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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Don and the children

There's a noteworthy election dynamic shaping up out in Beaverton. In Novembers, voters will be asked to vote on two ballot measures that will shape the suburban city's future.

The school district is asking the public for about $80 million in property taxes, while the city's real estate developer welfare establishment is asking for approval of an "urban renewal" district that would devour an estimated $150 million in property taxes, including money that would otherwise go to schools. Although proponents of the two measures are singing each other's praises, it's clear that there's an "us and them" relationship between them:

"It needs to be clear that one is a tax increase measure and the other is not," said Don Mazziotti, the community and economic development director for the city of Beaverton. "The urban renewal initiative is not a new tax.

"But even though both are different, they’ll both be on the ballot at the same time and both will benefit the city. So, they’ve decided to support ours and we will support their measure."

How's that for The Don's "support"? "Theirs is a new tax -- ours isn't." With friends like that, the school board doesn't need enemies.

Having watched that fellow in action in Portland -- he was the ramrod for the city's failed South Waterfront (SoWhat) District -- we couldn't advise voters in the Beav' to hand him $1.50 to play with, much less 100 million times that much. And why would anybody vote $80 million for the schools while at the same time voting to let "urban renewal" take many millions of the school district's money away? A "yes" vote on both measures would be nuts, on any number of levels.

Not to mention that the population of that city, like everybody else in our region, is really suffering at the moment. As the miscreants at the Portland school district learned last spring, it's bad time to be asking taxpayers for dough, even "for the children."

Comments (12)

"asking for approval of an "urban renewal" district"

Somebody better call Janik quick - Voters are NOT a legislative body that can approve a URA!!!

I love the games these guys play with words, its not a tax, its a fee. URA isn't a tax, its just keeps tax money from going to schools and other basic county services.

Urban renewal isn't a new tax technically, but it is a redirection of revenues. Basically, you steal the money from the County, service districts and the City's general fund. More popular programs such as Parks can then float bonds to help with the shortfall, but less popular programs can't.

Don Mazzotti is a creep, a bully, a liar, and and a charlatan!

Having them both on the same ballot leads to some interesting dynamics if one passes and the other doesn't.

Beaverton's Urban Renewal plan will borrow and spend $150 million on "projects" within a 1000 acre UR district in downtown Beaverton. The whole city will vote on the plan and borrowing. Gee shouldn't just the district vote on it? :)

As usual the proponents claim UR is a nifty way to pay for things because it doesn't initially take a new tax.

ALWAYS ignoring the rising cost of basic services and how they will be funded if millions are taken away.

However, because paying off $150 million debt will take around $250 Million directly from the property tax revenue streams that fund schools, police, fire, social services and other essential services replacement revenue will be needed and MUST be extracted from the city taxpayers through future fees and taxes. When that falls short of imminent rising costs there will have to be service cuts.

The Don's UR ponzie scheme is a con job perpetrated by telling lies. Lies about how much new revenue can or will actually be created by the projects and covering up the fact that they are diverting every automatic property tax increase that happens yearly on every parcel within the entire 1000 acres- for decades.

This is a scam repeated many times by the Don and others throughout the region and state. Often with chants of how "done right UR is s good tool" and by parroting the rarely realized "theory" of investment generating a bigger pay off later.

You will never see the truth during this campaign. They will never admit they are proposing the taking of funding and that replacement revenue will be needed.

Worse yet it is the same people and same institutions who produced the multiple failures at the Beaverton Round who want the money to spend.

Voters, tell them to take a hike.

As pointed out above, the debt service cost on urban renewal is the largest component of UR costs. To execute $150 Million of Beaverton projects another $100 Million would be spent to borrow the money.

What the average Joe doesn't realize is that since the tax increase which funds an URA from its inception is always miniscul (only a max. of 3% tax increase even without any improvement is allowed by law), the URA has to bond the money to finance any projects. Thus the projected $100 Million debt cost, and that is even conservative. Plus, most times URAs are extended beyond the 20-30 years periods, or expanded and the debt cost is increased even higher.

As an example SoWhat is only producing only $12 Million/year of additional tax (TIF) dollars to cover expenditures of tax dollars of up to $290 Million. The difference to fund all the infrastructure projects, affordable housing (38% of $290 Million) is coming out of our tax dollars. And that means from schools, fire, police, parks, general fund, etc.

The Don knows this but obfuscates (at the least) the facts about urban renewal. When The Don was PDC's chief he had his underlings saying that the debt cost "will not be considered" part of the cost of urban renewal. That's funny when our Federal Budget Office considers the US Debt cost as part of our US financial picture, but not Portland.

And now The Don extends that thinking to Beaverton. I hope the voters in Beaverton remembers this when they vote.

Why does Beaverton feel the need to jump on the UR bandwagon? It's the second- or third-largest city in Oregon, and has two things Portland sorely lacks: a rapidly growing population and access to plenty of good-paying jobs. In fact, for those folks who care about such things, Beaverton is more ethnically diverse than Portland. Sure, it is sprawlsville and lacks a real downtown, but the people who live there (particularly young families) know that and chose to do so anyway because it better meets their needs (i.e., more affordable housing and better schools).

In any case, Beaverton is served by Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, right? And didn't TVFR recently help drive a stake in Tualatin (or was it Tigard's?) urban-renewal scheme? Can we count on the firefighters to come through again? I'm wary of politically active firefighters, given the shenanigans of our own ex-firefighter Randy Leonard and his beloved PFB, but sometimes you have to applaud and support sanity and reason from whatever quarter it comes from.

The Beaverton plan was originally far worse. But the committee was all over it with a TVFR member as the chair.

The plan got carved up removing much of the municipal wish list such as a performing arts center.

However it remains what it is. Another ponzie scheme in an already developed and tax generating city core that also already generates increased property tax revenue every year without any planners doing anything.

If the plan is approved by voters who have been mislead those increases will all be used for UR debt instead.

It's that simple.

Spread this word


Is there any other city/region that has as many URA's as we do?

Here's another "trick" of urban renewal that will could play out in Beaverton.

In SoWhat over 1/2 of the properties are exempt in some fashion from paying property taxes to pay off the debt and the UR expenditures. There is the TOD transit oriented development exemption, affordable housing tax exemption, the public agency exemptions-like OHSU, PSU, and UofO, the list goes on. That is why SoWhat's property tax contributions to CoP's general fund is hardly more than it was 12 years ago before UR.

Most of Portland's URA's have had similar property tax exemptions. But without any outside auditing-or even internal-of UR the devastating picture is not revealed.

Other suburban URA have had similar exemptions. Many times UR is used to build a performing arts center or new city hall, etc. that does not pay property taxes. So the burden-pie is expanded onto the rest of us still having to pay into the shrinking pie contributors pool. That could be Beaverton's future.



Beaverton passed a dishonest ballot title for the November ballot.

Read here: http://www.beavertonoregon.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=2002

"Funding the Plan depends on public and private investment and projects to increase property values."

This is a blatant lie.

The vast majority of the funding will come from taking the normal yearly increases already occuring on every parcel.


It's quite clear that with only a small part of the 33% of funds ($49.5 million) going to Financial and Technical Assistance for Housing and Commercial Developments will ever generate any new property tax increases an the remaining 66% will generate nothing new.

Ball Janik needs to look this measure over. :)

Ben.... That would be a conflict of interest... and sometimes it counts with the weasels and sometimes it doesn't.

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