Letters to the Editor October 21

It's unfair to tax just one set of businesses

We are passionate about the water that flows through our town. Considering the outspokenness of this passion, there is more than a hint of hypocrisy in shifting the burden for treating this water to one of our town's industries. Try as you might to rationalize the decision to tax one set of businesses over another that also relies on tourism, you will not be able to outrun a viable fairness (in this case, a soft word for discrimination) argument.

We simply need to step up and own our values. If we want to save money to buy park land, and/or need money for park services, put a measure on the ballot and let the voters approve funds for that purpose.

Rick Saul

Ashland

Let's continue the success of meals tax

Who are we kidding about the meals tax? I keep reading about the meals tax opposition and have to chuckle. These are the same tired arguments we heard 17 years ago when we first adopted the tax. They weren't true then and they aren't true now.

Opponents claimed then and now that the tax would hurt the business community, but they have never offered any credible proof. According to city records, over the past 17 years, the number of businesses collecting the meals tax has grown steadily from 109 in 1992 to 131 today, and the Chamber of Commerce estimates that the annual tourist population has reached 350,000.

Most of the open space we now enjoy would have been lost without this tax and we will lose the opportunity for more if it goes.

Let's continue the success and continue the meals tax. Vote Yes on Measure 15-95.

Steve Hauck

Ashland

Tax-loving liberal against the meals tax

I just finished reading letters from two Ashland mayors plus an article about a third mayor all on the subject of the meals tax (see Oct. 16 Daily Tidings).

I admit that I'm an Ashland liberal, but oddly enough, the meals tax is the only tax I've never been able to support. I vote for every school levy, and I would even support a general sales tax. Cathy Shaw and John Stromberg I supported, not Alan DeBoer, but on the meals tax DeBoer speaks for me. DeBoer says, "Let us charge for services rendered, watch our costs and efficiently manage our resources ..."

It puzzles me that Ashland somehow cannot afford to pay for its sewage treatment system when every other city in Oregon pays for theirs. It is true that very few summer tourists are deterred by the meals tax, but for the other nine months of the year, it's a different story.

As Alex and Beth Reid point out in the same issue of the Tidings, "... countless patrons from the local towns told me that in good conscience they would not and should not pay for our sanitation problems. After all, they had to pay for their own system without a tax on outsiders." So let's let the meals tax expire with a no vote.

Maybe our missing patrons will return as a result.

Larry Cooper

Ashland

Let's keep the record straight on meals tax

To tell you the truth, I am on the fence regarding the proposed renewal of Ashland's 5 percent food and beverage tax. Even after owning and operating a restaurant for 26 years in Ashland, Brothers', I perceive advantages and disadvantages regardless of how the vote falls.

What I strongly object to is misinformation being placed in front of voters making a difficult, emotional decision. Inaccurate statements in the voters guide regarding acquisition of park lands since 1994 reminds me of how the original meals tax was originally sold to the public 15 years ago. I can still see the big 1 percent on lawn signs all over town.

Certainly, 1 percent would barely raise the collective eyebrows of the dining public. The fine print, however, which most voters missed, was that the city council could raise the 1 percent tax to 5 percent without public input.

Indeed, before the first dime was even collected, the tax had been raised to 5 percent. I'm beginning to recognize that familiar bad taste from the last go-round. Personally I've witnessed a lifetime's worth of political deception and would hope that, at least on our local level, we can keep the record straight and the fight clean.

Bob Evoniuk

Ashland

Can't we afford to help our community?



I support the meals tax.

We live in a community dominated by tourists. According to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Web site, they present more than 780 performances annually to approximately 400,000 people. Our city is very enriched by OSF, yet our wastewater treatment system is dramatically taxed by these visitors, as are other municipal services. Tourists do not flinch at contributing to a meals tax; many tourist cities tax meals. To name a few: Massachusetts has 32 cities with meals taxes; all Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine communities have meals taxes of 9 percent; and 39 Virginia counties have meals taxes. Various communities in Idaho, Indiana and Illinois have meals taxes, as do Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington — charging up to 10 percent in meals taxes.

Ashland is considering renewing the meals tax because our community, like our schools, is suffering financial difficulties and our wastewater treatment system continues to present debt. Wastewater treatment is not glamorous, but it's crucial to our quality of life. Acquisition of parks and enhancements of park facilities provides a significant benefit to us and to generations to come.

The city projects that our sewage taxes will go up 50 percent without this tax. If we can afford to eat in restaurants, can't we afford to help our community?

Susan Roudebush

Ashland

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