By: Tara Blue
On Tuesday, Feb. 6th, the City of Ashland will hold the first February Municipal Bond Election in Boone County since 1998. Ashland is requesting voters to decide on whether or not bond funds should be used to pay for “improvements to the City’s wastewater treatment plant and collections systems to meet capacity needs and address regulatory compliance.” See the public notice with official ballot question on the Boone County Clerk’s website here.

How will the bond affect Ashland residents?

The City of Ashland says the bond issue is not a tax and that “sewer utility customers will pay back the borrowed money through a series of rate increases over the life of the bond.” According to the city’s bond fact sheet, increases in sewer rates will be spread out over the life of the loan and could range from 5-10% annually. The city also says that the improvements must occur regardless of whether the bond passes or not, and to finance the project in alternate private methods would result in sewer rates “being raised much higher over a shorter period of time so that the projects can be paid for.”

How does Ashland’s current sewer rates compare to other

Source: City of Ashland bond fact sheet

Why is the city requesting more wastewater funds after they just opened the new wastewater treatment plant in 2020?

At the public workshop on Wed. Jan. 17th, Project Lead Kyle Landwehr of Bartlett & West engineering firm said the previous construction of the treatment plant in recent years was only Phase 1 of the larger project and the need for a future phase 2 expansion was known in the 2014 report. Landwehr says the current project should not be considered a surprise. He says that instead of asking for short-term, piecemeal amounts for funding like the city did in Phase 1 of the project, they’re now asking for the full amount needed for the long-term expansion goal.

According to projections presented by the city at the Jan. 17th workshop, the population of Ashland is projected to increase to 7,073-8,645 residents by 2045. The city says that the average daily flows meet or exceed the current facility’s capacity of treating 600,000 gallons/day and says the expansion would allow Ashland to treat 1.6 million gallons/day.

The City of Ashland will hold the final workshop this Sun. Jan. 28th at 2:00 pm at city hall. Citizens are invited to attend and ask questions, as city staff will be available to provide further information.

Eligible Ashland voters will decide on the wastewater bond on Tues. Feb. 6th by marking a paper ballot and dropping it into a metal ballot box. All paper ballots will be counted by hand. The Ashland Optimist Club at 511 Optimist Drive will open to voting at 6:00 am and will close at 7:00 pm. To save money, the Ashland Optimist Club will be the only polling location and all Ashland precincts will vote there.

Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon says that because it’s a single-issue ballot in a small district, her office can limit the costs borne by the city by printing ballots in house and by doing a hand count of the ballots, which eliminates the need for tabulator machines. Lennon says the biggest single expense is paying the election judges for their service and expects the February election to come in under $2000.

The bond issue needs a simple majority to pass. Two weeks of no-excuse absentee voting runs from Jan. 23rd-Feb. 5th. All qualified Ashland voters may absentee vote at the clerk’s office between those dates. The clerk’s office will also be open Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. For voters that will be out of town on election day, work as a first responder, or have an illness or disability, absentee voting is available now at the clerk’s office or by mail. Applications for mailed absentee ballots are available at and must be received by the clerk’s office by 5:00 pm January 24, 2024.