Creative Destruction

November 3, 2006

How Amp Is Voting, Part The Third – Local Ballot Measures

Filed under: Election 2006 — Ampersand @ 11:06 am

Local measures are usually about raising my property tax bill. Wheee!

Multnomah County measure 26-81 – funding libraries – Yes.

I’ll explain this one by quoting from the voter’s guide: “Shall Multnomah County continue library services with levy of 89.0 cents per $1,000 assessed value for five years beginning 2007? This measure may cause property taxes to increase more than three percent.” This is actually about renewing the previously-existing bond that has been paying for the libraries since we voted for it several years ago. The property tax for this one will be around $140 a year for most homeowners – but of course, we’ve already been paying an additional tax for the expiring library bond, so it won’t actually be that big a rise in taxes.

I love Portland’s public libraries – one of the best public library systems I’ve ever seen. Over half of funding for libraries comes from this tax. If this doesn’t pass, they’ll have to close some neighborhood libraries, scuttle plans to open a couple of new branches in underserved areas, and the ones that remain open will have fewer operating hours. So this is a big “yes” from me.

Metro Council Measure No. 26-80 – preserving undeveloped land – yes.

This bond bill allows Metro (a local government agency) to protect wild areas, mostly by buying up land for preservation. If this one passes, it would cost most homeowners about $35 a year.

Portland School District Measure 1JT – Yes.

About $155 per year per homeowner to help pay for schools. And this is another “renewal” measure, so taxes won’t really go up $150 – we’ll just continue paying what we’ve already been paying. Portland schools are underfunded, and if this doesn’t pass they’ll be even more underfunded, so this is another easy “yes.”

City of Portland Measure 26-86 – Reforms Firefighter & Police pensions and disability – yes.

Honestly, like PDXistenZ, I’m voting for this pretty much because no one seems strongly against it, so I figure it must be a good idea. On the surface, the goals of this measure – having disability decisions made by experts, and keeping the pension system from destroying the city’s budget during recessions – sound good. And the fact that neither the firefighter nor police unions published arguments against this in the voter’s pamphlet speaks volumes.

Frankly, this is the sort of highly technical measure that voters can’t be fairly expected to know enough about to decide on. In a better system this question wouldn’t be a ballot measure; this is why we elect legislators.

* * *

That’s it! I’m going to put off actually filling out my ballot for another few days, so if there’s anything you’d like to change my mind on, feel free to use the comments.

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