Legislature — Proposal by Sen. Larry George came about after House Bill 4106 died in committee

Despite House Bill 4106 being effectively dead in the House Committee on Revenue, Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum may still get out of paying more than $1 million in back taxes.

On Feb. 19, state Sen. Larry George proposed an amendment to House Bill 4005 that would create an exception until June 30, 2018.

HB 4005 “establishes an income tax credit for a manufacturing facility if taxpayer makes capital investment,” but Amendment 7, while semi-unrelated, is specifically designed to push back the date at which Evergreen, and only Evergreen, must pay its back property taxes.

The amendment is being adamantly supported by the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, which sent a letter of support to the Legislature last week.

“We have a large business in our community that’s struggling,” Commissioner Kathy George, mother of Larry George, said at the Feb. 20 meeting. “This facility has imminent issues that need to be addressed or we’re going to lose this facility. Frankly if we lose the facility we won’t get it back. And there would be a huge campus that won’t be paying taxes.”

Scott Maytubby, Yamhill County assessor, was also present at the meeting. He said while he supports the museum, the issue is the water park.

“The water park is recreational in my opinion. It’s all about exempting the water park,” Maytubby said. “You mentioned that if we lose this thing, we’d be losing taxes, well that is the goal. They don’t want to pay any taxes. And that’s OK for the museum and I feel it qualifies, it’s the other activities that are there that don’t meet this criteria, specifically the water park. The language they’re putting forth now (intends to do that).”

Commissioner Allen Springer said he also supports the amendment, citing the community’s duty to support each other.

“In order to benefit a community at times, we have to have a long-range vision and flexibility in order to customize some of the things we do,” Springer said. “Sometimes that means walking away from some immediate benefits on our tax rolls and looking at the bigger picture to what this particular issue brings to the community.”

He said specifically with respect to the water park, he believes it should be considered an educational facility.

“Sometimes to drag kids into an educational scenario without some kind of reward along the way is very difficult to do, but if they can look at this destination place, they can learn and have some fun,” he said. “I’m looking at it as a package and saying it’s really our responsibility to push that envelope. We’re Yamhill County. There’s a way things ought to be done here that should set a tone for the rest of the state.”

The amendment and bill will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue today.

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