We will vote on two urban renewal proposals in May, and are assured these will not raise taxes. This is false.
The existing urban renewal in downtown Tigard already has cost us millions of dollars of taxpayer money. These new proposals will cost us tens of millions of dollars more. We can study the documented history of the current urban renewal area in downtown Tigard to see exactly how much urban renewal really costs.
Halfway down Burnham Street stands a gigantic apartment complex under construction. Did you know you paid for that with your tax money, and your taxes are going to be raised by as much as $2 million as a result? This is Tigard urban renewal at work.
That urban renewal was not supposed to cost us anything. Just as the city is promising now, we were told it would not add new taxes and would not raise taxes. The idea was the improvements would attract businesses to the area. It didn't, so Mayor John Cook declared Tigard's public works yard "surplus property." Then he sold it to a private developer in a backroom deal not open to public bidding for $1.65 million, probably well under the true value.
Did Tigard citizens get $1.65 million for our public works yard? No. The entire $1.65 million was then given back to the developer to pay the development and service fees on the apartment complex. And they qualify for a special tax reduction for ten years. So much for their claim that increased property taxes from development will pay the costs of urban renewal.
But don't think they're done spending your money. Tigard no longer has a public works yard, because it was declared surplus property and given away for nothing. It turns out this essential city property wasn't surplus at all. Don't believe me? Ask Mayor John Cook. Speaking on record at a City Council meeting, Mayor Cook stated the city needs to acquire a new public works yard. That means Tigard is going to ask you to raise your taxes as much as $2 million to pay for it. That's already in the works. That is a new tax, and it will raise your taxes... the two things Tigard guarantees won't happen if you vote yes for urban renewal.
Do you still believe the city when they tell you these new urban renewal districts will not raise your taxes? And if you take time to read the city's own details on these plans, just like downtown Tigard, they are intended to be basically car free, but within easy access of Portland by bus and light rail. Your job is just to pay for it. This is for Portland people.
I am part of a group of Tigard citizens who want to protect the livability of our community, and make sure the people are in charge, not Portland and Metro politicians who seem to be calling the shots in Tigard. We do not take positions on ballot measures and we do not tell you how to vote. We simply provide factual, impartial information to help you make informed decisions. To learn more, please visit us at 123Tigard.com or on Facebook at 123 Tigard.
Arthur Crino lives in Tigard.