So, don’t know if you’ve heard, but apparently there’s some sort of presidential election coming up. In all the hoopla, don’t forget about all the hyper-local Multnomah County and City of Portland measures that voters will be asked to support or reject. All touch on services that families often use — or could potentially use if the measure passes. (And please make sure your ballots are returned to a ballot box by 8 pm on Tuesday, November 3!)
The Multnomah County Library bond seeks to expand and modernize existing libraries, and acquire land to build new libraries — including a flagship library in East County comparable to the Central Library in downtown. Albina, Belmont, Holgate, Midland, North Portland, Northwest and St. Johns libraries would be up for expansion and/or renovation. The price tag is $387 million with funds coming from property taxes — an increase of 61 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The Portland Parks and Recreation Levy seeks to help the department protect and restore recreation programs (including low-cost summer camps, swim lessons and the popular summertime free lunch + play), parks, 8,000 acres of natural areas and clean water. Funding would come from an increase to property taxes: an additional 81 cents per $1,000 of assessed value of property.
The Universal Preschool Now measure clearly struck a chord with parents this summer. Organizers were able to gather 32,000 signatures in five weeks — in the middle of a pandemic. While UP Now gathered the signatures, in a complicated (but legal and transparent) election-law maneuver, the organization merged their measure with a similar Preschool for All measure that seeks to provide high-quality, tuition-free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds in the county and ensure a living wage for preschool teachers. The two organizations felt universal preschool had the best shot of passing if only one measure was presented to voters. The program would be funded by an income tax on high-wage earners; an initial 1.5 percent tax on the taxable wages of single filers who make more than $125,000 a year and joint filers who make more than $200,000 a year. An additional 1.5 percent would be taken from households with even higher incomes.
Portland Public Schools’ new school bond seeks voter-approved funds to repair deteriorating roofs; replace outdated textbooks with current and culturally comprehensive curriculum materials; and replace and repair heating, cooling and ventilation systems, among other things. (We all have a new appreciation for breathing and airflow from COVID-19 and September’s wildfires, right?) Modernizing Jefferson High School and completing pre-construction work for Cleveland and Wilson high schools are also part of the plan. PPS’s 2017 bond rate is set to expire, and the rate for this 2020 bond is the same: $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That means if the bond is approved, you’d just keep paying the same property tax amount as you’ve been paying for the 2017 bond.