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GP City Council in Favor of General Sales Tax and Utility Fee for Public Safety Funding

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The Grants Pass City Council has elected new leadership for 2024, but it didn't come easy.

Three attempts to break a 4-4 deadlock between Councilors Vanessa Ogier and Rick Ryker were unsuccessful, so Ogier was elected Council President and Ryker was elected Vice-President. Councilor DJ Faszer was nominated, but not elected.

With Mayor Sara Bristol absent, Ogier then led Monday's bi-weekly workshop session where the main topic was once again public safety funding. During a marathon presentation followed by discussion, the Council voted 6-1 on a funding plan that includes a 1.5% general sales tax and a $12 hike to monthly utility bills.

After mulling the supplemental funding options for public safety, the Council concluded that the general sales tax and utility fee was the best way to go because a food and beverage tax targets one specific industry. The general sales tax would spread the tax among all businesses -- with some exceptions -- and generate about $10 million per year, which would allow the addition of nine full-time employees in the next fiscal year -- seven of them in much-needed public safety positions.

The general sales tax would be capped at 1.5%, which means it could not be increased without the consent of Grants Pass voters.

The City Council plans to hold a February 15th public forum on the plan before officially adopting it at a future regular meeting, perhaps in early March. The panel wants feedback from the public on the plan before making its final decision.

Council members acknowledged that the plan could be brought to a vote if citizens decided they wanted to put it on the ballot via the referendum process.
Posted on 1/9/24 6:14AM by Sam Marsh