Three Portland Commissioners Kill Mayor Charlie Hales' Business Tax Increase

"Three members of council have now said clearly they won't support it," Commissioner Nick Fish tells WW.

Three Portland commissioners on Tuesday killed Mayor Charlie Hales' proposal to raise Portland's business income tax by 14 percent, scuttling the mayor's 2016-17 budget proposal, which depended on the estimated $8.7 million in new business tax revenue.

Commissioner Nick Fish, having just returned from Spain, joined Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Steve Novick in rejecting the idea of raising the business tax from 2.2 percent to 2.5 percent.

"Three members of council have now said clearly they won't support it, so it's dead," Fish tells WW.

He says he expects commissioners and the mayor to have a new budget proposal ready by Friday. That proposal will trim many of the new items Hales proposed in his final budget as mayor to make up for the lack of additional tax revenue.

It won't be a slim budget, though. Even without the tax increase, Portland has a $25.6 million budget surplus this year. That's part of the reason commissioners objected to the tax increase. Portland is collecting record revenue from businesses and hotels. Saltzman, for one, said higher taxes shouldn't be businesses' "reward" for doing well.

Hales, in a press conference last week, said his budget didn't have a lot of "baubles." Commissioners seem to disagree.

"It's not going to be a heavy lift to back fill the [tax] revenue with cuts," says Fish.

The decision came today in a work session at City Hall. Sara Hottman, a spokeswoman for the mayor, points out that commissioners took no vote.

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