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Friday, April 22, 2011

Calculate what the Portland school tax ballot measures will cost you

The upcoming Portland school tax election involves some pretty spendy propositions. Measure 26-121 would add $2 of property tax for each $1,000 of assessed value; Measure 26-122 would load on another $1.99 of tax per $1,000 of assessed value. The proponents tell us that the median homeowner would pay $588 a year in taxes as a result of the two measures; by our calculations, the average homeowner would pay $699 a year.

But hey, nobody wants to be average. Before casting their ballots, voters should get an idea of what it means for them -- or for their landlord, if they're renting. It's not all that mysterious, and we've tried to cobble together a calculator for this purpose. With a silent prayer to the gods of html and Javascript, here it is:

[See update below.]

To find your property's assessed value, go to portlandmaps.com and enter the property address. When the property comes up, click on "Assessor," and then scroll down toward the bottom, where the assessed value appears. Taxes will increase as the property's assessed value increases each year; under Oregon's crazy property tax rules it is sure to do so for most folks, at 3% a year.

UPDATE, 3/19, 10:33 p.m.: The construction bond failed, but the operating levy passed. Here is a revised calculator that shows how much more the new operating levy will be than the expiring levy was -- 74 cents per $1,000 of assessed value:

Enter your property's assessed value (without commas):The ballot measure that just passed will cost you this much more per year than the old levy:

Comments (49)

The increase in property taxes from both measures will be $2.74 per $1,000 in assessed value:

  • $2.00 for the bond, a new tax

  • $0.74 for the levy, an increase from the current rate of $1.25 to $1.99

Approximately 1/3 of PPS property tax payers will see an increase of more than $800 from these measures.

These increases are on top of the library and firetruck tax increases voters approved in November.

Is this mainly the school bond issue?

One of the reasons property taxes are so high is because many don't pay them.

The NY times said one of the major reasons for Harrisburg, PA defaulting on its bonds is because almost half the property there is owned by non-profits and is not taxed.

Then there's tax deferments, discounted taxes for "historical" places, ad nauseum.

Someone tell me what's wrong with every property owner paying the same tax rate?

Many thanks for this, Jack. No doubt there are Real operating and capital needs for our schools. Bit it would all be much easier to swallow if we were not being bled dry by urban renewal.

I'd like to remind everyone that last summer before spawning this outrageous bond measure PPS requested a revenue impact projection from the Portland Development Commission.

The PDC's 5 year projection was a loss of $193 million for Portland Public Schools.

There's not been any mention of it anywhere but blogs ever since.

Not the school administration, not the board, not any media.

This "town" is a rotten to the core political cabal.

"Taxes will increase as the property's assessed value increases each year; under Oregon's crazy property tax rules it is sure to do so for most folks, at 3% a year."

Though it should be obvious, bonds don't follow the 3%/year. Whatever gets voted in you pay for.

This vote should be interesting. Maybe it will show how many voters own vs. rent.

Did anybody catch the commercial last night supporting the new tax? Melancholy 6-year olds with cute lisps pointing out "these are the ceiling tiles that fell down" "this is the [broken] door to my classroom" and so on.

That would be $1,100 bucks for my old house, which is in foreclosure. I hope the bank doesn't mind paying more.

The School District isn't going to spend the money from these measures economically, either. Betsy Hammond,Oregonian, April 3d wrote the proposed construction costs are AT LEAST 15 to 30% greater than surrounding school construction in other districts. Once more, look at the donations coming from the corporate world to the Yes-Side (Portlanders for Schools headed by none another than Cogen and the PR director for Nike). It's called crony capitalism, and PPS is being used to squeeze more from homeowners and even renters (indirectly) so corporations can profit. 30% of yes side donations from out of state construction firms.

Don't worry. They'll run some more junkets to "build the Portland brand", install a few more bike lanes and it will all be fine.

You are so right. They are talking Trump Tower prices on this.

Re; "Did anybody catch the commercial last night supporting the new tax?"


Saw the spot. Immediately thought PPS administrators past and present should be prosecuted for criminal negligence for not having removed asbestos during the past three decades.

Noticed that the ad did not mention how much taxpayers have paid and are still paying in settlements to previous PPS administrators.

It appears that the asbestos has been fully enclosed in metal, so I'm not sure if you'd get a conviction if you prosecuted PPS' administrators for criminal negligence. It's funny how many times people who comment here want the people they disagree with to go to jail.

