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Mayor Warns Of Delays In Delivering Arts Tax Funds

OPB | April 16, 2013 6:26 p.m. | Updated: April 16, 2013 7:35 p.m. | Portland

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Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is asking leaders of school districts and non-profits to be cautious about planning for money from the arts tax that voters approved last fall.

That’s because the city is facing two lawsuits challenging the legality of the new tax.

A proposed budget for Portland Public Schools released Monday night assumes $4.5 million from the tax – enough for 45 teaching positions.

The mayor’s spokesman, Dana Haynes says the city is working to get a ruling on the legality of the tax as soon as possible.

“The goal would be to distribute the money to both the school districts and the arts communities, come October, just like we originally planned. But if we get six months down the road and we still don’t have any clarity from the courts — then the advice is probably to put that money into escrow and find out what our legal status is of that money.”

The arts tax passed with 58 percent of the vote.

But advocates for low-income Portlanders have said the $35 annual cost is more than some people can afford.

Portland city council changed the tax earlier this month, to exempt people earning less than $1000 a year.

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