Raising Revenue

Distribution of Oregon property taxes, 2010-11. Source: Oregon Dept. of Revenue
It’s no secret that local governments in Oregon are struggling to fund operating expenses for services from police and fire to roads and education. In the 2010-11 fiscal year, the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) estimates that local governments and schools experienced a reduction of $144 million in property tax revenues due to the limit of $15 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation imposed by Measure 5 in 1990.Some cities — Corvallis among them — have passed voter-approved local option levies to fund specific services, but these measures are reduced first under Oregon’s property tax system. Likewise, owners of similarly valued property can often have very different taxes because of the way taxable value is determined. 

While some cities are increasingly turning to other sources of revenues such as fees, which in some cases generate citizen opposition, efforts are also underway to try to tweak the property tax system. Moreover, the Corvallis City Council is considering a public safety tax, which, if approved, would be administered as either a fee in utility bills or as an extension of the local option levy due to expire in 2014.

At the March 11, 2013 Corvallis City Club meeting, two speakers will address the state of local government finances. Nancy Brewer has been the Finance Director for the City of Corvallis since 1993. She has a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. She will discuss the city’s current financial outlook and the budget process for the 2014 fiscal year. 

Allegra Willhite, research coordinator at the League of Oregon Cities, will discuss the League’s proposal for addressing local government financial health statewide. Willhite has worked extensively on finance
and taxation. A native Oregonian, she earned her master’s degree
in public administration from Portland State University. 

According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, Oregon taxpayers paid an average of $3,729 per capita in state and local taxes in 2010, 16th highest in the nation.

As always, attendance is free. Lunch by Valley Catering is $8 for members, $10 for nonmembers. To register, send email by March 7 to nickhoutman8@aol.com with “City Club March 11” in the subject line. Please indicate whether you are having lunch.
Location: Banquet Room of the Renaissance Building, 136 SW Washington St.
Time: 12 noon to 1:15 pm

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