Metro Miscalcuated the Amount a Homeless Services Tax Would Generate, by $40 Million a Year

Metro staff presented incorrect information today. Metro Council President Lynn Peterson apologizes for the error.

A Metro staff recommendation released today incorrectly estimated the amount its proposed tax measure would raise, leaving the future of the homeless services measure in further turmoil.

A one percent tax on household income above $250,000—and on individual income above $125,000—would generate $135 million, not $175 million, each year.

The error comes as Metro is working to quickly refer the homeless services measure to the May ballot. That breakneck pace happened in part because the regional government is trying to avoid competition with a regional transportation measure on the November ballot.

Metro announced today that the measure would raise $175 million a year—a much smaller figure than homeless advocates want.

But to generate $175 million a year, Metro would have to tax all household income above $125,000 a year.

WW inquired about the error during the work session held today and received a reply after it was over.

"A miscommunication led to an inaccurate estimate of what a regional income tax on high earners would raise," says Council President Lynn Peterson in a statement. It continues:

"The goal remains the same: To provide supportive housing services for every person experiencing chronic homelessness in our region, and help as many people as possible who are on the brink of homelessness around greater Portland.

"Metro will continue to work with our partners because it is so important.

"I want to apologize to the coalition for the confusion and look forward to following up and getting it right."

Metro spokesman Nick Christensen declined to say what Peterson's position is regarding what size tax ought to be referred to voters, given the calculating error.