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Construction boom bolstering Portland city, schools property taxes

The real estate boom is bring a gravy train of increased property taxes to the city of Portland and Portland Public Schools.

Total Portland property taxes will rise 8 percent for 2015-16, excluding those collected for police and fire retirements, according to the Multnomah County Division of Assessment, Recording and Taxation. Portland Public Schools tax collections are slated to rise 7.9 percent.

Due to past voter-approved property tax limitation measures, most peoples’ property taxes can’t rise more than 3 percent a year, plus whatever bond measures voters approved. The fact that total taxes are rising so much beyond 3 percent in Portland is a sign of how many new apartments, offices and other new property has been built and placed on the property tax rolls.

By comparison, Gresham’s total property taxes will rise 3.1 percent, a sign that new construction has been minimal.

Multnomah County’s assessment division began sending out some 345,000 property tax statements in the mail on Thursday, Oct. 15, and must finish the job by Sunday, Oct. 25.

Countywide, total property tax collections will top $1.5 billion in 2015-16, about 4.8 percent more than the prior year, according to Multnomah County Assessor Randy Walruff.

Metro, which collects taxes in the urban part of the tricounty area, will see its total property taxes collected in Multnomah County fall by 10.7 percent for the new year.

Multnomah County and its library district will see a 5.7 percent growth in property tax collections.

The Portland police and fire retirement system, which always takes a huge bite from local property owners, will collect $126.2 million, a drop of 0.3 percent from the prior year.

The amount local governments lose to "compression" is expected to fall from roughly $103.3 million to around $83 million. That will result in higher payments from taxpayers.

Compression reduces the amount of property taxes that local governments may collect, due to the effects of past property tax limitation measures.

Measures 5, 47 and 50 mean governments aren’t levying property taxes on the full value of peoples’ properties. Countywide, the average residential assessed value — the amount property taxes are levied against — is now $202,883. But the average real market value, what those properties could fetch if sold, is now $341,626. The difference is a gauge of the benefits of past property tax limitation measures.

The median assessed value countywide is $169,710; half the properties are assessed for tax purposes at a higher amount and half are lower. The median real market value is $291,570.

Property assessments and real market values are set at where they were in January 2015, so actual market values are likely higher now in most cases.

Taxpayers who pay their property tax bills in full by Nov. 16 get a 3 percent discount.

Taxes also may be paid in three installments due Nov. 16, 2015, Feb. 16, 2016, and May 16, 2016.

Taxes may be paid in the mail, by phone at 1-877-542-5990 or online at www.multcotax.org.

People with questions may call 503-988-3326 during business hours.

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503-546-5139

@SteveLawTrib