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Troutdale ends double taxation for 75 residents

In just 30 minutes last week, the Troutdale City Council voted unanimously to remove a small parcel of land from Multnomah County Fire District 14, ending nearly 20 years of double taxation.

The issue started in 1998, when Troutdale annexed about 75 homes just east of the Sandy River into the city. But those homes were in Fire District 14, so the residents eventually found they were paying taxes to both the Corbett-based fire district and Gresham’s fire department which services Troutdale.

Time and time again residents would complain to no avail. After resurrecting the complaint again last April, residents were told the burden to de-annex was up to them to initiate.

But in October, city attorney Ed Trompke said he was wrong and that thanks to a legislative amendment to the very bill Trompke had cited as preventing de-annexation, the city of Troutdale could initiate a de-annexation.

A resolution to this effect was first reviewed by the council March 8, and approved March 15.

Public testimony was mixed last week, a few advocating for de-annexation from Troutdale rather than Fire District 14, but everyone ultimately agreed a solution was necessary. The timing of the resolution ensures those properties would not be double taxed this year.

“We obviously hate to lose the budget money, it’s about a 3 percent cut for us, but we’re just happy these people aren’t double taxed anymore,” said Fire District14 Chief Dave Flood. “I’m really glad it finally got resolved.”

As for the lack of water tenders by the Gresham Fire Department — and no fire hydrants on that side of the river — Flood reiterated that his district will still provide services as needed.

“Nothing’s going to change for those people,” he said. “We’ll still go down when we’re called.”

For residents who do ultimately prefer to withdraw from Troutdale, that option exists, but the council decided to act in a way that appeases the most people.

“We have not heard a groundswell of people who do not want this done,” Ripma said. “My feeling is people who want to withdraw from the city have a path available to them by petition to the county.”

Trompke said that path does exist, but it’s not as simple as the process to de-annex from Fire District 14.

Tanney Staffenson, chair of the Troutdale Planning Commission who lives in Fire District 14, said while some people felt it would be better to stay with the Corbett-based district primarily because the district has the equipment required to service rural homes, de-annexation was the only solution.

“I think people are just on board with not having to pay for the same service twice,” Staffenson said.

Some residents asked about a rebate for paying taxes to both the fire district and city. The state does not allow for such a rebate, so getting the law changed is up to the residents. The city provided a handout on contacting local legislators.