Editorial: With cooperation, transient tax issue could be just transitory

August 20, 2011

What looks like a localized land use matter could have a wide impact on the Hood River Chamber of Commerce, as Ben McCarty reports on page A1.

As tourism continues to grow in importance to the local economy, it's important to make note of the potential long-range effect on the chamber from the annexation of a portion of Westcliff Drive, including Vagabond Lodge and Columbia Gorge Hotel.

In a nutshell, annexing this property could lead to a drastic reduction in funding for the chamber, as revenue from transient room taxes at the two overnight establishments would shift from the county to the city.

No one is hitting the panic button, but the issue certainly has the attention of the chamber and local agencies, as should be the case.

The chamber and its city, county and port partners have a history of cooperation, and the Chamber has shown new vigor under the leadership of Executive Director Kerry Cobb, who was hired a year ago but seems like she's been around much longer. From its expanded and much-improved website to new programs and outreach efforts, the chamber deserves high marks for effectively raising local awareness about community events as well as improving Hood River branding.

For example, Friday brought a kind of "trade show" opportunity, courtesy of the chamber, as local businesses gathered to tell their stories to visitors from Travel Portland.

It's all part of the chamber's "all roads lead to Hood River" modus operandi.

So what looks like a "yield" sign standing in front of the Chamber of Commerce does not have to turn into a "stop" sign and certainly not a "wrong way."

The importance of the chamber, and its level of effectiveness, should be well understood by the partners, and we share the confidence shown by Cobb and City Manager Bob Francis that all parties can work together and see the way forward to sustain the chamber at or close to its existing level of service.

Flags Lowered

Hospitalman Ryley Gallinger-Long

Gov. John Kitzhaber has ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, Aug. 20, in honor of Navy Hospitalman Ryley Gallinger-Long.

"Hospitalman Gallinger-Long dedicated himself to selflessly serving others," said Kitzhaber. "His dedication to duty and courage are inspiring, yet his death is a tragic loss for our state and nation. As flags fly at half-mast on Saturday, I urge all Oregonians to pause and honor his service and sacrifice."

HN Gallinger-Long, 19, of Cornelius, died Aug. 11 while conducting a dismounted patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

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