A few days ago Susannn Kaltwasser asked an excellent question on a Facebook page where Salem City Council issues are discussed.
Kaltwasser is correct. An October 2019 survey of Salem residents found that after being asked an open-ended question, 41% said that homelessness and poverty were their top concerns. Crime and drugs were mentioned by only 4%. Here's a screenshot from the survey report,
So it's perplexing that City officials want all of a proposed employee-paid payroll tax that will be on the May 2020 ballot to go to public safety. Here's a information sheet about the payroll tax and operations fee (already passed by the City Council).
Download City Revenue Fact Sheet
Judging by the citizen survey, putting that estimated $9.1 million a year into efforts to reduce the number of homeless people in Salem is a much higher priority than adding to the police and fire departments budget.
Thus Jim Scheppke had a great idea in a comment he left in response to Kaltwasser's question. (The payroll tax also is being called the "Commuter Tax," since it would raise money from the estimated 60,000 people who work in Salem but live elsewhere. It also would be paid by people who live and work in Salem, naturally.)
This idea should be seriously considered by the City Council.
I'm not sure when the deadline is for filing measures to appear on the May 19, 2020 primary ballot, but likely there is time to amend the measure that currently calls for all of the payroll tax money to be dedicated to public safety.
If you agree that helping the homeless is a better use for $9.1 million a year raised by the employee-paid payroll tax than adding police officers and fire department personnel that don't appear to be urgently needed, send an email to the Salem City Council telling them this: [email protected]