Support tax and levy
Soon we will receive our ballots for the May election and be faced with a very hard decision: Become the third community in Oregon to create a 5 percent Prepared Food and Beverage Tax or stick with business as usual. I feel a great deal of empathy for local restaurant owners who feel their industry is being unfairly targeted. I also feel empathy for elected officials who are in an impossible predicament.
Over the last decade, the county has explored several creative revenue-generating opportunities, including a wind energy project on Middle Mountain, a biomass energy plant, and a local sales tax. None received traction. Today, our leaders have few tools for funding schools and other services that boost opportunity and improve economic inequalities. There is a statewide cap on property taxes, limiting assessed value increases. In addition, Oregon is one of five states without a sales tax. (Oregonians have voted nine times against a sales tax.) And the federal timber subsidies we once enjoyed are dwindling each year.
The county’s budget shortfall means that critical programs and services will be eliminated if voters don’t pass this ballot measure. People of all income levels will feel these cuts. The funding has to come from somewhere, and Ashland and Yachats have shown us that a food and beverage tax is a fair and reliable way to get visitors to help pay for essential services. We’re well positioned, being just a few miles from Washington where the sales tax is 6.5 percent. It’s much less likely that people will go across the river for meals simply to avoid paying the tax.
Consider joining me in voting for a safe and healthy Hood River County by voting “Yes” to approve the Local Option Operating Levy and Prepared Food & Beverage Tax on the May 21 ballot.
Hands off Venezuela
Can we agree that nobody really wins a war? At least the wars in my lifetime (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc ...) have all been miserable failures at whatever objectives they were supposed to address. They’ve resulted in death, displacement, insecurity, and (shocker!) increased hatred of the US. The idea of “destroying the village to save it” is just not very popular with people in the affected countries.
Why then do we keep putting the same idiots in charge of foreign policy, the same sociopaths who cook up these murderous schemes in the first place? Elliot Abrams and John Bolton are two of the main architects of the Iraq war.
Now (they) want to start a Vietnam in Venezuela. This will not be a “cakewalk” like Iraq. Venezuela has a modern military and a large population of people who support the elected government. The elected government also has the staunch support of both China and Russia. Our sanctions (not to mention the nefarious involvement of the CIA) are against international law. We strangle Venezuela with one hand, stab it with the other, and then whine about how they won’t accept our “aid.”
Hands off Venezuela!
I find it strange that Hood River City Council Member Kate McBride wrote a Letter to the Editor stating that she is “saddened” to see the county close Ruthton and Panorama parks.
In her role as city councilor, she made a motion to rezone Morrison park in order to build high density housing (which was passed by the city council). Unlike the city “leaders,” the county isn’t destroying parks, they are just closing them temporarily.
The whole concept of public parks is to provide natural areas and park space to folks who don’t have the luxury of large, park-like yards. The combination of the closure of some county parks, coupled with the destruction of Morrison Park, greatly reduces the choices for park spaces for those who can’t afford the “pay to play” waterfront parks.
Editor’s note: This letter references Kate McBride’s letter titled “Fund county,” which ran April 13.
I’m writing in response to an April 13 letter from Rev. John Boonstra, “Thanks, City Council.”
Rev. Boonstra’s letter was written with regards to the City Council’s recent rezoning of Morrison Park to accommodate housing. While Rev. Boonstra advocated for affordable housing in his letter, he wrote, “For anyone with a conscience, this is a problem that will keep us up at night.” Are you insinuating that those with a different opinion than you regarding the conversion, or “sale,” of Morrison Park do not have a conscience? Or was that not insinuated, but rather simply stated? You talk about the need for diversity in your letter, but is diversity only defined by your standards? Or is a community filled with different opinions a benefit to the growth and development of a livable community? I truly believe that most of us have the same goals and values, but we may have different opinions on how we reach those goals. Is it prudent to call those that have different opinions, without conscience? Is it respectful to this incredible community to be divisive? I believe that Rev. Boonstra loves this community. I too love this community, and have for far longer than he. I believe that Rev. Boonstra wants the best for this community, but insinuating (or simply stating) that those not wanting to rezone or “sell” Morrison Park for $1 are without conscience is absurd.
Is there a point that we can agree that it’s possible to love this community and want the best for all the people in the community, even if we can’t agree on how we’d achieve those goals? I love my hometown. I can tell that Rev. Boonstra does too. Let’s stop assuming that those with different opinions have different values. I am with strong conscience and love my entire community-my home town, and I strongly believe we need to retain our public green space.
Editor’s note: Katie Haynie’s husband, Erick, is a member of Hood River City Council.
Kate McBride argued at a March 11 city meeting that building affordable housing on park property is comparable to park use.
In her Letter to the Editor on April 13, she claims that we need to raise taxes to pay for the re-opening of Panorama Point and Ruthton Park.
Using her logic: How about we donate these two locations to a developer. Build, say, 150 affordable houses. That way, we will maintain a comparable use of the parks and will not have to raise our taxes.
If we can do it with Morrison Park, why not Panorama Point or Ruthton Park?
Editor’s note: The Morrison Park (Lot 700) rezone was a city council action on city-owned property. Ruthton and Panorama Point parks are county-owned.
Of course we hate taxes. It’s American after all. Yet, taxes pay for our civilization. So, my hat is off to the County Board of Commissioners for taking the time to explain our financial situation, often in person. These public forums, articles in this paper and other sources were all available to those who cared to be informed.
The prepared food and beverage tax is as targeted as it can get to our ever increasing “visitors” who do eat out far more often than most “locals.” Rescues by the Sheriff’s Dept. are just one increased costs of providing civilization. Then think about police, justice system, roads, parks, County Health Department, Elections Department, Forestry Department — with over 30,000 acres of timberland to protect — and the OSU Extension office. The county has already spun off the library, most of Parks and Rec and the History Museum. Which of these remaining services do we suggest they cut out?
Let’s support both county tax measures.