During last night’s (August 28) Salem City Council meeting a motion was put forth by Councilor Julie Hoy (Ward 6) to repeal the Safe Salem Payroll Tax ordinance. A discussion followed the motion in which a ‘citizen trust deficit’ was identified in the wake of council’s July 10 vote to pass the tax with an option for voter input in 2031.

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. Councilors narrowly approved with a 5-4 vote count. Councilor Hoy’s motion failed last night in a 6-3 vote as councilors indicated support for the referendum effort to send this decision to the voters.

In the week following the July 10 passing of the tax, Oregon Business & Industry (OBI), aided by the Salem Chamber, filed a petition to refer the ordinance to voters on the November 2023 ballot. Support was overwhelming and more than three times the number of signatures required were gathered. Only registered voters within the Salem city limits will be eligible to vote on this decision in November.

The ballot title slated for November 2023 is Tax on Wages and Self-Employment Earnings to Fund Services. Councilor Virginia Stapleton (Ward 1) is leading the “Save Salem Campaign” in support of the tax.

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