This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 24, 2004 7:48 PM. The previous post in this blog was And here are your winning numbers.... The next post in this blog is Tagger bagged. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, October 24, 2004


The old property tax bill came in the mail this week. We're up only 2.26 percent over the previous bill, which is a nice relief from last year, when we saw an eye-popping 8.89 percent annual increase.

Also in the mail this week came a brochure from the Portland Development Commission, which wants to know what we think about a proposed new "industrial urban renewal" zone in North and Northwest Portland. The brochure touts all the "job creating" advantages of fronting public money to clean up environmentally screwed-up sites so that industry can develop the property. Eventually, they promise, property tax rolls also increase, and so the tax dollars we invest now pay for themselves.

I dunno. I'm looking at that property tax bill, and 8.14 percent of what I'm paying is already going to something called "Urban Renewal - Portland." The brochure assures me that "this is not a new tax" and "it does not change with the addition of a new [urban renewal area]."

What I'd like to know, though, is exactly where that 8.14 percent of my property tax bill is going. Not explained in the brochure.

And who owns the property that we're going to clean up for them in the new urban renewal area? What's that property already worth? And can anyone give us a projection as to how many millions of dollars private industry stands to make off the project? Not in the brochure.

You'll pardon me for being suspicious. But the mailing contains a lovely statement from, and photo of, the chairman of the PDC, Matt Hennessee, who goes way, way back with a certain "disgraced former governor." As does the current CEO of the PDC, Don Mazziotti.

Gee, those guys wouldn't sell us a bill of goods just to make a buck for their buddies in the West Hills and elsewhere in corporate America. Would they?

Comments (6)

I got the same confusing missive from the PDC. I say confusing because I'm not really sure what they intend to "develop" in the designated areas. I'm afraid that these areas may not truly end up as industrial, which equals jobs for folks of income levels far less than those living in the Pearl.

A question for Bojack, though: is your "assessed" value close to the real value of your expensive Irvingtion property? I can attest that the "assessed" value of my Brooklyn property is definitely lower than the real market value.

Of course, it's less. That's true everywhere in Oregon, thanks to Ballot Measure 5. But you know, so what? The assessment's low, the rates are high. It comes out about right.

And I don't mind having it jacked 2 or 3 percent a year. That's also about right.

But I do wish that the 8%+ that's going to "urban renewal" were going toward public safety, homelessness, and mental health services, rather than statues in the Pearl.

And about those state and local income taxes, at over 10 percent....

Actually, there are places in Oregon where the two-tiered valuation system wrought by Bill S. (Measure 47) via the former superintendent (Measure 50) results in the same number (assessment equals market value). And, there are numerous situations where similar properties similarly situated have significantly different different ratios of assessed value to market value. But, that's OK because Measure 50 excepted its results from the constitution's uniformity provisions.

A big, complicated system that largely avoids the longstanding discussion that connects what we as a society really want with what we are willing to pay. The tax equivalent of sound byte elections, perhaps. How . . . 21st century.

Check out how much of your prop tax bill is going to "Police/Fire Pension". This year, for the first time, they broke it out. On mine, it's one third the amount spent on ALL education services and one-third the amount spent on ALL city services. That's for pension and disability only. It's a hot potato downtown, but they better get a handle on it pretty soon.

"And, there are numerous situations where similar properties similarly situated have significantly different different ratios of assessed value to market value. But, that's OK because Measure 50 excepted its results from the constitution's uniformity provisions."

And where significantly less valuable properties pay higher taxes than those costing much more. I mentioned this in one of these blog notes a week or two back, wondering why some "enterprising reporter" didn't take a look at this, because on my own, in my neighborhood, I had. And was rather aghast at what I found.

I did not know that the Measure had included a constitutional exemption from some uniformity provision. Thanks for cluing me in.

It's a non-issue for most Oregonians, but it was one for me. Any tax is more palatable if everyone similarly situated is stuck with the same. Oregon's property taxes are so far as bizarrely uneven.

As I understand urban renewal in PDX, what you see on your tax bill is an incremental capture of rising property values and not necessarily an increase in taxes, which is why they can say it won't increase your taxes. It may, however, take tax money that would have gone to general services. What I don't completely understand is why urban renewal is taxed city-wide rather than within the renewal district, as it's done in other states where I've lived.

Typically, in an urban renewal district, there's one large investment that the district caputures to jump-start an increase in the area's assessed value. And increases in assessed value in ensuing years are then funneled into the URD while the base value continues to be taxed for general services such as schools, police, fire, etc.

I'm going to try to attend one of these open meetings to learn more about the city-wide taxation to support renewal in areas in which I don't reside. That arrangement seems odd to me.

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