The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Levy math doesn't bode well for future


October 21, 2020


Regarding Ballot Titles 22-184 and 22-185, for continuation of operating levies for Sweet Home Police Services and Sweet Home Library.

I think it was two years ago when the City Council turned deaf ears to pleas from citizens to deal with levy and cost issues in a reasonable amnner.

Specifically, the council at that time chose to divert a certain percentage of revenues from all departments into a fund for indirect costs, even though the operating levies were approved by voters specifically for “additional needs” of police services and the library.

The council could have chosen to apply the indirect cost model just to funds already allocated for police and library services, and this was among the suggestions of citizens who attended the pertinent council meetings.

When these levies were originally approved by voters, wording in the measures stated that the levied revenues would be used only for those indicated services – police and library.

Do you believe that these revenues will be exempt from the indirect cost model that the council adopted a couple of years back? I do not.

I am fully aware of the need to provide for the needs of law enforcement and public libraries, and I will always support reasonable methods of funding reasonable costs. Current methods are not reasonable. Note also that taxes in Oregon are continuing to spiral out of control. I believe our citizens are aware of the fact that the growth of taxes based on property values generally far outstrips rates of inflation.

The ballot titles “estimate” that (Police Services) revenues due to a renewed levy will increase by about 1.7% in the first year ($3,045,917 to $3,099,402), with similar percentage increases to following years. Similar arithmetic has been used with regard to Library services estimates.

If your home has assessed valuation of $250,000, the Police Services levy alone will cost you $1,962.50 in the first year. It’s unrealistic to believe that assessed valuations will increase by no more that 1.7% annually. On our property in Sweet Home, assessed valuation has increased by 3% or more annually for at least the last three years.

Interestingly, actual property tax on this property has increased by 11%, 9.3% and 7.5% respectively over those three years. Why? Could it be due in part to levies such as these?

Protecting these levy revenues from the “best practice” indirect- cost model used by the council is actually not enough. The City Council (and indeed, the state) needs to create more reasonable methods for taxation.

This is true, of course, in regard to government-funded entities in general. They will not do so, until an advised, informed citizenry forces them to do so.

So I, for one, will vote against these ballot measures. It is certainly possible to find and use models of property taxation that provide adequate funding without continuing the current outrageous growth of taxes; the council will have plenty of time to find or develop realistic models, and offer them to the voters before the current levies expire at the end of June 2021.

Best wishes to all in these trying and taxing times.

Roger White

Sweet Home


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