Entry signs, marijuana tax top council agenda

    The Ashland City Council is likely to ask residents to weigh in on charging a 3 percent tax on marijuana products in the November general election at their council meeting Tuesday. 

    They voted unanimously to move the measure along at the last meeting and if they approve the vote again, you’ll see it on your ballot. Municipalities are capped at a 3 percent tax and must have voter approval to assess a recreational marijuana tax. Medicinal marijuana is not taxed.

    Also up for consideration Tuesday is another art piece which is lighting up social media conversations. This one, unlike the public art piece suggested for the median between the downtown fire station and the library, is a small sign welcoming visitors and residents to the city of Ashland on the north, south and east entries into town. The proposal has been publicly dispalyed and the council will enter into further discussion about it on Tuesday. 

    When it comes to money, the Ashland City Council also has to delve into the murky water of interest rates and loans in working on the city’s water system. Initially, it appeared it could contribute to improving capacity at a 1 percent finance rate but now that has risen to more than 2 percent. The city asked for a study to figure out the best way to offset the cost and is considering moving some projects out past 2020 in order to afford the increased costs without passing on a big expense to residential users. Government and large scale users are expected to have a larger bill. The council will be receiving the report and considering its options. 

    Another piece of business is about parking fines within the city. Parking penalties were established by a judge years ago and have not been reviewed. The city council is considering taking over the fee structure and updating it. When asked, Dave Kanner, city administrator, did not say if the fines were likely to increase. He stated that the council’s consideration is to allow themselves oversight at this point to make certain the fees currently charged are reflective of current fee structures among similar municipalities. 

    Finally, in a followup to a story in The Tidings, Caroline Schaffer, whose Morton Street home was contaminated to the foundation by a city sewer line blockage which pumped thousands of gallons of sewage through her downstairs toilet, is not being put on the agenda for discussion as she requested. Schaffer had asked to present her case to the council in hopes it would consider paying the additional $200,000 she claims is necessary to fix her home but is not covered through the city of Ashland’s insurance. Despite the city’s refusal to allow her a formal presentation, Schaffer and her family plan to speak in the public hearing portion of the council meeting. 

    Ashland officials have refused comment on the issue, saying the matter is in possible litigation and they are being advised not to speak on the subject.

    Email Ashland freelance writer Julie Akins at akinsj@sou.edu and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/@julieakins.





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