Telephone bills for some Portlanders will go up, following a unanimous vote at Portland’s city council Wednesday.
The change to Portland’s tax code is meant to address an inequity in how different landline telephone providers are taxed. City auditors identified the issue three years ago.
The higher phone taxes translate into three to $5 million more for the city. Outgoing Mayor Sam Adams says he wants that revenue to pay for changes to police practices required by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Adams said, “It allows me to fulfill my commitment to come up with a funding source so that we can make sure our agreement with the DOJ — to provide more mental health services, and better police accountability and reform and training, that that commitment to DOJ is not just a hollow promise.”
The council decision changes the tax code, but doesn’t actually direct where the funding goes.
Critics questioned the rationale behind taxing phone companies to fund police reforms. And they argued an inequity still exists — between wireless and landline providers.