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Monday, October 26, 2009

"Urban renewal" passes cop pensions on Portland tax bills

We got our property tax bill the other day -- and so it's time to take a look at what happened. The overall tab went up 5.97%. The City of Portland portion went up 9.40%. The "City of Portland Bonds" line jumped 16.28%, and the wicked "Urban Renewal - Portland" line increased by 13.66%, over last year.

And for the first time since we've been watching these things carefully, "Urban Renewal" has now passed "Portland Fire/Police Pension" as the second nastiest chunk of the City of Portland taxes on the bill. "Urban Renewal" now soaks up more than a quarter of every property tax dollar that I pay to the city -- and I don't live in or around an "urban renewal" area. Another quarter or so goes to the police and fire pensioners; less than half of the city taxes I pay goes toward covering everything else that the city needs to do. What a town.

The tax for police and fire pensions grew only 2.11% over the past year -- a welcome sight, but it's not clear why the rate of growth slowed so much. The city hired new actuaries last year, and they softened somewhat the grim assessment of the state of the police and fire pension system. Maybe that had something to do with the slowing increase there.

Elsewhere on the bill, the lavish bond issue for more bricks and mortar at Portland Community College makes its debut, with a 62.56% increase in taxes for PCC. Metro dumped a 15.90% increase in taxes onto the bill for bond payments, presumably for the zoo. And whatever the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District does, it sure knows how to jack up taxes; another 16.90% boost this year -- a compound increase rate of 48.79% a year over the past three years.

Here's our annual report:

And just to pre-empt an obvious comment exchange:

Red: "How can property taxes go up when the value of my house went down?"

Blue: "You can thank Bill Sizemore for that one."

Red: "If it weren't for Bill Sizemore, I would have been taxed out of my house a long time ago."

You can take it from there.

Comments (18)

Wouldn't we expect to see the FPDR start to decrease over time as new public safety personnel are put into PERS (per the change in 2007)? It may be a bit too soon to start seeing that shift, although for the next 30 years or so the FPDR levy should slowly decrease as new staff have PERS paid directly out of whatever general fund dollars you see in the main COP line.

It's breath-taking when 2 items (urban renewal and PFDR) almost equal the amount for public schools.

"Wouldn't we expect to see the FPDR start to decrease over time as new public safety personnel are put into PERS"

According to the studies when Randy floated this for a vote, we'd see about 30 years of prop tax increases. Realize the large majority of fire/police are covered by PFDR (another Randy invention.)

This analysis each year is an invaluable public service. Thank you, Jack.

Thanks Jack for your great summary.
Now I know exactly who to swear at as I write the checks.
Urban renewal indeed! More like urban decay!

What Allan said.

Jack, your blog does more to educate property owners than my (canceled) Oregonian subscription ever tried to do.

Thank you.

A while ago some commenter (Bill?) referred to a "beast that must be fed" that demands that Portland's biggest new projects must be underwritten with public money on a regular basis.

Urban renewal enables this beast by siphoning away property tax revenues and turning them into a different color for this narrow purpose ("you can't spend those funds on anything but boondoggles, it's the law").

Maybe we should be recalling Urban Renewal.

We did our annual, my farm in Clackamas comparison with the City House. The results speak for themselves:

% of total Taxes Paid
City of Portland/Clackamas County C
Education 26.81% /44.1%

General Gov 73.29%/49%

Urban renewal
of total taxes 10.93%/2.1%

of Gen Gov 25.21%/4.3%

And we wonder why Portland has so many issues with education and facilities falling apart record drop out rate. But Remember!!!! the usual cast of charcters care about education Sam is the Education Mayor. I wish folks would stop believing everything that comes from the lips of the libs, and do the math.

This analysis each year is an invaluable public service. Thank you, Jack.

Ditto for me, the quality of the work you do with this blog is incredible!

Can someone explain how the amount of urban renewal property tax is calculated on a tax statement for a property outside of an urban renewal district? The urban renewal agency (the city/ the PDC) gets property tax payments based on the amount of increment in a district, i.e. the difference between today's property value and the "frozen" value of the property on the date the urban renewal district was created. So, if a property is not in an urban renewal district, there's no incre- ment. So how does a portion of the tax payment from that property go to urban renewal? Thanks.

You and I agree Bill Sizemore is no example of honesty and goodness, but the savings for all property owners, indeed, do allow them to live in a house they own.
The budget buster I have problems with is the amount the schools get and the poor results I see coming from those schools.
Oh well, this will get me in more trouble
with the educated fanatics.

Walter, I had the same question. It's news to me that a property outside a urban renewal area has to pay ANY urban renewal tax.

I certainly don't understand Urban Renewal but I think the urban renewal money is taken from all the tax rolls, and is "re-paid" from the tax increment of property inside the urban renewal area.

But that brings up a point, when the money is repaid, where is it repaid to? (Does it then get feed back to the schools, etc? Which would mean a bunch of money at some distant point in the future.)

Yes, thanks a great deal, Jack. We are clearly paying more for less:

In addition, on the horizon, the alleged mayor of our city seeks to extract a leaf tax from city residents.

The annual water and sewer rate hikes -- which are customarily included in tax assessments in many municipalities -- should also be added to the tax increases faced by Portland residents.

I am surprised by the questions concerning about TIF dollars and property tax bills having Urban Renewal taxes; especially as many times this subject seemingly is covered on this blog.

The property tax urban renewal dollars go directly to PDC to operate the PDC's administrative costs to handle the eleven URAs. But on top of that each URA takes administrative dollars out of each URA TIF dollars.

The Poddle Park in SoWhat has costs over $5 Million in "administrative costs" to create a $14 Million dollar park block.

Getting a "pie chart" from PDC to find out which pool of dollars (property taxes to PDC or TIF dollars) makes up the $5 Million is impossible to get from the PDC. Even their accounting procedures and staff leaves one totally baffled.

There are no "repaid" dollars from TIF to compensate for the property tax dollars collected into PDC-urban renewal, as Michael suggests.

The public needs to know that Urban Renewal is not a self sustaining endeavor based on increased values of property values. The taxpayers payers are being gouged in two ways and more.

I live in an urban renewal area, and the three infill houses that have been built this year in my immediate neighborhood are all tax abated for ten years. This strikes me as an idiotic policy at the best of times (if these houses are so desireable to live in, why do they need tax abatement?), but this is not the best of times. Imagine you are the owner of an older home in this neighborhood, trying to sell in an already difficult market. Your urban renewal tax dollars are, in essence, funding a disadvantage for your own home sale because the buyer of your property will not receive a tax abatement. It just boggles the mind how this policy is allowed to continue in the current econimic climate.

Why does urban renewal show up on your tax bill, even though you don't reside in an urban renewal district? The answer to that question is "urban renewal division of taxes" outlined in ORS 457.420 - 457.460

The above comments offered as explanation are incorrect.

Frank, if you are referring to my comments, you are incorrect to use ORS 457 to say that the portion of property taxes designated to urban renewal is not co-mingled with TIF dollars that are to be used in an urban renewal area. There is proof in SoWhat that this happens.

It may be contrary to yours or anyone's interpretation of ORS 457, but like many things lately in government, regulations and laws aren't followed, or enforced.

Suckers, you all fell for the big money ads. Always vote against money measures, they are nothing but scams. Now that I have your attention. Pull out your tax statement and look on the upper right hand side. Now tell me you are happy you voted for all of that worthless waste of money. Now the next time you have that ballot in your hands "JUST VOTE NO! Your wallet will thank you and so will I.

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