Small business owners react to proposed JoCo sales tax

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Small business owners in Josephine County 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 in Grants Pass today.

They agreed that funding law enforcement is important to them.

But they don’t want that to come at the expense of their bottom line as business owners.

Jan Bertaggia, who owns Wild Rogue Emporium, said, “we’re not looking forward to it.”

The Josephine County Board of Commissioners put a 3% seasonal sales tax on the ballot..

Bertaggia said the tax would put more stress on small business owners after a rough couple years.

“Most of us don’t want it, I don’t,” She said, “I think we should find other ways to make the money.”

If approved, the tax will run between April 15th and October 15th of every year.

Terri Collins owns TLC Creations, she said the tax would hurt her business too.

“Tourism is down already due to the economy and small businesses are fighting for every penny that can get, and some of the 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 taxing district was considered, but commissioners hope this seasonal tax will put the burden on tourists, not locals.

Because of budget cuts next year, the Josephine County Sheriff’s patrol staff could drop from 29 and a half positions, to 18 and a half.

The county’s finance director said the jail would then go from 49 staffers to 44.

Bertaggia said she’s all for helping law enforcement, as long as it’s not in the form of a sales tax.

“I don’t want to have tax as a business owner, as a citizen, I want my police department,” she said.

Collins is concerned that a tax would steer tourists and customers away from Grants Pass.

She said, “I’m all pro-law enforcement, and I know that we don’t have enough law enforcement here right now, but on the other hand, I don’t want to lose 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 down and shop in, we feel it as small business owners,” she said.

The tax doesn’t apply to every sale.

Alcohol, tobacco products and gas are exempt, among others.

You can see other exempt items from the tax and read the bill here.


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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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