Thursday, March 21, 2013

Silly Portland Tax Needs Emergency City Council Action

UPDATE: The City Club of Portland has removed their Arts Tax study from their site. Here's a link to find it.

You can't make this up, folks.

Mayor Charlie Hales is proposing an "emergency ordinance" to be passed by Portland's City Council on March 27. Portland's Arts Tax, passed by voters and supported by the City Club's majority report, has "Unintended Consequences".
"As written, any Portland resident with any income -- living in a household above the poverty line -- has to pay the $35 annual arts tax," a press release from Hales' office reads. "So in a household that is above the poverty line, a teenager who made $10 last year dog-sitting is expected to pay $25 of that $10 to the arts tax."

The release then quotes Hales: "No one crafting this tax intended this to be the rule. This is just silly. And we need to move right now to address the Law of Unintended Consequences."
The measure was so poorly crafted that no one is saying this is the only change that needs to be made.
Dana Haynes, Hales' spokesman, said further changes might be considered down the road, but this would be the only change made for the current billing period.

For her part, Jarratt Miller [executive director of the organization that helped pass the tax] said she is open to further tweaks. After the first collection period, she said the city will know more about who is paying and how certain aspects could be reworked.
Given that the tax is due in 3-1/2 weeks, it will be pretty hard to do other tweaks "for the current billing period". Even with this fix, how stupid is making someone who made only $1,000 last year (1/12th of the federal poverty level) pay $35 in taxes?

Apparently the "we have to pass the bill to see what's in it" mode of government has trickled down to local government. In Portland this is being coupled with the "emergency ordinance" method of governing.

H/T MaxRedline


MAX Redline said...

Thanks for the link, TD - and we're not paying until the tax court renders a decision.

T. D. said...

Max, I tried to leave a comment, and it didn't go through. So, I decided to do a post instead. Thanks for the good material!

I had seen the Oregonian note on the Mayor's proposed emergency ordinance but not anything about Bogdanski's suit.

This really is a train wreck.

MAX Redline said...

Typepad for some reason belches from time to time, TD - I had to reset some stuff in there because my own comments weren't posting! Ideally, that glitch should be fixed now.

Here's a pretty succinct analysis of why Bogdanski's likely to prevail:

T. D. said...

Thanks for the link, Max. It seems clear that the Judge Wittmayer made a bad (incompetent?) decision. And, if overturned, will show just how important a poor judicial decision is. As all the money spent on the election and setting up the taxing apparatus will be a waste.

I would have reposted, but I wasn't sure if it would show up double in a few minutes. It was a small glitch that I've rarely encountered on your site. But, I do now try to remember to copy what I write if I've written it before I sign in. As signing in (at least the way I do it) brings one back to a blank box. And you're worth it, Max! :-)