By Brian Cameron
As part two of the in depth look of the Tillamook Transient Lodging Tax dollars the focus turns away from the majority of funding toward area tourism and hones in on where the monies are going in relation to roads funding and facilities.
When the Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) was first devised, it was decided that roughly 30 percent would be allocated to help fund the ongoing issue of roads and maintenance within Tillamook County. Now, that’s not exactly enough finances compared with the drastic amount necessary to repair all of the ailing roads the county has, but it has helped quite a bit in relieving financial pressures the roads and public works department has to endure on a year-by-year basis.
“In order to fix and repave every problematic road in our entire county we would need approximately $68 million,” said Tillamook County Public Works Director Liane Welch. “But these TLT dollars help in slowing down the deterioration on a whole.”
As far as the Public Works Department is concerned, they don’t necessarily get a singular check from the county directly from the TLT dollars. Instead it comes in the form of the General Fund revenue. They use the budgetary addition to help in a variety of ways. To date, over the prior three fiscal years the TLT has added just over $2 million to the overall operating budget and then this is used to help the department not only enact repairs but also helps in other ways. Increased paving operations and administration fees are just some of the uses but also having the added revenue has allowed the department to leverage their budget to qualify for larger projects.
“We are able to leverage the monies with our contracting partners and agencies in order to get coverage for bigger repair and infrastructure projects,” Welch said. “It also helps pay the 10 percent leverage that’s required for Oregon Department of Transportation projects, which in and of itself is worth quite a bit.”
Welch noted in the first year, they got $740,000 placed into their budget that simply wasn’t there before. Those funds went right to work repairing area transportation system like road-striping, sign replacement and repair amongst other things.
“It’s been a huge help to this department,” Welch said. “Funding transportation is incredibly expensive and any sort of addition to the budget in this regard is incredibly helpful.”
Another aspect of the TLT dollars besides tourism or roads is something that effectively bridges the two together, facilities.
Facilities is a broad term used in this regard to describe a number of larger projects that go into helping the local and visitor experience in and around Tillamook County. Some of these projects are quite familiar throughout the county, others go relatively unseen but may have a big impact in regards to visitor experience.
Some of the facilities projects that have been completed include the new skate park at Goodspeed Park in Tillamook, the Cedar Wetlands Preserve viewing platform and interpretive train in Rockaway Beach, much of the initial construction of the new Hoquarton Center that is across the street from Tillamook County Courthouse and even the dory boat ramp widening project currently taking place in Pacific City. The Tillamook County Fairgrounds have received a good portion of funding to upgrade the arena electrical system, create a windbreak and an upgrade to the loop road, which was in need of prior repair, as well as enact a strategic plan.
Other projects that may be recognizable are the Carnahan boat launch renovation, the new restroom facilities at Kilchis Point Reserve, the renovation of the auditorium at the North County Recreation District and the Kiawanda Community Center.
The TLT monies are enhancing the community in ways seen and unseen, but one thing is for sure, they are allocated toward projects that help the local and visitor experience – which was the entire point of the tax in the first place.