Unofficial returns show voters passing a tax levy that will provide support to the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau.
Measure 26-213, a five-year tax levy, will provide $48 million each year to the parks bureau, on average, according to the city. That money will go toward improving parks and natural spaces as well as safely reopening community centers, swimming pools and recreational programs after the pandemic.
It will do so by implementing a tax of $0.80 per $1,000 assessed value beginning in 2021. That will cost the median Portland homeowner $151 per year, or about $13 per month, according to the measure filing.
The average household, according to a Portland State University study done for the Portland parks bureau, has a median assessed home value of $195,000 — far below the city’s market values due to voter-enacted property tax limits from the 1990s.
The measure came to be following major budget cuts to the parks bureau after the city uncovered a $6.3 million annual shortfall in its $94 million operating budget. The coronavirus pandemic further worsened the bureau’s financial situation with community centers and swimming pools closed and unable to collect user fees.
“This community investment will keep our parks clean and safe,” Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long said in a statement. “It will help us appropriately care for more than 1.2 million trees that help mitigate the impacts of climate change in our community, and it will allow us to design recreation activities that serve all Portlanders.”
Long said parks and other outdoor spaces have been critical to Portlanders during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This investment will allow us to provide the parks and recreation system we need as a community during these challenging times,” Long said.
Amanda Fritz, the Portland commissioner overseeing the parks bureau, also applauded the measure’s passing, and touched on late Commissioner Nick Fish’s work.
"My friend, the late former Parks Commissioner Nick Fish, would be so pleased that Portlanders have invested in their parks and recreation system at this critical moment,” Fritz said in a statement Wednesday morning. “Working toward a sustainable future for our parks was really important to him. This levy represents another aspect of Nick’s impressive legacy of public service in Portland.”