Protect Or Manage Money

Weighing special requests for funding — as we described in today’s other editorial — isn’t the only budget challenge Deschutes County commissioners face. The county has a surplus of some $9.2 million in its tourism dollars. What should it do with the money?

This is money from transient room taxes. The tax is paid by people staying overnight in lodging in the county’s unincorporated areas.

For the last several years, the county has underestimated how much that would bring in. The surplus or technically “unallocated” money is money left over after the county fulfills its commitments to the Central Oregon Visitors Association, the Sheriff’s Office and the county’s environmental health efforts.

The county can’t just spend the surplus however it likes. Just how such tourism money can be spent has been an ongoing battle in Oregon. Basically the rules have been that it has to be related in some way to tourism or the additional burdens tourism puts on the community. The county might consider using it for a big ticket item — courthouse expansion. It could give more to the Sheriff’s Office to reduce the need to raise tax rates. It could keep some in reserves, among other options. If you have an opinion, let the commissioners know. You can email them at board@deschutes.org.

(2) comments

Gary Mendoza

The County Commissioners and the Bend City Council should go to Salem to get the authority to set the hotel occupancy tax at the rate they choose (I’d say triple it) and use it however the Commissioners deem appropriate.

The lodging industry has pumped their profits at the expense of residents for far too long.

64248

Right on! Use the money to dredge that pond downtown and stop advertizing Centrlal Oregon. Our water is gone!

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