County set to pull Greshams business income tax

Lonnie Roberts says the three commissioners are reacting to road transfer

A perceived threat by Multnomah County commissioners to yank East County's share of the business income tax is now a reality.

Commissioners will vote Thursday, June 22, on a resolution that provides the required two-year's notice to terminate the 30-year agreement.

Under the agreement, the county collects 1.45 percent of the net income earned by county businesses, with East County cities receiving a portion of that tax.

County commissioners Lisa Naito and Serena Cruz Walsh propose terminating the agreement and negotiating new individual business income tax agreements with Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village. They also want authority to 'review each Cities (sic) share annually,' although it isn't clear exactly what 'review' means.

The resolution states that county revenue has been adversely affected during the past few years, causing cuts to programs and services.

'The county should have the option of retaining its revenue sources to help protect the county from having to make further cuts to programs and services,' the resolution reads.

Ron Papsdorf, Gresham's government relations officer, noted that county business income tax revenue is up significantly from last year, given the rebounding economy.

He also said the proposal would allow county commissioners to withhold payments to individual cities - something the current agreement prevents because it applies to all East County cities. So the county couldn't, for example, yank Gresham's share without also yanking Troutdale's, Fairview's and Wood Village's.

East County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts opposes the resolution. He thinks hard feelings over transferring jurisdiction of county roads to Gresham, among other controversial issues, are the true reason behind the proposal.

'We're just starting to build economic development in East County,' Roberts said. 'For them to try cutting their legs off at this juncture. I'm repulsed by.

Gresham officials expect county commissioners to approve the resolution next week. However, Multnomah County will continue to provide the cities' collective share until July 1, 2008.

Reporter Mara Stine can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 503-492-5117.