PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Early results show Salem voters are overwhelmingly opposed to a payroll tax that would fund emergency services in Oregon’s capital city.
As of 11:15 p.m., vote totals showed 82.14% of voters cast a “No” vote, while only 17.86% favored the idea.
The city council passed the Safe Salem Payroll Tax in July. The tax would go into effect in July 2024 and cost people who work in Salem about $40 per month to pay for emergency services.
The city introduced the tax as part of its Safe Salem initiative to help fund emergency services, including police, fire and sheltering programs. The City of Salem says it is estimated to bring in $27,850,000 annually.
The payroll tax would apply to work performed within city limits, impacting everyone living and working in Salem – even commuters. The tax would not, however, apply to those making minimum wage.
“It’s gotten a lot of pushback but it’s also gotten a lot of support,” Salem Mayor Chris Hoy told KOIN 6 News on Monday. “I’m optimistic that it will pass but I’m also realistic enough to know we’re in a difficult time and it may not.”
If it fails, Hoy said “we’re going to have to find a new revenue source or make some cuts to services.” The mayor said the cutbacks could come from “everything in our general fund — police, fire, library, parks … homeless services.” Hoy said the city has a $19 million shortfall in their general fund over the next few years.