Does Portland need to borrow $548 million for schools?

Money is not the teacher problem in Portland
By Richard Leonetti,
By Oregon Tax News,

A response to the Portland Public School’s call for a half-billion education bond and The Oregonian Editorial Board’s response.

Not so fast with a property tax increase of $2.00 per thousand for Portland Schools. Portland Schools already have borrowed $470 million and are already spending $50 million a year on capitol projects. The proposed new borrowing would make the total borrowing over $1 billion. Consider how well managed the Water Bureau and Portland’s recent computer upgrade turned out with multi-million dollar cost overruns on much smaller spending.

Not only should we worry about the management of this new $548 million of spending but consider the outsized cost to the taxpayer. For a median sale price home in Portland assessed at $250,000 this would add $500 to their present $5,432 bill. That is just short of a 10% total increase. Compare this to our neighbors in Hillsboro where the same value home only results in a $4,090 tax. Portland would end up with a new tax almost half-again higher.

Even if the plan went forward just as much could be built with a $1.70 increase, $425 per home, by simply bidding the work without the higher “prevailing wage” rules, opening it up to lower building costs.

This is an unprecedented, giant spending program that needs lots of work and scrutiny before we even put it on the ballot.