In the May election, voters will be asked whether a tax should be collected from customers at short term rental locations, such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and RV parks. If measure 6-194 passes, the proposed ordinance would go into effect 90 days after the election.
Only transient lodging facilities in the Charleston area would be subject to the tax. Transient lodging facilities are those that intended for stays of less than 30 days in duration. The tax would be collected by the merchants of the facilities. The rate is 9.5% of the price of the lodging service. Since it’s generally only tourists that stay in area hotels and campgrounds, the tax would essentially only be paid by people from out of the area. 5% of the tax collected would stay with the merchant, to offset the costs of collecting and accounting for it.
The areas that would be subject to the tax include Barview, Charleston, and the areas past Charleston, all the way to Cape Arago State Park. Coos Bay and North Bend have had an identical tax in effect for several years.
All Coos County residents to decide the fate
Since Charleston is considered an unincorporated area, and not a municipality like Coos Bay or North Bend, all voters in the County will be asked to vote on the ordinance.
Funds allocated to tourism and public safety
Funds collected from the tax would be earmarked for two specific categories: area tourism promotion and/or facilities, and public safety. Per the proposed ordinance 70% of the funds must be put towards tourism promotion, and tourism facilities. Tourism promotion can include things like advertising and events. The tourism facilities mentioned in the ordinance is likely indicating the prospect of a visitor center to be built in Charleston, though that would be subject to the tax collecting enough revenue to support it.
The other 30% of the funds to be collected is earmarked for “county services.” Specifically mentioned in the ordinance is the creation of a voluntary program to clean up waste. What’s not clear, however is what is meant by “public safety” within the ordinance. Per the ordinance, “…shall be deposited into a dedicated fund and may only be used for public safety, including Coos County Code enforcement costs and the costs of mitigating Code Enforcement violations…” and “reimbursing the Coos County General fund for its costs and expenses incurred in the collection, enforcement and administration of the transient lodging tax.”
So, a portion of the 30% allocation would go to the county for code enforcement, and to enforce the tax ordinance, itself. Does that mean Coos County is going to allocate more resources to Charleston than it does currently? That’s not made clear by the ordinance.
Any type of tax measure has the potential for contention, though this one isn’t likely to ruffle too many feathers, since it wouldn’t be paid by visitors to the area. Also, North Bend and Coos Bay residents may feel that the tax would work to level the playing field, since Coos Bay and North Bend lodging facilities have been subject to the tax for several years, already.
The election and other measures
Election day is May 17, 2022. Also on that ballot will be: Measure 6-195, a bond measure to fund North Bend school district building improvements, and Measure 6-196, a bond measure to fund the construction of Coos Bay’s (proposed) new library and communication center.