GRANTS PASS, Oregon. – Josephine County small business owners have reacted to a proposed seasonal retail sales tax.
The idea is being put on the November ballot by county commissioners to help cover the county’s law enforcement budget, which could face cuts next year.
NBC5 spoke to some small businesses about Grants Pass today.
They agreed that funding for law enforcement is important to them.
But they don’t want it to come at the expense of their bottom line as business owners.
Jan Bertaggia, owner of Wild Rogue Emporium, said, “We’re not looking forward to it.”
The Josephine County Board of Commissioners imposed a 3% seasonal sales tax on the ballot.
Bertaggia said the tax would put more pressure on small business owners after a tough few years.
“Most of us don’t want it, I don’t,” she said, “I think we should find other ways to make money.”
If approved, the tax will apply between April 15 and October 15 each year.
Terri Collins is the owner of TLC Creations, she said the tax would also hurt her business.
“Tourism is already down due to the economy and small businesses are fighting for every penny they can get, and some locals may not like to see the sales tax,” Collins said.
County commissioners have been looking for ways to fund the sheriff’s office or else positions will be cut next year.
A tax district has been considered, but commissioners hope this seasonal tax will fall on tourists, not locals.
Due to budget cuts next year, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Patrol staff could drop from 29½ positions to 18½ positions.
The county’s chief financial officer said the jail would then shrink from 49 employees to 44.
Bertaggia said she’s fine with helping law enforcement, as long as it’s not in the form of a sales tax.
“I don’t want taxes as a business owner, as a citizen I want my police department,” she said.
Collins fears a tax will drive tourists and patrons away from Grants Pass.
She said: “I’m all for law enforcement, and I know we don’t have enough law enforcement here right now, but on the other hand, I don’t want to losing business.”
Collins said small businesses live for those summer tourism dollars and a sales tax would really hurt their bottom line.
“When we have wildfires, or high gas prices, or an environment that’s not friendly to come and shop, we feel it as small business owners,” she said. .
The tax does not apply to all sales.
Alcohol, tobacco products and gasoline are exempt, among others.
You can view other tax exempt items and read the invoice here.
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