Cannon Beach Examines Food and Beverage Tax Proposal

The city says the tax could bring in $ 1.2 million in revenue that the city would share with the Fire District.

CANNON BEACH, Oregon – A proposed tax at Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast would make food and drink more expensive. This is part of an effort to raise funds to handle emergencies like fires and water rescues.

Cannon Beach Fire District Chief Marc Reckmann said his agency was severely underfunded. He is one of three paid employees. He oversees 15 volunteers and his agency covers an expanse of land 24 miles long and a quarter of a mile wide.

“We are a full service district, we cover fire, EMS and then a lot of technical rescue, Reckmann said. “Lots of surf and rope rescue — that’s where a lot of money goes to our technical rescue teams. It takes a lot of equipment and training to keep these technical rescue teams going. “

With thousands of people visiting Cannon Beach each year, Reckmann says a large majority of his calls help tourists.

“In 2020, 77% of our calls were about tourism. They had nothing to do with people who live, work in the fire department.”

From January to the end of May 2021, Reckmann says calls increased by more than 40%.

The town of Cannon Beach says this proposed tax would bring in about $ 1.2 million. The funds would be divided between the city and the district, but ultimately it is up to the city to decide on the distribution of the income.

The city already has a lodging tax, but it does not generate money for the fire district to fight fires or respond to emergencies. Part of this money is spent on promoting tourism.

“The city gets money from the accommodation tax, the fire district gets nothing from that money. We don’t get anything from tourism,” Reckmann said.

He says the fire district has one of the lowest permanent tax rates in the state of Oregon for a fire district — at just 35 cents.

Funding for the neighborhood comes from property taxes. Direct debits are only valid for 5 years. The most recent levy adopted last year was 35 cents per 1,000 square feet. Another sample in 1999 was renewed each time it was taken.

“But even with those two levies and the permanent tax rate, our tax rate is only 89 cents per thousand. If you were to look at the North Coast region, a fire district typically, the average is $ 1.37. You go inland and look at other fire districts, it’s $ 1.50 to $ 3 per thousand, “Reckmann said.

In 2019, Reckmann approached city council asking it to consider a 5% food and drink tax, a tax similar to Ashland and Yachats. Now, after a few years of research, he says the tax seems to be picking up steam, but not everyone agrees. Some Cannon Beach business owners argue that this proposed tax is not fair.

“The city and the fire department are trying to put all that load on 27 restaurants in Cannon Beach,” said Paul Nofield, owner of Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge in Cannon Beach.

“There are no galleries, picture frames, clothing stores and that just doesn’t feel right to me.”

Nofield says it would not just tax tourists, but local residents as well.

“They’re trying to say it’s a tourist tax, that we really shouldn’t tax our tourists that much, but everyone who lives in Cannon Beach and goes to dine in Cannon Beach would pay that tax. It’s not just that. a tourist tax is quite a tourist tax. “

Some restaurateurs have started to sign petitions against the tax. They say if the city is considering considering a tax it should be for all businesses.

“It is a tax that will continue to become more and more important,” Nofield said.

The earliest this tax could be on the ballot is November 2021.

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