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Residents and visitors can all do our share to keep Newport special – Mayor Dean Sawyer

Takes teamwork to make good things happen…Mayor Dean Sawyer

Residents and visitors can all do our share to keep Newport special

Newport is a wonderful small town with a cooler summer climate. Tourists know this and, understandably, flock to Newport. 
We welcome them but realize the stress and increasing costs are placed on our utilities, streets and public safety. Miles traveled on our city streets wear down our infrastructure. Our police and fire department calls and responses to incidents tend to increase significantly during peak tourism seasons. During those times, our city of 10,000 often is host to as many as 30,000 people.
On average, 17,600 people visit the Visual Arts Center. Like the Performing Arts Center, Recreation Center and other facilities visitors and residents alike use, these are amenities that most cities of 10,000 don’t get to enjoy. We’d like to keep them in good shape for continued enjoyment for many years to come. The proposed 5-cent gas tax and 5-percent prepared food tax are ways to make sure city services and facilities are funded equitably.
Both Ashland and Yachats have a prepared food tax which hasn’t decreased their tourism. Visitors who love Newport can contribute to our common good.
Newport residents found solutions to city financial issues
To ensure financial sustainability, the Finance Work Group spent three years balancing revenues and cuts. That group of citizen volunteers looked at and examined closely at many options before arriving at a 5-percent.prepared food tax and 5-cent-per gallon gas tax.
These were difficult conversations, but the bottom line is we have to do something. The city cannot maintain our buildings and infrastructure adequately, or keep our public safety at reasonable levels unless the sizable funding gap is closed.
City Manager Nebel has specified exactly the amounts expected to be raised by each of these taxes, and where it would be spent. The plan is carefully thought out. We even included grants for the businesses that will be collecting the tax to cover the costs of doing that, which makes this proposal even more fair.
No choice is completely painless, but this is the most equitable solution by having a mechanism where visitors and residents alike shoulder the burden for services we all count on. This is a solution that took years of work to reach. It’s in all of our best interest.
Prepared food tax is an equitable solution to financial woes
It costs money to run a city’s government services. A citizen work group examined the city’s expenses and income projections for years to come. They reached a simple conclusion. The cost of operating our city government, with its services and amenities that people count on, is rising faster than new revenue.
Those same volunteers came up with solutions. None of them are easy. And no choice is painless. The slightly increased gas tax plus the prepared food and beverage tax is the most fair combination overall. Cars are getting better mileage and dining out is optional.
The city already has cut 22 positions from its budget and other expenses. Continuing to operate at these levels and only cutting will be a detriment to the quality of life we, as well as our visitors, enjoy. The alternatives are much more daunting. 
Those include letting potholes grow, not paving city streets or sidewalks, letting storm drains fail, not taking care of our city facilities, not re-striping streets, not mowing city parks and the list goes on. The other options include increasing city fees and other measures that impact our most vulnerable populations the most. 
Our city is required to balance the budget while meeting expectations for growth, upkeep and safety. The two city tax measures on the ballot accomplish this in the fairest way possible.
Dean Sawyer
Mayor of Newport

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