Jun 28, 2006

Troutdale to Metro: It's Your Tax Increase, Collect It Yourself

Last night's Troutdale City Council rejected a proposal to collect Metro's new construction excise tax . You can read the complete Metro Ordinance here.

The new Metro tax will be assessed on construction permits issued by local cities and counties in the Metro region. The tax is assessed at 0.12 percent of the value of the improvements made by new construction. The funds raised by this tax will be distributed by Metro to cities and counties to pay for land use planning costs.

Developers loved this excise tax. They asked Metro for it.

But there's a catch: Only planning for land brought into the urban growth boundary since 2002 is eligible for this grant money.

Troutdale, Wood Village and Fairview haven't brought any land into the urban growth boundary after 2002. Yet these east county cities have some of the largest areas of undeveloped commercial and industrial lands, all of which are already within the urban growth boundary.

This excise tax enables other jurisdictions to get free tax money for their land use planning. This is an unfair advantage. The other jurisdiction's new plans for industrial and commercial uses will be in direct competition with Troutdale's existing commercial and industrial lands. The Metro tax will be used against our own efforts to promote and develop prime industrial, commercial and residential land within Troutdale.

Metro's plan was to have cities like Troutdale collect the tax in order to make things "easier" for the developers, who are already getting a free ride. I believe they also wanted the tax collection done by the cities so it would be just another not-really-noticable tiny line item on the total cost of the building permit.

But last night, the Troutdale City Council said no.

It's Metro's tax, not Troutdale's. We're not going to collect a tax whose purpose is in direct conflict with the best interests of Troutdale.

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