What is a local option levy?
Oregon voters passed Measure 50 in 1997. This measure implemented a maximum 3 percent per year increase in real property taxes and also established permanent property tax rates for local governments which may not be changed. However, local governments may ask voters to raise additional revenues through a local option levy. Voter-authorized local option levies for general purposes, such as public safety, parks maintenance or library services, are temporary and can be requested for a maximum of five years at a time.
Why is Tigard proposing a local option levy?
Tigard is proposing a local option levy to provide additional funding for the day-to-day operations of our police department, library, and parks maintenance.
What is the City of Tigard’s current budget?
In FY 2017-2018 the City of Tigard had a total annual budget of $139 million; of that, $37 million went to the city’s General Fund, which is used for city services like police, parks and recreation, library services, and general city administration services like finance and planning.
The remainder of Tigard’s budget, $102 million, is Restricted Revenue. Restricted Revenue can only be used for specific purposes; examples are seen on your monthly utility bill – the fees for water, sewer, stormwater management, and street maintenance. Restricted Revenue also includes Capital Projects like the Lake Oswego Tigard Water Partnership. Restricted Revenue funds cannot be spent for General Fund items. Cities cannot “borrow” from these funds to cover a shortage in general fund expenses, for example, police.
What is Tigard’s property tax rate and how is that money spent?
Tigard’s property tax rate is $2.51 per $1,000 of the assessed value of a property. For comparison, Beaverton’s property tax rate is $4.38 per $1,000 of the assessed value of a property; Hillsboro’s is $3.66 per $1,000 of the assessed value of a property.
Property taxes are a major revenue source for Tigard’s General Fund, but they don’t cover all the costs. For example, in 2016-2017 it cost $15.8 million to operate the Tigard Police Department, but Tigard only received $14.8 million in property taxes to cover all the General Fund operations, which include police, parks and recreation, library services, and city administration services like finance and planning. The rest of the funding for these services came from fees, licenses, permits, fines, and a variety of federal, state and local sources and grants.
Can the City of Tigard cut costs elsewhere?
Tigard has reduced expenses and cut costs over the past ten years. Between 2008 and 2017, Tigard’s population increased by 9.7 percent from 46,715 people to 51,253 people. During that same period the number of city staff increased by less than one percent, from 296.05 full-time equivalent (FTE) personnel to 297.85 FTE. The Tigard Police Department’s number of authorized positions decreased from 93 FTE in 2008 to 88.5 FTE in 2017. So, although Tigard’s increased population requires more city services, the city has not increased in the number of people available to provide those services.
In addition, the city has:
- Deferred needed building repairs;
- Postponed investments in some basic infrastructure such as aging playground equipment, park irrigation, trail maintenance, and sidewalks;
- Moved to a system where employees contribute to their medical and dental coverage;
- Drawn on the city’s emergency reserves during the recession to keep taxes and fees low.
Any additional savings will likely come in the form of cuts to services, including police, library, and other general fund programs.
How much is the proposed levy and what would it fund?
The cost of the levy would be $1.18 per $1,000 of the assessed value of a property. Accountability of funds would be provided through annual performance and efficiency audits and an oversight committee.
Proposed levy funds would be used for public safety to:
- Reduce police emergency response times to under six minutes;
- Increase patrols in all five districts with six additional officers in peak times;
- Increase neighborhood patrols for community policing and crime prevention;
- Retain school resource officer program, peer court, and youth programs;
- Maintain investigative specialists for elder abuse, drug and human trafficking, cyber-crime, and identity theft;
- Increase traffic enforcement by adding two officers to the Traffic Safety Unit.
Proposed levy funds would also be used to:
- Provide maintenance for parks, trails, playgrounds, sports fields, and natural areas;
- Maintain current program schedules and hours at the library;
- Increase the number of library programs and events for children and seniors;
- Deliver sidewalk and pedestrian safety improvements;
- Preserve the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program;
- Expand recreation programs, activities, and events.
What if the proposed levy does not pass?
If the proposed levy does not pass, city property taxes will remain unchanged and Tigard would begin reducing programs funded through the city’s general fund beginning in July 2018. For example, Tigard Police would need to reassign available resources away from positions focused on specialized assignments to emergency response, reducing:
- Investigations of crimes like elder abuse, drug trafficking, theft and other property crimes;
- School Resource Officers, who assist with the investigation of child abuse, neglect, and missing persons cases, and speak to kids about bullying, illicit drug and alcohol use, suicide, and internet crimes;
- Patrols in residential areas and school zones;
- Staff who educate drivers and enforce speeding, distracted driving and other traffic laws;
- The ability to timely address community issues such as drug houses and homeless camps;
- Youth programs and peer court.
Is a local option levy is the best option for addressing Tigard’s financial situation?