When I bought my house 11 years ago, I recall that the price of gas was about $1.50 a gallon, the price of a can of cat food was about 25 cents, and (having looked them up), my water bills for Nov 2001 and Nov 2002 were $99 and $108 respectively. Today, gas is close to $4 a gallon, a can of cat food is 50 cents, and my Nov 2010 water bill was $193. So prices for these everyday budget items have, essentially, doubled. And if these school measures pass, my property taxes will also have, approximately, doubled in those 11 years. Meanwhile, what has distinctly NOT doubled in these years is my income. And I would guess I am not alone in this economic reality. These measures are just too much. The schools, like everyone else, need to learn to get by with what they have.

The first commenter is correct that the increase in tax rates would be $2.74 if both measures were to pass (there is an existing operating levy of $1.25).

However, it is not true that one third of homeowners would have their taxes increase by more than $800. It’s actually 11 percent.

Jack, if you or your commenters would like the file of property tax values from the county to check my statement, just let me know.

Sarah Carlin Ames
PPS Public Affairs

You can spin it all you want, but the fact is that a yes vote costs you $3.99 per $1,000 more than a no vote.

I saw the commercial. And it got my blood boiling...until I remembered that the wife and I sold our house and moved out of Portland in December. We live in Clackamas County now. The PPS bond measure won't cost us a dime.

Clackamas County isn't far enough to be completely free of the money-sucking black hole that is Portland, Multnomah County, Tri-Met and Metro...but it's a big improvement.

Re: "It appears that the asbestos has been fully enclosed in metal, so I'm not sure if you'd get a conviction if you prosecuted PPS' administrators for criminal negligence. It's funny how many times people who comment here want the people they disagree with to go to jail."


Where does it "[appear} that the asbestos has been fully enclosed in metal?" The ad does not show such enclosure. The child in the ad only refers to the asbestos in her school and how this levy is needed to remove it. Do you have special knowledge, perhaps gained during your tenure as a school administrator?

The health hazards of asbestos have been popular knowledge at least since Paul Brodeur's landmark NYer articles, beginning in 1973:

If asbestos has not been removed from schools or properly encased, then those responsible for its continued, harmful presence are criminally negligent and really should be prosecuted. Prosecution and conviction, however, are not equivalent to sending someone to jail.

Based on what you've written, I'm sure there are many issues with which we disagree.

Maybe it will show how many voters own vs. rent.

Many landlords pass tax increases on to tenants.

"Many landlords pass tax increases on to tenants"
Jack, how true.
As my dad noted often, Corporations don't pay taxes, the consumer of their products pay their taxes, via higher prices.

Oh, and PPS has refused to date to rent any of its HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of square feet of badly needed empty school space to charter schools, because evidently they don't really need the money, and would prefer to spend money heating empty space; such a "green" habit they have there. My son's charter school, the Portland Village School, would pay for a ***careful***, ***humble***, ***modest***, remodel of any space the district would rent us. They could get substantial yearly rent from us, like, 150K, AND PVS would fix the space up, in outside-the-box/non-union/non-big fat cat contractor style.

Ah, but small is beautiful is not a chic concept anymore, and we are saddled with the cyclops gargoyle that is our centralized district power structure.

I sure hope some big donor starts running TV ads about what a rip-off this bond is.
It will DEFINITELY be the last straw for us wearied ones of Portland if it passes.

GM: The sticker on the pipe behind the child who is speaking in the commercial provides the information that I based my post on. Check it out. Maybe they are trying to pass the levy because they are afraid they are going to be indicted under your criminal negligence theory.

Just to add a little balance to the comment section here, I'd like to state for the record that I support the school bond measures.

Both of my children, now graduated, went through the Portland public school system, from kindergarten through high school, and I feel they got a good education under the direction of teachers who were for the most part very good and very dedicated. Their education could have been even better, I think, if the schools had marginally better resources--to make classroom size smaller and for things such as more robust foreign language, music and art programs.

One thing that was abundantly clear to me, and which should be clear to anyone who has spent even a little time inside our public schools, is that the facilities are far from lavish and are pretty poorly maintained. Upgrading those facilities would be good for the people who work in them and, especially, for those who are taught in them.

I don't make a lot of money (just around the median); I'm not a school teacher; I'm not a public employee. There are many, many appealing things I can think of doing with my money rather than paying taxes.

Nevertheless, I think that a good public school system, which needs to be paid for by the public, is central to a decent and, hopefully, democratic society. I'm not going to just pretend that I care about the public schools but refuse to vote to tax myself in order to maintain or improve them.

