March 18th, 2013 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, PDX Votes

Hales Says Arts Tax Has "Silly" Flaw, Needs Emergency Fix

     
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news2_ballet_3918ILLUSTRATION: Tim Lahan

Mayor Charlie Hales is placing an emergency ordinance on next week's City Council agenda to fix a "silly" technicality in the arts tax passed by voters in November.

Hales' office says the way the ballot measure was written, any person making any income at all has to pay the $35 tax, so long as they're living in a household above the poverty line. The mayor's office says that means "a teenager who made $10 last year dog-sitting" would need to pay $35.

“No one crafting this tax intended this to be the rule,” Hales said in a prepared statement. “This is just silly. And we need to move right now to address the Law of Unintended Consequences.”

Hales will present an ordinance to City Council on March 27 to raise the minimum personal income to $1,000 to trigger the tax.

Collection issues have dogged the arts tax since voters approved it. Critics have derided it as regressive—since it charges poor citizens as much as rich ones—and wondered how it would be enforced. When bills arrived in mailboxes earlier this month, they only suggested an online payment method—and the city won't take debit cards.

The new mayor has privately moved to distance himself from the arts tax, backed by former Mayor Sam Adams. Today's press release continues that movement, ending with the following line: "There may be other issues of fairness in the arts tax to be considered at a later date."

 
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