The city formed a citizen-led Levy and Bond Advisory Task Force to advise the City Council regarding future funding for city services and future funding for city facilities. The task force voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council refer an operating and capital levy to voters.
What will this proposed levy cost me?
Please click here to go to Tigard’s Levy Explorer map, which will show levy calculations based on an estimated 2018 assessed property value for your tax lot. You will need to enter your address.
Why is the library tax we currently pay to Washington County not enough to fully fund our library's operating costs?
The levy for Washington County Cooperative Library System (WCCLS) contributes about $3.5 million of the Tigard Public Library’s total operating costs of $6.2 million per year.
The property tax Tigard residents pay to Washington County is intended to help supplement library operations in all of the 11 member libraries throughout the cooperative. The renewal of the WCCLS levy in 2015 maintained and expanded countywide operating support for all libraries and allowed Tigard Public Library to open on Thursday.
Why are we being asked to pay for other property owners sidewalks? If you have a sidewalk on your property, you paid for it in the purchase of your property. If the city feels so strongly about sidewalks than they can mandate the property owners pay to put them in. Also "sidewalks" should not be listed in the May levy as it's not a "service" but a construction project which would be a bond measure.
Sidewalks are a resource for everyone as part of the public right of way; the maintenance responsibility for sidewalks is with the adjacent property owners. Most of the city’s sidewalks were originally provided with each subdivision that was built as the city grew. If passed, Measure 34-283 would provide $750,000 in planned investments in walking connections, including sidewalks. The measure references both “operating and capital levy” to include sidewalk and pathway investments.
There used to be contracts with the various sports organizations to help cover the costs of field maintenance, as they are the ones using them. Currently we all pay for sports field maintenance. What happened to the contracts?
Agreements with Tigard Little League and Southside Soccer are still in place, and the leagues are responsible for preparing fields for use, including chalking or painting lines, infield raking and moisture treatment. Tigard’s Parks Division is still responsible for the overall maintenance of parks and fields.
Why is the city not making good use of the Fanno Creek house? Rent it out to the public or sell it.
Fanno Creek House is available to the public for rental during weekdays; the City will continue to evaluate keeping it as a city asset or selling it.
Why are there no out of district fees for recreation classes? We have them for the park shelters.
Tigard’s recreation program is still developing and we may need to shift to having non-resident rates.
The city needs to find a way to charge fees for services to those who live in Unincorporated Washington County (huge chunk on Bull Mountain and in Metzger). They use our city services (library, parks, recreation, sand bagging, roads....), but don't pay for those services.
The city services listed (library, parks, recreation, sand bagging, roads) are public goods that can be accessed by all. In recognition of the fact that cities provide services that are public goods, cities receive revenue sharing from the state. For Tigard, this supported over $1.4 million in services.
Do we have someone from the City Council representing us on the League of Oregon Cities Committee? This group wants property tax reform, which is greatly needed. Check out what others, especially new homes are paying in taxes. You might be surprised to find out you pay more in taxes than they do. While you are at it talk to your state reps and let them know you want property tax reform.
All of Tigard’s City Councilors have served at one time or another on a League of Oregon Cities committee. Additionally, the City’s state legislative priorities, adopted by City Council prior to each state legislative session, have recently favored property tax reform. Only the state legislature may set property tax policy, not the City.
Why isn’t new growth and development sustaining itself? Ask the city how much $$ is currently going into the light rail project. What other projects are they spending money on or are we subsidizing (like the River Terrace Project)?
New growth and development does not sustain itself because, in Tigard, new growth is primarily residential and the resulting taxes and fees from that development don’t fully cover the costs to provide services to them.
For example, a home in Tigard with an assessed value (NOT market value) of $400,000 would pay $1,004 to the city in property taxes; that $1,004 does not cover the cost of providing general fund services (library, police, parks) to that home.
So neither existing nor new development is “sustaining itself.”
Where is the transparency? Why have several large departments like Public Works, the Library and the Tigard Police gone 10 plus years without having an outside efficiency audits from an independent company? Annual in house performance audits don't cut it. When was the last time a department gave back $$ to the city because they were thrifty and responsible? There is always money that could be saved, it's a matter of choice, a matter of being responsible and accountable and a matter of showing respect to the citizens of Tigard in using their hard earned tax dollars wisely and efficiently and avoid wasted spending.
The city has not invested in this type of audit since 2008 because funding was not available. If passed, Measure 34-283 would allocate $140,000 per year to perform departmental performance and efficiency audits.
When city departments find ways to save money in their budgets, those funds are made available for services in the following year.
If Measure 34-283 does not pass the proposed reductions to the General Fund would total approximately $2.5 million each year for 2018-19 and 2019-20.