Feb 26, 2013

Punk, Disco, and Troutdale Tax Levies

1977: Punk, and lots of city employees
Yesterday, we took a trip in the Troutdale Wayback Machine to 1977. While the rest of the nation was catching dance fever or head banging with the Sex Pistols, we discovered that the City of Troutdale's city staff grew from three to over eighty employees in 1977, thanks to President Jimmy Carters's gift to our city of over $250,000 in federal grants. 

Those federal grants eventually ran out and Troutdale ran out of money.  When the one-time grant money was gone, guess what the city did? You guessed it!  They put a $60,000 one year serial levy on the ballot in May, 1978 to replace some of the federal grant money. 

Fortunately for all those new city  employees, the levy passed, YES 459, NO 264.

Today, Troutdale's city budget is running six figure deficits, resulting in alarmingly decreasing reserves. It makes you wonder.

When Troutdale does run out of money, will local voters be willing to pass a local option levy like they did in 1977, when their federal grant money was all gone? 

To help answer that question, lets take a look at a short history of recent tax levies in Troutdale. What is Troutdale's won-loss record for tax levies since 1979?  Lets take a look:

April, 1979: A $130,000 operating levy passed. YES 246, NO 65.

May 1980: A $325,000 tax base levy passed. YES 777, NO 407.

June 1982: Voters rejected continuation of the street light levy.

Nov. 1982: A tax base serial levy defeated. NO 364, YES 214.

June 1986: A $102,000 2 year levy defeated. no 778, yes 430.

August 1986: voters defeated an $88,000 levy.  
NO 694, YES 620.

September 1980: City Council rushed to get an operating levy on the ballot but changed their mind.

March, 1987: voters rejected a $420,000 operating levy.

May 1992: voters pass $1.7 million bond for fire protection.

Total won-loss record for recent tax levies: Won 3, Lost 5. It's not a good prediction of future voter approval for any new taxes or fees. But it's always good to know what the past tells us.

(Sources: Oregonian Archives https://multcolib.org/resource/oregonian-1987-present;  Oregonian Archives https://multcolib.org/resource/oregonian-historical-archive)

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