I don't know you personally, all of you who are commenting here and venting your anger at these school bond measures. I'm willing to assume that some of you really are so strapped for money that the additonal taxes that would come from these bond measures would be a genuine hardship for you. (Though your precarious financial position probably has a lot more to do with increasingly harsh business practices nationwide than excessive taxation locally, so your anger at the schools and the state seem misplaced.) But since we know that not everyone is on the edge financially, I have to guess that some of you are just being selfish in your reaction to these measures. Some of you just don't care about the public schools, and you might as well admit it.

I cannot believe anyone would vote for this while PPS has a High School graduation rate of 53%. Please show me how this tax will increase graduation or better yet improve the system we now have and I might consider it.

Thank you, Richard, for your reasoned comments. I don't have children in the schools, I'm not a teacher and I'm a bit of a tightwad with my money. But I've volunteered in the schools and seen how decrepit they are. I can hardly think of a more important investment than our schools. My wife and I, Portland homeowners, will be voting "Yes" on both measures.

Richard, you mentioned that you noticed that the schools are "poorly maintained." You can remodel the buildings to be as fancy as you want, but if you don't do basic maintenance, you'll be in this exact same fix in 10 years.

Those damaged doors, fallen ceiling tiles, and water dripping onto electrical pipes can be laid squarely at the feet of the maintenance crews (and those who budget for maintenance crews).

According to the flyer Jack posted yesterday, there is no mention whatsoever of increased funds for basic upkeep.

Richard and Dave,

Thank you for your comments. I'm undecided on both measures, but leaning toward no. The simple fact is this city and its residents are tapped out. You can't squeeze blood from a stone and (while neither of you did this in your posts) I greatly resent the "it's for the children" meme of the Vote Yes crowd that ignores the economic reality many Portlanders are facing.

I'm fortunate to be in a financially stable position. While I don't have kids in PPS, I appreciate the fact that good schools are of value to the present and future of the city (in fact, the proximity of my home to Grant was a major factor in my purchase). But there are a lot of people barely getting by right now, and hundreds of dollars in new taxes would materially harm many residents.

As I see it, at least voters have a choice here, unlike the graft and backroom dealing the accompanies SamRand's handling of sewer money and other "piggy banks". This is a tough time and a tough choice, and I can't begrudge anyone who goes either way. Sad that we're in this situation.

It's a pitty that it is so difficult to inform the voting public on exactly how insane and irresponsible iit is to spend $80 million remodeling Cleveland HS and other similar projects.

Richard and Dave are reacting like this is simply a prudent expenditure and that it is being well managed.

In reality it is a porduct of years of inept and dishonest managenment culminating in a massive money grubbing
frenzy by the worst management possible.

Handing over a $1/2 billion to the fools is a PPS suicide pact.

It's amazing that Dave and Richard have perceieved nothing to discourage their support.

PPS administration is deliberately silencing their staff on the PDC projection.

The numbers don't lie. It's incredible how much the school district obfuscates the egregious, back-breaking taxes it's will splurge on it's favored contractors.

No one is against education, Richard and others. We're against the wasteful and corrupt cabal burning hundreds of millions of dollars with progressively worse results, at the expense of the increasingly hardworking and sacrificing Portland resident. Voting no doesn't mean you're against the public schools, it means their plan is just way too much for ask, and they need to do a better job with what they have already like everyone else does.

Jack, it's not only the monthly tax increase, the home's value goes down. Buyers have budgets. If they have to pay more taxes, then they have less cash for the mortgage. So, in one simple vote, you can increase your taxes and lower the value of your home. Sounds like a great deal to me.

I wish we had a way to vote "no" on the urban renewal that has stolen these $$ from the schools and counties. We weren't given the choice to prioritize schools over lining the pockets of private profiteers. I wish there was a way to vote "no confidence" on the current PPS board and management without voting "no" on these levies. We weren't given that option, either. Not knowing how to pay for it rather ices the cake.

Portland housing is rated "seriously unaffordable" based on costs and incomes. Given those numbers, nobody should be pretending these numbers are trivial.

Many landlords pass tax increases on to tenants.

True. But most renters ignore that - if they're even aware of the fact - and cheerily vote for increased taxation.

burning hundreds of millions of dollars with progressively worse results

And the key word there is "progressive".

dyseptic:I wish we had a way to vote "no" on the urban renewal that has stolen these $$ from the schools and counties...

