Mayor, councilman, recognize resort tax support

by Chris Peterson
Editor | June 17, 2020 7:02 AM

Councilman Darin Fisher and Mayor Don Barnhart both thanked the community for its support of the city’s 3 percent resort tax.

The bulk of the tax funds, by law, will go toward the city’s fire department and emergency services. Twenty five percent of the revenue will go back to city property taxpayers as a rebate.

Voters approved the tax 768-670. The measure passed by about 7 percent — in a presidential election, for example, that would be considered a wide margin, Fisher noted.

He noted that the crafting of the tax and its language was a long process — it took two years.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the community,” he said.

Barnhart agreed, saying he wanted to thank the community “for listening to us.”

The tax targets non-essential items like liquor, beer, candy and restaurant meals. It does not tax cars, or hardware supplies or auto parts. It also does not apply to online purchases. The idea of the tax is to capture tourism revenue to help pay for city services, which see a marked increase in calls during the summer months, when the city fills with visitors. The city will eventually need to go to at least a partially paid fire department as it continues to grow.

Barnhart said that letters of support in newspapers helped put it over the top.

Council has delayed implementation of the tax until October 2021, due to the current economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.

A final public hearing will be held at council chambers July 6 at 7 p.m. on the tax.

In other news:

• The pool opened Monday and 33 hardy kids took to the water, even though air temperatures were in the 50s. The pool water is a balmy 83 degrees. The city has to cap the number of people in the pool, including staff, at 50 due to coronavirus concerns.

• City manager Susan Nicosia noted the city did not cancel Heritage Days. Heritage Days is done by a separate committee and events are put together by individual organizers, all who decided it was prudent to cancel the event this year due to coronavirus concerns. The city does, however, approve the event as a city function.

• The city is still only at 50 percent compliance with the census at the moment. Getting an accurate census count is critical in receiving grant and other funding, so folks are urged to fill out their census form if they haven’t done so.

• Nicosia said the has applied for a federal grant for $3 million that would greatly help put utilities in the former Plum Creek Cedar Palace which is being remodeled into a new medical center. The city is eligible for the funds because of job losses when Weyerhaeuser shut down the plywood and sawmills in town. The city could have an answer in the next few weeks on the grant application.