Victoria Taft: Cash for Cronies – Part 6

by Victoria Taft

PDX Council Votes to STEAL MONEY FROM SCHOOLS: Cash for Cronies VI

Don’t act like I never told you. Like supplicants on bended knee before the Sanhedrin, community members filed past the Portland Public School board members this week to beg indulgences and plead with them to spare sports, teachers, Outdoor School and schools themselves.

But they’re really asking the wrong questions. They should be asking why the board isn’t fighting the Grand Theft of their programs by Portland’s Professional Planners, chief among them, “Education Mayor” Sam Adams.

They should attend today’s City Council meeting and ask why the City is stealing from the schools.

Portland schools’ current budget hole is $27,500,000.00. From 2010 to 2015, PPS will be robbed of six times that amount–$163,000,000.00 —due to skimming property taxes meant for schools, police, fire and libraries from the current eleven URA’s.

And they should ask why the school board and Superintendent Carole Smith has bought into establishing SEVEN NEW urban renewal areas that will cost schools tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in the future.

Portland Public Schools have lost out to MILLIONS of dollars in the past decades because of Urban Renewal and Tax Increment Financing schemes. (See my previous posts on this “Cash for Cronies” hereherehere, and herehere.) And from 2010 to 2015 it’s estimated that PPS will LOSE $163,000,000.00 to the eleven currently existing urban renewal areas (URA). See the numbers from the Portland Development Commission below.

Click on image to enlarge

Now the Portland City Council is getting ready to approve seven new urban renewal areas which will take money away from schools, police, fire and libraries. In order to accomplish this, the council has bought off community groups with promises of micro loans, painting businesses and sprucing up areas (see list below) with pretty signs and “street furniture” (read: benches). But these six “Neighborhood Prosperity Initiatives” as they’re laughingly called aren’t the main event. The main event is the urban renewal area called the “Education URA.”

Click on image to enlarge

Where’s the Money, PPS?

It’s so outrageous that even Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen calls it “radical.” He’s been bought off, though. The County will get a new human services building out of the deal. PSU and Adams will get the Sustainability Center (and student housing) and Multnomah County tax payers will pay for them, while at the same time, scream about why there’s not enough money to run schools, libraries and pay our cops and firefighters.

Where does the money go? Look at your tax bill. From the website “Debunking Portland”:

Here is a real list of real dollars taken from schools & basic services to give to the urban renewal whores:

Jurisdiction…………….Dollars…………. Percentage

City of Portland………$20.6 million….40% from City services

Multnomah County….$13.8 million…27% from County services

Portland School Dist..$11.4 million….22% from Portland’s schools

others…………………….$5.4 million……11% from other services

Total of all TIF………$51.2…………….100%

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

  • Bob Clark

    I attended a meeting this past week at Lincoln High School which is suspiciously snaked into the educational URA shared with PSU.  I conveyed to the 50 or so folks in attendance, mainly Portland Public School boosters, city hall’s plan for Lincoln High School may end up causing its re-location to the gritty industrial/commercial area of Northwest Portland.  No one in the know there (even the Superintendent) said anything in response to dispel this rumor.

    So, here we have the so called educational Mayor moving young adult students out of the comfy confines of the nearby Goose Hollow neighborhood (MAC club nearby) to the gritty removed area of the Northwest industrial belt.  All so developers can erect high rise condos on the existing Lincoln High campus.  And guess what?  The city isn’t probably offering to pay but a fraction of the rebuilding and relocation of Lincoln High.  The Lincoln High rebuild will probably cost close to$85 million or more, leaving very little for the “Sustainability Center” if funded by the city’s new URAs. Instead, the Sustainability Center will get most of the URA monies, leaving scraps for the rebuilding of Lincoln High from the URA pot.  Property taxpayers will be asked through a special bond/tax measure to fund the lion share of the Lincoln High rebuild.

    Mayor Adams and Commissioner Leonard’s legacies should be ones of depravity, in which basic city services were foresaken for shiny new government money losing projects.

  • Justsaying

    How can anyone even think of cutting outdoor school? Without educators on hand kids can hardly be expected to learn about the out of doors.

  • Just doing the math

    If property owners in the Lincoln H.S. area wish to fund
    the rebuild of their high school, go for it. But if a 20-30
    year bond to do so shows up on the ballot, my family is
    voting no. And I would suggest property owners to take
    a good, hard look at their property tax statements and see
    all the extra bonds/levy’s/urban renewal that you are
    paying for; and ask yourselves the question:”Is it working
    for you?”