Portland voters appear to have strongly backed the long-running Children's Levy in unofficial returns Wednesday morning.
The Secretary of State's Office shows 81 percent of voters approving Ballot Measure 26-197, according to returns tallied at 8 p.m.
Outgoing City Commissioner Dan Saltzman spearheaded the levy in 2002 and voters have elected to renew it ever since.
This is Saltzman's last year as a city commissioner and the levy is widely considered to be a major part of his legacy.
"It's very gratifying that Portlanders really want to make children a higher priority and that they see the children's levy as a way to do that," Saltzman said. The levy's likely renewal means that programs will be funded until at least 2023 — meaning a generation of Portland's children will have grown up with the funding.
The tax funds several Portland programs for children, including early childhood education, child abuse prevention, hunger relief and foster care.
If the unofficial returns hold up, that means a tax rate on Portland property of $0.4026 per $1,000 of assessed value will be imposed to fund children's programs. The tax has brought in $17.8 million annually to fund 74 local children's programs, according to its website.
Saltzman says after he retires from office, Mayor Ted Wheeler will take on the management responsibilities for the children's levy.
"I feel good about that," Saltzman said, but added: "Like a proud parent, I'll be watching carefully how the child is treated."
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