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'February brought the revelation that Multnomah County residents don't have an unlimited appetite for taxes. As April approaches, this distaste for taxes will increase as citizens begin to write large checks to pay Ñ for the first time ever Ñ a county income tax.

'The commitment that the county tax represents is just beginning to dawn on people. With the Feb. 3 rejection of Measure 30, it's clear that local voters have reached their limit. It's also obvious that many Multnomah County citizens no longer trust what their leaders have to say about issues of taxation. A selling point for

Measure 30 Ñ at least within Multnomah County Ñ was that nearly two-thirds of taxpayers actually would save money if they approved the statewide tax increase. Yet a substantial majority, including many of the folks who were supposed to benefit financially, rejected both the measure and the county's logic.

'The eroding credibility of county leaders can be attributed in part to recent missteps of county Chairwoman Diane Linn. But voters also remember the promises they thought they heard last year when they first approved the local income tax.

'Linn and others indicated then that the tax was a temporary fix that would be reduced or eliminated if the state came up with more money. When those funds materialized in the form of a statewide tax increase that eventually became Measure 30, county officials could only come up with a

22 percent refund. That wasn't what voters expected. Their disappointment contributed to Measure 30's defeat within Multnomah County.

'The Feb. 3 election also should be a warning to county leaders: They must remain true to their vow that the income tax is temporary. And that means the county must begin discussing now how it plans to end the tax after it expires in 2006.'

Ñ From an editorial published Feb. 21 in the Gresham Outlook