By Betsy Hammond

The Oregonian

Hood River voters resoundingly rejected a proposed 5% tax on restaurant meals designed to raise money to keep the county safe and appealing for tourists.

According to Wednesday morning vote tallies, the measure went down 59% to 41%.

The tax on prepared food and nonalcoholic drinks would have paid for tourism services, including maintaining public parks and forest trails, environmental health services and the county history museum.

The county, home to the Columbia River wind surfing mecca of Hood River and the eastern flank of Mount Hood in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, faces multimillion-­dollar operating deficits as federal timber funding has plummeted.

Architects of the tax expected tourists would have paid much of the tax on restaurant meals.

The proposed tax would have been imposed on purchases of food “meant for immediate consumption,” meaning items such as individual cookies and pastries purchased at coffee shops would been taxed, but whole cakes and loaves of bread wouldn’t.