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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Metro's Revolt against the 'Oregon Tax Revolt'?

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Got a few hours? How about days?

Metro's chief operating officer, Michael Jordan, released his Community Investment Strategy today. Basically, it's a blueprint/wishlist for how and where Metro, along with politicians across the region, should aim the next few decades of inexorable sprawl.

Among the highlights us non-wonks might care about, especially those non-wonks who get a property tax bill every fall? To help spur tens of billions in new development, voters could be asked to remove "existing statutory limitations on local revenue-raising authority."

Translated: Screw property tax caps! We need more dough!

"That could be a possibility. But there are a lot of possibilities," explained Karen Kane, a spokeswoman for Metro. "We need to look at all of them."

Coming up: Will you even have a house left to tax?

That could depend. Metro also suggests ripping up low-slung swaths of single-family homes and storefronts for something more dense. (Kind of like Metro's planning documents.) Imagine two- and three-story condo developments looming over Lake Oswego's main drag, or townhouses sprouting from the bones of shriveled service stations and parking lots in places like Lents.

Also proposed is diverting more development cash to downtowns and Main Streets throughout Metro's 25-city, three-county dominion.

Jordan was out today to talk up the story. According to the Portland Tribune, the region will need to spend as much as $41 billion on infrastructure improvements in the next 50 years, with $10 billion just to maintain existing infrastructure. Today's funding sources, Jordan said at this morning's news conference, would pay for only half of that.

Metro is hoping we'll come out to a series of community meetings and open houses to weigh in. In November, before the recommendations are voted on in December, look for a public hearing in each of the counties Metro governs.

And good news for the lucky citizen who actually wants to study up before showing up! You'll only have to read 600 pages!

UPDATE 5:15 PM:
I just received even more information about what kinds of "revenue-raising authority" Metro is contemplating. Beyond the so-called "toxic touchpoints" of Measures 47 and 50, planners are licking their chops over new local excise taxes on booze, smokes, construction projects, gasoline and motel rooms (dirty and/or clean).

Even those'll be a fight. But you might want to smoke 'em/drink 'em/build 'em/drive 'em/get laid in 'em — for cheap — while you can!

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