Jun 2, 2006

Troutdale Urban Renewal Election Challenged

Troutdale's recent urban renewal election has been challenged by Troutdale resident Marty McMahon. In a letter to the Oregon Elections Division, McMahon stated he did not agree with the City of Troutdale that Oregon's double majority law did not apply to Measure 26-77, which passed in May.

The complete text of McMahon's letter to the Elections Division is below:

Marty McMahon

Troutdale, Or, 97060

May 23, 2006

Ms Norma Buckno
Elections Division
Secretary of State's Office
141 State Capitol
Salem, Or 97310-0722

Dear Ms Buckno:

This letter is a follow up to a conversation I had with the Director of the Elections Division last week. I am requesting your office investigate the application of election law to the City of Troutdale's recent Measure 26-77 (creating a new Urban Renewal District). I do not believe the City acted appropriately when it
determined the State's double majority law does not apply to this measure. The City took this position under the advise of their consultant.

The City, and other proponents of the measure, were clear the passage of this measure would create additional tax burden. It was actually folded into the campaign slogan of proponents ("It's only 2 lattes"). The City, per a conversation I had with staff member Debbie Stickney, says this measure does not fit the double majority rule because it increases an existing tax rather than creating a new one. Using that reasoning anyone could write measures that would never fit within the double majority simply by tying any amount they wanted to an existing tax. I'm not clear if that thinking violates the letter of the law, which is part of what I'm asking you to pursue, but it clearly violates the spirit of it.

The fact is we now have a tax we did not have before the passage of 26-77 and would not have if there was no measure 26- 77. Any attempt to call that something other than a new tax is simply wordsmithing. Another argument I have heard is that the City Council could have enacted Urban Renewal without taking it to the voters so the law really doesn't matter. The fact is when they decided to put this to a vote all election laws then apply.

I do not understand how anyone can go around campaigning on how small the tax this measure would create, while at the same time, arguing it really isn't a new tax and therefore double majority doesn't apply. That is why I am asking you to research this further and make a finding on whether or not the double majority law was appropriately applied here and take whatever action deemed appropriate as a result of your finding. Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

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