On Tuesday, Clark County commissioners will have a public hearing on a proposed 5 percent entertainment admissions tax. We’ll be a significant step closer to knowing whether the Yakima Bears will move to Vancouver and play Class A ball at a new stadium at Clark College. In fact, if commissioners vote “no” then that will be that.
You can read about the proposed tax and get links to key documents here.
The hearing will be 10 a.m. at the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St. in the sixth-floor hearing room.
If you are unable to attend the hearing, you can email comments to county commissioners by filling out this form.
Commissioners meet the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.; the next three Tuesdays they meet at 10 a.m. Some people have wondered why commissioners are having this meeting during the day when people are at work.
The county says they are not having the hearing at the Dec. 6 evening meeting because league officials, who meet in December, need to know as soon as possible whether the financing plan will be viable.
And that will rest with the commissioners; if they approve the tax, it will go to the Vancouver City Council. Andrea Damewood did ask some city councilors last week what they think about the tax now that the proposed plan includes sharing revenue with the city, but they are acting as if they don’t have enough information.
We know for a fact that City Manager Eric Holmes did email them the information, but maybe councilors are so accustomed to staff members giving PowerPoint presentations that emails alone are not sufficient. (I’m joking. I’m sure the council has questions and a meeting will be scheduled with the council if commissioners approve the tax.)
So if you are going to attend the meeting, and you’ve never attended a county commissioners meeting before, here’s what you need to know:
You will have to wait a bit. First commissioners have a consent agenda to pass, then there are three other public hearings before the admissions tax. I don’t know if anyone will even sign up to testify for the other hearings, so that portion could move along quickly. The other public hearings are on commissioner redistricting, vacating a portion of a road and batch 4 county code revisions. Consider yourself lucky that the hearing isn’t on batch 5 of county code revisions, because then you would hear a lot of angry talk about kennels.
There will be a sign-up sheet. When you first walk in, look at the long table that will have copies of the proposed ordinance and a sign-up sheet. Since there are other public hearings, look at what it says at the top of the sign-in sheet and make sure you write your name down for the admissions tax hearing. Even if you can’t follow this step, it’s OK. If you sign the wrong sheet and Commissioner Tom Mielke calls your name to testify about the road vacation, just say that you really meant to sign up to talk about the tax. And don’t be embarrassed. Happens all the time.
When it finally comes time for the hearing, a staff member will likely discuss the proposal, then Mielke, who is chairman of the board, will start calling people to come forward. You’ll sit at a table in front of the dais, right in front of Mielke. State your name for the record. Some people give their address, others just say the name of the city where they live (or “Hazel Dell,” “Salmon Creek,” etc.)
Be concise. Typically commissioners allow people to speak for five minutes, but if there’s a large crowd they reserve the right to cut it down to three minutes. From my observations, the most effective speakers say right up front whether they are for or against the tax, and then give a brief explanation why. And speak into the microphone so everyone can hear. You don’t need to shout.
This last tip is a personal preference: Please no references to “Field of Dreams.” I will be live-Tweeting, and will invoke my right to refuse to quote anyone who says, “If you build it, they will come.”