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Council grants tax exemptions for low-income apartments

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Rain Garden Apartments in Villebois is one of five complexes seeking to continue receiving a property tax exemption in exchange for offering reduced rent to low-income tenants.The Wilsonville City Council recently approved property tax exemptions for five low-income apartment complexes operating within city limits.

The exemptions are offered each year at the request of the property owner in exchange for offering lower rents to families, seniors and individuals meeting the federal government’s low-income requirements. Currently, this level is set at 60 percent of the state median income. In Oregon this level is currently $34,700 for a family of four.

The five Wilsonville properties approved this year for exemptions —Autumn Park Apartments, Charleston Apartments, Creekside Woods, Rain Garden Apartments and the Weidemann Apartments — have all received them in the past.

Councilors unanimously adopted five separate resolutions, one for each property, at their April 7 regular meeting. The resolutions cover the 2014-15 fiscal year.

In all, 366 apartment units are currently available in Wilsonville for low-income renters. Autumn Park has the most, with 144, followed by Creekside Woods with 84, Weidemann with 58, Charleston with 51 and Rain Garden with 29 units.

Based on the most recent assessed value of all the exempt properties — $16,566,034 — city property tax revenues will be reduced by approximately $41,756 for next fiscal year.

The amount that individual rents are reduced by for qualifying tenants ranges from $120 per month at the Weidemann Apartments to $44 a month at the Charleston complex. In between, Autumn Park offers a $76 per month reduction, Rain Garden $50 a month and Creekside Woods $48 per month for qualified tenants.

Wilsonville councilors offered no objection to extending the tax exemptions for another year, although some questioned whether or not it would be possible to more closely monitor which individual tenants were approved for lowered rents based on income levels.

“I’m not opposed to reducing taxes to help for lower income,” said Councilor Scott Starr, “but I do have a concern with the apartments and that we are helping the people who need the most help.”

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Creekside Woods Apartments, a 55-and-over complex in central Wilsonville, is one of five complexes in the city to receive a property tax exemption in exchange for offering reduced rent for low-income tenants.City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said it would require staff time to ensure that tenants paying reduced rents are actually qualified to do so. He added that individuals or families seeking rent reductions must prove their income.

“It may be too hard to administer,” Starr said. “But I’m wondering if there’s some kind of program that would ensure that.”

“People have to qualify to be a renter there,” said Councilor Julie Fitzgerald. “Once they are, there are fair housing rules the facility has to follow, I think it’s all written up in various codes and rules and it might be helpful (to clear it up) so if someone becomes a successful Tupperware vendor, do they stay for another five years? Or is there a means test every year?”

Cosgrove said city staff would look further into the matter and bring councilors additional information at an upcoming meeting.



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