WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Letter to the Editor – Lincoln County Commons

The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letter are strictly those of the submitter.

Letter to the Editor:

Gerry Barrett has exposed the grossly inadequate funding actually available for the huge convention center proposed by the county commissioners.

Some of the shortfall might come from the city of Newport, which believes it will provide funding from the city’s new urban renewal zone. So, tax dollars that might otherwise go towards building sidewalks, paving streets, adding needed stop signs and increasing the police force beyond current 2009 staffing level, would instead be spent on building a convention center that will be a drain on county and city taxpayers, inevitably needing the maintenance and repairs the county has been unwilling to fund on the current fairgrounds.

However, even adding city tax dollars will be insufficient to fund the center’s construction.

Once construction has begun, and funding from those sources proves inadequate, the county and city will demand passage of a tax levy to provide the needed funds. The cry will be: we’ve come this far! We’ve got sunk costs! We can’t stop now, we have to finish it!

Instead, it’s time for the county commissioners learned to live within the county’s budget. The proposed convention center is not an essential government service. It’s not a road, not a police force, nor is it other essential services or infrastructure.

Like Ms. Perry, I believe there are already existing and underutilized potential convention/event/meeting structures in Newport and South Beach. In addition to the Maritime History building, there are also school buildings, including the community college’s. Schools sit empty on many weekends, breaks and most of the summer. The college has been almost empty by 5:30 pm on the weekdays and weekends. It has a large open central space, as well as many meeting rooms. Just like a convention center.

Where is the demand for the huge spaces the commissioners desire? At least one hotel along Elizabeth Street, as well as the Best Western in Agate Beach, has “convention” space and facilities that appear to be lightly used and could handle far more meetings, conventions, and trade shows than they currently do. Salishan’s convention/meeting facility has struggled unsuccessfully for years to break even.

The consultant’s report on a proposed convention center listed events that might be held there. All but one of those events has been held successfully at the middle school and Yaquina View school, successfully using existing facilities that taxpayers have already paid for.

I suggest the county commissioners seek to utilize these structures further, rather than wasting tax money on a large superfluous facility.

Susan Hogg Newport

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