Victoria Taft: Cash for Cronies – Part 5

Cash for Cronies V: Buying Off Multnomah County

by Victoria Taft

Why would Multnomah County agree to give property tax receipts to the City of Portland? What is it getting out of seven new urban renewal areas (URA) in the county–hijacking millions of dollars that otherwise would be used to fix bridges, run libraries and distribute State medical care?

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As I’ve explained in this series called “Cash for Cronies” hereherehere, and here, leaders from community organizers to the Portland Public Schools chief have been been given what is essentially taxpayer purchased bribes to buy into SEVEN new URA’s.

Because of tax increment financing–TIF–increased property taxes would be skimmed off the top of those properties in the URA’s and given over to the City-run Portland Development Commission to use in each district. But as you can see from my other post today the PDC seems to be able to use this money for any number of things such as $650,000.00 in borrowed money for Randy Leonard’s street toilets.

If you weren’t paying attention to the Zero in early March you may have missed the pay off to Jeff Cogen, the Chair of the Multnomah County Commission.

…[T]he new education district would come with $19 million for the county to build new headquarters for its Department of County Human Services at PSU, Cogen said. That, in turn, would allow the county to partner with PSU, sharing space and resources, he said. It would also allow the county to tap PSU’s researchers, who could restore and amplify the county’s efforts to evaluate its programs. Taken together, the deal represents millions in new benefits to the county that help to soften the estimated $40 million to $50 million drain on the county over the life of the district.

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Maybe it will be a great partnership in the future, I don’t know. How would we know, really, since there’s no plan. But I do know this: When Jeff Cogen or any other Commission member announces we need a tax levy because we don’t have money to run the basic functions of the County, refer them to this post.

Cogen himself labeled the special “education URA” a “radical” plan. He’s right.

Cash for Cronies empties the bank accounts and robs the people of the basic functions for which they pay their taxes. They’re willing to gamble it to give Sam Adams his sustainability center.

For more Victoria Taft, visit Victoria’s blog and listen to Victoria on The Victoria Taft Show – weekdays 11am-3pm on AM860, KPAM