Hales Abandons Changes To Arts Tax

UPDATE: Mayor says Saltzman convinced him to leave tax alone.

Mayor Charlie Hales will not present the Portland City Council with any changes to the city's $35-a-person Arts Tax, sources tell WW.

This spring, Hales told the Revenue Bureau and a council work committee to find ways to make the arts tax more equitable. Critics, including City Commissioner Steve Novick, complained the tax unfairly burdened poor tax payers.

But sources now tell WW the mayor will not bring any of the possible changes before the council for a vote. Instead, he will will leave the arts tax as it is and continue seeking $35 from all city taxpayers above federal poverty standards.

Hales' office declined immediate comment. But several sources say the mayor could not find enough political will or consensus on the council to make a change—he couldn't get three commissioners to agree on one of five new tax structures.

UPDATE, 4 pm: Hales confirms his decision not to present Council with a changed tax—and says Commissioner Dan Saltzman persuaded him not to change a tax already approved by 62 percent of voters.

“I had been leaning toward a major change, but Commissioner Saltzman’s argument changed my mind,”  Hales says. “I now think: Dan got it right from the start.”

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