I don't believe people are against the children's needs, many commenting here have observed over and over the financial schemes by insiders in the city such as the urban renewal that takes the $$ from the schools and counties. There have been so many schemes benefiting some at the expense of everyone else. Feel bad that the children's needs are at the lower rung of the ladder, however, this is not the public's choice, but leaders of our community who have set many things up that are adverse for the children. This is not a simple matter.

My message would be do not try to extract from the average citizen, look to the top of the chain here, those are the ones who should be ashamed of what their agenda has done to our community and the schools.
To then turn around and use the children to extract even more money for their benefit, is more than some of us can abide by.

Sorry for the children, but did we need a tram of over $50 Million? The proposed crossing bridge $4 Billion, light rail,not sure think another Billion and the Billion dollar debt for a public health problem that does not exist regarding our water?? Leonard did an emergency ordinance of $135 Million for a storage tank not needed, using this EPA rule as an excuse when he should have been asking for a Waiver from that rule or certainly a delay as New York did and NY got a reprieve until 2028.

I am sure the list is even longer. This debt will be enormous for the children.
We have a much bigger picture here of problems. Some that comment here are watchdogs and actively working to stop some of the projects that are hurting our community and yes the children financially. Perhaps the children will understand one day who really is on their side.

I can't know of course, but am thinking that if I were a child, a "real estate designed" school might be neat, but I would not want to be saddled with debt after debt to pay for today's financial mismanagement and agenda.

Someone said that only 11% of home owners would see their property tax bills go up more than $800. Can somebody explain that math? To me, that would seem to say that a $200,000 house is at the 88th or 89th percentile of PPS district home values. I find that hard to believe.

Here’s our math:

(According to 2010-11 tax statement)

Total RMV value $347,310(If only this was so!)

Assessed value $226,340

Zillow Zestimate value:$239,000

Purchased price in 2003: $271,500

2010-11 tax bill: $4782(with discount)

Using Jack’s calculator, and the last figure above, approx. tax bill after the ballet measures pass: $5685?

I own a mail order business selling books worldwide on the internet. It is getting harder and harder to stay in business with a Portland location. I am competing with other sellers, mostly in the US and Canada who are not paying the 5th highest water/sewer bills, Tri-Met Taxes, Zoo Bonds, Library Bonds, and the increased costs due to Measure 67 & 68. In my business these increased costs can not be passed onto the consumer in the form of higher costs. Business owners like myself either take home less, or work longer hours to cover the costs. I wished we were closer to Idaho or Nevada, we would be moving there.

One of the several reasons I'm voting No is because we all know that after this huge property tax increase, the city and county will be coming back to us again and again for more property tax increases. That's the history of Portland. Next will probably be the parks.

Parks will most definitely be next. Remember that "little" muni bond issue last fall just to pay for basic park maintenance? Not a good sign.

But I would also count on our brand-spanking new library taxation district to squeeze out a new millage proposal sometime soon, too.

I just sent a link to this site on to our tenants who live in the city. Thanks to Jack they can easily calculate the increase their NNN charges should the taxes go up.

My share will be an additional $706 the first year. And since my wife was laid off yesterday, we'll both be voting against this. We'll happily vote for anyone for city council who proposes abolishing urban renewal districts, though, since the TIFS are the real reason our schools are in such sad shape.

I did the calculations myself, with the 3%
increase for next year. I assumed 3.00
per 1000. I came up with a figure far lower than the above calculator (792 vs
1054.43) Did you include all the other measures voted in last November in the calculator above?
Also, are there any no on 26-121 and 122
signs? I don't think property owners/renters actually sit down and do the math. This will be a huge increase in taxes on property owners.

Unfortunately, most people get the shock when they get the bill. Many are too busy,
not involved, etc. until it is too late.

Doesn't help if they depend on the O. for information.

How about -

1.Take all the money spent by the web of power on ads, etc. and instead give to the cause itself.
2.All those with heart signs and those that have the money to give donate to the cause. That would take it out of being a hardship to those who cannot afford this or those who do not agree with the "agenda" that set this up in the first place, by mismanagement, and deferred maintenance.

Who knows, they might end up with quite a sum on a donation drive, with generous donors. At least this would be a positive
involvement, not a division within our community.

There are some who comment on the school issue that know more details about this bond and the history of the budget, etc.

My focus is more on the issue of the land and property and what is behind the scenes on that matter.

You can spin it all you want, but the fact is that a yes vote costs you $3.99 per $1,000 more than a no vote.

Jack, so if people vote no on 26-122 the existing $1.25/1000 operating levy ends?

