In 2003, Portland and Multnomah County politicians cried crisis and pushed a new three-year “temporary” county income tax, mainly to benefit education. This November, county voters, most of them city residents, will have the opportunity to recall the remaining two years of the income tax. The free-spending politicians who cried crisis have given voters good reasons to do so.
In 2003, the county hired a new head librarian and generously gave her a salary of $138,000. That was a 27 percent salary hike over her predecessor.
Last year, a quarter million was spent putting dirt on top of the Multnomah County headquarters. Officials said the earth-friendly roof would save money. However, no estimate of the payback period on the dirt was provided.
The tram being advanced by city commissioners is now projected to cost nearly $30 million—twice as much as its initial estimated cost. Undoubtedly, the tram will cost taxpayers more once construction begins.
The city has squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars unnecessarily trying to takeover PGE and $40 million refurbishing PGE Park. According to a July 20 Portland Tribune article, “The city has spent more than $4 million on the controversial reservoir burial project that . . . may never be completed as currently planned.”
Local governments have enough money to fund vital services. They just need to spend what they have with a sense of priority and restraint.
© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.