Metro homeless services still measure in the air
A court hearing on the plan’s rules collection of $ 250 million per year is scheduled for June 21.
The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group newspapers are a media partner of KOIN 6 News
PORTLAND, Oregon (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) – Questions continue to swirl over the legality of the income taxes Metro plans to start collecting on July 1 to fund homeless services.
The $ 250 million per year ballot measure was approved by voters in the elected regional government in the May 2020 primary election. But Multnomah County Circuit Court has yet to approve Metro’s request. to validate the legality of its tax collection rules. In fact, a rule challenge hearing is set for June 21, just over a week before individuals, couples and businesses become responsible.
Despite this, Multnomah County President Deborah Kafoury has included $ 55 million as a share of the county’s taxes in the budget she is proposing to take effect on July 1. and those at risk of homelessness. It is expected to grow to $ 100 million in the coming years.
The challenge was brought by a coalition of companies and business organizations, including the Portland Business Alliance. They agree that Metro has the right to collect taxes approved by voters. But they argue that the rules should be the same as the Oregon Department of Revenue’s for collecting these taxes. Metro’s rules are different, which means businesses in the region have to pay the cost of filing different returns and may pay more in tax than the state would collect on the same income in some cases.
Metro admits its rules are different, but argues that they are legal because they were passed under the House Rule charter approved by voters in 1992. Both parties have submitted long and detailed files arguing the intricacies of many court decisions on tax law and the authority of house rule charters.
Judge Steffan Alexander will conduct the hearing remotely.
The measure was approved in the May 2020 elections by a majority of voters in the three counties under Metro’s jurisdiction. It will collect a 1% income tax from people earning $ 125,000 a year or couples earning $ 200,000 combined. It also includes a 1% tax on businesses that generate $ 5 million annually.
The funds will be distributed to Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties to support services aimed at preventing those at risk from losing their homes in their homes and keeping chronically homeless in their subsidized housing. Counties must submit plans to spend their share of the funds to Metro for approval.
The measure entered into force on January 1. Metro contracts with the City of Portland to collect taxes.