Salem Reporter to conduct Town Hall as city voters face measure on new wage tax

Salem Reporter will hold a public Town Hall in October about the ballot measure that would repeal the city of Salem’s wage tax.

The event will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Elsinore Theatre. Tickets for the event are available online at no charge.

“The community is at an important crossroads with competing visions for what’s ahead,” said Les Zaitz, editor and CEO of Salem Reporter. “This Town Hall is a chance for all of us to gather and hear important viewpoints ahead of the vote.”

Voters within the Salem city limits will consider a ballot measure in the Nov. 7 election to repeal the recently approved wage tax.

The tax, which the Salem City Council approved on a 5-4 vote on July 10, would tax 0.814% of wages earned within Salem. That equates to about $42 per month for a Salem worker earning the city’s average wage of $29.90 an hour. Minimum wage earners are exempt. The city’s online payroll tax calculator provides a way to see how much would be paid by individual workers.

The city plans to use the funds to sustain and expand the police and fire departments, and to fund continued operations of several homeless shelters. 

Zaitz will moderate the Town Hall, which will be broadcast by Capital Community Media. Reporters from Salem Reporter will present background information on the tax and the city’s finances. Representatives of Oregon Business & Industry, the group who led the effort to set up the vote, and Save Salem, a new political action committee supporting the tax, will speak as well.

Reporters will question the panelists and then written questions from the audience and community will be presented.

Salem city officials declined to participate, saying they had to avoid any appearance of political advocacy.

“We see this Town Hall as part of our responsibility to the community to keep citizens informed about their government and their city,” Zaitz said. “We expect a robust discussion and probing questions from the audience.”



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Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.