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Urban renewal's value


In 2007 a five-member combination City Commission and Oregon City Urban Renewal Commission approved $130-million Debt Limit Authorization and revision to the urban-renewal plan. This permits the Urban Renewal Commission to authorize projects and spending up to this $130 million level.

A review of what has actually happened in the last 10-years reveals that we have not created through our spending/investments, virtually any new permanent jobs and improvements to the local economy and tax-increment gain in assessable properties values to repay those funds spent.

If the voters were to pass the right to vote on Oregon City urban-renewal indebtedness by voting yes on Measure 3-407, this will limit many expenditures and require a vote when bonding is required. The Urban Renewal Commission would otherwise have to live in and on what is allowed under Measure 5, 50, 57 and 58, which provides for a 3 percent annual increase in assessments, to the most part.

By going to the County Assessor’s Office documents at clackamas.us/at/documents/2011/urban_oregoncity.pdf, anyone can see and validate how your property tax is diverted from the listed taxing districts from within the urban-renewal area and is diverted into the Oregon City urban-renewal operating fund. These financial figures are some of those found in a spreadsheet I can give to anyone who contacts me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The true worth of urban renewal is when it is used correctly, in its ability to improve conditions within blighted areas, with subsequent improvements in jobs and the economy. The process should be fully competitive, transparent to the public, with publicly shared measurable standards, that serve public needs and their best interests.

Urban-renewal investments should create new taxable assessed values in real-estate property, within the urban-renewal area. When it does not, it extends its time where NO benefits are passed back to the taxing districts where the funding comes from through the diversion of their property tax revenue.

When a specific project in itself does not create new assessed value there should be a identifiable halo effect within the plan area that increases overall assessed values. This is a very important consideration in the funding of public projects and improvements.

The key to all of this is the difference between the frozen value (developed and set in 1977) and the assessed value and from it, is what determines “excess value,” which is then stripped away/diverted through the division of taxes from within the downtown Oregon City urban-renewal area.

Line No. 21 reflects the gross dollars derived from property taxes, prior to collection and adjustment dedicated to flow to the Oregon City urban-renewal district. A detailed examination of the records reveal that virtually none or little benefit has been derived from the urban-renewal monies that have been spent in attempting to increase Excess Value over and above the 3 percent that is in most cases is added on each year, by the assessor.

See five years of Oregon City urban-renewal expenditure reports at urrighttovote.com/videos.

Therefore what is reflected in this spreadsheet will probably continue to happen until our Oregon City urban-renewal district is brought to a termination, with all liabilities settled. However if new people are elected to the City Commission who understand this, they can institute many responsible changes.

We must ask ourselves these questions in an examination of what is reflected in these reports and spreadsheets. Just a review of the larger dollar amounts brings to question if a responsible level of stewardship has been used in representing each of the taxing districts that provide their money to Oregon City’s urban-renewal district through the division of taxes.

Clackamas County, could their funds provide for better police protection or help solve shortfalls revenue that hampers so many departments and result in limiting the level of service that they can deliver? Clackamas County libraries, how important is the stewardship of their facilities and services needs, to this generation and the next generation?

The city of Oregon City is having trouble funding its programs and staffing at adequate levels. The city did not have enough money for its new City Hall so they got its money from urban renewal which is from all of the other taxing districts.

Money is taken from education which is from the County ESD, Clackamas Community College and Oregon City School District/State Department of Education that determines the level of programs/classes, teachers and class size provided in education.

Clackamas County Fire District No. 1, is forced to share their cost across its whole service area to compensate for this loss of revenue, the money has to come from some place. We equally share in the cost of service provide in other service areas where tax revenue is diverted from Clackamas Fire like Clackamas Town Center and Clackamas Industrial Urban Renewal Plan Areas.

Paul Edgar is an Oregon City urban-renewal commissioner.