Hood River considering 2% sales tax to cover budget shortfall

View of Mt. Hood from Hood River (KATU News photo)

Hood River officials are considering implementing a 2 percent sales tax to help fix a budget gap, but it wouldn't be applied to everything.

The county is seeing a $1.6 million hole in their budget for the year. Commissioners can only raise property taxes 3 percent, so County Commissioner Ron Rivers said a new revenue source is needed.

"This is anti everything that people have stood for in this state for the last nine elections on sales tax," Rivers said. "The flip side of this thing is going to be ugly."

If a sales tax doesn't go through, county leaders will make cuts across the board, which could include not having deputies on duty in the middle of the night.

"The flip side of this thing is going to be ugly," Rivers said. "We've got to find more revenue or we cut services, it's just as simple as that."

Tourism is Hood River County's second biggest industry behind agriculture, and a sales tax could help the county capture more revenue from tourists.

"It has been one of my motivations all along, capturing some of this income from these people out of the area," Rivers said.

The tax wouldn't apply to groceries or medicine.

Heidi McLennon has run Ananas Boutique for 27 years, and nearly every day, she's heard one thing from her customers.

"They're like no sales tax, you pay what you see, that's fantastic," McLennon said. "They get all excited and they start shopping."

McLennon anticipates a sales tax would hurt her business and would like the county to find another source of revenue.

"The second that 2 percent (sales tax) starts, it's going to get just bigger and bigger," McLennon said.

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