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Hood River County considering a 'sales and tourist tax' to go on May ballot

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HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Hood River County commissioners are considering a two-percent "sales and tourist tax" which could make it the only county in Oregon with such a tax.

The county commission has held two recent work sessions on the tax and drafted the ordinance. There will be a special public meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. at 601 State Street for anyone to attend.

The board is considering putting the tax before voters on the May, 2018 ballot.

Hood River County is strapped for cash. Budget documents for the current fiscal year shows they began with a $1.6 million General Fund budget shortfall.

County documents say a two-percent tax could raise about $3.5 million annually for public safety programs, transportation infrastructure, county parks, and public health. Purchases of groceries, fuel, and prescription medicine would be exempted from the tax.

The board surveyed residents to gauge support for the tax, but found that it may not have enough to pass in May. When asked if they would support a two-percent tax, only 42 percent of voters said “yes” while 53 percent said “no”. Typically, the county wants to see a ballot measure begin with around 60 percent “yes” at the outset of a campaign.

You can read the draft ordinance here.

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