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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 7, 2005 11:03 PM. The previous post in this blog was All's well that ends well. The next post in this blog is Gresham secession battle -- more photos. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, November 7, 2005

Gresham secedes!

City of Gresham again considering seceding from Multnomah County -- News story.

Lon E. Roberts, field general of the secessionist forces.

Diane Linn, embattled leader of the Union forces.

Comments (10)

Let 'em go. After all, the rest of the county is subsidizing their services.

Seriously, though, it would be a good thing. We could then merge the County of Multnomah government with the City of Portland government - for some pretty big savings in adminstrative costs.

Would that make Bernie the co-chief of police? Look out, ladies.

What the story doesn't tell you is that the city of Gresham has been providing services to other areas of eastern Multnomah County outside of Gresham. For example, it's been providing fire services to surrounding cities at a higher cost than the revenue it gets for those services. That's why we ended up having that ballot measure regarding joining the fire district so that everyone paid their fair share.

The city also contains one of the largest libraries in the county-- one used by much of eastern Multnomah County. There are smaller libraries (Fairview and Rockwood, for example). However, they have fewer computers, books, etc. This means more people from outside Gresham use the library.

Also, if you read the story you see the following:

"In Gresham, $30 million in taxes will buy $37 million in services, after the county returns business tax revenue collected there."

$2.5 million of that money is funds that were rightfully Gresham's and was not given to them. It's now being returned to Gresham.

There's also the fact that a County Health Center (Primary medical care for adults and children, well child care, communicable disease screening, women's reproductive health, family planning, pregnancy testing, prenatal services, WIC and Oregon Health Plan screening) was built about a year or so ago in Gresham. The county pays for part of that office, with the bulk of funds coming from the state. This office serves all of east county.

Funds have been put into the Rockwood area over the past few years from the city, county, and state to help combat crime and gang problems. Combating problems there helps the entire area, as crime often spills out into surrounding areas. This too is included in those "extra" funds.

It would be interesting to see a break out of what that money is spent on. I wouldn't be surprised to see most of it going to things like maintaining county roads (which Gresham has a number of), the library, the county health office, and helping with the Rockwood crime problems.

Gresham is the largest city in eastern Multnomah County. With so many small towns surrounding it, as well as unincorporated areas of the county, it's not surprising to see them get more than $1 back in taxes-- because many of the county services (big library, health care clinic, etc.) are going to be found there.

If you don't have a county health care clinic or other such HHS service, you're not going to see funding in that area. If your city has the health clinic for the entire area, you're going to see more funding than you put in. That's the way it works.

The reason why folks in Gresham (as well as the rest of eastern county) are often mad at the county is because of a lot more than just the return on taxes. Much of that money coming in is to cover things like the health clinic, gang task force, library, etc.-- things that serve the entire area. They're also looking for a county commission that actually listens. The entire part of this county has one representative on the Commission because of the way things are districted. Gresham is the state's fourth largest city and it shares one county commissioner with Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village, Corbett, and part of Portland. This means that problems (such as Gresham's high rates for rape and auto theft-- higher than Portland's) are ignored.

There's more to this than just looking at straight numbers-- you've got to look at what it's being spent on and who is being served. If you're serving half of the county's land mass, you're going to see more funding.

Gresham, with every successful business left in the county (with the ability to move) right on their tail.

My first reaction was confused when I read the article in the "O" about the reverse cash flow, but then when thinking about the Gentrification of Portland, Interstate and the Pearl, and lack of affordable housing, the many of the working poor have moved to far east county. These folks probably have greater need for social services one of the main responsibility of the County. I wonder how many of the folks that clean the high rise offices and do other low wage non-insured jobs in Portland live in Gresham. The economies are interdependent. I would also wonder if the scenerio in Hillsboro has the same effect on Washington County with its increasing hispanic population that do the heavy lifting to support the more affluent pockets of the county.

If the Oregon Constitution (Art. XV, Sec. 6) allowed Oregon counties to take up less than 400 square miles, you could expect Corbett, Troutdale, Fairview & Wood Village to complete an East County Exodus.

As it stands, if Gresham is reannexed to Clackamas Co, it would leave Multnomah Co with just slightly more than the minimum 400 sq miles.

This means the other East County cities would be forever lashed to Portland in MC absent a constitutional change (or perhaps if Multnomah and Clackamas Co's came up with some sort of land swap arrangement).


That is definitely a part of it. We have a large population of poor people here in eastern county. It's offset in the census totals for median individual/household income by the fact that on the hills around town we have many people who own multi-million dollar homes and large salaries. We've also seen a lot of low-income people moving out here in the past few years as apartment prices rise in Portland.

I've known several people who have moved out here because their tiny one bedroom apartment's rent went up to more than our two bedroom here in Gresham-- and they were also paying for water, sewer, and trash and didn't have a washer/dryer.

We have something like half of the population living in apartments-- not because there isn't room for houses (like the Pearl, downtown, etc.). It's because it's all they can afford. And since they're low income, their credit is often in bad shape because of late bill payments.

Head to Winco or Food 4 Less at the beginning of the month and it seems that at least every other person is using an Oregon Trail card to pay for their groceries.

Until recently you had to drive to near 122nd/ Division to get on WIC. We now have an office here in town, making it easier for those who need it to get assistance. It's right on the MAX line and is within walking distance of the state office for food stamps.

The Outlook had a great editorial on this item. I don't see it on their website, so I'm going to have to scan/type it in myself so people can view it.

Apparently these numbers do not mean what everyone thinks they do-- and that comes straight from Dave Boyer, the county's chief financial officer. What they did was took the amount of taxes the county collects and compares it to a city's population. It assumes that everyone uses county services equally.

The $1.23 for every $1 put in is not the actual amount the city receives. That number comes about by taking the total amount the county receives in taxes, dividing by the county's population, and then multiplying by the popluation of a city.

Since no audit has been conducted of actual expenditures based on geography, we have no idea what the real numbers are.

From the Oregonian's story on Gresham wanting to secede:

"In 1999, former east county legislator Ron Sunseri won legislation that he said 'put Gresham in the driver's seat' on secession by limiting voting on the question to voters who would become part of the new county. Any new county would have to leave 400 square miles of territory to Multnomah County, a requirement that Sunseri thinks can be satisfied with a careful redrawing of boundaries."

As this group plans to raise at least $100,000 (which I honestly don't think will be hard), I'm sure one of the very first things they are going to do is hire a person who can do exactly that-- draw out the boundaries.

Once that is done and a measure placed on the ballot, only those who would become part of the new county could vote-- making it more likely something would pass than it would if Portland could vote as well.

I think if you ask most folks East of I-205 they would be willing to join in. Those folks have been bleed dry with very little being done in the way of parks and roads, while the downtown developers seem to be getting all the utilities, roads, and parks that they need for "growth".

I just love the way numbers are twisted to prove whatever people want them to say or justify, Kind of reminds you of Enron type accounting.

The Outlook editorial referenced above is on line now.


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