Wheeler seeks strategy to make Portland taxes more manageable

Mayor Ted Wheeler says he is gathering leaders of local agencies and utilities to try and come up with a solution to what he says are too many new taxes.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:33 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Mayor Ted Wheeler says he is gathering leaders of local agencies and utilities to try and come up with a solution to what he says are too many new taxes, possible rate increases and fees coming to the city.

Wheeler’s office confirms he has set up a large meeting for Thursday with local agency leaders as well as leadership from Portland General Electric. Wheeler’s office says the following list of leaders were invited to meet with him on this topic:

  • TriMet: Director Sam Desue and/or Chair Lori Irish Bauman
  • Multnomah County Chair: Jessica Vega Peterson and/or Chris Fick
  • Portland General Electric: CEO Maria Pope and/or Nik Blosser VP of Public Affairs and/or Board Chair James Torgerson
  • Metro: President Lynn Peterson and/or Kristin Dennis and/or COO Marissa Madrigal
  • Portland Public Schools: Board Chair Andrew Scott and/or Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero
  • Port of Portland: CEO Curtis Robinhold and/or President of the Board Alice Cuprill-Comas

“Leaders at all level of government have to come together to safeguard our economic future, and that means protecting small business and their workers,” said Wheeler after the City Council meeting on Wednesday. “We’re overburdening the public at large with fees and tax increases they can’t afford to pay right now.”

Wheeler’s concerns come as PGE is proposing a 14% rate hike to go into effect in 2024. TriMet is also considering raising its regular fare to $2.80, a $0.30 increase. Wheeler says some city bureaus are also planning to propose a handful of new fees. Wheeler says he does not have explicit authority as mayor to stop these taxes and fees from taking effect in the city, but he hopes by holding the gathering of leaders it gets everyone on the same page.

“We need to hold the line,” said Wheeler. “At least for the next year we should try and collectively hold the line and let our community recover. Our community is in a precarious place. As studies indicate, we’re losing population. People have specifically identified government taxes as being part of that equation.”

Wheeler also was critical of a Ballot Measure 26-238, which asks Portlanders and all Multnomah County residents whether to approve a tax on capital gains to fund a county program to help those facing eviction. Voters will be asked about this ballot measure on the May 16 election.

“I strongly, publicly oppose the capital gains tax. I think it is the wrong mechanism for what I know is a well-intentioned purpose,” said Wheeler. “It would impact the sale of your home. The way it was drafted, also includes your retirement account. So it’s a tax on everybody.”