Aided by Salem Chamber members, concerned residents, and Salem employers and employees, the effort led by Oregon Business & Industry to refer Salem’s Employee-Paid Payroll Tax to Salem voters has generated nearly 13,000 petition signatures — more than three times the number required to send the tax to the November ballot.

Although OBI Political Affairs Director Preston Mann cautioned Chamber members at last week’s Business Advocacy Committee Meeting that many of the signatures would be invalid, the sheer number of submitted signatures means that only 31% need to be verified to meet the threshold for the tax to be referred to Salem voters. This is according to county officials, via an August 9, 2023, Salem Reporter article.

Signature counting began on Wednesday, August 9, and is expected to conclude by Friday, August 11.

Per the Salem Reporter, county election officials said they recommend petitioners collect 10 to 15% more signatures than required, and noted, that with more than 150% than required for this particular petition, “there’s not much doubt that there’ll be enough good signatures.”

Salem City Council could decide to retract the tax before it goes to voters, but thus far, hasn’t discussed that option.

Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess confirmed that, when the signatures are verified, the issue would go to the November ballot instead of May.

“Our determination was that the November election is the only election that this will qualify for because they got the petitions in 90 days before the election,” he said.

In July, Salem City Council approved the proposed 0.814% tax on employee wages (with minimum wage workers exempt) in an effort to reduce the City’s budget deficit. The Chamber, along with several other pro-business organizations, strongly stated from the outset that the matter should be voted upon by Salem residents.

Source: Salem Reporter

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