Grants Pass Faces Local Sales Tax Impasse
GRANTS PASS Ore. — Grants Pass is sitting with an estimated $4.5 million shortfall in funding to maintain public safety services. A local sales tax of 1.5% will be sufficient to cover the county’s safety needs but efforts to raise the cash with local tax impositions are unlikely to succeed, based on previous resident reaction.
Residents Will Have to Dig Deeper to Finance Safety Services
If residents of Grants Pass want to continue enjoying public safety services, they will have to dig deeper into their pockets to help the City meet a shortfall in funding. Continued opposition to a general sales tax, a food and beverage tax, or a utility fee will not resolve the problem.
The Council discussed the matter late last week and is seeking a funding solution to continue providing safety services such as firefighting and 911. City manager Aaron Cubic says that if additional funds cannot be raised through proposed taxation methods, there will be no alternative but to lay off employees.
Opposition to the proposal was voiced by several business owners, including Doran O’Donnell, who says a city-wide sales tax will place a further burden on the public. He is also concerned that this move will discourage people from shopping in Grants Pass and encourage them to rather shop in Rogue River or Merlin.
His fears were amplified by resident Joyce Randolph, who threatened to shop in nearby Merlin or Rogue River. Randolph says in today’s economic climate one must do what one can to save money. She points out that a tax on top of the rising cost of food can tip the affordability scales.
Randolph suggests that the City seek another form of funding, while O’Donnell says the problem can be solved by reducing law enforcement expenditure.
Mayor Graham Dismisses Suggestions
At a public meeting, Mayor Sonja Graham dismissed the suggestions that the city make cutbacks in other departments to fund emergency services. She told the meeting that “math doesn’t work that way,”
Grants Pass relies on supplemental funding directly from state and federal funding, grants, program registration fees, service and annexation agreements, transient lodging tax, sponsorships, private donations, and other non-property tax resources.