200 crowd in for first county-funding forum

Some 200 people who attended an Ashland town-hall meeting on funding county services today seemed united about this much: Funding is broken, we don't know how to fix it and the potential for revenue doesn't look good.

The meeting was the first in a series of five organized across the county in coming weeks by two civic groups in response to the county's recent loss of $23 million annually in federal funding.

A citizen task force met for six months and studied funding alternatives including a property tax surcharge, a real estate transfer tax, local fuel taxes, a 1 percent sales tax and an array of service districts with their own taxing authority.

Today, many citizens said the problem is systemic and that revenue sources and spending priorities need to be revamped at state and federal levels, not just locally.

"The (closed) libraries are just the canary in the coal mine," said laid-off Ashland librarian John Sexton.

"Where is the leadership that will effect change here and at the national level? We're being squeezed from the top down, and we're all feeling it."

— John Darling

Complete report: Friday's Mail Tribune

Read task force report

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