Looks like JoCo sales tax ordinance heading to the November ballot

Credit to the Josephine County Eagle for this article… https://jocoeagle.com

Wednesday evening (7-20-22) the Grants Pass City Council voted 4-3 to “endorse, promote, and partner” with the county commissioners to pass a 3% seasonal sales tax.

Voting in favor were City Councilors DJ Faszer, Rick Riker, Valerie Lovelace, and Curt Collins. Voting against were councilors Rob Pell, Vanessa Ogier and Joel King. Brian DeLaGrange left the meeting prior the vote.

The Josephine County Board of Commissioners has ordinance 2022-005 “Imposing a Seasonal Sales Tax” on its weekly business agenda next Wednesday. The commissioners will choose which type of tax increase to place before the voters. The purpose of the tax is to fund county law enforcement to provide more frequent Sheriff patrols.

At this point, the sales tax looks like the odds-on favorite to appear on the November ballot.

In his twenty-minute presentation before the city council, Commissioner Dan DeYoung made the case on why the seasonal sales tax is the superior choice to fund the sheriff’s department.

He said putting 3 or 4 different smaller taxes will likely get people to vote “No” on all of them. Most of the tax options discussed at recent sheriff funding forums will not raise the estimated $9 million needed by the Sheriff.

What about a property tax increase for county residents? 

DeYoung explained that a property tax increase would need to exclude Grants Pass city residents because they already pay for patrol services. To raise $9 million from the county’s assessed valuation, the rate would need to be $1.87. Regardless of being a public safety levy or a tax district, he said “anything over a dollar will not pass.”

DeYoung said that the sales tax would be 3% and be charged on most retail sales of products and services between April 15 and October 15. It would be applied on retail purchases up to $2000. Purchases above $2000 would not be taxed.

How would the sales tax revenue be allocated?

Sales tax revenues collected would be allocated between cities and the county based on population. Projections show the tax would raise $400,000 for Cave Junction, $8 million for Grants Pass and $9 million for Josephine County’s general fund. Merchants would retain 5% of funds collected to help cover their collection costs.

The City of Grants Pass can reduce its existing $1.79 Public Safety Levy by the amount collected from the sales tax. DeYoung pointed out that if the City plans to do this, it can be added to the ballot language. Councilor Joel King agreed and said, “we need to keep it tax neutral, so the total taxes paid in the city does not go up.”

DeYoung pointed out that the Grants Pass Chamber board of directors has voted to oppose the sales tax measure.

DeYoung finished by saying, “I appreciate the effort you pushed forward on this tonight. It gives me hope. Thank you very much.”

You can read the proposed sales tax ordinance here beginning on page 8.