An open letter to Bruce Warner
Dear Bruce Warner:
As the newly installed chief of the Portland Development Commission, you're faced with a nasty p.r. challenge. Those of us out here who have been following the PDC for a while have a host of complaints, particularly with the agency's gross lack of transparency under your predecessor.
Now that it's a brand new day and all that, I'm wondering if you could clear up a matter that one of my readers has brought to my attention. Namely, is the PDC complying with the state law that requires it to report to the public on the impact of its various programs on the property tax revenue that flows to the local taxing authorities?
Here's what state law says. It's ORS 457.460:
(1) An agency shall, by August 1 of each year, prepare a statement on the same basis on which its financial statements are prepared containing:Looking through the reports that the PDC has filed in the recent past, the reader questions whether they comply with this legal requirement.
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(e) An analysis of the impact, if any, of carrying out the urban renewal plan on the tax collections for the preceding year for all taxing districts included under ORS 457.430.
(2) The statement required by subsection (1) of this section shall be filed with the governing body of the municipality. Notice shall be published that the statement has been prepared and is on file with the municipality and the agency and the information contained in the statement is available to all interested persons. The notice shall be published once a week for not less than two successive weeks before September 1 of the year for which the statement is required in accordance with ORS 457.115. The notice shall summarize the information required under subsection (1)(a) to (d) of this section and shall set forth in full the information required under subsection (1)(e) of this section.
For example, here is the PDC report for the two fiscal years 2002-2004. When you get to the part where the PDC's supposed to show the impact of its urban renewal program on local tax collections, the PDC drops back 10 yards and punts. Look at the very last page, where the impact is supposed to be shown. It isn't. Instead, the PDC tries to get away with this:
[I]n FY 2000-01, local government levies were not affected by urban renewal, except as an increase in rates might contribute to Measure 5 compression. With the City of Portland, compression occurred on a "spot" basis because of the property-by-property computation of compression. It is not possible to determine the effect that urban renewal taxes had on each local jurisdiction with respect to spot compression.That's it? No numbers, no facts and figures, just "it had some effect, but we can't tell you what it is"? Mr. Warner, I'm no municipal law expert, but that can't be what the Legislature intended when it passed that law.
Indeed, if you would like to see an agency that actually tries to comply with the law's mandate, take a look at the report that the City of Lake Oswego's redevelopment agency files. Here it is. Look at pages 8 through 13 (pages 10 through 15 of the pdf file), where you can see how they have done it.
If Lake Oswego can do it, Mr. Warner, why can't Portland?