City Commissioner Dan Saltzman wants to make the Portland Children's Levy a permanent feature of local property-tax bills.
Oregon has special taxing districts to fund libraries, transit and ports. In fact, state law gives local voters the power to create 26 different kinds of taxing districts to raise revenue and provide services.
If Saltzman gets his way, the state will add a 27th district categoryâfor children.
Saltzman is the sponsor of the Childrenâs Levy, a property tax voters have renewed every five years since 2002 to raise money for child-abuse prevention, foster care, early education and hunger prevention. It raises $10 million a year for those programs.
As first reported in this morning's Murmurs, Saltzman was in Salem on Sept. 15 to ask state legislators to create authority for a permanent âchildrenâs services district.â Heâs already twice met with Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek about the plan.
Saltzman says the success of the Childrenâs Levy makes him confident Multnomah County voters would pass a permanent district to fund childrenâs programs.
âWeâve delivered on what we said we were going to do,â he tells WW. "We're not just an abstract idea anymore."
If legislators approve the the authority for a childrenâs services district, Saltzman says he'll place it on the ballot in 2016 or 2018.
He wants the scope to enlarge from Portland to across Multnomah County. "We have a lot of poor, hungry children living east of 205," he says.
While it sounds nice, money raised by the district would squeeze other local governments competing for a slice of property tax bills, which are capped by law.
That phenomenon is called "compression"âand it made Saltzman livid in 2012, when the Multnomah County Library successfully asked voters to create a library taxing district.
Permanent taxing districts get priority on limited property-tax dollars over temporary levies. So when the library won a taxing district, it squeezed the Children's Levy out of $1 million a year.
âWhat I find to be sad is that the library folks give us all the lip service on the Childrenâs Levy," Saltzman told WW then, "but when it comes right down to it, they donât give a damn.â
Now Saltzman is aiming to secure for the Children's Levy the same deal the library got.
Here's the one-sheet proposal Saltzman has been shopping around Salem.