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Cap on payroll tax up to Eugene voters

The payroll tax is expected to bring in around $23.6 million per year.

Posted: Oct 29, 2019 6:09 PM
Updated: Nov 4, 2019 4:05 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Voters in Eugene are deciding if the payroll tax adopted by the city council should be capped and its use limited as ballots are turned in for November's special election.

The payroll tax was enacted without an election in June.

The ballot measure is designed to amend the city's charter to cap the rate of the payroll tax to 0.21% on the employer's total paid wages and 0.44% on the wages of employees. Those earning less than $15 an hour may pay a lower rate. Those making $12 an hour, which will be minimum wage when the tax goes into effect in June, will be exempt from the tax.

RELATED: Eugene City Council approves payroll tax

The payroll tax is expected to bring in around $23.6 million per year.

The ballot measure also seeks to limit the use of the revenues to community safety services. About 65% would go to police, 10% to fire and emergency services, 15% to court services and 10% to homeless services.

The payroll tax caused controversy when it was initially passed. For some, there is still resentment about it.

"I think you should have a choice about if it gets taken out. I don't think they should take it out mandatorily. The state and city are in a person's business too much," said Eugene resident Robyn Mann.

Others think that the state of the city's police force and homeless population warrants it.

"I think in perspective, it's just nickels and dimes that might fall out of my pocket. If it can help the homeless community, maybe go to shelters or other services, that's great," said Sean Hoffa.

Voters can turn in their ballots until Nov. 5.

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