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Hales Now Says Arts Tax Should Stand As Is

OPB | Sept. 5, 2013 3:35 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 5, 2013 4:44 p.m. | Portland

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Portland Mayor Charlie Hales says he will not support immediate changes to the city’s arts tax.

Last November, Portland voters approved a $35-a-head tax to fund the hiring of arts teachers in public schools, and to funnel cash support to arts groups. A litany of problems - including revenues that came in two million dollars under projections - led city leaders to consider options for revising the tax.

But Mayor Hales’ spokesman, Dana Haynes, says after some consideration, the Mayor doesn’t want to tinker with it.

“What he’s now leaning toward very strongly,” Haynes said, “is not making any changes. Not going back to the voters, not re-opening the arts tax, but keeping it as is.”

Haynes says public comment and Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s position influenced the decision.

The impact would be minimal for area schools, who got their cash for arts teachers first. But arts groups large and small have been receiving less money than expected, as a result of the anemic collections.

The advocacy group supporting the tax says it finds no strong consensus among arts groups over whether immediate changes are necessary.

Haynes says Hales would be open to discussing other remedies, once the tax has been in place another year or two.

Next Tuesday, a citizen oversight committee set up to monitor the tax is scheduled to meet.

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