An Oregon RV dealership is leading a fight against passage of the state’s first general retail sales tax in Wood Village, according to a report in The Oregonian.
Opposition to the 1% sales tax, which was proposed then shelved last July by the Wood Village City Council, has been led by the Taxpayers Association of Oregon and Olinger Travel Homes.
The group circulated petitions and gathered enough signatures to get a charter amendment on the May 16 ballot that would require a public vote on any new tax or any increase to an existing tax. As things stand, the Wood Village council could impose a sales tax on its own.
According to city records, the RV dealership has contributed $15,000 to Wood Village Citizens for a Right to Vote, a political action committee opposed to the sales tax.
The retailer contends a 1% sales tax would add $700 to $2,700 to the selling price of some of its high-end motorhomes. Company officials have said customers would avoid that charge by driving 15 minutes to a dealership outside of Wood Village.
Wood Village Mayor Dave Fuller believes the charter amendment would “stifle what a normal government does.” He and four councilors are asking residents to vote “no.”
Fuller said Oregon’s property tax system is broken and cities are struggling to pay for basic services. Huge increases in the cost of contracted police and fire services sent Fuller and the council searching for an alternative in the first place.
John Walker, a Portland State University government finance specialist, testified at a 2005 council hearing that a sales tax would drive away RV shoppers. But he said it wouldn’t affect other businesses, and praised the Wood Village council for finding the “perfect solution” to the city’s budget problems.