As I drive around the Portland metro area, I can't help notice all the signs posted in various cities and counties asking voters to approve yet another property tax levy. Schools, police, fire, library, and parks - the never-ending barrage of beggars who come out with their bag of tricks this time of year. I ask myself a couple of questions. Why aren't these services provided for the high amount of property tax we are currently paying and what are these jurisdictions spending all that money on?
Take the City of Happy Valley as an example. One of the fastest growing cities in Oregon and flush with new $600,000 to $1,000,000 homes, more property tax money is flowing into this city than ever before. When Mayor Eugene Grant convinced voters that annexation of land would be a tax boom for Happy Valley, he promised that property taxes would not have to be increased for services. This didn't stop the city council of Happy Valley from putting a parks annexation measure in front of the voters this past spring. What did that measure do? It raised our property taxes 'just a little more' for all the wonderful benefits of becoming part of the North Clackamas Parks district. The city council now wants us to approve a policy levy that is set to expire. Not a tax increase they say - just keep things the same. With all those new property taxes flowing into the city, the city should be obligated to supply police services without an additional levy on our properties. How wonderful would if be if the levy actually expired and our tax bill DECREASED for a change.
Voters are faced with a barrage of property tax levies that, if approved, will raise property taxes significantly. The North Clackamas school district is asking for a whooping tax increase. The last thing we need is more government-run schools with more PERS employees. Voters are being duped into believing that all these agencies actually need more money from us. Well let me tell you something folks, they don't and all those 'just a little more' can add up to an additional $500 - $700 increase for many property owners.
There was a time in America when paying off your mortgage and living a comfortable retirement was a real dream and possibility. That was when property taxes were low. Now we are being faced with a second significant mortgage on our property for the rest of our lives, one that can never be paid off. If you think this is an exaggeration just look at what is happening to property tax in some areas of the East Coast. Some people are now paying up to $9,000 a year for simple three-bedroom ranch style homes. That calculates to about an $800-a-month 'mortgage'. We are heading in the same direction as long as we continue to pass these property tax measures. State and local government is now our biggest threat to a comfortable retirement. It is time to say no more property taxes and actually downsize state and local government.