September 5, 2019  – McMinnville, OR – On October 9, 2018, the McMinnville City Council passed City Ordinance No. 5059. The ordinance requires every senior care community in McMinnville to carry a “specialty business license,” which requires a $500 application fee and “annual license fees” of $200 per bed per year. In addition to this new tax on care facilities, the ordinance grants the City the authority to impose a $1,500 fine “for each non-emergency use of the City’s EMS system,” which can be levied at the discretion of the ranking City Officer on-scene in response to the EMS call. A vast majority of the McMinnville care facilities affected by Ordinance No. 5059 are members of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, and they have uniformly supported the Chamber speaking out on this issue.

Care providers and other senior care industry advocates were not included in conversations around the development of the ordinance and its fee structure. After numerous failed attempts to engage with the City, the Oregon Health Care Association launched an initiative campaign to overturn these taxes, fees, and fines. After collecting more than 3,500 signatures from McMinnville registered voters, the initiative will be on the ballot for the November 5th, 2019 election as Measure 36-202. The new “annual license fees,” on care facilities amount to a targeted tax on a specific industry, and the Chamber supports the passage of Measure 36-202 due to our opposition to unilaterally enacted taxes and regulations that make it more difficult to run a business.

The Chamber believes the City’s care facility ordinance is poor public policy. It is very important to remember that other cities in Oregon have successfully implemented local laws that allow for the issuance of fines on facilities who misuse fire or emergency medical services. These regulations have been effective in curbing such behavior without any talk of establishing a “specialty business license” or a $200 per bed per year tax for the privilege of operating a care facility within city limits. Furthermore, the passage of Measure 36-202 would not prevent the City from establishing a sensible policy for misuse of EMS services, and the Chamber looks forward to collaborating with the City on future efforts to ensure that the life-saving services we all rely on remain viable.

Above all, the Chamber hopes to see our elected officials and appointed public servants live up to the Mac-Town 2032 Strategic Plan Mission Statement: “The City of McMinnville delivers high-quality services in collaboration with partners for a prosperous, safe, and livable community.” The policy development process leading up to the adoption of Ordinance No. 5059 did not exemplify this collaborative ideal, and that is why the Chamber is speaking out on this issue. Chambers of Commerce across the country are increasing their advocacy efforts as the voice of business at all levels of government, and we want every member of our community to be aware of and engaged in the development of public policy. As the voice of the business community in the McMinnville area, our members expect the Chamber to speak out against public policy that negatively impacts the attractiveness of McMinnville as a great place to start and sustain a business.