NEWPORT CITY COUNCIL REFERS PROPOSED TAX MEASURES TO THE NOVEMBER BALLOT
NEWPORT – The Newport City Council has forwarded two proposed tax measures to the November ballot which, if passed, would help better fund city services.
The council voted to refer to the November ballot a proposed measure which would increase the city’s gas tax, within city limits, year-round, by 5 cents/gallon. In addition, a separate measure would place a 5-percent tax on the total cost of prepared foods – dining or take-out. If the measures pass, the proposed taxes would be collected by local businesses and eventually be forwarded to Newport City Hall.
The proposed measures are part of a series of recommendations by Finance Work Groups over the past three years. The teams were tasked with developing a system for projecting the city’s long-range financial condition, identifying options to address the deficit through budget cuts and raising revenue, and developing a five-year financial plan that aims to achieve financial sustainability.
The City of Newport has cut 22 full-time employees from its budget. The Finance Committee determined that much of the pressure placed on city services and facilities comes from visitors to the community. The committee looked for ways to close that budget gap, especially during the busy seasons when the city of 10,000 residents swells to 30,000.
If passed, the proposed gas tax would raise an estimated $392,000 per year that would be dedicated to street resurfacing and reconstruction projects. The proposed prepared food tax revenue – estimated to be around $2.5 million in the first year – would fund the hiring of three more police officers, one more parking enforcement officer, three firefighters/EMTs, one bi-lingual librarian, a part-time library staff position and maintenance, upgrades to 48 facilities and parks owned and operated by the city and one-time business grants to assist restaurants and other prepared food operators in collecting the new tax revenues.
The City of Ashland, with about 21,000 residents, and the City of Yachats, with about 765 residents, both have similar prepared food tax rates. Ashland has been utilizing this revenue source for nearly 25 years.
The largest portion of the proposed tax revenue – a little more than $1 million – would be used to fund the facilities that residents and visitors alike utilize in the city. Those include upgrades and maintenance to roof and window replacements along with other work at the Performing Arts Center, Visual Art Center, Recreation Center, 60+ Center and numerous parks and trails, public restrooms, the fire stations, City Hall, the airport and other key community resources.
Both Newport’s tax measures will go on the November 2021 ballot. If the proposed measures do not pass, the proposed services would not be provided and taxes would not be increased. But if one measure is approved, it would be enacted.