The city of Cannon Beach Council heard public input at meetings this month on a prepared food tax –something under discussion as a possible way to fund a new city hall, police station and pay for the shortfall in the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District budget.
The council will discuss this option at its work session meeting on Wednesday.
At the June 16 meeting, several people spoke in favor of the prepared food tax as a way to fund the shortfalls in the fire district’s budget.
Cannon Beach resident Greg Swedenborg said there is no other way to get the day trippers to pay for the expenses the district incurs from their visits. More than 70 percent of the district calls come from people who don’t live here, so a property tax increase is not appropriate.
Erik Ostrander, co-manager of the Sea Breeze Court in Cannon Beach, said calculating the tax is not difficult. Also, he said he spoke with his guests and they say they would not drive to Seaside to avoid a 5 percent food tax.
Ostrander said he is a volunteer firefighter.
“Instead of using the funds for a new city hall, use it to fund affordable housing in town,” he said.
“The hotel guests don’t make the city full, the day trippers make the city full,” he said. The day trippers don’t contribute to funding emergency services.
Hannah Buschert, co-manager of the Sea Breeze Court, said the “consensus is not in favor of a new city hall.”
She said she would favor spending the tax money on workforce housing rather than on a new city hall. “There are lots of jobs but no one to work them.”
Swedenborg said in an email: “I don’t know many supporters of the ‘new city hall’ which depending on what architect rough plan they did last year is in the $16 – 32M range. Most folks seem to agree that the current building for both city hall and police station are in need of some major help, but few think it is a $16+ Million problem.”
Kathy Kleczek, Cannon Beach resident, said it “would be a burden” to raise the property tax to support the tourism industry.
Kleczek said she supports the tax going to fund the fire department, the city and future projects.
Jan Siebert-Wahrmund, Cannon Beach resident, read her letter at the input meeting on the 19th.
Siebert-Wahrmund said “a food tax at this particular time would be unfair.” She asked the council to “wait one year and see how things unfold.”
She said she would like to see the residents vote on the issue rather than the council.
“And with all due respect to our city manager, it’s our understanding that according to our laws, he should not be lobbying for this food tax in anyway,” she said.
City manager Bruce St. Denis said after her comments that he was only providing information and ideas. Staff can provide factual information.
Betsy Ayres of Cannon Beach said she favors a food tax without any sunset to “take care of the onslaught of tourism.”