December 6th, 2013 | Alex Tomchak Scott News | Posted In: Media, Multnomah County, Business

The Oregonian Double Paid Its Property Tax Bill

The paper gave the county an extra $500,000 by mistake

lede_oregonian_3934ILLUSTRATION: Kevin Mercer

Let no one question how seriously The Oregonian takes the obligation to pay property taxes.

Last month, the state's biggest newspaper rolled out a story package on the metropolitan area's biggest property "tax scofflaws," naming an assortment of people ranging from a failed congressional candidate to ex-NBA star Rasheed Wallace. The story came complete with a meticulous interactive map of every building with outstanding tax debt in three counties.

But does The Oregonian take its own property tax obligations as seriously as it does those of the people it covers? Yes, and how! Not only did it pay its property taxes ahead of schedule on Nov. 1; records obtained by WW show The Oregonian actually paid double the amount it owed.

The paper's total property tax burden for 10 parcels of real estate was $552,663.45. But somewhere in the accounting process, the paper counted that total a second time, and ended up writing a check for $1,105,326.90 — exactly double what it owed, to the cent.

There's been a lot of talk about the paper's budget lately. In June, WW's Aaron Mesh wrote about the paper's efforts to cut costs. That story related how the paper announced what publisher N. Christian Anderson III called "exciting plans for the future of our company" in an e-mail to his staff. One of those changes was eliminating delivery days for subscribers.

Another was laying off nearly 100 people, including almost a quarter of the paper's newsroom staff. The paper had no room for popular columnists, the daughter of a former publisher, or an editor who was fighting kidney cancer.

Multnomah County spokesman David Austin confirmed the paper's parent company double-paid the taxes owed.

Austin says Advance Publications and its affiliate, The Oregonian Publishing Company had yet to contact the county about the error. He said the county will refund the overpayment "in 30-60 days."

Oregonian publisher N. Christian Anderson III has not yet responded to WW's request for comment on the matter.

 
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