Posted: Fri, February 17 2012 at 10:56 PM, Updated: Fri, February 17 2012 at 11:38 PM
A cash-strapped Curry County is looking for a lifeline to fill a $3 million budget gap left by the expiration of federal timber payments. Tonight...one county considers a possible solution.
"couple boats shy every day, still people, but not as many as we'd like"
Nic McNair helps run Jerry's Jet Boats in Gold Beach, the family business.
From May through October, the jet boats offer excursions up the " Wild and Scenic" sections of the Rogue River.
"now it's a tourist town...and that's fading"
But that wasn't always the case. For decades, Gold Beach and Curry County relied on revenue generated from the federal forests. Because federal land is not subject to property taxes, rural counties and school districts received a share of timber sale revenue since 19-08. That amounted to 61% of its general fund.
Enter a solution that may take some heat among Oregonians -- sales tax.
"sales tax is something that Oregonians are proud that they don't have and they've voted it down every time someone has tried to float that boat."
But a citizens committee working to keep Curry County afloat included a sales tax in a list of 19 ideas to deal with the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools Act.
A sales tax would be a first among Oregon counties. County Commissioner George Rhodes says the board is considering putting the idea to voters on the May ballot.
Time and again, Oregon voters have turned down a state sales tax to raise revenue. But two Oregon cities, Yachats and Ashland tax restaurant sales. Ashland's 5% tax brings in about $2 million a year.