The Lincoln County Commission this week will decide whether to put a slight increase on the county’s hotel-motel room tax on the May Ballot in order to build a large new Lincoln County Fairgrounds (The Commons) multi-purpose facility that would cater to events year round – not just in the summer.
The 1% increase on hotel and motel rooms OUTSIDE any city limits would generate revenue, in conjunction with $1.5 million already in the bank and $3 million more promised by Newport in urban renewal, funds to build the new central facility, replacing the current fairgrounds Exhibit Hall.
Commissioner Terry Thompson said last week that he’s very fearful that the proposal will be a continuous drain on the county since facilities like these seldom break even. But he is still in favor putting the 1% room tax hike on the May ballot. Bed and Breakfast owner Diane Disse protested the possible room tax hike saying it could hurt her business. She also questioned the underlying benefits about the fairgrounds project.
The commissioners take up the matter again this Wednesday as to whether the ballot will see a sign of a brand new bold step toward county economic development or just white elephant wrapped around their neck. There’s a lot on the line.
And there’s another ballot issue that appears to be coming up on the May ballot – a proposal that would pay for enhanced law enforcement services for the Siletz area. Due to still tight budgets, the Sheriff’s Office isn’t able to patrol Siletz nearly as much as it needs, so County Counsel Wayne Belmont and the Siletz City Council have agreed that it would be a good idea to see how the voters feel about raising their own property taxes to pay for stepped up law enforcement. The proposed boundary lines of the enhanced law enforcement district would expand largely to the east to pick up more tax base than it presently has.
Siletz voters are likely to have the chance to vote on the proposal in about a month and a half, May 17th.