Let me tell you how it will be

Yes, I have no life – I'll sit up analyzing my property tax bill for hours. This year, as I've noted before, it went up 9.01 percent from the year before, and so studying the bill is a bit like touching a wound that I know I should leave alone.

Anyway, how come the big jump, in a state that's supposed to have a property tax limitation in place? Well, it's because the voters in Portland have never met a property tax increase they wouldn't vote for. We're rebuilding the schools, gold-plating the library, and digging up and redoing the city parks. They all passed at the polls. I believe those are the main culprits in this year's big tax hike. The kids will never understand that this is why their rent is so high.

Here are the year-over-year increases in each category of tax (click on the image for a bigger version):

As you can see if you can stand to look at it, a lot of the categories really ramped up this year. The one-year increases are way higher than the annual rates of increase in previous years. That 207 percent increase from the City of Portland for "local options" must be attributable to the new parks tax. We have endless money for bike bridges, but if you want to replace a park bench or playground swings, that will cost you extra. And then they'll take the money you pay and use it to destroy the Park Blocks.

But I digress from our numerology. The "N/As" in the table for the Multnomah County bond are because this is the first county bond burden on the property taxpayer since 2015. The greatness is back, this time for the library. It's about 2 percent of the total tax bill (more on that later).

And look at that nasty 15 percent jump in the bill for Portland police and firefighter pensions. I'm sure we are paying more to retired cops than we are to the cops currently still on the "force" (currently on strike). And nothing's put aside for the pensions – every penny paid to a retired cop or firefighter comes out of the current year's property taxes. Insanity? Yes. But no crazier than putting up traffic cones to stop gang wars.

About the only bright spot is that the City Council seems to have wised up to the foolishness of "urban renewal," which apparently is on a long-overdue money diet. A lot of good the aerial tram is doing us while civilization crumbles below. And City Hall appears to be paying off or refinancing its ugly debt load, which is also a good move.

Another thing I do when I undertake these calculations is compute the percentage of the taxes collected by the City of Portland that go to the various line items. Here is how that stacks up:

Of every $100 in property tax collected by the city, $25.85 now goes to cop and fire pensions. I believe that's an all-time high. Interestingly, though, only $20.08 now goes through the "urban reneweal" sieve. As you can see, just a few years ago, it was more like $28.

Okay, one last table before the oxygen mask drops. Here is the percentage of the overall property tax bill each line items represents:

Right in the middle, you can see the new Multnomah County bonds (for the library bricks and mortar). That little stinker comes in at $2.09 out of $100. Meanwhile, the school district is getting a smaller percentage than it has in several years. It's down to a little less than a third.

As a reader recently pointed out, probably the richest insult is down toward the bottom: the quarter that the Port of Portland gets out of the $100. That gang has the all-time cash cow in the airport, where they are paving the runways in platinum. But they still need to squeeze a few bucks out of Grandma on her little bungalow. For shame.

So there it is for another year. But just think: On top of the huge property tax boost, in just a few months upper-middle-class types will be paying the new Metro income tax, "for the homeless." The homeless industrial complex, that is. And there's a new county income tax to go with it, for public preschool. Both those new taxes will be collected by the City of Portland, and so now Sam Adams's people will get to see your income tax returns.

This is Portland. We wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. Nice work. I have been saying this for years, STOP VOTING for MORE TAX! The cost per student at PPS is one of the highest in the nation and the results get worse every year. Metro has very little purpose now that they have planned us up for the next century. Urban renewal is a total scam, always has been. It is simply a project force poor residents out of the core and let developers make even more money with very little risk.


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