Nothing is certain when it comes to voting.
So even though the controversial payroll tax passed by the Salem City Council on a narrow 5-4 margin will be on the November ballot, since a referendum petition has gotten more (probably way more) than the required 4,000 signatures, this doesn't mean that the tax will be defeated.
It just seems likely, given that conservatives hate new taxes, progressives don't like regressive taxes that hit lower income workers at the same rate as higher income workers, and everybody dislikes it when politicians refuse to allow a vote of the people on an important issue -- which is what the City Council did.
Today we discussed the payroll tax at a meeting of the monthly Salon discussion group that my wife and I belong to.
The general consensus was that the tax is likely to fail, given how badly the City Council has handled this issue. Somehow the five members who voted for the tax, which included Mayor Hoy, have managed to irritate all sides of the political spectrum.
That doesn't bode well for the tax, especially since the referendum petition drive collected more than triple the number of signatures than the 4,000 required to get on the ballot. But again, anything is possible when it comes to politics.
Possible is just different from likely.
If the tax does fail, our discussion group felt that it should be revised in a future incarnation to tax workers who make, say, under $75,000 a year at a considerably lower rate than workers making more than that. This would blunt the (correct) argument that the tax is regressive in its current form.
It also would be nice if the City of Salem would be more honest with citizens about what the estimated $29 million a year would be used for. I keep seeing references that this money is needed to preserve funding for existing services.
That's only half true, since an April 2023 City of Salem staff report said that about half of the money would go for existing services and about half of the money would go for new services. (The tax rate that ended up being selected was .814%, but the total to be raised is close to what's shown below.)
The way I see it, voters probably would be willing to approve a payroll tax that raised less money if it didn't hit lower income workers so hard, and if most of the money went to fund homeless services such as the Navigation Center. Police and Fire already get the majority of general fund dollars, and there is a lot of inefficiency in how these departments are managed.