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Income tax opponents collect 6,539 signatures.

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

Petitioners said they collected 6,539 signatures Saturday in a one-day effort to put the Lane County income tax up to a vote of the people, an elections official said Monday.

Lane County Elections will verify the signatures by March 27 and determine whether there are 5,577 valid signatures, which would force the commissioners to schedule a public vote on the tax as soon as this fall, said Annette Newingham, Lane County elections official.

The "We Said No" committee had hoped to collect 10,000 signatures in a one-day protest of the Lane County commissioners' enactment of an income tax after voters rejected an income tax for public safety in November.

Bob Hooker, a chief petitioner from Creswell, said the commissioners tried to weaken the turnout by announcing just before Saturday that they would move to repeal the tax.

"In light of what they tried to pull, I think we achieved our goal," Hooker said. "This was not us - this was the people of Lane County that turned out to support this. The whole idea was to show people you can stand up and make a difference."

A majority on the board said they enacted the income tax last month to cover the possible loss of traditional federal timber aid. But the commissioners said last week that they expect to receive another year of the federal payments, and because of that they would move to repeal the tax or put it before voters in May.

Depending on that decision and its timing, the petitioners' signature effort may be moot, Newingham said.

Regardless of board action, the petitioners will continue their drive and collect more signatures if necessary, up to the May 22 deadline, Hooker said.

The group also will lead a petition effort "in the near future" to eliminate the ability of a board majority to levy a tax without a vote of the people, he added.

The group also is considering a signature effort to remove from office the three commissioners who enacted the tax: Faye Stewart, Bobby Green and Bill Dwyer.

While Green could be recalled immediately, election rules prohibit recall of Stewart and Dwyer until July because they were re-elected in November, Hooker said. But many who turned out Saturday want to recall all three, he added.

"If I was a county commissioner who voted for this (tax), I would be seriously thinking about resigning," Hooker said. "Their days are numbered - whether we do it or somebody else does it, it doesn't matter."
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Title Annotation:General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 13, 2007
Words:422
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