Chamber of Commerce For Grants Pass And Josephine County Oppose New Food And Beverage Tax

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The food and beverage tax proposed by Grants Pass City Council is being opposed by the Grants Pass-Josephine County Chamber of Commerce after many businesses raised concerns.

Grants Pass needs at least an additional $3 million to keep police and fire fully staffed, even after passing a public safety levy last year. A motion was then passed to implement a 3% food and beverage tax along with a utility fee to fund public safety in a city council meeting earlier this month. The city council is looking to add a $9 utility levy each month over and above the 3% food and beverage tax but without a public vote.

The president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Josie Molloy believes that adding a food and beverage tax would drive business away from the county. She felt that post-COVID, businesses are still dealing with inflation, rising food costs, and a shortage of workforce. The extra tax puts a huge burden on them and will have a negative impact.


Grants Pass Fire Fighters Need Funding

The chamber of commerce still supports funding for police and fire but wants to work with the city council to find a solution that won’t hurt local businesses. The food and beverage tax was chosen over a sales tax by the city council because it wouldn’t impact as many businesses.

At the meeting where the motion was passed, vice president of Grants Pass Professional Firefighters, Bracken Sharp, said that they are running. 24/7, 365 days for the people of Grants Pass. They love to do it, but desperately need help.

After hearing public comments, Mayor Sara Bristol confirmed that it wasn’t an easy decision for them to make. Council member Valerie Lovelace said that funding the fire and police departments which are there for the citizens of Grants Pass 24/7 is the least the city can do.


Businesses React to Food And Beverages Tax

At the meeting, some citizens said they would accept any tax or fee to fund the police and fire departments, but others wanted no taxes or fees at all. Council members and citizens agreed that there was no clear-cut choice because having less public safety is not an option.

Grants Pass resident Mike Pelfrey said that it’s like committing financial suicide for the city whether it’s a sales tax or a food and beverage tax. Terry Hopkins, membership representative in the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association. and a restaurant owner in Grants Pass confirmed that the industry is very competitive, with low margins. It’s still struggling to recover from being closed down after COVID-19, and although he believes in supporting police and fire in the city, he doesn’t think that a food and beverage tax is the right solution.

If given the opportunity, he would take a chance by moving outside of the area where he would rather have a competitive advantage of 3 to 5% over others.

The owner of Sunshine Natural Foods and a City Councilor, Rob Pell will be affected by a food and beverage tax and feels the tax would affect the Grants Pass economy less than sales tax. Being the only city in the state with a sales tax could be devastating. He believes that the food and beverage tax could allow the city to benefit from the tourism dollars in the region. He said they hear every day that,

“One of the reasons tourists like coming to Grants Pass is because there’s no general sales tax.”

The food and beverage tax and utility fee aren’t going into effect just yet. Mayor Bristol indicated earlier that the council will make a final decision at the latest by July.


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  1. Nancy says

    I have heard many say they would shop and eat out of town. Bad for Grants Pass.

  2. Karen says

    I think before any more taxes are implemented, we thr tax paying people would like to audit the funds that taxpayers pay along with federal funding and find out where and what our money, the peoples money, is going. it’s getting out of hand. let us decide where our taxes are going, to what programs. it’s the peoples right.

  3. steve says

    More Govt. nonsense. Raise taxes is their answer to every problem.

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