Letter to the Editor from Newport Resident Carla Perry
Three ballot measures: Lincoln County 21-203; Newport 21-205 and 21-206.
Countywide Ballot Measure 21-203. VOTE YES.
This ballot measure drops maximum occupancy rates down to a reasonable two people per bedroom, and would allow a five-year phase out of vacation rental licenses in residential areas of unincorporated Lincoln County. The measure does not involve vacation rentals inside city limits, or vacation rentals located in commercial or industrial areas of unincorporated Lincoln County. The homes affected could be sold or used as long-term rentals and still make money for the owners. The ballot measure would also mandate that vacation rentals on septic systems be required to have those systems checked. The measure even provides an exception process. All very reasonable modifications. The money to create the alarming and misleading ads and mailings against Ballot Measure 21-203 is not coming from residents of the County. So read your voters pamphlet (located in your ballot envelope) for the true aspects of this ballot measure. VOTE YES on 21-203.
City of Newport Ballot Measures 21-206 and 21-205. VOTE NO ON BOTH.
These two ballot measures would create a year-round increase in City gasoline taxes to 5 cents a gallon, and a new 5% restaurant tax. Both measures are supposedly targeted at visitors to ease the burden of public safety and infrastructure repairs that now fall entirely on residents, but are caused by hosting 30,000 visitors to Newport every day. But visitors buy gas only once while they’re in town, or eat in our restaurants for a day or two. Residents will paying these taxes year-round. Plus, the restaurant industry shouldn’t be singled out to carry this burden.
A far more equitable way to cover the costs of hosting 30,000 visitors to Newport each day is to enforce Municipal Code. The City’s policy of “voluntary compliance,” and its refusal to pursue fines for documented violations, has left hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table. Most years, the City walks away from more than a million dollars by forgiving fines, settling with violators, or waiving penalties entirely. The City of Newport could obtain all the needed revenue these measures would raise by using room tax dollars, enforcing Municipal Code, issuing citations to violators, and by pursuing past-due taxes, fines, penalties, and interest. They’ll find plenty of money in plain sight.