Happy arts tax day!
For those of you keeping score at home, the $35-a-person Portland arts tax is due today—the deadline moved back a month after the city had trouble getting money from people without computers, couldn't get debit-card payments to work, changed the exemptions twice, offered refunds, and was sued in two courts.
The civil trial in the first of those lawsuits, filed by Lewis & Clark Law School professor and retired blogger Jack Bogdanski, will start in earnest next Wednesday in Oregon Tax Court.
WW has learned that the city has filed a motion to dismiss Bogdanski's suit. City attorneys and Bogdanski will deliver oral arguments in a telephone conference call on Wednesday, May 22.
In the meantime, Mayor Charlie Hales announced this week he'll guarantee $2 million of the arts-tax funds to school districts to pay for arts teachers, even if the tax is found illegal. But he'll pull $1 million out of the hide of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the nonprofit that pushed the tax last year.
Portland Public Schools says it will only hire 30 arts teachers for this school year, instead of the promised 45.
Reached by email, Bogdanski says he is not troubled by these results.
"The arts tax is an unconstitutional head tax, and the city council was warned of that repeatedly last year," Bogdanski says. "It chose not to heed those warnings. It seems a little odd that you'd characterize the pending legal actions as 'blocking the city from handing out money.' I think of them more as 'requiring the city to stop breaking the law.'"