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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Portland tax for police and fire pensions rises 14.43%

We did the annual analysis of our property tax bill last night, and while it went up only 0.3 percent over last year's bill due to some expiring tax levies, it did confirm a frightening trend: City of Portland taxes for police and fire pensions and for "urban renewal" have continued to increase sharply. The tax for the pensions is up 14.43 percent over last year, and the urban renewal tax is up 7.08 percent.

We expected the pension tax to rise, since we voted a while back to tax ourselves to try to staunch the financial hemorrhaging that the city's growing, unfunded pension liability represents: nearly $2.2 billion at last count. But we can't recall voting on "urban renewal" any time lately, and that one keeps growing like topsy even without voter approval. Over the last two years, our "urban renewal" taxes have grown at a compound annual rate of 10.83 percent -- and we don't live in or near an "urban renewal" district.

One statistic we like to keep track of is what percentage of the taxes that we pay to the city goes for "urban renewal." It's now up to 24.27 percent -- nearly a quarter of every dollar that the city collects from us. The police and fire retirement fund now takes 26.88 percent of what we pay to the city. Both of those percentages are record highs since we started keeping track, as of five years ago. Between the two of them, they suck up more than half of what the city collects.

The reason our overall bill didn't increase appreciably was that a city parks levy and a city children's levy both expired. Of course, the children's levy is back on the ballot for our consideration now. The last time we paid it, it made up about 4 percent of what we paid to the city.

Here is our latest spreadsheet showing how much the various categories of tax rose and fell, and what percentage of the tax is going where:

Comments (7)

Their pension is up, our 401K is down. I hope those loyal retired public servants from Police and Fire are out spending all that money to help the economy.

Every entity you listed should look to the urban renewal line if they aren't happy about their property tax revenues this year.

Realize, this was Randy's ballot measure that "fixes" PFDR with only 30+ years of property tax increases that passed last year.

Really, we should find Randy a job with Goldman Sachs. Funny, I used to think govt represented the taxpayers.

Be interesting to know how much of the property in the city is not on the tax rolls and how much your taxes would go down if all of it was taxed .


I'd like to know whether OHSU is paying the fee in-lieu of taxes they promised to pay on the Schnitzer "donation" in SoWa.

I can only assume that the "urban renewal" money will be funneled to the bottomless money pit known as the Portland Development Commission. I just can't wait to see what great things they have in store for the Pearl and SoWa. Because those are the only places that money seems to go.

I just can't wait to see

What do you mean? The money's already been spent -- your taxes are going to make some meager payments on the HUGE credit card debt they've racked up to get it to this point. And to pay administrative overhead, of course.

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