|ROBERTS TAKING NEW VIEW OF ROOM TAX PLAN|
|August 29, 2000 11:00 pm|
GOLD BEACH County Commissioner Bill Roberts is reconsidering a proposed tax on motel rooms in Curry County.
Roberts said Tuesday that the 10 percent tax discussed at the last commissioners meeting may seem a bit steep to county voters. He thought the 6 percent tax originally proposed would be more acceptable to voters.
He is also considering putting the tax on the March ballot, instead of the November ballot, to allow more time to educate voters.
Roberts said some people believe the room tax will somehow increase their taxes. He said the intent is just the opposite: the tax could help pay for road deputies, fairgrounds building repairs and other needs that county taxpayers would otherwise have to pay for.
Theres no way Id allow an increase in taxes for the people who live here, said Roberts.
Among those with similar reservations was Les Cohen, executive director of the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce.
Cohen said Tuesday that hed just returned to town and hadnt had time to study the proposed tax carefully. He said the chamber will discuss the proposal today (Aug. 30).
Cohen served on the commissioners fact-finding committee on the tax. What came out bears very little resemblance to what was discussed, he said.
He added that there was no real consensus on the tax by committee members.
Cohen said the committee talked about a 6 percent room tax to level the ball field with taxes cities charge on rooms. He said the 10 percent proposal was really a surprise.
A lot of issues need to be discussed, he said, The fact-finding committee thought that it was a little hasty.
We want a good law, he said, which he felt would require taking a good look at the issues.
Ken Byrtus, commissioner of the Port of Brookings-Harbor, wrote the fact-finding committee a letter asking that the tax be used solely for tourist related activities and marine safety and waterborne law enforcement patrol.
He wrote, Other uses that should be considered are: community centers, promotion and marketing, and other general activities that the three communities determine to be local priorities.
The port strongly believes that under no circumstances should the funds generated from a transient lodging tax be allocated as a backfill measure for the county general fund, he wrote.
The proposed tax would apply to any lodging room designed for occupancy for 30 days or less in Curry County. Camping and RV spaces would be included.
As proposed, a 10 percent tax would be applied to rooms in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Since all the cities in the county already have room taxes, the county would charge the difference between 6 percent, for example, and 10 percent for incorporated areas.
As proposed, 60 percent of tax revenues would go into the countys general fund. A promotion fund for economic development and tourism promotion would get 20 percent. Fairgrounds buildings would get 10 percent.
In its final meeting, the fact-finding committee discussed allocating the tax to the area from which it was collected, as well as funding countywide promotion.
A suggestion was made to use the port taxing district boundaries to determine the area for allocation. The three port districts do not cover all of the county, however.
Also discussed was giving the promotion dollars to the three chambers and the county tourism board.