Voters in the city of Ashland approved a half-cent sales tax increase Tuesday night that will fund stormwater and local park projects. Previously, the city had no source of revenue for such projects. But the growth of the city, seeing over a thousand new residents since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, strained the city budget.
Ashland mayor Gene Rhorer said the tax increase will allow the city to expand its police force and complete the city’s needed projects.
“The big thing [the tax increase] will do is alleviate the general fund so we can afford another officer as we expand near the airport area,” he said. “And then of course… to address some of those older downtown areas to implement some stormwater runoff where we have none.”
Rhorer said adding an additional police officer will decrease the response time for residents living near Columbia Regional Airport.
The sales tax proposition passed with about 67 percent in approval.
The tax revenue will be split fifty-fifty on stormwater and parks projects. Rhorer said the city hopes to use the added revenue to build new bathrooms, playgrounds and a tennis court in its parks.
Rhorer said Ashland’s parks need to keep up with the city’s growing population.
“As younger couples move into town and populate the area, they’re in the parks quite a bit, so we need the money to get better park equipment for those folks because our parks are used more now that our population is growing,” he said.
Rhorer said the city is looking at downtown Ashland as the major target for stormwater projects.
“Well there are places in older parts of town that just don’t have stormwater runoff grates or runoff systems, period,” he said.
Rhorer said the city will begin its stormwater and parks projects after a new city budget is made.