Multnomah County voters overwhelmingly approved the five-year local option levy for the Oregon Historical Society in the Tuesday, May 18, special election.
By Wednesday morning, the vote for Measure 26-221 was 78.5% yes. When it last was renewed in 2016, the levy was approved with 71% of the vote. It was first approved in 2011 with 69%.
The passage was good news for the society, whose downtown Portland museum and research library has been repeatedly vandalized during protests that turn violent.
"Tonight, voters overwhelmingly showed their support for preserving and sharing Oregon's history and passed Measure 26-221, ensuring Oregon Historical Society's vital education and preservation work continues — work that persisted during the past year, when examining our history and recording the present moment was more critical than ever," said Oregon Historical Society Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk.
"Without increasing taxes, this 5-year levy renews support for the Oregon Historical Society's museum, library, and educational programs, provides free admission to school groups and Multnomah County residents, and gives direct funding to East Multnomah County's four local historical societies.
"The Oregon Historical Society preserves our state's history and makes it accessible to everyone in ways that advance knowledge and inspire curiosity about the people, places, and events that have shaped our home. Oregon's rich history cannot be contained within a single story or point of view; re-examination and interpretation are necessary as shifts occur within our society and our understanding of our past. Renewal of this levy ensures The Oregon Historical Society can continue to do that."
The levy renewal will cost property owners five cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The original five-year levy was approved by county voters in 2016. A home assessed at $200,000 will pay $10 per year.
Established in 1898, the society collects, maintains and preserves the vast majority of historical records and artifacts for Portland and the state of Oregon.
The levy will help fund the educational programs and exhibits at the museum and research library, along with four county historical societies: Fairview-Rockwood-Wilkes Historical Society; Gresham Historical Society; Troutdale Historical Society; and Crown Point Country Historical Society.
An independent citizen oversight committee will continue review expenditures to verify that funds are used as approved by voters.
The levy will produce an estimated $3.35 million for fiscal year 2021-22; $3.41 million for 2022-23; $3.57 million for 2023-24; $3.72 million for 2024-25; and $3.87 million for 2025-26.
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