OK, from my research voting no on 26-122 would still result in one more year of the $1.25/1,000 operating levy. So voting yes only costs $0.74/1,000 additional for the first year, and then $1.99/1,000 for the next 4 years.

STOP PPS Tax Increase Demonstration Wednesday April 27 11:30 AM Portland City Hall

The campaign for huge PPS tax increases is being waged between construction related corporations that anticipate great profits and various union forces that expect to keep or get jobs versus those who pay the bills.

The campaign for huge PPS tax increases is NOT being waged between taxpayers who support or oppose the measures with 25 and 50 dollar contributions.

With a million dollars on one side and zero on the other a disinterested observer might ask, "How could this lopsided balance happen?" The answer is simple, the profit motive.

The PPS Tax Hike Is NOT About Kids. It Is About ADULT MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS And Making A Buck At Taxpayers Expense.

The average potential INCREASE in property taxes of all property taxpayers within the Portland Public Schools' taxing district is $487.25

When the newly passed Fire Bureau and Oregon Historical Society taxes ($33.78) are added the average potential INCREASE in property taxes of all property taxpayers within the Portland Public Schools' taxing district next November is $487.25 + $33.78 = $521.03

The average potential INCREASE for business and residential renters is $30 to $50 per MONTH.

Can you afford to pay these INCREASES?

Are you willing to pay these INCREASES to compensate for decades of FAILURE of the PPS Board to include the true cost of  maintenance, capital improvements and unfunded liabilities in the annual PPS budget?

Do you believe and trust that even with the bond money the PPS Board could and would accomplish these minimum requirements expected by all PPS taxpayers:

1. PPS must provide an honest, transparent annual public budget that includes the true costs of maintenance, capital improvements and unfunded liabilities.

2. PPS must achieve a four year graduation rate closer to 100% than 50%.

3. PPS must educate students, who will become voters, to understand the differences between fact and opinion, science and religion, democracy and plutocracy.

If you are angry and/or scared about the enormous property tax hike proposed by the Portland Public Schools' Board necessitated by their mismanagement of public funds then take action.

Join your fellow outraged taxpayers on Wednesday April 27, 2011 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM in a demonstration at Portland City Hall. Bring a sign. Bring your lunch. Bring a friend. Bring your sense of humor. Satisfy your need to do something to stop those who have violated our trust and mismanaged our public funds and now want us to pay for it - again.

Richard Ellmyer
Leader and organizer of Stop PPS Tax Demonstration on February 16, 2011 and April 27, 2011 at Portland City Hall.
http://www.goodgrowthnw.org - stopppstax@goodgrowthnw.org

Thirty-Five years of political activism. Leader of two successful efforts in 1999-2000 to stop proposed neighborhood destroying outdoor amphitheaters at PIR and the Expo Center.

Former progressive, socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate for the North Portland House seat in the May 2010 primary. Defeated by establishment Democrat Tina Kotek, who supports the status quo which allows Public Utilities e.g. PGE and NW Natural to become POLITICAL Utilities by advocating for tax increases and the related rate hikes on their customers.  Kotek also supports the huge PPS property tax increases, including those on low-income households under $25,000.

It would be great if you would split out the two measures on the calculator displayed here. It's important for people to be able to clearly distinguish between the levy and the bond, what each one will purchase, and their respective impacts on property taxes.

The Oregon state budget has been mismanaged for years. The educational budget has been mismanaged even worst! They just laid off a bunch of teachers creating less jobs for teachers, yet theres still scholarships available that give individuals a free ride scholarship to be a teacher. The system is backwards, pump out more teachers and spend money on them so they can't get a job because we are cutting jobs. Now we are going to punish hard working individuals who own homes and work hard to make a living to raise a family and throw more money at the problem? The problem is that the educational system is inefficient and the money is mismanaged, its not that they don't have enough money. This bill should have never even made it on the ballot.

Any idea WHY there is a disconnect between useing your math that gives me $874.01 additional tax on a assessed $219,050.00 home and useing KGW site that gives me $600.19 on same assessed val ue?? They say to use 2.74% times $1000.00 of assessed and you say to use 3.99%. Why the different percentages??? Thanks!

As the comments above illustrate, the people pushing the bonds are lightning-quick to point out that there's already a levy in place that's about to expire, and so they only want you to think about how much more you'll pay with a yes vote than you do now. But in point of fact, the difference between a yes and a no vote is greater, because if the no's prevail, you'll pay less for schools than you do now. Pick your spin.

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