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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Portland school tax rerun would still be biggest bond ever

The Portland school board is charging ahead with its construction bond ballot measure, a followup to the one that went down in May 2011. This time it's "only" $482 million, which is supposed to be a bargain compared to the $548 million they asked for, unsuccessfully, last time. And the IOU will be spread out over 20 years, which should cut the annual property tax increase down -- $1.10 a thousand, instead of $2. But longer debt means a longer tax increase, and more interest paid to the Paulsons and the Romneys and their Dunthorpe pals who hold the bonds, of course. Sort of like a 5-year car loan instead of a 3-year car loan.

What would we get for half a billion?

The bulk of the bond -- $278 million -- will go toward rebuilding Grant, Franklin and Roosevelt high schools, as well as Faubion K-8, chosen because of its partnership with its neighbor, Concordia University....

The bond would also use $69.5 million to seismically strengthen buildings at up to 26 schools, replace roofs and seismically brace roofs at up to 14 schools, replace roofs at up to 8 schools, and improve handicapped accessibility to about 30 buildings. Another $5 million will improve middle-school science classrooms at nearly 40 schools, while $45 million will help repay debt for capital projects and work at Rosa Parks K-8, and $83 million will cover program costs like bond issuance fees and reserves.

And it's just the beginning, they say:

The board on Monday also voted to include $1.5 million in "master planning" money to go toward the district’s other high schools, which they hope to rebuild in future bonds. Supporters will be urging voters to look at this measure as part of a multi-bond process that will eventually upgrade all district schools in about 30 years.

A final board vote on the language of the measure and an official referral to the ballot is scheduled for August 20.

There'll be lots of opposition come November -- from the usual tax haters, union haters, and gubmint haters, but also from the parents of students in schools that will get little or nothing from this tax increase, and from other parents who wish the school board would address its inadequate academic program before blowing mid-nine figures on bricks and mortar. It should be an interesting contest. There'll be election porn galore in our mailboxes, the little kiddies will be conscripted to ring doorbells again, and who knows? Super Carole and her crew may even violate the state's election laws again -- at least, if Kate Brown ever gets them right. Better enjoy the summer while it's here.

Comments (17)

As you think about raising your property taxes even higher, consider the cost of garbarge service in Portland vs. what I pay in Salmon Creek (Clark County).

My "Waste Connections" bill for two 32 gallons is $48.08 for TWO MONTHS of weekly pick-up service.

That means (assuming 4 weeks in a month), that each 32 gallon can costs $3.05 per weekly pickup.

That rate includes a 95 gallon recycling cart, but no yard debris (at $8.84 for two months) and a "Refuse Tax" of 1.36 (again, for two months).

If you exclude the yard debris and tax, I'm only paying $2.37 for each weekly pickup of a 32 gallon garbage can.

How does that compare to Portland? Why did the City of Portland award Waste Management with such an expensive monopoly? I can only imagine how many palms got greased for all the money they're making.

Golly, I wonder if "deferring" all that maintenance and firing all the custodians so they could dump the money into benefits was such a good idea. A shame that they ended up being forced to re-hire custodians....

"Super Carole and her crew may even violate the state's election laws again"

After seeing what the (complete lack of) punishment was last time, she'll probably just run the whole campaign out of her office.

We’re also no stranger to the issue of tax breaks. Previously we looked into whether the state spends more on giveaways than it does on education, public safety and health care combined. The answer: Mostly True.
But hey it's for the kids, you know the ones that dropout.

Full report from PolitiFact here:

"firing all the custodians so they could dump the money into benefits was such a good idea. A shame that they ended up being forced to re-hire custodians...."
They fired one chapter of SEIU union employees and hired another chapter of SEIU union employees who would work for less. Then they got sued and had to fire the cheaper SEIU chapter and hire back the old employees who all voted to be represented by SEIU again. Really one of the great moments in Union History.

Mr. Tee,

Thats just a bit more than what I pay in Salem. Its about $45 per 2 months for a small garbage can, big recycling cart and yard debris can. Weekly pickup for all three. There are 3-4 companies down here each with their own monopoly on a section of the city.

Are those kids getting paid to go out there to do door to door guilt trips?

Big bucks for "bricks and mortar" yet only 58% of Oregon eighth-graders say they always or almost always learn in their math class:

It's outrageous that the spending plan includes building 4 new schools at a cost of $80 million each, including issuance fees. Borrowing huge amounts of money to build expensive, iconic schools for relatively few students is a horrible idea. Not only will doing so exacerbate the bad feelings among students, parents, and teachers who miss out on the spending spree, but those glitzy new digs will cost disproportionately more to maintain, which sets the stage for an endless cycle of future budget problems and intra-district tensions. This plan reminds me of how Tri-Met has been running itself into the ground for the past decade. Good grief!

I'm one of the tax haters you mention because I'm tired of the politicians in this city treating property tax payers like ATMs. They will push for this huge increase and a library tax increase in November. What will it be next year? Nick Fish will almost certainly be pushing a parks bond. Property tax rates keep increasing while home values fall.

"The bulk of the bond -- $278 million -- will go toward" PERS contributions or making up for PERS contributions.

Don't kid yourself.


I think you're paying too much: my weekly service includes TWO 32-gallon garbage cans, at $2.37/each excluding recycling and taxes.

My point is: the high cost of living in Portland isn't just the high property taxes and business license/revenue fees.

Add in the SKYROCKETING publicly owned utilities and the taxes all layers of government pile on every conceivable service and Portland is pushing middle income families out of town.

Then they'll hire a consultant to help them figure out why school enrollments are back in decline.

I seem to remember the squandered cost for George Bush's Iraq war would have rebuilt every school in the United States.

"Education is everything" for a society to thrive!
Seems we are "allowing" greed to over power all these days.

No accountability for those who deferred the maintenance in the first place.
Why should I think it will be better the next time around. Just kick that can down the road.
Just another boondoggle. Get that non-classroom spending under 30% and there will be a lot of money.

On the news tonight, the stats are about $275 a year on a tax-assessed home worth $250,000. And that's for 20 years. At some point, given the increase in costs and taxes, voters will just say no.

OTOH - COP vehicles were cleaning streets in NE Pdx. Guess they needed to water the grass growing in the pavement.

Remember, last year a levy passed to fund PPS operating expenses at the rate of $1.99 per thousand of the Assessed Value of your home. This levy will continue for another four years and we can assume other levies will follow and run concurrently with the $482 million bond. If this proposed big bond passes, your combined total cost for PPS for the next four years is really $3.09 per thousand of Assessed value. And the Assessed Value increases 3% each year. EB

This new version is worse than the old proposal. They plan on doing a new bond every four years to get every penny available.

Facebook parlayed my lefty ex-neighbor's appeal to join the pro -construction bond camp FB page. The FB page logo? A Soviet-era style propagandistic clenched fist punching upwards, gripping a pencil...(the skin of the fist was dark-toned, naturally; such manipulaltive sickness around racial issues abounds on the progressive left).

The other day I found a PPS PDF, posted online, with the title-
"Our School's (sic) Performance". It was a trove of data on test scores of schools district-wide.

Considering that PPS cannot even address their miserable performance data without placing an apostrophe in the correct position, I think it is reasonable for every Portland taxpayer to simply throw in the towel on them, once and for all.

("But, but, apostrophe placement isn't so important, the role of schools is DIFFERENT nowadays, please see the clenched fist logo artwork, and you will understand that the role of schools is to propagandize for unions....!" Oh, right, sorry, grammar has no relevance to any of that. Of course. Silly us.)


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