February 26th, 2008 | by COREY PEIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, City Hall, Business

Council Candidate Fred Stewart Suggests New Real-Estate Tax

DSC_0075Fred Stewart is rolling out the first major proposal in his campaign for Commissioner Erik Sten's City Council seat and, while not terribly original, it's bound to be controversial.
Stewart wants the city to adopt a transfer tax, of maybe 0.5 to 1 percent, on title transfers of commercial and residential property. Stewart envisions the revenues from such a tax would be placed into a trust fund, and that the interest would be dedicated to transportation infrastructure and housing.
"We're right now facing the biggest equity loss in this country's history since the 1930s. We don't know what's going to happen. But I think the city needs to have something in place that's more stable," Stewart says.
There's a major stumbling block to this plan: Transfer taxes are prohibited under state law (scroll down to section 306.815). Yet Stewart isn't exactly breaking new ground by proposing one anyway.
Stewart says he'd leave the details of a transfer tax up to a task force. (Can any idea can survive without one, in Portland?)
"We'd probably have to partner with the county," Stewart says. "I called [Multnomah County Chairman] Ted Wheeler a few times, but he hasn't returned my calls."
Stewart, a former bar owner, real-estate agent and U.S. Marine, is one of the lower-profile candidates in a seven-person race that insiders are framing as a contest between Sten's chief of staff, Jim Middaugh, and attorney Nick Fish.
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