Letter to the Editor — Please support the “Construction Excise Tax”

I have given the issue of affordable housing in Tillamook County considerable thought and investigation. I participated in the County’s Housing Task Force and have attended meetings throughout Tillamook County about this issue. It appears as though there are some among us who would pay to keep us confused and therefore manipulate our voting on it.

Currently online, there is an unscientific and misleading poll. The survey has one seemingly simple question, “How many people do you know who are experiencing homelessness in Tillamook County?” When you view the results of the poll, which is available on the spot, the overwhelming answer is zero. This is a very deceptive and manipulative question. The survey follows a piece written about Commissioner David Yamamoto’s presentation to the Tillamook City Council, during which he makes a plea for support of the upcoming vote on the current ballot for a “Construction Excise Tax”. The obvious conclusion is that we must not need the tax because we have no problem and a no vote is appropriate.

We all need to be aware that this is, however, what is better known as a trick question. And I make that statement with confidence having worked in evaluation and the world of surveys and polls for the better part of 25 years.

There is a difference between the lack of workforce housing and homelessness. To equate them is not only inaccurate, it is very misleading; housing that is provided for those of us (and yes there is a need for low income housing here) who are without the means by which to secure and keep housing is considered low income. This is not what we are talking about here. Rather affordable workforce housing has to do with developers, realtors, and home owners being willing to make less profit by building homes and multi family units that are at or below the average income level required to afford a place to live by those with paying jobs.

In Tillamook County, we are overwhelmingly small business owners, and as such we must think about where do the people who make up our workforce live? If you are a dairy hand or a dishwasher at a local restaurant where do you find housing? With so few options for apartments and so many homes becoming short term rentals where does our work force live? We need to maintain a workforce of people to meet our needs and that includes everything from doctors, nurses, and law enforcement officers to school bus drivers, farm workers, teachers, wait staff, retail businesses and entrepreneurs. If those people cannot find affordable places to live here they will simply move somewhere else where they can find a job AND housing. What happens then?

What happens is our infrastructure and essential services erode and go into decline and that benefits no one.

It is important to keep in mind when you are deciding how to vote that this tax will only effect those homes being built that will be worth a quarter of a million dollars and more. In other terms if you already own your own home and aren’t developing more property, which is most of us, it will not impact you at all.

Remember every time we find a place for a worker to live we increase our county’s infrastructure and ability to maintain and improve our health, safety, economy, resources, and revenues.
So I would ask you to vote yes on the current ballot measure and in favor of the “Construction Excise Tax”.

Stevie S Burden
Property Owner
Wheeler, Oregon