users to the network if it hopes to build value into the network. Real sustainable economic growth and security will come from expanding the information revolution to all parts of society. It is the creation of quality content that drives growth. Competition is going to increase and it is something that AFN must get use to. In the near future, wireless services threaten to make AFN obsolete.

Source: Electric/Telecommunications/Computer/AFN Agenda – April 25, 2002
 http://www.ashland.or.us/PrintContentView.aspID=772&Agenda=True

11) ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING
 http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=526

12) In 2002, Budget Committee member Russ Silbiger questioned the hierarchy of fund dispersal, proposing another $30,000 be taken from the OSF and chamber share to help some of the more needy groups.

Economic and Cultural Development Grants are generated by Ashland’s hotel and motel tax. In 1997, the city eveloped a formula for dispersing grant money generated by the tax. About 33.3 percent of the tax is given to the city’s grant program. Of that amount, 28 percent is allocated to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 60 percent to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the remaining 12 percent to other gencies.

Source: City considers shifting funds to help needy
 http://www.dailytidings.com/2003/news0204/020403n1.shtml

Additional News Links

“We will ask the city to stop doing business with these developers … Every time they bring a evelopment to the city hoping to make a lot of money, we’re going to be there to remind people what happened with the Lower Pines.” ~ Oregon Action Director Rich Rohde

* In November 2001, the residents of the park’s 10 mobile homes were given $100-a-month rent increases, followed by 365-day notices of eviction a month later, causing an upswelling of protest. A deal fell through to sell the land for the affordable housing project, shortly after the initial 365-day eviction notice period ran out.

 http://www.dailytidings.com/2003/news0201/020103n2.shtml

Homeless folks protest Ashland’s camping ban
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2003/0226/local/stories/06local.htm

Is Ashland losing its diversity? Jan-13-2002
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/january/011302n3.htm

Tenants buy some time for relocation
“This gives them a little more time to work on relocation plans…”
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2003/0214/local/stories/09local.htm

New RVTV center displaces three families
“Indeed, three families are impacted, and it’s hurtful to them … We’re very concerned about that.”
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2003/0210/local/stories/05local.htm

City of Ashland’s – About Affordable Housing
 http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=526

Ashland low-cost housing lagging – April 04, 2002
Study: Sales, rental trends scale high at cost of diversity –
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/april/042002n1.htm

Affordable housing dwindles – March 26, 2003
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2003/0326/local/stories/01local.htm

Ashland targets affordable housing – June 7, 2002
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/0607/local/stories/05local.htm

Ashland low-cost housing lagging Apr-20-2002
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/april/042002n1.htm

Buying first home grows harder May-15-2002
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/may/051502n2.htm

Ashland seeks to balance parks, housing needs
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/0922/local/stories/05local.htm

Ashland housing proposal gets tepid reception
 http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/1211/local/stories/09local.htm

“Declining school enrollment that could be partly attributed to a lack of affordable housing prompted the school board to approve closing Briscoe Elementary School…”